I can’t remember when I became aware of the reality that there are adults who prey on children sexually. I think the first glimmer I got was one summer at camp, when an adult staff member was “asked to leave” after complaints of “inappropriate touching.” I don’t remember if anything happened to him, but I do recall no one ever speaking of it again. And, given the amount of space available in my burgeoning adolescent gay brain to process the whole thing, I’m sure I filed it away and forgot about it since I needed those brain cells for lusting after and daydreaming about my favorite camp counselor.
Later, as an adult gay man, I was aware that in some people’s minds being a gay man made me a suspect, but since I wasn’t a child predator, I didn’t give the subject much thought. Until I became a parent. Actually, from the moment I starting thinking about parenthood. Then, subject seemed to be everywhere. Now I find myself pausing to read every local news article about pedophiles and child predators, even the ones that weren’t exactly in my back yard, like the series of indecent exposures at a park in Virginia.
The culprit is described as a white man in his 30s standing about 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing 200 to 220 pounds. Authorities said that in one incident, the man’s shirt fell from his face and the victim was able to see him. Police have created a composite sketch based on that incident.
I filed it away with the other articles until I came across a follow up report. If you’ve watched Dateline’s “To Catch a Predator” series, you might remember this guy.
Yup, the “Naked Guy” (or one of them, at least) from the “To Catch a Predator” series; the one who was busted twice in two days.
When a guy walks into this house naked, I mean, nobody ever taught me in journalism school that you had to put a towel or a blanket nearby to hand to a naked man so he could cover up, so you could interview him.
But when that same guy, John Kennelly, surfaces in a chat room the very next day, and agrees to meet another young boy at a fast food restaurant, and we confront him again, it was hard for me to assemble to words to approach him.
And, it turns out, you can read about his latest run-in with the law right here.
Police said a man exposed himself to two 15-year-old girls on a path in Cub Run Park in the Chantilly area. A man standing in front of them yelled to get their attention. One of the girls told police she saw he had pulled his shirt over his head and had his pants down.
The girls ran away, but when they looked back, they saw him running toward them, police said. He then ran into the woods and out of sight.
…The suspect, 45-year-old John Kennelly, previously was arrested after being featured on Dateline NBC’s “To Catch a Predator” series, News4’s Darcy Spencer reported. Kennelly showed up naked at a Herndon house after arranging online to have sex with a 14-year-old boy on reporter Chris Hansen’s series.
And there there was the rabbi from Silver Spring, who got caught in the same episode.
David A. Kaye, 56, told the judge that he traveled to Herndon for what he thought would be sex with a boy “as a cry out for help to fight my personal demons.” Sobbing as he acknowledged his father, who sat in the courtroom in a wheelchair, Kaye said his conviction had made him face “the reality of who I am. . . . I know I need help. I pray that God allows me to get that help.”
Kaye’s attorney, Peter D. Greenspun, said the rabbi, who was featured last year on the “To Catch a Predator” series on “Dateline NBC,” kept his sexuality secret and spent thousands of hours chatting online in search of liaisons.
Kaye thought that he was chatting online with a young adult, Greenspun said. He said Kaye, who is divorced, is in therapy, and he urged a sentence on the low end of federal guidelines, which recommended a term of 63 to 78 months in prison.
“There is a very decent core to this man,” Greenspun said.
But U.S. District Judge James C. Cacheris in Alexandria settled on 78 months and said Kaye would then face 10 years of supervised release. The judge said that during that time, Kaye will be forbidden to accept any job involving children, and he ordered him to never be around children younger than 18 without an adult present.
But it’s not just these guys. I remember hearing in January of 2002 — Parker was born in November of that year — about a teenage girl who’s internet encounter led to an abduction.
FBI agents Friday afternoon freed a 13-year-old Crafton Heights girl who was bound to a bed in a suburban Washington, D.C., duplex after vanishing from her home on New Year’s Day in what investigators suspect was a cyber-spawned abduction.
Capping an investigation that depended on high-tech, online sleuthing skills, agents found Alicia Kozakiewicz at the home of Scott Tyree, 38, of Herndon, Va., around 3:30 p.m. and arrested him shortly afterward at or near his office at Computer Associates, where he is a systems program analyst, authorities said.
… FBI agents in Washington, D.C., “found Alicia alive and restrained within the residence,” said Jack Shea, special agent in charge of the FBI office in Pittsburgh. “The fact that she was being restrained indicates she was being held against her will.”
Herndon police Sgt. Don Amos said Alicia had been bound to the bed.
“My understanding is that it was an upstairs bedroom. She was somehow secured to the bed,” said Amos, who was with the FBI at the scene last night as investigators processed the evidence.
… The big break in the case came at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, when an Internet acquaintance of Tyree’s contacted FBI agents in Tampa, Fla.
“Scott related to him he had gone to Pittsburgh and had brought a girl back to Virginia,” Shea said. “Scott showed him pictures by means of a Web cam of the young girl.”
Schiffer, 34, worked as a waiter at a popular Northwest restaurant. But at his home, he used a computer to traffic in child pornography, authorities said. According to court documents, Schiffer spread the vilest sort of child pornography on the Internet. Police found 11,000 images of child pornography, including pornographic pictures of young boys, toddlers and even infants.
According to the papers filed in court, Schiffer corresponded with sex offenders in prison and expressed his desire to rape children.
And there are other local cases, like the guy who raped a 7-year-old girl or another who repeatedly abused a teenage girl, and the (female) teacher charged with having sex with a teenage boy.
Now, I’m not in favor of the death penalty for pedophiles (or anyone else for that matter) but there’s also the reality that they don’t benefit from therapy, for the most part; which means many of them are likely to re-offend
Like Kennelly did. And this time he ran toward the girls before veering off into the woods. Initially I read that as “ran after” rather than “ran toward.” In truth he may have been running in their general direction, but putting myself in the victim’s shoes for a second, I can see where I might be inclined to think he was running after me. And, given that this guy’s been busted twice and has now apparently graduated from exposing himself online to exposing himself in a park. Is it beyond imagining that he might graduate to actually attacking someone?
Of course, Dateline has faced criticism regarding its adherence to ethical standards of journalism, or lack thereof. Some of it from a former producer who was canned when she complained.
In a scathing broadside at NBC’s popular “To Catch a Predator” series, a former producer charges that she was canned last year after complaining that the show violated “numerous journalistic ethical standards” and many of the network’s own “policies and guidelines.” In a breach of contract lawsuit, Marsha Bartel, 49, alleges that her 21-year career at NBC ended months after her August 2006 appointment as “sole producer” of “To Catch a Predator,” which conducts sting operations targeting men seeking illicit liaisons with children they’ve met online. According to her complaint, which was filed last week in U.S. District Court in Chicago, Bartel charges that many of the program’s ethical lapses stem from its relationship with Perverted Justice, a shadowy vigilante group that the show uses to “troll for and lure targets into its sting.”
… The identities of the group’s 50-plus volunteers were kept secret from her, Bartel says, adding that Perverted Justice does not provide “complete transcripts from its trolling operations,” so network officials “cannot independently verify the accuracy” of the group’s transcripts. In some instances, Bartel claims, sting targets are “led into additional acts of humiliation (such as being encouraged to remove their clothes) in order to enhance the comedic effect of the public exposure of these persons.” She also charges that NBC has unethically covered up the fact that law enforcement officials have acted improperly while working in conjunction with the “To Catch a Predator” crew, such as “goofing off by waving rubber chickens in the faces of sting targets while forcing them to the ground and handcuffing them.” Bartel says that when she “raised concerns” about controversial comments made by Perverted Justice’s founder, David Corvo, executive producer of the newsmagazine “Dateline,” responded, “We all know they’re nuts.” Bartel, who signed a four-year contract in March 2006, contends that soon after reporting her concerns about “To Catch a Predator” to NBC management, she was terminated effective December 24, 2006.
To tell the truth, I’m as uncomfortable with Dateline’s alleged tactics as I am with the idea of people like Kennelly lurking online, in public parks, etc. I’ve had friends who were sexually abused as children, and I’ve seen the problems — some lifelong — that are the result of that abuse. I don’t want anyone to have to experience that. Certainly not my own child, as I’m increasingly aware that I can’t protect him at all times.
So, since people like Kennelly aren’t likely to be helped or respond to therapy, and if the tactics of Perverted Justice and Dateline are unacceptable, how do we prevent the harm that these people almost invariably cause, so that no one has to live with the inevitable damage?