The Center for Research and Information on Childhood and Sexuality (CRIES), or Le Centre de recherche et d'information sur l'enfance et la sexualité in French, was a group of French-speaking Belgian pedophile activists led by Philippe Carpentier, active from 1982 to 1986. An outgrowth of a French homosexual group established in 1979, CRIES published the MAP magazine L'Espoir (EN: Hope). They were the 2nd and most active MAP organization in France, being preceded by Le Groupe de recherche pour une enfance différente (GRED); in English, The Research Group for a Different Childhood.
In the tradition of militant MAP movements, the members of CRIES "believe that a romantic relationship made up of tenderness and fulfilled sensuality can be for young people, whatever their age or sex, an eminently positive experience, if it is lived in freedom, free from any form of constraint, but also free from the taboos and guilt that our society still too often attaches to sexuality. Therefore, CRIES fights in favor of a legislative reform (...) which would decriminalize all freely consented amorous relationships, which would make it possible to fight much more effectively the cases of prostitution, abuse or coercion, currently confused with the others in the same repression."
The role of the CRIES being "above all educational and preventive" (Ibid), its action develops mainly on three axes: research (inventory of writings on pedophilia and constitution of a library intended to be exhaustive); action (denunciation of the “damage caused both to children and to adults by the repression of their romantic relationships”); information (bi-monthly then weekly meetings, telephone support, distribution of a magazine).
The foundation of CRIES
In 1979, activists from the Belgian homosexual association Infor Homosexualité founded the Study Group on Pedophilia (le Groupe d'étude sur la pédophilie). This group, which also considered heterosexual relations, amassed documentation and published in early 1980 To love between children and adults (S'aimer entre enfants et adultes). In 1982, faced with the decline of Infor-Homosexuality's activities, the GEP changed its name to become the Center for Research and Information on Childhood and Sexuality, and joined forces with another homosexual group, Regard Pluriel, which disappeared in 1983, allowing the CRIES to acquire its autonomy. The movement is led by Philippe Carpentier, who had participated in the work of the GEP since 1978.
L'Espoir (Hope) and the Development of CRIES
At the end of 1982, Jean-Claude Weber, a MAP activist then detained in Belgium for sexual relations with minors, informed CRIES of his desire to participate in a pedophile magazine which could be distributed in Belgian prisons. Unable to publish a magazine while being in prison, he let the CRIES take care of it. A bi-monthly photocopied magazine called L'Espoir (Hope) was born, distributed in France and Belgium from January 1983at the end of 1986. The magazine informs about CRIES activities and the news of global pedophile activism. There are reflections and articles signed by the members of the group (e.g. Claude Drieghe, Philippe Carpentier), readers or specialists (such as Frits Bernard or Edward Brongersma), as well as poems, testimonies and drawings (including the reworking of sketches by Paul Cuvelier in issue 11). Reviews and announcements of magazines, novels or films on childhood are also numerous.
The first year, L'Espoir was distributed in around 150 copies, of which around 100 were paid for, resulting in major financial difficulties. From number 11, the review is organized around a theme related to pedophilia or childhood. At the end of 1984, the print run was 400 copies, including two hundred paid copies, the magazine was 60 pages, and the CRIES reached financial equilibrium. CRIES had become is the main organ of the French-speaking pedophile movement, as the activities of its predecessor, the Research Group for a Different Childhood (GRED) - in French Groupe de recherche pour une enfance différente - being limited, and its newspaper being published at random intervals.
L'Espoir enjoyed increasing success, and at the end of 1985, its circulation was 800 copies (including 450 paying copies), which made it possible to change the formula in 1986: the newspaper lost pages (it went to 40), while increasing its quality. A monthly publication rhythm is sketched out, but only lasts until issue 24 of April, the enthusiasm of the readers not being accompanied by a larger shipment of testimonials, texts or illustrations. Taking note of the preponderance of the French among the readers of L'Espoir, the CRIES created an antenna in France in May 1983, in order to relieve the Brussels center of the management of French letters and calls.
After three years of independence, CRIES joined the Infor-Homosexualités Belgique association at the end of 1986, re-founded. The aim was to make the organization more visible within the avant-gardes of sexual liberation, and to belong and ally with a legally organized group. Without anything in its content indicating it, the twenty-eighth issue of November-december 1986, is the last issue of Hope to appear, and the last publication of CRIES. It is then that the “CRIES affair” arises.
The CRIES Affair
In 1986, Michel Felu used the offices of his employer, Joseph Verbeeck, director of UNICEF Belgium, to take erotic and pornographic photographs of minors. The softcore of these photos having been published in L'Espoir, the police then carried out searches at the home of Philippe Carpentier and other members of the CRIES. More than 4,000 photos and cassettes are seized belonging to individuals across across 18 countries who were associated with CRIES, involving an estimated 100 minors. The images are taken and shot not only on UNICEF premises, but also in private apartments in Antwerp or Brussels where parents prostituted their children, and elsewhere in the world. The lists of CRIES members are seized, and searches take place, especially in Belgium, the French police being uncooperative. Although all the members of CRIES did not participate in the exchanges and purchases of child pornography pictures and films, Philippe Carpentier and Michel Felu were sentenced in 1988 to ten years in prison. This marked the end of the 1st wave of the MAP Movement in France.
- CRIES, Qui sommes-nous ? [archive], dans L'Espoir n°21, janvier 1986. [Translated: CRIES, “ Who are we?, in L’Espoir n°21, January 1986].
- Philippe Carpentier, « Le mouvement pédophile chez nous » [archive], dans L'Espoir n°2, février 1983. [Translated: Philippe Carpentier, “The pedophile movement among us”, in L'Espoir n°2, February 1983]
- Van de Moortel, Françoise , "Pedo-criminal networks before the Dutroux affair" [PDF] , conference "Pedo-criminal organization",October 20, 2000.