|Boy Scout sexual abuse files|
will be released today.
The business press, or at least a portion of it, is addressing sexual misconduct in America's corporations and institutions. And we are talking about the kind of misconduct where powerful adults prey on children.
Meanwhile, the story of child sexual abuse continues to evolve with the release today of documents from the Boy Scouts that identify more than 1,000 leaders and volunteers who were banned from the organization after being accused of inappropriate conduct with boys.
The Web site businessinsider.com recently reported on the case of James M. Henderson, an attorney who was relieved of his duties at Pat Robertson's American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) after revelations that he had smoked marijuana and engaged in sexually charged online chats with teen-aged boys.
Abby Rogers, of Business Insider, picked up on a story that originated with the progressive Web sites Exposed Politics and The Patriot-Ombudsman. The story gathered steam in the LGBT press (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender), with a report from Metro Weekly confirming that Henderson had been fired.
We have stay tuned to the Henderson story for a couple of reasons: (1) It has an Alabama angle because of Henderson's connections to right-wing lawyer/activist A. Eric Johnston, of Birmingham; Johnston has consistently fought gaming initiatives in our state, even though published reports indicate his organizations have received Mississippi gambling money that was laundered through GOP felon Jack Abramoff; (2) It has connections to the Jerry Sandusky and Ted Rollins stories, which have drawn heavy coverage here.
What kind of adult male seeks sexual contact with boys of various ages? A CNN report on the Boy Scouts story provides insight:
The files will show that the expelled Scout leaders and volunteers--all men--"are sociopathic geniuses," said attorney Kelly Clark of Portland, who has reviewed the 20,000 pages and is among the attorneys releasing the papers Thursday.
"They fool everybody," he said. "And then they are able to coerce, convince or threaten these kids to stay silent. And you see that play out over and over again in the files."
How does such abuse affect victims? Again, from CNN:
Tim Kosnoff, an attorney in Seattle, said the abuse allegedly inflicted on the men as boys "has a corrosive effect" in which trust, relationship and sexuality issues develop with adulthood.
One former Boy Scout represented by Kosnoff, Keith Early, joined the group at 12, recruited by an assistant Scoutmaster who was a married firefighter with three children and led Scout meetings in a church in Washington state.
Early, now 18, was sexually abused by the Scout leader while helping build a Boy Scout camp on his 42-acre ranch, he said in an interview with CNN. The assistant Scoutmaster was convicted of abusing Early and another boy and is now serving a prison sentence of 10 years to life.
"I felt like I was all alone," Early said. "Just thinking about it makes me angry . . . because how could you do that to somebody? How could you bring yourself to do that to somebody who is so innocent and has done nothing wrong?"
Thanks to the reporting of Bill Schmalfeldt at The Patriot-Ombudsman, we've learned that experts do not necessarily consider such men to be gay. We've also learned that these men fall into different categories, based on the ages of their victims. Let's take a look at three such categories:
* Pedophile--This is an adult who has a primary sexual attraction for prepubescent children (often under age 10).
* Hebephile--This is an adult who has a primary sexual attraction for pubescent children (generally ages 11-14).
* Ephebophile--This is an adult who has a primary sexual attraction for mid to late adolescents (generally ages 15-19).
The general public tends to lump all child sex abusers under the term "pedophile." But psychologists say the issue is more nuanced than that. In fact, stories that have been in our headlines appear to involve men who fall into the latter two categories.
Exact ages of the boys in the James Henderson case are not known, but it appears to be a case of ephebophilia. Perhaps the most high-profile case of ephebophilia in recent years involved former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL), who resigned his seat after revelations about his sexually charged communications with House pages.
The Sandusky and Rollins stories appear to touch on hebephilia, and that might be the most curious category of all. Many experts seem to agree that the 11-14 age range is an especially vulnerable time for children, especially boys.
Psychology Today provides valuable insight in an article titled "Meet the Hebephiles." In fact, the article states that the Catholic Church has been misguided in its approach to the problem of abusive priests:
Church leaders would also do well to get over the sexologically-naive idea that, because many of the abuse victims have been males in the 11-14 year age range (i.e., they are pubescent boys, and not prepubescent little kids), their priest-abusers can't be pedophiles, and so the priests must be gay men. Various Church leaders have implied that there is no transitional group between men who are into little boys (pedophiles) and men who are into men (gay men). In fact, there is now substantial evidence that men attracted to pubescent (as opposed to prepubescent) children form a recognizable sexual orientation group, termed hebephiles.
Hebephiles are not sexually typical men who just happen to go for easy-pickin's because they can't get them a real man or woman. Don't get me wrong: there are some otherwise-sexually typical men, primarily attracted to adults, who will sexually abuse pubescent children (including their own children and step-children) because they can't get enough of what they really want. But hebephiles are different. They show offense histories and laboratory arousal patterns indicating that their peak sexual arousal is to pubescent body types. In this way, they are discernible, as a group, from men who show offense histories and laboratory arousal patterns indicating peak sexual arousal patterns to prepubescent children or to adults.
Ray Blanchard, of Canada's Center for Addiction and Mental Health and the University of Toronto, is a leading researcher in this area. Reports Psychology Today:
Using an extraordinary compilation of data from thousands of men, Blanchard has convincingly shown that hebephiles consist of a sort of "missing link" between pedophiles (those attracted to pre-pubescent children) and teleiophiles (those of us attracted to sexually mature people). Blanchard's data clearly indicate that the sexual orientation of males (at least) isn't just composed of the sex of their partners, it's also composed of the age of their partners.
Laypersons tend to think that sexual attraction is driven mainly by gender and physical appearance. But experts say age can be a deciding factor. And they know that the Catholic Church problem is driven largely by hebephiles, not pedophiles:
A study of offending priests commissioned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice bears out the notion that many of the culprits in collars are in fact hebephiles. The study showed that "the largest group of alleged victims (50.9%) was between the ages of 11 and 14." (The quote is from page 9 of the Executive Summary. The age breakdowns of victims, available on p. 70 of section 4.3, also show that clear clustering in ages 11-14.)
We are grateful that the James M. Henderson story came to our attention. It's an important story in its own right. But it has helped shine considerable light on issues connected to our reporting on Jerry Sandusky and Ted Rollins.