No Monopoly on Molestation

The Washington Post

By Art Buchwald
Thursday, May 2, 2002; Page C02

I rarely write a serious column, but -- warning -- this is one of them.

Not only little Catholic boys, but also little boys of other faiths have been molested -- not by priests but rather by civilian pedophiles in the land.

There are thousands, possibly millions of men who, as children, were victims of sexual abuse. The majority never told anyone because they were so ashamed.

This is why I am coming out of the closet. I confess that as a child I was a victim of molestation, and it has left its mark on me.

I was 13 years old at the time and lived in Queens, N.Y. One Saturday I decided to visit a friend, Bill Mahler, at a prep school in Lawrenceville, N.J.

My means of transportation at that time was hitchhiking. The route I took was U.S. Highway 1.

After several short lifts, I was picked up by a man in a Chevrolet. I remember every moment of that trip to this day.

The man was well dressed in a sports jacket, shirt and tie. He was very friendly. He asked where I went to school, what sports I liked -- and then he asked if I was interested in girls.

I said I was and he started to tell me a very erotic story. As he went into details, I became aroused. Then he put his hand on me.

I didn't know what to do. Fortunately, U.S. 1 had traffic lights, and as soon as we stopped for a red light I jumped out of the car.

I ran into the woods and hid there for an hour, expecting him to find me.

I didn't know what I had done, or why he had done what he had done, but my instinct told me this was not an ordinary ride.

Years went by and I never told anyone about the experience.

The only other time I was molested was as a 20-year-old Marine. I was on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific. The air raid siren sounded and I ducked into a space that could only hold two men. The other person was a Marine master sergeant. I couldn't believe it, but he tried to kiss me. I fought for my life and finally escaped.

It was the most discouraging moment of my life in the Marine Corps. Whoever thought a Marine -- a sergeant no less -- would want to kiss another Marine on the lips?

I confess this now because I know there are so many people out there with similar experiences.

It is okay to advocate zero tolerance for priests when it comes to sexual abuse of children -- but what about the rest of us?