Fear and Loathing in the Naturist Movement
Texas Nudist Camp Owner Charged
by Michael Fabrizio
Michael Fabrizio, radical environmentalist and animal rights activist, has been sought by Austin police for running a stop sign on his bicycle which he is known to ride nude into the night through the Austin streets with his crazy friends on Earthday. He is the past publisher of a now believed to be defunct naturists newsletter called NAVEL Naturists Advocating Vegetarian & Ecological Lifestyles. He has been a long time committed naturist.
I am a former member of The Naturist Society, and a former director of the Austin Naturists.
In October of 1989, I discovered a case of possible child pornography. I received a call from an Ed Donaghe, a 67 year-old proprietor of Acorn Sun Club, a nudist camp in Goliad, Texas. He said he was calling because he had taken some photographs to be developed in a store in Austin and the photo lab had called the police to arrest him for possession of child pornography, and wanted me to recommend an attorney for him. I felt that until I had more information on the case I could not recommend an attorney for him.
The crime was labeled something like, children under 17 indulging in sexual activities. Though he originally told me that some of the photos had children in them, he later admitted that the photos were largely of girls, one entire roll being of the same girl.
I looked up his club flier in my files and discovered that Acorn Sun Club had a repressive policy of mandatory nudity at the camp and it was listed in the most recent issue of Nude & Natural, the quarterly magazine of The Naturist Society. Acorn, however, was not recognized by the ASA [not because of Donaghe but] because the club had failed to meet the minimum requirement of 10 members.
After reading the Tim Wilcox issues of the ICONoclast, I became concerned about child pornography and molestation within the naturist/nudist movement, so I contacted Lee Baxandall, president of The Naturist Society about my concerns. What follows is an exchange of letters between Lee Baxandall and myself.
September 3, 1989 Dear Lee: I have been receiving some disturbing newsletters from NOPE, specifically one which claims that naturists have sheltered a convicted child molester. I certainly hope that was not the case, but I have seen no response indicating otherwise. In any event, I sincerely hope that naturists everywhere will work hard to protect the safety of our children, even if it means some potentially negative publicity for the movement. Michael Fabrizio
September 6, 1989 Dear Michael: I cannot begin to correct the lies and biases of Crafts claims and statements. We did not shelter a convicted child molester, as you put it. Our silence is not due to inability to answer but to the unworthiness of the accusations. From the start we've energetically found and ousted persons with private agendas concerning children. People don't take Craft seriously, so there's no need to reply and turn our movement into a negativism of denials. Lee Baxandall
Sept. 18, 1989 Dear Lee, I'm afraid you haven't quite put my mind at ease. Crafts evidence, if it is legitimate, seems to be extremely clear, credible, and complete. However, I do realize that you are in a difficult position as to how to respond to this issue. Keep doing the good work. Michael (I received no response to this note.
Oct. 26, 1989 Dear Lee: The issue of protecting our children is still very important to me. I am disappointed that I have seen no response in Nude & Natural of Nikki Crafts charges. You told me you cannot begin to correct her lies and misstatements, but the evidence in her newsletter seems too comprehensive and credible for it to have no merit whatsoever. I also have a hard time believing that someone with as successful a history as Craft would miss the mark so completely.
If you will not address the issue directly, please at least run a section on child pornography/child molestation awareness, including both preventative measures and what someone should do if (s)he discovers such an incident.
I will not deny that a negative issue like this may garner some negative publicity. However, I don't think our children should be sacrificed to avoid negative publicity. What movement is worth protecting if it cannot guarantee the safety of its children?
I do not hope you will want to be at odds with me just because I am interested in speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves. Michael
November 1, 1989 Dear Michael: I appreciate your regard for Nikki Crafts concerns and integrity. Believe me I appreciate that; you may know that I lived with her for 4+ years. Together, we both worked on many concerns and projects that she now claims as exclusively her concerns and contributions and this is what burns me up, Michael. Do you see Bare in Mind? The November issue reprints a feature from CWS 6.2 on Tainted Nudism which Craft and I wrote together although she signed it. It deals with various abuses of nudism, including child exploitation. If Craft weren't so greedy for credit shed acknowledge that she was employed by The Naturist Society for 4+ years to do precisely the projects she's now at last completing (badly and recklessly) in her ICONoclast, which is vindictive rather than appreciative of me as the support of her pursuits; projects which (again) should have been printed in N&N. Because I cannot do everything she wants to take of the protection-of-women-and-children task force she hoarded her results and now brings them out as her solitary accomplishments. Yes Michael I am bitter, and the misunderstanding that she's led you to have is what makes me bitter. Perhaps now you understand. Lee
[CRAFTS COMMENTS ABOUT BAXANDALL'S COMMENTS ABOVE: Lee Baxandall's extensive editing of the article in question improved its readability, but it also allowed him to exert control over several aspects of the article. One was that the emphasis had to be on nudists not naturists offenders, another that it must be examined as if it was only past abuses. Finally, with only several exceptions, he refused to allow the article to name names even of convicted molesters and pornographers.]
Nov. 13, 1989 (mailed Dec. 19, 1989) Dear Lee, Some weeks ago, Ed Donaghe, owner of the Acorn Sun Club, called me and asked me to recommend an attorney to him, as he was charged with possession of child pornography, concerning some photographs that he took to a photo stand for processing. I am enclosing my file on this case, which includes everything I know. I am also sharing this information with Nikki Craft. If you have any further information, comments, or suggestions, I am open to communication.
I want to thank you for sharing your personal explanation of the situation with Craft. Yes, I was aware that you lived with Nikki, and know you must be experiencing a lot of frustration in these matters. I am grateful that you responded to my inquiry even though it was painful for you to do so.
Lee, I want you to work for what is good and just. If you were not interested in the rights of women and children, Nikki never would have worked with you. On the other hand, I find it difficult to accept that Nikki has missed the mark completely, and that her evidence, if legitimate, seems quite convincing.
I do appreciate your response and I want to trust you, so forgive me for being persistent in this matter, but although you have informed me about your working relationship with Nikki, I still know nothing more from you about Nikki's charges about Tim Wilcox and others. To me, it comes down to the fact that I hear Nikki presenting evidence that Wilcox molested children and that The Naturist Society knew about it, and that The Naturist Society didn't do anything (or didn't do enough). This scares the hell out of me. What scares me more is that I cant get a specific response from you about it.
If she is wrong, then why no simple explanation? If she is right then I am certain that you would prefer to handle situations differently in the future, and it would be okay to say so. Lee, please understand how difficult this is for me, as well. I have obligations to you, but I also have societal obligations. The subject matter is not pretty, and neither is the way I am compelled to investigate it. I regret that I must pursue information in this situation, but it is far too important for me to ignore. I think you understand my obligation to investigate please do not hold it against me.
I will try to get a back issue of Bare in Mind, I still hope you will publish an article on awareness and prevention.
Thank you again for your consideration of these matters. Michael
Dec. 22, 1989 Michael, [Lee responds to Michael before reading his previous letter.]
I understand that you want to hear what Nikki Craft is saying and determine independently whether she has damaging things to say of The Naturist Society, about which you had not heard such things.
Please then note that on the Wilcox matter, she was as ignorant as I; although the ICONoclast lost no time in proclaiming Wilcox guilty of the 1987 charges laid against him, and I refused to predetermine him guilty, the outcome has been that the prosecuting attorney dropped those charges! vindicating my caution; and Crafts real case is against the Sequoians, the club to which Wilcox belonged, and Louise Flanagan, a non-naturist, nudist WSA officer who protected Wilcox even after she knew of his past.
[CRAFT INTERJECTS: PLEASE THEN NOTE that at the time this letter was written that it was way, waytoo late in the game for Lee Baxandall to be defending Tim Wilcox.]
Crafts case is against nudists who weren't alert to the possible infiltrations of a child molester. However, because she is vindictive against me for having deprived her of support, she loses no opportunity to blast TNS. Any molester who ever took out a TNS membership is described as Naturist although their crimes were committed at nudist parks not naturist events, and they also belonged to ASA clubs (generally much longer than to TNS).
I regret having to go into this yet again, as Craft blows the issue itself out of all proportion; the incidence of child molestation in either nudism or very rarely naturism is so marginal as to suggest that the public menace here is more Crafts McCarthyist smear tactics than the negligence of volunteer club officers. Lee
Dec. 26, 1989 Dear Michael, I wish I could correspond more promptly, particularly inasmuch as you seem to have placed more confidence in Crafts ranting and raving (your phrase) than in my alleged hushing (your phrase again), as indicated by your several recent contacts with her without keeping up similar contact with me.
Michael, I object to your categorizing of the Naturist position. We are not hushing anything which is in our provenance of responsibility and needs publication. Craft is quite willing to destroy TNS in her search for a heroines posture, and in this she is both a self-seeker and a fanatic sectarian. Now let me put this more plainly in terms of TNS responsibilities:
We keep track of all possible problem persons, and inquire about them. (There are really only a few of these, contrary to Crafts implication.) Unless a court of law has convicted somebody we will rarely go into print with our concerns, partly because we don't want to be sued and partly because individuals are rightly entitled to due process and respect for their privacy as against unfounded and improper accusation. But we do single out and deal with these individuals, and so do the ASA clubs in nearly all instances. Procedures are in place and generally they work, contrary to Crafts charges. If there really were a scandal in the child protection area CwS would have blown that whistle long ago!
The Wilcox problem stems from a single ASA club (He is speaking of Sequoians Nudist Camp here.) and, in regard to his past record being suppressed, from a single individual there, who became Wilcoxs lover and believed him too willingly. This was not a TNS failure. And it was a human failure, such as happens in all organizations.
You say it comes down to the fact that I (you) hear Nikki presenting evidence that Wilcox molested children, that TNS knew about it, and that TNS didn't do anything (or didn't do enough). Nikki had no such evidence at that time that I and she trusted Wilcox to take pictures at WNG 88. She trusted him too. Now she's been violating his rights by assuming him guilty of mid-1980s molestations (his conviction was from the late 1970s) and confusing the two accusations for her readers embarrassingly for Craft, since the court has decided not to prosecute the 1980s charges because of lack of evidence! What Craft has practiced is contemptible yellow journalism. And you took it hook line and sinker.
[Craft interjects: Embarrassingly for Craft? No, not for me.]
Michael, the clubs generally do a good job of protecting the kids. And I'm sure Craft will tell you that TNS does too at our Gatherings the club, or we, provide security, although we haven't sought to praise and preen ourselves and make it the central fact of our Gatherings as Craft does to build up her importance.
We will print information on the disposition of the Wilcox information now there has been a court finding. That is what the courts are for. If Craft wants to do such and present credible findings she should go into law enforcement and stop being an irresponsible amateur casting dirt at the possibly guilty and the innocent and those who have paid their debts to society alike.
Let the court decide the Acorn guys case too. Its good to know about the charges, for now Donaghe can be watched with them in mind. Yet for all you know the photos are proper nudist photos! For that reason I will not publish the Acorn info although you have supplied it (and you should have done so to TNS earlier!)
You have no right to substitute your uninformed opinion for a legally constituted and functioning procedure. If Ed Donaghe wants help from nudist/naturist lawyers or organizations he may ask for it; if he doesn't, that's a decision he assumes responsibility for.
I've checked Acorns file: There's nothing against Acorn, and some good press clippings in favor, and the 1988 ASA park guide lists it as a 100 acre nature reserve. Why don't you visit Acorn instead of sitting in your room and making all sorts of assumptions? Go see who attends, what the photo policy and practice are, and what the members think of Donaghe!
Yes I am angry at you because you are quick to be self righteous and condemning. Like Craft, you build yourself up in your self esteem by avoiding real life responsibilities and relationships. Cheap thrills, Michael. Lee ***
December 31, 1989 Dear Lee: I asked you a long time ago for information about Craft's allegations. You practically dismissed me. I had to be extremely persistent just to get a response from you. My doubts about you came not so much from Craft's allegations as from your lack of response. Silence is often perceived as an admission of guilt. You acted as though you had something to hide.
I started the Donaghe file in question as a diary, never intending to share it with anyone. I did not allege that you were hushing things up; I was speaking hypothetically. What I meant is that I don't know whom to trust and was considering the worst case in each instance if I made the wrong choice.
You maintain that child abuse in naturist/nudist circles is extremely rare.
1. Did you read the ICONoclast or did you just dismiss all of it? There were enough names in that one issue to justify concern even if only a small fraction of them were actual molesters. But Lee, at what magic number will you admit that we have a "problem"? This is a serious issue, and I don't think we need hundreds of documented cases before we start getting concerned and taking action.
2. In my experience, people are never totally erroneous. I can't argue for Craft's evidence, but her writing and her arguments seem to exhibit some logic and competence, and it still seems awkward to totally dismiss all of it.
I wonder about what mechanisms are in place to deal with child molesters, since as the head of a local group I have never heard of any policy or directives to be alert.
Do the ASA clubs really investigate these problems? Knowing the ASA, I have my doubts. What if the leaders of the club itself are responsible? Who investigates then? I can certainly understand your not printing reports about individuals. What I believed to be most valuable in print was articles on awareness, prevention, what to do if you suspect, etc. And if not in N&N, then in some other manner I would like to see a rebuttal of Craft's allegations (not of Craft).
I still have unresolved questions about this, but I'm not going to persist in pursuing them any longer; I'm just letting you know what they are. First, if Flanagan was the problem, why did you use her as your credible source to defend Wilcox by sending her letter to Craft? Second, I can't understand your defending Wilcox just because (and if) he is innocent of the most recent charges against him. How does his alleged innocence in a case justify past actions?
Of course it's possible that Donaghe is innocent! However, I have serious doubts about his innocence and you should too. Again, if the details in my file don't raise your suspicion, I don't know what will. Ed tried to mislead me. He originally said that "some of the pictures had children in them," but when pressed admitted that one of the three rolls alone was of the same girl! Why did he need to get away from Goliad to have his film developed? Why doesn't he remember which lab he went to (when he was arrested at it)? Why is he worried that the police might have a copy of his photographs? What kind of twisted morals does he have that he thinks I should recommend an attorney to him, no questions asked? Why doesn't he want to contact TNS? If he is so pure with the movement, why does his flier say "naturalist"? Why does he have a mandatory nudity policy? Why couldn't he maintain even 10 members necessary to remain in the ASA? As for the photographs, why was it necessary for him (and another man?) to take so many pictures of naked little girls? And something I forgot to include in my file was information about Smokey.
Smokey was one of the worst kinds of people in the world. He lived at New Manor [a clothing-optional apartment in Austin]. He not only dealt drugs, he manufactured them in a lab in his apartment. His arsenal was well-known. He carried guns around, and he threatened to kill a friend of mine (a guard) with one of his weapons. He surrounded himself with "drug whores." I don't even know the worst of it, because I tried to know as little as possible about him for my own safety. Anyway, a friend tells me that Smokey came back to New Manor to visit one day, and told him about how he and his girls had been living out at the Acorn Sun Club and how it was the greatest place.
Lee, who would I talk to if I visited Acorn? Ed doesn't even have 10 members! Oh, well, there's Smokey, that's one at least, a few more if you count the drug whores! And if I failed to find anything, should I then totally dismiss all previous suspicious behavior?
Lee, please don't give the standard line about leaving it all to the courts. I shouldn't have to respond to this. Why don't we just avert our eyes - the cops will come around soon enough!
I have read your editorials for some time. My perception is that to you, style is more important than content. You complain bitterly about not going through proper channels, or unprofessionalism, or flawed personalities, or whatever, but you avoid addressing the issues.
Sure, discrediting a source often discredits its statements, but not always. In any event, it is an indirect argument at best. There's a big difference between: "Franklin says the committee is incompetent." "Franklin's an idiot!" and "No, it's a fine committee."
Franklin may even be an idiot, but of course that is not a good defense of the committee. At best it diminishes an attack but provides no needed defense at all.
Your tactic is hard to argue against, because it ignores the issues. How does one argue against a personal attack against another (or against her/himself)? How do you prove otherwise, and should you have to? What if Hitler was a naturist, Lee?
In any event, you have some of the filthiest words for Craft that I have ever heard a human used against another. Certainly in her communication with me (or in print) she has not abused you as badly. It's quite ironic how, in effect, you scream, "That dirty, stupid bitch just wants to say bad things." Think about it a second.
You say I am quick to be self-righteous and condemning. How so? Did I ever quickly, comfortably, or clearly take any sides in this matter? Do I even have much of a position to be self-righteous about? Perhaps you are the one who is self-righteous and condemning. I just asked for information and struggled to do what I thought best; you, on the other hand labeled me a thrill-seeker for doing so.
The clincher is this one: "You build yourself up in your self esteem by avoiding real life responsibilities and relationships." Come on, Lee. Isn't this kind of childish? Certainly I am not getting any publicity or notoriety for this. In any event, I fail to see how pursuing information in a sensitive area is avoiding responsibilities. Kind of seemed the opposite to me.
"Cheap thrills, Michael." Lee, if you think I have enjoyed one minute of any of this, you are sadly mistaken. I don't do this because I like it, I do it because I must. That's not original, but it's still true.
This is a turning point for me. You have made two blatant errors by claiming I avoid responsibility and that I am into cheap thrills. Since I now have first-hand information about the inaccuracy of your statements, I know you to be fallible in your judgment of character. It makes me wonder about similar statements you have made about others.
I am now ready to leave The Naturist Society. You may claim this to be irresponsible, but I think otherwise. If what you say of me is true, I shouldn't be representing your organization. I am serious here. If you truly believe that I am self-righteous, condemning, and avoid real-life responsibilities, then you will not be disappointed that I leave. Surely, those characteristics are contrary to naturist values. Michael
Portions reprinted from the ICONoclast, p.o. box 2085, Rancho Cordova, Ca 95741-2085. Copyright 1995 by Nikki Craft. Commercial Use Prohibited. Comments, feedback and information about individual pedophiles are welcomed.
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