Blue Valley's book crusaders have a new mouthpiece who really knows pornography when he sees it.

Meet the Parent 

Blue Valley's book crusaders have a new mouthpiece who really knows pornography when he sees it.

Heidi Harper cusses only at school board meetings.

And on radio talk shows.

Harper is the designated cusser for Citizens for Literary Standards in Schools, better known as ClassKC — better known as the Blue Valley School District's book-challenging parent activists.

Harper says she doesn't normally have a trash mouth. But it's her official duty to attend school board meetings and read excerpts from books on Blue Valley's required reading list for communication arts classes. She finds objectionable passages and recites them with inflection, with the zeal of someone who was an actor in high school.

In March, when the Kansas Board of Education was debating changes that would require parents to sign permission slips before their children could take human sexuality classes, Harper went to the meeting in Topeka. But she wasn't there to talk about sex ed. She was there to talk about necrophilia and bestiality.

"As a parent of three teens and an educator myself, I'm perplexed at how excerpts of men fucking cows or calves or boys sucking on big fat donkey cocks is beneficial to the healthy maturation of children," Harper told the board in an episode the Pitch recapped on March 23 (KC Strip, "Warning: Adult Content!"). "Are educators truly honest about the harms of interspecies sex or sex with dead corpses?"

Reading fuck-filled passages has become a common tactic for ClassKC. If it's good enough for the kids to read, they argue, then it's good enough for school administrators to hear.

When Harper finished, board chairman Steve Abrams thanked her.

Abrams had already taken a jab at the Blue Valley School District in a November 2005 Wichita Eagle op-ed piece. "Superintendents and local school boards in some districts continue to promulgate pornography as 'literature,' even though many parents have petitioned the local boards to remove the porn," Abrams wrote.

ClassKC was started in 2004 by Janet Harmon, a Blue Valley mom. Five early members collected 500 signatures demanding that the district remove 14 books from its required reading list. The Blue Valley Board of Education ignored the petition, but ClassKC has clashed with students, parents, teachers, board members, the ACLU and the NAACP over novels in the schools' curriculum ever since.

After hearing from angry parents at the February and March board meetings, state education commissioner Bob Corkins called on Blue Valley officials to justify the books' educational value at the state board's April meeting. After hearing from Blue Valley administrators, the state board took no action — but Blue Valley reps hadn't made much progress winning over the board's conservatives. The Kansas City Star reported that Connie Morris (a state school board member who represents the 5th District, essentially the western half of Kansas) feared that books containing suicide or rape might influence students.

"A bad tree can't bear good fruit," Morris said at the meeting.

Now parents in other school districts are borrowing ClassKC's tactics. Nine books survived challenges at Township High School District 214 in Arlington Heights, Illinois, The Chicago Tribune reported in May. Board member Leslie Pinney challenged the books, citing ClassKC's Web site — which extensively chronicles profanity, sexual content and violence in reading-list titles — as a resource for her research.

Still, ClassKC's future is in flux. Five books survived challenges this school year — Rudolfo Anaya's Bless Me, Ultima, Pat Conroy's The Lords of Discipline, Robert McCammon's Boy's Life, and Toni Morrison's Beloved and Song of Solomon.

"We've made some progress as far as talking to parents and making parents more aware," Harper says. "And the unfortunate thing is, I don't know how much progress we've made with the district."

After two years of book battles, the women of ClassKC say they haven't been taken seriously. They're treated as "merely moms," Harper says, and the media downplay their expertise and ignore their credentials. Three of the five moms have degrees in education, Harper says, and four have master's degrees.

"I think when women at some times speak, it just doesn't carry as much clout," Harper tells the Pitch.

So now ClassKC has a man. Two years ago, the group recruited Gregg Motley to be their spokesman, and he's becoming a more active mouthpiece.

If the litmus test for obscenity is knowing it when you see it, Motley has seen it all.

Motley, a short, stocky man who looks like a drill sergeant, can't be dismissed as just another overprotective parent.

Two years ago, Motley, now 49, quit a 24-year career as a banker to run the Kansas City office of the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families (a role he relinquished in April to return to banking). The National Coalition's Web site says the group wants "all people to live under the Lordship of Christ." It lists four goals: "Educate the Christian community on sexual ethics, according to a biblical worldview, encourage and challenge Christians to live sexually pure lives, engage Christians in public policy relative to sexual ethics and embrace those harmed by pornography and help restore them to sexual wholeness."

Like the other parents in ClassKC, Motley is blunt when it comes to the books that ClassKC deems too vulgar, too sexual or too violent.

"Most of it's bad literature," he says.

ClassKC members take offense at being labeled book banners. They argue that they're not banning any books; they just want them out of classrooms. They want more say in their children's education.

In August 2005, ClassKC claimed a victory when Blue Valley de-listed Tobias Wolff's This Boy's Life and Walter Dean Myers' Fallen Angels.

Verneda Edwards, Blue Valley's director of curriculum and instruction, downplays ClassKC's role in the district's decision to drop the books; she says they no longer fit the curriculum.

Blue Valley labors to inform parents about book content, sending home a letter at the beginning of the school year outlining the books that students will be assigned, Edwards says. Blue Valley also maintains a Web site that summarizes each book; recaps any profanity, sexual content or violence in a movie-rating-style warning; and explains each book's purpose in the curriculum.

Parents who don't approve of a book can request that their children read a different title, Edwards says. They also can pull their children from the class.

ClassKC members say these remedies only single out their children, isolating them from classrooms. They say other kids tease their children.

So, rather than having their children sit out a particular lesson when they object to a specific book, parents are trying to change the curriculum for everyone else's kids.

To this effort, Motley brings plenty of firsthand experience with real pornography — and a preacher's passion for spreading his message.

The sound of the digital handshake was foreplay for Gregg Motley. The dialing of the phone, the faxlike sound and then the soothing static crash as his computer connected to the Internet turned Motley on.

The urges started when he was 11. A friend showed Motley his brother's secret stash of porn magazines, and Motley was hooked. A ravenous quest began. He searched for books, magazines and videos. In moments of desperation, he settled for Sears catalogs and National Geographic back issues.

By the time Motley graduated from high school, he was, he says, "a full-blown pornography addict."

From all outward appearances, he led a normal — if self-conscious — life. His description of the moment he first saw the woman he would marry sounds like the opening of a bodice ripper.

He's a junior at Greenville College in Illinois. A two-sport athlete — soccer and baseball — he has just run 10 miles for soccer practice. He's soaking his shoulder-length black hair with cold water from the spigot between the soccer and hockey fields. Motley thinks he looks good without a shirt so, wearing only a pair of shorts, he stands up from the spigot and flips back his hair. Motley sees two women staring at him.

South Dakota farm girl Betty Seamen is unimpressed. She shoots him a you-are-so-disgusting look. He returns the glare. But later in the day —after he has showered — Motley sees her again. He's intrigued. They hit it off.

Motley and Seamen married on December 28, 1977, during his senior year. After Betty graduated, the couple settled in Overland Park.

But Motley was falling deeper into his addiction. "Someone is definitely addicted if they want to stop but can't," Motley explains.

The pictures that had titillated him before weren't satisfying him anymore. He needed a new turn-on. "I got into fetish stuff," Motley tells the Pitch. He won't talk specifics, fearing that others will be tempted to look and see.

"I know how men's minds work," Motley says. "If I mention a particular fetish, somebody reads that, they'll go, 'I wonder what that looks like.'"

Despite his marriage, Motley says, his sex life "ended up tied up in two-dimensional images and videos and different fetishes."

Meanwhile, he and Betty had four kids — Allison, now 24; Paige, 21; Katie, 19; and Ben, 16.

Motley hid in the shadows of his hypocrisy. He was a churchgoing man who taught Sunday school. But he couldn't escape the come-hither gazes of the women in the pictures. The women all wanted him. They didn't care about his receding hairline. They didn't care how smart he was.

"It's false intimacy," Motley says. "It's not real. It never satisfies. It never compares with the intimacy that God wanted us to have with one another."

God intervened on August 10, 1986. Motley claims that he met God in a rented warehouse in Anaheim, California. He and Betty, on vacation, stopped by John Wimber's Anaheim Vineyard for Sunday service. Wimber — who claimed to be a healer — stripped away the rigidity of religion. His services were no-frills. There were no pews, just rows and rows of chairs. Wimber kept it casual, wearing a Hawaiian shirt, shorts and sandals.

The Motleys showed up a half-hour early and sat in the second row. Wimber's appearance turned them off. So did his band, which looked like the Grateful Dead.

Motley sat in his chair, growing impatient and angry. When Wimber announced that a pack of people would be praying for folks in the back of the makeshift church, Motley made a beeline for the back — intending to start an argument. Instead, he found himself face to face with an old man who reminded him of his grandfather.

"What can I pray for you about?" the chubby old guy asked.

Motley poured his heart out. His Sunday school class sucked. He didn't feel a spiritual connection to God. And above all, he cried, he wasn't sure that God even existed.

The man embraced Motley. Out of earshot from Betty, he whispered in Motley's ear, "Are you into pornography?"

"Yes, I am," Motley confessed for the first time. "And I hate it. And I want out."

Motley wept and prayed. He lost all self-awareness. And for the first time in his life, he says he felt God's love. A feeling of relief washed over him. And, he says, he experienced real intimacy with his wife for the first time.

Motley's salvation has turned him into a charismatic Christian who prays for an hour every morning and speaks in tongues.

And the Motley family expanded to include two foster children — Jesse, now 9, and Brian, who was 4 months old when the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services placed him in the Motleys' home. Brian's father was locked up in the Lansing Correctional Facility; his mother was an addict, Motley says.

Brian was thin, and a layer of dead skin made his scalp look white. (His head had never been scrubbed.) The Motleys nursed him to health. The boy grew strong — at 18 months, he could open the Motleys' double-pane sliding-glass door. He'd slip out of the house and wander into neighbors' homes. Most were kind to the little intruder. They'd seat him at the dinner table and call his parents.

"That was just Brian," Motley recalls.

Brian didn't know right from wrong. He could be mischievous and destructive. But Motley considered the strong bull of a child with the innocent smile to be his son. "I didn't view him any differently than any of my other kids," he says.

When Brian was 2 years old, the state of Kansas terminated the parental rights of his biological mother and father. The Motleys moved to adopt him. But Brian's father appealed the termination, stalling the adoption. Social and Rehabilitation Services assured the Motleys that everything would be OK. The judge in the case even signed an order green-lighting the adoption. However, nothing could be finalized until the appeal had run its course.

"We didn't worry about it," Motley tells the Pitch.

Soon enough, Motley had other things to worry about.

Feeling fatigued, Betty Motley went to the doctor in October 1997. She also had a persistent pain in her abdomen. An MRI, blood work and a biopsy all indicated the worst: colon cancer was killing her.

"Do you ever play the lottery?" the oncologist asked Betty. "You have a better chance of winning the lottery than surviving this."

The doctor recommended chemotherapy. At best, it would prolong her life a few days or weeks. Betty turned down the treatment — a decision her husband supported. She saw a nutritionist and took supplements to strengthen her immune system. She died at home in Overland Park on New Year's Day 1998.

Betty's death shook Motley's faith. Once again, he questioned God's existence. The intimacy he had finally achieved was lost. Gregg turned back to pornography for a short time.

Even worse, Betty's death set in motion another cruel turn of events.

When Betty was diagnosed as terminally ill, a state social worker told Motley that the SRS didn't think he could handle raising Brian and five other children by himself. Brian's adoption had never been finalized, so the SRS removed the boy from Motley's home.

"I was wounded and grieving, and so I didn't fight it," Motley says.

Brian was 4 when the state took him from the only real home he'd ever known. He bounced around the foster-care system — one couple adopted him but gave him up when he became too difficult to handle.

"That was just more of my grief and more of the questioning of God," Motley says. "If my wife were alive, Brian wouldn't be going through this stuff. Do you know what you're doing?"

Three months after Brian left Motley's home, Brian told a Douglas County caseworker that his foster dad had sexually abused him.

The Overland Park Police Department suspected Motley. Investigators interrogated Motley and interviewed his children, then cleared him.

"I knew Brian couldn't have made those things up," Motley says. "They really happened to him. So I was just broken that my son had been treated like that and I had guilt again."

Brian's new parents were Christy and Neil Edgar Sr., who adopted him in June 2000. The Edgars were pastors at God's Creation Outreach Ministry in Kansas City, Kansas. Christy Edgar claimed to be a prophet who could speak directly to God.

The Edgars preached strict discipline of children. At night, they frequently bound and gagged 9-year-old Brian and his three siblings. Brian reportedly earned the nickname Houdini for his ability to escape his restraints and sneak out for cookies. But on the night of December 29, 2002, Brian couldn't free himself from the tape.

Neil Edgar carried Brian's lifeless body into KU Medical Center at 4 a.m. on December 30. Brian had been dead for several hours, an autopsy would later reveal.

The Edgars' 19-year-old baby-sitter, Chasity Boyd, and Christy Edgar had wrapped Brian in duct tape like a mummy, Brian's oldest brother testified in September 2003, according to news accounts. When they ran out of tape, they bought more and wrapped it around Brian's head, leaving an opening around his nose so he could breathe. A sock was stuffed in Brian's mouth, which was taped shut so that he wouldn't scream. He had vomited and choked to death long before Neil Edgar took him to the hospital.

The Edgars and Boyd are serving life sentences for Brian's murder.

More than 300 people attended the boy's funeral at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Kansas City, Kansas. Betty Motley's service had been on the same day five years earlier; the date had been Betty's birthday.

Motley served as a pallbearer and spoke at the service. He told the mourners that Brian shared a special connection with Betty. He told them now they were reunited.

"What could be better than that?" he asked.

Motley's words might have been comforting to others, but they weren't to him.

"I don't think most people, even family members, know how devastating that was to Gregg," says Motley's younger brother, Chris Motley. "When your child dies, when your perfect life partner, your perfect wife, dies, I think it closes off a chamber in your heart. And so he's got some scar tissue."

Motley blamed himself for Brian's death.

"I would put myself in his place, and the thought that kept coming to me was, My dad has abandoned me. Why doesn't my dad come for me?" Motley says. "How much torture did I put that boy through? It was just so hard for me."

Motley wondered how a merciful God would have let something so horrible happen to a child. Once again, he wanted no part of God. But he began to recover his faith after quitting his bank job, joining the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families, and speaking about his porn addiction.

Motley has since married Kim Ralston, whose husband was killed in a boating accident six months before Motley's wife died. Ralston, who declined to speak with the Pitch, brought two girls — Kaylie, now 13, and Khloe, 8 — into the family. Motley and Ralston adopted each other's children.

For the most part, Motley has stayed clean for the last eight years, he says. Twice a month, Motley meets with Pastor Mark Flora-Swick of the Overland Park Vineyard Christian Fellowship. They hold each other accountable.

"I'm a recovering sex addict," Flora-Swick tells the Pitch. He says he also shares Motley's porn addiction.

"There's people in your life that you can share your heart with," Flora-Swick says. "Because of who God is in Gregg and who God is in me, we've been able to connect on a deep level and share in the grace of God."

Motley realizes that he's vulnerable to temptation. "I'm probably at the biggest risk if I declare myself over it," Motley says. "I don't flirt with it. I don't declare myself healed. I don't believe that I'll ever go back to it, because I know what a lie it is."

The Edgars and Boyd appealed their convictions to the Kansas Supreme Court in December. The court denied their appeal in February.

Motley says he has forgiven them.

"Brian's fine now," Motley tells the Pitch. "They're the ones who have a lot of answering to do. They're the ones who are miserable. It doesn't do me any good to hate them.... Grace has been extended to me. How can I not extend grace to them?"

Besides, Motley had an epiphany this past Palm Sunday. He was meditating at the Vineyard Christian Fellowship when Isaiah 53:10 took on a new meaning for him — one that allowed him to see his own holy qualities.

"Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him," the passage reads, referring to how God allowed his son to die for the sins of others. "He has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand."

Motley realized that he and God had shared a similar experience. God allowed Jesus to be crushed. Letting Brian go back into foster care, Motley had inadvertently let Brian be crushed.

"It was special in a way that there's not many people who can feel that, feel the raw pain of it," Motley tells the Pitch. "How did God feel about giving his son up? I just knew, at that moment, my intimacy with the father was restored and deeper and better."

And now, it seems, Motley believes the will of the Lord could prosper in his hands.

Motley lives in Overland Park, within the Blue Valley School District, but his children attend Kansas City Christian Schools. Like other parents involved with ClassKC, he has pulled his children from public schools.

Still, through his work with ClassKC, he feels the need to do the Lord's work even for kids who aren't his own.

"I'm perfectly willing for parents to say, 'I want my kids to read those books,'" Motley says. Just not in classrooms.

"I do think they stimulate the prurient interests in kids," Motley says.

Motley says the debate is about when to introduce this material to children, whether it's age-appropriate. Harper adds that making kids read the objectionable books might be considered sexual harassment.

One idea for a compromise, Motley says, is to have two classes, one for contemporary literature and one for classics approved by his organization. But the Blue Valley Board of Education has yet to bend to ClassKC's will. Motley admits that, without the board's support, ClassKC is stuck.

"If that group [the school board] doesn't like my idea, then I'm done," he says. "The only thing I can do at that point is to vote out board members." So far, though, that strategy hasn't worked, either.

Battles have been lost, but ClassKC is still collecting signatures — 800 at last count — demanding that the district drop the original 14 offending books. Harper's daughter graduated from Blue Valley West High School last year. She says the group's next move is up to Janet Harmon, whose two children still attend Blue Valley West. (The Pitch was unable to reach Harmon.)

Motley wants ClassKC members in churches, rallying people in the pews. He talks about reaching the conservative Christian voting block and harnessing their political power. He's encouraging them to build partnerships with organizations such as the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families. ClassKC also networks with similar organizations in Virginia, Texas, Washington, Oregon, Arizona and Illinois. They have received the support of groups such as the conservative Christian nonprofit the Alliance Defense Fund, and Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum.

Meanwhile, Motley continues to follow the example set by the miracle healer John Wimber in Anaheim. Every Tuesday night, Motley presides as a lay preacher for Bible class in his home. He also speaks at churches.

One Saturday morning in early May, Motley was at the First Southern Baptist Church in Topeka for a "Men's Spiritual Fitness" conference — a Promise Keepers-type gathering where men shared their feelings, wept openly and learned to be "godly leaders" at home, at work and in the community.

In front of 25 or so mostly gray-haired men, Motley shared the pain of losing his wife and child. He confessed his addiction to pornography. He implored the men to get over their issues and reach out to the sexually broken.

Presumably, that includes people led astray by books — and average parents who let kids read them.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Latest in Feature

Facebook Activity

All contents ©2015 Kansas City Pitch LLC
All rights reserved. No part of this service may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of Kansas City Pitch LLC,
except that an individual may download and/or forward articles via email to a reasonable number of recipients for personal, non-commercial purposes.

All contents © 2012 SouthComm, Inc. 210 12th Ave S. Ste. 100, Nashville, TN 37203. (615) 244-7989.
All rights reserved. No part of this service may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of SouthComm, Inc.
except that an individual may download and/or forward articles via email to a reasonable number of recipients for personal, non-commercial purposes.
Website powered by Foundation