Challenge for the Media: Find ONE CASE of Child Predation by a Registered Sex Offender on Halloween

Sometimes you gotta think outside the trick or treat bag. So kudos to the National Reform Sex Offenders Laws organization for tackling the persistent, unfounded myth that sex offenders lure trick or treaters to their doom on Halloween.

To help America move beyond this zombie-like fear that refuses to die, the organization is challenging the media to find even ONE case of a registered sex offender preying on a trick or treating minor.

Just one. Ever.

This challenge is in the vein of Prof. Joel Best’s decades’ long hunt to find any child who had been poisoned by a stranger’s candy on Halloween. Just one. Ever. The University of Delaware sociologist scoured newspapers from as far back as 1958 to find stories of any child this had happened to. All he found was one boy poisoned by the Pixy Stix given to him by his father — after dad took out an insurance policy on the boy’s life. 

The father was found guilty of murder and executed.

Now the Reform Sex Offender Laws group is pointing out that, despite the news media’s penchant for displaying maps of registrants’ homes and warning parents about “Places to avoid on Halloween!” —

RSOL’s own research reveals absolutely no reports, past or present, of a random child being abducted or assaulted while engaged in Halloween activities by someone on a sex offender registry. Furthermore, according to Dr. Jill Levenson and a study done at Lynn University, no correlation exists between Halloween and an increased risk of sexual harm to children.

Sandy Rozek, RSOL’s communications director, states, “I know what I’d like to see. I’d like them to put up a map showing all the places a child has been attacked on Halloween by a registered citizen. You know what that would look like? No dots – none.”

She’s right. That Levenson study looked at Halloween crime reports from both before and after laws were put in place that required registered offenders not to participate:

[T]he authors’ findings indicated that there was not an increased rate of non-familial sex crimes against children aged 12 years and under on or just after Halloween. In fact, findings were invariant across the years – both prior to and after the restrictive policies became popular.

In other words, the laws requiring sex offenders not to answer their doors on Halloween, and/or to turn off all lights, or to spend the evening in the custody of law enforcement — none have had any effect, because they are preventing a crime that wasn’t happening in the first place.  RSOL shares this story:

As an example of how odd and useless these restrictions can be, a Kansas member of RSOL recently commented, “My son was notified today that he must report to his probation office from 6 to 9 pm on Halloween where he will be treated along with others on the SO registry to some kind of film.  Here is the absolute insanity of this requirement.  He lives with me, over one hundred miles from his probation office.  I have lived in the country for 21 Halloweens, and I have never had a child at my door here in all those years to trick or treat.

And yet…off her son goes, a hundred miles each way.

These Halloween restrictions are worse than cruel and pointless — they are actually dangerous. Because while sex crimes do not go up on Halloween, pedestrian deaths do. Doesn’t it make more sense for cops to be directing traffic that night than rounding up registrants?

You bet your sweet Skittles it does. – L

.

Velcome to my holiday of hysteria.

But I love cheeldren! 

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39 Responses to Challenge for the Media: Find ONE CASE of Child Predation by a Registered Sex Offender on Halloween

  1. Stephanie October 30, 2016 at 4:06 pm #

    Someone in my area posted the usual “look up the sex offenders in your neighborhood before Halloween” thing on a local board. I just rolled my eyes. I worry more about cars and pranks by bored teens. I’ve seen parents drive their kids house to house through a neighborhood where the houses are close together and most are handing out candy. They’re the biggest danger in my opinion, because they’re so busy watching their kids, they don’t notice the other kids very well.

  2. James Pollock October 30, 2016 at 4:31 pm #

    Surely you’re overlooking the famous case of Hansel and Gretel?

  3. James Pollock October 30, 2016 at 4:47 pm #

    “Doesn’t it make more sense for cops to be directing traffic that night than rounding up registrants?”

    Well, probably not, as both would be equally useless. Cops (as opposed to probation officers) already have plenty to do on Halloween because A) mischief, and B) drinking at Halloween parties followed by driving home.

    Directing traffic is unlikely to affect pedestrian deaths because the reasons you get higher pedestrian deaths at Christmas are A) pedestrians in areas that usually have few to none, and B) that same drinking at Halloween parties followed by driving home.

    And, finally, there’s an argument that the danger of Halloween isn’t that the child will be snatched at the door on Halloween… it’s that a child who otherwise wouldn’t have come to the attention of a pedophile makes themself known, leading to targeting and victimization later. (Still paranoid, but slightly less so, and a point not addressed).

    Law enforcement professionals and other public officials DO tend to stress pedestrian safety (the actual danger of Halloween). In my experience, it’s the media, particularly local television, that tend to go off attempting to generate anxiety and panic, rather than LE (although, they’d probably love to round up people with a general tendency towards vandalism and mischief for Halloween night, if they could get away with it.)

  4. pentamom October 30, 2016 at 4:56 pm #

    I hate to be the one, but:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shauna_Howe

    That said, one is exactly that — one. One can find stories for every day of the year.

  5. Will Crump October 30, 2016 at 5:13 pm #

    Thank you for this. I couldn’t have said it any better if I had tried. Now we need to get people with this message on the local news programs all across this nation from North to South and from East to West and all points in between!! I too defy the media to produce even one instance of a registered citizen molesting a trick-or-treater on Halloween. I defy them along with you. Thank you for this refreshingly honest article on the subject!

  6. Will Crump October 30, 2016 at 5:19 pm #

    Pentamom, this wasn’t a sexual offense. It was a child murder, but there was no sexual element. The Wiki article told of kidnapping and murder, but no finding of rape.

    James Pollock, that threat too is no greater on Halloween than on any other day. If a registrant is hell-bent on re-offending and profiling victims, he or she has 364 other days of the year to do that every time he or she goes anywhere. There is no such place that is 100% free of kids. Period. That can happen just as easily, even more easily when the child isn’t disguised in a costume.

  7. Will Crump October 30, 2016 at 5:21 pm #

    Pentamom, good try, but this was NOT a sexual offense nor was it committed by anyone on the registry. There’s no mention of any act of sexual abuse against the girl; just abduction and murder, so your answer to the challenge fails to pass muster.

  8. pentamom October 30, 2016 at 6:11 pm #

    Actually, the wiki article doesn’t say it, but I believe it was investigated as a sexual offense. They were not able to get a conviction on the sexual charges, but I’m fairly sure that was involved. I’m going off of a memory of years ago, though.

    And if I’m wrong, great. I wasn’t trying to prove anything, it’s just that that case came to mind.

  9. pentamom October 30, 2016 at 6:13 pm #

    And y’all are right — I missed the proviso about the person already being on the registry.

  10. Will Crump October 30, 2016 at 6:38 pm #

    I really don’t think these laws are anything about safety whatsoever. This is just another instance of government-initiated discrimination against and harassment of registered citizens. No one with a whit of honesty will deny that sex offenders, particularly those that target prepubescent children, are vilely and rabidly hated by society. This is just another way to isolate and ostracize these people. The true face of the supporters of these measures was revealed recently when the children of the commissioner of the Minnesota Dept. Of Human Services were threatened because the state is wanting to build supervised housing facilities for “high risk” registered citizens (probably child molesters) so that the state can comply with a Federal Mandate to stop using the state’s civil commitment law as a roach motel for sex offenders who have already served their time.

  11. James Pollock October 30, 2016 at 6:48 pm #

    “James Pollock, that threat too is no greater on Halloween than on any other day.”
    That’s the point. Restricting it to offenses committed only on Halloween is artificial. I’m against introducing my daughter to predatory sex offenders any time, whether it leads to an attack right away or it takes a while. I’m also against introducing my daughter to predatory sex offenders, whether they’ve previously been caught and identified or not, but for some reason, the predatory sex offenders mostly decline to voluntarily self-identify, so we only have the list of the ones that have been caught, and unfortunately, that list is terribly cluttered with people who aren’t predatory and in a lot of cases, aren’t even sex offenders.

    It’s like discussing date rape, and limiting it to ONLY cases where the victim and the rapist met on the same day as the attack.

    “There’s no mention of any act of sexual abuse against the girl; just abduction and murder”
    Oh, well… that’s OK then. As long as he didn’t touch her inappropriately between taking and holding her against her will and making her dead.

  12. Will Crump October 30, 2016 at 6:49 pm #

    I just posted the following challenge via Disqus at the following web site:

    http://patch.com/california/watsonville/86-sex-offenders-watsonville-2016-halloween-registry-map

    I am throwing down the gauntlet to this and every other media outlet that runs articles like this: show us a map of where prepubescent children have been accosted by a registered offender on Halloween. Show us one incident where a registered sex offender took a child on Halloween and molested him or her. I defy you to do it. It can’t be done.

  13. James Pollock October 30, 2016 at 7:06 pm #

    I followed Will’s link and read the article there, and I actually think it’s rather good. It’s not laden with scary talk, sticks to facts, includes relevant cautions, like “read the disclaimer” and, paraphrasing, “the offender that got this address on the list might not still live there”. Finally, it doesn’t advocate for any action other than becoming informed.

    This year’s designated anxiety topic seems to be toxic ingredients in face paint. Do not consume your children’s faces after they have been painted unless you know the paint is safe or not, everybody.

  14. Will Crump October 30, 2016 at 11:03 pm #

    Our point, James, is that since there is no spike on Halloween, the countless resources spent to keep sex offenders “blacked out” is a total waste and an unnecessary imposition on the freedoms of registered citizens. No one is saying “Don’t be aware of who these offenders are.” We’re not saying “Go ahead, let your kids trick-or-treat at a sex offender’s door.” We’re simply saying the states need to back off and let registered citizens and their family and friends enjoy Halloween like everyone else.” There’s no reason why a registered citizen should be prevented from going to an ALL-ADULT MASQUERADE PARTY.

    There’s no justification in barring registered citizens to go to their evening Church services on Sunday and Wednesday night just because it’s during “Halloween Season”, especially when said offender has long ago informed his or her congregation of their registered status and of the rules that preclude their involvement in any youth group activities or ministries. This is even more true when the offender has a track record for being at services every time the doors open. No restriction should preclude an offender’s freedom to assemble for worship, so long as he or she is verifiably in compliance with their rules.

  15. Will Crump October 30, 2016 at 11:05 pm #

    Also, James, a child’s murder is not any “less important” just because she wasn’t molested. That’s not the point at all and I think you know that.

    The point is the one murder the lady provided a link to HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH SEX OFFENDERS. That’s the only point to be made and I DID NOT trivialize that poor, innocent little girl’s murder. It was horrendous and I hope those who did it pay with their lives.

  16. James Pollock October 31, 2016 at 12:08 am #

    “Our point, James, is that since there is no spike on Halloween, the countless resources spent to keep sex offenders “blacked out” is a total waste and an unnecessary imposition on the freedoms of registered citizens.”

    So much to unpack here.
    Starting at the back, the unnecessary imposition on the freedoms of registered citizens might be something to think about before one commits the crime that gets one put on the registry. As for the “total” waste, I addressed that previously and the point remains now as it was then. Finally, my complaint that limiting it to Halloween, specifically, is an artificial constraint. There’s no way to know how many assaults that occur on days other than Halloween have their genesis in a trick-or-treat meeting.

    The problem isn’t keeping an eye on people who are predatory sex offenders on days when they might feel most tempted… the problem is that sex offender registry contains so many people who aren’t predatory, along with the few who are.

    “There’s no reason why a registered citizen should be prevented from going to an ALL-ADULT MASQUERADE PARTY.”
    If you try harder, you can probably think of a few who shouldn’t. Hell, most sex offenders have victims who are adults. Many probationers have as a term of probation that they stay away from places where alcohol is consumed.

    ” No restriction should preclude an offender’s freedom to assemble for worship, so long as he or she is verifiably in compliance with their rules.”
    Again, there are some situations and conditions that might require it. For example, if there’s a no-contact order in place, the person might have to find a new assembly.

    ” No one is saying “Don’t be aware of who these offenders are.” We’re not saying “Go ahead, let your kids trick-or-treat at a sex offender’s door.”
    You “threw down the gauntlet” at an article that basically said “this is how you can find out where the registered sex offenders are.

  17. John B. October 31, 2016 at 12:30 pm #

    Quote:

    “And, finally, there’s an argument that the danger of Halloween isn’t that the child will be snatched at the door on Halloween… it’s that a child who otherwise wouldn’t have come to the attention of a pedophile makes themself known, leading to targeting and victimization later.”

    @James:

    That can happen ANYTIME and not just on Halloween. Then we might as well restrict ALL contact between adults and children who don’t know each other. This includes restrictions on adults driving past elementary schools and/or restrictions on adults walking thru city parks where some children play. Children would definitely come to the attention of a pedophile in those settings. Let’s also throw in a restriction on adults swimming in public swimming pools. I mean, what a perfect place for a sexual predator to scope out his (or her) preference for a child victim. When they’re wearing bathing suits. This is just more paranoia and “worst-first” thinking.

  18. NY Mom October 31, 2016 at 1:33 pm #

    Just now on an NPR local affiliate in Rochester, NY, during a panel discussion on Halloween scary stories, the moderator, Evan Dawson, told the truth about Halloween safety just as Lorraine stated it above. No child has been abducted or killed while trick or treating.
    Every person on the panel knew the truth!
    A thirteen year old boy on the panel told about the boy poisoned by his father.

    The truth is out there. Why don’t the law authorities acknowledge it? Why must they mislead the public and harass those on the registry?
    Listen to the podcast or the rerun.

  19. NY Mom October 31, 2016 at 2:02 pm #

    Challenge to Law Enforcement:

    Tell the Truth.

  20. Jeff Giese October 31, 2016 at 2:50 pm #

    This morning’s news had a 2 minute segment showing 3 Federal Marshals going to every sexual offenders house to make contact and explain the Halloween no contact provision. I thought, what a waste of resources.

  21. Juluho October 31, 2016 at 3:09 pm #

    I did have a black cat stolen on Halloween, the neighbor said she thought it was a stray but clearly she was a witch.

  22. bob magee October 31, 2016 at 3:14 pm #

    James Pollack is our daily dose of Trick or Treat!

  23. BL October 31, 2016 at 3:20 pm #

    ” the moderator, Evan Dawson, told the truth about Halloween safety ”

    Is that even legal?

  24. James Pollock October 31, 2016 at 3:52 pm #

    “That can happen ANYTIME and not just on Halloween.”
    Still the point.
    You’re dealing with a very, VERY low frequency event (obsessive person who also happens to be a pedophile who also happens to be a criminal becomes aware of the existence of an object of obsession.)

    “Then we might as well restrict ALL contact between adults and children who don’t know each other.”
    Not just adults, since a good number of victims of sex abuse are abused by other children.

    “This includes restrictions on adults driving past elementary schools”
    No, it just means limiting access to the school and its playgrounds while school is in session. But that’s wacky. We’d never do that.

    ” This is just more paranoia and “worst-first” thinking.”
    I’m going to have to stand on my original words.
    Which were ” (Still paranoid, but slightly less so, and a point not addressed)”
    In short: Duh.

  25. James Pollock October 31, 2016 at 3:56 pm #

    “James Pollack is our daily dose of Trick or Treat!”

    But you never give me any candy.

  26. Gina October 31, 2016 at 4:21 pm #

    pentamom: This girl was abducted WALKING HOME FROM A HALLOWEEN PARTY. She was not Trick 0r Treating…Ironic when you realize that so many people take their kids to parties on Halloween to AVOID going door-to-door.
    The town in which she was murdered then outlawed Trick-or-Treating…did it also outlaw parties?

    Seems as though this was a random act that had nothing to do with Halloween.

  27. Flossy73 October 31, 2016 at 4:50 pm #

    It makes the most sense to identify real danger and real criminals and not stay in LaLa fantasy world about the whole concept of “sex offenders.”
    Really scary is the violation of human and constitutional rights of your fellow citizens.
    Please stop conflating, “pedophile,” “predator,” and “sex offender.” One of the biggest and more damaging misconceptions is that all people forced to register as sex offenders are also “child predators” or “violent sex criminals.” This is absolutely false. Neither are all sex offenders “pedophiles” nor are all “pedophiles” people who actually harm children. People on the sex offender registers are NOT a homogeneous group, they do not all pose a risk to you, your family or your children. The ignorance over who registered sex offenders really are is keeping these ridiculous and unfounded laws a reality.
    Many registered citizens are good people with children of their own who work and pay taxes just like you. Most of them committed a single crime, (a crime that was NOT violent and NOT against a young child and likely NOT a crime that even involved contact) they paid their debt to society and have received therapy. They pose no risk to you. Just ask their own family and their own neighbors.

  28. Flossy73 October 31, 2016 at 4:59 pm #

    And what about the Registered citizens who are parents and aren’t allowed to take their own child trick or treating? They are forced to stay at home in the dark while their kids have to wander around by themselves. What about the safety of their kids.

  29. W. Spackman October 31, 2016 at 10:02 pm #

    As I was driving home tonight and saw all the trick or treaters starting to flood the sidewalks it occurred to me, how many little kids Halloween excitement turns to disappointment because their parents have to work or for some other reason, can’t be there to take them out? Wouldn’t it make a bigger difference in a lot more kid’s lives if these law enforcement officials volunteered to take some less fortunate kids out to enjoy the occasion rather than wasting their time chasing imaginary bogeymen?

  30. Kirsten October 31, 2016 at 10:20 pm #

    From a resources perspective, and for the sake of people not being overly alarmed by things that are statistically not the greatest dangers to them or their families I agree with this. From an “offender’s rights” perspective I do not care. I do not worry about the rights of convicted sex offenders. But I do think people waste time and a lot of emotions on things they don’t need to be afraid of. Just take normal, sensible precautions and live your life.

    As for policies and laws about sex offenders I agree that the goal should be to maximally prevent future harm of children and adult victims. If ostracizing and redlining offenders from neighborhoods results in these offenders disappearing from the system and therefore reoffending more easily then change the law. If it works best the way it is, keep it as is. The one thing that should not be taken into consideration is the feelings or quality of life of those who have already sexually assaulted others. They have forfeited their right to a comfortable existence.

  31. sexhysteria November 1, 2016 at 4:07 am #

    Requiring so-called sex offenders to report to the police on Halloween sounds similar to the Italian Fascist government’s treatment of “political criminals” in the 1920s and 1930s.

  32. Donna November 1, 2016 at 8:36 am #

    pentamom – Shaun Howe was killed on 10/27, not Halloween. She happened to be walking home from a Halloween-themed party, but it could have been any event on that day.

  33. Buffy November 1, 2016 at 6:35 pm #

    “From an “offender’s rights” perspective I do not care. I do not worry about the rights of convicted sex offenders.”

    Yup, those outdoor urinators and teens who had sex should not have any rights whatsoever.

  34. Cindy November 1, 2016 at 11:11 pm #

    Wow! Kirsten..that is quite harsh…not to care one bit about another human being no matter what she’s done,

    To dehumanize this group in such a way…”harmed another person and therefore forfeited their rights to a normal life..” We accept murderers back into our society. Who among us hasn’t hurt someone?

    Offenders are mothers/fathers, sisters/brothers, sons/daughters, cousins/friends. To be defined by the worst thing you’ve done in your life …often when you were a teenager ..is just plain wrong, or what about the 25% of 880,000 registrants who are actually children themselves – some as young as 9 ?…I believe. Please note that 93-95% of offenders are one-time only offenders.

    Victims want “no more victims.” Many are saying they don’t want the punishment that is being handed down ..instead they want prevention through education and offender treatment and rehabilitation and alternatives to incarceration especially for youth. Please know also as I believe someone has already said, not all registrants are sex offenders!

    This kinder, softer way is very smart on crime btw.

  35. Kirsten November 2, 2016 at 1:04 pm #

    For those calling me harsh, I believe there needs to be a radical reassessment of who goes on the sex offender registry because way too many categories are included in the program. Teens who had underage sex should not. Teens who sexted should not. Public urinators should never have been on there. Minor crimes and consensual relationships even when they can be prosecuted should never have been included in the registry. There needs to be a much more rigorous standard for going on the sex offender registry and judges should have discretion in deciding whether to put someone on there.

    That being said, I have no sympathy for rapists or child molesters. My comments stand as far as they are concerned.

  36. Beth November 2, 2016 at 1:23 pm #

    But Kirsten, to be fair, that’s not what you said, which was “I do not worry about the rights of convicted sex offenders.”

    That statement did not indicate in any way your awareness that people who don’t belong on the registry, are.

  37. Skip November 2, 2016 at 8:17 pm #

    I would rather see an “Armed Robber” registry since those people seem to reoffend rather frequently.

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