My name is Valerie Henson (now changed to Valerie Aurora). Keith Henson (full name, Howard Keith Henson, born 1942) is my biological father and a serial child molester. He molested at least four girls between 1974 and 1981, including at least two of his own daughters. His youngest victim was 6 years old. None of the families involved, including ours, pressed charges, believing that a conviction was unlikely. Keith escaped without any punishment. Today, many people regard him as a hero for his opposition to the Church of Scientology.
For years, Keith's daughters have refused to speak on the record about our child-molesting father, primarily to protect each other from media attention. We are going on the record now.
Keith Henson (full name, Howard Keith Henson) has always been a figure of some minor notoriety. He has been associated with several semi-famous projects or movements, such as space colonization, memetics, and storing people's frozen heads. Keith is best known for his long-standing harassment of the Scientologists, a creepy, Borg-like cult.
What is less well-known about Keith Henson is that he molested at least four girls between the ages 6 and 12 from 1974 to 1981, including two of his own daughters. Our sister Gale finally told our mother that Keith had molested her in 1981. Two other girls came forward shortly afterwards; another kept her molestation secret out of fear until several years later. After Gale came forward, Keith confessed that he had molested the girls to his counselors and his wife, Carolyn Meinel. We are honestly not sure how many children Keith molested in total or if he stopped in 1981.
The results were all too common for cases of sexual abuse: the police were obviously skeptical, the law required family counseling before they could move to the next step in the prosecution, the other victims didn't want to testify in court, and Carolyn didn't want to prosecute Keith because she didn't want him killed in prison when they found out he was a child molester. In the end, no one pressed charges against Keith. Carolyn divorced Keith, who immediately remarried to Arel Lucas. Despite being intimately familiar with the circumstances of Keith's divorce, Arel conceived and gave birth to another daughter shortly thereafter, our half-sister Amber. Our sister Gale took responsibility for protecting Amber, and forced Keith and Arel to allow her to visit and quiz Amber on a regular basis by threatening to prosecute Keith if they denied her access to Amber.
Keith Henson would have faded from the public eye long ago but for one reason: his campaign against the Church of Scientology. Keith devoted several years of his life to annoying the Scientologists, picketing isolated Scientology compounds, biting the arms of people, and posting prolificly on Usenet. Although Keith's activities had little visible effect, the Scientologists took Keith seriously and began investigating him.
The Scientologists quickly found court documents in which Carolyn Meinel explicitly accused Keith Henson of molesting their daughters. They also found people who went on the record saying that Carolyn had divorced Keith for molesting their daughters. Triumphantly, the Scientologists publicized their findings - and were universally disbelieved.
At present, many people believe that Keith Henson is a heroic freedom fighter wrongfully persecuted by the Scientologists. I can't blame them. The Scientologists had strong motivation to discredit Keith and might have made up evidence in their desperation, and Keith Henson's two wives and five daughters have never made any conclusive public statement about his child molesting. Most famously, Keith's first wife, Carolyn Meinel, posted to Usenet an ambiguous message which implied (but did not actually state) that the Scientologists were lying about Keith's child molestation. For many years, Keith and Carolyn's daughters refused to go on the record about Keith in any way. Few people noticed our silence; even fewer suspected the true cause of it.
Update: Now that this page has gone public, the Scientologists are, predictably, trying to "help" by piling on "support." We ask that you not allow their actions to taint ours. We detest the Scientologists and have always refused to work with them.
We, Keith Henson and Carolyn Meinel's daughters, refused to speak on the record about Keith Henson's child molesting habits for many years - for all the usual reasons and then some. Like most rape, incest, and molestation victims, the shame would fall mostly on us rather than the criminal. None of us wanted to be "The daughter of Keith Henson, child molester" on the national news. Our half-sister, Keith and Arel's daughter Amber Henson, was happily living a normal childhood, thanks to Gale's policing of Keith, and would be hurt far more than Keith if we talked. To make matters far, far worse, we had to choose between covering up for our child-molesting father and helping the Church of Scientology - either way, we'd be helping criminals. The Scientologists sent investigators to our houses on a regular basis, trying to convince us to give us anything that they could use against Keith. In the end, we kept silent mostly to protect our half-sister Amber. We all gave the Scientologists the same advice: If you really want to hurt Keith, ignore him.
The Scientologists eventually got Keith Henson convicted for "interfering with a religion." Through Keith's deliberate actions, he became a fugitive for many years and could not appear in public. During that time, I became active and even well-known in computer-related professional and social circles - the same circles where Keith was well-known and respected. When people asked me if I was Keith Henson's daughter, I told them that I didn't speak to him and didn't want to talk about him and left it at that.
Keith eventually served his trivial prison sentence and is now out on probation and back in the science fiction/electronic freedom/hacker scene, the same group of people who make up a large part of my professional and social network. In November of 2007, I checked in to a professional conference and saw my name on the roster, right below his. I wanted to vomit, or scream, or both. I left the conference immediately.
I can't simply avoid Keith any longer. After the incident at the conference, I asked my sisters if they would support me going public about Keith. They agreed, and my sister Gale (Keith's first victim that we know of) also decided to go on the record. We no longer care if we benefit the Scientologists; we just hope they don't continue to unwittingly support Keith by attacking him.
I am deeply sorry that we covered up for Keith for so long, but I still think it was worth it for allowing Amber to grow up as normally as possible.
Keith Henson's two wives, Carolyn Meinel and Arel Lucas, have supported Keith but have not, to my knowledge, ever directly denied that Keith molested children.
Keith's first wife, Carolyn Meinel, divorced Keith in 1982 specifically for molesting her daughters. The first documented testimony from her that I'm aware of is an affadavit filed in support of a later legal action against Keith Henson:
Arizona Superior Court, Pima County NO. D-36084 AFFIDAVIT TO BE SIGNED BY SPOUSE ON ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE Petitioner CAROLYN MEINEL HENSON Respondent HOWARD KEITH HENSON STATE OF ARIZONA ) ) ss. County of Pima ) CAROLYN MEINEL HENSON, being first duly sworn, makes the following answers and statements of fact as material evidence: [...] TOTAL MONTHLY EXPENSES $955 + MEDICAL **$6,000 since May 1981 includes Gale's operation and four-day hospital stay; Valerie and Virginia for pulmonary problems and psychological counseling for Gale and [redacted] as a result of father's sexual molestation of them.
Some of Keith's supporters have dismissed this evidence with the facile argument that women often falsely accuse their husbands of child molestation during divorce in order to get more money and assets in the divorce settlement. This argument is incredibly offensive in the general case, and completely inapplicable in this specific case. Keith Henson did not then and does not now have any assets to take; he declared bankruptcy during the Scientology court case. Even the house we lived in at the time of the divorce was nearly worthless, as it was undermined by tunnels and not safe to live in. The idea that Carolyn named her daughters as victims of child molestation in public court papers only to extort money from Keith doesn't even pass the laugh test.Carolyn later semi-defended Keith in a 1997 Usenet post, often summarized as as "Keith Henson's ex-wife denies that he was a child molester." What Carolyn actually wrote was carefully crafted to imply that Keith was not a child molester - without actually denying it. Here is her 1997 alt.religion.scientology posting:
I hope none of you who have been reading these "Who is Keith Henson" posts assume they are true. As his ex-wife, perhaps I know the real story. In particular, I refer to the stuff about Dave Scheer testifying about child molestation. For starters, why the heck would Dave Scheer get entangled in our divorce? Even if Scheer did get involved, why would he know anything about child molestation? All Scheer could contribute is hearsay, which does not belong in a legal document. Scientologists make poor liars. Sheesh, guys, if this Dianetics stuff is so good, you would at least find ways to make yourselves look credible.
Carolyn says she hopes you don't assume the stories are true - not that they aren't true. She says that maybe she knows the real story - but doesn't actually tell it. She asks why Dave Scheer would get involved in their divorce - but doesn't answer why. She asks why, if he did get involved, he would know anything - but doesn't answer that either. She says that if he did know anything, it was hearsay and not legal - but not that it wasn't true. She says Scientologists are poor liars - but doesn't say they are lying about Keith. Finally, she says that the Scientologists don't look credible - but doesn't say they aren't credible in this case. Nowhere does Carolyn actually say that Keith Henson is not a child molester.
If Carolyn knows that Keith is a child molester, then why did she post this half-defense to Usenet? I confronted her about it in 2007 after her post was interpreted yet again as a defense of Keith. (This particular quote was "His ex-wife laughed that one off and has denied the accusation as fervently as he has.") From her email reply to me (full text here):
I did not find that story at that link and I did not EVER laugh off the incest story. I can only control what I do say, not what anonymous people say I said. If you can find the correct link, I will quietly contact the moderator (if one exists) in private to deny the story and to say that I support my daughters. This is how I got that Wikipedia story removed. I also called a TV reporter on the story (Brandon Kline, KPNX Channel 12, (602) 694-1045) and told him that I support my daughters and don't support Keith's side of the story. Are you angry over my pointing out that David Scheer's allegation in court that Keith molested all four of his kids was hearsay? I did that to protect you and Virginia because the Scientologists were exploiting Scheer's allegation and I didn't thinlk you wanted that false story about you going around. Please remember there is a stigma against rape survivors and that was my concern for you. At the time of his testimony, Scheer was battling to keep Keith from taking over Analog Precision and in his anger he went from fact to guesses. There was no evidence that Keith sexually abused either of you. I never allowed him access to you after April of 1981, immediately upon Gale telling me what had been going on. You were both babies. Everyone who has accused Keith of sexual abuse was at least eight years old when he did it, so I doubt that he ever sexually abused babies, and the sexual abuse counselors with whom I worked did not see any possibility. Because I respect Gale's and [redacted]'s wishes, when I was contacted by the prosecutor in Keith's trial in Riverside, CA, I refused to agree to testify about Keith being dangerous. Once I was on the witness stand, the Scientologist's lawyers could have grilled me about the incest and Keith's threats. Gale and [redacted] did not wish to be the target of the resulting media circus -- totally understandable.
In summary, Carolyn's explanation of why she semi-defended Keith Henson is that she was trying to protect any of her daughters from being publicly identified as Keith's victims, regardless of whether they actually were his victims. It was merely an unfortunate side effect that she had to defend Keith to do it. In contrast, when I asked her about her Usenet post back in 1997 after having heard rumors but not actually reading it, she told me that she was proud of Keith for fighting the Scientologists.
This is not the first time that Carolyn stayed loyal to a husband in the face of his abuse of their children. When Carolyn learned that her second husband, John Bosma, had attempted to molest me, for several months afterwards she told me that she would stay married to him and start living with him again once all her daughters left home because the pastor of our church insisted that it was her duty to remain married to her husband no matter what. It was many months before she changed her mind.
Alone, Carolyn does not make a reliable or consistent witness. However, when it comes to Keith molesting children, Carolyn's testimony about Keith is in agreement with what several other people say, and supported by the available documentation. She has accused Keith of child molestation multiple times and only once publicly cast doubt on (but did not deny) the accusations. In no case can Carolyn's actions be described as defending Keith, or "laughing off the accusations."
Keith's second wife, Arel Lucas, also defends him despite knowing his history of child molestation. Arel had been living with our family for several years as Keith's de facto second wife in a bigamous relationship when Carolyn found out Keith was molesting children. After the divorce, Arel, with full knowledge of the circumstances, married Keith and raised a daughter with him. Our best clue as to why Arel married, supported, and defends Keith while knowing that he molested his previous daughters is a comment she made to Gale. Arel told Gale that it was natural for little girls to have sexual feelings for their fathers, and if Keith molested her, it's because Gale (6 years old at the time) wanted it.
Arel stands by Keith and ridicules the accusations of child molestation, but seldom outright denies them either. In this example, Arel says, "If he should be returned to California and jailed here, it could be a death sentence, since the $cientologists have been doing their best to hang a 'child molester' jacket on him for years now." If Arel were to make a statement, the only relevant testimony that she can give is that she knew that Carolyn divorced Keith for molesting their daughters, and that Gale threatened to prosecute Keith for his molestation of her if Arel and Keith did not allow her to visit Amber on a regular basis. As far as we can tell, Arel believes that Keith molested his daughters but that it was consensual (!) and Keith did not do anything wrong.
After the release of this page, Keith Henson and Arel have both declined to comment with the claim that the terms of Keith's probation, which basically prevent him from harassing or talking about the Church of Scientology, prevent him from directly addressing his daughters' accusations of child molestation. This is obviously ridiculous. The terms of the probation are intended to keep Keith from harassing the Scientologists, not from responding to his daughters. I doubt it would even be constitutional to prevent someone from doing so. It does fit exactly with their pattern of evasion whenever the question comes up - search alt.religion.scientology and try to find either of them responding directly.
As a child, the whole Keith-is-a-child-molester thing seemed very simple to me: Keith is a bad person and I should stay away from him. But my sisters and I all had to make terrible choices, choices that no one should ever have to make, and we are still making them. To start with, Gale had to choose between getting impregnated by her father and breaking up her parents' marriage - at the age of 12. To protect our half-sister Amber, Gale had to threaten to prosecute Keith, but not actually do it because even if Keith was convicted, Gale would be cut off from all contact with Amber for at least a year. Gale then had to periodically live in the same house with Keith for months on end.
In large part, most of our compromises resulted from the fact that siblings have almost no legal rights with regard to each other, while the people who did have legal rights - our parents - were negligent at best and criminal at worst. After my older sisters both ran away from home, driven away by our mother and her new husband, they were cut off from contact from my little sister, Virginia, and me. Our sisters were afraid for our safety (correctly, as it turns out) but couldn't see us in person because our mother threatened to call the police if they came near us. Our sisters had to work with Keith, who did have some rights, to try to contact us (which failed in the end). As a child, I had to choose between risking Carolyn losing custody of me to Keith, a known child molester, and being legally adopted by my stepfather, John Bosma, who had only tried to molest me. Gale invited Amber to our wedding, and Keith and Arel invited themselves. She had to choose between excluding Amber and allowing her father to be at her wedding (fortunately, he spent most of his time bending other guests' ears about Scientology). An ongoing choice we had to make was between helping the Scientologists by going on the record about Keith, and helping Keith by staying silent. We had to make this choice every time the investigators knocked on our doors, literally.
From the outside, it looks very simple - father molests children, father goes to jail, family never sees him again - and any deviation from this is inexplicable. From the inside, it's complicated, and torturous, and horrifying. We were children, and we loved each other, and our parents did not. No one should ever have to make these choices, but we didn't have that option.
Gale Grant (formerly Henson), Carolyn Meinel, and I (Valerie Henson) are willing to speak on the record, and give whatever other help we can to uncover Keith's history of child molestation. We still won't work directly with the Scientologists for the simple reason that no one will believe what they say.
Gale Grant (formerly Gale Henson) was Keith's first victim (that we know of). She is willing to talk to reporters, give dates, places, and names, and help dig up records. Her story, below, of Keith's molestation of her and three other children is deeply upsetting; don't read it unless you absolutely have to.
Gale Grant's description of Keith Henson's child molestation (definitely not work-safe)
Gale can be contacted at galegrant at earthlink dot net.
Carolyn Meinel heard Gale's story and Keith's confession, and knows all the details of the aborted police case and her divorce from Keith. In her 2007 email to me, Carolyn offered to help dig up evidence against Keith Henson. From the email:
If you should decide to encourage Gale or [redacted] to finally take action to put Keith in prison for what he did to them, I can help by hunting up contact information of the two counselors who heard Keith's confession -- Dr. Don Eckerstorm [sic; Eckerstrom] and Cindy Noshay. Presumably some public records also remain.
Note that prosecuting Keith is impossible because the statue of limitations has run out. The last time a Scientologist-hired investigator showed up at my house, he didn't care about Keith's 1974 - 1981 child molestation, he only wanted to know if we had any suspicion that Keith had molested children more recently.
I (Valerie Henson) was only a few months shy of my fourth birthday when Carolyn divorced Keith. I do have memories of living with Keith, and of neglect and abuse on both his and Carolyn's part, but I do not remember him molesting me. Various doctors over the years have noted physical evidence suggestive of molestation, but nothing conclusive. I can't give first-hand testimony about Keith's child molestation; I can only assemble my sisters' testimony and the documentation related to the case. I too am willing to talk to reporters, give dates, places, and names, and help dig up records.
I can be contacted at valerie dot aurora at gmail dot com. If you convince me that you are neither a stalker or a Scientologists, I will talk to you over the phone.
Painfully, but not surprisingly, our half-sister Amber Henson has decided that she cannot and will not believe that her father molested her half-sisters. She still gives interviews defending and supporting Keith, to our sorrow and frustration. This willful blindness is unfortunately common with allegations of incest; it's hard to believe that someone you love and trust as much as your father could commit such terrible crimes. It's often much easier to believe that your sisters (or cousins or aunts) are lying.
A note on false memory syndrome: A reasonable person might question whether Keith Henson's accusers are suffering from false memory syndrome - remembering things that did not happen in order to satisfy some other need. Certainly, sometimes people remember things that did not happen. The cases of repressed or recovered memories which turned out to be debunked by third-party evidence often have similar elements: strong pressure from a therapist or authority figure on a young child to tell them the story they want to hear, or in adults, a long slow process of elucidation beginning with a fragment of a memory, followed by recovering more and more details over a period of months or years. Note that cases of actual abuse have also been found this way, but false memories can only be created via a long process of confabulation and manufacture of detail.
In Keith Henson's case, none of his victims ever forgot what he did to them, beginning from the moment he molested them and continuing uninterrupted until today. No counselor cajoled a confession out of 12 year old Gale, certainly not our mother, who was completely oblivious. No therapist began drawing out fantasies from them 30 years later. In our case, even today no one wants to hear our stories and there is no way we are getting attention or satisfaction out of making them up. When Gale and Carolyn went to the police, they were far from encouraging; Gale says they didn't bother to hide their disbelief. Like most victims, Gale emphatically did not want to tell anyone about her molestation and only did it out of fear of pregnancy. Our other sister kept silent until she was sure she couldn't be hurt by retaliation - but never forgot. Read Gale's story, if you haven't already, and see if it resembles any other case of false memories you've ever heard of:
Gale Grant's description of Keith Henson's child molestation (definitely not work-safe)
My own experience with memories of trauma is similar. My stepfather John Bosma tried to molest me when I was 10 years, and I remember clearly his entire attempt to molest me and always have - where we were (parked on the edge of the Grand Canyon), what the inside of the car looked like (our nasty old blue Volvo), what my sister was doing outside (using the dirty public park bathroom), and some of the exact phrases we said. John: "My heart is beating like a rabbit's", Val: "I've always thought of you as a father!" - trying to flatter, distract, and make him feel guilty - successfully. After I talked him out of it and into driving all night to get home without stopping at a hotel, I felt only great relief - and never even thought about telling Carolyn because she had never protected me against John before. But years later, when John told their marriage counselor that he had molested me and my mother asked me about it, I laughed and said, scornfully, "No, he didn't, he only tried!" The memory was there and ready instantaneously, because it had actually happened.
Ironically, one of the most accurate descriptions of Keith Henson's behavior over the past few decades comes from the Scientologists, in their summary of Keith Henson, reproduced in a Usenet posting (Message-ID: email@example.com). Leaving aside the obvious Scientology propaganda, their description of Keith Henson's motivations and actions is painfully accurate. This quote is particularly insightful:
According to Henson's neighbors who lived in Tucson near Henson, he and his then wife were into drugs and were neglectful of their children [...] Henson has always been more interested in seeing his name in print than he is in trying to do something constructive and worthwhile in his life.
Keith can claim absolutely no credit for any of the achievements of his daughters. The most he can claim is that he harmed some of us less than others. Everything we accomplish or achieve is in spite of him.
Finally, a notification for the benefit of Keith Henson and his supporters: From now on, I will make every effort I can to make the truth about Keith Henson known. In particular, if I see Keith Henson in public, I will make sure everyone around us knows that he is a child molester and that I have the evidence to show it. If you don't want this to happen in your bailiwick, tell Keith that he isn't welcome.
|January 10, 2008: Minor revisions after receiving documentation about Keith Henson's divorce, child support, and custody disputes. Added "Compromises" section. Added explanation about anonymity of Keith's victims other than Gale. Added explanation that Keith's terms of probation don't affect his ability to respond to his daughters. Changed "parole" to "probation" (IANAL).|
|January 7, 2008: Barbara Graham, a well known member of the anti-Scientology movement and one of Keith Henson and Arel Lucas's close friends, complained to my university's webmaster, who decided the page was not in compliance with their academic mission. Barbara, who usually signs her Usenet posts "barb Chaplain, ARSCCwdne", dismissed Gale's story of about how Keith began molesting her with, and I quote, "Oh please, you moron. Who the fuck needs masturbation lessons? Outside of your dead fat ghod L. Ron Hubbard, that is..."|
|Currently hosted by Dreamhost at http://valerieaurora.org.|