Husband Of Former Gillette Library Chief Wants Incest Book Back In Teen Section

The husband of the former Gillette library director who was fired last year, wants a controversial book with themes of incest and drug use out of the adult collection and put back into the library’s teen section.

Clair McFarland

April 29, 20245 min read

Campbell County Public Library in Gillette.
Campbell County Public Library in Gillette. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

After the current Gillette library director moved a book about father-daughter incest, drug use and bulimia from a teen section to a “new adult” section, the husband of the director’s predecessor asked the library board to put it back in the teen section.    

Doug Lesley asked the Campbell County Public Library Board last week to switch “Identical” by Ellen Hopkins back from its new place in the “new adult” section to its old place in the library’s young adult collection.

The board voted his request down 4-1.

The new adult section is targeted toward adults aged 18-29, Campbell County Library Board Member Sage Bear told Cowboy State Daily on Monday.

‘You’re Not Protecting Children’

Doug Lesley is the husband of former Campbell County Library Director Terri Lesley, whom the board fired last summer and who is now suing a Gillette family that rallied against her and accused her of keeping obscene materials in the kids’ and teen sections of the library.

Doug Lesley told the board that new director John Jackson’s decision to move “Identical” to the adult section could invite legal challenges, and that it prevents kids from finding a book that could help them cope with or report incestuous abuse they may be suffering.

“(Incest is) a cancer. The earlier you catch it the better chance you have of saving the patient,” he said, adding that he’s encountered evidence of incest dozens of times while working with juveniles as an attorney. “If you put these books where they may not be found, where they’re harder to be found by the kids they’re aimed at, you’re not protecting children. You’re protecting the perpetrator by taking that possibility that they’ll be caught away, and you can’t do that.”

Board member Charlie Anderson, the lone vote in favor of Doug Lesley’s request, said his argument made sense and “Identical” could be a mirror kids can hold up to their own lives.

Federal courts tend to condemn library actions to move books away from the sections of their targeted audiences, Anderson added.

The Nays

Board member Sage Bear said the arguments about the book’s potential merits are notwithstanding, adding that she found “Identical” to be sexually explicit.

“What our policy says is we’re not going to have sexually explicit content in a section for minors,” she said. “And that’s what this comes down to.”

Board member Chelsie Collier countered Doug Lesley’s merits discussion anyway, saying “Identical” is bleak and hopeless and not a good roadmap for a kid struggling with incest. It ends with the main character still mentally ill and despairing, though her grandmother — a recovering alcoholic — has come back into her life to help her.

“Yes, your life is horrific and you’ve been ruined and your whole childhood — and this is what you have to look forward to: you can cut yourself and smoke dope,” said Collier of the book’s outlook.

Collier said she wants the book to stay in the library, just not the young adult section.

Even if “Identical” is enlightening for incest victims, it’s not appropriate for most teens who haven’t already encountered such horrors, said Board Member Bonnie Mills.

“What about the kids that don’t have these problems and end up coming across this book, and get subjected to (these) things?” asked Mills.

Along with these three women, board Chair Charles Butler also voted against Doug Lesley’s request.

Identical and gillette library 4 29 24
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

A Review

Cowboy State Daily read and reviewed “Identical” on Aug. 17, which was around the time community members raised objections to it.

The novel tracks a teenage girl named Kaeleigh and her twin, Raeanne. Their father, who is a judge, molests Kaeleigh frequently, and Raeanne envies their bond. Raeanne turns to drugs and promiscuous, sometimes torturous, sex.

In one scene, Raeanne sleeps with a boy who ties her to the bed and torments her.

“He flips me onto my belly, yanks my legs apart. I don’t have to see the restraints to know they’re there. The ankle knots do not surprise me. I am helpless. Exposed. And, strangely, somehow I feel at home this way,” says the girl.

Raeanne also tries to seduce her teacher.  

Both girls are bulimic, and Kaeleigh enjoys cutting herself.

“I understand why Kaeleigh liked the feel of slicing her flesh, releasing bottled-up hurt,” writes Raeanne, while reflecting on her torture-sex experience. “Heightened pain, forced inside me, stuffed inside me. Seared, branded, likely marked, a moan escapes me and Ty surges … I do want to play again. Soon.”

In the end, Kaeleigh tries to kill herself and has a mental breakdown. 

But then she learns that her twin Raeanne actually died when their father drunkenly wrecked their car when they were 10, and she’s been using Raeanne’s identity like a hedonistic alter ego the whole time.  

“I still use food for comfort. I still purge when I get too comfortable. And once in a while, when memory intrudes, I still enjoy a good, deep shave,” says Kaeleigh at the end of the book, referencing cutting herself. “Oh, come on. I never said I was perfect.”

Clair McFarland can be reached at

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter