Is it possible that a child molester is NOT a pedophile?

by sir82 57 Replies latest watchtower child-abuse

  • sir82

    I realize many here have (unfortunately) much more experience with this sort of thing than I do. Any personal insight, or direction to research material, would be appreciated.

    There was a letter to all BOEs about 8-10 years ago, saying that if an appointed elder had any incidents of child abuse in his history, he had to step forward & admit such, so that his status as an elder could be reviewed. None of the elders in this congregation said anything.

    It was later (maybe 5 years ago) discovered that one of the elders had sexually abused his daughters some time in the 80's, before his appointment. Since he did not volunteer this information when the Society had directed all elders to in that letter, he was removed as an elder (he had been d-f'ed and re-instated back in the 80's when the incidents took place).

    The (now) ex-elder said he did not step forward out of shame for his previous course, and did not realize his actions would come to light. He claimed that the abuse of his daughters stemmed from an enormous amount of pressure he was going through. His wife was extremely emotionally abusive, and was in the process of filing for divorce. Of course, the brother had no outlet for his sexual impulses, was feeling pressure, and so got gratification from touching his daughters. He claimed that once the divorce was done, the pressure was gone and he never again did anything like that.

    He has since re-married, but had no further children. He is a very emotional person, and has a strong attachment to his current wife. In my limited experience, he had no overt signs of being attracted to children.

    My question is, is that possible? Is it possible that someone turns to a child for sexual gratification in a situation of extreme pressure, even though is not naturally a pedophile (i.e., normally has no sexual attraction for children)? If possible, is it also possible that once the source of pressure is removed, the child abuser would never again repeat his vile acts?

    Any insight is appreciated, as there may be a similar situation (abuse of a child many years ago) near where I am currently.

  • Scully

    If I'm not mistaken the two terms are not always interchangeable.

    A person can be sexually aroused by and attracted to children (pedophilia) and not act on their impulses. Very rare, but they can be a pedophile and not be a child molester.

    A child molester may not be attracted to children in a sexual manner, but engages/engaged in sexual activity with a child because the child was available.

    Sometimes child molestation isn't about sex at all. It's about seduction and power. It's a form of entertainment to them, the way fishing or hunting is to some other people.

    the brother had no outlet for his sexual impulses
    Cry me a river. Just my opinion, but he'd have been better off going to a prostitute than inflicting that damage on his own child. Lots of people have "no outlet for their sexual impulses" but they don't go around sexually abusing an available child.
  • Gretchen956

    I don't know, it all sounds like an excuse to me. Just because someone doesn't "act" like a pedophile is not surprising. Most of them don't act like it, how do you think they are so successful in accessing other people's children? This person would not be believed by me.


  • oldflame

    I always thought that pedophile was a label given to child molesters, in other words all the same.....

  • funkyderek

    The act is wrong and inexcusable regardless of his sexual preference and I would not leave him alone with my children. However, I have no difficulty believing that it could have been mere opportunism, rather than a primary sexual attraction. Men in prisons and submarines often have homosexual encounters, which they would not even consider if women were available.

  • oldflame

    Right on scully

  • sir82
    I always thought that pedophile was a label given to child molesters, in other words all the same.....

    Someone correct me if I'm wrong...

    "Pedophile" - someone with a sexual attraction to children. He may or may not act on that attraction

    "Child abuser" - Someone who perfroms a sexual act with a child. His predominent sexual attraction may be toward adults

    I can understand a pedophile struggling to control his impulses and not abusing children--but is it possible that someone abuses children even though their primary sexual attraction is toward adults?

  • Scully

    One entry found for pedophilia. Main Entry: pe·do·phil·ia
    Pronunciation: "pE-d&-'fi-lE-&
    Function: noun
    Etymology: New Latin
    : sexual perversion in which children are the preferred sexual object- pe·do·phil·i·ac / -'fi-lE-"ak / or pe·do·phil·ic / -'fi-lik / adjective

    One entry found for molest. Main Entry: mo·lest
    Pronunciation: m&-'lest
    Function: transitive verb
    Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French molester, from Latin molestare, from molestus burdensome, annoying; akin to Latin moles mass
    1 : to annoy, disturb, or persecute especially with hostile intent or injurious effect
    2 : to make annoying sexual advances to; especially : to force physical and usually sexual contact on
    - mo·les·ta·tion / "mO-"les-'tA-sh&n, "mä-, -l&s- / noun
    - mo·lest·er / m&-'les-t&r / noun

  • Scully
    is it possible that someone abuses children even though their primary sexual attraction is toward adults

    Sure, it's possible. But that doesn't mean I'd trust him around my children. I'm afraid that's a bell that he can't un-ring. Tell me, if you know... or ask him if you don't: One offense requires that he add his name to a local sex offender registry. Has he done this? Has he confessed to the authorities? Has he apologized to his daughter? Unless he's done these things, he wouldn't get the time of day from me.

  • Lady Lee
    Lady Lee

    Scully gave a wonderful answer.

    The two terms are not interchangable.

    I would add however that the oportuntistic sexual abuser is no less a danger to children. If the stresses in his life become too great there is no reason to assume he won't take up his old behaviors.

    Sexual abusers are very deliberate in their actions. They would seek out a child who is vulnerable, as his daughters were. They choose their victims carefullly and slowly introduce the child into sexual acts. They choose how to nurture the child into activity that allows them to to believe the child won't tell. They choose times and situations where they have access to the child without the fear of getting caught..

    Child sexual abuse is a well thought out and well planned act.

    If the man you describe was someone I knew there is no way on earth I would leave a child alone with him

  • Mulan

    I know a 38 year old man who when he was a 16 year old teenager, tried to get a little girl to do oral sex on him. He was babysitting her and she was 4 years old. How dumb was he??? She told her mother, a couple of years later, and he was arrested. (the child and her mother were not JW's)

    It was a one time thing, and it came out that he had been molested as a young boy, by a teenager in our congregation. He served a little time, spent nights in jail and worked during the day, and is now classified as a registered sex offender. It was absolutely a one time situation, but it has ruined his life. His wife learned of it (yes he should have told her) after they had a was a bad marriage so she used it as an excuse to divorce him. It made the custody case a nightmare, and for years, he had to have supervised visitation with his daughter, who is now 9.

    He is a lifelong friend of one of my sons, and is an ex JW too. His mother is one of my friends, so I know most of the details and have read all the court documents.

    I don't believe he is a pedophile, but yes, he was a child molester.

  • Scully

    Child Molestation

    A child molester is described as an older person, male or female, which experiences any type of sexual act with another person who is a child. The majority of child molesters, more than 95 percent, are male.

    America’s most famous female child molester, Mary Kay Letourneau, is currently serving a seven-and-a-half year sentence in a Washington state prison for her sexual involvement with a 13-year-old boy(3). The relationship began when the victim was a student in her sixth-grade class. Letourneau has given birth to two daughters fathered by the youth. One was born in prison. But Letourneau’s case is rare. It does not seem to be part of the psychological composite of females to sexually molest a child. That compulsion, whatever its origin, seems to lie deep within the male psyche.

    Molesters engage in sex with children for a variety of reasons and sometimes these reasons have little to do with sexual desires. This type of offender, called a situational child molester, does not possess a genuine sexual preference for children. Rather, the motivational factors are criminal in nature. In some cases, the offender’s sexual abuse of young people is a natural outgrowth of other forms of abuse in his life. That abuse is a continuation of a process by which he has mistreated his friends, colleagues, spouse and family members. He will have low self-esteem, maintain poor moral standards and view sex with children as an opportunity to prolong the violence that is already an active component of his existence. Other situational offenders see children as a substitute for an adult partner. Although these types of offenders do not harbor a singular sexual desire for children, they may react to a built up sexual impulse or anger, that to them, is irresistible. However, the victim is incidental. It could have been a store clerk, an elderly person or simply a woman walking down a lonely street. Because of the circumstances at hand, such as the Polly Klass incident, the victim happened to be a child. His main criteria for a victim is availability. The situational child molester will usually have few victims, sometimes only one, and never repeat the event again. He could be a social misfit or a psychopathic personality who harbors a seething resentment and hostility toward society in general.

    The second classification of sexual offender is defined as a preferential child molester. These offenders have a sexual preference for children and usually maintain these desires throughout their lives.

    Preferential child molesters can have an astounding number of victims and these crimes can remain undiscovered for many years. In 1995, a child molestation case in Texas caused a national uproar when the suspect was due to be released from prison after serving a six-year sentence for the rape of a 6 year-old boy. He told the police that he got away with abusing over 240 children before getting caught for molesting a single child and if released, would do it again(4). One long-term study of hundreds of sex offenders found that the pedophile child molester committed an average of 281 acts with 150 partners. These types of offenders wreak havoc upon society far out of proportion to their numbers.

    The preferential child molester exhibits distinct patterns of behavior that are common among his kind. They will seduce children by buying gifts and appealing to their emotional weakness. This requires the offender to develop a friendship with the child or utilize an existing relationship with the victim. In more than 90 percent of the rapes of children less than 12 years old, the offender knew the victim (U.S. Department of Justice). Other offenders will engage in self-exposure or personally harass children. Simply stated, the preferential child molester is a pedophile who has carried his fantasies and desires into reality. A small minority of these types of offenders may be sadistic in nature and inflict pain or torture upon their victims. These individuals, like any other criminal, can be brutal and sadistic. Such an individual was Britain’s most famous and despised child molester, Bill Malcolm.

    In 1981, Malcolm was convicted of raping a 3-year-old girl and sent to prison. When he was released in 1984, he returned to rape the same terrified girl who was then 6 years old. Malcolm was angry that she had identified him as the rapist. He later told cops he wanted revenge. He was charged again in 1994 with rape and assault on four children who he allegedly tied to a bed and forced to perform sex acts. A judge later made a favorable ruling in Malcolm’s case and he walked out of the courtroom a free man. But child molesters evoke little sympathy from the general public. On February 18 2000, two men showed up at Malcolm’s doorstep and promptly put a bullet in his head. One person said what a lot of Londoners were feeling: “Whoever did this deserves a medal!” N.Y. Post, February 20, 2000).


    It should be said from the very beginning that no one knows how many pedophiles exist in America since the overwhelming majority never fulfill their fantasies, nor do they come to the attention of law enforcement agents. They seem content to fantasize in the safety and comfort of their own homes. The most common type of pedophile personality is the immature model. These people have never been able to maintain a successful interpersonal relationship with others. At some point in their lives, they discover that sexual activities with pre-pubescent children can be achieved and they feel a sense of fulfillment they cannot obtain anywhere else. They are classified as loner deviants and usually will not associate with other deviants. Since they lack social contact with others, they spiral downward into deeper recesses of pedophilia and fantasies(5).

    Pedophiles can be found at every social and economic level and can be established members of the community. Sadly, we have all read stories in local newspapers concerning members of clergy, respected businessmen and schoolteachers who were exposed as pedophiles or child molesters. In 1985, a Roman Catholic priest in Louisiana pleaded guilty to 33 charges of sexual abuse against 33 boys. He later admitted that he molested several dozen others. He was released in 1995 and later arrested again for the rape of a 12-year-old -girl. In one of America’s worst cases of clergy who molest parishioners, the Sante Fe diocese in New Mexico settled 165 sexual abuse cases in 1997. More than 20 priests were removed from their positions and civil settlements may exceed $50 million dollars. Incredibly, an archbishop involved in the case said he didn’t know that sexual abuse was a crime(6). But unlike this priest, the majority of pedophiles never cross that line into active child molestation. They mostly will remain quiet, keep to themselves and pursue their sexual interests at home.

    Many of these offenders have extensive collections of child pornography or child erotica that feed their fantasy world. These photos and drawings will typically be cutouts from newspapers and magazines that other people would find inoffensive or even innocuous. Pedophiles will frequently videotape children from television shows and commercials. They will also attend sporting events in schools and surreptitiously tape these events. Undoubtedly, the notorious video clip of Jon Benet Ramsey participating at a Colorado beauty pageant has found its way into the video libraries of pedophiles across the country.

    These collections of pornography are often considered the pedophile’s most valued possession (Lanning, p. 28). It represents years of work and symbolizes, in tangible form, his inner most sexual fantasies and thoughts. The collection will consist of slides, commercial photos, souvenirs, toys, Polaroids and virtually any other type of material that relates to or displays any minute reference to child sex. Child erotica collections will vary in quality and quantity, often depending upon the economic status of the collector. Police have found that the older the pedophile, the more extensive the collection will be. Since true child pornography requires a clandestine effort to obtain, the majority of these collections will be erotic in nature as opposed to pornographic. And often the focus will be upon one or two aspects of sexuality. Preferential child molesters especially, preserve these types of collections and will do anything to safeguard them. Offenders have been known to make formal requests to the police agencies to return these items after their case has been adjudicated.

    The pedophile collector falls into three general categories: closet, isolated and the sharer. The closet collector maintains and views his erotica in secret and does not molest children. This type of collector builds his collection in a clandestine manner and keeps its existence a secret. Sometimes, he will maintain this collection for years without the knowledge of a live-in spouse. The isolated collector is actually engaged in molestation and will display the material to a victim. The sharer-collector trades and displays the material with others and may do so for profit. He also will molest children and keeps company with other pedophiles. Since other criminals, like burglars, muggers, car thieves, rarely collect artifacts relating to their criminality, why do pedophiles collect? The answer to that question lies in the psychological characteristics of his condition. He has a twisted sexual compulsion for children whose origins are separate and apart from criminality. His deviance is defined as criminal only because society has deemed it so. Some pedophiles believe that they have done nothing wrong and are simply more enlightened than the general public. They feel they are part of a special progressive movement and one day society will come to accept, what they see as, their sacred ritual of adult/child sex.

    From a practical standpoint, collections serve crucial needs for the pedophile. First, child erotica and pornography are used in his crimes. The pedophile will display this material to a victim to lower his inhibitions and introduce him to the possibilities of sex with an adult. This is a very important step in the seduction process. Secondly, the pedophile will use the material for his own sexual gratification. Often it is used in the arousal phase prior to sexual activity with victims. Still others will use photographs of the abuse to blackmail their victims into further sexual activity. After engaging in sexual acts with an adult, a complex set of emotions engulfs the victim. These emotions include humiliation, attachment to the offender and fear of exposure. The victim becomes extremely fearful that his friends and family will learn of the sexual activity and he will suffer harsh consequences. Pedophiles are familiar with these feelings and will use those emotions against the child. Pornography plays a pivotal role in the child sex offender’s life. But most importantly, it is the tool of his trade used to induct his victims into his sexual fantasies. This is why law enforcement is always on the alert to the onslaught of pornography on the Web.

  • calico

    I understand asking this question. Someone I love very much molested my sister. Here are the questions that go through my mind, if he only did it once is he a pedophile? If he never molested anyone else, is he a pedophile? Was he just a frustrated teenager and what the hell kind of excuse would that be? One time sure can do a lot of damage as is evident with my sister--she is so messed up.


  • DelTheFunkyHomosapien

    That is an extremely piss poor excuse for a deplorable act. It was his DAUGHTERS his own flesh and blood. Thats the lowest act, what about his girls how have they handled it? What if the poor dear gets extremely stressed again. 'Come here sweetheart Daddy's very stressed'. Bullshit he needs to be punished and get some serious therapy. Moreso for his kids.

    If you KNOW of this type of stuff going on report it.

  • vitty

    I know of a man who when he was about 13 molested his younger sister. When she became an adult she reported it. He was married with a young baby at the time, his marrage broke up and he ended up in some sort of facility.

    I have absolute sympathy with the girl, but wonder how many times this happens in families, where the son grows up and never even thinks of molesting a child again.

    I would never have let my children be babysat by a young man, and I do know that females molest also.

  • DelTheFunkyHomosapien

    She could have probably have handled it another way but she had to exorcise those demons. And besides you don't ever play doctor with your sister.

  • Lady Lee
    Lady Lee
    if he only did it once is he a pedophile?

    I would say NO but he is a molester. I suspect there are a lot of occurrances like this. I know women who were abused just once. It seems in these cases they actually do have a conscience and never repeat the behavior.

    If he never molested anyone else, is he a pedophile?

    Being a pedophile is more about what is going on in his mind, what his fantasies are about, than what he does. As Scully posted above a pedophile can have all the thoughts and fantasies but never act on them.

    Was he just a frustrated teenager and what the hell kind of excuse would that be?

    A one time occurance could be the result of the frustration or exploration. It isn't an excuse, Just an explanation. There is no excuse.

    One time sure can do a lot of damage as is evident with my sister--she is so messed up.

    The impact on the victim has nothing to do with how the abuser is labeled. A one time event can in some cases cause just as much damage as repeat occurances. Especially if the victim and abuser live in the same home the victim never loses the fear that it will happen again. Issues of trust and betrayal become huge.


    It doesn't. The damage they leave behind is still damage.

    Absolutely not. Since we would have no idea what is going on in his mind there is no way to predict what he was thinking before or after. I would still be very careful and not trust him to be alone with my child
  • Lady Lee
    Lady Lee


    I don't know, it all sounds like an excuse to me. Just because someone doesn't "act" like a pedophile is not surprising. Most of them don't act like it, how do you think they are so successful in accessing other people's children? This person would not be believed by me.

    The issue is not that we can look at someone and outwardly see they are a pedophile. Obviously we know we can't do they. I know of doctors, teachers, police officers, clergy who are abusers. On the outside they look the same. That is exactly why they get away with it for solong.

    The issue is more about having fantasies and whether the person acts on the fantasies and carries them out. Some people who would fantasize about children may have very intence fantasies about children but realize that acting on those fantasies is wrong or hurtful and decide (because they do have a conscience) to never find a victim and act out the fantasies.

    I would say the ones who do act on those fantasies most likely have no conscience. They don't want to see the hurt they inflict on a child.

    Few of us know what goes on in the mind of anyone. And unless a person tells someone about their fantasy life we would have absolutely no way of knowing what goes on in there mind. The only thing we can see is behavior.

    So if someone has acting on the fantasy and abuse a child, even if they only did it once I would err on the side of caution and protect the child.

  • rebel8

    It doesn't. The damage they leave behind is still damage.
    Absolutely not. Since we would have no idea what is going on in his mind there is no way to predict what he was thinking before or after. I would still be very careful and not trust him to be alone with my child

    Having had to "treat" such perps at a past job, IMO the only reason to study this topic is if a person is interested in it from a psychological or academic perspective. I would hate to see the general public take on this discussion and develop a "requirement" to use the politically correct term for perps if the distinction is then going to be used to excuse their behavior or rate the risk of reperpetrating at anything but the highest of high level. Both are serious crimes indicating the perp is severely disturbed and cannot be trusted in society ever again. Without a total lobotomy that is.

  • Cygnus

    If it isn't legal to participate in sexual conduct with a girl under 18 years of age because that is considered pedophilia and child molestation, shouldn't it also be illegal for girls under 18 to wear makeup, jewelry, and sexually suggestive clothes (like their high school name written on the butt of their shorts)?

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