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Dirty Secrets: Message from a pedophile

Tuesday, November 02, 1999

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Dr. Tony Eccles, director of the Kingston (Ontario) Forensic Services Clinic, has been working with pedophiles since 1987, usually through prison treatment programs. Educators stand out among pedophiles, he says, because of their high level of social skills.

"They get away with [abuse] for a long time," he said in a recent interview. "They're very disarming, and they're able to obtain the trust of parents and students."

One of his patients, a former teacher and principal in his 40s, is serving an indefinite prison sentence for molesting his students. The Post-Gazette received a letter from the man, who asked not to be identified. In his letter sent from a prison in Laval, Quebec, where he's been incarcerated since 1985, he gives an idea of what goes on in the mind of a pedophiliac teacher. Here is an excerpt:

-- Jane Elizabeth Zemel


"I never intended any harm, but I realize the awful extent of psychological and spiritual damage I did, through my immature, deviant, twisted criminal actions. I molested children whom I taught and coached and counseled. There was never any physical force, or threat of force and I never had intercourse with them. But, I led them into really deviant and just as damaging little touching and sex games. I believe that the emotional strings that existed between us made the abuse even more insidious and harder for them to come to terms with later on....

"There seems to be a real resistance to initiating concrete and effective efforts to prevent the sexual abuse of children by teachers and coaches. There is a dangerous focus on molesting by strangers...Teachers get almost no training about sexual abuse by trusted adults, and how to avoid the 'pitfalls' themselves and to be vigilant about their colleagues' interactions with kids....

"On one occasion, I was showing a film about child sexual abuse to a class. The film was incredibly stereotypical. It talked about the child being approached by strange men or someone doing things to them which made them feel 'bad fuzzy.' ...While this film was playing, I sat beside the projector with a boy on my knee. I was fondling him and he was fondling me right there in the classroom. None of the other students took alarm.

"The boy on my knee never made the connection between the film and what I was leading him into, and I was able to convince myself that what we were doing was not child molesting as described by the film....

"The molester is typically monsterized, instead of accurately portraying them as the typical, normal, Mr. Everyman who is concerned about kids and loves and cares for them also, as well as doing something wrong...Good men also do wrong things. Kids can accept that, but someone needs to tell them."



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