By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
"McCord was a predatory pedophile," says Bill Richardson, a retired Mesa police detective who investigated McCord for child-molesting in the mid-1980s. "Trouble is, the school districts in Mesa and Phoenix didn't do anything about him until it was too late."
@body:"With my experience, I could have seen through that guy like he was wearing a neon light," says Phoenix police detective Mariano Albano. "Many people don't know what to look for. Always hanging out with certain boys. Volunteering. Friendly. Popular. Always on the hunt."
David McCord was a pro at seducing young people, especially those with emotional and physical problems. And he was just as good at fooling adults.
New Times pieced together McCord's background from interviews, public records and confidential psychological reports. Not surprisingly, what emerges is a portrait of a bright, manipulative man unable to control his sexual appetite for boys.
McCord told one psychologist of an unhappy middle-class childhood during which he felt isolated and inept. An overweight and uncoordinated youth, he had few pals in his native Bluffton, Indiana.
As a 7-year-old, McCord said, an older boy introduced him to sex during a relationship that spanned years. He described numerous other homosexual encounters during his adolescence and adulthood.
McCord attended the University of Indiana for one year, then transferred to the University of Colorado. He dropped out and moved back to Indiana, where he worked in a factory.
After returning to Colorado in the mid-1970s, McCord made news for the first time. Reporters from London to Lisbon wrote about it; Johnny Carson joked about it. A Boulder County court clerk in March 1975 issued McCord and his male lover a marriage license. Many called it the nation's first legally sanctioned same-sex marriage.
The state of Colorado later nullified such marriages, but McCord told the Boulder Daily Camera in 1978 it didn't matter. He had become a Mormon, he said, and was embracing heterosexuality. The interview ended with McCord saying he was "looking forward to a wife and kids and dirty diapers."
In 1979, McCord earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Colorado. (During his senior year, he took a class in Deviant Behavior.) He moved to Arizona and found part-time work as a substitute teacher in Mesa.
In Mesa, McCord participated in Mormon group-counseling sessions during which he spoke of his homosexual past. But he didn't mention that part of his past in June 1982, when he applied with the state of Arizona for certification as a single adoptive parent. The state later placed a 15-year-old boy in his home.
Soon, however, McCord's luck soured. A Department of Economic Security intern who happened to be Mormon noticed his name on a list. She remembered his revelations during the group sessions and told her supervisor.
Experts agree pedophilia and homosexuality are not necessarily related. But DES officials were concerned about having a teenage boy living with a man who had concealed a key component of his background.
The agency ordered a psychological evaluation of McCord, which Brian Yee completed in January 1983. "This profile raises the possibility of sexual identification problems and overt homosexual activity," Dr. Yee concluded.
Incredibly, however, Yee suggested the relationship between McCord and the boy "not be disrupted at this time . . . in view of the positive emotional ties that have already formed."
But a few months later, McCord signed a "withdrawal of certificate" form and the agency moved the 15-year-old to another home. McCord needed to prove he really had turned over a new leaf. One way was to find himself a wife.
@body:David McCord and Barbara Rabe met at a training seminar she was giving for prospective adoptive parents. A single mother with a retarded and handicapped child of her own, Rabe had become deeply involved with Arizona's foster-parent program in the late 1970s.
The pair started dating in early 1983. As they got to know each other, McCord asked Rabe to scan his journals.
"He wrote about having had sex with about 200 boys," says Rabe, a therapist who recently opened a counseling center in Mesa. "I assumed it had been when he was a promiscuous teen. He said he had resolved his problems and I believed him. I was stupid."
McCord and Rabe got married in September 1983. He moved in with her natural child and two adopted foster children--each of them handicapped.
Mesa High School hired McCord as a math teacher in January 1984.
On the surface, his life was on the right track.
The McCords applied with DES in early 1984 for certification as an adoptive foster-care couple. Knowing of his past, the agency asked David McCord to undergo a second evaluation.
Psychologist Ronald Davis was impressed with McCord and his lifestyle. "Mr. McCord continues to show improvement in his life circumstances and emotional development," Davis wrote. "His marriage is viewed as a strength in terms of his ability to parent successfully."
After the rave review, DES placed a little boy with low intelligence and marked emotional problems--we'll call him Jeff--with the McCords.
To the world, the newlyweds were a loving, churchgoing couple who had embraced the task of caring for unwanted handicapped kids. The Phoenix Gazette published an article lauding the couple.