You may recall a fellow name Albert Calabrese from Jeff Sharlet’s brilliant GQ article about A Voice for Men’s conference last summer. You may not remember the name, but you may recall one important fact about him: He thinks the age of consent should be lowered to twelve years. “I would rather err on the side of 12-year-olds having sex,” he told Sharlet, “than on the side of ruining men’s lives.”
Calabrese, a former substitute teacher, has made his own “errors,” having won himself a spot on the sex offender registry in Fayetteville, Arkansas for “Unlawful Sexual Conduct With A Minor.”
There’s no question that Calabrese is a real person; a quick Google search will turn up the basic facts of his case, as well as a mugshot that is obviously of the same person whose photograph appears at the start of Sharlet’s piece.
But when Sharlet’s piece came out, with Calebrese’s picture at the top, angry AVFMers cried foul, with some insinuating that he was a sort of double-agent ephebophile hired by GQ to make the Men’s Rights movement look bad.
In an angry and often incoherent post attacking Sharlet, AVFM’s “Collegiate Activism Director” Sage Gerard (aka Victor Zen) declared:
The funny bit about the pedo is that Jeff in reality “found” him and put him in a car with the Honey Badgers to agitate them. Jeff was also seen ushering Pedobear around, and they rarely separated. AVfM will have a story on Jeff’s odd use of the (guy possibly paid to act like a) pedophile later.
In a comment to Gerard’s post, AVFM “managing editor” Dean Esmay claimed that he had some sort of smoking gun:
By the way Jeff–and I know you’re reading this–let’s be real clear, we got the real story now on your little stunt with Pedobear Calzone. Expect to read about it soon. …
Also, would you like to come clean publicly now with how you met the Pedobear that none of us had heard of until you ran your sweaty-palmed “report” for GQ? Or do I have to just publish what we know now for sure saying you had no comment?
Needless to say, the promised story about “Pedobear Calzone” never appeared.
What did appear — and which I only recently discovered — was a video from Calebrese himself, giving his side of the story and, by the way, confirming the key points Sharlet made about him. Including the bit about 12-year-olds.
Faced with the video, AVFMers have not only abandoned their conspiracy theories about him — they’re considering welcoming him aboard.
In a comment on Calebrese’s video on YouTube, Esmay noted that he felt a bit ambivalent about
Pedobear Calzone Calebrese:
I have extremely mixed reactions here; as a victim of childhood sexual abuse, I do believe in forgiveness and yet your position is extreme. I’m conflicted in knowing how to react to you.
If you’re wondering why Esmay would even consider “forgiving” an admitted perpetrator of sexual abuse he had been denouncing as a phony only a few days earlier, well, here’s a bit more of Esmay’s comment:
That said, one thing is perfectly obvious: you were used and Sharlet was not honest at all. He had a bad used car salesman ooze to him, and the article just confirmed that.
An enemy of Jeff Sharlet is my friend?
AVFM head boy Paul Elam, meanwhile, felt no inner conflict:
Apparently, in Elam’s eyes, “writing unflattering things about AVFM” is a less-forgivable crime than “Unlawful Sexual Conduct With A Minor.”