Child Molesters Are Usually Friends & Neighbors
The longest, most exhaustively researched article I ever wrote for a newspaper or magazine was about a child molester who had sexually abused a little boy living down the street. The abuse went on for more than two years, beginning when the boy was 10.
This molester had a job. A house. A wife. Two kids of his own. And he gained access to his victim not through brute force but through patience, play and gifts: help with his homework, computer games, a new bike. To neighborhood observers, including the victim’s parents, the molester’s attentiveness passed for kindness, at least for a while. A molester’s behavior very often does.
The arrest on Saturday of a former Penn State University assistant football coach — who is accused of sexually abusing eight pre-adolescent, adolescent and teenage boys — brought this all back to me. I wonder if people who know the coach and saw him working with kids will comment on how genuinely nurturing he seemed and how this surely prevented or discouraged suspicions about him.
This is something that has come up repeatedly over decades — I wrote that article back in 1991, for The Detroit Free Press — but that remains tough to accept: the predator to watch out for is less likely to don a trench coat and lurk behind a bush than to wear a clerical collar and stand near the altar or to hold a stopwatch and walk the sidelines. And he (or, for that matter, she) works with children as a function of being drawn to them for reasons beyond their welfare.
Frank Bruni, New York Times
READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE: The Molester Next Door – NYTimes.com.