In his first interview since being terminated from the prestigious and ultra-right wing lawfirm, the American Center for Law and Justice, founded by “700 Club” Creator Pat Robertson, Attorney James M. Henderson, Sr., claims that God has removed his sexual attraction to younger men. Henderson agreed to a “Facebook Chat” interview with Bill Schmalfeldt, “The Liberal Grouch,” after connecting with him on Facebook. Here is Schmalfeldt’s narrative of how the interview transpired.
On Saturday evening, Jan. 26, noticed I had a notification on my personal Facebook page. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I saw who it was from: James M. Henderson, Sr. The former senior counsel with the American Center for Law and Justice — the Pat Robertson founded law firm Michelle Malkin hired to represent Ali Akbar and the National Bloggers Club from charges of impropriety. I was one of the reporters who caused Henderson to be fired by the ACLJ in September 2012 as I wrote about his double life, working as a hardcore conservative attorney during the day, while on his spare time having sex, doing drugs, buying alcohol and drugs for men as young as 17 years old.
At first I thought it might be a hoax. I asked why he had chosen to “like” my Facebook page. “Out of respect for you,” he replied. I asked him what I had done to deserve that respect and he replied, “For having the guts to write about me.”
In our Saturday evening conversation, I noted that he had only two “likes” on his Facebook page. Me, and the ACLJ. I asked if that meant he had been rehired by them.
“No, they fired me because I’m gay. I am in unemployment. But I keep praying as praying has cured my sexuality. I liked that page to get up their nose.”
Here, I thought he was admitting to being gay, but I was wrong. I told him that he was still a brilliant attorney who could take what happened to him and make lemonade out of it by helping others who are fired because of their sexuality.
“No,” he replied. “I loved the smell of the boys that I had sex with, that young fresh smell. It was such a rush. I just got on the wrong path and I’m straight, not gay.”
“Well, you know yourself,” I replied. “You know your heart. I would love to get an interview with you.”
“I would love it if you would put it out there how God helped me,” he said. “I was just so emotionally attached to these boys as I had missed stuff in my teenaged years. They made me feel so young and wanted. I would even get involved in bondage and ‘water sports’. I am just being honest. I have nothing to hide as I hope my experiences can help other people who are sexually confused. That they can turn to God and pray for help.”
I explained to Henderson, as I had earlier in my writing on this case, that I did not really consider him to be “textbook gay.” To me, he seemed to fall more inline with a psychological condition known as “ephebophilia” in which a middle aged or older person feels an unnatural sexual attraction to post-pubescent boys and girls in the 15-19 age range. Where pedophiles crave children who have not achieved puberty, ephebophiliacs crave the youth, the smooth skin, the attractiveness of emergent sexuality in post-pubescent teens. It was s common phenomenon in ancient Rome and Greece where a man would have a wife and a young male lover. But this didn’t seem to make much of an impression on Henderson.
With an alias of “Kyle Johnson,” Henderson would meet young men, seduce them with booze and drugs, and have sex with them. He was outed when one of his young boyfriends found out his real name.
He agreed to a “Facebook Chat” interview with me on Sunday. But first, I had to determine that I was dealing with the real deal and not someone out to prank me. So I asked him about a photo in which he is seen walking toward a vehicle with two lads. I asked him to describe the vehicle and what ultimately happened to it. He correctly told me it was a Green SUV, which caught fire one day after engine trouble. I asked one more question: the technical term for the sort of brief he and ACLJ filed in the Terri Schaivo case. He shot right back with “Amicus” which means “Friend of the court.” So I was pretty sure I had the right guy.
First I asked him if his experience made him more or less conservative than he was before. He answered “both.” So I asked if his ideology had been changed at all by the experience. He didn’t answer that question and some time went by before I heard from him again.
So I decided to ask questions in a series.
“How long had you been feeling these urges (to have sex with young men) before acting on them?”
“A long time,” he said. “When I was young, I was sexually abused by a priest.” He said that experience had a lasting effect on him. He said the priest had never been caught and has since died, so he did not want to name him.
I asked if he could describe, without naming anyone, when that first experience with a young man was, and how it came about?
He said it was with a young man he met on the internet.
I asked how he was able to compartmentalize his day life from his night life. “Smoking weed helped,” he said.
“But still, there must have been times when you were not stoned, where you were sitting, having dinner with your wife and kids that you knew what you were doing. Did you have other ways of dealing with your guilt?”
“I would put on my sunglasses to hide the tears,” he said. I would sit outside listening to dubstep (a genre of electronic dance music that originated in South London), smoking weed.”
I asked him what finally led him last August to tell his wife about his secret life.
“I had been seeking professional help, so it helped me to tell her as I was really depressed. I think people are only gay because of experiences like mine.”
“Are you saying you reject the science that shows people are born gay, they don’t become gay,” I asked.
“Yeah,” he said. Again, he blamed what the priest did to him as a youngster for his own behavior. Again, I reminded him that, in my opinion, he did not fit the definition of an actual gay person, that condition would be better explained by a psychologist as ephebophilia. “Strong science shows that abused children grow more likely to become abusers themselves,” I said, “So, in a way, you are lucky that you did not find yourself attracted to younger children.”
However, on that subject, he did admit that he was aware that one of his young boyfriends, “Julius”, was 17 at the time. He had no comment other than to say it was another young man’s jealousy over his relationship with Julius that caused the other teen, Zach, to seek incriminating evidence that eventually “outed” Henderson’s secret.
But he still clung to his conservative ideology (“I just cannot stand Obama,” he said) and his belief that being gay was a choice, not something you are born being.
As the interview began to lose steam, I could sense he was starting to become a bit evasive. I asked if it was still a daily struggle for him, meaning — of course — the attraction to younger men.
He answered, “Yes, the pressure of unemployment.”
When I told him what I meant by my question, he said, “That’s all behind me now, thanks to praying.”
“So, no more of the old urges,” I asked.
And that was that. He said he was putting in a lot of applications but wasn’t having any luck. I suggested that if he were, perhaps, to start seeing the world through a more progressive lens and stop trying to find work with a law firm that would judge his past but would, instead, use his experience to help people who were wrongfully terminated, he might have more luck. But he wasn’t having any of it. He thanked me for the interview and said he had to go pick up his son.
I was left feeling that I had been chatting with a man who realized he had been through a life-shattering experience, who may have picked up the pieces of his personal life and put them back together. But I felt he was still in denial over what it is to be actually gay from birth, and not an ephebophiliac or pedophile who is molded during childhood during a traumatic event. At any rate, I wished him luck in his search and, like any human who has been through rough times, I hope he has nothing but luck coming out the other end of this long, dark tunnel. This is a man who has argued cases before the Supreme Court, a brilliant man with a twisted sense of ideology that proved, I believe, to be part of his undoing.
As we signed off, I told him, “I will pray that in your journey God increases your understanding and tolerance of others. I think if you found yourself thinking along more progressive lines (you can be a Christian and a progressive as I prove every day), you will have an easier time finding a job doing what you love and what you are meant to do.”