A mother whose son loved the Special Olympics grieves for the future she'd hoped for her son, now on the Sex Offender Registry.

A Mother’s Story of her Mentally Disabled Son on The Sex Offender Registry

The woman who looked to be about 60 walked up to the podium and spoke in a quiet voice. She was at a St. Louis synagogue that was hosting an evening of presentations about the sex offender registry. I spoke, too. But this mom’s story has haunted me in the weeks since. I asked for a copy of her speech, which is below. She prefers to remain anonymous. – L.

THE SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY AND THE MENTALLY DISABLED

I am a mother, advocate and caretaker of a 30 year old young man with

IDD. That is an intellectual and developmental disability, formally called

Mentally Retarded. I am also the co-founder of a national group called

Legal Reform for the Intellectually and Developmentally Disabled.

 

My son has been on the [sex offender] registry since 2012. But the story really begins on

December 5, 1986. A baby boy was born.

 

Everything seemed fine. A healthy, happy baby. The first few milestones were met. Crawling,

walking and making cute baby sounds. At age 2 there were very few words. At age 3,

no progress was made in speech and the seizures started. Testing began.

 

In the Spring of 1991 we sat across the desk of the doctor at Childrens’ Memorial

Hospital and received the difficult results of all the testing. We were told our son had

deficits, cognitively and developmentally. Most importantly, we would need to prepare

for Adam’s future because he would need to be cared for for the rest of his life.

 

This conversation changed the course of our lives. I gave up a career so I could devote

my life to my son’s education and care. The decision was made to not have any more

children so we would have the time for both our children and also more resources for

their future.

 

I spent many years learning all about my son’s rights for an education and volunteering

and working in all his schools so I could keep watch. All this was to integrate our son in

the community and try to establish a happy life for him.

 

HIS JOY

 

His love was competing in Special Olympics. He played softball, soccer, bocce ball,

bowling and golfing.  He swam and competed in power lifting. He has many gold

medals that he is so proud of. His social life was spending supervised time with his

peers in special recreation activities, such as a movie or a dinner out or a game night.

He learned to scuba diving through the Diveheart Organization, who teach diving to the

disabled. He was so happy when he did his scuba diving. Due to registry rules

and regulations, Adam is no longer able to participate in any of the above.

 

My son does not date. He will never marry or have children. He will never have a

career. His life is with us, his parents. He cannot cook for himself or pay bills or even

take a phone call. He has sensory issues. He cannot wear certain fabrics of clothes.

He wet the bed until the age of 16 when he finally gained control. He needs help with

his daily living.  He had a small part-time job for 5 years

hosting and cleaning tables at a restaurant. He was let go because of his conviction.

 

WHAT HAPPENED

 

When our nightmare began in 2012, we had a risk assessment done on Adam. The

assessment showed that Adam had very little sexual knowledge and had no sexual

perversions. He is a polite, compassionate and naive young man who functions at

about the age of ten years old.

 

My son cannot distinguish when someone is lying to

him. He is extremely susceptible to persuasion. Teachers, aides and

psychologist wrote reports fearing that he would someday be taken

advantage of.

 

That someday came in 2012. A 22-year-old neighbor coerced my son to

expose himself to an underage female. We also found out that this

neighbor had been sexually molesting my son for a period of time. My child

was arrested along with his OWN MOLESTER and charged with the same

19 felonies. We fought this travesty for a year in court.

 

Our attorneys feared if we went to trial the prosecutor would manipulate my

son into saying whatever he wanted him to say. Years of documents were

submitted to the court showing evidence of his disabilities. Medical reports,

school reports, psychologists reports, risk assessments, letters from

neighbors, friends and family.

 

THE PLEA

 

The prosecutor offered a plea deal. One misdemeanor charge of exploitation of a

minor, 2 years probation with an ankle bracelet and ten years on the

registry.

 

Our son could not survive in prison. We took the plea. On the day we

accepted the plea, our attorneys whispered in his ear what he had to say to

the judge, because he did not understand.

 

My son was fitted with an ankle bracelet that he was so scared of he slept

for 2 years with his leg on a pile of blankets because he was afraid that if

he moved it would go off and they would come to get him. My son had to

leave our home since the victim lived next door. He is incapable of

surviving on his own. My husband moved out with my son so he could care

for him. We all had to follow the curfews for 2 years and get him where he

needed to be. I cut work hours to take him to probation check in. We have

to take him to register. We are responsible for all the rules and regulations

because my son is incapable of understanding the requirements.

 

THE RESULT

 

The registry restrictions drag families into fear, instability and emotional

distress. For me, it let to a road of anxiety meds, antidepressants, sleeping

pills and therapy. My husband now has high blood pressure and

depression. My son has health problems, depression and the last 2

psychologist reports done in 2015 and 2016 show his IQ falling.

 

This is due to isolation and no stimulation. No more Special Olympics.

He was let go from his small part time job cleaning tables. This was the source of his

independence. No one will hire him now. He sits at home all day isolated

and lonely.

 

THE FINANCIAL TOLL

 

The financial toll on our family has been devastating. We have spent over

$150,000 of our retirement money and money we saved for our son’s future

care on attorneys, court costs, probation fees, registration fees and

relocating my son and husband. (I have remained in our nearby home for the time being.)

 

We are a good, law-abiding Christian family brought to our knees by a

system that makes no attempt to look at people as individuals and recognize their needs, their

supports and their vulnerabilities.

 

We recently learned that when the ten years my son received on the

registry are up in 2023, at which time my husband and I will be in our 70s,

we will still all be bound by the other rules and regulations for the rest of our

lives. Where will my child go when my husband and I are no longer here to

care for him? No group home will take him. No nursing home will have

him. His sister loves him dearly and will take care of him, BUT…. how will

she be able to?

 

I provided a life for my son so he could receive the support, socialization

and services he needs to survive and flourish for the rest of his life.

Instead we all live with in isolation, fear and the stigma that we are “scum of

the earth.”

 

“JUSTICE”

 

If any of you have or know someone with a special needs child, you all

know that when the child is young everyone – the schools, the community — try to

do what they can for the child. When that little special needs child grows

up their disabilities don’t go away, but society doesn’t care any more. That

person who still has a child’s mind gets thrown aside in the name of

the criminal justice system.

 

This mom ended by asking listeners to work to reverse the laws that turn the intellectually disabled into lifetime pariahs. She also urged us to go to Change.org and sign the petition for “Abolish the Sex Offender Registry.”  And she invited us to visit the very spare LIRRD site where it says:

Currently, the criminal justice system makes little or no attempt to understand this population or to recognize their unique needs, supports and challenges. Criminal prosecutions of these individuals often lead to disastrous consequences for children and their families without any benefit to the public.

Our goal is to make changes that will save these children from the unnecessary cruelty that the criminal justice system is putting them through. Implementing this goal will require educating legislators, prosecutors and judges about this population and their need to be understood, rather than prosecuted, by the legal system.

Free-Range Kids believes that Adam’s ordeal is not making children any safer. At the same time, people with intellectual disabilities are at grave risk of being branded as “sex offenders” when they are actually innocent in so many senses of the word. These laws must change. – L

.

A mother whose son loved the Special Olympics grieves for the modestly happy future she’d hoped for her son, now on the Sex Offender Registry.

.

 

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36 Responses to A Mother’s Story of her Mentally Disabled Son on The Sex Offender Registry

  1. Jamie August 27, 2017 at 11:19 pm #

    I can’t find the petition you mentioned on change.org. Nothing comes up under Abolishing the Sex Offender Registration or similar search terms.

  2. Anna August 27, 2017 at 11:32 pm #

    Wow – that’s horrifying and inhuman. I’ll pray for your family.

    The thing that’s craziest to me is why any prosecutor would go after him – or want to. And frankly, it’s exactly the kind of thing that makes all the rest of us in the world who aren’t American (I’m Canadian) think the American justice system is insane. Maybe I’m mistaken, but it seems to me such a story would be unthinkable in Canada.

    If you ask me, if you want your justice system to be about justice rather than about prosecuting everybody you can as far as the letter of the law will possibly allow, without ever taking any considerations like humanity or equity into account, you really need to reform your system and stop having so many judicial roles be elected positions. The fact is, nobody ever won points with the electorate for showing mercy or restraint.

  3. James Pollock August 28, 2017 at 12:35 am #

    This comes down to a question of what the purpose of the SOR actually is (and/or should be).

    He DID do the crime, and his mother says he could be persuaded to do it (or another) again quite easily. This means that we cannot rely on him to restrain his own behavior, and other citizens should take steps to protect themselves (ranging from nothing to whatever they think is appropriate without violating the law themselves.)
    This is what a notification-only registry does… it gives people information, from which to make their own decisions.

    However, many people (and several states) have tacked on several “features” of the SOR that are not about providing information to people so they can make their own decisions. Those provisions tend to be more punitive in nature, since they place restrictions on their subjects that go beyond providing information.
    The theory goes, if we make the punishment severe enough, this will deter people who CAN restrain themselves, and the restrictions will keep those offenders who CANNOT restrain themselves away from good, honest, law-abiding citizens.

    Now, as some people like to keep pointing out like I keep it a secret, I am not a licensed, practicing attorney; I AM a person who has studied the law and how it works as a system (which leaves me free to think about how things OUGHT to be, in general, whereas practicing lawyers have to focus on the specific cases of their clients and don’t (usually) have time to spend on thinking about big picture.

    I don’t think there’s going to be much progress made convincing the general public that SOR should be abandoned. Sex offenders, as a group, do not generate much sympathy, and that’s unlikely to change. But the existing case law that found SOR to be compliant with Constitutional principles was made on a case where the registry was notification-only. I think a Constitutional challenge to a registry with all these restrictions tacked on to it MIGHT get a different outcome (alas, this depends on the makeup of the USSC, at least in part, and not solely on non-partisan application of law,)

    Strictly speaking, sex-offender registries aren’t federal law… the states create and manage them. There is a federal law that requires that sex-offender registries exist OR the state sees a reduction in federal law-enforcement subsidies. The minimum required registry to avoid this federal penalty is notification-only, all the stuff your state tacks on should be addressed in your state capitol, not with your congressional delegation.

    The second and third things that should be addressed with your state governmental representatives involve which crimes, exactly, require registration, and whether or not registration should be mandatory upon conviction or at the sentencing judge’s discretion, or subject to a separate sentencing trial (the way death penalty cases work, at least in my state, is that first there is a trial to establish guilt or not, followed in the case of a guilty verdict by a separate proceeding in which the prosecutor tries to convince the jury that this particular case is suitable for capital punishment. If the prosecutor had to work extra hard to put someone on the registry, perhaps there would be more care put into who goes on it.).

  4. James Pollock August 28, 2017 at 1:08 am #

    “The thing that’s craziest to me is why any prosecutor would go after him – or want to.”

    Because he did it. There’s a victim who can point to the offender and say “that’s the guy who did it.”

    Our system (yours too, I believe) has “prosecutorial discretion” built into it, and the legal ethics for prosecutors include a requirement that every prosecution be in the interest of justice. Now, keep in mind that prosecution involves proving that the suspect committed the acts, and the acts violate the statute. It is not (officially) the role of the prosecutor to determine the nature of the punishment to be applied. (Yes, that is EXACTLY what happens in real life… if the defendant accepts it.)

    The defendant’s mother believes that the young man’s cognitive deficits make him incapable of guilt. She may be right about that. The reason you have a defense lawyer who is separate from you is that they can provide an independent judgment on that (and many other) topic. We don’t know what the defense attorney’s opinion on this subject was, and what he or she counselled with regard to accepting the plea deal offered. It may be that the defense attorney was fully prepared to proceed with an incapacity defense, and expected this defense to win… it sounds like it’s well-documented… but the parents were irrationally unwilling to risk losing. Or maybe the defense attorney took one look at the evidence, crossed “incapacity” off the list of possible defenses, and it’s only the mother’s somewhat biased opinion that her son isn’t capable of offending. It’s hard to tell with just one point-of-view available.

    “If you ask me, if you want your justice system to be about justice rather than about prosecuting everybody you can as far as the letter of the law will possibly allow, without ever taking any considerations like humanity or equity into account, you really need to reform your system and stop having so many judicial roles be elected positions. The fact is, nobody ever won points with the electorate for showing mercy or restraint.”

    Hoo, boy. You’re blaming this on the judge, who isn’t involved in negotiating a plea deal and who has little to no discretion (by statute) on whether or not to apply a registration requirement. Judges can reject plea deals, with respect to the negotiated sentence, but their authority to override a defendant’s decision to plead guilty is VERY limited.

    As for the election of judges, they are mostly NOT elected, in the normal sense of the word. Federal judges aren’t elected at all, they’re appointed for life (for article III judges) or a fixed term (for non-article-III judges.) Most state judicial races are uncontested. What happens is, a judge decides to resign in the middle of a judicial term, and the governor appoints someone to complete that term. That judge then stands for election… usually without opposition because a lawyer who runs against a sitting judge, and loses, puts future clients’ interests in danger since, having failed election to a judicial position, must now return to practice in the court of the person they ran against. This means that in most cases, judicial elections are actually retention elections… This gives the people a way to remove a judge who offends them enough to A) draw formal competition in the election, and B) have enough people vote for the other guy. You might get that if your handling of a specific, high-profile case was not popular, but again, it only works if your seat is contested, and most lawyers who want a seat on the bench find that their effort is better spent appealing to the panel who suggests candidates to the governor than running for election.

    Yes, during my adult life the judiciary has been somewhat politically polarized, starting (from my prospective) with the rejection of Judge Bork for a seat on the US Supreme Court… to that point, the Senate largely accepted the President’s nominations. Last year, of course, the Senate decided that President Obama’s nominee, no matter who it was or how qualified, would never be scheduled for a vote. (Mr. Garland would have been confirmed had the Senate voted on the nomination, but the Senator in charge of deciding what the Senate voted on didn’t want that outcome, and used the rules of the Senate to get what he wanted. That’s politics. In a perfect world, he’d be punished for it by being removed from office by voters. Not much chance of that. Not your problem (probably).

  5. Donna August 28, 2017 at 8:51 am #

    The most tragic thing about this case is that this young man was found competent to stand trial (and if no competency evaluation was done, this mother needs to get one done and then possibly file a Habeas petition to make this conviction go away). If the mother’s description of Adam is true, then there is no way he truly understood what he was charged with, how to help his attorney or what he was doing when he pleaded guilty. But then, a good bird trainer could probably teach a parrot to pass a competency test. All the system is concerned with is whether the defendant can parrot back a few extremely simplistic answers about the most basic level of the criminal justice system. There is no concern as to whether they truly understand what they are saying or understand their rights or have the reasoning ability to actually make an informed decision.

  6. JTW August 28, 2017 at 9:36 am #

    “The most tragic thing about this case is that this young man was found competent to stand trial ”

    We will never know whether he was found competent to stand trial. They did what so often causes people to get sentences like this, without the intervention of any court at all, accept a plea bargain in exchange for “leniency” after being pressured by a prosecutor who threatens with extreme potential charges and penalties in case the plea is refused.

    It’s quite possible that, had this gone to court, either the court would have found him incompetent, or a judge or jury would have decided that the asked for sentence is way too severe.

    The whole plea bargain system in US “justice” is as bad and injust as the SOR, and causes a great many innocent people to end up with prison sentences and other penalties for crimes they never committed or would not have been found competent to stand trial for simply because they didn’t want to take the risk of facing a court that can sway either way depending on which people get selected for the jury…

  7. David N. Brown August 28, 2017 at 10:52 am #

    An idea I have had is to pass legislation creating one federal database and abolishing the rest. This would also be a good opportunity to strip “communications decency act” protections from G@@gle, which knowingly allowed a vigilante/pervert named Richard Morton Scoville to create an email/ social media account in my name and forge “confessions” to illegal acts.

  8. Mekisteus August 28, 2017 at 11:06 am #

    It’s not that I don’t have sympathy, this really sucks. But… if you don’t want to be considered guilty, don’t plead guilty.

  9. Dienne August 28, 2017 at 11:21 am #

    Mekisteus – easier said than done. The threat of prison is terrifying for most people. Not to mention the budget issue – paying a defense attorney isn’t cheap. When faced with what seems like a good chance of losing everything vs. a guarantee of a “small” penalty just to make everything “go away”, it’s human nature to take the latter.

  10. Rae Pica August 28, 2017 at 12:44 pm #

    This is heartbreaking. Has she reached out to Tim Shriver? He’s not just the head of Special Olympics; he’s also a fierce advocate for those with special needs.

  11. Alanna Mozzer August 28, 2017 at 1:13 pm #

    This would not happen if it was still possible to put the child in a full time boarding type situation. I know there were problems at some of those institutions, but I could never understand why they closed them (to save the state money most likely) instead of improving them. I visited three different institutions while these places were still opened, and I was impressed by the say the staff members kept the clients busy and happy with activities that were designed for their intellectual level.

  12. Mya Greene August 28, 2017 at 1:30 pm #

    Situations like this show exactly how age can be such a poor yard stick for the justice system, and why there needs to be further guidelines for law enforcement, and the laws themselves to meet (potential) defendants where they are at mentally. I know just looking at a birthdate is awfully convenient from an administrative standpoint, but there has got to be a better way.

    But unfortunately, pretty much the whole world uses age as one of the main ways of measuring liability.

  13. Dienne August 28, 2017 at 2:33 pm #

    Alanna – OMG. Where in this post did you get any sense that the parents *want* their son in a full time boarding situation??? Seems to me they love their son like any parent loves their son. Why should any parent have to put their kid in a boarding situation just to prevent something like this? Seriously, there’s no other better options here?

  14. James Pollock August 28, 2017 at 2:55 pm #

    ” Where in this post did you get any sense that the parents *want* their son in a full time boarding situation???”

    The part where the mother worries about what will happen to him when the parents are too old to care for him.
    (Also, as the choice if it had come to either that or prison).

    Take a look at the dark view of the events… under the parents’ watch, the son had a part-time job and was very active in Special Olympics… but was also abused and allowed to commit the offense for which he is now suffering the consequences. So… without labeling the parents’ performance, there was and is room for improvement and if a better alternative existed, the parents should want that better alternative for their son. (The problem, of course, is that it is unlikely that that better alternative actually exists, and if it does exist, it has an extensive waiting list of qualified applicants waiting to get in.)

    “Seems to me they love their son like any parent loves their son.”
    No doubt. But, contrary to the PR, love does not conquer all. Sometimes love tells you that you cannot provide the best life for your child, and you have to let someone else provide it, no matter what it costs you. You see this in adoption cases, and sometimes in refugee cases, too. It would be nice if every story featured a happy ending for every hardship, but real life makes no such guarantees. Sometimes hardships are followed by more hardship.

  15. Donna August 28, 2017 at 3:46 pm #

    “We will never know whether he was found competent to stand trial.”

    Ummmm, the very fact that he was allowed to plea guilty means that he was found competent to stand trial.
    It is a finding that a judge must make in order to make the plea valid.

    “Competency to stand trial” is just a term of art that has nothing to do with trials. All it means is that he had a sufficient understanding of the criminal justice system to be prosecuted for a crime. A defendant has to be deemed competent at every single stage of the proceedings beyond arrest, and if there is ever a question as to competency, the entire case stops until that question is answered in the affirmative.

    Now, for the vast majority of criminal defendants, there is never a question as to competency so no formal evaluation occurs. The finding of competency is nothing more than a judge stating, after asking the defendant a series of questions, that the Defendant understands what he is charged with, understands his rights and is waiving those rights to enter a plea. However, some people need to go through a formal evaluation process by a forensic psychologist to determine if they sufficiently understand the criminal justice system. I can’t imagine any set of circumstances where I would have a client with this level of reported impairment facing 19 felonies where I would not ask for a competency evaluation. Even if I was having no trouble communicating with him, I would still have him evaluated. In fact, failing to do so would be ineffective assistance of counsel.

    “The whole plea bargain system in US “justice” is as bad and injust as the SOR, and causes a great many innocent people to end up with prison sentences and other penalties for crimes they never committed”

    Yes, the plea bargain system results in innocent people ending up convicted for crimes they did not commit. However, there are not a great many innocent people tied up in the criminal justice system. The overwhelmingly vast majority of people involved in the criminal justice system are actually guilty, and most very obviously so (despite their insistence that they are not guilty and there is no evidence against them in which “evidence” clearly has some definition that defies anything known in the English language and frequently the bounds of logic). The plea bargain system helps those who are in fact guilty by getting them lesser sentences than they would get after a pointless trial they never had any chance of winning. Often much, much sooner than they would get said trial.

    And, many people, even innocent people, like the plea bargain process for the certainty and sense of control it brings. Going to trial is incredibly nerve-wrecking. Your entire future is in the hands of other people and completely out of your own control. Those people in whose hands your future lies are generally very far removed from your station in life and have no ability to understand your world. The game is being played by rules you don’t fully understand. Your attorney, most likely a very overburdened public defender, doesn’t always have the time to hold your hand to a level that even they want, let alone you want. And it is all done on someone else’s schedule over which you have no vote. I have had many innocent clients who pled because it was a certain outcome and they had jobs and families that they weren’t willing to subject to the whims of the trial system.

    Further, there are other things that also result in innocent people pleading guilty to crimes they didn’t commit that have nothing to do with the plea bargain system. Inability to make bond and lengthy delays for trial are the two main ones. Even those who would be willing to take a case to trial, are unlikely to do it if they are stuck in jail for a year or two waiting for that trial.

  16. Emily Gaudreau August 28, 2017 at 3:50 pm #

    What!!!! This is horrible! One of my step sons had traumatic brain injury and will be forever disabled… needless to say this story hit home with me.

  17. Theresa Hall August 28, 2017 at 4:05 pm #

    Most of the innocent people are victims of the stupid drug war. Those roadside tests have a large false positive response. Then if the tests says yes they throw you in jail for a month or more and prison is only sightly better when comes to being miserable.

  18. Donald August 28, 2017 at 6:40 pm #

    This is a great example of how crazy things are getting! On the last post, I gave an example about safety. 100 years ago there were tremendous safety problems. 100 years later the safety team has become overzealous and is now causing tremendous problems!

    Sex laws are following the same path. Previously, there was a tremendous need for protection against sex crazed people. Now the sex law movement has become overzealous and is now causing tremendous problems!

  19. Archimedes August 28, 2017 at 6:45 pm #

    I was only able to pull up the abstracts, but from a few studies it appears people with IDD may be an exception to the low recidivism rate. It makes sense, since victims often become abusers, and I imagine IDD would make someone more susceptible.

    I’m all for compassion and society helping the family, but people also have a right to make decisions on the very real possibility he’s at risk of offending again.

    Maybe Donna would know, but I thought it was illegal to consider criminal history for employment if it doesn’t impact the job. It seems anything where there’s enough people and activity that reoffending wouldn’t be possible there. Our HR has passed child molester, domestic violence, etc., and it was the right thing to do. This guy wouldn’t be an option (Chemical manufacturing. He’d never get the skills to not kill someone) for us, but surely that applies to some job.

    It’s a challenging situation though.

  20. Delaine August 28, 2017 at 7:01 pm #

    To all of you that are saying ‘Why”, the mother gave you the answer. $150,000.00! It always has been and always will be about the money and nothing else. This is a BIG money maker for the judicial system.

  21. Trollbuster August 28, 2017 at 7:21 pm #

    James: For the love of humanity, STOP. Spend your life living, not spending day and night on this site

  22. Trollbuster August 28, 2017 at 7:27 pm #

    JAMES POLLOCK
    Stupider than a speeding drunk! More obnoxious than a steam locomotive! Able to tell tall tales in a single paragraph!

    Voices: Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s StupidMan!

    Announcer: Yes, it’s StupidMan, strange visitor anther dimension. StupidMan, who can change the course of great discussions into baby talk, bend intelligence to moronic babble, and who, disguised as Warren, mild-mannered jerk for a great metropolitan city, I Trollbuster fight a never-ending battle for truth, justice and the Free Range Way

  23. Donald August 29, 2017 at 3:25 am #

    Trollbuster

    You’re displaying a similar behavior to that which you slam James for! You’re criticizing him for being obnoxious. I’m not defending him and saying that he’s not. He has his obnoxious moments but isn’t having one on this page. I’m just saying that you’re being quite obnoxious at the moment!

  24. SKL August 29, 2017 at 9:48 am #

    I’m sorry for this young man and his family, but it seems to me they had a lousy lawyer. That aside, I can understand excluding from the sex offender registry anyone who is under age __ or under mental age __. This really isn’t about the registry as much as it is about the justice system respecting individual differences.

    And, applying this person’s case as an argument to abolish the sex offender registry is the epitome of worst-first, “this happened once so ban everything” thinking.

    I also can’t help wondering if we’re hearing the whole story here. It seems hard to believe that a mentally challenged person who showed his weenie to a girl one time would ever be prosecuted – especially if there was any evidence that this wasn’t his own idea.

  25. SKL August 29, 2017 at 9:49 am #

    And, to me, a much bigger concern is how we protect the mentally challenged from predators, as they are very often victims. They don’t have the usual tools to protect themselves.

  26. cln August 29, 2017 at 10:27 am #

    This is not just one case. Our children with disabilities caught up in the criminal justice system are all over this country. Our group is growing every day.

  27. James Pollock August 29, 2017 at 11:21 am #

    “I can understand excluding from the sex offender registry anyone who is under age __ or under mental age __. ”

    Or (and this is a crazy idea, I know) how about if the requirement to be on a registry were based solely on whether or not there’s a likelihood of re-offending. People who have shown they can’t stop=registered, people who only needed to be caught once = no registering for anything, debt to society paid, etc.

  28. Donna August 29, 2017 at 12:51 pm #

    “I’m sorry for this young man and his family, but it seems to me they had a lousy lawyer.”

    IF the lawyer failed to get a competency evaluation, he was a crappy lawyer. If he did and the man was found to be competent, pleading to the misdemeanor rather going to trial on 19 felonies would have been my advice for several reasons.

    (1) Nobody denies that the man committed the illegal act. I am not sure why so many here believe that going to trial when you are admittedly guilty as charged in a sex offense in hopes of getting jury nullification is a good idea. It is a horrible idea! It is sometimes the best choice you have, but not when you are being offered a misdemeanor and probation instead of 19 felonies and prison.

    (2) Negating mens rea and intent in these cases is hard. All that is required is that this man understood that he was pulling down his pants and showing his genitals to someone else and that he intended to do that. He doesn’t have to know she is a minor. He doesn’t have to know that this is illegal. He doesn’t have to understand why it is illegal. He doesn’t have to intended to victimize or hurt her in any way. The fact that he was a victim himself doesn’t negate his own personal actions.

    (3) The only thing that would potentially negate his guilt is the coercion by the other perpetrator. Coercion as a defense basically requires that you feared for your or someone else’s life and the threat was imminent. That does not appear to be present, but maybe under the whole scenario could be argued. She isn’t going to admit her coercion so HE would have to convince the jury. Putting a mentally challenged person on the stand is asking for a guilty verdict. He is never going to be able to coherently explain himself and cross examination could be devastating.

    (4) US society lacks understanding of the mentally challenged and mentally ill and this lack of understanding manifests in an overall negative and fearful stance. Society has little to no empathy for them. Pity, yes; but not empathy and doesn’t want them around them or their children. Yes, I know INDIVIDUALS feel different; but society as a whole is very standoffish and fearful towards the mentally challenged or mentally ill and would like them out of sight and out of mind – say in prison. The mentally challenged fair slightly better than the mentally ill, but the likelihood of prejudice is still high.

  29. Sue August 29, 2017 at 7:00 pm #

    Jamie,

    The Petition is on change.org under Abolish the Sex Offender Registry.

    Something has to change in order to give our love ones a new start in life. Just because they did not understand what they were doing to have them end up in the criminal system and even prison time they should not be placed on the Sex Offender Registry which causes them fear, anxiety, depression of going out into the community in which they live.

  30. Shawn August 30, 2017 at 12:39 am #

    I don’t desire that people should go around exposing themselves and I even recognize this kind of behavior could be the beginnings of something that develops into truly bad. But on some level isn’t it laughable that this is considered such a serious crime in the first place. Was there really a scarred victim here? Are there not ways to deal with this outside of severe criminal prosecution? This breakdown of common sense and judgment isn’t just in the courtroom.

  31. J August 30, 2017 at 5:31 am #

    If I were you, I would try to reach the President. I’m 100% serious.

  32. Shirley August 30, 2017 at 4:17 pm #

    When did we become so puritanical, the human body became a felony? Even if this young man had not been mentally challenged, molested and influenced by his molester, what he did was mischievous not violent. Yes, it should require punishment and a fine, however in reality, “Sex Offender” is stretching it way off the charts. It was in poor taste not rape. His crime has little difference with streaking, mooning, urinating in public, and sending or receiving a nude photo. These are also felonies. They also deserve questioning the “Scarlet Letter” brand of “Sex Offender”.

    Over 90% of those in prison are mentally ill, yet we continue to create an environment that does not work by building more prisons. NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) says that prisons are now mental institutions, which are not suited for anyone with a mental illness.

    Abolish the registry!!! it has actually caused more damage to families, giving a false sense of security and fear at the same time. Future crime has not been prevented because of the registry, in fact, the opposite has been the case. Those on the registry have the lowest recidivism rate of any crime, yet they and their families are the ones branded for life. It is time for change. Change.org today.

  33. Andrea Drummond August 30, 2017 at 6:16 pm #

    This story is stunningly awful.

  34. Tabitha Weaver September 9, 2017 at 3:09 pm #

    I read this heartbreaking story and a similar incident happened with our Son who is IDD and can’t take care of himself. He was accused of a sexual offense in 2011. He was arrested spent 2 months in Jail before a Competency Eval was conducted. His Accusers quickly fled the State before Charges were Filed. Our Son was found Not Competent to Stand Trial and was held in Jail until the North Texas State Hosp had a bed open for him to undergo Competency Restoration Treatment for 5 months. He completed the Program and Graduated from their School eating his HS Diploma.
    He was Discharged and Transferred to a State Supported Living Center for 10 months and with the help of Disability Rights Texas he was finally Discharged and allowed to return home and live with us. Our Son has had 4 more Competency Evals and his Status has remained unchanged. The Judge Ordered him to remain under Structure Supervision for 2 yrs and only allowed him to be out of our home for Dr Appts or to attend an Adult Day Have Center. He also Ordered the Charges remain Pending for 20 yrs in the event he becomes Competent. His CA Attorney didn’t fight for him or care what our Disabled Son went thru he told me our Son had No Rights. Our Son has been permanently traumatized by this ordeal and it has taken a major financial burden on us since we are close to Retirement. I agree the Laws need to be changed for persons with Disabilities who become Victims of our Broken Justice System.

  35. S. Guillory September 9, 2017 at 8:18 pm #

    We live your story, ours started Jan 5th, 2015. Will not be finished until 2030. The stigma will always be there, the label. I stand with you and for all of us that are now cast aways. My heart hurts.