You can almost understand how, when Michael Jackson pimped a kid out from under his parents, the mom and dad would fall for it: limos, jets, front-row seats, shopping sprees at Neiman. About those teddy-bear sleepovers? No worries. Gimme my Rolex!
It's more difficult to get why Rayne Perrywinkle and her daughter Cherish jumped into a van at a Dollar General on Lem Turner Road last June with a strange man who offered them a Walmart gift card. She then allowed her 8-year-old daughter go alone with this man, supposedly to a McDonald's inside the Walmart.
Donald James Smith was a four-time loser with jolts for indecent exposure to a child, kidnapping, kiddie porn and burglary. He raped and murdered Cherish, then dumped her body along a muddy bank of Half Branch Creek among the camphor and pine.
He's on trial this week for capital rape and murder one. His only options are life or the needle. Smith himself prefers the slow drip of the death cocktail. Having spent much of his adult life in Florida prisons, he knows that child murderers don't do well. In general population, he could look forward to nightly after-dinner beatings, which prisoners prefer for dessert over the eternal vanilla pudding.
So how do these monsters cozen parents and cozy up to kids? They are extraordinarily insinuating. Child molesters have the intellects of adults but the emotions of children. They can empathize because, deep down, they are children. They know exactly what fascinates kids because it fascinates them. Often they stock their houses with the best candy, the best games, the most fun stuff. There are ice cream bars, toys, stuffed bears, horses and monkeys, and Hello Kitty in every shade of pink. Their houses are one big rock candy mountain.
Molesters take advantage of parents' exhaustion. They're always available — and
I do mean always — to babysit or run errands. They can be so, so charming. The kids have so much fun. You needn't worry about a thing!
They fixate on a specific age and state of growth. Some target only small children; some the pubescent nymphets famously depicted in Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita. They always lose interest as children mature, breasts appear, voices deepen and chins need shaving.
Smith was crude and in a hurry, so he killed his victim. Many pedophiles work slowly. They cultivate trust in the parents; they fascinate the children with fun. When at last they're all alone, they hug, then touch, then tumesce. Sometimes they convince the children, at least for a while, that sex at their age is normal.
In the years during which I interviewed molesters in jails, often about the details of their crimes, never once did I hear the faintest acknowledgment that what they had done was wrong. Remorse? Not possible. Always they said the same thing: "I'm giving her/him the gift of love."
Their self-delusion is profound. Some of these characters waxed philosophical (jails can do that). Like Carl Jung freaks on acid, they rhapsodized about the merging of the physical, intellectual and spiritual, the union of opposites. It's not easy to listen to this; it's not easy to write about it. In jail, when junkies toss their cookies on you, all you have to do is wash your shoes. When child molesters give you the love spiel, you have to cleanse your soul.
The defining characteristic of pedophilia is its intractability. As one inmate explained to me after a 20-year stretch, "You can stop from doing it, but you never stop wanting it." Pedophilia has never been cured. Everything has been tried — psychotherapy, group therapy, aversion therapy, female hormones, even surgical excision of the penis and testicles. Nothing has worked.
So beware. When a stranger comes bearing perfect gifts and, in a twinkling, becomes your child's best friend and your best helper, consider leaving the state. If you take the money and the gifts, whether they're a day at Neiman Marcus or a gift card at Walmart, you have, knowingly or unknowingly, pimped out your child. You'll cry bitter tears and suffer fires of guilt that sear your being, in the lowest rung of hell,
In Crime City..