Most people find incest unacceptable, and there are compelling reasons for such a position: (1) culturally and traditionally, incest is largely considered a taboo, and (2) inbreeding -- those with close genetic relationships producing offspring -- greatly increases the chance of the child/children developing congenital disorders. Incest has, however, occurred quite often in history, the royalty of ancient Egypt using it as a means of perpetuating their royal lineage. Today though, incest is considered a crime in most territories with only a few countries like the Netherlands, Spain, and France being exceptions. In fact, even in these countries where consensual incest is legal, the public is still largely outraged by such relationships despite the fact that the state tolerates them.
Here are ten recorded or alleged cases of incest that have shocked the world:
10 John Phillips and His Daughter, Mackenzie Phillips
9 Nick Cameron and His Half-Sister, Danielle Heaney
8 Professor David Epstein and His Daughter
In 2012, David Epstein, a then 46-year-old science professor at Columbia University in New York, was charged with one count of incest for a consensual sexual relationship with his then 24-year-old daughter. Epstein and his daughter were said to have carried out the relationship between 2006 and 2009. What outraged the public even more about the case was what Epstein's lawyer, Matthew Galluzo, told ABCNews.com in defense of his client:
Academically, we are obviously all morally opposed to incest and rightfully so. At the same time, there is an argument to be made in the Swiss case to let go what goes on privately in bedrooms. . . . It’s OK for homosexuals to do whatever they want in their own home. How is this so different?
7 Daniel Rinehart and His Daughter, Ashley
Linda Rinehart knew that her husband, Daniel, had been raping their daughter, Ashley, in their family camper home since the girl was five years old, but the mother never lifted a hand to stop the abuse. Ashley's three sisters, meanwhile, were threatened with death if they ever discussed what was going on with anyone. However, in 2009, one of the daughters, Hayley, escaped from the home and called the Harrisonville, Missouri police. Hayley told officers that Ashley had given birth to four of her father's children with three of them dying. Two of the three babies that had died were disposed of in coolers and left on a farm, but the one Ashley had delivered when she was sixteen had surived and was a four-year-old then.
6 The Brothers of Anna Slabaugh
5 Josef Fritzl and His Daughter
4 John Deaves and His Daughter, Jenny
3 Bruce McMahan and His Daughter, Linda Hodge
2 The Incestuous Colt Family
1 Barbara Baekeland and Her Son, Antony Baekeland
Born in 1922, Barbara Baekeland grew up to become a wealthy and beautiful socialite who was often featured in Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. However, like her mother, she suffered mental health problems and attempted suicide several times. Barabara's mental instability was also evident in her complex and allegedly incestuous relationship with her gay son, Antony. According to accounts, Barbara was attempting to "cure" her son's homosexuality by coercing Antony into having sex with her. Meanwhile, Antony was mentally unstable himself as he suffered from schizophrenia and went through several violent arguments with his mother. Those violent episodes culminated with Antony killing Barbara by stabbing her with a knife on November 17, 1972. Strangely, when police arrived, Antony was casually ordering Chinese food over the phone. Then, after Antony had spent close to eight years in prison, he proceeded to live with his grandmother, whom he likewise nearly stabbed to death.
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