Not that Klansmen and their ilk should ever be associated with negative stereotyping, mind you – but it does seem that the type of man who rises to leadership positions in the white nationalist universe has a peculiar knack for becoming entangled in child-sex scandals.
The latest is Neal Ray Schmidt, described by federal investigators as a former grand dragon of the Missouri chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. Schmidt was sentenced Wednesday to 20 years in prison after admitting he drove 600 miles to have sex with who he believed were two 14-year-old girls he had met online – but who were, in fact, undercover police officers.
Schmidt was arrested June 21, 2010, in McDonough, Ga., after traveling from his home in St. Louis, a trip that culminated a four-month investigation during which Schmidt gradually cultivated an online relationship with the “girls.” He was arrested in the parking lot of a motel where he was supposed to meet the girls, and was carrying several guns, Klan paraphernalia and an assortment of sex toys. He had earlier E-mailed explicit videos of himself as well as images and videos of child pornography “in an effort to groom the girls for an eventual sexual encounter,” according to a release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia.
Schmidt, who also went by the alias Raymond “German” Owens, subsequently was also charged with molesting his own granddaughter in Missouri and arranging a sexual encounter with an underage girl in Florida, according to the release.
Schmidt’s wife Pamela told investigators that he was active in an unspecified Missouri Klan chapter from the early 1980s to the early ’90s, and often attended Klan-related rallies in Harrison, Ark. Investigators found Nazi paraphernalia and over 60 legal firearms at the Schmidt home.
This case takes its place the gallery of sex scandals involving men who believed, by the virtue of their race alone, they deserved to run the world.
In December 2006, Matthew Downing, the 25-year-old organizer for the neo-Nazi National Vanguard in Boston, was charged with statutory rape after coercing a 14-year-old girl to perform oral sex on him. Two weeks later, Kevin Alfred Strom, 50, the leader of the parent National Vanguard group and considered one of the leading “intellectuals” of the white supremacist movement, was charged with possessing child pornography and enticing a 10-year-old girl to have sex. Strom in 2008 beat the latter charge when the judge ruled that while there was “overwhelming evidence [Strom] was sexually drawn to this child,” he never actually tried to have sex with her. Strom did plead guilty to a charge of possessing child pornography and was sentenced to 23 months in prison.
The same month Strom was arrested, the imperial wizard of Maryland’s World Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Gordon Creal Young, 40, was arrested and charged with seven criminal counts, including twice attempting to force a 15-year-old girl to perform oral sex on him. The indictment also accused him of telling the girl she would need to strip before being inducted into the Klan, to prove she was free of “imperfections.” Young was acquitted in July 2007, apparently due in part to unpersuasive testimony from the alleged victim.
In 2006, Joe Fields, once the head of the racist Nationalist Forum, became embroiled in a vitriolic internecine white nationalist controversy over allegations that in California in 1996, he had pleaded guilty to four misdemeanor counts of annoying a child under 18, after allegedly attempting to solicit underage girls to do a “porn movie,” though police presumed the movie offer to be a ruse. The ideological catfight boiled over in October 2006 when white nationalist attorney Edgar Steele – who would later be convicted of attempting to have his own wife murdered – blasted Fields as “a self-confessed child molester” and “liar” who deserved no place in the movement. “Joe pled, did some hard time and then served extended probation,” Steele wrote. Fields shot back, claiming his “no contest” plea was a pragmatic decision, and pointing out that his “hard time” amounted to 90 days in the county lock-up. Fields accused unnamed Jews of trumping up “false charges” to ruin his character.
Of Fields and Strom, Steele – ironically destined to become a convicted felon himself – wrote, “We do not need this sort of role model in the [white nationalist] movement. … It is our responsibility to clean up our own act and condemn those among us who break the law, particularly when violations so thoroughly trash the fundamental principles upon which we stand.”