An Oct. 11 WorldNetDaily article serves up the most bizarre spin yet on the Mark Foley scandal, suggests that Ohio gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland's vote of "present" seven years ago on a 1999 House resolution condemning a study on child sexual abuse is somehow equivalent to Foley's serial preying on congressional pages.
The article misdescribed the study as "an American Psychological Association study supporting 'nonnegative sexual interactions between adults and adolescents.' " It is not "an American Psychological Association study"; the study merely appeared in a journal published by the APA. Nevertheless, the article repeatedly calls it an "APA study."
Also, the study does not "support 'nonnegative sexual interactions between adults and adolescents.' " Rather, according to the study's abstract, the study reviewed 59 previous studies to test the belief, held by "[m]any lay persons and professionals," that "child sexual abuse (CSA) causes intense harm, regardless of gender, pervasively in the general population." It found that "Self-reported reactions to and effects from CSA indicated that negative effects were neither pervasive nor typically intense, and that men reacted much less negatively than women."
Further, the study's conlcusions contradict WND's claim that it "supports" adolescent-adult sex:
In this sense, the findings of the current review do not imply that moral or legal definitions of or views on behaviors currently classified as CSA should be abandoned or even altered. The current findings are relevant to moral and legal positions only to the extent that these positions are based on the presumption of psychological harm.
While one conclusion of the study is that not all instances of adult-adolescent sex are automatically "abuse," it does not endorse adult-adolescent sex as WND claims. WND also claims that "The APA study claimed scientific evidence established that sex between adults and underage minors might be positive for children"; in fact, the study makes no such claim. It merely states that some victims of childhood sexual abuse perceived their experiences as positive, which is a reason for researchers to take "a more thoughtful approach" when examining the issue.
WND goes on to claim without evidence that "Strickland's refusal to vote 'yea' has been interpreted as implicit support for pedophilia," but it does not report Strickland's previous comments defending his vote on the resolution, as stated in a 2005 Athens News article:
Strickland, who has publicly defended his HCR 107 vote in the past, reaffirmed Wednesday that he considers that his vote was cast "in support of the victims of abuse."
Strickland said at the time of the vote that he could not in good conscience support the resolution, because it declared that anyone who has had a childhood sexual relationship with an adult can never have a healthy and loving sexual relationship in later life, and is likely to become a sexual abuser him- or herself.
The congressman has argued that this is unfair to victims, and rules out the possibility of healing. He has also questioned, as a trained psychologist, whether most of his House colleagues even understood the specialized study they voted to condemn.
He added Wednesday that while he could have skipped the vote, he chose to vote "present" so that "my constituents would know that I wasn't just playing hooky."
While the article notes that "Strickland is the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Ohio running against Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell," it fails to disclose that WND is supporting Blackwell's candidacy through its publication of his book earlier this year (WND has a problem making such conflict-of-interest disclosures) and other previous articles attacking Blackwell's opponents. Nor does it note that Strickland has a double-digit lead over Blackwell in polls.