[Newsletter E 3]
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
In memoriam: Edward Werner, 11 years
And the well-being of Sam Manzie, 15 years
By Frans NL, translated from the Dutch NVSH Lwg JORis Newsletter
A News item
In September 1997, the 15 years young Sam Manzie was held in a youth custodial unit in the USA. He is alleged to have molested and murdered 11 years young Edward Werner. All the media mention the fact that Sam Manzie was "sexually abused" by a man whom he sought out and found via the Internet. Only a small part of that media, specifically some web sites and newsgroups on the Internet tell the whole story. I could not find a word about the case in the Dutch media. Yet it stuck in my mind and raised many questions. I want try to share the story and the questions with the readers of the Newsletter.
Sam was a quiet boy, a whiz kid who sat at his computer for hours. He had his own site on the World Wide Web. I have seen this and it was a nice site with photos of a music group and of course of young Sam himself. He looked quite a big lad for his age. Supposedly, Sam felt he was gay, but suspected also that his parents would not accept this. So he sought for contacts on the Internet in a chat site for gays. He found what he sought a man who wanted contact with him. They arranged to meet. Sam orchestrated it so that his father took him to the meeting place without knowing about the kind of meeting that it was to be. It was Sam who wanted to go to the man's house and stay there overnight. Several such meetings took place, clearly according to the wishes of the boy.
However, at home, Sams parents considered that their son had 'behavioral problems' So a therapist was found and Sam had talks with him. Sam told the man about his gay feelings and also about the contacts with his self-chosen adult friend. From then on, everything went wrong. The 'therapist' told Sam's story to the police and the police contacted the parents. The police attached a recording device to Sam's phone to catch and register the conversations between him and his friend. They expected that this would lead them to the friend and that he would make damning statements on the phone so that they could arrest him.
At first, Sam let all this happen, but then for some reason so far unexplained he changed his mind. Instead of leading his friend into that damning proof he warned him and, in his fury, smashed the recording equipment. His parent interpreted this as yet more 'behavioral problems' and requested that the authorities send their son to some institution. The authorities, however, refused to do this.
In the meantime, Sam's adult friend was arrested and imprisoned. In this confusing state of affairs, Edward Werner came to Sam's house to collect money for a local charity. Werner entered Sam's house and the boys had a sexual contact with each other. So far it has not been reported whither Sam and Edward have known each other beforehand or if this was their first such sexual contact. After, Sam murdered Edward and hid his body. Naturally, in such a community, the disappearance of a child caused a big hunt and soon his body was soon found. Some days later, Sam was indicted for the murder and incarcerated. The prosecutor said that he would view Sam as an adult in the molesting and murder of Edward, but he would see him as a child in the case of him being 'assaulted' by his adult friend.
Sam, consciously searching for a friend, is seen as a child and therefore a victim. The same Sam, murdering in a state of mental turmoil, is seen as an adult. This suggests that the murder is seen as a conscious act desired by Sam, whilst loving is seen only as abuse of him as a victim that he could not possibly have desired. Is this not a strange way of thinking?
What strike me, is not only the story, but also the way it was presented in the media. All the mass media mentioned "the sexual abuse of the victim". These stories didn't say that Sam wanted this contact and actively initiated and participated in it. This may explain why Sam smashed the equipment and why he was so angry and confused that he murdered his young companion. These facts have to be known. Yet they appear only to have been reported in newsgroups etc. on the Internet - not in the more traditional forms of public media. Why?
Especially what struck me is the story about the 'therapist'. There seems to be a law in some parts of the USA that anybody learning of a case of 'sexual abuse' of a young person has to report this to the police. But was what Sam and his friend did 'sexual abuse'? What are the ideas behind calling such an event "sexual abuse"? Why did that 'therapist' not support Sam and help him to accept his feelings? Why are these kind of feelings forbidden for 15 years old people? Do these boys really need to be 'cured' of such feelings? Do they need 'protection' to prevent these contacts even if they show so clearly as did Sam that they want them? Why is such a contact, when it is consciously wanted, automatically seen as 'sexual abuse of a victim'? Who is responsible for this automatism in thinking and interpreting? Who abused Sam - his adult friend or was it the 'therapist'? Should not 'therapist' be written as 'the-rapist'?
How responsible were the police who sought to use the' victim' in order to catch the 'perpetrator'? Why did they say that Sam, betrayed by his 'the-rapist', should now betray his friend? Who is responsible for Sam's confusion and fury?
The parents: has nobody advised them to establish better contact with their son, to seek to understand his real feelings, to accept these and to support him? Is this not the normal responsibility of all parents? Has anyone explained them the link between the lack of such parental contact and support and the 'behavioral problems' which they perceived in their son? Who is responsible for the disastrous introduction if this 'the-rapist'?
Sam is incarcerated now with the labels of murderer and faggot. His life is destroyed forever. Young Edward Werner is dead, the promise of his young life is gone. But who is responsible for Sam's confusion? Who is responsible for Sam's idea that any sexual contact that he had - whither with his adult friend or with the younger Edward, should be hidden at all costs?
I have asked several times: who is responsible? In my opinion not only Sam, but 'Society' as a whole and particularly the leading opinion-formers in this society.
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who guards the guards? Who shall call them to account? How? Why? When?
The same Sam Manzie has written a short essay before all these problems