WILLIAM, THE RUINED TEACHER
“S.19: William”, a teacher in England in his mid-fifties, was one of the ten people interviewed in 1978 or 1979 by London psychologist D. N. Cox for his book, jointly written by G. D. Wilson, The Child-Lovers: A Study of Paedophiles in Society, published by Peter Owen, London in 1983.
Though the authors and William himself describe his sexual interest in boys “around twelve” as “paedophilic”, in conformity with the secondary title of their book, they implicitly used this term inaccurately as one of convenience to encompass anyone attracted to those below the prevailing age of consent (for girls) of 16. As a man attracted only to women and pubescent boys, William’s interest in the latter was really hebephilic and his only love affair with a boy was “Greek” in character.
Besides their interviews of child-lovers, Wilson and Cox provided “a summary of each person in terms of the unique features of that individual’s lifestyle as perceived by the interviewer, recognising that this represents a subjective impression rather than objective data.” Here is that of William:
The isolation that he experiences was very obvious throughout the interview with William. Indeed, there was almost a sense of tragedy about his present circumstances. A conviction for what appears to have been an isolated paedophilic relationship against a background of heterosexuality and a distinguished career as a teacher seems to have left William a somewhat lonely man. In his particular situation, the development of his paedophilic interests appears to have been as much situationally determined as the result of any predilection he might have had towards a sexual relationship with a child.
William was interviewed in the house where he rents a room. In his mid-fifties, he is of stout build and has a white beard. Having been convicted for being a paedophile, he showed no hesitation in talking about his situation as he said he has nothing to hide. He gave the impression of a man who is saddened by his current circumstances and whose abilities were being wasted. Once apparently a good teacher, he is now limited to tutoring private students. Since his conviction his life has changed completely and he appears to be a very lonely and isolated individual.
Initially the interview focused on William’s life as a teacher. Both his parents were teachers and he followed them into the profession; as a result his life has been ‘among children’. His involvement with P. I. E. occurred only recently. He discovered his interest in children ‘I suppose in the course of my work, especially when I went to teach in boarding school, where one isn’t just teaching children, one’s living with them. I was a family man, I had three children. That in itself made me see what children are made of, what they are all about, and how they work really. And then my marriage broke up and I rather threw myself into this boarding school job, perhaps to forget the recent pain of my situation. I became 100 per cent involved in the school.’ As far as he is aware his affection for children did not contribute to his marriage breaking up as ‘nothing actually occurred beforehand’.
The children that most appeal to William are those around twelve years of age, ‘round about the time when they become reasonable human beings and you can talk with them’. His personal relationships with children came through his work as a teacher. He has only had one relationship which became sexual. ‘It was in fact a love affair’ with a child at the school where he taught. It lasted for a year until it was discovered by the child’s father who was a judge. This ended his career as a teacher although not as a tutor; ‘under the peculiar laws of this country one’s allowed to tutor privately, individually in children s own homes, yet they won’t allow me to teach in a class of forty screaming kids’.
This relationship occurred seven years after the break-up of his marriage: ‘I suppose my life was missing something.’ The school where he was teaching was in the country and very isolated; there were few females around with whom he could socialise. ‘I suppose that being a susceptible person to this kind of thing, as I probably am, this was likely to happen eventually, and it did happen.’ The relationship was seen by William as also fulfilling for the boy, who was the son of elderly parents who lived in Africa, and with whom he did not get on very well. He is described as ‘simply missing any kind of family life’. He was a loner who did not get on well with his friends, which is seen as another reason ‘why he turned to me’. ‘Well, I say it came from him, but in fact I’m quite sure he wouldn’t have attempted anything if he hadn’t been fairly sure that a response would be forthcoming. It is very hard to say how a thing like this starts. It grows. I had known him for four years before anything like this happened at all.’ William and the boy had shared a close relationship which grew out of their mutual interest in music. The father was not supportive of the boy’s musical interests. ‘There were lots of other boys like him, but this is the only one where this other thing, this extra element, entered.’
After a year the relationship was discovered and a court case ensued. William was only fined as he received ‘fantastic backing from other members of the staff, little boys and parents, who all came to speak up for me in the court’. As a consequence of his conviction William was debarred from teaching by the Ministry of Education. He expressed great concern about the boy who ‘must have felt terribly guilty about the whole thing’. Not being able to see the boy after the incident was very hard for William. In fact, he did sneak into the school one night to talk to the boy about what had happened. Although he realised this was some-what foolish, he wanted to make sure that the boy was all right.
After being banned from teaching in schools he returned to university for a year (financed by a former headmistress), but did not enjoy this and stopped. In the next year he turned his car into a mini-cab which he drove for one year. Gradually he took on tutoring and at present has approximately forty students. The relationship mentioned above is the only sexual experience William has had with a child. With respect to the children he now coaches he says: ‘I am frequently very much attracted to them, although I wouldn’t let anything happen obviously because of the possible consequences.’ He acknowledges that he might be involved with a child again. ‘I wouldn’t say it’s impossible; it could happen. I only hope for my sake it doesn’t, because one can’t always control these things no matter how hard one tries.
William is very critical of the law as it exists at present because it does not distinguish between paedophilia and child molesting. Tradition, particularly Christianity, is blamed for producing this taboo. William’s opinions regarding the issue of the age of consent formed the basis of a letter published in Forum magazine. He believes that if anyone abuses a child or any person the laws are there to deal with the situation and there need not be special laws to deal with children. The age of consent should be abolished. Abuse of children might well be dealt with more severely as far as William is concerned. ‘I think the whole thing about sex with children has been built up in the image of adult sex. However, sex with children is very much simpler and it can be more on the surface, it needn’t be such a soul-searing operation as it is with grown-ups. It can just be physical, but obviously it wouldn’t happen at all if there wasn’t a mental bond between the people taking part. I think there is a great gap which has been put between sexuality and anything else, which is unnatural. It is simply an extension of friendship in one particular direction. It’s just another way a friendship can go.’ In his own case, William would admit to having had many deep relationships with children in which sex did not ensue, although if it had seemed natural then he states: ‘I can see no reason why it shouldn’t take place, providing the child knows. This probably happened in my own case. One’s really got to put the child wise as to the difference between one’s own views on the subject and the world’s view, which is very different. That’s an enormous difficulty.’ Even if the age of consent were lowered William believes there would still be tremendous prejudice against paedophilia just as there is with respect to homosexuality, despite changes in the law. According to William, the impact of a paedophilic relation-ship on a child would depend partly upon what the child had been told by his school-friends, partly on how much he could accept of what the adult told him, and how he could adjust to this in the context of what his parents had told him. In most cases the relationship would not work because the child would be under too much external pressure. At this point William focused on the rights of the parents when a child is being influenced by an adult. He states: ‘I really think that the parents should have rights in this matter. It may seem strange my saying so, but I think they should because I’ve been a parent myself. In fact, it very nearly happened with one of my sons. He followed my footsteps; both he and I were choristers in the same cathedral. It has a very small boarding school and one of the choirmen rather took a fancy to him at one point. My wife was very upset. I went down to see him. . . . Parents should have a right over what their children do to a certain extent. I think they’ve got a bigger right than the police.’ In William’s case, the father of the boy he was involved with requested the police not to prosecute, though they still chose to do so.
With respect to the possible long-term consequences of a paedophilic relationship, William began by describing his own relationship. ‘I was very careful to tell this particular boy just what I considered the long-term effects to be, I said that I regarded being homosexual as a natural stage through which most children went. Some boys become fond of girls at a very early age, but I think most children go through a homosexual stage simply because the other person is like themselves. Sexuality is usually in three stages: first with themselves and then with another person who’s like themselves and then eventually graduating to the other sex. Personally, I believe that if a particular child is oriented in this way a proper homosexual relationship like this will, in fact, help him later on. It will help him relate. After all, he will know much more about it - he’s been made love to by another male and he will have a lot more knowledge about what his wife or girlfriend is going to feel. The phase of homosexuality is a natural part of life.’
Fantasy now plays a very important role in William’s sex life. He finds a number of his pupils very attractive but has decided ‘it is much safer to fantasise’. However, he finds this outlet less than totally fulfilling. At the present time William’s social life is very limited as he has to work seven days a week in order to make a living. He admits to using fantasy about young boys most evenings. After his wife left him (for her psychiatrist whom she has since married), he said he went on having sexual fantasies about her for years. This he describes as his last deep relationship. He and his wife are still good friends and she apparently feels some guilt over what has happened to William, believing that he would not have got into trouble had she not left him. On his part he attempts to allay her concern by taking the position that his paedophilic interests were probably latent and would have surfaced in time anyway. William considers the desire to be latent in most people to some degree but is suppressed because it is considered to be wrong. When his relationship with the boy developed he felt elation similar to that which he experienced in his relationship with his wife. In the future he could see himself being involved in a heterosexual relationship. The opportunity had arisen in the recent past but he did not find himself attracted to the women in question. At present, his fantasies are mainly, although not entirely, homosexual.
In his tutoring of children William seeks to develop deep relationships. These are not sexual, although he describes how the use of touch, just a minimal physical contact, can be effective in making a child ‘open up’. He sees this as something which children enjoy and frequently do not experience even from their own parents. However, ‘sex doesn’t enter my head at all’. The only time that sex would be involved would be in fantasies, but these do not occur when he is with the children, rather when he is alone.
Discussing the attractiveness of children and considering whether a paedophilic relationship could continue into an adult homosexual relationship, William thought this unlikely because at a certain age children ‘become men’. They develop body hair and their voice changes and they thus cease to be physically attractive. ‘Teenage boys tend to look and feel a bit more like women than men do, so from that point of view it is less likely to happen - unless one is an out and out homosexual.’ Although the physical attractiveness of the child fades, the friendship should still remain. William’s parents were elderly when he was born, his mother being forty-four and his father sixty-two. He feels this may have something to do with his current situation. He was sent to boarding school at an early age where he had his first sexual experiences with other boys. He feels that he only got to know his mother when he was an adult.
William saw a psychiatrist twice in connection with his paedophilia but this was only on the advice of his solicitor who thought that if he was in therapy it might help him in court. He himself did not find it beneficial in any way and he has not sought any help since then.
He originally joined P. I. E. so that he might communicate with others who shared the same interests. He did make some worthwhile contacts through the organisation although he doubts that it will survive. He is currently writing a book which describes his own situation.
William describes paedophilia as one of the ways that a child can learn to live outside of his family. In his opinion it will take many years for first the law and then public opinion to change. He believes that paedophilia will be the last of the taboos to go, ‘even beyond incest’.