For the record, Klein has been charged with many counts of possession of child pornography of children under 13.
Kenny is a well-known Pagan author and musician who has been around for many years. He is also a High Priest in the Blue Star Tradition, and has been teaching "traditional Wicca" for many years as well. He is a Llewellyn author as well.
My friend wanted to know why people in the Pagan community weren't talking about his arrest online, and once I read the article, I wondered the same thing. So I decided to check it out and write about it myself.
Speaking personally, child pornography is one of the most disgusting things I can fathom, right along with sexual abuse. But I'm not here to comment on Kenny's guilt or innocence. That's up to the courts. The article mentioned he had already made some kind of admission, but that's not really relevant to what I'm talking about. (Again, in my humble opinion, I will say that if he is found guilty, he should rot in jail and never get out.)
The fact that Kenny is Pagan means nothing to me, except to the extent that it hurts all Pagan communities when someone engages in such behavior. What we have is a spiritual leader who, according to witness accounts, has a history of romantically pursuing young girls who are looking to him for spiritual leadership and guidance.
There are no words strong enough to describe how incredibly angry, sad, and disappointed I am when I hear about spiritual leaders of any faith taking advantage of the incredible position of trust laid upon them by the people they lead. And it happens in every faith, folks. People's egos get the best of them, and they feel like they can prey on the most vulnerable among us.
What makes this situation worse is the testimony of one girl who said that Pagan elders dismissed her complaints when she brought them forward, saying that is "how Kenny is." In other words, they are rationalizing his behavior and choosing not to do anything about it.
Imagine what that must feel like to a victim. You do what they tell you to do: You tell someone in authority about the unsettling behavior of another person. And what do you get for your trouble? NOTHING. Your concerns are dismissed, and the conduct is just accepted. People may even think you are lying to get attention. How would you feel then? Humiliated. Powerless. Enraged. You've just been victimized a second time by those who are supposedly in a position to HELP you. But now they've made it worse by enabling the person's behavior, too.
I've said it before and I will repeat it: Spiritual leaders of EVERY FAITH should be held to higher standards. We are in positions of trust and we need to earn them every day; one way we do that is by checking our egos at the door. That's a good start. But our conduct must be above reproach at all times. People look up to us and come to us in their darkest hours. We need to be worthy of their trust and confidence.
Kenny Klein's arrest is a good opportunity for some reminders as you choose spiritual leaders and communities.
1) Choose any community and/or leader carefully. If a community engages in an activity that you don't like, don't join. If a leader isn't someone who embodies the tenets of the faith you wish to practice, then find someone else.
2) If you are uncomfortable with the behavior of anyone in that community, leave and don't go back. I know people want to fit in, but it's dangerous to do things you don't want to simply to gain acceptance.
3) If a spiritual leader makes any kind of romantic and/or sexual advance toward you, get out of the situation as quickly as you can. Then call the police and file a report. Sometimes in Pagan communities or covens, new "initiates" to perform sexual acts to gain admission. Don't allow yourself to be the victim. The same rules apply to Pagan communities as any other: Get out of the situation, then go to the police and file a report. (Spoiler alert: If you're foolish enough to think this doesn't happen, why do you think I'm mentioning it?)
4) Teenagers should have parental permission (in the form of signed waivers) to attend classes offered by any spiritual group. Parents should feel comfortable with the spiritual leaders of communities their teens are involved in, and at the very least should at least go and meet the leaders even if they don't agree with the faith their child is exploring. If a parent has any concerns, s/he should accompany the minor to a community ritual.
5) Listen to your intuition. If something in a community you visit is wrong, it probably is. At the very least, it's not for you. The same goes for any spiritual leader. If you're not comfortable with them for any reason, or you get a weird feeling from them that is unsettling or makes you fearful, then it isn't the place for you.
I know you've heard me say this kind of thing before, but unfortunately that message needs repeating. Your spiritual leaders' behavior and conduct should always be above reproach. If it isn't, then that person, no matter what title they hold or what their academic credentials are, doesn't deserve your time and energy.