The Magazine

"The Deal with Older Guys"

There's a good reason Americans support parental notification laws.

Aug 12, 2002, Vol. 7, No. 46 • By ERIC FELTEN
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Planned Parenthood, whose clinics received the lion's share of the phone calls, has been loath to discuss what is on the tapes, instead issuing a statement dismissing "the reliability of staged tapes of supposed telephone conversations surreptitiously prepared by Life Dynamics, an organization with a notorious anti-Planned Parenthood agenda."

For his part, Crutcher has never tried to hide the fact that his sting operation is part of his litigious, antiabortion agenda. He says the results are proof that clinics have "made a conscious decision to conceal the sexual exploitation of children and protect the men who commit these crimes."

What exactly is Planned Parenthood's attitude towards statutory rape? In a word, relaxed. Consider a column on Planned Parenthood's award-winning website for the underage set, www.teenwire.com, headlined "The Deal With Older Guys." The article--illustrated by a picture of a girl in pigtails (that's right, pigtails) and a man with a snappy van dyke on his chin--starts out with a catalog of the obvious benefits of Lolitahood. "A major piece of eye-candy asked you out. You're floating. Not only is he gorgeous, but he's older. Older equals sophisticated. He has money, a car, a job, an apartment, experience, adventure, and excitement. He doesn't have a curfew, parents on his case, homework, or acne. What's not to like?" But soon the article switches to a more cautious tone. "He's been around. You're thinking, 'He can transport me to ecstasy. He can teach me the ins and outs (so to speak) of sex.' On the other hand, he's been with a heap of partners. Increasing the chance he'll pass on 'the gift that keeps on giving'--a sexually transmitted infection."

The article continues with some helpful warning signs of the older guys one should steer clear of. For example, if "he treats females disrespectfully [and] calls women 'hos' or 'sluts.' Watch out." But just when it looks as though their advice will be that, all things considered, a 13-year-old really shouldn't be sleeping with predatory men in their 20s, the column delivers this conclusion: "So are all older guy/younger girl relationships dangerous, harmful, and sick? Of course not."

Does it matter that Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers are, at best, willing to turn a blind eye to statutory rape? After all, few people can work up much indignation over the indiscretion of two high school students in love, one of whom happens to have just passed his eighteenth birthday. (That is, few other than the girl's father should he happen to be on the old-fashioned side.) But as the Life Dynamics sting demonstrated, Planned Parenthood staffers are inclined to look the other way, not just when 17-year-olds are involved, but when a 13-year-old confesses that she is having sex with a man nearly 10 years her senior.

This is a habit of mind and action that has dangerous consequences. Early this year a 10-year-old girl went to her Bridgeport, Conn., doctors, who discovered that she was pregnant. A pregnant 10-year-old is, by definition, walking evidence of sexual abuse. But the doctors, Mukesh Shah and Ann Lule, failed to report the pregnancy to the Connecticut Department of Children and Families. Likewise the Summit Women's Center, a clinic that performs abortions. (The girl in the end didn't get an abortion.)

Luckily, the girl's mother called the police, and on April 17, they arrested a man named Jimmy Kave. According to police, Kave confessed to having had sex with the girl repeatedly since January 2001. Kave, it is worth noting, is 75 years old, has a 1984 conviction for child sexual assault in New Haven, and met the little girl through an "Adopt-a-Godparent" program that pairs kids with seniors.

The girl, now 11, gave birth in May. She and her child are in the custody of the state of Connecticut. (Kave is in a different sort of custody, though he is now denying paternity and has given blood for a DNA test.) But if the girl had gone ahead with an abortion and no one had reported it, she might still be spending her afternoons in Kave's apartment. Such is "the deal with older guys."

Eric Felten is a Washington writer and jazz musician.