Thursday, June 21, 2012

If nothing else, believe the stomach blowing

As the Jerry Sandusky trial moves into closing arguments today, we've learned that a lot of the evidence is circumstantial. There is no known physical evidence of abuse, no photographs, no fingerprints that can conclusively point to Sandusky abusing these young men.

I have believed from the beginning of the trial that Sandusky is guilty. I don't personally know anyone who thinks he is innocent. But for anyone doubting whether the victms are telling the truth, there is one detail that stands out that should change their minds--the stomach blowing.

Several of the victims testified that early on in Sandusky's grooming process, he blew on their stomachs during rough housing. This is important testimony for three reasons:

1. It's bizarre. The defense has hinted throughout the trial that all of the allegations against Sandusky are fabricated. If that were true, most of the testimony would be stereotypical parroting of what we'd expect to hear from someone making up an abuse story. But the stomach blowing is so odd and consistent in several of the victim's accounts, it has to be true.

2. It's boundary testing. Like television teenage boys who, at least on television, pretend to stretch their arms so they can put one around their date, the stomach blowing is an attempt for Sandusky to see how far he can go. Once establishing that he can get away with blowing on a boy's stomach, he can try going lower the next time. It's part of a carefully planned method that is probably the result of year's of trial and error.

3. There's no reason for it. Aside from blowing on a baby's stomach to make them laugh, I've never known anyone to have a reason to blow on another person's stomach. What's the point in doing so within the context of a normal, playful adult-child relationship?

Aside from Sandusky's character witnesses, I don't know how anyone can believe that he is not guilty. But, if nothing else changes your mind, the stomach blowing is the one detail that speaks volumes about his actions.