Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Selfish Wail: `It's Not My Fault'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Selfish Wail: `It's Not My Fault'

Article excerpt

In recent days two men, each convicted of crimes involving sexual misdeeds, have lashed out in public, blaming everybody from the FBI to 15-year-old girls for their actions. Their defense - "Stop me before I act up again" - is a twist on the plea uttered by victims in werewolf movies from the '50s, who found themselves helplessly succumbing to violent urges. Like those victims, these men say they couldn't help themselves - not because of werewolf bites, but because of mental illness and powerful outside forces.

One is a former high school teacher in Maryland, found guilty of having sexual relations with students over an 11-year period. The other, the former chief judge of New York State, was found guilty of harassing a former lover and her 14-year-old-daughter.

The 48-year-old teacher - who had sex in the library, the school gym, the press box of the football stadium, at his home, in his car - defended his behavior in court and on TV talk shows. Ronald Price says he didn't know sexual activity with students was illegal. He says school officials knew about his sexual conduct but did nothing to stop him. He claims to suffer from a mental illness that drives him to have sex with girls.

There's more. Price blames society for promoting promiscuity. He claims parents are at fault for not knowing what their children are up to; and he criticizes the girls themselves for having loose moral standards.

On the witness stand, Price's female students cried as they described their teacher's seduction techniques - how he gradually isolated them from friends and family and turned them totally dependent upon him. Price seduced one student who had come to him, upset over her father's death, and another who was having boyfriend trouble. Listen to Price and you'd think he was the victim, the one unfairly treated by all.

Ex-judge Sol Wachtler also claims to be a victim. Despite the misery he's inflicted on former lover Joy Silverman and her daughter, Wachtler demands compassion and understanding.

Here's what he did: Jealous of Silverman's new boyfriend, he anonymously harassed her over the phone, sent her obscene letters and threatened to kidnap the daughter unless he received $20,000. …

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