When the law is out of order on rape

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Footballers these days often leap in celebration on top of a teammate who has just scored, do they not? So when British soccer pro Ched Evans leaped into a hotel bedroom frolic with his fellow ball belter and best mate Clayton McDonald – oh, and also a woman the latter had chatted up in a kebab shop after a night out clubbing – it might have seemed to those boisterous boys just like another high-spirited “day at the office”.

Hey, hey, all aboard for a fun threesome! What could possibly go wrong? Yes, the young lady was a bit the worse for wear after a few double vodkas, but not so bladdered she was unable to give legally valid consent to sex. We can reliably deduce this was a jury’s view because McDonald admitted having sex with her (as did Evans) and the jurors acquitted him of rape. So they must have believed she was in a fit state to give consent and did so.

[TOC adds later, on 1 November: What could possibly go wrong? Well, my logically watertight deduction for one thing! See Endnote.]

But those same jurors convicted Evans. Why? Was it that the woman fancied Clayton but not Ched? Or did she think both were gorgeous hunks but not at the same time, thank you very much? Either explanation might have been perfectly sustainable in the witness box but for one thing: the woman claimed she couldn’t remember a thing about sex with either of the guys. A night porter at the hotel heard from the corridor what sounded like sex going on, but there was no evidence whatever that the woman had either declined to give consent to Evans or had been unable to do so. On the other hand, both of the men testified that the woman had been asked if it was OK for Ched to join in, and she had said “yeah”.

In soccer terms, that puts the fellers 2-0 ahead. The game is surely sewn up at this point for C&C United. But no! Both goals are disallowed and a diabolical penalty is awarded: a five-year prison sentence for Ched. Clayton’s loyal backing up of his best mate’s story is hardly above suspicion, of course. But the prosecution is supposed to prove its case. A jury should not convict on mere suspicion.

The only reason a rape case was brought at all was because the police decided to pursue it. The woman herself, the next morning, had simply been concerned over losing her handbag and mobile phone the night before. Things only took a more sinister turn when she said she thought her drinks might have been spiked. But by whom? She had been drinking in the night club but didn’t meet the footballers until later, by chance. No evidence of spiking was ever found. What we are left with is no more than a purely moral judgment against Evans on the basis of him arriving at the hotel room a few minutes later than McDonald (Clayton had texted Ched, saying where he was), then turning conventional sex into something more like an orgy.

Not very edifying, perhaps, but not very devastating to the “victim” either, whose worst problem was probably being a bit hung over and minus the personal belongings she had managed to lose: it turned out she had left her bag at the kebab shop. Even the prosecution never claimed she was a stranger to this sort of situation. And judging by some tweets she allegedly made after the case, she was just thrilled at the possibility of big-money compo coming her way.

In a comment here at Heretic TOC, Jed Jones got to the heart of the matter when he wrote: “It’s precisely because rape is such a heinous crime and rapists must be brought to justice that the credibility of real victims should not be undermined by those who falsely allege rape.” Mr P was on the right lines too.

Effectively, the dubious allegation in this case was all down to the police, and I’ll be putting them back in the dock very shortly.

The storm whipped up by feminist rape exaggerators over whether “convicted rapist” Evans should be allowed to resume his career in football will not detain us, except to note its spurious nature. The “victim” touts are not concerned with justice. They are just hell-bent on “sending a message” to use their own phrase, that men are evil bastards whose balls must be crushed at every opportunity.

Their hypocrisy is to be seen in the selectivity of their concern. As the law editor of Spiked noted, not even Luke McCormick, jailed in 2008 for killing two young boys while drunk behind the wheel of a car, faced the same levels of scrutiny upon his release as Evans. He was able to resume his playing career and has just been appointed captain of Plymouth Argyle FC. As for TV presenter Charlie Webster, she is a patron of Evans’ old club Sheffield United. She was quick to jump on the fashionable bandwagon against him, saying she would quit her role with the club if they re-signed the player. What she failed to mention was a tweet she had sent a month earlier. Her sister Kylie helpfully re-tweeted it: star-struck Charlie confessed she wanted to get a photo of former heavyweight boxing champion and convicted rapist Mike Tyson.

Coming, now, to my further indictment against the police, this is where we see truly serious offences – offences not investigated by the police but committed by them.

You may well have seen the settlement of a civil claim in the news a few days ago. The Metropolitan Police in London agreed to pay £425,000 to a woman who had a child by a man who was her partner for several years after meeting him as a fellow animal rights activist.

What she had not known at the time is that the man, who claimed to be a gardener named Bob Robinson, was an undercover cop, real name Bob Lambert. He had deliberately, from their first meeting, set out to make her his girlfriend in order to give his cover greater credibility. It meant having a sexual relationship with her, and of course this all made his involvement look personal and really genuine – which it certainly was for the woman, who was just 22 at the time, back in 1983, and he was her first serious boyfriend. Another thing Lambert never told her is that he was already married, with children.

It may also have been callously deliberate on his part to get her pregnant the following year in the full knowledge that he would have to abandon her and his own child and disappear entirely from their lives once his undercover mission was over. That’s how the system worked: love ’em, leave ’em – with some completely bogus excuse – and move stealthily to the next job without leaving any trace of police involvement. At least four children are known to have been fathered by police officers in this way.

For Lambert, perpetrating the pregnancy came at a time when his intelligence work was taking him beyond mere placard-waving demonstrations and disruptions to fox hunts. He was now going deeper under cover to infiltrate the radical Animal Liberation Front, which went in for sabotaging places such as animal research labs and factory farms. Having not just an activist girlfriend, but also a child from the relationship, would utterly seal the deal over his bone fides.

The latest news reports have given the woman’s name as Jacqui, but the name I first encountered (also a pseudonym, presumably) was Charlotte, in a book called Undercover: The True Story of Britain’s Secret Police, published last year and written by Rob Evans and Paul Lewis, two Guardian journalists, this paper having broken the Lambert story in January 2012, albeit without having located Charlotte or her son. It was only later that year, in a blaze of further publicity, that Charlotte saw a photo of Bob in another newspaper and discovered the real identity of her son’s father.

As Jonathan Freedland noted, also in the Guardian, for the women in all these relationships grounded in deception and betrayal the greatest pain comes afterwards:

… a sudden departure, a postcard from abroad, and then silence. Some women spent months or even years trying to work out what had gone wrong, travelling far in search of answers. Others found that their ability to trust had been shattered. If the man they had loved turned out to be an agent of the state, what else should they be suspicious of? Could they trust their colleagues, their friends? And the question that nags above all others: was it all a fake, did he not love me at all?

And all that heartache does not touch the practical problems either: Charlotte, for instance, had been in a good job before her pregnancy – possibly an air stewardess, as the book hints. Her abandonment left her as a single mother with a young child to look after, coping on meagre state benefits.

Here’s a question. If it’s rape to have sex with a woman when she is too drunk to consent, is it also rape when a man has sex based on deception? It appears to depend on the nature of the deception. If a guy gets a woman into bed after falsely claiming to be a millionaire, that’s just the deceived partner’s bad luck. The rule is pretty much “Let the buyer beware” – don’t buy any old yarn; it’s your job to check it out. It’s easy to see why this rule is necessary. Just think of the victim-fest there would be without it:

“He said he was only 39 but he was actually 40. I wouldn’t have let an old fart like that shag me!”

“He was wearing a wig. If I’d known he was bald as a toddler’s todger I’d have posted him back to the dating agency without even unwrapping him.”

You get the picture. Even when things get serious, though, consent is not necessarily invalidated in law. If you have sex knowing you have HIV and don’t tell your partner you might end up paying massive damages in a civil case for passing on the infection; but it still won’t be a criminal case of rape. The partner’s consent would only be invalidated if you had actively used deception by denying you had HIV.

As for whether the undercover police were guilty of rape, they may not have been under the law as interpreted at the time, which is perhaps why none of them are being prosecuted. An appeal court judgment in the McNally case last year put the law in a new light, though, in a most unusual case of sexual deception. A woman had consented to sex and duly engaged in penetrative intercourse, only to discover later that her partner was not, as she had supposed, a man, but a woman in drag using a dildo under cover of darkness. The court upheld the view that the consent was not valid and a sexual offence had taken place.

Well, a dildo may be a bit like a truncheon as well as a penis, but this ruling wouldn’t necessarily be applicable to police work. Only a few months before this case, the judiciary still appeared to be clinging to the view that the police, like James Bond, are licensed to be “lady killers” if not to kill. In a high court hearing that addressed the rules for the sexual conduct of undercover officers, Mr Justice Tugendhat directly referenced the free rein enjoyed by Bond as a secret agent.

The judge said he believed that when MPs wrote the current rules which permit undercover police to form “personal or other” relationships (in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, 2000), they would all have known about Bond’s ways with women. Yes, 007 is a fictional figure, but his cultural prominence meant MPs must have been aware that real agents might think it was OK to behave in the same way unless it was explicitly ruled out. But parliament had chosen not to make any such rule. Ergo, 007’s licence to shag was completely in order!

Having heard Charlotte’s story, we may beg to differ.

Taking the two news stories together, the footballers and the undercover cops, we may feel the law is bang out of order when it comes to, well, banging.

 

ENDNOTE:

As reader Jed Jones (which looks as if it could be a pseudonym for Ched Evans but I assume it is not 🙂 ) pointed out, my reading of the situation failed to take into account another view the jury may have taken, namely that the woman was too drunk to consent to sex with either man. On that view, their grounds for acquitting Clayton may have been that they thought he had “reasonably believed” she had given consent. And they may have concluded that Ched, by contrast, lacked any such “reasonable belief”. The question of reasonable belief was indeed put to the jury.

On reflection, it seems to me the jury may well have taken this view although it appears to be ill founded on the basis of the facts made publicly available (especially the hotel lobby video: http://chedevans.com/judge-for-yourself ), and on the law relating to consent while under the influence of drink, as summarised in R v Bree ( http://lexisweb.co.uk/cases/2007/march/r-v-bree ) .

Having said that, second guessing a jury’s verdict on the basis of public reports at a later date is always a risky and perhaps slightly hubristic business.

Sometimes, though, it is right to take that risk after looking into things as carefully as one can. When a man’s life may have been unfairly trashed is surely just such an occasion.

Raised, and brought low, on the registry

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Sod me! Two six-year-old boys in the US have been charged with sodomy!

And first degree sodomy at that, which applies under Kentucky law when a victim is under 12 years old. In a case from that state, the two first graders “were found in the bathroom performing sexual acts” together, according to a report highlighted last month on Sexnet. As the pair were each other’s “victims”, they had both allegedly committed a Class A felony against a person under 12, for which the available penalty would ordinarily be 50 years in prison.

Even worse, the only media report of the prosecution focuses not on the craziness of bringing the case but on parental shock and horror that kids would do such a thing.

Not that we are entirely sure what “the thing” was. Sodomy is defined in Kentucky law as “deviate sexual intercourse”, which means “any act of sexual gratification involving the sex organs of one person and the mouth or anus of another. It also means penetration of the anus of one person by a foreign object manipulated by another person.” Doctors have long known it’s not uncommon for little kids to try sticking things in each other’s bums, but I’m guessing the boys in this case were caught doing something more obviously sexual. After all, who is going to make a big fuss when an “innocent” explanation is available? It is not clear whether all the acts in question were seen directly but one or both of the boys may have “confessed” anyway.

In most jurisdictions, though, even a clear admission could not have resulted in criminal charges against children so young. A few countries, including India, have a minimum age of criminal responsibility as low as 7. In England, also on the low side in the international table, it is 10. In Canada and the Netherlands it is 12, in Germany and Spain 14, and in all five Scandinavian countries it is as high as 15.

But the US, as so often, is exceptional. Along with a handful of countries including such enlightened outposts as Somalia and Sudan, there are no fewer than 37 US states that specify no minimum age of criminal responsibility at all. Kentucky is one of them.

As for continental Europe, the cultural contrast goes beyond criminal responsibility. Some heretics will remember a couple of blogs here last year, one of them about a four-year-old boy in America dubbed a sex “predator”, the other about the more positive view of child sexuality taken in Scandinavian kindergartens: Being a predator is child’s play; and Mickey and Maria make out in kindergarten.

On another forum, Sexnet, an elderly professor said he was puzzled over the fuss about the American pre-school “predator”. Writing about his childhood in Germany, he said:

I had my first orgasm at 8 when humping a willing naked girl of 6. In the next 3 years, I, some male friends and some girls in the neighborhood (all of the same age) played all kinds of sex games. When, at age 11, we were finally discovered and scolded by our parents, we felt no guilt at all and thought the adults were crazy.

So they were chastised, but that was as far as any punishment went. This was not seen as a police matter and certainly not an occasion for criminal charges.

The four-year-old American “predator” got lucky. There was a police investigation and the kindergarten was closed down (natch!) but he never faced charges. Increasingly, others are less fortunate. In both the US and the UK more and more kids find themselves acquiring a record as a sex offender very early in life. And once that record is there, it stays: the dreaded sex offender registry schemes give a dog a bad name for ever, with devastating effects – as detailed in last years’ Human Rights Watch report, Raised on the Registry.

The 111-page report begins with an account of what happened to one victim of the registry:

Jacob C. was 11 years old and living in Michigan when he was tried in juvenile court for touching, without penetrating, his sister’s genitals. Found guilty of one count of criminal sexual conduct, Jacob was placed on Michigan’s sex offender registry and prevented by residency restriction laws from living near other children.

This posed a problem for his family – Jacob’s parents were separated, his father lived in Florida, and Jacob could not live in the same house as his little sister. As a result, he was placed in a juvenile home. When Jacob was 14 – and still unable to return home – he became the foster child of a pastor and his wife. According to Jacob, the couple helped him to “deal with the trauma” of growing up on the registry.

Since his offense fell under juvenile court jurisdiction, Jacob was placed on a non-public registry. But that changed when he turned 18 during his senior year in high school, and his status as a sex offender became public. Parents of his schoolmates tried to get him expelled and he had to “fight to walk across the stage” at graduation. Jacob attended a local university in Big Rapids, Michigan, but ended up dropping out. “[I was] harassed for being on the registry,” he said. “The campus police followed me everywhere.”

There’s more, much more. Aged 26 when the report came out, Jacob, finds his life is still being massively screwed up by the registry. Thanks to a violation of some impossibly stringent sex offender rules, including reporting daily to the police, he has lost visitation rights to a daughter he now has.

Yet available research, the report points out, indicates that youth sex offenders are among the least likely to reoffend. As a press release for the report said:

Numerous studies estimate the recidivism rate among children who commit sexual offenses to be between 4 and 10 percent, compared with a 13 percent rate for adult sex offenders and a national rate of 45 percent for all crimes.

Also, while some of the offences are serious, you can get on the register for consensual sex with another kid, and for harmless behaviour such as public nudity.

The report concludes with some shocking quotes from those who were raised on the registry:

Once while attempting to register my address, a police officer refused to give me the paperwork and instead stated, “We’re just taking your kind out back and shooting them.”
– Maya R., placed on the registry for an offense committed at age 10. Howell, Michigan.

One time a man from one of those cars yelled “child molester” at me. A week later several bullets were fired from a car driving by. The bullets went through the living room window as my family and me watched T.V.
– Camilo F., registrant since age 14. Gainesville, Florida.

Neighbors harassed our family. We later found out that one of the neighbors shot our family dog.
– Jasmine A., mother of Zachary S., who has been on the registry since age 11. Dallas, Texas.

For sex offenders, our mistake is forever available to the world to see. There is no redemption, no forgiveness. You are never done serving your time. There is never a chance for a fresh start. You are finished. I wish I was executed, because my life is basically over.
– Austin S., who started registering at age 14. Denham Springs, Louisiana.

A big irony in all this is that the kids in question are almost invariably described in legal, medical and political discourse as violent, yet the life- and soul-destroying hostility they face is far more violent than anything most of them have ever done.

Another excellent source on this is defence lawyer Andrew Heller. In a chapter of Tom Hubbard’s recent book Censoring Sex Research, he notes that the US Department of Justice describes sexual “aggression” as starting with three-year-olds, with the most common age of onset as 6 to 9 – which sounds suspiciously like an official state condemnation of all child sexuality.

Heller also reveals that violence of a far more insidious kind than drive-by shootings is endemic within the “treatment” regimes meted out to these kids. Some of it just plain abusive, such as teenagers being made daily to recite creeds such as “I am a paedophile and I am not fit to live in human society…I can never be trusted… Everything I say is a lie…”

Then there is stuff which is not just abusive but sexually abusive. He tells of boys as young as 10 forced to undergo sexual arousal testing in which response to “deviant” stimuli is measured by an erection detector placed around the penis. Programs include the use of aversion therapy in which kids (including girls) are made to inhale vile-smelling ammonia while listening to pornographic taped descriptions of adult-child sex, as an aversion therapy to stop “inappropriate” arousal.

These are the sort of methods that were used on gay men fifty years ago and then abandoned as unethical and dangerous. Yet, according to Heller, “no professional organisation has made any statements rejecting the use of arousal conditioning methods on juveniles and they continue to be used”.

Back to Kentucky. As the case of the six-year-old sodomites was presented on Sexnet only last month, I assumed it was a new case, yet to come to trial. The news report linked above is undated, so I was none the wiser from that. With a bit more digging, though, I found that this was actually a case from February 2005. When I discovered this, I thought about dropping the story from this blog: after all, the report Raised on the Registry is much more recent and it too exposes the awful fact that large numbers of preteens, as well as teens, are being prosecuted as sex offenders these days.

However, apart from the continuing intrinsic interest of such exceptionally young kids facing a sodomy charge in the Kentucky case, there was another reason to retain it as my initial focus: my research turned up a couple of later media reports from May 2005, three months after the charges were laid: Investigation Into Elementary School Sex; and Arrests of boys spark debate.

By this time the case had gone to court and been resolved. The judge had dismissed the charges with the condition that the boys were to undergo treatment.

Not “arousal conditioning”, one hopes. And not registration either, as the earliest for this in the US is the grand old age of 9, according to Raised on the Registry.

We don’t know about the kind of treatment, but one of the reports did give us some insight into why police and prosecutors had felt the need to take such extreme action. They claimed their intention had not been to punish; rather, they needed to charge the boys to determine whether adults had abused one or both of them, triggering their behaviour at school.

Police Chief J. Craig Patterson is quoted as saying, “They are both victims of someone. I want to know: ‘Where did these children learn this?’ ”

You know what? It’s entirely possible this cop actually believed what he was saying. The idea of spontaneous childhood sexuality has been written out of our cultural script so thoroughly that for many people it can no longer be imagined. It has become literally unthinkable.

We know that kids need good sex education; not as much, though, as many ignorant adults in positions of power.

We fight for more than Love or Pleasure

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Heretic TOC presents a guest blog today from “Sylvie”, who has the unusual and possibly record-breaking distinction of having been openly an advocate of decriminalising consensual sexual relationships between adults and children since the age of 13, arguing the case passionately with friends, classmates, and even teachers! Her liberal parents, she tells me, were the kind of people who would keep a close eye on their child without interfering. What follows is part of an email I received recently from Sylvie. With her approval, it has been edited for this blog.  

I have wanted to write to you for a long time. I feel the time has now come. Many times l have tried to sit down and write but it seemed I just could not get my head around it as my story begins when l was 13 and me being 38 now, that’s quite a frightening length of time! To make a long story short: like you, l advocate for the decriminalisation of consensual sexual relationships between adults and children, and have relentlessly been doing so since l was 13. Does that make me the youngest activist who has ever lived? 🙂

I was an intellectual child, listening to classical composers at 8, reading Oscar Wilde at 10 and EM Forster at 11. I was fortunate enough to have parents who granted me unconditional freedom. Yet not everyone was as sensible so I sometimes ended up surrounded by adults who mistakenly took me for a “poser” claiming that, at my age, l could not really understand what l was reading. How pathetic are adults who belittle children! Truth is: my books were my best friends and literature has taught me more on the human condition than one could ever hope to learn in a lifetime without it; and l can assure you that not only could l understand everything l read as a child, but my understanding was real and deep.

One day – l was 13 by that time – upon returning home from school, l found this magazine and l learned that behind the story of the girl who falls down a rabbit hole was an Oxford don who went by the name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, and that this whimsical, magical man happened to be, among other things, a lover of children. For the first time in my life the words “paedophile” and “paedophilia” appeared before my eyes. It struck a powerful chord deep inside, and my path has been clear to me since that day. To me it just seemed OK to love children and l could see nothing wrong with it, provided no coercion was exercised. I vividly recall looking at the image of Lewis Carroll and thinking to myself these very words: “I like you”. That was the start of a lifelong friendship between Mr Dodgson and l.

It was also the start for me of my advocacy for the rights of paedophiles. Throughout the following year l researched the subject, growing more and more aware of the discrepancy between hysteria and reality, more and more indignant at the social stigma that affects paedophilia, forcing too many paedophiles into the darkness, making them unable to open up to anyone, with the dire consequences on many levels that this forced isolation brings about.

As I had always been interested in issues surrounding civil liberties, l had from time to time magazines at home that dealt with either women’s rights or gay rights. One day I noticed an ad in the Contact page of a gay magazine. In the ad it was stated that a pressure group called “Gruppo P” had been formed to promote discussion of intergenerational relationships and that anyone who was interested in joining was welcome to contact them. I immediately did. In my letter I explained that I was a 14-year-old, that I believed that consensual contacts between children and adults existed and could be desired by both parties, that such contacts did not necessarily result in harm, and that therefore this type of non-coercive relationships had to be decriminalised. I said I was willing to actively help and join the group.

Soon afterwards I received a letter from the group’s founder, asking me to contact him at his work phone number, which l did. In retrospect l now think he wanted to make sure that l was who l claimed l was. When l called him we agreed to meet.

I was not scared. All l wanted to do was to go out and march, head up high, banner in hand, for the advancement of our cause (how much l miss the naivety of youth!) Unfortunately l was too young to formally join (minimum age required was 16) so I remained on the sidelines, eagerly waiting for the day when l could become a full member. Sadly, that day never came as the police investigated Gruppo P. The founder phoned to let me know the police might pay me a visit, although he believed that as I was a young girl they would not try to pursue a case against me. He was right: they never came. Not that I was intimidated by the thought of encountering them. On the contrary, I was eager to meet the police so I could “preach” the legitimacy of our cause (such is the folly of youth!).

The founder was in due course arrested, accused of “conspiracy”. I can testify that there were absolutely no illegal activities inside Gruppo P. Its aims were not criminal but political. Nevertheless the founder and others were arrested and held in custody awaiting trial: evidently the coming together of dissidents who challenged the current laws was considered a crime in itself. As we who hold these beliefs well know, Orwell’s concept of “thought crime” becomes a reality where discussion of paedophilia is concerned.

I recall very well the innuendos that were made. It was put about that an enormous quantity of illegal material had been found, but no such material circulated at Gruppo P! It was claimed that members were actively seeking children to groom, but l for one had never been approached in a sexual way. I was always treated as an equal; no one tried to take advantage of me.

What l also recall is the ugly ostracism of Gruppo P by the gay organisations. The police raid made their dearest dream come true: get rid of paedophiles. The gays said they “abhorred” paedophilia, insisting that homosexuals stand for sexual liberation and paedophiles are opposed to it because they force themselves on individuals who cannot consent.

I wanted to appear in court as a defence witness, but the lawyers ignored me, and my friend was eventually found guilty of conspiracy. In the following years I have seen or heard of former activists who have grown disillusioned, gone underground, given up…. For me, it is something l will never get over. I have seen or heard of too many people living a death-in-life: I cannot accept it; I will never accept it, and it brings me anguish.

I have had your book Paedophilia: The Radical Case since 2003. I have always told myself that sooner or later I would contact you, and as soon as the PIE “scandal” came out this year, l googled your name and, voilà, I saw that you have a blog. [For the “scandal” see Paedogate puts the past in the pillory]

I agree with you that this reign of hysteria will eventually come to an end. You and l might not see it, but future generations will. It is for these future generations that we must now stand our ground. Refusing to be silenced is one way, and a dignified one at that. Familiarity is another: reaching out to people who are close enables us to help them see through this fog of lies surrounding paedophilia. l have always taken every opportunity to discuss the issue. I have never been afraid or ashamed to share my beliefs. A propaganda-fed mob might bay to see paedophiles hanging from a rope but individuals will listen. For almost 25 years now I have taken the time to sit down at a table with a friend, a colleague, or a stranger, and say something like, “Look, things are not exactly what they seem. Please, let me explain.”

I spoke from the heart and from the mind; through rationality, compassion, and truth, l had them listen, ponder, and challenge their prejudice. I saw people genuinely persuaded of the unjust treatment reserved for paedophiles. I saw people genuinely sorry. I saw people, including my own mother, grow indignant at injustice. And l always thought that if we can persuade them that they are all being lied to through toxic and hysterical propaganda, and that there are fellow humans in this world who are being persecuted for the simple reason that they exist, then there is hope that they will perceive the terrible injustice suffered by paedophiles, and no man or woman of good will can tolerate a modern witch-hunt without starting to question its legitimacy.

And through questioning comes change. Am l being overly optimistic? Maybe. But l refuse to be cynical. We must work to create a society where paedophiles can lead normal and productive lives, within the boundaries of the law. Paedophiles also need to be educated: it is not only immoral, but dangerous as well, to have people indoctrinated on a daily basis, stuffing the idea down their throats that they are “molesters”, that their affections and inclinations are nothing but a “disorder” to be treated. This is a lie, and we must fight it.

As EM Forster put it, “For we fight for more than Love or Pleasure; there is Truth. Truth counts, Truth does count.”

I am willing now as much as l have been for the past 25 years, to speak up for truth, and actively help in any way l can.

My greatest pride is that in my youth I was an independent thinker. My beliefs sprang from within, and these beliefs prompted me to reach out to like-minded people, in whose company l could share what mattered most to me. These are the people I am most grateful to have met, to this day.

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