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When Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary agreed to do a fund-raising concert for a Texas congressional candidate last month, the appearance had to be canceled at the last moment when it was revealed the singer was convicted of child molestation in 1970 and pardoned 11 years later by President Carter.
Nevertheless, Yarrow has been campaigning for his good friend, presidential candidate John Kerry, throughout the year. And why shouldn’t he? He has been friends with Kerry for more than 30 years and is godfather to his daughter Alex.
Only once during the presidential campaign has Yarrow become an issue.
At a primary season party for supporters in Ames, Iowa, Yarrow was performing “Puff the Magic Dragon.” As reported by the Washington Post’s Ceci Connolly, “Kerry lifted his fingers to his mouth for a quick toke on an imaginary joint. You can almost see his thick mane of silver hair returning to the shaggy brown ‘do of those days.”
Yarrow has denied the hit song of yesteryear was about puffing marijuana.
The folksinger pleaded guilty to taking “immoral and improper liberties” with a 14-year-old girl back in 1970.
As reported at the time, the girl and her 17-year-old sister went to Yarrow’s hotel room seeking an autograph. Yarrow answered the door naked and made sexual advances that stopped short of intercourse. The 14-year-old resisted his advances but did not call for help. Yarrow served three months of a one- to three-year prison sentence and was pardoned by Carter in 1981.
The singer has acknowledged the incident as “the most terrible mistake I have ever made.”
Last month, however, the crime was back in the news when Rep. Martin Frost, Texas Democrat, canceled a fund-raising appearance with the singer after learning of Yarrow’s offense.
Frost, in a tough race against Rep. Pete Sessions, told the Associated Press: “I do not believe it is appropriate for Mr. Yarrow to campaign on my behalf.”
Despite having become an issue in a congressional race, somehow Yarrow’s efforts on behalf of Kerry have never been addressed. So close are Kerry and Yarrow that the singer even played at his 1995 wedding to Teresa Heinz.
“He is in touch with his emotions,” Yarrow said of Kerry in an NPR interview recently. “He is in touch with his joy at something beautiful. He has enough of the artist in him to know that there is that side of the human being.”