«Return to LEAR'S FEBRUARY 1992 By Heidi Vanderbilt A Chilling Report Do you want to know what incest is? What it really is? No ...»
The scenes acted out in one of Goodman's studies were based on actual child-abuse cases. Pairs of four- and seven-year-olds were taken into a dilapidated trailer where they encountered a man who talked to them while using hand puppets. Then he put on a mask. While one of the children observed, he played a game of Simon Says with the other child, during which he and the child touched knees. He photographed the children and played a game where one child tickled him while the other child watched. All of this was video-taped through a one-way mirror so that researchers could have a precise record.
Ten to 12 days later the children were asked the kinds of questions that might lead to a charge of sexual abuse: "He took your clothes off, right?" The seven-year-olds remembered more than the four-year-olds, but whatever both groups remembered they remembered accurately and could not be led into sexualized answers. They became embarrassed by the leading questions, looked surprised, covered their eyes, or— according to Goodman—"asked in disbelief if we would repeat the question."
Goodman and her colleagues used anatomically detailed dolls when questioning the children to see if the dolls would encourage false reports. The study's conclusion on this point: "Whether or not the children were interviewed with anatomically detailed dolls, regular dolls, dolls in view, or no dolls did not influence their responses to the specific or misleading abuse questions."
Because some people believe that a child under stress can't remember accurately and may escalate what really happened in order to match the stress felt, Goodman also studied children who had to go for shots at a medical clinic. "We know of no other scientific studies in which the stress levels were as high as they were for our most stressed children," she writes. The children had to sit in the clinic waiting room and listen to other children scream as they got a needle, knowing they would get one, too.
"These children's reports were completely accurate," Goodman writes. "Not a single error in free recall was made." The most stressed children remembered best and in the Page 16 of 56 greatest detail. One year later Goodman and her colleagues re-interviewed as many participants as they could find. Even after the children had listened repeatedly to leading questions, most persisted in reporting the incident exactly as it had taken place. "Child abuse involves actions directed against a child's body," Goodman writes. "The violation of trivial expectations would probably not be very memorable. The violation of one's body is.” The Offenders Bingo Jerry "Bingo" Stevens was born in 1910 in New Orleans. He was the third of five children and the first and only boy, hence his nickname. Bingo's father, Joe, was tall, handsome, redheaded, and smart. A supremely successful real estate developer, Joe believed that men should be strong and that women should smell good, keep the house clean, and serve dinner on time. He smoked a cigar and drank quietly and steadily from the moment he came home from the office until he went to bed.
Bingo's mother, Trudy, sometimes took the boy to bed with her to relieve her loneliness.
She snuggled him in the dark, trying to block the sounds Joe made on his way into the girls' rooms, and any sounds that came later.
Joe died of cirrhosis of the liver when Bingo was 13. "You're the man of the house now," his mother told him.
By the time Bingo was 30, he had molested not only his sisters but most of their children. Trained from infancy to keep sexual abuse a secret, they never talked about it, even among themselves.
Bingo fell in love and married. The marriage was, apparently, a happy one. He had three daughters of his own, a son, and, eventually, an infant granddaughter. When his wife died he mourned. Then, after an interval, he married again and had a happy second marriage. He owned and operated a successful real estate business. In addition, he was a champion polo player and a member of the Explorers Club.
Bingo died of a heart attack in 1988 while sailing on Lake Pontchartrain with the nineyear-old daughter of his best friend.
He was, as anyone who knew Bingo was quick to say, brilliant, funny, charming, gifted, and successful with women. There was nothing about him that would have identified him as an incestuous father, brother, uncle, cousin, and grandfather. I am one of the children he abused.
After Bingo's death I visited his psychiatrist. "Bingo was one of my favorite patients ever," he told me.
"He molested me," I said.
"He molested everyone," his psychiatrist said. "Why not you?" Page 17 of 56 Who commits incest?
Everyone reading this article probably knows—whether aware of it or not—more than one incestuous man or woman. "Offenders don't have horns and a tail," says incest survivor Kim Shaffir. "They look like nice guys. They are not strangers. Everyone tells you to say no to strangers. No one tells you to say no to your family."
In Broken Boys, Mending Men: Recovery from Childhood Sexual Abuse, incest survivor Stephen D. Grubman-Black points out that "perpetrators who commit sex crimes are rarely the wild-eyed deviants who stalk little boys. They are as familiar and close by as the same room in your home, or next door, or at a family gathering."
Offenders come from the ranks of doctors, construction workers, hairdressers, building contractors, teachers, landscapers, philosophers, nuclear physicists, and women and men in the armed forces. David Finkelhor, Ph.D., director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire, and his associate, Linda Meyer Williams, Ph.D., had just concluded Characteristics of Incest Offenders, their landmark study of incestuous fathers, when they saw nearly half of their subjects sail off to the Persian Gulf to serve their country.
Some offenders prefer girls, others boys. Some abuse both. Some are interested only in adolescents, or preteens, or toddlers, or new-borns. Some, though not most, molest only when they are drinking or depressed or sexually deprived. Some don't abuse until they are adults, but more than half start during their teens.
Abuse Cycle Like Bingo, some victims go on to become abusers. Seventy percent of the incestuous fathers in the Finkelhor study admitted that they were abused during their own childhood. Judith V. Becker, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine who has supervised or been involved in the assessment and/or treatment of more than 1,000 abusers, reports that some 40 percent said they had been sexually abused as children. Ruth Mathews, a psychologist who practices with Midway Family Services—a branch of Family Services of Greater St.
Paul—has seen a similar number of adolescent offenders, male and female, and has arrived at a similar conclusion.
Mathews went on to tell me about a girl whose father abused her with vibrators after her mother's death. He also brought in other men to abuse her and, with his new wife, had sex in front of her. When she was 12, a city agency, acting on a neighbor's complaint, removed her from her father's house and placed her in a foster home. There she inserted knitting needles into her foster sister's vagina. Asked why, she replied, "For fun." In therapy, asked to draw a picture of herself, she chose a black magic marker and wrote, over and over again, the words hate, disgust, and hell.
In another instance of children acting out their own abuse on other children (animals are also frequent targets), one little boy was referred for therapy because he tried to mount most of the children in his kindergarten. His parents told the therapist that they made him ride on his father's back while they had intercourse. They said that this excited them.
Page 18 of 56 Although we want to believe that we can spot evil when we confront it, the truth is that nothing about a perpetrator would alert us. Offenders are good at hiding what they do.
They are master manipulators, accomplished liars. Those few who aren't caught; the others molest dozens or even hundreds of children over many decades.
Raymond On January 15, 1991, 67-year-old Raymond Lewis, Jr., a retired aerospace designer, son of the founder of the Lewis Pharmacies in Los Angeles, wrote to his middle-aged daughter Donna that he "was the father who begat you; the knight on a white horse who protected you. The guy who had no lover other than your mom till well past his teens. A no smoking, no drinking, no drugs man of restraint."
This man of restraint had raped his five daughters (Donna's first memory of abuse is of her father molesting her while he was taking her to her first day of school in the first grade) and each of the female granddaughters he had access to—five out of seven. In the letter, Lewis wrote: "What is going on in Marlon's twisted mind when he tells of me, deathly ill and post-operative from my prostectomy, licking Nicole's vagina making slurping noises?... Why would I lick a female? Wrong modus operandi. Wrong age.
And a relative! A grandchild! Totally insane! Granddaughters have fathers and no father would permit such a thing to happen. Nor would any mother. Had it happened, hell would have been raised."
But for more than 40 years, hell had not been raised. When Lewis's daughters tried to avoid him, when they cried and told him it hurt, when they threatened to tell on him, he showed them photographs of decapitated murder victims. They endured his rapes in silence, convinced from earliest childhood that they were protecting one another and themselves.
Says DeeDee, now 38: "My father said, `People who betray their father are like people who betray their country. They should be executed.' He carried a gun in his car, in some black socks. He also kept a gun between the mattress and box spring.
"At first he'd molest me in the bathtub. He'd say, `I'm the baby. Clean me up. Here's the soap.' Every time before he molested me and my sisters, he'd put his foot on the bed and beat on his chest like King Kong. He penetrated me when I was eight. When I was thirteen he bought me a ring. He told me we could cross out of California and get married, because I was illegitimate. He said exactly the same thing to my daughter when she was thirteen. I fooled around with the first boy I could. I got pregnant. I thought, Thank goodness, Dad won't touch me now. For a while, he didn't.
"When my little sister was fifteen she was living alone with Dad. I waited one day until he'd gone out, and went in the house. I found her in a corner, naked, crying. She said, `I'll be okay. Don't tell. Don't tell.' I thought that if I told, Dad would find out and kill me."
One daughter broke away from Lewis when she was in her 30s and went into therapy.
Then, recognizing signs of sexual abuse in her five-year-old niece, Nicole, DeeDee's youngest child, she reported her father to the authorities. In his letter to Donna, Lewis wrote about Nicole: "I fooled with the petite perjurer's pudendum! She said it! Crazy story! Totally insane!" He denied that he had done anything. At first his other daughters Page 19 of 56 defended him. Then they began to talk—16 relatives, including his daughters, told the same story.
Most of his crimes were wiped out by the statute of limitations. He was charged with only four counts of child sexual abuse against his five-year-old granddaughter, and one count of incest—a lesser charge in California, as in most states—against her mother, DeeDee, whom he had coerced into sex when she was a grown woman by promising to leave her daughter alone.
During the trial Lewis's daughters—all professional women, one a college professor— were unable to meet his gaze in the courtroom. It fell to his five-year-old granddaughter to face him. Although Lewis had threatened that he would kill her if she ever talked about what he had done, the judge ordered her to tell the truth. Seated on the witness stand, shaking and crying, she testified for two days. Lewis denied everything.
Three times the judge asked him if there wasn't anything he was sorry for. "How could they say such terrible things about me?" Lewis asked by way of an answer. "I drove a rusted wreck of a car so that I could give them good cars."
"Isn't there something you think you did to make your family say these things about you?" the judge asked.
"Well, maybe," Lewis replied. "A long time ago."
The five-year-old handed the judge a note she had written. "My granddaddy is a bad man," it read. "I want him to go to jail for two hundred years."
Lewis was convicted of one count of incest against his daughter and three counts of lewd acts, including oral copulation, involving his granddaughter. Expressing the opinion that Raymond Lewis, Jr., represented a threat to all females and that the only place where he would have no access to them was in prison, Superior Court Judge Leslie W Light sentenced him to the maximum: 12 years and 8 months. But with time off for good behavior, he will probably serve only half his sentence, which means that he will be released from Mule Creek Prison in 6 years.
Says DeeDee: "Until I was twenty-three, I thought I was retarded. He told me I was brain damaged. He told me I was neurotic, manic-depressive, a damaged genius. He thought he was a genius. He said we could have a child together and it would be a genius. Six months before going to jail, he offered me one hundred thousand dollars to bear his child.
"I always hoped he would love me. I just wanted to be his daughter. But now I have my own home, my own checking account. I give sit-down dinners. I feel special. I have knowledge. I am a great mom and I'll be a great grandmom. I love myself, finally. And now I can die without that secret."
Lewis never said he was sorry. In the letter to Donna—one of a stream that he continues to send to his daughters—he wrote: "Loneliness was the reason that I had enslaved myself in my youth to raise kids, and now in the illnesses of old age 14 of my Page 20 of 56 loved ones had abruptly dumped me! Licked! How bizarre! A puzzle.” Lack of empathy Lack of empathy for the victim is typical of offenders. Every therapist I spoke to commented on this characteristic. All said that for offenders to be rehabilitated they must take responsibility for what they did and develop empathy for their victims. With one possible exception, not one of the offenders I interviewed had done this.