May 15, 2021

I believe this story has one very valuable application. It is an example of the way offenders use specific strategies to engage their victims and conceal their offenses. When all the good people (whether they are Mormon, ex-Mormon, believing, unbelieving… or anything else) learn to recognize offender strategies, we’ll all be able to work together to protect more victims, regardless of victim age.

Obviously, I was an adult when this all happened to me. Those who are interested in placing fault or absolving innocence can debate about my age and any consequent fault that may lie on my shoulders. I am so far outside Mormonism now that I see that as a rather unimportant discussion. I understand that I was living in an environment and culture created by men to give men the advantages they had over me until I was able to get all the way away from that culture. The more relevant story to me is the context in which all of this occurred rather than my relative fault based upon my age.

I bring up age within the context of offender strategies because offenders use these strategies to gain access to all of their victims, regardless of victim age. I am personally especially interested in protecting children from child sexual abuse and would love to see good people observe the way John Dehlin has employed these offender strategies so that they can learn to recognize how other offenders engage their victims and then conceal their wrongs. As soon as we better understand how offenders operate, we can do more to protect children.

And that would be a very good thing.

To be clear, I am not accusing John Dehlin of child abuse. I am using him as an example of someone who knows a lot about how to use offender strategies. I don’t have any information about where he gained these offender skills or how else he may or may not use them. That information is beyond my knowledge.    

Engagement Strategies:

  1. Looking for vulnerabilities in potential targets
  2. Engaging family to make targets feel safe
  3. Offering target some sort of incentive
  4. Progressing very slowly and in a very calculated manner

Concealment Strategies:

  1. Stirring up conflict between two different groups of people with opposing beliefs so that people in one’s own group will only accuse people in the other group
  2. Making strong public accusations against other people, usually in the other group, of committing the same offenses one is committing oneself
  3. Presenting the self to the public as a very “nice guy,” a “good person,” a “righteous person” — someone who seemingly couldn’t possibly be guilty of such offenses
  4. Blatantly lying about involvement in offenses
  5. Presenting oneself as the victim
  6. “Shared responsibility” or getting the victim to also become an offender so that the victim is too frightened to report
  7. Private shaming
  8. Public shaming
  9. Earning loyalty from the majority by providing real services that benefit them
  10. Using one’s greater power and influence to silence and discredit the victim
  11. Gathering allies to help attack the victim
  12. Using one’s greater power and influence to isolate the victim by making others afraid of also being retaliated against should they support the victim
  13. Controlling media
  14. Confusing the chronology when evidence is presented
    [Outsiders can discern who is telling the truth and who is lying by carefully examining chronologies of evidence. Offenders like to confuse those chronologies by pretending certain dates of material occurrences were different than they actually were.]
  15. Presenting limited evidence and/or evidence that is cherry-picked and/or presented out of context
  16. Focusing on red herrings that have nothing to do with the matter at hand in an effort to distract people from victim reports
  17. Ignoring