Why Salon’s Virtuous Pedophile Is Not So Virtuous

AP Photo/B.K. Bangash
AP Photo/B.K. Bangash

Is there such a thing as a virtuous pedophile? That’s the claim made in a piece published Monday by Salon. But it’s worth asking just how virtuous the author really is.

This Salon think-piece by self-described pedophile Todd Nickerson is written in the form of a redemption story, except Nickerson swears up front he has never done anything at all needing redemption.

To confess a sexual attraction to children is to lay claim to the most reviled status on the planet, one that effectively ends any chance you have of living a normal life. Yet, I’m not the monster you think me to be. I’ve never touched a child sexually in my life and never will, nor do I use child pornography.

Note the verb tense of the final clause. Nickerson does not use child pornography, present tense. Did he ever? He doesn’t say, but he does admit to being a long-time member of a pedophile website which openly supported child molestation, something he describes with the euphemism “pro-contact.”

In the midst of that dark era in my life, I discovered an unhealthy pedophile forum. Nothing illegal was happening there, but many of its most influential members were pro-contacters, meaning they believed that sex with children was theoretically OK and supported the elimination of age of consent laws.  That forum still exists and I won’t name it here, but suffice it to say, I found myself taking up the same pro-contacter chants, if only to feel like I belonged somewhere.

At this point the narrative becomes a little vague. Nickerson doesn’t reveal which chants he took up or when he became a vocal advocate for legalizing child molestation. He says the site he was part of still exists but won’t name it. He says moderators at the site supported child molestation but doesn’t say if any of them admitted to acting on their beliefs, a crime he could have reported to police. About the only thing we do know is that Nickerson was such an enthusiastic member of the group that he outed himself online, i.e. revealed his real name as some sign of commitment.

Soon afterwards Nickerson was identified by a group called Perverted Justice which grew out of the To Catch a Predator TV show. He writes as if this “vigilante” group victimized him, even though, as he has already admitted, he was parroting the views of the pro-child molestation moderators who ran the site. All of this apparently happened circa 2007, which is when the TV show went off the air.

Did public shaming and losing a job cause Nickerson to change course? Apparently not. He writes, “I was still caught up in the same nonsense at the pro-contacter forum last year…” Last year! That’s at least seven years after the shaming incident. And he joined sometime before that in college. He may have been part of this “bad” group for a decade, perhaps even longer.

Finally, Nickerson joins a new online group called “virtuous pedophiles” who–like the sharks from Finding Nemo–have vowed never to act on their predatory inclinations. And that’s where the story ends rather abruptly. Having just recently turned away from his long-term involvement in a pro-molestation web forum, Nickerson is seeking to proclaim his newfound righteousness.

Those individuals who have the courage to come forward and lay claim to this affliction with the understanding that they only want to use their pedo powers for good should be commended, not hated and feared… So, please, be understanding and supportive. It’s really all we ask of you. Treat us like people with a massive handicap we must overcome, not as a monster.

There’s a problem though. Nickerson was part of a community that was run by “monsters” for years. He supported it by his presence and with his voice. Now he wants to be praised for leaving? Read it again. He is literally saying that not being a child rapist deserves special commendation. This is the ultimate participation trophy; anyone who is not an immoral monster gets one.

This is like a member of the mob announcing he is leaving the family and claiming 1) he never did anything wrong and 2) he deserves commendation not criticism. I don’t think the police or the public would buy that story, nor should they. At the very least, the cops are going to want a detailed confession of what the person in question was doing during all that time. Even if the individual never committed a crime themselves, authorities would want insider testimony they could use to take down the rest of the organization. Only then does witness protection and a 2nd chance become an option.

But Nickerson doesn’t seem to grasp that virtue is more than not being a monster. Whether he personally did anything or not, Nickerson was on the wrong side of the line for years. He was part of a group with people who possibly acted on their pro-molestation beliefs. And some of them possibly mentioned it over the years. 

If he really wants to be a hero, Nickerson should start by outing his former “pro-contact” friends to the police. If he wants to use his “pedo powers” for good, he should be infiltrating sites like the one he was part of using his background to prevent crimes against children which are still in the formative stages. Is it possible that someone with a pedophile’s monstrous inclinations could do more good than harm? Maybe, but based on his own self-report Todd, Nickerson isn’t nearly there yet.


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