The Pedophile

by Bill Brenner on July 23, 2010

Some people deserve to spend life in a box. But even they have a shot at redemption.

As a dad, I have zero tolerance for anyone who hurts a child. So when I discovered someone I’ve known for many years spent a decade behind bars for pedophilia, It was like a knife in the gut. Further complicating matters is that as a recovering addict, I can’t help but feel bad for this guy. But only a little bit.

He’s addicted to sex and that addiction drew him to kids. He certainly got what he deserved: Hard jail time in the midst of hardened criminals who draw the line at crimes against children. People like that wouldn’t think twice about killing a pedophile in their midsts.

So this guy has been back on the streets for a year. He’s homeless, has found it nearly impossible to find a job and is constantly watching his back. He’s required by law to register as a sex offender, and to inform people living around him that he’s a convicted sex offender.

My first instinct was to tell him to fuck off when he contacted me. But after he described his evil instincts as an addiction, I paused. As I’ve said before, when someone is in the grip of addiction, sanity and logic no longer apply.

I had to hear the guy out.

He understands why people shun him. He doesn’t blame them. He’s been working hard at putting his life back together and curses the day he was born because he hates the side of himself that led to three convictions for assaulting a minor.

In talking to the guy, I found myself thankful as hell that my addiction took the form of binge eating. I think even a heroin addict is more fortunate than someone addicted to sex, pornography and especially pedophilia.

The latter addictions hit a person like any other addiction. You hate that side of you and want to change. But you find it impossible to stop unless you’re lucky enough to find recovery. And recovery is back-breaking, emotionally-draining work.

To have a sex addiction like that has to be sheer terror and hell for someone who isn’t evil at his core.

My Faith also tells me that no person who is sorry is beyond redemption. So you pray for them and hope for the best.

That’s where my sympathy ends.

I once had a debate with my friend Ken White about the death penalty. He’s for it, I’m against it. I argued that it’s hypocritical for the state to take a life. Ken argued back that some people don’t belong in society and have to go. That includes pedophiles. Maybe they’re not evil people, but their actions are evil and if they can’t function in society they shouldn’t be in society.

It was hard to argue back against that logic. Thing is, I tend to agree with him now.

Should this guy on the streets be back behind bars or dead? I’ll let others debate that. All I know is that I’m never, ever going to meet this guy in person or create a situation that lets him anywhere near my kids or anyone else’s.

Walking around with a big scarlet letter on his back must really suck, but it’s for the best. Even he knows that.

In the years following the Manson murders, the four who carried out Manson’s orders turned against him and turned to God. They completely renounced what they did and Charles “Tex” Watson even became a minister behind bars. They sought and received forgiveness from God. But they will never get out of prison.

They may have a right to forgiveness. Everyone does. But they did the crime and have to take the punishment. They gave up their right to live among the rest of us. That’s justice.

The pedophile now on the streets probably deserves a similar fate. But for whatever reason, they let him back out.

But he doesn’t have his freedom. He’ll always be watching his back. That too is justice, I suppose.

Writing about this was not comfortable. I wrestled with myself over whether to even tackle the subject. I decided I had to because I know the evil things addiction will make you do.

I saw this as a necessary tale of caution.

I’ll tell you what: I’m just extremely grateful that my addictions revolved around food and substances. People around me were hurt along the way, but it’s easier to receive forgiveness for those things.

It’s a bitch having to relate to someone who has done far worse than me.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Bob Connors July 23, 2010 at 10:04 am

indulging in an addiction that hurts yourself is one thing; indulging in one that hurts an innocent child is unforgiveable. Most sex offenders are habitual offenders and need to be castrated, put away for life, or executed. Sorry, but that’s the bottom line. Letting them out is equivalent to letting a homicidal maniac out. The only difference is that the homicidal maniac will physically kill his or her victim(s) while the sex offender will emotionally kill the victim(s) (or may physically kill them as well).

B. Jackson July 24, 2010 at 3:49 pm

It feels a bit courageous to even respond to this post, as those of us in the mental health field can be conflicted about working with sex offenders . On one hand, everyone should have a chance at redemption. On the other (and more weighted in my opinion) is the fact that sex addiction in people is a lot like chicken-killing dogs. Once you have a dog that has tasted chicken blood, you do not have a safe flock…ever. You simply have a restrained dog and a fortified chicken coop. That said, I have reached out to help a foster family with a teenage boy who has been convicted of sexual offenses against younger girls. I allow him to come to my ranch weekly and help with the horses, which is something he has some interest and knowledge of. The ranch is remotely located and I make very sure that the four hours he is here does not coincide with any other activity going on at the ranch that might involve underage children.

Although I co-facilitate with a mental health team, this is more life skills work and involves learning how to work with horses using ethical and humane techniques (natural horsemanship). The work doesn’t begin to address his sexual addiction, other than making him responsible for his habit of manipulating people who “feel sorry” for him, as well as those on whom he might prey. The horses do not feel sorry for him. They mirror back the sort of treatment they get and the attitude he shows up with. I don’t dare to hope that the work he does at my place is doing anything more than giving him a place weekly to feel good about himself and his abilities. But saying no to his foster mom didn’t feel right to me either.

Kylie Hodges July 3, 2011 at 3:31 am

I have to say that’s one of the most intelligent things I have ever seen written about paedophiles.

I was sexually abused from the age of 3 until 8 by a neighbour. I am dreadfully sad about what he did to me, and to others, I feel repulsion for what he did, and I feel angry. Particularly at society who let us all down. This was the 1970’s, and seemingly no one knew what to do.

But I bear the individual no malice as such, God has helped me move on and to forgive and I feel its important that we look at this in balance, as you have done. I don’t believe in the death penalty for paedophiles. I don’t believe in the death penalty at all, I think its wrong, archaic, and ultimately, it doesn’t work. Yes that one individual cannot commit a crime, but as a punishmenet system, it doesn’t work, nothing has happened to the murder rate in the US since the introduction of the death penalty, except to see it rise.

I will always believe in redemption. I believe in a God who takes us all where we are at and leads us and guides us to where we must go. Let he who is without sin…..

Josh April 20, 2015 at 12:24 am

I lived in Boston for about five years. Unfortunately, I spent a little under a year at Pine Street Inn where I got to know Mark . I had fallen on rough times. At the time, I was not aware of this. I found out. But I chose to hear him out and try to do what I could. Mainly because he was making an effort to put it behind him.

I ended up finding a job and then finding an apartment. Mark continued to live off society. The last time I saw him, I was at Target in South Bay. He looked like death warmed over.

I have since moved home to Minnesota. I’m engaged to an unbelievable woman. I have my life back.

A couple weeks ago, I got curious about him. I was a bit shocked to find out that he was once again locked up. This time for child pornography.

I have met his family. They are wonderful people. They always made me feel welcome. Even invited me to stay over on Christmas. His mom even bought me a winter coat which I didn’t have at the time. I still have it. They hold a special place in my heart.

With that being said. I’m thinking that maybe Mark needs to remain behind bars. I wish I didn’t have to say that. But it is in my belief, the truth.

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