Blue Byline

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Sandusky puts classic spin on pedophile story

Post by Brian O'Neill on Nov. 16, 2011 at 10:11 pm with 7 Comments »
November 18, 2011 7:58 am

Jerry Sandusky was given a prime-time opportunity to set the record straight. And so he did.

In response to Bob Costas’ very blunt and provocative questions about his alleged crimes against numerous young boys, Sandusky talked. And talked. In a Monday night NBC interview, wherein Sandusky made a creepy attempt to reframe his actions, he also made several damning statements.

The first of these missteps was in reference to a graduate assistant’s assertion that he witnessed Sandusky raping a young boy. In downplaying the action as ”horseplay” he not only confirmed that the incident–albeit minus a confession of rape–actually occurred, but also opened up a can of worms by using such an ill-chosen term.

After feebly brushing off further references to his naked shenanigans with young boys, Sandusky got a chance to redeem himself.  When Costas asked for a reasonable explanation behind for the inappropriate behavior, Sandusky’s reply took this life line and tied it into a metaphorical noose: It was all a misunderstanding based on his great compassion and love for children.

Nice try, but that tune fell flat in Neverland. And unlike Michael Jackson, Sandusky lacks the cash to make his victims go away.

While many wonder what prompted Sandusky to submit to this interview, his presence, as well as his comments, are better explained with a closer look at the psyche of a pedophile.

It begins with a basic human fear – the fear of having one’s worst failures revealed for all to see.  This is the reason why the confessionals, into which I poured my darkest juvenile secrets, were little more than dark closets with an obscured window between the confessor and priest.

Aside from the sociopaths in their ranks, sex offenders are no different. They share that basic fear along with the added burden of their perverted secrets and monstrous nature. Thus, Sandusky’s dissembling was an attempt to redefine his actions to avoid being labeled a pedophile.

It’s helpful to recognize this trait when dealing with sex offenders. Several years ago I responded to an allegation of child rape at a Boys and Girls Club. When I arrived in the office I noticed a framed news clipping of a smiling man hugging a large group of children. The picture and story celebrated a very active volunteer at the club, who spent long hours with the needy young kids who went there.

Cynic cop that I was, I placed a mental wager on him as a likely suspect. The mother of the victim, a seven year-old boy, told me the story and confirmed my suspicions. By the time I interviewed the suspect, several other parents had come forward with similar allegations (sound familiar?).

Unfortunately, these cases usually involve little in the way of physical evidence and no testimony other than that of small children. Such factors make the interview all important. Unlike Bob Costas’ direct and almost accusatory line of questioning during the Sandusky interview, trying to elicit admissions from sex offenders requires patience and an extreme amount of subtlety.

In practical terms this means that an admission of guilt may require the interviewer to assume the role of a confidant or even a conspirator. Either way, these investigations are a gut-wrenching descent into a mind filled with horrors and perversion.

Whether you’re a cop, a school official, or a grad student stumbling into a nightmare, we share a responsibility to keep innocents from becoming the playthings of pedophiles. It is especially difficult when these people hide their monstrous nature behind a pleasant facade. But, sooner or later, when the pedophile is unmasked and made to answer questions, then…

It might sound a lot like Jerry Sandusky.

Leave a comment Comments → 7
  1. Chippert says:

    Aren’t you convicting Sandusky without a trial? While it appears very likely that the allegations against him are true or at the very least have a sound factual basis, we do hold to certain standards of justice in this country, the foundation being “innocent until proven guilty in a court of law”.

    Be that as it may, his actions certainly warrant suspicion and the investigation that is now going on. If proven and convicted (as seems likely) then I hope he spends a long, long time behind bars – preferably the remainder of his days. I also hope that those who turned a blind eye (bother personal and institutional) to his actions and thereby enabled him to continue his predatory ways (pending evidential proof of course) suffer a similar, if not harsher outcome.

    I do have a problem with your article though, Brian. Your anecdote concerning the Boys and Girls Club incident, while interesting and pertinent, seems to paint a picture that all people (or at least men) who work with young people as volunteers and who truly love what they do are pedophiles. This is a grave disservice to the tens of thousands of volunteers who daily give their time, their money, their hearts and souls in working with young people to insure they have a place to go, a person to look up to, and a future as good as can be created. You and I both know that the percentage of pedophiles in these people is a miniscule one, although when one does occur it is a glaring problem. Possibly an explanation and an apology for these folks is warranted?

  2. Brian O'Neill says:

    This is an opinion forum, Chippert, not a trial.

    My opinion on this issue is based on numerous related experiences I have had over my career. Taken together these lead me to believe that Sandusky’s replies are consistent with the comments of convicted sex offenders. Since it is not a news story, you are welcome to disagree with this viewpoint. But sharing these views is the reason for this column.
    Also, I believe volunteers will not be offended by my characterization. I have coached youth sports and volunteered at a number of organizations and met some wonderful people. They are committed to serving youth and are extremely protective of their charges. I have also noticed that an overwhelming number of sex offenders committed crimes while serving in a capacity of authority or responsibility over their victims. That includes priests, coaches, volunteers and even babysitters.

    Thanks for your comments.

  3. PumainTacoma says:

    And who allowed TPD Giles to work at a Law Enforcement Youth Camp? Law enforcement right? Apparently he didnt have contact with children. Yeah, baloney. Unless law enforcemnt and prosecutors take these crimes seriously (ie Sheriff French example) were left with the same sloth mentality.

  4. Good article and insight. We need to get serious about pedophiles and the time that should be attached to their crimes. I hate reading about all the sex offenders being released and their repeated crimes against children, sometimes 3 or 4 different convictions.

  5. cclngthr says:

    As far as predatory behavior, Sandusky has made errors in judgements that place him in direct conflict of common sense.

    Is it normal for an adult to shower with young kids? Typically this is frowned upon and not something a normal adult would do. Normal adult behavior should be a refusal to participate in this type of behavior.

    Same issue lies with touching a child. Sandusky put his hands on a child’s lower body parts, particularly legs. Normal people typically keep their hands off a child, and if they do touch a child, that touch is on a hand, or slight momentary touch on the shoulder, with permission from the child, and a valid reason to touch a child.

    In the last few years, men (and women) are scrutinized and their behavior around children are looked into more thoroughly regarding behaviors that lead to abuse.

    I used to take children with me in my vehicle without much thought. I no longer do that solo now. If I do have a child in my vehicle, the parent or guardian is present in the vehicle with me. I also will avoid situations I think will put me in a position where children are present where it can be construed as inappropriate. Being alone at any time behind closed doors; assisting young children in dressing, toileting, (if they need that), and other activities once deemed appropriate years ago.

    I often have been told by substitutes in Tacoma Schools that they will refuse to work in classrooms which require them to handle children in/around the bathroom, or other private space, particularly with special needs kids.

    As a result of such scrutiny, many men will refuse to allow themselves to work with children in any capacity, particularly with young children. An article several years ago in Australia, men are quoted as refusing to work in day care centers and schools. The stigma of potential scrutiny turns people off from helping in such fields when they may work out fine.

  6. Surprise, surprise! Talk about the good old boys with heads in the sand. I went back to college in mid-life, no longer unsophisticated, and saw grades bargained for sex, every way, male-female, male-male, female-female, rampant on this ultra-high priced campus. It was well known in the History dept., that a BJ a week earned an A. The speech proffessor took young males home for the week end. And not to mow the lawn. They got A’s too. ALL in Pierce County.
    Tacoma’s “Good Old Boys” have silenced these acts and their political corruption and rip-offs of the taxpayers for decades. Time for the TNT to investigate their own backyard.

  7. Earth_watch says:

    Hi, Brian. I’m glad to see the statement in this article:
    “Whether you’re a cop, a school official, or a grad student stumbling into a nightmare, we share a responsibility to keep innocents from becoming the playthings of pedophiles.”

    I’d go further to say everyone has that responsibility, but the reason I mention this quote is that it seems to be an about-face to your November 12th article suggesting that too much attention was being given to Paterno’s part of Sandusky scandal. True, Sandusky is the main perpetrator, but anyone who turned a blind eye was not only a contributor toward his actions going unpunished but (worse) also a participant in allowing possible future victims.

    Perhaps this national story can prompt this blog to examine more local issues and possible improvements regarding the many sex offenders within Pierce County. Thanks.

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