three pairs of lovers with space

ANOTHER BAD STORY: A CASE OF BLACKMAIL, 1984-86

 

The following true story is from Forbrydelse uden offer, a Danish psychologists’ study of people involved in adult/child liaisons, mostly Greek love ones, edited by the “Trobriands” collective of authors, published in 1986 and translated from the Danish by Dr. E. Brongersma in 1992 as Crime without Victims.[1]

It is the second of two stories told to illustrate how things could go badly in the Denmark of that era due to the law outlawing sex with those under fifteen, and social hostility to such relationships.

The age of Andre, the boy involved, is not stated, but he was clearly under the age of consent, and 13 seems most likely since the narrator said he had been “lover with males of ages ranging from thirteen to seventy.” Assuming that the present tense related to the time of publication, the spring in which Andre met his lover-to-be must have that of 1984.

 

Another Bad Story: A Case of Blackmail

Vesterbro Square, Copenhagen

It was a bright day in spring when I met Andre for the first time on Vesterbro Square. I was enjoying the pleasant company of some friends under the umbrella of a terrace restaurant when he came to our table and started a conversation with us. He was very nice, very talkative and we were in a ebullient summer mood. It was very pleasant and we talked about all kinds of things. At some point it became clear to Andre (if he hadn't known this from the start) that we were gay. He seemed to know a great deal about this but wanted us to tell him more. He had never before met people who sat in a restaurant talking freely about being gay without lowering their voices.

One's first impression was that he looked a bit neglected - but then no more so than many other boys his age for whom cleanliness and behavioural polish are not paramount virtues.

It was only a few months later that I met him again in the neighbourhood of Rådhuspladsen. I had never seen anything like it: he was covered with dirt, his clothes were ragged, his eyes empty. I doubted whether he would recognise me, but he did. He told me that he had run away from home and was living in Christiania. He didn't want to go with me to my home, but I gave him my telephone number.

A week later he called and said he would like to visit. He didn't look any better and he smelled terrible. He was drunk. He took a bath and I gave him some clean clothes (three sizes too large) and enough money to buy himself a meal plus a banknote of fifty crowns to help out. He didn't want to return to his home. He would look after himself.

He turned up again the following weekend, late in the evening, and asked if he could stay for the night. I let him in. I was very uncertain about what I would and should do, but decided that I must try to talk to him. Perhaps together we could find some solution to his problems.

When it was time to sleep we lay down in the same bed. We talked a lot, and I don't know how it happened - probably in the way such things always do - but suddenly we were in each other's arms. He told me he had done this before, and that he was hustling on the Rådhuspladsen. It was nice, tender I thought. We chatted. But I must admit that now, after all that subsequently happened, I am not sure whether, when he snuggled himself into my embrace to pay me with his body, it had all been planned ahead of time or whether it was just fate playing a game with us.

by Peter Wellmann

In the following three months he came often - two or three times a week - always staying for the night and sometimes also coming on Friday or Saturday. He refused to give me the address of his parents. He wanted only to be himself. I wasn't to meddle. I decided that the best I could do was to open my home for him and give him a place of retreat from what I considered to be an ugly existence. If I were to contact his parents or an agency it should be done with his knowledge and agreement. His trust in adults was already not too great, so why should I betray him?

One day a fellow of about twenty showed up at my door. He introduced himself as Michael, was a friend of Andre's and his parents and was an assistant leader in a youth club Andre used to visit. I was glad to meet someone who knew more about Andre and we soon entered into a confidential discussion. Michael told me that he himself had once been a hustler and he wanted to help Andre to escape from this life. He told me that Andre occasionally used heroin and smoked a lot of pot. He gave me the telephone number of Andre's parents and when Andre turned up the next day I got his permission to contact them.

When I phoned, the stepfather, sounding slightly tipsy, threw down the receiver. The mother seemed more approachable and I thought I could hear in her voice that she was honestly concerned but had given up. Yes, she knew that Andre was a prostitute, she knew how he earned his living, but what could she do? She had discussed with the social services about having Andre sent to the Fulton, an officially subsidised sailing ship crewed by delinquent youngsters, but that was six weeks ago and she didn't know how things stood now. She had never heard anything about Andre using or ever having used drugs.

The next day I contacted the social services and they promised to speed things up. They also knew that Andre was a prostitute. I think I got a little bit rude and quite sharply asked them if they were unaware of the usual fate of boy prostitutes, if they had no idea of the world they lived in.

The same evening Andre went back to his mother and stepfather and stayed at home for a few days, but when he left them again it was with his mother's housekeeping money in his pocket.

To make a long story short, they didn't want him on board the Fulton, but he could join a different sailing-ship group in a few weeks time.

Rådhuspladsen, Copenhagen

I've never been able to discover how the trouble really started, but the next three weeks were very bewildering. One moment Andre was at home, the next moment he was not at home, then he stole his stepfather's motor scooter, and suddenly he was completely gone. I arranged with his parents and the social services for him to stay at my place until he was to leave for the ship, and Michael assisted in spreading this information around the other hustlers on Rådhuspladsen. A few days later Andre turned up asking, with evident surprise and doubt, whether what he had heard was true - that he could stay with me. I confirmed this, but then the stepfather phoned to say that I should send Andre home if he turned up. So, Andre went home.

Two days before his scheduled departure for the ship he showed up again at midnight. I let him stay over, but told him to go home the next day. I began to get nervous, and was troubled by the whole situation. There was so much uncertainty. I had a premonition that there was something threatening in all of this.

The day after Andre should have gone off with the sailing-ship project his stepfather phoned me and said, "Pay 5000 crowns into my bank account before twelve o'clock Friday or I will call the police and report you for sexual activities with a minor."

I asked him to phone back later. I wanted time to think it over.

A friend quickly came to my aid and connected an extra telephone apparatus. When the stepfather phoned back my friend listened in and made notes. I made the stepfather repeat his demand and drew his attention to the fact that he was blackmailing me. Moreover, I let him believe I had recorded the entire conversation on tape. Then Michael called to say that I did actually have to pay; that it would be best for all concerned, most of all for myself.

I refused outright and asked him if this was the thanks I got for my attempt to help Andre.

A week later the stepfather called again, halving his payment demand. I again refused. Another night, the mother called and said that the stepfather was on his way to see me.

"Should I throw him out or call the police," I asked her. "No, no, just send him back home," she replied.

by Peter Wellmann

The stepfather didn't show up, and I heard no more from him.

I was truly shocked and afraid. Of course I was afraid of coming into conflict with the police, but the most frightening was being made aware of my own naivety - that I had just not in the least suspected that such a thing was in the making.

Hearing no more, I assumed that all had been forgotten and then, a few months later I was asked to contact a detective at the police department. Section A: violent crimes, murder, sexual delinquency. On a bleak wintry day in January I went to the office for questioning. They were pleasant - even offered me coffee and cake. There were no glaring spotlights. They were about to arrest the stepfather, as it had been proven that he had attempted to blackmail several people. I had thought I was his only victim, but there were five of us.

Andre was taken to a closed section of a youth institute (Copenhagen's Children's Prison) and was later sent to a foster family in Jutland.

Before starting his examination the detective said that Andre had told them everything so I might best do the same. It was later shown that Andre had told them nothing about the fact that he had visited me, or that the stepfather had attempted to blackmail me, and when he was later confronted with my declaration he gave no comment, only saying it was quite true.

I spoke about my relationship with Andre - 'confessed' it, as this is called - mainly to help them prosecute the stepfather, but also because I felt that my moral conscience was pure. If I had acted in a different way, it could have given Andre the feeling that I was trying to avenge myself. I don't think the blackmail attempt was his idea.

As I believed Andre had disclosed the entire course of events, I didn't want to sit there and tell a different story that would make him appear a liar. His reputation with the police was already not too good and if there was a victim in this case it was surely he.

There was first a short trial of the five of us who had been with Andre, or whom the police thought he had been with. Two pleaded innocent and were acquitted. The other three of us were given conditional sentences on probation. This meant that if any of us were to have a similar relationship within two years after the judgment, the new case would be treated with that of Andre and they would be added together (I had never been tried before).

Michael, the assistant youth leader, was also accused of having had sexual contacts with Andre. Andre had told them this had happened three times, but because Michael denied it, and since there were no witnesses, he was acquitted on this charge, but he could not prevent his being found guilty of being accessory to blackmail. He also received a conditional sentence. They thought the stepfather had a hold over Michael and that he had more or less forced Michael into visiting Andre's clients and giving their telephone numbers and addresses to the stepfather.

by Peter Wellmann

The stepfather was given an unconditional sentence of 60 days imprisonment.

One and a half years have now gone by since the first threats were made. Nine months passed between the first questioning by the police and the final judgment. I succeeded in regaining my composure, but it was a difficult experience. The fear of possibly being sent to prison was at times great, even though I was told at an early stage that I most probably would get a conditional sentence. But this fear was really nothing compared to the doubts I had about my own capacity for perceiving situations. During one period I saw ghosts everywhere and hardly dared to talk to or look at a boy under fifteen. I felt my heart had frozen like a lake in winter, but now spring has returned and my heart is thawing again.

I don't know whether I'm a paedophile, and I also don't want to have different labels stuck on me. It is sufficient that I am gay. I refuse to let my love and affection for others be directed by fixed ideas about age.

Humans are humans and, after having been friend, beloved and lover with males of ages ranging from thirteen to seventy, I know that the affection is the same; the desire and the need to be united to another person are the same. Friendship and love do not raise questions about age for me.

Of course I will think twice before I start a relationship with a minor again and I'll surely try to act with more wisdom. Maybe I'll abstain from love's most intimate expression, but the love itself I cannot avoid. I won't tie it up.

Love is the flower of life.

 

[1] Published by Global Academic Publishers, Amsterdam in 1993.

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