Imagine a white collar criminal. What’s the first picture in your mind? Probably a somewhat well-off man.
Now imagine a car jacker. What’s the first picture in your mind? Probably a younger man.
Now imagine a child molester. What’s the first picture in your mind? Probably a working class man.
Like it or not, we’ve all got pre-conceptions. If we are to be a safer society, we’ve all got to learn to keep those pre-conceptions in check.
We must broaden our minds to include possibilities that initially we’re apt to unthinkingly rule out. (Example: that women can be child molesters too).
This comes to mind as allegations surface that the richest man in South Dakota, T. Denny Sanford, “was investigated for possible possession of child pornography, according to four people familiar with the matter.” According to ProPublica, “Sanford is a major donor to children’s charities and Republican politicians.”
We at Horowitz Law are not making some partisan point here. Nor are we implying that sexual misdeeds are more common in one party or the other. (Nor do we know if Sanford is innocent or guilty.)
What we ARE saying is that sex offenders – whether they go after kids or adults – can be found in every income range. (See Michael Jackson, for instance, and Harvey Weinstein and R. Kelly and Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell and Bill Cosby and so many others).
Many crimes are so-called ‘crimes of passion,’ as when a spouse comes home early, finding them committing adultery.
Other crimes are more rational, like when an accountant embezzles money to pay for his ailing mom’s expensive cancer treatment.
But sex crimes are different. Most of them are driven by irrational, deep-seated compulsions. And those compulsions can exist within all types of people from all tax brackets.
Most sex offenders, therefore, don’t fall into some easily-identifiable, logical category. They can be young or old, shy or outgoing, tall or short, and of course rich or poor.
We wish this weren’t the case, of course. Because this reality leads to a disturbing conclusion: We’ve ALWAYS got to be alert and vigilant and careful about kids’ safety.
Author Michael Lewis addresses this in his book “Home Game – An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood.” He writes: “One of the many surprising things to me about fatherhood is how it has perverted my attitude toward risk. It is true that there are many kinds of risk – emotional, social, financial, physical. But I can’t think of any I enjoy taking more than I did before I had children. There are little risk-averse things I do now that I never did before and little risk-averse feelings that I have now that I never had before.”
If you’re driving an expensive car with the windows down in a somewhat remote but crime-ridden neighborhood, you might want to be extra-cautious.
If you’re dressed “to the nines,” walking in a dark downtown area with few other people around, you might want to be extra-cautious.
But if you’ve got kids, you might want to be extra-cautious NO MATTER where you are or who’s around you.
It’s a daunting job. But it’s our most important job, plain and simple.
Common sense tells us that wealthy folks ARE NOT likely snatch purse snatchers or shoplifters struggling to pay rent or put food on the table.
But some rich people ARE very likely to be sex offenders. No amount of earnings or savings or professional success magically cures the twisted souls who feel compelled to exert power over others through sex. And the skills – interpersonal and professional – that help them get or stay rich also help them seem ‘normal’ and thus win trust and get access to youngsters.