STARKE, FL (FR) – He was once an assistant director of the Seattle Crime Prevention advisory committee and even wrote a pamphlet instructing women on rape prevention. A one-time Boy Scout with a promising career in Washington state politics, Ted Bundy appeared to be an example of a good, upstanding citizen. But behind the congenial facade lurked a force which landed him in an electric chair in January of this year.
In the last few hours prior to his widely-publicized execution for the murder of as many as 50 young women and girls from Utah, Washington, Idaho, Colorado and Florida, the serial killer asked Christian psychologist James Dobson to visit him at the Florida State Prison. Bundy had corresponded with Dr. Dobson – a former member of President Reagan’s Commission on Pornography – for two years prior to their meeting. While anxious reporters waited outside, Bundy told Dobson about the influence of pornography on his behavior.
Bundy said he began casually reading soft-core pornography when he was 12 or 13 years old. His friends found pornographic books in the garbage cans in his neighborhood: “(F)rom time to time we would come across pornographic books of a harder nature … a more graphic, explicit nature than we would encounter at the local grocery store,” he told Dobson in the taped interview. “But slowly throughout the years reading pornography began to become a deadly habit.
“My experience with pornography … is once you become addicted to it, (and I look at this as a kind of addiction like other kinds of addiction), I would keep looking for more potent, more explicit, more graphic kinds of material. Like an addiction, you keep craving something that is harder, something which gives you a greater sense of excitement. Until you reach a point where the pornography only goes so far, you reach that jumping off point where you begin to wonder if maybe actually doing it would give you that which is beyond just reading or looking at it.”
Within a few years, those latent desires fueled by pornography were expressed through his first murder. Although Bundy said he did not blame pornography, he explained that pornographic materials shaped and molded his behavior. He also warned the nation that “the most damaging kinds of pornography … are those that involve violence and sexual violence. Because the wedding of those two forces, as I know only too well, brings out the hatred that is just, just too terrible to describe.”
Bundy said that pornography “snatched me out of my home 20, 30 years ago … and pornography can reach out and snatch a kid out of any house today.” His religious training and morality initially restrained him from acting out his fantasies, but he confessed that finally, “I couldn’t hold back anymore.”
Alcohol supposedly broke the restraints for him to commit his first murder. “What alcohol did in conjunction with exposure to pornography is (sic) alcohol reduced my inhibitions at the same time the fantasy life that was fueled by pornography eroded them further.”
While committing the murders, Bundy said he felt as if he was possessed by “something … awful and alien. There is just absolutely no way to describe first the brutal urge to do that kind of thing, and then what happens is once it has been more or less satisfied and recedes, you might say, or spent, that energy level recedes and basically I become myself again.”
“But basically I was a normal person. I wasn’t some guy hanging out at bars or a bum. I wasn’t a pervert in the sense that people look at somebody and say, ‘I know there is something wrong with him, you can just tell.’ I was essentially a normal person,” Bundy told Dobson. “The basic humanity and the basic spirit that God gave me was intact, but unfortunately became overwhelmed at times.”
Ted Bundy acknowledged that he deserved the death penalty, even though there were anti-death penalty demonstrators outside his prison cell up until the moment of his execution. “I deserve the most extreme punishment society has,” he said. “But I don’t want to die, I kid you not.”
Dobson said that Bundy wept several times during the interview: “He expressed great regret, remorse for what he had done, for the families that were hurting.” He spent his last night in prayer with a minister from Gainesville, Florida.
Bundy’s last words of confession and warning about pornography are an echo of statistics, research, and reports conducted within the last decade about the link between pornography and sexually violent crime. Unfortunately, many of the warnings in those reports still have not been heeded, and pornography has been taken for granted or considered a necessary evil.
According to a study conducted by a group of psychologists, Neil Malamuth of UCLA, Gene Abel of Columbia University, and William Marshall of Kingston Penitentiary, various forms of pornography can elicit fantasies which may lead to crime. Out of a test group of 18 rapists studied who used ‘consenting pornography’ to instigate a sexual offence, seven of them said that it provided a cue to elicit fantasies of forced sex.
A study released by the University of New Hampshire has proven that the states which have the highest readership of pornographic magazines such as Playboy and Penthouse also have the highest rape rates. The Michigan State Police department found that pornography is used or imitated in 41 percent of the sex crimes they have investigated.
The Free Congress Research and Education Foundation discovered that half of all rapists studied used soft core pornography to arouse themselves prior to seeking out a victim. Although researchers and media analysts may ballyhoo the impact of soft core pornography – claiming protection under the free speech provision of the Constitution – mounting evidence seems to be favoring a national crackdown on porn as a necessary means to stop crime.
In recent years, as more of this type of research has been published, significant gains have been made against pornographers as major retailers have removed porn from their shelves. Ted Bundy’s confessions to Dr. James Dobson – a leader of the largest segment of pro-family forces in the U.S. – promises to fuel the nationwide efforts being made on the state and local levels to eliminate the pornography problem.