Jerry Sandusky Case: Tis The Season For Healing, A Former Prosecutor’s Perspective

The Penn State Jerry Sandusky child molestation case is not just about whether Sandusky molested 10 young boys at Penn State. Or, whether we are protecting our children from pedophiles, although certainly questions to be answered, it is also about the healing opportunity for millions of adult victims of child abuse who have no doubt been triggered by the constant coverage of the Penn State molestation scandal, the Syracuse Bernie Fine molestation scandal and now, the AAU molestation scandal. I should know, as a former child abuse prosecutor, I witnessed first hand the healing power of telling and of letting go of the pain and the secret.

Studies suggest that 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls have been molested. Adult victims are now being reminded of what happened to them as children or could have happened to them. Likely, they may identify with the alleged victims in the Sandusky case. For they may understand their pain, their struggle to tell or not, and certainly, their suffering in silence.

Yet, when many adult victims were children, society was different. Molestation typically wasn’t talked about nor did it attract today’s public and global outrage and non-stop media coverage. Today, we have schools, medical professionals, counselors, organizations and certain individuals who are required by law to report suspected molestation or face criminal and civil penalties.

Yet, no matter how much the Sandusky defense tries to characterize the “showers with young boys”, the “wrestling”, and the “accidental touching of the genitals” as simply “horsing around”, the evidence may suggest otherwise given the tidal wave of victims, the numerous allegations, and the chillingly similar m.o. (modus operandi) with each victim. If the allegations are true, Sandusky fits the classic profile of a pedophile. Access to children. Preying upon vulnerable victims, troubled young boys. Baiting the boys with invitations to football games, introductions to Penn State football players and gifts. And, setting up a charity organization for troubled youth as a cover and as a supplier of victims. Yet, lawyers will do what they do, and a jury will likely decide Sandusky’s guilt or innocence, but, maybe a healing opportunity has been presented, too.

So as we gather with family and friends this holiday season, don’t be surprised if a loved one suddenly starts telling about what happened to him or her in 3rd grade or at summer camp or at Uncle Jack’s house. Maybe, now, it will make sense as to why your cousin suddenly changed schools, or why your brother stopped hugging your grandfather or why your sister stopped going to band practice. Or, why Aunt Mary suddenly got divorced from her husband and got sole custody of your cousins. Or, why cousin Sally became “sexually promiscuous” in high school.

And, maybe, even you will remember a time when you felt uncomfortable around Uncle Jack. Or, maybe, now, you’ll finally forgive yourself for not telling or for feeling guilty for not protecting your little sister. Or, for not believing your best friend when she confided in you.

Maybe, it’s time to take this opportunity to heal because healing like truth, I find, appears when you are ready.

And, when a loved one begins to tell you about what happened to them 5 years ago or 40 years ago, listen without judgment and interruption. Provide that healing space, compassion and support that may not have been available to them when they were children. Whether your loved one chooses to confront their accuser, call the police, consult a lawyer, seek counseling or simply just tell you the details, the healing has begun. And, there are many professionals to help with the healing. Hopefully, it Tis the season for healing.

Simply my opinion, what say you?

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2 Comments on “Jerry Sandusky Case: Tis The Season For Healing, A Former Prosecutor’s Perspective”

  1. Jill Estensen says:

    Excellent article. I love the fact that you have given your readers a positive way to understand the whole molestation issue. Facts with a prescription. Good going Michele!


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