I doubt there are many people outside of State College, Pennsylvania, who knew Jerry Sandusky’s name before November 5, 2011. Yes, he helped “create” Linebacker U and was a part of both of Joe Paterno’s two National Championship football teams, but I would challenge anyone to name the current five best coordinators of any team at the college or pro football level. And I will take it to the next level: name coordinators who have been retired for more than a decade. The point is that no one gave a shit about Jerry Sandusky before November 2011 and I think that point rings even truer today.
I will spare you a long narrative on the life of Jerry Sandusky, and instead stick to nailing the “highlights” of his otherwise sad and disturbing life. Sandusky served as an assistant at Penn State from 1969-1999 where he then took an emeritus position after learning he would not be the next head coach. Paterno did not like Sandusky and the often openly argued. In 1977, Sandusky founded The Second Mile, which was a non-profit charity serving underprivileged and troubled youth in the state of Pennsylvania. After retirement from Penn State, he published an autobiography, ironically enough titled Touched: The Jerry Sandusky Story. He was described by many as a “lovable goofball”, often seen horsing around, made a lot of prank phone calls, and was always talking about the mega water balloon fights he orchestrated while in college.
Yeah, Jerry was a big deal.
Anyway, before we work our way towards Sandusky’s process as a pedophile, here is a little bit of insight into The Second Mile:
- As mentioned prior, The Second Mile was created in 1977 with the help of Sandsuky’s wife, Dottie.
- The foundation had a budget of millions of dollars and their programs reached tens of thousands of children.
- Vulnerable children were located by outsourcing with child-care professionals.
- In 1990, The Second Mile received one of President H.W. Bush’s Points of Light awards, which is hilariously not even listed anymore on the PoL history website. Isn’t it great how people try to pretend like things never even happened? Negligence and ignorance is exactly what allowed Jerry Sandusky to roam free for years!
The Second Mile foundation was an extremely important aspect in the grooming arc set up by Jerry Sandusky. Grooming is defined by psychologists as the process by which child molesters ingratiate themselves into communities they wish to exploit. In this case, what better community for Sandusky to exploit than his very own? For years, Sandusky was setting up a pipeline of young troubled boys and nobody thought twice about his behavior.
However, there were warning shots fired on more than one occasion. But like I said before, Sandusky, as do many pedophiles, had a process. It is this process that fools so many of us. It is the grooming process that covers up all of those warning signs and never allows for allegations to become anything more than isolated incidents.
If you want to read the gruesome details of many of Sandusky’s interactions with his victims, here is a link to the Grand Jury testimony.
Here is one story of how Sandusky got away with it.
In 1998, Sandusky invited an eleven-year-old boy he met though The Second Mile to a Penn State athletic facility. The two engaged in wrestling and a workout before they showered together. Now, a successful pedophile – I cannot believe there is even such a phrase – does not find his victims by mistake. They will “test the waters” sort of speak. For Sandusky, The Second Mile was a place that gave him easy access to vulnerable children.
Sandusky started with wrestling because he wanted to make physical touch seem normal to the young child. The shower was the next test. After the boy agreed to shower next to Sandusky, he then made his next move and bear hugged as each were naked. Sandusky wanted to see how the boy would react. The boy reacted by telling Sandusky that he felt it was weird.
No worries. Sandusky backed off. This was part of his process. He gave it a week before coming back to the boys’ home. Sandusky wanted to see if the boy was ready to spend time with him again, but instead Sandusky found the boy to be too risky of a “candidate”.
Here is the reason why: The boy’s mother confronted Sandusky and asked him if anything unusual had happened the last time he and her son were together. Sandusky beat around the bush before the mother told him it’d be best if he left her son alone. Sandusky then goes on to tell her things like I’m sorry and I wish I were dead. Sandusky was cleverly setting himself up to be the victim by reacting in a way where he seemed taken aback and ashamed. He understood he had gone too far and was trying to use his old “charm” to keep the mother from asking more questions or going to the police — although little did he know that detectives were in listening to the conversation the whole time.
You might say to yourself: Well, there you have it! Sandusky admitted he was doing inappropriate things with the boy. Why didn’t the police arrest him then? Because as I have mentioned before, prosecutors must gather evidence of sexual abuse. While Sandusky made an admission of wrong-doing on some level, it was by no means evidence of sexual abuse.
Pedophiles do not go for the homerun right away. The explore their options and feel things out — literally. The problem with this specific situation is that the prosecutors got involved too early. Again, you may be asking yourself: Why is it too early? Can it ever be too early when it comes to protecting children? Well, the simple answer is yes. But, as we can see, the vetting process for prosecutors does not line up with the grooming process of the pedophile. This is where the first major hurdle comes into play and is one of many reasons why it is not easy to identify pedophiles.
That specific allegation involving Sandusky was, sadly, too vague. Things get even more complicated when the boy tells his psychologist that he felt like the luckiest kid in the world to get to sit on the sidelines at Penn State football games. The boy’s mother began to question her own sense. Was she overreacting?
The psychologist who interview the young boy, Alycia Chambers, wrote a report on the case and gave it to the [Penn State] University Police Department and Child and Youth Services. According to her notes:
“Sandusky’s behavior met the definition of a ‘likely pedophile’s pattern of building trust and gradual introduction of physical touch, within a context of a ‘loving,’ ‘special’ relationship.’”
However, Jerry Lauro, disagreed. Lauro was the caseworker assigned to the incident by the Department of Public Welfare in Harrisburg and said:
“the incident fell into a ‘gray’ area concerning ‘boundary issues.’”
A final psychologist, John Seasock, declared:
“There seems to be no incident which could be termed as sexual abuse, nor did there appear to be any sequential pattern of logic and behavior which is usually consistent with adults who have difficulty with sexual abuse of children.”
Only one out of the three psychologists thought Sandusky was grooming this young boy and recognized his behavior for what it actually was. The other two psychologists seem to give concrete conclusions that Sandusky’s actions were either (i) falling into a “gray” area or (ii) that his behavior did not indicate at all that he was sexually abusing the child.
After the investigation was over, Gary Schultz, Penn State’s Senior Vice President for Business and Finance, e-mailed Graham Spanier, the University’s President, and Tim Curley, the school’s Athletic Director, and told them that the investigators were dropping the whole matter. Sandusky, Schultz wrote, “was a little emotional and expressed concern as to how this might have adversely affected the child.”
Jerry Sandusky: One
Everyone else involved: Zero