Sexual Predators – Unique Question

Sexual Predators – Unique Question

Strange question – don’t scream about the question or bringing it to a discussion forum. It seems there’s a bias created by your average citizen dumping all ‘sexual predators’ into one bucket.  I was reading Newsweek Magazine, (Aug. 3, 2009) – “A Bridge Too Far” about sexual predators living under a bridge because they aren’t able to find a place to live within a community.  We live in a NIMBY (not in my back yard society), and it not only affects where we live, but where we work.

True sexual predators are scary individuals, and should be separated from society if they are continuing to commit crimes or psychiatrists are absolutely sure they will commit another crime.

While I have heard statistics claiming sexual predators have a 80 – 90% recidivism rate, other research has identified significant differences in re-offense patterns from one category to another. Looking at reconviction rates alone, one large-scale analysis (Hanson and Bussiere, 1998)[i] reported the following differences:

  • child molesters had a 13% reconviction rate for sexual offenses and a 37% reconviction rate for new, non-sex offenses over a five year period; and
  • rapists had a 19% reconviction rate for sexual offenses and a 46% reconviction rate for new, non-sexual offenses over a five-year period.

Another study found reconviction rates for child molesters to be 20% and for rapists to be approximately 23% (Quinsey, Rice, and Harris, 1995).  Recidivism rates for sex offenders are lower than for the general criminal population. For example, one study of 108,580 non-sex criminals released from prisons in 11 states in 1983 found…nearly 63% were rearrested for a non-sexual felony or serious misdemeanor within three years of their release from incarceration; 47% were reconvicted; and 41% were ultimately returned to prison or jail (Bureau of Justice Statistics).[ii]

But what about those who have committed crimes, but paid the price, and have decades of lawful behavior, or the crime was sex with a willing partner, although underage?   It seems ‘sexual predators’ should fall into four distinct categories (noted below). Wouldn’t it also be less punitive and be a better system for reporting, if these four types of sexual predator were labeled as such AND the # of years of ‘clean’ living?

  • SP1: The Romeo & Juliet couple (consensual); one is underage for state law for age of consent – but both are close in age – within two to three years; have been dating for more than three to six months; or both are under the age of 18) – those convicted of R&J crime, where even if the SP was only a few months or years older, the crime was from willing participants, and the state forced the conviction are labeled: SP1-15 (means R&J crime, 15 years ago) ; or people caught performing ‘sexting’ to their peers (underage kids at schools) or adults with provable ‘intent of harming’ the victim.  (This does not include incidences where the underage person reports the sex to a counselor, teacher, or other adult because they don’t wish to confront their predator.)  Any underage persons with this conviction should have their records expunged from the record upon reaching a majority.
  • SP2: The child pornography, peeping tom; used communications to try to entice or encourage an underage person to meet the predator (never touched; no physical contact; collects photos of children, but none are naked or in sexually explicit poses); those convicted, but never physically touched another person in the performance of the crime (labeled as: SP2-XX); or people caught performing ‘sexting’ to their peers (underage kids at schools) or adults with the ‘intent of harming’ the victim.
  • SP3: Physical sexual predation (has physically touched / harmed an underage child or committed rape; or collected other related souvenirs via mail, internet, or purchased from other sexual predators); those who have physically harmed or injured another (child or adult – labeled as SP3-V-XX [V standing for Violent]), or sustained the activity of the same (child porn). Even though they may have not physically touched a child, the person taking/selling the pictures has most likely harmed/touched that child inappropriately.  Those who have repeat offenses on the level of SP2 should now be moved to this new label/level.
  • SP4: Sexual predator has raped, criminally tortured, maimed, or killed another; using weapons and torture in the crime; resulting in death of the victim within ten years – either as an immediate result of the crime or by suicide of the victim as a result of the mental anguish traceable back to the crime and the perpetrator.  (Labeled SP4-V-XX-D[1] for murder during the crime or SP4-V-XX[10] noting victim died by their own hand a decade later.)  Those with repeat offenses on the level of SP3, are moved to this new label/level.

There really isn’t a black and white answer to the situation – it’s too many caveats and gray areas to consider/  While this methodology of labeling may be simplistic, it does provide an informative label that will tell the reviewers of the records instant identifying information, and if they wish to pursuer more details about the crime, they can then click on those links for more info.

Why Ask?

When recruiting, a sexual predator might be found in the system during a background check, but if convicted of SP1 and lived a clean life since, shouldn’t those who were convicted of Romeo and Juliet (hormonal) crimes be provided forgiveness, and still be considered for jobs.  They may be very qualified candidates, and will suffer for the rest of their lives for a mistake they made when young, naïve, and possibly stupidly in love.

In some states, their criminal record will have them listed as a sexual predator for the remainder of their lives.  They must register where they are living no matter where they move, or which state in which they are living.  Their neighbors might Google predators in their local or state police on-line sites and suddenly this ‘sexual predator’ has his/her neighbors looking at them with hate, possibly suffering vandalism, nasty notes, their cars get keyed, or their spouse or children become victims, also.

If you live in the state of Virginia, you can search for registered sex offenders near you by zip code: http://sex-offender.vsp.virginia.gov:80/sor/zipSearch.html This website is phenomenal because it lists their address, their crime, their status (parole, etc.), dates of conviction, etc.  What is interesting is I can’t find any evidence of any of the convicted sexual predators here on the list having been convicted of stalking, which may be considered a non-sexual crime (my viewpoint – they are too similar to distinguish apart).

But, some companies refuse to even consider these candidates.  Companies might refuse to consider any candidate with a SP conviction because to do so without distinction between the SP1 and all the others may provide them with a safety net against potential future liability.  There is no question that SP2-SP5’s should be rejected outright – especially if they potentially will be working with, for, or come in contact with children or with women if they have been convicted of child porn, indecent liberties, or using communications systems to contact minors, or even rape.  A school, a hospital or health care facility, or woman’s organization should be immune from any prosecution for failing to hire a convicted sexual predator.  Companies should be allowed to refuse to hire a person with this type of background and legally document it as ‘felony record may endanger current employee population.’

I’m sure any DOL or EEOC representative would have no issue with this documented decision if the company couldn’t find another more compelling reason to reject a candidate.  In our society, it is rather more comfortable for the rejecters to use an ambiguous or more work related reason (not enough qualifications or education) to reject the applicant versus being bluntly honest and telling them, “…can’t – your criminal record stinks…”  Or, write out the conviction, write an explanation in the box the size of your little pinky nail, and hope it won’t be noticed or the employer doesn’t care.

Or what about the companies who see the convictions, then decide it might be a method of getting cheaper labor at the advantage of the sexual predator.  Don’t think this doesn’t happen – it most likely does, where most sexual predators on the registry will do anything to get work, at any wages, to put food on the table and pay their bills.

Knowing someone has been convicted of a crime is one of the stages of information gathering in the  decision process – you weigh the pros and excuse the pun–cons.

Yet, those with the convictions are still crossing their fingers and not mentioning the conviction, hoping the company will accidently forget to run the background check process.  So what is the next best thing for these convicted criminals who are sexual predators to do?  Start their own businesses where they are the boss and there is no background check!  Which puts them right back into the arena where they might possibly have access to the same victims the sexual registry was trying to keep them apart from!


[i] Center for Sex Offender Management 
8403 Colesville Rd., Suite 720 
Silver Spring, MD 20910 
Phone: (301) 589-9383 
Fax: (301) 589-3505 
E-mail: Internet: www.csom.org

[ii] http://www.csom.org/pubs/mythsfacts.html

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