Homosexual Child Molestations By Foster Parents: Illinois, 1997-2002


Do those who engage in homosexuality disproportionately sexually abuse foster or adoptive children as reported by child protective services? Illinois child services reported sexual abuse for 1997 through 2002. 270 parents committed “substantiated” sexual offenses against foster or subsidized adoptive children: 67 (69%) of 97 mother and 148 (86%) of 173 father perpetrators sexually abused girls; 30 (31%) mother and 25 (14%) of father perpetrators sexually abused boys (i.e., 92 [34%] of the perpetrators homosexually abused their charges). 15 of these parents both physically and sexually abused charges: daughters by 8 mothers and 4 fathers, sons by 3 mothers (i.e., same-sex perpetrators were involved in 53%). Thus, homosexual practitioners were proportionately more apt to sexually abuse foster or adoptive children.

In a general population random sample of 3,714 adults from five metropolitan areas, Cameron, Proctor, Coburn, Larson, Forde, & Cameron (1986) listed 6 (0.2%) reported “serious sexual advances” (p., 329) against them by a foster parent [3 homosexual against girls; 3 heterosexual: 1 against a boy, 2 against girls] – that is, 6 (0.59%) of 1,021 “serious sexual advances” reported by various caretakers. One woman also reported that his advance led to “sexual contact” with a male foster parent – that is, 0.27% of 369 “sexual contacts” reported with various caretakers/relatives. Of these 6 sexual interactions, all of which would presumably have been actionable, 3 were homosexual. On their face, t hese results seem to validate traditional concerns about sexual recruitment of children by homosexuals (Levitt & Klassen, 1974). In 1987, the National Association of Social Workers [NASW] ignored this finding and without proffering any evidence to the contrary, passed a resolution decrying “resistance to using single parents, …including lesbian and gay parents, as potential foster care and adoption resources.”

In what appears to be the second empirical study bearing on the issue, 14 years of news stories about foster parent molestation of charges in the 50 largest circulation newspapers in the English-speaking world was reviewed (Cameron, 2003). 12 (57%) of the 21 male and 3 of the 4 female perpetrators (e.g., 15 [60%] of the 25 perpetrators) in these stories homosexually molested their charges.

Two studies – one from a sample of victims, the other from a sample of stories about victims and perpetrators — indicated that perhaps half of foster parent molestations were upon members of the same sex. Would about the same fraction of homosexual molestations obtain if the data was collected and reported by child protective services?


Responding to a Freedom of Information Act Request, the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services provided a complete list of “substantiated physical or sexual abuse” by perpetrator’s sex as well as the sex of victim(s) for 1997 through 2002. Marital status of parent perpetrators is not recorded in Illinois and number of children abused per perpetrator or whether multiple perpetrators violated the same child was not available. Behavior is potentially observable, thus ‘objective’ unlike an individual’s feelings or subject to dispute as a psychiatrist’s diagnosis. As Ross, Essien, Williams, & Fenandez-Esquer (2003) noted “sexual behavior is not always adequately represented by self-labeling of sexual identity” (p. 113), and because of this most recent population surveys have indexed behavior rather than reported ‘identity’ (e.g., Spira, Bajos & the ACSF group, 1994; Wellings, Field, Johnson, Wadsworth, 1994; Anderson, Wilson, Barker, Doll, Jones, & Holtgrave, 1999). Since the meaning of a homosexual is “sexual relations between persons of the same sex” (1992 New Illustrated Webster’s Dictionary ), and in the 1996 Centers for Disease Control [CDC] national sexuality survey ‘homosexual’ was defined as someone who had sex with their sex irrespective of age of partner (Anderson, et al., 1999), it seemed sensible to use “ homosexual” behaviorally and descriptively – referring to those who have sex with their sex — irrespective of age of partner.

Considering those who sexually interact with the underage as ‘pedophiles’ is not particularly useful. Bell & Weinberg (1978) asked 671 homosexual men and 288 homosexual women from a quasi-random sample in San Francisco about the proportions of their homosexual partners who “were 16 or younger when you were 21 or older” (p. 311). Of the men, 77% said “none,” 23% said “half or less,” and none said “more than half;” of the women, 94% said “none,” 3.8% said “half or less,” and none said “more than half.” While, 156 (23%) of the men and 11 (4%) of the women admitted to having had some sex with children, none was a “pedophile” in the sense of only having had sex with or could only have sex with children.


There were 963 offenders whose kind of abuse and sex of victim(s) were known (2 mothers physically abused children of unspecified sex, an offender of unknown sex abused child[ren] of unknown sex in an unspecified way). Substantiated sexual abuse was reported for 270 parents: 67 (69%) of 97 mothers and 148 (86%) of 173 fathers sexually abused girls; 30 mothers and 25 fathers sexually abused boys (i.e., 92 [34%] homosexually abused their charges). Substantiated physical abuse was found for 708 parents: 268 (49%) of 544 mothers and 68 (41%) of 164 fathers physically abused daughters; 276 mothers and 96 fathers physically abused sons (i.e., 52%of perpetrators abused boys). 15 parents both physically and sexually abused charges: daughters by 8 mothers and 4 fathers, and sons by 3 mothers (i.e., when both forms of abuse were substantiated, same-sex perpetrators were involved in 53%).

On average, yearly there were 60,093 children in 4,300 foster- or adoption-subsidized homes in Illinois. For the 6-year period, 966 parents engaged in “substantiated” abuse after an investigation was conducted. Assuming one perpetrator per home, per year, children were sexually abused in about 1% (45/4,300) and physically abused in about 3% (118/4,300). Physical abuse occurred in 6% of the homes where sexual abuse occurred, sexual abuse occurred in 2% of homes where physical abuse occurred.


Illinois is the sixth largest state with about 12 million inhabitants and is slightly more urban than the U.S. as a whole. The Illinois rates, which do not include neglect, appear similar to the national average of 6.1% for “child abuse and neglect” reported by the U.S. Health and Human Services (Branigin, 2003).

Estimates of the proportion of adults who have engaged in homosexual sex in the past 12 months vary. The 1996 National Household Survey of Drug Abuse/CDC study (www.icpsr.umich.edu/samhda) estimated that 1.2% of those aged 18 to 59 reported sex with a member of their sex [no age specified] in the past 12 months, other estimates put the number at around 2-3% (Laumann, Gagnon, Michael, & Michaels, 1994).

Ottawa, Canada was among the first jurisdictions to aggressively recruit homosexual foster parents. As of October 24, 2002, 9 of 278 Ottawa’s approved foster homes included known homosexuals, and two of these homes had not yet been given a foster-child (Brooks, 2002), i.e., less than 3% of Ottawa’s placements were homosexual. Thus, those who engage in sex with their own sex appear to be employed as foster- and adoptive-parents in proportions at or below their presence in the general population.

The proportion of molestations of foster children that were homosexual in the general population survey by Cameron, et al . (1986) was 50%, while the proportion of molestations of foster children that were homosexual in 14 years of newspaper stories about foster parent molestations was 60% (Cameron, 2003). The Illinois material collected and reported by that state’s child protective services — 34% homosexual — was lower than either of the two published estimates. The prior 2 estimates were based upon small numbers of data points – 6 in Cameron, et al ., 1986 and 25 in Cameron, 2003. It is therefore tempting to believe that the 270 data points reported from Illinois results in an estimate closer to the ‘real, underlying proportion’ – but further studies will be required to be more certain as to which estimate is closest. Nonetheless, the disproportionality of the homosexual footprint was evident in each dataset. These three methods, though differing in their estimates of homosexual molestation, tend to cross-validate each other. As such, support for abandoning the tradition of excluding homosexuals as foster parents as recommended by the NASW was not found.


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Bell, A. P. & Weinberg, M. S. (1978) Homosexualities: a study of diversity among men and women . New York: Simon & Schuster.

Branigin, W. (2003) Officials assess county child welfare system. Washington Post , 7/10/03, p. TO3.

Brooks, M. (2002) CAS seeks gay foster parents: Move reflects changing face of Canadian family. Ottawa Citizen , 10/24/02, p. Al.

Cameron, P., Proctor, K., Coburn, W., Larson, H., Forde, N., & Cameron, K. (1986) Child molestation and homosexuality. Psychological Reports , 38, 327-337.

Laumann, E. O., Gagnon, J. H., Michael, R. T., Michaels, S. (1994) The social organization of sexuality: sexual practices in the United States . Chicago: Univ. Chicago Press.

Levitt, E.E., & Klassen, A.D., Jr. (1974). Public Attitudes toward homosexuality: part of the 1970 national survey by the Institute for Sex Research. Journal of Homosexuality , 1, 29-43.

Ross, M. W., Essien, E. J., Williams, M. L., & Fernandez-Esquer, M. E. (2003) Concordance between sexual behavior and sexual identity in street outreach samples of four racial/ethnic groups. Sexually Transmitted Disease 30,110-113.

Spira, A., Bajos, N. & the ACSF group. (1994) Sexual behaviour and AIDS . Aldershot: Avebury.

Wellings, K., Field, .J, Johnson, A. M., Wadsworth, J. (1994) Sexual behaviour in Britain: the national survey of sexual attitudes and lifestyles. London: Penguin.

Note: IllinoisLeader.com filed the freedom of information act (FOIA) request.