Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Getting it would be a good start

A story in the Boston Globe's sports section Monday on the continuing saga of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse allegations was particularly disturbing.
The story talked to men who played for or coached with Sandusky during his one year at Boston University in 1968. No, it didn't bring forward any new charges or graphically describe the old ones.
No, the disturbing part was quotes like these:
"The Jerry Sandusky we knew was an outstanding human being and coach," John Williams, a defensive lineman in 1968, told the Globe.
"It blew my mind when this stuff came out because it was so uncharacteristic of the Jerry Sandusky I knew," said Bob Peck, BU's athletic director at the time.
"If the allegations are true, then this is a classic case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I didn't know him as Mr. Hyde, but when he was Dr. Jekyll, he was the greatest guy in the world." That from Jim Norris, who coached with Sandusky.
Why disturbing?
Because here we are in 2011, after all the publicity, particularly in Boston, of the church sex abuse crisis, and the abuse of Sen. Scott Brown at the children's camp he attended as a child, the ongoing news of abuse of other children at the camp, and all the information available on child sex abuse that we have available now and these guys haven't gotten past the number one myth of child sex abuse. The myth that the guy doing it isn't a "nice guy," isn't a normal person, isn't someone, well, like they are.
According to the Leadership Council, the number one myth about child sex abuse is that normal-appearing, well-educated, middle class people don't abuse children.
The council says: "One of the public's most dangerous assumptions is the belief that a person who both appears and acts normal could not be a child molester. Sex offenders are well aware of our propensity for making assumptions about private behavior from one's public presentation. In fact, as recent reports of abuse by priests have shown, child molesters rely on our misassumptions to deliberately and carefully set and gain access to child victims."
The council quotes Dr. Anna Salter, an expert on sex offenders, who says, "A double life is prevalent among all types of sex offenders . . . . The front that offenders typically offer to the outside world is usually a 'good person,' someone who the community believes has a good character and would never do such a thing." 
This doesn't mean that the guys at BU back in 1968, when child sex abuse was pretty much ignored, should have seen what Sandusky was like, known anything about his alleged proclivities or been able to change the future.
But it also shows that you don't have to see a guy raping a child in a shower to know he's not the guy you thought he was. Hell, look at Penn State. In 2002, after SEEING the guy raping the kid in the shower, he was still given a pass.
There's probably no way Peck, Norris, Williams, and all the other guys on the Terriers football squad could have known a child sex abuser may be in their midst. But in the light of what we know 43 years later, they should be aware that any normal-seeming guy could be that guy, and that the guy you knew could easily be the sex offender you don't know.
And many child sex offenders never show the evil, monster-like Mr. Hyde face. They are kindly Dr. Jekyll all the time, even when they're abusing the kids.
Because the "greatest guy in the world" can also be abusing children.
In other words, it's not a double life. It's his life and being that "great guy" is all part of it.
 The men in the article also had some very manly reactions to the Sandusky accusations.
"If the allegations are true, then I'll bet 80 percent of my teammates would support a public execution," Williams told the Globe.
"I would have dropped him on the spot," said Pete Dexter, who played on the team.
Manly indeed. But how about we put down the keg of testosterone and find a way to stop this stuff from happening in the first place?
A good start would be for everyone to educate themselves about the signs of child sex abuse and know that even a stand-up guy like Jerry could be a sex abuser. That would be a much more effective response to the problem than popping the guy in the nose.
The Boston Globe would have been well served to add the voice of a child sex abuse expert to its story, but even a lot of the media hasn't grasped what the story is really about.
Because we need to get past our shock that the greatest guy in the world can do this and realize he can. Because then people would be a lot less hesitant to go right to the cops with what they saw the greatest guy in the world doing, or even the more subtle signs, like "horsing around" too much with kids, putting themselves in a position to be around young kids all the time, and all the other signs that have been well-publicized, but seem to be ignored when the guy is the greatest guy in the world.
Let's hear some more from the fellas.
"It's hard to believe someone could lead a second life like that. If Jerry did this, he deceived a lot of people, including me," said Darryl Hill, an offensive lineman on the team, who, according to the Globe, "best remembers Sandusky's kindness."
And one final, jarring quote:
"He was the kind of guy you liked being around, which is probably why those Penn State guys didn't do enough to report him," said Barry Pryor, who played for the Terriers and later for the Dolphins.
"They probably loved him."