penn stateFrom, Monday 11/22/2011 written by Roger.

Forty-three years ago, a child molester had his way with me. He was a trusted family friend, someone my family met at church, where he served as the leader of the youth program. One of the legacies of his attentions has been the occasional visit of a dark melancholy of sadness and a flood of tears. Last week, I cried again.

The Penn State University sex-abuse scandal has unfolded before the nation’s eyes. A former football defensive coordinator and champion of disadvantaged youths, Jerry Sandusky, has been arrested and is facing numerous charges, including seven counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, corruption of minors and endangering the welfare of a child. He is freed on $100,000 unsecured bail.

According to released grand jury proceedings, Sandusky was observed by janitor Jim Calhoun at the Lasch Football Building on the Penn State campus preforming oral sex on a young boy in 2000. Calhoun reported the incident to his superiors. Sandusky reportedly also was observed by a graduate assistant coach, Mike McQueary, sodomizing a 10-year-old boy in the Penn State showers in 2002. McQueary reported the incident to Joe Paterno, who informed Athletic Director Tim Curley. Grand jury transcripts allege inappropriate contact with eight boys over 15 years.

While Sandusky reportedly was rebuked after the 2002 incident and told to not bring boys on campus, it did not seem to diminish the behaviors. In 2006 or 2007, the grand jury report says Sandusky befriended a boy while volunteering as a wrestling coach at a local high school, taking him to Penn State games and giving him gifts, including golf clubs, a computer, cash and clothes. The grand jury report indicates Sandusky allegedly performed oral sex on the boy more than 20 times, and the boy performed oral sex on him once.

While Sandusky retired as Penn State’s defensive coordinator in 1999, when he learned he would not be succeeding Paterno, his retirement privileges provided an office, parking and Penn State athletic facilities access. He reportedly used the access to Penn State football games, workouts, facilities, team meetings, bowl games, players and coaches as rewards and incentives to enhance his relationship with boys. He also allegedly used the facilities to commit some of the crimes he has been charged with.

Fallout from Penn State’s handling of the situation has cost university President Graham Spanier and legendary football coach Paterno their positions at the school. Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Gary Schultz has retired and Curley, the athletic director, has asked to go on administrative leave. Both have also been indicted by the grand jury, each charged with one count of felony perjury and one count of failure to report abuse allegations.

Sandusky allegedly used The Second Mile Foundation that he founded in 1977 to serve at risk youths as a conduit to potential victims. The foundation has grown into a statewide organization that touches the lives of thousands of youths each year and has a board of governors that sounds like a Pennsylvania “Who’s Who.”

Out of the devastation of the disgracing of Penn State can arise a national blessing if we will allow it. Let us collectively learn as much as we can from this sad event so that going forward we can protect our youths from the sexual-predators of the world. Here are some things we should be learning:

Worry about the victims first. On Nov. 10, thousands of Penn State University students took to the streets to protest the firing of their beloved football coach. In their anger, the protesters overturned a television van and police in riot gear resorted to pepper spray to disperse the demonstrators.

The message to victims? “The people who are supposed to protect you don’t.” And, “It is okay to sexually abuse kids.” In effect, these children, now adults, were victimized again by the demonstrators.

Paterno’s own words should give us direction, “I wish I had done more.” We must all do more.

Organizations often feel the need to protect themselves above the need to protect and help victims. “Everyone is angry at Penn State, but it could happen again and we all need to understand that organizations are living organisms — the first priority is survival,” said Anna Salter, a Wisconsin-based psychologist who has worked with sex offenders and victims for 30 years.

“People underestimate the pull to save an organization, and we have to send a powerful message that, yes, there is the desire to protect the organization, but you have an allegiance to the larger society and to children not to yield to that pull.”

Abusers always explain, “We were just horsin’ around.” “I enjoy young people,” Sandusky told Bob Costas in an NBC interview. “I love being around them.”

Sandusky described the events that sparked his charges as “just horsin’ around.”

The morning after Costas’ interview, radio sports talk show hosts were dumbfounded. Dan Patrick of “The Dan Patrick Show” kept repeating, “He doesn’t get it! He doesn’t see that showering with these kids is inappropriate behavior.”

Sexual predators have their own way of thinking. They know on some level they are outside of the bounds of behavior that our society demands. But they construct elaborate justifications that allow their acting out. It is their form of denial. It bends reality to fit their behaviors.

“They call themselves child lovers,” said Ken Lanning, a former FBI special agent for 30 years and now a consultant in the area of crimes against children. “They nurture these kids, so when someone asks, ‘Did you molest this child?’ they say, ‘I would never molest or hurt a child.’

“In their mind, it’s not molesting, it’s love,” he said.

Learn to recognize predator behavior. “Child-lover molesters almost never use violence for sex,” Lanning said. “Instead, they groom and seduce and manipulate and use cooperation to get what they want out of the child.

“This type of predator hones in on children who are particularly vulnerable, then gives them whatever it is they feel they’re missing,” he said. “Poor? The predator will shower the child with gifts and money. No dad? The child molester looks to fill that void by acting as a fatherly figure.

“I can’t tell you how many cases where there are letters from the victim written to the accused, saying, ‘You’re the nicest person I ever met,’ or ‘You’ve been so good to me,’ ” said Lanning.

Many victims don’t tell anyone of the inappropriate behavior because they are considered “compliant child victims.”

“A child can’t legally consent to having sex, but some of them aren’t necessarily fighting him off,” said Lanning. “They’re developmentally immature, and later they feel ashamed and embarrassed that they cooperated in their victimization.

“At any one time, these types of child molesters have four different areas of focus going on at once,” he said.

“They operate in a pipeline,” said Lanning. “They always have their eye out for new victims and new kids to go in the pipeline; then they go into full seduction mode.

“They’re grooming the kids, and usually the parents, too, by showering the kids with gifts and attention. Then at some point, they’re having full sexual activity with the child; then later, maybe a year or two after this goes on, the kid gets too old and the predator is not interested anymore. He’ s trying to move him out — pushing him out the other end of the pipeline.”

Take a stand, not on my watch! Each of us has an interest in protecting our children.

“You must act conservatively when it comes to the health and safety of children,” warns Salter. “If you’re wrong, you’re wrong. If you’re right, you’ve really saved the kid from severe trauma. If parents feel suspicious, they should not feel like they need hard proof to remove a child from the situation.”

Lanning puts it this way, “I often tell parents, if any adult wants to be around your kids more than you do, beware, and beware of anything that seems to be too good to be true.”

I too, was a “compliant victim” and suffered for many years not understanding why I did not speak up against my abuser and stop him from hurting others. I could have saved those that followed me. How very much I regret that.

Those adults and school administrators that did not stop the sexual abuse at Penn State also allowed other victims to be created. They failed to protect our children. Let us all commit to not following their example. Let us be vigilant, let us protect the innocents.