Ryan Loskarn leaves letter
By: John Bresnahan
January 28, 2014 08:51 AM EST
Jesse Ryan Loskarn, the former top Senate GOP aide who committed suicide last week, said in a letter released by his family that he was sexually abused as a child, and the horror from that episode eventually led him down a path toward possessing child pornography.
In a typed letter just over two pages long and posted online by his mother late Monday night, Loskarn revealed in vivid detail his personal experiences and apologized profusely for possessing child pornography, which led to his arrest by federal agents on Dec. 11.
Until the raid on his Capitol Hill home by U.S. Postal Service investigators, Loskarn was a well-liked and respected chief of staff for Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). He was a former leadership aide with a solid reputation and numerous friends on both sides of the aisle.
That all changed in one day, however. Loskarn was fired by Alexander the day he was arrested. He was placed on suicide watch in jail, and he was only released after his lawyers convinced a federal judge that he was not going to take his own life.
In the Jan. 23 letter, Loskarn said he planned to kill himself immediately after his arrest, claiming that the “news coverage of my spectacular fall makes it impossible for me to crawl into a hole and disappear. I’ve hurt every single human being I’ve ever known and the details of my shame are preserved on the Internet for all time. There is no escape.”
The 35-year-old Loskarn hanged himself last Thursday in his parents’ home in Sykesville, Md.
POLITICO obtained the letter on Monday afternoon but planned to delay publishing a story until Tuesday in an effort to find out more regarding the circumstances surrounding it. POLITICO contacted Loskarn’s family, but they did not comment.
Gay Loskarn, Loskarn’s mother, posted the letter online late Monday evening, offering some thoughts on her son’s situation.
In her post, Ms. Loskarn complained about the “media frenzy” surrounding her son’s arrest in December.
“The last month of Jesse Ryan Loskarn’s life was surrounded by a media frenzy, with what appeared to be the goal of destroying his reputation beyond repair,” Mrs. Loskarn said. “Newspapers and other media outlets depicted him mostly in a negative light and stole away any good he had done during his short but full life.”
Mrs. Loskarn added: “During this tragic time he had no voice, but in his death he can be heard. Our society is quick to judge especially when the topic surrounding his death is so difficult. This letter written by Jesse Ryan Loskarn was found after he took his own life on January 23, 2014. If his words can help just one person who is suffering in silence, it will be his greatest accomplishment.”
In his letter, Loskarn said he first stumbled across child pornography “during a search for music on a peer-to-peer network. I wasn’t seeking it but I didn’t turn away when I saw it. Until that moment, the only place I’d seen these sorts of images was in my mind.”
According to Loskarn, the incident struck a deep emotional chord since he had been sexually abused as a child. He didn’t give any details about that abuse.
“I found myself drawn to videos that matched my own childhood abuse,” Loskarn wrote. “It’s painful and humiliating to admit to myself, let alone the whole world, but I pictured myself as a child in the image or video. The more an image mirrored some element of my memories and took me back, the more I felt a connection.”
Loskarn added: “This is my deepest, darkest secret.”
According to a federal complaint against Loskarn, he made “several purchases” from November 2010 to March 2011 from a Toronto-based movie production company operating a website that offered DVDs via mail and streaming video. Court documents said “the majority of these films featured young nude boys.”
In October 2013, Postal Service investigators found Loskarn’s residential IP address on the “Gnutella peer-to-peer network offering files with names that are consistent with child pornography broadcasting as a download candidate.”
In his letter, Loskarn said he told several friends about the abuse but only in a very limited way, and he never sought professional counseling or therapy. As he grew older, Loskarn was troubled by the episode but believed he had it under control. However, it did make it more difficult for him to form close bonds with others, Loskarn said.
“As a child I didn’t understand what had happened at the time of the abuse,” Loskarn wrote. “I did know that I must not tell anyone, ever. Later the memories took on new and more troubling meaning when I became a teenager. They started to appear more often and made me feel increasingly apart from everyone else.”
Loskarn suggested the self-control he learned in trying to repress these memories actually helped him in the highly competitive world of being a congressional staffer.
“Those I worked with on the Hill would likely describe me as a controlled, independent, and rational person who could analyze a situation with little or no emotion,” Loskarn said. “That’s how I viewed myself. In retrospect, the qualities that helped me succeed on Capitol Hill were probably developed partly as a result of the abuse and how it shaped me.”
Following his arrest, Loskarn said his “mental equilibrium” was “gone.” He could no longer control his recollection of the childhood trauma, and he found the situation “terrifying.”
Yet Loskarn was also defiant in the letter, saying he knew that his claim of being a childhood victim of abuse would be seen as an excuse for his own alleged criminal behavior.
“I understand that some people — maybe most — will view this as a contrived story designed to find some defense for defenseless behavior. That it’s an excuse,” Loskarn said. “In some ways I feel disgusting sharing this truth with you because in my heart I still struggle to see my 5-year-old self as a victim. But I’m sharing this with you because it is the truth, not an excuse. And I believe it played a role in my story.”
Loskarn also apologized to his “family, friends and Capitol Hill colleagues,” as well as the children who were recorded in the pornographic videos he watched.
“To my family, friends and Capitol Hill colleagues: I’ve had individual conversations with each of you in my mind. I’ve pictured your face as I admitted to my failure and heard the shock and disappointment in your voice,” Loskarn wrote. “I lay awake at night reviewing these conversations over and over again. They are among the most excruciatingly painful aspects of this terrible, terrible nightmare.”
Loskarn added: “And last, to the children in the images: I should have known better. I perpetuated your abuse and that will be a burden on my soul for the rest of my life.”