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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Hopefully the child molester would feel horrible knowing he won't be forgiven by the priest and would go anyways to end his egregious behavior. Or at least do it a lot less often than he would if he was absolved - basically told by the priest it's okay to abuse children.

It would improve the priests' mindset: they would begin to get the point that it is not okay to harbor criminals. That alone is an improvement over the current arrangement which accomplishes nothing good and corrupts both priests and believers. Teaching people that they are worthless sinners who can't help it but that's okay because apologizing to god will solve everything, only teaches them to be bad people.

We need everyone to understand that apologizing to the sky-daddy does nothing here on Earth; to make things better you need to start by apologizing to the person you wronged and do whatever you can to correct your wrong. Catholic dogma is the opposite of this and makes things worse.

Yes, I want confession to be abolished since it only causes problems as I've explained here.

Other than teaching people it is okay to do bad things to others, what does confession do?

And something to consider before you answer: a real god would already know what had been done and whether or not the person was genuinely remorseful so there is no genuine need for confession in relation to god hearing it.

Hopefully the child molester would feel horrible knowing he won't be forgiven by the priest and would go anyways to end his egregious behavior. Or at least do it a lot less often than he would if he was absolved - basically told by the priest it's okay to abuse children.

Do you really believe a priest is going to offer absolution without the individual being obliged to the penance of turning himself in to the authorities and making other reparation?  Maybe decades ago, when we thought it was more readily treatable and pushed an obligation to treatment.  No longer.

The priest is trying to save the man's soul, and that typically would mean working to ensure he would not harm anyone again.

If you really want to rail against something, rail against the privilege offered to conversations with attorneys.  Unlike the conversation with the priest in a confessional, the attorney is obliged to work his hardest to get the perpetrator off without any punishment or the minimum of punishment.  Not only that, your tax dollars and mine pay for those attorneys.

Do you really believe a priest is going to offer absolution without the individual being obliged to the penance of turning himself in to the authorities and making other reparation?

Considering the Church's decision to codify bad choices, probably. Are there some priests who say such things? Sure. But it's not like they make it a requirement, nor follow up, nor report the pedophile to the police if he doesn't report himself.

Regarding attorneys - that is a function of our broken legal system. It is just one of very many things that needs to be fixed.

I noticed that you avoided answering this question of mine from my previous post: Other than teaching people it is okay to do bad things to others, what does confession do?

Or was that your answer? That as far as you know confession does nothing good ?

You do know there's an iPhone app for confession?

What's New in Version 2.0.5

- Fixed incorrect language on Examination of Conscience

That bit ^^ had me laughing!

I had to walk away from the Ask Dr.Bob thread, when the question of whether pedophilia is wrong or not, was mooted. I am violently opposed to pedophilia and I’m fairly sure I made that abundantly clear before I walked away. I do stand by that post and by that opinion. However...

Thanks in part to Melvinotis’s clear head and his expressed intent to research further, I found myself wondering whether I had a clear objective perspective on this subject, based on fact and evidence. I am aware of the fact that pedophilia is not a uniquely religion based practice, and have not therefore attempted to evaluate non-religious instances.

My research began by testing the assumption of whether it was Catholic priests who were the predominantly guilty parties, or whether other denominations or religions also had similar issues. Perhaps the Catholic ‘cover-up’ was less effective, thus the exposure easier to obtain. Perhaps other denominations and religions had a better cover-up system and we simply weren’t seeing theirs as easily.

Were it to have proven that it was indeed Catholic priests in the majority, my next step would have been to have tried to investigate whether self-imposed celibacy was a major factor in the phenomenon. However, it quickly became apparent that the other denominations and religions have been as involved or more involved in pedophilic behavior.

Pedophilia is rampant in all the major religious systems (and of course elsewhere, but I was not researching non-religious occurrences). I found many sources, and for the sake of objectivity, I have tried to select those that are not automatically expected to be biased, such as one religion criticizing another.

Pedophilia amongst:-

Here is also an article from Portugal’s Pravda commenting on the apparent over-emphasis on the Catholic cases brought to attention by the media.


As a result of this research, I feel better educated. I don’t feel any less disgusted by the practice, nor do I regret my outburst on Dr.Bob’s thread regarding the justification of pedophilia, but I do now feel that the practice of celibacy amongst the Catholic priests is not related to their priestly incidences of pedophilia, and that the Catholic institution is no better or worse than any other group of religious perpetrators - theirs is simply more widely advertised in the news.

As to the cover-ups of the practice, I’d say that the other religions seem to be better at hiding their perpetrators, since their involvements in pedophilia are less evidenced to the general public.

I left that thread too, just before reading here that you left. I didn't detect anyone trying to justify pedophilia, but saw a lot of (ironically-atheist) moralistic stances, and rock throwing. Anger has been justifiable, but often unconstructive. I hope that parents reading it can still learn that skepticism and vigilance are absolutely necessary for protecting their kids from any institution, especially one that claims command of moral high ground.

Thank you Belle, Melvinotis, and others for sharing experiences. My mother didn't start to talk about her own until months after reading a paper I'd written about common--yet unspoken of--abuse. Her's was from from a parent. Her brother's abuse was from both parent and church.

Rehabilitating pedophiles and other criminals is emotionally tough, under-appreciated work, and not yet successful enough. The most effective solution has to be a combination of early prevention and detection, increasingly possible (I expect) some day in the future. Until then, we have to suffer from and deal with after-effects.

Religion was an authority invented to prevent and solve human problems. Its power and corruption is enabled by people enjoying their surrender to blind faith, above skepticism.

(I keep forgetting... thanks to all who contribute statistical research.)

I read a bunch of stuff this weekend, including the links that Strega provided. I'm not going further, because I hate doing this research, and I don't seem to be finding the linkages I was looking for. Everything is too vague for a few different reasons:

  1. All three parties involved would prefer it not to be known, the perpetrator, the victim and the institution, (Church, school, youth organization etc.) The victim of course, would prefer that it never happened at all.
  2. Even though all of those entities would prefer it not to be known, we all know about it and that seems to indicate that it is a far worse problem than is ever reported.
  3. Membership in all organizations is a difficult thing to quantify in any of these reports. Is someone who is Catholic but only shows up for Easter and Christmas counted? Are alter boys (regular attendees) the primary target for priests? 

With that being said, Dr. Bob's explanation of how the Catholic Church is handling instances of adults in close proximity with children seems to be quite correct. Catholics have identified the issues and have come up with a model program of child protection. I would even say that they are the leaders in the field of child protection, and all other youth programs are following their lead.

However, they do miss at least two pieces of the puzzle, and to me, it seems like they cannot say they are done until they rectify celibacy and refusal to give women equal status in the hierarchy.

With my research, I find that I am in the constructionist camp. I think that the church leadership is, by the nature of its current rules, creating or constructing sexual deviancy. While that still exists, all of the rules, tactics and strategies you come up with for child protection cannot protect them against the opportunistic impulses of those who cannot live normal sexual lives that are dictated by their own DNA.

However, they do miss at least two pieces of the puzzle, and to me, it seems like they cannot say they are done until they rectify celibacy and refusal to give women equal status in the hierarchy.

I agree on giving women equal status, but not for any reasons having to do with the sexual abuse of children. 

However, I don't think any link has been established between celibacy and pedophilia in the Catholic Church. Priests don't abuse children because they can't have sex. After all, in being pedophiles they ARE having sex!

Pedophilia is a syndrome unto itself. I don't see it being triggered or fostered in any way by the celibacy requirement because, as I just said, in being sexual with children, they are not being celibate, and because there are pedophiles in all phases of society, some of them simply showing up in the Catholic Church.

What the Catholic Church does, though, is provide special tools a pedophile can take advantage of. A presumption of trustworthiness, opportunities to be in private with children, and a management structure that seems to want to bury and deny the problem privately and out of sight rather than using the prescribed legal remedies.

it seems like they cannot say they are done until they rectify celibacy and refusal to give women equal status in the hierarchy

I think that makes sense, especially in terms of getting with the cultural times and empowering women, instead of perpetuating male dominance in theory and practice.

Thanks to @Strega and @Melvinotis for engaging rationally on the subject, and taking the time to look at real (and genuinely tragic, hard-to-read) data.

I think that the church leadership is, by the nature of its current rules, creating or constructing sexual deviancy.

@Melvinotis, I'm intrigued, and perhaps a bit puzzled, by this comment.

Do you really believe that sexual orientation and "deviancy" is constructed by environmental factors like an adult choice to enter a celibate vocation at age 26?  Don't you think that all the modern evidence shows that sexual orientation is determined much earlier than that?  Wouldn't one expect that an ordinary heterosexual or adult homosexual priest who was experiencing "urges" would go sleep with another adult?  I can tell you that happens all the time.

So I'm not sure how you can make this case.

Interestingly, Dr. Jenkins, the author of the book that you mention in your "constructionist" link, had this to say:

"My research of cases over the past 20 years indicates no evidence whatever that Catholic or other celibate clergy are any more likely to be involved in misconduct or abuse than clergy of any other denomination—or indeed, than non-clergy. However determined news media may be to see this affair as a crisis of celibacy, the charge is just unsupported."

Do you really believe that sexual orientation and "deviancy" is constructed by environmental factors like an adult choice to enter a celibate vocation at age 26?  Don't you think that all the modern evidence shows that sexual orientation is determined much earlier than that?  Wouldn't one expect that an ordinary heterosexual or adult homosexual priest who was experiencing "urges" would go sleep with another adult?  I can tell you that happens all the time.

Ignoring your implication that homosexuality is a deviancy, it may still be fair to treat pederasty as an "orientation". In fact, most perps even prefer specific ages of victims, making their "orientation" even more specific than homosexuals.

So, yeah, it shouldn't surprise anyone if pedophiles going into clergy did so to have access to specific types of kids.

I'm not sure how you could read that implication into that paragraph, PopeOoO.

The access thing is likely one driver, particularly during a time period when priests had unique access to "altar boys" who tended to group in a very specific age range.  What remains to be explained is why this was such a time-localized phenomenon.   The vast majority of cases, an order-of-magnitude increase, occurred from the late 60s through the early 80s.   That suggests something more than just access; perhaps lack of good screening in that time period?  A change in those we attracted to the priesthood post Vatican II?   Job stress from all the changes?  The more permissive general culture?  Something.

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