What is there to say about the Jerry Sandusky case that hasn’t already been said? The arguments go on and on: “He’s a f****** scumbag who needs to be put down!”. . . ”He was sick and needs help!”. . . “Poor kids deserve better than this”. . . “The other coaches and ‘Joepa’ (Joe Paterno) knew this and didn’t say anything about it—they are JUST as guilty!”. . . “The football program at Penn State should be dismantled”. . . “The football program should be maintained, since it has nothing to do with what Sandusky did”. . . ”If the football program is discontinued, the players will suffer for it”. . . “Dismantling the program will show that powerful people cannot get away with this”…“It’s so typical—football and money are more important than the welfare of young boys”. . . “The president is only trying to gain sympathy by saying he was abused as a child, but that is irrelevant, as he knew about this and let it happen—string the bastard up!”. . . “Take down the statue of Joe Paterno—he’s a shameful SOB”. . . ”No, leave the statue. After all, Paterno didn’t actually commit the crime”. . . “That doesn’t matter”. . .
Do I adhere or subscribe to any or all of these perspectives?
As a professional writer and researcher, not to mention a rational and intelligent human being, I learned a long time ago never to jump to conclusions about anything, especially if I am on the outside and do not have all the facts. Unlike many others in America, I read and analyze and assimilate all the information, but I never jump to any conclusions, no matter how a situation looks. I am level-headed and responsible that way.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t sympathize with supposed victims or believe that this sort of crime is okay; on the contrary, my heart goes out to anyone hurt by another, especially those involved in a case of personal violation. Likewise, I do not condone such behavior and believe that anyone actually guilty of committing such a crime should be duly and fairly punished in accordance with the laws that apply, as long as the evidence is there to substantiate the claim that the suspected and charged actually DID commit the crime. Still, evidence is always in question, including eyewitness testimony.
And then there was that original investigator who supposedly wound up missing and his laptop the only thing recovered. This looks suspect, but we STILL do not have all the information, so we cannot jump to one conclusion or another.
The reality is, however, that no one really knows what happened in every aspect of the case. No one really knows what went on in the mind of every person involved. No one really knows what the complete truth is.
“But the jury found him guilty on 45+ counts of child sexual abuse and other charges. Even many of the victims came forth and testified—“
Yes, I know that, but we, those who comprise the public forum, are not privy to every bit of information involved. Can we say with 100 percent certainty where the evidence came from, that said evidence and testimony both are reliable? Keep in mind that the public receives its information through the media, not always first-hand. Much of what we have acquired might be true, but because we don’t have all the pieces of the puzzle, we are still not 100 percent sure of anything.
This is/was a high-profile case, so presentation by all of those involved, including the media, is crucial for the sake of public support. This doesn’t necessarily mean that all the details, all of the ‘facts,” are in line with reality. High-profile cases have an image to maintain, and that image, whether reflective of truth or not, usually influences and sways the perception and opinion of the public, as it has done and is designed to do.
So what’s my opinion on the issue? I don’t have one, and precisely for the reasons explained above. I guess that IS my stance—that I don’t have all the information involved and so I am not jumping to any conclusions on the matter. That’s the safest and wisest place for me and for anybody who wouldn’t want to appear foolish or misguided.
Mob Mentality and Vigilantism
Despite what I have said above, many people will and already have reacted emotionally with self-righteous indignation regarding the case. Is this right? Well, it’s typically human, perhaps, but that doesn’t mean it justifies the end.
Due to the firing up of public opinion, people think, even insist, they know everything pertaining to the case and that “there will be no further argument”. Others become so emotional over sensitive and controversial cases such as this they take up arms and follow through with their own brand of “justice” based on perceptions instead of facts as if they believe they are in the right. This generally refers to vigilantism, and it creates more trouble than it intends to overcome.
This is one reason why I don’t form any opinion over situations in which I have no part to play. In most cases I could be wrong. Anyone could be. Then what?
The SVP registry is a great example of this. Registrants have a variety of backgrounds, but all have paid their debt to society in the fashion dictated by the law of the land. Most, though guilty of some form of a crime, are not a danger to society, as recidivism is extremely minimal and the nature of most sex offenders’ crimes is inconsequential (e.g. some SO registrants were caught urinating in public while others were young boyfriends charged with having consensual sex with their underage girlfriends). Yet those with a mob mentality neglect to read the important details. Even when they do so, they STILL do not have all of the information on that particular case, and what’s worse is that most perceptions are inaccurate in the end.
What happens when a person kills someone who is actually innocent or who has already paid for his crime? That’s murder; it is a crime, it is socially immoral and (for those who are religious) it is a sin.
When vigilantes with inaccurate perceptions and lack of information allow themselves to fly on emotional adrenaline, their actions can make them criminals as well.
What’s in a name? Confusion Leads to Misperception
One example of misperceptions lies in the terminology used to refer to certain types of behavior. For the sake of being consistent with the above subject matter, I will use the most misconstrued term related to the subject of sex offenders: ‘pedophilia’.
Pedophilia denotes the ongoing attraction to and/or sexual preference for prepubescent children. This can be exclusive or non-exclusive, but it is always predominant. The criteria for pedophilia as listed in the DSM states “generally 12/13 or younger,” but this, in current times, is inaccurate. Most 12 and 13-year-olds (even many 11-year-olds) are pubescent and exhibit signs of physical sexual maturation and therefore would not fall into the target range of pedophilia. Doctor Allen Francis, who helped word the criteria back in the DSM IV, has said that the upper age of 12/13 was given for the purpose of establishing a general ‘upper limit’ for the age range in question and should not be taken literally. At the time he and his group delineated this description, 12/13 was common age for the onset of puberty. But biological change occurs earlier and earlier over time and currently arrives, on average, around age 9 or 10. Francis has subsequently stated that the target attraction/preference for actual pedophilia in modern times would likely fall in the ’10- and-younger’ age range. Simply put, pedophilia refers to the degree of physical sexual development (or lack thereof) and NOT to age. Due to the fact that the law categorizes those individuals up to age 18 as “children,” most people presume that the term “children” stated in the basic definition of pedophilia refers to everyone under 18. See why so many people are confused here? Apparently, these people are not able to distinguish between pathology and crime, or between nature/science/psychiatry and law.
The term “children” as used with regard to pedophilia, Frances explains, refers to prepubescent children only. Once a youth passes into puberty and is able to copulate, s/he is biologically no longer a child, despite legal definitions. This is nature and attests to the vulgar but true “old enough to bleed, old enough to breed.” This natural fact does not bend or change to the pressure of morality. The psychiatric world does not recognize an adult’s attraction to sexually maturing teens as pathological for this reason. As a matter of fact such an attraction is common, natural and normal. The inclination toward young fertility is evolutionarily “wired’ into the male psyche and kicks in on its own. The sheer number of adult males who have been and continue to be drawn to adolescents also attests to this.
In line with what I have conducted through my research, not all youth are necessarily “victims”. Many teenagers either consent or initiate with adults as well. One example is Vili Fualaau, Mary Kay Latourneau’s former student and current husband. He was 12/13 at the time and still insists he was not a victim. Heather Corinna, a sex journalist who has had extensive experience with teenagers, argues this point persuasively in her controversial article “Rage of Consent”. In her opinion, as well as those of many of her adult interviewees who, as teenagers, had ongoing sexual relationships with adults, sex between informed teenagers and adults is not always harmful and can be healthy to those involved. The term “victim,” although varying among schools of thought, is used loosely, so it is very much subjective; but it is still quite frequently used in error.
Another signification of the points made in the previous paragraphs is that the various ages of consent around the world are considerably lower than in the United States. The age of consent in most of Europe is 14, and so sex between consenting 14+ and adults is, in fact, legal in those countries. As Doctor Richard Green states, these countries would not legalize a practice that would otherwise be indicative of a mental abnormality. Green was instrumental in getting homosexuality removed from the DSM during the 1970s and 80s.
By the way, the rates for teen pregnancies, STDs and child sexual abuse are minimal in Europe, compared to the United States where they are the highest. This is interesting, considering the latter is armed with countless laws designed to prevent these phenomena from occurring in the first place.
Adult-adolescent sexual interaction, which is not pedophilic, has a strong historical prevalence and has never been considered mentally aberrant behavior–until now by the ill-informed mob mentality noted above. The only place where the so-called “predator panic” exists is in North America, predominantly the United States.
For the record: I abhor both sexual abuse and pedophilia; these two forms of behavior are detestable and I do not condone either one, nor do I promote breaking the law. There are many valid reasons why sex between adults and youths should not be acceptable, such as emotional maturity and age disparity. My commentary here merely serves as a means of (1) clarifying the distinction of pedophilia in relation to adult-adolescent sex, (2) offering cultural, scientific and naturalistic explanations for adult-teen sex and (3) discussing the facts that support these schools of thought.
Sandusky and the Mob Mentality
As far as Sandusky’s diagnosis by experts in the field, I am not certain, but it might not be pedophilic in nature, depending on the sexual development of the lads whom he allegedly abused. If the claim against him is true and force was used, his issues might relate to other kinds of diagnoses. Again, I mention this to get people to retract their preconceptions based on the above information and further information obtained through the list of source links below. Do not apply labels unless they are applicable.
“But his victims were all young, somewhere between 10 and 12. That would make him a f****** child molester and a pedophile—“
Well, “child molester” is such an emotionally charged term and usually reserved for those who engage in forcible sex. In the eyes of the law, he’d be considered a rapist, yes, if he actually committed those crimes; as for a pedophile, not necessarily. The two are not one and the same. Some pedophiles don’t molest, and those who sexually interact with adolescents are not necessarily pedophiles. Read the previous section again and visit the links provided below. A valid and solid viewpoint works best if it is an informed one.
To prove my point above, consider the following cases…
Some men (and women) have engaged with those youths under 13/14 and missed the diagnosis of pedophilia because the youths had already entered puberty.
One person that comes to mind is Jeffery Neuhauser, who was charged on two counts for having sex with a minor–two boys, one 13, the other a little younger than 13. Because he was evaluated as a non-pedophile, he was charged and tried as a “hebephile” (a pseudo-scientific term used by the legal system to refer to adults drawn sexually to young adolescents, although such an attraction is not recognized by the psychiatric community as anything aberrant). What happened? He was convicted (which, of course, he deserved if he had broken the law), but the judge (Terence Boyle) didn’t buy the government’s claim of a “serious mental illness” and tossed out the charge that would have sent Neuhauser to a mental institution upon the completion of his prison term.
Another case is that of Roman Polanski who, back in 1978, engaged with 13-yeat-old Samantha Geimer (nee Geisler) who was sexually mature for her age. A host of psychiatrists and a probation officer examined him and came to a unanimous conclusion that he was/is not—repeat NOT—a pedophile or a danger to society—just a law-breaker.
The above examples, only two of many, show why the sexual classification of pedophilia cannot rely on age alone, especially since each youth develops differently than any other.
So how should anyone classify Jerry Sandusky? The answer depends on the facts, which involve his background, his preferences, his state of mind and what actually happened regarding his case. That’s as far as we can go.
In the end, before anyone decides to form a judgment call on any situation, that person should conduct research and ascertain facts as necessary. Do NOT rely on second-hand knowledge or the news media. Education is a wonderful thing and will hopefully lead to the betterment of our society and how we treat one another.
DISCLAIMER: I want to reiterate that I am NOT a supporter of child abuse or pedophilia. My commentary serves only to clarify the appropriate meanings and applications of terminology, as well as to educate readers who seek the correct information regarding the subject matter. As per the main point of this article: Do NOT jump to any conclusions. Thank you.