By Bill Britton
The sexual molestation tragedy at Penn State brought to mind an incident that occurred when I was 9 or 10 years old. An older boy in the neighborhood—I’ll call him “Guy”—asked me to come into the garage with him because he had “some special stuff” he wanted to rub on me. When I asked him what it was, he went into graphic detail about his intentions, which I won’t repeat here. The flight response kicked in, and I avoided walking by his house until I moved away.
Thirty years later, I attended his cousin’s funeral, a childhood friend who, like me, was a former Marine. Guy was there, along with a few other friends from the neighborhood I hadn’t seen for years. Out of Guy’s earshot, I struck up a conversation with these friends and found that Guy had tried to get each of them into his garage over a period of 5 or 6 years.
I also found out that Guy was a male student recruiter for a small eastern college, a role that sent him around the country and overseas for prospects. But what upset me most on seeing Guy and hearing part of his history was the fact that he had married a younger woman with five young sons. The thought that these boys might have been terrorized by Guy led to thoughts of lying in wait in the parking lot to beat the crap out of him. But I submerged that urge, knowing that I would be labeled the criminal if I did so.
The lesson to be learned from Penn State, and from my personal experience, is that sexual predators come in all sizes, colors, and ages. But more than that, their assaults are rarely singular events. In addition, they often operate under the guise of being a family friend, coach, pastor, priest, teacher, or mentor.
There is no penalty harsh enough for the sexual predator, but castration would be a good start.