Studies show that while public sex offender registries sound like a good way to keep a community safe, the numbers tell a different story. And widely held beliefs turn out to be myths — among the more prevalent is that most sex offenders are pedophiles who might snatch a child from a park or bus stop.
Here are the myths, and the research that debunks them.
■ Sex offenders are among criminals most likely to re-offend.
The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics examined 9,691 sex offenders from 15 states and found that 5.3% were arrested within three years of being released from prison, compared with 73.8% of those who committed property crimes and 66.7% of those convicted of drug offenses. The number drops even lower with the passage of time, with the majority of the new crimes committed within five years of release.
■ Most sexual assaults are committed by a stranger.
"Stranger danger" is rare. Studies show about 93% of child sexual abuse victims knew their assailant, about 34.3% are family members, and 58.7% friends or acquaintances, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.
Sunday, July 26, 2015
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
How can someone who had consensual sex with a person who misrepresented her age end up on the sex offender registry for life? The case of Zachery Anderson has many asking if sex offender registries are fair. In the New York Times William Buhl said, "The whole registry is a horrible mistake. I think it is utterly ridiculous to take teenage sex and make it a felony. This guy is obviously not a pedophile."
There is a scenario even more troubling than Anderson's. Can someone who committed a sexual crime against a child not have to register as a sex offender? Yes, and it happens every day in Maryland where people who committed sex crimes before 1996 do not need to register regardless of when they were sentenced or released from prison.
I became aware of this troubling reality in September 2014 at the sentencing of my perpetrator, Christopher Huott, who sexually abused me for years starting when I was seven. Since the crimes took place in the 1980s my perpetrator was sentenced under those guidelines, which were more lenient than today's statutes. There was also no sex offender registry in place when he was sexually abusing me. So, when Mr. Huott is released from prison -- in as little as two years -- he will not have to register as an offender.
ELKHART - Older teenagers - considered sexual predators - for having sex with teens who are underage. Is it justice? Or as some parents argue, sex crime laws gone too far?
Darian Yoder was 19 years old when he found a girl claiming to be 17 on a Facebook dating app called "Hot Or Not." After chatting online for a couple weeks, she asked him to come over late one night. They had sex.
Nine months later, state troopers arrested Yoder for sexual misconduct. A judge telling him that girl was only 13-years-old.
Heeding advice from his probation officer, Darian Yoder agreed to talk to us, but asked us not to show his face. He says he knows he made a mistake, but he's not a sexual predator.
"I know I'm not a sex offender," said Yoder. "Had I known her age, I never would have even talked to her."
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Not long ago, Congolese pastor Jerome Muturutsa was fighting deportation from Sioux Falls to his home country.
The 60-year-old was in danger of ejection to his war-torn country over his conviction for a sexual contact crime his family and friends swear he didn't commit.
An immigration judge chose to let him stay, but the parole rules for sex offenders have been so restrictive that his family now says they wish they'd have let him leave the U.S.
Muturutsa's currently detained at the Jameson Annex in Sioux Falls over inconclusive polygraph test results.
"Here, you have no freedom," said his son Michael Gahakanyi. "In the refugee camp, he would be free. Even in the year and a half that he was out of prison, he was not free."
Muturutsa's family, along with supporters like Pastor Dennis Thomas, are learning the strict reality of life for sex offenders on parole in South Dakota.
All paroled sex offenders are given a regular polygraph tests in South Dakota. Dishonesty, dangerous behavior, failure to comply with parole terms or inconclusive test results can land an offender back in prison with the stroke of a parole officer's pen.