Reverend Stephen White, infamous for preaching against homosexuality and sexual promiscuity at Yale and other college campuses, now faces charges that he solicited sex from a teenage boy in a Philadelphia suburb.
In recent years, White — known to students as “Brother Stephen” — has made informal speeches on Cross Campus and Beinecke Plaza denouncing minorities, homosexuals, religious groups and aspects of popular culture.
White was arrested in June after he allegedly offered $20 to a 14-year-old boy in West Chester, Pa. for permission to perform oral sex on him.
According to the boy’s sworn affidavit, White approached him in a green Ford van and asked if he knew of any strip clubs, adult book stores or shops that sold sexually explicit videos. When then the boy said he did not, White unsuccessfully attempted to lure the boy into the vehicle. White then told the boy he could “make some money” by letting White perform fellatio on him.
After the encounter, the boy reported the van’s license plate number to his mother, who then contacted the police.
White will be tried on Nov. 24 on four charges, including criminal attempt to lure a child into a motor vehicle and criminal solicitation to involuntary deviant sexual intercourse.
Stan Billie, a detective at the West Chester Police Department, said he believed this may not be White’s only sex offense, although no other victims have come forward.
“Based on my experiences, these things don’t just happen once,” Billie said.
At Yale, news of White’s arrest elicited student reactions ranging from glee to indifference.
Cyd Cipolla, a former coordinator of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Cooperative, said she was in disbelief when she heard about White’s alleged sex offense.
“I’m still kind of incredulous,” she said. “How is it that anyone can engage in something so clearly taboo, especially someone who presents themselves as so entrenched in morality? I feel sorry for this man and for the boy who crossed his path.”
David Margines ’04 said he was not surprised because he felt White’s moral standards were skewed from the start. He nevertheless saw a disconnect between White’s speeches and his actions.
“He would quote bible passages incessantly,” Margines said. “[Now] it seems the Bible would be against what he’s done.”
Margines also criticized White’s decision to bring his child to his speeches.
“He’s subjecting his kid to taunting, yelling crowds,” he said. “Kids that age — he was maybe three — need sunshine, lollipops and rainbows, not scripture, brimstone, and hellfire.”
Mike Schwartz ’05 said he was pleased that White’s apparent hypocrisy had been exposed.
“There’s a sick satisfaction that someone so preachy is so flawed,” he said. “I’m trying not to be thrilled about it.”
Yale students remember White’s rants with mixed amusement and disdain.
“He was too offensive to be taken seriously,” Cipolla said. “I felt bad for being entertained, but I was just enjoying a spectacle.”
Cipolla said she found White’s exaggerated ramblings less insulting than subtle, unintentionally prejudiced comments.
Schwartz, however, objected more vehemently to White’s message and tactics.
“It’s hard not to get offended [by White],” Schwartz said. “He represents that parochial closed-mindedness — that holier-than-thou attitude.”
[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”19129″ ]