The Cleveland Plain Dealer
Boy victims loath to tell of sex abuse by women
Expert hopes publicity will change attitudes
Sunday, January 01, 2006
Julie Ann Welborn, a wife and mother of two living in Washington state, was so smitten with a 14-year-old boy that she bought a home near his Stark County school, police say.
But when Welborn, 38, arrived in November in a rental truck filled with her belongings to move in, she was arrested and charged with having sex with the youth.
Relationships between women and boys have garnered attention because of recent high-profile cases, many involving teachers and students. Among them is Mary Kay Letourneau of Seattle.
She married her former student after spending more than seven years in prison for sexual abuse.
The publicity might encourage more boy victims to come forward, said Richard Gartner, a New York psychologist and author of “Betrayed as Boys: Psychodynamic Treatment of Sexually Abused Men.”
He said men who were abused as boys contact him after suffering problems including drug, sex or gambling addiction or realizing they are unable to sustain a relationship with women.
Men who look at incidents involving boys and women “think how delightful it would be to have sex with an attractive young woman and remember we had schoolboy crushes,” Gartner said.
“But it is not the same as the actual experience, and often boys feel there is very little support given to them. People thought a boy was lucky or was given a sexual initiation. And a boy may feel like less of a man because he may not have liked it.”
Boys often don’t see themselves as victims and say they are in love, but they are not mature enough to understand the meaning of the word or understand they have been victimized, Gartner said.
Massillon Detective Bobby Grizzard said the boy involved with Welborn said the sex was consensual.
“What you have is an adult influence over a child and it is a grooming process. . . . You lead these kids on,” he said. “Adults can really turn a kid’s mind into thinking it is an appropriate relationship.”
Gartner said, “My sense is that when a 38-year-old woman says she is in love with a 14-year-old, she does not feel much older than 14 psychologically herself.”
Welborn met the boy through her 13-year-old daughter, who began corresponding with him a year ago on an Internet game site.
Welborn, who filed for divorce in September, came to Ohio with her daughter Oct. 12, 13 and 14. While the boy’s parents slept, he and Welborn had sex twice, Grizzard said.
The relationship unraveled after the boy made a comment to his mother about marrying someone more than 20 years older and said that a Washington state girl he met online was moving to the area.
He said he had recently seen her at his school.
“The mother thought that was really odd,” Grizzard said. She reviewed her son’s e-mail and online activities, which revealed the relationship.
Her son admitted it, then she went to Massillon police.
Welborn’s husband, who was unaware of her relationship, flew to Ohio the day after she was arrested to get his daughter and son, 15.
Welborn, charged with importuning and unlawful sexual contact, is in Stark County Jail under a $500,000 bond.
The boy is in counseling.
“Sex abuse is one of the worst things you can do to a kid, boy or girl,” said Mary Ann Kovach, chief counsel of the criminal division of the Summit County prosecutor’s office.
“It can take them 20 or 30 years to work through it, and they have all kinds of problems later in life.”
Gartner said adolescent boys might believe they are in charge of the situation or are an equal. In Northeast Ohio cases where women were convicted of having sex with boys, the boys never contacted police.
Adriane Clayton, 33, an English and social science teacher at Milkovich Middle School in Maple Heights, pleaded guilty in August 2000 to five counts of sexual battery for having sex with a 13-year-old, who was a student in her seventh-grade class the previous year. Police pulled over her car after they noticed the boy was at the wheel. Clayton was released from prison in May 2002 and lives in Youngstown. She is classified as a sexually oriented offender.
Cathy Pirman, 50, of Mentor, was convicted in 1992 of having sex with a 14-year-old boy in the back seat of her car. Pirman, who police said had friendships with numerous other boys, served a year in prison.
Nancy Marks, principal of Case Elementary School in Cleveland, was convicted of statutory rape and corruption of a minor in October 1995 for having sex with a 13-year-old student. Marks, 61, is serving a five- to 25-year prison term.
Marks said she fell in love with the youth. Welborn also professed her love, police said.
“She still says she loves him,” Grizzard said.
“Anyone in their right mind knows that she can’t legally marry him for a number of years. They took measures to hide their relationship, and she involved her daughter in the deceitful lies. It is harmful to the boy and her kids.”
Facts About Boyhood Sexual VictimizationHere are some facts about the sexual abuse of boys and men.
Myths About Boyhood Sexual VictimizationPreconceptions abound about the sexual abuse of boys and men. Here are some of the common myths.
Studies suggest that one in six boys is sexually abused by age 16.
Watch the video podcast of an interview with Dr. Gartner at the Vera Institute of Justice or in testimony given to the Markey Hearing in NYC on the Statute of Limitations Applicable to Sexual Abuse against Minors.
To find out about therapy and for help in choosing a therapist, see this excerpt from Dr. Gartner's Beyond Betrayal: Taking Charge of Your Life after Boyhood Sexual Abuse.