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Investigative Reports American Justice: Secrets of a Child Molester

If anything, the docu seems to shine a friendlier light on Ross -- now 63, soft-spoken, eminently likable, up for parole any day now -- than on officials entrusted to guard civilized folks from molestation in all forms.

With:
Host, Bill Kurtis. For 40 years Ross Nelson accosted, befriended and sexually molested teenage boys in and around Houston before he was eventually caught and jailed. The unresolved "secret" in producer-writer Dave Bell Jr.'s account of these activities, with Nelson's own prison confession as its centerpiece, is how and why he managed for so long.

If anything, the docu seems to shine a friendlier light on Ross — now 63, soft-spoken, eminently likable, up for parole any day now — than on officials entrusted to guard civilized folks from molestation in all forms.

Prison and police officials and psychologists mouth the familiar litany of characteristics by which sexual criminals are supposed to be spotted; Nelson’s own quiet intelligence rebuts the hollowness of their arguments.

He chose his young victims, Nelson claims, by first drawing them out about their disadvantaged home life. Riding through the neighborhood on his glistening motorbike, he scored first as Superdad, only later as a gentle rapist.

Missing from the script is any inkling of the later effects on the kids themselves, beyond Nelson’s reckoning that most of them are by now happily married. You have to wonder, even so, how it took 40 years before one 13 -year-old got up the gumption to tip off the police.

The hour is framed by portentous interjections from host Bill Kurtis that blend easily into the interspersed commercial breaks. Despite its subject, the program provides a congenial 60 minutes, low on shock value or controversy. We end up rooting for the wrong team.

Investigative Reports American Justice: Secrets of a Child Molester

(Fri. ( 10) 6-7 p.m., A&E)

Production: Filmed in Huntsville, Texas, by Dave Bell Associates Inc. in association with A&E. Executive producer, Dave Bell; co-exec producer-director, Shari Cookson; producer-writer, Dave Bell Jr..

Crew: Camera, Wayne De La Roche; editor, Elizabeth Mercado; sound, Gerardo Rueda, Chris Newlin, Russ Martin; sound mixer, Bryant Arnett; music, George Shelby.

Cast: Host, Bill Kurtis. For 40 years Ross Nelson accosted, befriended and sexually molested teenage boys in and around Houston before he was eventually caught and jailed. The unresolved "secret" in producer-writer Dave Bell Jr.'s account of these activities, with Nelson's own prison confession as its centerpiece, is how and why he managed for so long.

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