Grooming Takes Time: How Safe Adults Can Spot Red Flags Before A Crime Is Committed

A Sacramento man was found guilty of 41 counts of child molestation and 12 counts of child exploitation. Over the course of 16 years, the man lured young children between the ages of eight and 13 to his home where he committed the crimes.

The perpetrator met several of his victims at different children's events and venues like dance studios and skating rinks.

Police said there were more possible victims and urged anyone with information to come forward. CBS13 Staff "Registered Sex Offender Convicted Of Dozens More Child Molestation, Exploitation Charges In Sacramento County" (Mar. 11, 2022).

Commentary and Checklist

A common lure child sex offenders use both online and offline is the “affection lure.” They show feigned affection to exploit unsuspecting kids in need of love and attention.

Most abuse victims are befriended and groomed over a period of time. Grooming can take weeks, months, or years.

There are multiple forms of grooming, including verbal, physical, emotional and community grooming.

Verbal and emotional grooming behaviors are deliberate by design to desensitize victims to sexual conversations and behaviors and win their trust. Physical grooming is meant to explore what type of touching a target will permit. Community grooming is of adults in order to create the perception that the perpetrator is someone who can be trusted with children.

During the grooming, it is common to introduce an expectation of secrecy into the process, to make a victim beholden to the predator.

In addition to exhibiting grooming, other red flags of a potential perpetrator include:

  • A desire to be near children as much as possible
  • A desire to be alone with one or small group of children without other adults present
  • A preference of being around children over adults
  • Frequently visits places where children are present like playgrounds or youth centers
  • Loiters in places where children are nude, semi-nude or can be viewed without notice like bathrooms and locker rooms
  • Wants children to view them as preferable over other adults
  • A hyper-focus on a child or group of children
  • Talks, writes and acts like a child
  • Expresses a fondness of things and activities children like, such as video games or social media chatrooms
  • Ignores boundaries including, but not limited to, boundaries meant to protect children
  • Touches children inappropriately
  • Makes comments about the bodies or appearances of children
  • Provides gifts, money and favors to children
  • Provides alcohol and/or drugs to children
  • Produces child pornography
  • Sends sexual images of themselves or others to children
  • Solicits children and/or parents or guardians of children to produce child pornography
  • Takes and collects images of unrelated children
  • Makes sexual comments about children
  • Speaks in sexually derogatory terms about children
  • Overcomplimentary of the one or a few children
  • Frequently communicates with children in person or online without other adults present or knowing
  • Seeks relationships with children online
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