A reader writes:

In another life, I spent a significant amount of time working in penitentiaries, doing drama therapy with pedophiles. I learned a lot – so much of which I wish I could forget these days. I realize that we have to presume innocence, but the data about Sandusky is overwhelming – It parallels everything I learned about pedophiles during my years of working with them.

They organize their lives around their obsession. They structure their lives in such a way as to continue their abuse. They are extremely devious, and will go to great lengths to get what they want. And, if not caught early enough, they can end up with hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of victims. (One particularly disgusting inmate described at length the kits he carried with him at all time – one in his home, one for travel, one in his car. They included Vaseline, candy, toys, towels, etc. He was constantly in search of victims. His entire life was structured around that search.)

In listening to the Costas interview, I was drawn back to my days spent in the Massachusetts Treatment Center for Sexually Dangerous Persons in Bridgewater, MA. First, Sandusky exhibits no affect in the interview. There is no outrage, no emotion, no anger, no sadness. Imagine, just for a moment, if YOU were innocent and accused of these horrific crimes. Your emotional state would be intense. His is anything but. This is, sorry to say, classic pedophile affect.

Second, and most compelling, is his answer to the question: “Are you sexually attracted to young boys – to underage boys?”

Obviously, if he were innocent, there is only one answer to this question: “No!” (Again, imagine if someone asked you that question. There would be only one answer and it would be emphatic, and probably outraged.)

But, listen carefully to his response. First, he repeats the question – twice. Next, he outlines his “enjoyment” of young people. Then, he says he “loves to be around them.” Finally, he catches himself and eventually gets to “No,” nearly fifteen seconds after the question is posed. Again, this is classic pedophile. He first attempts to explain himself – almost getting lost in that explanation – before he finally comes to the only obvious answer.

However, he has no problem answering this question: “Are you a pedophile?” The answer to that question is quick: “No.”

Why? Because, he absolutely doesn’t believe – in any way – that there is anything wrong with what he has done. He doesn’t believe that pedophilia is wrong – pedophiles never do. They construct vast and complex justifications for their actions, usually centering on the victim, what the victim wanted, and how much pleasure they give their victim. The term itself – pedophilia – is anathema, because it defines, as abnormal, an activity and way of life that they view as perfectly legitimate.