I am in the tail end of working with my teen writing group when Holly sends me a link, asking me if I had seen it yet. We've had little contact recently, so I immediately click through in worry, rather than leaving it until I get home.
I see the first few lines of the article and my eyes go wide.
A Kingston man is facing charges that he made arrangements on the Internet to meet a girl he thought was 12 for the purpose of engaging in sex, state police said.
Daniel I. Jurow, 35, of Colonial Drive, Building No. 10, Unit 13, was arrested by state police at Latham on Thursday and was charged with attempted dissemination of indecent material to a minor and attempted endangering the welfare of a child.
I place the laptop wordlessly on the book Amber reads. Her gaze flits curiously over the article until she comes to his name.
"Maybe it's a different Dan Jurow?" she asks without conviction.
"The age and location are also right. That would be one hell of a coincidence."
We had not had encountered Dan since Holly broke up with him for his blithe infidelities. The closest I came is Holly telling me of having run into him and details his constant attempts at gaslighting her. We did not have much anger against him after the breakup, instead feeling mostly pity and amusement at his exceedingly poor decision-making skills. It seemed to be universally agreed that liberating Holly had to be the most positive thing he had ever done, though it couldn't make up for acting as an entitled parasite to her in the years prior.
There is another fifteen minutes of this session with my teens, so I try to put my racing thoughts aside in order to focus on the kids. I encourage a spunky, sweet, clever girl around a twist in her story, but the thought that she is the same age as the girl Dan allegedly wanted to molest waylays me. For this girl and her countless sisters, I find the hate for Dan I skipped over in the aftermath of the breakup.
Amber jokes with her charming gallow's humor that Dan will no longer have to worry about housing and feeding himself, as he had since Holly booted him out in August. The state of New York will be handling that for the time being, since he is denied bail. These charges will put an end to his fractional employability, however, even if he is ruled not guilty. Since he owed Holly over forty thousand dollars, she will definitely be taking a hit on that.
I tell Amber that I am not disappointed in Dan, since, in soliciting a tween for sex, he acted in harmony with what I understand his standard operating procedure to be. From my exposure to him, he is sexual without regard for any social attachment behind it. He is impulsive and immature, preferring new gadgets and toys to fulfilling obligations. He seems more attached to things than people. He lacks empathy, going so far as to claim bafflement that he could have caused offense. He is callous in pursuit of what he wants and believes in the illusion of his unexamined superiority. He seeks out what he assumes to be easy marks and then discards them for letting him take advantage.
This last point is the closest I can come to defending him. I do not think Dan is an exclusive pedophile. I believe he is indiscriminate. He assumed this fictional girl would prove to be no challenge, but she just as likely could have been a comely divorcee or a na´ve coed to him so long as she wouldn't resist him. He didn't care that he would absolutely ruin the life of an actual child. He just saw the opportunity for a particularly taboo pleasure he may have felt life owed him. Had it not been a police officer on the other end, I suspect he would have had few qualms, but her age mattered less to him that her vulnerability. I don't believe he would necessarily seek out children, but he ostensibly lacks the filters that would rule them out as sexual conquests.
I do not necessarily see Dan Jurow as bad so much as malfunctioning. There hasn't been a moment since I've met him that I didn't think there was something twisted inside of him, though I couldn't have imagined that it would ever involve children. He has maladaptive coding in him, ruling his interactions. I think it is far more nurture than nature-I do not think there is anything cognitively or physically wrong with him-though even in my chosen role of armchair forensic psychologist, I couldn't pinpoint the reasons why. His superficial charm, his brashness, hides an emptiness and fear. I've known him in some capacity through a combined five apartments between us, I've helped him move, but I do not think I know the real Dan Jurow. I met the character Dan constructed in defense, piece by piece.
I don't know that will happened to Dan, though I guess things will not turn out in his favor given the tenor of the articles and charges against him. I want to see the penal system as a correctional model. I would prefer to think that, if he is given a prison sentence, he can get the therapy he needs to function appropriately in society. I want his humanity elevated, not dampened. As stated above, no matter the outcome of this, Dan has fixed a permanent boulder about his neck. Our society does not believe in the rehabilitation of accused sex offenders, particularly those whose offenses involve children. I am undecided as to whether society is wrong in this, but I want to believe people can be helped and that, when they hit rock bottom, there is a chance to build again. Instead, the courts may just segregate him from society for some years without an attempt to address the core of his issues (except to aggravate them among the criminally antisocial) before being returned to freedom with far fewer options beyond recidivism. He has committed a monstrous and stupid act, but I don't think he is a monster.
However, Dan is beyond my reach now and I doubt I am the one to have any role in his rehabilitation (this entry, in fact, would be contrary to having such a role, but I justify using his name because all the newspapers have). Instead, I focus on the victims of his crimes. We are fortunate enough that he propositioned a police officer in the midst of the sting so, as far as I know as of writing this, he did not actually get the chance to harm a child. Holly says she is skeeved out, but I do not think she is too much worse. She was not about to write a hagiography on him after his years of mistreatment. Now, no matter how horrid a curse she would lay against him, there are few people who wouldn't say she was likely right. In the least pleasurable but most definitive way, she is vindicated for every negative word she thought about him. I see what mutual friends Dan and I have online and let them know what has happened to him. The last paragraph of the article suggests that the police believe there might be more victims, even if I am skeptical that any remaining victims are children. As far as I know, none of our mutual friends have been in intimate relationships with him, but disseminating this is all I can do to protect people now.
Soon in Xenology: More timely entries?