Ray Pierce, pedophile,
Montmorency Co., Michigan
-by Alice Marie Beard
Everyone called the old man
"Uncle" Ray. He had a huge, hawk nose and lied
to folks about being an Indian. Ray Pierce taught me how
to read deer tracks and make bird calls. When I was ten,
he taught me how to shoot a .22 bolt action rifle: site
in; focus; take a breath; let half out and hold it;
squeeze the trigger; right palm up; hand around the ball;
up; back; forward; down; repeat.
I had the perfect chance to put a bullet thru the back of
his head. I regret that I did not do so.
He's long since dead, but he caused damage for many women
who are now wives, mothers, grandmothers, friends.
In the 1950s he ran a small vacation site in Montmorency
Co., MI. In the fall and winter, hunters filled the
cabins. In the summer, families rented the cabins and let
their kids walk around the fish pond, sit under the pine
trees, and swim in the bend of Gilchrist Creek. Ray
Pierce molested every little girl he could get his
calloused hands on. I was one of them.
It began the summer I was four. By the time I was eight,
I had figured out how to avoid him during my family's
summer stays. Even as I approach 50, there are times that
the past given to me by Pierce comes over me in a cold
wash and freezes me where I am.
Before my children could even talk, I told them often and
in the presence of other adults, "No one should
touch between your legs or inside your pants. No one
should ask you to touch his body. No one should give you
weird kisses with the tongue. Tell Mommy if anybody ever
does this. Even if the person says it's a secret."
Children need information to protect themselves. Usually,
the abuser knows everything, and the child knows nothing.
The abuser knows the object of the game; the child does
At four, and five, and six, I was completely confused.
"Why is this old man touching me like this? Why do
my parents act as if he's their friend? Why does he act
as if he's my friend?"
Like many children whom pedophiles select as victims, I
did not have a close relationship with my parents. So
when the old man said, "You like this, don't you?
This is our secret. Don't tell anyone," I was sure
it was something that would make my parents angry to hear
about, and I felt their anger would be directed at me.
Besides, why would they believe me? I figured that if I
told, I'd either get hit because I had let it happen, or
they'd say I was lying and hit me for that.
The first summer was the summer before I started
kindergarten. Since I had told no one after the first
summer it happened, I knew I couldn't tell anyone the
second summer it happened. I feared if I told them, their
response would be, "What?! You mean this happened
last year, and you didn't tell? Why not? Why did you let
it happen?" SMACK!
I was five the second summer it happened. I was getting
ready for first grade. I could not read, but I could
write my name with effort and do simple addition.
I had some warning before the first summer that it
happened. I had an older half-sister with whom I shared a
bedroom. As we lay in our bunk beds one night, lights
out, going to sleep, she told the story of what this man
had done to "another girl, one that we met last
summer." It sounded made up. After it happened to
me, she said she was that "other girl."
We made a pact, my half-sister and I: I would never leave
her alone with Pierce; she would never leave me alone.
Still, he was smarter than two little girls, and he
didn't seem to mind sticking his hands inside my pants
even when there were other children present.
I learned to dress differently. Before, I had loved
dresses, but when my mother was packing clothes for our
stay the second summer, I insisted, "no dresses,
only pants." Dresses make little girls so
frighteningly accessible. Summer by summer, I got better
with the dressing. Jeans with a zipper and a belt were
best, matched up with a pull-over, no-button shirt with
short, fitted sleeves. I'd tuck the shirt in, cinch the
belt tight and put the buckle on the side so that I could
make the buckle hard to get at if I could keep my arms
down. Before I was eight, I knew how to make myself
Understandably, my parents must have welcomed the respite
from child care when Pierce would offer to sit by the
creek with children and tell stories in the evening.
"Go with 'Uncle' Ray, and do as he tells you."
A standard command parents give children when they want
their kids to behave for someone else. One more confusion
for a child.
As for the false use of the title "uncle," it
added confusion for a young child. To me
"uncle" meant somebody in the "grandma and
grandpa family," someone who would treat me kindly
and allow me to eat his food and run loose in his house.
"Uncle" meant, "Everything's safe, and he
won't even yell."
Nothing was safe with "Uncle" Ray. He would
send my parents Christmas cards with a picture of the
cabins at Gilchrist Creek. My parents saw them as a
business promotion; I saw them as mid-year
As a third grader I finally told someone a little of what
had happened. Another little girl and I walked
side-by-side on the cinder path on our way to school. I
told her about Pierce. A child herself, she told other
children. I spent the rest of that school year being
taunted by the words and hand gestures of a small group
of snotty-nosed third-grade boys. As I would walk the
half-mile to school, they would walk ahead of me, walking
backwards so I could see them make gestures with their
hands on their crotches.
By my junior-high years, I was able to convince my
parents that I preferred summer school to the family
vacation at Gilchrist Creek in Montmorency Co., and I was
able to avoid even seeing the old man. I would stay home
with my older half-sisters while my parents and brothers
Years later when I was the mother of one child and
pregnant with a second, I returned to the vacation spot
to help put the past at rest. The man had died years
before; I had known that. The place was in disrepair, but
the water still rushed from the open pipe on the artesian
well. The big rock we used to stand on as we'd drink
straight from the pipe was still there, wet, with
emerald-green moss on one side. The creek which two of my
brothers had tried to "pee" across still ran
under the bridge.
But things seemed smaller; distances seemed closer
together. I walked around the pond, and there was still
the side where the ground was mushy and the cattails grew
and the bullfrogs gathered to croak, and there was the
spot where the roots of the weeping willow tree bulged up
and forced me to walk around them.
Then I got to the side of the pond that was flat and
open. When I was ten, I had stood there as Ray Pierce
taught me how to shoot a .22 rifle. He shot at bales of
straw across the pond. Then he handed me the loaded rifle
and said, "Stand behind me. Balance the long part of
the rifle on my shoulder as I lean over. Shoot at the
newspaper on the straw." I did as he said with
As I walked around the pond years later and reached that
side of the pond, I thought for the first time, "How
easily I could have pretended to stumble, shooting him in
the back of the head. An accident. Folks would have felt
sorry for the young girl and might have wondered why the
old man had been so careless. A blameless tragedy. I
could have done it so easily."
I walked on. The past was past. It lived on only in my
Sadly, it lives
on in the minds of many victims. Ray Pierce's victims
likely numbered in the hundreds.
Thirty years after I survived third grade, I was the Camp
Fire leader for a group of third graders. The local
council insisted all Camp Fire leaders offer what Camp
Fire then called "Child Awareness Training." My
Camp Fire club was sponsored by the local Catholic
church, and the Archdiocese insisted that all youth group
leaders go thru appropriate training and properly train
the children so as to avoid as many incidents of child
sexual abuse as possible. Thus I found myself dealing
with my old story again. As another leader and I worked
with the third graders, the children were divided into
groups of three and four to do supervised role playing. I
stood near one small group as the children talked.
Suddenly, I heard one little girl say, "This
happened to me." The two other children looked
instantly shocked, and I did the only thing I could to
offer her some protection: I walked over as their Camp
Fire leader, put my hand on her arm, and said, "It
happened to me too."
Soon after, I wrote the basic piece as it is above and
mailed it to three people in Montmorency Co., MI. I wrote
to the editor of the local newspaper, the county sheriff,
and the county prosecutor. I mailed it to the editor with
the note that he could print the story without fee so
long as he sent me a tear sheet. I asked the sheriff and
the prosecutor if there had ever been any action against
There had never even been a police report against Ray
Pierce for child sexual abuse. None of his victims had
ever spoken up. There it was, years after he was dead,
and I was the first to speak up.
The editor chose not to run the piece because of
financial reasons. The area economy was poor, and it was
dependent on vacationers. He feared that if the story of
Ray Pierce were known, it would damage the fragile local
economy as vacationers learned the story. If the local
economy suffered, businesses would not purchase
advertising, and there would be no local newspaper.
The local editor did, however, show the piece to a few
local folks. Shortly after one area woman read the piece,
she phoned my home and said simply, "He did it to my
Over thirty years had passed, but I finally had the proof
that Ray Pierce had molested children other than just my
half-sister and me. We were not alone.
Within another week, I received another call. Pierce had
no children, but he had married a widow with children. A
grandchild of Pierce's wife and her first husband phoned
to accuse me of having enticed her poor old
"step-grandfather." Tragically, another
grandchild of Pierce's wife was also one of his victims;
that survivor spoke with me by phone sometime later.
If the pen is
mightier than the sword, and if there is the power of the
press, how shall the strength of the internet be
described? I began in the days of hot type, moved on to
cold type, and now we're at software type. I remember
when a ball point pen cost so much that a child would
have only one. Now, even young children who are not
wealthy have access to the internet. They can read what
other people are saying, and they can often publish their
own web pages. If they can't publish a web page, they can
post to a newsgroup, or send e-mail to a mailing list, or
chat in a chat room. If they have the right internet
service provider, their communication can be done under a
nom de plume.
[For children reading, that's French for writing under a
What if all the young people whose predators are still
alive began publishing the names of the people who
sexually abused them? What if a pedophile who sexually
abused an eight-year-old on Wednesday had his name
circulated by Saturday? These children could get the
names of the pedophiles OUT without having to make their
own names public if they were not yet strong enough. What
if the new game were "outing" pedophiles?
Too often, the
survivors of child sexual abuse are faceless. This is the
face of this little girl who survived one pedophile's
abuse. By the time this photo was taken in autumn of
1956, this little girl had survived two summers of
Pierce's abuse. She survived two more.
I am no longer in hiding. After spending over forty years
trying to hide my story from most people who knew me, I
am completely in the open. I will be "indexing"
this page with the various search engines, and anyone who
has found his/her way here can easily see anything else,
and can easily determine who I am. However, this does not
connect with anything else. It stands alone as a personal
perspective on child sexual abuse.
Alice Marie Beard
It is now 17 months
after I first "unloaded" my story by putting it
on the internet. Step by step, I have gone a little more
public with my story. I now have a link to this page from
my main "home on the 'net"; I have told my
childhood friends that I wrote this and that I have put
it on the internet. When appropriate, I have spoken
matter-of-factly to people and said, "I survived
childhood sexual abuse." The responses have
surprised me. No one has responded with horror, or shock,
or revulsion. There have been many instances of folks
saying their children, their spouses, their siblings,
their loved ones, or even they themselves also survived
childhood sexual abuse. The number of people whose lives
are impacted by childhood sexual abuse amazes even me.
There is not only the victim: There are the victim's
parents and family, left to deal with an emotionally
scarred child, scarred for reasons the family often does
not know. As the child moves beyond childhood, there are
the friends and lovers of the survivors who must deal
with wounds that never should have been made. Survivors
survive, but they aren't who they might have been had
they not survived childhood sexual abuse. I do not know
who I would have been if I had not survived what I did;
surely, many things in my life would have been different,
and many choices I made would have been different, but
this is the life I got. The "life that might have
been" ended with the abuse. I got the life I turned
it into when I decided, "I'm not going to curl into
a ball and die. I'm going to get thru this minute, and
this hour, and this day." To come full circle, this
is the person the little girl who survived has turned
In a cloud of darkness it could not
the Mishawaka Council of Camp Fire Girls
put its warmth around me and said,
"We're walking thru the forest with you."
On some of the darkest days,
a little Blue Bird walked beside me.
Wo-He-Lo, and thank you
Alice Marie Beard
Alice Marie Beard,
|letters home| |genealogy| |people features|
a law journal|
|Camp Fire| |child sexual abuse|
sites of interest:
Vachss' home page THE knight in
shining armor in this field!
America Marilyn Van Derbur
for attorney Susan K. Smith Excellent site. Includes resources for
lawyers representing survivors of sexual abuse, legal
remedies for survivors of sexual abuse, national
state-by-state survey of statutes of limitations
applicable to civil damages for child sexual abuse,
Prevent abuse now A
site with scholarly articles and links dealing with child
sexual abuse. This is an extensive collection put
together by Nancy Faulkner, a Ph.D. out of Indiana State
Abuse: Statistics, Research, and Resources A survey of the literature.