Gay Adoptive Father Faces Arraignment in Abuse Case
A former Duke University employee and adoptive gay father charged with molesting his five-year-old son--and offering the boy as a sex object to pedophiles online--is expected to make a plea bargain, according to a Dec. 1 article in local newspaper the Durham Herald Sun.
Frank Lombard faces charges stemming from alleged instances in which he molested his young adopted son and chatted about the deeds online even as he carried them out. It's thought that the U.S, Attorney's Office is positioning the case for a plea arrangement because the Office is set to file an "information," which allows the prosecution to sidestep a grand jury indictment. The "information" will be filed in Washington, D.C., and will charge Lombard with sexual exploitation of a minor, the Herald Sun reported.
Typically, guilt is tacitly acknowledged in the "information" filing, which serves as a first step toward a plea agreement. The "information" regarding charges against Lombard says that the former Duke University administrator
"engage[d] in sexually explicit conduct ... for the purpose of transmitting a live visual depiction of such conduct." Sentencing for such crimes is typically about a decade and a half, but Lombard could have faced 20 years if the initial charges of sexual offense involving a child and inducement of another party to cross state lines for illegal sexual purposes had been pursued.
Lombard was arrested in June at the culmination of an online sting that state and federal investigators, during the course of which Lombard allegedly bragged about the sexual offenses he had carried out against his son. Lombard has not been charged in connection with any crime involving the other boy that he and his partner adopted; nor has Lombard's partner been implicated in the alleged abuse. Lombard has been detained at a Washington, D.C. jail since his arrest.
Some right-wing bloggers jumped in with anti-gay accusations when the news of Lombard's arrest broke, leveling charges against gay parents in general and holding Lombard up as an example of why gays should not be allowed to adopt children. A June 29 Christian News Wire article titled "Lombard Demonstrates Why Gays Should Not Be Able to Adopt" reported the broad outlines of the case, in which Duke University Center for Health Policy Associate Director Frank Lombard allegedly offered an undercover officer the sexual services of his young adopted son.
The article also used the case to decry, in equally broad terms, adoption by same-sex couples, taking the occasion to promote a purported study reportedly done by discredited researcher Paul Cameron, a long-time anti-gay activist and chairman of the Family Research Institute who was quoted in the article as saying, "The cant that 'gay parents are no more likely to molest' is not based on evidence but liberal ideology."
Cameron, whose membership in the American Psychological Association was discontinued by the APA in 1983, was specifically cited in a 1984 resolution by the Nebraska Psychological Association that read, "[The NBA] formally disassociates itself from the representations and interpretations of scientific literature offered by Dr. Paul Cameron in his writings and public statements on sexuality." Nonetheless, Cameron has gone on to author a number of studies purporting to prove various claims about gays, including that they die younger than straights and that children reared by gay couples are "more apt to report sexual confusion... more apt to be socially disturbed... more apt to abuse substances... less apt to get married... more apt to have difficulty in attachment and loving relationships..."
Cameron's claims were examined by an online essay by Dr. Gregory Herek that observed, "His conclusions are generally at odds with other published research, and objective indices show that his work has had no apparent impact on scientific research on sexual orientation."
Cameron was not alone in hastening to exploit the shocking allegations made against Lombard. A Web site purporting to be run on behalf of the Republican Party of Vermont, RPV.net, posted a June 28 article on the story in which it was reported that Lombard allegedly told an undercover officer that he had carried out an instance of abuse against the child while using a chat room under the user name "Perv Dad for Fun." Lombard, the article said, then offered the boy to the officer for sex, inviting the officer to cross state lines in order to abuse the child. The article noted that Lombard had spoken of drugging the boy.
But the article quickly turned to the politics of the case, asserting, "The big question remains on how Duke University and the media will address this in light of explosive nature of gay adoption and homosexuality in the current political environment." Race entered the article's discourse as it cited the case in which white Duke athletes were accused of sexually assaulting a black dancer; added the article, "So far the mainstream media has been mum on this issue even though they were quick to rush judgment in the case of the Duke Lacrosse players which were later found to be innocent."
Race has also entered the dialogue around the case because Lombard's adopted son is African American. A June 30 article posted at NewsObserver.com excoriated the racial and sexual politicization of the case, noting that, "Those braying, brave bloggers--brave, that is, as long as they're hiding behind the anonymity of the Internet--would have us believe that [the gay community] and others are responsible for the alleged sexual assault of a 5-year-old boy by the Duke University administrator who adopted him and is accused of trying to pimp him out so that others could abuse him." The posting continued, "If guilty, [Lombard] alone is responsible for what he did, unless it turns out that someone was derelict in approving his adoption request and overlooked red flags showing Lombard shouldn't be allowed within 72.5 miles of an unchaperoned child.
"Unencumbered by either facts or sympathy, some mouth-breathers--seemingly vying with Lombard in the degeneracy sweepstakes--blame the news media for not focusing on the fact that the adopted child is black," the posting went on. "Doing so, in their diseased, hate-filled minds, might fracture some supposed media-backed political coalition between blacks and gays. (It's unlikely gays in California would agree that any such coalition exists, since some feel that blacks helped defeat the gay marriage bill there.) But hey, what are facts when you've got a political agenda to push, stereotypes to reinforce?"
The purported victim's race, the posting said, was less relevant to the story than the nature of the crimes Lombard allegedly committed against him. "For any normal person, could the allegations against Lombard be any more heinous regardless of the child's race? One of our reporters on the story said it never entered his mind to mention the child's race. The story wasn't about race, he said, but about a child. Paul Colford of The Associated Press in New York, responding to criticism I relayed to him that the news service omitted the child's race, said, 'We've only had one story. ... Without reading anybody's mind, I can only speculate that the issue of the child's race could very easily have come down to privacy issues.'
"Neither of those explanations, although common-sensical, is likely to appease the black-helicopter crowd that sees a liberal conspiracy behind every event," the article continued. "A black caller posited the unprovable theory that Lombard adopted and abused a black child precisely because the child was black and thus, he knew, no one would care. They all ought to be ashamed, but of course they won't be."