[Doc. List E7]
Editorial from The Guide, August 1999:
A shocking story of children, sex, and police unfolded this past month in York Haven, Pennsylvania. Police there are taking credit for busting up a "sex ring" that involved the "rape" and "molestation" of dozens of that small town's children, age seven to 16. At least six people have been charged with felonious sexual activity involving children, and one person has been convicted of raping an 11-year-old boy. Two of the accused have already been sentenced to jail. All those convicted face possible lifetime registration as sexually dangerous persons, required wherever they go to report their status to neighbors, employers, and police. And investigators fear that they may be dealing with "only the tip of the iceberg." To hear police and prosecutors tell the tale, their actions saved the town's kids from the rapacious sexuality of predatory monsters.
But any rational person hearing the uncontested facts of the case would reach a different conclusion. There were no adults involved in the "sex ring." All the participants -- both "victims" and "perpetrators"-- were children. No force or coercion of any kind was ever alleged. All those involved acted voluntarily. None of the children complained about the activities. Problems began only after a participant's mother found out about the shenanigans and went to the cops. The person convicted of "raping" the 11-year-old boy was a 16-year-old girl (who was deemed guilty because she was more than four years older than her "victim").
The "crimes" took place in the woods surrounding town, in various kids' homes, and after a game of spin-the-bottle at a sleep-over. Clearly, the "sex ring" that police crowed about busting up was not comprised of predatory monsters.
It was simply kids experimenting with sex the way that kids have always done. But in our insanely sexphobic culture, what used to be called "playing doctor" is now branded child rape.
With tragic irony, those claiming to protect children have become their worst abusers. Police have done more than unfairly prosecute a few normal, curious kids. They have jailed them and labelled them "sex criminals" for the rest of their lives. They have instilled sexual fear and loathing and perpetrated the notion that sex and sexual curiosity are monumentally evil. So virulent is their anti-sex crusading, they horribly abuse the children they profess to care for. This abomination is tolerated because of the sexual McCarthyism evident whenever childhood sexuality is involved. Any parent questioning prosecutors becomes an accomplice. Any child denying harm is judged a perpetrator. Any citizen insisting on civil rights for the accused is deemed a suspect. And anyone suggesting that rational, moral laws aimed at regulating children's sexuality must distinguish actions that involve violence from those that don't is labelled a child molester.
It takes rare bravery to challenge the prevailing witch hunt mentality. As gay people, we know what it is like to have sexuality unfairly and irrationally demonized. Let us, therefore, find the courage to tell the truth: the real child abusers in York Haven are those police, prosecutors, therapists, and social workers who are willing to incarcerate and persecute kids in order to teach them that sex is wicked. We must demand that curious children not be made to suffer because of adults' insane fears.
[Doc. List E7]