Virtuous Pedophiles (aka Virped, founded June, 2012) is an online forum and peer support community for MAPs, particularly pedophiles who agree to conduct themselves in a socially-appropriate fashion, including the complete rejection of reform positions on sex between adults and minors (sometimes referred to ACNOMAPS - Anti-contact and NOMAP). Members have presented themselves as battling against unwanted impulses, leading some to describe them as subservient to the predominant medical narrative of pedophilia. Virped nevertheless pursues an agenda of destigmatization in their limited public advocacy work. The two founders of the group use the pseudonyms Ethan Edwards and Nick Devin, and formed Virped because they objected to B4U-ACT's noncommittal stance re. their deeply held anti-contact views. There are over 2000 users registered, including parents of children, parents of pedophiles, and a few sex researchers. Websites that have pursued a similar approach are the German website Schicksal und Herausforderung (German for Fate and Challenge) and the Czech forum ČEPEK.
The group's efforts have been supported for their potential benefits by several human sexuality experts. The group was acknowledged in a New York Times editorial about the distinction between pedophilia and child sexual abuse by law professor Margo Kaplan. Kaplan wrote, "It is not that these individuals are 'inactive' or 'nonpracticing' pedophiles, but rather that pedophilia is a status and not an act." In 2022, the group was linked to a pamphleting campaign in the United Kingdom. Despite the fact that these claims were made by a radical feminist on the basis of hearsay, they resulted in the banning of Virped's public account from Twitter. It appears Virped had given a newly recruited social media manager access to their 7-year old Twitter account, and he then made a series of posts claiming that he was engaged in the campaign, oblivious to the risk this posed to the account.
Concept and founding
What We Virtuous Pedophiles Really Believe, by Ethan Edwards (in Alice Lovers Magazine No. 4).
For peer support, Nick was referred to the B4U-ACT peer support group. Unfortunately he did not enjoy his time there. He thought they were unnecessarily antagonistic towards scientists who had befriended him. And, in fact, its leader Richard Kramer alienated these scientists by aggressively criticizing them for supporting the view that there is such a thing as pedophilic disorder, as expressed in the proposed DSM-5 TM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Nick also believed that the societal hatred attached to pedophilia could be reduced if society could be made to understand the difference between pedophilia (sexual feelings towards children) and child sexual abuse (sexual acts with children). He felt that B4U-ACT could make progress in this area, but only if it unequivocally stated that adults should not have sexual contact with children. B4U-ACT refused to do this because it believed this would alienate pedophiles and also, Nick believed, because many of its leaders felt that adult-child sex should be legal. After trying to get B4U-ACT to modify its views, Nick decided the differences were too great to be bridged, and in 2011 he resigned from the organization. He had an idea of creating a website that would express the reality that many pedophiles are dedicated to (and succeed at) avoiding sexual contact with children. Nick began work on a website for this new organization in 2012.
Virped has been active on Twitter for some time; @virpeds has an account creation date of October 2015, however, it was suspended in late August, 2022, following the above-mentioned pamphleting controversy. Before the account even existed, they were given some support by James Cantor, mentioned by CBC News, Karen Franklin and the Kinsey Institute.
Virped employed a two-forked social media strategy on Twitter, using one account to collect followers and retweet the comments of another. This appeared to be a strategy to avoid suspensions.
Moderation, ethos and criticism
Virped have pursued strict rules of moderation from the outset. According to their founder:
- "we do not allow discussions of whether adult-[minor] sex is fundamentally OK [...] We banned discussion of Trump some time ago, and more recently have banned anti-vax positions [...] we don't allow jokes with the N-word"
Their history with the boylove community goes back some time, and tends not to be particularly positive. They have at times been described as cult-like in their mode of operation. The group's use of potentially mischaracterizing terms such as pro-contact and anti-contact has also drawn criticism in some quarters, as has the idea of pro-c MAPs being "lectured" on moral values by forum members, some of whom are ex-cons.
Virped's FAQ states "we would certainly wish that any newborn baby not turn out to be a pedophile". This hard medicalist focus has been cited as somewhat concerning, given one of their main supporters is Dr. James Cantor, who aggressively focuses his research on finding biological markers for pedophilia.
Virped have not attempted to hide their religious connections from the very beginning, and the group remains open to people of all faiths. In one article, the experiences of two LDS Virpeds are charted.
Reduction in activity
Insiders have reported a reduction in forum activity in 2021 and 2022 - including, but not limited to the absence of key representatives and their activist initiatives.
- Prostasia Foundation
- Todd Nickerson and Gary Gibson - Examples of Virpeds who have gained publicity in the media.
- "Meet pedophiles who mean well: The men behind VirtuousPedophiles.com are attracted to children but devoted to denying their desires". Salon.com.
- "Many researchers taking a different view of pedophilia". L.A. Times.
- "Savage Love Podcast (episode 321) Starts at 21:30". Retrieved 27 April 2014.
- Reduxx - Virped Pamphlet Campaign
- BoyChat post: Introducing (drum roll): Virtuous Pedophiles!
- BoyChat post: Virtuous Pedophiles is a hoax, nothing more
- BoyChat post: Who is lying here?
- Experiences of Latter-day Saint “Virtuous Pedophiles”