Sirens apologize for trustee who resigned over pedophile group

Jacob Breslow resigned as director of the Mermaids this week after it emerged he had given a presentation at a conference organized by a support group for pedophiles. (Twitter/jlbreslow)

Mermaids has apologized and said it will review its recruitment processes after it emerged a former administrator attended a conference organized by a pedophile support group.

Trans youth charity trustee chair Belinda Bell confirmed she became aware of Jacob Breslow’s involvement in the conference, which “would have disqualified him from becoming a trustee”, Monday 3 October, and that it “immediately launched an investigation”. ”.

Breslow resigned the same day.

Associate professor of gender and sexuality at the London School of Economics (LSE), Breslow gave a presentation at a symposium organized in 2011 by the American group B4U-ACT.

The organization provides “compassionate assistance” to pedophiles, whom it calls “those attracted to minors”. It was founded in 2003 by convicted sex offender Michael Melsheimer.

In a description of his 2011 presentation, Breslow wrote, “Allowing a minor, undiagnosable form of attraction is exciting, as it potentially creates a sexual or political identity through which activists, scholars, and clinicians can begin to better understand people attracted to minors. .

“This understanding can displace the stigma, fear and abjection that are naturalized as being attached to people attracted to minors and can alter the terms by which non-normative sexualities are known.”

Bell issued an apology on behalf of Mermaids, saying: “We want to apologize for the distress and concern this news has caused.

“It is clear that Dr Breslow should never have been appointed to the board, and as chairman of the board, I am horrified that he was.”

Bell also raised concerns that Breslow may never have been named, especially since a Google search of his name quickly brings up articles from 2021 mentioning his disturbing work around pedophilia.

She said: “All directors and staff are subject to background checks, including enhanced DBS searches, social media reviews and other due diligence. On this occasion, we also weighed in on the fact that his employer is a world-renowned institution that would have carried out its own checks.

“Obviously, none of this was enough.

“You will want to know what steps we are taking to ensure that we are more rigorous in the future.

“First, we are commissioning a review of our director recruitment process to be conducted by an external expert body. We will implement its recommendations.

“Secondly, we evaluate our policies and procedures, always in collaboration with an external body of experts.

“Thirdly, we have updated the Charity Commission on the matter and the steps the charity intends to take to ensure transparency about what happened.”

Bell added: “We should also say that Dr Breslow was an administrator for a very short time [from July until last week]during which he had no interaction with any of our youth or families and only attended a regular quarterly board meeting.

“The Mermaids will continue to provide a wide range of support to the thousands of young people and families who need us. We want to apologize for having shaken your confidence in us.

In a statement to BBC, Breslow’s employer, LSE, added: “We were made aware of a presentation given at an external event in 2011 by a then graduate student, now a faculty member at LSE. We review those reports.

Since then, his faculty page on the LSE website has been updated to read: “Dr Jacob Breslow is currently on sabbatical until January 2023.”

Predictably, the charity’s serious misstep has sparked a lot of anti-LGBTQ+ talk, linking both mermaids and the wider queer community to paedophilia.

The revelations about Breslow come as Mermaids is the target of a misinformation campaign, alleging the charity poses child protection risks because of its supply of workbooks to young people.

Following an “investigation” of The Telegraphwhich relied entirely on an unidentified adult posing as a 14-year-old child to access Mermaids’ services, including the charity’s youth forum and online chat helpline, the Charity Commission received several complaints about Mermaids.

The commission later announced that it would open a regulatory compliance case to assess the complaints, which is not a finding of wrongdoing.

But due to the regulatory compliance case, the National Letter Community Fund said this week it would suspend funding for Mermaids, according to The temperature.

PinkNews contacted the National Letter Community Fund for comment.

Jennifer C. Burleigh