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The Peron Allegations: Part Three: Ghosts From The Past Return

Tue 29 Mar 2005 In: True Stories National Library

Any solid investigation resembles a crucible, where inaccuracies must be burned away until we're left with only the truth. The more an investigation relies on hearsay, the more likely it is that the results will be inconclusive. contributor Jim Peron was first accused of being a paedophile with a history of sex offences against children, an accusation that was then retracted and downgraded to him being responsible for only promoting paedophilia – at a particular place and time twenty years ago – but not engaging in it. Peron has continued to deny all the allegations made against him, while former colleagues and associates have expressed disbelief at his denials. Peron as recently as a few days ago denied being a promoter of paedophilia even when faced with pages from “Unbound”, a paedophile journal which at least one person recalls Peron selling in his San Francisco bookstore in the mid-1980s. Peron said he had nothing to do with it (see Part 2 of our story). ABUSED - ONE BOY'S STORY At that time, had only obtained the first four pages of Unbound, which indeed contained nothing to firmly link Peron with the publication beyond inference. However, late last week, a full copy of Unbound emerged. Contained within the pages we didn't have was an article entitled Abused – One Boy's Story. It's author was Jim Peron. This piece appeared to corroborate much of what San Francisco sources claimed to remember of Peron's outspoken beliefs on child/adult relations in the 1980s. Peron spoke of a childhood where his family suffered abuse (physical, but not sexual) at the hands of his father. He said it was difficult for him to write about, but he felt there was a purpose in doing so: “I want people to understand what real abuse is like. I constantly read these newspaper articles where a man is arrested for loving a boy and I see how the police, the politicians, and the press call it abuse. How dare they minimise what happened to me as a child by calling these other relationships 'abusive'? I know abuse. I experienced real abuse for several years and it is nothing like the typical man/boy relationship." Peron goes on to describe his subsequent encounters with 'boylovers', guardians at a military boarding school he was sent to by his widowed mother. These men were trusted guardians of the children in their care. Although Peron describes no explicit sexual activity taking place between himself and these men, the situations described as having taken place are clearly inappropriate: "There was Mr. R who used to slip his hand down the back of my pyjamas. He said it was to make sure I wasn't wearing my underwear to bed but I knew it was because he liked feeling my butt... The coach, Mr. H, loved to shower with us boys. He smiled a lot at me, especially when I was naked in the shower with him." The purpose of the article is aimed at drawing distinctions between the two kinds of abuse Peron suffered as a child – physical abuse at the hands of his father, and sexual abuse (although he does not refer to it as such) at the hands of his 'boylover' teachers. He seems quite clear in his value judgements on each experience: "For five years between the ages of twelve and sixteen, I spent much of my time with men who were boylovers. At no time did they force themselves on any of the boys. What they did do was genuinely love us and for that I am grateful...I have been beaten within the sacred confines of the family and I have been affectionately cradled in the arms of a ‘pervert'. I have felt the stinging pain of a fist across my face and the tender caress of a man's hand across my butt. As a boy I personally experienced both kinds of ‘abuse' and I can only thank God that I met these boylovers." ATTACKING THE GAY COMMUNITY After several more paragraphs of defending paedophiles by arguing that the victims are complicit in the sexual activities of the adults who engage in sex with them, Peron ends the article with a stinging attack on "pompous, politically correct fools" within the gay community who have rejected "boylovers": "[They] spout off about 'abusing' children. They disassociate themselves from boylovers. They repudiate them. They say, 'there is no place in the human rights movement for these people'. Gay politicians throw boylovers to the lions every chance they get... Enough is enough. I have told the hard bitter truth of my childhood because it speaks to the lies these hysterics are telling." The piece appears to, at the very least, downplay the seriousness of adults engaging in sexual activity with underage children. Immediately after pages from Unbound surfaced in New Zealand last week, Peron mocked up a conversational question-and-answer interview in the style of a transcript, emailed it to, and then published it to a subscriber-only section of his Institute for Liberal Values website, complete with email headers – giving the impresssion an actual interview had been conducted. Although some have suggested this was an interview conducted by, this is not the case. However, we have used some of his statements from that “interview” in this story. DENIALS AND AN ABANDONED ARTICLE In the faux-interview, Peron denies all the recollections and accusations detailed in Part 2 of our story, including allegations that he was personally responsible for Unbound. He maintains that Unbound was published by another individual who rented a mailbox and back office from Peron's bookstore. "I am the first to admit that I was an advocate of a radical libertarian version of sexual politics at the time," Peron writes. "But this rhetoric makes me sound like a mini Marxist of some sort and was not my style. I believe that the editor of Unbound rewrote my original comments. For the record I was not sexually abused by any adult as a child. The most that ever happened was that some men were affectionate to me and caressed me but never instigated sexual contact or touched my genitals or had me touch their's. I shouldn't have to say this but I want it on the record." Peron also says that the story he wrote was used without his permission: "...the story of abuse I wrote about was never intended for public consumption. I would not have given permission for it to be used. I do not think it unreasonable that other material was given to them [Unbound's editors] by me but not this piece. This piece deals with a subject which I do like speaking about, the physical abuse by my father...I did have that written up but not for publication. I also believe that again some rhetoric I wouldn't use had been added to the piece.” In a later correspondence, Peron points out that there is no explicit sexual content in the piece, and denies that he was referring to paedophiles when using the term 'boylover': “None of the men were pedophiles to my knowledge. None approached me for sex. And I never heard of them having sex with any boys on campus. I referred to them as men who genuinely loved boys and were good to them. I was describing a loving relationship not a sexual one. But this was only a draft that was never intended for publication and which I never rewrote to make more precise." Peron says he found the piece "unsatisfactory" and abandoned it, not keeping a copy for himself. He says he doesn't know how it ended up in Unbound. Although this piece has been alluded to by other sources before its emergence (with varying degrees of accuracy about its exact content), Peron has only now acknowledged its existence. Curiously, he says he's thought about rewriting it. "On several occassion I thought of discussing the nature of being physically abused as a child. I remembered that I had written this and I thought some of the descriptions were good but I didn't have it to work with. I had discarded it. The one occassion that made me think of it was when I saw a father being loving and kind to his son. I thought, how different his touch to his son was to that of my father's to me. I wanted to compare it. I wanted to take out what I rejected and instead move in an entirely different way with it. I would have liked to take the good part at the beginning and give it that whole new ending which I think would be legitimate and valid to do, but I think since it was reproduced and distributed as it was, any value that it might have had was destroyed. That article could have been something good. But then little minds saw the bad in it and instead of seeing how the bad can be removed and good replaced, they preferred to destroy it totally. Petty minds destroy. That article could have evolved easily into something very worthwhile." CHANGING TIMES, CHANGED ATTITUDE Although he denies that his article was to be taken as advocating child/adult sexual relationships, Peron does acknowledge his views on sexuality have come a long way in the last twenty years. He says he's now “pretty conservative on matters of personal sexual morality” and that his earlier views were borne of the times, a 1980s San Francisco full of “sexual radicals”. He accepts some degree of blame for his current situation: “I accepted ideas which I came later to reject. I was wrong to hold those ideas,” he wrote. “But one has to be persuaded of the arguments first and sometimes it takes hard evidence combined with logic. You see the facts, you check the premises, you draw new conclusions. I don't know if you can just will that to happen faster. It happens when it happens.” Peron argued in his article that 'boylovers' were being persecuted for crimes of abuse by police, because their victims had actually consented to that abuse. Does he believe that sex with children is OK, as long as there is consent? “The difference between sex and rape is consent. I would say that the metaphysical nature of the child is such that they are not capable of consent," he says, a view which he believes he has always held. "I may have toyed with other ideas but never took that too seriously. It was too clear that a child was not capable of consent. But when you see sex the way you see eating, which is how many radical sexual libertarians view it, you might be persuaded that even if consent is not possible, what difference does it make? So then you have two factors involved in making a moral judgement on the issue. First, there is the absence of consent. Second there is the very real potential for serious emotional consequences. Physically, it may even be pleasurable, but it goes far deeper than the physical. I didn't realise thattwenty years ago. I do now. And that changes, for me, all my values about human sexuality. I think its the most radical shift in perspective I ever had." Abused is the biggest proverbial skeleton in Peron's closet, eclipsing the sale of the NAMBLA Bulletin in his bookstore and allowing NAMBLA meetings to be held there. He says he's moved on from views he once held, but others won't let him: "I'm a very different person today, but a few people won't let me live as the person I am. They keep trying to pretend that the person I was twenty years ago is the person I am today. It's rubbish. None of us are the same person we were twenty years ago at least not if we think and reflect. We all make mistakes and learn from them. I made my share and I learned my share as well." IMPLICATIONS AND CONCLUSIONS For Peron's detractors, his answers are unlikely to satisfy. It's a past that he has acknowledged a move away from, yet it is an acknowledgement that has only come by degrees, and his latest disclosure is not helped by its appearance in his mocked-up "interview". It is easy to allow someone the latitude of not remembering every detail of conversations or associations they had twenty years ago, but it is at best unfortunate in light of the types of allegations being made that Peron did not disclose he'd once composed an article about “boylovers” until a copy of it appeared. Granted, the encounters Peron describes with the adult guardians in his story are not explicitly sexual, as was alleged before the article surfaced. But for some, his protestations about the article being taken out of context and having things read into it that aren't there is a manipulation of language that recalls President Clinton's justifications for denying, then later acknowledging, a form of sexual encounter with his intern Monica Lewinsky. Leading the charge in exposing inconsistencies they see in Peron's stories are, as covered in Part 1 of our story, Dunedin-based fundamentalist Christians Madeleine and Matthew Flannagan. They've carried out their investigations under the name of the Locke Foundation, an umbrella group for the advocacy, research and lobbying efforts of, says the website, “some of the most experienced Christian activists in the country who intend to integrate both their belief in individual liberty and their theological commitments to their interaction with the public square.” A 32-page report on the Peron allegations has been produced and released to the media in the name of the Locke Foundation, entitled Jim Peron's Associations with the ‘Adult and Child Sex' Movement. As well as being unconvinced by Peron's denials, the report analyses his writing style in an attempt to prove that his association with “Unbound” went far further than an unauthorised reprinting of an article he claims to have once drafted, but never published. It was an effort that proved to be moot in the final analysis. Mrs Flannagan today received an email from Dr Frits Bernard, a Rotterdam-based paedophilia advocate whom online bibliographies identify as having had several articles published over several different issues of Unbound. Bernard, in writing, identified the editor of Unbound as Jim Peron. NZ First leader Winston Peters, the first to make public a series of allegations about Jim Peron under Parliamentary privilege, has now gone outside the House and repeated some of them, on the basis of the evidence that has now emerged. He stands by the allegation relating to Peron being a paedophile, on the basis that his definition of "paedophile" is not restricted to those who have been convicted of sexual offences with children. Peters feels the actions of someone who would publish something in the nature of Unbound are those of a paedophile. When faced with the disturbing contents of Unbound, it is clear that its emergence is beginning to frame Peron as a moral leper. Peters no doubt sees this whole affair, which his staff and various associates have spent weeks researching (largely subsequent to Peters making the original allegations, and not prior), as a vindication of his grandstanding approach to politics, and a tremendous opportunity to tar political opponents with the Peron brush. He has already described those who attacked him over inappropriate use of Parliamentary privilege as "apologists for Mr Peron", and accused the ACT party generally of supporting a paedophile. Yet if Peters had produced the evidence that has now emerged, and which has been in existence since the late 80s, two weeks ago, this entire situation and all its negative consequences could have been avoided. As the political heat over the entire issue is turned up, with more doubts being expressed about how candid he has been about his past, Peron isn't around in person to take the heat – at least for now. Currently overseas, Peron says he will be returning to New Zealand: "I won't let scoundrels chase me out of a decent country with good people. A few bad apples here don't spoil the bunch. Most Kiwis I've met were compassionate, caring and good hearted. A handful of bastards, at most we are talking about four of them, won't chase me away. I need to recuperate and I will. And most importantly the person I love most in the world is still in Auckland." For those who originally made the Peron allegations, there is an empty victory to be enjoyed in having some of them apparently proved true. For some it may put them on the political map, or save them from voter oblivion. For those who were willing, in the name of fairness and justice, to give Peron the benefit of the doubt while the mud-slinging stayed just that – mud-slinging – there is no escaping what has emerged. Peron says he has changed. It is for you to decide whether he is capable of telling the whole truth about the present, when it seems he has been so selectively truthful about his past.     Chris Banks - 29th March 2005

Credit: Chris Banks

First published: Tuesday, 29th March 2005 - 12:00pm

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