Kathy Petersen’s Blog

The Turn of a Phrase

Posted in sex offenders by Kathy on August 10, 2008

I noticed that someone had found my blog by looking up the “sex offender” tag, so I decided to see what else was out there under that tag. I found one blog post that urged a repeal of the “Adam Walsh” Laws, because authoritative studies show that 3 out of 4 sexual offenders do not commit another sex crime within 15 years, and that 87% of all sex crimes are by people with no previous convictions. Scrolling down the posts, I found another blog which had the same information, but presented in a different way: that 25% of sex offenders re-offend within 15 years. And this also means that 13% of all sex crimes are by repeat offenders.

The first blog noted that when there is community notification, that sex offenders have reduced job opportunities, and several other negative effects. Yeah, and? Rape a kid and think you’re a good hire? You think that sex criminals shouldn’t have to live with the effects of their crime for the rest of their lives? — their victims do! The victim is always a victim, especially when it’s a crime against children. The fact that the perpetrators can’t get a job at a kiddie park doesn’t bother me in the slightest. It seems like the long-term negative effects ought to follow these criminals, because they sure torment the victims! The criminals chose to perpetrate the crime; the victims didn’t have a say in the matter.

And as for sexual criminals not repeating their behavior — did you ever see the Dateline TV shows where they had men go to the house where they thought they were going to rendezvous with an underage girl for sex while her parents were out of the house? They met these “girls” (undercover police officers) online, struck up a conversation, and eventually came by to commit statutory rape. If you remember it, you probably remember that one of the guys was caught not once but twice. Even though he had been convicted of online solicitation or attempted statutory rape or whatever the charge was (being caught red-handed on national TV kinda seals the conviction, I daresay), as soon as he was out, he re-offended, and was caught again. Maybe some of the other men were so embarrassed that they straightened out, but maybe they just got more cautious, so they wouldn’t get caught. Here is a slightly more scholarly take on it: to sum up, since the “official” rate is based only on convictions, and not all criminals are convicted of their crimes when they are reported, and most crimes are not reported, the official rate is basically meaningless, and at best is a small percentage of the actual rate.

But that’s not really the point of this post — it’s more about how two people can use the same information, and by saying it a bit differently, make it sound pretty good. The fact that 3/4 of convicted sex criminals are not convicted of another sex crime within 15 years still means that 1 of every 4 does. And the fact that these perps are not convicted doesn’t mean that they haven’t committed another crime. Ted Bundy was not convicted of a sexually-related crime (or possibly not convicted of any crime except for some juvenile offenses) until he was convicted of kidnapping one of his would-be victims, and was then extradited for a murder trial. But according to the Wikipedia chronology, he killed 20 women before his first conviction. He apparently killed another 10 or so when he escaped from prison while awaiting trial. Sorry, but the fact that
“87% of sexual crimes are committed by new offenders” doesn’t mean that much, when you look at how few people are actually caught and convicted. It is estimated that only 6% of rapists ever go to jail; and that 60% of sexual assaults go unreported to police. See more stats here.

Ted Bundy granted an interview to Dr. James Dobson the day before he was executed for murder. In it, he warned about the dangers of pornography, citing his exposure to soft-core porn as a teenager in leading him to hard-core porn, and then when that no longer satisfied, he moved from fantasy to reality, and at least 30 young women and girls lost their lives because of it. In the interview he says this,

“I’m no social scientist, and I don’t pretend to believe what John Q. Citizen thinks about this, but I’ve lived in prison for a long time now, and I’ve met a lot of men who were motivated to commit violence. Without exception, every one of them was deeply involved in pornography – deeply consumed by the addiction. The F.B.I.’s own study on serial homicide shows that the most common interest among serial killers is pornographers. It’s true.”

And later he says this,

What I hope will come of our discussion is that I think society deserves to be protected from itself. As we have been talking, there are forces at loose in this country, especially this kind of violent pornography, where, on one hand, well-meaning people will condemn the behavior of a Ted Bundy while they’re walking past a magazine rack full of the very kinds of things that send young kids down the road to being Ted Bundys. That’s the irony.

I’m talking about going beyond retribution, which is what people want with me. There is no way in the world that killing me is going to restore those beautiful children to their parents and correct and soothe the pain. But there are lots of other kids playing in streets around the country today who are going to be dead tomorrow, and the next day, because other young people are reading and seeing the kinds of things that are available in the media today.

Does the fact that most men who read Playboy and other such trash don’t become serial rapists and murderers make pornography less vulgar? No, because the fact that it impels some people to these depths should be enough to make any person horrified by Ted Bundy and his crimes to throw away all porn, and completely disavow himself from even the closest hint of it. Even if he doesn’t become a killer or rapist, who’s to say that the guy down the street won’t become one, and kill the man’s wife or daughter? Everyone who buys sexually explicit material is feeding the monster that plays a role in some people’s violent crimes.

Just like every other addiction, when a person is addicted to sexually explicit material, what gives him a “buzz” or a “high” or a thrill today will become tame before too long, and he will need harder porn and worse graphical images to attain the same level of excitement. Some men may never go beyond Playboy, but many others do — some all the way up to working out their sexual fantasies on innocent victims — working out the graphic images that were instilled in their minds by pornography.

I feel better in knowing that convicted sexual criminals are made to register in their locales, for the protection of everybody else. Most criminals target people they know — most children are victimized by a relative, not a stranger. But some are. And some people don’t know that Uncle Joey molested their cousins, because it’s kept private because it’s “family” — setting up another generation of easy prey.

Let me put it this way, if you were in a room with four rapists, would you feel comfortable knowing that statistically, only one of them would be reconvicted within 15 years, so they all shouldn’t have to live with the ignominy of being put on a sex-offender registry list? What about the shame, pain, fear, and who-knows-what feelings their victims were put through…for life?

I’m sick of coddling criminals and revictimizing the victims again. When the conviction rate for rapes and other sexual crimes goes up, then maybe the statistics about how many of these scum are or aren’t convicted of another sexual offense might mean something.

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One Response

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  1. Den said, on August 13, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    I used to own an Anne Rule-book about Ted Bundy until a “friend” borrowed it and never took the responsibility of returning it back. Of course, there were several futile attempts of scouting bookstores in search of a replacement; but all were in vain. Being a true self-confessed, true-crime aficionado that I am, there are scores of true-crime stories that I came across with, but none is more moving than the story of Ted Bundy. I have read about Dianne Downs, Dr. Anthony Pignataro, Janis Miranda, Pat Taylor, and Debora Green among others. But it is Ted Bundy’s story that first riveted my interest about real crimes. It is his story that strengthened my realization that ours is not a safe place to live, because criminals can be anyone.

    I am not sure whether I can find a replacement for that lost book, but for the meantime I will engross myself with other horrific real tales of crimes. Currently, I am reading The World’s Greatest Scandals of the 20th Century by Nigel Blundell. Apparently, this is a collection of intriguing stories that splashed the front pages of popular news papers. These sordid stories still compel a number people to probe behind the scenes to find out that elusive truth.

    Moral Lesson: Never let anyone borrow a priceless book.

    Too true! My dad would always write on the inside cover of any book he let someone borrow, “Stolen from Robert F******” — he almost always got them back!

    I checked out Amazon, and the book I think you’re referring to is “The Stranger Beside Me,” by Ann Rule, written in 1980. There are several copies available of that edition, as well as an updated “20th anniversary” edition. Go check it out, and you may be able to replace your priceless book for somewhere around $8-20!
    -Kathy


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