In the ask Dr. Bob thread, there was much academic discussion of damage caused by pedophilia. I thought I should give an additional viewpoint.

There is a man, let's call him Phyllis, who had four children with his wife and then they had an ugly divorce. In the settlement, she got full custody of the kids and Phyllis had them for a weekend twice a month, and two weeks in the summer. Phyllis had a job as an over the road truck driver and made a good buck, so he kept up with the child support. I married Phyllis' ex-wife six years after they split up.

He also took the kids to Catholic church in the small town he lived in every time he had them and was very active in his church. He moved in with his mom after the divorce and kept seeing the "other woman", let's call her Zelda, who inspired the divorce in the first place. She had 3 kids of her own. Phyllis and Zelda were dating for 8 years, and finally decided to get a house together.   

About 2 months after they moved in together, on Dec. 23rd, Phyllis stayed home, and Zelda's 10 year old daughter had the day off of school. It turned out that this was the first time he was alone with any 10 year old girl in many years and he convinced the little girl to pose for some pictures--sans clothing.

A couple hours later, she told my 15 year old stepdaughter (Phyllis' biological daughter) what had happened in an emotional state, crying and asking if she had done something wrong.  

When my wife and I were told of it, we immediately called Zelda, the grandparents (Zelda's mom and dad).  We let Phyllis know that we knew what had happened, and since he did not turn himself in after 2 days, I went to the small town he lives in and reported him to the police.

By the time they went to investigate, there were no images on the camera he used, and they eventually dropped the case because it was the little girls word against his, and he denied it. About 2 years later, Phyllis and Zelda were married, and the poor little girl was forced to live in the house of the man who did this to her.

All of this was around 8 years ago. The little girl moved out right after her 18th birthday and just had her first child with her boyfriend. My stepkids didn't see their father for about 3 years, but eventually could not keep themselves from him and the oldest boy now lives with him. The other three mostly keep their distance. Phyllis' actions ruined at least 15 lives in many different and disparate ways, and Zelda's looking the other way only made it worse. 

I'm not going back into my old research on pedophiles, but here is some of what I learned:

  • Recidivism (repeat offences) vary according to the sex and age of child they are attracted to, but most of them have a higher than 50% recidivism rate, and none of them are 0%. So it is fair to treat a pedophile as a potential threat to children for their entire lives.
  • Many pedophiles are caught after multiple offences, many years between them. The weird young uncle that everyone knows has a problem goes off and lives on his own for a couple of decades. He comes back and the memories are faded. Nieces and nephews who have not been properly warned have kids of their own, and a need for babysitters. Uncle Squirrelly happens to have some time on his hands and is happy to help.
  • Pedos are attracted to a particular age and sex, and are not as attracted to anything outside of that. So if they are into 8 year old boys, an 11 year old just won't do.
  • Without rock solid evidence, everything is difficult to prove. If you ever encounter an instance of sexual activity used on a child, act immediately with no hesitation. 

Writing this post was difficult, I have never put it in writing like this before. I am sitting here crying right now. The story is unfortunately true, and the bullet points are important to anyone who works with kids, or needs information on pedophilia. 

Phyllis was very tight with his church, and I believe he went to counselling with them after the incident. I am quite sure that his priest knows whats up and that Phyllis has been absolved of his sins. But in a twist that seems like it should be fiction, I just found out from my stepson that Phyllis retired from truck driving, and is now the janitor of the high school in the small town he lives in. If it weren't for my 3rd point above, I would have went back down to that town and fucked up his life.

I am also divorced from the mom (about 5 years now), although I am no longer officially anything to my stepchildren, I treat them as if they are my own. They are all grown, all of them were seriously affected by this incident, and there are effects to this day. 

Tags: pedophile, pedophilia

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I'm not sure how many times I need to acknowledge it, @Belle.  I have said it repeatedly. 

I knew Bernard Law, in as much as I had met with him and dealt with him on several occasions.  He was always an arrogant ass who put his narrow view of (small c) church ahead of compassion and decency and (big C) Church as people of God.  But even I was stunned, ashamed, and furious at what he allowed to happen in Boston.   There's no excuse, none.  I wanted to see him in prison.  I worked with many, many good priests and lay people to get him removed and exiled to a back room in Rome. 

There's no excuse for what was done.  None.  No excuse for the perpetrators, even less for the enablers and those who papered it over.   We have a deep and abiding moral duty to the victims.

At the same time, for me "the Catholic Church" is the vast majority of priests and lay people in Boston who worked to have Law removed, not the man and his half-dozen cronies in the chancery.   So when you say that the Catholic Church is hypocritical from my perspective you're dead wrong, and doing a profound injustice to me and all those people who responded and continue to respond to these situations, who forced the Jay report and changes in policy in diocese across the nation, and whose dollars have been used to provide compensation to the victims.

At the risk now of stepping back from the emotion to the land of rationality and being accused of being heartless, let me try to step back into the land of rationality.

The Vatican during the last year of Benedict's term was plagued by the leaking of a bunch of internal documents to the Italian press.  None of these had anything to do with abuse or pedophilia.  It was sort of a nastier version of Manning and Wikileaks; nastier because the people doing the leaking had a political agenda, where as far as I can tell Manning was just a somewhat naive and idealistic young man.

So the pope put in place a rule that said, "hey, private documents are private documents, and shouldn't be leaked."  You will find this rule in place in every company in the country, and for good moral reasons for the most part.  Personnel records and other private documents should be confidential.

That's it.  Nothing more.  The pope did not make reporting child abuse a crime.  The U.S. Catholic Conference rules mandating reporting to civil authorities are still in place.

If I may suggest, there's a reason why  no serious news outlet is covering the absurd allegation that the pope makes reporting child abuse a crime, and it only appears on hyper-biased anti-Catholic blogs. 

Typo correction (ghetto phone)

When the Pope makes reporting a crime PUNISHABLE, what empowerment do victims feel from the church that supposedly protects them!!!

See above.

Professor: Do you think (in your honest opinion) that the Catholic Church is hiding anything from the public?

What are the specific actions that the church takes in your experience to ensure that justice is served? What steps are taken when a child reports sexual abuse?

@Belle, I'm not sure that the Catholic Church has an obligation to be open to the general public.  They're a private organization, and there are lots of things in any private organization that are confidential.  That's especially true in an organization like the Church that does a lot of social work and counseling.  

I am involved in several church ministries, including to youth, and would in some cases be the first responding volunteer "official" in a case of child report of sexual abuse.  If a child made a report of sexual abuse to me the protocol is as follows:

1) Protect and secure the child from harm and try to preserve evidence.

2) If the parent/guardian of the child is the one accused, call Children's Services.  If not, call the parents.

3) Call local law enforcement.

4) Call our on-call trauma psychologist for on-site counseling support for the victim and family.

5) Notify the pastor and diocesan youth protection contact.

6) Document thoroughly.

7) Go to church and pray fervently for the strength of character not to take the law into my own hands decisively.

The follow up would involve working closely with law enforcement, counselors, and church officials to provide support.

In terms of evidence DO NOT take possession of it. DO NOT take the computer if it's on a computer, DO NOT make copies of it in order to preserve evidence. 

Treat it like it's radioactive.

WHY? The mere possession of child pornography is a felony. If you stumble on child porn online, I don't know what to tell you. Anything that was displayed on your computer screen remains in your machine for a very long time. And reformatting the hard drive is destroying evidence. 

Chances are, many of us who cruise for porn have stuff in our machines that is technically child porn. What do I mean? If there is a porn scene with a model or actor who looks like he or she might be under 18, the burden is on YOU, should it come to that, to demonstrate conclusively that they were of age on the date of production. Now, think about how your legal team could possibly do that.

RE: I'm not sure how many times I need to acknowledge it, @Belle.  I have said it repeatedly. 

Fair enough.

RE: "no excuse for what was done,"

Do you think the church has some room to improve their ways in this regard?

Currently in the U.S.?  I think we've shut the barn door as well as we can for now.  Background checks for everyone, mandatory training for everyone, strict protocols for response, vigilance about supervised contact, required internal and external reporting.  Worldwide?  There's still work to be done.

One of the things that came out in the Jay Report is that this stuff spiked in the two decades surrounding 1975 or so.  Really spiked; order of magnitude increase and then equally dramatic falloff, which is crazy for a social science phenomenon.  There was a lot of turmoil then; the Vatican II changes radically altering the role of priests and laity, the sexual revolution in the broader culture.  I think we were blindsided by it.  The huge increase in reports was anomalous and therefore wasn't taken as seriously as it should have been; the prevailing psychiatric research at the time believed that pedophilia could be treated successfully and people returned to working roles; the officials making decisions weren't experienced and didn't adequately seek out others with more experience. There weren't any mechanisms for tracking; we don't really "supervise" priests.  Diocese didn't share records, so we were slow to realize the extent of the problem.

By the 80s we were getting a better handle on things, which is why the actions by some officials like Bernard Law were so egregious. 

Melvinotis, I could not find adequate words to give you, when I read this last night.  Thank you for telling your story.  I am so honoured to call you my friend.

Belle, I know your story a little better as my wife also has as ghastly history.  Thank you for having the courage to put yourself out here, to share with Melvinotis and the rest of us.  You have a truly wonderful heart.

I'm humbled to know you both.

Sexual abuse is bloodless murder. Those who have Survived are homicide victims internally. But at least we can get to "Survivor" instead of living as "victims." However those who rape us will forever be murderers. Murderers of the most lethal form. There is no such thing as reversing attempted murder. The good news is if we - the Survivors - take back our power and heal ourselves, we win. They stay murderers. They lose.

Success is the best revenge. 

I'm with Simon,

Surviving I think is a step in the process. Being a survivor still defines one a subject of a crime. I survived this problem ( and others, I'm kind of a one man Oprah special) but I don't think of myself as a survivor, at least not any more. It gives too much power to those who have done wrong/evil.

I won't give that to them.


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