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Kidnap or molest a child, go to jail forever!
The brutality of kidnapping of a child, which often is done in order to molest the child, and very often leads to child murder (to eliminate the victim/witness) is so vile that life in prison is the most appropriate societal response to protect children.
Kidnap or molest a child, go to jail forever!
by Gil Villagrán, MSW El Observador, San Jose, Feb. 23, 2007
The Missouri kidnapping of Shawn Hornbeck, an eleven-year-old at the time of his abduction in 2002, and the subsequent kidnapping of a thirteen-year-old in January by the same 41-year-old abductor must alert us to the reality of child abduction and molest. Approximately 100 children are abducted annually in the U.S. Some cases catch the media spotlight, creating public outrage. Two such cases are of Steven Stayner, a seven-year-old from Modesto, kidnapped in 1972 and molested for seven years before he escaped with a second kidnapped five-year old; and Elizabeth Smart, age 14, from Salt Lake City, taken from her home by a religious cult at gunpoint for sex slavery.
Abducted children may be held captive for years in soundproof cages, or the apartment next door. Abductors may use weapons to threaten a child into compliance, or use manipulative psychological coercion—such as: “if you run away, I will kill you and your family” or “your family won’t want you anymore after they learn about what we have done.”
Children are molested and often also kidnapped for the sexual gratification of highly dysfunctional criminal adults—many of which are serial molesters. Two weeks ago Dean Schwartzmiller, age 64, from San Jose, was sentenced to 152 years in prison for molesting as many as 300 children. Two twelve-year-old cousins were his most recent victims, whom he invited to his home and showered them with toys and video games while he molested them. His victims are identified in his extensive journals, 1500 pages in all, including nude photographs. That such a child predator lives in our community is frightening; that there are hundreds of paroled pedophiles in San Jose is outrageous. Further outrage is that Schwartzmiller had already been arrested in eight states, on 80 counts of child molest in the last 35 years. He had been convicted of sex crimes and incarcerated. Yet either his charges were dropped, he was found not guilty, or he was released from prison on appeal or parole.
Schwartzmiller shared a house with Frederick Everts, another pedophile who is known to have molested at least 36 boys, including his own three-month old infant! The two met years ago in an Oregon jail, on molestation changes. Everts was accused of molesting boys aged 3, 9, 11, as well as his six-year-old stepson. Unbelievably, he was paroled and fled to San Jose to join Schwartzmiller, where they shared more children to molest. In January Everts was sentenced to 800 years. It is expected, and my hope, that he will die in prison. But too many prosecuted child molesters plea bargain their way to reduced sentences, probation, parole or no confinement at all.
It is critical to realize that every victim of molest is forever traumatized, feeling it is their fault for having let it happen, even though they may have been so young that they didn’t understand what was being done to them. Substance abuse and suicide ideation is not uncommon, as well as for their parents, thinking that they failed to protect their child. Most survivors manage to resolve their trauma as best they can. Many obtain counseling which always helps to get beyond their victim identification, and go on to live happy and successful lives. However, a small percent, more likely boys, grow up to become pedophiles themselves, re-enacting their trauma, but now in control of others, as predators to new child victims.
All sexual molests are violent crimes, but the molest of a child is particularly vile because the very inherent innocence of the child is stolen forever. As a child welfare social worker with more than 20 years of experience investigating child abuse, including hundreds of cases of sexual molest and exploitation of children, and some child abduction cases, I advocate for lifetime incarceration of anyone who molests or kidnaps a child for the purpose of child molestation. The term “paroled sex offender” must become an oxymoron in our society—kidnap or molest a child, go to jail forever!
What can the public do to protect all children? BE VIGILANT. Shawn Hornbeck, the Missouri child, spent four years living in an apartment with his abductor who never missed work managing a pizza parlor. Shawn was alone most days riding his bike around town or playing video games at “home.” He never went to school in four years. Neighbors now report hearing screaming, banging and whimpering at night. He had an email account, went to the mall, had friends over and went to visit friends homes, had a girlfriend he took to a dance. Some neighbors thought he looked like the boy in the posters and TV news reports of his abduction. Yet no one ever called police, the school district, or child protective services. One call to any of the above would have brought an official to inquire about this boy who suddenly appeared at the one-bedroom apartment. The police, social workers or school officials would have asked to see a birth certificate, and the truth would have come out. Shawn would have been returned to his family, the pedophile abductor to prison. But no one called 911! Please accept the responsibility that we must all be all our children’s keepers.
Gil Villagran, MSW, was a Child Protective Services Social Worker for Santa Clara County Social Services Agency for more than 25 years. He was often the first person to interview children and their parents about child abuse allegations made my family members, teachers, health professionals or neighbors. He also served as outreach coordinator, parent educator, supervised and managed a family resource center, and designed and directed a youth gang prevention and intervention program.