A former clinical colleague emailed me with some disturbing news about someone we once knew and disliked intensely. The subject of the email had been in a profession (not ours) that demanded a high level of ethical integrity in dealing with potentially vulnerable people. Some of us viscerally detested this character and used the word psychopath to describe him, but it seemed that everyone who mattered to his professional standing was enamored with him.
One troubling aspect of his relations with his supporters was that he engendered a creepy love-sickness vibe that subtly induced others to give him extravagant gifts while also allowing their own ethical standards to fray around the edges. It wasn't that he induced his patrons into crime, but he was adept at seducing them into behavior that they would have ordinarily considered beneath them.
Eventually something terrible occurred and the creep was charged with a couple of felonies in an incident that involved loss of life. He was charged with incidental crimes while another person took the hit for the deaths.
What also came to light as events unfolded was that, unbeknown to most of us, this character had once been a corrupt cop charged with several felonies. The story was that he pleaded guilty to lesser offenses, got community service and lost his job. Then, by enlisting a small army of upstanding patrons, he charmed his way into the professional context in which we crossed paths.
I never heard about the outcome of the more recent charges and trial, but I knew that he somehow managed to pick up new patrons after his more recent problems with the law, including one of the most powerful politicians in the state. Apparently, his old admirers stuck with him and even hooked him up with new admirers. I also heard from a few who abandoned him that rather than seeming remorseful or even anxious about his impending trial, he was bragging about how he was going to beat the charges. That was enough to lose favor with some of those who didn't matter to his future. I imagine he dropped the gloating and struck a faux contrite yet somehow innocent pose for those who could help him out.
So returning to the email I received, I learned from my former colleague that this character is back on his feet. Even though his two previous professions and the crimes that cost him those professions immediately come up when he's Googled, he has picked up a new position requiring a high-level of trust involving other people's financial lives. The position isn't one in which I think he could directly cheat people in the course of doing business, but the job will hook him up with many people he can seduce and fleece as an extracurricular activity.
As my former colleague asked in closing: "Can you believe this shit?"
In case you're wondering, the story goes that the new employer was informed of his past, but they already knew. They believe he was treated unfairly.