THOMAS KELLEY (has been known as Tom Kelley,
CONVICTED NATURIST CHILD PORNOGRAPHY CASE
by Nikki Craft
is more than one professional photographer whose
last name is properly spelled "Kelley," and "Kelly" most
notable are a fine arts photographer from Los Angeles
and another who is an automotive photographer/writer
working throughout the U.S. These photographers
are [emphatically so, I might add] not involved
in nudism, so please do not confuse them with Mr.
Kelly. They are repulsed, and are concerned that
their valid reputations as a photographers not
be impugned by Mr. Kelly's actions.
Kelley, a long-time employee of Sears in Los Angeles
or surrounding areas, music collector and naturist/nudist
photographer spelled his legal name as Tom Kelley
when involved with naturist photography activities.
However, his legal name is Thomas Kelly according
to police records. Nudists and naturists frequently
go by aliases and false names so this was never
checked into even though he was the official photographer
for national naturist organizations including The
Naturist Society and took many published photos
of naturist/nudist children for their magazine.
After his arrest, his name, was spelled Kelley
and Kelly as a result of his duplicity. --NC
One thing Tom Kelley and other photographers
prove is that the only way nudist parents can really protect their
children from exploitative photographers is to stand smack-dab
in front of them when a picture is taken. --Nikki Craft
I first met Tom Kelley back in 1983 at Lupin Naturist Resort at the Naturist Society's Western Gathering when I attended a slide show he was giving. For several hours Tom showed slide after slide of nude children that he had photographed at camps and beaches during his twenty-five years as a nudist/naturist activist.
He had been showing the slide show for years at various
naturist events. His puns had become rote; he knew his material well -- almost
too well. He told a story with each set of slides, and many contained infantilized,
sexual humor about the child's positioning, or what they happened to be doing
in the picture.
Tom took many nice photographs. But, after several
trays of slides I found myself getting irritated. For a while I privately questioned
my own perceptions. Why couldn't I just enjoy what was probably an innocent slide
show? But as the slides continued, I became seriously offended by the sexual
innuendos about the children that Tom, and other men in the audience, kept making.
(Tim Wilcox was present that day watching the slide show.) I also remember wondering
why so many "naturists" were closed up in a dark room watching slides
when they could be outside in the fresh air with real, non-celluloid people.
I approached Tom afterwards and told him that I felt no matter what his own personal motivations might be, he was entertaining pedophiles with his photography. We had a lengthy conversation and my anger subsided.
I liked Tom. He was intelligent, contemplative, and he was non-combative and seemed receptive to my confrontation about his behavior, which it seemed, he was considering for the first time in his life. I remember feeling that we were really communicating and, to my knowledge, he never showed his slide show at any Naturist Society gathering after that conversation.
I remember thinking that Tom really cared for children
-- that he could never do anything to hurt a child. Still, I made a mental note
to watch him, and several of the other men that were present there that day.
When I got home to Oshkosh I made a file on him and began placing relevant items
in it; such as letters and articles that he published and wrote about child abuse
While I was working in Oshkosh at the Naturist Society Headquarters Tom was hired by Lee Baxandall for a token fee (car fare and some expenses) to edit The Naturist Society's Beachhead section in the Bare In Mind (BIM) nudist newspaper (circa early/mid 1980's). Lee Baxandall and I spent an afternoon with him during one of our visits to L.A.
Over the years Tom and I spoke on the phone on numerous occasions regarding naturism, feminism and work. Many times Tom mentioned how much his ex-wife, Joanne, hates naturism. He had a massive collection of records and several of our talks were about music too. We argued intensely on numerous occasions. For a while I was pretty confrontive about the issue of pedophilia and his responsibility, as an editor, to make it a public issue. Over the years I came to think, with some reservations, of Tom as a political ally, and perhaps even a long distance friend. These days, though, Tom won't return my phone calls.
The reason for this being that in April of 1991 Tom
accidentally went off and left a duffle bag full of child pornography unattended
on the balcony outside his apartment. A young boy came upon it and stole the
bag without knowing its contents. The boy was so upset by what he found that
he turned it over to his parents. The police were called immediately and went
to Tom's apartment with a search warrant.
When the police arrived, Tom was out of town. But when he returned, there was a message waiting for him. It informed him that the police had searched his apartment; that there was a warrant out for his arrest; and that he needed to give them a call when he returned to town and arrange a time to come down and turn himself in.
I learned of Tom's arrest several weeks after the
search and called Los Angeles police officer Michael Schlimack, Tom's arresting
officer. Schlimack said that Kelley was "very cooperative and almost apologetic." The
first thing I asked him was if there was any possibility the bag could have been
considered "innocent" nudist photography.
Schlimack answered "no" and
added, "Kelley had many nudist camp photos. But there's nothing illegal about
that. He was charged with child pornography. That's different. He had photographs
of children who were posed in sexually explicit positions, and were engaging
in sexual conduct, and/or with focus on the genitalia. He had a very wide collection
that he had photographed himself straight out of hard core child pornography
reading a pre-released issue of the ICONoclast Schlimack told me, "The
list you publish only scratches the surface."
A partial list of the evidence seized in his apartment is: four small photo albums of child porn, a carton of slides of child porn, 8 photo albums of child pornography, one metal box with child erotica (sic), one plastic box with photos of nude adults and children, a metal box with child porn, a brief case with child porn, naturist literature, and many video cassettes. There were 16 child porn magazines in Tom Kelley's apartment, among them Lolita Sex, School Girls, Children Love, Lolly Tots, and Little Girls Fuck Too.
In November of 1991, Tom Kelley pled no contest to one count of possessing child pornography. He was originally charged with 8 misdemeanor counts of possession and one count of depicting sexual conduct with a child under 14.
Los Angeles prosecutor, Tracy Webb told me that the
amount of materials Kelley possessed was "memorable" -- a strong statement coming from someone who has probably seen just about everything. She said he had "boxes and boxes of photographs of nude people playing volley ball and tennis; and he also had boxes and boxes of adult and child hard-core pornography. Included in those boxes were photos and videos of adults having sex with children." She said he would "cut out nudist photographs, or sexually provocative pictures of adults or adult male genitalia, and then he would cut out a photograph of a child and then arrange them together in various positions on the refrigerator. For instance," she added, "he
would cut out the heads of the young girls and then position them at crotch level
of an adult male."
Bill Dworin, Investigating Officer of the Sexually
Exploited Child Unit in Los Angeles, confirmed there were "quite a few" spread-legged
shots from hard-core child porn publications and that Kelley had framed some of
the photo montages throughout his house, but that the more explicit child porn
was in his closet.
Dworin told me that Tom Kelley "recognizes, and freely admitted that he has a problem." Dworin also said that Kelley "admits
to getting sexually aroused by looking at, and being around, nude kids."
When he appeared in court for sentencing, he told the prosecutor that he didn't want to talk about it; he just wanted to plead guilty. In exchange for his no contest plea to the one count, he was given 36 months probation which included AIDS testing, undergoing compulsive sexual behavior counseling, not possessing nude photographs of children, donating $500 to Children's Home Society, and 20 hours social service work for Cal Trans - or serve 20 days in county jail.
To many, Tom would be the last person they would have ever suspected to be involved in this type of behavior. He has been an active naturist for 25 years. He has written some of the most informative articles ever published in the nudist/naturist press about the exploitation of children. He printed several articles that contained preventive methods that could be employed by nudist parents to keep their children safe from sexual abuse. He was the only nudist or naturist editor that did not censor information about NOPE once we began functioning independently from TNS; and he even reprinted the complete extensive coverage from the ICONoclast about Tim Wilcox. He got a lot of flack coming at him from a lot of different directions for doing it, too.
In fact, he "resigned" shortly after he published our exposé on
Tim Wilcox as the editor from Beachhead. He told me that Lee Baxandall and Bill Flesher were very upset along with several others that he refused to name.
After that Tom only worked for Bare In Mind from
behind the scenes. I thought this was strange at the time, because he really
only removed his name publicly as editor and gave up the responsibility to make
decisions regarding what he published. But he still did volunteer labor for Bare
In Mind and
for Lee Baxandall, probably still does.
I thought it was unfortunate at the time that he
resigned. Now, it makes more sense why he might have wanted to remove himself
from the limelight of the developing pedophile controversy. After all why would
a collector of child pornography and someone who admits he is sexually aroused
by little girls be upset by what Tim Wilcox had done? Tim was, after all, supplying
the photography in the pornography that Tom Kelley was buying -- the photos he "needed."
Still, Tom's writings sounded very sincere. In fact, sometimes I thought he might be one of the few writer/editors in the life-style who genuinely cared about children. Unlike some men who talked about the problem of pedophiles involved in nudism, but their real concern was more about the tarnishing of the movement image when the pedophiles were discovered, Tom seemed different because he articulated how much child sexual abuse really hurt children.
The same month of his arrest, Tom published one article
that read: "Young people need to feel safe when they are nude in the confines
of the club, and public sexual behavior should be strongly reprimanded. They
should be told from the beginning that nudity and sexuality are two different
things, and then shown how this is true."
Two years before that (April 1989) in an article
entitled "Give Children Loving Affection, Not Affliction" he wrote: "Parents
of nudist children must insist on their children asking for permission to have
their photo taken. It is wise to be there when it happens. Even better, be in
the picture to make it a real nudist family shot."
In the same article he wrote: "The nudist life-style
will someday be a key part in the resolving of this tragic problem [child sexual
assault]. Our body awareness and openness will be the source for much knowledge
about the creation of these deviations. Remember there are no known sexual abusers
who were raised as nudists. Body understanding may be the key to prevention.
For the time being, be alert."
In that same April, 1989, issue he wrote: "The
association of sex with nudity in our society, coupled with the fact that families
are involved in nudism, increases our vulnerability to the zealots who condemn
our beliefs. This panic has already created some paranoia in our ranks . . .
If you read the newspapers you are most likely aware of a problem coming to light
that can be quite shocking to most of us. The problem is sexual assault of children,
and, as we are now being made aware, it has been occurring more frequently than
we ever imagined."
I said before that I considered Tom to be a friend
of sorts. Still, there was always a haunting kind of hesitation. That was because
peppered throughout all his concerns for children was talk about "zealots," "paranoids," and "the witchhunt." He'd often discretely discounted the concern that he was creating with a write-off about hysteria of the "child
But Tom Kelley knows very well what's out there, and
he knows it's not hysteria. He knows because he's part of the problem. He knows
very well that the concern about child pornography and what men are doing to
children is not, as he once put it, "paranoia within the ranks."
In a March 29, 1992 article in the Dallas Morning
News entitled, "Kids may be at risk in nudist camps" written by reporter Christine Wicker, Tom is straightforward about the nudist/naturist organizations not doing enough. He said, "they don't publicize it enough." He added, "I don't think the parents are aware of it . . . They can be lax at times, very lax." He also told Wicker: "I was very watchful of other people's children because I knew people [read men] had these feelings because I did." So
how does this explain his talk about paranoia within the ranks just before his
The same week I found out Tom had been arrested I read these words he had written in Bare In Mind: "Remember there are no known sexual abusers who were raised as nudists." What
a crock! Tom has been attending nudist/naturist events for twenty-five years;
and that's being raised a nudist! Even though he probably means being raised
since a child, if twenty-five years in nudist camps isn't enough to deal with
these types of fixations and obsessions then all this idiocy about wholesome
body acceptance through nudism seems futile to me, and so does this coddling
of pedophiles that frequently happens.
Maybe Lee Baxandall should reconsider his position
about Tom Kelley. In a letter to Christine Wicker he wrote: "Kelley
was not an offender by his actions with children; rather, by possessing
outlawed images." And
if Tom does not consider himself to be a child sexual abuser, perhaps he should
Now, when I look back on that afternoon many years ago at Lupin, I know Tom was sexualizing those children. What I don't know is if he stopped showing his slide show because he really cared about what I said, or because I had alerted him to a different danger and simply enabled him to cover his tracks more effectively. That is a frustrating part of all this work for me.
Out of one side of his mouth Tom has assured us that
nudism and sexuality are separate and something different. What kind of betrayal
then exists when he sexualizes the children he has photographed? Tom encourages
parents to be present in the photographs for "nice nudist shots." Yet
what kind of fraud is in operation when he and other pedophiles can then take
the photographs home, and cut/crop the parents out then paste the children into
sexualized positions? One thing Tom and other photographers prove is that the
only way nudist parents can really protect their children from exploitative photographers
is to stand smack-dab in front of them when a picture is taken.
I was wrong about Tom not hurting children. I might
have been wrong about him even caring so much about children. Tom has taken thousands
of photographs of children which helped prop up the nudist/naturist pedophile
sub-culture. Even if I wasn't sure about his intent, I am confident that other
pedophiles had no doubt about what Tom was up to. It's easy to predict that some
of the photographs he has published in the nudist/naturist press, and some of
the ideas he has espoused, have been used to lure children to other pedophiles
who have done more than just take nude photos of them. If Tom cared so much for
children, he would not be providing their photographs to other pedophiles. Why
would he take such a chance? And what about the child in each of the photos he
Over the years, Tom Kelley's camera has pointed not only at a lot of children, but at adults, too. It is conceivable that now under the current circumstances, some of those people might want their children's photographs and negatives returned. However, there is no avenue for that in the naturist movement, and so parents will never know where those photographs are or will be. If they are lucky the photo only ended up in Kelley's personal collection, or taped up on his refrigerator. If they are less lucky their children's photos might be elsewhere.
We think that as part of Tom's restitution, he should have to return all the naked photos he has taken. Since the photos won't be returned we would urge parents, that the next time you see a man snapping photos of your kids, snap up your kids and get them out of the vicinity. Your children don't have the experience -- with all the ramifications entailed in being photographed nude -- to make such a decision, and you certainly don't have the right to give another adult that permission. As we are discovering, there are few male photographers who are interested in taking photos of children that you can trust enough.
In November, 1985, Tom wrote an article for BIM about Lee Kuick, another pedophile, who committed suicide after he dropped off nude children's photographs for developing, and an alert photo processor called the police.
The minute I finished reading Tom's article about
Kuick, I called the manager of the K-Mart South Bay film processing department
and also the Fremont police. Police told me they found "a number of photos of girls in sexually explicit poses and camera equipment believed to have been used to reproduce original prints," as
well as photos of nude children all over the walls. Now, knowing Tom better,
it's easy to see why he wrote about Kuick. No wonder! This guy had the same modus
operandi and pathology as Tom! There's no way we can't know how many children
Lee Kuick might have abused in his 70 years.
And even though Tom leaps to the opportunity that he never molested a child the same concern still applies to Tom Kelley. If Tom could mutilate his nudist photos, turning them into pornographic montages -- thus desecrating his whole alleged nudist ideology by sexualizing the children he had photographed -- then there could be other duplicitous behavior going on too.
In the early March phone interview Christine Wicker asked Lee Baxandall if Tom Kelley was a naturist. Baxandall refused to admit whether Kelley was a naturist saying that Kelley might be one of the men listed in his computer, but that anybody's name could be on his mailing list.
During that conversation she informed him that Tom Kelley had been convicted on child pornography charges. Several days later Baxandall called Wicker back and explained that Tom had been addicted to adult pornography, and in his defense, even down-playing his arrest, said that he only possessed one child porn magazine that was many years old. (Wicker called me to make sure my information was correct.) Baxandall attempted to assure Wicker that his arrest was little
more than an indiscretion and that Tom was in therapy, and how he was now writing an article all about it for Baxandall's magazine. (On the cutting edge, as usual. ;-)
Later, in a phone interview with Wicker, Tom said
that he "became obsessed with pornography, especially with pictures from
a hard-core European child pornography magazine another nudist had given him." He
said that for years he copied photos from the magazine. I wonder where these
copies of all those photographs are now. I remember when Tom saw my slide show
against the exploitation of children, in the mid-eighties, he asked me for copies
of my slides, too. Despite the fact that he seemed concern to educate people,
I refused to give them to him. Retrospectively it's times like these when I feel
fortunate to have such a well-developed suspicious nature.
If Tom is so concerned with the safety of children would he now be willing to tell us who that nudist man was who supplied him with his first fix. He never has revealed the name of that man. Until he does his words mean nothing.
Tom Kelley telling you how to protect children is like a burglar advising you how to protect your house against theft. He offers important information, but take what he says with a grain of salt, and no matter how rehabilitated he ever claims to be you'd better never leave him to baby-sit, or to photograph at naturist gatherings.
Remember, pedophiles don't get "cured;" they
just get real apologetic when they get caught. If writing all those articles
against the exploitation of children over the years didn't rehabilitate Tom Kelley
then why should several months of therapy, and reading a few books, miraculously
rid a dedicated pedophile of such a deeply imbedded sexual attraction/compulsion/preference
towards children? It doesn't happen.
During an interview with a Washington journalist,
about a month after Tom was arrested, Lee Baxandall, when asked about the problem
of pedophiles in his movement replied: "There have been some problem individuals [but] we're on top of the problem." When
the reporter told me this I had to shake my head and chuckle because Baxandall
was unaware during that interview that one of his own editors had just been arrested
for possession of child pornography. On top of things, indeed, in a most patriarchal
During the early March interview with Dallas Morning
News Baxandall told Christine Wicker after being challenged about not having
a "Caution List" that the names of offenders shouldn't necessarily by made public. He further clarified: "I
think that people [read: men] who are not violent, who are not predatory, but
have a problem with their stunted emotional development, they may find some alleviation
and some maturing process through being quiet participants where they can see
more nudity, and if it starts out as a sexual thing but they don't act on those
sexual feelings - they don't invade anyone though having those feelings - then
there's probably no harm done and the person [read: man] may be healed or partially
A friend of mine, after reading the quote said, "Nikki,
he's talking about pedophiles; he's talking about pedophiles looking at and taking pictures of naturist children!" When
this Opinion is being expressed by the naturist hierarchy it's best to just leave
the kids at home.
The statement below was given to me on the phone by Tom Kelley when he resigned from Bare In Mind after the ICONoclast's article about Tim Wilcox was published there. (This was before he was convicted.) Kelley had received intense pressure from various people, among them Bill Flesher and Lee Baxandall, for exposing another pedophile. He wrote:
One police officer said Tom Kelley
was "probably in love with Brooke Shields." He
had many photographs of her from Sugar & Spice.
I don't know which photo series Kelley had, but Penthouse advertised
the same, or a similar series, entitled "Brooke Shields: The Woman In
These photographs were billed as child "erotica." Shield's
10 year old face is caked with lipstick and makeup, and she is naked arranged
in a series of sexualized poses in a bathtub, with pouty lips beckoning to
the on looking male.
One interesting and well-known related fact is that both Brooke and her mother tried unsuccessfully to keep the photographs from being published. If Tom followed Shields closely he would have been aware of that.
No matter that many men may consider pictures of this sort to be art, in reality, the mere possession of them constitutes exploitation of a child (now a woman) against her own will, no matter what any open ended model release says.
Kelley's fantasy photomontages of Brook Shields are a real challenge to Tom Kelley's stated values. If he really cared for nudism or for Brooke Shields he would have thrown the photographs away, not jerked off to them.
Police said that though the Brooke Shield photographs were not among those considered child pornography they were among his sexual fantasy photographs regarding children.
"The reason I am resigning as editor
of Beachhead is that I am disappointed in the reaction I got for printing the Wilcox issue. I'm disappointed that nudists won't stand up and say there is no place for swinging and pedophilia in the movement.
Write to Nikki Craft
BACK TO NUDIST/NATURIST HALL OF SHAME
"As leadership, they are going to have the address
this. They must. When are they going to provide information to parents to protect
their children from the pedophiles who have latched onto nudist children? The
basic idea of naturism is not what these people are doing.
"Naturism could be a healthy force, and I feel
that is what is in danger now. By printing the Wilcox issue, I tried, but they
[nudists and naturists] are going to need another big kick in the balls -- and
if that comes from outside the movement, then that's got to happen." --Tom
Kelley, November, 1989