Predation: Stories of Stolen Childhoods; Child Abuse




We are a society of subcultures. As such, each subculture develops its own policing mechanism.  Doctors have Board of Medicines; lawyers have the Bar; etc.  We have to follow the Law.  In most cases, these subcultures do not.

I have no experience with anything other than our Massachusetts Board of Medicine. My first allegation was serious and ignored.  Children were at risk every day because of that ignorance.  But I pushed on for years; because I knew children were at risk and was finally successful.  From my first charge to professionals at Children’s Friend and Family Services, it took twenty years.  Can you imagine how many children were raped and assaulted by a child predator in twenty years?  I’ve met some of them, but from what I learned, this man preferred the most helpless of children: the developmentally disabled; mongoloid children, children forever relegated to the age of ten regardless of their biological age, etc.  I met one.  That meeting was emotionally devastating.

John Waller was in Bridgewater State Hospital. He had been put there because of his own sexual atrocities but was incompetent to stand trial.  He was 33-years-old but had the mind of a ten-year-old.  He had been there for six years.

Tina, another victim of Friedman, and I drove to the hospital in Bridgewater.  The drive was long and beautiful.  Sun sifted through the trees, peppering the windshield with fleeting shadows.   Everything was green and new, and the air smelled sweet.  It was a long drive, and we had plenty of time to talk.  Tina (herself raped by the man who had hurt John) vowed to never like this child-man because of his sexual predations, but I knew about the developmentally-delayeds’ difficulty with sexual maturity—puberty—, and the how they face the probability that the forces driving their bodies would never be fulfilled.  Tina spoke of going down to Louisiana and killing our abuser, but I told her there was no sense in going down there and killing the man.  She’d just end up in jail.  The system would take care of him.  It was a lie, but I didn’t know it at the time.  I still had faith.

We arrived at the facility and went in. I had a clunky, old tape-recorder.  We were instructed to place all our belongings: the tape-recorder; our pocketbooks, etc. in a locker.  We could bring nothing into the visiting area.  We were scanned, and the underwire in my bra set off the alarm.  I wondered if I would have to remove it to get in.  The guard looked pensive.  He grimaced then allowed us to continue inside.

John sat at what looked like a school cafeteria table in a dingy, gray room. Tina’s scowl began to fade.  I could see the little boy in John’s face.  A little piece of me died inside.  Survivors’ Remorse.  As I met each new victim, I could not assuage the guilt.  I had failed to stop a monster.  Would this man be sitting in this awful place if I had been able to stop that doctor?  John’s face erupted into a goofy smile.  He was so happy to have visitors and said so.

We sat down across the table from John.

“We’re here to ask you about Tobias Friedman,” I said.

John collapsed into despair.

“He made my mouth bleed.” He declared. His voice was childish and full of pain: His face laced with fear.

What happened to John rippled through my mind. His sister had told me his story, and I won’t discuss it here except to tell you he was thirteen-years-old when he was orally raped.

That was it. We all started crying.  It was loud and chaotic.  Guards came and asked us to leave.   Tina and I were escorted out.  I vowed to myself to do all I could for John.

Perhaps there was an inner voice that told me the District Attorney knew about John’s abuse, but my horror would not let me process it. I had a document that showed the District-Court psychiatrist knew about John’s sister’s sexual assault well before John found himself in the legal system. I interviewed Dr. Swenson, and he agonized over the District Attorney’s refusal to prosecute the sister’s case.  Did the DA know about John’s abuse and put a child-man in a place for the criminally insane while he let a child predator go free?  It would take decades before I could let myself admit that the answer was probably yes.

Tina’s attitude had completely changed on the way home. She no longer saw John as a child predator, but a victim.  I dropped her off, went home, and made my first call to John’s doctor at Bridgewater State Hospital.  It was one of many.  I left message after message.  I don’t remember the doctor’s name, but she finally called me back.

She said, “I can’t tell you anything.”

I said, “I know. But you can listen.”

I don’t remember how long the conversation lasted. I told her everything I knew about what had happened to John.  I told her what had happened to me and others.  I expressed outrage at the fact John was even in an institution for the criminally insane.

I don’t know if it was because of my conversation with the doctor, but John was placed in a group home within a year.

I breathed a sigh of relief.

Not only did the DA’s office know about this doctor; doctors, agencies, and teachers knew. When the BOM of Massachusetts kicked out my first complaint, it was 1981.  A wonderful human being, who was also a doctor, took the reins in 1987 and drove the investigation hard.  The BOM finally responded and the child predator, who was also a doctor, resigned his license to practice medicine.  He avoided prosecution by the BOM by doing so, therefore retaining his monthly $651.00 pension from the State of Massachusetts for what he did to children.  By then, I believe the DA’s office had made so many mistakes, they refused to prosecute, and a vicious child predator never saw a day in jail.


Copyright 2017 Joyce Bowen


About the Author:  Joyce Bowen is a freelance writer and public speaker.  Inquiries can be made at

Sobre el autor: Joyce Bowen es un escritor independiente y orador público. Las consultas pueden hacerse en


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