A young girl is dead, and we all fit the killer’s profile

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By Josh Gilman:

Crying in public

I don’t know if you have ever wept openly in public before. But if you were sitting next to me listening to Patty Wetterling speak with eloquence, grace and love about the assault and murder of her son Jacob, you probably would have.

I have heard speeches by parents of kidnapped children before. I have heard presentations by trafficked children and mothers of trafficked children. But I’ve never just openly wept for thirty minutes through a speech before.

What was most striking about Patty Wetterling however, wasn’t her powerful portrayal of the life of a precious child brutally cut short. It was the careful review of the life of his killer. She pointed out more than a dozen instances in the life of the serial child molester, child pornographer and killer when somebody should have reached out to him. The abuse he himself suffered, the specific smaller crimes he committed that should have been a red flag that something was not alright.

Patty Wetterling speaking at the Coalition To End Sexual Exploitation Summit

Mrs. Wetterling had begun her presentation with a video of her son Jacob talking about what he wanted to be when he grew up. She ended it by reading out the life story of Jacob’s murderer, and said: “This is not what he wanted to be when he grew up”.

To us, the approximately 600 at the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation Summit, the challenge was clear. Working to only save the victims will save a few. Save the perpetrators and we could save all.

To quote Dr. Mary Anne Layden on why she started studying the porn industry after decades of working with sexual assault victims and perpetrators, “I got tired of pulling people out of the river and decided to head upstream to figure out who was pushing them in.”

Everybody hurts more than one person. Except for him.

More tears. Some yelling. A curse word.

This wasn’t how I expected our second day of brainstorming to go. We had been discussing strategies and ways to fight back against pornography with our Strength To Fight team when one of the members of our group asked to share something extra.

It could have been handled better. And if I could go back I probably wouldn’t allow that conversation to happen at all, but there was a part that stuck with me.

One of our team members had recently helped a young person they knew turn themselves into the police for sexually molesting a minor.

The crazy part was that this young person had approached our team member of their own volition. They weren’t caught or questioned. They came up and said “here is what I did, I need to tell the police.”

When they took the individual to the police station, the authorities were confused and didn’t even know where to start at first. Perpetrators don’t just turn themselves in. Especially not for crimes like this. 

Our team member was passionate about this. “Perpetrators never have just one victim,” they said. “But he will. He will have just one. He is going to go to jail. He has requested access to the best psychotherapists in order to fix what is broken in himself. He isn’t going to hurt anyone else. This is unheard of.”

The group wasn’t ready for that discussion, and neither was I. It took us three hours to get back on track. But I’ve never stopped thinking about that point.

What if there was a way out? What if perpetrators were able to be rescued? What if we could spot the signs and help them/stop them before they hurt anyone else, or even better, before they hurt anyone at all?

A young girl is dead. And everyone matches the murderer’s profile.

Anna Kriegal died brutally. 14 years old, at the hands of two 13-year old classmates. Raped. Murdered.

The story, the arrests, and the trial, was rather unusual. But one thing is very clear. We have a serious problem on our hands. A problem of our own invention.

Slide from Dr. Mary Anne Layden showing a dramatic drop in male subjects recommended sentence for rape after viewing large amounts of pornography.

There is a lot of debate about whether or not viewing pornography can “create a rapist”. There is a range of research. But everything points to at best pornography creating indifference to one’s fellow humans, and at worst feeding and creating violent sexual fantasies. The middle-ground consensus is that for those who already have violent and sexually disordered tendencies, it is the manure from which fantasies can grow into criminal action. 

What jumped out at me about the trial of the two young men who committed the violent and brutal acts upon this young girl was that the defence managed to successfully have the 12,500 pornographic images on one of the young man’s phones dismissed as evidence.

Despite that he had searched for specifically violent porn; porn that contained rape; porn that specifically showed violence against women sharing the ethnicity and name of his eventual victim; it was dismissed. And the defence for why it should be dismissed? Well, it isn’t all that different from anything found on any other teenagers phone, so why should it be entered as evidence of a crime?

That was the defence lawyer’s explanation. And here is the problem. The blaring alarm we need to pay heed to.

He isn’t wrong.

I’ll repeat that.

He. Isn’t. Wrong.

Every study around the world is revealing to us that teenagers and children are accessing pornography at younger and younger ages. The porn industry has admitted that when it comes to violence and degradation, they themselves are running out of ideas.

Yes. The people whose job it is to make money of off dehumanizing and violating other humans are running out of ideas.

And here is where all these different threads run together, as far as I’m concerned.

Thousands of images and videos of sexual violence stored on the personal device of a young man should have been a clue. According to virtually every study about the impact of such content on a young man’s brain, it WAS a clue.

Anna Kreigel’s schoolmate who raped and murdered her had specifically watched porn videos that shared her ethnicity (Russian) and her full first name (Anastasia)

But, that clue is sitting on 90% of young boys’ phones, and on upwards of 60%* of young girls’ phones.

We have no chance of filtering out which of those boys and girls consuming these videos are susceptible to its worst outcome and which ones are simply being traumatized.

Consumption of violent and degrading pornography should be a clue, not commonplace.

And until we make it so, good luck to us. I repeat this with the utmost sarcasm, good luck to us.

Until the stereotypical actions of a murderer are not stereotypical of our society, we will have a tremendously awful time putting an end to rape and murder.

“Porn doesn’t turn everyone into a serial killer,” people say. Agreed. But how many is too many? 10? 15? 50? 100? 1,000? Please tell me when I have hit the number that is too high. How many susceptible teens, who for whatever reason respond to violent pornography by acting it out, must do so before we decide to get rid of all of it?

They say don’t get rid of the baby with the bath water.

This is not a baby. We have created a demon in our own image and named it “normal society.” By all that is good and holy throw the whole damn thing out.

Please note, I am using “damn” in the very literal sense. What we have created deserves damnation and seriously, damn it. Damn it to hell where such vile acts belong.

Please tell me how low of a percentage of porn viewers need to become activated killers for it to be ok.

If we are going to abide by the words of Patty Wetterling, learn a lesson from the young man who turned himself in, and  honour the life of Anna Kriegal, we must be willing to stop normalizing stereotypical behaviour of rapists and murders as “normal teenage behaviour.”

Because unless we can spot them, we can’t stop them. We can’t help them.

Dear God Almighty, let us once again ensure that our society sees rape and violence as evidence, not entertainment.

*These numbers are according to a variety of studies, however as anyone who regularly speaks to high-school and universities students can tell you, based on what we are told over and over again by the kids who have grown up with smartphones, the statistics are wildly out of date and probably significantly lower than current reality.

3 Comments on “A young girl is dead, and we all fit the killer’s profile”

  1. Such an important piece. Every parent needs to know this and realise the damage that porn and particularly violent porn does in shaping our children’s behaviour and perspective of others

  2. The love of money is the root of all evil…1 Timothy 6:10

    The porn industry is a lot like big tobacco, people know the TRUTH that it is killing
    millions…yet it thrives because the demand is so high and it is a “cash” crop. The incentive to destroy a monster like these, is entangled in the desire for greater profit. Or more simply, the greed of man allows these evils to continue growing.

    To be fair, I have been the adolescent/young adult behind the computer screen, willfully seeking out porn-indulgence and never being fully satisfied. Over the years, what started as a seemingly innocent curiosity about “sex” in the socially acceptable accompaniment of “friends” watching parent’s VHS tapes, became a more private and increasingly degrading obsession. The desire for more explicit content was clear, and the internet surely made it simple to discover whatever lust my heart desired while looking at porn. Just like any other drug, over time I craved more and of a more intense nature in order to get the same level of euphoria I first experienced.

    How did porn affect my attitudes towards women? Towards my own self-worth? Towards my sense of entitlement and desire for what was sexually deviant?

    Tremendously… I was drawn inward and found it more and more difficult to relate to others or experience the emotion of empathy…especially towards women. Partly, I saw women as setting themselves up by using their bodies as a sexual weapon to get what they wanted (distorted thinking) and I felt sexually inadequate in my own ability to fulfill the types of roles being portrayed on the porn screen. Real relationships frightened me. Worst of all, I thought I wasn’t harming anyone else or myself. After all, no one gets pregnant, there are no STD’s, and no strings attached…right? False.

    Fear of real intimacy, lack of self-confidence, inability to view women as more than “sex” opportunities. These are the battles I have faced on the journey to being freed from the regular consumption of porn over many years.

    Reading this article just reminds me that this is a conversation that needs to be happening in every household. Staying silent about PORN is not helping anyone.
    It became a monster in my own life and distorted my reality greatly.

    How many kids today have unlimited access to the internet and are regularly involved in watching porn? I can’t imagine any parent would send their child into a porn shop, yet the “smart” phone they carry in their pocket has become that shop in many cases.

    Today, I can confidently say that I am more of the rule than the exception in terms of porn’s effects reeking havoc in my life.

    But there is HOPE, as I can share about a God who is restoring me and has brought me out of the industry as one of its regular viewers.

    After years of saturation, Jesus Christ has liberated me by his Grace and mercy by the power of his Holy Spirit. This is my very real testimony that God loves me dearly and has fought for me to win this battle against a world of depravity.

    I have prayed that God would replace my desire for porn with a stronger desire for Him in my life, which he has been doing in profound ways, even though I still struggle with temptation and the pain of my past choices at times.

    So how do we defeat the devil and his works (the creation of porn)…
    By turning back to God and experiencing the abundant life he offers us in Christ.

    Let’s get real about the discussion and see porn for what it really is…

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