Well-connected often ‘get away’ with exploiting young kids, teens

The Rev. Hank McGrath of Heritage Ministry of New York, Gloversville, was a participant on Monday at a Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Youth Awareness Conference at Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery Board of Cooperative Educational Services in Johnstown. (The Leader-Herald/Eric Retzlaff)

GLOVERSVILLE — Wealthy, well-connected people often get away with sexually exploiting both girls and boys because they are in “a protected culture” in which they cover for one another, said the Rev. Henry McGrath, pastor of Heritage Ministry of New York, a nondenominational church in the city.

McGrath, who attended a Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Youth Awareness Conference Monday at Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery Board of Cooperative Educational Services, said after the conference that he learned this firsthand as a runaway teenager in the late 1960s and 1970s.

Speaking after the conference, he said he ran away from Troy as a teenager, and ending up in Pittsburgh, he and other boys pickpocketed, stole from stores, and were offered money for sex by wealthy politicians, clergy, and movie and music “moguls.”

“You don’t know there’s a big rich culture of these people” who rarely get caught, he said.

McGrath said he was paid to do sex movies with females, service men, pose for still photos, and be a lookout to help prostitutes avoid police. “I saw my own [nude] picture in a magazine,” he said.

Runaways do these things to survive, he said.

That was a scary experience though, he added. “You would see kids disappear, and you never see them again,” he said.

Women’s recent allegations of sexual harassment or rape by movie producer Harvey Weinstein are just “the tip of the iceberg” in the entertainment industry, where sexual exploitation of youths lies in deeper shadows.

”Men get tired of the regular sex,” he said. “That sometimes requires teen boys and girls.”

McGrath, who runs a program called NeighborhoodsAgainstDrugs, said he thinks law enforcement isn’t doing enough to battle sexual exploitation of children by rich and important people.

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