REGRETS OF A NUDIST MOTHER: "MY DAUGHTER DOESN'T SMILE ANYMORE"
Tim Wilcox's victim in an interview with Sgt. Chris Anderson of the Alameda Sheriffs Dept. June 16, 1989.
Victim: Tim said, "Please give me a hug, I don't want to leave on these terms."
Anderson: So what did you do?
Victim: I said no again. Then my mom said to just give him a hug, that we had to go. So I put my arms out the window and grabbed his neck. I was really tempted to rip it off, but I just hugged him and we finally left.
Anderson: Did you see him again?
Victim: He got busted from the club. He would get jealous over my Uncle Bill, because the kids started hanging around with Uncle Bill. I didn't want to go, but I'd wear shirts that went down to my knees. I felt dirty
I am a mother of three children. I was leery, like any other parent, about having my children exposed to the nudist life-style, and was keenly interested in the way they took to the environment. We attended various nudist events and carefully chose a club where there was plenty of fresh air and entertainment, and where we could feel safe.
My daughter liked nudism a lot. She even wrote an article for the A.S.A.'s Bulletin in 1985, when she was 12 years old, about her positive experiences as a nudist child. She wrote about how she had held a towel tightly wrapped around her for protection the first night she attended a nudist gathering, and how quickly her barriers dropped with the towel after she took the big risk and plunged naked into the hot tub. My daughter took to nudism like a fish to water. She made friends at the campsites of the Sequoians Family Nudist Club and Rawhide Ranch, looking forward to weekends and special occasions.
All that has changed now, because she befriended a man named Tim Wilcox who has turned out to be a convicted child molester. Last year Tim pled guilty to a felony charge of a series of sexual molestations of our little girl, which first occurred when she was 10 years old.
This could have happened anywhere, but it occurred in a nudist club. I am telling this story because she could just as easily have been your child.
My daughter was always outgoing. She had a genuine love for people, always had her heart on her sleeve and took people at face value. I put this in past tense because things have changed since she met Tim. At the time, Tim was a stocky man in his thirties, always seen with at least one camera strap around his stomach. He liked photographing girls and young boys, and would often ask parents' permission to photograph their child. He photographed my daughter many times, posed, smiling in front of his camera. Seeing the trust in my child's eyes, I couldn't help but trust the guy myself.
My daughter and Tim rapidly became friends. They were chums; he was her good buddy. She trusted and loved him, and looked forward to seeing him at various events. He would regularly bring her gifts like candy bars, books, puzzles, and other new toys; and one time he bought her a new bicycle. He took her to Great America twice: once as just a "fun day," and once for a rock concert.
People warned me Tim was getting too close to our family, but I felt he was just being friendly. I sensed he was starved for attention and wanted to know someone cared.
There were a few strange indications about Tim's behavior, but I didn't recognize what they meant at the time. Like when he put his hand on my daughter's leg and said, "Hey, you're not a virgin anymore; you've been to your first rock concert!" And once Tim said to me: "Don't you think it's strange that I would rather hang around a young girl of 12, rather than someone my own age, or another adult?" Then there was the time he took her to a weekend self-enhancement class. She refused to go without me because they would have been in a motel together. But mostly I saw Tim as harmless: as a big brother for my daughter; and I never gave the matters much thought.
After a few months went by, Tim asked my daughter if she would like to have a pen pal in another country. She was very excited, especially since we have relatives all over the globe. He gave her the address of a man named Robbert Broekstra in Europe, who had a "Teen Pen Pal Club." Tim also told her, and a lot of other kids from Sanrobles and Sequoians, to send, besides their addresses, nude pictures of themselves and their friends. They did.
When my daughter quickly got an off-color response from her [alleged--ed.] 9-year-old "pen pal" who wrote about her parents' sexual practices, she thought it was so weird she stopped writing.
We really never questioned, until later, what use anyone would have for so many pictures of nude children. But when U.S. Customs knocked on our door and went to Sequoians in 1986, asking questions about Broekstra and Tim, I had the idea. I gave the investigator the obscene letters my daughter had received from Broekstra's "Teen Pen Pal" Service and discovered they already had letters written to other children. [Articles about the other families will appear in a future issue of the ICONoclast.--ed.] By then, I was extremely upset to learn the facts after it was already too late. This is when I learned that Tim had prior convictions.
Before I found out about Tim's past, one day he ran behind our car, waving frantically and crying real tears. In a real childlike voice he told me, "She won't give me a hug good-bye." I tried to keep a straight face and kind of played along with him, but I realized he was really too serious. I told him "Well, Tim, you don't need to cry about it." My daughter was stone faced, and I said, "Go on. Give him a hug." She did.
All of a sudden my daughter started to shy away from Tim. I would say, "Look, there's Tim," and she would say, "So?" When we planned a nudist outing, she wanted to know if Tim would be attending. She would tell us over and over that she did not want to see him anymore. The only comment she would make was that she was tired of him hugging her, and she did not like having to tell him she didn't want to hug or be hugged. [Wilcox often wore a "Hugs" t-shirt, with no pants underneath, that mandated a hug upon greeting him.--Nikki Craft.]
By that time, a lot of the other children were shying away from Tim, too, saying he was weird. Tim and I had been very good friends and I would try to defend him against other people's criticisms. When my daughter would reject him, I thought maybe she just wanted to be like all the other kids and didn't want them to know that Tim was her friend. Yes, teen pressure prevails even in a nudist camp.
Now, I realize that peer pressure had nothing to do with my daughter's fear of Tim. I also recognize that Tim was being so chummy with me to get to her. He took me places with the children and used me like a decoy. Knowing what I know now, I sure wish I had been more supportive of my daughter's hesitations about Tim.
Several years after the visit by U.S. Customs, my daughter and I were coming home from the grocery store. Out of nowhere, she told me, "Tim did a lot more than you know about." I stopped the car and asked her what she was talking about. I was heartsick, shocked, and did not know what to do about it or where to turn. This has to be every mother's worst nightmare. I asked my daughter if she wanted to talk to a police officer about it and she said yes. She told her story to the investigators, and a full report was taken. Tim finally did plead guilty to the charge of sexual assault of my daughter. However, the judge did not accept his plea-bargain that would have reduced his sentence. Reportedly because, due to the evidence he had examined, the judge felt Wilcox was "too dangerous" to be released with the previously established plea bargain agreement of probation.
Since this happened, there have been some very hurtful attempts by several nudists to wreck the credibility of our family so my daughter's testimony will be discredited. Even though Tim has already been convicted of two counts of felony child molestation, has been in prison, a psychiatric hospital, and was a registered sex offender, it is our daughter and our family whom Louise Flanagan turned into "the accused." There were horrible rumors, hurtful letters, and lies told about us. We were rejected and snubbed because we -- not Tim -- caused the club trouble by bringing this out in the open. And I still cannot believe that my daughter -- and not Tim -- was turned by some into the criminal.
I feel betrayed that other nudists have been uncaring about what happened to our nudist family. Basil Hugueley, the president of the Western Sunbathing Association (WSA), never even bothered to ask our side of the story. Ricc Bieber, WSA Internal Affairs Chair, never talked to us until there was such intense pressure from others that he could no longer ignore what was going on. He called late one night ten months after we had pressed charges against Tim. Now, finally, Ricc seems most supportive and said he would present a motion to add Tim on the A.S.A. Caution List. [Wilcox, was only added to the A.S.A.'s Caution List after much pressure from publicity the ICONoclast brought to them.-editor]
Now that Tim's past has been made public, we feel somewhat vindicated. I cannot begin to tell you how this has affected our lives. We never thought anything like this would ever happen to us. Tim has destroyed my daughter's trust in people, which is something I can never forgive him for. Her self-confidence has been shattered. She has been running away from home since this happened because she cannot get settled, cannot feel secure anymore.
It took a long time of counseling for the full story to come out. In one session dealing with sexual assault, she was given a towel that was supposed to represent her abuser. She was so hurt and angry that she shredded it to bits before the session was over. Is this what "growing up" means for a child who once had such intense love and caring for others?
I cry for my daughter. I cry deep inside because I know it is her own face she sees in the mirror each day, and only she can bring herself completely through all this. It is such a heavy burden for a child her age to bear. At times, I wish I had a magic wand that could take away all the hurt and replace it with the love and support she feels she has lost.
My daughter doesn't smile anymore, not like she used to. She is no longer friendly and outgoing. She is much more reserved, almost spy-like, and very particular about who is around her. She probably will not return to the nudist life-style because of her pain and resentment about what happened.
I want to warn all parents against men like Tim. Please . . . do not take them at face value. Do not be as trusting as we were. Just because you are in a nudist environment, do not assume that you are safe and everyone is your friend. Just because there is a friendly face, you are still among strangers. If you feel you are being over protective, be proud that you are. When you see your children becoming overly friendly with an adult male, do not assume that everything is fine and that the relationship is a healthy one, the way we did. If you have funny feelings about what is going on, please, go with your intuitions. Believe me, if you do, you will not be sorry, as we are.
--name withheld at request.
Reprinted from the ICONoclast.
Copyright by Nikki Craft.
All rights reserved.
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