This article and editorial is reprinted from TROPIC, the Miami Herald Newpaper's Magazine, October 9, 1983, and was written by John Dorschner. Eric Cross was heavily involved with many pedophiles in the nudist/naturist movement in the late 1970's to mid 1980's.
ERIC CROSS: THE CHILD SEDUCER Part III
"There is not a single shred of evidence to show criminal intent," he wrote. He dismissed the Tampa photos as "discreet nude studies." Eric Cross, from his prison cell
"SOME KIND OF PARDON"
All the time Cross was doing this, he was talking to any anti- pornography group that would listen to him. If any prisoner inside the prison heard that Cross was up to something with kiddy-porn, Cross would show them his correspondence with FDLE, what he called his "immunity agreements." He was doing all this, he sometimes claimed, to "break" child pornographers and get himself an earlier parole.
William Katz, director of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children: "For the past four years, he has been trying to sell his talents. He's cooperated with various agencies, including ours... Cross was looking for brownie points."
Sometime last fall, Cross called up Jerry McKenna, an investigator for the Select Committee on Crime for the New York State Senate. At the time, New York newspapers were filled with stories about the North American Man-Boy Love Association, a group that supports "inter-generational relationships." Cross said he would get information on NAMBLA if only he was free to go to New York. Apparently, the two also discussed nailing a prominent Democrat who was known to be homosexual and was suspected of being a pedophile.
In late fall, Cross hired a Fort Lauderdale attorney, Laura Morrison, to conduct the negotiations with McKenna.
McKenna now refuses to comment on the matter, but attorney Morrison says that they phoned each other frequently. They discussed approaching the Florida Parole Board, asking for early parole for Cross so he could go to New York, or asking the governor's office for "some kind of pardon."
Because the negotiations would involve two state governments, an intermediary was found: Jay Howell, an investigator on the staff of Senator Paula Hawkins, specializing in child exploitation.
It was suggested Cross could be transferred to a federal prison in Manhattan. Cross refused. He insisted he needed complete freedom, he did not even want to be trailed by detectives during the day. His plan, he said, was to attempt to arrange a sex party that police would raid, catching NAMBLA members and maybe even that prominent Democrat.
The Tampa photos occupied only a small portion of Cross' time. He talked to a sales-person from a camera company, about his plans for photographing school children, and persuaded the company to send him $3,000 in camera equipment.
He talked to Lyn Sims, publisher of American Pageantry. He said he was a British movie producer and wanted to start a beauty pageant. He called 10 times over two months, seeking her support and a list of her advertisers. She refused, but, she says now, "he seemed like quite a gentleman."
He talked also to leaders of the Miss Hemisphere Beauty Pageant, which gives franchises to local groups wanting to put on beauty contests for age 2 and up. Adelyn Foreman, the coordinator for Miss Hemisphere in Central Florida, says she kept asking to speak to him in person, she would even drive to St. Petersburg to meet him, but Cross always put her off. "We wouldn't do anything involving children," says Mrs. Foreman, "unless we had interviewed and checked out the person in advance."
INSTAMATICS FROM THE ORIENT
Cross' hunting grounds for young girls was not limited to Tampa. He was writing to Greece and Australia, and he had approached someone he knew in Jakarta, Indonesia, about arranging for child pornography. "That was coming very slowly," says one prisoner.
But, say two sources inside the prison, another connection appeared to be working well. From Avon Park, Cross contacted a procuress in the Philippines whom he'd known for ears. He arranged for her to take Instamatic photos of young girls.
The photos, showing the girls wearing only white panties, were smuggled into the prison. From them, he selected his favorites and requested hard-core photos.
One prisoner says Cross wrote back to the woman using a code to tell what kind of photos he wanted. "Dancing in the fountain" meant nude. "Flower" meant photographed in a bed. "Irrigation ditch" meant a photo of a girl urinating.
Sources say that hard-core photos were taken but never returned to the prison: They were shipped instead directly to Robert Lodge, the Seattle schoolteacher.
Gerard Schaefer Sr. says he never knew what Cross was talking about on the telephone, or to whom he was talking: Ruksana Diwan handled all that. He knew there was considerable correspondence with "this guy Lodge" in Seattle, and he recalls Ruksana Diwan meeting once with Dean Cason, the photographer.
Schaefer Sr. "I didn't have any idea about this pornography bit. Not one iota. None."
What bothered him was the phone bills. For each of the first several months, the bills hit more than $200. Cross paid for them, until a February bill came in for $400. Then an invoice arrived from MCI - a long-distance calling service - for $2,000. Cross didn't pay it.
Schaefer Sr. had the conference line removed.
Photographer Cason hadn't been paid either. Attorney Morrison wasn't paid. The girls' parents were wondering why Cross had not made a decision about selecting his "star."
In early March, someone called Jay Howell in Sen. Hawkins' office and suggested Cross was doing something wrong at Avon Park.
Howell looked into it. He contacted police departments in Florida, Los Angeles, Seattle and Amsterdam.
In late May, Seattle police raided the home of Robert Lodge, a math teacher for 6th, 7th and 8th grades. Detectives carted away more than a dozen large boxes of photographs, including ones of the Tampa girls and some from the Philippines. Lodge was charged with conspiring to distribute child pornography.
A mailing list found at Lodge's house led to other raids. In Albuquerque, police seized thousands of video tapes and photos, but made no arrests. In Alexandria, Va., detectives found another large cache at the home of Donald Woodward, a Navy engineer. An investigation led to Woodward being charged with 19 counts of molesting children he had encountered during trips to California.
As for Cross, investigations have been going slowly. The Department of Corrections began one in late May, by the middle of September, it still had not been completed.
Sheriffs departments in the St. Petersburg and Tampa areas began their own investigations, then turned over their material to the local U.S. Attorney's office. The FBI started another investigation.
Jay Howell, from Sen. Hawkins'office "I turned over to Florida last May information in a very advanced state. I could have tried the case two weeks later. Why it's been three months [without Cross being indicted] is a complete mystery to Sen. Hawkins and me.'
Cross has told prison investigators that all the work with the Tampa girls was simply an attempt to undercover a child-porn ring, and at first he implied that he had the permission of law- enforcement authorities. Then he backed down, saying he had been doing "the investigations" on his own. He claimed the photos were sent to Lodge by mistake.
The $3,000 worth of camera equipment has not yet been recovered. The "top quality" slide supposedly sent to a European pornographer is still missing.
In June, Mervyn Eric Cross was transferred to Florida State Prison at Starke, the state's grimmest and most secure institution. He was placed in solitary confinement. Phone calls were forbidden. All his mail was to be carefully monitored.
David Brierton, inspector-general for the Department of Corrections "We want to make sure he is not exploiting children from a prison cell. Which he is not, to my knowledge. Notice how I qualify that."
Last month, Cross wrote Tropic a letter from his new prison cell. "There is not a single shred of evidence to show criminal intent," he wrote. He dismissed the Tampa photos as "discreet nude studies."
He refused to be interviewed about "the current debacle," but he offered to write "a far more explosive story" about children being sexually exploited throughout the world, about how girls themselves tempt men with a ... Lolita complex,' rapidly becoming a problem in this country."
For a price, he wrote, he would research and write the story. From his jail cell.
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