The world isn’t black and white, but there are things that are categorically good and bad. Good: honoring kids who volunteer, being funny and charming, making an impact in your career. Bad: sexual assault.
There is a disconnect that happens when a person who is perceived as good does something this horrible and disgusting. “But he seemed like such a good guy!” people cry. “He’s such a good actor! He seems so nice!” The truth is that there are predators out there who seem like incredible people, until it’s clear that they aren’t. Just because someone has many good traits doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of something evil.
Chances are, predators that you come across in your life are not going to be sweaty guys in trenchcoats exposing themselves in grocery store parking lots. They’re likely not going to come out of nowhere and toss you in a van. Instead, they will seem like good people: they’ll go to church or care for their elderly parents or change their newborn’s diapers or make you laugh or listen to your problems and they will be good until they aren’t. You will find yourself struggling to rationalize somehow: “He’s a good guy, he just drank too much.” “He’s always been nice to me! I must have led him on.” “He wouldn’t hurt a fly.” “He’s just having a really hard time in his life right now.”
Predators don’t have a giant stamp on their foreheads indicating that they are capable of hurting you. Some are charming, good looking, intelligent, you name it. They can be teachers or doctors or your favorite artists. They could be your nice neighbor who loves gardening. That’s terrifying, but living in fear won’t change it. What will change predatory behavior, regardless of where it’s coming from, is listening to the victims and coming together to stand up to that kind of behavior. It’s teaching kids from the beginning that assault is wrong, and that the responsibility lies on the perpetrator and not the victim. It’s not dismissing claims against a person simply because they seem like they wouldn’t do such a thing.
You need to support the people that have been hurt, even when it clashes with your previous view of someone you thought was good. Even when it’s someone you look up to. Even when it’s your friend.
When the truth comes out, believe it.