I haven’t experienced too much of the wild side of existence, but really these days nothing I read in the newspaper or see on television surprises me anymore. Watching Paris Hilton hauled away, tears streaking, mascara running like an oil spill in the back of a sheriff’s cruiser does absolutely nothing to me. Hearing about genocide in Sudan, as sad as it is, fails to give me pause. Nothing is new under the sun in this crazy world. All the sick and disgusting things that are happening now have happened time and time before and will happen time and time again. Adapted? Jaded? Tough? Who knows, but even I must admit when I watch Dateline NBC’s To Catch a Predator, my heart does start to race a bit. It’s not as intense as listening to the New York Mets at the plate in the bottom of the ninth, but senses to go in hyper mode and I take notice. Again, nothing surprises me when it comes to criminal behavior and certainly I’m not shocked at the chat log excerpts that describe intended sexual activity between an adult man and a decoy posing as a young teenage boy or girl.  To hear Chris Hansen read it, it as if this stuff doesn’t happen every day. Unfortunately, it does.

What captures my undivided attention during To Catch a Predator has nothing to do with the deviant perverted expectations of the unwitting men, but instead the moment of their capture, when standing in the kitchen, living room or sitting on a back patio or beach of the sting operation, Hansen confronts them with the evidence of their deviant perversions.

I’ll never forget when I was caught in a lie several years back (it had nothing to do with little girls, honestly). I was frozen with a feeling of not only guilt but also regret and shame.  Time seemed to come to a halt and at that time I knew the intimate detail of my body, which was tense with fear and nervousness. I’d done nothing criminal either, just dishonest. So, if I had that feeling at that time in my life over an college bursar’s office issue,  imagine how much more it must have felt for a guy like Maurice Jay Wolin when in the process of trying to bed a girl he thought was 13, he spotted an NBC cameraman.

Wolin, who was 48 when Sonoma County, California sheriff’s deputies busted him, was a licensed oncologist working for a drug company. Married and with kids, he used the screename “tall_dreamy_doc”, and told the online decoy he was 29 before making his weekend venture to a home, only to be cuffed, processed and grilled for being a public pervert. I bet Wolin had one of those moments that we all have when we’re caught in deception, or better yet, just step in dog crap…only 100 times as intense. After all, lying on your taxes, fibbing to your boss or walking in some smelly sidewalk mess doesn’t risk your whole career and family the way trying to get freaky with a girl who’s hardly menstruating does. It’s likely Wolin’s license will get yanked and any job he had at the time of his arrest has been filled by a better-qualified, less licentious applicant.

I don’t know what would make someone risk what they have to have sex with a young girl or boy. Certainly the urge is not something I can relate with, but watching Wolin scream and cry during his arrest did very little to arouse in me my human sympathy component that can relate with thieves, drug dealers and even murderers. It took me a while to see Wolin for the pathetic man that he is, a man who guards himself in a doctor’s rigid arrogance and can’t deign to imagine who he of all people who “never did anything” in his life could get caught. But underneath it all is a man who will live each day of the rest of his existence on Earth with the thought that were it not for one bad move, his life would be drastically different. Friends and neighbors and certainly family may love Wolin, but in their minds and his mind too is the thought of his embarrassing brush with the law, his chat logs. Things for Maurice Wolin will never be as they were before late August 2006, when he chucked his sunglasses down in frustration at the sight of officers with guns drawn at him.

I suppose that I would say the same thing for John Kennelly, but for the fact that ONE DAY after Chris Hansen confronted him while he was naked trying to do something dirty with a 13-year-old boy (who was also a decoy), the reporter caught him again trying to do just the same thing at a McDonalds in the Washington, D.C. area.

It seems that with Kennelly the shame isn’t so bad and maybe that’s the beauty of his perverted and deluded mind. Unlike Wolin, Kennelly who was by all accounts unemployed and down on his luck at the time of his arrest, this public pervert can insulate himself in the thought that as bad as things are, they may not have been all that great to begin with. Of course that’s no excuse for trying to rape a child (PLEASE DON’T MISUNDERSTAND ME). But if Kennelly ever does wake up from his haze and feels the tinges of shame and humiliation, I suppose he’ll want to die and not much more.

Watching a special education teacher (pictured below with the neon green shirt) squirm in front of Chris Hansen is not pleasant like watching a well-executed double play or a beautiful woman on TV, but it does give me some satisfaction and captures me in wonder trying to guess what must have been going through the perp’s head at exact moment of his downfall. Before he walked in the door to the sting house he may have been a respected member of his community, a loving family member and a civic volunteer. Albeit his homosexuality, there was likely not much to separate him at least on the outside from the public at large. That is until he was revealed for being a public pervert with an appetite for young boys.

I don’t know who it is more tragic for, the guy caught up in the sting or the unwitting wife or father who gets the call and has to post bond on a person who is now entirely different to them.

It is strange that people will risk what they have for sex with a legal person, let alone an illegal person. It hardly seems worth it, but then again, lurking beneath every soul on this earth is some demon; addiction, predilection or obsession with something that is not helpful to them, whether it be food, cigarettes or sex.

I have trouble garnering up sympathy for a guy like Maurice Wolin. I feel more sympathy for his spouse and the little girls he had to tell her not to bring after she posted a $50,000 bail on him (that’s him below calling home after his initial interrogation).

What if the decoy were not a decoy but a real person? Who is to say he hasn’t done it before and wouldn’t do it again. Who is to say he wouldn’t hurt a young girl to cover his tracks. A man with his apparent ablomb and arrogance, hey, you never now.

No one is perfect–even New York City firefighters–so it should be as no surprise that the man pictured below could also be a sex predator caught on national television.

But maybe his parents didn’t know, or his friends or someone who admired him or loved him.  I’m trying not to go over the top with my speculation about To Catch a Predator. As I’ve said before, too many people are shocked at what lurks inside of certain individuals. For all the good Maurice Wolin, the special education instructor or the fireman may have done in their life, they obviously didn’t care enough to protect what they had and in the end will also suffer shame for it. I feel a Christian sympathy for them as I hope can be felt for me when I make mistakes in my life. But law and pragmatism overcome me and so does a weird resentment that people can be so stupid in life, masquerading as normal and doing such revolting things but not taking responsibility when all is said and done.

I don’t pity Maurice Wolin the individual in American society. From what I’ve seen and read of him, he’s brash, conceited and pompous. The beauty of our nation is that it strives to treat all men and women equally under the law, so long as they are fit to care for themselves and defend themselves and are not in a state of vulnerability as to make them helpless.

A man like Wolin will use lawyers and excuses to get himself out of the felony charges against him when it is clear that by his own transcripts he intended on being pleasured by a middle school-aged girl. Whether or not his preference for younger flesh is biological or freely willed is unimportant. It’s that he didn’t see it’s destructiveness as important that matters. In that sense, let the State of California have its way with him. It’s just too bad he’s got a family to drag down with his stupidity.

My fledgling Christian side hopes he will wake up one morning and love himself again. But I suppose like all of us who commit some type of wrong whether it’s stealing, adultery or other forms of deceit, and are caught in the act, he’s gotta be big enough to admit that he and he alone screwed up by trying to rape a girl. Hopefully if he does wake up on that morning he’ll have dealt with the obvious, that life is not as it was before the national spotlight caught him at the worst moment in his life, ever. Hopefully then he’ll admit what he’s done to himself and to his family and realize that although people don’t forget, some may forgive and that there is some redeeming quality or qualities that he can harvest from him that may grow up and crush the lurking demon inside of him. Until then he’ll maintain the story he told the detective (pictured in the last frame here). And he’ll be stuck on that day when they cuffed his skinny behind.