Skip to comments.San Diego Swings: Van Dam trial brings "swinging" into the spotlight!
Posted on 08/03/2002 6:32:12 AM PDT by FresnoDA
San Diego Swings
The murder of little Danielle van Dam brought swinging into the spotlight. Log on to the World Wide Web, type in San Diego and swingers on the Yahoo search, and you get 6,160 hits. Thats more than San Diego in combination with hiking trails (2,570), car clubs (772) or pet lovers (359)though not as many as golfers (7,430) or Republicans (18,900).
By Thomas K. Arnold
Club Paradise, according to its Web site, is situated in the back hills of the El Cajon Valley, nestled in a secluded, yet easy to access area. The facility offers a high-class, home-party style environment and boasts 5,000 square feet of fun, including a swimming pool, spa and backyard fire pit to socialize with your new friends while warming your erogenous zones.
Guests are welcome to bring some goodies (besides your wife)and once their erogenous zones are sufficiently warmed, they may choose from plenty of play areas ... most prefer the living room floor or kitchen, but [private] rooms are always available.
Club CB is an on-line club providing a safe meeting place for sensuous consenting adults. Member parties promise the hottest couples, the best facilities, very tasty buffet dinners, scrumptious desserts and a staff dedicated to ensuring your experience is clean, fun and safe.
Club CB party organizers boast they specialize in stirring up erotic sensations and placing our members in the ideal environment to meet and expand friendships with the most exciting people in San Diego County ... all while raising funds for local charity foundations contributing to the research for multiple sclerosis and other debilitating diseases.
Welcome to the wonderfuland apparently charitableworld of swinging, San Diego style.
Tony Lanzaratta, a retired Los Angeles police officer who, as executive director of NASCA International, probably has a better handle on swinging than anyone else in the country, stops short of saying San Diego is a hotbed for what he calls play couples.
Its impossible to chart, Lanzaratta says. But I travel a lot, and I know one thing: I meet a lot of people from San Diego.
He says there are half a dozen organized swing clubs in San Diego County, some in private homes and some in commercial buildings. None is openly marked. San Diego is a very conservative city, he says, so you just cant do that.
But even the local presence of half a dozen organized swing clubsmost of them with Web sites rivaling those of ritzy desert resortsis no barometer for how many San Diegans actually participate in what Lanzaratta and other swingers call the lifestyle. According to the official NASCA Web site, that lifestyle is defined as follows:
Swinging is social and sexual intercourse with someone other than your mate, boyfriend or girlfriend, excepting the traditional one-on-one dating. It may be defined as recreational social sex. The activity may occur at a swing party, a couple-to-couple encounter, a liaison or with a third person in a threesome. Though single men and women are involved, it is primarily an activity of couples.
A lot of people just have little neighborhood get-togethers in their homes, five or six couples who go for it, Lanzaratta says. The thing is, people are not card-carrying swingers; they dont necessarily have to belong to clubs or even frequent parties. People dont call up and say, Were with the Rand Corporation; are you swingers? So many people keep it hidden.
NASCA originally stood for North American Swing Club Association, but now goes solely by its acronym. Thats because membership in the loosely knit, Orange Countybased confederation of swing clubs now extends beyond North Americaand Lanzaratta and other practitioners of the lifestyle believe the term swing has become dated.
Swinging is not really a favored term anymore, Lanzaratta says. Swinging kind of connotes 1950s wife-swapping crap. It has little to do with that, and thats why lifestyle organizations prefer to use the term play couple.
Call it what you willswinging is big news these days, and all because of a vivacious, bright-eyed little girl who was snatched from her home, brutally murdered and then dumped in East County.
The Danielle van Dam kidnapping and murder case has gripped San Diegans from the time the 7-year-old was first discovered to be missing from her Sabre Springs home in early February. It has also pushed into the spotlightor shoved under the microscopewhat had previously been one of San Diegos salacious little secrets: the thriving local swinging scene in which the dead girls parents, Brenda and Damon van Dam, were involved.
From the time KFMB Radio talk-show host Rick Roberts first brought up rumors of the van Dams mate-swapping lifestyle, theres been a collective finger-wagging of disapprovaland also a collective curiosity about the phenomenon.
During the murder trial of David Westerfield, defense attorney Steven Feldman tried to convince jurors that swinging may have opened the van Dams doorsfiguratively and literallyto all sorts of perverts who could have made off with and later killed Danielle. Early in the trial, he even tried to question Brenda van Dam about what he called sex parties, but Judge William Mudd stopped the grieving mother from answering broad questions about her sex life because he deemed them irrelevant.
No wonder, then, that local swingers are becoming increasingly gun-shy.
It seems that the San Diego media are finally waking up to alternative lifestyles about 50 years late and for all the wrong reasons, i.e., the van Dams, Jay, who operates the Free Body, Mind & Spirit Society, one of San Diegos swing clubs, wrote in an e-mail, replying to a query. Our membership is composed of mostly late arrivals from the rest of the world. They are quite aware that they now reside in the epicenter of geekocracy and therefore do not wish any publicity. Nobody likes to find burning crosses on their front lawns.
Lanzaratta, too, decries the spotlight directed toward the San Diego swinging scene by the van Dam case. Its too bad there was this sudden interest in the lifestyle because a crime was committed, he says. The lifestyle, from what Ive seen and heard, has nothing to do with the crime. These are everyday couples, and the suspect in this case is not a couple, is he? Hes a single male. So where is this thing coming from? Im sure the defense is going to use this [the van Dams connection to swinging] and say they are unfit parents and all that B.S., but thats a bunch of crap. Theyre just trying to latch onto anything at all. I cant fault the attorneys, because thats their job, but for everybody else to jump on the bandwagon is just crazy.
Lanzarattas indignation underscores the basic philosophy that seems to be embraced by most swingers: What they are doing is perfectly normaland besides, what goes on behind closed doors between two (or more) consenting adults is nobodys damn business.
Eighty percent of the human world population is polygamous, so maybe the monogamists are freaks, claims Jay. We swingers all seem to feel completely healthy.
(Jays comments arent entirely accurate. He might be referring to the legality of polygamy, not the practice. According to the polygamypage.info Web site, In most of the world polygamy is an acceptable social practice and is never a crime. In much of the Western world, including Britain and most of the United States, the practice of polygamy is not illegal. As long as the marriages are not registered with the state, there is no offense, although there is also hardly any legal recognition of the relationship. In a few states, the bigamy law is used together with a common-law marriage law to define polygamy as illegal. These laws also tend to make same-sex partnerships and cohabitation by unmarried couples illegal as well.)
From the NASCA International Web site: People who swing come from all economic levels. Every job classification, all races and nationalities are represented, though the majority are Caucasian, middle to upper-middle socio-economic class, and married. Swingers ... tend to be adventuresome, emotionally mature and have excellent relationships with their mates and friends. ... Many single women have joined swing clubs, finding them a refreshing alternative to the traditional bar scene.
Lanzaratta, 52, a proud swinger for 14 years, says that definition really says it all. Sex is just part of the lifestyle, he maintains.
Its first and foremost social, with a capital S, he says. Now, what these people do after they meet other couples is between them, but 40 percent to 50 percent never take it to the next step, which is sex. Its a place to go to be social with like-minded people, but certainly not just to get laid.
Typical swingers, Lanzaratta says, tend to be baby boomer couples in their 40s or 50s with time and money to travel. The annual Lifestyles convention, which used to be here in San Diego but is now held in Las Vegas or Reno, draws upwards of 6,000 attendees each year, he says.
They are factory workers and firemen and store clerks and bankers and doctors and newscasters, Lanzaratta says. Its a total cross-section of whatever middle America or normal America is. Its couples looking for a social outlet. Theyre tired of theater and dinner and $100 nightclubs. They want to go to clubs where they can meet and socialize with nice couples, with no lecherous singles stuff or pickup scene. Its not a meat market; people who go to our clubs have no requirement to do anything.
Of course, if they do choose to do anything of a sexual nature, he says, theyve got privacy, anonymity and the company of other couples.
Sex is certainly a big part of it, Lanzaratta concedes, but its not the only thing.
Sampling of classified advertising on the Internet indicates that sex may be a bigger part of the lifestyle for some swingers than the ones with whom Lanzaratta is familiar. Here are some ads from San Diego swingers pulled off www.e-MacDaddy.com, a portal for adult sites:
From Dan: Hi, Im a good-looking and athletic male, looking to be a sex toy. I am putting myself out [for] any kind of adventure. 3somes or anything, Im game. Im disease and drug free and expect the same.
From Twoofus: Me and my wife are looking for a couple to swing with or a party to go to. Is there a good place to just sleep with many people at once? Any info would be helpful or another young attractive couple like ourselves that would be interested would be great.
From Shon: Wife and I are looking for a partner to join up for a night. Male or female. If male wifey says must be big. ... Females must be in shape, nice body. No skinny model chicks!
From SD and NW: We have been in the San Diego area a little over a year and we are interested in making new friends. We are interested in the swinger lifestyle. We are willing and able to try anything once and we would like to experience this lifestyle. We are a married (wife is bi) couple with no children. We are both clean and in good health. If we sound interesting to you, please e-mail us and we would like to meet you for dinner or just a coffee out. PLEASE NO BI OR GAY MEN.
So how does one go about joining a swing club? Lanzaratta says that regardless of whether a lifestyle club has a physical headquarters or consists of parties held in various places, the mechanism is the same. It all starts with an interview.
You contact them via phone or e-mail and then they talk to you, talk to the [partner], have you come into an office and meet you in person, he explains. They sit you both down and interview you to make sure both of you are on board with this. There have been instances in which the guy dupes the woman into doing this, and no one wants to have any problems.
Once the prospective swingers pass the interview hurdle, they pay an initial membership fee$130 is standard, and that includes the first partyand then are given a date, time and location of the next gathering. Most San Diego swing clubs hold get-togethers for couples every weekend, or every other weekend. Some are also open on Wednesday night, hump nightno pun intended, Lanzaratta says with a laugh.
Most parties are for couples only, but sometimes single men or single women are allowed intypically on Friday nights, when the actions a bit slower than on Saturday nights. The membership fees allow these functions to be private. If they were open to the public, Lanzaratta says, there could be problems.
Once at a party, couples pay a cover charge of $50 to $60. That fee buys them not just admission but also munchies.
Most of the nicer clubs have a nice buffet, Lanzaratta says. After dinner, you get up and sit somewhere and strike up a conversation with somebody else, he says. Most clubs have deejays playing music, so you get up and dance and mingle and drink a little to get more relaxed.
And from there, well, use your imagination. If its an on-premise club, theres an area for sex, Lanzaratta says. It could be a back room, it could be a bedroomthat varies greatly, too. Some couples will only be with another couple if theyre both there; others want to be separate. The orgy scene is not really that prevalentits usually two couples, three couples max. And then there are situations in which the man doesnt want to do anythinghe wants his wife or girlfriend to be with someone else.
Robin C. (not her real name) is a young North County mother who briefly tried the swinger lifestyle several years ago, before she and her husband had children. Speaking through an intermediaryshes deathly afraid of being identifiedRobin says she was enticed to try the lifestyle by her husband. After much prodding, she relented. They hooked up with another couple her husband knew and had sex with one another.
I knew it was wrong, but I did it, she says. Robin and her husband soon opted out of the lifestyle, but the memories are still painful. What were we thinking? she asks. This just isnt normal.
Lanzaratta isnt at all surprised at this story. He says the lifestyle is best suited to older couples who have been married for a while and who are on solid ground.
New relationships arent ready for something like this, he says. They have still got a lot to learn about each other. In fact, when we have a young couple come in, we give them some food for thought. We say, You guys might want to think about it for a while.
Young couples, Lanzaratta says, are also more likely to feel insecure, which can lead to jealousy and guilt.
Jealousy is pretty common in couples just starting out, he says. They need to separate love from sex. It [swinging] is recreation; its like going out and playing golf or tennis. And if they can keep it in that contextand if it is that for both partiesonly then are they ready. Sure, the first time there might be pangs of anxiety or jealousy, or Wait, you really enjoyed that; Ive never seen you like that.
But they need to discuss everything before they do it and after they do it, and make sure nothings hidden. If one partner is more gung-ho than the other, they need to take several steps back and regroup, and ask themselves, What are we trying to accomplish here?
Rich Hycer is a psychologist with a practice in Solana Beach. Since 1976, he has counseled hundreds of individuals and couples about relationships. He frowns on swinging just as he does on affairs, and says both can cause irreparable harm in a relationship.
In most cases, its really an avoidance of dealing with the issues, Hycer explains. Its much more important to look to ourselves and to whats going on between us and our partner than look outside the marriage.
He says people who are drawn to sex outside marriage, or outside a committed relationship, invariably are looking for a quick fix. They may feel their marriage or relationship isnt satisfying, but they dont want to go through the problems of divorce, he says. It may temporarily make people feel good, but it doesnt deal with the underlying issues that are going on in that marriage or relationship. It may be a short-term, feel-good experience, but it doesnt really solve issues and can become an avoidance.
Lanzaratta agrees that swinging can be detrimental for couples whose relationships are in trouble. But for those involved in solid, mutually satisfying relationships, he maintains, its just the oppositeit brings couples closer together and deepens their commitment. Its not the way to fix a bad marriage; its a way to enhance a good marriage.
What drives people to seek sex outside of marriage? Monogamy is unnatural, Lanzaratta sayswhich is why so many people have affairs, something he rails against.
He adds that, contrary to common thought, women are often the drivers behind a couples entry into the lifestyle.
A lot of women would like maybe to have an experience with another woman, but they have no idea how to go about it in regular society, Lanzaratta says. This is one place they can find it. This is very acceptable here. Its the covering up and the cheating that destroys a marriage, not the sex. This is something couples do together.
SAN DIEGO, June 4 (UPI) -- The murder trial of David Westerfield opened Tuesday with a San Diego prosecutor meticulously describing DNA evidence he said placed 7-year-old Danielle van Dam in Westerfield's motor home, and the defense zeroing in on the reputed promiscuity and evasiveness of Danielle's parents.
In opening statements in San Diego County Superior Court, defense attorney Stephen Feldman accused Damon and Brenda van Dam of not telling police that they had held an impromptu, sexually charged, after-hours party at their home after Mrs. Van Dam and two of her girlfriends closed down a nearby bar while under the influence of marijuana and alcohol and returned with two male patrons.
"This was the girls' night out to party ... and the girls were getting down ... they were rockin,'" Feldman told the enraptured jury of six men and six women.
Feldman, in a booming and excited voice, painted for the jury a lifestyle of pot-smoking, drinking and bi-sexual behavior on the part of the Van Dams.
"It took six interviews to get to the bottom of the Van Dam's story," said Feldman. "Why?"
Feldman is expected to use the Van Dam's lifestyle as a means of shifting the jury's focus from his client to the possibility that it was the Van Dams who unwittingly allowed the kidnapper into their home.
Danielle vanished sometime on the night of Feb. 1-2 and was found dead Feb. 27 along a rural road near El Cajon, about 30 miles from the Sabre Springs subdivision where the Van Dams and Westerfield lived two doors apart.
Westerfield faces charges of kidnapping and murder that could land him on death row if he is convicted. He is also charged with possession of child pornography, which prosecutors believe points to a motive for the horrendous crime.
Feldman, however, admitted to the jury that there were pornographic images on his client's computer, and said they were of "adult large-breasted women."
The 50-year-old divorcé allegedly slipped into the Van Dam's suburban home and carried Danielle off, vanishing with her in his motor home on Saturday morning at about the time the Van Dams were becoming aware that their daughter was not sleeping in, but in fact, had disappeared.
In his opening statement, Deputy District Attorney Jeff Dusek told the jury that there was ample physical evidence that proved Danielle had been inside Westerfield's motor home, including fingerprints, blood and long blond hair samples that were positively matched to the little girl through DNA testing.
Dusek said hairs found in the vehicle's sink and carpeting were tested and found to "either come from Brenda or one of her three kids" with an infinitesimal chance the samples came from someone outside the family.
He noted that the hairs were too short to be from either of the Van Dam's two sons and were not "chemically treated" like Mrs. Van Dam's faux blond locks.
"Someone was able to get into the house, and someone was able to carry her out of the house," Dusek said.
Feldman, however, argued that there was no evidence linking Westerfield to the crime. He said it would have been impossible for someone who had never been inside the Van Dam home, like Westerfield, to find his way inside, past the family dog and into the correct bedroom in the dark.
There was also, he said, no evidence of sexual assault on Danielle's decomposed remains and no cause of death had been confirmed.
Feldman also tantalized the jurors by telling them he would prove that there was no way that Westerfield could have dumped the body, and reminded them that Westerfield was under 24-hour surveillance by police and the news media starting a few days after Danielle disappeared.
His most concerted efforts, however, were aimed at Damon and Brenda van Dam.
In occasionally animated fashion, Feldman accused the Van Dams of being concerned with getting their story straight about the events of that night as they waited for police to respond to the call they placed to 911 after they discovered that Danielle was missing.
He alleged that the couple decided not to tell police that they had been drinking and smoking marijuana the night before, and that they had also had Brenda's drinking buddies in the house until after 3 a.m.
While they were at Dad's Restaurant on Friday night, Brenda van Dam and her two friends had danced and played pool with a number of male patrons, including Westerfield, who left the bar before the women.
"The women were dancing with each other and with other men in a manner designed to entice other men to come to the Van Dam residence that evening," Feldman stated.
The events of the night, which spilled into the early hours of Saturday, were apparently not something the Van Dams felt police should know, Feldman said, and was withheld by the couple during the initial investigation.
Police, the lawyer said, would not have even known about the extra people in the house had they noted spoken to Barbara Easton, one of Brenda's friends who had accompanied her to Dad's the night before.
"Barbara apparently hadn't sobered up enough to withhold the information about her relationship with the Van Dams," Feldman said. "She told the truth. She said, 'This is what happened that night. We were smoking dope. We were in bed together. We were hugging and kissing. This is what happened in the bar.'"
After the opening statements, the volunteer searchers testified about finding the decomposing body of Danielle.
"The body was laying down on her back with her head facing right," milkman Karsten Heinburger testified, "A portion (of the body) was missing; I thought the body was burned because I didn't know what a decomposing body looked like."
Heinburger said he recognized the shimmering of her earring in the hot sun.
Another volunteer, Chris Morgan, said he recognized that the body was that of Danielle.
"The teeth structure looked a lot like the gap in the photos of her," he said.
(Reported by Hil Anderson in Los Angeles)
By Rabbi Daniel Lapin, president of Toward Tradition, a Seattle-based national pro-family coalition of Jews and Christians.
little girl is dead, left under a clump of oak trees in the backcountry east of San Diego. Many have seen her murder as a warning, applicable equally to all mothers and fathers, that child abduction occurs by random chance.
On March 1, a day after the body of Danielle Van Dam was identified, the San Diego Union-Tribune published a heart-rending account of parents and school counselors trying to explain to children how it could happen that seven-year-old Danielle was kidnapped and killed. "Mommy," a boy was quoted as saying, "I don't want anyone to steal me." Counselors advised parents "to listen to their children's fears and acknowledge them."
The unstated assumption of much of the press coverage of the tragedy has been just this: Children are afraid, counselors and parents are stumbling to find something comforting to say, for what happened to Danielle could as easily happen to any of our children. Since the grim discovery was made, the nation has absorbed the message that Danielle's death was an event without explanation or reason.
Or was it?
On the morning of February 2, Danielle was found to be missing from her bed. The man who has been arrested for her murder is 50-year-old David Westerfield. Reportedly a child-porn enthusiast, he is a neighbor of Danielle's parents, Damon and Brenda van Dam. That night, says the accused kidnapper, he and Mrs. Van Dam had been dancing at a local bar. Mrs. Van Dam denies dancing with Westerfield, but she does admit being out till 2 A.M. without her husband. Nor do the Van Dams deny the stories reported in Newsweek, stories that say they are active "swingers" with a taste for wife swapping. The Van Dams say their lifestyle has "nothing to do" with Danielle's abduction.
Let us be clear. This horrible death can be blamed only on the man who kidnapped Danielle. But if the Van Dams are indeed "swingers," if Mrs. Van Dam was carousing without her husband until rather late, then these parents who deserve our sympathy no matter what their follies and vices may be will have something in common with the parents of many other abducted children, beyond the bare fact that they have lost a child. For these terrible events do not, for the most part, occur at random.
The National Institute for Missing and Exploited Children supplies the figures. In 1997, 24 percent of abducted children were abducted by strangers. About half, 49 percent, were kidnapped by family members, typically a divorced parent. Another 27 percent were kidnapped by an acquaintance. In other words, 73 percent of abducted children suffered that fate due in part to lifestyle choices their parents made: the choice to divorce, or to befriend sleazy characters. When the media, by ignoring these data, give the impression that child kidnapping could happen to any family, the wholesome no less than the unwholesome, we are once again being grievously misled.
This same notion that a certain kind of misfortune, in choosing victims, makes no distinction between wholesome and unwholesome animated the AIDS scare of the late 1980s. Back then, the media and AIDS activists asserted that the disease was about to erupt among the population of heterosexuals who are not abusers of intravenous drugs. It never did. AIDS, it's now acknowledged, is a killer with a marked preference for people who engage in particular activities: anal sex and needle sharing.
It does occasionally happen that an unknown drifter will invade the life of an upstanding family and steal and murder their child. That is what happened to 12-year-old Polly Klaas, abducted from a slumber party in Petaluma, California, in 1993. It is what happened in 1981 to six-year-old Adam Walsh, whose father, TV host John Walsh of America's Most Wanted, initiated a campaign to place photos of missing children on milk cartons and junk mail. That well-intended campaign has supported the misconception that children go missing by chance. The brief biographical sketch of the missing child never indicates the family dysfunction that likely contributed to making the abduction possible.
Random kidnapping is not what happened to Danielle van Dam, and the fact is worth considering. For our actions have consequences often unintended, often for future generations, often tragic and parents would do well to remember this.
A murder trial currently underway in Southern California is proving that alternative sexual lifestyles practiced by consenting adults in the privacy of their own homes can have unforeseen consequences for society at large and in this case, may have cost the life of a little girl.
Seven-year-old Danielle van Dam was discovered missing from her bedroom on Saturday morning, February 2, by her parents Brenda and Damon van Dam. On February 27, her badly decomposed and nude body, minus a foot and reproductive organs, was discovered along a rural roadside in East San Diego County. Because of the bodys condition, the medical examiner was unable to determine the exact cause of death or if little Danielle had been sexually molested.
David Westerfield, a 50-year-old self-employed design engineer and van Dam neighbor, has been charged with Danielles kidnapping and murder. He is also charged with possession of child pornography after police found thousands of pornographic images on his computer.
In opening arguments last week, prosecutor Jeff Dusek told jurors that DNA evidence found in Westerfields motor home and on a jacket would conclusively link him to Danielle, and that his possession of child pornography would supply the motive needed to convict him of her murder.
However, the prosecutions case against Westerfield has been complicated by the van Dams' debauched lifestyle. Westerfields defense attorney Steven Feldman argued that Brenda and Damon van Dams risqué behavior including their promiscuous sexual relationships and marijuana and alcohol use opened their home to several people who could have abducted and killed their daughter.
SWINGING, DRUGS, AND ROCK-AND-ROLL
On February 1, the night Danielle vanished from her home in the upscale San Diego suburb of Sabre Springs, her mother and two female friends, Denise Kemal and Barbara Easton, partied at a local bar. Before leaving for the bar, the three women drank alcohol and smoked marijuana in the van Dams' garage, where a door leading into the house had been altered so that Danielle and her two brothers, then aged 5 and 9, could be locked out from inside the house. Damon van Dam also admitted drinking and smoking marijuana with the women before they left.
Damon stayed home with the children while Brenda, Barbara and Denise went to nearby Dads Café. There, according to court testimony, they continued drinking, danced provocatively, and went outside at one point to smoke more marijuana supplied by another family friend, Rich Brady. They also ran into Westerfield, whom Brenda and Danielle had visited earlier in the week to sell Girl Scout cookies.
When the bar closed, the women described as toasted by that time came back to the van Dam home with Brady and another male friend, Keith Stone, who had expressed a sexual interest in Easton. Upon arriving home, Brenda van Dam noticed that an alarm light was in the house. She and Kemal searched the house and found that the side garage door was open. While they did so, Easton went upstairs to the van Dam bedroom, where she got into bed with Damon van Dam, rubbed his back, and they kissed.
Noticing Eastons absence, Brenda van Dam went upstairs and found her with her husband. She told the two to come downstairs to join the others. Shortly thereafter, all four guests left, and Brenda and Damon went to bed. Sometime after 3:00 a.m., Damon van Dam awoke to find another alarm light blinking. Going downstairs, he discovered the kitchen sliding glass door open. He closed it and went back to bed without checking on the children. Hours later, when Danielle failed to emerge from her bedroom, the van Dams called 911 to report her disappearance.
SWAPPING OR SEX PARTY?
Initially, the van Dams lied to police detectives about their sexual activities and acquaintances. However, on the stand last week, Brenda and Damon confirmed that many of the rumors about their lifestyle which had circulated throughout San Diego since their daughter's disappearance were true.
In addition to his activities the night of Danielles disappearance, Damon van Dam testified that, on at least three occasions, he had sex or tried to have sex with Easton in the presence of his wife. He and Brenda also admitted having had sex with Kemal and her husband, Andy, at a Halloween party in October 2000.
When asked by the prosecuting attorney if she had had a sex party at her home the night of Danielles disappearance, Brenda van Dam denied it, saying, There has never been a sex party at my house. She subsequently admitted to the defense attorney during cross-examination that she and Damon had engaged in sex with the Kemals during the Halloween party but said, I dont consider that to be a sex party. Kemal similarly downplayed the Halloween party, saying it was more like a swap and adding that the van Dam children were not in the home that night.
To date, the remaining van Dam children have not been removed from the home.
MOLES: SWINGING MOCKS MARRIAGE
According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, the Westerfield trial is one of the most closely scrutinized trials in San Diego County history. Its aspects, including the van Dams sexual proclivities, have generated a raucous public discourse ranging from pedophilia to proper parenting.
The case also turns a spotlight on organizations like the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF), based in Washington, D.C., that advocates alternative sexual expressions such as swinging (wife-swapping), polyamory (multiple simultaneous sexual relationships), and consensual sadomasochism. See the April 18, 2002 C&F Report article to learn more about the full agenda of the NCSF, which now works closely with major homosexual and transsexual activist groups such as the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) and GenderPAC.
Cindy Moles, director of Concerned Women for America of San Diego and Imperial Counties, has followed the van Dam case and said: This lifestyle cheapens marriage and reduces it to nothing more than a contract between two people who share a house and a checkbook. The swingers movement makes a total mockery out of fidelity and marriage, and threatens the children who would normally find safe haven in a home with parents who are faithful to each other.
Moles said it is interesting that just as special interest groups worked to normalize and legalize homosexuality, organizations like the NCSF are advocating for this appalling swinging lifestyle.
Child advocate Douglas Howard Pierce warned on his Millennium Childrens Fund Web site: America needs to be aware about another type of hidden swingers called family affair. This is when the children are involved in family group sexual encounters. This type of underground activity is prevalent via the Internet and chat rooms titled family affair.
LIFESTYLES HAVE CONSEQUENCES
San Diego pro-family attorney Bill Trask offered the following analysis of the van Dam story: In a criminal case, the defense has to produce enough evidence that causes the jury to doubt that the defendant committed the crime. One way of doing that is to show that there is another reasonable explanation in this case, that the van Dams opened their doors to a variety of unsavory characters.
I think what this case boils down to is a principle that is generally applicable regardless of what the lifestyle is, and that is that even though in our society we are free to engage in any lifestyle we want, it doesnt mean that were free from the consequences of that lifestyle, Trask added.
Allyson Smith, a regular contributor to Culture & Family Report, is a freelance reporter based in San Diego, California.
MAYBE, JUST MAYBE it was a total stranger who abducted seven-year-old Danielle van Dam from her San Diego home almost two weeks ago. Some thug could have picked her parents house at random and snuck in during the middle of the night, evading detection despite the home-security system. Somehow, the intruder could have found his way up to Danielles bedroom and removed her against her willagain, without being noticed.
Then again, maybe not.
The practical realities and crime statisticsless than 1 percent of the 800,000 children reported missing in the U.S. last year were abducted by someone unconnected to the familysuggest otherwise. Yet to judge by the initial coverage of Danielles disappearance on national TV, one would think her kidnapping had to be the exception to the rule.
The story, as first told on The Today Show, Good Morning America, The Early Show, Larry King Live, and America's Most Wanted, mirrored the account of Danielles parents, Brenda and Damon: Brenda was out partying that Friday night with friends at a San Diego nightspot. Damon put the kids to bed around 10. Brenda and her pals showed up around 2:30 and joined Damon for some pizza. The friends then left, and Brenda and Damon went to bed without first checking in on their daughter. They didnt discover that she was missing until 9 a.m. Saturday morning.
As usual, the story behind the story has been available mostly outside the establishment mediaon the Internet and talk radio.
Last Friday, San Diego talk-show host Rick Roberts presented his listeners with an alternative scenario for what might have happened. According to his "reliable" source "high in law enforcement," the van Dams are "swingers," and not in the dancing sense. They engage in "lots of wife-swapping," and reportedly did so in their garage the night Danielle disappeared. According to rumors circulating like mad on local talk shows and Internet bulletin boards, the van Dams lock their garage from the inside during their swingers parties to make sure Danielle and her two brothers dont stumble in on the festivities.
That would explain why the van Dams might have failed to notice an intruder breaking into their home and walking off with their child. It also provides a motive for neighbor David Westerfield, the only suspect thus far identified by San Diego police. According to the rumorswhich are, it should be noted, only thatWesterfield was a frustrated, would-be swinger who wanted to attend the van Dams soirees, but was denied admission for lack of a partner.
Theres more to the Westerfield angle: He saw Mrs. van Dam at the bar earlier in the evening, where, he claims, they danced (which she denies). He also high-tailed it out of San Diego and into the desert the next morning, which was enough to make police suspicious. So far, they have searched his home, where they found child pornography, and seized two of his vehicles, but they havent sought his arrest.
Its easy to speculate by connecting the dots: At the nightclub, Westerfield might have learned about the orgy planned later in the evening. Mindful that Danielles parents would be distracted, he could have used the opportunity to sneak into their home and take her, thereby satisfying his perverted sexual appetites and exacting revenge against the van Dams for not including him in theirs.
Its just a theory, and its rooted purely in conjecture, but its also the best lead available so far, which raises a worthwhile question: Why have so many in the press, the national TV media in particular, been reluctant to pursue it?
Surely its not just that the stories are unsubstantiated. That, after all, never kept the media from investigating claims of Nicole Brown Simpsons drug use, the basis of O.J. defenders absurd charge that drug lords were "the real killer."
For their part, the van Dams have yet to deny the innuendos categorically. Asked about the alleged swinging on a San Diego TV station, Mrs. van Dam replied that "rumors are rumors," and "they have absolutely nothing to do with this investigation." Newsweek, one of few national media outlets thats questioned the van Dams telling of events, quotes their spokeswoman, Sara Fraunces, as issuing the classic non-denial denial: The van Dams "do not lead a perfect lifestyle," she said, but thats immaterial to the matter at hand.
Fraunces no doubt chose her words carefully. In the last 35 years, the term "lifestyle" has become not only the code word for any sort of sexual deviance, but also the quick way to claim a certain immunity from inconvenient questioning about it. This is the same logic Bill Clinton and his defenders used to rationalize perjury and lying to the American public, because it was "just about sex." For Gary Condit, it justified denying his affair to Washington police. His lifestyle took precedence over their duty to find Chandra Levy, dead or alive.
Like the "right to privacy" (a term invoked almost exclusively in sexual matters), the "lifestyle" claim is an appeal to the sexual revolution and its promise of an uninhibited sex life free of all responsibilities and moral judgment. It supersedes even laws, justice, or, in the case of Danielle van Dam and others, human life. To many of the reporters covering the van Dam story, the couples right to privacy similarly transcends the need for a complete and thorough investigation of their daughters disappearance.
But the couples "personal life" is a legitimate subject of inquiry, and not just for investigators. With their appeals to the press and calls for volunteers to help look for Danielle, the van Dams have made the investigation into their daughters kidnapping a very public affair. Privacy concerns should keep neither police nor reporters from pursuing all viable leads certainly not when theres a chance Danielle may still be alive.
It may be, as Mrs. van Dam claims, that Danielles abduction has nothing to do with her parents sexual predilections, but at this point, theres no way for the van Dams to know that for sure. If they are lying about that Friday nights events, then their credibility on all matters must be called into doubt. And even if they are telling the truth about that night, but they hosted sex parties in their home on others, that could yield a long list of potential suspects people with unhealthy sexual behaviors who know the lay of the house.
The fetishization of "privacy" shouldnt keep the van Dams from being forthright, or preclude the press from doing its job. The life of a little girl is at stake.
I. Ben Hurt here is the info you asked about, last night...look here....!!!
Thomas K. Arnold
Talk show host Rick Roberts made headlines with his KFMB-AM radio show about Damon and Brenda van Dams allegedly swinging lifestyle. But he wasnt the only radio personalityor media outletto cast a critical eye on the backstory of the Danielle van Dam kidnapping case.
John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou, whose John and Ken Show airs weekdays from 3 to 7 p.m. on Los Angeles station KFI-AM, devoted three shows to the case, even traveling to San Diego to broadcast from the van Dams Sabre Springs neighborhood. The week before that, they were the first to cast aspersions on the van Dams, a full day before the Roberts broadcast.
The Millennium Childrens Fund had just announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Danielle. Fund administrator Douglas Pierce had visited with the van Dams, and the next day he called a press conference in Los Angeles at which he voiced suspicions about the couples behavior. For an hour, Pierce blasted the van Dams for their apparent lack of emotion and general rudeness to him.
I dont know how much was true and how much was hysterical, but thats what made it fascinating. We tried to unravel it on the air, Kobylt says. In retrospect, I think he did peg their personalities very wellthe lack of emotion, the detachment, the obsession with the media messageand perhaps he got the vibe that they live a different life than most people.
As soon as Pierce finished on-air, John and Ken introduced their next guests: an angry Damon and Brenda van Dam, who lambasted Pierce as a nut case. We had scheduled them in advance, but when they heard Doug was on the show, they canceled, only to change their minds right before show time, Kobylt says.
After the interview, John and Ken picked apart the conversation and spoke critically about the van Dams lack of emotion and their defensiveness about questions pertaining to their own behavior and actions the last night Danielle was seen. The next day, the swinger story broke in The San Diego Union-Tribunefurthered that evening on San Diego radio by Rick Roberts.
Its a very dramatic story, says Kobylt. Everybody got obsessed with it pretty quickly... We have a pretty fair audience in San Diegoweve even made it into the top 10 on occasionand we started getting calls from people who live in the neighborhood and know the van Dams. As a result, it might as well have been in L.A. I tend to look at the whole [Southern California] area as the same, anyway.
(By press deadline, the van Dams could not be reached for comment by San Diego Magazine.)
While the van Dam case has been duly covered by most of the mainstream media, the Star tabloid stoked the flames of controversy with a front-page banner that screamed, The new JonBenetwhat Danielles mom and dad are hiding. Inside was a two-page story headlined, Tragedy of little Danielleand the dark sex secrets her parents are trying to keep hidden.
Quoting the proverbial unnamed sources close to the probe, the Star reported that later-arrested suspect David Westerfield was aware of the van Dams sexual activities and had approached Brenda about hosting a sex-swap party in his house. The Star said Brenda had admitted to police that the couple belonged to a swingers club called Club CB and that sources say she flirted outrageously and danced with Westerfield the Friday night Danielle disappeared. He [Westerfield] knew that Brenda and her friends were sexually involved, and he wanted to be part of the action, but for whatever reason, he was not invited by Brenda to accompany her and her four friends back to her home that night for more partying and sex, the Star says it was told by a source.
Investigate the investigators?.....Have to think on that question.
Information Links page, figger out which link.
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