The man who kidnapped young Steven Stayner alternated sexual...

HAYWARD, Calif. -- The man who kidnapped young Steven Stayner alternated sexual abuse with 'extraordinary freedom' to brainwash the boy during the seven years he was held as a captive 'son,' a psychologist testified.

Phillip Hamm, testifying at the trial of Kenneth Parnell and Ervin Murphy, said Thursday that Stayner went through 'a normal process' of a brainwashing.


Hamm said Parnell exerted strong psychological influences over Stayner by alternating sexual abuse and threats with pleasurable experiences. The psychologist said Parnell further molded Stayner's mind by telling him a court had given him custody of the boy and that his parents had abandoned him.

Stayner was abducted in Merced, Calif., when he was 7 years old and lived with his captor in a pseudo-family arrangement for the next seven years.

Stayner, now 16, ended his captivity when he walked 5-year-old Timmy White, who had been recently abducted, to the Ukiah, Calif., police station. When police began to question Timmy, the little boy told them about Stayner who they found wandering down the street a short time later.

Parnell was found guilty earlier this year of kidnaping Timmy.

Stayner, Hamm said, during his seven years in captivity, developed the 'typical' process of identifying with 'the aggressor.'


Hamm said that was the reason Stayner didn't try to leave or inform authorities that he was being held against his will.

The psychologist said the youth had recently told him he 'hated Parnell' and 'could kill him' for forcing him into performing various sex acts.

Hamm said the experiences have left Stayner uncomfortable about 'his feelings and emotions.'

The psychologist also said Stayner told him he was uncomfortable with having sex with Barbara Mathias, who lived with Parnell, when Stayner was a boy of 11.

It was the first mention at the trial of any relations between the youth and Miss Mathias.

Hamm said the experience has left its scar on Stayner. The psychologist said the boy is 'very constricted in his ability to look at and interpret the outside world.'

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