Natural-born Paedophiles


Caren Chesler in Aeon:

29-year-old man named Juan Carlos Castillo Ponce was renting a basement apartment in the New Jersey city of Elizabeth when he befriended his landlord’s daughters, who were aged three, six and 10. While he lived there between 2000 to 2008, he would take the girls out to dinner, and became a trusted friend of the family. He would also sexually assault them while their parents weren’t home, record them in their rooms through a pinhole video camera, and threaten that, if they told anyone about the assaults, no one would believe them and they would be taken away. When one of the girls finally did tell her parents, investigators recovered hundreds of DVD recordings they say Ponce made of the assaults, not just of the landlord’s daughters but of other girls as well.

Ponce was arrested and charged with aggravated sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child, among other things. As the judge sentenced him to 27 years in prison, calling the crime a shock to his conscience, Ponce buried his head in his arms and, through a Spanish interpreter, asked for forgiveness. But to those privy to his psychological report, his contrition might not have rung true: Ponce had admitted that when he was around children – and around these four in particular – he knew that what he was doing was wrong but simply could not stop himself.

Those admissions don’t come as a surprise to experts who view not paedophilia but, rather, paedophilic behaviour as the truly dangerous thing. The distinction is critical: paedophiles are individuals with an attraction to children. Paedophilic behaviour is what happens when one acts on the urge; it is an attraction to children that one fails to control.

Now there’s a growing body of evidence suggesting that paedophilia might not be a learned desire but rather an in-born biological trait, like a cleft palate or a hook nose. And lack of emotional control, a separate trait, might be biologically-based as well.

More here.