Stalking the Bogeyman

Coming to grips with the killer inside me.

This time last year I was plotting to kill a man. I was going to walk up to him, reintroduce myself and then blow his balls off. I was going to watch him writhe like a poisoned cockroach for a few seconds, then kick him onto his stomach and put three bullets in the back of his head. This time last year I had a gun, and a silencer, and a plan. I had staked out the man's tract home in Broomfield -- the gray, two-story one with the maroon trim and the American flag hanging above the doorstep. I had followed him to and from his job as an electrical engineer. I was confident I would get away with murder, because there was nothing in recent history to connect me to him. Homicide investigators look for motive, and mine was buried 25 years in the past.

The man I was going to kill was the one who raped me in 1978, when I was seven years old.


When I was seven, I had a crush on Princess Leia and wanted to be a member of the rock band Kiss when I grew up. I was in the second grade, and a cop dressed up like a bloodhound wearing a trench coat and calling himself McGruff came to my school and warned us all to watch out for strange men in cars offering candy.

But McGruff didn't say anything about watching out for the son of my mom and dad's best friends. Our families had both moved to Alaska that year. His dad and my dad worked together. He was ten years older than me, and a star athlete at Chugiak High School. He wrestled and played quarterback. The Anchorage Daily Newsran a profile of him in the sports section, and my mom cut it out and stuck it on our refrigerator. I looked up to him. I thought he was super-cool.

One night his parents had my parents over for dinner, and he asked me if I wanted to go to his bedroom in the basement and play with his karate stuff. We snuck off together, and once he had me alone, inside his room, the door closed, he got out his karate stuff, throwing stars and nunchuks and a curved sword, and we started playing. He did not play nice. He spun the nunchuks inches from my face and hurled the throwing stars into the wall next to me. I didn't know what was going on, but I knew it was bad, so I started crying, and he told me to shut up and then started chasing me around the room, waving the sword. He put the blade to my throat and backed me into a corner, where I dropped into a crouch and cowered. Then he told me to take off my pants.

The term "child molestation" doesn't begin to describe what happened next. When I think "child molestation," I think inappropriate touching. I think fondling. What happened next wasn't fondling. It wasn't Michael Jackson gently introducing my hand to his magical giraffe, and it wasn't anything like a Catholic priest masturbating an altar boy. I was seven, and it was violent, sick, pedophiliac rape.

He started off by unzipping the fly of his jeans and telling me he'd cut my face with the sword if I didn't do what he wanted, but not to worry, he wouldn't pee in my mouth. He finished with me face down on the bare black-plastic mattress of his waterbed, covering my head with a pillow to muffle my squealing. I had no words for what was happening, no concept of "rape" or "sex." I just knew that I was terrified and in pain.

When he was done with me, when I was pulling up my pants, he said that if I told my parents or his parents or anyone else, that my mom and dad would be very angry with me because I'd done a bad thing. He said they would spank me. He said if I told on him he'd come to my house in the middle of the night and gut me like a salmon.

Then he opened his door. He told me not to go back upstairs right away, and sat me down in front of a TV in the downstairs family room and had me play Atari until my tears dried and I was more presentable.

When I was seven, I no longer believed in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy, but from that night on, I had no such doubts about the Bogeyman.


He only got me that once -- or, at least, only once when I was conscious. There was one night, two or three months later, when my parents were hosting a holiday party, and they took me to his house so he could babysit me and his little sister while his parents were at the party. He put on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack and we "played disco," which consisted of all of us getting drunk on straight, warm hard booze while he watched his little sister and me gyrate to "Stayin' Alive," thereby securing my lifelong hatred of the Bee Gees. I don't remember the rest of that night, just waking up the next morning with my first hangover. Six months later, I nearly died after guzzling most of a bottle of peach brandy that I found in my dad's bar.

I made sure he never got me alone again for more than a few minutes, which wasn't easy, because our parents socialized almost every weekend at either their house or ours, and he didn't move out or go to college after high school. He turned into one of those guys who still dates high school chicks and lives with his parents well into his twenties.

My memories of him in those years are scattershot. One Fourth of July he told me how much fun he'd just had sticking an M-80 up a cat's ass and lighting the fuse, how the cat had hopped around frantically trying to squeeze out the quarter-stick of dynamite before it blew in half. I remember that he was handy with tools, and when I was in Cub Scouts, my parents paid him a few bucks to help me build one of those miniature pinewood-derby cars. I made sure the door between his house and the garage workshop stayed open. He didn't help me build the car so much as just build it while I watched. He put a ball of lead in the front and painted it red and wrote "David's Delight" on the side in a handsome script. I won the whole derby, and I remember calling him right afterward, stupidly thinking for a couple of minutes that he and I were some sort of team, that we had something other than a predator-prey relationship. And I remember that for years after the rape, whenever he and I were in the same room and no one was looking, he would cup both his hands in a circle around his crotch and give me a Bogeyman smile, a smile that said, "I got some more of this for your punk little eight-, nine-, ten-year-old ass."

He stopped leering at me around the time I turned eleven, probably because I was getting to be a pretty big kid. Out of fear and shame and not wanting to make a fuss, I kept our little secret, but one night when I was almost twelve, I got my first sweet taste of payback.

It was New Year's Eve 1982. He was drinking heavily that night. His dad made a potent punch, and he guzzled one ornate crystal mug of it after another while his mom begged him to stop. The stroke of midnight found him passed out in a sleeping bag on the floor of the bathroom next to the bedroom where he'd raped me four years before. I snuck downstairs to where he lay and said his name a few times, louder and louder, to see if he'd wake up. When he didn't, I ran up and soccer-kicked him in the head, then turned and sprinted back upstairs, feeling quite satisfied with myself.

Until a few days ago, the last time I was face to face with him was twelve years ago, when I was 21. I was back home from college between my sophomore and junior years, and I needed a cheap suit for a job interview, so I went to Harry's of Hong Kong. And there he was, a 31-year-old cheap-suit salesman and rapist of children. I hadn't seen him in six or seven years, and I immediately realized two things. The first was that he was no longer bigger than me. I had six inches and at least fifty pounds on him. But in a street fight, what matters more than size is motivation, and the second thing I realized was that I wanted to kill him. I wanted to grab a coatrack and bash in his head, carve out his heart with a shoehorn, snatch that metal ballpoint pen out of his cheap-suit jacket and stab him in the eye, over and over again, and everyone in the store would hear him screaming because he wouldn't have a pillow over his head.

But I did nothing. My mother was with me, and even more than I wanted revenge, I wanted to protect her and my father from the terrible knowing that he had raped me when I was seven years old, while they were upstairs with his parents, drinking wine and playing board games. I didn't want their memories of my childhood tarnished with his scum.

The memory of being raped when I was seven was never repressed. It was not recovered under hypnosis. It has always been with me, festering. When I was a teenager, I began researching how being raped as a child might affect the development of my personality, and I recoiled in horror. Every study I read supported the "vicious cycle" theory that victims of pedophilia are more likely to become pedophiles themselves. I felt like a werewolf had bitten me and it was only a matter of time before the full moon rose. Throughout my early adolescence, I was constantly, torturously checking myself for evil impulses. I made a blood oath with myself that if I started feeling the desire to rape children, I would kill myself and make it look like a mountaineering accident. I was already in the habit of solo climbing in Alaska -- no partners, no ropes -- despite my parents' repeated warnings against such a dangerous activity. Had I thrown myself down a mountain, they would have believed it, and better a son who died climbing than one who lived and raped kids.

The next death I plotted was the Bogeyman's.

Soon after I moved to Denver three years ago, I learned from my parents that the son of their good friends now also lived in the area. I became fixated on the idea that he was raping children nearby and that it was up to me to stop him by any means necessary. According to a 1998 Colorado Bureau of Investigation polygraph study of convicted child molesters, the mean number of victims per molester, at least in this state, is 184, and that's only for the molesters who've been arrested and stopped, at least for a little while. My guy has never been caught. Eighty percent of convicted child molesters in Colorado keep a clean criminal record right up until they're caught for molesting kids, and his is spotless.

The science has gotten a lot better since I read those studies twenty years ago. Now authorities agree that most pedophiles begin molesting children when the perpetrators are in their middle teens, and most of them never stop, not even after they're caught -- if they're caught -- and my Bogeyman has never been caught. All my adult life, I'd been aware that he was, in all likelihood, still raping children, but as long as he was doing it far away, I'd felt no compulsion to do anything about it. Once I found out he was here, though, I began to agonize over my failure to stop him. I considered going to the police, but I had no evidence except my memories. I thought about placing subtle advertisements in Alaskan newspapers; I thought about sending letters to everyone he knows, his ex-wives and everyone in his new neighborhood in Colorado, warning them and begging them to please come forward if they knew anything or suspected anything. But I was afraid such measures would somehow lead to my parents' finding out, and the cold, hard truth is that I wanted to protect them more than I wanted to protect children I'd never met.

The more I obsessed on it, the more I came to the seemingly inescapable conclusion that the best way to make sure he never raped another child, to make sure I had my revenge, was to kill him, to just walk right up to him in a secluded place and scrape him from this world like a piece of dog shit off my shoe.

I bought the gun last April. I had a few firearms in my closet already, but they'd all been purchased legally, in my name, from a licensed firearms dealer. So I flew to Phoenix and went to a gang barrio, where I bought a Beretta 9mm with a homemade silencer and the serial number removed. I took this gun to the local garage gunsmith and had him put dozens of deep nicks and grooves in the Beretta's barrel to corrupt ballistics tests. The gunsmith warned me that this would ruin the gun's accuracy beyond a few feet, but I didn't care. I intended to get up-close and personal.

After testing the gun and silencer in the desert, I stored them in Phoenix and flew home to keep scheming. It seems a little insane to me now that I was actually going to kill a man instead of just bringing what he had done to me out in the open. But that's how kiddie rapers get away with it. They depend upon shame and fear and embarrassment to keep their victims quiet. And there are so many victims. The commonly accepted estimate among law enforcement and sexual-abuse treatment specialists in Colorado is that one in four women and one in six men who live in this state were either molested or raped before the age of eighteen, most of them by a man or teenage boy they knew.

According to the U.S. Justice Department, fewer than one in ten sexual assaults on children in this country are committed by a stranger. About a third of the perpetrators are family members, including stepfathers. The rest -- 60 percent -- are acquaintances of the child. They are coaches, scoutmasters, priests, family friends, sons of family friends. The Bogeyman walks among us, masked with charm, tricking us into liking him because he's so good with children.

The summer when I was eleven, Jim, my Little League coach, told my parents that the whole team was getting together at a batting cage for practice and that he would come by to pick me up. He came and got me, all right, but there was no team trip to the batting cage. He took me out for pizza and gave me money to play video games. He didn't try anything, but he was working up to it. A few days later, he called and asked if I wanted to go see the movie Annie with him -- a grown man, asking a boy out on a date. I recognized the Bogeyman, and I made sure I was never alone with Jim, either.

Two years later, Billy, my youth-league basketball coach, held a team sleepover after the last game of the season. He ordered pizzas and put a gay-porn video in his VCR, inviting us to watch it while he took the two shyest boys on our team into his bedroom and locked the door. So I took a case of soda out on his balcony and launched a pop-can artillery barrage on the cars in the parking lot of his condo complex. I shattered windshields and dented hoods until the neighbors poured outside, screaming bloody murder, and Billy had to go down to pacify them by agreeing to pay the damages. After that, he turned off the porn and stayed in his bedroom, the door open, for the rest of the slumber party. I sat up with my back against a wall all night long. He didn't tell my parents about the pop cans.

This time last year I was plotting to kill a man, and I was telling myself that like with Billy, I was doing it to protect the children. But really, more than anything else, I think I just wanted to shoot the son of a bitch. And I believe I would have, taking a second deep and dirty secret with me to the grave. I was going to kill a man rather than simply tell what he'd done -- because I was still ashamed, and because I didn't want my parents to know, even 25 years later. But then they found out, just in time to prevent me from committing first-degree murder.


If you have a secret you want to keep, never write it down. I know that now, but I didn't when I was ten, the summer between fourth and fifth grade, when I sat down with a pen and my Garfield the Cat diary. The entry is dated June 1981, and while I have no memory of writing it, the penmanship is unmistakably my own. There, between accounts of my grandfather dying and a game-winning double I hit in Little League, is an account of my being raped three years before. I concluded the entry by wondering what I would do if I ever met the man who'd raped me on the street once I myself was a grown man. "Will I smile and shake his hand and pretend nothing happened?" I wrote. "Or will I punch him in the face?"

Last September, my mom and dad decided to spend part of Labor Day weekend going through the cabinets in my old bedroom and box up all of my childhood stuff for attic storage. My mom found the diary and read it. I received a frantic message from her on my voice mail, saying I needed to call home right away. I called back immediately, my first thought that my dad was seriously ill. No, she said, it was nothing like that, but we needed to talk as a family. She got my dad on the phone and they told me about finding the diary, and my mom asked me in a shaking voice if it was true.

Had I had any warning, I would have lied, told my parents no, that the diary entry was just some twisted childhood musing I put down on paper for reasons long forgotten. My parents are both retired and in their sixties, and they didn't need this. But I was not prepared, and so I told the truth. My mom started crying, and I said I'd fly home as soon as I could.

I'd scheduled the murder by then, giving myself a 72-hour window immediately before I was to leave on a two-week trip to Mexico in late December. My plan was to shoot him, ditch the gun, then fly out of the country and keep my ear to the ground from afar, just in case. There's an ill-kept baseball field near his house where I was going to stalk him on a late-night walk. It's a good place for a killing in the suburbs, quiet, usually empty, and hundreds of yards from the closest house on its far side.

But by the time I met with my parents, I'd called off my plan. The truth was now out. It was my mother who'd pulled the trigger: She'd already sent an anonymous letter to his parents, informing them that their son was a child molester and imploring them to do everything in their power to prevent him from being alone with children.

In March my mom called his parents, who now live in Michigan. She'd written down exactly what she wanted to say on a sheet of yellow note paper, used it as a script and then mailed it to me. She started off by saying that what she was about to tell them would be difficult for them to hear, but for the sake of their grandchildren, they should listen. (He has children of his own now, as well as stepchildren.) She told them that their son had violently raped me in the fall of 1978. She told them that he had used a knife. She told them that the typical number of victims for a pedophile his age is well over a hundred. She told them that she regretted finding out what their son had done to me, but now that she had, she felt that they had to know as well. She told them she wished them to have good lives, but to never contact her or my father again -- no Christmas cards, nothing. She told them she hoped their son eventually got caught and spent the rest of his life getting raped in prison. Then she hung up.

By then, I'd begun writing about how I was sexually assaulted as a child, all the while knowing that my story would be incomplete, a failure, if I did not at least try to confront the Bogeyman. Strangely, I was a lot more comfortable with the concept of shooting him in the head than I was with talking to him on the phone, let alone in person.

On May 5, I finally sent two copies of the same letter to his house in Broomfield, one by overnight Airborne Express, one by registered mail.

Remember me? Our parents were good friends in Alaska. I was seven the first year we all moved there. I remember my childhood years in Alaska very, very well, especially a certain night that first year in Alaska, when I was seven -- seven years old, think about it -- when your parents had my family over for dinner, and you and I went down to your bedroom to play with your karate stuff.

I kept what you did to me a secret for 25 years, until my mom found a diary I kept when I was a kid, and in that diary I wrote it all down. It's time for you and I to talk this over. I suggest a meeting, in public, anywhere in the Denver metro, as soon as possible. If seeing me face to face is too uncomfortable for you, then at least call me.

Simply ignoring this letter is not going to work. If I don't hear from you by Friday late afternoon, I'll start calling your house, and then knocking on your front door.

I want to be perfectly clear here: I am not threatening you with any physical harm, and I am not hinting at blackmail. I don't want your blood or your money, just one uncomfortable conversation.

He received the letters with my contact information the next day, and without even taking a night to think it over, called my voice mail and left a message stating that he was willing to meet with me and giving his mobile phone number. I called the next day, got him on the phone, and told him that I appreciated his calling me -- and that I was surprised he had. "Well," he said, "it's a call I should have made a long time ago."

I was stunned, because from his words and tone of voice, it sounded like he was going to actually admit what he'd done, when I knew that almost all pedophiles deny, deny, deny until the day they die.

We arranged to meet at 2 p.m. the following afternoon at a Cracker Barrel near his house. "Is there anything you want to say to me now?" I asked.

"Just that I'm deeply sorry," he said. "I've thought a hundred times about contacting you in the last twenty years to tell you that, and I just never had the courage to pick up the phone. I'm sorry for the pain I've caused you and my parents and your parents."

He sounded sincere, well-rehearsed. The next day, an hour before we were supposed to meet, I changed the location from a chain restaurant in suburbia to the intersection of the 16th Street Mall and Market Street in downtown Denver. He showed up wearing jeans, a gray T-shirt and a Colorado Avalanche cap. When I saw him standing on the corner, anxiously trying to pick me out of the crowd, I realized the moment I had written about in my diary in 1981 had arrived: We were both grown men, and I was meeting him on the street.

I didn't punch him in the face. I did shake his hand. But neither of us pretended that nothing had happened. We were afraid of one another. I was so jacked up on adrenaline, I was shaking. He was sweating like he'd just run a mile.

"Nervous?" he said. I nodded. "Me too," he said.

We walked around the block, and he started by telling me that he'd been waiting for me to contact him for several weeks. Soon after my mom had called his parents in March, he said, his parents had flown to Colorado and confronted him with her accusations. He told me that he'd admitted he had raped me to both his parents and his wife.

"My mom got extremely emotional and didn't handle it well at all, and my dad just went quiet and became very stoic," he said. "They've sort of written me off since then. They used to call me every week, but they don't call me anymore, even though I told them it had only happened with you that once."

He repeated this claim over and over during our conversation, working it into his response to nearly every question I asked. He only had one victim, me. He had not sexually assaulted any other child before or since.

We sat on the mall's stone stools and kept talking, our voices low, both of us looking around to make sure no one was in earshot. I asked him how his wife had reacted. "She was concerned, obviously," he said. "She wanted to know right away if our son was safe, and I told her yes, he is."

Then I hit him with the question I'd always wanted to ask: "Why did you do it?"

He shook his head, and tears welled in his eyes.

"I've asked myself that question over and over and over again, David, and I just don't have a good answer for you. I wish I did, but I just don't know. I know that until I was in my thirties, I didn't really believe other people's feelings were real. I didn't think anyone really mattered but me. Maybe that was it. Maybe if I'd gone into therapy, I could have come up with the answer. All I can say is I'd never done it before and I never did it again, and if there was one thing I could go back in my life and change, that would be it."

I asked if his attack on me was spontaneous or planned. "It wasn't planned," he said. "I just acted on this one weird impulse. As soon as it was over, I was thinking, 'Oh, my God, that's my little sister's friend. How could I have just done that?'"

He said he'd wanted to apologize to me for many years but hadn't sought me out because he didn't want to "reopen old wounds" and because he hoped I had forgotten it ever happened.

"My biggest fear was that I'd ruined your life," he said. "I was afraid that you would turn out to be a homeless drug addict or something and it would all be my fault."

I told him that while I wasn't a street junkie, I did have a tremendous fear of becoming a father, because I didn't believe I'd be able to protect my child from people like him.

Becoming a father had changed his life, he told me. "I've found what love really means," he said. "I used to think that love meant you just really like somebody a whole lot, but when you become a father, you really understand what love is."

I asked him what he would do if he found out that someone had raped his son.

He said, "I'd probably rip their head off."

There's a scene in The Good, the Bad, and the Uglywhere the gunfighter played by Eli Wallach righteously blows away a guy and then drops this pearl of murderous wisdom: "If you're going to shoot, shoot. Don't talk."

Because if you let them talk, they may beg, and if they beg, you may not shoot. When I was still planning to kill the man I was now sitting beside on the 16th Street Mall, my plan was to walk up, say, "David Holthouse. You raped me when I was seven," and then pop, one slug to the crotch, let him writhe, kick him over, hold him down with my foot and then pop, pop, pop, three to the back of the head, lights out.

I knew that if I gave him time to talk, I might not pull the trigger -- and sure enough, as soon as I exchanged a few sentences with him, I didn't want to shoot him at all, because I saw him as a frightened, damaged man. He wasn't the Bogeyman anymore. He was real. He begged my forgiveness. He swore I was the only one.

All the experts say he was almost certainly lying. But then, all the experts say it was extremely unusual for him to admit his crime to me, let alone his wife and parents, and he did at least make the admission to his parents. I checked.

I did not grow up in a religious household. But he did. I have been to church three times in my life, and the first was with him and his mom, an evening mass just before Christmas, shortly after he raped me. I remember kneeling beside him in front of red-cushioned pews, feeling afraid. I don't remember the sermon, but talking to him on the mall, I thought of this passage from Romans: "Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written 'It is mine to avenge. I will repay.'"

When I had nothing else to say to the man who'd raped me when I was seven, we parted ways. He blended into the crowd.

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44 comments
randomguy001
randomguy001

Nice story but weak ending, I would have popped him in each of his hands and legs and the crotch and then just kick him to death, but maybe i'm just a bad person

Claire
Claire

Thank you for sharing your story.

Sreeves337
Sreeves337

What do you mean? What sounds like Bs. The story he tells or the fact that it happened? This is just a nothing comment put something usefull or constructive for people can work with that

Sarah
Sarah

As someone who was sexually assaulted at a young age, I was extremely moved by your openness. Although my parents do know, we have never discussed it since the initial conversation and I have never told anyone else.

You are a good man in your forgiveness. I have, at times, had thoughts as to whether I could bring a child into this world. I am a parent now and will give everything in me to preserve the innocence of my children. I wish you the best and please know that our scars do not have to scar our children.

HelgaGutmorgen
HelgaGutmorgen

Thank you for sharing your story. Having a similar story. I had to pull my car over and listen. There have been times when I have wondered if I shouldn't seriously investigate my brother's activities over the years. My train of thought following yours...nearly to the point of "scraping him off like dog poop." I confronted him finally 25+ years later. With a quivering voice he denied all that is so deeply seared into my mind, remembered as my childhood and shattered innocence. I see him as rather pathetic now. I wish he could have apologized. I hope to God he really doesn't remember because of past time and not because he has done it so often. Thanks again for sharing and making me feel a little less alone.

ES
ES

Sounds like bs to me.

Guest
Guest

Joe, you are an absolute idiot.

Guest
Guest

Thank you David for sharing your story. What I am curious about is how often parents talk to their teens not only about preventing being molested, but also to emphasize that molesting another child is wrong and a crime. It should be in teens' nature to know when an action is wrong, but perhaps more vigilance and action is needed to also guide potential teen molesters away from acting on their newly developed sexual urges. As a girl, I did encounter instances where male family friends or cousins in their teen years tried to act on those urges. Parents don't want to believe their children are capable of such heinous behavior, but it would be ignorant to not add this counsel in addition to the typical sex talk about the birds and the bees.

Greg
Greg

David, thank you very much for sharing your story. I heard you on NPR today, then read your story on the Westword sight. When I was younger than 10, I was sexually abused several times by a teenager neighbor boy, and once by a male teenager cousin. Both were approximately 10 years older than me. I understand the power of shame and guilt you expressed in your story. For several years, I have given passing thought to confronting my former neighbor. The shame and the worry about my parents have prevented me. My cousin died a young man many years ago. Until hearing your story, I felt very alone. And ashamed. Thank you for your courage and honesty. Grace and Peace, Greg.

Nancy_Rodriguez
Nancy_Rodriguez

Heard your story on NPR. I was so moved. It takes real courage to tell your story. I read the story again online and browing through the comments, I'm so angry at the unsympathetic and those that question your innocence. What is wrong with these people? I can't help thinking they must be pedophiles themselves or sociopaths incapable of empathy or compassion. As a result of your story I went home and had a conversation with my 4 year old son about sexual abuse and keeping secrets. I told him to tell me if anyone did anything to him even if it a friend's parent, older child, or one my friends. I think he still associates the bogeyman or the "bad man" as a stranger. I can only continue to reinforce that it could be anyone and hope that it sinks in. I also told him it's never too late to tell me even if it happened a long time ago. I pray God my children stay safe. Thank you again for sharing your story and for being so brutally honest.

Arg43658
Arg43658

Joe ; you are a self righteous ....

Kay Merkel Boruff
Kay Merkel Boruff

David, I recently heard your story on NPR. It was very powerful. The Romans scripture--Do not take revenge. Leave room for God's wrath--was an important point. A man lived with my brother, a Viet-Nam vet, and abused him horribly, and in the interim turned the house where I was raised into a drug house filled with other vagrants. Twice I have been in court evicting the man and finally he will be forced to leave and my niece can take possession of her grandmother's house left to her by her father. I'm trying to focus on the humanity of this evil man and your story has helped in the process. I trust you continue to enjoy the journey. You're on the "write" track.

Joe Harleyrider
Joe Harleyrider

So, did you turn yourself into the law enforcement authorities for illegally buying a gun and planning a murder? And what did you do with the illegal gun? Surely you walked into your local BATFE office and surrendered yourself and your illegal gun with the valid and reasonable explanation that you weren't going to need it, right?

thewinterriders
thewinterriders

@Joe Harleyrider    Joe, you are truly soft as puppy $#1+. If you are intelligent enough to master the act of procreation, I suggest that you get neutered.

Guest
Guest

David, yesterday I heard your report on NPR about the aryan group out west. I decided to google you and found this story. It touched me. Thanks for letting the world know.

Guest
Guest

David,

You mentioned how you were attacked, how you felt unsafe. What about when you were stalking the family, watching the children get on the bus by the playground and baseball field with a gun in your possession. What about all the late night sitting in front of the house with intent to kill and harm his family...who were innocent? You were arrested on stalking charges. People, don't be fooled by this pathetic man. He's not as innocent as he seems.

MotherOnTheGo
MotherOnTheGo

David

You are a brave man, individual and child of God. I dont know how vulnerable it mus have felt, but I read your sory not once but again and and agin and can only imagine the guilt associated with it- things like- did you invite trouble? did yu not try to stop it? did you want it? Such things muddle and confuse even a sane mind..... You are a true life hero, to put it as yo deemed fit. Not everyone can say i like you did!

A.B.
A.B.

I recently heard about this podcast through my husband, who found the story to be exceptionally remarkable. I am a survivor of molestation as well, I was molested by one of my brother's friends at the age of three. He was eleven and had the opportunity to inappropriately touch me. Luckily the experience was brief and not reoccurring. Throughout my childhood, I had no recollection of the experience; I blocked the story out of my memory until I started dreaming about it as a teenager. Not long after the dreams began, I took the concern to my mother, asking her if she knew about what had happened to me. She denied my questions and told me I must have been imagining it, upon further pressure she conceded that what I said was true; my brother had told her years earlier of the experience. He had been in the same room at the time and was ashamed he had let it happen. In response to my anger, she explained that she did not know how to handle the situation at the time, hence her avoidance of the topic. The years of inconsolable anger finally made more sense to me.

I have many female friends who have had similar experiences, most of them far more severe than mine. Some have been raped repeatedly by their stepfathers or mother's boyfriends. What strikes me is the fact that the author has been able to tell his story, regardless of the intolerance and shame our society has regarding sexual abuse experienced by males. I believe this abuse is highly underreported and I wish more men had the strength to tell their story and contribute to the statistics.

This story has evoked emotion in me that reminds me of the passion I hold in sexual violence and child molestation education. Over the years, I have made a point to be open and honest about my experience, hoping to help others understand how shockingly common sexual abuse is. I currently work in the field of mental health, and hope to direct my concentration in this specific type of trauma. Unfortunately, this story does not bring me closure, though I am glad it has done so for the author.The fact is, many child molesters and rapists go without fair consequences or treatment; it is unlikely offenders will receive psychiatric help, and this increases the likelihood of re-offending.

Thank you to the author and others who have posted their experiences. The ability to discuss this topic is vital to research and improved understanding of the motivations, as well as the consequences of sexual abuse.

Emily
Emily

What do you expect him to do? As was explained, it had been too long for any legal action to be taken . The parents and wife of the attacker know, and it is now up to them to protect the children. Just because you react in one way to your own attack doesn't mean that all others react the same way, and it's disgusting how you condemn him for not acting the same way as you. Why you would call it shameful for Mr. Holthouse not to scream news of his rape from the roof tops I don't know. It obviously was hard enough for him to talk about this with his parents, let alone the strangers he would have to go into details of the event with when warning them about his attacker. It seems to me that you are the one who has not let go of your anger, in that you are so on the attack and offense in your comment. Maybe it is time you learn to let things go not for your attacker, but so you can live a happy life and stop attacking fellow victims for the way they reacted in the situation.

Loneliness
Loneliness

@jpotter: What an articulate, compassionate response to Lynne. I agree fully. I hope everyone finds a way to heal and help others heal, like Mr. Holdhouse did for so many of us.

Loneliness
Loneliness

I contacted my abuser via email twenty some years after I was his victim. He responded that he was a victim himself. That did nothing to assuage my anger and told him so in one last response and blocked his email address for good. That made me feel a bit in control. I had not intention of establishing communication whatsoever, I just needed to let him know the damage he caused. His response did nothing to ease my pain; however, just writing to him, letting him know how his actions affected me throughout my life, putting the blame and shame on him gave me a certain amount of peace. I demanded that he seek out all of his victims and apologize, that he atoned. As he is a close relative of mine, I told him I expected him never to approach me or even dare be in the same place as me ever again, least I screamed right there and then publicly who he really was. He attended our dear aunt's funeral but remained hundreds of feet away, I happen to notice him only by accident. I suspect he was fearful. I hope he was ashamed. He was invited by unsuspecting relatives to my own wedding (common thing in my culture) but he was smart enough not to attend. My only regret is that I never went public (like Mr. Holthouse, I am protecting my extended family from having to deal with this, my mother and siblings know) I never knew who else was victimized, I was never able to reach out to these people and say "I know what you've gone through. If I'm OK, maybe I can help you get there too."

Baldo, please don't give your abuser any more power than he/she already has had over you. Don't waste any more of your precious life with this terrible negative energy that consumes only you. Instead of focusing on revenge, focus on finding a way to let go. I was unable to bring my abuser to justice, I hope you are. Talk about your experience with someone you trust and/or with a mental health professional. DO NOT BOTTLE IN YOUR FEELINGS AND THOUGHTS. Even if no punishment befalls your abuser by talking, it really is a cathartic experience that will begin the healing. Last but not least, turn the negative into positive: find a way to help others who suffer. Find a charity, a cause you believe in and give. Whatever it is that is positive in you, give it abundantly. I am convinced that when you ease someone else's pain, yours lessens by leaps and bounds. I wish you healing.

A friend.

Loneliness
Loneliness

David Holthouse might have gone 'psycho' after years of painful memories, the effect on his soul/mind of keeping a such a horrendous secret and dealing with the trauma on his own. But to say he is as sad as the rapist, that's just a complete lack of compassion and empathy on your part. You are, indeed, the personification of a 'sad person.'

Perhaps those of us who can relate on some level --whether victims of rape, molestation or simply keeping a terrible childhood secret-- understand the power of pain, anger and powerlessness.

D.L. Mayfield
D.L. Mayfield like.author.displayName 1 Like

Thank you to the author for giving a voice to those who are unable to confront.

anuran
anuran

I'm glad you found some measure of closure without violence. A good man should not go to jail for disposing of vermin.

Tim K
Tim K

Thank you for your bravery. I too listened to the podcast the other morning and had to pull over because the tears came so suddenly. I wept like I was a little boy again, wishing for it to stop.

At least Holthouse was told that he was sorry by his perpetrator. You and I will never have that opportunity. God bless you, friend.

TK

Guest
Guest

Listened to this as a podcast, driving in to work this morning. And, as he described his rape, I was washed over with fear - felt so overwhelmed by it that I wanted to pull over for fear of losing control of my car.

I survived a molestation by a stranger, when I was a child. My younger sister was with me when it happened. She does not want to remember or admit it, yet. We never told anyone that it happened.

We were about 10 or 11 years old. Walking downtown. A man talked my sister and I into getting into his truck to help him out by showing him where our school was, so that he would know where it was when his nephew moved to town. He then drove us to a secluded parking lot & forced us to give him oral sex. When it was over, he drove us back downtown & dropped us off. Then, we walked home. I'm not sure how or why we decided not to tell. I don't remember any threats specifically. I don't know what explanation we gave when we got home for our tear-stained faces.

Because it was a one time incident with someone who I don't believe that I have ever met again and only involved oral sex, I minimize the ways that it has affected my life. But, this quote from the story has me stopped cold, though, this morning - "I did have a tremendous fear of becoming a father, because I didn't believe I'd be able to protect my child from people like him."

When my own daughter was 5 years old, a stranger tried to get her to go into his truck while she was playing outside. Her brother ran into the house & got dad, who came outside just after my daughter had remembered to run away from strangers who wanted her to go into their car. He had driven away by the time dad came out. The police never found the man or his truck.

But, that was so close to my own story. And, it all came rushing back to me. It took years, after that, for me to let them play unsupervised in our own suburban yard again. Let alone go up the street or around the corner on their own. And, my daughter felt my fear, too, no matter how much I tried to be reasonable about it & not taint her with my terror about what might happen or might have happened to her. To them both.

And, maybe that's why we decided to keep our kids so close to us. Even now, at 9 & 11 years old, they have only been to a few sleepovers in their lives - and only one that was at a friends, not a relatives. And, most of those relative ones have been the easiest, for me, when there were no men or older boys living in the house with the relative.

I think back on that man who did that to my sister & I, years ago. I wonder where he is. I wonder who else he molested or raped. I wonder if he ever got caught. I wonder how many other slightly broken or badly broken people out there were affected by him. I wonder why we didn't tell and wonder if we could have saved other kids by telling. I know he's broken - that he wouldn't do that if he wasn't - I know I should feel sorry for him and I do, a bit. But, it's more of a sadness for all of the broken people in the world.

And... I read this story. Read the words telling the story of the rape. I read the stories of the other attempted molestations & rapes in this article. I read newspaper stories about other children raped, molested, murdered, living in terror and can all too readily imagine my own children in those stories - afraid, not knowing what's going on, what's wrong, why this person is hurting them, not knowing how to escape or whether to tell. I'm afraid that, maybe, someone has hurt my children and that they are scared to tell or embarrassed to tell. I know, for sure, that sometime this weekend, I will ask them, again, if anyone has ever touched their private parts. I will talk to them about what sex is and why it's wrong to do it to children.

I will hold them close & hope that I can keep them safe from people like him.

Brian
Brian

You're even sadder than the two of them for writing this comment.

Mike
Mike

You are ignorant and brash for saying this. If you read this article you clearly realize that he knew that and had come to terms with this at one point. He knew not to let the bogeyman appear human because he would have sympathy. Denouncing someone for what they are and have realized is unfair and a waste. He did what he thought was right and in all fairness was right. He was going to do it to protect the ones he loved and ones who needed protection. He was going to preserve the bogeyman's image at the expense of what his life truly was. The fact that he called off his plans alone is enough for him to be commended for. That he would also have a civil conversation with his bogeyman makes him a great man and better than I could ever be.

Guest
Guest

You are a psycho to be plotting one's death. You're just as sad of a person as he is.

Keith Alan Morris
Keith Alan Morris

Yes me too. Willard a national church leader raped me over a 2 year period ending in 1972. I looked for him for years to try to make sure he was not hurting other children. I found Willard in 2008 and another was brave enough to have him convicted. I sent Willard a "I Remember Letter" and will do anything to protect other children from having to experience such pain. For the past 10 years I have been sharing my story publicly and every time I have had at least one person come to me and share that they too were abused and had never told anyone. Thank you for sharing and healing. Keith Morris

 movinforward
movinforward

This is a scenario that happens way to often in our world.

I am 1 in 4 statistic but I will NEVER let that hold me or mold who I am and will continue to be.

I am so proud that you did not let your abuser win by killing him.

I was personally molested from age 5 to age 11. From so many different people I really can't begin to say how many. Family, friends of my family and friends of my brothers.

It became so common to me that I thought it was just normal for all boys and men to touch little girls like that. I got to the point I just tuned it out they would come and do their thing and I would just zone out during that time and try to forget.

Since this all has happened to me I made a personal choice not to let it ruin me or mold who the statistics say I need to become. I did have a chance to confront one of the many people who did horrible things to me and when I did he said no I never did that. So I know some people might own up to what they have really done to us victims but most will never.

In my mind after I confronted him it made me think maybe it didn't happen with him at least maybe it is just because so many others did do this to me I think he did as well but then I thought harder and I know that I am right. I just makes me sad to think he can't just say yes and I am so sorry for taking away your child hood innocents.

I think the only peace I have ever found is giving it back to God asking him for my healing and asking him to help me cope with the pain of the memories and it worked.

I don't dwell on the past I have move on but now I am a Mom to two precious little girls and I will do everything in my power to never let them become a 1 out of 4.

Peaceful Focus
Peaceful Focus

I am a survivor of multiple accounts of sexual abuse from different people -- both male & female. I've overcome the effects -- weighed 600 pounds, actively suicidal, self mutilation, drug use, drop out of school, etc -- with one driving motivation: to do what I can to lessen the chance sexual abuse will occur to anyone (boy, girl, man, woman, transperson) and to provide help for recovering to those who have. I am VERY fortunate to be a psychotherapy intern at the Monterey County Rape Crisis Center in Monterey, California. There we have one of what recent research has found to be only 22 viable groups in the WORLD for male survivors to heal. In addition I openly speak of my experiences as a survivor to audiences, in documentaries, articles, interviews. I also educate professionals & laypeople on male sexual abuse victimization. Healing from those horrific acts was one of the most difficult, painful things I ever did...and one of the very best. I love who I am -- and I also well remember the wish I had as a six year old when I grew up: to die. That was my one goal, my one hope until I was 35 years old & found help.

I urge you -- baldo -- & anyone on this list who is a survivor -- male, female, or something else entirely -- to contact your local rape crisis center for help, to accept nothing less than. Help IS out there -- admittedly so much more difficult to find for males & gender variant people -- but it exists. Do what no one did when you were a kid: stand up for yourself because YOU ARE WORTH IT.

I am living proof that a victim can become a survivor...can become something more even in the face one of the most horrific experiences a human being can undergo. I dropped 400 pounds, graduated top of my Graduate class (& want a PhD), a respected professional. Best of all, I love to be alive -- I approach life & living with a child's innocent joy because for the first 3 decades of my life I believed what several people's actions taught me: I was worthless & it was all my fault.

They were wrong.

Allan
Allan

I was molested twice at 9 and 12. I never told because I rightfully judged my parents as uninvolved, uninterested. Still, they don't think it's important, or matters, after I've told. I really blame society more than them for that. Because that is the lesson our society teaches in large part still. So, don't side with the perpetrator. Don't stay uninformed and silent. Your story talks about the many molesters that persued you. Where were your parents? Everyone! Take a lesson here. Learn to see them as David did. If a child can recognize a molester, for god's sake you sure can too! Open your eyes. It's the ones not reading this more so.

David, speaking out is probably the biggest thing you can do to protect children, and even advance your own healing. It's a powerful story that raises a lot of good issues for people to grapple with. Keep talking!

I'd suggest you attempt to get by choice or force, your perpetrator to take a lie detector test with a sex offender treatment center or perhaps elsewhere. An evaluation. To verify he has no more victims or risk. I tend to believe him, but we should not take chances. Simple to do. Check it out. Might save a child, a life, literally. You're right. He a wounded person too. I don't hate him. I don't want him to hurt a child is all.

I hope you will say more about how big the effects of your abuse were and are. Obvious difficulties. Blaming the victim is common. That early binge drinking speaks volumes to me though about what was probably going on. Best wishes to you

Joe
Joe

May God grant peace to anyone who goes through this. May he help me understand, as a parent, how I can protect my kids from experiencing any such thing. May he help me understand just why the *(*&(*^*&^ he could allow any such thing happen to an innocent child. Hearing this account was numbing, humbling, arresting and flat out confusing.

TheTsunamiofKarma
TheTsunamiofKarma

I didn't read your story when it was first published -- like most of the commenters, I heard you speaking on This American Life this morning. I'm a survivor of child sexual abuse, and I can tell you that while the experience (which lasted months, right under my parents' noses) didn't destroy my life, it damaged it severely. I know you understand this -- you describe facets of your life that are directly related to your experience (your feelings about having children, for example). I have struggled for years with the difficulty of dealing with this; I appreciated the choices that you made. I particularly responded to the things you said about your parents -- protecting them for literally decades instead of speaking out, and then when you did tell them, being accepted, protected, defended by them. I loved that your mother called his parents and laid it all out for them. Obviously, I didn't have that experience with my family when I finally (40 years later) told them.

It sounds to me like your decision to meet with your abuser and talk to him was the mechanism that allowed you to let go of your rage and pain and move on, at least to some extent. I've chosen to do that without contacting my abuser; it's a lot harder, and your story made me wish I'd had the strength to do that.

@Lynne (who may never see this): legally, there's probably nothing that can be done that would effectively protect the children in this perp's life. Mr. Holthouse did everything that should be done to protect those children -- told the man's wife and parents. They are the ones who are now responsible for protecting those kids, and share in the responsibility for whatever happens to them. Mr. Holthouse is right that it's very unusual for a pedophile to admit his wrongdoing, or to discuss it without rationalizing it. I'm also skeptical that this guy only had one victim, and that it was a momentary impulse never repeated (he did a lot of things after the event that indicate shame and regret were his primary responses at the time). But again, there's nothing else to be done about that.

It's very easy to accuse someone of denial, a label that doesn't hold up given the depth and detail with with Mr. Holthouse described his experience, at age 7 and since then. It's a way of dismissing someone else's reality that makes you uncomfortable, without dealing with the reasons for your discomfort. Your wild and very angry accusations sound more like someone who hasn't finished her own healing. Speaking from experience, I suggest that you work on that instead of attacking someone that you actually have a great deal in common with.

Thanks, Mr. Holthouse. Every time one of us speaks, the rest of us are lifted up. Be well.

baldo
baldo

I've been in the same situation as the victim. Great story. Anyone know how I can shed MY anger? I keep looking for ways to express my story too but to no end. I want to rid myself of the constant violent fantasies I have of revenge, the constant rage inside me.

NPRFan
NPRFan

Thank you. I heard your story on This American Life and immediately came home, looked this article up online, recommended it to my husband, and read it again. Thank you for sharing your story so others can learn. Your experience is unique, and your own, and you touched my heart. There are no "should haves" or "could haves", simply what is in your life, and your voice. I wish you peace.

Erinjo01
Erinjo01

Heard this riveting story today on NPR's "This American Life." I had a "driveway moment" at the local grocery store, having to stay in my car to hear the last of it.

I am so sorry this happened to you, and I applaud you, as a fellow writer, for speaking out through the pen about something so terrifying, so wrong and so painful. I am the daughter of a sexual offender, and he is no longer in my life. Though he lives a mere seven miles away, he will never again be around my children.

I do not believe that you were this guy's only victim, and I urge you to do all you can to make sure he isn't molesting his own children or others close to him.

Sexual abuse is an ugly, ugly thing. Again, I am proud of you for telling your story. As a parent, I am humbled and frightened about the things that can and do happen. I strive with every ounce of my being to make sure it won't happen to my kids. All parents should do the same.

Thank you, David. God bless you.

MIchael D. Hurley
MIchael D. Hurley

More parents should pay attention to their kids. 1 in 4 girls are raped or molested by 18.

accidentalfission
accidentalfission

Such a powerful piece and only four comments? Strange. Not strange however is the man openly admitting his guilt. He was a sociopath at age 17 but grew into fuller humaneness. It happens. People change.

Doesn't excuse what he did, just explains it. Certainly doesn't undo the damage to all involved. All the data isn't in yet. The experts aren't so expert in this field. Wish I had more words of comfort.

Thank you so much for writing this.

Sandy
Sandy

I admire your courage to write your story. It is a great relief to be able to end years of unjustified shame. I understand all to well trying to "protect" my family. My family, like yours, came through with love and support. After 25 years, I can put the shame where it belongs, on the child molester.

Lynne
Lynne

I just watched your interview on 20/20, and realized I had to read your story in order to get the full picture...I, too am a survivor, and I must tell you that your story minimizes the effects of the trauma of rape, I guess you haven't quite resolved it within yourself yet - to simplify it as you did is a grave injustice to those who still suffer. You are still protecting your perpetrator, and enabling him to continue abusing children. Do you really honestly believe that you were that 'special' to him that he only did it once?? The violence alone in which your rape took place is, in and of itself, shows the sociopathic nature of your perpetrator...On 20/20 you neglect to talk about your perpetrators sociopathic behavior with the cat, he is obviously a very sick man - but that's really not my concern...my concern lies in his children, stepchildren and all other children that may be in his reach. It doesn't seem to me that you've forgiven him, or yourself yet, nor do I think you will ever reach that goal. What I do believe with all my heart and soul is that you are in denial of all that has happened to you - that is clear in your article when you talk about getting drunk and not remembering what happened - do you really believe nothing happened that night?? Big deal if he admitted raping you - that means nothing - rapists and child molesters are well-known for their sly way of manipulating all those around them. Unfortunately, despite knowing what happened to you, you continue to live in a world of denial. You have done a great injustice under the guise of forgiveness - it's sad and shameful that you have such little concern for all the other children who are likely his victims...

Lynne
Lynne

I just watched your interview on 20/20, and realized I had to read your story in order to get the full picture...I, too am a survivor, and I must tell you that your story minimizes the effects of the trauma of rape, I guess you haven't quite resolved it within yourself yet - to simplify it as you did is a grave injustice to those who still suffer. You are still protecting your perpetrator, and enabling him to continue abusing children. Do you really honestly believe that you were that 'special' to him that he only did it once?? The violence alone in which your rape took place is, in and of itself, shows the sociopathic nature of your perpetrator...On 20/20 you neglect to talk about your perpetrators sociopathic behavior with the cat, he is obviously a very sick man - but that's really not my concern...my concern lies in his children, stepchildren and all other children that may be in his reach. It doesn't seem to me that you've forgiven him, or yourself yet, nor do I think you will ever reach that goal. What I do believe with all my heart and soul is that you are in denial of all that has happened to you - that is clear in your article when you talk about getting drunk and not remembering what happened - do you really believe nothing happened that night?? Big deal if he admitted raping you - that means nothing - rapists and child molesters are well-known for their sly way of manipulating all those around them. Unfortunately, despite knowing what happened to you, you continue to live in a world of denial. You have done a great injustice under the guise of forgiveness - it's sad and shameful that you have such little concern for all the other children who are likely his victims...

 
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