If you’re looking for a treatise on the joys of love-making between consenting, autonomous adults, read no further. In fact, what follows quite the inverse, revealing an ongoing nightmare of child sexual violence that lurks just beneath the surface of our collective consciousness and has infected the highest circles of power. After all, who wants to think about such things? But ignoring them will not make them go away.
Pedophilia, human trafficking, kiddie porn are terms that pop up here and there in news reports and local crime blotters. In the past, these terms conjured up for me distasteful notions of creepy men lusting after and fondling boys or girls, run-away adolescents being manipulated into prostitution, and adults watching videos of teenagers engaging in sex. I noticed occasional reports of perpetrators being caught and prosecuted, but never dwelt on it, because after all, who wants to think about such things?
Then, slowly, my awareness of the true nature and scope of these crimes and their global reach began to grow, and several horrifying themes emerged.
I learned that child sexual violence is:
- More grisly than one can imagine, often including rape, torture, bestiality and murder
- Committed on children of all ages, from birth to 17, including infants and toddlers
- Inextricably connected to child pornography: photos and videos that depict crimes of child rape, torture and murder being committed
- Facilitated by use of psychological manipulation, drugs, intimidation and sheer force
- Taking advantage of young children who can’t articulate their truth, can’t defend themselves and often aren’t believed
- Prevalent wherever there are vulnerable children
- Escalating dramatically in the internet age
- A very lucrative business with trade in child slavery, child porn, and child forced prostitution
- Highly networked at many levels, beyond isolated incidents and lone perpetrators
- Openly bragged about by perpetrators to their peers in pedophile networks
- Often connected to money laundering, trade in drugs and guns, shady financial schemes, organized crime, intelligence agencies and covert operations
- Often used for sexual blackmail by operatives in finance, intelligence, politics and organized crime, to control each other and their adversaries
- Hard to prosecute due to prevalence of perpetrators in respected positions of power
- Hard to prosecute because people can’t believe such horrible things actually happen
- Not a priority for mainstream corporate media or law enforcement to investigate the complicity of society’s top echelons of power brokers
Robert Burrowes’ 2018 TMS Editorial, Humanity’s Dirty Little Secret: Starving, Enslaving, Raping, Torturing and Killing our Children courageously raised our awareness about the ongoing global war on children in many areas, including the horrors of child sexual violence, its psychological underpinnings and strategies for healing. Last spring, TMS published the Rutherford Institute report, The Essence of Evil: Sex with Children has Become Big Business in America, cataloguing the alarming scope of child sexual violence and its profiteering in the US. The Catholic Church’s cover-up of child sexual abuse by priests is one area where there has been more widespread awareness in recent years, thanks to films like the award-winning documentary Spotlight, but pedophiles are found in a much wider range of professions met mostly with silence.
The Crime, the Trade, Networking, Impunity and Silence
Journalist Bonnie Faulkner’s 2018 radio interview with Dr. Lori Handrahan, author of the book Epidemic: America’s Trade in Child Rape, shook me to the core. Dr. Handrahan paints an unvarnished picture of pedophilia (which really has nothing to do with loving children, in fact quite the opposite) and child pornography, two sanitized terms that she more accurately labels trade in child rape, torture and murder. We occasionally read cursory reports in the local news of someone being arrested for possessing up to thousands of child pornography photos and videos, usually with no context or follow up. Yet each of those images depicts a ghastly crime being committed. The children can be very young. Babies to three year-olds are often preferred because they cannot yet verbalize what is happening to them. Children are filmed being bound and gagged, violently raped, forced to engage in sex acts with adults, other children, animals or severed body parts. Demand–and prices–for images rise as the level of brutality escalates, culminating often in gruesome murder on camera. Who are these children and who is committing these heinous acts? Rarely if ever are they identified.
Possessing child porn is not a crime of isolated individuals, as is often portrayed, because one must provide images of oneself as a perpetrator in order to gain access to the networks that trade in child porn. Pedophiles form a tight knit community where they can openly brag to each other about their vicious exploits. And of course there’s money to be made, lots of money, in the world-wide distribution of these grisly images. The volume of trade has exploded with the advent of the internet. Nowadays, with a few clicks on a smart phone, images of child rape, torture and murder can be produced, disseminated, and accessed where pedophiles lurk and connect in hidden corners of the dark web.
Dr. Handrahan researched the tip of the iceberg of cases that are uncovered with a criminal complaint prepared, finding the bulk of perpetrators in the following professions: military, national security agencies, local police, state and federal law enforcement, judges, prosecutors, lawyers and educators. The majority are white men. Some children are raped by their fathers or other relatives, who then share them with other pedophiles in meet-ups of their networks. Perpetrators in positions that are supposed to uphold the law and protect children end up protecting predators who commit crimes with impunity. The relative few who are arrested often plea bargain a minimal sentence or are never indicted. Some lose their jobs, others don’t, or are merely transferred. A discouraging lack of accountability, considering the nature of the crimes.
Schools and organizations that serve youth attract pedophiles because they provide ready access to vulnerable children, a core commodity in this business. Dr. Handrahan admonishes us that wherever there are vulnerable children, pedophiles and traffickers set up shop, alerting us to consider how much of this is happening in orphanages, immigrant child detention facilities, and among destitute street children in the slums of cities around the world.
Sexual abuse more easily targets children living in the most vulnerable circumstances of poverty, neglect and abandonment, but it is ubiquitous, crossing class and racial lines. Chances are, many people you know personally are survivors of child sexual abuse.
Those who wonder why more victims don’t speak up right away need to understand the pernicious psychological mechanisms used by pedophiles to “groom” their targets. The recently released HBO film At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal leads us through the consciousness of dozens of highly accomplished young female athletes (aged 6-16) with supportive families who are manipulated by their well-liked and trusted team doctor, Larry Nassar, into believing that his sexual molestations—some brazenly committed with their parents in the exam room, some in the secrecy of his private home—are a legitimate medical treatment. At Nasser’s sentencing hearing, 204 survivors, now adult women, electrified the courtroom with their victim/witness statements, expressing outrage and deep betrayal.
Aishah Shahidah Simmons’ 2019 collection of essays, Love WITH Accountabiity: Digging up the Roots of Child Sexual Abuse portrays abuse that occurs within families and how the silence of by-standers enables the cycle to be perpetuated. Profound interventions at the individual and community level for healing and eradication of the scourge are explored. Simmons maintains that “the silence around child sexual abuse in the family plays a direct role in creating a culture of sexual violence in all other institutions.”
Connections to Top Level Power Brokers, More Impunity
Larry Nassar is among the very few high-profile cases that have been prosecuted and convicted. Jeffrey Epstein is another who was charged in 2006 with sexually abusing underage girls, released shortly thereafter on a lenient plea bargain, then arrested again this past summer, only to have his headline-grabbing case closed following his alleged prison cell suicide (under very suspicious circumstances).
But the Jeffrey Epstein story is not limited to his own misdeeds, which may never be fully uncovered. Journalist Whitney Webb’s gripping four-part series exposes the sordid history and lingering practices of child sexual abuse and the filming of it being used for blackmail, profiteering, trading favors, and settling accounts among networks that bring together organized crime, intelligence agencies (including CIA, MI6 and Mossad), high finance and powerful politicians in both the Democratic and Republican parties– for the most part with complete impunity.
- Part 1: Hidden in Plain Sight: The Shocking Origins of the Jeffrey Epstein Case
- Part 2: Government by Blackmail: Jeffrey Epstein, Trump’s Mentor and the Dark Secrets of the Reagan Era
- Part 3: Mega Group, Maxwells and Mossad: The Spy Story at the Heart of the Jeffrey Epstein Scandal
- Part 4: From “Spook Air” to the “Lolita Express”: The Genesis and Evolution of the Jeffrey Epstein-Bill Clinton Relationship
Webb summarizes her exhaustive exposé in audio interviews with Faulkner: How the Alliance of Intelligence & Organized Crime Gave Rise to Jeffrey Epstein and From Reagan to Clinton: Organized Crime, Intelligence and Human Trafficking.
Webb sees Epstein as a protégé and successor to ruthless fixer and pedophile Roy Cohn, and she names many more names of high-profile figures involved directly or indirectly with these networks. Donald Trump, another Roy Cohn protégé, is among the many rich and famous known to have socialized with Epstein at lavish parties in his Florida home.
The contrast between the UK criminal justice establishment’s handling of Prince Andrew and Julian Assange is breathtaking. Prince Andrew, with a documented relationship to Epstein and also implicated in his child sexual abuse ring, is let off the hook and allowed to step quietly away from his public duties, while Assange, who bravely published material proving US involvement in war crimes, languishes under torturous conditions in Belmarsh prison.
Webb reveals the role of pedophile rings of lobbyist Craig Spence in Washington DC and financier Larry King in Omaha Nebraska in facilitating the Iran-Contra crimes of arms and drug smuggling that financed covert US intervention in Central America. Former Nebraska State Senator John DeCamp’s explosive book The Franklin Cover-Up lays bare documentation of the Omaha-based pedophile ring that abducted children and flew them around the country, including to Washington, DC and California to be raped, tortured and in some cases ritually murdered, as well as being used as drug runners in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Presented with indisputable evidence, local law enforcement and the FBI at the highest level refused to investigate. FBI agents aggressively threatened and coerced two youth witnesses into recanting their story and made sure a third witness, who stood by her story of abuse, was convicted and imprisoned for perjury. The Nebraska legislature’s inquiry into the affair ended prematurely when it’s chief investigator, Gary Caridori, was killed in a freak accident under suspicious timing and circumstances.
As Webb puts it:
“[the Epstein scandal] is a criminal and unconscionable blackmail operation that has been run by influential figures, hidden in plain sight, for over half a century, exploiting and destroying the lives of untold numbers of children in the process. Over the years, it has grown many branches and spread well beyond the United States, as seen by the activity of Covenant House in Latin America and Epstein’s own international effort to recruit more girls to be abused and exploited.
“All of this has taken place with the full knowledge and blessing of top figures in the world of “philanthropy” and in the U.S. government and intelligence communities, with great influence over several presidential administrations, particularly since the rise of Ronald Reagan and continuing through to Donald Trump.
“Far from being the work of a single intelligence agency or a single country, the power structure revealed by this network connected to Epstein is nothing less than a criminal enterprise that transcends nationality and is willing to use and abuse children in the pursuit of ever more power, wealth and control. Existing for decades and willing to use any means necessary to cover its tracks, this criminal racket has become so integrated into the levers of power, in the United States and well beyond, that it is truly too big to fail.”
But fail it must, we must all proclaim! How can we stand by knowing of such monstrous atrocities, fueled by psychopathological greed.
Breaking the Silence
“Abuse thrives in silence and secrecy” as Dr. Thema Bryant Davis, in Love WITH Accountability, reminds us, so shining a light on it at all levels is imperative.
Last year’s Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Human Trafficking and Child Sex Abuse organized by the International Tribunal for Natural Justice, referenced by Burrows, is worth re-visiting. The prophetic opening statement of Chief Counsel, Robert David Steele, a former CIA operations officer, admonishes us that upwards of 8,000,000 children are trafficked annually throughout the world. Children are bred as cash crops without birth certificates and imported without documentation so that they can be sold, abused, killed with no one asking where they are. Steele advocates closing the nearly 1,000 US military bases overseas, which “are not there for the national defense; they’re there to serve as lily pads for the smuggling of guns, gold, cash, drugs and small children.”
Former global currency trader Ronald Bernard testified how he had been abused and hardened as a child and was told early in his career that to get rich in this business he’d have to put his conscience in the deep freeze. As his shadowy enterprises flourished and he rose closer to the inner circle of the financial elite, he learned that the price of admission for joining their ranks was participating in the murder of children. His conscience thawed enough for him to back off and break the cycle of violence: “They tried to make me into a psychopath and I failed.”
For a glimmer of hope, Steele views pedophilia as not only a tool of the Deep State for recruiting and controlling people, but also as the Achilles heel of the Deep State and its protection of predators. While people may accept the smuggling of guns and drugs as an undesirable reality, children are a different matter. Emerging widespread awareness of the extent of crimes against our precious and beloved children would spark unstoppable public outrage, bringing the whole system down.
Former US Congressmember and ITNJ Commissioner Dr. Cynthia McKinney declared that
“the scale of human trafficking and child abuse must surely be the most untold story of our civilization.”
Telling the story, supporting survivors, rejecting impunity, addressing root causes, and upending vicious systems that allow this plague to fester remain the responsibility of our collective humanity. We can and must re-envision and build healthier social structures for future generations, actively nourishing relationships based on love with honesty and true accountability.
Marilyn Langlois is a member of TRANSCEND USA West Coast. She is a volunteer community organizer and international solidarity activist based in Richmond, California. A co-founder of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, member of Haiti Action Committee and Board member of Task Force on the Americas, she is retired from previous employment as a teacher, secretary, administrator, mediator and community advocate.