JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Harvey Lee Duncan, now 62 years old, wrote us a letter from prison asking us to interview him because he says he wants to help parents better protect their children from predators.
While a lot of what Duncan said was very difficult to hear, it's important for parents to hear to help understand what's going on inside the mind of a sexual predator in the hopes of saving children from sexual abuse.
Duncan says he molested five girls in 1995 in Mandarin and Riverside. He says he started doing inappropriate things with young girls very shortly after he got married. He says first, he molested two family members. Next, he says it was three young sisters who were also friends of the family.
Duncan says his wife had no idea what he was doing and that earning the children's trust was easy. "If they believe that you will listen to them and talk to them they start asking you questions and eventually they start bringing up questions about the body and sex that they are afraid to talk to their parents and others about. That's really how it got started."
Duncan goes on to say young girls are emotionally needy. He says parents make a big mistake not being open with them about their bodies and about sex –- something he says predators take advantage of.
He says the girls' parents never suspected him.
Asked if the parents of the girls that he molested in Riverside found it odd that he was spending time with them, he said: "No, they seemed to like it. They let them stay over at our house sometimes. When we went to visit, when we went home, the kids would want to come with us."
To protect children who are the victim of abuse, their identities are blacked out of police reports, so we don't have any way of knowing what their parents thought of Duncan at the time. We can only assume they didn't consider him a threat, perhaps because Duncan was married to the same woman for 30 years, they had a son and Duncan had a job. He worked as an electrician.
Asked how he was able to manipulate these children into not telling their parents about what was happening to them, Duncan said: "To tell you the truth, I never said one time don't say anything about it. I actually stressed being honest.... I always told them to tell the truth, many times."
The secret was kept for nearly two years. What Duncan told us next will sound like twisted rationalizing by a perverted mind. We want you to know what he told us because it illustrates how effective pedophiles can be at manipulating children. Duncan suggests the girls liked what was happening to them.
"I told them as long as I hear good reports from your parents that you are doing well at home and well at school, then I would let them participate in what we were doing."
That seemed shocking, to use the abuse as a reward.
"That's just the way I did things," Duncan said. "I'm not saying it's right, wrong or otherwise. I'm just saying that's the way it had worked."
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Duncan says something else parents need to know about predators. When he was molesting girls, he says he could not stop.
"The fear of losing the social contact with people, who I could associate with, of losing that contact, is what prevented me from doing something.... I basically became one with them, not them with me, but me with them," says Duncan.
Duncan says he was picked on in school and isolated himself as a child, so he says he never felt like he could fit in with people his own age.
Things parents can take-away from this disturbing look into the mind of a sexual predator:
- If your child is going over to a neighbor's house, ask who else will be home and what do you know about them?
- Will your child ever be left alone with that person?
- Don't assume your child is safe from a predator just because he or she is with another sibling. Duncan says he molested the sisters when they were all together.
We talked with a local attorney who prosecutes child sex abuse cases and he says it's usually a relative, a family friend or a neighbor who commits this kind of crime. Rarely is it a complete stranger.
Duncan remains behind bars at the Union Correctional Facility in Raiford. He has served 10 years of his 25-year sentence.
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