Affidavit of Ralph Underwager, Ph.D.
Institute for Psychological Therapies
I. I have prepared this affidavit at the request of
attorney Elliot Clauss.
II. I received the M. Div. from Concordia Seminary, St.
Louis, MO in 1955 and was in the parish ministry before entering the
University of Minnesota in 1962 as recipient of the Wheat Ridge Foundation
Mental Health Fellowship. I received a Ph.D. from the University of
Minnesota in 1970 in clinical psychology with a medical minor and a
collateral field in child therapy.
I worked on several national research projects (A Study of Generations; Project Youth; Clergy-Youth).
I have been a research scientist at Youth Research Center, a staff psychologist at the Nicollet Clinic in
Minneapolis, an associate professor at St. Olaf
College, and, since 1974, Director of the Institute for Psychological Therapies.
I am a licensed consulting psychologist under statute
of the state of Minnesota. My license number is C-55. I am a member of the
American Psychological Association, the Minnesota Psychological
Association, the Lutheran Academy for Scholarship, and I am accepted and
listed in the National Registry of Health Providers in Psychology.
A current copy of my Curriculum Vitae is attached.
III. The question Mr. Clauss presented is the
relationship between a statement alleging a person is an unchaste woman,
slatternly, or an harlot and a statement alleging a person is a child
molester. The reason for inquiring about the relationship between these
two assertions is that the law apparently recognizes a statement alleging
promiscuity or harlotry is intrinsically and explicitly damaging and
therefore it is not necessary to demonstrate damage in order to assert
damage has been done and the person so denigrated has been damaged. If an
individual is alleged to be a child molester does that classification
carry the same type and level of opprobrium as an assertion of promiscuity
or harlotry? If so, does the law or should the law extend to an allegation
that a person is a child molester the same judgment of intrinsic and
explicit infliction of damage?
IV. History of chastity versus unchastity.
A statement that a given person is unchaste, a whore,
harlot, licentious, or promiscuous woman, is a classification decision and
an assignment to that category. The history of the cognitive, emotional,
and moral content of the classification of harlot, whore, licentious,
promiscuous or unchaste woman requires first a distinction between cultic
and secular prostitution. The ultimate roots of both are in the
prehistorical period of matriarchy though this period is for the most part
wrapped in obscurity. It is at least clear that there are differences
between oriental and Semitic culture on the one side and Greek culture on
In cultic prostitution a further distinction must be
made between the single act of a devotee of a goddess whose worship
required such ritualistic behavior and the permanent state of temple
prostitute. A single act of cultic prostitution was customary in many
cultures and accrued no shame. Temple prostitution was widespread in
cults of mother and fertility deities in Asia Minor, Egypt, Syria, and
India. Through the Canaanite cults of Baal and Astarte it penetrated into
Hebrew culture though it quickly became the object of condemnation and
prophetic resistance. Temple prostitutes were paid for their services and
the income maintained the shrine. Taxes were also collected on this
In Greek culture temple prostitution was found only in
Corinth and Athens. The Corinthian temple of Aphrodite was famous for its 1000 hierodules.
However, prostitutes and brothels were unknown in the Homeric period.
Masters could keep concubines or engage
in casual intercourse with female slaves who were mere chattel and were at
the mercy of the master's lust. Solon (circa 594 BC) forbad Greek women to
take up prostitution. However, the Athenian Law of Purification (circa 451
BC) denied citizenship to foreigners and children of mixed marriages.
forced alien women to become self-supporting and led to professional
female friends, Hetairae, becoming a phenomenon in Greek life. However,
men visiting brothels was scandalous. Plato offered a compromise.
Intercourse with harlots was permissible so long at it was done in secret
and caused no offense.
However, sexual contacts outside of marriage were
permitted only for men. Wives were forbidden to engage in extramarital
intercourse. The penalties for wives who broke the law were draconic and
could include execution. Stoicism tried to correct this double standard
and taught that all sexual intercourse outside marriage was unlawful.
Stoic, Muson, insisted a man who had intercourse with a female slave or an
hetaira sinned against himself. Ocellus stated chastity for men is best and said that the man who is not
capable of this should at least avoid the delights of love until age 20
and then confine himself to the minimum.
Historically the harlot was a familiar figure in Hebrew
culture. Tamar veiled herself like a harlot and achieved her goal of
intercourse with her father-in-law, Judah (Gen. 38:15). Caleb and Joshua
were familiar enough with the house of Rahab, the harlot, to seek succor
and concealment there (Joshua 2:1). Samson visited a harlot when he went
to Gaza (Judges 16:1).
Extramarital intercourse was not forbidden to men so
long as the woman was not the wife of a fellow countryman. But a woman who
showed licentiousness was stoned to death on the ground that she
threatened the life of the whole people and made her father's house into a
house of whoredom. A priest could not marry any woman thought to be
licentious and a priest's daughter guilty of licentiousness was burned
alive because she desecrated the sacred person of her father (Lev.
21:7-14). The toleration of intercourse outside of marriage by a daughter
of Israel defiles the whole land and brings it under the judgment of God
(Lev. 19:29). Although cultic prostitution is known in Hebrew culture, it
is unconditionally forbidden (Deut. 23:17). In Jeremiah and Hosea the
people are charged with infidelity to God and cultic prostitution of the
Canaanite gods is uncompromisingly rejected. The Apocryphal Wisdom of
Solomon expresses the judgment that sexual licentiousness is a denial of
the true God (Wis. Sol. 14:12-27f). Licentiousness is more characteristic
of women, since they are intrinsically bad, than of men. For this sin
there is no forgiveness (Testament of Abraham, 30:7-33:18). Philo (Leg.
III, 51) says licentiousness and whoring is a disgrace, a scandal, and a
blot on all mankind.
In New Testament thought all extramarital and unnatural
intercourse is repudiated. Licentiousness is incompatible with the Kingdom
of God. Therefore licentious acts of individual members defile the entire
community. There can be no fellowship with those who lead lives of sexual
misconduct. In Revelation the churches at Pergamon and Thyatira are
excoriated for tolerating licentious sexual conduct (Rev. 2: 14-20f).
Roman views of extramarital sexual behavior are
reflected in the fact that for 500 years after the foundation of Rome
there was no instance of divorce and no legal process by which a divorce
was possible. The discriminatory double standard existed in Rome as well
as Greece and Israel. Unmarried men and husbands could lead their sexual
lives without fear or anxiety, consorting with slaves or prostitutes as
long as they did not copulate with wives of other Romans. Wives were
subject to banishment and death if they were unfaithful. Prostitution was widely practiced and
economically poor Romans could cohabit with whomever they chose. Horace
recommended that young men filled with lust should should patronize
brothels rather than "grind some husband's private mill." However, Romans entered brothels with covered heads and concealed faces so
that no one could identify them. Women who took money or gifts for sexual
services were despised. Gaius Petronious, advisor on pleasure to Nero, in
his novel, Satyricon, describes the world of brothels, pimps, baths,
whores, and catamites of the twilight of the Roman Empire. The Roman cults
of Venus and Priapus were associated with general fecundity and the rites
were crude, vulgar, and licentious.
In the Post-Apostolic period the two themes of chastity
and licentiousness of women were combined by Tertullian (160-230 AD) in
the saying that woman is a temple built over a sewer. Origen (185-284 AD),
sought personal celibacy by castrating himself. Augustine (354-430 AD)
maintained a baby is guilty of original sin because of the depravity of
nature shown in sexual passion (concupiscence) and genital union of the
parents. He wrote Intra feces et urinas nominem natus est (Man is born
between feces and urine). Augustine solidified the view that any sexual
passion or concupiscence is evil, even that between a married couple.
the early middle ages Vincent of Beauvais wrote a marriage manual which
included this advice.
... a man who loves his wife very much is an
adulterer. Any love for someone else's wife, or too much love for one's
own, is shameful. The upright man should love his wife with his
judgment, not his affections (quoted from Boswell, 1980, p.164).
The belief that a common evil disposition of
concupiscence undergirded unchaste behavior led to the next development in
western civilization's response to human sexuality — pursuit and extinction
of witchcraft. The heresy of sexual passion became evidence and proof of
the heresy and sin of witchcraft. For almost 300 years the social
contagion of relentless pursuit and slaughter of witches pervaded Europe
and extended to colonial America, both English and Spanish speaking,
Protestant and Roman Catholic.
From the fifteenth century to the last known illegal
burning of a witch in Poland in 1793 millions of women were executed as
witches in Europe and America. The allegation at the base of the concept
of witchcraft was concupiscent and licentious sexual behavior between
women and various demigods and demons. The theory of demon possession has
its roots in unfounded dogmatic beliefs about unchaste sexual acts. Pope
Innocent VIII charged in a papal bull issued in 1484:
It has come to our ears that members of both sexes do
not avoid having intercourse with demons, incubi and succubi; and that
by their sorceries and by their incantations, charms and conjurations,
they suffocate, extinguish, and cause to perish the births of women, the
increase of animals, the corn of the ground, the grapes of the vineyard
and the fruit of the trees, as well as men, women, flocks, herds, and other
various kinds of animals, vines and apple trees, corn and other fruits
of the earth; making and procuring that men and women, flocks and herds
and other animals shall suffer and be tormented both from within and
without so. that men beget not nor women conceive and they impede the
conjugal actions of men and women (quoted in Money, 1985,
The historical belief that women were more licentious
and evil than men was built into the pursuit of witches. They were more
often accused of entertaining demons than were men. By one estimate women
had intercourse with incubi nine times more frequently than men did with
succubi. The alleged witchcraft behaviors were most often sexual in
Women were put to death by burning, strangulation,
beheading, beatings, whippings, stonings, and other means. In two
German-Swiss villages every living female regardless of age was burned as
a witch. The records of the Archbishop of Cologne show that three villages
totaling 300 households executed at least 125 women between 1631 and 1676.
One Inquisitor in Como, Italy, recorded burning 1000 witches in the year
1523. The last legal execution of a witch was in Switzerland in 1782.
There was little chance that those in pursuit of
witches would fail to find them. Guilt was proved by accusation.
accused was coerced and tortured until she falsely confessed to
intercourse with a demon in a dream, which, in fact, she had never
dreamed. Then she was put to death to save her soul. Having made a
confession she was in a state of grace. Therefore an immediate death
preventing opportunity for backsliding meant she had a better chance to be
in heaven eventually. Throughout history an accusation of licentious,
unchaste behavior against a woman has had the power to establish guilt
without determination of the facts. Shakespeare's Othello is the paradigm
of this unfortunate social reality.
As the theory of witchcraft faded, it was replaced by
the medical model of diseases caused by the concupiscent and licentious
dispositions of men and women. Benjamin Rush (1745-1813), Philadelphia
physician also regarded as the father of American psychiatry, was greatly
influential in presenting his view of nutrition, exercise, and sex. He
wrote regarding sex:
This appetite which was implanted in our natures for
the purpose of propagating our species, when excessive, becomes a disease of both the body and the
mind ... When
restrained, it produces tremors, a flushing of the face, sighing,
nocturnal pollutions, hysteria, hypochondriasis, and in women the furor
uterinus. When indulged in an undue or promiscuous intercourse with the
female sex, or in onanism, it produces seminal weakness, impotence,
dysury, tabes dorsalis, pulmonary consumption, dyspepsia, dimness of
sight, vertigo, epilepsy, hypochondriasis, loss of memory, manalgia,
fatuity, and death (Tissot, 1832, p. 109).
The link between a disposition of concupiscence,
licentious behavior, and disease is stated in the lectures and books of
Sylvester Graham, the originator of graham crackers which started out as a
health food. The fight against degeneracy and concupiscence set off great
interest in health and fitness and a good, clean life style that
contrasted sharply with the debauchery of concupiscence. In 1834 Graham
The convulsive paroxysms attending venereal
indulgence are connected with the most intense excitement, and cause the
most powerful agitation to the whole system that it is ever subject to.
The brain, stomach, heart, lungs, liver, skin — and the other organs —
it sweeping over them with the tremendous violence of a tornado. The
powerfully excited and convulsed heart drives the blood, in fearful
congestion, to the principal viscera, producing oppression, irritation,
debility, rupture, inflammation, and sometimes disorganization ... so
much troubled with habitual concupiscence, that they were inclined to
consider themselves peculiarly constituted; and were sometimes disposed
to reason themselves into the belief that, being thus tempered by NATURE
they would be justifiable in acts of incontinence... by adopting a
proper system of diet and general regimen, have not only improved their
health, exceedingly, in every respect, but so subdued their sexual
propensity, as to be able to abstain from from connubial commerce, and
preserve entire chastity of body, for several months ... (Graham, 1834,
John Kellogg, M.D., originator of corn flakes, again
initially presented as a health food, in his Plain Facts for Old and
Young, (1880) explicitly included a detailed description of the
"social evil," prostitution, which is the embodiment of all that
is concupiscent and licentious. It is the siren song of lust, degeneracy,
and riddled with disease.
Nell Kimball, after twelve years as a whore in St.
Louis, opened a brothel in New Orleans in 1880 and ran it until she
retired in 1917. After describing a typical day in a brothel, she says it
is nothing like the whore houses in books and plays and later the movies.
"There never was a real sporting house in any of them, just men's
ideas of them, the average John's idea of people they didn't know a
goddamn thing about, except the dreams we were supposed to make real for
them" (Longstreet, 1965, p. 27). She further describes the reality of
whoring and brothels and the secret support and profiteering of the establishment, showing the
linkage of prostitution and crime:
The police and the people higher up didn't like
trouble either. The cribs and the sidewalk workers were run out and the
parlor houses were permitted to take care of the trade in a better
atmosphere. Of course costs went up all the time .but I ran a good tight
house and didn't toss money around where it didn't show ... I also had
backers in high places who held about fifty per cent of the shares in
the house ...You had to stay on your toes when Storyville was going along
with the law, for the graft went on just the same and they could close
you up for an ash can left in the wrong spot ... (p.28).
Prostitution continues throughout the world today. The
news reports today, February 18, 1989, included a report of a
demonstration in the Philippines of over 25,000 people supporting the
presence of American military bases. They were described as garishly
dressed bar girls who provide services to American GIs. During a short
period in the '60s and '70s what was touted as a sexual revolution in
America led to an appearance of abandonment of chastity versus unchastity
as a social norm. However, more recently the underlying conservatism of
the American populace and the continued power of the concept of chastity
versus unchastity has become evident. The alleged sexual revolution, if it
existed, has failed under the impact of increased risk of disease,
including AIDS, and the recognition that relaxed standards for sexual
behavior did not deliver the promised benefit of freedom and intimacy.
V. Summary of the classification of unchastity.
The elements of the cognitive, emotional, and moral
significance of the category of unchaste, licentious, concupiscent, or
promiscuous demonstrated in the brief historical review are:
1. Women are held to be more concupiscent, subject to
passion, and therefore more wicked than men.
2. Women are held to a stricter standard than men and
any deviance from that standard is severely punished at a level of
violence greater than that for men held similarly guilty.
3. Women who engage in sexual behavior outside the
boundaries of marriage are held guilty of licentious behavior more than
4. Sexual behavior by women for commercial or economic
gain is clear evidence of concupiscence and licentiousness.
5. Concupiscence is a disposition ascribed to women and
is held to produce disastrous consequences for those victimized by it.
6. The evil and wicked nature of female concupiscence
is exploited by criminals and therefore is associated with a variety of
criminal conspiracy theories.
7. Concupiscence is a disease and is incurable.
8. The mere accusation of licentious, unchaste behavior
establishes guilt without investigation of facts.
9. Very primitive, atavistic emotions are generated by
accusations of licentious sexual behaviors. These powerful emotions can
cause societal movements to repress and punish those accused.
The cognitive, emotional, and moral content of the
classification of unchaste, promiscuous, concupiscent, and licentious
behavior by women has remained constant across cultures and time. It is
pernicious, baneful, and baleful. This fact is the basis for the law's
awareness that an accusation is damaging in and of itself and does not
require further proof of damage.
VI. History of child molestation.
In the prehistorical period children appear to have had
little meaning other than providing a labor force and additional defenders
for the group if attacked. In the pre-Greek era the concept that children
brought glory to a house was becoming prevalent. By Hellenic times the
birth of an eminent child in a city was a signal for feasts and embassies
from neighboring countryside brought congratulations. The Romans had
similar practices but there was nothing personal related to the child.
From Tertius on sons were simply numbered. It has been hard for
antiquarians to find more than 18 Roman first names.
This relatively positive, though impersonal, attitude
toward children is set against the widespread ancient practice of exposing
children and the prevalence of infanticide. Killing children by exposing
them, cultic sacrifice, or simply murdering them had the effect of
disposing of cripples, handicapped, and children deemed unfit. Many times
this was simply an unwanted female child. Depopulation sometimes followed.
The Roman need for grain sank from 14,600 hectolitres of grain daily under
Augustus to 6,600 under Severus largely due to the negative perception of
children and attendant population decline. Philosophically Epictetus
advised against marriage and having children though he says he likes them.
The twelve tablets of Romulus show that exposure of newborn Roman infants
was common. Historians regard infanticide as "the crying vice of the
Roman Empire" (Summer, 1906, p.319).
Nevertheless, infanticide has been recorded as a
regular feature of numerous cultures, including Eskimo, Polynesian,
Chinese, Egyptian, Scandinavian, African, American Indian, Indian, and Australian
aborigine. Polynesians regularly killed two-thirds of their babies.
Australian aborigines killed any children beyond two a woman could carry.
Social class is a significant determinant. The poorest were the ones
required to kill their children while the wealthy could avoid it. The
British colonial government of India strenuously sought to stop the
practice of infanticide into the Twentieth Century. Today, as a matter of
birth control, Chinese are practicing female infanticide on a wide scale.
Here, too, a distinction between secular infanticide
and cultic practices requiring the sacrificing of children can be drawn.
Canaanite cults required children be sacrificed by being thrown into the
red hot hands of statues of Baal where they fried to death. Jeremiah
(7:32) calls Hinnom, the valley where children were burnt, the
"valley of slaughter." King Ahaz "burnt incense in the
valley of the son of Hinnom and burnt his children in the fire" (II
Chron. 28:3). King Solomon built shrines to Chemosh and Moloch, deities to
whom children were sacrificed ('Kings 11:7). King Mannasseh sacrificially
burned his children in the valley of Hinnom (II Chron. 33:6). Religious
killing of children included the upper class and the desirable children.
For the Roman sacrifice of the Decemviri ten virgins were selected,
originally from the privileged families, but later from the servant class.
Nine young lads and virgins were required for sacrifices to Zeus, a Greek
Whereas children had been basically negatively
evaluated, Hellenism began to counter the diminished population by
depicting the child positively. Greek vase painting, drama, literature,
and exquisite statues of children show the glorification of the child.
This effort reached its peak in the 2nd century AD. However, antiquity
does not see children as innocent in a moral sense, rather as immature and
childish. Only children with normal abilities and regarded at best as raw
material that could be shaped and trained by adults are valued. There is
no awareness of the limits of adults who educate children, no sense of a
developing personality of the child, and no profound love for the child
Although children were regarded as sexually
uncomplicated, there are condemnatory references to sexual contact between
adults and children. During the Hellenic period Xenephon Eusebius lists
jealousy, adultery, murder of wife or husband, procuring children, selling
sexual services of children, and pederasty as reprehensible and shameful.
Heliodor puts adultery and traffic in girls for sexual acts in the same
classification. Hellenic literature describes relationships of coy, childish love including eroticism and sexual acts
involving children and adults (Kittel, 1967).
Hebrew culture saw children as without understanding,
self-willed, naughty, and needing discipline. "The imagination of man's heart is evil from his
youth" (Gen. 8:21). There is no concept of innocence of children.
child in rabbinic literature is recognized to be especially vulnerable to
sensual and sexual desires. Yet the child is a gift of God and belongs to
God. Firstborn sons belong to God, must be presented to him, and redeemed
by a sacrifice. Hebrew children also belonged to the community from the
very beginning. Circumcision is an act of reception and the first sign of
the duty of the community to the child. After the destruction of the temple
and a shift to greater emphasis on learning the Torah a sharper
distinction between boys and girls arose. Only the man is obliged to
keep the Torah in its fullest, therefore only boys are
justified in learning it.
The New Testament period included children in God's
grace and Kingdom. Baptism became the sign of acceptance into the
community and the obligation of the community to protect and nurture the
child. The early church protected marriage, fought licentiousness, and
imposed stringent sanctions on contraception, abortion, cultic sacrifices
of children, exposure, and sexual exploitation. This emphasis united with
the best in the pagan cultures to produce a shift to the idea that loss of
children is grievous and having children is a blessing of god.
There is reference to immuring children in the
foundations of buildings (Joshua 6:26). Archaeologists report finding jars
containing the bones of newborn infants in footings. There are reports of
children immured in the dikes of Oldenburg in the seventeenth century and
of putting them into foundations in India (Bakan, 1971).
What we would consider sexual abuse of children is
documented throughout history. From the time of Greek and Roman
civilization there are reports of boy houses of prostitution and of
castrating males in infancy to enhance their later appeal as boy
prostitutes. In medieval Europe children were masturbated by adults to
help bring on sleep and facilitate growth. Since family sleeping
arrangements were simple, often a single room house with everyone sleeping
together near the fireplace, it was routine to have intercourse in view of
the children. It was commonplace to make coarse jokes, play with the
child's genitals, and make sexual gestures to children (Schultz, 1982).
One of the best examples of the prevailing attitude
toward children and sexuality at the beginning of the seventeenth century
is found in the diary of Henri IV's physician, Heroard, in which he recorded details of
young Louis XIII's life. At one year of age Louis XIII had been taught to
show off his penis. His Nanny played with it. He asked people to kiss it
and he was encouraged to make jokes such as holding his penis and
pretending to "give you all some milk from my cock." The court
was amused to see his first erections and commented upon them. By the time
he was seven, these jokes disappeared — he had become a little man and he
had to be taught decency in language and behavior. But at age fourteen he
was married and put by force into his wife's bed, where his sexual performance
was encouraged and monitored (Aries, 1962).
These attitudes continued through the 17th century. But
as early as the mid-16th century legislation in England reflected a sense
that there was some need for protecting children from sexual exploitation.
A law was passed in 1548 protecting boys from forced sodomy and in 1576 a
law protecting girls under ten from forcible rape. By the end of the next
century moralists recommended separate beds and rooms for children,
although these did not become common until some 200 years later (Schultz,
1982). About this time the first censorship of children's literature
began. Aries states that this is a very important stage, which he regards
as "... marking the beginning of respect for childhood" (Aries,
In the 18th century, one of the first advocates of a
change from the traditional attitudes regarding children and sexuality was
the French educator, Henri Gerson. Although Gerson's views found little
support at the time his approach is similar to our ideas today. Gerson, in
1706, wrote that parents should induce guilt if they caught their children
masturbating. He believed that children felt no guilt to begin with —
the responsibility of the adults to make them feel guilt. Gerson also
warned adults to change the way they behaved towards children in dealing
with sexuality. He advised speaking to children with chaste expressions,
guarding against any promiscuity between adults and children, and teaching
the child that he must prevent others (both adults and children) from
touching and kissing him. He advised separating children at night, not
letting adults and children share the same bed, and forbidding adults and
children from touching each other when they were nude (Aries, 1962).
Around this time, another philosopher and educator, Blaise Pascal, warned
parents to supervise their children, to prohibit their nudity near adults,
and to control time servants spent alone with children (Schultz, 1982).
What followed was a long period in which increasing
efforts to curb all sexual activity in children paralleled a broader
historical movement towards sexual privacy. Today the ways suggested to control the
sexuality of children would be considered child abuse. Parents were told
to keep candles burning in sleeping areas so that the children could be
watched for masturbating. Servants and clergy were warned against
developing close relationships with children. Some children were given
repeated enemas to remove "evil" from their bodies. During this
time, children were considered to be potentially sexually dangerous and
asexuality was to be enforced (Schultz, 1982).
By 1850 it was assumed that many pediatric problems
could be attributed to early sexual activity. Parents were therefore
advised to do everything they could to control children's sexual play and
exploration. Parents were told to separate boys and girls in toilets and
when walking to school together, keep girls from climbing ropes, dress
children in loose clothing and give them regular cold baths, avoid sexual
talk around children, avoid whipping the buttocks of children and prohibit
children from viewing animals in heat (Schultz, 1982).
Masturbation was believed to cause debility, illness,
derangement, and mental retardation and extreme efforts to prevent it were
sometimes made. From around 1850 to 1900 this included surgical removal of
the clitoris, cutting of nerves to genitalia, cauterization of the
clitoris and penis, circumcision, and even castration of sexually active
From around 1875 to 1925 various constraints were
recommended including encasing the child in canvas and splints, encasing
in plaster of Paris, and blistering the genitalia with red mercury. Parents could purchase chastity belts made of leather and bone to prevent
touching. Other methods included immersing the sex organs in ice water,
dressing the child caught masturbating in special uniforms, placing bells
on the child's hands at night, and strapping the child's hands to the bed.
But by the 1920s, these efforts gradually came to an end (Schultz, 1982).
In America at this time there were no laws against
parents abusing children, a parallel of the wide scale abuse of children
in factories and other industrial settings. But in 1874 two events
occurred which marked the beginning of a new era of public attitudes
toward child abuse in general as well as child sexual abuse in particular.
In 1874 the Society for Prevention for Cruelty to
Animals (ASPCA) intervened in a case of a child whose stepmother beat her
with a leather thong and allowed her to go scantily clothed in bad
weather. A neighbor reported these facts to a social worker. But at that
time, no one could do anything. There were no laws prohibiting parents
from abusing their children.
The social worker therefore went to H. Bergh, the
founder of the ASPCA. The organization became involved on the grounds that
the child was a member of the animal kingdom.
The newspapers gave the case front page coverage for
months. It was argued in court by Elbridge T. Gerry, counsel to the ASPCC.
The child was removed from her home and the the stepmother was also
sentenced to prison. Following this, in 1875, Gerry led the formation of
the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (SPCC).
model of the animal protection societies, today seen as the prime example
of frivolous Victorian do-gooder reforms, is the beginning of a new cycle
of awareness of child abuse (Nelson, 1984).
That same year, 1874, the first recognized social
welfare agency dealing specifically with sexual abuse and children's
"immoral" behavior was established in New York. For the first
time in the history of the United States the government assumed the
authority to remove children from their parents because of sexual abuse or
children's immoral conduct. But most of the initial cases dealt with the
America approached the problem of sexual abuse in two
ways. First, the criminal law developed a floor of sexual protection for
children from sexual abuse from adults, spelling out the importance of
variables such as the age of the child, possible consent of the child, and
degree of force used.
Secondly, the juvenile court system enforced commonly
accepted concepts of behavior for children through the creation of status
offenses. Between 1877 and 1885 the Social Purity Alliance, whose mission
was to preserve childhood sexual innocence and rescue "fallen
women" and "sexual drunkards," forced the age of sexual
consent to rise. The higher age of consent gave the police and social
welfare agencies jurisdiction over a greater number of children.
Nell Kimball, New Orleans madam till 1917, expresses
her view of sex between adults and children:
Sometimes a John wanted a boy and girl together for
this pleasuring but I didn't cater to such tastes. I ran a good
old-fashioned whorehouse and they knew what l had to offer, and if they
didn't like it they could go elsewhere. I'll say this, there were plenty
of places in New Orleans they could get what they wanted.
Large urban areas in the 1920s attempted to clean up
commercial sexual activity by establishing Morals Courts. Reformers passed
laws that attacked adolescent prostitution and then turned to the
profession of social work to carry out their program. The major goals of
that program were to curb sexual behavior in adolescents and develop
interventions for sexually abused children (Schultz, 1982).
As public child welfare agencies took over the
functions of the child protective societies the problem of abuse went
underground and protective work received less and less attention. By World
War II, the SPCC movement was dead. By the 1950s there was no public
awareness of the sexual abuse of children. Even social workers did not
regard it as a significant professional concern. Sexual abuse of children
was not a matter of public policy until after the resurgence of interest
in the physical abuse of children (Nelson, 1984).
During the close of the 19th century and into the 20th
century children were noted being brought into the hospital by parents who
told stories of bizarre accidents to explain their children's strange
injuries. The suspicion slowly grew among the medical profession that it
was the parents who were causing the injuries. This suspicion received
support with the development of the X-ray machine. In 1946 radiologist
John Chaffey first reported in the American Journal of Roentgenology the
frequency of subdural hematoma in infants who also showed fractures of the
long bones. This combination of injuries was unlikely to have been caused
by accidents. Following the publication of this article, radiologists
began to also notice another unusual pattern — a number of different
injuries in various states of repair.
The next major breakthrough in the identification of
child abuse was in 1962. Dr. C. Henry Kempe conducted and reported a
nationwide survey about children with unusual symptoms of physical abuse.
In his article in the Journal of the American Medical Association he
coined a new term, the "battered-child syndrome" (Kempe,
Silverman, Steele, Droegemueller & Silver, 1962). Within weeks of its
publication, stories on child abuse were featured in popular magazines
like Time and Saturday Evening Post. Although the publication of Kempe's
article is often used to date the rediscovery of child abuse, the articles
in the popular press were equally important in creating the public opinion
that child abuse was an urgent national problem (Bakan, 1971; Fontana,
1973; Leishman, 1983; Nelson, 1984).
This rediscovery of child abuse occurred during an era
when issues of equity and social responsibility dominated the national
consciousness, beginning with the civil rights movement of the late 1950s.
Child welfare services in every county were supported in the amendments to
the 1962 Social Security Act. The "War on Poverty" stressed the
significance of services to children as a way to break the poverty cycle.
In 1967 the Supreme Court's In re Gault opinion extended Bill of Rights'
protections to children. The high level of interest in issues of social equity happened during
years of great economic prosperity. The real GNP doubled between 1950 and
Nurtured by this climate the focus of the problem of
child abuse shifted from a private, personal issue to a public policy
issue. Between 1963 and 1967 every state and the District of Columbia
passed some kind of reporting law for child abuse. This is remarkably fast
for an issue to diffuse through the society. The average length of time
for diffusion of an issue of public policy is 25.6 years. Child abuse took
5.8 years. These reporting laws are the first evidence of public
recognition of the problem at the state level. After the reporting laws
generated a completely unexpected heavy demand for services, the states
began to take steps to meet those demands (Nelson, 1984).
As the message filtered from the states to the national
level, Congress began to attend to the issue of child abuse. A number of
unsuccessful efforts climaxed in the ill-fated Comprehensive Child
Development Act (CCDA). Walter Mondale had been the primary sponsor of
this act which was one of the most heavily lobbied human services bills
ever presented to Congress. President Nixon vetoed it saying it
"would commit the vast moral authority of the National Government to
the side of communal approaches to child-rearing over (and) against the
family centered approach." After the veto a public opinion poll showed
that 75 percent of the people believed Nixon (Nelson, 1984).
In a Senate now dominated by liberals, the president's
veto both angered them and made them aware of the hazards any human
service legislation would face. New legislation centered around child
abuse was developed and passed with Mondale again providing the
leadership. The Senate-House compromise on this new legislation passed by
voice vote on December 21, 1973. President Nixon signed it on January 31,
1974. The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) became Public
Law 93-247. Congress did nothing except reauthorize the legislation until
1981 (Nelson, 1984).
At the present, child abuse is defined by law as a
public health matter. Sexual abuse of children is within that
classification as a social illness which has not been effectively treated
by the family. The notion of medical deviance is the rationale for the
intervention by the state into the family. The procedures that have been
developed by the combination of social workers, law enforcement officials,
the judiciary, and a small group of mental health professionals to deal
with sexual abuse derive from that conceptualization (Nelson, 1984).
Child abuse and child sexual abuse are thought to be epidemic in our society.
Much is made of the rapid
increase in reports of abuse. It is sometimes claimed that not only have
reports increased, but the actual frequency of abuse has dramatically
increased to produce such startling numbers as 1,500,000 American children
abused every year. This is fifteen to twenty times the estimates of the
frequency in other societies. The conclusion then drawn is that our
society is sick.
It has been asserted that Americans, for all practical
purpose, American males, have suddenly and inexplicably begun to abuse
children in larger numbers and with more bizarre behaviors than have ever
been known in the world before. The explanations given are familiar.
accused of sexual molestation are declared to be emotionally sick. The
moment an accusation is made, prior to any adjudication of facticity, men
are required to accept treatment for their supposed illness. Child
protection workers, guardians ad litem, and prosecutors insist upon sexual
abuse evaluations by their approved list of programs and professionals.
Accused molesters are said to be out of control, to have fixated upon
childish sexuality, to be unable to alter or subdue their sexual drives.
Molesters are said to be unable to change. Treatment can only hope to
place checks on their behavior, not change their inner disposition to
If men are imprisoned for sexual abuse of children,
there is fear for their lives. They are more likely to be assaulted,
victimized, and possibly murdered by the other inmates than any other
class of prisoner. Frequently they are isolated for their protection.
possible they conceal the crime for which they were convicted.
Penalties and sentences for child molestation are
severe and harsh. Laws have been changed to permit exceptions to the
hearsay rules. Special procedures are approved for trials of alleged child
molesters. Some basic constitutional rights appear to be denied when a
person is accused of child molestation. A person accused of child
molestation is more likely to be convicted and less likely to get a fair
trial than any other class of accused person (Wakefield & Underwager,
The justice system's response to child sexual abuse is
shaped by the community's sense of justice. This is shown in the
remarkable speed with which legislators have passed child abuse and child
sexual abuse laws (Nelson, 1984). Throughout the nation legislation
continues to be passed which creates laws specific to child sexual abuse.
The effect of this new legislation is to set up a special category of
offender — child sexual abusers — and create special conditions for their
discovery, prosecution, and punishment. Persons accused of other crimes
are not treated the same way as are those accused of child sexual abuse.
In creating these special conditions the justice system
is responding to the community's sense of justice (Van De Kamp, 1986).
Child sexual abuse is viewed as heinous and reprehensible. Physical child
abuse preceded sexual abuse in public consciousness, but as sexual abuse
of children was publicized, laws concerning child abuse were radically
reformed. These new laws increase the exposure to culpability by special
provisions such as admissibility of hearsay statements, child testimony
through videotape, and broad definitions of sexual abuse. Harsher
punishments have been given to child sexual abusers than to those accused
of physical abuse (Diamond, 1984). Several states have made child sexual
abuse a capital crime. Both the substantiation rate of reports and the
conviction rate for child sexual abuse are higher than for physical abuse
(Abramczyk & Sweigart, 1985).
Society's attitudes about child sexual abusers is
illustrated by a statement of the Lieutenant-Governor of Nevada:
I can sum up my feelings on this sick subject pretty
damn quick. Social workers wouldn't like it but you (law enforcement
officers) should unstrap that pistol and shoot them on the spot (Reno
A California judge, in the course of a preliminary
hearing, told a child psychologist accused of sexual abuse that if
"he dealt with my child, I would kill him. Now, that's on the record.
. ." (CA vs. Miller, #F89471 A-87986, p. 95, 1985). A Minnesota
statewide poll found almost half of the population ready to throw those
accused off buildings, string them up, or dispatch them in sundry fashion
(Minneapolis Star & Tribune, 1985). In Arkansas a man accused of child
sexual abuse was assaulted in his home and castrated by two masked men
(AP, 1986). No arrests were ever made. One prosecutor, after an acquittal
in a sex abuse case, said, "I'm sick to death of things like the
presumption of innocence" (McEnroe & Peterson, 1984, p. 1).
also said, "But I would just like to put a sign on their houses that
says, 'Pervert Lives Here.'" (Black, 1984, p.1). Attorney General
Elkenberry, Washington, has called for "a religious crusade"
against sexual abuse, adding the instruction to "go after it with
fervor" (Duncan & Balter, 1986). Diamond (1986) reports a study
which found that attorneys and judges assumed guilt "much more
frequently" in sexual abuse cases than in any other criminal case.
is an oft-repeated truism that child sexual abusers are in grave danger in
prison because other inmates regard them as the worst of all prisoners and
are likely to assault them.
There are a number of possible interpretations of this
intense reaction. Child sexual abuse taps a primitive and atavistic
emotion. Bakan (1971), a personality theorist, discusses child abuse and links it to
sexuality in this fashion:
Informed by the cosmic significance attributed to sex
in the Jewish mystical tradition and the psychological significance
attributed to sex in psychoanalysis ... I searched the empirical
on sexuality and sex differences. ... If the man-woman-child "holy
trinity" is a kind of ultimate paradigm of wholeness,
wholesomeness, and holiness, what then corresponds to sin? I came to
believe that the answer must be infanticide, the killing of the new life
that results from the coming together of the male and the female. The
crushing out of the life of a child is, in my opinion the most heinous
of all crimes (p. xi).
The progression in our society's consciousness from
physical abuse to sexual abuse means that the emotions generated by the
former are attached to the latter. Add the anti-sexuality evident in the
prevention literature, the broad definitions of sexual abuse so as to
include almost any touching, and the genitalized view of sexuality found
in the literature and rhetoric dealing with child sexual abuse. The result
is the society's emotional investment in the pursuit and punishment of
An unusual aspect of the consensus on a vigorous and
aggressive stance toward child sex abuse is that it brings together the
liberal left and the radical right. The various ideological strands that
are entwined in the consensus include political liberals and
conservatives, feminists, humanists, anti-male, anti-pornography,
intellectuals, pro-family and pro-life, and traditional family ideology.
All agree that sexual abuse of children is heinous and widespread, that
accused persons are guilty, and that perpetrators ought be severely
punished. The single law-and-order issue that both extreme left and
extreme right can enthusiastically endorse is the get-tough stance toward
child sexual abusers (Broom & Lalonde, 1986). The moderating center
does not need to get involved since both extremes agree and are not
pushing the center from either direction.
VII. Summary of the classification of child molester.
The cognitive, emotional, and moral content of the
classification of child molester has persisted across cultures and time.
The main concepts are as follows:
1. Accused child molesters are held to be more
concupiscent, subject to passion, and therefore more wicked than other
2. Accused child molesters are held to a stricter
standard than others and any deviance from that standard is severely
punished at a level greater than that for those convicted of other crimes.
3. Child molesters are held guilty of licentious
behavior more than others.
4. Sexual behavior of accused child molesters for
commercial or economic gain is often alleged as part of the accusation
(child pornography) and is offered as evidence of greater concupiscence
and licentiousness. Seldom is actual evidence of child pornography found
when it has been alleged during the investigation, indictments, and
5. Concupiscence is a disposition ascribed to child
molesters and is held to produce disastrous consequences for those
victimized by it.
6. The evil and wicked nature of child molester's
concupiscence is exploited by criminals and therefore is associated with a
variety of criminal conspiracy theories.
7. Concupiscence of child molesters is a disease and is
8. The mere accusation of licentious, unchaste behavior
establishes guilt without investigation of facts. Child molesters are
often immediately judged to be guilty by the system of child protection
workers, the general public, and the justice system prior to adjudication,
but the full coercive and punitive power of the law descends upon the
person accused. The task of an accused child molester is to prove his
9. Very primitive, atavistic emotions are generated by
accusations of licentious sexual behaviors. These powerful emotions can
cause societal movements to repress and punish those accused.
VIII. The historical and content analysis of the
classifications of unchaste woman and child molester have demonstrated
extensive similarities between the two concepts. Both are equally
opprobrious, pejorative, baleful, and baneful. If the law accords the
presumption of damage to the statement indicating classification of
individual as an unchaste, promiscuous, or licentious woman, then it must
do so for a statement alleging classification as a child molester. The
damage done is equally as devastating, if not more so, than an appellation
IX. In the specific case Mr. Clauss has described to
me, he states it is established that staff people said of his client to
children, "Watch out! John Doe is known for liking young boys. If he
ever tries anything, let one of us know!"
It is my professional opinion this is an unambiguous
and clear statement classifying Mr. Clauss's client as a child molester.
The meaning and the content of the statement is an allegation of
concupiscence, licentiousness, and propensity for sexually acting out with
children. Children hearing this statement would likely understand its
import and believe the man was a likely child molester.
I declare that the foregoing is true and correct.
Ralph Underwager, Ph.D.
Licensed Consulting Psychologist
License Number C-55
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