When word got out last month that Curt Johnson, the billionaire son of Sam Johnson and one of the heirs to the SC Johnson fortune, was accused of repeated sexual assault of a child, there seemed to be a collective gasp in Racine County.
Not only is the nature of his alleged crime heinous, but I, too, wondered how a man with seemingly everything could risk so much of it by committing such an act.
We can, of course, shake our heads and talk to each other about how billions can't buy happiness, but doesn't it go deeper than that? Isn't there something wrong with someone who could allegedly have committed such a scarring crime on a child?
According to Dr. Anna Salter, a psychologist and consultant with the state Department of Corrections, child molesters can be physically attracted to children, and they tell themselves that children should learn about sex from someone who loves them so there isn't any harm.
"They also tell themselves that they won’t get caught, that they aren’t really harming anyone," Salter said via email. "Much of the time it comes down to a deviant arousal pattern plus an ability to rationalize doing what they want to do."
Because Johnson is 55, and assuming, of course, that he either admits guilt or is found guilty, I find it hard to believe this is the first time such a crime has been committed. Salter agreed, saying that while she doesn't know the specifics of this case, it's unusual to find a 55-year-old offender without a history of abuse.
"Offenders that I interview in jail often tell me about having long histories of abuse that were never detected," she said. "I wouldn't accept his statement that this is the first time."
The only way to even come close to discovering the truth in how many offenses the suspect may have committed is for his lawyers to agree to a polygraph, and Salter said that is highly unlikely since no lawyer would ever allow their client to undergo the test.
As far as a possible treatment, Salter said cognitive treatment is most prescribed for child molesters. Similar to treating an addiction, cognitive treatment looks at the attitudes, behaviors and beliefs of the offender to turn their thinking.
"Short term, (cognitive treatment) can reduce re-offending as much as 40 percent," she said. "Still, not all offenders are high risk to re-offend in the first place, even without treatment."
Johnson will be court tomorrow, Wed., April 13, for a preliminary hearing. Racine County District Attorney Michael Nieskes will make his case for a trial, but he said Johnson has the right to waive the hearing, though he must do so in open court.
I hope this case doesn't go to trial because the child caught in the middle could very well be forced to testify, and while we sigh and shrug and shake our heads, we can't forget that a child is in the eye of this storm. She didn't ask for any of this, but she has to find a way to live with it for the rest of her life.