“A PERFECT RELATIONSHIP” IN ENGLAND OF THE 1970S
“S.43: John”, an Englishman aged 28, was one of the ten people interviewed in 1978 or 1979 by London psychologist D. N. Cox for his book, jointly written by G. D. Wilson, The Child-Lovers, published by Peter Owen, London in 1983.
As the first of the two Greek love affairs he described began when the boy, “now twenty-one”, was nine, the seven years it lasted must have been from about 1967 (when John himself was only about sixteen) to about 1974. The second, ongoing one, began a year later.
Though the authors describe John’s sexual interests as “paedophilic”, in conformity with the secondary title of their book, they implicitly used this term inaccurately as one of convenience to encompass anyone attracted to those below the prevailing age of consent (for girls) of 16. As a man attracted most of all to boys of 13, John was correctly a hebephile and his love affairs were “Greek” in character.
Besides their interviews of child-lovers, Wilson and Cox provided “a summary of each person in terms of the unique features of that individual’s lifestyle as perceived by the interviewer, recognising that this represents a subjective impression rather than objective data.” Here is that of John:
In his present circumstances, John seems to be, more than any other subject interviewed, involved in what might be described as a perfect relationship from a paedophilic point of view. In discussing his total involvement with a boy at present—a situation which exists with the parents’ tacit approval - John acknowledges the unique circumstances of the relationship. Interestingly, John was involved with the boy’s older brother previously and seems to have functioned very much as a ‘big brother’ to both of these boys.
On his initial questionnaire John had indicated that he would not be available for an interview as his circumstances did not allow for the possibility of contacting him. However, following an interview given by a friend of his, he did make contact and an appointment was arranged. He was very relaxed throughout the interview and seemed completely at ease in discussing his situation. John is twenty-eight years old, small in stature, with shoulder-length hair and a beard. He indicated initially that his preference in children is exclusively homosexual, specifically boys between 10-15 years of age with ‘thirteen as a peak’. However, this could vary in individual cases. ‘If you were to line say ten kids up, the ones that would be most attractive would be the ones at puberty.’ An older boy would be attractive only if he had ‘the body and looks of a younger kid’.
Asked about the characteristics of boys that attract him John stated: ‘I think I can really sum it up in one word. It may seem difficult to a lot of people to understand, it’s just “beauty”. It’s something unique about a kid; a sort of physical beauty of that particular type of being.’ Lack of facial hair, the right shape -not fat or too skinny - are, according to John, important physical variables. When asked to describe the ideal thirteen-year-old boy, John indicated that he would be blond, probably blue-eyed, have longish hair, not fat, well-shaped, not too tall or too short and have no facial hair.
It was noted that John had a beard. He indicated that the importance of not having facial hair is specific to children. A beard on a man was irrelevant; it didn’t matter one way or the other.
Psychologically, the innocence of the child is important. ‘I like to feel that I can develop the personality of a kid, if I’m involved in a relationship. I like to try and bring out the qualities I believe in, in that particular kid. I mean if a kid hasn’t got those qualities, unless he’s got a really nasty character I think you can bring it out because a kid is sort of innocent. I think you can help to develop that kid’s personality and character according to the type of things you believe in yourself - the honesty and the loyalty and the good manners. To me that is part of the ‘job”, if you like, to try and develop the character of that kid to how you think a reasonable, decent human being ought to be. . . . These days there is a danger that kids tend to go off on their own. They tend to have outside influences mainly from kids of their own age that they get with and I think there is a danger, particularly these days, that kids tend to go off along the wrong path. When I say the wrong path I mean what seems to me a decent sort of character - someone who’s going to fit into the world later on.... Parents don’t really know that much about their kids and quite often are not interested enough to want to develop the characters of the kids. In my experience with the few kids I have been involved with, I feel that at the end of the day I have achieved something and I can see part of my character in them. If you believe in yourself as regards what you think is right and a decent human being, there is a sense of achievement at the end of the day to see those characters coming out in the kid... You help him to find his level and combine what you consider to be decent characteristics. I am only talking about basics, honesty, loyalty, good manners. There are so many kids these days that don’t have a clue how to say “thank you” or “please”. They demand. I don’t believe in that sort of thing.’
John’s sexual history appears to have been exclusively paedophilic. He has no interest in having sex with an adult. ‘Obviously everyone’s entitled to do what they want to do as far as I’m concerned, although personally there’s no appeal at all.’ As an adolescent he did experience some heterosexual involvement, but he attributes this to circumstances which demanded this type of behaviour in order to appear normal. In those instances in which women were attracted to him (which has happened several times in the last few years) he found it necessary to retreat from any sexual involvement. Paedophilic interests are traced back to at least the age of eleven. ‘I’ve always been interested in kids for as long as I can remember.’ Always this interest was directed at children younger than himself. As he grew older, the age of children he was interested in tended to remain static at the 10-15 age group. ‘It’s always been there.’ He has never been involved in a relationship with an adult male, not even as a child.
He is currently living at home with his stepmother and a mentally retarded adopted brother. His father died last year. His mother ran off with a lodger when he was thirteen. Through his father’s remarriage, when he was fifteen, he acquired two step-sisters. They both have families and he gets along well with them. He is not sure if they know about his paedophilic interests, but if they do, it does not seem to affect their relationship. He considers his mother and father to have been ideal parents, with no apparent marital problems until the time that his mother left. This came as a great shock to him. He has not seen her since, although his aunt is in touch with her. He can’t understand why she did this and thinks she did the wrong thing. He finds his stepmother difficult to get along with, but then so do the rest of her relatives. His father is described as a ‘fine chap’. He did not think his parents knew about his paedophilic interests, although they were aware of an unsealed letter which he received containing paedophilic material.
John does not discuss his paedophilic interests with other people because the risk of non-acceptance is too great. The reaction of others is seen as ‘natural’. ‘I think I would react the same way if I had kids, because it’s a natural reaction. Many people need time to sit down and look at the facts. It’s very pleasant if you do meet someone with kids that appears to appreciate the situation. If they see you getting along well with their kids and the kids really like you, it’s nice to get parents who are prepared to sort of let things develop.’
John then described a relationship he is currently having with a boy whose older brother he had been involved with previously. ‘The parents must be well aware of the situation,’ he said. ‘One kid at the moment is head over heels and won’t leave me alone. They appreciate that, and just take it. They even consider him as being virtually mine now. The mother is so fantastic about it and whether she really knows the whole story I don’t know, but she just seems to accept anything and everything because she is trying to do what’s best for her kids. I think she realises through what’s happened with another member of the family that naturally no harm has come to the kid.’
Within John’s own family sex was never discussed. His initial heterosexual experience, at the age of eleven, was not distasteful in any way, but was not followed up because of his paedophilic preference.
Sexual fantasies do not appear to play an important part in John’s sex life, although when they are used they are exclusively paedophilic. ‘I might recap on certain things that happened at school, perhaps, incidents and situations. It will always be the same type of fantasy, based on the same type of scene.
Over his life, John has been involved in two major paedophilic relationships - the two brothers mentioned above. He was involved with the older boy for six years, starting from when the boy was nine years old. Asked if the relationship was sexual he said: ‘Oh yes, but not completely. The sexual aspect of it was not a full sexual relationship, it was as much as either party wanted. It certainly wasn’t forced. The physical relationship ended when the boy was sixteen, at which time he became interested in girls. That boy is now twenty-one. John, however, expected that his own interest in the boy would have declined at about that age anyway. ‘You are expecting a mutual collapse, a slow collapse.., at that stage. When he became interested in females, I was very much still interested in him, which was a problem, but I’m not sexually attracted to him now.’ Although no longer sexually attracted, John feels that they still get along very well - like they always did. To that extent, he will always be interested in him.
At present John is involved with the younger brother of this boy who is now twelve. This relationship began when the boy was nine years old. There was about a year’s lapse between the ending of the first and the beginning of the second relationship. The older boy is aware that John is involved with his younger brother and seems to encourage it. This is attributed to the deep relationship that they had.
In response to the concern expressed by some that a paedophilic relationship will have a damaging effect on the child, John’s reaction was ‘Rubbish’, although he did acknowledge that it is a hypothetical question as one cannot know how the child would have grown up otherwise. ‘Personally, I can only see that good could have come out of it.’ In his case the boy with whom he was first involved now appears to have developed normal heterosexual interests. With respect to the argument that such a child might become homosexual he feels that such desires are there from birth and as such are not affected by experience.
John did not admit to any other paedophilic relationships, not even of a ‘one-off nature. ‘To my way of thinking if you are involved with someone you’ve got a duty to that person; it’s a mutual duty.’ He believes there must be commitment to the relationship on both sides. Problems such as jealousy will arise and will need to be dealt with. ‘I think that jealousies help to knit the relationship closer than it was before.’
The point was raised that in order to satisfy paedophilic interests it might be necessary to travel abroad to countries where the laws concerning sex between adults and children are not as strict as they are in England. John expresses the desire that as much as possible he would hope to be able to continue his paedophilic lifestyle here in England. When the relationship he is currently involved in ends, ‘which it inevitably will’, he would look to develop another relationship here, ‘despite, in my mind, some of our crazy laws’.
Part of a paedophilic relationship will be the recognition that at some time relationships will end, at least physically. The paedophile will grow older while the boys who are found desirable will still be 11-15 years old. ‘I think one’s just got to be prepared for the end of a relationship. Growing old does bother me, I must admit. I worry about what I’m going to do the next time around.’ John is therefore resolved to enjoy the situation as it exists and to worry about the future when it arrives.
With respect to his present relationship, John is able to see the boy really as much as he wants, probably five times a week, as he does so with the family’s endorsement. ‘I feel that I’ve got a job to do, that’s the way I look at it. I teach him; I spend no end of hours teaching. His schooling has improved phenomenally in the last year. Virtually every night when I’m down there I make him work. His parents have no practical involvement in his schooling; I’ve taken over all that. I even go up to the school to see the teacher with his mother. As far as the parents are concerned, they have given that side of it to me as a responsibility because they can see that I’m genuinely interested.’ Asked how he and the boy found time to be alone, John replied that he was fortunate in that the father spends a lot of time out in the evenings at the pub, while the mother is involved in Bingo and community work. The older boys in the family are also involved in pub activities while the daughter has a part-time job in the evening. This leaves the two of them alone quite frequently in the evenings. ‘When it’s time for him to go to bed then I’ll go up and talk with him, or he’ll read to me. We get a fair bit of time together at weekends.’ John appreciates the special and almost ‘ideal’ situation in which he is involved. He feels well protected legally as he doesn’t believe that the family would ever take action against him. He and the boy’s mother get along very well. However, he perceives the grandmother as ‘the sort of woman, unfortunately, who would do something stupid.’ Therefore, recognising the delicacy of his position, he is at pains to persuade her that the relationship is ‘concrete and loving’.
If the legal restrictions against paedophilia were removed in Britain, John thinks it would make no difference to the relationship he is currently enjoying. However, it would be expected to influence future relationships. ‘I can go as far as I want to now. Mutually we do what we want to do. Maybe it’s illegal, but we do. It just happens, and that’s it. But certainly in other circumstances, and with other people, and next time round for me, that could certainly make some difference. It depends on the attitude of the people you are actually involved with. I mean, parents are so varied. I certainly wouldn’t do anything the kid didn’t want. Providing the kid was consenting, and wanted something to take place, then I would do it irrespective of the legal system. If the child is consenting then I think one finds a way of getting round the law.’
When it was put to him that children may not be capable of deciding what is good for them, particularly with respect to sexual matters, John answered: ‘If a kid is keen and interested to do a particular thing, then as far as I’m concerned that’s as near as you can get to not making up the child’s mind for him. You’re not forcing him into anything. Certainly I don’t. If he wants to do it (a particular thing or whatever) then that’s fine. If he doesn’t want to do it, then in his eyes it’s wrong, and OK, that’s fine. But normally that’s not the case as kids usually are very interested in experimenting and doing things. . . . If the kid genuinely wants something, that’s as near as you can get to saying that that’s right for that kid.’ Asked if he believes that children know what they want sexually, he replied: ‘Some certainly. In my former relationship it was the kid himself who was doing all the prompting. It was he who was taking the initiative. I was following suit because I wanted to. I don’t think you can generalise. Kids are very much influenced by adults. I think kids have to be moulded to a certain extent. . . . The kid’s mind is there to be developed.’
The thought of using coercion does not appeal to John. For him the sexual aspect of a relationship comes only after respect has been developed. ‘You have to be emotionally involved.’
John’s feelings about being a paedophile are rather mixed. He acknowledges that he ‘would rather have been born as the majority’, because ‘it’s easier to explain yourself. ‘But having been forced into this situation, I’ve got to live with it and I’m quite happy. I feel genuinely that I’ve got a job to do.’
John does not believe that there is any useful professional treatment for his condition, and if one did exist, the decision as to whether or not to enter into it would be very difficult. It would be hard for him to know whether as much satisfaction as he is currently obtaining could be derived from other types of relationships. He could not envisage entering into a heterosexual relationship, except perhaps with a female paedophile.
John is currently rather fearful of prosecution. The recent police raids were a difficult time as his name was on the P. I. E. mailing lists. He removed all incriminating materials from his house in anticipation of a police visit. If they arrived and were unable to find any concrete evidence he felt he would be able to maintain his innocence. He has withdrawn from P. I. E., although he supports what they are doing.
In present circumstances John feels he must accept what he has and enjoy it while he can. ‘Quite what happens in three or four years I don’t know.’ He has been offered jobs in London that would improve his financial status considerably but he prefers to stay in his small town so that he can pursue his present relationship.
 It seems a shame the authors either did not notice or seem to have ignored the fact that John was himself a boy when he came into the life of his two boys’ family, as it would be interesting to know if that was a significant consideration in their initial acceptance of him.