'Tiger, Tiger' Author Shocks With Memoir of Affair With Pedophile

PHOTO: Seen here is Margaux Fragoso, author of the book ?Tiger, Tiger?.
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Margaux Fragoso stirs up old taboos in her shocking new memoir, "Tiger, Tiger," the story of her 15 years of torment by a pedophile, one that she simultaneously romanticizes and condemns.

Her abuser was Peter Curran, a pseudonym for a 51-year-old carpenter with "bowl-cut, sandy-silver hair" whom she met one day at her local New Jersey swimming pool. She was 7.

Fragoso's home life was unhappy. Her mother was mentally unstable, obsessed with calling advice hotlines and tracking her neuroses in her "fact book." Fragoso's father was a verbally abusive drinker and her warmest memory was when he drained her pimples with needles in the kitchen.

Curran seduced the little girl at his purple-shingled house filled with an indoor swing, reptiles and free-flying birds. He cleverly used games such as "Mad Scientist" to tickle and explore her body, showing off his "magic wand" that grew bigger with each appreciation of her affection.

She offered up "Joe Bazooka" kisses -- passing gum between their tongues -- which led to felatio and intercourse in her teens. By the time her parents figured it all out, her love and loyalty were sealed.

Curran killed himself in 2001 by jumping off a cliff when she was 22, leaving behind boxes of suicide notes, videos and photographs of Fragoso, many in underpants, evidence of the demise of her childhood. And in his final letters to her, he suggested she write about the relationship that he had always implored she keep secret.

"Which was ironic," writes Fragoso, now 31 and married with a daughter. "Our world had been permitted only by the secrecy surrounding it; had you taken our lies and codes and looks and symbols and haunts you would have taken everything."

Reviewers have wondered if an affair so monstrous even happened at all, but publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux says it has Fragoso's diaries from the age of 12. Fragoso says she wrote the book so society could understand the manipulation of molesters. The publisher declined to make her available for an interview.

Sex abuse grabbed headlines recently when Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., revealed in his own memoir, "Against All Odds," that he was molested by a camp counselor when he was 10, abuse that he revealed to his family this year.

The predator told the boy he would kill him if he told, using threats and intimidation that are classic tactics used by pedophiles. But Fragoso's seduction was more subtle and she became a willing victim.

Curran was childlike and charming, which is not uncommon behavior, experts in child abuse say.

"There is an enormous spectrum of child molesters and while there is a group that are very socially competent and know a lot about how to appeal to children, I'd say this guy was way up at the top of the charts in those skills," said David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire.

"He was good at normalizing what was happening and bringing the child along," Finkelhor said. "A much more common scenario is the abuser lures the child, but he loses the child pretty quick once the sex starts, and the child becomes ambivalent and grossed out and feels trapped and wants to get out."

Fragoso did initially feel "like I wanted to throw up," and slowly disassociated herself during sex-play sessions in the basement of his home, where she and her mother visited twice a week.

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