Maggie Gallagher

I don't know whether John Mark Karr killed JonBenet Ramsey. Time (and DNA evidence) will likely tell. I do know that when it comes to pursuing his grotesque fantasies, Karr is typical -- that is, for a pedophile.

Karr sought access to young girls through marriage, for example: While becoming a stepfather is a more typical strategy for gaining access to children, Karr actually married two child-brides in quick succession. He also sought employment in target-rich areas: The New York Post reports he told the Alabama baby sitter who took care of his own three kids that he wanted to open a day-care center (just a few years before he was arrested on child porn charges). In Alabama, California and Thailand, he worked as a teacher.

Like other pedophiles, Karr is extremely skilled at rationalizing his abnormal interest in children: "Sometimes little girls are closer to me than with their parents or any other person in their lives," wrote Karr in e-mail messages to a journalism professor.

Just how typical a pedophile Karr is becomes clear after a recent four-month investigation by The New York Times of the pedophile communities now in cyberspace. These are the pedophiles next door, remarkably similar to John Mark Karr with one chilling exception: They are still at large among us, developing new strategies to get their hands on our children.

"The community's online infrastructure is surprisingly elaborate" The New York Times reports: Internet radio stations, a charity to raise money to send Eastern European children to a camp where pedophiles would have access, podcasts, an online jewelry company marketing pendants symbolizing various pedophiles' orientations, downloadable booklets encouraging adult-child sex with instructions for distribution. In June, Internet providers announced plans to use new technologies to identify child pornographers. "Within hours of the announcement," reports the Times, "(pedophile) discussion rooms were filled with advice on how to continue swapping illegal images while avoiding detection."

Among the pedophiles observed by the reporters: a disc jockey at parties ("a high concentration of gorgeous" children); a pediatric nurse ("lots of looking but no touching"); a piano teacher ("I could tell you stories that would make you ... well ... I'll be good"); an employee at a water theme park ("bathing suits upon bathing suits!!!!!"); and a pediatrician specializing in gynecology ("No need to add anything more, I feel").

"The most frequent job mentioned, however," according to the Times, "was schoolteacher."


Maggie Gallagher

Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.