A convicted Texas child molester due to be set free on parole next week is asking to be castrated to cure him of his sickness - and for the first time ever a US state now says it is ready to oblige, and may well agree to foot the $3,000 (pounds 2,000) to $4,000 bill for the operation.
This latest twist in a case which has frequently bordered on the grotesque amounts to a complete reversal by the Texas authorities, who had long objected that castration was non-essential "elective" surgery. But on Thursday the state's Board of Pardons and Paroles said that Larry Don McQuay could have his testicles removed, and that it would encourage him to do so.
McQuay is scheduled to be released from the state prison at Huntsville, 70 miles north-west of Houston, on Monday after serving six years of an eight year sentence for committing an indecent act on a San Antonio child in 1989. But the 32-year-old avowed paedophile claims to have molested 240 children in all.
Last autumn McQuay reportedly tried but failed to castrate himself with a razor.
Under normal circumstances McQuay would be paroled on condition he wore an electronic tracking device, at least while he completes the remaining two years of his term.
Supporting the idea of castration, Governor George Bush (son of the former president) said he was "sickened" by the planned release of McQuay. But Mr Bush repeated warnings from medical specialists that castration was no guarantee of a cure. McQuay might still be "a danger to society," and the Parole Board should find some way to keep him in jail.
One option would be to charge McQuay with one of the other offences he claims to have committed. But the legality of such a step is uncertain.
Meanwhile controversy over McQuay's demand intensifies. A group called Justice For All has raised $4,300 to pay for the operation. But Howard Ruppell, head of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counsellors and Therapists, said castration was "mediaeval".Reuse content