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In 1970, he moved to Berkeley to pursue a master's degree and started a boys' choir for local children.There, he molested a boy of about seven, apparently his first victim."While I don't think it is of crucial importance in my life, it is curious that this is nearly the exact activity I would perform 10 to 15 years later," Van Handel writes.
"Now I understand that it was also a constant supply of attractive little boys."Van Handel is detailed in his confessions, but seems oblivious to the damage he is doing.
He recalls his surprise when one of his most frequent victims resisted him for the first time at age 11, after about four years of molestation."He started to cry and that snapped something in my head.
At age 13, Van Handel's father forced him to read a sex education book that terrified the young boy.
He dreaded the onset of puberty, when he imagined sexual urges would be like "poison candy," and prayed to remain a child. Anthony's, the Franciscan junior seminary in Santa Barbara, to escape his father and his own sexual anxieties.
Around the same time, he molested his 5-year-old nephew.
Van Handel tried on two occasions to address his blossoming pedophilia by talking to a Franciscan counselor, but he was so vague that the man never understood."I would hint, he would stab and we missed each other entirely," he wrote.
In 1975, Van Handel was ordained and was sent to St.
Anthony's, where he had been molested more than a decade before.
Instead, he focuses on his own emotional needs in a rare moment of self-reflection."There is something about me that is happier when accompanied by a small boy," he writes.
"Perhaps besides the sexual element, the child in me wants a playmate."Van Handel, now 65, is a registered sex offender in Santa Cruz County.