Paul and Shirley Eberle: A Strange Pair of Experts
by Maria Laurina
Paul and Shirley Eberle wrote The Politics of Child Abuse, a book that accuses mothers, mental health professionals, and prosecutors of feeding children stories about sexual abuse. Since the book was published by Lyle Stuart in l986, the Eberles have been cited as experts in sexual abuse trials. They were featured speakers at a conference of the Victims of Child Abuse Laws, a group formed to protect accused parents.
What is startling about the Eberles' reputation as ground-breaking experts in the field is that their dubious credentials have not been widely challenged. Paul and Shirley Eberle edit a soft-core magazine in California called the L.A. Star that contains a mixture of nude photos, celebrity gossip, telephone sex ads, and promos for The Politics of Child Abuse.
In the 1970's, however, the Eberles were also publishing hard-core pornography. Their publication, Finger, depicted scenes of bondage, S & M, and sexual activities involving urination and defecation. A young girl portrayed with a wide smile on her face sits on top of a man whose penis is inside of her; a woman has oral sex with a young boy in a drawing entitled "Memories of My Boyhood."
The Eberles were featured nude on one cover holding two life-size blow up dolls names "Love Girl" and "Play Guy." No dates appear on the issues and the Eberles rarely attach their names, referring to themselves as "The L.A. Star Family."
The Eberles were the distributors of Finger and several other underground magazines, says Donald Smith, a sergeant with the obscenity section of the Los Angeles Police Department's vice division who followed the couple for years. LAPD was never able to prosecute for child pornography: "There were a lot of photos of people who looked like they were under age but we could never prove it." The pictures of young children in Finger are illustrations, and child pornography laws were less rigid a decade ago than they are today.
"Sexpot at Five," "My First Rape, She Was Only Thirteen," and "What Happens When Niggers Adopt White Children" are some of the articles that appeared in Finger. One letter states: "I think it's really great that your mags have the courage to print articles & pixs [sic] on child sex...Too bad I didn't hear from more women who are into child sex...Since I'm single I'm not getting it on with my children, but I know of a few families that are. If I were married & my wife & kids approved--I'd be having sex with my daughters."
Another entry reads: "I'm a pedophile & I think its [sic] great a man is having sex with his daughter!...Since I didn't get Finger #3, I didn't get to see the stories & pics of family sex. Would like to see pics of nude girls making it with their daddy, but realize its too risky to print."
Lyle Stuart plans to print the Eberles' forthcoming book on the McMartins preschool trial. Carole Stuart, the publisher, describes the Eberles as "experts in the field," and family friends "for years."
Reprinted in the ICONoclast, WINTER 1988 / VOL. 1, NO. 2
with permission from Ms. Magazine (December 1988)
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