Like most of us Clarence Osborne would have left this world without fame or notoriety if not for one incredible fact. And that fact is that this small sixty-one-year-old man had, over a twenty-year period, sexually related to at least 2500 boys before he voluntarily decided to leave this earth.
Not only did Osborne make love to this huge number of young males but he recorded in intimate detail how he made love to them and how they responded. Locked away in his insignificant house in a middle-class suburb of Brisbane was a repository of sexual information surpassed only by the Kinsey Institute.
Osborne’s sexual adventures gave him the publicity at his death that he carefully avoided during his life. The Australian media uniformly described him as this country’s greatest sex monster and newspaper headlines shrieked their disapproval at his activities. Loving boys, especially as many boys as Osborne loved, was not, it appeared, a way to win public esteem.
It was not only his sexual relationships with the youths that earned him displeasure. It was the fact that he photographed the boys in every conceivable position and measured their penises with scientific precision that shocked and horrified the public. And the boys he photographed, measured and masturbated were not just any boys. Many, some hundreds in fact, came from the most prestigious and wealthy homes in the city of Brisbane. Some were the sons of policemen, some were the sons of doctors and some, even, were the sons of political identities. Many of these boys are now men and they too have reached the top echelons in various professions.
Not that these men talk about their experiences with Osborne freely. They prefer to keep their experiences to themselves, privately remembering the days when, as boys or youths, they slept in Osborne’s bed or engaged in mutual masturbation with him in his car. Discretion had helped them reach the top of their chosen occupations and discretion was going to keep them there.
While the media repeatedly referred to Osborne as a ‘monster’ and an ‘animal’ others thought differently. Many of his work colleagues considered him the finest court reporter in the country.
Acquaintances often referred to his acts of kindness and many of the boys he had affairs with stoutly defended his integrity and righteousness. He was indeed many things to many people.
For like most paedophiles, Clarence Osborne’s life was full of contradictions. Despite the sexual pervert label so carefully created by the media, Osborne was consistently defended by his so-called ‘victims’. He never used force to obtain sex but he was able to satisfy his sexual urges whenever they arose. His crimes were considered horrific but not one of his partners ever complained to the police. His collection of sexual material was described by the police and the media as pornography but researchers considered the material invaluable information. He was accused of having seduced boys but one of the major problems in his life was to satisfy the sexual desires of hundreds of boys who approached him.
To understand these contradictions we have to understand Clarence Osborne, the man, and paedophilia, the sexual activity. The two are closely intertwined, yet separable. The questions that arise from these issues are myriad. Why, for example, was this unattractive person able to obtain sexual relations with so many young males? What effect did these interventions have on the social and sexual development of the youths? What was it about Osborne that made him a sexual pied piper of infamous proportions? W~ can help to unravel the answers to these questions by systematically exploring Osborne’s life and the nature of paedophilia generally. This, of course, is the major objective of this book. Let us make a start then by considering from among thousands, just one relation-ship that Osborne had with a young male. Let us take the case of James.
One Boy, One Man
James was sixteen at the time he met Clarence Osborne. Now, five years later, he still bears the marks of the physical attractiveness that he clearly possessed when he was younger. Standing 180 centimetres tall, with long blond hair and suntanned from numerous encounters with the golden beaches of the Surfers Paradise region, James clearly would have stood out as he hitch-hiked along the Pacific Highway on his way to the famed Gold Coast beaches.
When a car pulled up and a middle-aged man asked James whether he wanted a lift, the youngster wasn’t surprised. He usually managed to hitch a lift to the coast and never thought twice about accepting a ride from anyone. The man according to James had ‘a nice face and appeared to be friendly’.
James recalled that it was easy to talk to the man. He was relaxed and introduced himself as Clarry. The man told James that he frequently took the trip to the Gold Coast and often picked up boys who wanted rides. Clarry was very interested in all aspects of James’s life and frequently asked him about his parents, his sporting interests and his girlfriends. In fact James recalls that after about fifteen minutes they had struck up a firm friendship and the boy felt safe and secure with the older man. James told Clarry about his parents who had just separated and about the awful fights they had prior to the separation. His mother was a strict Catholic, while his father was an agnostic and this was one of the reasons for the constant fighting between the couple. There were other reasons, of course, and Clarence Osborne carefully explored them with his young passenger.
As they drove along the highway James told Clarence Osborne about his fears and anxieties. He recounted the fights his parents used to have: the yells and screams he heard in the middle of the night, the negative views he held of his now absent and still distant father— a man who apparently lacked spontaneity, warmth and emotion. Clarence Osborne listened with sympathy and apparent understanding.
The young boy listened attentively as well, especially when the conversation turned to sex. James recalls how he was recounting to Osborne incidents about his own personal life that he had never told anyone before. Osborne seemed very interested in what the boy felt about girls and whether he had ever come close to a female sexually. It seemed so easy for James to talk about his sexual experiences with girls, and he did so with enthusiasm and without any embarrassment. He told Osborne, for example, about the first time he undressed a girl and what he felt when he saw that in between her legs there was no penis but instead, a smooth and hairless mound.
Clarence Osborne gently asked him what he felt about that, and James had no hesitation in saying that he felt it was ‘nice to look at and nice to touch’. Osborne then asked whether his ‘thing’ got excited when he looked at the girl. And James admitted that it had. The older man then asked him in a gentle tone as to whether his ‘thing’ was excited now as he thought about the time he saw the undressed girl.
The boy became slightly embarrassed, but Osborne reduced this somewhat by saying, ‘Well, we all start getting a lump in our pants when we think about sexy things like that.’ And Osborne pointed to his own pants with a demonstrably large bulge rising in between his legs. Osborne then asked whether he had a similar bulge too and before the boy could reply Osborne quickly but smoothly put his hand on the young man’s penis.
‘I was so excited,’ James said. ‘I felt my penis getting bigger and bigger. The guy knew I was getting excited because he was slowly rubbing my penis up and down through my pants.’
When Osborne asked whether James would like to take a short detour from the main road, it was agreed to readily by the boy. Turning left into a cul-de-sac off the Pacific Highway, James and Charles Osborne began to talk more and as they talked the degree of sexuality between them slowly increased. Osborne asked the boy whether he would mind if he put his hand on the boy’s penis ‘properly’. James was so excited at this stage that he nodded his agreement and Osborne deftly undid the boy’s zip and placed his hands on James’s now erect penis. According to James the discussion then centred firmly on how he, James, masturbated, and by trial and error Osborne slowly found out the way that James liked to be stimulated. The continuous masturbation led to its inevitable conclusion. James ejaculated and Osborne put his mouth over the boy’s penis and sucked the sperm as it came out.
The boy felt excited and relieved and as he told me, ‘a little bit guilty’. But the guilt did not last for long because Osborne was always supportive, calm and interested in the boy’s whole life, telling him that he knew about how boys felt and what they did because he had ‘studied such things’.
This made James feel better because he thought that the older man must be a doctor or a psychologist ‘or something like that’, and that made what they had done together ‘okay’. Even the sound of a police car siren (which was heard in one of Osborne’s tapes recounting this incident) did not disturb the two unduly. They both felt safe and secure.
The drive to the Gold Coast beaches continued and the conversation ranged on topics as diverse as fishing and football. James was amazed at how easily Osborne could ‘tune in’ to those aspects of his own life that were important to him, but which he didn’t think that adults would ever understand. And before the older man dropped the boy off at a Gold Coast beach they had arranged to meet the next day in Osborne’s house which, as it happened, was not too far from where James lived.
Over the next few years James and Osborne saw each other regularly and became in James’s own words ‘firm friends’. Once or twice week, occasionally more often, James would call around to Osborne’ house and they would sit down and talk about James: his wishes, hi aspirations, and inevitably about sex. Clarence Osborne would show James pictures he had taken of both females and males, but mainly males, in all sorts of positions and poses. Generally speaking, the pictures were of boys his own age. The photographs were stimulating enough to act as a catalyst for deeper sexual discussions which would often culminate in physical relations between the two. The sex was of all types: sometimes it involved lying on the bed together with both engaging in mutual masturbation, occasionally it involved Osborne massaging the boy all over his body and even, less frequently, kissing and licking the boy from one end of his body to the other. It was exciting and stimulating to James and the boy recounted his memories with pleasure and with little guilt. In fact, James admitted that he himself initiated some of the later meetings with Osborne and that he looked forward to them with considerable anticipation. When asked why he liked meeting Osborne, James was quite straight-forward: ‘Because of the sex,’ he said, ‘and also because he was like a second father to me — I mean I didn’t have a father and he really helped me understand things I knew nothing about.’
Clarence Osborne remembered James with much pleasure also. ‘James,’ he said to me, ‘was a really nice boy. He was soft and gentle and a bit mixed up and I think I really helped him.’ Osborne, who kept copious notes of these encounters, records the following observations about the boy. [*1]
James was an outstanding type of lad. Boarder at a Catholic college, first sign of approaching puberty at about 13½ was the growth of hair and the growth of penis. James told me he had his first intercourse about six months ago. ‘I’ve only had one root. It was on the spur of the moment. I was fairly drunk at the time. I’m sure I got it in. She seduced me. I was in bed in a flat down the coast. I might have passed out. It was at a party.’ This boy is clearly one with more sexual experience of masturbation. ‘To be honest, I’ve pulled occasionally and a few girls will pull you off. Girls aged 18, 19 and 15. Mostly they’ll leave my prick out of my underpants. She stripped from the waist up. I have a roaring horn, but I can restrain myself. I end up splurrying. Girls pull me off most when they are under the influence of liquor. I frustrate them. Girls dancing get pushed up against me and I’ve splurried.’ James was with me for three years and developed into a good lad.
Osborne’s notes continue along these lines, recording intimate details of James’ sex life and other parts of his life as well. But always the notes come back to masturbatory techniques; the size of the penis, how often the sperm came out and what colour it was. Osborne recalls that the relationship lasted three years and that he, Osborne, eventually broke it off. When asked how he did this Osborne replied with a quiet assurance:
Osborne said that he ended the relationship because he had other boys who were younger and at that stage he felt that James was getting ‘too close’ to him. Osborne recalled that he didn’t dislike James, only that ‘a good thing has to come to an end’ and end it he did.
James was not unique. Indeed, over a twenty-year period Clarence Osborne met hundreds of boys and adolescents like James and had hundreds of short-lived interactions with others. His files contain accounts of approximately 2500 boys whom he met and related to physically or otherwise. [*2]
I met Clarence Osborne quite by accident. One day he arrived at my office clutching a bag overflowing with documents and papers. A short but stocky man in his late fifties, Osborne had penetrating eyes which watched your every movement.
He introduced himself and proceeded to get down to business. He was seeing me, it appeared, because I was involved in the Queensland Civil Liberties Council and had a reputation, fuelled by many years of media publicity, for attempting to protect the rights of the individual against the might of the state — particularly that agent of the state called the police force.
He told me that he feared the Commonwealth Police Force would come and arrest him because the customs department had confiscated a pornographic movie. The movie, it appeared, was of two males engaging in sexual acts and it was typical of the hundreds that are made in Denmark and exported all over the world.
Osborne was not so much concerned with being arrested himself, but more concerned about the police confiscating what he called his ‘research’. The research, it transpired, was a mammoth collection of files containing intimate details concerning the physical characteristics of 2500 young males he had met, together with over 8 kilometres of tape-recordings containing conversations between himself and these males. It appeared that Osborne had concealed microphones in his house and in his car which were continuously monitoring those who entered his domain. And the only people who entered his home were young boys and adolescents.
At this stage I was only mildly interested in Osborne’s dilemma. He was not, at least in my eyes, a particularly appealing man. His staccato style of speaking, eyes boring into you and general nervous mannerisms were traits that did not make one feel relaxed. But I listened to him, aware of his unease, his obvious tenseness and his agitation. It was just that Osborne’s situation with the police did not compare with that of some of my recent clients who alleged that they had been framed, verballed or beaten up by truculent members of the Queensland police force.
As I listened to him I began to find myself, almost reluctantly, getting more involved, more interested— not so much in Clarence Osborne’s plight but more in the implications of what that plight represented. One could only marvel, for example, at the energy and patience that Osborne would have had to display in forming relations with 2500 boys.
He told me that although he had now retired, he had been active with most of the boys during his working life first as a court and then as a parliamentary reporter. It struck me that, demanding as court reporting was, it palled into insignificance in comparison with the effect required to make contact with, to interact with, and then to get involved with such an enormous number of boys.
If nothing else though, Clarence Osborne epitomised the protestant ethic. Whether at work or at play he was meticulous to the point of obsession, conscientious in ‘getting the job done’ and so ordered that he kept intricate records on what he had achieved.
And what he had achieved was overwhelming in its significance. Over twenty years he had collected transcripts and tape-recordings, as well as detailed filing cards relating to the overall physical characteristics of thousands of young boys. He had, in fact, taken measurements of their genital regions with a scientist’s precision. These had all been carefully tabulated and filed and were there for the world to use — if the world could find a use for them.
The significance of all this material was not apparent to Osborne nor indeed to me. It was almost as though Osborne had collected data just for the sake of collecting it without any real objective in mind. He was certainly close to his material and several times called it his ‘life work’ and continually worried about the Commonwealth Police taking it away from him and posterity.
Over the next two months I met Clarence Osborne on several occasions and each time he brought me new material to look at. Transcripts, tape-recordings and his manuscript documenting his own life were freely given to me and supplemented by face-to-face conversations of how he had met the young men in his life and why he acted as he did.
The basic facts of Osborne’s hobby or, in his terms, ‘research’ were quickly apparent. Clarence Osborne would meet boys in a variety of different settings, establish verbal rapport with them and then attempt to further the relationship in both physical and emotional ways. He contacted young males everywhere, when they were doing anything or everything. He met them on highways as they were hitch-hiking; he met them in parks when they were playing sports; he talked to them outside their homes and in shopping centres — in short Clarence Osborne’s modus operandi was both varied and complex.
The boys’ he formed relationships with came from diverse backgrounds. While the literature on boys who seek relationships with adult males suggests that they come from working-class homes marked by poverty, violence and general family breakdown, many hundreds, if not a thousand of the boys he had sex with, came from affluent middle-class homes where there was not always the fighting and alienation between the parents that so characterised the case of James. The rich, prestigious suburbs of semi-tropical Brisbane provided many young men who were, in some cases, to have clandestine affairs with a man who was old enough to be their father and, in some cases, their grandfather. Unbeknown to the solicitors, doctors and real estate salesmen who lived in the plushness of St. Lucia or Indooroopilly or in the hills of Hamilton, their sons were relating to a small, relatively insignificant man (at least as seen by others) with a degree of intimacy that they never manifested towards their ‘socially and economically important fathers.
It is not only how he met the boys, or where they came from which is of significance, but also what he did to elicit their co-operation. Most studies of adolescent-adult sex assume that money or material goods change hands in a classic sexual economic transaction. For, it has been argued, why else would a young male wish to offer his body to a man who might be physically unattractive and experientially many years removed from the adolescent world? Robin Lloyd’s book Playland, [*3] a recent well-publicised study of male child prostitution, emphasises the mercenary nature of paedophile relationships, while John Olsen’s gripping analysis of Houston adolescent mass murders, The Man with Candy, [*4] stresses the predatory nature of Corll’s approach to the young men he subsequently murdered.
This chapter’s title has deliberately been chosen to contrast with Olsen’s work. For, unlike Corll, Clarence Osborne did not offer his adolescents money or material goods or promises of extravagant life styles and surroundings. This was the man without candy; a man who was able to achieve great physical and emotional closeness with his youthful partners by verbal means alone.
Of course the phrase ‘by verbal means alone’ simplifies a complex set of motives and interactions that were evident in the interplay between Osborne and his partners. As we will see there were a variety of reasons why the adolescents sought a relationship with a middle-aged man and a variety of emotional supports that the man offered to the young males. And, just because no money or goods changed hands does not mean that the physical relationships established were morally justified.
The moral issues dominate both the specific case of Clarence Osborne and the general questions concerning paedophilia. Most of us express, when hearing or reading about adult-child sexual encounters, a feeling of disgust or disquiet. Such encounters run heavily against our current cultural patterns and directly violate the fundamental principles of Judaeo-Christian morality. We are all aware, as well, of the severe legal sanctions that Anglo-American laws prescribe for persons caught engaging in such relationships.
Despite my own extensive intellectual and professional training in psychology and sociology, I initially reacted with some degree of discomfort towards both Osborne and his paedophiliac practices. I found it unnerving to sense his obvious enjoyment in recounting to me his sensual experiences with boys and adolescents and to read his sexually saturated prose liberally sprinkled with explicit descriptions of the physical attributes of his youthful partners. To me, as to most adults, Osborne’s exploits were a classic example of an adult using his superior experience and power to obtain sexual favours from inexperienced and naive youngsters. What could be more -morally reprehensible than this? And unwittingly, perhaps, I reflected on how I would react to a heterosexual alternative — say, my own eight-year-old daughter ‘voluntarily’ engaging in sexual relations with an adult male.
Personalising social issues is generally an emotional rather than a rational way to approach them. In the case of my own daughter and a hypothetical other man, I am sure I would act towards the man with a considerable degree of verbal aggression and, perhaps, violence. But while Clarence Darrow’s well-known dictum— ‘issues of this sort (referring in this case to capital punishment) are solved by emotion and not by reason’— might well be right, this is no justification for ignoring the intellectual dimensions that demand explanation when it comes to analysing social problems.
So during my interviews with Clarence Osborne and in the research leading up to this book, I attempted to apply the dispassionate rules of rational enquiry by analysing his relationships rather than reacting with a gut level antagonism. Often this was not possible. The ‘feeling’ component in all of us is profound and often distorts our attempts to see the world in purely intellectual terms. Nevertheless, I was able to win the confidence of Osborne and obtain information from him about his activities and they serve as the basis for this book.
And what of Osborne? He ended his life eighteen months later by committing suicide. At the time when he saw me he was worried that the federal police might raid his house. They did not, but the state police fulfilled his premonition by visiting his house and searching it.
A mother had overheard her son talking about a man who had taken nude photographs of him. When she questioned him the son told her about Clarence Osborne and how he had taken photographs of himself and others, all of whom had voluntarily posed in the nude.
The mother did not make a formal complaint to the police. Instead she casually mentioned the incident at a social occasion to the wife of a policeman. This officer then arranged to stake out Osborne, and with his colleagues, caught Osborne taking photographs of boys.
Police went to Clarence Osborne’s house, searched it thoroughly and took three car loads of tape-recordings, files and photographs, together with Osborne himself, back to police headquarters. As the police involved were not from the squad which usually deals with such matters — the juvenile aid squad — they were reluctant to take further action against Osborne until the material had been more thoroughly perused and legal advice on what Osborne could specifically be charged with was obtained. So they drove Osborne back to his home.
No one except the police involved really knows what transpired between the time of Osborne’s detention and the time he died. All we do know is that, on the surface at least, both Osborne and-the police co-operated with each other. When the police took Osborne back to his house Osborne voluntarily showed them some films and photographs of boys he had taken. He certainly talked freely to them about his life and activities.
We do not really know how the police responded to this small and strange man. It is clear that some police who were involved initially in Osborne’s detention were nauseated by Osborne’s activity. But what was said to Osborne by them is a secret which again, only they and Osborne know. What we do know, however, is that the police were most co-operative with Osborne for reasons that are still unclear. They did, after all, drive him back to his house.
Clarence Osborne must have used the time at his house to contemplate his future and the options that he had in dealing with it. He clearly decided that there was only one path to take. That night Osborne completed his final act. He went to his car, attached one end of a rubber hose to its exhaust pipe and placed the other inside the vehicle itself. He gulped down a large dose of sleeping tablets, turned on the engine, and waited for the end to come. Very soon he was dead.
Paedophilia: The Last Taboo
Like the topic of death and dying, adult-child sexual relationships are rarely discussed either in the popular media or in academic discourse. It is the last taboo and attitudes about it are deeply engrained and almost always conservative.
We could simply write off this conservatism as nothing other than blind prejudice and irrational thinking. It is, for example, not unnatural for a parent to be deeply concerned about an older person taking sexual liberties with a child or adolescent. Many adults would object to an older person using his superior experience and power to obtain physical gratification. The same adults might also feel hostility towards these people for employing what they would define as guile and subterfuge in getting the child to co-operate with them. Others would worry incessantly about the traumatic short and long-term effects of the sexual contact on the child’s psycho-social and sexual development.
All these concerns raise more general issues on the rights of children and adults. For example, are we to allow sexual feelings and expression in children and adolescents and if so, who should control these feelings? Does an adult have the right to censor such expressions and if so, what means can he or she reasonably use? Some adults might argue that children have a perfect right to masturbate, but would draw back from sanctioning sexual activity with even another child, let alone an adult.
And what are the rights of children and adolescents anyway? Despite the rhetoric in recent years about children’s liberation, only perfunctory moves have been made to advance these rights. In some countries children have a right to say what custody and access arrangements will be entered into after a marital break-up; but their voice, while listened to by family courts, does not necessarily determine such custody and access.
Progressive schools often allow children and adolescents to say how they feel about certain educational programmes existing in the schools, but it is rare for educational institutions to allow youngsters to determine the nature of the programmes. And when it comes to the subject of sexuality, children have no rights at all. Not surprisingly, a subject as emotionally charged as sexuality is seen to be under the exclusive control of adults who rigidly prescribe the rules of conduct appropriate for its expression — which, in the case of children, almost always do not allow any sexual expression at all.
There may well be valid reasons for restricting the expression of childhood sexuality generally and adult-child/adolescent physical relations specifically, but such reasons have to be balanced against the realities of the costs involved in repressive restrictions concerning sexual expression. As we will see when Clarence Osborne’s relationships are analysed, some of the young males that he interacted with were appallingly ignorant about their physical development and sexual equipment. Others were so obsessed with the taboo subject of sex that they pursued sexual contacts with a ruthlessness and dedication that their teachers and parents would never have dreamt of. Others suffered the consequences of sexual ignorance throughout their lives with, in many cases, disastrous effects for their wives or partners.
The costs involved in restricting childhood sexual expression are, in themselves, no argument for more permissive social policies towards children. Such costs, however, force us to face up to the dilemmas that confront the whole issue of sexuality and young people. What should be the age of consent in sexual matters? Should there even be an age of consent? Whom should we punish in the case of consensual adult-child/adolescent sexual contacts? The child, the adult, no-one at all? If we say that adults have no rights to have sexual contact with children because of the former’s greater power and experience, does this mean that we should also condemn relationships between adult men and some women because the men. have more social; economic and experiential power?
It is precisely because of these issues that heterosexuals form an alliance with homosexuals, both roundly condemning paedophiliac relationships. Many lesbians of a feminist mould would argue, for example, that just as men have used their superior position of power to extract sexual favours from disadvantaged females, so too do adult males use their superior knowledge and experience of life to dictate the sexual interactions that occur between them and young males. In a slight twist to this argument some lesbians have suggested that because women are powerless, it is not nearly as morally reprehensible for an adult female to have sexual relations with an adolescent female as it is for an adult male to have sexual relations with either an adolescent female or male.
The argument is that females, compared with males, have little economic or social power. Adolescent boys are in a similar position to females in this regard, so that males who sexually relate to them are in a position to use their superior economic and social positions oppressively.
Nor do boy-lovers obtain much support for their cause from their male homosexual colleagues. To many gay people, paedophiles threaten to reinforce all the ‘straight’ stereotypes that homosexual activists have been trying to shatter. For many years gays have emphasised that adult homosexuals do not, in the vast majority of cases, have an interest in children or adolescents, that gay teachers will not seduce their charges, and that the cases of child-molesting amongst homosexuals are far fewer than they are for heterosexuals. Paedophiles, particularly those who proselytise their activities, are seen as undoing most of the constructive public relations work tha~t the gay community has engaged in.
Clarence Osborne and Paedophiles
Rejected by their homosexual counterparts, scorned by lesbian activists and hated by most heterosexuals, the Clarence Osbornes of this world find themselves isolated. Rarely are they listened to, their writings considered in an open-minded way or their calls for an acknowledgement of childhood sexuality heard.
Paedophiles are, in short, treated with contempt by all around them. They are often hounded by law enforcement officers and dealt draconian sentences by judicial officers. They epitomise to many of us the greatest of all sexual deviants. If the term ‘pervert’ is applied to any one group of people, it would be applied by the average man or woman to child-lovers.
We should not, however, let the antagonism concerning child-lovers cloud the complex issues that arise from an analysis of the relationships they engage in. Paedophiles might not be the folk heroes challenging the social and sexual frontiers that some of them see themselves as, but they also might not be the folk devils that the rest of the community generally acknowledge them as being.
Clarence Osborne’s life raises a variety of general matters that surmount the rhetoric and stigma attached to men who love boys. There are not only the issues of consent and the expression of childhood and adolescent sexuality that emerge from an analysis of a case like Osborne’s, but also the wider issues relating to those factors that either pushed or pulled the young males towards the older man.
We as a community should attempt to understand the dynamics involved in the attraction held not only by Clarence Osborne for the boys, but also the attraction that the boys felt towards Osborne. Why did many of the youngsters keep going back to him? Can we assume that their parents were out of touch with their sons, unable to communicate with them in an open and spontaneous manner? Did Clarence Osborne fill this vacuum by offering them not only physical but also emotional comfort? And are most parents so out of touch with their offspring that if the circumstances were right, their sons would form close physical relations with adult men? And do young males have a need for a rich variety of physical and affectionate experiences that we as adults have hitherto not recognised?
These and a host of other questions arise from studying Clarence Osborne’s life. This book makes an honest and open attempt to trace the motivations and effects of his relationships in an attempt to look both at paedophiles generally and the issues that they raise for society.
Clarence Osborne’s story, by itself, is of no more than transitory value. But in so much it raises general issues of a legal, social and psychological kind it has an importance that transcends the immediate. By using his life to illustrate these wider issues it is hoped that some balanced assessment can be obtained on the subject of paedophilia.
It is not only the nature of paedophiles and paedophilia that is illuminated by Osborne’s material. The great Dr Kinsey, in the only other case similar to Osborne’s I could find, recounted the case of a man who had relations with 600 boys, 200 girls and countless adults, and kept records on them. According to Kinsey, ‘It took us seventeen hours to get his history, which was the basis for a fair amount of chapter five in the Male volume concerning child sexuality.’ [*5] Clearly Osborne’s life and records have profound significance for further understanding male sexuality generally. Let us turn now then, to the man who provides us with this material.