This article is from 2018, and is obviously written to Churches, but I think this bit is applicable in every setting, church, schools, sport teams, and society in general:
We should not just worry about the creepy guy in the back. Successful predators can be in positions of respect in our churches.
Deception is the main vehicle sexual offenders use for getting away with their crimes. Unfortunately, not only are they good at it, but most people have unrealistic views of their own perceptive abilities. We think we usually know when people are lying, but a widely cited study evaluating law-enforcement personnel, psychiatrists, college students and working adults has shown that’s not true. We think we would recognize when a predator is grooming a child, but we aren’t very good at that either.
Too many people think they’d know a predator when they see one, but they hardly ever do. Too many people are unaware of the cognitive biases we all have, the weaknesses in our judgement, the innate desire to not have anything like child sexual abuse claims mess up our view of our own worlds, etc. Those things are real, and someone who understands those things can absolutely use them against us if we aren’t willing to learn better.
Again, the article is about the Church, but I think all of us could do with a reminder of how likable, caring, giving, and yet dangerous some people can be.
Sex offenders who’ve gotten away with it for years, and through multiple victims, are not going to be obvious to spot. They very likely are exactly the type of person who you wouldn’t think could ever do such a thing.
That’s the point.