America’s Proudest Pedophile

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Phillip Distasio took a new and different approach to defending against pedophilia charges at his pretrial hearing in Cleveland this week.  His defense: admit with pride that you are a pedophile.

"I’m a pedophile," he told the judge on Wednesday.  "I’ve been a pedophile for 20 years."  Well, thanks for coming today.  That ought to speed trial up a bit.

The underlying facts of the case are too creepy and disturbing to relate here, and I thought that back before I learned that "pedophile" does not mean "someone who likes feet."  Distasio believes that doing what he does is not only okay, but that it is "a sacred ritual" that is part of the central teachings of his church.  Not surprisingly, it really is "his" church — Distasio has his own church, the pleasantly named "Arcadian Fields Ministries," and argues that pedophilia is therefore not only okay but actually protected by civil rights laws.  (He was not very clear as to the role of other people’s rights in this religion of his.)

The one bright spot here is that Distasio’s court-appointed lawyer refused to pursue the religious-freedom defense that his client insisted on asserting.  Distasio tried to fire him but the court would not approve.  Judge Kathleen Sutula did say that the defendant could represent himself if the attorney remained as an adviser, and that is apparently what Distasio is doing.  Sorry, two bright spots — he’ll be getting automatic life in prison without parole if convicted on even one of the counts that he seems to have basically admitted guilt on today.

Link: AP via