Penn State Scandal: 'Nice Guy' Pedophiles Groom Their Victims, Experts Say

Jerry Sandusky is charged with molesting eight boys.

ByABC News
November 7, 2011, 10:41 AM

Nov. 7, 2011— -- Allan Anderson will never forget the doctor at fishing camp who gave him the attention he was missing at home when he was only 9 -- but the grandfatherly man turned that affection into sexual molestation.

"The experience was so overwhelming and dark," Anderson. "But I didn't feel that I could talk to anyone. My parents were pretty uninterested in my needs."

Now, 52 and living in Minneapolis, Anderson is an advocate for men who have been abused as boys.

For him it happened again over a three-year period with his piano teacher, starting at age 12. The experiences "put an enormous obstacle for me in finding my own healthy natural sexuality," said Anderson.

The doctor was in his 60s and fit the description of what FBI experts call a "nice guy" molester, one of the least understood in the pedophile world.

His profile resonates in the case of Penn State former football coach Jerry Sandusky, who has been charged in connection with the molestation of eight boys over a 15-year period, all of whom he met though an underprivileged boy's program that he founded. Police claim one 10-year-old boy was raped in the football locker room shower in 2002.

Sandusky, 67, has refused to answer questions, telling ABC News that his lawyers told him not to discuss the case.

The university has barred Sandusky from its campus. The college's athletic director and vice president have stepped down after being charged with allegedly covering up the abuse.

Patterns of Abuse

Pedophiles come in many forms, but the one who often gets away with sexual molestation and is least understood is the "nice guy" -- not the abusive father or the stranger who kidnaps a child, but the trusted doctor, teacher or coach.

"The media and society tend to over-emphasize stranger danger," according to Ken Lanning, a former FBI agent in the behavioral science unit and author of the book, "Child Molesters: A Behavioral Analysis."

Lanning said he does not know the facts in the Penn State case but can speak to general characteristics of molesters and their victims.

"I don't want to convict this guy, but these are the cases our society least understands," he said.

Frequently, the "nice guy" molester is a babysitter, next-door neighbor or a Boy Scout leader or parish priest or minister, he said.

"It's hard to believe, because we think of them as ghoulish monsters, who are predatory and horrible and repulsive," said Lanning.

"The nicer you are, the longer you get away with the crime," he said. "It's important in how they work. They spend more and more time with the kids then gradually start to convince themselves that they are helping them."

Children, like Anderson, are also reluctant to report these molesters.

"You would think these guys are the easiest ones to catch," said Lanning. "Kids know his name, they see this guy every day, they know where he lives. You'd think they would call the police and put this guy out of business in less than a week."

But, as in the case of Anderson, these molesters "groom" and manipulate their victims. They lower their inhibitions and seduce them with attention and gifts.

"Most victims are compliant and their molesters don't use force," said Lanning. "The victims feels shame and guilt and embarrassment because they were supposed to yell and tell."

Anderson said society also often dismisses complaints of victimization from boys.

"I had a hard time seeing what had happened to me as appropriately called abuse," he said. "The prevalent idea is that boys take naturally to sex or like sex."