Paper presented at the 1st Annual Qualitative Methods Conference: "A spanner in the works of the factory of truth"
20 October 1995, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Before twelve o'clock tonight I will have had sex with a ten year old girl
Stephanie Burrows
In calling for 'confessions' rather than conventional academic papers, the organisers of the Spanner in the Works conference sought not only to resist the usual definitions of academic work, but also to exaggerate, satirise (and ultimately perhaps celebrate) the incitements to confession which form part of the everyday machinery of power. What follows is a found object, a transcript from Radio 702 of a phoned-in confession by James, a man claiming to be a paedophile. His statements shocked, titillated and horrified 702's mainly white middle-class listeners and created a moral panic more powerful in shaping the social landscape than any academic conference. This is all true. I was there. It really happened.

James: I've used about ten kids, but not in a bad way. All I can say is that I have no fear of the legal system in this country, as far as I'm concerned, the police's so called child protection units aren't functioning at all. Good grief, one reads in the paper every day how little staff members they have, and the chances of them getting to me is highly unlikely. And secondly if they do catch me, by the time this case comes to court, this child won't be in a position to testify anyway. My previous case was postponed about five times. They took about three years to conclude it. I have no fear...

Jenny: ...would be sexually abused in prison?
But they do it..

Would that frighten you?
Of course, I'd be terrified of going to jail, look I've heard terrible stories of what they do to a man like me. And yes, I don't want to go to jail, but I'd rather commit suicide.

James, you say you're a paedophile and so far you've managed to escape the law, and basically you feel that the law is so bad that you'll be free to continue what I would call molesting children, and what you call loving them. Have you ever taken yourself off to a psychiatrist or something, or are you comfortable with where you are?
I don't feel I need help, I'm a fairly successful person, I've got my own business, I live in a fairly affluent suburb, I don't have a family of my own which suits me fine, and I don't er its not that I have a problem. I think the police have the problem in that they can't force the law, and I think the courts have a problem because they can't prosecute people. If I rape a child violently, If I hurt that child, that would be wrong, But even that, It takes forever to go to court anyway.

Are you a violent paedophile?
No, I've never hurt a child in my life. The things I do to children they like.

Like what?
Touching them, making love to them.

And if a child says 'please stop' would you stop?
Yes, of course, immediately. I'll never force myself on a child.

And how do you find them?
Irresistible, irresistible, I don't know another way to describe it.

And what sort of ages attract you?
Ten, eleven years old. If a girl is older than twelve I'd stay away from her. Ten, eleven year old girls preferably.

And do you find them at schools and places like than?
All over (laughs). We live in a sick society in more than one sense. Parents don't give a damn about their kids. I pick them up from shopping centres, or I pick them up from movie houses, from places, so called places of entertainment. You know parents drop their kids off there, give them tons of money to keep themselves busy with, but what the kids need more than anything is someone to be close to, someone to love, somebody to listen to, somebody they can talk to, and that's where I come into the picture, I'm there for them. I love them, I give them attention.

Has no child that you have loved, as you describe it, reported you to their parents, and the parents come after you?
No, not as far as I know. And even if it happens, I'm not really concerned about what happens. The police can't stop me and the courts can't stop me. It's not functioning properly and until we get a proper child protection service, I think that's what you call it in the UK, I'm not really concerned. If we have a new system, ja well then I'll reconsider my actions. If you can't understand a paedophile, If you can't understand how he thinks then you can't judge us. For me its natural to be close to a child in a sexual and sensual manner. I don't think its wrong, I don't feel guilty about it.

How does a paedophile think then?
(Inaudible) I find them irresistible in that sense. I like their bodies, They're young and they're innocent, and they're easy to get to. I don't have to prove myself to them, all I have to be is to be there.

Andrew: James, if you care so much about children in the way that you've outlined, don't you care that you're damaging them? I mean its pretty well established that children who are approached and treated in this way are emotionally damaged, pretty much for life. Is that not a concern for you if you care so deeply about children?
Yes, and er., It might be, I don't want to hurt anybody, cause psychological damage I'm sorry about that, but that's a need I have, er, I can't help it, even if I want to.

Jenny: And yet, and yet you've never felt the need to go and ask for help from anybody at all, because you don't see the need, that you're comfortable with yourself where you are?
Yes, at this stage of my life yes.

Would it surprise you if some child's father discovered what was happening and came along, and in a fit of passion just wanted to take you out. How would you respond then?
I guess I won't be able to blame him, I wouldn't like that, I don't know what I'll do. I really don't know. Maybe I'll just disappear, commit suicide, leave the country, I don't know. I don't want to go to jail.

James, what is your position on child pornography and snuff movies?
I find child pornography is exiting, and I think if legislation really changes, we will get the stuff more freely, Its difficult to come by at this stage. But if the laws change we'll get the stuff more freely. That's a need I have which I'd like to fulfil. Someone else might like snuff porn, I can't stand the stuff. But if the laws are changed and the government makes it available, why not use it.

When you say you like child pornography, what sort of ages are the ages that excite you the most, you've said that from about twelve years on you don't look at girls any more, but how young do you start looking at them, and what excites you in terms of pornography?
I recently saw a video where a guy had sex with a two year old girl. And I found that to be very sensual. I don't know, It exited me, I wanted to find a girl, find a child to have sex with.

Andrew: I think we're both sitting here kind of speechless, James, I need to follow up on the question I asked earlier, I mean this has just illustrated how absolutely horrifying it is, and for a two year old child to have that done to her, that child's chances of being normal for the rest of it's life are just nil, and yet you acknowledge that, you said you care about children, but at the same time you are putting your own needs above those of the children, irrespective of the damage that's being done, I just can't work that out in my mind. To me somebody like yourself who at the end of the day, bottom line is that you don't care about children, you are using them.
For my needs perhaps yes. I do try not to hurt them, but if they are hurt it's not intentional.

But it is intentional
I don't know what you're sexual orientation is but society don't judge you if you're gay or homosexual, why should society judge us, we are paedophile, we enjoy having sex with kids. Well everything is allowed, abortions are allowed, drugs, everything is allowed, why not having sex with younger children.

All the things you have mentioned, the thing that distinguishes them is child abuse.
Why, what's the difference with what I do, I'm fulfilling my own needs, just as the rest of society.

Jenny: Now I think that there is a significant difference, lets take the case that you've just cited. You've cited the case of a homosexual, lets talk about a homosexual. A homosexual is having sex with a consenting adult. What you are doing is you are having sex with children who don't know any better, who may be very frightened. A two year old is in absolutely no position to turn around to you and have a coherent discussion about why she doesn't want to have sex with you.
A two year old perhaps, but I'm having sex with eleven year old girls who took the lead in the sex act.

But do you really think they knew what they were doing?
I certainly got the impression that they knew what they were doing. The question I'm asking is where did they learn it.

Eleven year olds basically know what is going on but they don't know what is going on. They are very innocent, they don't understand.
O they certainly enjoyed it. A few of these girls saw pornography previously. I remember distinctly, one girl's dad had quite an extensive collection of pornography, and she had free access to it. If a parent, if a dad is prepared to allow his child to watch pornography, isn't he to blame, why blame me. He's opened up the child for, if you want to call it, abuse, for a possible abusive situation. He should be blamed, society should be blamed, not us.

I don't think it follows. I think that if a father does that however regrettable it is, and however sick I personally find it, I don't think its saying open sesame, that I mean James I don't know how old you are, but it sounds to me that you are in your thirties or maybe even your forties.
I'm close to forty

Well you're close to forty, and now we're talking about an eleven year old girl. I mean you're not dim, you've got you're own company, I mean you can see that an eleven year old cannot cope in the same way that a twenty year old would. They cannot reason, they haven't had sexual experience, even if they have watched the odd dirty movie.
But then what I'm doing is enhancing their sexual development to a certain extent. I'm preparing them for what they will experience in life anyway.

Not you're not, you're destroying there lives.
No, I'm not, I don't think so.

What could be you're possible justification for having sex with a two year old.
Personally I won't go for a two year old. I got aroused by watching this guy.

And you said to me that you wanted to go out and find a two year old.
No, No not two year olds, at the time I like, I respond to ...

What sort of child do you respond to?
Obviously a child from that specific age group, and obviously a child that has specific needs, like I said, a child who is alone, a child who needs somebody to share the events in their life with.

Is there any particular place where you pick up children?
Ah yes, good grief, every shopping mall in the country, I've picked up children in Durban, in P.E. in Cape Town. Most of the kids I've had relationships with I've picked up in Johannesburg. The movie houses are the best and the safest. I operate freely and I have free access to a large extent.

You said a minute ago that you would pick up a child you would see is needy, that basically needs you. What sort of things are you looking for when you pick up a child. How do you know that they are needy?
I know, something about the child just tells you that the child needs somebody, the child needs something and the child wants to speak to someone. Its difficult to put into words. But you can pick it up, and after a while you know which child is lonely and which is not. Not in a group, or a child in a group who is perhaps keeping to herself, and its a matter of introducing myself, getting to know her, getting her to trust me, and the moment she opens up her heart you're home free. Its a matter of time from then on before we have sex.

How do you get them to trust you?
I'm a likeable person. We had a lady on earlier who spoke about someone in her family who got convicted for rape, and he's such a nice man and he could never do it, well we're all nice men, are nice people, we know how to treat women, We can do it better than people in education, we can do it certainly better than parents can.

What do you do once you have made contact with a child you see as needy. I asked you how you would get them to trust you, but here we are, we're at the movie house, we're in a mall, you've isolated this child from a group of friends, and maybe you offer them popcorn, I don't know what you do, but how does the game for you progress.
You don't have to offer them popcorn, that's just what the stupid cops tell kids at nursery schools, don't accept sweets from strangers. What I'm offering a child is better than sweets, I'm offering this child companionship, conversation, communication, and that's what this child wants. And if the child speaks to me, I can very quickly judge for myself whether I can take this further. If not, I leave it, I've had a nice time and I'll look for another child. But if the child responds to me, opens up towards me, I might not have sex with the child on the very first night, but I know that she'll be back at the movie houses in a few days time, and I'll be back then, and next time, four or five times from now on, instead of going to the movies with me, we'll just disappear in the toilets, or in the back of my car. And by the time the movies are out, she's back at the movie house, and her dad collects her, and nobody's the wiser. And we'll do this for the next few times. Sometimes they want to put a stop to it, and sometimes I don't feel comfortable and I put a stop to it. But we've both had a nice time. And obviously I do offer them financially, like I said I'm affluent and I can give them money and gifts. And I do that, some of them don't want it, others take it.

I want to ask you one final question, James, I have to say I am pleased you phoned 702, because I think it has enlightened and horrified virtually everybody who's listening. I want to ask you whether this conversation has exited you, and whether you will go on the hunt again this evening.
I'll be out there, I'll be out there looking, I'll be cruising the streets, I'll be out there at the shopping malls, movie house and I'll have a kid. Before twelve o'clock tonight I will have had sex with a ten year old girl, it might be your child.

Stephanie Burrows
c/o Department of Psychology
University of the Witwatersrand
PO Wits

Paper presented at the 1st Annual Qualitative Methods Conference: "A spanner in the works of the factory of truth"
20 October 1995, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
critical methods society - - [email protected]