SС: And what do you call home? Do you have a home these days, or…
LA: Prague. That’s where I spend the most time and have the most friends.
SC: How have you wound up just traveling from place to place; the past two years you’ve been south of France, you’ve been through Latin America, at least three countries in the past two months. How did you get to that point?
LA: I’ve always had a wanderlust. I love to travel. Seeing the people, their cultures and their food. And now I’ve got the opportunity to travel a bit, so, taking advantage of it.
SC: You said earlier you were in Palo Alto [California] just last winter, but you hated it. What don’t you like about living in the States?
LA: Nearly everything: the commercialism, the inability to escape all the advertising, the mentality of the people, the huge tanks that people drive around in the streets. It just seems like a very wasteful society to me.
SC: Do you have any problems with the way the American society views a self-described pedophile?
LA: That’s universal, so I don’t hold anything against America per se, just because of that, because I’ll experience the same thing in France, Germany, Great Britain, wherever else.
SC: What have you experienced, and do you make it known publicly that you are a pedophile when you go to these various places?
LA: I don’t wear a sign around, but when I get to know people, I reveal myself to them.
SC: And how are you accepted when you reveal yourself as a pedophile?
LA: Most of the time, people are tolerant, curious, they ask lots of questions, very rarely have I been categorically rejected because of it.
SC: And it’s your goal to convince people that it’s okay for someone to be a pedophile as long as they’re not acting on it in a criminal way?
LA: That’s the immediate goal. One is to show the world that there is a big difference between a child molestor stereotype, which people assume is what a pedophile is, and those of us who have chosen not to break the law, and chose not to abuse.
SC: Have you been able to convince anybody over to your side?
LA: I think that some people have certainly been convinced. In other cases, I’ve planted the seeds. I may not have achieved an outright victory, but it’s certainly given people something to think about.
SC: The biggest problem I see you up against is the fact that, basically, every state in the U.S. and every nation in the world has an age of consent law.
LA: That’s correct.
SC: It hangs around 16 in the states, Mexico it’s 12, it’s 14 here in Columbia. Do you see you as a self-styled leader of a movement to legitimize pedophilia, that you’ll have any impact on being able to change age of consent laws?
LA: Well, I’ll first start out by saying I’m not a leader of anything. I certainly have a visible presence, but I’m not leading anybody at all.
SC: You’re very vocal.
LA: I am very vocal, yes.
SC: And in the community you’re probably one of the most well-known individuals.
SC: And because of that, you’re out in front, and you know, some people would see you as a leader. You read your entry on Wikipedia, and you see Lindsay Ashford is the leader of a movement, and that’s where I get that from, and people in the movement consider you a leader, based off the descriptions I read about you from Wikipedia at least. In that position, do you think you’ll have any success in getting governments to reconsider age of consent laws?
LA: It’s hard to say. There’s two issues: There’s one, the legal issue, that there is an age of consent at all, and the second issue, which is probably more important, is the way society views relationships between adults and minors. And in order to affect any kind of change like this, we need to indicate to society that, one, young people are able to make decisions for themselves, and that the laws do not actually prevent any abuse. People who are going to coerce or manipulate young people are going to do it regardless of what the age of consent is.
SC: What do you mean, ‘Young people are able to make decisions for themselves’? In terms of a sexual relationship?
SC: How young?
LA: It really depends on what the activity is. I use ‘young people’ to refer to, essentially, adolescence. So, post-pubescent. I think that they’re full well capable of making decisions for themselves; full well of the critical thinking capacitities that would enable them to do so. The reason that they, perhaps, are not doing so now, or not able to do so, is because information is being withheld from them. They’re taught, if anything, to abstain, or are given very little information. Parents often loathe to speak about it to them, and so what information they’re getting is from less than reliable sources. The mass media, their peers, or other sources like that.
SC: Well, Some of the sources people get this information from is from churches, from their religious leaders, that sex should be safe until marriage.
LA: I would say that the religious groups are not providing objective information. They’re providing extremely subjective and biased information based upon on their dogma, and I think that’s really dangerous, because if you’re raised in an environment like that, and you’re actually kept in the dark about a lot of things, you’re not given all of the information needed to make a good decision, then your decision-making process has been hampered.
SC: What information does a young person need to make a decision that they’re ready to start having sex?
LA: The main this is to understand the way that relationships work — the ability to discern whether the person that they’re dealing with is being honest up front, whether they are manipulative, maybe they’re being a bit shady about something. And if they’ve been unable to form any kind of relationships, they have no basis upon which to go.
SC: Please, give me some numbers, what’s this age range that you’re speaking of, or that you’re personally attracted to? That would probably be a better piece of information for me. What’s the age range that you are personally attracted to?
LA: Personally, between 7 and 11. 7 years old and 11 years old.
SC: Young girls between 7 and 11 are what you are attracted to?
SC: What about a 7 to 11 year old girl attracts you?
LA: Aesthetically, I just think they’re beautiful. Everything about them. On an emotional level, or on a philosophical level, I enjoy the way they see the world without all the conditioning that is received later in life. When they look at something, they see it as it is, not as they’ve been taught to see it, or as somebody has encouraged them to see it. So, it’s a fantastic thing to enjoy the wonder that they experience the world, and to relive things as they actually are, and not as one that has been taught to see it.
SC: So a 7 year old girl is capable of making a decision to have a consentual sexual relationship with an adult?
LA: Depending on how you define ‘sexual’. I would certainly not ever be interested in having sexual intercourse with a girl of that age, and I advise quite clearly against it for obvious physiological reasons.
SC: What’s your low end of age for a sexual intercourse relationship?
LA: I’ve suggested that the threshold be the age of puberty, because I think that puberty is a very clear physiological signal that the body is, at that point, ready to engage in sexual intercourse.
SC: So, what would the sexual relationship look like with a 7 year old girl? You admit right there that there is a lack of maturity, at least physically, up until the age of puberty, 13, 14 years old, maybe 12, depending on the individual. What kind of maturity does a 7 year old have that they’re able to make the decision that, “Okay, I’m going to enter into a sexual relationship with this adult”?
LA: Research has shown quite conclusively that children do have sexual responses, even at the fetal stage. For young children, the obvious benefit of an intimate relationship — not a sexual intercourse relationship but an intimate relationship — is physical pleasure, and also proximity or closeness to another person. And I think that children are able to discern with whom they wish to be, and with whom they wish to express themselves on a personal level.
SC: You would have to convince a parent, I’m assuming, to allow the child into a relationship with you if you were allowed. Is that correct?
SC: How would you go about convincing a parent that it’s alright for them to give you their child to enter into a sensual relationship?
LA: I think that it is a continuation of a friendship relationship. It is not so difficult to convince a parent to allow a relationship with an adult that their child loves and respects, and that they also respect, and to allow that child to do things with that adult. The intimate relationship is a continuation of that. Now obviously, in our current state, convincing a parent to allow that kind of relationship is exceedingly difficult.
SC: What parent in their right mind would allow you to have a relationship with a child knowing you look at them sexually?
LA: This is a matter of how parents view their children, and how they view parenthood.
SC: But parents view their children as something they need to protect.
LA: No, they view it as property, and that’s a big problem.
SC: Parents view children as property?
LA: Very, very often. They view a child as something that they can form and manipulate — well, not manipulate necessarily, but in some cases that’s the case — but encourage to think the way that they are, and to become essentially like they are. And a lot of the issue of what they allow their children to do with an adult is part of how they view their control or their power over the child. And to allow a sexual relationship is to abdicate a bit of that control or that power over the child. Because at that point, there’s another adult who has a closeness to the child that some parents might think threatens their control.
SC: What’s your goal?
LA: My goals are very broad.
SC: Not your goal in life, but your goal in trying to convince people to your way of belief about pedophilia.
LA: My immediate goal is to protect the civil rights of pedophiles. Right now, I think it’s very disturbing some of the developments in law that suspends the civil rights of people who have this attraction. And so I think, really, the immediate goal is to stop any more of our civil rights being suspended or taken away from us.
SC: The only way we ever hear about pedophiles is when they’ve acted. A pedophile who lives with it as a secret for all their life and doesn’t do anything with it, nobody knows, but the only time we hear about pedophiles is when they’re being let out of their home in handcuffs with hundred of images on their computer—
LA: Actually, that’s wrong though, because that’s the only time you hear about child molestors, and one of the big problems we have is that the word ‘child molestor’ and ‘pedophile’ have become synonymous. Now, research has shown us that the majority of child molestors are not actually pedophiles. They’re what they call in the parlance, ‘Situational Offenders’. People who would normally be heterosexual, attracted to adults, but for whatever reason unable to find a sexual partner, lack of social skills, low inhibitions due to drug abuse, and an availability to children, have acted upon a sexual urge with a child. And those are not pedophiles. Those people are not primarily attracted to children. But unfortunately, society sees them as ‘pedophiles’, and therefore we’re all sullied as a result.
SC: What’s your goal beyond protecting the civil rights of pedophiles? In your wildest dreams, what would you like to see happen?
LA: The ultimate goal is that consentual relationships between adults and young people will be both accepted by society and legal.
SC: And what would that allow you to do?
LA: That would allow me to express my love for children in every way.
SC: Would you want to pursue a relationship with a child?
SC: And what would that relationship look like?
LA: I would say that it would start as a friendship. It would be a relationship like any other love relationship, where you’re sharing ideas, sharing thoughts, sharing experiences, and the physical part of the relationship being only one expression of love that one has for another.
SC: You would want to have a sexual relationship with a child?
LA: An intimate relationship, yes.
SC: What’s the difference between ‘intimate’ and ‘sexual’?
LA: I don’t like to say ‘sexual’ because people automatically jump to ‘sexual intercourse’, and that is not my goal.
SC: I thought that we were getting the ‘Bill Clinton’s definition’ of what sex is…
LA: Well no, because the thing is, I’ve already said, I’m not advocating sexual intercourse with prepubescent children at all. And so I want to make a clear distinction that I don’t want to have sexual intercourse with young children. I want an intimate relationship that is physical, but not involving sexual intercourse.
SC: Are you having sex with children?
SC: Have you ever had sex with a child?
SC: Have you ever had an intimate relationship with a child?
SC: So you’ve had this bottled up in you for 37 years now?
LA: I wouldn’t say it’s been bottled up the entire time. When I started to realize this attraction was around the time of my own puberty. So, 20 some-odd years.
SC: Have people ever said to you that you’ve just never matured? That you’ve never grown up? That you’re stuck in the body of a 37 year old but you still have the mentality of a 12 year old, where you’re just attracted to the 7-12 year old girls?
LA: Nobody who has known me personally has ever said that. I get a lot of emails to that effect.
SC: You get emails to the effect of…?
LA: That I have arrested development, I get death threats by email, I get people saying, “Wouldn’t you please do us all a favor and commit suicide”.
SC: So people tell you that you’re sick, twisted, demented, for having these beliefs.
LA: Absolutely. And I get Fundamentalists saying that I’m going to burn in Hell, they’re going to pray for me, and what not. I get a lot of very abusive emails.
SC: Onto the website, and what people [have reported] in Kansas City, which would be the reason why I’m here. You have featured on the ‘Missing Children’ part of your website two very prominent cases from Kansas City, and these parents are furious that someone who looks at children as sexual objects is having any involvement whatsoever with their children, because their children were most likely kidnapped by somebody who is using them as a sexual object. How do you respond to these parents who say they want their daughters pictures off your website? They think you’re despicable.
LA: I be quite clear about it. For the amount of reports made about my ‘Missing Childrens’ website, and the amount of parents that are being talked about, not a single one has ever contacted me and asked me to remove their children from my site. Now there have been parents who have contacted me and said, “Please take my child off your site,” and I’ve done so. I find it puzzling that you’re telling me that these parents are furious, that they’re upset, they’re angry, but they have ample opportunity, by looking at the website, to contact me. And not one of them has done so.
SC: Next time I speak with them, I’ll let them know that you need to be contacted for that to happen.
LA: Very well.
SC: Why are there only little girls on your website? The Porter cases, enormous in Kansas City, you have Lindsay Porter on there but you don’t have her brother. They’re missing together.
LA: He is mentioned though, isn’t he?
SC: He is mentioned, but his photo’s not on there. That’s baffling to the family.
LA: The website is focused on girls, and that’s the way it was when I started it, and that’s the way it is. Now there’s so many missing persons’ cases in the world. If I were to expand my brief, I would never stop working. If I were to include missing adults, and missing boys, and missing whatever, I’d be working around the clock. My website is a one-man operation, unlike many other websites where they have teams of people who are working on these cases around the clock, it’s just me. And especially when I’m on the road, like now, I have very little time to work on it. So I’m trying to keep my brief as narrow as possible, and that’s why I have not chosen to include missing boys, or missing adults, or whatever. I have made a few exceptions when I have been asked specifically by the families to do so. But generally speaking, I’m not going to do that.
SC: These families feel like they’ve been preyed on once by whoever kidnapped their children, and they’ve been preyed on again by you for linking their child to your beliefs, which they think are despicable.
LA: I don’t think there’s a link between my beliefs and that website. It is not linking back to the main part of my website. And I point out that I don’t understand what it is that they think that my grief or my outrage at these events is any less valid than anybody else’s. I am not a perpetrator. I am not a child molestor or a child abuser. Yes, I do have these attractions, but that does not mean that my concern for children is any less valid than any other person’s.
SC: Well, they think you’re sick, and they want nothing to do with somebody who they think is sick.
LA: Well, they think I’m sick, but I don’t think that they have really taken the time to investigate who I really am. They have not looked at the research. They have not looked at anything regarding what a pedophile actually is. They’re assuming that because I call myself a pedophile that I’m a child molestor, and that’s why they think I’m sick.
SC: Well, they think you’re sick because…
SC: The parents think you’re sick because you look at children as sexual objects.
LA: I think it’s very easy to jump to the conclusion that somebody is sick if they have a sexual preference or sexual attraction that is different than what your own is. There’s people who think that homosexuals are sick. There’s people who think that people who engage in BDSM are sick. I would say that it’s different, it’s not sick.
SC: But homosexuality and BDSM, that’s between consenting adults. This is a child. This is somebody who is the responsibility of a parent until they’re 18 years old. The parent has the responsibility to protect this child. Even if society, even if the law allowed it, I can’t see a parent ever allowing an adult to have an intimate, sexual, whatever you want to call it, relationship with their child.
LA: You’re taking that from the context of our society over the last, say, 150 years. There have been societies and times in history when sex relationships have been accepted and legal. And there are a number of societies where there are practices, even to this day, which in the Unites States, people might find appalling.
SC: Do you see a reason why over the last 150 years society has gravitated towards the age of consent?
LA: If we look at the political reasons for the age of consent laws in Britain and the United States. In Britain, it was a reaction to the amount of child prostitution which was taking place in late Victorian England. They made the age of consent laws to try and stop this. In the United States, the consent laws were primarily the result of religious folk who wanted to stop practice that they thought were unacceptable. Before, in the mid-19th century, age of consent laws in Delaware, 7 years old. Many other states, 10 years old. So, these ages of consent are relatively recent in an historical context.
SC: If the mother of Lindsay Porter were to send you an email or call you, how long would it take for her picture to be down off your website?
LA: As soon as I was able to log into my server and do so. At any point when someone who is credibly a relative of someone on the website would ask me to remove it, I would do it. Usually at this point, it would be a matter of 24 to 48 hours. Unless I’m on a boat or something, or something, out where I can’t actually access the Internet.
SC: What’s next for you? What do you do next in life? You’re 37, you travel, you say Prague is the closest thing you have to home, you live out of a suitcase. What’s next for Lindsay Ashford in his life?
LA: I haven’t got a clue. I like to find a place that I feel comfortable and stop for awhile, catch my breath. I’m just going to continue doing what I’m doing now, which is trying to get a message out to people, and really, the most important part of the message is that I’m reaching out to people who feel isolated, people who are alone, people who are afraid, and giving them some hope. I get, as well as the death threats and the hateful messages, a lot of messages from people saying, “This is the first time I’ve actually had someone say what very closely approximates to my own feelings. This is the first time I’ve realized that I’m not alone. This is the first time I’ve realized that there is some hope because there are other people like myself.” And if I can help other people to make that realization, and to help them cope with their depression, with their suicidal tendencies, then I’ve definitely achieved something. And I’ll definitely continue to do that.
SC: Honestly, I can’t see you ever convincing anybody. You may be able to convince a close friend or two, after they know you for several years, “We’ll accept Lindsay as he is.” But I can’t see you convincing any large segment of the population that it’s alright for people to look at 7 year old girls, and want to see them naked and touch them, and write things on your website about how you look at them and their undeveloped breasts, and the potential that lies there. And I shared your website with a couple other people. They read that stuff and they say you are a sick, twisted, demented human being.
LA: Well Steve, you know, you say that you can’t imagine somebody being convinced, and I would say that—
SC: I can imagine individuals being convinced. I can’t imagine you making any progress in getting any large segment of society to believe the things that you believe.
LA: Fine, but society is dynamic. And you know, 150 years ago or 200 years ago, people might not have been able to imagine homosexuality being accepted in our society.
SC: Homosexuality was accepted back to Roman times.
LA: People might not have been able to imagine women suffrage, or a lot of the other things we now take for granted, and—
SC: You’re comparing pedophilia to the right for women to vote?
LA: I would say that—
SC: That is twisted! That is twisted. To compare looking at a child as a sexual object to giving women the right to vote. That is twisted.
LA: But the thing is that back before there was women suffrage, people thought that it was twisted to think that women could vote, and people thought that it was twisted that minorities could vote or be counted as full citizens of the Republic. And so these perceptions of what is twisted and sick are a product of our own ethos at this moment in time. And what we have seen abolished over millenia is enormous. We don’t have gladiators fighting each other to the death, we don’t have public executions, in the United States at least, we don’t have people in the coliseum watching women being raped by animals. And these were all perfectly accepted debaucheries during the Roman empire, but we think it’s very twisted.
SC: So is ‘No age of consent’ was accepted back then. We’ve evolved on those fronts.
LA: We’ve evolved, but for the wrong reasons we’ve evolved on that. We’ve evolved because a group of people with the vested interest decided that they didn’t want this to take place. And I would say that the goals of these ages of consent have not been fulfilled, because the abuse still takes place regardless of the age of consent. What the age of consent prevents is people who are willing to abide by the law, people who are willing to respect the young people to have these relationships, and for any young people who might be desired to a sexual relationship, to have that relationship without fear of their partner being persecuted, incarcerated, what not.
SC: Okay. Anything else you’d like to say?
LA: There’s a lot of things I’d like to say, but I think the main thing is this. If our society continues to force people like myself to go underground with no recourse whatsoever, I think it is very damaging for the society. Pedophiles who have not abused, who only have this attraction but have never acted upon it, have nowhere to go. They are afraid to go to the clergy, to mental health professionals, to their own families, for fear of ostracism, being reported to the police, or whatever else might happen to them. They might lose their jobs, they might be thrown out. And they’re not willing to take that step because of their fear. Now there’s a lot of us who have chosen to abide by the law that society has placed. Yet at the same time, whilst we have done so, society does not give us any ability to cope with the attraction. There is no way that we can go to a psychologist and talk through these things, because the psychologist might say, “Well, there’s reporting laws and liability laws. If I don’t report this, and that person does wind up to go and abuse, then I’ll be held accountable for it. And so, there’s no way out, and it is an absolutely desperate existence for so many people. It’s much easier for me because I’m out, I have released the pressure. But there’s millions of others who have not been able to do that because of their fear. And so, society really needs to look closely at the amount of ostracism and rejection they put on an entire class of people who have not broken the law.
SC: …and I think that speaks to the priority that the people in the state of Missouri. I mean, if you look at the elected official officials Missouri in the values that they hold, this is what families in the state of Missouri hold as dear to them.
LA: But this is academia and this is somebody who is not an apologist for pedophilia, simply pointing out a relationship or a correlation between three years of social movements that have taken place over the last hundred years. And saying, not that he agrees with pedophilia, but simply saying that the way the society is approaching it, which is not rational, which is not based upon scientific or medical research, but upon social views or mores, is very similar to what happened with womens’ rights and with homosexuality.
SC: I think the difference between womens’ rights and sexuality and pedophilia is the reaction from people is more primal. They want to protect their children, and that is something that is ingrained into a parent. I mean, a mother cub will protect her children at all costs, a parent will protect her child at all costs.
LA: Precisely, but what I’m saying is that Dr. Mirkin is not disputing that whatsoever. All he did was point out the relationship, and what I’m saying is that there a number of people who have pointed out the need for objective research, for dialog, for discussion, rather than just saying: “Let’s condemn all of these people.”, “Let’s just say it’s wrong — full stop.” We need to discuss: why does it happen. What makes me what I am. Now, I’m very curious about that. I don’t know what causes it. I certainly didn’t choose to be like this myself. But nobody is interested in doing the research, because any professor who says “I’m going to research it” is going to have his budget slashed. He’s going to to get censured. Look at the Rind, Tromovitch and Bauserman 1998 meta-analysis that was censured by the United States Congress, many of whom admitted they never even read the study. And the study, all what it said was that, it was interviews with a lot of young adults and gauging the long term trauma effect of sexual abuse as a child. And the conclusion was that the trauma is not as serious as one would believe or society believes. That actually the effects are much lower. And because of that conclusion, those three researchers were censured by the United States Congress. And so, what I’m saying is that nobody is trying to understand this whole situation. They’re not trying to understand what makes me like I am, what causes this attraction. And what the society’s reaction does to people who have this attraction. They’re just being completely irrational, saying: “Kill!” This is a witch hunt! This is not an enquiry or a logical progression of thought, it is a witch hunt. And when a scientist, who is not an apologist, simply makes a conclusion like that, that is not in concord with the status quo, then they are made to look awful. Judith Levine and her book Harmful to Minors, where she advocated sexual experimentation between peers, between teenagers, was censured to the point where there was a lot of pressure upon the University of Minnesota Press not to publish the book in the first place. And she didn’t say anything in defense of adult and young people having sexual relationships.
SC: Adults don’t want you look at, they want you accept that children are sexual objects.
LA: That’s right.
SC: Because there is something to be protected. You’ve got to admit, the American country is built on a puritanical base.
SC: And it’s still there. It probably there, it’s probably more there now than it has been in any time in the country’s recent history.
LA: And that is a lot of what I’m challenging, because I think that this is unhealthy. It’s not just an issue of adults and children having intimate relations. There’s a lot of other things. The whole societal view of sexuality is completely warped. The fact that a woman’s mammary gland being shown on prime-time television — it caused for a massive outrage. It’s just ludicrous. And I was living in Europa the time that that took place — I’m talking about the Janet Jackson incident — and the Europeans just, they laughed, because… it’s a breast. And the fact that it seems such a bad thing to show an exposed breast to a television audience is beyond comprehension.
SC: Here in Colombia the Age of Consent is fourteen. Does that give you any freedom.
LA: No, not at all.
SC: You don’t see fourteen year old girl as attractive?
LA: I find some attractive, I find some adult women attractive.
SC: Fourteen is too old for you though?
LA: I wouldn’t say too old, it’s just not my primary focus. You know, I’ve had a lot of relationships with adult women, I’ve been married. I know a lot of people [Phone rings.] But in my case it’s not… [Telephone rings, recording stops.]