Friday, July 20, 2001

Case of Jerrold Schwartz

Case of Jerrold Schwartz

Scoutmaster- New York City (Manhattan), NY
Adventure Trails Inc. - Colorado
Adventure Trails Inc. - New York, NY
St. Bartholomew's Church on Park Avenue - New York, NY

Plead guilty to multiple counts of sodomizing his former scout in 1996, when the Survivor was 14 to 15 years of age.

The New York prosecutor told the judge that one sex attack on the boy occurred on Jerrold Schwartz's wedding day. The youth eventually turned to drugs and alcohol because of the emotional damage he suffered.  

Disclaimer: Inclusion in this website does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement. Individuals must decide for themselves if the resources meet their own personal needs.

Table of Contents:

  1. Sexual assault of boy occurred (Summer, 1978)


  1. Scout Leader Hit With Sex Charges (07/20/2001)
  2. Scout Leader Is Charged In Sex Abuse Of Teenager (07/20/2001)
  3. Letter of Support from Joseph A. Bondy (11/16/2001)
  4. Letter from the District Attorney to Judge Charles Solomon (11/28/2001)
  5. Letter from Parents to Judge Charles Solomon (12/13/2001)

  1. Judge: Be Prepared (12/20/2002) 
  2. Sex Rap (05/08/2002) 
  3. Respected troop leader admits molesting Eagle Scout (05/08/2002) 
  4. Year In Jail For Sodomite Scoutmaster (05/08/2002) 
  5. Boy Scout Leader Guilty in Sex Abuse (05/08/2002) 
  6. Scout Leader Pleads Guilty to Sodomy (05/08/2002) 
  7. Scout Tour Operator Convicted Of Sexual Abuse (05/15/2002) 
  8. 'EVIL' Scout Pedophile Gets 8 Years (08/24/2002)

  1. New York Sex Offender Registry (12/31/2013)


Scout Leader Hit With Sex Charges
By Barbara Ross 
New York Daily News - July, 20, 2001

An East Side boy scout leader who ran a troop based at St. Bartholomew's Church was charged yesterday with 36 counts of sodomy.

The indictment of Jerrold Schwartz, 42, was announced by the Manhattan district attorney's office two months after a former scout filed a $50million lawsuit against him.

In that suit, the unidentified scout, now 20 years old, charged Schwartz had sex with him from the time he was 13 until he left Troop 666 at age 16.

In May, Michael Dowd, the teenager's lawyer, gave prosecutors four tapes on which Schwartz is heard admitting the sexual contact and apologizing for his actions.

The ex-scoutmaster pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Manhattan Supreme Court as his wife, an assistant school principal, watched from the gallery. Justice Micki Sherer set bail at $25,000.

Afterward, Schwartz's attorney, Charles Stillman, said: "There are people who think the world of this man."

The indictment accuses Schwartz of sodomizing the teen four times a month in his office or in an apartment on E. 80th St. from September 1996 through May 1997.

On the tapes, Schwartz tells Dowd's client: "I made a bad mistake. ... I took advantage of you ... in a sexual way. ... I'm eternally ashamed."

Investigators said Schwartz was not charged for any sexual contact he had with the boy before 1996 because the statute of limitations had expired.

None of the alleged acts occurred at St. Bartholomew's, an Episcopal church located at Park Ave. and 50th St., or at Manhattan's Central Synagogue, where Schwartz was scoutmaster before Troop 666 moved to the church in 1995.

Assistant District Attorney Evan Krutoy said in court yesterday that his office is continuing to investigate reports that Schwartz had sexual contact with other scouts.

But sources familiar with those allegations said they involve contact that happened too long ago for prosecutors to bring additional criminal charges.

A spokesman for the Boy Scouts said a sexual abuse allegation was made against Schwartz when the troop was at Central Synagogue, but the NYPD determined it was unfounded. Schwartz was permitted to remain in his position at the time, but he was fired in May, when the lawsuit was filed.

Schwartz owns a bus company based in Colorado Springs that provides transportation from the airport to boy scout and other camps in the Southwest.
Scout Leader Is Charged In Sex Abuse Of Teenager
By Katherine E. Finkelstein 
New York Times - July 20, 2001

A Manhattan Boy Scout troop leader was charged yesterday with molesting a boy in his troop on a regular basis between September 1996 and May 1997.
The troop leader, Jerrold Schwartz, 42, turned himself in to the police yesterday and pleaded not guilty to 38 counts of sodomy, which are included in an 18-page indictment. Citing the severity of the charges and the strength of the evidence against Mr. Schwartz, Justice Micki A. Scherer of State Supreme Court in Manhattan set bail at $25,000 and ordered Mr. Schwartz to turn over his passport.
Prosecutors said yesterday that they had obtained 50 minutes of taped conversations between Mr. Schwartz and the boy in which the two discussed the alleged sexual abuse. The boy, now 20, is being treated for substance abuse in a Florida center, and according to his lawyer, Michael Dowd, suffers from severe depression and sexual dysfunction as a result of his encounters with Mr. Schwartz.
Mr. Schwartz, neatly dressed in a navy blazer, gray slacks and loafers, was led into court, handcuffed, while his wife, Eileen, sat in the gallery.
Letter of Support from Joseph A. Bondy 
November 16, 2001


Letter from the District Attorney to Judge Charles Solomon
November 28, 2001


By Laura Italiano
New York Post - December 20, 2001

December 20, 2001 -- The accused pedophile scoutmaster of the Upper East Side's Troop 666 could be heading up the river - and not on a Boy Scout camping trip.

A stern Manhattan judge gave alleged boy-sodomizer Jerrold Schwartz, 42, this choice yesterday: Either take your chances with a jury or plead guilty with a guarantee of state-prison time.

Schwartz - whose request for a no-jail deal fell flat - has until his next court date, Jan. 22, to decide.

"This is terrible stuff," Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Charles Solomon said of the accusations. "There is a real victim here - someone who has been deeply affected for life."

If Schwartz goes for the jury trial, he risks getting convicted of a total 36 sodomies against a teen boy in his troop, from which he's since been fired.

Theoretically, he'd risk up to four years in prison for each act.

But if he pleads guilty to only a single sodomy, he can expect to serve between two and eight years in prison, the judge told him.

Schwartz's alleged wrongdoings came to light when the tormented victim, now age 20, spilled his heart out to his drug and alcohol therapists in an in-house rehab program.

In April, the victim wore a wire, and confronted Schwartz with nearly four years of abuses, starting when he was only 13.

"I did something very, very dumb," the married Upper East Sider admits on tape.

Schwartz's lawyer, Charlie Stillman, argued forcefully that his client has helped hundreds of young scouts. He pointed to 19 letters from parents and ex-scouts lauding Schwartz's charisma and generosity, and told the judge, "No useful societal purpose would be served by sending this man to prison."

But lead prosecutor Evan Krutoy said three other credible victims have come forward against Schwartz, although their alleged abuses occurred too long ago to be prosecuted.
"No useful purpose? It's called justice," Krutoy said of prison.

The 19 letters praising Schwartz merely "provide a context for the difficulty these kids faced," should they even think of ratting on a scoutmaster who was so loved and respected by their parents, Krutoy said.

Instead - after Schwartz repeatedly sodomized him - the complaining witness told no one.
"He walks around with the weight of the world on his shoulders," Krutoy said. "And finally, it crushes him."

Solomon noted that he'd look less harshly at Schwartz if his crime was not committed against a person - embezzling a million dollars from the Boy Scouts, for example.

Schwartz befriended both of the boy's parents, winning their trust to let the kid go on numerous overnight scouting trips.

"Jerrold Schwartz is a very skilled pedophile," the boy's mother wrote in a letter to the judge. "There can be no excuse for what he has done."

Accused Boy Scouts pedophile Jerrold Schwartz leaves Manhattan Supreme Court yesterday with an unidentified woman after his no-jail plea bid was rejected by the judge.
- NYP: Luiz C. Ribeiro


Letter from Parents to Judge Charles Solomon
December 13, 2001


Sex Rap
Daily News Staff Writers - May 8, 2002

An upper East Side scoutmaster was accused of sex abuse yesterday by a former boy scout who claims he was assaulted dozens of times in the troop leader's Manhattan apartment and on campouts and overnight trips.

The allegations were made in a $50 million lawsuit that targets scoutmaster Jerrold Schwartz, who has led Troop 666 at the prestigious St. Bartholomew's Church for two decades.

"Jerrold Schwartz is a pedophile. We brought this lawsuit to stop him from having contact with children," the former scout's attorney, Michael Dowd, said yesterday.

Schwartz, 41, declined to comment. The Greater New York Council of the Boy Scouts of America announced later he had been fired as scoutmaster.

The lawsuit — and four secretly recorded conversations in which Schwartz admits the sexual contact with Dowd's client — were being reviewed yesterday by Manhattan prosecutors.

On those tapes, made last month, Schwartz tells Dowd's client, who is now 19, that: "I made a bad mistake. ...I took advantage of a sexual way. ...I'm eternally ashamed."
He adds: "I have a place for yo

Dowd said the abuse started in 1994, when the scout was 13. It stopped three years later, when the boy left the troop.

The suit says the sexual contact occurred in Manhattan and on trips Schwartz led to Philadelphia, Washington and Vermont. Dowd said Schwartz even attacked his client on the night before Schwartz's 1997 wedding.

Dowd said the teenager started abusing alcohol and drugs after leaving the scouts and did not tell anyone about his experiences until last fall, after getting psychological counseling. Dowd said the teen's parents reported the abuse to police, but they did not pursue the case.

An NYPD spokesman said there was no probe because the family wanted to make an anonymous complaint. Dowd said the family disputes that.

Schwartz is heard apologizing on the tapes, telling the teen he considered him "a son."

"I'm extremely sorry for my taking advantage of you, our friendship, in a sexual way....I had a sickness that I hope I'm way past," Schwartz said.

Donald York, director of field services for the scouts council, said the council received a child abuse complaint involving Schwartz in 1994. Schwartz was allowed to stay on as scoutmaster after cops determined the complaint was unfounded.

Dowd said the church, at Park Ave. and 51st St., and the scouting organization are named as defendants because they failed to supervise Schwartz.

Raymond McGarrigle, general manager of St. Bartholomew's, said the Episcopal church "takes the matter very seriously."

Respected troop leader admits molesting Eagle Scout:
A victim of sexual abuse is suing not only his Scoutmaster, who molested him, but the Boy Scouts.
By Harriet Ryan
Court TV - May 8, 2002

NEW YORK — A former Scoutmaster praised for his selfless devotion to Manhattan boys admitted Tuesday sexually abusing an Eagle Scout in his troop.

Jerrold Schwartz, 42, pleaded guilty to four counts of third-degree sodomy for molesting the teenager in 1996. Judge Charles Solomon told Schwartz he would face up to eight years in prison when he is sentenced in August. Schwartz was originally charged with 36 counts of sodomy over a two-year period.

The victim, now a 19-year-old college student, claims he was raped by Schwartz in his office and apartment after weekly meetings for Troop 666, a group based in a church and synagogue on the Upper East Side. The abuse continued on camping trips to Colorado, New Mexico and the Florida Keys, and even occurred on the eve of Schwartz's wedding in Disneyworld, the victim alleged.

The victim, the son of a doctor and lawyer who were deeply involved with the troop, is suing Schwartz, the Boy Scouts, the church and the synagogue for $150 million. According to his mother, the teenager's normal adolescence was destroyed by the abuse.

In a letter to the judge, she said he engaged in self-mutilation, cocaine and marijuana abuse, and promiscuity and would spend hours in the bathtub trying to cleanse himself. He first told his parents about the molestation after he was kicked out of college and sent to a rehab center.

The teenager's lawyer, Michael Dowd, said Schwartz's plea ensures he will be found liable in the civil suit. Dowd also represents more than 40 other clients who say they were sexually abused as children.

The heart of the prosecution's case was secretly recorded audio tapes in which the victim confronted Schwartz about the abuse.

"I took advantage of you sexually," Schwartz admitted in the April 2001 meeting. "I'm eternally, eternally sorry."

He blamed the abuse on "a sickness" and said, "I did things that were not becoming of an adult that you looked up to, not becoming of an adult period."

Before the plea, Schwartz's lawyer, Joseph Bondy — who became an Eagle Scout in Troup 666 under Schwartz's leadership — said his client made the statements in fear of the victim's volatility, but acknowleged the "horrible, horrible tape" would be compelling to jurors.

Schwartz was involved with Troop 666 since his own youth, becoming an Eagle Scout, then an assistant scoutmaster and finally the leader.

In letters sent to Judge Solomon pleading for leniency, troop parents and scouts described Schwartz as caring and charismatic and said they could not believe the allegations.

"I count him among the most dedicated and compassionate people I have had the honor to know and befriend," one Eagle Scout, now a college junior, wrote.

Dowd, the victim's lawyer, said his client was living out of state and had not heard about the plea because he was busy taking his final exams.

"He'll be gratified to know he's not going to hurt any other kids," Dowd said.  


Year In Jail For Sodomite Scoutmaster
By Laura Italiano 
New York Post - May 8, 2000

May 8, 2002 -- The boy-sodomizing scoutmaster of the Upper East Side's Troop 666 'fessed up in court yesterday - but was given a summer vacation from prison, to the anger of his victim's family.

Under the surprise deal in Manhattan Supreme Court, married, 42-year- old Jerrold Schwartz pleaded guilty to four instances of sodomizing a scout in the fall of 1996.

The boy was only 12 when the abuse began, and four other victims have come forward with credible accusations that are too old to take action on, prosecutors said in court papers.
Schwartz will serve at least a year in prison, said Justice Charles Solomon. But he won't start until sometime in August, so, as his lawyer put it, he can "attend to his affairs."

Schwartz will spend the summer in Colorado, said the lawyer, Robert Fogelnest. Amazingly, Schwartz, who is free on $25,000 bail, continues to own a tour-bus company there that caters to scouting trips.


Boy Scout Leader Guilty in Sex Abuse
By Karen Freifeld - STAFF WRITER
News Day - May 8, 2002

A Manhattan Boy Scout leader who ran a troop at St. Bartholomew's Church on the East Side pleaded guilty yesterday to repeatedly sodomizing one of the scouts.

Scout master Jerrold Schwartz, 43, of Troop 666, pleaded guilty to four counts of deviant sexual intercourse with the 16-year-old boy from September to December 1996.

Schwartz, who is free on $25,000 bail, will be sentenced in August.

State Supreme Court Justice Charles Solomon said prosecutors recommended 2 2/3 to 8 years in prison. But "I'm making no promises on sentence," Solomon said, adding that Schwartz would be registered with the state as a sex offender.

The mother of the victim said that her son had been abused by Schwartz when he was about 13.

A law enforcement source said at least one other alleged victim had come forward, but that case was outside the statute of limitations, which is five years after the child's 18th birthday.

"Jerry very cleverly manipulated his business and the scout troop to get these boys alone with him," the mother said.

Schwartz owns a Colorado bus company that provides transportation to Boy Scout and other camps.

Schwartz was charged with 36 counts of sodomy last year after the former scout filed a $50 million suit against him. The victim secretly recorded four conversations in which Schwartz admitted the sexual contact, which even allegedly took place the night before Schwartz's 1997 wedding.

Schwartz's wife, Eileen, an Upper West Side assistant principal, kissed her husband after he pleaded guilty yesterday. She was among nearly a dozen supporters in the courtroom, including the assistant scout master of Troop 666.


Scout Leader Pleads Guilty to Sodomy
Associated Press - May 8, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) -- The leader of a Boy Scout troop has pleaded guilty to repeatedly sodomizing one of his young charges.

Jerrold Schwartz, scout master of Manhattan's Troop 666, pleaded guilty Tuesday to four counts of third-degree sodomy. Schwartz admitted he sexually abused the boy in his home and office for several months during the fall of 1996.

Schwartz, 42, entered the plea after State Supreme Court Justice Charles Solomon said he would give him at most eight years in prison, and possibly less. Solomon said he will schedule an August sentencing date later.

Solomon rejected earlier pleas from Schwartz' lawyers who said putting him in prison would serve no social purpose. Schwartz was allowed to remain free on $25,000 bail.

The victim, now 20, has filed a $150 million lawsuit against Schwartz and others.


Scout Tour Operator Convicted Of Sexual Abuse
New York Man Pleaded Guilty To Four Counts Of Sodomizing 12-Year-Old
The Denver Channel (The Associated Press contributed to this report) - May 15, 2002

DENVER -- A Boy Scout leader convicted of sodomizing a 12-year-old member of his troop in New York City has been allowed to travel to Colorado to run his tour business pending sentencing in August.

Jerrold Schwartz, scout master of Troop 666 in Manhattan, pleaded guilty to four counts of third-degree sodomy last week.

Schwartz admitted that he sexually abused the boy in his home and office for several months during the fall of 1996.

Schwartz, 42, pleaded guilty after a New York State Supreme Court judge said he would give him at most eight years in prison, and possibly less.

Justice Charles Solomon rejected earlier pleas from Schwartz' lawyers who said putting him in prison would serve no social purpose. Schwartz was allowed to remain free on $25,000 bail and travel to Colorado where he has a tour business, Adventure Trails Inc.

It is based in New York City and Colorado Springs, and provides, among other things, boy scout trips to the Air Force Academy.

"Adventure Trails has provided thousands of Scouts over the years with unforgettable memories and experiences," says its Web site.

The mother of the New York City victim, in court to hear Schwartz' plea, said she was not satisfied with the sentencing range that was promised, but she said she was happy that her son would not have to testify at a trial.

The woman said Schwartz, after winning her trust, began abusing her son when he was 12 and continued until he was 16. The victim, now 20, "is still very fragile," she said. "He still gets nightmares every night."

The New York prosecutor told the judge that one sex attack on the boy occurred on Schwartz's wedding day. The youth eventually turned to drugs and alcohol because of the emotional damage he suffered.

Schwartz, whose Boy Scout troop for a while was given space in St. Bartholomew's Church on Park Avenue, was originally charged with 36 counts of sodomy.

The assistant district attorney asked the judge to sentence the defendant to at least eight years in prison if he pleaded guilty.

The victim has filed a $150 million lawsuit against Schwartz and others.

Solomon accepted Schwartz's guilty plea and said he would have to register as a sex offender in New York.

He is required to do the same in Colorado within five days of his arrival or face arrest, according to an agent with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

None of the local scout groups 7NEWS talked with say they have dealings with the organization.

'EVIL' Scout Pedophile Gets 8 Years
New York Post - August 24, 2002

August 24, 2002 -- A Manhattan judge sentenced the sicko Scout master who repeatedly sexually abused one of the Boy Scouts in the Upper East Side's Troop 666 to 22/3 to 8 years in prison yesterday for his "evil" acts.

"This case involves a young boy being taken advantage of in the worst way . . . by a man he thought was a friend and mentor," Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Charles Solomon said as he sentenced Jerrold Schwartz.

"What [Schwartz] did was more than bad, more than troubling - it's evil."

Schwartz, 42, pleaded guilty in May to multiple counts of sodomizing his former scout in 1996, when the victim was 14 and 15.

Prosecutor Evan Krutoy, who called Schwartz "the worst kind of criminal," has said the abuse actually started when the boy was 12. The victim, now 20, told Solomon the repeated assaults had left his life in tatters - sending him spiraling into a life of drug abuse and self-mutilation.

"The physical and emotional pain still haunts me today . . . I can't remember the last time I slept for more than four hours," he told the judge.


New York Sex Offender Registry
December 31, 2013


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"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." –– Margaret Mead

Sunday, July 01, 2001

Women Incest Survivors in Prison

Women Incest Survivors in Prison
An Open Letter from A Prison Doctor to Those Who Care for Women Living with HIV

By Anne S. De Groot, M.D.
Test Positive Aware Network - July/August 2001

I have been providing medical care to HIV infected women who are incarcerated at a prison in Massachusetts since 1992. Working with the HIV-positive women at that clinic opened my eyes to their struggles. I am amazed that they have been able to survive such difficult lives, and I have been deeply affected by their strength, their joys and their sorrows. I wrote this short piece on Friday night, July 28, 1995, after attending HIV clinic at the prison. Some of the details of this story have been changed, to protect my patients.

It is Friday night after HIV clinic. I am lying in bed holding my daughter in my arms. Her face is moon shaped and turned up to the light coming through the windows. She is beautiful, she is two, she is a small but precious vessel of joy. During the daytime her joy spills over and over as she laughs and plays.

I cannot sleep. It is not because the heat is oppressive, it is not because the sprinklers outside are turning incessantly, it is not because the trees make scary shadows on the wall. I cannot sleep because I cannot forget what X told me about her father today. "When I went home at Thanksgiving he grabbed my breasts, and my ass" and "it happened again at Easter." She told me it started when she was three "but it was only oral sex" and it continued until she was 13. She said "he never penetrated me" . . . except one time, he almost did, in the toolshed, and she doesn't remember exactly what happened, but it stopped after that. There was a divorce and a custody battle and she ran away to Florida to live a different kind of life when she was in her early teens. She returned to her father's house when she was seventeen, and one day, when her stepmother and stepsister had left the house, he tried to get her to do it again. He walked into the kitchen "you know, like that" (making a gesture to show a man who had nothing on below his waist). She said that she laughed nervously and said, "No, Dad, I really don't want to do that now" (I wish I could make you hear the voice that she used to say this last sentence, because it sounded so childlike and pleading and I felt that I was standing in the kitchen watching this happen) and he said, "Why not? You would do it if I paid you."
In my clinic today, she said "When I found out I had HIV I was happy, because I thought he would never touch me again." She said, "I thought if I got fat and really ugly, nobody would want to touch me." She told her father that she had HIV -- she even said she had AIDS, but it didn't make a difference at Thanksgiving.

I can't get this out of my head tonight. X had just finished a post-incarceration drug abuse recovery program, and had returned home for Thanksgiving, when her father touched her again. She had just finished the program, she felt safer and stronger, she thought she was protected by her HIV, and he invaded her space anyway. After Thanksgiving she started eating to keep from using drugs again, and purging to get clean, and eating and purging. She didn't pick up drugging again, even though her self esteem had hit rock bottom. Her father tried to touch her again at the next family reunion.

Just a few weeks later she went along with some friends who had decided to start using drugs again, and she ended up back in prison, where I saw her looking huge and not at all HIV-positive but bruised and ashamed to be back inside. She couldn't say, at that time, why she came back (now she says that she was still "too much inside of it"), even though I tried very hard to learn from her where the weakness lay in someone I knew to be resolved to recover and dedicated to avoiding reincarceration. Today, after she finally told me about her reasons for returning, she said that she felt a huge weight leave her. I asked her if I could write it all down, especially this part that just happened, so that we could use her story as a tool to change this terrible world.

How do I keep X safe from her father? How do I repair the damages that have been done to the women who share their stories with me? Questions fill my head. How do I keep my children safe from this? How can I keep it from happening to the child next door, to the child across the street, to the children in my city? I lie awake listening for cries and tears around me, feeling powerless to keep this harm from happening. Tonight, in the heat and in the dark, the danger to women and children overwhelms me. I sit down at my computer to write it out, to bring it into the light, to purge it from me. I don't know where this writing will go. This is X's story, and my own. If we bring our fears and our wounds out into the light, will writing these stories make a difference in women's lives?

And how did this conversation with X came about today? Some people think I go dredging for these stories. In this case, I had asked her to see the dietitian to talk about her eating disorder. I sent her to the dietitian for two reasons -- to find some way to draw attention to her bulimia and to get some assistance with it, and also to illustrate to the prison dietitian the complexity of the dietary issues involved in caring for HIV seropositive women. Many, too many, of the women I see in my clinic have eating disorders: how am I to be sure that they get their HIV medicine if it is purged with their food? My experience at work confirms what is known about eating disorders: bulimia has been linked to childhood sexual abuse.

Today X told me that the session with the dietitian was helpful, because she actually confessed that her bulimia was worse during the past winter, and because she finally realized the connection between her father's actions and her reincarceration. To tell me this, she had to tell me that her father had abused her again, and that is how the whole story came out. We talked at length, and she smiled through her tears as she left my clinic. Her terrible sadness, fear, and anger, remained with me.

So what does all of this have to do with running an HIV clinic for women? Nothing at all, if you ask prison officials and prison health care corporations. Nothing at all, if you ask my medical colleagues who wonder why I don't do "my work" and stop seeking answers to my questions. But I can't separate listening to these stories and seeking to understand my patients from my work. If my work is to "take care" of HIV infected women, then understanding why these women use drugs, do sex work, don't go to their HIV clinic appointments that I set up for them on the outside, and end up coming back to see me in the HIV clinic at the prison is part of the work that I have to do. Understanding why my patients have eating disorders will enable me to intervene effectively, so that the medications they are taking for their HIV disease are absorbed. Learning more about my patients helps me set priorities: is it more important to find safe housing, away from an abusive spouse, or start a new anti-viral drug? Is it more important to re-unite them with their families, than to urge them to move to a city where they might have access to HIV care? Which intervention will save the life of my patient?

A case in point: Y returned to prison at the same time as X. Y was also a recent graduate of the post-incarceration drug recovery program. The story that she lives with, the story that was untold until she came to my clinic the first time, is this one: her son is also her brother. Her relationship to her son/brother has never been discussed within her family. Is it a surprise that she left home at an early age and spent many years on the street drinking, drugging, and doing sex work to support her habit? Why did she tell me and no one else her story? Because I asked her why (not how or when) she started using drugs. I have learned from my experience at the prison that many of my patients left home as teenagers because of childhood sexual abuse, turning to drugs for comfort and sex work to support their drug habits. Unless the cycle of abuse is broken, these women will never be free to choose a healthier lifestyle -- whether they are already living with HIV or at risk of becoming infected.

Y spent many hours talking about her son/brother with me at the clinic, and in sessions with counselors in the drug recovery program. As part of her drug treatment program after she was released from prison, she wrote down all of the things her father did to her. She says now, after returning to prison for using drugs again, that telling her story at the drug treatment program made her feel strong enough to go home to see her son, at last. She thought she might tell him that she was HIV-positive, but wasn't sure that she could tell him the truth about their kinship. He still thought she was his sister, and she didn't think that he was ready to learn the truth she had been living with every day, all 17 years of his life.

When she returned home, she found that her son had a newborn son, and that she was now a grandmother and an aunt all at once. Her son had named this new child after his father, her abuser. She spent many hours that weekend holding the baby. Then she went off to find her friends, so that she could get high and forget about the whole thing.

Another case in point: Z is 25. Last year, Z moved back to her mother's house after her husband died of AIDS, and her mother moved her stepfather back into her room with her. That was the way they lived when she left home at 16. She says that she protested, that she ran out into the yard crying about incest, but they sat her down at the kitchen table and told her that it couldn't be incest because he was not her real father. I try to imagine this scene in my head -- I see the kitchen table, the stepfather, the mother. How can this be? I ask her why her mother does this to her. She says her stepfather doesn't care that she is HIV-positive, he doesn't wear a condom when he sleeps with her, and she thinks that her mother is "getting him back" this way. She wears her hair long, in two big ponytails set high on her head like a little girl. She talks in a little-girl voice and won't look me in the eye when she tells me that she has to go home when she gets out, to her mother and stepfather, because she has no other place to go.

For so many of the women I take care of, there is no safe place to go. X tells me about "running away" from her father; running from room to room, and running away from home. Running from the hero of her life. The stories the women tell are all different but all the same: The abuser is always the person they love the most. Recovery involves calling the abuse by its name and losing that love. For some, this loss is the largest one, bigger even than the initial loss of trust. And for women who are HIV seropositive, the urge to return home to find comfort can be heartbreaking. There is no other place to go, no safe place to find love.

I am told that incest has been a part of human behavior for a long, long time. Through my work at the prison, I am learning the terrible consequences of incest. Women who have been forced to have sex as children, who have never been able to speak about their experiences, bear the scars forever. For women who have no access to professional counseling and psychotherapy, drugs and alcohol numb the pain and diminish the terror of sexual intimacy. Blame is internalized, and self-esteem is destroyed. The links to drug use and sex work are clear; and now HIV has entered the equation. These links, between childhood losses, failure of support systems, lack of access to means of recovery from abuse, drug use, sex work, and HIV infection, are illustrated over and over again by the women who come sit with me in my HIV clinic at the prison and speak to me about their lives. Because I ask them about their lives and because I choose to spend the time listening, I have learned that every other woman who comes through my doors at that prison clinic is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.

I ask: What comes before? How does it start? What unhinges that taboo, allows men to begin to damage their daughters, their granddaughters, their nieces, and their sisters? I don't know the answer. What can we change about our society to prevent this from happening to women? A student of mine wrote me the one answer that I think is valid: we must not tolerate sexual abuse of children. There must be no acceptance, no excuse, for valuing the lives of women and children less than sexual pleasure. I have come to know the newest consequence of childhood sexual abuse: to damaged self esteem and troubled hearts is now added the burden of HIV. For my child, I don't know which way the danger lies, and that is why I sit here writing, wondering if I will be heard, wondering how I can protect my moonlit daughter, wondering how I can change women's lives.

Previously published in Friends for Life. The stories of patients X, Y, Z have been changed, to protect their identities. Any resemblance to any one individual's life story is coincidental. This work would not be possible without the support and encouragement of S. Zierler, C.C.J. Carpenter, Ken H. Mayer, and APT; and my directors Joe Cohen and Rochelle Scheib at the Lemuel Shattuck Hospital, Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.

Dr. De Groot is Assistant Professor of Medicine and Community Health at Brown University AIDS Program Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island and a member of the HIV/AIDS Program Staff at Lemuel Shattuck Hospital. She is also an editor of HEPP News. More information can be found in Anne S. De Groot and Debi Cuccinelli, "Put her in a cage: Childhood sexual abuse, incarceration, and HIV infection," in The Gender Politics of HIV in Women: Perspectives on the Pandemic in the United States, J. Manlowe and N.Goldstein, eds., New York University Press. Also see Jessica Stevens, Sally Zierler, Virginia Cram, Diane Dean, Ken H. Mayer, and Anne S. De Groot, "Risks for HIV infection in incarcerated women," Journal of Women's Health, Volume 5 (4) 1-7, 1995.