By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Nobody can predict when and where they'll find love. For Ken Casey and Dale Rumsey, love struck inside Mule Creek State Prison in February 1996.
Other California inmates might have used homosexuality for convenience, but Casey and Rumsey declared themselves "life partners." The men shared a passion for films, participated in the Boy Scouts and agreed to launch an Oakland video-rental business once they'd left prison. Their relationship might have been domestic gay bliss if it hadn't been for, well, an inherent incompatibility issue.
Rumsey, 37, and Casey, 39, are brazen, convicted serial pedophiles. They're also now ugly footnotes in the annals of Orange County criminal history. This month, a state court of appeal based in Santa Ana upheld their convictions related to the production of child pornography and committing lewd acts with children.
So far, so ordinary, right? But there's a twist: Everyone agrees that Rumsey and Casey didn't create kiddie porn or use a child for sex. Police claim the men engaged in mental sex crimes when they chatted about the idea of enticing a 12-year-old Ontario boy, Rumsey's nephew, to strip for a camcorder at a San Diego County nudist beach.
That trip never materialized, but the nephew did meet up with Casey.
By 2002, Casey had been paroled. Rumsey put him in touch with his nephew, telling the boy that he could trust Casey and that he should spend time with the ex-con. Defense lawyers for the men note that Casey repeatedly had the boy alone during outings to Knott's Berry Farm and Six Flags Magic Mountain as well as at an Anaheim Angels game in 2003, but Casey didn't attempt a single overt sex act. Police records reviewed by the Weekly show that Casey "put his arm around" the boy's shoulders several times and touched his nose once. At the 2006 trial, the boy testified that he'd been "creeped out" by Casey's fawning but didn't consider it sexual. When a still-incarcerated Rumsey learned of the contact, he called Casey from prison. "Keep your hands to yourself," he said. "Look all you want. Think what you want. But don't touch!"
Deputy District Attorney Carolyn Carlisle-Raines told the jury to disregard Rumsey's statement, which was recorded by prison officials. She said pedophiles speak in "somewhat veiled, somewhat cryptic" terms. "They knew that their phone conversations were subject to being monitored," she said.
Defense lawyers countered by conceding that the recorded phone calls and photocopied prison mail is hardly self-serving. For example, Casey provided his partner details of photographs in a new Abercrombie & Fitch catalog: "50 percent butt shot of a 17-year-old . . . 17-year-old blond with briefs on," he wrote. "Same guy fully nude, however, has a tree blocking his cock. The only other pictures are of young actors/actresses who are obviously fully clothed. Therefore, there is nothing to see in this catalog. It is full of teasers and no pleasers. The youngest person is probably 16 years old."
Rumsey, author of the unpublished The Rape of Innocence: A Handbook for Parents Who Wish to Know How to Protect Their Children From a Residential Homosexual Pedophile, wasn't afraid to admit that he fantasized about his nephew. In a letter to Casey, he wrote, "Let me just say, the way I've been lately, and as cute as he is, he's lucky I'm in prison."
The defendants' proven interest in children helped Carlisle-Raines determine that Casey's outwardly benign contact with Rumsey's nephew constituted part of a criminal conspiracy that the defendants hatched in pursuit of illegal sexual gratification.
"Ken Casey knew what he was doing when he engaged in this supposedly innocent touching of [the boy]," Carlisle-Raines told the jury. "He had a special intent in his mind, which was that it sexually gratified him to touch a child because he is a pedophile. . . . Part of [Casey and Rumsey's] interest in children is reflected by the many photographs that they have of children. And when I say photographs, I am talking of fully clothed children. I'm not talking about R-rated or X-rated things."
Defense attorney Patrick A. Rossetti countered by telling jurors, "If Mr. Casey and Mr. Rumsey planned to get [the boy] to a nude beach and try to take a picture while he's nude, it's not a crime. It's not illegal, and that surprises most people. The fact that they might find that photograph exciting is irrelevant. It doesn't matter what is in their mind. What would the average Joe like myself say if we saw the image? Would we think it depicts sexual conduct?"
Jurors struggled. There was no doubt the defendants are pedophiles, but had they committed crimes involving Rumsey's nephew? The foreperson sent messages to Superior Court Judge Richard Toohey, including a request for "a specific definition of 'sexual gratification' from a pedophile and a clarification on what acceptable evidence, testimony and/or thoughts are allowed in determining the state of mind of the defendants."
Ultimately, the jury convicted Casey and Rumsey. Toohey sentenced Casey to 30 years to life in prison for the conspiracy. Rumsey, who never left his prison cell during the incidents, got an additional term of 25 years to life. The defendants appealed, and on Sept. 24, Justices Raymond J. Ikola, William F. Rylaarsdam and Kathleen O'Leary affirmed the convictions.
"To be sure, the statute does not ban all nude photographs of children," they wrote. "Even so, reasonable jurors could conclude that the defendants agreed to take photographs exhibiting [the boy's] genitals and pubic area."
After all, they noted, the case involves "an incarcerated pedophile attracted to 8- to 12-year-old boys," his "convicted pedophile life partner" and "a cute 12-year-old boy."