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Lessons from the Penn State scandal

Like most of the United States, all of us at Lovefraud were horrified by the sordid story of child sexual abuse that emerged from Penn State University last week. Unlike most of the United States, we probably weren’t surprised.

That’s because all of us at Lovefraud have learned a very difficult lesson that millions of other people have not learned. This is the lesson: Evil exists.

For most of us, however, there was a time before the lesson. At that time we didn’t know evil existed—let alone what it looked like or what to do about it. So at that time, we were vulnerable to the sociopaths.

The sociopaths came into our lives, showering us with affection and maybe gifts, asking about our dreams and promising to make them come true. Kind of like the way Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach, treated some of the young boys from his Second Mile organization for disadvantaged youths.

Then, after a period of time, we glimpsed inappropriate or immoral behavior from the sociopath. Perhaps it was directed towards someone else. Perhaps it was directed toward us. In any event, we were shocked.

Did we really see what we thought we saw? Did that person, who we always thought was so wonderful, who had been treating us like gold, really do that? It’s so out of character. It can’t be true.

Kind of like the reaction many people probably had towards allegedly seeing or hearing about Jerry Sandusky abusing young boys.

Complicated issue

Many people at Penn State failed to take appropriate action to stop Sandusky from preying on young boys. All of the following people have been criticized:

  • Janitors who knew of an assault
  • Mike McQueary, the graduate assistant football coach who witnessed an attack
  • The Penn State athletic director and senior vice president, who failed to contact police
  • Penn State University President Graham Spanier, himself a family therapist
  • The legendary football coach Joe Paterno

But the issue is complicated. I am not making excuses for anyone, but experts say that any decision about what to do in this situation would have been fraught with psychological issues and societal pressures. An excellent article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette raised the following points:

  • Did the officials who failed to report feel allegiance to a friend? Did they feel allegiance to Penn State football, or to the university?
  • What about the phenomenon of “diffusion of responsibility”? Did everyone think reporting was someone else’s responsibility?
  • What about the human brain, which is “remarkably adept at believing what it wants to believe—”and not believing what it doesn’t want to believe?

Read Penn State: Why doing the right thing isn’t as easy as it seems, on Post-Gazette.com.

Teachable moment

So how do we correct the problem? How can people be prepared to respond appropriately when they come face to face with evil? We need awareness, education and training:

  • Awareness: Evil exists.
  • Education: Evil is not always obvious. Sometimes, it masquerades as goodness.
  • Training: When we discover evil, what do we do?

Quite frankly, I think many of the people who could have reported the behavior of Jerry Sandusky were shocked into inaction. They saw or learned something unbelievable. They didn’t know what they saw or learned was possible. Then, with no guidance about what to do in such a situation, they decided there was less personal risk in doing nothing, or doing the minimal, or soft peddling what they learned, in case they were wrong.

Make no mistake: Doing the right thing in this situation involved enormous personal risk. It was the individual’s word against that of a scion of Penn State football. It was like going up against the church.

Perhaps, in the end, good will come out of this tragedy. What happened at Penn State has provided a teachable moment on a grand scale.

The child sexual abuse scandal has forever tarnished the legacy of the legendary Joe Paterno and the storied Penn State football team. It is a lesson of what can happen when people fail to do the right thing. The sudden and drastic downfall may be just what is needed to help people faced with similar situations in the future take the personal risk and go to the right authorities.

Doing nothing may be safe in the short term, but perilous in the long term. If Joe Paterno can be ruined by not doing enough, anyone can be ruined.


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155 Comments on "Lessons from the Penn State scandal"

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Great article Donna! Good insight into a difficult situation!

I agree that doing the right thing involves enormous personal risk, and this case is like going up against the church. Personally I don’t know how people could live with themselves knowing what that man was doing and that he had never been held accountable, yes there will people that don’t believe you and that will demonize you for telling the truth, but how could they cover this up? They keep saying that the people “met the minimum required by law to report”. Are you serious?? Don’t we have a moral responsibility to protect our children as a human being?? How did these people sleep at night? It is hard to imagine the devastation and pain that he has caused all those families and I bet there are lots of victims that are too afraid to ever admit what happened to them. People have said that it is the end of innocence for Penn State. I think their innocence died a log time ago and this is the end of denial and cover-up for some people in leadership and a big painful dose of reality for the rest. Even if it is painful, and it often is, reality is better because that is when the healing can begin. God bless all those victims and their families, it will be a long journey to heal from and overcome the abuses they have experienced.

Just like the catholic priests abusing young boys . . . . I am quite sure that this ISN’T the ONLY college in which this is happening. It is probably happening in MANY schools.

I think we should try to institute some legislation that allows whistle blowers to speak up, and prosecute people that don’t!

Or just eliminate one-to-one contact/meetings between grown men
and young boys. Maybe they need to be chaperoned?

Anyway this is extremely disturbing . . . and not going to stop unless concrete steps are implemented.

My college friend’s husband, on Facebook, was publicly asking why these kids didn’t tell their mothers. Really? Did you just victim-blame a bunch of TINY LITTLE KIDS who got raped by an authority figure? Really? I had to stop myself from driving to this guy’s state to punch him in the face. (Luckily it was easy to stop myself, considering I don’t have a car, and thanks to my seizure disorder, I don’t have a driver’s license either.)

I am so over victim-blaming in cases of rape, especially in child rape. I guarantee that these ten-year-old boys were not wearing short skirts and getting drunk in a bar late at night. (By contrast, I talked to someone who used to bartend at a popular bar just across the street from the Penn State campus. Regularly, when this person closed the bar at 2 AM, the last people to leave would be… you guessed it, Joe Paterno and followers.)

I agree this is a teachable moment. I hope that PEOPLE are teachable, because there is still a whole lot of not getting it. It’s hard enough for adult victims to tell on their abusers and be believed, let alone little kids.

This situation has “triggered” me in so many ways on so many levels. It brought back memories of a time I failed to follow through on a child that I knew had been beaten, I told the doctor I worked for in my preceptorship (internship) but didn’t call the police or child protective services. I have felt guilty about this for DECADES, and still do. I should have done more. Paterno should have done more. McQueary should have done more, but we are all human. It is for all the reasons of the World why we don’t want to take the risk of our own situation.

I learned from my own failure….and I hope that others learn from this failure. I remember when Kitty Genovese was murdered over a half hour period of time in which she screamed for help and dozens of people heard her cries and did nothing, not even called the police on the telephone. Her death brought a national outcry like this episode has done, and I hope that the pain suffered by these children, now men, and the shame of an institution in the glare of their failures to protect children against public figures will help protect other children in the future.

The “no adult alone with a youth” is policy for the Boy Scouts, and yet Charles “Jackie” Walls III molested 1,500 kids over a 20 year period, so even that is not enough to protect children. Policies must be ENFORCED.

For this to be teachable, it CAN NOT be forgotten. People need to stay outraged over this. They have to think about red flag moments, that they may have seen or heard something that did not seem quite right, but just put it out of their mind.

We can’t just drop off our kids at camp, practice or even schools without staying involved. We need to see and hear first hand what is going on. If something does not seem quite right, it probably isn’t. Talk to your children about the dangers and then watch for the signs and above all listen to your kids, especially when they AREN’T talking.

Write to your Congressmen and women, let them know you want stricter laws, mandatory background checks and a judicial system that will enforce them.

Milo,

Sandusky purposely picked kids from “troubled backgrounds” who would A) not have involved parents and B) wouldn’t be believed if they did report the abuse.

That is the thing about pedophiles, according to one of THE experts Dr. Anna Salter, the pedophiles are so GUTSY doing molesting almost in public. One guy she mentioned in her book was fondling a kid as he rode in the back seat with the kid and the kid’s parents were in the front seat. Another molester who was a school principal, had a large office and he molested kids in his office with the DOOR OPEN and his secretary outside at a desk, of course out of sight, but how APPARENTLY OPEN was it to have the office door open? Who would have THOUGHT that someone would molest a kid with the office door OPEN.

In retrospective studies of pedophiles who are “first time offenders” using lie detectors the AVERAGE number of molestations before getting caught is between 110 and 300. Yep, you heard me right –one-hundred and ten and three hundred. WOW! Put that is your pipe and smoke it! It makes me sick to even contemplate that….but as unfortunate as it is, by this time next year it will be “Penn state scandal? What was that?”

Here’s a quote for you from a man who abused a 1 year old for over a year!

The 72-year-old owner of a day care center in Missoula, Montana, told police he sexually abused a 1-year-old girl he was looking after because she was ‘promiscuous.’

After he pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the girl for a year and a half, Albert Gaub was sentenced to 15 years in prison and classified as a moderate risk to abuse children again.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2061438/Albert-Gaub-72-convicted-sexually-abusing-toddler-says-did-promiscuous.html#ixzz1diC2kI1R

I’m surprised that Sandusky hasn’t said the boys he molested were not coming on to him.

Oxy:

HA, that man doesn’t even know what the word “promiscuous” means!

Oxy:

What you described about pedophiles being so blatant sounded like my X spath. I’m not going to go into details, but he was extremely blatant with his escapades. It is sickening.

Obviously the one-year old girl was pooping in her diapers intentionally and repeatedly in order to force the man to take off her diaper. That’s what I do when I want to get a man in the sack!!

😛

This would be funny if it wasn’t so sad and if I didn’t think the man BELIEVED what he said! Talk about narcissistic. I hope the man rots in prison and gets BUBBA for a cell mate! Maybe Bubba will think the guy is “promiscuous.”

Your comment “purposely picked kids from “troubled backgrounds” who would A) not have involved parents and B) wouldn’t be believed if they did report the abuse” is spot on!! My ex is a pedophile and this is his pattern with both women and children. He is a very good liar and con-artist and he convinced church leadership that it was about “one photograph that did not really depict what they thought it did”. I never knew the truth until I found a transcript of the trial in his papers that he left behind. The truth for the incident that he was caught in was that he had a room full of pornographic photos of an 8 year old girl (that he took) AND he admitted to sexual abuse of her, he confessed and asked for a deal. People don’t do that type of thing one time either, they just get very good at hiding it! He cons women into relationship saying that he loves them, but he is just using them financially and he will be on the computer at night when she is asleep feeding his porn/sex addiction. He claims he is all about ministry and helping the victims of abuse, neglect and oppression…but it is all a lie ( CLASSIC GROOMING) to get you to trust him. When the people in the church catch on to his con, he just moves to a different church leaving behind a bunch of used and abused people that he never cared about at all! He has a constant supply of women that buy into his lies, he is a narcissistic psychopath, evil to the core!

Hard to believe that idiot called a one year old girl “promiscuous”!!! A “moderate risk”…are you freaking kidding me!! Outrageous!

The other thing is the child feels responsible, and the abuser MAKES the child feel responsible. The abuser can then use the child’s own guilt and shame them in the form of a threat if they tell anyone. It’s a very tragic situation.

You are right Oxy, the “at risk kids” like his organization was “helping”. After just putting Grand into the boys and girls club, basically for “at risk kids” it sends chills up and down my spine.

I still don’t think it hurts to pop into places from time to time, but if these creeps are going to do this they will do it regardless. sick – sick – sick.

The promiscuous one year old, like the one year old in supervised visitation, filmed by the sicko parents.

And I thought Montana was tougher on this kind of crap, if he would have shot a grizzly, he would have been hung.

The Trojan Horse psychopath who was a 3X convicted child abuser, ages 9, 11 and 14, was a ‘HIGH RISK FOR REOFFENSE AND VIOLENCE” in Texas, but Arkansas decreased his risk from a level 4 (the highest) to a level 2 (not on a map, you must search for him by name on the sex offenders list) “because he didn’t do any of these crimes in Arkansas.” In Texas he would have had a SIGN IN HIS YARD….not here.

Identifying psychopaths is a can of worms that most of society does not want to know about . In my mind there are a few problems . Identitifying someone as a psychopath, almost has a racist tone to it . Psychopaths can hardly be called human so indentifying and publicizing the fact is frowned upon . You are labeling a segment of society as a group . A group that should not be given the freedoms and rights that the rest of society takes for granted . Human rights and freedoms in the hands of a psychopath is like a fox in the chicken coop . Most humans treat each other with respect , along comes a psychopath and the situation changes . The human treats them with respect while the psychopath goes into covert destruction mode reaping havoc all over town . Treating a psychopath with respect is a recipe for disaster . From my own experience I would say they will never change to be reasonable human beings , so what to do . The eskimos apparently have a name for this type of person . Their answer to the problem is , push them off the edge of ice flow at an opportune moment . Anyone got any better ideas

Quest,

The problem is that until they have BEHAVED BADLY you don’t know what they are, so by the time you figure one out, they have usually done a LOT OF DAMAGE…yea, the Inuit’s plan is a good one, but unfortunately here the law frowns on such justice as that.

If our laws that are on the books already were enforced there would be fewer of them out on the streets to commit MORE CRIMES at least. The 3-strikes you’re out (or three felonies and you are in prison forever without a chance of parole) I think is a possible solution. Or any rape or killing that is premeditated or “first degree” instantly qualifies as a “life without parole” sentence, and ALL PEDOPHILES. As long as we have judges though like the one that let Sandusky out of bond wihtout him having to actually PUT UP A BOND, well….what can I say. SHE needs to go to prison with him.

quest, at the start of May this year I wrote on my facebook, “Goodbye, my kunlangeta, I wish you peace and rest until the end of your days in the icy waters of my arctic.” I just made him dead in my mind. And it wasn’t him that I wished peace and rest for… but my mind. I just pushed him off an ice shelf in my mind and froze him in there away from any human feelings.

quest,
I was reading that ONE person showed up at the football game carrying signs in support of the victims. He was accosted, beer was thrown on him, his sign was smashed.

The “sports fans” said, “not now, this is about the football players.”

They don’t want their good times ruined by being reminded of all the atrocities, indignities and suffering in the world. That would just be a bummer.
http://gawker.com/5858988/this-is-about-the-football-players-moron-tells-penn-state-protester

Sky, sometimes it’s amazing to me how much people seem to live in a fantasy bubble, as if they can shut out the raw reality of evil like the button on the remote control… I know that if I would really give my opinion on certain cases, they’d think I’m the one who’s paranoid… people can’t be that bad. But I just think, yep keep those blinders on and get fooled and perpetuate the bad.

Insightful article, Donna. My best friend and her husband are Penn State grads as well as many, many others in my community. This horrific event has rocked them to the core. They have their individual identities tied in with Penn State. It is who they are LITERALLY. I always used to joke with them and aks them if Penn State makes all freshmen drink laced cool aid to get them “Hooked” into such feverish loyalty to the school and football team. They truly live in a Penn State bubble and the loyalty runs very deep.

This is really where the danger lies with these institutions. They are elevated to such a superior status in the minds of students past and present. I have teacher friends who defend Joe Paterno and say he did what he was supposed to do.(They went to Penn State and/or their children go to Penn State) They have an extremely difficult time accepting that maybe Joe Paterno isn’t the squaeky clean “God” they all think he is and that Penn State is just as human and faulty as everything else in life.

I used to find their blind loyalty funny until this whole sexual abuse tragedy unfolded. Now I just find it disturbing.

On another note, I was once in the same postiion as Joe Paterno. I was contacted by a friend who had let me know that a mutual friend’s son had been sexually inappropriate with her daughter. My friend did not want to call CPS for fear of making a big deal out of nothing. She thought that since they were both very young that no one would do anything. She also wanted to protect her daughter from having to testify publically about anything. I told her that if she didn’t report it, I was going to. The perpatrator’s mother is a raging alcoholic (and I think a Spath) and the boy is a complete behavioral problem. He would mutilate frogs, pee in people’s basements and was an all out disrespectful kid. The boy’s mother blamed everything on his ADHD.

In the end, my friend couldn’t bring herself to call CPS, so I did annonymously. My “friend” ratted me out to the boy’s mother.

Since then my (former) friend still hangs out with the mother and has her daughter hang out on playdates with the boy who victimized her daughter. So much for protecting your child. I am cast as the villian now and they act as if nothing ever happened. I’ve been told by another mutual friend that I butted my nose into something that was none of my business. Bottom line, people don’t like conflict and want to avoid, hide, and deny it at all costs.

Oh…and guess where the boy’s parents went to college…You guessed it!!!

Funny thing about all this is, I can sleep very sound at night. I know I did the right thing.

Laws are for POST abuse. They don’t prevent abuse. Preventing abuse takes personal committment by PEOPLE to be a person who holds other accountable. VERY few people with that kind of backbone. (see my bell shaped curve, where NO action or care is the middle norm.)

My sister ASKED my pedophile father for her abuse. At first I thought this unusual but it’s actually extremely common. Children are GROOMED. My sister was young and unaware of what she was asking for. SHe was merely STARVING most of the time and she knew she would get fed if she let him touch her naked. I know other children who were SO unwanted and unloved, that the idea of being touched and told they were special seemed like LOVE to them. My friend’s daughter LIKED the pleasure. It felt good.

To tell is to give up FOOD, goodies, LOVE, pleasure. Tell me ya’ll… how good are YOU at giving up eating, pleasure, and love???? And WE know they are horrid spaths. The kids don’t have ANY emotional protection from such knowledge.

The emotional fallout of the above pedophile RAPES, and they were RAPES, came later.

I think we ask too much to EXPECT children to do that which we KNOW is extremely difficult for us. Yes, we should continue to educate children that it’s important for them to tell AND we should educate the public that it’s ADMIRABLE to step on and say NO when they see abuse. (that’s they way domestic violence went down, by telling men that a MAN does not beat women and a MAN does not stand by while another man beats a woman.)

Sisterhood
I hope the daughter knows the reason mom is no longer friends with you. She may even protect her mom at this time, but later down the road, the idea that SOMEONE was willing to stand up for wrong will make ALL the difference in the world to her, might be the thing that stands between her and suicide.

GOODNESS is NEVER wasted.

It’s almost like a cult.

sisterhood:

You hit the nail on the head with “Bottom line, people don’t like conflict and want to avoid, hide, and deny it at all costs. People just don’t want to get involved.

Sisterhood, Good for you! It is sad, but (shaking head here) the “I don’t want to get involved” is what makes people do NOTHING in the face of EVIL…evil couldn’t exist without those people doing nothing.

Oxy:

Exactly! People turning their heads is what perpetuates evil. As long as these predators don’t get caught, they just keep on doing it.

THE HANGMAN
By Maurice Ogden

Into our town the hangman came,
smelling of gold and blood and flame.
He paced our bricks with a different air,
and built his frame on the courthouse square.

The scaffold stood by the courthouse side,
only as wide as the door was wide
with a frame as tall, or a little more,
than the capping sill of the courthouse door.

And we wondered whenever we had the time,
Who the criminal? What the crime?
The hangman judged with the yellow twist
of knotted hemp in his busy fist.

And innocent though we were with dread,
we passed those eyes of buckshot lead.
Till one cried, “Hangman, who is he,
for whom you raised the gallows-tree?”

Then a twinkle grew in his buckshot eye
and he gave a riddle instead of reply.
“He who serves me best,” said he
“Shall earn the rope on the gallows-tree.”

And he stepped down and laid his hand
on a man who came from another land.
And we breathed again, for another’s grief
at the hangman’s hand, was our relief.

And the gallows frame on the courthouse lawn
by tomorrow’s sun would be struck and gone.
So we gave him way and no one spoke
out of respect for his hangman’s cloak.

The next day’s sun looked mildly down
on roof and street in our quiet town;
and stark and black in the morning air
the gallows-tree on the courthouse square.

And the hangman stood at his usual stand
with the yellow hemp in his busy hand.
With his buckshot eye and his jaw like a pike,
and his air so knowing and business-like.

And we cried, “Hangman, have you not done,
yesterday with the alien one?”
Then we fell silent and stood amazed.
“Oh, not for him was the gallows raised.”

He laughed a laugh as he looked at us,
“Do you think I’ve gone to all this fuss,
To hang one man? That’s the thing I do.
To stretch the rope when the rope is new.”

Above our silence a voice cried “Shame!”
and into our midst the hangman came;
to that mans place, “Do you hold,” said he,
“With him that was meat for the gallows-tree?”

He laid his hand on that one’s arm
and we shrank back in quick alarm.
We gave him way, and no one spoke,
out of fear of the hangman’s cloak.

That night we saw with dread surprise
the hangman’s scaffold had grown in size.
Fed by the blood beneath the chute,
the gallows-tree had taken root.

Now as wide, or a little more
than the steps that led to the courthouse door.
As tall as the writing, or nearly as tall,
half way up on the courthouse wall.

The third he took, we had all heard tell,
was a usurer…, an infidel.
And “What” said the hangman, “Have you to do
with the gallows-bound…, and he a Jew?”

And we cried out, “Is this one he
who has served you well and faithfully?”
The hangman smiled, “It’s a clever scheme
to try the strength of the gallows beam.”

The fourth man’s dark accusing song
had scratched our comfort hard and long.
“And what concern,” he gave us back,
“Have you … for the doomed and black?”

The fifth, the sixth, and we cried again,
“Hangman, hangman, is this the man?”
“It’s a trick”, said he, “that we hangman know
for easing the trap when the trap springs slow.”

And so we ceased and asked now more
as the hangman tallied his bloody score.
And sun by sun, and night by night
the gallows grew to monstrous height.

The wings of the scaffold opened wide
until they covered the square from side to side.
And the monster cross beam looking down,
cast its shadow across the town.

Then through the town the hangman came
and called through the empty streets…my name.
I looked at the gallows soaring tall
and thought … there’s no one left at all

for hanging … and so he called to me
to help take down the gallows-tree.
And I went out with right good hope
to the hangman’s tree and the hangman’s rope.

He smiled at me as I came down
to the courthouse square…through the silent town.
Supple and stretched in his busy hand,
was the yellow twist of hempen strand.

He whistled his tune as he tried the trap
and it sprang down with a ready snap.
Then with a smile of awful command,
He laid his hand upon my hand.

“You tricked me Hangman.” I shouted then,
“That your scaffold was built for other men,
and I’m no henchman of yours.” I cried.
“You lied to me Hangman, foully lied.”

Then a twinkle grew in his buckshot eye,
“Lied to you…tricked you?” He said “Not I…
for I answered straight and told you true.
The scaffold was raised for none but you.”

“For who has served more faithfully?
With your coward’s hope.” said He,
“And where are the others that might have stood
side by your side, in the common good?”

“Dead!” I answered, and amiably
“Murdered,” the Hangman corrected me.
“First the alien … then the Jew.
I did no more than you let me do.”

Beneath the beam that blocked the sky
none before stood so alone as I.
The Hangman then strapped me…with no voice there
to cry “Stay!” … for me in the empty square.

THE BOTTOM LINE: “…I did no more than you let me do.”

Hosanna, OMG what an amazing poem.
It tells the story of humanity and the spath: because I can = because you let me.

That poem is a classic example of what happened in WWII Nazi Germany, and what happens the world over, and at Penn State….

Yeah, creepy huh!!

And the common thread of all those horrific events is a narcissistic psychopath!

OK here’s an important lesson from the Penn State Scandal:
ALL PSYCHOPATHS DO PSYCHOPATHIC TELLS.

“Touched — The Jerry Sandusky Story.”

That’s the name of his autobiography. CAN IT SCREAM ANY LOUDER? THEY ALL DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

skylar:

WOW!!!!!!!!!!

Louise, yep. They can’t resist. They CAN’T resist. They “tell” like we, breathe. They all do the exact same things, you just have to know how to interpret the actions.

skylar:

It’s amazing! Mine and the OW in triangulation both told tells all the time. I just didn’t realize it at the time of course! Duh, stupid me. BUT…I am NOT stupid anymore!! HAHA!! The joke is on them now!

Latest headlines say he’s denying it now…

Of course he’s denying it…..just admit he was in the shower with the kid, that’s harmless, right? Maybe not wise, but he never thought at the time that some kid would accuse him of something so bad…after all he was a coach at THE Penn State program, and NO coach from there would do anything baaaaad….. PUKE!

pass the bucket.
PUKE

This is a great article. It triggered me, too, but in different ways. I wanted to share my perspective. The trigger for me was the call for legislation to punish people who fail to report, and to protect whistleblowers…

All I can think of is “witch hunt.”

I don’t know how common my experience is, but I was recently falsely accused of child neglect, investigated by CPS, they interviewed my spath ex-husband and his even-worse wife, who lied about me in the report which CPS based their “finding” on. It caused tremendous trauma to me and my children. Although the initial report occurred 8 months ago, I am still PTSD-ing from it. It sucks! I am angry and hurt and feel like I have absolutely no recourse. They “branded” me with a neglect label which I have to carry for the next 5 years. All evidence was fabricated and false (I don’t have to prove this to you guys, of course — but I have to tell “my truth” somewhere…). The CPS lawyer said, “we are not taking your children away. Why should you care if you are labeled neglectful? most people find that it really doesn’t affect their lives at all…” meaning I’m making a mountain out of a molehill. her logic escapes me, but she is young — perhaps she is not yet a mother. Most people who are not yet mothers think that they will be super-moms once they become mothers. Or people who have not been falsely accused think it would never happen to them, OF COURSE NOT, because they are good parents. (I once thought that, too! silly me…)

I defended myself by telling the truth, but it was not sufficient. All I can say is, it was my word against theirs, and CPS chose to believe the spaths.

This is the most crushing thing to go through — I have been a good mother, have not neglected my children, and my reputation has been smeared. I don’t know how to ‘get over this.’

That is the trigger. I am afraid of making it more likely that false accusations will destroy innocent, good people’s lives, if we have legislation in understandable reaction to child sexual abuse — to make people report it. And think that that will solve the problem without creating new ones.

I’m hoping you won’t read that and react in a simplistic or surface way (though you can react however you do, of course — as my reaction was a “trigger” — most of us have them).

From my experience, I think that we need to look at the entire system as a whole — and I think not enough attention has been paid to CPS and how they do their work. What happens when people file a report? Do fair and thorough investigations happen? Not always — and my experience is not unique.

Am I putting down all CPS caseworkers? Of course not! They have a job to do, some of them do it well, and some of them — I sadly now believe — lack the experience and perspective to be able to tell a neglectful or abusive parent from a good one. And err on the side of “protect the children!” and snatch them away or other knee jerk reactions. The aftermath of this type of investigation feels more like I and my family were invaded by a toddler in a china shop with a baseball bat who smashed everything and then smiled, satisfied, and left us to pick up the pieces of our lives.

We need to make absolutely sure that when we report “suspected” abuse that the investigations are conducted fairly! We need watchdogs. That there is no foregone conclusion in the investigator’s mind. Innocent people can be traumatized through false allegations and yes, this does happen! Does CPS give you any “how to deal with the aftermath of trauma from the CPS investigation of your false accusation” handbook as a parting gift? No!!!!! They just make their finding, and you are left on your own to deal. It’s horrible. (they never admitted that they were wrong — their final finding was “unsubstantiated neglect” which means they have no evidence either way, but just in case I AM neglectful, they are going to label me thus for the next 5 years). It just hurts. And I’ll admit one reason why: being a mom — a good and safe, attentive, appropriate mom — is a huge part of my identity. Not the only part, but a very big part. I’m devoted. I’m dutiful. I care. I try. I fix my mistakes. I try to do it “right” — not perfectly — and have a goal of raising self-sufficient, productive adults. I really, really want to do this right. And I think that I do! And I think there are many moms like me — and we are all vulnerable to false accusations and traumatic CPS investigations, if people choose to report either to cause mischief or because they have some slight suspicion of abuse or neglect (maybe Johnny forgot to take his coat to school one day, so mom is neglectful — etc.).

So, my questions for society are — how do we protect children from sexual abuse, while also not going on witch hunts? This is a very tough problem. I do not think that legislation for the bystanders is going to help, UNLESS there is also simultaneous reform of the CPS system.

We need to be concerned with THE TRUTH.

I do not — absolutely do not — think that saving innocent children should trump everything and that we should go full steam ahead in saying, “well, you know, the potential innocence of this adult under investigation DOES NOT MATTER. They are an adult. They can get over having their child taken away. They can get over any nasty accusation we level at them. They can get over having their friends shun them. We don’t care — we only care about the children. Even the least little suspicion of abuse means we get to destroy innocent adult lives.”

I know that is an extreme reaction of mine — as I said, it is a trigger. Does my trigger trump the sexual abuse of children? I don’t view it as a contest. I would like the entire system looked at — child sexual abuse is wrong. But we also need strong adults, and we need to be able to recognize the difference between an adult who is a threat to children, and an adult who is a protector of children. We need to find better ways to prevent it and stop it. And I think we also need to find better ways of investigating “suspicion” of abuse — so that adult/family lives are not destroyed in the process.

I’m interested in everyone’s thoughts — how to have a balanced and fair approach that safeguards children without unduly destroying the “good adults” who are out there. Because good adults are not perfect — who is?

I think Donna’s approach is right on target. Recognize that evil exists.

But then, please, don’t be so horrified by that that you stamp out the good along with the evil.

I think CPS and court orders need to be expedited. If there’s an accusation of abuse, seems to me that doing speedy interviews with the kids; not allowing the abusive parent time to “prep” the kids would be pretty important.

By the time a sociopathic parent has figured out CPS/court involvement, they’d already be manipulating the kids on what to say/what not to say.

Better education on sociopaths is going to be essential for better social workers, better government, small business, family life, social life, etc. I mean, this stuff just needs to get posted everywhere, and people need to see interviews, read literature, etc. until they can spot these people a mile away.

20years ~ I also think you bring up some very valid points and you are coming from a place that you know what it FEELS like to be falsely accused.

Another possible problem with the public outrage and call for change is that history tells us that things can swing so far in the opposite direction that as you put it “well, you know the potential innocence of this adult under investigation DOES NOT MATTER.” The example I would give would be the “Zero Tolerance” policies that were put into place by the schools after the shootings in Colorado. You now have children being suspended for bringing plastic knives to school in their lunch boxes, young children being suspended for drawing guns or weapons or holding up their fingers and saying bang. Somehow, like you say, and I am one of the biggest child advocates you will find, we must have a balanced and fair approach.

Donna, many times I read on here, where people have been faced with defending themselves against the lies of the sociopath that they have presented EVIDENCE of the lies and it is IGNORED AND OVERLOOKED. I, myself was in such a position with a GAL. Knowing I would be in a position of he said/she said with a liar, I presented the GAL with at least 8 legal documents, police reports, court investigator’s reports, CPS reports, court documents where the spath/daughter was CAUGHT in CONFIRMED lies. I gave her myspace blogs written by the daughter bragging about how good she was at lying “Lying comes as naturally to me as breathing”. That should all have gone to CREDIBILITY. It was ignored, it did not.Spath was believed, I was not.

I believe Dr. Hare mentions, in one of his books, that Psychopaths are easier to diagnose in a prison setting, because their “stories” can be easily checked out through their records.

I think the professionals dealing with these issues MUST put their own feelings of who is the liar aside and look for and at the evidence. If you look hard enough, it almost always exists.

By Dorothy McCoy

Penn State and Creature of the Dark

All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing. ”“Edmund Burke

The scandal at Penn State is the tip of this iceberg of pain and tragedy. The victims are not the longtime football coach, Joe Peterno, or Athletic Director Tim Curley, or Senior Vice-President Gary Schultz or even Penn State President Spanier. The victims are hidden away and we will never hear about most of them. As a psychotherapist, I have treated many adults who were victims of childhood sexual abuse—the consequences of the abuse are horrendous. I have seen the pain, the confusion (Why me?), the guilt (I must have done something to cause the abuse.), and the isolation (I am different.). Pedophiles normally prey on many more children than the ones for which they are arrested. We know that in counseling and we know it in law enforcement.

Former Penn State coach, Jerry Sandusky, is accused of 40 counts of sexual crimes against male minors. Yes, he is innocent until proven guilty by a jury of his peers. That is our criminal justice system at work. I won’t attempt to try the case here. Though, I will discuss pedophiles, manipulators and creatures of the dark. If, indeed, Mr. Sandusky established his organization, The Second Mile, to have access to minor boys on which to prey, then his actions are reprehensible. If—Peterno, Curley , and Schultz knew about these behaviors and did not alert the proper authorities, then they will be called upon to explain why they should not share moral responsibility. “All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.”

Creatures of the Dark

Coach Peterno is 84 years old and has served Penn State for over 40 years. If he is the kind of man the Penn State students and players seem to think he is, then it is possible that he was manipulated by a master manipulator. Please understand, I am not offering excuses for anyone. If Mr. Sandusky is a pedophile, he may have appeared to be appealing, congenial and even altruistic. Creatures of the dark can project a likeable façade. If pedophiles looked like the monsters we envision, they would surely find it difficult to get away with abusing children. If we saw their hideous side, we would recognize them for what they are and act accordingly. Creatures of the dark must have the cover of darkness to survive. They look quite different in the light of day and they can be mistaken for successful, compassionate human beings. They are very adept at covering up their predatory natures. Be warned–they wear innocuous masks of believability and normality.

“Predators have a marked proneness to blame others, or to offer plausible rationalizations for the behavior that has brought them into conflict with society and moral responsibility” (McCoy, 2006, p. 9). Creatures of the dark are talented liars and illusionists. Friendship with a predator comes with a staggering price tag—though it may take many years for the bill to come
Were Sandusky’s friends and superiors manipulated to believe a story that “appeared” to be in their best interest to believe? I don’t know— I don’t have the facts. However, as many people find to their horror, you do not know a manipulative creature of the dark, he has worked diligently at spinning a web of contradictions, confusion and falsehoods that others fall into without thought. I can quite well imagine how this could have happened—and the enduring sorrow and regret it would create. I have seen creatures of the dark.

Until I researched my book, The Manipulative Man, I probably would not have recognized a predator either. Let me suggest that you learn to recognize them. Ignorance is entirely too expensive.

I wish I could say this is the end of the tragic story hidden away in Happy Valley. I wish I could say now we will see justice and the healing will begin. I don’t believe that is true—knowing human nature as I do–below the concealing muck—there may be more sins against innocents” I hope I am wrong.

Sky ~ I thought of you. I was watching a news program where they were playing old interviews with Sandusky. He looked much younger, so they must have been done years ago. He was talking about his involvement with Second Mile and the kids.

PSYCOPATHIC TELLS all over the place. He talked of these kids needing discipline!!!! Some of the scenes were filmed with him in the swimming pool with kids. I understand most of the abuse took place around water. On and on. I really got what you say about the “tells”.

copdoc:

You say you have treated many adults who were victims of childhood sexual abuse and the consequences of the abuse are horrendous. May I also ask if another consequence other than the ones you have listed is that the abused grow up to be abusers?? I am extremely curious if this is perpetuated and if so, isn’t that the most horrendous consequence of all?

I so enjoy reading Donna’s articles touching on the many facets and layers of the s/p underworld. That’s what s/p is: the underworld. As many have pointed out, it exists, but many are unaware of it because somehow our human radar hasn’t become high tech enough to recognize it, to locate it and see it for what it is: completely and totally unacceptable. It’s good to continue having it pointed out that current events often result from a core of s/p behavior. I ** gasped ** when I read that the VP was a trained family therapist. Hey…you out there….looks like family therapy programs could use a revision to include studies on s/p behavior and how it wreaks havoc on the family system and society as a whole. Keep on writing and waking us up, Donna!!

Louise – In response to your query to copdoc

In my opinion, the abused growing up to be abusers is NOT the most horrendous consequence of all. The rationale of my opinion is that a child has no choice, the ADULT chooses. Therefore one does not follow the other and to do so is to assign victim status to pedophiles. There are far more abuse victims chosing to NOT be abusers than there are those who do choose.

Again, to be an abuser is a CHOICE. To be the childaged victim is NOT.

In my opinion, the most horrendous consequence is when an abused child commits suicide.

I am a Penn State graduate and earned a BS and MS I knew Joe Paterno and his family. Please let me tell you how I have educated people about sociopaths and sexual abuse.its amazing how quick everone is to judge and all Joe Paterno guilty. Yet, they do not understand the complexity of a sociopath and how they would have responded probably the same. I was married to a sociopath, a physician, who sexually abused my children. So this story was even more personal to me than to other alum. You see, my heart bleeds blue and white for Joe Paterno. Joe Paterno said, as I do, “I wish I had done more.” Sandusky had primary victims…those children who had horrific acts forced upon them and their lives destroyed forever. Then there are the secondary victims….Joe Paterno. Yes, another victim. Why? because Sandusky, like all sociopaths, is a master brainwasher, dissimulator, Manipulator. My ex husband, a master as well. Joe was brainwashed by Sandusky. Joe Paterno’s mind just like those who get a second hand report of sexual abuse shut down rational thinking with sound judgement. The mind of those who get a report wants to normalize and rationalize.I challenge anyone to respond any differently. As a mother who would give her life for her kids…I heard the reports from my own children. But I believed in my husband and my mind could not comprehend. So I normalized it. My children must be influenced by somthing in the media I must have missed. they may be having dreams. Early puberty hormones. My therapist was even fell under my husband’s hypnotic trance…she rationalized it as young children exploring in a masterbation fashion… children were just experiencing sensations from self touch. A man of my husband’s status and respec, pillar in the church, big smile, charming, charismatic, bragged about his children everyday to every patient. No. Not possible. Joe Paterno had many years of brainwashing… Sandusky, a familiy man, foster parent, deacon at the church. A charming man he worked with almost 30 years in the most professional manner. Sandusky, as other sexual predators, must be not only good but better than the rest of us otherwise they would not be able to get close to their victims. They would not be able to sodomize a young boy unless they were able to resocialize the child AND every single adult around them that could catch him commiting the crime. Joe Paterno was not approached immediately by someone reporting in a panic. instead, the young grad assistant, he did not know 26 years as he knew Sandusky, reported the act. Joe Paterno, already manipulated by Sandusky, would not react the same to news that was already over a day old. If it was such a horror than surely McCurry would have called 911. Joe Paterno DID act. Some may not have reported it. Even the ones today who think he was guity. He did report it and from there I am not sure what systematic distaster occurred. I do know that I would give my life for my children but I did not call the police. It makes no sense to call 911 on a a husband and father who appeared absolutely perfect or Sandusky who was a model coach, husband and father. I challenge anyone to call the police on someone they believe in who has manipulated and groomed them for years that they could never commit such acts of violence. Joe would lay his life down for the students. I could not call the police at the first reports of my children. It never crossed my mind. Now I wish I had done so. Our minds go into the strongest defense capable especially when the crime is sexual in nature. Simple incomprehensible. So we do not comprehend and fail to respond as a result. McCurrey.. now he was also a victim. Yes, he should have grabbed the child and run to the hospital with him as he called 911. Again, he was brainwashed and what his eyes were seeing and what was registering in his brain had to be different. The result, he delayed his report. By the next day, he would question his judgement as I did when I finally reported. Fear of being wrong and falsely accusing, fear it was true and noone would believe. I am not an enabler. I am a passionate, strong personality. Joe Paterno is a man who would break down doors, a man of principle, demonstrated this for his entire life. Even a little crabby. This is the lesson. That evil does prevail! Mothers all over the world question their judgement, ignore red flags, normalize, rationalize, fear…mothers who would die for their children. Joe Paterno a man of amazing principle. The reason this happens to mothers and to not just a coach but the most well known respected coach is to teach the world that the evil in sociopaths victimizes. Shame on those who never witnessed or had a report from a child about sexual abuse. They have not idea what they would have done because their brains would have responded in the same way. Everyone who hears the news, sees the act, will regret what they did. Joe Paterno should not. He reported it.

KatyDid:

I know…I guess I was thinking of it being a vicious cycle and if the abused become abusers, how will it ever stop? I would really love to know if all these pedophiles were abused. And not just pedophiles…all abusers…adults who beat their kids or even adults who never lay a hand on their kids, but who emotionally and verbally abuse their kids severely. Sometimes words can be way more hurtful than the beatings. It would be interesting to me to find out. I think I will do research on this.

I do understand the other consequences are horrendous…of course they are! These are innocent children we are talking about! I was thinking about the horrid consequence of perpetuation because if that is the case, there really is no hope. There’s no hope it will ever stop if the abused becomes an abuser. If even a few abused become abusers, we will always have it in our society.

I realize it is a choice to abuse and I also realize that not all abused children grow up to abuse, but a lot of them do. I think it’s been proven?

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