Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sexual Predators. . . Some Facts from the Penn State Case. . .


I'm sure there's much that hasn't been said that's going to surprise lots and lots of people. What has been already been said is quite horrifying. . . almost too horrible to digest. Have you read the grand jury report from the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse case? If you haven't, you should. It recounts - in vivid detail - what every human being is capable of. I want to encourage all my youth worker friends to give it a good look. Consider it preparation for the inevitable. If you haven't already had to deal with this in your church or community, you will.

As I read the report, I was reminded of other cases with which I'm more familiar. It's eerily similar. Since being thrust into some difficult circumstances and situations in the past, I've learned this about predators. . .

1. They are careful and calculating cultivators. They know exactly what they are doing. They are drawn to those who are vulnerable. They dance, dance, and dance around some more with great care. Their careful attention serves to keep them from getting caught.

2. They are conniving. They're masterful - MASTERFUL - at weaving lies and deception. They are not only good at deceiving their victims, but they are especially good at deceiving their closest family and friends.

3. They are convincing. You can't believe how convincing they are until you sit with a young victim and hear them say, "I just assumed that what they were doing to me was normal." They convince their victims that they have the victim's best interest in mind. All they have in mind is satisfying their own twisted needs, desires, and perversions.

I've also learned some things about the closest family and friends of predators who have been exposed. . .

1. You just can't believe the accusers or the accusations. The evidence can be right under your nose, and you just don't believe it. How many times have we heard people say of a predator, "He/She is just not capable of doing something like this!"?

2. You just won't/don't believe the accusers or the accusations. Even after confessing guilt in a court of law, there are predators whose closest family and friends still refuse to believe the truth. It's a combination of wanting to believe the best of those we love, along with the power of the predator to deceive.

3. Lack of belief sometimes leads to complicity.

If there's anything good that come out of what's happening at Penn State it's the wake-up call that might lead to preventing some horrible stuff from happening to a host of kids in a variety of places. It's the realization that not only is this stuff real, but that we need to have systems and protocols in place in our youth groups and churches to both prevent and redemptively deal with it all.

Keep listening. Jerry Sandusky's story will continue to unfold. There's much, much more to learn.

4 comments:

PB said...

I did as you suggested and read the report. All I can say is that your fear has already been realized - "when will it be normalized, overlooked, and no longer criminal"? I guess the answer is the years 2000 and 2002. In each year a grown man observed another grown man having sex with, no - RAPING - a TEN YEAR OLD BOY. In both cases, neither grown man thought it was wrong enough to report it to the police. Two different men weighed their options - "what should I do?" Apparently the one man feared the loss of his job and the other, well, I would venture to guess that if he had seen the janitor raping a boy he would have called the police before his dad or his head coach. In both cases, sex with a boy wasn't thought to be criminal by those who SAW it. Had they seen these young boys steal a bike, they would have called the police, but a man raping a boy was not a crime in their eyes. I see what you mean, Walt. The culture is on such a slippery slope where sex is concerned that we should expect more arguments (as they are already out there) that men should be able to rape boys and it shouldn't be criminal. I have to wonder if in just 10 more short years, the culture will agree and de-criminalize sex with minors. But, we do have a voice with the youth we get to influence and I get that point, too. We get to teach them God's plan for sex - His good plan and encourage them to trust God not culture.

Tammy Robinson said...

PB
Very well articulated comment. Great analogy with stealing the bike. That really nails it.

I think another question that puts Paterno's actions into a clear damning perspective is,

"What would Joe's actions have been if McQueary had told him that he had witnessed JOE'S SON, being raped by Sandusky?"

Lorraine said...

Deceiving is right! I read an article where Sandusky admitted he was "just horsing around" with the kids in the showers and that it wasn't sexual. Uh huh. Cause that is what every sixty man does with young boys alone in college locker rooms...

Rachel Blom said...

I loved your insights in this post and the previous ones. Wrote a post on the case myself and linked to this one: http://www.youthleadersacademy.com/lessons-from-pennstate/