Sex Offenders

Do you think someone previously convicted of a sex crime can be helped or cured? Or do you believe that they are a lost cause, and should be watched but shunned from society.

An alcoholic can get help. He or she will always be considered an alcoholic, but they can choose to avoid it for the rest of their lives. Can the same be said for a sex offender? Or is that offense unforgivable?

42 Comments

  1. In many (most?) places, sunbathing nude in your back yard or having a quicking with your spouse in an apple orchard qualifies as a sex crime and includes the mandatory registration with your local police – for life.

    Aside from that, though, I’ll give my standard and indisputable response: every person is different*.

    Also, what do you mean by ‘helped’ – helped with groceries or ‘cured’?

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  2. I once was sitting on a panel of people to be picked for jury duty of a situation where the parents were trying to get a 18 year old on statutory rape of their 16 year old girl (she had consented) and they had been dating for 2 years. Does that count as a sex crime?

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  3. I fixed that. Sorry.

    I’m curious after watching some of that Dateline special on Friday night. (I turned it off right away as I have this theory that the digital cable people can see what I’m watching and more importantly, what I’m not watching. That show was awful.)

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  4. Diedre, I do think that counts, actually. I’m not sure, though. Anyone?

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  5. “Can the same be said for a sex offender? Or is that offense unforgivable?”

    Sorry to nitpick here, but you’re still acting as though there is a single offense under the banner of “sex offender.”

    The term is legal and defined locally. I don’t believe that every act which can be considered a legal offense is an illness. Some are relatively innocent (two adults in the mile-high club) and some are simple acts of brutality not necessarily indicitive of a pathological condition. Some certainly have origins in pathology for some people. It’s a gigantic umbrella under which far too many variables exist to give any sort of meaningful reply.

    Let’s assume you’re talking about a single individual. Let’s assume that she has an illness which causes her to, say, molest children. Can she be helped? If she is responsive, has the right environment and support, has a good therapist, has the desire, and lord knows how many other variables, then yes.

    Even if we could give an example, it’s like asking if cancer is curable. Nobody knows, and even if a treatment is invented for one type, it will vary by person and be subject to a ton of factors.

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  6. As a survivor, this question is a tough one. Do I think the man that molested me while he was drunk out of his mind, but then apologized to me on his death bed and was a wonderful grandfather the last 12 years of his life as a sober member of society changed? Yes, I do. Do I think the evil that broke into my apartment and brutally raped me has changed? I don’t know, for I do not know who he is, but I’m willing to bet that he hasn’t. I just don’t know. I don’t think it’s cut and dry. As far as I know, my grandpa was a one-time offender in a moment when he was not himself. It took me 15 years to forgive him, but I finally did. When he went through rehab, he knew what he had done and everytime he was in the hospital, he would apologize and ask for my forgiveness without mentioning the situation. That other man…it was evil…methodical…he wanted something and took it. I would have a hard time believing he didn’t have a screw loose.

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  7. Tobyjoe, nitpick away. I am not sure how to ask the question without it being another long-winded post. :]

    I guess it just seems that once someone ANYONE is convicted of molestation they are considered basically dead.

    I am not saying I have an opinion one way or another, yet. But that show was horrible. Horrible.

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  8. Nessa, thanks for sharing. I’m not sure what to say except I am very sorry anything like that happen at all. :[

    You’re a lovely, wonderful girl. My thoughts are with you.

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  9. well I don’t – they started dating as both teens.

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  10. I don’t think so either.

    Question, do you think someone who is 23 and dating a 14 year old is considered “sick” and should be arrested?

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  11. Should they be arrested? If they violate local law, yes.

    Are they sick? That’s a complicated one.

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  12. When I was a teenaged girl I dated a lot of older guys. It seemed fun and grown up at the time. In retrospect I think that there is something fundamentally wrong with a 24 year old who is interested in a 14 year old. The balance of power is too far tipped in favor of the older person. The emotional ages are too disparate. Or the older party is unable to connect with or have relationsips with someone of their own age group because they need to be the dominant person. To have all of the advantage of age. A 14 year old is a hell of a lot easier to bully or bullshit than a 24 year old. Exceptions to the rule occur but not that often.

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  13. I sleep with a thirteen year old every night. He’s fat and fuzzy and his breath smells like cat food.

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  14. Loose String, I hear ya. I do. And I agree. But should they be arrested? Should they go to jail? I’m not so sure.

    Didn’t Elvis do something like this?

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  15. I mean, SOMETHING should happen. Therapy maybe? I dunno.

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  16. And neither of those fellers are in no stinkin’ jail!

    I guess ya gotta be famous to get away with having sex with minors. ::cough:: MJ ::cough::

    But you jerk off ONCE in an adult movie theater and your career is over.

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  17. When I was 16 I was dating a 22 year old and the sex was fabulous!

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  18. I agree with what Richard Dawkins wrote on the subject of punishing criminals:Retribution as a moral principle is incompatible with a scientific view of human behaviour. As scientists, we believe that human brains, though they may not work in the same way as man-made computers, are as surely governed by the laws of physics. When a computer malfunctions, we do not punish it. We track down the problem and fix it, usually by replacing a damaged component, either in hardware or software. …Why do we vent such visceral hatred on child murderers, or on thuggish vandals, when we should simply regard them as faulty units that need fixing or replacing? Presumably because mental constructs like blame and responsibility, indeed evil and good, are built into our brains by millennia of Darwinian evolution. Assigning blame and responsibility is an aspect of the useful fiction of intentional agents that we construct in our brains as a means of short-cutting a truer analysis of what is going on in the world in which we have to live. My dangerous idea is that we shall eventually grow out of all this and even learn to laugh at it…

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  19. I’d like to know what your problem with the show was..These were a specific type of gentleman( and I use the term loosely)who obviously are predators. 20/20 has done this show three times, and when they did it the first time there weren’t any police waiting for them on the other side of the door. So this time when they were I thought it was great. So like I said im not quite sure why its upsetting to you. It it because you think the pedophiles are being unfairly portrayed?

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  20. Zac – how many dollars made from the advertising went directly to charities dealing with child abuse and abusers? A sting operation is one thing. Fodder for prime time profitability is another.

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  21. I could care less that these men are being busted, zac. And while Tobyjoe already answered, I feel I should comment as well.

    The show, as far as I’m concerned, came off as pompous, self-fulfilling and one-sided. It’s a biased portrayal which left a rabid, hateful American audience alone to make sweeping judgments based on what they were shown.

    Yes, these men deserve to be taken into custody. DO we, as the American public need to sit back and watch it happen? No way. A kangaroo court of popular opinion is far from justice.

    Answer me this: at each trial, would you be satisfied with the jury seeing and hearing nothing but that show?

    It was irresponsible of Dateline. It was arrogant.

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  22. lobotomy? i hear that’s a pretty good cure. but honestly, i doubt it. i like punkrock music, i like indie rock music, i like marvin gay….when someone decides these are illegal, i seriously doubt i’ll somehow gain the desire stop listening to them. conditioning works, electro-shock and otherwise, but it is just a cure for the action, not the desire. but it’s all hypothetical…..i think most people have a serious revisit to this once they have children.

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  23. Excuse me sir, but I will not have you question the journalistic integrity of Stone Phillips! Who else is going to catch our pedophiles, keep our kids safe from the internet and protect our elderly from credit card fraud! Besides if that’s your position on TV, you don’t watch much do you? All news does is try to find the angle in every story to scare the shit out of you. At least Prime Time is what it is and isn’t masquerading as news (Fox). I guess Im just a sick individual but this was more entertaining than any episode of that Ashton Douchebag show “Punked”. No kids were hurt and a bunch of bad people were exposed for the trash they are. I personally find its a stretch that you think this is exploitation of victims.

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  24. OK, that’s funny. Stone is weird. I bet he’s got some skeletons in that closet of his. I bet they use botox.

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  25. Would you have hated them as much if the kids were 16? I’m curious. And then, how would you have felt if they were 10?

    Why was everyone made up to be imaginary 13 year olds?

    I really am asking. Why do you think that was the magic number they used?

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  26. I want to believe that people can be rehabilitated. I want to believe that someone – anyone – can overcome a mental illness if they want to be “well”. I would draw a distinction between a 24 yr old with a 14 yr old and 24 yr old with a 7 yr old. I think it is likely that a 14 year old is much nearer to the age of being able to reasonably consent. I think they may have the faculty to understand the consequences of what they are doing. That said, I think that a 34 year old and a 14 year old is just wrong. So, I am trying to decide what the degree of wrong-ness is depending on the ages of the parties involved. I think that what is most troubling is the desire to protect young children who are not able to consent. Who do not consent. I think what has happened in terms of prosecuting sex crimes is that there is no accounting for the nature of the crime. A public masturbation or a statutory rape charge is almost treated the same as a rape or a child pornographer. Not in the sentencing but certainly in the having to register as a sex offender. It is an imperfect system designed to apply as broadly as possible. But what is the alternative?

    I also sleep with a furry 13 year old every night but mostly it’s just spooning and a little light petting.

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  27. I saw some of the program too and had to turn it off on grounds of it being icky on lots of levels. Does anyone know if the men shown were offered a reduced sentence or some other incentive if they agreed to appear?

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  28. I also think that the overall sentiment as to what should become of the 24 year old changes if the 14 year old in question is your daughter.

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  29. Donald, that’s what the question was here at the office. We’re still unsure. No one here saw it and kept asking me if it was all a reinactment. Nope.

    I, too, turned it off. I am not sure if I said that here. I had a similar conversation in real time here at work. heh

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  30. Of course its arrogant and pompous and one-sided! We as a society love watching these shows because we like to believe that we are above these kind of people and better than them. Also its not polarizing. Its a soft ball story where there’s no thinking involved. Here’s the bad guy..Booo!!

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  31. If they change, maybe we can.

    If you build it, they will come.

    If you don’t dumb down the superbowl ads and gear it for a bunch of drunk men, maybe the drunk men won’t act like a bunch of monkeys.

    Hell if I know.

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  32. Wow. I need to think before I write. That made no sense.

    I do apologize.

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  33. I will agree with tobyJoe on the point that everything should be determined on a case by case basis. And I think that if you honestly believe that you are in love with anyone under the age of 18, you are disingenuous. I do want to point out that none of these guy’s faces could be used without them signing a waiver…Are they sick? I don’t know or pretend to know what the answer or solution is. I just love it when others (not me) get there comeuppance! Ill watch it all day long, skip the commercials thanks to my tivo, still by a coke and smile.

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  34. Loose String:

    “I also think that the overall sentiment as to what should become of the 24 year old changes if the 14 year old in question is your daughter.”

    Yeah, totally.

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  35. holy s! i meant “their” not “there”. I was just concentrating on the word comeuppance…

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  36. My views got a little harsher after I became a father.

    What can a “rehabilitated” child molester offer society, vs what they can cost it if their rehabilitation fails? To me it is a risk/reward equation, and it’s just not worth the risk.

    (Note that I said “child molester” and not “sex offender” – I’m ignoring the grey area of eighteen year old boyfriends with seventeen year old girlfriends and going straight for the Undeniable Sickos.)

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  37. I had a BIG problem with the Dateline thing. Granted, I didn’t read the transcripts or anything, but three facets of their story – left unaddressed – really irked me.

    a- Isn’t it a bit odd that there is an organization of people who go online and pose as 13 year olds looking for sex? and didn’t they seem all to eager when someone took the bait? To make a bad analogy – the volunteer group seemed a whole lot like a joke about 2 football players who come across gay porn on TV and dont change the channel – watching it intently and telling each other ‘oh man, this is sick. this is so wrong’, as they ‘secretly’ get off on it.

    b- I also can’t help but think that this sort of behavior incites criminal behavior. i would venture to think that the constant flirting as a 13 yr old with older men densensitizes them and conditions them into thinking that its appropriate and acceptable. ie – i think they’re facilitating people into committing acts that they wouldn’t do otherwise – and its less about ‘lets catch people who would do this’ than ‘lets throw a lamb to a bunch of hungry wolves and slaugther every one that makes a move’.

    now, i’m not saying that the people who were potential molesters are good people. and i’m not saying that they didn’t cross the lines of decency, ethics, and morality. what i am saying, is that I think they were helped across that line, and a percentage of them probably wouldn’t have done so under other conditions.

    i don’t think aggravated or predatory sex offenders can be rehabilitated though. (in light of tj’s nitpicking above, i’m using aggravated to lump together all of the predatory, violent , and power-based acts). this is simply because these people were able to rationalize and commit the act – you cant reprogram someone to make them think that something they belive is perfectly acceptable is abhorrent. at least not in our corrections system. you might be able to get them to curb their actions and step back to see the wrongness in their thoughts—but you’re not going to truly alter their thinking.

    less seriously, i wonder if any of them will plead innocent saying “she said said she was 13, i said i was 25. look at me—i’m 60. i expected her to really be 35 and fat, with a hairlip. its the internet. people lie about stuff like that”.

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  38. “less seriously, i wonder if any of them will plead innocent saying “she said said she was 13, i said i was 25. look at me—i’m 60. i expected her to really be 35 and fat, with a hairlip. its the internet. people lie about stuff like that”.

    Funny, and I know you’re being less serious here, but you make a great point. One, i hadn’t thought of.

    Do you think people would use that as a defense? I can absolutely see it working especially, well, considering they WERE actually lying.

    How do I know you people don’t all work for Dateline NBC? Holy crap, I’m being watched. ;]

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  39. Sorry I missed this yesterday. You ask a number of questions that aren’t necessarily related, as Toby points out. The first is the notion of legality: sex crime is an umbrella term that can mean a wide variety of things, and you focus on “conviction.” Then you ask if a habitual sex offender can break their habit. Finally, you raise the question of forgiveness, as if to suggest that by never repeating abusive behavior that they can be forgiven for abuses they committed in the past.

    As far as sex crimes go, I wouldn’t judge someone simply because they were a registered sex offender … I’d have to know what the offense was.

    I would have a very hard time welcoming or accepting a pedophile in my community. I wouldn’t want my children playing in the home of a pedophile or having regular contact with one at family gatherings. I wouldn’t want one in my children’s school

    I believe that people must bear the consequences of their actions. If someone was a habitual abuser of children, animals, women, men, etc. I feel no overwhelming moral obligation to accept that person in any way, even if they were never to commit another offense. I’m not saying that I’d seek to do such a person any harm, nor would it be impossible for me to accept that person in the future. But simply abstaining from injurious behavior doesn’t win a habitual victimizer any forgiveness or trust.

    My role as a parent is to protect and raise my children. My family’s participation in an educational community in which my wife is an administrator and our children students, demands that we care about the protection of others in that community. As much as I’d like to believe in the rehabilitative potential that all people have, I will never let my hope for such a noble ideal compromise thes responsibilites I have to protect the weakest and most vulnerable people in our society. There’s just too much at stake.

    Finally, just because a child is old enough to be sexual (at 13 or 14, etc), it does not mean that they are old enough to engage in sexual behavior with adults. I think children should be informed and educated about sexuality, should understand what responsible sexual behavior is, and should be aware of the consequences of their actions.

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