Mormon/Boy Scout sexual abuse problem

Timothy Kincaid

March 19th, 2010

mormonscoutAcross the country boys bond in scouting, enjoying the experience of nature, learning social values, and earning recognition for doing good deeds. And the Boy Scouts of America provide a memorable and often rewarding experience for boys – provided that these boys are not same-sex attracted or skeptical about the Abrahamic God.

But for fourteen percent of Scouts, their experience could be more accurately described as religious training in the beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the “Mormons”). Unlike a scouting group hosted by the local Methodist Church which meets in their basement, for the Mormons scouting is a part of the church, an official teaching mechanism that places theology as a higher priority than socialization. It serves not only for inculcating the beliefs of the church, but as an outreach tool.

Elder Robert Backman was recognized by the Boy Scouts of America in 1986 for his efforts in incorporating Scouting into the LDS Church’s Young Men organization. He is quoted in the Aaronic Priesthood Boy Scout Guide:

As you know, we are vitally concerned about our youth and feel that with the proper attention we can save many more than we are doing at the present time. I am convinced that Scouting is a mighty activity arm to hold these boys close while they learn to appreciate the honor of holding the priesthood of God.

If we do all else and lose the young man, we have failed in our sacred stewardship. We must not allow a separation of priesthood, Scouting, or athletics.

Every phase of the Scouting program should help young men and their leaders understand that Scouting activities are carried out to accomplish priesthood purposes.

For Mormons, family is a valued concept. But part of the definition of “family” is the concept of church brotherhood and the expectation that Mormons will raise their children to be integrated into the faith at a young age. Scouting is more of an expectation or obligation than an optional club.

And evidence is arising that the Boy Scouts of America may have taken steps to hide evidence of sexual abuse. And they may have done so for decades. (No. County Times)

The “perversion files,” a nickname the Boy Scouts are said to have used for the documents, have rarely been seen by the public, but that could all change in the coming weeks in an Oregon courtroom.

The lawyer for a man who was molested in the 1980s by a Scout leader has obtained about 1,000 Boy Scouts sex files and is expected to release some of them at a trial that began Wednesday. The lawyer says the files show how the Boy Scouts have covered up abuse for decades.

And it further appears that the Mormon Church may have played a roll in giving some predators access to children.

The lawsuit also named the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because the Mormons acted as a charter organization, or sponsor, for the local Boy Scouts troop that included the victim. But the church has settled its portion of the case.

The Mormon bishop who also served as head of the Scout troop, Gordon McEwen, confronted Dykes after receiving a report of abuse by the mother of one boy in the troop in January 1983.

In a video deposition played for the jury, the bishop said Dykes admitted abusing 17 boys. But McEwen said he contacted the parents of all 17 boys and the boys themselves, and none would confirm any abuse.

Dykes was arrested in 1983 and pleaded guilty to attempted sexual abuse, received probation and was ordered to stay away from children.

Clark told the jury Dykes continued with his scouting activities until he was arrested in July 1984 during a routine traffic stop while he was driving a van full of Scouts on a camping trip.

It has yet to be determined whether Mormons are a significant segment of the thousands of Boy Scout sexual abuse cases. But this is not the first time that the Church has been accused of enabling predators.

SF Appeal, November 2009,

The three men, who are brothers now aged 39, 41 and 43, claim that William E. Knox, 65, a Mormon church and Boy Scouts leader, molested them repeatedly in Sunnyvale between 1977 and 1987.

A brother identified as John Doe 2, who now lives in Georgia, said, “I’m a victim and a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. It was devastating to me. I’ve been abused hundreds of times over several years.”

The brother alleged, “During the abuse, I told the church leadership responsible to protect me and they did nothing to protect me.”

The Idaho Falls Post Register chronicles a story of abuse at an LDS scouting camp in the 1990’s which boggles the mind.

1988 Brad Stowell, 16, admits to Blackfoot police, his mother and his LDS bishop that he molested a 6-year-old neighbor. He is sent to LDS Social Services counseling.

1988 Stowell is hired to teach first aid at Camp Little Lemhi. He has testified he started preying on campers that summer.

1991 Richard J. Scarborough reports to the national Boy Scouts of America that a child molester has been hired to work at Camp Little Lemhi.
January 1994 Richard Scarborough writes to the LDS church president, complaining that local church leaders are ignoring his warning about the pedophile in the LDS Scout troop.

January 1995 Carol Scarborough tells Camp Little Lemhi program director Jim Summers that Brad Stowell molested a neighbor boy.

1995 Camp Little Lemhi director Richard Snow hires Stowell as aquatics director.

It continues in horrifying detail until Stowell is arrested in 1997 after repeated abuse.

And such abuse will continue for as long as the Scouts (and the Mormons and the Catholics and a whole host of other) continue to focus on and exclude gay people while ignoring the true source of the problem. They fear and expel gay men who are attracted to other adult men while ignoring the married, church going, men who secretly prey on available children of both sexes.

Now advocates for victims of child abuse are eagerly awaiting what the newly opened files will tell them. I’m certain that the Scouts are worried. I wonder if the LDS Church has reason to be concerned.

Ben in Oakland

March 19th, 2010

I was hoping you would pick up on this.

This is something I wrote last year on BTB on This Very Subject: (A few words have been changed for the sake of coherence).

Back when I was fighting against the Briggs Initiative, long ago in a galaxy far, far away– I spent a week of my precious grad school time researching the issue of child sexual abuse. The figures 30 years ago and now are remarkably consistent. 97% of the perps are men, though this has been disputed and could be as low as 90%. As much as 30% of the children that are molested are boys, though the figure was 10% in 1978, but thought to be higher. This is, quite ironically, the only place where homophobia might actually serve a higher purpose, because I suspect that one of the reasons boys are less likely victims is because pedophilic men don’t want to think of themselves as… wait for it…


That is really worse, you know. It is the opposite side of the coin–double points for extra rich irony here– from the anti-gay idea that men who molest boys are ipso facto homosexual, but men who molest girls are ipso facto NOT HETEROSEXUAL. They are instead called child molesters. And that allows them to say that 3% of the child molesting men (the “”””gay”””” ones) are causing 30 times the problems, or some such utter fabrication.

The continue on in my original thoughts: It was true 30 years ago, and seems to be true now, that 50% of all child molestation, male and female, is done by the father, step-father, or father surrogate– men who identify as Heterosexual in terms of their interests and experience. (I’ve known only two men in my life who said that they had been molested as children, and in both cases, it was by their FATHERS.)

(Quick digression. One was raped REPEATEDLY by HIS FATHER because my friend was a sissy and his FATHER wanted to teach him a lesson about how being a faggot is bad and this is what happens to queer boys. It didn’t make him not gay, not that it was intended to, but it did mess him up and made him absolutely hate his father, though eventually, he got over both.)

Another 25 to 30% is done by a family member, or by a friend of the family, such as a Catholic Priest, or an Evangelical Youth Pastor, or a Scoutmaster. (See JoeMyGod for a weekly listing of their wacky antics. I wish he ad a similar blog for the BSA). And do you know why? In a word: ACCESS. That’s why pedophile priests and scoutmasters molest more boys than girls: not because they are gay, but because they have BETTER access. Those who get their kicks with adolescent boys are doing so because of a) access and b) they never grew up, and c) they don’t want to be gay, this doesn’t really count, no one will find out, or even suspect, because the kid is just as ashamed of being a victim and being perceived as weak, or being gay, as the perps are, even if the perps are actually heterosexual or just your garden-variety fixated pedophile.

The BSA does not allow gay Scoutmasters, or gay anything, lest their hetero cred be questioned. I suspect they prefer married men since they have their Thoroughly Heterosexual Certificates. But they also acknowledge a problem with adults and The Boys. So who is doing the molesting, then, but men who would most likely identify as heterosexual in terms of their interests and experience? And who is enabling the problem? Like with the Church, the Administration.

I worked for them in 1974. The homophobia stunk like a mildewed canvas tent, and the problem was as rife then and there as ever. Gay people were not allowed even then in any capacity, and yet gay people are the problem. Sounds to me like someone is just trying to protect their turf, possibly from perceived poachers, or just projecting. As Timothy has rightly pointed out, an out gay man is not very likely to be a molester, partly because of the self-examination that the coming out process requires and which heterosexuals do not much have any experience of, and partly because we are very conscious of this bias, and prejudiced belief, and so would be very careful to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. I know I am very conscious of it around my nephew.

Let’s return to the question: Why is it that a man who molests boys is called homosexual, but a man who molests girls– about 80% of all molestations– is called a child molester, and not heterosexual? Here we are coming to the meat of Patty’s (Robertson’s)statement that gay people are made gay because they were molested. See, they’re after your children, and they will make your children just like them, the worst of the worst, the child molesters. And gay, if you need some extra icing on that particular cake. And, even if this bald-faced lie WERE true, you could continue to believe that it was done by some stranger, some HOMOSEXUAL STRANGER, rather than the far more likely culprit, especially if the child is a boy and the family member someone who does not identify as gay, like your Thoroughly Heterosexual Husband and Scoutmaster. Or a man who claims he is a man of god, as though G is so sloppy that he grants the charisma of a vocation to men whom he knows will have their hands in a boy’s crotch.

I feel very badly for the boys who were screwed over by the scouts. I have always thought that their obsession over gay scouts and scoutmasters– my 1974 experience shewed them as completely divorced from reality about the true nature of the problem, while being rightly very concerned about the problem itself– was, as more and more seems to be the case, nothing more than major projection upon a convenient scapegoat. Two psychological thrills for the price of one!

And if the Mormon Church is implicated in this the same way that the catholic Church has been in its abuse scandals, I wonder if people will so soon be willing to forgive and forget it, as they have with the Catholics (at least in my opinion).

The problem, as always, appears not to lie with men who identify as gay and live out their gay lives free of child abuse scandals, or with straight men who live out their straight lives likewise free…

…But with men who identify as normally and normatively heterosexual, but in fact are not, and who, as a result, spend a great deal of energy 1) trying to get reality to coincide with their beliefs about it, 2) or in acting out in manners fairly inappropriate to their situations, or 3) insisting that others who share the same orientation and desire must be just like them, and therefore, stopped, as they must be stopped from doing whatever it is lies in their dark hearts…

But they are not always stopped.

I don’t believe that gay men as a class are perfect, but I think we are in a better position regarding understanding our sexuality by the very fact that we have to come out. Straight men (and women) don’t have to come out– it is assumed that they will just take to it. They don’t have to confront it, look at it, or accept or reject it.

As a man, whether gay or not, I have no problem with looking at how I might measure up to my ideals. The truth may hurt, but it is the truth nonetheless. If I am going to be judged for anything, it would be for who I ACTUALLY am or what I have ACTUALLY done, not because of the fearful imaginings of someone who does not know me, or anything about me, or any other gay person.

As long as we have homophobia, we will have no shortage of men who will wanna-be-straight-but-ain’t, and they will continue to behave in the same way. I’m just tired of getting the blame for it.

Ben in Oakland

March 19th, 2010

New material from “I feel badly” onward. Sorry.


March 19th, 2010

This post reminds me of one of my least favorite childhood memories–Boy Scouts. I was raised Mormon and I hated Boy Scouts, but I had no option in the matter because the LDS religion supported BSA so my parents made me participate.


March 19th, 2010

I thought that the Mormons had essentially taken over the Boy Scouts. I am a little surprised to see their numbers only around 15%. Their influence seems way out of proportion to their numbers.

Regan DuCasse

March 19th, 2010

Why don’t the GIRL SCOUTS of AMERICA have this equivalent problem?

In any case, by focusing on gay men as the cause, rather than the difference between same sex assault, the ignorance about the nature of people who assault children (whatever their gender) will continue.

I think I commented in BTB before that same sex assault involves men who identify as hetero who perceive a boy as weak or gay, and assault the boy to assert power and control and ultimate humiliation.

This is true for ALL sexual assault.
And given the anti gay socio/political atmosphere all of us know too well, that power and control and humiliation manifests in many ways other than sexual assault.

There were three separate cases of women having sexual affairs with their middle school students (the last one in Burbank was married with children).
But there isn’t a call for a ban on heterosexual women teaching middle and high school age boys, right?

The contradictions in terms, as well as gender/sexual orientation strategies employed in what is supposed to be the protection of children, is so ridiculously fraught with bias, that NOTHING sensible and effective can get done.

Rather than assume it’s only gay people who deserve to be banned from socially supportive orgs and institutions, it’s best to do psych profiles on EVERYONE applying for jobs with youth and check for work history patterns and so on.

Believe me, this bias frustrates peace officers no end.


March 19th, 2010

Isn’t it ironic that the US organizations which have the largest problem with pedophiles–the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts–are the most stridently anti-gay?

The things that make you go ‘Hmm….’

It’s also interesting to note that Canada and numerous countries in Europe, including Germany and Sweden, have no issues with openly gay Scouts or leaders.

As a former Eagle Scout, this frustrates me to no end. I’m banned from the very organization to which I could be a significant asset.

I swear, Canada is looking more attractive every passing year.

Kevin Andrews

March 19th, 2010

The Mormon Church has already paid off the plaintiffs. You know with all that money paid to this cult of Jesus Inc they can afford to pay-off scandal, contribute to PropH8 and Maine and still buy blood diamonds from Patty’s mines.
Tell everyone, Tell everyone, shine the light of truth whenever the Cults of Jesus Inc begin their lies.
I’ve experience with the Catholic Priests as a child and made no bones about it. I’m a Gay man, I was a Gay Child and I know right from wrong. You bet I screamed bloody murder and wouldn’t stop screaming until the church removed the priest. Gutsy but instinctual rather than courageous…
“It’s the children, it’s the children” defines exactly what the Cults of Jesus Inc prey upon…

Terence Weldon

March 20th, 2010

For a long time, I’ve been closely following the stories of abuse in the Catholic Church, and writing about them at “Queering the Church.” However, my own experience of abuse was in the boy scouts.
(I have described the experience at

While I am fiercely critical of the Church’s institutional role in abuse, in fairness I have to ask why is it that other institutions where abuse is rife are not being challenged as strongly? Is it, I wonder, because it’s central control and perceived wealth leave it more susceprible to claims for financial compensation?

Ben in Oakland

March 20th, 2010

Terence– I think you could argue that the real reason is the squeakiest wheel gets the grease.


March 20th, 2010

Terence, the church is challenged more strongly because of the hypocrisy of it all… serial abusers, countless victims (those that speak out), continuous cover ups… it’s happening all over the world and it doesn’t look like it’s about to stop. I’m wondering, where is abuse more rife than in the church?

Ben in Oakland

March 20th, 2010

At your local NAMBLA meeting, of course. No, wait, sorry. I just got a news release. The church has more abuse than NAMBLA.

Christopher Waldrop

March 20th, 2010

Terence, I’m so sorry you were abused when you were a Boy Scout. As a former Boy Scout (and Eagle Scout) myself these stories are upsetting because my own experiences with the organization were pretty positive. Aside from the abuse, a lot of which, unfortunately, probably goes unreported, it also upsets me that the organization seems, anymore, to be more focused on discrimination than the positive things I remember: outdoor skills, camping, and just fostering friendship.

I also remember the adults talking about a case of abuse that happened within my troop, although it was before I joined. They were glad they’d been able to “keep it quiet” because they were afraid that if the case were widely known it would destroy the troop.

Looking back I have serious problems with that attitude. There’s a fine line between keeping something quiet and covering it up. In spite of what the consequences might have been those adults who knew–and I’m assuming they only found out after the fact–should have been more concerned about helping the victim than “keeping it quiet”.

By placing so much emphasis on that those adults were also sending a message to the victim, and it may have been unintentional, but that message was that the victim had been involved in something that threatened the troop and that it shouldn’t be discussed. I don’t know how it was handled, but if the victim were told he had to “keep it quiet” it wouldn’t surprise me if he interpreted that as blame.


March 20th, 2010

@ first Ben in Oakland:

You seem to dance around, but never embrace, a conclusion that I’ve come to on my own: That pedophilia is a sexual orientation of itself, an entity, in the same way that homo- or heterosexuality are considered “orientations.”

I’m well aware of the sliding scale of all sexuality and orientation, and of the unique overlap within orientations that each of us represents. So I don’t think that pedophilia is often a stand-alone (although apparently it can be). But I do wonder if it isn’t the PRIMARY orientation of abusers, expressed in homo- or heterosexual ways, and deserving of a more precise category than it now gets.

I’m unsure of what I’m saying, and I may be splitting hairs. But I rankle when I read of this as just an expression and extension of homosexuality, when I believe that it represents an orientation of its own, and should be thought of that way.

Emily K

March 20th, 2010

Soren, pedophilia is defined as a paraphilia, like bestiality and some fetishes. Only 4 orientations – the aligning of romantic and sexual attraction between pubescent adults – are defined. They are asexual, bisexual, heterosexual, and homosexual.


March 20th, 2010

keep it quiet. cover it up.

throw accountability outta the window. remain holy.

share the guilt. play victim… these incidents have ruined credibility.

pass the buck. shift the blame… the devil made it happen when god wasnt looking (daydreaming, perhaps?).

it’s disgusting.

how will it ever stop? shouldnt church (and religion in general) be illegal for those under 18?

Ben in Oakland

March 20th, 2010

Soren– if i have time later, I will write on this issue for you. I haven’t danced around this issue, and I actually agree with you, though my agreement (pace, Emily) may not be supported by mainstream organizations.


March 20th, 2010

@Emily K:

“. . . the aligning of romantic and sexual attraction between pubescent adults . . .”

No one but a “pubescent adult” can have an orientation?

My mother says that she knew I was gay when I was in the first grade. She says I was always getting crushes on other boys.

And she is right. When I look back on it, I was frequently enamored of another kid, fascinated by him, talking about him, missing him, frustrated that he didn’t think the same way about me. This at the very start of my school career, and very distinctly outside every cultural clue, advertisement and billboard relentlessly in my face.

I know enough always to avoid always and never to say never, so when I see that there are “only 4 orientations,” I tend to respond, “Sez who?”

Thanks for your response. Please expand.

Timothy Kincaid

March 20th, 2010


Whatever conclusions you have come to, you are mistaken.

Orientation is a measurement of direction (hence the name). Think of it as a sort of compass, if you will. It points either at males, at females, at a point between, or away from both. A male pointed at “male” is gay.

It doesn’t point at “tall” or “Hispanic” or “Miss Kitty dressed up in latex” though these may be things that appeal to some. And it doesn’t point at “nine years old”.

You may claim that these are just arbitrary definitions and that it could point to male, female, and pre-pubescent child, if it wished. Sure, it could also point to jello.

But there is a difference between men and jello. Interestingly, it is also the difference between men and children.

An orientation the gender to which one gravitates to establish a joining of two, a connection of souls. Sex is but a manifestation of this gravitation. And even casual or meaningless sex is a reflection of the emotional attraction that underlies falling in love.

Without the possibility of joining of souls – something that simply cannot occur with immature and undeveloped children – then there is no connection, only unequal power. And, in fact, it is this inequality, this power disunity that appeals to pedophiles. In that sense, pedophilia is very nearly the opposite of an orientation.


March 20th, 2010

Hmmmm . . . dunno.

I’m not going to dig in my heels, but I’m not convinced.

Particularly by this:

” . . . An orientation the gender to which one gravitates to establish a joining of two, a connection of souls. Sex is but a manifestation of this gravitation. And even casual or meaningless sex is a reflection of the emotional attraction that underlies falling in love. . . .”

If you don’t actually you make my case for me, you surely don’t shut it out by that statement.

Do you believe that a pedophile is without desire for a “joining of two, a connection of souls”?

I think that’s exactly what they want–just like anyone else–and that their desire forms the central tragedy of pedophilia: That the desire for reciprocated love can almost certainly never be.

I think it would be awful to be a pedophile for exactly that reason–that for ethical, legal and biological and hormonal reasons, the relationship can’t be.

You continue:

. . . “Without the possibility of joining of souls – something that simply cannot occur with immature and undeveloped children – then there is no connection, only unequal power. And, in fact, it is this inequality, this power disunity that appeals to pedophiles. In that sense, pedophilia is very nearly the opposite of an orientation.”

I take the point. But I don’t agree that “orientation” of any sort is dependent upon the “possibility of joining souls.”

Just to start, what exactly IS “joining souls,” anyway?

And more important, in this specific, why insist that every pedophile is into a power relationship, as if all pedophilia is essentially rape?

I think that is just dead wrong. I start with J.M. Barry and Charles Dodgson as examples against that assertion, and as examples of persons who very clearly had a connection with children.

I doubt that sex is the only thing that a pedophile seeks.


March 20th, 2010

Timothy, I agree with you, on most points.

Pedophilia is by definition, abusive… it involves minors… so, even in cases where, for example, a 17 year old dude does everything in his power to get his 21 year old crush into bed… the who statutory rape thing is based on the fact that minors cant be expected to make sensible sexual decisions… and that adults who take advantage of that fact ought to be punished.

I also agree that sexual orientation is defined using gender identities, and that age, race, hair color, eye color, build, body hair, accent, dressing style, sexual fetishes etc represent “lower level” classifications of physical and/or emotional attraction.

But, age isnt always as easy to put into the “lower level” category, althought it wont ever come close to gender identity when it comes to defining sexual orientation.

Some people extrapolate pedophilia to what they would term “cross-generational sex” (that would include freshmen being sexually involved with their professors)… they claim that cross-generational sex increases HIV infection rates (which sounds as unscientific / scientifically unsound as HIV infection rates being “blamed” on homosexuality or race… ignoring all the scientific and practical stuff, like methods of HIV prevention).

Going back to “cross generational sex”… is it impossible to imagine that some people (of different sexual orientations) may have only ever experienced and continue to experience “cross generational attractions” consistently – either towards much older people or much younger people… like, 10 or 20 years older or younger? That 30 year old who has consistently experienced “cross-generational attractions” towards people at least 10 years older, as a minor was attracted to adults (not suggesting its ok for minors to act on such attractions by having sex). Or vice versa. Of course… those who experience “cross-generational attractions” must respect the law regarding age of consent… just like everybody else.

If we werent discussing pedophilia, but cross-generational sex… in other words, if we were to limit the discussion to adults (kinda kills the whole point, i know. but for the sake of exploring the pedo sexual orientation suggestion). Those who consistently experience cross-generational attractions and consistently have cross-generational sex with consenting adults within a particular age bracket relative to their own… why wouldnt that qualify as a secondary dimension of “sexual orientation” …the two words taken together kinda suggest there is room for more than gender identity, at least in defining secondary or tertiary sexual orientations.

Emily K

March 20th, 2010

Many anti-gay organizations have attempted to lump pedophilia, necrophilia, bestiality, and other paraphilias in with homosexuality in order to make it seem “deviant.” They attempted to make it seem like it was coming from the APA, no less!

btw, they define “orientation” as the following:

an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual, or affectional attraction toward others

and paraphilia as this:

recurrent, intense sexual urges, fantasies, or behaviors that involve unusual objects, activities, or situations and cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

Emily K

March 20th, 2010

In response to the post about J.M. Barrie:

The question inevitably rises in relation to Barrie’s involvement with the Llewelyn Davies boys whether he was a pedophile, or had repressed pedophilic tendencies. Nico Llewelyn Davies, the youngest of the boys, when asked about this after Barrie’s death, dismissed the idea categorically. “I don’t believe that Uncle Jim ever experienced what one might call ‘a stirring in the undergrowth’ for anyone — man, woman, or child,” said Nico. “He was an innocent — which is why he could write Peter Pan.” Writer Andrew Birkin, who spent three years researching Barrie’s life for his BBC television program The Lost Boys, interviewed many who had known J.M. Barrie and conducted an extensive correspondence with Nico. Nothing he read or heard indicated that Barrie had a sexual interest in the boys.


March 20th, 2010

@ Emily re. JM Barrie:

And your point would be . . . ?

If it is that a pedophile’s ONLY interest in children is sexual, I won’t agree with you. That’s a definition that’s too tight, and is countered by the work of millions–no doubt–of pedophiles engaged responsibly service to youth.

Further, nothing in the quote you posted contradicts my assertion that Barrie had a connection with boys (as he very clearly had), nor my belief that sex is NOT all that a pedophile wants.

(I am corrected on the spelling of Barrie’s name.)

Ben in Oakland

March 20th, 2010

Soren– I now have a bit of time, so I will try to answer. I’m not an authority on the subject, though I think I know a fair amount about it, and I am far more than a casual reader.

What Timothy and Emily are saying is that “orientation” is confined to the gender of the adults one is attracted to– one, the other, both, neither. Children are BY DEFINITION left out of this. I think there are a lot of reasons for it: personal, sexual, social, political, cultural, legal, and so forth. All of those have been touched on in the various comments. I’m not sure the exclusion is what we may call scientific, but it is quite understandable, even necessary. We certainly emphasize that when we go to great lengths to explain that just because we like the same sex does not mean we are child molesters.

According to Dr. Nicholas Groth, perhaps the foremost expert on the subject in the country, there are basically two kinds of pedophiles: those who are attracted primarily or exclusively towards children– fixed pedophiles– and those who might turn to children when adult outlets are not available or when there is psychological trauma causing an otherwise adult-attracted adult to turn to children. Dr. Groth refers to these as regressed pedophiles. He would include in this category the man who molests his daughter because the wife has cut him off. This to me is not as clear a situation. My late partner had sex with his father once when he was a young teen because he was a horny gay boy, he thought his father was hot, and his father was more than willing to be “asleep”. But the father also repeatedly molested his older daughter, and it was not consensual. How would you classify dear old Da?

I think the fixed pedophiles do in fact have an orientation– towards children. They are not interested in adults of either sex, and apparently, the sex of the children is not particularly important, although the mostly male perps seem to be more interested in girl children, and quite possibly for the reason I cited– they don’t want to appear to be gay. What makes it an orientation, to my mind, is that it appears to be innate, established quite early, and essentially unchangeable. Your points about Charles Dodgson and J.M. Barry– and I may add, Hans Christian Anderson (I may be wrong about him) and Benjamin Britten– are well taken. These are all men who may have had pedophilic desires but were strong and moral enough not to act on them, or so we believe. I suspect that they would have been horrified at the thought of themselves doing something sexual to a child, and so they did not. Where it might differ from an orientation as we understand it re gay and straight is that it might have its roots in pathology. Or it might not, any more than gay or straight does. but I suspect most people assume that pedophilia is pathological both in its nature and in its origins. People often make the same assumptions about homosexuality. But it needs to be proven, not assumed, and proof has not been forthcoming for gay people, ex-gay industry be damned. Perhaps Timothy is aware of some research on this subject. I am not.

Though I do bow to his authority, I’m not sure I agree with Dr. Groth on the two kinds of molesters. and like adult sexuality, molesting may be on a continuum rather than bi-polar, as it was with my late partner’s father. Also, I’d posit a third type, though these might just be your garden variety regressed pedophiles. This type is not so much pedophiles as people with ISSUES. We can call them ACDC– pardon the pun– because they have Access to Children, Denial, and Credentials.

I would classify our married-with-kids scoutmaster as probably one of these, though he may be just a common fixed pedophile with children. His credentials are his wife and kids, as well as his position of authority over his charges. Maybe he is actually a big ol’ mo’, or would be if he were allowed a normal life, and so he acts out his homosexuality with the boys. They are not men, after all, they probably won’t tell, and he gets to continue to deny the obvious.

Also the nominally celibate priest, who does not actually have the charisma– the gift from God– of celibacy. (It’s a good argument against the validity of the vocation determining process). He may also be a plain old pedophile. Or he may be a man who is working out– i.e.., denying– his lack of the gift or his homosexuality, as I believe many priests do to avoid the obvious. He has the credentials of his profession, though that one isn’t going to work much longer for many of them.

I had another thought, but I lost it, and it’s late. Perhaps it will come to me tomorrow.

Emily K

March 21st, 2010

If it is that a pedophile’s ONLY interest in children is sexual, I won’t agree with you. That’s a definition that’s too tight, and is countered by the work of millions–no doubt–of pedophiles engaged responsibly service to youth.

Then we have very different definitions of the word “pedophile.” And the reason pedophiles engage in “responsibility service to youth” is to gain access to victims – and, perhaps in some cases, try to ease their guilt about being such monsters.

That’s fine that you’re pro-pedophile and all, b/c of freedom of speech, blah blah blah… but in the words of South Park, “Dude. [they] have SEX with CHILDREN.”


March 21st, 2010

Soren456 wrote: “That’s a definition that’s too tight, and is countered by the work of millions–no doubt–of pedophiles engaged responsibly service to youth.”

That line just forces me to jump into this particular conversations to call “foul.” I find it particularly disturbing, and raises serious questions in my mind about where Soren456 is coming from.

The only “responsible” service that a pedophile could possibly render to children is to stay completely away from any and all children. Failing that, appropriate jail sentences are in order.

Pedophiles get involved with children and children’s organizations in order to find vulnerable children (those in need, those alienated from parents and family, etc) in order to exploit these kids. It is repugnant to turn around and describe their parasitic hunting behavior as noble or positive in any way.

I am particularly disturbed by trying to lionize the efforts of “millions” of predatory pedophiles who are hunting for victims by participating in organizations that are designed to provide service and support to children, like Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts.

For the record, while being a great supporter of the Girl Scouts, I have little love for the homophobic and religious bigots who run the Boy Scouts.

Chino Blanco

March 21st, 2010

WHAT: Demonstration at Mitt Romney’s San Diego Book Signing
WHEN: Monday, March 22nd at 6:00 pm
WHERE: Deseret Bookstore (meet at S.E. Corner of Nobel Dr. and Villa La Jolla Dr.)
La Jolla Village Sq. Shopping Center, 8657 Villa La Jolla Dr., La Jolla, CA 92037
(Exit 28 off I-5 south — Exit 28A off I-5 north)
Call 619-592-2008 for details.

Timothy Kincaid

March 21st, 2010


Do you believe that a pedophile is without desire for a “joining of two, a connection of souls”?

No. I don’t.

Psycholgists tell us that pedophilia is about power disparity, about control, and not about a mutual joining.


I do not believe that there are any “secondary dimensions” to sexual orientation.

The problem is that folks often want sexual oreintation to mean something other than what it means. It’s like a sailor looking at a compass and wanting “dry” to be a direction.

Oh, surely dry ground is as important as “north” so it should be a direction too. But it’s not.

THis isn’t to say that it isn’t useful to have terms to describe subsets of attractions. But sorry, “sexual orientation” is already taken.


I don’t disagree that pedophiles are focused on children. But this is not included in the sexual orientation definition for an obvious reason: they are not seeking a life-bond (whether or not they think they are).

They aren’t attracted to Joe who is a child. They are, instead, attracted to a child who just happens to be Joe. It isn’t the personhood of Joe they like; just his age. And when that child ceases to be a child, so will the attraction.


March 21st, 2010

thanks Timothy,

sailor – campus – north – dry… i think i get it. kinda sorta.

the term “sexual orientation” is reserved for use in the way we all know it’s always been used.

while a campus, a barometer, a hygrometer, a cup anemometer and whatever else might all be useful to that sailor, orientation is defined by what his campus would show, not the other useful info from his other instruments.

but, looking at the definition of “sexual orientation” given earlier (versus the definition of paraphilia)… how can sexual orientation remain limited to gender identity when we know, for example… some people are and have always been interested in members of a particular race and no other, not always their own race. i’ve come across unfortunate terms used to describe such people (r___ queen, s___ queen, d____ queen – terms that i’d liken to “fag” …as offensive and colloquial as they are, they refer to something that seems to fit into the definition of sexual orientation given earlier). such terms are used in a secondary or tertiary manner to the terms currently used to describe sexual orientation. doesnt the exclusive use of gender-based identifiers when discussing sexual orientation encourage the use of those offensive and colloquial terms?

i dont want sexual orientation to mean anything else… i’m very okay with its current use. but i cant help but wonder why… despite the definition of “sexual orientation” given earlier, and the definitions of “sexual” and “orientation”… when talking about sexual orientation, why should we continue to pay attention to gender identity alone and not race or age or anything else that would seem reasonable by the definitions of “sexual”, “orientation” and “sexual orientation”? is there a more credible definition out there somewhere that would justify the current use of the term? does the definition vary according to who defines the term for their purposes?

And no, I’m not trying to legitimize, sympathize or empathize (*shudder*) with pedos. Pedophilia is totally f’d up… ask any survivor.

Eric in Oakland

March 21st, 2010

I agree with Timothy’s and Emily’s position about Pedophilia not being an Orientation. Ben’s suggestion that the distinction may be merely legal, political, or cultural rather than scientific is interesting, but I think, incorrect. The cultural, legal, and political reasons for the distinction are important, but there is also a sound scientific basis for the distinction.

People can be categorized by many, MANY different traits (age, eye color, height, health, ethnicity, etc.) and any of these traits may be a sexual turn on or turn off. However, a preference for blondes or tall people can hardly be called an orientation. Neither can a preference for 16 year olds or 50 year olds.

There are also many categories of THINGS that people may have sexual fixations or hangups about. They are usually called fetishes or paraphilias and can include anything from animals to motorcycles to specific body parts. Having a fetish for something is quite distinct from having romantic attraction for someone. The fetish is a means toward sexual gratification rather than an end in itself. True pedophilia is a type of paraphilia.

I think that some of the confusion here is because people are not making a distinction between a person who has a preference for youth (in the same sense as a preference for blondes) and a person who has a fetish for children. The former may be a sex offender but is not clinically a pedophile. And neither case comprises a sexual orientation.


March 22nd, 2010

okay, here’s an attempt at framing my question about “sexual orientation”…

think of a graph with just three axes – x, y and z. try to imagine your co-ordinates on this graph:

x = “gender” or “sexual orientation” as we know it. we could have “homosexual” on one end, “bisexual” at the origin, and “heterosexual” at the other end… or “males” on one end, “both males and females” at the origin, and “females” on the other end (since that would require swopping the x axis the other way around for lesbians, let’s stick to “homosexual”, “bisexual” and “heterosexual” – and label the x axis “sexual orientation” instead of “gender”).

y = “race”, with randomly selected co-ordinates along that axis for each race imaginable, and perhaps “indifferent” at the origin.

z = “age”, with 18 at one end, “indifferent” at the origin, and 120 at the other end.

sure, it has lots of problems, limitations and shortcomings, but that’s just a very sketchy description of the graph in my mind. i’m sure most of us would be able to plot our co-ordinates on such a graph – except perhaps those who identify as “asexual”.

it excludes paraphilia and minors… and uses fairly reasonable variables, comparable to sexual orientation as we know it (at least i think so).

considering the definition of sexual orientation given earlier (which i wasn’t 100% happy with)… what would an individual’s co-ordinates on such a graph depict? their meta-sexual orientation? sexual preference perhaps?

please help me out here… i don’t like feeling confused.

Ben in Oakland

March 22nd, 2010

“Psycholgists tell us that pedophilia is about power disparity, about control, and not about a mutual joining.”

“I don’t disagree that pedophiles are focused on children. But this is not included in the sexual orientation definition for an obvious reason: they are not seeking a life-bond (whether or not they think they are).

They aren’t attracted to Joe who is a child. They are, instead, attracted to a child who just happens to be Joe. It isn’t the personhood of Joe they like; just his age. And when that child ceases to be a child, so will the attraction.”

I’m not sure I can agree with this. Though I’m not wedded to the idea that pedophilia is a sexual orientation, it certainly shares a great deal of common ground with what we generally call oreintation. I suspect (but i don’t know) that a pedophile is not attracted to every child, any more than I am to every man. Likewise, when I see a cute boy I am attracted to, I don’t want any kind of a life bond with him, just a 20 minute or so bond.

(For the record, this isn’t true, either. I am quite monogamously and happily and legally married. It’s all theory, n’est-ce pas?)

Many of the sames things have been said aobut gay people, especially gay men.

I remember one of Oscar wilde’s comments at his third trial, when he was asked if he had had relations with a particular rent boy. “Oh no. He was much too unattractive.”

I am willing to concede a pedophile’s basic humanity. Not all children are attractive. The belief that true sexual and romantic love is possible with a child may be deluded and solipsistic in the extreme, but that doesn’t mean it is not sincere. Nor does it mean that it is not dangerous and not allowable.

more later if I have time.

Timothy Kincaid

March 22nd, 2010


I don’t think your multidimensional graph talks about sexual orientation. It is simply a few of many variables that help us winnow down our choices. There could be many more. Height, education, maturity, kindness, humor, dominance/passivity, and vibe (urban/preppy/boy next door) could make this quite a cumbersome graph.

And it is interesting to talk about, but it sexual orientation is not all those things. I think what you are discussing is taste. It’s what makes one gay guy want a tall willowy blond with fabulous fashion sense while another gay guy prefers a hairy shorter dark haired guy who plays rugby. But their sexual orientation is the same.


I’m not sure that I agree with you. From what little I know, pedophiles aren’t overly particular about looks. It’s the innocence that appeals.

I think our culture may conflate two things: pedophilia and the occasional attraction to a particularly attractive under-age guy. I’m not sure how to separate the two, but I don’t think that the gushing over Taylor Lautner – who just turned 18 – was based in pedophilia. Nor is much of the starlet attention given to young women; I think there were plenty of men who found Britney Spears attractive (back in the day) who were not pedophiles.


March 22nd, 2010


thanks for clearing that up.

Timothy (TRiG)

March 23rd, 2010

Paedophilia is a sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children, so attraction to the seventeen-year-old Taylor Lautner was certainly not paedophilia. Ephebophilia, perhaps, but probably not even that.


What about

April 14th, 2010

…not noted is what the three boys called Scoutmaster Knox – “DAD.”

Much of the molestation occurred when Knox was no longer a scoutmaster and had married the boy’s mom.

Sick? Yes. But shouldn’t the ongoing abuse by blamed on the mom rather than the BSA and LDS Church that threw the bum out?

Dan in Colorado

June 25th, 2010

Perhaps a bit off topic, but beyond the pedophilia and abuse charges I am put off by the corruption of the original Boy Scout Organization by the Catholic and Mormon Churches. What used to be a non-denominational group has degenerated into outlets for the Catholic Church and the Mormons to recruit and to push their views on boys. In Pueblo, Colorado boy scout meetings are frequently held at local Catholic parish halls and so forth. I believe there is some sort of honor badge for religion. What also irks me is how local scout leaders are held up as outstanding citizens. It’s okay to make snide jokes about gays and okay to overtly or covertly influence young minds and propagate hate. All in the name of being good upstanding Americans. This is what needs to stop. This is where gay bashing starts. It comes from this sanctioned hate propagated by grown men walking around in their ridiculous scout uniforms and propagating hate for gay people in yet another generation. These scout leaders assume that 1) none of their kids might be gay–that would NEVER happen and 2) there simply can’t be any gay kids in their troop. Nothing like making the emotional turbulence of adolescence even more difficult for a gay teenager. Years ago this may have been an honorable organization, but not any more.

Jason D

June 25th, 2010

“I suspect (but i don’t know) that a pedophile is not attracted to every child, any more than I am to every man.”

Not from what I’ve read Ben. In fact, it may very well been HERE at BTB where I read something to the effect that a survey of pedophiles (convicted, obviously) revealed that the gender of the child was less a factor than access. In other words, if they only have access to private time with a girl, they’ll take it. I believe this was in reference to the fixed pedophiles. That leads me to believe that if the deciding factor isn’t boy or girl, but “who can I get?”, that looks would be just as irrelevant.

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