Matt Sandusky spoke to a group about the abuse he suffered at the hands of Jerry Sandusky:
Matthew Sandusky walked the crowd at the Pinnacle Center through the subtle and gradual grooming process of building trust with children through attention and activities before the sexual abuse actually takes place. He told them of a dysfunctional and abusive childhood that made him easy prey when steered to Sandusky’s Second Mile nonprofit for disadvantaged youth when he was 7.
“The Second Mile was feeding this man the perfect victims,” said Sandusky, 36, who said he was age 8 when the abuse began at the nonprofit’s summer camp and 17 when it ended.
He said Jerry Sandusky had all their backgrounds, knew who didn’t have a father in their lives, so all he had to do was choose who to target. He said the kids were taken to football games with seats on the 50-yard-line and the coach began spending more time with the boy’s family.
There are people who abuse children who do so merely because they are sexually attracted to children. There is no intent hurt the child or just to use them. Many of these people do genuinely care about their victims despite their actions.
Then there are people like Sandusky. The true predator. This is someone who does not really care about the victim on a substantive level. They care only about access and the ease of manipulation. Once the child becomes unavailable or refuses to go along with the abuse, the predator loses interest.
I got that impression about Sandusky from his infamous interview with Bob Costas. Sandusky was detached from his own actions. He not only rationalized his behavior, but also normalized it to such a degree that he could barely keep from admitting what he did.
I suspect that had Sandusky been caught ten years earlier he would have responded much better. I think part of the reason he was caught was because he lost control over his own behavior. This seems to happen with predators like Sandusky. They become overconfident because they abuse so many children in a short period of time without being suspected that they seem to think themselves uncatchable. This is particularly true if they have the power to dissuade or beat an investigation, as Sandusky did.
I also reached that conclusion based one of the victims’ testimony. The young man stated that Sandusky groomed him for while and then began the abuse. At some point, the boy got in trouble with the law and was moved to a group home and later jail. He expected Sandusky to come and rescue him, yet Sandusky never came.
Those two things told me that Sandusky really had no emotional connection to his victims at all. They were just there for him to use, and once unavailable he moved on to easier targets. Had Sandusky really cared, he would have tried to get access to the boy. Certainly that would have been to continue the abuse, but also because there was an element of genuine compassion. Sandusky seems to lack that. For him, it is only about who he could control, which appeared to continue even when the victims became adults.
All this said, I hope that people do not immediately assume that any man who takes an interest in kids is a predator. Most people who want to help children genuinely want to help them. We ought not assume everyone is a Jerry Sandusky waiting for an opportunity.
We should, however, make sure that children know they can tell if someone does something to hurt them. Many of the boys Sandusky preyed on had no one else to trust. That is what made them ideal victims. If we give them other people to trust, let them know that other people care, they may be more willing to come forward when someone like Sandusky begins grooming them.