An odd and disturbing Michigan story serves as an important reminder to parents, police and in fact, all of us:
Some sick adults get sexual satisfaction from acts that may not seem to be sexual at all. In other words, “weird” behavior may not just be weird. It may also be abusive.
A Detroit area priest must spend 60 days in jail and register as a sex offender after he pleaded guilty to covering a boy – including his eyes and mouth – in bubble wrap for an hour.
While his defense lawyer disagrees, the Michigan Attorney General’s office convinced a judge that the cleric derived sexual pleasure from this twisted move.
Our firm once handled a similarly unusual and unsettling case against a Colorado cleric, Andrew Burke, who rubbed ice on kids blindfolded them, and stroked a feather on their skin.
We also handled cases involving a Marianist brother, William C. Mueller, who spent time in Missouri, Texas and Colorado. While teaching at Chaminade school in St. Louis, he convinced at least one student that he was conducting a psychological ‘experiment’ to get his doctoral degree. Mueller blindfolded the boy “asked bizarre questions, began rubbing his neck and back and blowing in his ear, then blindfolded him, put what felt like a knife to his throat and simulated intercourse.”
These kinds of bizarre actions are technically called “paraphilias” by professionals. They cross the victims’ boundaries, arouse perpetrators and cause harm, even if victims chalk up the experience as ‘creepy’ rather than sexual abuse or exploitation.
And, just like more conventional forms of sexual abuse, victims often can’t understand and accept the acts as abusive and hurtful until decades later.
So if you know someone who went through a ‘weird’ or ‘creepy’ experience with an adult, do them a favor. Gently raise the possibility with them that the adult MAY have sought or gained some sort of sexual gratification from the encounter. Urge them to talk with professionals in counseling, civil litigation and of course law enforcement to explore this possibility and perhaps stop the adult from doing it again to others.