Child Molesters: A Behavioral Analysis

Kenneth V. Lanning, M.S., FBI (Retired)

Mr. Lanning is a 30-year veteran of the FBI who spent 20 years in the Behavioral Science Unit and National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. He is a founding member of the Board of Directors of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) and current member of the Advisory Board of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA). He is the 1990 recipient of the Jefferson Award for Research from the University of Virginia, 1996 recipient of the Outstanding Professional Award from APSAC, and 1997 recipient of the FBI Director’s Award for Special Achievement for his career accomplishments in connection with missing and exploited children. He has testified on seven occasions before the U.S. Congress and many times as an expert witness in state and federal courts. He has consulted on thousands of cases involving deviant sexual behavior and the sexual victimization of children. He has authored numerous articles and publications including one monograph titled Child Molesters: A Behavioral Analysis and another titled Child Sex Rings: A Behavioral Analysis that have been widely distributed by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). He has made numerous presentations at major national and regional conferences on the sexual victimization of children, child abuse and neglect, and missing and exploited children and has lectured before and trained thousands of criminaljustice and mental-health professionals.

Want to know how Michael Jackson fits the profile of a pedophile, or more specifically the profile of an acquaintance molester? Download “Child Molesters: A Behavioral Analysis” below.
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Read the following excerpt, and relate it with what we know about Michael Jackson’s behaviour with boys. I have marked in bold type the main points of similarity.

The Seduction Process

The seduction process begins when the preferential child molester sees a potential victim who fits his age, gender, and other preferences. It may be a 6-year-old girl or a 14-year-old boy. Child molesters, however, can and do have sex with children and sometimes adults who do not fit their preferences. A child molester may be experimenting or unable to find a child who fits his preference. Child molesters who prefer adolescent boys sometimes become involved with adolescent girls as a method of arousing or attracting the boys.

The offender’s next step in the seduction process is to gather information about the potential victim. This may involve nothing more than a 10-minute spot evaluation of the child’s demeanor, personality, dress, and financial status. Through practice, many child molesters have developed a real knack for spotting the vulnerability in each victim.
(note: An employee of 20+ years, Bob Jones wrote “Michael had a sinister gift for identifying these boys; it was as if he had some sort of radar. I was continually amazed by how he could determine which of the many children he came into contact with might be ‘woo-able,’ whose parents could be bought off and counted on to keep quiet about what was going on. I came to understand that Michael manipulated people and events with a great deal of finesse.”)

Other preferential child molesters may have access to school, medical, mental-health, or court records. These records could be valuable in determining a child’s interests or vulnerabilities. Almost any child can be seduced, but the most vulnerable children tend to be those who come from dysfunctional homes or are victims of emotional neglect. The seduction process takes place over time. The offender who is operating a sex ring has many other victims. He is willing to put in the time it takes to seduce a child. It may take a few minutes or years. Some molesters may even start grooming a potential victim long before the child has reached his age preference. In addition to seducing his child victims, sex-ring operators often “seduce” the victim’s parents, gaining their trust and confidence, so that they will allow him free access to their children. A favorite target victim is a child living with a single mother. He may offer to babysit or watch her children after school. The offender will sometimes pretend romantic interest in the mother or express a desire to be a father figure or mentor for her child. He may even marry her or move in with her. The relationship with the mother can be used as a cover for his interest in children, and her child can be used as bait to lure or gain access to other children.

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For example most parents would not be reluctant to allow their child to go on an overnight trip with the “father” of one of their child’s friends. In this case, however, the man in question is not the child’s father or even the stepfather. He is just a man who lives with the mother. Some offenders legally adopt or become the legal guardian of potential victims. Once a molester has put in the time and effort to seduce a child, he will be reluctant to give up access to the child until he is finished with the child. The true pedophile often possesses an important talent in the seduction process: his ability to identify with children. He knows the “in” video games, toys, television shows, movies, music, computers, and Internet sites. He is skilled at recognizing and then temporarily filling the emotional and physical needs of children. This is why such offenders can be the Big Brother of the Year, the most popular teacher, or the best soccer coach. They are sometimes described as “pied pipers” who simply attract children. This is not to say that in some cases children will not sense that some adult is “weird” or has a “problem” before other adults or parents recognize it. Parents who desperately want their children to get good grades, become star athletes, get into modeling or show business, have an adult male role model, or have a good babysitter, may actually push their children to these offenders. The essence of the seduction process is the offender providing attention, affection, and gifts to the potential victim. Gifts and financial incentives are important, especially for kids from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, but attention and affection are the real key. How do you tell a child not to respond to attention and affection? All children crave it, but especially children who are not getting it at home. Moreover, because the offender is interested only in short-term gain, he may allow his victims to “break the rules” – play basketball or football in the house, make a mess, swim without a bathing suit, view pornography, drink alcohol, use drugs, drive a car, or go to bars or restaurants known to have physically well-endowed female staff. The homes of many preferential childmolesters are miniature amusement parks filled with games, toys, computers, and athletic equipment appealing to children of their age preference.

The typical adolescent, especially a boy, is easily sexually aroused, sexually curious, sexually inexperienced, and somewhat rebellious. All these traits combine to make the adolescent boy the easiest victim of this seduction. It takes almost nothing to get an adolescent boy sexually aroused. An adolescent boy with emotional and sexual needs is simply no match for an experienced 50-year-old man with an organized plan. Yet adult offenders who seduce them, and the society that judges them, continue to claim that these victims “consented.” The result is a victim who feels responsible for what happened and embarrassed about his actions. Once a victim is seduced, each successive sexual incident becomes easier and quicker. Eventually the child victim may even take the initiative in the seduction.

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The next step in the seduction process is the lowering of inhibitions. It is easyto be judgmental toward victims when you look at only the end product of their seduction. At the beginning of the relationship the child is looking for friendship, emotional support, a job, or just some fun. The lowering of sexual inhibitions is usually done so gradually and skillfully that the victim does not realize he or she is a victim until it is too late. It may begin with simple affection such as a pat, hug, or kiss on the cheek. Sexual activity can begin with conversation about sex. The activity can progress to fondling while wrestling, playing hide-and-seek in the dark, playing strip poker, swimming nude in the pool, drying the child with a towel, massaging an injury, giving a back rub, tickling, playing a physical game,or cuddling in bed. The introduction of photography or video cameras during this process is common. Innocent pictures progress to pictures of the “fun and games” or playing movie star/model that then progress to pictures of the nude or partially nude child that then escalate into more sexually explicit pictures. Adult pornography is frequently left out for the children to “discover.” A collection of adult pornography is effective in sexually arousing and lowering the inhibitions of adolescent boys. This is the primary reason why preferential child molesters collect adult pornography. Some of them may even attempt to use this collection as proof that they do not have a sexual preference for children. Alcohol and drugs are also used, especially with adolescent boys, to lower inhibitions.

By the time the victims realize what is going on, they are in the middle of it and ashamed of their complicity. They did not “say no, yell, and tell.” Much of this process can even take place online with a computer without even meeting in person. Most preferential child molesters usually work toward a situation in which the child has to change clothing, spend the night, or both. If the child molester achieves either of these two objectives, the success of the seduction is almost assured. The objective of changing clothes can be accomplished by such ploys as squirting with the garden hose, turning up the heat in the house, exercising, taking a bath or shower, physical examination of the child, or swimming in a pool. Spending the night with the child is the best way for the sexual activity to progress. Some victims come to realize that the offender has a greater need for this sex than they do, and this gives them great leverage against the offender. The victims can use sex to manipulate the offender or temporarily withhold sex until they get things they want. A few victims even blackmail the offender especially if he is married or a pillar of the community. Although all of this is unpleasant and inconsistent with our idealistic views about children, when adults and children have “consensual” sex the adult is always the offender, and the child is always the victim. Consent is an issue only for adults.

When questioned about accusations of child molestation, what was Michael Jackson’s reaction?

He smiles and laughs. That’s right, smiles and laughs! Instead of the reaction to be expected if someone accuses you of being a child molester, i.e shock and horror, MJ seems quite at ease. This deposition came just a year after MJ had paid off Jordan Chandler and his family so he must have been feeling quite bulletproof over his boyloving at this stage.