Redemption Song

Twenty years ago, Ken Lamberton seduced one of his junior high students. Here's what's happened since

"To have your entire childhood missing your father's signature on the report card — you notice these things, you know," she says. "I was fairly insistent that there would be a parental relationship."

Karen mailed Ken copies of the girls' favorite books, which he would read into a cassette recorder and send back. That's what passed for a bedtime story in the Lamberton house.

The girls dreaded visiting their father.

David Hollenbach
Karen and Ken Lamberton 


Lamberton
Kathryn Schuessler
Karen and Ken Lamberton Lamberton

"I think when we were younger, it was like going to the grocery store as a kid," says Kasondra. "You just don't want to do it. As I got older, it got more scary."

Melissa remembers the prison dogs.

"I remember having to stand against the back and this huge German shepherd that was bigger than me would have to sniff me," she says. "I think we were a little scared of the guards just in general. I was more afraid of them than I was of any of the convicts."

Welfare kept the family going until 1991, when Karen lost her eligibility.

Since the time Ken had gone to jail, Karen had been driving an extremely old car. It had no seat belts. She had to hot-wire it to get it going.

On a trip to California, the girls piled into their aunt's car. She turned the key and the car started. The girls were amazed.

"Does it always do that?" they wanted to know. "Do you always turn the key and it starts?"

Horrified at what Karen had been driving, her sister bought herself a new car and gave Karen the old one.

Unfortunately, the car was worth about $9,000. Under Department of Economic Security guidelines at the time, a person on welfare could only have $2,500 in assets, and only $1,500 of that could be a car. DES told her she had to sell the car and spend all the money in order to stay on welfare.

She said no. She needed the car.

She did some research and learned that the requirement wasn't made nationwide.

So she challenged the decision. And she won twice — initially, and then on appeal, at which point hers became a class action lawsuit, merged with similar cases.

Eventually she got off welfare voluntarily when she finished school and got a job. Karen's graduation from college wasn't the end of the family's struggle, but it certainly helped.

Life kept going for all those years. Science projects and school concerts and trips out to the prison. The girls couldn't deny or forget the fact that dad was in prison, and explaining it to people wasn't easy.

When she did have to explain to her friends, Melissa says she did it by degrees.

"I answered in the same way my mom answered me when I was asking. She answered in degrees," she recalls. "When I was a little girl she would say he ran away from home and he took things that didn't belong to him. As I got older I understood he had committed adultery, so I thought that was the reason. As I got older she would explain in deeper degrees. So I used the same pattern with my friends. I was like, 'I can't explain it to you any other way. He's a sex offender. He's in prison.'"


The visits saved him, Ken says. Early on, he was at the Santa Rita unit of the Arizona State Prison, in Tucson, which at least was close to Karen, making visits easier.

Always an outdoors type, Lamberton used the nature he saw around him in prison as a mental escape. He became a bird watcher, marking his time in jail with the migration of the birds.

Bird watchers keep obsessive lists of the birds they've spotted, where they spotted them, when. It was a perfect prison pastime.

"A lot of my first birds were there," he says. "There was a robin, which was kind of a surprise. There were lots of hawks — red-tailed hawks and Cooper's hawks chasing doves around."

He became more focused than ever on nature. It gave him a sense of freedom to watch birds or hunt for tadpoles on the yard.

"The stuff I could see on the yard were similar to what my daughters could see, so it would give us things to talk about," he says. "Among the rosebushes, there were toads that would come up after it rained, and just to hear those toads singing or see them hopping around on the yard connected me in a lot of ways to my children who were doing the same thing at home."

In 1989, he started going to a writers' workshop run by Richard Shelton, an English professor at the University of Arizona. He says it changed his life.

Shelton remembers that Lamberton was very shy when they first met.

"He was young. Good-looking. Terrified," recalls Shelton. "He introduced himself, but he was so soft-spoken that I couldn't understand what he said."

Once he got comfortable, Lamberton became a leader. Unfortunately, his writing wasn't great.

"He was writing terrible stuff. Religious stuff mostly." says Shelton. "I knew he was a biologist. I said, 'You shouldn't be messing around with this other stuff, you should be writing in your field.'"

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21 comments
Mike
Mike

I think it's absurd that consensual sex with teenagers is in any way linked to "molestation". I am from Canada, where the age of consent is 14, as it is in most of Europe.What happens in the US regarding "sex offenses" with willing teens is regarded in the civilized world the same way as the Taliban stoning a woman for adultery or stoning homosexuals---both "sex offenses".

JC
JC

As a former classmate of Kelly's, I can say that I see both sides of the story. Kelly knew what she was doing when she entered into the relationship. I know people will say that she was too young to know, but that is NOT the case here. While I don't think that Mr. Lamberton should have NEVER have allowed it to go as far as it did. He should have reported the story to an administrator in the school and addressed it directly with Kelly as being inapporpriate.

Yes, Kelly has moved on with her life, she had counseling, she has a strong family who loves her, but she also needs to be held accountable for her actions and her role in the situation.

So does Mr. Lamberton, as shown by his wife and daughters sticking by him. He paid for his crimes, he has moved on with his life as well, in a different way.

I say it's time to let the situation rest...for everyone involved.

Just Saying
Just Saying

I just read a letter via the internet to the new times from Candi Kane. Here is a portion of what she wrote:

-Yet where is the accountability of underage people wearing sexy clothes and throwing themselves at adults? Isn't that seduction, too? It seems to even be okay if teenagers under the age of 18 have sex with each other, but not if one is 18 years old and falls prey to some "innocent" little victim.-

It is unreal that people do not realize the victim was 13/14 years old & he was in his mid/late 20's. He was a trusted adult teacher she was a child student. If she was walking around naked. This teacher should have not SEDUCED (better word Prey)on this CHILD. It is common knowledge that many pre-teens want to dress & act older. Many have crushes on their teachers. Most teachers/adults have the sense not to take advantage of a child & have no desire to do so.

Candi Kane regarding your Grandmother & Aunt who married at 14. How much older were your Uncle & Grandfather? I hope not much older. They lived in a different era. It is the year 2007 & some have learned from the past.

Come on people. Plain & simple this child adult relationship was wrong. She WAS the innocent victim & he commited a crime.

Finally, it has been written that child molestation is over blown. I believe it is not. There are thousands of silent victims of molestation. They are either too embarassed, threatened, or tramatized to speak out.

jlb87
jlb87

1st, I hope D.K. knows what they are talking about, and I hope it isn't a former defendant. Teachers are one of the worst sex offenders, when it happens. Students and parents trust teachers. When a teacher takes advantage of that trust they should be held accountable. When the students are in K-12 and Jr. High I feel the teachers are pedafiles and should be treated as such. High school as well, although the teachers seem to get more of a break as the kids are older and teachers accuse the students of coming on to them more often. A HS teacher can do just as much damage to students and prior students. The scares are just as deep. There was a teacher at my high school who made passes at female students and even married a former student from 2 years prior. he always had the reputation of the teacher who had sex with students but the admin ignored the signs and rumors. Maybe admin and other teachers who choose to ignore the "reputation" of another teacher need to be held accountable for something as well. Year after year students aren't just spreading rumors. And now Mesa schools should know this....

bcee
bcee

How sick is this. To romanticise a child molester. His wife makes funny comments like "You could of had four wives" when he has 3 daughters and more than likely has molested them. Pedophiles do not discriminate! This is very sick. The writer evidently has no daughters. I warn those girls, do not let Grandpa hold your baby daughters!!

D.K.
D.K.

Just saying, I think thats more of a sign of his guilt and remorse. People want those who commit these crimes to live with the guilt for the rest of their lives.

This one clearly is.

D.K.
D.K.

Renee, I agree that it is a bit tacky to be bringing this up. I hope that the victim was consulted before this was published and agreed to it.

There is an underlying reason for more and more stories like this in the media. As Gallowsman pointed out, sex offender hysteria has swept the nation. It would be one thing if the laws, legislation and vigilantism were confined to a certain group of offenses. But they have all long since passed that and have encompassed a huge array of people convicted of everything even remotely connected to sex.

When you say ' Sex Offender ', the vast majority of the grossly uninformed public automatically thinks of a guy in a trenchcoat hiding in the bushes at a schoolyard waiting for a little girl to walk by so he can grab her and stuff her into his windowless van. And with this image and criminal who wouldn't want him to suffer in prison for the rest of their life.

But the flaw is that is crimes and criminals like this are the rare exception, not the rule. They always have been. The registry and residency restrictions and bright green license plates and GPS monitoring are all based off of this faulty perception of sex crimes.

This has happened mostly because of a small number of psyco pedophiles out there that have grabbed the public's and politician's attention. In the tidal wave of emotion, ( mostly justified ) the politicians have used broad and sweeping laws as rafts to ride the public opinion to headlines.

Now people who would never molest a child, never molested anyone , are subject to the same scorn, humiliation, and discrimination as a repeat molester.

Just saying
Just saying

Hmmm. I think Kelly Gregan & her Family not commenting IS speaking out loud and clear. They have moved on (hopefully healed) & finished with that chapter of their lives. Ken Lamberton seems still consumed with the ordeal & his victim. Sad.

Renee
Renee

Wow. "Redemption Song?"As a victim of child molestation, I feel the need to comment.Why does guy want to still be in the public eye after 20 years? Why does he want to poor salt in open old wounds for the victim? I assume she does not want to reminisce about that part of her life, especially if she has a family now. Writing is therapy for him, okay. Why do it in public? He should write in a journal or in letters to his wife! If he had any remorse or be decent human being he would decline on public comments or writings.

In the article it mentioned she dressed "grown up". It disgusts me when I hear comments that a child dressed mature or acts older for their age. At 13 or 14 most girls want to be older. They are not asking for a teacher or other so called responsible safe adults to seduce & molest. What about self-control or morals? He stole this victim innocence away.

What about this quote. ~~Sometimes the only way to ease the tension is to joke. When a conversation about Gregan gets too intense, Karen says, "You know, it's really too bad for Ken he was born in this culture. He could have had, like, four wives."~~Maybe it is just me. But I don't think it is funny.

Yes, I am judging Ken Lamberton. As a child molestation victim...I earned the right.

Gallowsman
Gallowsman

JJ. My point was that everytime an Ex-Sex Offender takes a breath there are ten news articles covering it, fifteen laws passed trying to say where he can and can't take that breath, and every one "blogging" on trying to find a way to stop them from breathing at all. Yet I would venture to say not one of you here know or even care how many children were killed and injured that same day by guns, drugs, and alcohol nor willing to do anything about it. This man paid his debt according to the law at the time of his conviction. Many are unhappy with this result and want another "pound of flesh" and are getting it "Ex Post Facto". What people don't understand is eventually they will become the "subject" of these laws in a "modified" form. History tells us this: "There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws." --Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, Ch. III, "White Blackmail"

JJ
JJ

Gallowsman,

I care tremendously about children. I have a few myself. No child should ever be killed by guns, drugs or alcohol but the subject of this story is about Ken Lamberton and the way he deceived a young girl and sexually abused her and how people think he should be accepted because he has "done his time."I will disagree that Lamberton should be accepted back into society. A sexual predator does not stop being a sexual predator just because they did prison time. I would never trust him around my children or any other children. He is a sexual predator and will be until the day he dies.Any parent who has children should never leave them alone when this man is around. I wouldn't trust him as far as I could throw him.

Gallowsman
Gallowsman

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report reveals that 2,827 children and teens died as a result of gun violence in 2003 and 12,000+ injured. Why is no one here screaming for the banishment and outlawing of guns to protect children? They do ten times the damage to our children and families as Sex Offenders but not one of you care about those children do you! A child killed by a gun is tragic, but however you feel it is acceptable. I won't even go into Alcohol and Drugs which kill and injure more children than Guns and Sex Offenders put together. Too bad children with a bullet threw the head is not as "valuable" as one molested. Dead get nothing. Molested gets votes. Get it? It about the votes, not the kids. If is was you would have to give up your guns. Or is your gun more important than a child?

"The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation." (Adolph Hitler (Mein Kampf))

DK
DK

What about the 15 yr old girl who is in a wheelchair the rest of her life after a speeder hits the car she was in? The speeder gets out of jail and goes on with his life, the poor girl is in a wheelchair the rest of her life.

When you start talking about victims, remember that while victims of sexual abuse suffer greatly, so do victims off all sorts of other crimes that there is no registry and tacking of the offenders. I don't think that an abuser should get off scottfree by any means. This individual not only served time, but was let out for a month or two, and then put back in after tasting freedom.

I know that there are huge discrepencies with victim's rights and restitution. But that is something to take out on the politicians who make the rules. Not the ones subject to them.

BCZ
BCZ

In answer to your question JJ, no where in the bible does it say that to abuse a child is "ok." Then again no one on this page is saying that what he did was "ok." He commited a crime, did the time he was sentenced to and now he is getting on with his life. Where in the bible does it say his sin is beyond redemption or forgiveness?

Regarding his victim, she has been silent on the subject for 21 years so I will not presume to know what she feels about it.

JJ
JJ

What about his victim? She has to pay for the rest of her life because of what he did to her. Do you even care about what she has gone through and will continue to go through?

I thank GOD he was gone while his daughters were growing up. Who knows what he would have done to them.

Also, you never answered my previous question....Where in the bible does it say it is ok to abuse, molest and harm a child?

D.K.
D.K.

Yeah I'm going to take his side, HE PAID THE PRICE FOR HIS CRIME. How would you like it if you got a speeding ticket and could only drive a car that went 25 MPH for the rest of your life? Speeders re-offend often and put children at risk by their behavior... How far down the rabbit hole you wanna go here, pal??

They offend over and over again??

Show me a study that says that. I find it funny that that is the mantra that is repeated over and over again, and yet every study done by state and local and federal governments that I've read don't back that up.

And what about Sex Offenders that don't have a victim?

JJ
JJ

Oh, and to Mr. Gladish,

Where in the bible does it say it's ok to molest, abuse and harm a child? Where does it say it's ok to damage this child's life?

JJ
JJ

Yeah, side with the sex offender. Don't think of the VICTIM!

Sex offenders do offend over and over again. Let's all put on our blinders and let these guys do as they please....until it comes to one of our family members or friends.

I feel for his kids. This does have a lasting effect on them whether you want to believe it or not.

Shame, shame.

D.K.
D.K.

I'm so tired of listening to people scream about sex offenders. You know what people?? We have a justice system for a reason. When someone pays a debt to society they shouldn't be held accountable for the rest of their lives. I'm glad he's found a way to re-enter society. Lawmakers and alarmist seem hell bent on making everyone convicted of a sex crime homeless, jobless and penniless these days.

Oh, and by the way.. Child Molesters only make a portion of the people who are on the registry. Does someone who was caught with 1 or 2 pictures of underage porn deserve the same treatment as someone who kidnapped a child?

and don't tell me about Sex Offenders being the highest risk to reoffend. Are you impling that anyone on the registry could kidnap a child at any moment. Even the ones there of peeing on a dumpster behind Cooperstown?

Stephen B. Gladish
Stephen B. Gladish

In answer to J.J.'s words of condemnation, retribution, and punishment, I do not believe God, The Great Spirit, The Higher Power, keeps a list of all the mistakes we make. Only God can interpret the workings of a human heart and a human soul. Jesus warned us to "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgement you mete to others, it shall be meted unto you." A human being is not just a list of mistakes. It's what a person does with his life following his mistakes that makes the difference. Read his books and determine the purpose and the soul of the writer and you will see no criminal thought or intent. Talk in person to the man, his wife, his three daughters, and you will see goals and accomplishments, along with spiritual and moral values, in every member of that family.I've known and worked with Ken Lamberton for two decades. He's on the up escalator to heaven along with all of us. God Bless him and his family for all they've accomplished.Leave the past behind. This is a new life.

JJ
JJ

This creep is making money off of a crime? How dare he! Every cent he makes off of the books he sells should be given to the girl he MOLESTED!Did she ever get any type of counseling? What about her life? I can understand why she won't return calls. To be used and abused by a trusting adult can leave lifetime scars on a person.He is free to do as he pleases while this woman has to live the rest of her life with what he did to her.Shame on anyone who supports the monster and shame on anyone who buys his books.He should be living out his life rotting away in prison.

 
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