Last year lurid media descriptions of alleged acts of molestation of young boys by former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky shocked and immersed us almost to the point of desensitization before the fickle span of electronic attention voraciously moved on to the newest scandal.


Prosecutors are now ending their presentation in the second week of the Sandusky trial, and, according to, he faces 52 criminal counts of sexually abusing 10 boys over a period of 15 years--charges he adamantly denies. But, where is the blaring public outrage and indignation of just a few months ago? This trial isn’t even an update topic on most major talk shows and barely a whisper on the evening news.


Did people stop caring? Lose interest? Are continuing revelations so overwhelming that emotions have been numbed or blocked? Are the rating-driven commentators during the trial-by-media now judiciously awaiting the outcome of the legal process? Or have we retreated into varying levels of denial—or worse yet, acceptance--that venerated heroes deceive us, sacred institutions shield those who victimize, and that our own judgment may be fundamentally flawed or blind? Among others, the Catholic Church and now, apparently, Penn State—under the guise of sanctity, honor and stewardship for youth—have unconscionably betrayed the most vulnerable among us.


On December 20, 2011, Edge of Sports wrote on, “Now, ‘[T]he trial of Penn State coaching legend Jerry Sandusky continues with a sports radio yawn and a far dimmer spotlight… In Paterno’s own awful words, ‘He (McQueary) had seen a person, an older person, fondling a young boy. I don’t know what you would call it, but it was of a sexual nature…’ This isn’t just a story of the amoral leading the oblivious. It reveals an athletic department that existed in its own moral universe. In such a universe, the needs or honor codes of the greater institution, not to mention the broader community, is at best an annoyance.”


Is Penn State unique in defining “its own moral universe” in regard to child molestation, or paraphelia, as the three levels of sexual attraction to children (and acting on it) are labeled by the American Psychiatric Association. Or have similar sins/indulgences by institutional heroes, intellectual and religious leaders been historically accepted, ignored or protected by codes of silence? For instance, was Ghandi, a pedophile?


Dr. Vern Bullough, Professor Emeritus from SUNY and researcher on sex and deviance, served as Adjunct Professor at the University of Southern California, professor at California State University, and adjunct professor in medical ethics and history at the California College of Medicine and in public health at UCLA. In an interview in, Dr. Vern Bullogh stated he regards as his most significant book on sex, Sexual Variance in Society and History, which studied non-conforming sexuality from the caveman to the twentieth century and included chapters on China, India and the Islamic world.


Dr.Bullogh and his wife, Dr. Bonnie Bullogh wrote and co-wrote numerous books and published over 150 papers. Both were sexologists and deans at SUNY in Buffalo. Following are excerpts from a thought-provoking--and disturbing--Bullogh & Bullogh paper, Problems of Research into Adult/Child Sexual Interactions, published by the Institute for Psychological Therapies:


“Although adult/child sexual behaviors have occurred in many different cultures throughout history, there has been little serious research on adult/child sexual interactions… it is crucial to find ways to do research with persons who resist adopting today's standards and attitudes.”

“Since the passage of the Child Abuse Prevention Act of 1973, and the establishment of the Center for Child Abuse and Neglect in 1974…child abuse, including adult/child sexual interaction has been the subject of many reports and has been almost continually the center of media attention.


“What appears obvious from this rich source is that adult/adolescent sexual interaction has had different meanings at different times. These meanings are related to what a particular culture or society regards as the marriageable age and the desirable difference in age between the spouses.


“In general, also, societies have been hostile to adult/child or adult/adolescent sexual behavior involving penetration and less hostile to other forms of behavior, although what is now called adolescence was not then recognized as a stage in the life cycle.


“The following cases are only highly selected examples of different periods and different cultures, and deal with well known religious figures and moralists to emphasize the point.


“…Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi was married at age 13 to a girl about his own age and at age 37 took a vow of sexual abstinence. In spite of this vow, he found a need to fondle prepubescent and early adolescent girls. He took such girls to bed with him to overcome, he said, his "shivering fits" in the night. His female companions, who came from his inner circle — all certified virgins or young brides — entered his bed naked in order to warm him with their bodies. Some of them also administered enemas to him. Among the young girls, there was rivalry as to who would sleep with him, and one of his girl disciples reported that his bed companions had a difficult time in restraining their sexual impulses since he often rubbed against them and touched them in erotic places.


"Although his closemouthed house guardians were fearful of public reaction if news of these "pedophilic" sexual interactions were publicized, Gandhi continued to engage in them until his death. Gandhi did not have sexual intercourse with them, but obviously the touching and feeling were very important to him. If he had lived in the United States, he would have been sentenced as a child molester (Bullough, 1981).


“This same kind of occurrence is found in secular figures. For an American figure, the case of Will Durant is illustrative. In 1912, he was a thirtyish college instructor when a 14-year-old girl enrolled in his class, and, according to her own story, set out to marry him. By March, 1913, he had resigned his classroom position because of his growing interest in her and they were married in October, 1913, shortly after she turned 15 (Durant & Durant, 1977).


The Durant story emphasizes an important point, namely that even in the United States the age of consent in the past was much different than it is now. Many states had legal ages of consent at 13, although it was usually younger for girls than for boys. It is only in the last 10 or 15 years that most states have raised their age of consent. This consent, of course, applied to marriage, but, in essence, it was equivalent to making intercourse with such adolescents legal..


“Almost any time period or culture one picks, there are numerous incidents of sexual relationships between adults and prepubescent or pubescent youths. The German genius and poet, Johan Wolfgang von Goethe wrote: ‘I like boys a lot, but the girls are even nicer. If I tire of her as a girl, she'll play the boy for me as well (Goethe, 1884).”


George Gordon Byron, Lord Byron, was attached to Nicolo Giraud, a young French-Greek lad, and left him money in his will. He also was closely involved with Loukas Chalandritsanos, a pubescent boy, who was with him when he was killed (Crompton, 1985).


The list could go on to include Lewis Carroll, J. M. Barrie (Peter Pan), Horatio Alger (Bullough, 1990). Mostly we only have examples of the rich and famous and the pubescent boys (or sometimes girls) they loved and had sex with from ancient Greece to imperial Rome, to the medieval church, to modern times (Bullough, 1976), but they emphasize the continuing existence of such relationships. In fact so widespread has it been in the past, that some have speculated that it has a strong biosocial basis (Feierman, 1990).”


Coming back to the current situation involving Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno and others at Penn State, Edge of Sports has a different take. The graphic descriptions he provides of the moral corruption that allowed an alleged cover up at Penn State does not include a “strong biosocial basis,” for sex with children.


He writes on December 20, 2011, “The latest news from court, with not a sliver of the earlier publicity…reveals a culture where the possible serial sexual abuse of children was seen not as a crime but an inconvenience.”


He continues, “All the pabulum about honor codes are sacrificed on the altar of “revenue-producing” sports. This is the most important sports story in the country because while the details are particular to Penn State, the perverse situation of universities’ getting led by the nose by big money sports is everywhere..What makes Penn State matter is that it shows just how low a school is willing to go to preserve this reality. Don’t think for a second that this is just a Penn State problem.”


According to the American Psychiatric Association, a fixated pedophile is one who has not emotionally matured and still identifies himself as a child. He woos his victims and believes he is merely seeking companionship from his “peers.” Does Jerry Sandusky appear to fit into this group? Michael Jackson created a Neverland world of fantasy for himself and for the children who visited the magical island of Peter Pan, The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up. Ghandi professed that sleeping with naked little girls merely kept his thin body warm.


What do you think? Is there a “biosocial basis” for sex between adults and prepubescent boys and girls, or is it always a form of exploitation and abuse?



Bullough, E. & Bullough, B. (1996). Problems of Research into Adult/Child Sexual Interaction. IPT Volume 8, No. 2- 1996. Institute for Psychological Therapies.

American Psychiatric Association (2000). Fourth edition. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR (Text Revision). resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID.



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