KIDS MAY BE AT RISK IN NUDIST CAMPS
By Christine Wicker
Dallas Morning News, Sunday, March 29, 1992
BACK TO NUDIST/NATURIST HALL OF SHAME
When asked why so few people are on the list, Mr. Page said child molesters generally stay away from the clubs. "I think that we are, well, I think in some ways we're lucky.... Truthfully, really and truly, it's too easy to spot somebody who's a difficulty," he said. -- Robert Page, AANR's legal council.
Norman James Greenwood's arrest last month on charges of sexually assaulting children from an East Texas nudist camp was the latest of several incidents in which nudists were charged with sexual misconduct involving children.
Law enforcement officials say that even though most nudists abhor such activity, pedophiles all over the country appear to be using the nudist movement for access to trusting, naked children.
"Obviously not all nudists are interested in molesting children," said Dallas Police Sgt. B.A. Fassett of the Child Exploitation Unit "but if a person is interested in children, where else better to go than a nudist camp?"
In the last three years, nudist from at least four of the 10 nudist retreats known to be operating in Texas have been charged with either molesting children or producing child pornography. One man was convicted as a result of those charges. Four other men have yet to go to trial. In another case, a judge halted proceedings because of a defense challenge and ordered a retrial, which has yet to be rescheduled.
Sgt. Fassett said Mr. Greenwood, known as "Hoss," and his friend Robert Irving Jolly were accused of taking children from the Pondarosa Ranch nudist camp in Van Zandt County to Dallas and then assaulting them. Mr. Greenwood, 49, was indicted on five counts of sexual assault of a child. Mr. Jolly, 56, was indicted on seven counts of sexual assault of a child, two counts of sexual performance with a child and one count of sexual conduct with a child. Both men are in jail and have not entered pleas.
Mr. Jolly's attorney, Lowell Jones, said Mr. Jolly intends to plead guilty.
Mr. Greenwood's attorney, George Ashford III, could not be reached for comment.
David Adcock, founder of the Pondarosa, said the camp has had no other problems with child exploitation in almost 14 years of operation. Mr. Greenwood, who lived in a trailer on camp grounds; was well liked and trusted, said Mr. Adcock.
"The people who knew him couldn't believe he had done this. He played around with the kids, nothing unusual," Mr. Adcock said.
Last fall, the owner of Parker County's Ravenwood nudist camp, John Wayne Dilworth, was indicted on-two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child.
A Richland Hills man, Kenneth Wayne Kito, was indicted on two counts of aggravated assault in connection with assaults on two children at the camp, according to court records. Mr. Kito was also indicted on two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child in Tarrant County. Mr Kito pleaded guilty in 1987 to a charge of indecency with a child and was given six months probation by a Tarrant County judge. The two men are in the Parker County Jail and have not yet entered pleas in connection with their recent charges.
Three years ago, Jimmie Joe Christopher, 52 pleaded guilty to fondling two children at another North Texas camp. He received 10 years' probation. Mr. Christopher had a prior conviction in 1976 for indecency with a child. He received two years' probation.
Two years ago, the Austin county attorney charged Edward Donaghe of Acorn Sun Club in Goliad with possession of child pornography. The judge ruled in favor of Mr. Donaghe when his attorney challenged evidence in the case and ordered a retrial, according to the attorney, lan Inglis. The retrial has not been scheduled. Mr. Donaghe declined to comment.
Robert T. Page, general counsel for the country's largest nudist organization, the American Sunbathing Association, calls nudist camps a great place for children. "What you really have in a family nudist club is a whole lot of moms and dads. And people do look out for other people," he said.
San Bernadino (Calif.) sheriff's Sgt. Toby Tyler has three nudist camps in his jurisdiction. He said camp owners often alert him to suspicious activity.
"They are perhaps hypervigilant," he said. "They report things that you or I would perhaps not feel the need to report if it occurred in our neighborhood. But because of the environment they have there-the trusting social system of nudism-they do report things in order to try to avoid sexual abuse of children."
Some nudists are so incensed by what they perceive to be indifference to child pornography and child molestation that they've repudiated their ties to the movement. Naturist Eric Bost's mid-'80s victory in the California courts established the right to swim nude on public beaches. (Naturists advocate public nudity, whereas most nudists restrict their activities to private camps.) Now Mr. Bost says- he wishes he'd never pursued the court case.
"Is the freedom of being able to sunbathe nude on a beach worth these child molesters having access to children?" he asks. "I don't think so."
The ASA's Mr. Page said nudist gatherings have no more pedophiles than other groups with children. Some nudists say they are being targeted by law enforcement officers spurred on by pro-censorship attitudes.
Nudist gatherings often have photographers taking non-sexual photos of nude people-including children-and many nudists resist efforts to stop such activity. "The minute you don't allow kids in and the minute you don't let pictures be taken of kids, you are admitting that there is something wrong with nudism-and there's not," said Beverly Price, an official of the western region of the ASA.
Detroit postal inspector Michael O'Hara, who made 40 arrests for child pornography in three years, said child pornographers must accomplish two things before they begin their work: They must gain children's trust and get them to take off their clothes. "If Mom and Dad have already got you trusting and naked, you've broken down the child's two main defenses," he said.
Former Dallasite Nikki Craft is among the most vociferous of nudism's critics. A feminist activist who has been jailed for civil disobedience many times, Ms. Craft started an organization based in Rancho Cordova, Calif., called N.O.P.E. -- Naturists and Nudists Opposing Pornographic Exploitation. N.O.P.E. publishes a newsletter that details sex charges and convictions of nudists.
Ms. Craft was never a nudist* but was employed by the Naturist Society during the 1980s. She says she has files on nearly a hundred more arrested, suspected and currently under investigation," she said.
Ms. Craft's files -- which include news reports, court records and interviews with police -- concentrate on California cases. "That's because I looked the hardest at California," she said. "I believe I'd find the same thing anywhere if I looked closely." Michigan, Illinois, Florida, Arizona, Alabama, Ohio, Wisconsin, Colorado, North Carolina and Washington are all represented in Ms. Craft's files.
Some of those convicted are occasional nudists, as is one of the members of the North American Man/Boy Love Association who was in California last year of molesting boys under 10.
Others are valued members of the nudist and naturist communities In 1989, when Michigan's Cefus Illene Frederick was arrested for receiving child pornography through the mail, a 1983 "Man of the Year" award from a Michigan nudist camp hung In his living room, police said He already had convictions for two felonies and two misdemeanors for sexual crimes against children on his record, according to police. He pleaded guilty to the 1989 charge, was fined S15,000 and sentenced to eight months.
Thomas Kelley, a 20 year nudist from Los Angeles and a former editor for a nudist publication, is one of the movement's strongest advocates of safeguards for protecting children. "In fact I was very watchful of other people's children because I knew people had these feelings because I did," he said.
Mr. Kelley, 50, pleaded no contest last November to charges of possessing child pornography. In a recent interview with The Dallas Morning News, he said he has been in treatment for his problem since he was convicted.
Mr. Kelley said he became obsessed with pictures from a hard-core European child pornography magazine another nudist had given him. For years, he copied-photos from the magazine, he said.
Last spring, Mr. Kelley left a duffel bag on the balcony of his home. "There were some (pornographic photos in the bag), not many, just in case I was in a hotel room or something, I would have some," he said. A young boy stole the bag and showed the photos to an adult. Mr. Kelley was sentenced to 36 months on probation, fined and ordered to attend counseling for compulsive sexual behavior.
The 40,000 member American Sunbathing Association has a caution list of 34 people whose memberships have been taken away In the last 15 years. Eight people have been added in the last five years-two of those for embezzlement. When asked why so few people are on the list, Mr. Page said child molesters generally stay away from the clubs.
"I think that we are, well, I think in some ways we're lucky.... Truthfully, really and truly, it's too easy to spot somebody who's a difficulty," he said.
Some nudists convicted of crimes against children are not members of the ASA and others resign before they are put on the list, said Mr. Page. He also expressed concern about blackballing people who might have been unjustly accused or wrongly convicted.
Mr. Baxandall of the Naturist Society, the country's second-largest clothing-optional organization, said the names of offenders shouldn't necessarily be made public.
"I think that people 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," said Mr. Baxandall, "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 may be healed or partially healed."
The Naturist Society has no caution list. Such responsibility rests with the ASA and its clubs, Mr. Baxandall said. He did remove Ed Donaghe's Acorn Sun Club in Goliad from his list of recommended clubs after Mr. Donaghe was accused of possessing child pornography.
Mr. Kelley, the naturist convicted of possessing child pornography, said the organizations don't do enough. "They don't publicize it enough," he said. "I don't think the parents are aware of it. . . . They can be lax at times, very lax."
One name not on the ASA caution list is Timothy Wilcox [ re re adds: he has, since this article was published, been added], a California pedophile convicted in 1978 of molesting a 6-year-old girl. He was designated a "mentally disordered sex offender" by a Los Angeles court and committed to Patton State Hospital.
By 1985, Mr. Wicox was a prominent member of the nudist movement. In that year, Mr. Wilcox won the ASA's Photographer of the Year for a picture of two nude girls. He was later charged with molesting one of the girls, but charges were dropped because of reluctance to have the child testify, police said.
Louise Flanagan, who was vice president of Northern California ASA club called Sequoians, said she knew about Mr. Wilcox's criminal record in 1987 or '88. "He made us believe that it was a much more minor situation than it turned out to be," she said.
Mr. Wilcox would not comment on Mrs. Flanagan's version. "I don't wish to participate in the nudist bash," Mr. Wilcox said.
In 1987, Mr. Wilcox was named "Man of the Year" by the Western Sunbathing Association. Even after he was charged in June of 1988 with child molestation and possessing child pornography, the Sequoians named him editor of their newsletter. Mrs. Flanagan said, "We thought it (the charge) was very likely to be dismissed, and in fact it was."
In September 1989, police cut the chain at the club entrance and went in to arrest Mr. Wilcox and two other Sequoians. One of them, Cal Brugge, had molested a 13-year-old girl.
As a result, Mr. Brugge, a 20-year Navy man, was convicted by a military court on four counts of child molestation. Mr. Wilcox pleaded guilty to the development and duplication of child pornography. He was given three years' probation, ordered to stay away from children and fined $500.00.
Within a year, his probation was revoked. Mr. Wilcox said he was charged with subscribing to a nudist publication, and he went to county jail for six months. He would not say whether he is still a nudist.
Mr. Adcock of the Pondarosa Ranch near Wills Point says it's sometimes impossible to discern the people who are a danger to children."
Dallas' Mr. Jolly, for instance, has a prior conviction for molesting children. But Mr. Jolly wasn't a member of the camp -- only an occasional guest of Mr. Greenwood, according to police. Mr. Jolly's attorney said that Mr. Jolly and his wife had visited the camp previously and that Mr. Jolly also had installed a gate for the Pondarosa.
Mr. Adcock said he checks references. "But this has never panned out for much because the references they give you are going to be their best friends," he said.
"We are not permitted to run investigative reports. . . . We contacted the sheriff's department several years ago and asked could we do this and they said, 'No you can't'. That's a violation of their privacy.
*I told Ms. Wicker that I never have *defined* myself as a "nudist" though I have practiced and advocated clothing optionality.