If Jerry Sandusky is a pedophile and rapist, as the charges against him allege, Bob Costas’ interview with him last night provided the lens through which to see him for what he is.
First of all, Sandusky’s desire to come forward publicly (if he is guilty) could reflect a view of other people as naïve and easily manipulated. It could reflect a sense that we are—all of us—about 10 years old and easy marks for a tall tale. Seen this way, the interview with Costas would be that same moment when Sandusky suggested to an innocent child that they get into the shower together for what he claims, was just some fun, snapping towels at one another.
For those of us who are no longer 10 years old emotionally, we cringed again and again during Sandusky’s statements. That’s what people do when their internal barometers of truth register something pathological unfolding. But some assailants among us don’t have such a barometer inside them at all. Hence, they think that we don’t, either.
Sandusky told us that he asked an alleged victim’s mother for forgiveness (but allowed that she might never be able to offer it) because he had exercised bad judgment being naked with her child. Yet, he denied being sexually attracted to children. He stated—again with no emotion—that Mike McQueary, then a graduate assistant at Penn State, and a janitor, were both lying when they reported that he was sodomizing children. Yet he offered no reason why they would lie.
Again, I can’t say for sure that Jerry Sandusky is guilty. But if he were guilty, his idea that we would simply accept his explanation that he had begged for forgiveness because he had decided to take a shower with a child, and because his penis had accidently touched the boy, could reflect his view of us as easy prey: kids to be manipulated. He’d be grooming us for the real assault—in court.
You may remember Scott Peterson, who, back in 2002, was convicted of killing his wife Laci and their unborn child. Peterson was unable to restrain himself from asking that investigators who arrived at his house to discuss his pregnant wife’s disappearance be careful not to scratch his car door with theirs. He was unable, in the setting of Laci’s disappearance, to figure out that his attention to meaningless details would strike the investigators as bizarre. And that was because he seemingly had no empathy. He couldn’t guess at what a person with normal emotions would feel about a man who cares more about a car than his family’s safety. He didn’t even have enough access to those emotional ties that bind the rest of us to be able to fake them.
Sandusky spoke in a monotone voice, without expressing any outrage or even disbelief that victims would come forward and accuse him of sodomizing them when they were children. His ability to remain composed may reflect an inability to resonate with the emotions of others and possibly even an inability to feel any guilt or remorse. Were you or I wrongly accused of raping children, I can imagine we would be saying things like, “Bob, this is preposterous. I am being railroaded. I don’t know who has it in for me, but I’m going to find out. This is entirely baseless. I will take a dozen polygraphs today. Tell me where to show up. I’ll do it on your show. I only want to clear my name and save my friends and family from the pain of thinking for one moment that I am a monster.”
Nope. We didn’t hear that. What we may have heard (if Sandusky is proven guilty) is that chilling sound of a man under siege who feels nothing so much as his own dark desires, who sees others only as prey, who has no regard for the truth and whose pulse rises not even a little when his cruelty and depravity are revealed.
Dr. Ablow is the author of the upcoming book, "Inside the Mind of Casey Anthony." He is a psychiatrist and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team. Dr. Ablow can be reached at email@example.com. His team of Life Coaches can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.