Jodi Heckert Pledged to Protect His Daughter’s Virginity, Now in Prison for Child Molestation

Jodi Heckert Pledged to Protect His Daughter’s Virginity, Now in Prison for Child Molestation June 26, 2017

CulpeperBaptistby Bruce Gerencser cross posted from his blog The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser

Jodi Heckert and his daughter appeared in a June 14, 2014 Slate Magazine article titled “Striking Portraits of Fathers and the Daughters Whose Virginity They’ve Pledged to Protect.” (While Heckert’s daughter is now an adult, I have decided to not publish her name.) The story features the photography of David Magnusson. As a photographer, I found Magnusson’s work to be stunning (and creepily disturbing), but I do wonder, based on several of his quotes in the article, if Magnusson really understands the American purity culture. For those of us who were once a part of the patriarchy movement, David Magnusson’s photographs are reminders of the many girls who are smothered by their God-fearing, hymen-worshiping “protective” fathers. Heckert, pictured above with his 13-year-old daughter, is one such father. In August of 2015, Heckert was found guilty of attempted child molestation and sentenced to ten years in prison.

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Arizona Department of Corrections Inmate Search

Here’s what Ayperi Karabuda Ecer had to say about Magnusson’s photographs:

David Magnusson’s focus is not on the individuals, it is on the relationship. The strength, the tenderness, the domination, and all the contradictions springing from adult men seeking promises which will guide young girls’ intimate lives and their infinite need for love and protection.

Each shoot takes up to an hour. That is no longer a “moment”; it is a long time to maintain intensity. Yet some of the fathers and daughters spend the hour physically clinging to each other.

The light is what makes this project visually coherent. All photographs are organized to be shot an hour and a half before dawn. Yes, it is beautiful. Many of the fathers refer to light in their interviews. One of them quotes Psalm 40: “I was plucked from a miry pit and sat into a marvellous light”, another thinks that “as Christians we’re supposed to be the light in the world.”

David Magnusson’s lighting appeals to those who pose but its airy subtlety also adds a surreal tone which contrasts with the solid convictions of the photographed. The setting seems to be from a fairy tale but we are confused by the cast.

David Magnusson knows that what is missing in a frame is as important as what is present. As fathers and daughters intensely try to embody the presence of God, one wonders what fears and hopes lie behind their mutual determination? Who are the men that inspire such fright and such need for protection? What past scars do the fathers want to redeem? Will these girls ever be able to love anyone more than their own progenitor? How much do our own demons suggest interpretations?

Purity is a personal visual project that offers a stage for intense emotions and questions.

As with all images, these carry different meanings depending on where and by whom they will be viewed. Ideally they need to be accompanied by the interviews and a balanced introduction.

But as with so many other images they will also be encountered divorced from initial purpose and control in an unpredictable journey.

Purity is a project about contradictions, love and domination, beauty and fear, relying on the very singular complexities of the photographic process.

Please take the time to view Magnusson’s photographs, and when finished please let me know what you think in the comment section.

HT: Stuff Christian Culture Likes

moreRead more by Bruce Gerencser

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Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs Network member, Bruce Gerencser blogs at The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser He writes from the unique perspective of having been a pastor for many years and having seen it all in churches. His journey out of being a true believer and pastor has been an interesting and informative one.

Bruce Gerencser spent 25 years pastoring Independent Fundamental Baptist, Southern Baptist, and Christian Union churches in Ohio, Michigan, and Texas. Bruce attended Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan. He is a writer and operates The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser blog. Bruce lives in NW Ohio with his wife of 35 years. They have six children, and twelve grandchildren.


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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • guerillasurgeon

    Oh God, another one.

  • Friend

    What gets me are the shoes. Several of the girls are wearing flats, maybe because heels are evil or something. Even though flat shoes should be more comfortable on the terrain, the girls look like they are standing very uncomfortably.

    I don’t think this is a coincidence. The girls are deliberately hobbled, in my view.

    Bruce, you’re a photographer and former pastor. Would you have any insights about this?

  • David Hughett

    I’m tellin’ ya, worrying excessively about someone else’s sexuality / virginity is a special kind of “Creepy”.

  • Evelyn

    It all just looks incestuous to me. The looks on their faces. . .Eeew.

  • AFo

    It’s so dehumanizing. They act like their daughters are porcelain dolls who must be protected at any and all cost, and completely tie their identities and self-worth to the status of their genitals. They are not allowed the full range of human experience, supposedly to keep them “safe,” but all this does is stunt their emotional growth and leave them vulnerable to abuse. Plus the pictures just look creepy and inappropriate; I’ve taken many pictures with my dad, and I’m pretty confident none of them look like that.

  • Ruthitchka

    So, Bruce, in this movement for purity, the teenaged boys don’t have to be pure, or it’s not as big a deal?
    I am too old to have been through a purity ball, but I knew very little about sex as a young lady. Only the biological details. It simply wasn’t discussed in my house. I still don’t know much about sex but managed to have two babies!
    Purity was a Super Big Deal for the females in the Evangelical youth groups I attended as a teen in the 1970s. I bought the whole thing and felt terribly guilty for enjoying the petting I did with my fiancé.
    Interestingly, I married an abusive man, but I came from an alcoholic, abusive home, so I blame that more on being conditioned that marriage was supposed to be like that rather than anything I learned in a youth group.

  • Anne Fenwick

    My gosh, those photographs are creepy!

  • Anonyme

    I’ve seen these photos before and they still creep me out. Even if I saw them out of context, with no mention of this purity pledge tripe, they’d still be squicky. They look like prom and wedding photoshoots! Some of the dads are getting WAY too handsy.
    The vacant looks on the girls’ faces is disturbing.

  • Anonyme

    I’ve seen them before and I still want to bleach my eyeballs. Your daughter should not look like your child bride.

  • B.A.

    Even the pictures are creepy.

  • The Jack of Sandwich

    Nobody smiling…

  • Tuna

    I couldn’t look at them all. So creepy. The girls seem defeated and resigned, and Dads seem possessive and lascivious.

  • pinkie

    Too many of the pictures have the father’s hands on her stomach or hips, or close to her breasts or butt. I swear a couple were looking at her rear or breasts while her back was to him.

  • Julia Childress

    It sounds like you grew up about the same time I did, but in our household, neither boys nor girls got any information whatsoever. The girls had a movie at school (Growing Up and Liking It), but beyond that, the only thing my mother ever told me was that she didn’t understand why the lord made it necessary for us to have to go through that disgusting process to get that beautiful baby. And that was after I was married.

  • Julia Childress

    The hymen obsession is absolutely pathological. These men are sick.

  • lady_black

    I am SO SORRY that was the way you grew up. I was also a teen in the 1970s, and thankfully grew up in a sex-positive environment and my mom bought me a book to answer the questions she didn’t have the answers to. It has made all the difference in the world in my life.

  • lady_black

    I would be embarrassed to tears having a photo taken where my dad was like my prom date. But in a creepy sort of way, that’s exactly what they’re doing. Blech!!

  • dala

    Those pictures had a creepy vibe to them, like they should have been wedding pictures instead of father/daughter pictures.

  • Anonyme

    Ick. Yes.

  • Jim Jones

    Channeling Trump?

  • Jim Jones

    > So, Bruce, in this movement for purity, the teenaged boys don’t have to be pure, or it’s not as big a deal?

    I’ve heard that in some schools, the girls are lectured on purity. They used to do the same to the boys but they found the hysterical laughter annoying.

  • Clive Johnson

    It’s not difficult to imagine all sorts of Christian perversions and creepiness taking place with these father-daughter setups. Wait until some of them get older and I’m sure we’ll be hearing all sorts of horror stories of abuse.

  • Clive Johnson

    Conference Will Arrange Child Marriages For Christian Homeschoolers
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/progressivesecularhumanist/2016/05/conference-will-arrange-child-marriages-for-christian-homeschoolers/

    They can’t help themselves. They keep recreating the pathologies of the past.

  • Critter

    OK, I realize they probably intended for whatever reason not to have the girls in the pictures smile, but some of them just looked so dead-eyed. The fake wedding dresses were creepy. Half the dads looked over possessive. The other half of the dads were doing boyfriend/girlfriend poses, which was even worse.

  • Aloha

    Just yesterday, I was watching Minions (Despicable Me II), where the Margo got a boyfriend. Her father’s reaction was to come running and separate the two.

    It just made me think that there’s something kind of instinctual / human about a father wanting to keep his daughter from boys. Because the boys could make the daughter pregnant, take the daughter away, or hurt the daughter.

    I sort of think it’s a human phenomenon, just that we don’t need to indulge and encourage this too much, since daughters are people too and eventually become responsible adults.

  • Aloha
  • Mel

    A few remind me of pregnancy photo shoots and that’s not an improvement, either.

  • RetroPam

    Absolutely. And there will be many more stories, all very true, that unfortunately will never be told.

  • SAO

    The pics look posed. Most are in wedding poses, but slightly awkward. My take is that the photographer wanted pics that looked ‘purer’ than an everyday father-daughter pic. The result is creepy.

    But, then, so is the concept of a father protecting his daughter’s ‘purity’ which has always seemed like it’s about repressingnher sexuality.

  • GHN

    Ewww. Creepy as heck.
    And I’m not at all surprised that one of those so creepy dads is now jailed for molestation, given the general vibe of those pictures. I wonder how many of the others are leaning in the same direction?

  • Allison the Great

    I went to one of those schools. The boys were not lectured on purity, they were lectured on leadership. They were lectured on being strong leaders while we were being told that wearing black pants made these big strong leaders stumble.

  • Nightshade

    I think it’s assumed that the boys will be as impure as the girls ‘let’ them, so it’s all on the girls to keep themselves and the boys pure.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Yeah, we broke that story here first and got Vaughn’s little outing cancelled. He’s a piece of work.

  • Clive Johnson

    Ah, thanks for the info, and thanks for your work.

  • Ruthitchka

    Yep! The first “sex” movie I saw was sponsored by the “Modess” sanitary-pad company. It tried to convince us that our periods were not “The Curse”. Mine definitely was the curse, ha-ha.
    The second movie I saw kind of skipped how a baby was made–maybe an illustration of a sperm and an egg. The big scene was a lady was stirring cake batter at home and went into labor. Childbirth was represented by an animation of the baby descending in the birth canal. This film was shown to us in Jr. High in the early 1970s.
    “Growing Up and Liking It” – well, I mostly liked it, except for the thousands of dollars I must have spent on feminine-hygiene products till I finished the Change of Life recently!

  • Discordia

    That sounds about right. And I find it odd that the “inferior” sex is tasked with keeping the “superior” sex on the straight and narrow. One would think the roles would be reversed, but what would I know? I have ovaries.

  • And I’m Cute, Too

    That’s what jumped out at me, too. Why do the daughters look so miserable?

  • And I’m Cute, Too

    I don’t have ovaries, and it’s all gibberish to me.

    Remember, it doesn’t have to make sense. After all, it’s female subordinationism.

  • Nerdsamwich

    The one with the girl in the blue dress was especially chilling. Something about the looks in both of their eyes.

  • Nerdsamwich

    No, boys are brought up to fear their urges, taught that they’re basically just one glimpse of a revealing outfit away from raping every female–human or otherwise–they can get their hands on. This is part of their “sin nature” and can’t be avoided or controlled. The only way to be safe is to make sure you never, ever face the temptation of a bare shoulder or ankle, and if you start to have those kind of feelings anyway, the only thing for it is to either flee or get married.