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Systemic problems in sex offender registration and oversight

Post by Brian O'Neill on March 18, 2012 at 8:32 pm with 20 Comments »
March 18, 2012 8:32 pm

2nd in a series on sex offenders.

A few years back I signed up to coach my son’s little league team. Not so fast, I was told; first fill out the mandatory criminal background check. My thoughts were on pitching skills, practice times and getting parent volunteers, but first the league needed to know I was not a sex offender.

Many people take exception to the huge amount of bureaucracy and privacy issues that has insinuated its way into our lives, courtesy of sex offender legislation. I had a different perspective, partly based on my experiences investigating sex crimes and interviewing victims (see my last column on this topic). After those experiences, I had no trouble filling out the form.

Sexual predation is an expression of malevolent power as old as the human experience. The impact of a rape or molestation on the victim is intensely personal, and the corrupting effects can linger a lifetime. We can certainly agree that the actions of sex offenders are abhorrent and worthy of harsh punishment.

That, unfortunately, is the end of our collective agreement. From that common point the remedies lead to questions, and the disparate answers send the discussion into tangents separating at an increasing rate. The national discussion becomes more confusing because each state has its own sex offender registration laws.

Two of the more significant points of contention both concern the controversial registration of sex offenders. Specifically, there has been much debate on 1) the inclusion of sex crimes that do not appear to meet the criteria of predatory; 2) registered sex offenders (RSO’s) being monitored in ways that are inefficient and ineffectual.

Courtesy of forensicpsychologist.blogspot.com

In terms of inclusive crimes, the “Rape of a child” statute is a case in point. This crime is based on consensual sex, and the age of the victim and offender determines the crime and the degree (1st, 2nd, 3rd). For example, Rape of a child 1st degree involves a victim less than twelve and an offender at least 2 years older, i.e. a 13-year-old having consensual sex with an 11-year-old. The offenses under 2nd and 3rd degree differ by an increase in the victim’s age and the disparity in ages of the victim and offender (RCW 9A.44), but in all cases a conviction could lead to registration for the offender.

The purpose of the sex offender registry is, or at least should be, to protect people. This prevention model should also provide some guarantee that the subjects on the registry committed crimes that were in some way predatory. Some sex crimes, such as Rape of a child, may not meet that standard. This is a serious issue because the stigma attached to being labeled an RSO is a virtual roadblock to public programs, rental property, jobs and relationships. If the person affected is truly a predator, then so be it. If not, then it begs the question: How is the community benefitting from having that individual registered and monitored?

The other disconnect in this system is oversight. A recent Trib article (via the Palm Beach Post) described a Florida loophole that has allowed sex offenders to gain access to children. Since Florida does not require summer camps to have business licenses, workers in that industry need not submit to a background check. The result is that registered sex offenders in Florida have been getting jobs at youth summer camps – the consummate case of the fox in the henhouse.

Washington State has its own issues with oversight. Sex offenders here must register any address change at their local police department or sheriff’s office, and failure to do so is a felony. Unfortunately, many agencies don’t have the resources (or choose not to devote resources) to routine checks on RSO’s. The state has provided additional funds for for this purpose, but the process remains woefully inefficient. The highest priority is given to Level 3 (most likely to re-offend), despite the fact that many of these offenders are on active supervision with the Department of Corrections. In these cases, Community Corrections Officers (CCO’s) make frequent visits, well in excess of police department checks. In a perfect world those visits would be coordinated, ensuring that certain offenders don’t receive an inordinate amount of police visits while some offenders slip through the cracks.

All of these problems should be addressed. We need better assurance that the people included in the sex offender registry are truly predators from whom we must be protected. Once accomplished, we must do a better job at keeping tabs on these individuals once they have been released back to the community.

This is a complex and controversial issue in our imperfect world. As in all things, we must find a balance between defending ourselves from humans who treat others as disposable sex toys, while we avoid becoming a police state. It’s an important task.

Leave a comment Comments → 20
  1. Brian,

    As an educator, I am faced with a similar scrutiny regarding whether school staff members who have access to students have sexual deviency behaviors that make them sex offenders. I routinely fill out similar forms that are sent to OSPI to ensure staff members are not on such lists.

    I also have personal experiences with sex crimes; my niece was molested and have other family members who have had been charged/convicted/accused of sex crimes as well as covering classes of teachers who have been charged with sexual misconduct with a minor.

    However, I differ with you on who should be on the registry. I feel all people convicted of any sex crime, including child pornography and sexting should be on the registry. If a person has been charged with child porn, they have an abnormal sexual behavior. Same with people charged with child molestation, rape and other sex crimes. Their psycho-sexual behavior is very different than normal where people do not look at porn/child porn and act out sexually with people who are children or people that cannot or do not consent to such act.

    There are people who cannot consent to sex, disabled people, vulnerable people, and children under 12 among them. The law is specific on that, and rightfully so. I also feel that there are people within the age of consent, or above the age of 12 who are mentally immature, which the law does not account for; who also need such protection. Not every 14 year old is capable of making the intelligent decision to consent to sex, even if the mate is the same age or close to the same age. What if that sexual act results in a pregnancy? A lot of times it does; when my mom was a foster parent, the last 2 years she did it, (she retired in 1988) she had more babies who had parents as young as 12 years old. I would consider this a rape even if it was consensual; no teenager below 18 is independently capable of providing for that child; they don’t work or live independently, plus the risks of the child having problems due to the young age of the parents.

    Certainly this provides a gray area where it can be questionable depending on who you ask; but under the circumstances, it should be looked at by law enforcement as a crime. Example; I have cerebral palsy, which under state/federal law, is a developmental disability, and 2nd degree rape includes those with “developmental disabilities” as people who don’t have implied consent to sex. Under this definition, it might be a gray area (I have normal intelligence) for me to engage in it, but would clearly be a crime if the person with a mental capability (IQ) below 70.

  2. cclngthr: Again, every person convicted of a sex crime does not meet the criteria of a predator. The stigma of list inclusion is not deserved by the slightest hint of sexual attachment. The standard for list inclusion is so skewed, it is unreliable. Sexting, to the minds of many, is a stupid teenager behavior. Do you want your kid labeled as a sex offender for such adolescent behavior. People never ask the circumstance of the charges putting you on the list, they just assume the worst. It isn’t like a late payment on your TRW, which you may have a chance to explain.
    If your daughter starts dating a guy, you discover he is on the list, do you CARE about hearing the reason why? No, you assume the worst, just like everyone else.

  3. APimpNamedSlickback says:

    I agree that the registry needs to be overhauled. And the first change should be to make it non-public. Only trained law enforcement officers should have access to it, and then only in their official capacity. Having a public registry only serves to breed suspicion among neighbors, state-sanctioned ostracizing of people who have otherwise complied with the law and are presumably seeking to rebuild a productive life, and to implicitly encourage vigilantism.

    The fact is that most sex offenders are not on any registry, because they haven’t been caught yet. Studies have shown that the overwhelming majority of sex offenders are not the jump-out-of-the-bushes, forcible rape-type, but rather someone the victim knows… more often than not, a family member. The statistical chance of your kid being raped by you or your sibling is much greater than by the creeper down the street.

    Having a public registry distracts the public’s focus from the real threat. A good parent doesn’t need to look at the sheriff’s website to know that they shouldn’t be letting their kids near strangers. A parent who really cares about protecting their child will constantly tell them to stay away from everyone that they (the parent) have not explicity told them to associate with. Then, that parent will be attentive to their child’s interactions with the people they do permit their child to be around. No amount of combing through the sex offender registry will protect your kid if they’re being molested by your brother who has never had a run-in with the law.

    Further, studies have also shown that the chances of your kid reporting abuse by a family member are low to non-existent; so a parent’s focus really ought to be on the people interacting with their kids. Leave the management of known offenders to the professionals.

    And cclngthr: I realize the thrust of your comment was aimed at underage abuse, but unless it was a typo, your third paragraph reveals a slightly skewed vision of society on your part. You say: “Their psycho-sexual behavior is very different than normal where people do not look at porn/child porn…” Are you seriously suggesting that “normal” people don’t look at porn? Legal porn is such a huge industry precisely because nearly everyone consumes it… most of them being “normal” people.

    My wife works in the adult industry (lawyer, not performer), and so I take exception whenever people lump legal porn in with the illegal stuff. People love to call pornography and the people who make it the source of all of sexual abuse, but the truth is, there is nowhere in the world that you will find more active crusaders for the elimination of child exploitation than in the adult industry. Blaming porn for sexual abuse is an act of intellectual laziness.

  4. cclngthr says:

    APimpNamedSlickbac,
    My comment about porn is that, it is not normal for the average person to look at it; I don’t and all of my friends don’t look at it. To me, it is not normal to look at nude pictures; particularly of those pictures of children. I include child porn in this category. I also see many teachers who view porn and the result is their certificate is in jeopardy due to acts of viewing it particularly if work computers are used to do that. If you look on the OSPI’s Disciplinary Actions website, you see multiple cases where teachers certificates are suspended due to acts of misconduct of viewing porn (on school computers). People on that list also are under more scrutiny because they have behaviors a person considers as not right.

    It might be more dangerous for parents to look at interactions with children only because that can be a skewed result where interactions don’t tell parents exactly what is going on because sex offenders can have normal interactions and if family members do molest others, a lot of that is not believed. I know with my nieces incident, no one in the family believed her father (my older brother) was the one that was doing it. A lot of people are in denial it can happen; which is very dangerous.

    At the same time, if we look at interactions only, everyone could be considered a sex offender at some point by certain people. Here the opposite effect is seen with the denial issue. This is equally dangerous. My youngest nephew’s ex wife was this way and considered all people sex offenders. She severely limited their children to interact with other people because she felt the interaction to be inappropriate (even I could not interact with the kid when I was around; I left 10 years ago and never came back) in all cases.

  5. S2E,
    The issue is, sexting can be a precursor to more concrete sexual deviency. That is why it is included. I ask you, is sexting a normal sexual behavior everyone uses? No, it is not. Is porn a normal behavior everyone uses? no, it is not. Most people don’t sext or view porn.

    The focus should be abnormal psycho-sexual behaviors.

  6. APimpNamedSlickback says:

    cclngthr:

    Thank you for clarifying your comment. Oh, if only normalcy could be determined by what we do as individuals; then it would be so much easier to categorize people.

    Here’s how that logic works: I’m not a teacher, and none of my friends or family members are teachers. Therefore, it is abnormal to be a teacher. You, cclngthr, are abnormal because you are a teacher, and should be considered immediately suspect because you have chosen this unusual occupation where you are around children all day long without their parents present, and are able to groom their young minds however you see fit.

    See? Just because one person and their friends don’t do something, doesn’t make it abnormal.

    The examples you give of teachers looking at porn on work computers, well, that is abnormal. Not because they look at porn, but because they use their employer’s resources to do it. The type of porn is irrelevant in those cases, because those people have boundary issues. That’s what they’re being disciplined for, and they should be deisciplined for that.

    But your statement that none of your friends look at porn is just you talking out your *ss. I can almost guarantee you that some, if not most, of your friends consume porn in some manner. I also think that you’re probably lying that you never look at it, but I’ll take you at your word on that one, only as it pertains to you personally. Looking at nude pictures may seem abnormal in your very narrow, self-centered worldview, but I assure you (and so does a thriving, multi-billion dollar a year industry) that looking at nude pictures is very normal.

    You don’t know what your friends do behind closed doors. You obviously didn’t know what your brother was doing behind closed doors, and presumably you knew him better than you do your friends.

    Furthermore, you say it would be dangerous to look at interactions with children only because that can be skewed. Pray tell, how would looking at a sex offender registry have prevented your niece from being molested? And if you and her other relatives were more focused on her relationship with her father, do you think it is possible that someone may have seen some of the signs?

    You’re right that people are in denial about friends and family members being the prime perpetrators. But sticking your head in the sand or pointing to some bogeyman on the sheriff’s website doesn’t change the fact that most abused children — just like your niece — suffer at the hands of a completely non-suspect family member. Perpetuating this myth that the people you need to worry about are all on the registry is what contributes to the denial about the real threat. Perhaps if there never were a registry and none of this constant hype about sex offenders, maybe people would be more open to the concept that familial abuse is common, and then your niece’s allegations may have been believed by the people closest to her.

    I’m not saying that being more attentive as parents will eliminate all sex crimes against children; I’m just saying that it will do much more than relying on (or even consulting) a registry. As I said before, good parents know to keep their kids away from strangers. Most people don’t know anyone on the registry, and so anyone who is on it falls into the category of people your kids never should’ve been around in the first place. If you do know someone on the registry, you ought to know that they are without looking at the registry. If not, then you really don’t know them that well, and they belong in the same category as strangers.

    As for your example of overly protective parents, I think that most people would be forgiving of that behavior. If one of my sisters told me I couldn’t watch her kids alone, I’d understand it if this were her reasoning. Granted, I don’t want to watch any of my nieces or nephews, and certainly not by myself, but I’d understand such a restriction. (By the way, someone — even a family member — who goes out of their way to get your kids alone with them IS SOMEONE TO BE SUSPICIOUS OF.)

    And I really think you are too harsh on your nephew’s ex-wife. Do you think that maybe you have such a critical view of her because she is no longer part of the family? It’s not like she didn’t have good reason to be suspicious of you and your relatives, what with your older brother and all.

  7. APimpNamedSlickbac,

    With my brothers case, no one in the family believed my niece could have been molested by him; they thought it was another person. The signs were there, but the obvious fear she had of her father was blindly ignored. I tried to stay out of that mess because I have to be objective in recognizing that kind of behavior. Of course, this happened in 1985 where the sex offender registry did not exist, and at the time, not much was done in regards to recognizing such acts by others. It was not openly discussed as it is now. I think the registry forces people to recognize there are people who have abnormal sexual behaviors and such scrutiny should exist even with family members who have similar behaviors.

    With my nephews ex wife, her behavior stemmed from her own sexual abuse she experienced, and her flat refusal to allow others to interact with her children was not normal; including family members. When she accused my nephew of sexual abuse when they were in the process of getting a divorce, the court ruled she had abnormal behavior and the accusations were ruled false since her own behavior scewed her perception of normal interactions. Evidence from CPS and other counseling/psychologists were given to the court and she cannot have visitations unsupervised, for good reason. (by this time, my older brother was deceased and no longer in the picture) Her children now have emotional trauma due to false allegations and a scewed picture of appropriate interaction with others.

    Both cases are in the extreme, where family members refuse to recognize that family can molest others, and the opposite extreme of being overly protective can also do more harm than good.

    What if a person has to be alone with a child? There are times where people take others kids in their vehicle and often babysit a child alone. We can’t automatically assume they’re going to molest the child. If however they posess abnormal sexual behaviors, such as porn or past sexual anomalies, yes, they should be forbidden around children. While I don’t have kids alone with me in private spaces, in public spaces, I am around kids quite a bit, but I’m watchful of what is/isn’t appropriate. If I am around kids, I generally prefer the door open and be in a public area when possible. As far as me taking ANY kid in my car, I generally refuse to do that in any case where I’m alone. I will if the parent is in the car with me.

    I do think people can be overly suspicious of others, as well as overly ignorant of others behavior. We can’t tell kids not to interact with others; all that does is instil fear in them. It does not teach kids to trust their judgement in determining what is right. We also can’t tell kids to ignore such behaviors because if they come across it, it can institute behaviors that they won’t be believed if it happens to them.

  8. cclngthr says:

    One thing I have had come across as an educator is when students are enrolled in school who have been convicted of sex crimes. We are prohibited from notifying other students families of such student being enrolled, but information already is out there by public information of such students name and crime they committed. Schools generally have a 1:1 para shadowing such student however that does not always prevent future crimes they may commit. I feel this secretive act can do more harm than good regarding what other parents feel about the situation. I know if I had a child in school and I found out on my own that another student was in the classroom convicted of a sex crime, I definately would instantly pull my kid from that school as soon as I found out about it. Given what I know of the school system keeping students away from such people, I don’t exactly trust the judgement of the school system. When teachers prey on kids in school and commit such crime, I don’t see the concept of not informing parents when a student convicted of the crime is enrolled in a school. I think schools should inform parents and have parents make up their own mind about it; even if they question why the kid was allowed in the school.

    Here, lawsuits are very possible.

  9. Chippert says:

    Sexual depredation should be classed as a mental illness and treated as such when the person is convicted. When we find that someone committed a violent crime due to mental illness we in effect imprison them in a place where they can be treated. There is no sentence length. They may not be released until the mental health professionals are convinced that the person is no longer a danger to themselves or society. If they are wrong, there need not be a further court case, they are re-committed. Sexual depredation is a disease and should be treated as such. If the sexual predator cannot be treated, then they would spend the rest of their life isolated from society. Sexual depredation is a completely different crime than most crimes of violence.

    That said, sexual depredation would not include date rape, etc. Those would be handled as violent crimes. Statutory rape is different as well and needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis. Most stat rape cases where the two parties are of reasonably the same age should not, in my opinion, be charged if both parties gave consent no matter how ill-informed they might be. If a pregnancy results then that should be addressed by social services, involving both parties (and both families of those parties).

    If depredation were treated as a mental illness then there would likely be no need for a SOR and the resulting witch hunt that it becomes in so many cases.

  10. APimpNamedSlickback says:

    cclngthr:

    So when your niece was being molested, there were signs, but you and others ignored them? Wait, scratch that… others ignored it while you stayed out of it in order to maintain objectivity? You say it was 1985 and people just didn’t talk about that back then; but that contradicts your statement that you were aware of it, such that you recused yourself from the topic of abuse in your own family so that you could maintain the objectivity to recognize it elsewhere. You saw the signs, but chose to do nothing. Wow. Glad I don’t have any kids under your care.

    Oh, and FYI: I was 5 years old in 1985, and I remember quite vividly being told time and again about predators. My parents warned me often, there were PSA posters at school, and my elementary school counselor spoke of her childhood abuse in great detail at a presentation she gave to each class once a year.

    As for your nephew’s ex-wife, her fears stemmed from her own abuse, but this all happened after your niece’s abuse? Perhaps she was imbalanced, and certainly her accusations were unfounded, but before she made those accusations, can you blame her? She, as an abuse victim, probably understood that victims aren’t always believed and as a member of your family, knew for a fact that familial abuse had occurred and been dismissed before. If I were her, I would have kept my kids away from every one of your blood relatives.

    I can’t say that both cases are extreme, because to do so would mean saying that there is a run-of-the-mill kind of child abuse that we should simply accept as normal. I would classify your niece’s case as typical, albeit unacceptable. I would call the actions of your nephew’s ex-wife likewise unacceptable, yet understandable given her history and the circumstances that your family presented to her.

    You ask “what if a person has to be alone with a child?.. If they possess abnormal sexual behaviors, then yes they should be forbidden around children.” How would you know if anybody has abnormal sexual behaviors? You clearly don’t know what abnormal sexual behaviors are, since you think looking at nude photos qualifies, and that you think that is uncommon. My main point here (and your comments have backed that up) is that most abusers are known to their victims, and haven’t been caught. Having a registry does nothing to protect your kids and only distracts you from where your focus should be.

    You say we can’t tell kids not to interact with people because it only instills fear in them. Yeah, we can. Fear is good. Fear of the creepy dude with binoculars down the street kept me from ever going near his house when I was a kid.

    You say that teaches kids not to trust their judgment of what is right. Well, if my kids develop the kind of judgment you and your family exhibited, then I’m happy to simply have them fear everything until they’re given a reason not to. The last thing I’d want is for them to never get a warning about strangers and bad touches, then have them grow up to deny a vulnerable family member’s claim that they were abused by their father, or worse yet, to see the signs that it happened and say “I’m out of this one; I gotta stay sharp to identify the abuse that isn’t happening right under my nose.”

  11. cclngthr says:

    APimpNamedSlickback,
    Rape was not discussed as frequently as it is now, with discussions of specific behaviors that molesters exhibit. Back then, and even when I was a kid, kids were told not to talk to strangers, but rarely not to associate with familial people, who commonly prey on people. That is where you are wrong. Stranger danger discussions are not the same thing when people who are familiar to the kid commits such crime.

    I chose to get completely out of my family’s issues and not associate with them at all due to the position (they wanted me to side with them) I was put in right after my nieces case. They believed it never happened, and also believe that sex is normal and kids need to learn it. I don’t believe that at all. As an educator, I have to look at it in a way to determine if it happened, and report it. I know it happens frequently, and whoever does it should be locked up for good; and be placed on severe restrictions where they go and what they can do if and when they get out. They wanted me to side with them rather than with my niece; who I only have contact with now. I found out with my nephews ex wife through a court search, which was in 2005-2006.

    Only problem is, there are unfounded cases mixed in with real cases. This is where I try to look at it objectively. Unfounded cases, such as the Kern County and the John Stoll (Witch Hunt) cases around the same time my nieces case was going on creates hysteria of what truely is sexual abuse and how children are questioned regarding sexual abuse. In those cases, people were convicted of sexual abuse that eventually were overturned. I believe my family thought that such questioning by authorities was leading the young child to say her dad was molesting her. If you look at these cases, the questioning of children are clouding the issue, and are inappropriate. I try to recognize that fact if I do see it (and I do occasionally see it in students) to determine if it happened. It always is not cut and dry. I remember a year ago in the Bethel SD a substitute teacher was falsely accused of sexual misconduct and although the girls were suspended, he chose to get out of teaching completely because of the stigma of being called a child molester.

    Having the registry should be a incentive for people not to attempt such acts to get on the list. If this means an easy way to get on it, such as porn, so be it.

    My focus is on looking at abnormal psycho-sexual behaviors when determining if a person should be on such list (I know most of my family should be on that list). Does the person have an unnatural yen to be alone behind closed doors with kids? How about having children sit on their lap or sleep with kids? What kind of sexual behaviors does this person have? How do they interact with children and other adults? Do they talk about having sex frequently. Are they aroused when children are present (somewhat cloudy and hard to determine here)? Although some of the behaviors might be considered normal, but to an excess, it should be looked at further.

  12. Objective says:

    cclngthr-I chose to get completely out of my family’s issues and not associate with them at all due to the position (they wanted me to side with them) I was put in right after my nieces case. They believed it never happened, and also believe that sex is normal and kids need to learn it. I don’t believe that at all.
    ____________________________________________________________________

    You state you are an educator. I have a question for you and is NOT an attack.

    What are your thoughts, if I was to handout condoms or some other form of contraception, at say a middle school. Maybe even offered classes how to use them? Would you think of that as you mentioned above “Believing they need to learn it”? I don’t believe it either, but I would like to see what you have to say.

  13. cclngthr: knee jerk reaction “instantly pull my kid from that school as soon as I found out about it”. Really?? So, now children should be denied an education? Ready to hear where you would put that child you pulled out of school. Say all the other public schools have a listed student as well. Can’t go to public school then. Private school? Probably full of listed which were chased out of the public system. Private teacher for schooling at home? Oops, might get molested by the teacher.
    One cannot prevent their child from interacting with predatory types. It is impossible to know what is in the hearts of others. Some seem to be willing to protect at the risk of stunting development. Glass jars are no place for kids. People will attempt to take advantage of your kids through adulthood.
    Aside from the sex issue, there is bullying and elitism which you must teach your child to respond to appropriately. Life skills include dealing with people even though you don’t want to. Changing geography is seldom the answer.

  14. APimpNamedSlickback says:

    cclngthr:

    Your recollection of 1985 and mine differ greatly. Maybe you weren’t talking about specific dangers with children, but believe me, we were getting those talks with other adults. Stranger danger was among the warnings we got, but the threat of familial abuse was also addressed quite clearly.

    It doesn’t matter what your family members wanted you to do in your niece’s case. If you believed your niece, yet still chose to stay out of it, you only enabled her abuse. I’m not going to discuss your niece’s case anymore though because you insist on excusing your behavior. If you don’t see that, there is no point in continuing that discussion.

    As for your nephew’s ex-wife, this new information that you were completely removed from the situation and only have secondhand knowledge of it from public records is revealing. You said before that your interactions with your nephews ex-wife happened after the issue with your niece; but you also said that after the issue with your niece, she was the only one you’ve had contact with. So which one is it?

    This next part, I don’t mean to attack you, and I hate to be this nit-picky, but what kind of educator are you? The syntax of your comments has been especially difficult to follow. I only ask because you mention in several places that your an educator, but your ability to structure a sentence properly seems to be lacking — something I should think a teacher would be good at. Again, not an attack. I hate to be “that guy” and if it had just been one or two misspelled words, or a dropped or transposed letter, I wouldn’t say anything. It’s just that your logic and syntax are hard to follow throughout your comments, and I’m thinking that maybe I’m just misreading something.

  15. Objective,
    If you were handing out condoms to kids at a middle school, I definately would be against it, and question the act with authorities including law enforcement and DFS. Is it right for 11-14 year olds to engage in sex? No, it is not. My concern with that is you would be encouraging these kids to have sex regardless of their maturity or cognitive level.

    Here, we are getting into an area where (specifically physical/cognititive impairments) it not always is appropriate to discuss the issue with kids/teens due to their functional level and maturity level. Not every kid understands the concept of sexuality at 11 years old (or older). With people with disabilities, the issue is even cloudier because they fall into a category of being in a position where they are vulnerable and likely cannot give consent (which is why the 2nd degree rape includes provisions that prevent developmentally and some physically disabled people from consenting to sex).

    S2E,
    I think parents have the right to know if there is a known offender attending the school. Me being prohibited from making that information known is concerning because I’m in the middle of the issue and it can be construed I approve its secrecy.

    APimpNamedSlickback,

    I got out of the situation because I felt it was best for me not to get personally involved; something we are instructed NOT do in training. Having a family member who has experienced abuse puts me in a position where I would autoatically have personal involvement in, and my judgement would not be in the best interest of the person who experienced it. Here, personal ties with the offender clouds the judgement because the usual view is that person can be trusted, and behaviors that seem odd are not looked at as negative. I generally bring in other people in to confirm my suspicions if I see it. It also is something I don’t want to make a snap or premature conclusion on either. I’ve seen where such decisions go awry and prematurely making a conclusion is just as bad as not doing anything about it. I remember about 4 years ago, I had a student, who told me he was adopted out, and was exhibiting signs of behaviors which are consistant of abuse, but his interactions with his adoptive mother did not show signs of fear or abnormalities that would make me believe he was currently being abused. He WAS before he was adopted, and was going through counseling for that. However the school felt it was a current issue and not being addressed. In that case, calling it current abuse would be premature.

    I had left the situation (my nephew and niece are actually cousins, not sister and brother) of my niece since that part of the family was not as connected as you might have originally thought. My niece is my older brothers kid, and my nephew is my sisters kid. Big difference there. This explains why I was able to have met my nephews ex wife before they married. I left them soon after as well due to constant battles with them with them wanting me to do things I wasn’t comfortable with. You assumed that my niece and nephew were in the same nuclear family structure. They are not. A niece and nephew are not always siblings. I also doubt my nephews ex wife had met my older brother; the his actions were not discussed within the family and he generally stayed away from family activities.

    I respond to comments as they come, on an individual basis; meaning I don’t relook at previous comments to respond to new comments. You also assume issues that are not typical to individual situation. You made the assumption (I think) that my niece and nephew are siblings. That is not true, and your assumption of them being sibs made it appear they were within the exact same household.

  16. APimpNamedSlickback says:

    cclngthr:

    Actually, I did not make that assumption about your niece and nephew. In fact, I suspected they were not part of the same nuclear family because your earlier statements indicated that you cut off contact with your niece’s family (now apparently her immediate family only), yet had contact with your nephew after that fact. The confusion was about which parts of your family you cut off contact with. Not specifying that, I assumed you meant that the entire family including aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, grandparents and so forth were trying to get you to side with them on the issue of your niece, and so you cut off contact with everyone; thus my confusion as to why you would have contact with your nephew after the niece incident.

    Again, I could point out how you’re just trying to excuse your behavior in the case of your niece, but I’ve already stepped out of that one. So go ahead and excuse yourself away.

    On your comment to S2E, I think you’re grossly overestimating parents’ concern about what you personally endorse when/if they find out about the presence of an underage sex offender in school. As a teacher, your job is to teach, not be the town crier alerting parents to the presence of kids you think are a danger to others. It’s the job of school administrators to be aware of those dangers and manage them accordingly, but publicly outing a juvenile offender is wrong. Juvenile criminal records are sealed for a reason, and your sense of propriety doesn’t outweigh that. Neither does a parent’s supposed right to know.

  17. PumainTacoma says:

    A former reporter disclosed that the Tacoma Public Schools had a sex offender working in their schools. We need to ask Board member Miller if he knows whether his organization had a volunteer sex offender working in the schools and what he did to stop it. Then ask why a reporter was unable to report this matter essentially covering up the fact that sex offenders do work in our schools. Sounds like another newspaper cover up when reporting crimes against children, women and the elderly.

  18. cclngthr says:

    APimpNamedSlickbac,

    I am not overestimating a parent concern if a known sex offender is in a school. I think parents and society have a legal right (over the rights of the offender) to know if such offender is in the classroom. If parents don’t care, they won’t do anything. If they do, they will make that choice with intelligence. Same with teachers. Legally, parents can view the teachers personnel file and also look up any discipline actions OSPI has made on that teacher.

    You also want people to automatically consider other people as sex offenders without looking at specific behaviors. Is that a hope that you want to protect your children of all people, or are you wanting to automatically consider them as sex offenders? What you are actually doing is making other people wonder why you consider them as sex offenders, and also not want continued contact with you. If I had a student who’s parents did this, I would not interact with that student very much, if at all. A relationship must have some level of trust, and when one person mistrusts others, for any reason, having such relationship is not good; it is strained to the point where no interaction will occur.

    PumainTacoma,
    It does not surprise me that there are known offenders working on the schools that are registered.

  19. tomm5946 says:

    In the many comments that I have read today, the primary problem seems to be the use of the term “sex offender.” What does “sex offender” mean? What should the term “sex offender” mean?

    The main problem with the term “sex offender” is used to refer to any person, convicted or not, of committing a sex offense in the recent past or the long ago past. There seems to be no regard for further precision that would help the public (and lets face it: legislators) to begin understanding this topic.

    As was pointed out in article and several comments, that those people on the sex offender registry are convicted of any one of many sex crimes and that the label of “registered sex offender” seems to only hold one definition: A dangerous, “incurable”, ticking-time-bomb, sexually fixated, monster ready to strike the minute an innocent guardian or child turns their back.

    The reality of course is that only a small portion of convicted sex offenders go on to commit a new sex crime and that most new sex crimes will be committed by people not on any registry – but try telling that to a “tough-on-crime” legislator.

    BTW, great comments in this blog.

    Tom Madison
    Registered Sex Offender in Oregon
    Family and Friends in Tacoma.
    tomm5946@gmail.com

  20. “…the ‘Rape of a child’ statute is a case in point. This crime is based on consensual sex, and the age of the victim and offender determines the crime and the degree (1st, 2nd, 3rd).”

    I find this statement to be highly confusing as the RCW clearly defines children under the age of 16 (in many cases) as unable to consent to sexual intercourse regardless of their words and actions and given the reality that forcible and coercive sexual assault against children are prosecuted under the Rape of a Child laws and not Rape in the First, Second or Third Degree. For example, in 1989 a 17 year old male who admitted to anal rape of a 2 year old child was charged with Statutory Rape*, and it is impossible that the child could have legally consented to such an act. There are many cases of the non-consensual sexual penetration of children prosecuted under the Rape of a Child laws (formerly Statutory Rape), so I find the author’s assertion that Rape of a Child crimes are based on consensual sex to be highly flawed.

    I am greatly interested in researching the determination of which sex offenses are considered predatory as published in scholarly, peer-reviewed evidenced-based material and would appreciate the author linking toward resources of this type in defense of the assertion that not all sex offenses should qualify an offender for inclusion in the state registry.

    Ken Lanning, Former Supervisory Special Agent at the Federal Bureau of Investigation has written Child Molesters: A Behavioral Analysis for Professionals Investigating the Sexual Exploitation of Children and finds that it is extremely common for those wishing to sexually exploit children to groom the child into a state of receptivity to the sexual activity and protection of the offender: http://www.missingkids.com/en_US/publications/NC70.pdf

    Given this common MO and the findings published by Anna C Salter in Transforming Trauma** drawn from confidential, anonymous interviews with sex offenders that show that many repeat sex-offenders began victimizing less-mature children when they were teenagers and that reported sex offenses represent at best 5% of the crimes actually committed, I don’t yet see a reason to make changes in the registry and consent laws.

    I would find an argument to make changes in the age-of-consent laws and sex offender registry far more compelling if it addressed, with evidence, the lack-of-harm to the children involved in these scenarios or if it were spearheaded by the parents of 14 year olds lobbying for more legal sexual freedom for youth or by emancipated minors willing to advocate for their own rights.

    I do know someone closely who has been impacted by these laws. He began grooming a neighbor when she was 10 and he was 15, committed Child Molestation in the First Degree when she was 11 and he was 16, Statutory Rape in the Second Degree when she was 12 and he was 17, and continued sexually exploiting her until she was almost 16 and he was 20. The entire time he claimed he loved her, promised to marry her, and convinced her to protect him by not reporting his ongoing crimes. After first denying ever being alone with the girl, he confessed to some of his crimes when she reported the situation incidentally to a health care provider. He got an alternative sex-offender sentence, was diagnosed as a pedophile with borderline personality disorder, and was never supposed to be alone with children again unless he was supervised by someone who knew his offense history. 20 years later he was convicted of Rape of a Child in the First Degree for sexually penetrating a seven year old girl when he was 40. Although the charging offense was one instance, the disclosure by the 7 year old of multiple offenses very closely fit the pattern of the earlier victim. All along he told his community his sex offense was a crime of passion between himself and a consenting/aggressive barely younger partner, when he was 18 and she 16. According to him, it was just the arbitrariness of the law that had branded him as deviant.

    * (caution, the material in this brief describes several instances of violent sexual assault) http://www.courts.wa.gov/content/Briefs/A08/791112%20prv.pdf#xml=http://206.194.185.202/texis/search/pdfhi.txt?query=david+mccormick+rape+of+a+child&pr=www&prox=page&rorder=500&rprox=500&rdfreq=500&rwfreq=500&rlead=500&rdepth=0&sufs=0&order=r&cq=8&id=4f59d50711

    ** (again, high explicit descriptions of sexual assault of children are included in this material) http://www.amazon.com/Transforming-Trauma-Understanding-Treating-Survivors/dp/080395509X/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1335204845&sr=8-1-fkmr0

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