It's hard to know what's more disturbing: that a man posed as a psychologist online and told mothers to sexually abuse their children as treatment, or the fact that mothers actually took his advice and did it. Both are unimaginable, but yet they happened, and innocent children have been harmed.
According to a story from the Associated Press, Steven Demink, a former car salesman with no medical background at all, told mothers across the country that sexually assaulting their children could be therapeutic for them. In one case, he told a mother to perform sex acts on her 8-year-old autistic son to teach him about sex. Of course, being the sick, twisted pervert that he is, he asked the women to take pictures and videos of themselves in the act and send them to him ... and they did.
Since he was arrested last October, seven children have been rescued, and three mothers have been arrested. The children abused ranged in age from 3-15, and more cases are under investigation. Who knows how many out there haven't been found.
His actions are deplorable, but I can't get over the fact that the women followed his orders. How could they? It's one thing to encounter a sick pervert online, it's another to actually follow his advice and harm your own children. How can someone you've never even met in person have that much power over you?
He portrayed himself as a charming doctor named Dalton St. Clair and used pictures of male models to represent himself -- he looks nothing like a male model in real life. He preyed on single mothers, and even promised some women dates if they did as he told them. You've got to be pretty damn desperate and sick to get a date that way.
One mother told the Associated Press about how sad and depressed her daughter was after her divorce and that Demink had some power over her. How about unplugging your computer? There are no excuses or explanations that can make this any more understandable or forgivable.
For his part, Demink pleaded guilty yesterday to six charges and faces 15 years to life in prison. One of the women is currently in prison for an unknown amount of time. The other two who were caught are awaiting sentences. While they all deserve punishment that no court would hand out, it will be interesting to see if the mothers or Demink will be sentenced more harshly. It seems it should be the mothers since they committed the actual acts, but if they all rot in prison for the rest of their lives, I think they'll have gotten off easy.
Who do you think should get a harsher sentence -- the "doctor" or the mothers who followed his advice?