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The male adolescent involved with a pederast becomes an adult

Ralph H. Tindall, PhD

Journal of Homosexuality, Vol 3 (4) Summer 1978 

Dr. Tindall is in the Department of Psychology, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina 29208



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A longitudinal study of nine castes is reported where the adolescent was engaged after puberty in sexual activity with an adult male. Observations are reported in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th decades after the teenage years in these cases. The subjects were drawn from a pool of 200 similar cases and are the cases where the most data are available. 
Implications for professionals dealing with adolescent sexuality are made. Gaps between what is legally permitted and what is actual practice are pointed out. Need for further research and the areas for that research are implied. A case against premature labeling s made.


Throughout history men have had sexual relations with adolescent boys. Occasionally, there is a sensational scandal but for the most part such relations take place without public awareness or the extent of the practice or the identities or the involved parties.

According to Dorlands Medical Dictionary (1974), pederasty means anal intercourse with a boy. The word pederast means boy lover from the Greek pais ("boy") and erastes ("lover"). Often the word has become synonymous with sodomist.

Rossman (1976) defines the pederast as any male over the age of 18 who is erotically attracted to boys between the age of puberty and age 16. The present paper will go beyond erotic attraction and define the pederast as 

a male over 18 who has actually engaged in sexual relations with a younger post-pubescent male under the age or 16 which results in sexual climax for either one or both participants. This practice will have extended over a period of time of at least 1 year. 

The knowledge we have in this area stems from two sources. 

First, studies have been made on prison populations (Gebhard et al., 1967; Glueck, 1955). In these studies the pederast has been arrested and jailed, or the youths involved have been placed in correctional institutions and information is based on their recall. 

The second source is from opinions handed down from what has been known or reputed to be known by authority figures in society. Bernard (1976) stales that there is very little research in the area, but many theories and opinions. As pederasty is a 

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sensitive subject and one that has long since been driven underground in our society, it is natural that much of what we know should come from a confined population or from historical and philosophical accounts.

Not only is the subject a very sensitive one, but it is difficult to get accurate information from either the pederast or the adolescent. In my experience the pederast, who is violating a law which would estrange him in his community, is most reluctant to discuss his relationships with young males, with older male friends, or even with professionals. Adolescents themselves, according to Sorenson (1975),and from my own experience, are quite reluctant to divulge their sexual involvement with a male older than themselves outside of a trusted gay circle if they belong to such circles.

A search of the literature reveals little in the way of data that would tell us what occurs in the later life of boys who get involved with older men. Little is recorded, for example, about their adaptation, their sexual orientation, or their later attitudes toward their homosexual history. In fact, such information is very difficult to secure. We know much more about the men who have been apprehended, arrested, and convicted for homosexual offenses than we do concerning the boys on whom the offense was committed. 

This is a report of a study of nine boys. 

The author observed them grow from puberty to manhood after they had already had some sort of episodic involvement with a male older than themselves. These cases were extracted from over 200 cases spanning a 30-year period. They are the 9 cases where the most detailed follow-up in regard to sexual practices was possible. 

Correspondence and interviews were used where individuals could be located. Attempts were made to contact the appropriate individuals in all cases. Staff and funds were unavailable to make the exhaustive search necessary to locate as many cases as desired. 

These cases occurred in populations referred from three widely separated states, involving three different-sized school systems as well as a limited private practice. These 9 case were those where annual follow-up was possible. The 200 cases were drawn from a reservoir of approximate, 3,000 cases of this age range brought to the attention of the author in the course of 30 years as a psychologist dealing with school-age populations. Of the 200 cases, no one was referred for sex offenses or through the courts. These 200 cases were the cases where there was involvement of two males differing in ages as defined. Admittedly, the data are not complete on each of these cases, and they are even less complete on the cases not reported that made up the subject pool.

Cases reported were those where it was possible to have at least yearly contact with the person who was involved first as an adolescent. Each was first seen when he was an adolescent. Parental permission was secured to discuss sensitive subjects prior to initial contact. These cases represent a sample with an unknown bias in that we have been able to follow their 

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development, but there was little difference surrounding the original contact in the less documented cases. We do not know how representative these cases are of the original 200. 

Sex histories were taken routinely in all adolescents referred, irrespective of referral reason. It needs to be emphasized that no case was originally seen because of a sexual problem. Obviously, names are fictitious, and minor events have been changed so as to maintain maximum anonymity.

Briefcase histories of nine adult males whose current ages range from 25 to 46 years will be presented. Details of sexual relations with the adult males concerned will be given as related by those persons who were adolescents at the time of first contact. The current follow-up data are based on observations, community reports, and personal interviews where practical.



Ronald was referred at age 15 because of rapid mood swings, unpredictability, and periods of depression. He was doing poorly in school at the time, was of low average ability, and was reading at about 1 years below grade placement.

By his own report he had reached puberty between 12 and 13. He had been introduced by two older brothers to mutual masturbation and fellatio. Toward the end of his 14th year he was doing yard work for a married, childless high school teacher. They became aware of mutual sexual attraction. During the following 4 years mutual masturbation and fellatio occurred at least weekly between the two. They became fond of each other, but no sexual relations occurred after Ronald's 20th birthday.

Ronald is now 46 years of age. He has lost touch with the teacher. He has a family of three children and holds a blue-collar assembly line position. He is buying his own home and seems to have the typical problems of the upper lower-class family man. He has had no law violation except traffic. At age 45, the age of last follow-up, he personally reported that he has had no desire for homosexual relations since age 20.


Denver was referred at age 13 for taking part in vandalism directed toward a junior high school followed by running away from home. He was or high average ability and reading at grade level. He was quite interested in machinery and mechanics. 

Denver reached pubescence by age 14. He was introduced to mutual masturbation at age 13 by peers, some of whom were more developed sexually. During his 11th year he began spending his spare time around a service station, where he became acquainted with a master mechanic who was then in his early 40s, married, and childless. The mechanic and Denver began engaging in recreational pursuits together. On a fishing trip, during a break on an island, they began talking about sex, which led to Denver's being fellated by the mechanic and to masturbation of the mechanic by Denver. For the next 5 years mutual 

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fellatio occurred two or three times per week. Sexual activity with the mechanic ceased at about age 19, but a close relationship continued to exist until the mechanic's death.

Denver is now 44 years of age. He was married and fathered two sons. He and his first wife were divorced and he raised his boys. One buy went to college and the other boy to a technical school. Denver remarried and has been a valued mechanic with the sama company for 20 years. He has a supervisory position and believes that his relationship with his mechanic friend helped him reach his goals. He says he would have approved a similar relationship for either of his sons, had he become aware of such a situation. He reports no desire to have sex with males since approximately age 20.


Eugene was originally referred at age 13 because of a placement problem. His father had an incurable disease, and his mother was hospitalized as a result or mental stress. He was of high ability, reading two grades above grade placement level. He was well coordinated and enjoyed outdoor activities. During the first few months of his placement he had the opportunity to participate in a camping experience and came to the attention of the camp director.

Eugene reached pubescence between 12 and 13. He had been sexually active since age 10, having had sexual relations with a boy 3 years older. Their erotic activities included mutual masturbation, fellatio, and anal intercourse. During his first few months of placement he accompanied the camp director, a 34-year old physical educator, on an evening trip for supplies. On the return trip, in a sparsely populated area, Eugene requested that they stop so he could urinate. The physical education director joined him. It was a moonlit night, and both noticed erections and physical attraction. Mutual fellatio was engaged in and continued to occur between the two through the first 2 years of Eugene's marriage. However, during the last 4 or 5 years of the relationship, incidents were sporadic. 

Eugene is now 42 years of age with a master's degree in a substantive area. He was married at age 27 and is the father of one daughter. He and his wife had some marital problems which responded to counseling. He is a respected member of his community and reports no further homosexual behavior after about age 29. He admits that he occasionally sees an attractive young male and wonders what a sexual relationship would be like with that person. He declares that nothing but fantasy has occurred.


Referral was made because August's upper middle-class family was concerned about his below average school grades. He was 14 at the time of referral. He was very bright, scoring two standard deviations above the mean on an individually administered intelligence test. He was reading at the 11th-grade level, though his placement was 8th grade.

He had reached pubescence near the beginning of his 14th year and shortly thereafter became sexually involved with a university professor in his late 30s who lived in the neighborhood. The professor was married and had one small daughter. The original episode occurred when August and the professor were riding around in a new development where lots had been laid out but there was yet no building. After talking about sex, they parked and engaged in mutual 

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fellatio, which became a weekly occurrence for the next 4 years. Since August's parents were very involved socially and in the community, August spent much of his time at the professor's home. The professor's wife also became quite fond of August but knew nothing of the sexual relationship.

August is now 32 years or age. He is married and has one child of his own. He still maintains a close relationship with the professor and his family, though there have been no sexual episodes since August was 18 years of age. August continues to regard the professor and his wife as parent surrogates. Living in widely separated parts or the country there are still visits, phone calls, and correspondence. August dropped out of college to go into the family business, where he has been most successful. He is a leader in many community activities in a large incorporated suburban district. August reports no desires to engage in homosexual activity but sees no harm in such engagements between mutually consenting persons beyond the age or puberty.


James was referred because or temper tantrums and short periods of absence from home at age 13. He was of above average ability and was reading at a grade above placement. He was being raised by a divorced mother. His father had visiting privileges, but James was not close to his father. 

James was sexually precocious, having reached puberty at approximately age 11. By age 12 he was a compulsive masturbator. He had had experience with mutual masturbation with peers and heterosexual activity with a female cousin and her friends. He seldom had less than two sexual emissions per day. 

At age 14 he and a favorite uncle, who was then in his early 40s, were discussing sex organs' size in the uncle's office after hours. This discussion led to his uncle fellating and him and he masturbating the uncle. The uncle was married with three children (two girls and one boy). This relationship continued off and on for the next 7 years. James also had sexual experiences with other males and females. His sexual activity continued at a high level until he reached the mid 20s.

James is now 33 years of age. He was married at age 28. He has one daughter and claims no extramarital affairs. He is a college graduate and has been very successful in his own business. In fact, he seems well on his way to becoming a very wealthy man. He still has a friendly relationship with the uncle and often has called upon him for business advice. He claims marital fidelity at the present time. He admits that he is frequently stimulated by attractive young women or by attractive young men, but that sexual activity is confined to marriage.


Referral was the result or disruptive behavior in a very traditional classroom in the seventh grade. Carl was 13 at the time. Behavior was primarily mischievous annoying, and attention getting. He was the youngest in a very close-knit family with two older brothers and a sister. His father was quite authoritarian; he was also very proficient with all electrical, mechanical, and building problems. His mother was warm and loving. He was above average in ability, reading above grade level, and showed very high mechanical aptitude. The family was quite religious, and Carl was very conscientious in performing the religious duties required of a youth of his age.

Carl was relatively late reaching puberty since he was beyond the middle of his 14th year before this occurred. Around the beginning or his 15th year he went

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on a hunting trip with his father, his oldest brother, and a 32-year-old engineer who worked in his father's office. The engineer was married with two young children. While in a secluded duck blind the engineer and Carl began discussing sex, which led to mutual masturbation. From this time until Carl reached his 22nd birthday there were many sexual occurrences between the two, with mutual fellatio becoming preferred. When the engineer and his family were transferred to another city when Carl was 18, Carl made several visits to the engineer's family.

Carl is now 33 years of age with two sons of his own. He was married at age 27. Carl and his family still have contact with the engineer and his family and visit one another as often as possible. There have been no sexual relations with the engineer since Carl was 22. Carl claims no other homosexual relationships, nor does he have any desires. His sexual relations with the engineer were the only homosexual relations he claims to have experienced. He also claims no extramarital relationships. He is a graduate of a university, a young professional, and a staunch supporter of his church.


Original referral was made by his parents when Boyd was just past 13 years of age for assessment and guidance. He was of slightly above average ability and reading above his eighth-grade placement level. He was very courteous, polite, and well groomed. There was every indication of genuine parental concern and a high level of respect for his parents on his part.

At approximately the age of pubescence, which had occurred around the time he reached his 13th birthday, he had had his first sexual experience with a 28-year-old ministerial assistant. Boyd and his family were active in their church. Boyd was active in the youth groups. After one of these youth meetings Boyd had been given a ride home by the young ministerial assistant who was in charge of youth activities. They took a lengthy way home and engaged in sexual talk, resulting in obvious erections. They proceeded to mutually masturbate. Eventually this led to regular sexual encounters including mutual fellatio and inter-crural intercourse. Boyd was initially quite guilt-ridden in relating his sexual history, even indicating that he had originally fantasized relations with the young minister and had perhaps encouraged the subsequent events. Boyd stated that he had no other homosexual relationships nor heterosexual relationships until his marriage. His sexual relationship with the minister terminated when the minister was transferred after 4 years to a distant state.

Boyd is now 33 years of age, married since he was 26, and the father of three children. He is a professional man with a master's degree. He is highly respected in his community and very well adjusted. He no longer has any contact with the minister. He expresses complete satisfaction with his marital sexual relations and has experienced no further desires for homosexual relationships. His excellent relationships with his parents continue. His case does not fit the theorctical pattern for homosexual behavior.


Burt was originally referred as a 14-year-old who was already one grade behind in school. He was reported to be difficult to control when in school and to be frequently truant. Burt was of avergee ability as indicated on an individually administered intelligence test and reading above grade level though he was

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failing all subjects. He was breezy in manner but responded to to treatment as an equal. He was the youngest son in a military service family. He had two older brothers and an older sister. His father was a heavy weekend drinker, authoritarian, and demanding. His mother was passive, permissive, and somewhat withdrawn.

Burt reached pubescence al approximately age 13. He subsequently engaged in mutual masturbation with peers, some or whom were slightly older than he. During one or his truancy escapades he learned that he could hitch rides and meet men who would offer money for sexual favors.

During his 14th year he met an industrial representative who took him to a motel. He liked this adult who was approximately 40 years or age. The man took Burt to dinner, bought him clothing, and gave him pocket money. They continued to meet many times, even after Burt married at the age of 18. At age 20 Burt ceased to have contact with him, as the industrial representative was transferred to a distant territory. Burt knew little about the man except that he was married and had three children.

Burt is now 26 years of age, married, and the father of one child. He did not finish school, dropping out after the 10th grade, but he did take a high school equivalency examination successfully. He reports no further homosexual activity nor any desires in that direction but some extramarital activity. His marriage is still intact. He has held a salesman's position for a period of 5 years that seems to provide for his family. He has not seen the industrial representative since the relationship ended.


Jeff was a 14-year-old referred as a result or his participation in a serious case of school vandalism. He, with some peers, had broken into a junior high school, ransacked the principal's office, and used spray paint to spatter obscenities over walls throughout the school.

He was the youngest son of a career military serviceman. He had a sister and two older brothers. His father was retired from service and practicing a skilled trade. The mother worked in a clerical position and obviously made the family decisions. Jeff had lived in three foreign countries including the one in which he was born. He was or above average ability and reading at grade placement level. He was more interested in status within the peer group than in doing well in school.

Jeff reported that as early as age 10 he had been participating in sexual activities with older boys who were the sons of servicemen in the last country in which he had lived. He had returned to the United States at age 13 and had become involved with a group or boys in mutual masturbatory activities. He learned through one of these boys of a street where men would pick up boys and pay them for sexual activities. While frequenting this street he met a 50-year-old state legislator who was a lawyer in another town of the state. For the next 4 years he met this legislator in his hotel room on a weekly basis during sessions of the legislature and was compensated in money and clothing. Mutual fellatio was the preferred form of activity. Jeff was also meeting other men on this street and engaging in sex between meetings with the legislator.

Jeff is now 25 years of age. He is married and has a 2-year-old daughter. He no longer has conact with the legislator, who has retired to private law practice. Jeff holds a reasonably well paying white-collar position, having attended college for 2 years before dropping out to get married. Interestingly enough, he ran for a political position at age 24 and though defeated, has plans for a political future. He has no interest in homosexual activity at this time, but there is some question as to his  marital fidelity.

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In these nine cases none of the adolescents identified themselves as homosexuals. All the boys were Caucasian and, with one exception, of average to better than average intellectual ability. They all developed into adults with sexual patterns considered acceptable by the culture.

In three cases the expected norm of society as far as sexual behavior was concerned lasted into the 3rd decade and in another three cases lasted into the 4th decade.

No boy appeared lo become a homosexual as a result of his rather extensive experience with an adult male. It is important to note that none of these adolescents saw themselves as homosexuals. A personal interview in 1977 affirmed that none of them verbalized any homosexual desires.

In the pool there were 11 boys whose histories were fragmentary who saw themselves as homosexuals, and during the brief period they were followed they continued to engage in homosexual activity. It was impossible to keep track of these 11 men.

White and Speisman (1977) are supported in their claim that early adolescence is a period of practicing sex and that this practice period may take many forms. Our society has been rather quick to label adolescents who have engaged in sexual behavior as homosexuals. This labeling may be quite premature.

Mohr, Turner, and Jerry (1964), who summarized many studies dealing with pedophilia, concluded that in many instances there was a fatherly attitude on the part of the adult homosexuals who had been engaged.

The cases cited in this study certainly bear out this observation. In most instances in this study a very deep friendship appeared to develop to the extent that the adolescent sometimes selected the vocation or a closely related vocation of the adult male with whom he had sexual relations.

The adult apparently served as a model in areas other than sexual behavior. Why the selectivity of modeling behavior? None of the nine boys reported coercion to engage in homosexual behavior on the part of the adult. Rather, it appeared that with the right circumstances (privacy, degree of sexual arousal, etc.). the first sexual relationship occurred as a result of mutual desires.

In at least three of the cases the boy was searching for just such a relationship. The two boys, Burt and Jeff, who actually engaged in hustling did not appear to regard their relationships with the men involved differently than the other boys. On a socioeconomic scale their families would probably rate somewhat lower so that they did not have regular allowances such as Boyd, for example.

Lloyd (1976) reports cases quite similar. The adults involved were all Caucasians with skilled or professional occupations and better than average socioeconomic status in the community.

Many lay and professional persons have predicted dire consequences as a result of the type of relationships described in this account. Laws are based on protecting the adolescent from an even greater crime that

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might be committed to his person. Glueck's (19J55) final report of convicted sexual criminals in New York indicates that homicide is very rare in homosexual pedophilic cases. In fact, only one case of homicide and a case of brutality were found. The sensational cases that make the news are the rare ones; cases like those cited in this study are probably more common.

My observations support Rossman's (1976) statement that it is a mistake to assume that boys who had experience with an older homosexual will eventually become homosexual or psychoneurotic or have more problems than any other male adolescent.

In writing and revising existing laws governing sexual behavior between members of the same sex much research needs to be accomplished so that the legal structure is in line with what actually happens in human sexual behavior.

In the present study all of the men and boys would have been law violators in their respective states had they come to the attention of law enforcement agencies, in the cases in this study the intrusion of law enforcement agencies would certainly have changed the cases as presented, probably introducing trauma with effects on families and persons that would certainly not have enhanced the quality of the eventual adjustment of the individuals involved.

With the sparse data we have, we would have to conclude that in sexual relationships between males beyond puberty where force is not involved many have no deleterious effects.

Unfortunately, in this limited study there is very little information concerning the adult males involved. From the boys' reports these men apparently took a paternalistic or teacher-like interest in the boys to the extent that the boys modeled aspects of the adults' behavior other than the sexual.

Prescott (1975) makes the statement that cultures that permit sexual pleasures have far less violence than cultures that try to restrict sexual pressures, as our American culture with its Victorian heritage has done. It appears that it is time that we deal realistically with adolescent sexuality and recognize that experimentations and sexual play should be accepted to a greater degree.


The literature on what happens to the adolescent who was involved with a pederast when he (the adolescent) becomes an adult is almost nonexistent. What has been written on the subject is based upon opinion. Laws have been passed on the basis of what is thought rather than known to be good for the developing males.

Nine cases have been presented where reasonably accurate records have been kept over a period of 10 to 30 years on the same individuals. These individuals were involved as adolescents in lengthy sexual affairs

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with adult males. There is no evidence in these cases that such involvement on the part of adolescents had lasting effects such as developing homosexuality or that these individuals suffered deleterious effects from such relationships.

The sample was drawn from a pool of approximately 200 cases where boys had been involved with older males sexually, spanning a period of 30 years. Cases reported here were chosen because of more complete follow-up data which introduces unknown bias. Data on other cases, while less complete, point in the same general direction. There are adolescent males who are involved with older males in our society in sexual relationships that are mutually satisfactory. It further appears that such involvements may be a part of adolescent sex play and should be treated as such by our society. Much research needs to be done in this area so that laws governing sexual activity may be brought more in line with reality.

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Bernard, F.

Pedofilie. Bussum: Aquarius. 1974.

Gebhard. P., et al.

Sex offenders: An analysis of tyes. New York: Bantam Books, 1967.

Gerassi, J.

The boys of Boise. New York: Macmillan, 1966.

Glueck, B. B., Jr.

Final report: Research project for the study and treatment of persons convicted of crimes involving sexual aberrations. New York: Department of Mental Hygiene, 1955.

Lloyd, R.

For money or love. New York: Vanguard Press, 1976.

Mohr ,J. W ., Turner, T. E., & Jerry, M. B.

Pedophilia and exhibitionism. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1954.

Olson, J.

The Man with the candy. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1974.

Prescott. J. W.

Body pleasure and origins of violence. Futurist, April 1975.

Rossman, P.

Sexual experience between men and boys. New York: Association Press; 1976.

Sorenson, R.

Adolescent sexuality in contemporary America. New York: World, 1975.

White, K. M., & Speisman, J. C.

Adolescence. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth, 1977.

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