Legitimizing Pedophilia Opens Door to Predators

Article excerpt

If I never met Sam on the Internet, would this have happened? This has played on my mind for a year-and-a-half.... How can I not feel something about it? I do, in a way." That was Stephen Simmons, 45, of Holbrook, N.Y., a twice-convicted pedophile, quoted in the Bergen County (N.J.) Record March 24 regarding his yearlong sexual relationship with then-14-year-old Sam Manzie and Manzie's subsequent murder of Eddie Werner, age 11.

It appears that Simmons didn't force Manzie to engage in the sexual encounters -- both Simmons and Manzie claim it was by "consent." Law-enforcement officials stress that consent is irrelevant to the charges against Simmons because of Manzie's age. Simmons, like other pedophiles, including those organized at the North American Man-Boy Love Association, or NAMBLA, vehemently denies that "consensual" sex with a child is "child sex abuse." Until recently, this self-serving excuse has been rejected by reputable mental-health professionals, sex-crimes investigators and anyone with common sense who knows and cares about children (see cover story, p. 10).

Last July, the unthinkable happened. This pedophile propaganda gained official status when the American Psychological Association, or APA, published a study by three professors, Bruce Rind from Temple University, Philip Tromovitch from the University of Pennsylvania and Robert Bauserman from the University of Michigan. "A Meta-Analytic Examination of Assumed Properties of Child Sexual Abuse Using College Samples," a quantitative analysis of 59 studies, sparked vehement criticism because of its conclusion that "child sexual abuse does not cause intense harm on a pervasive basis regardless of gender in the college population."

Basically, the authors want a redefinition Of "child sexual abuse." If it was "a willing encounter" between "a child and an adult" or "an adolescent and adult" with "positive reactions" on the part of the child or adolescent, it no longer would be called "child sexual abuse." It would be labeled scientifically as "adult-child sex" or "adult-adolescent sex." The authors want society to use a "value-neutral term." They don't want us to be judgmental about these matters. Keep this in mind as you consider Simmons' relationship with Manzie.

The New York Times reported on Oct. 3,1997, that "[Manzie] was hanging around a homosexual chat line. [T]he convicted pedophile lured him from an online chat room to his home on Long Island and to motel rooms in Ocean and Monmouth counties [N.J.]." Their first encounter, which was sexual, took place on Aug. 10, 1996; others occurred Sept. 29, Oct. 1 and Dec. 15. Simmons left a trail of credit-card payments and the license-plate number of his car on motel-registration cards. Police found child pornography on Simmons' computer when they arrested him at his home -- no surprise there.

After the first sexual encounter, Manzie's behavior changed drastically. His grades, which had been straight A's, plummeted. He became angry and violent and spent five weeks in bed.

The Manzies took their son to a mental-health facility where a counselor learned of Manzie's yearlong homosexual relationship with Simmons and reported it to police as required by law. At first, Manzie cooperated with police and allowed them to attach recording equipment to his phone line and monitor any conversations with Simmons. On Sept. 22, Manzie's counselors learned that he had smashed the equipment, destroyed some tapes of calls and told Simmons about the investigation. Manzie's doctor recommended that he be placed in a 24-hour treatment program.

After two days in another facility, Manzie's parents were told that he was ready to be discharged. They protested and refused to take him home because they believed he was a danger to himself as well as others. The doctors assured them that he was not suicidal or homicidal. The next morning, Sept. 23, Manzie appeared before Judge James N. Citta, where a family-crisis counselor recommended that he be sent home and that the parents receive counseling to help them with their son. The judge denied the parents' pleas to order Manzie into a mental-health facility.

Four days later, Werner was dead.

Werner had been selling candy for his school's parent-teacher association when he knocked on the Manzies' door. Manzie was home alone. He lured Werner inside, where he strangled him with an electrical cord for 40 minutes and sexually assaulted and photographed him. Manzie has confessed to the crimes against the advice of his parents and lawyers, who had intended to plead not guilty by reason of diminished capacity due to a mental defect. Manzie was on several prescribed drugs but hadn't taken them on the day of the killing. On April 14, at age 17, Manzie was sentenced to 70 years in prison.

In light of this case it is hard to understand how the authors of the study which appeared in a 1998 issue of the APA-published Psychological Bulletin could claim that "lasting negative effects of [child sex abuse] were not pervasive among [sexually abused] students" especially males. They recommend a redefinition [of child sex abuse] that would "focus on the young person's perception of his or her willingness to participate and his or her reactions to the experience."

The authors purposely excluded from their study every literature review that was based primarily on "legal" or "clinical" cases of child sexual abuse. The reason: Clinical patients "are more likely than nonclinical participants to recall events that can be classified as CSA [child sexual abuse], thus inflating the CSA-maladjustment relationship.... Legal samples are also likely to contain the more serious cases, limiting their generalizability." In other words, they didn't include the most serious cases of child sexual abuse in their study.

The APA claims that publication "does not imply endorsement," yet in no way has the APA criticized the study nor renounced its premise or recommendations. In fact, on May 14, the association's chief executive officer, Raymond Fowler, said the report has been peer-reviewed and "is a good study." NAMBLA loves it.

The validity of the study turns on whether the children consented or were coerced into sex. The authors take "consent" at face value -- it was consent because the studies analyzed say so. They presume that children can consent to sex despite the fact that our laws do not permit them to do so. They also presume that children know what coercion is and that they would admit to being coerced.

Manzie still believes he freely consented to having sex with the 43-year-old Simmons. Manzie's mother, Dolores, was quoted by the Associated Press, March 23: "Sam thinks that if he says it was consensual, it's going to help. He's sick, and he does not understand that someone who is 14 cannot have a consensual sexual relationship with someone who is 43." According to the Record, Simmons claims mat Manzie wants to testify on his behalf.

Let's "meta-analyze" this: Supposedly, we have a "willing [sexual] encounter between an adolescent and an adult with positive reactions on the part of the adolescent." According to the authors of the study, this should be defined as "adult-adolescent sex," a "value-neutral term." This should mean that there are no "lasting negative effects" or "intense harm" resulting from Manzie's sexual encounters with Simmons. Consider: Eddie Werner is dead and Sam Manzie will spend most of his life in prison, Two families and the 30,000 people in Jackson Township, N.J., are devastated.

None of this means that Simmons' sexual abuse of Manzie excuses Manzie's brutal killing of Werner. But when we try to understand how a 15-year-old could commit such a terrible crime against another child, we have to consider that Manzie did not act from a clean slate. Simmons' handwriting is all over him.

NAMBLA and others who want to have their way with our children will use the APA-published study to attempt to change how we protect children from sexual abuse in our public policies and laws. Such efforts must be vigorously and consistently resisted. Children need protection from such people and from themselves. That's what responsible adults do.

As a lawyer who has spent many years trying to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation, I have more than a legal interest in doing so. Between the ages of 5 and 8, I was sexually molested by four different men. The fourth individual used his three sons to hold me down in repeated violent encounters. The authors of the APA study would agree that all of the encounters were child-sexual abuse because I did not consent and never viewed them with "positive reactions" -- quite the contrary.

What the authors would need to consider is what impact the forced encounters had on my becoming sexually involved at age 16 with a man in his 40s. That relationship was not forced -- it was what the authors define as consensual. If I had been asked at the time, or at college age, whether I had positive reactions to the relationship, the answer would have been a resounding "yes." I thought I was "in love" and believed that he loved me, even though he never said so. I realized later that I had not truly consented to sex with this man. I did what I did because it was necessary to be with him -- so that he would love me back. That is coercion, not consent. The law defines it as statutory rape or unlawful sexual intercourse. Ask me now if I have "positive reactions" to the relationship. Mental-health professionals have found that sexually abused children commonly become sexually promiscuous as children and adolescents -- and many of them probably think they consented.

While the APA has stated that "the sexual abuse of children is wrong and harmful to its victims," they have not denounced the premise upon which this study is based -- that a child can consent to sex with an adult. Until they do, the scientific "cover" for -- pedophiles will be disastrous for children.

Jan LaRue is senior director of legal studies at the Family Research Council.