Stop Calling Roy Moore a Pedophile

by

JC Schildbach, LMHC

Okay, let me walk that title back a bit. I don’t really care if you call Roy Moore a pedophile, it’s just that he’s not a pedophile.

Okay, let me walk that back a bit. It’s impossible to prove a negative. It’s just that nothing Roy Moore has done suggests he’s a pedophile.

What Roy Moore has done suggests he’s a hebephile…or maybe an ephebophile.

I don’t think I really need to walk anything back there…I mean, as far as speaking in terms of what Moore has done vs. what he’s been accused of.  Done is almost certainly the more accurate term.

At any rate, what Roy Moore did indicates that he’s a not a pedophile, but rather a hebephile or ephebophile—which are just terms of gradation for those attracted to particular age groups/age traits. That is, hebephiles are attracted to pre-teens and teens, who are at least showing the beginnings of adolescence/development of secondary sexual characteristics, while ephebophiles are attracted to teens who are more obviously sexually developed, but not considered adults.

RoyMooreFlag

Judge, Senate Candidate, and (Accused) Pedophile Hebephile Roy Moore.

There are clinical, and perhaps legal, reasons to make the above distinctions in attraction. For instance, Roy Moore’s creepy behavior of hanging around his local mall to try and pick up teenage girls wouldn’t necessarily translate into concerns that he might try to sexually abuse kindergartners, but it would certainly lead to sensible precautions like keeping him away from the mall…and the local high school…and the local middle school…and teenage girls in general.  And, were he to land in sex offender treatment, he would generally be kept away from all minors.

But Moore’s ‘interest’ in teenage girls also potentially suggests redirection of that interest to more age-appropriate, even peer-age, women is less of a stretch than it would be if he was attracted to much younger children. That Moore’s most egregiously inappropriate and violent behavior toward teen girls seems (at least as far as we know) to have ended after he got married to a woman 14 years his junior, when he was 38, indicates he may have been able to at least point his sexual ‘attention’ toward an adult/adults.  That is to say nothing of his apparent need to assert his power in situations where he’s been told ‘no’–whether that ‘no’ is coming from a higher-court judge or a high school girl.

Of course Moore’s supporters have used age-of-consent laws to point out that (all but one of) his accuser’s were legally able to consent to sex in the state of Alabama at the time he stalked, or groped, or attempted to force them to engage in forms of physical/sexual contact they didn’t want.

Unfortunately for Moore and his backers, age of consent laws don’t really apply when there is no consent. The absence of consent is ultimately the problem with each and every one of his actions toward his victims—their ages adding further to the disturbing nature of the crimes.

At any rate, if you are concerned with the accuracy of your accusations, don’t call Roy Moore a pedophile. Call him a hebephile, or ephebophile instead. I think there’s ample evidence to apply either of those terms, with hebephile being the more damning, but possibly less accurate, of the two.

Other terms that appear to fit the bill for Roy Moore include sexual predator, sexual assault perpetrator, would-be-rapist, sex offender, and sexual abuser. Child molester still essentially fits the bill, since teens 17 and under are legally considered children. Teen molester certainly works.

If you want to ensure the complete accuracy of any of the terms mentioned above, you can add modifiers like “alleged” or “accused.”

And, really, go ahead and call him a pedophile if you want. But, hey, if you want to make sure some right wing, child-molester-defending troll isn’t going to call you a “moran” who needs to look up the definition of “pedophile”, address the honorable Judge Moore as a hebephile instead.

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Megyn Kelly Interviews Duggar Daughters in Stunning Display of Journalistic Integrity

by

JC Schildbach, LMHC

Perhaps the best moment from Megyn Kelly’s Friday-night interview with Duggar family members/sexual assault victims Jill and Jessa Duggar came in one of the post-interview segments when Emily Horowitz, Ph.D, an expert in the field of sexual abuse, pointed out that, much like juvenile sex offenders, adult sex offenders tend to have a limited number of victims, respond well to treatment, and have relatively low recidivism rates once they’ve received treatment.  Horowitz made the comment about recidivism in response to Kelly’s assertion that, while juvenile offenders rarely go on to offend as adults, adult offenders repeatedly sexually assault numerous victims.

Experts are best when they don't correct your misconceptions.  Bad expert!

Experts are best when they don’t correct your misconceptions. Bad expert!

Kelly responded to Horowitz’ explanation with a confused, “really?,” essentially dismissing it, and then treating the audience to heavily edited comments by the interviewee, who apparently didn’t deliver up the narrative Kelly wanted.

That narrative is, essentially, that Josh engaged in some not-so-serious sexual offenses as a minor, so it’s no big deal, and the family did what they could, so give them a break. There are numerous corollary narratives, including that adult offenders are serial predators, that (like the Duggars want us to believe) the LGBTQ community is crawling with sexual predators, that parents who are good and wholesome like the Duggars should be allowed to fix everything on their own, government is bad, etc., etc.

It’s almost inconceivable that anybody on Fox News would be putting so much effort into defending a sex offender—juvenile or otherwise.

For their part, Jill and Jessa Duggar didn’t exactly plug themselves into Kelly’s narrative, either. Despite Kelly attempting to get Jill and Jessa to say that they didn’t feel like victims of sexual abuse by Josh, the Duggar daughters couldn’t quite get there, although they did commit to the victimized-by-the-media narrative.

What's a little curiosity when you're sleeping?

What’s a little curiosity when you’re sleeping?

That is to say that, like everybody else in the Duggar family, as well as Megyn Kelly, Jill and Jessa minimized Josh’s sexual assaults by saying he just made some bad choices born out of teenage curiosity about girls, and claimed that they didn’t even realize the crimes had happened. After all, they were asleep when he—uh—made his bad choices.

They shared their love and forgiveness for Josh. Jessa expressed some anger at how the victims’ anonymity wasn’t truly protected, even though the police report that appeared in InTouch was redacted.  Jill shed some tears over how terrible it was that the media revealed the family’s secrets.  Both Duggar daughters argued, along with Kelly, that the records should have been sealed to prevent identification of the victims.

There’s a big problem in the ‘victim protection’ argument though—one, which, like all the media attention on the family—is squarely the fault of the parents.

Although Josh’s victimization of multiple young girls took place when he was a minor, the police investigation didn’t occur until Josh was an adult. So, according to the police department that released the records, and the city attorney representing that police department, the records are not, technically, a juvenile’s records.

Had Josh’s parents gone to the authorities at the time of the assaults (and, no, gathering up a posse of church elders, and going to visit a State Trooper who is a family friend does not count as ‘going to the authorities’) the investigation would have taken place when Josh was still a minor. The investigation would have moved forward while he was still considered a child, and the records would have been sealed.

On top of that, despite the girls saying that they went to a licensed counselor in the wake of the abuse, Kelly still asked no questions about when or where that counseling took place, and how such counseling could have occurred without triggering an investigation.

So unless there is some clarification around the “professional counseling,” the assumption must remain that either the Duggars did not take their children for (legitimate) counseling until they were already being investigated, or that they did not take their children for counseling (with “licensed,” and “credentialed” counselors as they have claimed) at all.

I’m not saying that I think the technicality means that crimes committed as a juvenile should be a matter of public record—but there is something to be said about reaping what you sow.

Hiding crimes committed by a juvenile as part of an overall plan to gain money, fame, and influence, all under the guise of Christian family values, is wrong—and made even worse when broadly condemning entire groups of people by accusing them of engaging in acts your family members have committed and covered up.

And a family complaining about legal technicalities leading to one’s troubles, while using legal and semantic technicalities to assert that the family did no wrong, hardly casts the family in a positive light.

OMG!  Where are the ethical standards in journalism?!?

OMG! Where are the ethical standards in journalism?!?

In another segment of Kelly’s show, following the interview with the Duggar girls, Howard Kurtz, host of Fox News’ “Media Buzz” joined Kelly to discuss the ethics of media organizations revealing information about victims. But, of course, anybody on Fox News blasting another media outlet for failing to follow appropriate standards of journalistic ethics is about as ridiculous as, well, the Duggars blasting others for being sexual predators.

Beyond her anger at the violations of journalistic integrity, Kelly kept suggesting that, because the Duggar’s secrets were revealed, other victims of sexual abuse may not come forward. She makes a good point. I’m sure that all of the sexual abuse victims who went through counseling, but had their parents cover up the abuse in order to get them on a TV show, are going to be silenced.

Among abuse-related considerations, the publishing of details of one’s sexual abuse in a celebrity tabloid are not high up the ladder of dangers.

Being part of a community that thinks sexual abuse is normal and tries to hide it from authorities might be a bit more concerning.

It’s a shame that, despite inviting someone like Horowitz on her show—someone who could have legitimately helped to shed some light on issues of sexual abuse (and tried to)—Kelly did little more than attempt to goad Horowitz into validating some ignorant, preconceived notions about why we should all be eagerly awaiting the next season of ‘19 Kids and Counting,’ crapping on all of those agenda-driven gay folk, and berating all (non-Duggar) sex offenders.

Serving Mammon, The Duggar Way

by

JC Schildbach, LMHC

Last week, it came out that Josh Duggar, of the “19 Kids and Counting” Duggars, sexually assaulted four of his younger sisters as well as a young girl from another family. From what we know, this all happened back around 2003, when Josh was 14 or 15 years old.

Josh Duggar does not deny that he committed these crimes, although he refers to them as “sins” and “terrible things” and “mistakes” rather than crimes.

Josh Duggar never faced any legal consequences for his crimes.

The Duggar family claims that they addressed the sexual assaults by getting “closer to God,” by pursuing counseling for both Josh and the victims, and by going to the police.

But let’s be clear about this–the Duggar family NEVER GOT COUNSELING FOR JOSH OR THE VICTIMS OF HIS CRIMES, and THE FAMILY NEVER WENT TO THE POLICE.

How can I possibly know this? Well…

Let me first address the police situation, even if that is a bit backwards. Jim Bob Duggar (father to all of the Duggars—victims and victimizer), following Josh’s “counseling” took him to a law enforcement officer who was a family friend, for a “confession” that resulted in a “stern talk.” According to Josh’s parents, the law enforcement officer told them that since Josh had already gone through counseling, there was nothing more that could be done. So either 1) Josh’s parents are completely lying about what the police officer advised, or 2) The police officer was completely derelict in his duty, as far as what he was supposed to do when given information about sexual abuse involving children.

Also, the cop (again, a family friend) that the Duggars took Josh to meet with is currently SERVING MORE THAN 50 YEARS IN PRISON FOR POSSESSION OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY. I’m sure he quite enjoyed his meeting with the young Josh Duggar.

Now, as to the counseling…

If any of the victims, or the perpetrator, had gone to any kind of legitimate counselor who deals with sexual offense behaviors, or with sexual victimization, or with any form of recognized counseling that requires a person to be credentialed at all, a report would have been made to Child Protective Services, and an investigation would have occurred much earlier than it did—early enough that Josh would likely have faced some legitimate legal consequences before the three-year statute of limitations on his crimes ran out, and early enough that his family would not have been able to completely manipulate the situation, and keep it out of the legal system, and out of the public eye—well, out of the public eye until now.

Simply put, counselors are mandated reporters. They cannot keep things like this on the down-low—not without losing their licenses.

Such a lovely wedding.  You'd never guess...

Such a lovely wedding. You’d never guess…

As it is, if it weren’t for an anonymous “tipster” contacting the authorities in Arkansas and the production staff of the Oprah Winfrey Show (who also contacted the Arkansas authorities) back in 2006, there never would have been an investigation at all. Josh would have victimized four of his sisters, and another young girl, and had to face the “punishment” and “counseling” he got by spending four months away from home, reading the Bible and helping a family friend do some remodeling work—not exactly an evidence-based means of addressing sexually predatory behaviors.

And, again, that’s exactly what happened: No punishment. No real counseling.

The victimized girls also did not receive anything that might be considered an evidence-based form of counseling for addressing sexual trauma and sexual victimization. We have a key to what kind of treatment the girls might have received, in Samantha Field’s blog post, where Duggar-family Guru Bob Gothard’s insanely creepy “Counseling Sexual Abuse” graphic is posted—a chart that, among other things, suggests that being sexually assaulted brings one favor with God, and special spiritual strengths.

In other words, the Duggar girls were almost certainly told that being sexually victimized was a good thing in the eyes of Jesus—in no small part because it helps them recognize how terrible they were as prepubescent temptresses, and because it makes them super-spiritual. In case there is any need for clarification, such “reframing” is not considered “best practices” for addressing sexual victimization.

In fact, if any of the children had gone to any legitimate form of counseling, the girls would have had control over whether they even had to listen to an apology from Josh, much less having him allowed back in the home after a few short months away.  And there would have been a much more involved discussion of how/whether to integrate Josh back into the home.

And just so you know where I’m coming from, I spent over two years working full-time with juvenile sex offenders, and then spent over six years working part-time with adult sex offenders.

I also read the entire (redacted) police report —something I have had to do in many other cases.

The story of Josh Duggar is not unique—in the sense that families are generally unsure of what course to take when such situations arise. Families do not want to invite shame on their children–victims or victimizers–or the family as a whole, and often delay any meaningful action or professional intervention until the problem has progressed to a state where it can no longer be viewed as a “phase” or as “innocent exploration”—or until one of the victims reports the abuse to a therapist, or a school counselor, or a camp counselor, or a teacher, or a friend who tells a parent, or a pastor, or anybody else who chooses to act in a responsible fashion.

I have had contact with families who earnestly sought help and support, and tried to do right by both their daughters and their sons—and any other victims. I have had contact with families where the abusers were clearly given the benefit of the doubt, and the victims shamed as if they had deliberately ruined the family–even to the point of sending the victims away so the abusers could come back to the home. And I have been in contact with families who tried to beat the bad behavior out of the victimizers, and who go on pretending they are being persecuted over some dumb crap that they are perfectly capable of handling.

Clearly, the situation with Josh Duggar progressed to a dangerous state. His was not a case of budding sexual curiosity leading to “playing doctor.” His was a case of repeatedly exerting sexual “authority” over girls who were smaller, weaker, and devalued in his family’s “culture.”

From a fan blog--a charming sign in the Duggar family home.

From a fan blog–a charming sign in the Duggar family home.

In fact, what many have viewed as the Duggar family’s “wholesomeness”—their constant harping on values of purity and modesty—could not be further from a healthy attitude toward relationships and sex.  It places girls and women on a “pedestal” that values their virginity first, their breeding abilities second, and their whole selves not at all.  It is a “culture” that infantilizes women, treating them as too stupid to be trusted with control of their own bodies. It is a “culture” that preaches submission of wives to their husbands to an extreme degree. Women are told to recognize their inferiority, and to be celebrate it, because that’s what God wants.

Consider what message is being sent to one’s daughters—and one’s sons—when the matriarch of a family asserts publicly that it is her job to submit sexually to her husband, even when she does not want to.

Consider the message being sent to one’s children when parents say they should keep having children, no matter what, simply because it is biologically possible.

Consider the message being sent to one’s children when it is deemed acceptable for a pre-teen male to “chaperone” his nearly-adult sister on a date, to make sure she and her boyfriend do nothing inappropriate.

Many conservative/Republican figureheads have come out in support of the Duggars, and in condemnation of people who are now criticizing the Duggar family for their handling of the sexual abuse situation—mostly in the vein of “quit picking on Christians” and “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” With few exceptions, those defenses involve labeling Josh’s actions as teenage frivolity, rather than what they are—deliberate, sexually predatory behavior that was covered up by his family.

Family friend, and Duggar-political-endorsement-recipient Mike Huckabee used the argument that a victim, or multiple victims, of Josh’s behavior, wanted privacy–both in defending the family and when he had a judge he appointed destroy the un-redacted police report about Josh’s offenses. He claims the Duggars sought out help, and went to the authorities. But, yet again, they didn’t—not in any real way.

Likewise, Matt Walsh, used the childish “Oh yeah?!? Well—liberals!!” argument (along with the ‘persecuted Christians’ argument) in a post where he also made the poignant observation that, “As a parent, you have to think whether your 14 year old son deserves to have his life ruined over his mistakes.”

Really, Matt? What about your 12-, or 10-, or 8-, or 6-year-old daughter, or the 5-year-old neighbor girl? (No, I don’t have actual information on the specific ages of the victims). They’ve already had their “lives ruined” by the “mistakes” of your son. So, devalue the daughters? They’ll get over it? What’s important is that you protect your sexually-predatory teenage son?

But it’s not just a “mistake” when a 15-year-old male repeatedly gropes the genitals and chests of multiple younger girls. It is sexual assault.

I will note that the recidivism rate for juvenile sex offenders (and for adult sex offenders) who are caught and go through some sort of legal proceeding is much lower than the public perceives it to be, and that said rate goes down even more with appropriate treatment. So, given that Josh was caught, but not actually subject to legal punishment or real treatment, I guess I can believe that he’s steered clear of further offenses—as Josh and the family assert–although there’s not a lot of data on people who got caught but essentially are allowed to skate.

But I do not believe Josh has really changed his attitude toward his behaviors—especially when he calls them “mistakes” for which he feels he has already paid a big enough price.

Also, for those who are claiming to support the Duggars, let’s be clear about what is being supported. In pursuit of both political power, and celebrity, (the truest of Christian values) the Duggar family decided to bury sexual offenses committed by their son, against their daughters and another girl. Their attempts to prevent Josh from getting in trouble were successful, inasmuch as the offenses did not come to light until after the law no longer allowed any punishment for son Josh.

So, if you’re supporting the Duggars, you’re arguing that families should dodge the law, allow their daughters to be sexually assaulted by their brothers or by family friends, and do what they can to keep their sons from getting in legal trouble, all while counseling the children that sex is bad, but that it’s okay that the sexual assault took place because boys and men can’t help themselves and girls and women are really only important as breeding stock–and provoke sexual assault in the first place.

Furthermore, you’re advocating that it’s acceptable for the son who committed the offenses to take a prominent job with a well-known organization that utilizes bogus research in an attempt to control women, and demonize the LGBTQ community in order to deny them the basic rights that heterosexual adults have—all while accusing the LGBTQ community of habitually engaging in the behaviors that Josh engaged in, and that his parents covered up.

That’s not wholesomeness or purity.

Those aren’t “mistakes.”

Those aren’t the kind of beliefs, or actions, anyone should be lauding.

AM I REALLY SUPPOSED TO THREATEN TO SHOOT MY DAUGHTER’S BOYFRIEND?

I suppose the title question of this piece is something of a moot point, or rather, the threat to shoot my daughter’s boyfriend would be an empty one, as I don’t have any guns with which to shoot my daughter’s boyfriend—or anybody else. I do have a potato gun.  Home invaders take note.

That said, this is the first holiday season where my (adult but still teen) daughter has had a “boyfriend” important enough to her that we had to consider their plans when making our family plans.  And, happily, she spent time with his family, and he with ours.  And I’ll say I like the guy.  I feel that my daughter has chosen wisely and connected with someone who compliments her, and vice versa.

After the Christmas round of holiday gatherings had come to an end, and I had returned back to work, I got to thinking about the all-too-frequent jokes and ‘memes’ I see in social media that involve threats to shoot boys who are taking peoples’ daughters out on dates (probably because I’ve seen several in the last few days—the most recent involving one of those Dick Dynasty beardos whose family values apparently include threatening to shoot other peoples’ children just for expressing an interest in dating his daughter).

Dads take note: if you want to shoot the boys who have had impure thoughts about your teenage daughters, you should probably shoot all the heterosexual teen boys who have ever seen your daughters.  Or so the predictable jokes go—relying on the idea that all dads used to be teenage boys themselves and so know how vile teenage boys are.  And is that how we as men think back on ourselves as teenagers?  That we really were so vile that we would have raped any time the chance presented itself?

And isn’t there some way that those “vile” and “impure” thoughts can be channeled into more positive outlets—say, like normalizing sexual thoughts and providing some guidance on how to deal with those, rather than tying sexual thoughts to threats of violence?  Or do we really believe that our sons are perpetually on the verge of rape?  Do we believe our daughters are so clueless that we cannot trust them with their own bodies?  Do we have to threaten violence against teen boys to make sure that our teen girls come home with their “virtue” intact?

And what if our daughters are not interested in maintaining that barrier?  Isn’t it better that our daughters are taught to understand what they’re comfortable with, and how to communicate that, and to seek out partners who respect that?  And while we’re at it, how about teaching our sons the same?  If boys know that it is okay for them to be “uncomfortable” with regard to sex, or to value girls for the same kinds of things they value their male friends for—common interests, for instance—they might feel a lot less pressure to be so gung-ho about looking at our daughters through such a narrow lens—they might be able to see our daughters as people rather than as sexual targets.

And beyond all that, what is it with adult males feeling the need to threaten the boys/young men who have expressed an interest in their daughters?  At it’s most base expression, this is a pissing contest over sexual access to the females of the species.  It is treating our daughters as property or livestock.  It is sending the message to girls not that their fathers want what’s best for them, but that their fathers don’t trust their judgment.  It sends clichéd messages that girls are not interested in sex, and that only men can be trusted with (and are never to be trusted with) protecting women’s lady parts.  On top of that, it, perhaps unintentionally, sends the message that all men are rapists that need to be stopped by other, more powerful men.

All of this takes on an even more twisted element when we look at how rape victims are treated in this culture.  Girls and women who come forward with complaints of sexual assault are viewed first in terms of what they must have done to invite the sexual assault.  Where were you?  What were you wearing?  Were you drunk?  Using drugs?  Why are you making these accusations?  Men and teenage boys are too often excused for rape, especially if they have some status in the community and/or if their victims can be shown to be (or it can be implied that they are) less-than-perfectly-pure in every way.

The whole “get my daughter home on time or I’ll shoot you” (read: you are not to have sex with my daughter or I’ll kill you) idea plays on the idea that boys/men are incapable of controlling themselves sexually when they have time alone with a girl/woman.  It plays on the idea that girls/women are not to be trusted with their own sexuality or sexual decisions.  Worst of all, perhaps, it plays into adolescent revenge fantasies where girls/women are perpetually the victims or prizes in contests between men–that girls’/women’s chastity counts, but girls/women don’t.

Men in our culture (myself included) are not generally taught how to engage their emotions in productive ways, but to channel everything into problem solving, feelings-dodging, and violence.  It is in this context that we tell our daughter’s boyfriends that we’ll shoot them if they “come home late.”  It is also in this context where we connect violence and sex on numerous levels.

If we as men think of teenage boys as little more than rape machines with faulty safety mechanisms, or worse yet, think that we were rape machines as teenagers, then we excuse the worst of male behaviors as nothing more than biology—hormones acting out the only way they can express themselves—violently.  And that’s simply not true.  It is not only as teenagers that people have powerful sexual urges, or multiple forms of confusion and angst over various aspects of sexuality and relationships; and it is never acceptable for those urges to be translated into violence.  It is as teenagers that we should really be learning how to navigate relationships in a positive fashion.  It is as adults that we should guide teenagers—and that means mentoring our daughter’s boyfriends, not threatening to kill them.

I would much rather welcome my daughter’s boyfriend into the family and make him feel comfortable than to threaten him.  But then again, I don’t imagine my daughter coming home with somebody who I would feel threatened by—someone I would feel the need to engage in a pissing contest.  This is not to say that I feel my daughter is immune to sexual assault, or even bad decisions in choosing guys to hang out with.  It is to say that I do what I can to convey my trust in her, but more importantly, to let her know to trust herself as a whole person.