Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Mind of a Sex Abuser

or, how child molesters get away with it:

Photo caption: Jerry Sandusky built a sophisticated grooming operation, outsourcing to child-care professionals the task of locating vulnerable children—all the while playing the role of lovable goofball.

The New Yorker Magazine provided this graphic look inside the mind of a typical child abuser: someone who plans and schemes. These are not chance meetings; there is a pattern of deceit that goes on as they live their lives and search for their next victim.

Now imagine the 6115 priests all accused of child molestation, and what’s going through their minds, as they’re going through their daily routines, saying Mass, hearing confessions, and serving as the local mouthpiece for the Magisterium du jour, etc. Of course, Roman Catholics need not worry about this, because these men, once ordained, are priests, their "sacraments" "valid", no matter how, uh, dirty their hands have been.

Graphic Warning: this is the New Yorker Magazine:

We now know what Sandusky was really doing with the Second Mile. He was setting up a pipeline of young troubled boys. Just as important, though, he was establishing his bona fides. Psychologists call this “grooming”—the process by which child molesters ingratiate themselves into the communities they wish to exploit. “Many molesters confirmed that they would spend anywhere from two to three years getting established in a new community before molesting any children,” van Dam writes. One pedophile she interviewed would hang out in bars, looking for adults who seemed to be having difficulties at home. He would lend a comforting ear, and then start to help out. As he told van Dam:

I was just a friend doing things a friend would do. Helping them move, going to baseball games with them. What I found myself doing was getting close to the kids, becoming more of a father figure or a mentor, doing things for them that the parents weren’t doing because the parents were out getting drunk all the time. And, of course, it made it easy for me to baby-sit. They’d say, “Oh yeah. We can off-load the kids with Jimmy.”...

The pedophile is often imagined as the dishevelled old man baldly offering candy to preschoolers. But the truth is that most of the time we have no clue what we are dealing with. A fellow-teacher at Mr. Clay’s school, whose son was one of those who complained of being fondled, went directly to Clay after she heard the allegations. “I didn’t do anything to those little boys,” Clay responded. “I’m innocent. . . . Would you and your husband stand beside me if it goes to court?” Of course, they said. People didn’t believe that Clay was a pedophile because people liked Clay—without realizing that Clay was in the business of being likable.

Did anyone at Penn State understand what they were dealing with, either?

Do Roman Catholics who seek to give their “Church” a pass for the sex abuse scandal, because they are misled to believe that this is “the Church that Christ Founded®” understand what they are dealing with?


  1. Interestingly, a commenter named “TheDen”, or “Dennis”, just a handful of blog posts down from here, thinks that what I “think” and what I “know” about Roman Catholicism are “frightening”.

    I’m wondering about his sense of proportion.

  2. I've known individuals who were "conveniently married" for the sake of insulating their careers from their deviant lifestyles. I wonder that some priests aren't "conveniently married" to the Church, which simultaneously gives them automatic status as a trustworthy man, insulates them from scrutiny, and provides direct access to a regular succession of victims.

    1. Hi Jim, I think you are precisely right about that.