The Franklin Scandal, By Nick Bryant ( Trine Day LLC, Walterville, Oregon, 2009, 652 pages.)
Book Review by Dennis Moore
May 23, 2010 (San Diego) –Author Nick Bryant reveals a tragic and sinister tale of a nationwide pedophile ring that pandered children to a cabal of the rich and famous, stretching from Southern California to cornfields of Nebraska and beyond to our nation’s capitol. The Franklin Scandal reveals political powerbrokers who had access to the highest levels of our government and connections in the CIA. One of those powerbrokers is Lawrence E. "Larry" King, Jr. (no relation to the TV talk show host of the same name), identified by other sources as the primary pimp of the nationwide pedophile ring.
This book gripped me and held my attention like none I have ever read; I couldn’t put it down. The Franklin Scandal is riveting!
As far as scandals go, The Franklin Scandal tears at your heart and rips your soul, for it involves the most vulnerable of victims: our children. The political scandals in San Diego County, such as former Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham’s bribery conviction or corruption charges against ex-Councilmen Ralph Inzunza and Michael Zucchet, (Zucchet's conviction was later dismissed on appeal) pale in comparison to the actions detailed in The Franklin Scandal. The Orange County Register, a three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper wrote a story on one aspect of The Franklin Scandal, a secretive and shadowy organization known as the “Finders.” The prologue to Bryant’s book is titled “The Finders of Lost Children.” He also used the Los Angeles Times newspaper as a source; elements of his tale have a Southern California flavor.
Elements of child abuse and torture revealed in The Franklin Scandal show an unimaginable level of cruelty and insensitivity. For example, this passage details findings from a 1991 study by the National Center for the Treatment of Dissociative Disorders in Denver, Colorado, published in The Journal of Child Abuse & Neglect, surveyed thirty-seven adult victims of the pedophila ring who had reported "ritual abuse as children and were diagnosed with either multiple personality disorder or dissociative disorder. All the subjects said they had been sexually abused and/or tortured, had witnessed animal mutilations, been forced to take drugs, and received death threats—83% said they had witnessed at least one adult or child sacrifice.”
Perhaps that is one of the reasons why author Bryant seemed to have faced a conspiracy of silence in getting his book published, coupled with the fact that people in high places were implicated.
The author points out in his book that state and federal grand juries in Nebraska and a grand jury in the District of Columbia played an integral role in an alleged cover-up. Bryant has had access to thousands of documents that would ultimately be sealed by two of the grand juries, some of which are illustrated in this book. The author alleges that the media, through either commission or omission, also abetted the cover-up of the child trafficking network, further indicating that various news organizations have attempted to break aspects of this story, but that the reports have either been ignored or mysteriously shelved, with ABC and CBS being the major culprits. The author speaks of very powerful people having a vested interest in safeguarding the secret of this child abuse and betrayal.
Author Bryant did his own investigative reporting, tracking down members of the sex ring that is the subject of his book, and persuading them to talk. He conducted hundreds of hours of interviews and pored over thousands of documents. Two of those that he interviewed, Alisha Owen and Paul Bonacci, were not only sex abuse victims, but were also used as drug carriers for the nationwide pedophile ring. In The Franklin Scandal, author Bryant brings his explosive and controversial report, which is more than an exposé, directly to the court of public opinion. It is for us, the readers, to determine what we do with this wake-up call, and particularly if we care for our children. Throughout his book, Bryant demonstrates breathtaking government corruption.
The story will resonate with readers in San Diego, which is dealing with its own pedophile scandals, most notably the recent abduction, rapes, and murders of Chelsea King and Amber Dubois by convicted pedophile John Albert Gardner.
Bryant, who has vacationed in San Diego, came upon the stories revealed in The Franklin Scandal as he was en route to view pictures in the mountains of Colorado with a registered sex offender-- the admitted former “photographer” of a nationwide pedophile network that Bryant had been investigating for over three years. Before making the trip to Colorado, Bryant thought that he could prove the network’s existence, its cover-up by federal and state authorities, and make a case for CIA involvement and blackmail. Thus, he became involved with the registered sex offender. Bryant felt it would be next to impossible to name names without pictures, because of the pedophiles’ lofty social status. He felt that society would never take the word of damaged victims, who themselves had become predators and felons, over the word of seemingly well-adjusted politicians and affluent businessmen. Rusty Nelson, the registered sex offender, told Bryant that he had blackmail pictures stashed in the mountains of Colorado. Bryant expressed incredulity, but he had to give it a shot. The book reads like a John Grisham novel!
Bryant in The Franklin Scandal, picked up where John DeCamp left off in DeCamp’s 1992 publication, The Franklin Cover-Up. Bryant speaks of an ongoing conspiracy and scandal. In one instance detailed in DeCamp’s book, Paul Bonacci was taken by a Larry King and others to a wooded area in California identified after publication as the Bohemian Grove. Bonacci, along with an Alisha Owen, had been quoted as being used as drug carriers to bring cocaine in from the West Coast, in addition to being sexually abused. The tangential drug carrier aspect would lead to Congresswoman Maxine Waters of South-Central Los Angeles sending a letter to Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) chief John Deutsch demanding an investigation. The Franklin Cover-up would lead to a British documentary on the matter, Conspiracy of Silence, produced by Yorkshire Television in 1994.
A key figure in Bryant’s The Franklin Scandal is Gary Caradori, the CEO of a large security and investigative agency. He was described as a seasoned, relentless, and hands-on gumshoe, with a passion for finding missing persons, particularly abducted children and teenage girls enmeshed in drugs and prostitution. One magazine article described Caradori’s stealthy feats on the gritty streets of Los Angeles. The article reported that Caradori posed in the undercover disguises of a priest or a plumber to infiltrate brothels and the inner sanctums of Mafiosi to find and retrieve young women ensnared in prostitution.
It was this type of investigative acumen on the part of Caradori that would contribute towards uncovering the revelations behind Bryant’s story of powerbrokers, child abuse & betrayal. Caradori’s passion and tenacity in finding lost souls was demonstrated in a quote attributed to him in a magazine, in which he stated; “If I didn’t have to make a living, I’d track them down for free.” He was further quoted, as stating; “When the police tell you their hands are tied…. Then your only witness has skipped town and when the justice system seems like it’s breaking apart, people call Gary Caradori.”
The aforementioned Larry E. "Larry" King, Jr., described as a “GOP high-roller and “the fastest rising African-American star” in the Republican Party, was known for his affinity for flowers, and his life of being a bouquet of finely tailored suits, limos, chartered jets, and glistening jewelry. He is the linchpin to The Franklin Scandal. Throughout the 1980s, the middle-aged King, tall and corpulent, served as Vice Chairman for Finance of the National Black Republican Council, a sanctioned affiliate of the Republican National Committee, and ardently campaigned for the 1988 presidential bid of his “personal friend,” George H.W. Bush.
King opened the 1984 GOP national convention with a rousing rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner and threw a party for 600 people, including a cabinet official and President Reagan’s daughter, at Southfork Ranch -- the swanky mansion used for the Dallas TV series. In a 1988 flurry of name-dropping, King told a reporter for Omaha’s weekly Metropolitan of his lofty connections atop the political food chain, including Ed Meese, the late Bill Casey of the CIA, and former Chief Justice Burger. It could have been hyperbole, but King did seem to have some of his questionable actions covered up by higher powers, at least in the assessment of author Bryant.
King had an array of diverse business ventures, but his primary day job was manager of an Omaha credit union, created to provide loans for Omaha’s underserved black community. The full name of the firm was the Franklin Community Federal Credit Union. On November 4, 1988, federal agents descended on the Franklin Credit Union, and the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) would ultimately conclude that $39.4 million had been stolen. Bryant reveals in his book that King would be indicted on 40 counts that included conspiracy, fraud, and embezzlement, but King had possessed the political juice to stave off audits for years. It seems that the fraud and embezzlement at the Franklin Credit Union was the means to fund the nationwide pedophile ring, and to give King cover. The vast amount of senators voting for an investigation into the financial collapse of the Franklin Credit Union weren’t aware of the child-abuse allegations regarding King, but Bryant indicates in his book that the streetwise Senator Ernie Chambers was fully cognizant of King’s alleged pedophile network.
After reading about the exploits of King in The Franklin Cover-up, Bryant phoned the author of the book, John DeCamp. DeCamp’s book mentioned the mysterious deaths or suicides of numerous people affiliated with the investigation into Larry King’s alleged child-pandering network. Though The Franklin Cover-Up offered compelling evidence for the existence of King’s pedophile ring and its cover-up by law enforcement, it lacked substantive proof for the ring’s connection to Washington, DC, blackmail and the CIA, and also the pandering of Boys Town kids. This is where Bryant’s book steps in, along with the investigative acumen of the aforementioned Gary Caradori.
Gary Caradori was selected as the Franklin Committee’s investigator in 1989 to investigate the failings of the aforementioned Franklin Community Federal Credit Union, which lead to the indictment of Larry King. It was through this indictment and subsequent investigation, along with John DeCamp and a Paul Bonacci pursuing federal civil lawsuits against Larry King and other alleged pedophiles Bonacci named as his assailants, that formed the basis of the conspiracy of silence and government cover-up in Bryant’s book. Larry King was actually incarcerated for looting the Franklin Credit Union when Bonacci initiated his lawsuit against him. Gary Caradori and his eight-year-old son would later die in a mysterious plane crash in Illinois. His looking into the allegations of child sexual abuse for the Nebraska State Legislature’s Franklin Credit Union committee, has been implied as contributing to his death.
Corroboration and credence was given to this book in a default judgment for Paul Bonacci, and against Larry King, by U.S. District Court Judge Warren Urbom, who wrote in his decision; “Between December 1980 and 1988, the complaint alleges, the defendant King continually subjected the plaintiff to repeated sexual assaults, false imprisonments, infliction of extreme emotional distress, organized and directed satanic rituals, forced the plaintiff to ‘scavenge’ for children to be a part of the defendant King’s sexual abuse and pornography ring, forced the plaintiff to engage in numerous sexual contacts with the defendant King and others and participate in deviate sexual games and masochistic orgies with other minor children.”
Since King did not raise a defense to these allegations, the Judge awarded Paul Bonacci a one million dollar judgment against Larry King, whom author Bryant refers to in his book as; “the primary pimp of the nationwide pedophile ring.”
In interviews with key people alleged to have been sexually abused in The Franklin Scandal, Alisha Owen and Paul Bonacci, author Bryant states; “given the unbelievable amount of abuse that Alisha Owen and Paul Bonacci have endured from perpetrators and also law enforcement, I find it truly astounding that they’ve been able to forge lives for themselves.” The author points out that both Owen and Bonacci have been happily married for years, and both are gainfully self-employed. Tragically, the other victims of the pedophile ring did not fare as well. This book is a must read that I strongly recommend.
Sander Hicks, the author of The Devil In The Vatican, says this in regard to Bryant’s book: “Author Bryant’s new book, The Franklin Scandal, sheds light on a specific abusive cult with links to the GOP, the CIA, the Catholic Church, and various DC politicians.” Sander Hicks is quoted as inquiring of Bryant, as to if he saw any similarities between the Vatican’s current cover-up, as brought out in Sander’s book, and what happened with Franklin. Bryant responded to Hicks while they met together in a Washington Square Park: “It’s exactly the same,” he said. “Their M.O. is deny, deny, deny. If any victims come forward, slam them. That formula has been used forever.”
One paragraph in Bryant’s book sums it up, as he states; “America is a society that predominantly believes that an individual’s sexual predispositions or preferences shouldn’t be illegal insofar as they involve consenting adults, and I’m of that opinion too. But the import of Franklin is the age-old story of sexual blackmail. If, in fact, Jack Kemp had homosexual liaisons or Clarence Thomas had an interest in bestiality or lascivious pornography, their preferences would make them susceptible to being compromised and controlled. Given Kemp’s former positions as a US Congressman and Secretary of HUD, and Thomas’ status as a US Supreme Court Justice, they have made decisions that affect every American. Their potential to be blackmailed thus makes them vastly different from John Q. Citizen.”
Dennis Moore is a member of the San Diego Writers/Editors Guild. He has written for LifeAfter50 Magazine in Pasadena, California, and the Baja Times Newspaper in Rosarito Beach, Mexico. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.