Very Bad Thoughts

A pedophile who labors to keep his desire to rape little boys a figment of his imagination admits he's a walking time bomb

Derek gagged on the teacher's penis, and vomited a little on his pants leg. At that point, the teacher turned him over and raped him for 20 minutes, then set him free with a warning. "He said, if I told anyone, he'd kill my family and burn down my house."

Derek went home and wet the bed that night for the first time since he was a toddler, as he would do most every night for the next two years. He told no one about the rape, and he would keep silent for eight more years.

"The next morning, [the teacher] almost acted like nothing had happened," Derek recalls. "He didn't pick on me as much anymore. Instead he patted me on the back. He became nicer in a weird way."

Jonathan Weiner
Jonathan Weiner

A few days later, though, Derek remembers that he was summoned into the teacher's storage room to help retrieve some workbooks. It was a glorified closet, brick walls with white speckled tile and a lingering smell of mimeograph ink. "He locked the door and told me to get down on my knees, opened my pants and forced me to perform oral sex on him. A few minutes passed, he didn't finish, then he asked me to carry some boxes full of notebooks back to the classroom with him."

The abuse continued through the spring, Derek says. Over time, Derek admits, some of the experiences became pleasurable to him a young boy's introduction to sex forever linked to violence.

"Have you ever seen somebody so enraged, so furious, that you are actually afraid of them? That's what made him do it, I think. He was angrier than anything else, and I just happened to be around to take his anger out on."

The effect on Derek was marked. Seemingly overnight, his parents say, he withdrew from everything. "We lost a loving, hugging, smiling child, and it devastated us, and we didn't know what to do," his mother says, tearfully.

Derek's mother and father are sitting tensely at the kitchen table in their Mesa home, where Derek lives with them in a gated, adult community. She flips open a worn photo album and walks her fingers through the pages of her son's life. She pauses with a pained expression as a diapered Derek smiles out from under his father's too large policeman's cap, then continues to Derek's fifth-grade class picture taken shortly after he was raped.

"Here you can see it, look. He has a completely different expression. In his eyes there was no more light, just hurt."

She closes the book angrily. "He looked like he'd lost his soul."

What happened to Derek that day in 1975 had an effect on the entire family. Derek's younger brother is estranged from him after finding a closet full of clippings from department-store catalogues showing boys in briefs pasted into scrapbooks, and pairs of young boys' underwear.

"He called me every name in the book," Derek says.

Derek's parents are still caring for a child that by all rights should have been on his own 20 years ago.

"The actions of one person have disrupted four lives," Derek's mother says. "It means the loss of your kid and all [his] future prospects; it prevents the child from realizing [his] full potential.

"He lives with torture every day, and so do we," she continues. "They should have a village for them, where the guys can all live together and nobody bothers them."

She says she is proud of her son for not hurting anyone, and is confident that one day he will be cured. But her anger at what she has lost consumes her. "I think they should kill child molesters and burn their bodies," she spits. "I know that's a horrible thing to say, but it's how I feel."

Her anger is, in part, with herself for not only her inability to prevent what happened to her son, but not recognizing the signs. In those days, kids roamed their neighborhoods fearlessly, she says. The biggest danger a park presented should have been a skinned knee. "He had nightmares where he was kicking the walls and screaming, three to four times a night. I had no idea what was happening."

And Derek wasn't telling.

Derek says he developed traumatic amnesia, blocking the events of that fifth-grade year out of his mind. "I was aware that something bad had happened, but I didn't know what."

In junior high and high school, his weight increased and his sexuality began to demonstrate itself in ways that Derek says he couldn't understand. In ninth grade he became sexually obsessed with a 10-year-old neighbor boy. They wrestled together and Derek became aroused. Derek crept into the neighbor's room and stole his underwear, which he would use as a masturbation prop.

Derek joined the Navy after high school and served from January 1984 through March 1986. His nightmares returned with a vengeance, and the initial thoughts of molesting young boys began creeping into his dreams, then dominating his waking fantasies. In December 1985, he was playing miniature golf and found himself fixated on a young boy, entertaining thoughts of tying him up and raping him. The disgust he felt was matched by his arousal. Soon, the turmoil in his mind would break him.

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