High-Ranking Former Congressional Aide Leaves Letter Before Hanging Himself After His Arrest For Possession Of Child Pornography

i83969661._szw270h3500_Washington has been rocked recently by the news of a high-ranking congressional staff, Jesse Ryan Loskarn, was arrested for possession of child pornography. Loskarn was the long-time director of the office of Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. He recently committed suicide by hanging himself. A letter has now been released where Loskarn explains his demise and his shame. In the letter, he refers to abuse as a child but does not identify the culprit. Psychiatrists have long documented the tendency of victims of child abuse to be drawn to child pornography. I was personally involved with such a case of a man with documented such abuse who downloaded such images — a reaction that a respected psychiatrist testified was extremely common. You may or may not believe the final account of Loshkarn but it is a striking letter from a man clearly struggling with the shame of his action.

Here Jesse Ryan Loskarn’s final letter:

On December 11, 2013, I was arrested for possession of child pornography. Writing those few words took a long time; seeing them in print is agony. But I owe many, many people an explanation – if that’s even possible – and that’s why I’ve written this letter.

The news coverage of my spectacular fall makes it impossible for me to crawl in a hole and disappear. I’ve hurt every single human being I’ve ever known and the details of my shame are preserved on the internet for all time. There is no escape.

My family has been wounded beyond description. My former boss and colleagues had their trust broken and their names dragged through the mud for no reason other than association. Friends’ question whether they ever really knew me.

Everyone wants to know why.

I’ve asked God. I’ve asked myself. I’ve talked with clergy and counselors and psychiatrists. I spent five days on suicide watch in the psychiatric ward at the D.C. jail, fixated on the “why” and “how” questions: why did I do this and how can I kill myself? I’ve shared the most private details of my life with others in the effort to find an answer. There seem to be many answers and none at all.

The first time I saw child pornography was during a search for music on a peer-to-peer network. I wasn’t seeking it but I didn’t turn away when I saw it. Until that moment, the only place I’d seen these sorts of images was in my mind.

I found myself drawn to videos that matched my own childhood abuse. It’s painful and humiliating to admit to myself, let alone the whole world, but I pictured myself as a child in the image or video. The more an image mirrored some element of my memories and took me back, the more I felt a connection.

This is my deepest, darkest secret.

As a child I didn’t understand what had happened at the time of the abuse. I did know that I must not tell anyone, ever. Later the memories took on new and more troubling meaning when I became a teenager. They started to appear more often and made me feel increasingly apart from everyone else. In my mind I instigated and enjoyed the abuse – even as a five and nine year old – no matter the age difference. Discussing what had happened would have meant shame and blame.

I always worried someone might look at me and know, so I paid close attention to others for any sign they might have figured it out. No one ever did. By my late teens I reached a sort of mental equilibrium on the matter. I couldn’t stop the images from appearing altogether, but I generally controlled when they appeared.

As an adult I thought I was a tougher man because of the experience; that I was mentally stronger and less emotional than most. I told myself that I was superior to other people because I had dealt with this thing on my own.

Those I worked with on the Hill would likely describe me as a controlled, independent, and rational person who could analyze a situation with little or no emotion. That’s how I viewed myself. In retrospect, the qualities that helped me succeed on Capitol Hill were probably developed partly as a result of the abuse and how it shaped me.

In the aftermath of my arrest and all that followed, the mental equilibrium I had created to deal with my past is gone. Today the memories fly at me whenever they choose. They’re the first thing I see when I wake and the last thing I think about before falling asleep. I am not in control of anything anymore, not even my own memories. It’s terrifying.

In my life, I had only ever mentioned the abuse to three friends, and then fleetingly so. I never spoke to a mental health professional about this or any other matter until I was in the D.C. jail. I talked with a counselor there about my crime and the horrible hurt I had caused so many people. I didn’t talk to him about my past. I didn’t think it mattered because I intended to kill myself as soon as possible.

article-2545438-1AEF241100000578-117_634x343The session ended and I left to be taken to a cell. Before I’d gone far, the counselor called me back. He said there was something he couldn’t put his finger on and he wanted to talk some more. And then he just stopped and looked at me, not saying a word. He was the first person in my life who I think had figured it out. And he was the first person I ever spoke to in any detail about those memories.

That conversation was the first of many that have already taken place, and many more to come, as I begin the process of trying to sort this out and fix myself.

I understand that some people – maybe most – will view this as a contrived story designed to find some defense for defenseless behavior. That it’s an excuse. In some ways I feel disgusting sharing this truth with you because in my heart I still struggle to see my five-year-old self as a victim. But I’m sharing this with you because it is the truth, not an excuse. And I believe it played a role in my story.

To my family, friends and Capitol Hill colleagues: I’ve had individual conversations with each of you in my mind. I’ve pictured your face as I admitted to my failure and heard the shock and disappointment in your voice. I lay awake at night reviewing these conversations over and over again. They are among the most excruciatingly painful aspects of this terrible, terrible nightmare.

To those who choose to sever all ties with me, I don’t blame you. No one wants to think or talk about this subject matter. All I can say is: I understand and I’m sorry.

To those of you who have offered words of compassion to me and my family: your kindness has been remarkable. Compassion is harder to accept than condemnation when you feel as disgusting and horrible as I do, but it means a great deal. I’m more grateful to you than you can possibly imagine.

And last, to the children in the images: I should have known better. I perpetuated your abuse and that will be a burden on my soul for the rest of my life.

31 thoughts on “High-Ranking Former Congressional Aide Leaves Letter Before Hanging Himself After His Arrest For Possession Of Child Pornography

  1. What a sad story. Sad for the kids in the images and sad for him. It is an amazing clear and concise letter that drips of emotion. I guess he could not live with that heavy burden on his soul any longer.

  2. This is heartbreaking. things are often so much more complicated than they first appear.
    Abuse of any kind in childhood can manifest in myriad dysfunctional and harmful ways, plaguing the sufferer throughout life, harming relationships, impeding the ability to function productively and live a reasonably happy life, sometimes, perhaps often, driving the horrible victimization of others.
    I struggled with the shame and the blame of childhood abuse throughout much of my life, turning it on myself via an eating disorder and difficulty having any healthy, loving sexual relationships. It took me years to really untangle it all and overcome its pervasive influence. what a waste of a lot of life.
    Openness, education, and wide availability of treatment (as well as good laws addressing the abuse) seems necessary for a progressive and humane societal approach to this kind of thing.

  3. This is a deathbed confession and as honest as it gets. my wife dealt w/ many of these cases as a Federal Probation Officer. This man’s compulsion is, as Mr. Turley states, often the result of abuse as a child. Spousal abuse also has it’s own sad pathology. In doing presentence investigations, my wife had to look @ these images. The depravity would shake her. During her career the child porn biz changed from magazines to the internet, and an EXPLOSION in the number of child victims[often unidentified] and prosecutions. It went from USPS Inspectors to the FBI.The worst case she worked was a father who raped and beat his child while videotaping it. She was so shaken by this. I believe my wife took early retirement because of these cases. It took a lot out of her emotionally. I know FBI agents who HATED these cases and were often shaken by them than any other type of crime. There is collateral damage. But it’s NOTHING compared to the damage inflicted on children.

  4. Sexual abuse and suicide is big in the military:

    On Friday, more news broke regarding the child pornography scandal at the Pentagon that surfaced this summer. In July, it was discovered that more than 250 civilian and military employees of the Defense Department — including some with the highest available security clearance — used credit cards or PayPal to purchase images of children in sexual situations. This was out of the total 5,000 Americans that were discovered to be purchasing child pornography though the investigation.

    (Pentagon Child Porn). But I was hoping it would not make its way into other realms of government.

  5. Oh my….. Shame and guilt can control ones destiny…… May his soul and the judgmental people find peace…… I’m sure his story is not of an isolated incident…..

  6. Having the psycological problem over his abuse is one thing and I can understand his shame at being caught. But anyone who goes out and downloads hundreds of videos and images of children being abused perpetuates the child molestation / rape industry in the world by creating an insatiable demand. The quick availability of this means, unlike in the past where access was limited, means suspects require more and more which to fulfill this demand an increasing number of children are explointed and raped.

    Everyone in this country knows child pornography is a major crime and this was not just one image that he inadvertently downloaded. I can believe him when he said how he came about the first one he received. All he had to do was erase it and that would have been it. But he made an effort to obtain more.

    I would say the distribution crime he has been accused of is weak. In peer to peer file sharing sites another party could have instigated the download from his computer without the Jesse’s knowledge if he had not moved the file from the publicly available directory into a private directory. But he placed it onto his computer to begin with knowing this was a file sharing service, so I would need more evidence to show it either way.

    It is regretfull a man killing himself over but I understand his distress over the entirety of what plagued him. That said I doubt he would have stopped had he not been arrested. He had a responsibility to seek help for his condition that drew him to this type of pornography. But instead he chose to engage in more of it. He might have been a nice man, but society needs to put an end to the rape industry of children and arrests are a necessary part of this effort.

  7. What is most troubling about cases like this one, is the government’s ability to cherry-pick prosecution, via the NSA, depending on political persuasion.

  8. To paraphrase the great wordsmith: “Some are born evil, some achieve evil, and some have evil thrust upon them.”

    Not sure where Loskarn lies but I’m guessing the latter.

  9. A friend’s mother was an eminent sexologist. She advocated using legal aged models to be made to look younger to satisfy a similar compulsion. I never understood why until I saw this man as a 5 year old. It is often referenced that the abused go on to be abusers. Do we know how many only pursue an understanding of why they were abused?

  10. Not a subject anyone can talk knowlegably about. The above quote might be an exception but will still be rejected as considered more perpetrator than victim. The status quo is a certain way & no-one is permitted to disagree. This is not the case with religion or political party today, though the penalty for the wrong religion or wrong allegiance was often death by torture in the past, in both the east & the west. Today we have strong disagreements between Western ideas (including Christian and Agnostic) and fundamental Muslims (might unfortunately include whole large-scale religions like Shiite Muslims who recently explained to us Westerners that their radical viewpoints were quite the norm) on subjects like Sharia law & the idea of forcing morals on someone when their actions were not against secular law. Were a person today in the west to look at the continued behavior of many or most Muslims to dictate the morals of others, particularly those that did not voluntarilly share their viewpoints, on might be tempted to feel superior; that we had evolved past the point of wishing harm to those who did not share our moral upbringing. We would be right to show some pride: suspected witches are no longer burnt to death, Protestants are no longer tortured to a deathbed confession if they stray too close to the Spanish mainland, Catholics are not forced into hiding, Christians are not killing Muslims on any huge scale anymore, and vice versa.
    But here we have a subject growing in scope and importance due to internet and internationalism, yet the understanding is decreasing as the Sharia law of the West, & USA in particular, has found companionship with radical Taliban notions. One might not know it in the States, but the idea of automatic prosecution for child pornography has not been an issue or even a crime in most nations. For one thing, the definition has been very nefarious. An image of a nude child in a normal position is not porn; an image of a child having sexual relations with an adult could be a lot of things, including evidence, but circulated for erotic viewing would be child pornography. So what comes in between? An endless debate on this like they set up Democrats & Republicans to debate on endlessly in the USA with never any resolution in sight. Its no wonder that countries in the past, like Australia, would have no broad law against possession of child pornography, but would have enforced laws against forced or statutary rape. These days you could Google many countries that had little opinion on it in the past but now seemed to be forming opinion and law on some kind of USA or similar model. The sex industry in the USA did not really mind that it’s publications hold to a uniform national age for pornographic images; the age of consent for different States varied between 14 to 18 at the later half of last century so 18 wasn’t a no-brainer, but it became the standard. Worldwide, ages of consent to sex have varied from puberty to 21, to marriage; that could translate from 8 to 21, or to 101 if you don’t get married. But 18 seems to be the standard that is trying to be enforced on the world, both for sex & pornographic images, no matter what the customs or what Mother Nature has to say about it. You really ought to consider this Lady; for some of you it would be a guy, an almighty God. What does Mother Nature, OR God, OR Creator/Creators of the Universe (too big? human race?) have to say about it. Obviously, it won’t get much discussion as Sharia law of the West says 18, 18, 18, 18, 18!!! (Muslims are wrong where its 21 or Must be married! Montana is wrong with 16! Jungle tribes are wrong with Puberty & will have to more carefully keep track of their birth dates so we know if they are comitting a cime or not!)
    Well this is what is happening today & frankly I think a lot of assumedly well meaning people are making a mess of it. I also don’t think that child abuse earlier in life has very much to do with looking at child pornography. I don’t doubt that it may be a contributing factor, & perhaps more so in Jesse Loskarn’s case. I don’t know the details, either, of what he did exactly. Obviously it was more than looking at images of naked children in National Geographic, but was it like that Nicolas Cage film where the widow’s wife had commissioned a real snuff film? I sincerely doubt it, but its something lawyers & lawmakers & judges & juries & do-gooders should take a look at. Are they helping society or making a worse mess of it & giving us new ‘demons’ to burn at the stake over our moral outrage to something that just possibly did no harm to anyone? To what degree, if any, did the viewer contribute to a real crime, rather than a Sharia law crime? Loskarn showed a lot of remorse & self disgust but society can do that: look at the rape cases in the Muslim world where girl victims get heavier sentences than their rapists or shy away in fear of reprisal with genuine unwarranted shame!

  11. Most people who are exposed to abuse as children do not develop an interest in child pornography. The sequelae of sexual abuse are all over the map in terms of range and types of apparent consequence–for many people the effects are limited and rather subtle, at most. That shouldn’t minimize the importance of detecting abuse, but it also should draw away from snap conclusions and pop psychology.

    It’s a very sad note and probably the best explanation he can give for his own behavior, but we it’s unlikely that we’ll ever know all the factors in this man’s life and we also shouldn’t forget the disconnect between this man’s life and the morality he attempted to impose on other people through the rule of law. This isn’t a nice neat story; people’s lives rarely area.

  12. Shorter Darren: “…..I doubt he would have stopped had he not been arrested. He had a responsibility to seek help for his condition that drew him to this type of pornography. But instead he chose to engage in more of it.”

    I could not agree more. I have worked with sex offenders most of my adult life, and pedophiles have an addiction that is harder to break than meth or crack.

    There was a study done years ago where a sample of about 100 sex offenders were studied at the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s psychiatry department. They used the penile plethysmograph to measure arousal to photographs shown as slides to the subjects. We had one guy who had been locked up on our unit for 23 years. He was in his early 50s at the time of the study. This fellow did not react at all to photos of scantily clad or nude adult females. He had an 85% erection when shown a photograph of a 4 y/o female child, fully clothed in a Sunday-go-to-meeting pinafore dress.

    My role in the study was to identify as many subjects as I could at the request of the researchers. It is a commentary on the enormity of the problem that I had no trouble at all coming up with a hundred offenders for them to use in the study.

    Many of the inmates on the protective custody unit at the prison are pedophiles. They cannot be placed in the general prison population, because of the risk of them being killed. Other inmates hate them. When making routine cell checks, it is not unusual to find many of them masturbating while watching Sesame Street and Nickelodeon on their TV.

    The components of rapists’ sexual arousal.
    Abel GG, Barlow DH, Blanchard EB, Guild D.
    Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1977 Aug;34(8):895-903.

    My colleague Donald C. Guild, MD,JD is my BFF, and in those days was director of the forensic unit at the state hospital. Gene Abel, David Barlow and Ed Blanchard were all professors of psychiatry at the medical school.

  13. Dr. Stanley:

    if this young man did not engage in the physical act of pedophilia and only downloaded child porn and since he says he was molested, couldnt he have been helped with therapy?

    Isnt there a difference between an actual child molester and a person molested as a child? Or does the act of molestation have such a traumatic impact on a child as to rewire their brains turning them into pedophiles for life?

  14. Observer:

    Eggs used to be bad for you and then good for you and then bad for you, now I think they are back in favor.

    The idea that the earth rotated around the sun was out of favor by many modern scientists until Copernicus.

    Just sayin

  15. ddickerson, The very acerbic and astute Dennis Miller does a bit. Like much of his material, it has some serious topics. Here’s his bit on child molesters. “Listen men, you can’t hurt kids. You need help. There are resources out there to help you. But, if you still can’t stop yourself from molesting kids you GOT TO DO THE RIGHT THING AND KILL YOURSELF!”

  16. Humans are insane when it comes to sex. They are also insane when it comes handling power structures. Looking at pictures should never be a crime. Taking pictures should never be a crime. *Forcing* another human to act against their will should be a crime. Children should not be forced into actions that they do not desire any more than adults. Having consensual sex should not be a crime. No doubt some people are ready to throw if they have read this far. I will conclude by saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me” 99guspuppet

  17. gus:

    “I will conclude by saying ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me’” 99guspuppet”


    Oh yeah. How about these words: “We’re auditing your tax return and need documentation to ….”

  18. nick:

    99guspuppet is either stupid or he is using someone elses email address in an effort to make their life miserable.

    Since he was so bold about it, my guess is that someone has a beef with the guy in the picture and is pasting it in all the venues where child molestation is being talked about.

    But then he could also be dumber than a box of rocks. Since I imagine law enforcement reads this blog we will probably be reading about him hanging himself in prison with his hands behind his back.

    99guspuppet, if you are stupid, it wasnt nice knowing you.

  19. Observer,
    I have a thick file on the PPG. It measures some things and not others. I am not a fan of the PPG. However, when a guy gets a full erection looking at a photo of a fully dressed little girl but adult females in suggestive poses don’t do a thing for him, plus he has a proven history of molestation, he has an ongoing problem.

    Many molesters were molested, but not all. Not all who were molested become molesters. It is a post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy to go down that road. Child porn is illegal, because the crime originates as abuse of the child whose image is depicted, regardless of whether the perpetrator had actual physical contact with that child.

  20. Otteray,

    “Child porn is illegal, because the crime originates as abuse of the child whose image is depicted, regardless of whether the perpetrator had actual physical contact with that child.”

    And if there were no demand for child porn, the industry would die.

  21. I was repeatedly raped, tortured and sodomized as a four year old. There were photographs taken of me being raped and choked. I have not seen the photos (thank God), but remember the clicking of the camera. Much of what Loskam says in his letter resonates. I have struggled with complusive sexual behavior, and I have suffered greatly as an adult. I haven’t owned or downloaded child pornography, but I understand completely the repetition compulsion to reinact this trauma. I reinacted it in different ways.

    The saddest part of his story is that he had no one to turn to, no one to tell the whole shameful story to. If he had, it is posisble he might have been able to break the addiction. Yes, some people are so broken they seem out of reach. But it is illogical to assume that this addictive behavior is somehow different than drugs, alcohol or arrogance, which are all highly addictive ways of suppressing our pain, all of which people do recover from..

    I am alarmed by the posts that seem unconcerned about his plight, or think he deserves death, since not long ago, he was one of the children we all want to protect. Somehow, becoming a wounded child means we want to kill the perpetrators, but when that child grows up, we no long care about those wounds and want to kill that same person. If we keep that attitude, we will never be rid of this curse; I have tried to tell my story to some people (no one wants to hear it, because it is really difficult to hear) and I have been told to grow up, leave the past behind me and move forward. That’s like telling a double amputee to stand on his own two feet and get moving. There is nothing to stand on.

    I am also alarmed by the man who seems to think that children would ever choose to start a sexual relationship with an adult. There is a cycle of abuse, and those that abused and tortured me were abused themselves. Breaking the cycle should be our highest goal as a society. While I don’t relish having child sex offenders on the loose, giving them orange jump suits and

  22. …..a prison cell isn’t really working. No one seems to get better. Time to try something different.

  23. I am Loshkarn. Right up to the just before the killing oneself. I don’t know why I am still alive but it was touch and go many times. Believe me, I feel regularly I should change that too.

    I discovered and downloaded child pornography in the same manner. I don’t remember my abuse, I don’t relive it. But I know it’s there. The images stirred a memory but I already suspected it from a lousy fearful childhood I could not understand. I too overcame and had a productive life.

    I have never touched a child for sexual gratification, ever. I have never felt that insurmountable compulsion others report and everyone believes must be there. But once I was caught and thought about what I had done, I knew I had perpetuated the abuse I saw in the pictures. My guilt and sense of self-loathing was real. I saw how I had betrayed and hurt those close to me, but my family loved and supported me in spite. I watched many friends go away, but some who knew another me stayed. I know above all that I am not my crime.

    This is part of a grace for me which I know Mr Loshkarn could not have felt.

    I’ve paid my legal dues, probably not enough for most, but the pain and punishment continue. Because I am on the SOR everyone can know. I know some even make it part of their day to check the list to see who’s new and fallen in the neighborhood. It is right up there with their morning paper and coffee. I felt their wrath the instant I returned home.

    It will all stay with me forever, not the least in my dreams every night and quiet moments in the day. There is no prison time as bad as this and people like me don’t do well in jails.

    I mourn for young Mr Loshkarn who couldn’t find life, even his own, more precious than anything in the world. I have not any creed or religion but take strength from the lessons that come everyday, to some unknown purpose. Somedays it’s in the contemplation of the inhumanity I experience and see others experience for much less than I have done. Other days it’s discovering the flowers of beautiful minds and hearts among the many, too many weeds.

    But I too know for sure there is no hope of prevention of abuse at hand. The cycle will not be broken. There is just the futility of watching the same ineffective things be done only ever more forcefully than before. It’s reminiscent of the pathetic tendency to just speak our language louder to non-speakers believing with conviction that will make them understand. My but aren’t we a self-righteous nation of fools.

    Yes I am angry, and sad. But I still live, for now.

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