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We were all groomed: How predators do what they do

kris neil loshI’d known Kris Losh for 20 years. At least I’d thought I knew Kris Losh.

The former WKDW radio host and community-event emcee pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of aggravated sexual battery and five counts of producing child pornography, in connection with the abuse of two boys under the age of 13.

A report in the News Leader indicates that several additional sexual-assault and child-porn charges were not prosecuted in exchange for the guilty pleas.

Losh, 45, was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Among the hard things on this story for me to process: that Losh met the victims while serving as a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters.

This is where I first remember meeting Losh.

I was a fellow volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters.

You want to assume when you do that kind of thing that everybody involved is involved for the right reasons.

I’d meet my little brother at school once a week for lunch. We did the trips to Kings Dominion with the group.

My wife and I took my little to UVA football and basketball games.

Losh, according to Augusta County Commonwealth’s attorney Tim Martin, did similar fun things with his little brothers.

Because of his status as the morning-show host for a popular local radio station, he had backstage access to meet some of the biggest names in the music business.

His studio at the station was a showcase of photos of Losh with a veritable who’s who in country music: Taylor Swift, Reba McEntire, The Statler Brothers.

Martin said in court on Thursday that these fun trips would end with Losh taking his victims to his Stuarts Draft home, where he would grope them and have them grope him.

The money quote from Martin: “He groomed them over time.”

If that sentence doesn’t haunt you …

Actually, one friend who knew Losh expressed feelings of sadness for the guy that we thought we knew and his plight, poor guy, facing 25 years in prison, which, man, you can’t miss the point of any of this more than feeling sad for a monster who took the innocence of two kids.

I say that realizing that people expressing this sentiment is a sign of just how well we were all groomed.

And when I say we, and all, wow.

Losh was beloved for his work at WKDW, where he used the platform with his morning show to highlight the hard work of area non-profits engaged in good works in the community.

And then there was his endless schedule of volunteer gigs serving as emcee, for the annual Sweet Dreams Festival, for the annual Staunton Memorial Day service, for the Praise in the Park and Bluegrass in the Park music series, in addition to serving on the board of the Happy Birthday America July 4th celebration.

He was also the play-by-play radio announcer for the Waynesboro Generals, another volunteer gig, and one that I’d recruited him for, back in 2013, toward the end of my five-year run as the team’s radio play-by-play man, as I was making the transition to doing games on TV.

Losh and I worked together for a full season in 2013, and then I filled in for him for several games in 2014, ahead of us working together for the Generals’ playoff run that summer.

His little brother was almost always there with him for the broadcasts.

I never suspected a thing, and I was as shocked as everybody else was last summer when the breaking news hit.

I like to think of myself as being smarter than that.

I studied criminology in college, have written about these issues extensively as a journalist.

Oh, and I didn’t mention it, but I was also sexually abused as a child.

If anybody should have been able to figure this one out, yeah.

That Losh even had me fooled says a lot about how the grooming that sexual predators engage in can and does work.

To say that this has had my head spinning would be easy.

It’s got me rethinking the wisdom of Big Brothers programs, wanting to put body cameras, chastity belts, whatever, on teachers and others who are in positions of authority with kids.

I’d wrap up here reminding everybody reading to just be vigilant, that if something doesn’t seem right, maybe it isn’t right, and don’t be afraid to intervene.

But then, as this Kris Losh story demonstrates, as the Jerry Sandusky story from a few years back demonstrates, as the countless scandals involving members of the clergy found to have engaged in similar sick schemes demonstrates, there’s nothing easy about trying to sniff these kinds of things out.

And so it is that I conclude instead with a request that you put your thoughts with the victims here.

Their abuser was allowed to plead guilty and get 25 years.

They had their innocence taken from them, and they get life.

Story by Chris Graham

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augusta free press news