formerBHmanny knows of what he speaks. Sorry for this long post....
Another angle. We all would likely agree that a character trait we appreciate in relationships is “loyalty.” Liz was loyal to our community, just look at her AIDS work. If Liz loved you, she would defend you to the ends of the earth, and she would even leverage her power to aide people she loved. She would put her own ass on the line for people and causes she believed in. This is indeed a wonderful character trait, loyalty.
But the “shadow side” of loyalty is that if one is mistaken about the person or cause to which one is loyal, then loyalty no longer looks like such a wonderful thing, yes? That’s what we see in her relationship with Michael. She was fiercely loyal to him, she leveraged her own reputation to protect him, yet she was indeed mistaken about his behavior and proclivities. Liz was human, as are we all.
I used to be an instructor and I had a colleague I was incredibly close with for years. I adored him. A few years after I left, it was revealed he had been molesting my star student — he ended up confessing in a suicide letter and hanging himself in the garage. It took me about two weeks to accept that he was a criminal, partially because I never saw a single clue and also because I knew that if anyone had falsely accused me, he would have gone to hell and back for me — so I struggled with accepting he had done this. I still believe he would have protected me from anything. As time went on, many of the parents believed that we, the teaching staff, *must* have known and protected him. Nothing could be further from the truth. We had ZERO knowledge, zero suspicion, there was nothing there.
This was almost 20 years ago. Of course today, I clearly see how I was manipulated and fooled by him. These predators are *so* good at masking this side of themselves, unless they are freaks like Michael, most of them are true chameleons. Furthermore, they are frequently wonderful friends, another way they succeed in hiding literally right in front of us.
The most disturbing part of having a close friend who was a child predator is that I was so disturbed by these two sides of my friend (the monster and the saint) that I had to discuss this with a therapist. The therapist helped me understand that these predators truly are not what we imagine in our minds, and that my friend could be both a wonderful human being (to me) and a predator at the same time. Deep down, we don’t want to accept that these predators often look and act just like us, we will do anything to avoid that truth. We don’t want to think that our bestie who hit the bars with us every Friday, who let me bum smokes, who made me laugh everyday, was also a criminal. My friend was an evil monster, and today I have accepted that and will always honor his victims. I also understand we had a beautiful friendship, he shared the good side of who he was with me, but that was a small piece of who he was. I wish he was rotting in prison where he belongs for his crimes.
In this case, Michael is quite unique in that he had celebrity, power, and wealth, so much of his case is atypical and unprecedented— another reason Liz refused to believe it, she had no frame of reference or context for this situation. Liz partied quite a bit and was known to be a terrible judge of character (just look at her husbands!), but that doesn’t make her a bad person. She likely suffered a little brain damage, was very dysfunctional, and her “people picker” was broken. I have no ill will toward her with regards to Michael, she truly thought she was doing the right thing by her friend. Let Michael be the object of hatred and scorn, not the broken people he intentionally deceived....