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Sandusky a classic two-sided story line that players cannot fathom
‘If … proven, he fooled us all,’ ex-linebacker says
Now the long face is notorious: an easy half-smile leading to wide, slightly befuddled eyes and five deep creases on Jerry Sandusky’s forehead, framed by cheeks thicker than they used to be.
The face used to be a central Pennsylvania icon, belonging to the man who hawked 144-page copies of “Developing Linebackers the Penn State Way” from his station wagon in 1981 to raise money to help troubled children at his Second Mile foundation. Described as sincere and able to blend into any social situation, Mr. Sandusky attends St. Paul's United Methodist Church in State College, Pa., and spent 23 years as the mastermind of Penn State’s defense.
But 52 counts of child sexual abuse involving 10 boys ripped apart Mr. Sandusky’s apparent double life. Those who knew him struggle to reconcile the 67-year-old man whose letters to newspapers preached wholesome values with the predator described in 28 graphic pages of two grand jury presentments.
“He was very, very normal,” said Mr. Johnson, a member of Penn State’s 1986 national championship team and also a former Redskin. “Not one hint of smoke. Not one.”
Psychologists who treat sexual offenders and abuse victims see something different in the accusations against Mr. Sandusky entering today’s preliminary hearing in Bellefonte, Pa.
While Ki-Jana Carter, the former Penn State running back picked first overall in the 1995 NFL draft, couldn’t link Mr. Sandusky to abuse in his “wildest dreams,” David Lisak is struck by the case’s classic story line.
“This is a pattern we see over and over,” said Mr. Lisak, an associate psychology professor at the University of Massachusetts who helped found the 1in6 organization that works with male victims of sexual abuse. “A sexual predator will really devote an incredible amount of their life and their life energy to securing victims and grooming those victims. … My guess is that’s just the tip of the iceberg.”
A ‘complex’ man
The parents of six adopted children, Mr. Sandusky and his wife, Dottie, reside in a two-story house less than a mile from an elementary school. Newspaper stories over the past three decades rave about his “magnetism” with children and outgoing, childlike personality. At youth football camps, he fronted a musical group called the Great Pretenders. Mr. Sandusky’s 2001 autobiography is titled “Touched.”
Repeatedly over the years, Mr. Sandusky described himself as “complex” without explaining what, exactly, that meant.
“I guess I’m a bit of a complex person sometimes,” Mr. Sandusky told the Washington, Pa., Observer-Reporter after turning down Temple’s head football job in 1988.
While there isn’t a unified profile for pedophiles, studies estimate that 95 percent are known to the victim. They don’t usually come across as creepy or violent. They don’t look like monsters. They’re kind, charming. They ingratiate themselves into families. And they become expert at concealing their sexual interest in children.
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