A pedophile is often imagined as a dishevelled old man baldly offering candy to preschoolers. The truth is that most of the time we have no clue what we are dealing with, writes Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker in a piece based on the case of Jerry Sandusky at Penn State. Did anyone at Penn State understand what they were dealing with, either?, Gladwell asks. He was a man who built a sophisticated, multimillion-dollar, fully integrated grooming operation, outsourcing to child-care professionals the task of locating vulnerable children—all the while playing the role of lovable goofball.
The child molester's key strategy is one of escalation, desensitizing the target with an ever-expanding touch, Gladwell says. In interviews and autobiographies, pedophiles describe their escalation techniques like fly fishermen comparing lures. The article, describing other cases, explains how child molesters get away with their crimes. Sandusky, who was convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse, may spend the rest of his life in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 9.