In the R. Kelly interview, following the singer’s acquittal on child pornography charges, Toure asked the question “Do you like teenage girls?” To which, the self-proclaimed Pied Piper of R&B responded, “When you say teenage, how old are we talking?”
Similarly, on Monday night, when Costas asked Sandusky if he was sexually attracted to young boys he responded “Am I sexually attracted to underage boys? And then paused before stumbling “I…I enjoy young people. I love to be around them. I…I…But no, I’m not sexually attracted to young boys.”
WATCH THE COSTA INTERVIEW WITH SANDUSKY HERE:
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Even worse, Sandusky, who is accused of abusing at least eight young boys over a 15-year-period and reportedly under investigation for more, confirmed that, per former grad assistant Mike McQueary’s grand jury testimonial that he saw Sandusky sexually assaulting a child in the showers at Penn State in 2002, he was in the shower with a young boy.
“I have horsed around with kids. I have showered with workouts. I have hugged them and I have touched their legs without intent of sexual contact,” he told Costas, as he denied that he was a pedophile.
That response was eerily reminiscent of those given by Michael Jackson to British journalist Martin Bashir in 2003 for the special Living with Michael Jackson. In that interview, Jackson admitted that he often shared his bed with children in response to accusations that he had molested young boys. Jackson, like Sandusky, insisted that his actions were not sexual.
When he spoke with Ed Bradley about this on 60 Minutes that same year, Jackson did not back away from his statements. He told Bradley that he still felt that it was okay for him, a grown man over 40, to sleep in the same bed as a child.
“If you’re going to be a pedophile, if you’re going to be Jack the Ripper, if you’re going to be a murderer, it’s not a good idea,” he told Bradley. “That I’m not. That’s how we were raised. And I met, I didn’t sleep in the bed with the child. Even if I did, it’s OK. I slept on the floor. I gave the bed to the child.”
What’s disturbing about Sandusky’s response Monday night and Jackson’s responses in 2003, before he was eventually acquitted of child molestation charges in 2005, is that the inappropriateness of both men’s actions seemed lost on them.
Although Michael Jackson was not convicted of child molestation, most people do not co-sign on the concept of grown man having children who are not his own sleeping in his bedroom. This is just not appropriate behavior.
But, in his responses in 2003, Michael Jackson truly did not see the problem. In both Bashir’s and Bradley’s interviews, he didn’t seem to be manufacturing an acceptable response. Instead, he appeared to truly believe his own twisted logic. And, as disgusting as it is for most of us to fathom, Sandusky, despite admitting to actions such as a grown man showering with children who are not his own, maintained that he was not a pedophile and he also seemed to earnestly believe this.
Regardless of the fact that Michael Jackson was proven innocent in a court of law and that Sandusky is to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, their code of conduct is an issue. It’s extremely problematic when people of tremendous celebrity in Jackson’s case and one-time high regard as in Sandusky’s, insist that their actions are not questionable and point to their charitable track record as proof.
WATCH PART OF MICHAEL JACKSON’S APPEARANCE ON ‘60 MINUTES’ HERE:
Unfortunately this appears to be a common trait among those who behave sexually inappropriately around children. They simply cannot register their behavior as being suspect. Sandusky is so in denial about the inappropriateness of his behavior that he unironically titled his 2001 autobiography Touched. In the book, Sandusky reportedly writes of hugging boys and being close to the boys in his charity, The Second Mile.
What’s even worst, as has been demonstrated, many people look the other way when celebrity figures such as Jackson and Sandusky engage in questionable behavior with children. Because of the great things that such celebrities do for children, those around them are less likely to respond to obvious red flags.
The fact that Sandusky was quite adamant to Costas that the once legendary Penn State coach Joe Paterno never spoke to him about his behavior even after McQueary’s accusations is probably typical in these incidents. Certainly that’s what happened in the widespread child molestation scandal that rocked the Catholic Church. Those priests were given license to run rampant because too many people simply did not want to admit that such atrocities could be true.
In hindsight, it’s easy to say that Sandusky and even the late Michael Jackson acted inappropriately but the real challenge is how to stop those actions in the future. Whether Sandusky has done anything criminally wrong and despite the fact that Michael Jackson was acquitted, this kind of inappropriate behavior had to have negatively impacted the young men with which they interacted.
As we witnessed in the Eddie Long scandal, where no criminal wrongdoing could be proven, there are very deep moral issues, not to mention emotional ones, at play. Anyone who saw the face of Long accuser Jamal Parris could not be mistake the pain. How do these men grow and cultivate healthy relationships? When men who are lauded by those around them and the media for their good acts overstep their bounds, how do those they affected determine wrong from right in their own adult lives?
Men of stature can easily prey on young boys, especially those who are lacking strong male figures in their lives. We cannot simply pass judgment on those incidents that we know about. It is far better to speak up and be proven wrong than to remain silent and let wrong go unchecked.
We all have to hold celebrities and other high-profile individuals to the same standards to which we hold everyday people. If we don’t find it acceptable for grown men who have no stature to engage in the behaviors that Sandusky is currently accused of, then we shouldn’t tolerate it from high-profile individuals. Our main priority should always be to protect kids first.