ACLU To Represent NAMBLA
By Martin Finucane
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, Aug. 31, 2000; 5:19 p.m. EDT BOSTON Saying important First Amendment issues are at stake, the American Civil Liberties Union is stepping in to defend a group that advocates sex between men and boys against a lawsuit brought by the family of a murdered 10-year-old.
The family of Jeffrey Curley of Cambridge claims in its lawsuit that the North American Man/Boy Love Association and its Web site incited the molestation and murder of the boy in 1997.
The Massachusetts chapter of the ACLU said Thursday it will defend NAMBLA because the group's activities are protected under First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and freedom of association.
"Under the First Amendment, there are no illegal ideas. Those who commit illegal acts can be punished for wrongful conduct, but the expression of even offensive ideas is protected by our Constitution," the ACLU said in a statement.
The ACLU has long accepted unpopular clients and despised causes, including Ku Klux Klansmen and neo-Nazis. In 1977, the ACLU defended the right of Nazis to march in Skokie, Ill. home to many Holocaust survivors. Thousands of ACLU members quit and contributions plunged.
"The Constitution is for everybody. But there are some people who just don't understand that and never will," said Harvey Silverglate, an ACLU board member.
Silverglate noted also that NAMBLA had been having trouble finding a lawyer. He said the decision to represent NAMBLA had been made by an overwhelming vote of the local ACLU board.
One of two men convicted in the murder, Charles Jaynes, 25, allegedly viewed the group's Web site shortly before the murder, and also had NAMBLA publications. Also convicted of murder was 24-year-old Salvatore Sicari.
A call to NAMBLA in New York was not immediately returned. A message on the answering machine describes it as an organization that "speaks out against societal oppression and celebrates the joys of men and boys in love."
ACLU officials said that NAMBLA argues for changes in society's views about consensual sex between adults and minors and a lowering of the age of consent. Silverglate said NAMBLA does not advocate illegal acts, and even if it did, that, too, would be protected by the First Amendment.
It is ilegal in Massachusetts to have sex with a child under 16.
Lawrence Frisoli, an attorney for the Curleys, said NAMBLA has stepped over the line from advocacy into actually participating in crimes.
"The commission of crimes is not constitutionally protected by the First Amendment. They participate. That's the allegation of the lawsuit, that the organization is participating in the rape of children," he said.
Frisoli claimed that NAMBLA assists its members in raping children by educating them on how to locate victims, how to gain their trust and how to avoid law enforcement so they won't get caught.
At separate trials last year, prosecutors said Jaynes and Sicari were sexually obsessed with the boy, and lured him from his Cambridge neighborhood with the promise of a new bike, then smothered him with a gasoline-soaked rag when he resisted their sexual advances. Jaynes allegedly molested the boy's lifeless body.
They then stuffed him into a concrete-filled container and dumped it into a Maine river.
Sicari is serving a life sentence without parole. Jaynes can seek parole in 23 years.
The Curley family last week won a $328 million verdict in a lawsuit against Jaynes and Sicari.
© Copyright 2000 The Associated Press