POV from the pedophile's love-interest, not the reporter
The story of a NJ foster-father, (now deceased), is making headlines in the US this weekend as memoirs of Margaux Fragaso ("Tiger,Tiger") are making the news this weekend. [After receiving her Ph.D. in 2009, Fragaso was able to sell the piece that became her dissertation, and already translation rights have been sold to publishers in Italy, France, The Netherlands, and China. ]
Perhaps one of the best written reviews and descriptions of an incestuous relationship and future love-life, from the female perspective, comes from incest-survivor/writer, Kathryn Harrison. [I must confess, I'm partial to certain types of writers, and I'm a huge fan of the husband-wife writing team that has published under the Harrison-name. Both writers have a very disturbing shocking style that beckons and feeds the mind and soul... and both authors draw dark, demanding images that lighter more jocular writers like Augusten Burroughs, ("Running with Scissors") or more regular-Joe survivors like Dave Pelzer , ("A Child Called It"), just can't create for the reader looking for more depth, depravity, and of course, a less demented understanding of 'self' and 'others'.]
I'd like to share Kathryn's review of Fragaso's first publication, because I believe Harrison's perspective shows and explains how certain trends and typical behaviors develop when the dysfunctional mother does nothing to protect her daughter from sexually abusive men. [And she does it in a way no average journalist reporting the latest news ever could...]
Who might know a pedophile better than the child on whom he (it’s usually a he) has lavished his attention, sometimes for years? Who has studied him as intimately, allowing him his humanity as most of us refuse to do?
Child molesters, reviled even within prison caste systems, receive little sympathy from the adult world — so little it’s hard for most of us to imagine how long-term sexual abuse can be not only facilitated but perpetuated by a victim’s loyalty to his or her abuser. Children on whom pedophiles prey, often neglected and needy, advertise hearts as well as bodies to be plundered; for the child who loves his or her abuser the sexual price exacted for what is offered as affection represents a betrayal from which not every child recovers. The lesson learned — that to be loved one must endure violation — sows a lasting tolerance, even desire, for injury and subjugation.
“Spending time with a pedophile can be like a drug high,” Margaux Fragoso observes in her first book, “Tiger, Tiger,” a memoir of her 15-year relationship with Peter Curran, whom she met at a public pool in Union City, N.J., when she was 7 and he was 51. He “can make the child’s world . . . ecstatic somehow.” Fragoso’s response to Curran, whose genuinely inventive distractions lure her away from the protection of other adults, will continue to mimic the course of addiction, inevitably delivering her to a desperate, entrenched craving for what threatens to destroy her life.
It begins innocently, almost. Under-supervised by her guileless, mentally ill mother and lacking the well-loved child’s reflexive suspicion of strangers, Fragoso finds a playmate with “bowl-cut, sandy-silver hair,” who “didn’t even seem adult in the sense of that natural separateness adults have from children.” Once she’s “crossed the length of the pool” to approach him, she asks if she can join him in splashing with his two stepsons. Seven, eight (“the most beautiful age” in Curran’s estimation), twelve, fifteen — as a girl, Fragoso never perceives Curran as he appears to those outside the magic circle he draws around the two of them, can’t see the man her adult self exposes to her readers: by turns pathetic and repellent.
Like the sinister Child Catcher in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” whose trap is disguised by ribbons, flowers and pinwheels, Curran has outfitted his home with purple-painted shingles; year-round Christmas decorations; an indoor swing; and a menagerie of reptiles, rodents and birds flying (and excreting) freely inside to demonstrate that in his private Neverland the usual rules don’t apply. Invited to his home with her mother — who, having been sexually abused herself, cannot even in her lucid moments recognize the danger her daughter is in — Fragoso is instantly smitten by the endlessly indulgent Curran. “I want you,” she tells him at the end of their first visit, “to make a schedule of days when we can visit your house.”
It’s testimony to Fragoso’s narrative abilities that she can render both her own and Curran’s points of view convincingly, as different — opposed — as they are. Written without self-pity, rancor or even judgment, “Tiger, Tiger” forces readers to experience Curran simultaneously as the object of a little girl’s love and fascination and as a calculating sex offender who cultivates her dependence on him while contriving to separate her from anyone who might prevent his molesting her. Balanced uncomfortably between these antipodes, “Tiger, Tiger” is the portrait of a man who will disgust and alienate readers by a writer too honest to repudiate her love for him. There’s little suspense, as we know from the first sentence that Curran has committed suicide and that Fragoso remains sufficiently intact to explain what — who — destroyed her childhood. And while some readers whose appetite for memoir may excuse the inaccuracies inherent to so subjective a genre, others may require a leap of faith to accept that a detailed account of early youth, including lengthy adult dialogue, could be reconstructed accurately.
So who — other than voyeurs looking for a sustained close-up of a pedophile in action — will want to read this book? To bear witness to a numbingly long series of violations of a child by a man who has honed his wickedness for decades is not more pleasant than it sounds. As a society we energetically oppose sexual abuse; as individuals most of us shy away from investigating a relationship characterized by creepy kisses and inappropriate fondling. Worse, we defend cowardice by calling it discretion — minding our own business. Maybe a book like “Tiger, Tiger” can help us be a little braver. Certainly, it took courage to write.
What begins with mutual intoxication follows a slippery trajectory familiar to victims of long-term abuse: orgies of tickling, hide-and-seek played in underpants, pretending to be “real” and therefore necessarily naked “animals in the jungle,” “Bazooka Joe” kisses requiring two tongues to pass a chewed wad of gum back and forth. An experienced hunter, Curran knows when to watch, when to make a move and what to say. “Only if you want to, sweetheart. No pressure.”
There’s no need to apply any. As Curran well knows, Fragoso’s home life is so punishing she’ll do anything to secure the love and protection of the man her mother has decided “was Jesus in another life.” Once he’s lured Fragoso into his basement lair, Curran explains it is her “great power” that summons the erection of his “magic wand.” Is it instinct or practice that suggests the perfect words to seduce a child whose father’s alcoholic rages and mother’s frequent institutionalizations have made her feel helpless, without any agency to alter her circumstances? As it happens, the act of fellatio Fragoso offers Curran as a birthday present inspires her with dissociation rather than any sense of potency.
Soon, what appeared a child’s paradise becomes claustrophobic. He can’t live without her, Curran tells Fragoso; if separation didn’t kill him outright, he’d take his own life. When she resists his tightening embrace, he cries. Tears are his currency, as well as praise, gifts and adventures: Curran tries to give Fragoso whatever she demands, telling her nothing can adequately demonstrate a love so absolute it makes its own laws. How can he help doing what love drives him to do? Fragoso, already the victim of her parents’ instability, doesn’t understand that love doesn’t excuse Curran’s molesting her because love would never permit, let alone inspire, such an act.
Nor would love insist she use a razor to remove her pubic hair, or say her vagina began to smell when she started to menstruate. Love wouldn’t work to undermine Fragoso’s connection to family and friends, cultivating the conceit of an us-against-the-world romance to escape culpability for violating her.
The real cost of a broken taboo is that the revulsion it awakens allows predators freedom to claim one victim after another: because we glance away from crimes — abominations — prevented only by vigilance, the most disheartening aspect of this story is sickeningly familiar. Years before meeting Fragoso, Curran forged papers to marry a 15-year-old; he “hurt” his daughters from a second marriage by “being sexual with” them; during the two years Fragoso’s parents were sufficiently responsible to keep their daughter separated from him, Curran was accused of molesting one of the children he fostered for the state of New Jersey. “Tiger, Tiger” offers us yet another opportunity to open our eyes and redeem ourselves.
[From: The Man Who Molested Me, March 4, 2011 ]
Compare that review, to a relatively recent report about a foster/adoptive dad, his sexual preference, and all that goes with the legal system that will help protect children.
A former school teacher and foster care provider was sentenced Tuesday to 25 years in prison for producing and possessing child pornography.
Gregg Alan Larsen, 49, of Minneapolis, admitting to creating child pornography using children in his care. He admitted to two incidents, in April and July 2006, in which he took digital photographs of a child younger than 12 engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Larsen said he intended to distribute those images over the Internet.
In addition, Larsen acknowledged that on July 1, 2009, he possessed eight video files containing child pornography as well as more than 600 images of child pornography. Those items were kept on Larsen's home computer.
"A legal system that would not send you to prison for a long time is a legal system that society could not respect," U.S. District Judge Joan N. Ericksen told Larsen during sentencing.
Larsen was licensed as a Hennepin County foster parent in 2000 and remained in the program until the county moved to revoke his license this summer. Six children had been placed with him. Larsen admitted he created child porn using children he was supposed to protect and care for.
He began working for the St. Paul school district in 2003 and had been a special education teacher at Central High School.
Larsen was sentenced following remarks by one of his adopted sons and by the father of one of his victims, who spoke of how he abused their trust.
It was a point that U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones reiterated after the sentencing.
"As a teacher and foster parent, the defendant was a trusted member of the school district and the community. As stated in court, he violated that trust by preying on innocent children," Jones said. "Such behavior will not be tolerated, as evidenced by the sentence imposed this morning."
As always, I urge readers to view and revisit the highlights of the many sexually abused and sexually exploited fostered/adopted children chosen to live with agency-approved pedophiles acting as pre-screened selected Forever Parents.