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4-2-04 Topic Report: Could Your Beliefs Change by
Analyzing Sex Offenses by Offense Relationships: Offender -to- Victim?
»What would happen to your beliefs about sex offenses, sex offenders, recidivism, and who is dangerous to your family, IF, you analyzed the facts of cases in the news, RATHER THAN, believing the media and political speakers? We did!|
»Current Beliefs About Sex Offenses, Sex Offenders, Recidivism, and Dangerousness: How Did These Beliefs Develop, and are they still correct today?
NEWS ARTICLE SELECTION:
Far too many beliefs are based upon myths, misapplication of statistics, citing of older statistics when current ones have replaced them, hypothetical premises and false personal beliefs. Additionally, there are some folks who simply refuse to accept, that what they have relied upon for some time, is no longer correct.
Many older statistics are still valid, but when newer ones come along, then the older should no longer be cited, or cited with qualification.
Example: David Finkelhor, a leading expert and researcher in the field of child sexual abuse, recently criticized the Church for failing to recognize -the nationwide drop in sexual-abuse cases- (a newer report) in the Church's recent report of clergy-abuse. Finklehor' 2001 report on Child Abuse, may make his own statistics (i.e., child sexual abuse statistics prior to the recent decline in child abuse) incorrect if cited today without qualification. Likewise is other research.
The media reports, with gusto about sex offenders and sex offenses, when Public Officials, -or- Legislators when they introduce bills, cite beliefs and partial statistics, and fail to cite sources. Journalists should require "sources" for statistics. Often these reports, with half-truths, incite the public and further stigmatize sex offenders and their families. We cannot forget the offender's Circle of Associations, the people closest; the support system.
After years of misinformation, half-truths, misquoted statistics, fear campaigns, and the like, what does society believe today. Police publish, that they are going to "Hunt-Down," "Round-Up," these dangerous violent pedophiles; inappropriate words of violence targeting all as one. Legislators focus all efforts on registered sex offenders, while ignoring all other offenders and the major source of new sex offenses. All this has so infected society that society watches only the registered sex offender, and wonders why the sex offenses continue?
The question of libel is often raised by publication of false information resulting in harm, to individuals or a class of people. Public hatred of sex offenders has resulted in many comments with malice attached, and journalists ignore this, publishing it for the shock value. The US Supreme Court even commented (In Connecticut -v- Dep't of Public Safety), that sex offenders may be able to make a case for libel.
With that said, we reviewed news reports of recent crimes; links are provided to every article used. Following review we created and organized the chart below. A closer review of the chart, along with our discussion below, will lead folks to understanding that, what they are hearing about sex offenders and sex offenses, simply is not true.
Our intent is, to expose fears, myths and misconstructions and empower folks, so that they can see what is really happening today, and where their eyes should be focused, without the improper political and media influences.
Articles selected were sex offenses, the stage of the criminal process the defendant was in was not relevant for our purpose.
Our chart includes persons, accused of, charged with, sentenced for, in prison for, or in jail for, some kind of sex offense over a one week period in March 2004.
Interpreting the correct "Offense Relationship (non-kinship)" is important for many things that may surprise you. Articles were reviewed to determine, exactly, what kind of relationship existed which enabled the crime, then assigned the appropriate "Offense Relationship."
Our assigned relationship is founded with this principle:
"When I was first born my world was my crib, then the floors of my family's home, then I began walking and ventured out into the yard to play, then played with my friends at their homes.
Those were great days, on Sunday we would go to Church, and when I got a little older I became a Boy Scout. Then the ugly days of school, all those books and study in the library, when I could have been playing, but when there was sports my days brightened, and we learned from coaches, scouting and other public activities."
Relationships begin in the home and emanate outward. We have coined this "Family-Circles." Our chart, from top to bottom, shows, the closest relationship to the farthest, "Family to Strangers."
Individual offense relationships shown, may require a close review of the facts of the crime, to understand why we have labeled them as we have. Strict "Kinship" is not the determining factor. "Offense Relationships" are equated to our Family-Circles theory. Understanding this equated relationship is key to learning many things.
Just a quick review of the chart shows, that teaching children "Stranger-Danger" is not sufficient today!
RECIDIVISM (Before Conviction):
Within the articles are comments like "it happened over a xx period of time," "it occurred each time they ___," "s/he did this then that," and statements referring to multiple occurrences. These are the incidents folks refer to when they say, "well, we know many offenses go unreported!" That comment is often used to negate published recidivism statistics.
Published recidivism statistics do not include these incidents. Further, and without minimizing those incidents, I liken them to, how many times we all drive 35 or 40 in a 30-MPH zone and never get caught, or fail to file something on taxes. The law does not recognize these because folks did not get caught.
There are many variables to statistics, it is an imperfect science, but one must begin somewhere, to know in the future whether progress toward elimination of recidivism has been made; this is the theory behind all recidivism studies. Given this understanding of pre-conviction recidivism, the articles allow us to conclude that, most victims know their offenders.
Are those comments recidivism? Technically "Yes," but under the law, "No," recidivism refers to committing another offense, which brings that person under the jurisdiction of the criminal justice system a second time; excepting for a second charge prosecuted concurrently with the first, even if at a later date.
This fact is not often recognized by authorities, nor cited by the media. Individual news accounts rarely, mention or note, that the victim knew the offender; one must glean that from the facts of a case. If there were multiple occurrences, over any period of time, then the victim is having multiple contacts with the offender, from that comes the victim knew the offender.
HOW DO VICTIMS COME TO KNOW OFFENDERS?
Reviewing these articles it is hard to ignore, the victims merely went about their daily business, and crossed the path of the offender, who also, was doing what s/he does normally. We often hear the comment that, "sex offenders choose a job to get close to victims (i.e., children)." The reality is, that is not true, yet recognizing there will be exceptions over time.
Sometimes it is hard, if not impossible, to say "the offender placed himself (by virtue of his/her employment) in the position to get at the victim." Look at "3-22 FL: M Family(4)," at first glance the article says "he befriended the child," but notice, he was a teacher. So, which happened first, he met the family outside of his teaching role, or as the result of his teaching role, we don't know. However, regardless of his employment, he committed the crime because he was permitted a "Family-Circle" access to the child.
It is appropriate to note, that some crimes have no victim, as we understand victim (a live person). Some Internet sex crimes are for "downloading child porn," another is when police entrap someone wishing to meet a child. In both cases there is no traditional victim. Our chart distinguishes "w/victim" and "n/victim" referring to the traditional meaning of victim; a live person. There is plenty that could be said about -potential victims-, but for this issue, there is no live victim.
Further, the articles show many of the offenders were in their employment position for some time. However, the "Offense Relationship" may have nothing to do with the offender's employment. The "Offense Relationship" is based upon the facts of the criminal act (COMPARE: 3-20 TX: Relationship (Diplomatic)).
WHY DIDN'T MEGANS' LAWS PREVENT THESE CRIMES?
Megans' laws require previously convicted sex offenders to, register their current address with the local police, then the police (locally or statewide on the Internet), make the addresses of the offenders known to the general public. Earlier we said "The public is being mislead," well we say it again, only one of these offenders is a previously convicted sex offender. Megans laws could not have prevented one of the offenses in our chart.
The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) was developed by the Children's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Human Services in partnership with States to collect annual statistics on child maltreatment from State child protective services (CPS) agencies. In 2003 this agency commissioned the Child Maltreatment, 2001 report, in which is reported: In the year 2001 there were 86,830 cases of Child Sexual Abuse, 62.7% (54,472) of them were committed by a parent (or unmarried parent partner), foster parent, other relative, day care provider, legal guardian or residential facility staff person. Of the remaining amount, 26.4% (22,989) was committed by persons with a more distant relationship to the victim. Finally, 10.9% (9,465) had no relationship to the child. "Relationship" in this government report means "Kinship." 
89.1% of the sexual abuse is committed by someone known to the victim, Megans' laws do not register folks who have never committed a sex crime before. As to the crimes committed by strangers, it is not shown if any were by registered sex offenders. What we do know is, none of the strangers were in any way related to the victim (in a kinship sense), our chart shows many unrelated Trusted Persons who have committed sex crimes, and who would not have been shown on Megans' laws listings.
ARE REGISTERED SEX OFFENDERS (RSOs)THE REAL DANGER?
Society is being mislead, it is told to focus on "registered sex offenders" wherever they may be. Allegedly that is where the danger is. The reality is, that is so far from the truth, that the very statement itself is dangerous, because it blinds folks from seeing where the real dangers are. It plays on the "natural fears" of society.
How does a person get to be a RSO?
Our inner system of recognizing danger, by evaluating individual people and circumstances, has been shunted by "Political Fear Campaigns!" We are now robots, told what is dangerous! Society follows the "Fear Messages" focusing on the term "Registered Sex Offender (RSO)" not the person! We have been programmed!
There are three ways: 1) by committing an offense which that state's legislature says, for these offenses one must register as a sex offender; 2) by committing an offense that, the prosecutor claims "sounds sexual," or claims "sexual overtones"; 3) by the Legislature adding an offense to the list of offenses that require registration, and then scooping up all previously convicted offenders and forcing them to register. The problem with "3)" is, that method may violate Existing Plea Bargains with certain provisions, and nothing is being done about that. This is happening in Michigan and possibly other states.
Are there minor and juvenile RSOs?
Yes, and what doesn't make sense is, the alleged purpose of these laws is to protect minors and juveniles. Yet, when either is convicted of any registerable offense, they are listed along with everyone else. It is very hard to imagine a 8 or 10 year old child is a RSO, and should be listed because s/he represents an equal danger to the community as the person who is a serial rapist.
Recently, we are seeing more and more juveniles being registered for simply experimenting. The Romeo & Juliet cases are most disturbing because legislatures are criminalizing relationships that often begin when both parties are under 18; some get married later on. In some states juveniles are considered old enough to marry but not old enough to have sex. These folks are stigmatized for life by Megans' laws.
How is "Dangerousness" defined?
Simply by being a RSO; no other factor is necessary. The public eye automatically attaches "Dangerous to RSOs," the public eye accepts no meaningful definition (even when states provide them), all RSOs are considered equally dangerous.
Some states have tiered registries, where a risk assessment of the offender assigns a "Level," the higher the level the more likely to reoffend; theory.  Effectively, assessments are attempting to predict future human behavior; however, they are inherently biased, the lowest rating is "a low risk," "NO RISK" is not a possibility. These systems are heavily weighted on the history of the offender, with no consideration given to age of the offender, -OR- age of the offense. The time period from the offense/s to "today" has no weight. Assessment level, even if done when a minor or juvenile, remains for the life of the person.
How is "Predator" defined?
Only a handful of states assign "Predator" labels, and usually it is the result of a court hearing, involving risk assessments and other evidence. In states that have civil commitment following a prison sentence, when those folks are released, a predator label is assumed. None of these labels will ever change for that person's life.
The reality is, the majority of new sex offenses (over 96%), are not being committed by RSOs. They are committed by folks in society, who never have been convicted of a sex offense before. Department of Justice published recidivism rates  clearly shows, RSOs are not the real danger.
Review our chart, RSOs are not the ones committing new sex offenses.
RECIDIVISM (After Conviction):
Recidivism after a conviction, two issues are important:
1) is the new offense a like-kind offense to the first offense?, -OR- 2) is the new offense a completely different kind of offense?. It is important to know because the public is being told, that all sex offenders go out and commit another sex offense; such is not true.
In the one case of recidivism (after conviction) that we found in our week of review (3-22 MA R M: Family(3)), notice the age differences, he is 19, she is 15, together they went into his mother's home when she was not there. Is this a case of young love, a Romeo & Juliet case? Yes, he should have known better in today's climate, but is this really recidivism? Guess what, this case is recorded as recidivism, driving the numbers higher.
In November of 2003 the Department of Justice released a new sex offender recidivism study: The study reports that 3.5% (339) of the sex offenders released from prison went on to be reconvicted of another sex offense.  That same study reports that, 5.3% (517) of the sex offenders released were rearrested for a new sex offense. Merely being accused of a crime (REARRESTED) does not necessarily prove that the person actually committed the crime (RECONVICTION).
The Department of Justice calculates "recidivism" by counting the number of times a person is REARRESTED or RECONVICTED for another sex offense after reentering the community from the first conviction. The theory behind this, is that, a person should be given a period of time to conform his/her conduct, and then if they do it again, then it is considered recidivism under the law.
WOULD SEX OFFENDER RESIDENCY LAWS PREVENT THESE CRIMES?
In essence "residency laws" say, registered sex offenders may not reside within xx feet of a school, playground, day care, or other place where children congregate. Excepting one offender, the rest are not previously convicted sex offenders.
Notice, most of these crimes were committed, within the areas which registered sex offenders would be prevented from living in, if such law existed everywhere. Most of these crimes were committed by people parents entrust their children to daily. Residency laws simply don't work, but they have a good political sound.
The one recidivist, in our chart, was living in his car.
It is very likely that, being registered and being listed on the state's registry, caused homelessness; hence, living in his car.
If cars, like recreational vehicles, were to be considered "residences," then under -residency law theory- it would mean, the person could not park his/her vehicle within xx feet.
Such logic would compel further absurd thinking, park for how long, stopping at a stop sign or stop light could cause an arrest, what is the real address (where the person stops or where he parks), etc.
Suffice to say -Residency Laws- would have no effect on these crimes.
CHURCHES: Recent Clergy / Church Scandal:
The recent scandal in the churches, and later report (by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice) showing how the church handled those claims, is a beginning. Such reports show there is a need for reform, and apparently it is being accomplished in several ways.
Notice one outcome, the church now wants to set up a "Retreat for Clergy-Abuse Victims" . The Church has been providing -psychiatric treatment- for priests that offend since the early 1980's, but now more is needed . However, note the theme "Treatment for both, the victim and the offender." Statistics show that, while it is not 100% effective in the sense of a "cure," treatment certainly does reduce recidivism.
Clearly steps in the right direction, but this is addressing the problem in a clean-up sense, what addresses "Preventing Future Offenses?"
SCHOOLS: Recent Teacher Misconduct Report:
"Sexual Abuse by Educators: Is Scrutinized! A draft report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education concludes that far too little is known about the prevalence of sexual misconduct by teachers or other school employees, but estimates that millions of children are being affected by it during their school-age years.
The scope of the problem appears to far exceed the priest abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church, said Charol Shakeshaft, the Hofstra University scholar who prepared the report. The best data available suggest that nearly 10 percent of American students are targets of unwanted sexual attention by public school employees—ranging from sexual comments to rape—at some point during their school-age years, Ms. Shakeshaft said. "So we think the Catholic Church has a problem?" she said. "
Carol Shakeshaft's new teacher misconduct report, called for under President Bush's 'No Child Left Behind' program, is a wake-up call to what is happening in schools today. Her conclusion, that it is twice as bad as the Catholic Church, seems to be true within what we found in the articles that appeared during our test week. Teacher sexual abuse cases were two times greater than clergy cases in our chart.
Yet another step in the right direction, this report identifies the problem, and goes beyond to "Preventing Future Offenses?"
PUBLIC SECTOR: Sexual Abuse Crimes:
During our test week we did come across a few "Public Sector" sexual abuse cases. Those being sexual offenses by, Police, Firemen, and in our earlier article we found many others, judges, prosecutors, police officers, mental health workers, jailers, prison guards, juvenile detention center workers, and an assortment of other positions. Clearly child sexual abuse is a widespread problem; a public health problem!
Unlike the Church or School reports, there is no one preparing any report of "Public Sector" sexual abuses. If churches and schools felt the problem was significant, why is there no study of the Public Sector from which some general recommendations can be made.
CONCLUSIONS: What should be done?
Hopefully journalists will begin to require sources from folks they interview, because without sources, such articles contribute to the societal hysteria and Fear-Messages. I do not know any journalist that fails to give proper attribution so that an author receives credit for their work, now what society needs is, proper attribution of the statistics found in newspaper articles. Only then will society be able to make a fair analysis of what they are reading and hearing.
Legislatures need to base legislation on "Sound Policy," not a "Sounds Good" policy. To do that, they must begin to study the reports they have paid for, rather than ignore them, and focus on "Prevention," not "Control." The tougher legislatures make it for registered sex offenders and their families, while ignoring the major source of new sex offenses, will cause a new societal problem, a class of people (RSOs) who will loose all hope, resulting in more crime, possibly more violent crimes. There are signs of this today! 
Sadly, because of what is heard from the political arena and through the media, most of society is standing at their front door watching the registered sex offender (RSO) down the street, and doesn't see what is really happening behind their backs. Society is being mislead! Study our chart and understand Family-Circles as your guide to safety.
10:Tieing victim reports with recidivists we have: In 1994 432,750 victim reports. In 1994 3.5% of sex offender released from prison recidivated. Accordingly, (100% - 3.5% = 96.5%) 96.5% of 432,750 = 417,603 committed by someone other than a previously convicted sex offender.
The Department of Justice Reports citing from: A) "Recidivism of Sex Offenders Released from Prison in 1994" (40 pg PDF) reported that, 3.5% of sex offenders (men who had previously committed a rape or sexual assault) were RECONVICTED for another sex crime within 3 years following their release; B) "Criminal Victimization in The United States, 1994 (160 pg PDF file)" shows 432,750 reported Rape/Sexual Assault incidents for 1994, as reported by victims.
11: Recidivism of sex offenders released in 1994. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report, Langan, P. A., & Levin, D. J. (November 2003). (See pgs 1 & 2)
12: Independent Survey of Sexually Abusive Roman Catholic Priests, The Religious Tolerance Org..
13: Retreat for clergy-abuse victims gets church's blessing, USA Today news article, 3-25-2004
14: Docs’ help ‘not enough’ for erring priests, By Linette C. Ramos, Sun.Star Staff Reporter, 12-8-2003
15: Sexual Abuse by Educators, Is Scrutinized, By Caroline Hendrie, Education Week, 3-10-2004
16: Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature, Charol Shakesshaft, Ph,D. Professor, Foundations, Leadership and Police Studies, Hofstra University, 3-1-2004
17: Who should parents be MORE concerned about? "A trusted person they know -OR- The registered sex offender?", LICCASO, 12-17-2003
18: Child Maltreatment 2001: Summary Report, by Walter R. McDonald and Associates, American Humane Association (April 2003). Table 3-4 Victims by Maltreatment type, 2001 (page 30) & Table 4-3 Perpetrators by Relationship to Victim (page 50) of the main report.
Texas: Sex offender indicted for robbery, burglaries, By Stephen Willis, McKinney Courier-Gazette, 3-6-2004.
Washington: Woman slain at shelter; sex offender fatally shot, By Michael Ko, Seattle Times staff reporter, 3-18-2004.
Nebraska: Man Fleeing Police Kills 3 on Motorcycles, By Margery Beck, Associated Press Writer, 3-20-2004.
Washington: Dangerous Sex Offender Avoids Background Check, By Bryan Johnson, KOMO 1000 News, 3-25-2004.
Texas: Defendant sane when he killed, doctor testifies, By Melody McDonald, Star-Telegram Staff Writer, 3-29-2004.
20: Chart of All Risk Assessment Tools In Use Today, by LICASSO.
Copyright ©2004 LAMP.
"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one striking at the root."
- Henry David Thoreau -