Following up on my recent post asking about the possible role of Jerry Sandusky's father, Art Sandusky, in Jerry becoming a child molester, the Washington, Pennsylvania Observer-Reporter has posted new articles in a "Sunday Xtra" relating to Jerry's upbringing in that small town in southwestern Pennsylvania.
This, no doubt, is one of the most difficult stories the Observer Reporter has ever had to handle. Its a locally owned paper, not a part of one of the community newspaper syndicates, and there will be big pressures to not "stain" the town with this story, I am sure. These are pressures that Sara Ganim, a young crack reporter at the Harrisburg Patriot-News, who is getting rave reviews for her investigative reporting on the Sandusky scandal, doesn't have to cope with.
The most interesting recent Observer-Reporter story, Childhood friends wonder if they really knew Jerry Sandusky, speaks to numerous people who knew Jerry growing up, and notes the following nugget about Jerry's upbringing:
His friends say if there is one thing that seems odd, in retrospect, it might be this: Sandusky never dated in high school.Well, being shy around girls and not dating is one thing. But what the article implies to me, but is completely silent on, is that Jerry Sandusky really had no interest in girls. As a star athlete and not unattractive guy, there's no question Jerry could have been dating if he wanted to. I also think that if Jerry expressed that he had interests in girls to his childhood friends, this would have come out in the article. There is no evidence that Jerry ever "dated" any woman other than his wife, Dottie, whose relationship appears to have been cultivated by Jerry's mother. So, the evidence to date suggests to me (not surprisingly) that Jerry Sandusky has never been sexually attracted to women.
Those close to Sandusky remarked that the popular and handsome athlete was shy around girls and people outside of his circle of friends.
"Jerry was always kind of a loner," recalled Riggle. "He never dated in high school, and he didn't date throughout most of college. All he did was study in college. He didn't go out, didn't go to frat parties, while I was out doing things you were supposed to do as a college kid. It didn't seem odd at the time, but I remember in high school, we all had girlfriends, dated, went to dances, and Jerry was just never a part of that."
In fact, Sandusky always seemed to befriend those who were mentally challenged or who had a hard time making friends. It was a lesson, he wrote in his book, that he learned from his parents: "They taught me the meaning of respect to all people."
Skimming the surface of some research, it appears that the causes of pedophilia are really that not well understood, though molestation as a child is considered to be a risk factor. Hypothesizing any link between homosexuality and pedophilia appears to be highly controversial, and I cannot pretend to understand the scientific and political debates about this without further inquiry. Logically, being homosexual has no connection to being sexually attracted to pre-pubescent children. But if sexual oppression can be a risk factor for pedophilia, even if Jerry was not molested as a child himself, and he found himself to be homosexual in a time and place where homosexuality was an abomination--as no doubt it was in Washington, Pennsylvania in the 1950s and 60s--could his repression have contributed to his development into a pedophile? There is a common sense appeal to that inquiry to me. It could be perhaps the most crazed argument in favor of gay marriage (i.e., if you're in the Clint Eastwood school on gay marriage, like me), but repression has consequences.
That being said, since I've done lots of speculation, I suppose its possible that Jerry Sandusky was just magically born as a pedophile. Maybe that's the way it works. Maybe he wasn't molested as a child, maybe he's not homosexual. But generally speaking, there are causes for the bad things that happen in the world, and not looking for them doesn't help.