Aug. 31, 2000 -- Citing the First Amendment, the American Civil Liberties Union is defending a group that supports pedophilia against a civil suit filed by the family of a molested and slain Massachusetts boy.
The parents of 10-year-old Jeffrey Curley filed a wrongful death lawsuit seeking damages from the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) for the 1997 rape and murder of their son. Another defendant in the suit is the Web provider, Verio Inc., for hosting the NAMBLA Web site.
The suit accuses NAMBLA of inciting Jeffrey’s murder and rape at the hands of Charles Jaynes and Salvatore Sicari through its literature and Web site — which is now offline. Both men were convicted of killing Jeffrey in separate trials and are serving life sentences.
According to the Curley’s suit, Jaynes was a member of NAMBLA under an alias at the time of the slaying. Jaynes, the plaintiffs say, had viewed the NAMBLA Web site shortly before the murder. NAMBLA literature showing members how to gain children’s trust, gain access to children nationwide, and avoid police investigating pedophilia cases were also found in Jaynes’ car and apartment, the lawsuit alleges.
Targeted For Beliefs
ACLU officials say NAMBLA denies encouraging the rape and murder of anyone.
According to the ACLU, the suit is designed to stifle the dissemination of the group’s unpopular beliefs: advocating consensual sexual relationships between adult men and boys and abolishing age-of-consent-laws that classify adult sex with children as rape. Plus, NAMBLA should not be punished for the crimes of two men and their beliefs should be protected, despite their unpopularity.
“There was nothing in those publications or Web site which advocated or incited the commission of any illegal acts, including murder or rape,” said John Roberts, executive director of the ACLU’s Massachusetts chapter. “NAMBLA’s publications advocate for changes in society’s views about consensual sex between adults and minors. This advocacy is political speech protected by the First Amendment.”
“We urge the public to not jump to conclusions about NAMBLA based on the allegations appearing in the press and the Curley complaint,” Roberts added in his statement. “We also urge consideration of the consequences to freedom of speech by holding authors, musicians, or filmmakers liable in damages for crimes committed by individuals who have read, heard or seen their work.”
National Pedophilia Conspiracy?
But Lawrence Frisoli, the attorney representing the Curleys, says the ACLU is “missing the point” of the lawsuit. Frisoli claims the Curleys are not trying to deprive NAMBLA leaders of their rights to share their beliefs. Instead, he says, they are trying to bring down the organizational structure that set the stage for Jeffrey’s molestation and murder.
“No one alleges that they shouldn’t be allowed to share their beliefs. That is their right,” Frisoli said, adding that the lawsuit is focusing on NAMBLA’s activities. “NAMBLA’s principal leaders were the ones who wrote the brochures and sent them out. We allege that because of that, NAMBLA has been part of a national ongoing criminal conspiracy to rape children, and we intend to hold them accountable.”
Frisoli claims investigators uncovered Jaynes’ diary where he admits having problems dealing with a desire to have sex with children. Jaynes later reveals that he felt NAMBLA’s teachings validated his feelings.
Besides the diary, Frisoli says he has depositions from an ex-girlfriend and several close friends who testify that Jaynes was a heterosexual male who became obsessed with having sex with minors only after joining NAMBLA.
NAMBLA Leaders in Hiding
NAMBLA has not revealed whether Jaynes was ever one of its members. Since the Curleys filed their suit in May, the group has not responded to any pretrial discovery motions. Frisoli says he is happy that the ACLU is representing NAMBLA so that the case can go forward. He has had trouble finding the group’s members.
Still, the ACLU attorneys, citing U.S. Supreme Court cases from the 1960s that protected the NAACP’s civil rights activities in the South, say they will try to block any attempt by the plaintiffs to get NAMBLA’s membership lists, or other materials identifying members. The ACLU also will act as a surrogate for NAMBLA, allowing its members to defend themselves in court while remaining anonymous.
Prosecutors said Jaynes and Sicari lured Jeffrey Curley into Jaynes’ Cadillac with the promise of $50 and a bicycle on Oct. 1, 1997. They convinced two juries that the men suffocated, killed and then molested the child after he resisted sexual advances and then stuffed him a concrete-filled container. Jaynes and Sicari dumped the container in the Maine River.
Last week, the Curleys won a civil suit against Jaynes and Sicari when a jury awarded them $328 million.