My hands are shaking.

I was feeling pretty okay today as I sat down to go through my usual morning reading. That feeling, however, was completely shattered when I was directed to this LiveJournal post by LessLikeYou.

In it, she speaks of a current news story. There’s a man in Ohio, an admitted pedophile, who claims that it’s his right to have sex with children. His. RIGHT. This, friends and neighbours, chafes my butt. And it does so for a number of different reasons.

Phillip Distasio is charged with 74 counts of rape, drugs, and pandering obscenity to minors. He’s quite the over-acheiver, this man. He’s been a busy boy, working with children for more than 10 years. He’s also a man on a mission, it would seem. He claims to be a pagan Friar (a term by which I, personally, have never heard any other pagan use to denote his status), and leader of a “church” called Arcadian Fields Ministries. This church, apparently, has very specific goals: To keep cases like his own OUT of the courts.

He believes, for example, that children can consent to sex. I’ve had discussions with other people regarding this in the past. There are days when I feel that certain consent laws are a bit stringent, and certainly many of the sex laws that remain on the books are a bit too Puritanical (for example, it’s still illegal in many states to perform oral sex) for the modern world in which we live. There are also days, when I get a bit mental and strict and absolute, when I feel that people should have to pass a test and get a license before they’re able to have sex or participate in the act of procreation. So I’m definitely not some prude who believes that sex is bad. However, the children that this man victimized (yes, victimized) were all under the age of 13 save one. No matter how quickly some people mature, no matter how self-possessed even I was at a very young age, I was at least smart enough to realize that sex was something that was best left until I was a little older. I was an early bloomer in the physical sense, but I was also mentally sound.

All of Distasio’s victims are disabled. Some of them are autistic. Two of them aren’t even able to express what happened to them. It’s not just that they were 12 year-olds, it’s that mentally, they were far younger than that.

So we have Distasio, a self-admitted pedophile, who has his own little “church” (is this particular church also tax-exempt and federally recognised?) that he ran out of his home. He was tutoring kids in his self-run “school” called Class Cutters, in which the parents and children supposedly set the curriculum. And yet, I somehow think that perhaps he wasn’t quite honest with the parents of the children he was purported to be teaching. Did he tell them that his home was a religious sanctuary where pedophilia and pot-smoking were sacraments of his religion? Were they aware of the purpose of his “church”? Because he told the judge that, “I’m a pedophile. I’ve been a pedophile for 20 years. The only reason I’m charged with rape is that no one believes a child can consent to sex. The role of my ministry is to get these cases out of the courtrooms.” Does anyone here really think that parents of autistic children would send their kids to such a place? He may be out and proud in the courtroom, but the extent to which he had to have lied to these parents is simply horrifying. It’s not like parents of autistic children don’t have enough to worry about, y’know?

With “child” being defined as “any person under the age of 18″, I could almost agree with him in that there are some “children” who certainly do seem mentally, emotionally, and physically able to consent to sex. However, when you lower that age to TWELVE and throw in autism and other developmental disabilities, his argument loses all of its credibility and he is revealed for the disgusting pig he truly is: A silver-tongued loser who must prey on the weak and the disabled in order to get his rocks off.

He has also maligned the entire Pagan and Gay communities by his arguments. It’s bad enough that many people view Paganism in any of its forms as evil Satan-worshipping, and as such, would put nothing past such a person or group that defined themselves using the “P” word. And by his crimes, he reinforces that old horrible stereotype that homosexuals like ‘em young, and will go to any lengths to get ‘em that way.

Phillip Distasio is representing himself in court. The judge has wisely advised him to stick to the secular law, the law of the State of Ohio, during his case. Thankfully, it’s painfully clear that a crackpot like this will be sent away by a jury of his peers to live out a life sentence in prison. Personally, however, I don’t know that his life will be very long once he gets there. The incarcerated look very poorly on child molesters, even more poorly on those who victimize the disabled. And he sure has a pretty lookin’ mouth.