The Franklin child prostitution ring allegations were a series of high-profile accusations and legal actions surrounding an alleged child sex ring serving prominent citizens of Omaha, Nebraska, as well as high-level U.S. politicians. The scandal centered around the actions of Lawrence E. King, a prominent member of the Republican Party and former official at the Franklin Community Federal Credit Union in Omaha. King was eventually arrested and convicted of embezzlement charges.
The allegations were investigated by a special Nebraska state legislative committee and the FBI. A 1990 grand jury report concluded the allegations amounted to a "carefully crafted hoax," although the alleged perpetrators of said hoax were never officially identified. Allegations of a coverup, including claims of a connection between the Franklin case and a Washington, D.C. male prostitution ring, have circulated since.
King eventually served 10 years of a 15-year prison sentence for embezzlement and fraud. He was later served with a $1M default judgment after he failed to appear in court to respond to civil charges of kidnapping and child abuse.
Child abuse and prostitution allegations
Allegations linking the Franklin Credit Union to a child prostitution ring began to surface in 1988, during an unrelated federal investigation into financial malfeasance at the credit union. News of the abuse allegations made national headlines when the New York Times reported on December 18, 1988, that the "Omaha office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation acknowledged that it had independently received reports of sexual abuse and that they were a subject of its own criminal inquiry into the credit union affair."
On June 29, 1989, six months after the Franklin story was reported in the New York Times, news of a male prostitution ring with ties to high-level U.S. politicians was reported by the Washington Times in an article bearing the headline "Homosexual Prostitution Inquiry ensnares VIPs with Reagan, Bush." The Washington Times article, by Paul M. Rodriguez and George Archibald, alleged that key officials of the Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations were connected to an elaborate Washington, D.C. male prostitution ring, and reported that two of these prostitutes even entered the White House late at night. The allegations included, among other things, charges of "abduction and use of minors for sexual perversion." The Washington Times article made no mention of a possible connection to Lawrence King and/or the Franklin case.
Grand jury findings
On January 10, 1990, the Nebraska state legislature convened a special committee to look into the allegations with Nebraska state senator Loran Schmit as chairman. On January 30, 1990, Nebraska State Attorney General Robert Spire called for a grand jury to investigate the allegations. On February 6, 1990, former County District Judge Samuel Van Pelt was appointed a special prosecutor for the Douglas County Grand Jury, which convened on March 12, 1990.
On July 23, 1990, after hearing many hours of testimony, the county grand jury threw out all of the allegations concerning sexual child abuse, labeling the charges a "carefully crafted hoax [...] scripted by a person or persons with considerable knowledge of the people and institutions of Omaha," but without identifying who perpetrated the hoax.
According to a July 8, 1992, article that appeared in the Omaha World-Herald, with two exceptions the grand jury did not accuse any of the prominent men who were named in the child abuse allegations of sexual crimes.
One exception was Omaha businessmen Alan Baer, who was indicted on two charges of pandering. Baer later was fined $500 after pleading no contest to a reduced charge of aiding and abetting prostitution. The charges against Baer involved alleged sex acts between consenting adults and did not involve minors, according to a special prosecutor assigned to the Baer case.
The other exception was Lawrence E. King. The grand jury said King probably was guilty of pandering because he engaged in sex with men in their late teens or early 20s.
Members of the special Nebraska legislative committee assigned to investigate the allegations would eventually criticize the grand jury findings, responding in their final report:
To assume that the 'hoax' was crafted assumed the existence of a craftsman. Who was it? To state that it was 'carefully crafted' assumes someone with intelligence and enough knowledge of accurate facts to make the 'hoax' credible. . . . We can find no clear evidence which conclusively establishes what was the truth and what was a hoax.
According to the New York Times, Nebraska state senator and legislative committee chair Loran Schmit labeled the grand jury's report "a strange document." "That is the kindest thing I can say about it," he said.
Lawrence King convictions
Lawrence E. King, among the key people named in the child sexual abuse allegations, was eventually convicted of embezzling thirty-eight million dollars as manager of the Franklin Community Federal Credit Union in Nebraska. King was one of the Republican Party's rising stars, performing the national anthem at the 1984 and 1988 Republican National Conventions. According to the original December 18, 1988, New York Times article, Nebraska state senator Ernie Chambers stated King's involvement in the Franklin scandal was "just the tip of an iceberg, and he's not in it by himself." Who or what exactly Chambers was referring to remains unclear, however, the New York Times reported Chambers claimed to have heard credible reports of "boys and girls, some of them from foster homes, who had been transported around the country by airplane to provide sexual favors, for which they were rewarded."
On February 1, 1991, former Nebraska state senator John DeCamp filed a civil suit on behalf of Paul Bonacci, against the Catholic Archbishop of Omaha and Lawrence E. King, as well as businessmen Peter Citron, Alan Baer, Harold Andersen, Michael Hoch, Kenneth Bovasso and other Nebraska persons and institutions.
Paul A. Bonacci won a default judgment of $800,000 in compensatory damages and $200,000 in punitive damages in the civil action against Lawrence E. King in which the petition alleged kidnapping, mind control, satanic ritual abuse, sexual abuse, and various alleged personal injuries, both physical and psychological. The judge did not rule on these allegations, but merely ruled on the motion for default judgment.
The default judgment was awarded February 14, 1999, by senior U.S. District Judge Warren Urbom of the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska in Omaha, following defendant King's failure to appear in response to the charges. King was in prison at the time, having been sentenced in June 1991 to 15 years (3 consecutive 5-year sentences) following his conviction in the Franklin Community Federal Credit Union criminal case on charges including conspiracy, embezzlement, and falsifying book entries. Before King's release, an appeal of the $1 million judgment against him was filed. In January 2000, Lawrence King dropped the appeal. King was released from prison April 10, 2001.
The 1990 grand jury report came less than two weeks after private detective Gary Caradori was killed when the small plane he was piloting broke up in flight over Illinois. Caradori was hired as lead investigator by the special Nebraska state legislative committee originally assigned to look into the child abuse allegations. Senator Loran Schmit, chairman of the legislative committee, told the Omaha World-Herald that "[Caradori] believed that something was going to come out of this investigation. He believed that the evidence was there to be developed and that things couldn't stay under cover forever."
In 1990, the Schiller Institute, a German-based organization associated with Lyndon LaRouche, created a ten-member group called "Citizens Fact-Finding Commission to Investigate Human Rights Violations of Children in Nebraska." Led by Reverend James Bevel, the group gathered signatures on a petition asking the legislature to extend Senator Schmit's investigation. Additionally, the Executive Intelligence Review, a Lyndon LaRouche publication, published an article which alleged that children associated with the Franklin prostitution ring had been murdered in satanic rituals. Reprints of the article were distributed in Omaha and Lincoln.
Former Nebraska state senator John DeCamp, who was close to the original Franklin investigation and provided legal counsel to several of the alleged victims in the case including Paul Bonacci, eventually authored a book titled The Franklin Cover-up: Child Abuse, Satanism, and Murder in Nebraska. In the book, DeCamp alleges Lawrence King was operating a child prostitution ring based in Omaha, and that it was used to serve prominent citizens in the local area, as well as high-level U.S. politicians in Washington D.C. and elsewhere. DeCamp also describes what he believes amounted to a coverup. The book was first published in 1992. A second, revised edition of the book was published in 2006.
LaRouche followers Webster Tarpley and Anton Chaitkin also wrote about the Franklin Credit Union scandal and its alleged connection to the Washington prostitution ring in a book titled George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography. The book was published by Executive Intelligence Review in 1992.
More allegations of a coverup came to light when a 56-minute documentary film about King's alleged child prostitution ring titled Conspiracy of Silence, produced in 1993 by Yorkshire Television, surfaced on the Internet. The film features an interview with former CIA director William Colby, numerous members of the Nebraska state legislature including John DeCamp, and more than one alleged victim in the case.
In 2009, a new book by investigative journalist Nick Bryant was published about the scandal and alleged coverup. The book is titled: The Franklin Scandal: A Story of Powerbrokers, Child Abuse & Betrayal.
- Associated Press Omaha Tales of Sexual Abuse Ruled False The New York Times. September 27, 1990
- Associated Press Trial is delayed in Omaha Scandal The New York Times. March 31, 1990
- William Robbins. A Lurid, Mysterious Scandal Begins Taking Shape in Omaha. The New York Times. December 18, 1988
- Paul M. Rodriguez and George Archibald. Homosexual prostitution inquiry ensnares VIPs with Reagan, Bush. Wanttoknow.info copy and voxfux.com scanned images of original 29 June 1989 article in The Washington Times.
- William Robbins. Omaha Grand Jury Sees Hoax in Lurid Tales. The New York Times. July 29, 1990
- Robert Dorr Franklin Panel Faults Grand Jury's Conclusion "Omaha World-Herald." July 8, 1992
- William Robbins. Nebraska Inquiry Is Given File on Sex Abuse of Foster Children. The New York Times, 25 December 1988, retrieved 18 January 2008
- Robert Dorr. "Bonacci Gets $1 Million in King Lawsuit" Omaha World-Herald, February 24, 1999.
- David Thompson. Franklin Attorneys Say Case Isn't Over. Omaha World-Herald, 18 June 1991.
- Robert Dorr. Omaha World-Herald "King release to close book on Frankling" Jan 28, 2001.
- Dorr, Robert; Gabriella Stern (July 12, 1990). Omaha World - Herald (Omaha, Neb.): p. 1.
- Dorr, Robert (January 6, 1991). "Man Seeks Franklin Committee Extension". Omaha World - Herald.: p. 1.B.
- Dorr, Robert; Gabriella Stern (Aug 12, 1990). "Story in LaRouche Magazine Concerned Parents Founder Says Article Distorts Truth". Omaha World - Herald: p. 1.B.
- Tarpley, Webster; Anton Chaitkin (1992). George Bush : the unauthorized biography. Washington D.C.: Executive Intelligence Review. ISBN 9780943235059.
- Associated Press (1990-09-27). "Omaha Tales of Sexual Abuse Ruled False". The New York Times (The New York Times Company): p. Section A; Page 15, Column 5. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C0CE5D91638F934A1575AC0A966958260. Retrieved 2008-01-30.
- Robert Dorr (1999-02-24). "Bonacci Gets $1 Million in King Lawsuit". Omaha World Herald (The Omaha World-Herald Company): p. 17.
- Robert Dorr (2000-01-13). "Lawrence King Drops Appeal Of Judgment". Omaha World Herald (The Omaha World-Herald Company): p. 15.
- Yorkshire Television (1993-09-16). "Conspiracy of Silence". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggxiBWv4xYE.
- DeCamp, John: The Franklin Cover-up: Child Abuse, Satanism, and Murder in Nebraska. 2nd ed. Lincoln: 2006. ISBN 978-0-9632158-0-2
- Bryant, Nick: The Franklin Scandal: A Story of Powerbrokers, Child Abuse & Betrayal. Trine Day: 2009. ISBN 0-9777953-5-7