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.
The 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”
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.
What Once a Boy said. Compassion is the only way out of this problem.
…..a prison cell isn’t really working. No one seems to get better. Time to try something different.
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
I would never hump a puppy. Never.
Ergo playing Grand Theft Auto or whatever its called must also be a crime…
“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.
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.
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.
“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 ….”
My suggestion, and I know it’s tough, is to ignore the above comment and commenter. Just a suggestion.
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