Monday, September 21, 2009

2009 books on sex crimes against children

Our extended family includes a convicted pedophile. This year, under an assumed name, he published his memoir, in which he describes his obsessive search for friends, jobs, and travel destinations that gave him sexual access to young boys, much like “Molly” and “Sara’s” paternal grandfather in the custody case reported at

Both men went to prison for these crimes--but not for their crimes against children in their own families. (An editor removed accounts of incest from our relative’s book, apparently because these “complicated” his story.)

The late Richard Gardner, psychiatrist, author, and self-publisher, created “Parental Alienation Syndrome” in 1985 and built it into a cottage industry. He lobbied against mandatory reporting of sex crimes against children. He argued that society was too restrictive when it prohibits sex between adults and children.

His theory held that children who complain of abuse by their fathers should not be believed, since their mothers had probably alienated, brainwashed, and coached them. These children, Gardner advised, should be taken from their mothers and awarded to their fathers.

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges has emphatically rejected “Parental Alienation” for failure to meet evidentiary standards. But Rhode Island’s Family Court has groomed psychologists who actively promote it.

This year, some superbly written books have been published that challenge pedophile assumptions:

Lost Paradise: From Mutiny on the Bounty to a Modern-Day Legacy of Sexual Mayhem, the Dark Secrets of Pitcairn Island Revealed

Journalist Kathy Marks tells of a historically Christian society where men routinely raped and assaulted children while women acquiesced on the Island of Pitcairn that was settled more than 200 years ago by mutineers. Marks went to the remote island in 2004 to report on the trials of village leaders and others for raping children. She provides an astonishing account of this sexually permissive criminal culture and some of its profoundly disturbing consequences.

Unspeakable: Father-Daughter Incest in American History

History Professor Lynn Sacco meticulously documents centuries of denial, steeped in class, race, and gender, that refused to prosecute white fathers for incest. She describes the manipulation of medical evidence to shore up patriarchal power at the expense of girls’ physical and emotional integrity. With concern for their own careers, otherwise progressive professionals have preferred to help defense attorneys "detect ‘malicious prosecutions’ and false allegations" rather than reporting actual medical evidence of abuse.

Tempest in the Temple: Jewish Communities and Child Sex Scandals

Sociologist Amy Neustein exposes collusion between a district attorney and council of rabbis intent on suppressing sex abuse allegations against yeshiva administrators, therapists, and rabbis. In 2000, a Yiddish-language newspaper in Brooklyn, NY, published a full-page notice signed by fifty prominent rabbis reminding readers of the “severe prohibition” against informing non-Jewish authorities against another Jew. This included reporting child abuse to police. The record shows similarities to the Catholic Church's history of covering up sexual abuse of children by priests.

My Body Belongs To Me

Assistant District Attorney Jill Starishevsky prosecutes sex crimes against children in New York City. Her book uses simple words in readable rhymed verse to give young children a sense of ownership over their bodies. If an adult touches them in ways that scare them, they can tell parents or teachers. “He said it’s our secret/ and told me not to tell./ But I ran away real fast/ and then began to yell.” Sara Muller has illustrated the book with expressively whimsical drawings to help children understand their personal right to feel safe and respected.

Angela Shelton’s Warrior Workbook

Filmmaker Angela Shelton, who escaped childhood incest along with her siblings, has designed a therapeutic step-by-step journal that she subtitles “Be your own hero" with the reminder: "It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” Her outspoken humor is healing and smartly illustrated by James Murray. Disarmingly clown-like and powerful, Angela’s infectious, can-do spirit and spontaneity help the wounded to take heart and find their unique voices.