Jerry Sandusky will spend the rest of his days behind bars. It has ended as it should end. His crimes against the innocent youth who were his trusting charges have been judged by a jury to be as unutterably heinous as we the public have judged them.
Yet I have posed the question before, and I pose it again now, at this seminal moment in the long history of child sexual abuse in our country. Why do we shudder in dumbfounded outrage that this purported icon of university sports culture has disgustingly molested many young people who turned to him for mentoring?
The molester of my young teenage life -- and a double-digit number of other young athletes under his coaching regime -- was outwardly charming, caring and charismatic. He, my molester, looked and acted in every aspect like Jerry Sandusky. A sociopath, he never thought touching sexual private parts of a 14-year-old swimmer on his team was inappropriate. He never considered it wrong to take another 14-year-old on that same team to a local motel and coerce oral sex and intercourse, under the name of "what is very special between them and can never be talked about with anybody else without terrible punishment ruining the swimmer's future." He never considered that the shame and confusion of his acts on a young person who trusted him might loom large as a deep, negative impact on this young swimmer's psyche for a lifetime to come.
As this Sandusky trial has taken our collective breath away, I have heard echoing all across the country this past week such phrases as, "How repulsive this guy is!" and "He was a prestigious coach at such a prestigious university!" and "He's going down for hundreds of years... I can't even look at his face."
We act as if this is a unique situation. We have blared the Sandusky crimes and trial details across our front pages as if he's a Jack the Ripper crime star of our times.
Yes, he's that big a criminal. Yes, justice has been served. Yes, the poor young men who suffered his molestations may never truly put those loathsome, dark moments behind them.
But how many of these same creeps are operating right this minute, molesting our children, our children's children and our neighbors, virtually and literally going after a terrifying percent of our entire youth population?
Thousands, I tell you. Not hundreds. Thousands.
It might have been too late, but we have caught and punished Jerry Sandusky. But when are we going to tackle the pervasive epidemic of childhood sexual abuse?
Jerry Sandusky is most assuredly a deviant. Yet he's not a deviation from the norm in this society.
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