It’s the perfect crime: Children are uniquely vulnerable victims, and courts are often lenient toward offenders.
The idea that adults might be sexually attracted to children is so offensive that most parents prefer not to think about it.
By conservative estimates, one out of 10 children is sexually abused each year, often by a trusted authority figure—a teacher, doctor, or camp counselor—or by parents themselves.
In Pittsburgh, a 24-year-old secretary is serving five years on probation for molesting the four-year-old girl for whom she babysat.
A former mayor of Alamogordo, N.M., was convicted recentlyof five sex crimes involving young girls.
And a Roman Catholic priest in charge of youth affairs at his church in suburban Los Angeles confessed to between 20 and 30 homosexual encounters with minors.
Sexual child abuse cuts across all social, economic, and racial strata.
One California attorney who used to prosecute child molesters, believes that “it is probably the common serious crime against a person in the United States.”
It is also the perfect crime.
In every respect, children are singularly vulnerable victims. They can be easily persuaded to cooperate with molesters and are then too afraid or ashamed to talk about it with their parents.
On that rare occasion when a sex offender is reported and convicted, there is an excellent chance that the courts will intervene on his behalf and that he will soon be walking the streets again.
For the past half century, the criminal justice–system has accepted the psychiatric consensus that child molestation is a treatable illness, a viewpoint that rarely results in a full prison term for offenders.
Sexual deviants, meanwhile, aren’t limited to any one group.
In Chicago recently, police burst into a luxurious room in a downtown hotel and found a New York state medical school official with a friend’s 10-year-old daughter, an envelope of pornographic photos and a loaded camera.
The official told police that he was merely “teaching the girl about sex.”
In Waukegan, Ill., a 9-year-old pupil accused a substitute teacher of molesting her. Police searched the woman’s home and foundthousands of pornographic photos of young girls. The teacherhas been convicted twice of similar crimes against children, police records show.
On the north side of Chicago, a 28-year-old funeral director was arrested and charged with taking indecent liberties with children after police discovered a collection of child pornography stored in the facility’s crematory urns. In interviews with police, several young boys say that the director lured them to his living quarters by promising them jobs.
A successful electronics engineer disappeared while being triedon charges that he molested adolescent boys. The man, 42, described by the state’s attorneys as the “Pied Piper” of the neighborhood, was convicted in absentia.
An encounter with undercover police led to the arrest of a warehouse laborer in a western suburb of the “Windy City.” The man, 46, allegedly bragged to the officers about molesting the boys depicted in his pornographic photo collection. He told police he puts the ads in the newspaper, offering work to lure the boys.
These accounts drive home a chilling national problem, and Americans are discovering that pedophilia, a psychosexual personality disorder that causes adults to view youngsters as the preferred objects of their sexual desire, afflicts people in every socioeconomic class.
Top o’ the morning!