Public Forums Will Educate The Community About Nice Guy Offenders
MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP - Despite popular belief, most sexual predators fail to meet the characteristics they’re commonly associated with.
Society saw this in recent years with sexual predators like former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics’ team doctor Larry Nassar, who was known for grooming the gymnasts with gifts and offering emotional support. He was fawned over by coaches, parents and athletes across the country and was known as the best doctor in his field. Then there was Jerry Sandusky, who spent a majority of his career as the assistant football coach at Pennsylvania State University, receiving the “Assistant Coach of the Year” award in 1986 and 1999 and creating the non-profit charity The Second Mile.
These men were overlooked for years due to their charm and reputations known by many; their victims were silenced.
Discarding the traditional stereotypes of a sexual predator, the FBI coined the terms “Nice Guy Offenders,” “Pillars of the Community Offenders” and “Acquaintance Offenders” to describe sexual predators like Nassar and Sandusky, who were often overlooked as sexual predators due to their “nice guy” appearances.
“A lot of people don’t realize these offenders aren’t these scary guys,” said David Harns, who is the organizer of the upcoming CSC Initiatives Public Forums taking place in East Lansing and Meridian Township on September 21.
The East Lansing public forum will take place at the MSU Union from 8:30-10:30 a.m., tackling the warning signs and red flags displayed by “Nice Guy Offenders.” Lansing State Journal Executive Editor Stephanie Angel will act as the moderator and Jim Clemente, Francey Hakes, Larissa Boyce, Tashmica Torok and David Mittleman will serve on the panel.
The Meridian Township public forum will take place after the Meridian Township Sexual Assault Prevention Committee Meeting, which is part of the deal Meridian Township and Nassar survivor Brianne Randall-Gay struck when the township publicly apologized to Randall-Gay for mishandling a 2004 police report she filed against Nassar. The public forum will take place at the Meridian Township Municipal Building in the Town Hall from 2-3:30 p.m. It will focus on the same topic except WLNS News Reporter and Weekend Anchor Alexandria Illitch will serve as the moderator and Brianne Randall-Gay, Jim Clemente, Francey Hakes, Ryan Schuilling and Meridian Township Police Chief Ken Plaga will serve on the panel.
Harns organized the public forums to educate the community “about what sexual offenders actually look like.”
“I realized that this is something that goes beyond what I need to know and it goes beyond the community,” Harns said. “Having hundreds of people know about it will make our community that much safer. Youth serving organizations can do a better job of making sure they’re aware. ‘Youth service organization’ is a wide umbrella; we all need to be on the lookout. We all can’t be with our kids 24/7. If the community works together we can get a strong foothold before these types of offenders abuse these kids.”