On the Sex Offender List at 20 for Sex with an 18 Year Old…Or So He Thought

The Sex Offender List was created and then made public with the goal of keeping kids safe. Not only has it had no effect on child safety whatsoever (see this study, and this article), it has bloated to include all sorts of “offenders” who do not and never did pose a threat to children. Here’s a letter I just got from the wife of one registrant:

My name is Carrie.  My husband is on the registry because at age 20 he hooked up with a co-worker that he believed to be 18. After he broke it off with her, her sister called and told him to marry the girl or go to jail. Turns out she was really 15 and an illegal immigrant. They wanted her to be able to gain citizenship by marriage and tried blackmailing in order to do it.

He did not marry her and ended up getting 5 years deferred probation. We now have three children together. I really don’t know how this is going to affect them, because at this point he has to register for life.

I asked Carrie if  I could use her name and story as one illustration of how flawed the sex offender registry is.

I would love for you to use our story. The first time it really affected us I was 9 months pregnant with our first child. I found out the house that we put money on we were not allowed to live in two weeks before closing because of Sex Offender residency restrictions. My husband was done with his probation so I’d had no idea there were restrictions on him. Then I found out most cities have residency restrictions in Texas. It was nearly impossible for us to find a place to live. We did find a house and were able to move in six days before I had our daughter. There are other issues that affect us, such as employment for him. He is not currently working.

Do you feel any safer with Carrie’s husband on the registry? Or do you, like me, have the scary feeling that someone you know and love could end up on the sex offender registry for a consensual relationship that he had no idea was a crime? By the way, in another email, Carrie mentioned that her husband has now become a helicopter parent. “He had to attend a therapy group for 5 years and was constantly hearing about bad things happening to children. I am pretty protective too but my husband wants our kids with us all the time.  Everything they put him through really screwed him up.” 

The sex offender laws need reform. That’s why I am keynoting the RSOL (Reform Sex Offender Laws) Conference in Dallas on Thursday. – L 

The Sex Offender Laws need reforming.

Time for this to change.

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73 Responses to On the Sex Offender List at 20 for Sex with an 18 Year Old…Or So He Thought

  1. Bose in St. Peter MN July 16, 2014 at 9:50 am #

    Here in MN, we finally have a ruling by experts which should release a 24-y/o incarcerated since age 10 (for crimes at age 10 & 14) to a setting in which he has a chance to learn basic life skills. His is a complex story, including survival of horrific abuse as a child and troublesome behavior in the only facility he has known since age 18. The argument has long been that the guy’s inability to learn how to become a gentle, productive citizen while figuring out how to survive among much older, hard-core adults should prevent him from ever having a shot at transfer to another setting.

  2. Wondering July 16, 2014 at 10:01 am #

    Where I live, you can be put on the registry for non-sexual misdemeanors, such as urinating in public. I’m all for not having folks urinate in public, but I’d rather see a hefty fine go into the town’s coffers. It also calls into question the person on the registry who lives in my neighborhood within 200 feet of 2 schools– what’s the point of the registry?

  3. SOA July 16, 2014 at 10:08 am #

    I am teaching my sons that you must ask for ID before sleeping with a girl and even get a picture of said ID on your camera phone and save it so you have proof you did ID her and have plausible deniability that you thought she was of age. It has really come to that. Women like her take feminism back.

    and do what my friend did and give a fake name when he randomly hooked up with girls. I mean really it has come to that.

    No, that is in no way any kind of crime and he does not belong on the registry.

  4. MP July 16, 2014 at 10:10 am #

    I believe registries are wrong, period. Do people forget that police have always had access to criminal records? So it’s not like a genuine rapist is going to be forgotten if he’s not listed on a website. Meanwhile such a list is obviously abused by authorities (like the other comment here referencing “public urination” as a registry offense–absurd!), and it creates a false sense of security (every single child molester is NOT on a list the first time they act), and lastly if you believe in the possibility of redemption even for sex offenders (I do), then applying a “scarlet letter” like this only makes it much more difficult for ex-cons to return to normal society and live respectable lives.

  5. tdr July 16, 2014 at 10:10 am #

    There is a great story on… Snap Judgment I think (radio)…where a guy whose life had be ruined by his listing on the SOR took the bull by the horns. He went totally public with his (relatively benign) story and has earned largely sympathy especially from people who offered him jobs.

    It takes a lot of courage to do something like that, but if a groundswell of publicity for these types of “offenders” could occur it might really effect change.

    You go, Lenore, for speaking at this conference!

  6. Peter July 16, 2014 at 10:11 am #

    The path to evil is paved with good intentions.

    Reading the above is enough to consider the vocel lifestyle (voluntary celibacy) or MGTOW (men going their own way) which has given rise to the marriage strike by men as the subject of Helen Smith’s book of that name. In Japan they are far further along that road than the west with the soshoku danshi (herbivore men or grass eaters), straight men who are not only on a marriage strike but also on a sex strike.

    What happens to a society when safety concerns start overwhelming even the basic biological instincts?

  7. E July 16, 2014 at 10:27 am #

    Good luck with your speaking engagement. Stories like this are terrible and so troubling.

  8. Bob M July 16, 2014 at 10:31 am #

    I agree that the registry has gone overboard. As a nation we have gone the feel good route of adding anyone whose offense is even remotely sexual to the list when in fact many of then just eat up resources for being on the list. How likely is someone convicted of Public Urination to harm a child? How likely is someone convicted of Statutory Rape who goes on the marry the “victim” to re-offend? Yes the list has it’s place, I do NOT want child Rapists living near schools or playgrounds, but the lists are much more useful if they contain the higher risk offenders only. just one guys opinion.

  9. K2 July 16, 2014 at 10:45 am #

    Having a bloated registry makes it harder for everyone to find housing and eventually there is someone on the registry living in most neighborhoods. That isn’t helpful. I think the registry should only have the more severe cases and people who are likely to be repeat offenders. That would make the registry more effective. I think the same is true for CPS. They harrass too many good parents, put way too many kids in foster care, and miss too many of the real abuse cases. The government has blanket rules and no one has any authority to think!

    I think young men in the vicinity of 18 are better off just dating and not having sex. That is just an opinion and I know lots of young men would not give it up no matter what anyone said; but I think at that stage they should be learning how to feel comfortable doing things that women will want later like buying meaningful gifts and participating in conversations. Too many marriages end because the man never says a word, works too much, comes home and watches tv, and then goes to bed (to sleep). The young men should learn that most women want the men to spend some quality time with them and that while gifts are not everything, a few meaningful gifts along the way are very helpful. If the focus at that age is sex, the men don’t really learn how to lead a meaningful relationship.

  10. Beth July 16, 2014 at 10:46 am #

    Where is the Murderers Registry? And the public registry for other violent felons? (Please don’t tell me they’re all in prison, because they’re not.)

    In my city, they have public “informational” meetings whenever a so-called sex offender is released into the community. I have yet to see a meeting about a murderer getting out on parole.

    Mind you, I’m not asking for more lists and registries. But I do think there are crimes at least as bad as urinating in public or consensual sex between teens, and I do not know why the perpetrators of those crimes are not ostracized in the same way.

  11. BL July 16, 2014 at 10:48 am #

    How about a registry for people who lie about their age in a sexual encounter?

  12. Maggie July 16, 2014 at 10:50 am #

    We don’t have registries for murderers, drunk drivers, thieves and arsonists.

    And why do they call it “Sex offenders registry” when people find themselves on it for public urination, or streaking or mooning, or simply leaving their curtains open when they walk around the house naked? None of these things are SEX. Since when is seeing a penis or a bottom now qualifies as sex?

  13. GeneGenie July 16, 2014 at 11:29 am #

    I don’t disagree with modifications being needed for the SOR but a 20 y/o man slept with a 15 y/o girl. That’s illegal for a reason and “I thought she was 18” has no more legal standing than “I was fine to drive.” Not sure which point you’re trying to protect here.

  14. John July 16, 2014 at 11:32 am #

    The sad part of this over reaction is that anybody labeled a “sex offender” is considered an automatic danger to children. What MOST uninformed people think of when they hear the term “sex offender” is a man who sodomizes children. In a far majority of cases, this is far from true. You cannot convince me that a 20-year-old man who had consensual sex (socially) with a 15-year-old girl (whom he thought was older) is a danger around 10-year-old boys or girls for that matter. Neither is a guy who got drunk and peed in public or a teenage boy who streaked across the football field as a prank or a teenage boy who sexted photos of his nude girlfriend.

    Are these violations worthy of some form of punishment? Probably. Are these violations worthy of punishing the perpetrator for life? Absolutely NOT! Do these violations make them a danger to children? Absolutely NOT! But “experts” like Wendy Murphy and Janine Shapiro are two typical fear mongers who lump all “sex offenders” into that category. Shapiro was ranting on about some of the street people in Denver as being on the sex offender registry “and they’re around our children!!!!” So what Janine? What exact sex offense did this person commit?

    I would tell these fine ladies that the term “sex offender” means absolutely NOTHING to me because it is such an ambiguous label in this day and age. But fear mongering and children seem to go well together in our news outlets today.

  15. katie July 16, 2014 at 11:35 am #

    I wonder how many people keep quiet about someone who *should* be reported simply because they don’t want to ruin the person’s life forever.

  16. no rest for the weary July 16, 2014 at 11:38 am #

    “In my city, they have public ‘informational’ meetings whenever a so-called sex offender is released into the community. I have yet to see a meeting about a murderer getting out on parole.”

    I spoke up to the police and the school administrators who were sending out police “alerts” any time a “sex offender” was released to a halfway house in our city. The emails featured mug shots, a list of offences, and an encouragement (from the school) to “show your children this photo and talk to them about safety.”

    I told the schools they were doing nothing to increase the safety of students. Rather, they were scaring parents and children into thinking that there was a “boogeyman” out there, and if you memorized his face, then you’d be safer. Plus, it encourages parents to cite these “notices” as reasons not to let kids walk around and do things on their own.

    I also asserted that if you are taught to look for a couple of faces instead of learning to trust your own instincts and learn about your own body, you’re at greater risk, because these men who have gone through the criminal justice system are highly monitored, while your Funny Uncle Joe is NOT.

    And, lastly, that it is beyond humiliating and ridiculous to send blanket emails and police alerts with photos and names of one type of offender who poses a “threat” to the public, and not others. If you’re going to “alert” the public that a person who has served their time for a violent crime is being released into the community, then include every type of violent offender, or don’t alert the public at all.

    The police claimed that the alerts were for the school administration only, for their knowledge in case one of the men came to the school grounds. That the school was not instructed to forward the message to all of its parents and encourage them to show it to their child! I told the police that they had better the hell give more specific instructions to the schools, then.

    Happily, I haven’t gotten another one of those emails since.

  17. marie July 16, 2014 at 11:39 am #

    There is no need to fear sex offenders as a group. The rate of re-offending for sex offenders hangs around 5%, as it was before there was a registry. By comparison, the rate of re-offense for car thieves is 78%. Assault and battery is over 70%. There is no reliable method to predict who is at a high risk of committing another sex crime.

    All of this means that the registry is useless. Knowing that the guy across the street is on the registry makes you and your family no safer because it is FAR more likely that someone NOT on the registry will commit the next sex offense in your area. Restricting sex offenders from living near schools is not a real safety measure.

    Lenore has done a great job–an important job–drawing our attention to false risks for our families.

  18. John July 16, 2014 at 11:47 am #

    @GeneGenie…..Ok Gene, he committed a crime. We got that. He was a 20-year-old man who had sex with a 15-year-old girl (who obviously looked older) which is illegal in probably ALL U.S. states. But does he deserve a spot on the sex offender registry for life for this type of offense? In MY opinion…NO! This offense cannot be put into the same category if he were to sodomize a PREpubescent child because a 15-year-old girl is waaaaay past the PREpubescent stage. We need to have a little perspective here.

  19. no rest for the weary July 16, 2014 at 11:49 am #

    “I don’t disagree with modifications being needed for the SOR but a 20 y/o man slept with a 15 y/o girl. That’s illegal for a reason and ‘I thought she was 18’ has no more legal standing than ‘I was fine to drive.’ Not sure which point you’re trying to protect here.”

    Hm. Let’s see. If I drink enough alcohol at home to be impaired and get in my car and drive it, that’s a decision I made personally with my own body. If I get arrested, I alone am charged. However, if someone serves me that alcohol at a private party, knows I am intoxicated, and encourages me to drive myself home, there are cases where the server is liable legally. And certainly at a bar, if a professional server “over serves” me and I am visibly intoxicated and leave the establishment to drive myself somewhere, then the establishment is, in some cases, legally liable.

    If I “hook up” with a woman who tells me she is of legal age (by indicating her date of birth verbally, saying she goes to university, putting herself in the context of those of legal age) and we have sex, then I alone am responsible for a “crime” if she is, in fact, not 18. Does that make any sense at all, really? If the sex was consensual?

    I remember learning the term “jailbait” when I was a youngster. Statutory rape was a crime, for sure. But I recall it being a crime for sex between, say, a 15 or 16 or 17-year-old girl and a man in his 30s. And even if that occurred, no one imagined that these men were anything but entrapped, and certainly not a danger to anyone, really… laughable to think they were a danger to prepubescent children.

  20. CLamb July 16, 2014 at 11:55 am #

    There is another legal point not mentioned here. As a crime victim the 15yo girl is eligible for a U class visa http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/victims-human-trafficking-other-crimes/victims-criminal-activity-u-nonimmigrant-status/victims-criminal-activity-u-nonimmigrant-status. It’s not as good as a spousal visa but much better than undocumented status. This class of visa was established for the laudable purpose of stopping sex traffickers from using threats of turning the victims into the government to prevent their victims from reporting crimes to authorities but is unfortunately also subject to abuse itself.

  21. no rest for the weary July 16, 2014 at 11:57 am #

    “I wonder how many people keep quiet about someone who ‘should’ be reported simply because they don’t want to ruin the person’s life forever.”

    And I wonder how many kids are *actually* in danger in the care of their parents as opposed to the ones bystanders call the cops on because the kids are playing at a park or sitting in a car safely, but the ones in real danger keep getting beaten and starved and the ones in no danger keep getting reported to police.

    Actually, I think the trend of “reporting” non-crimes shows no sign of slowing. Reporting actual rape, though, is a whole different ballgame, as is reporting actual child abuse. There are layers and layers of denial and self-blame that keep actual victims silent, and bystanders immobilized.

    Much easier to report non-crimes, and feel like you’re contributing to “safety.”

  22. gap.runner July 16, 2014 at 12:04 pm #

    It seems like people get put on sex offender registries for doing stupid adolescent things like streaking, mooning, or public urination. According to these registries, there is no difference between a drunk college student who moons people out the car window and a serial rapist. People go online and see that there are 37 registered sex offenders in their neighborhood. They don’t take the time to research that 95% of so-called sex offenders got drunk in college and did stupid things like mooning or peeing in public.

    If people want to worry about sex offenders, they need fear their friends and relatives who are not on the registries. Most kids are molested by relatives or others that they know.

  23. no rest for the weary July 16, 2014 at 12:09 pm #

    The case of the OP aside, I think there is a sad legacy of denial when it comes to the sexuality of teenaged girls, and a sad legacy of blame when it comes to the sexuality of teenaged boys and men.

    There is something quaintly Victorian about the way parents become hysterical when presented with evidence that their pubescent or post-pubescent daughter is engaging in sexual activity. There is terror, rage, and, then, inevitably blame. And acting out from that place of emotional reactivity, the parents call the police.

    “My daughter has been violated, soiled, deflowered!” they cry. “The young man took advantage!” they wail. “He must be punished!” they insist.

    The very idea that the girl INITIATED the sexual intercourse is either not palatable to them, or not relevant to them. The girl can’t know better, because she is an innocent, she is weak and vulnerable, she is female.

    Sexually mature and aggressive girls know that this is the cultural state of affairs, so if they get “caught” being “naughty,” they can always fall back on the whole “I got pressured” story, not realizing that the young guy they either lied to about their age, or pressured into full-on sex is now a pariah for life because he gets sent through the grinder of the criminal justice system for something that just. Isn’t. A crime.

    It’s time for parents of young women to stop being so reactive when they find out their daughters are having sex. In my town, a couple of 13-year-old girls got together with a couple of 15-year-old boys at one of the girls’ homes. The girls raided the parents’ liquor, everyone got drunk, and sex was had. The girls schemed this, arranged this, carried out a plan they had made. They wanted to “lose it,” they wanted this experience.

    And then they regretted it. One girl panicked and worried she could get pregnant. (Duh.) She cried to her parents in her post-coital terror and of course they called the COPS.

    I say “of course” because these days there is just no other option in anyone’s head. But we can put other options there, through public dialogue. How about calling the boys’ parents? Hearing the boys’ side of the story? Understanding the situation’s depth a little more before deciding a next step?

    No. Call the cops. The boys were wrong, the girls were right, boys are sexual predators and girls are helpless victims.

    Baloney.

  24. Nadine July 16, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

    While something might be a crime and might even be a sexual based crime. I dont think the list should be a big pile of everybody and used as a public shaming device. The register is not a punishment tool. It should be the most dangerous repeat offenders that should not just be made public but also activly monitored and managed. A registry is only as good as its information and with the emassed collection of free ranch wizzers and pecker peddlers just hides and pollutes the important stuff.

  25. John July 16, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

    @Marie…..just playing “devil’s advocate” here. Couldn’t you argue that the reason for the low recividism rate among sex offenders is due to the fact that sex offenders are monitored and have more restrictions placed on them compared to car thieves and muggers who are still allowed around people and cars? Whereas sex offenders are given ankle monitors and not allowed around children which would impede their opportunity to re-offend.

    I’m certain this would be the ultra-conservative pundits’ argument to these statistics but I would love to hear the other side of this. Does anybody here wish to chime in? Is there a valid argument against this type of conclusion?

  26. Donna July 16, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

    I’d sure like to know where all the thieves live in my city. If there is one group that is going to repeat, it is going to be that one. Or all the drunks and drug addicts so I can stay off the roads in those areas. And the drug dealers in case my kid decides to do drugs. In fact, wouldn’t it be nice if we had a list of every single person who has ever committed an undesireable act in their life. It would sure make being so judgmental much easier.

    But for every other crime or wrong act in existence, once you complete your sentence, your punishment is done and your debt to society is paid. Anything else is left between you and whatever higher power you believe in, if any. I have yet to hear any reasonable justification why sex crimes deserve to be treated differently than any other crime in existence.

  27. lee Baldwin July 16, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

    i have a neighbor that is on the sex offender registry because he turned 18 while his girlfriend was 16. her dad didn’t like him, so called the cops. that’s just stupid.

  28. Resident Iconoclast July 16, 2014 at 12:28 pm #

    There is something socially and culturally very troubling, in the United States, about these registries. And especially, who ends up on them.

    Besides the various children who get in trouble taking pictures of themselves and sending them to their friends, there is a more more troubling aspect.

    The unpopular, geeky people often land on the registries. The upper class, socially accomplished people usually don’t.

    How else can you explain wildly popular television shows like “The Bachelor”? On MTV and on such network programs, women whore after some manipulator who is held up to be the desirable ideal in the United States. If you watch those shows to find out what Americans are like, you’d believe that American men are manipulators, and American women are all prostitutes.

    It is not just drama, or fiction. They call it reality TV for a reason. Attractive, socially upward people end up with a television show, and millions of viewers, while ordinary, geeky kids and misfits end up on the sex offender registry. This is the morality play that the government uses, to keep ordinary people like us in their place.

    I think when the minority groups started fighting back, Americans just invented this scam so they could have their “minimum quantum of hate.” It’s very much like beating up the fat kid in middle school.

  29. J- July 16, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

    There have been way too many cases of men going to jail and having their lives ruined because the girl lied about her age.

    http://www.wftv.com/news/news/man-sentenced-to-prison-after-girls-myspace-page-l/nFCn8/

    There have been a few that involved guys picking girls up in bars and just to discover that after the fact that the girl used a fake ID to get into the bar and drink. The courts have not allowed the men to use the defense that since one has to be 21 to legally drink in a bar, that having a drink in a bar is prima facie evidence that the girl is legal.

    Of course there are other issues. In Miami, because of all the rules that govern where sex offenders can live, so many places were off limits that eventually a tent city of displaced sex offenders was constructed under a bridge.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julia_Tuttle_Causeway_sex_offender_colony

    The problem with this is political. Sex offenders are low hanging political fruit. Torturing sex offenders is an easy way to score “doing it to help the children” points. Of course nobody wants to come to the defense of these people. Can you imagine being a politician and having your opponents run an ad on TV that says:

    “Bob Smith is a danger to your children, he want to go easy on child predators and sex offenders. A vote for Bob Smith is a vote for child rape.”

  30. marie July 16, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

    John said:
    Couldn’t you argue that the reason for the low recividism rate among sex offenders is due to the fact that sex offenders are monitored and have more restrictions placed on them compared to car thieves and muggers who are still allowed around people and cars? Whereas sex offenders are given ankle monitors and not allowed around children which would impede their opportunity to re-offend.

    As I said in my initial comment, The rate of re-offending for sex offenders hangs around 5%, as it was before there was a registry.

  31. Donna July 16, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

    “Whereas sex offenders are given ankle monitors”

    That isn’t even true. Maybe for a very short period of time on release from prison, but I can’t think of a single situation where a sex offender – or any criminal – is put on an ankle monitor for LIFE. Maybe on Law and Order, but certainly not in the real world where those things are expensive and not of unlimited number.

    “and not allowed around children which would impede their opportunity to re-offend.”

    How? The sex offender registry is a list of names, not a force field surrounding all children. Are you truly arguing that a person who is willing to rape a child is otherwise so honorable that they are unwilling to violate a rule against hanging out with their niece? The fact is that there will always be available victims and, if the person really wanted to commit another rape, being on a list isn’t going to stop him.

  32. Shannon July 16, 2014 at 12:33 pm #

    Let me start by saying, I do my best to not live by fear and to raise my children with a freedom that drives my MIL and SILs crazy!! Unfortunately, my family was burned by a man with a VERY similar story. I hope that Mrs. Ramirez’s has no reason to doubt her husband’s story, but in our case the man was a liar and a very serious and dangerous sexual predator. Looking at his paperwork after he ended up in prison really opened my eyes as to the sick world in which he lived and had lived his whole life. I actually wish that there was more information on the registry sites so that we, as an extended family, could make more informed choices. The best I ever got from the police was “I wouldn’t let my kids anywhere close to him”. HA! Like that is easy to do in a very close knit, forgiving family! Yes, life is very hard for a sexual predator after they are on the registry, and there is probably a better way to handle it. On the other hand, my BIL hadn’t done anything (that we know of) for over 10 years and that was the only link we had to knowing that we should be careful. I would be very interested in what changes you propose and why. Do you have a link to a proposal?

  33. Warren July 16, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

    @Gene
    Get off your high horse. The girl lied about her age in order to gain entry into the states………..and if anything he should not have been charged at all. She should have been charged with a fraud, and immediately deported. End of story.

    @Dolly,
    That is just paranoid and sick to teach your kids. And will pretty much guarantee that they will never get any lovin in the future.

    As for putting murderers on a list, there is no need. Other than the worst of the worst that really will never see freedom again, there are those that are gang related, that will already be known to local law enforcement.

    Most murders are commited because everything just lined up perfectly at the time for it to happen. These people are the least likely to kill again.
    Under the right circumstances just about anyone is capable of taking a life. And in this day and age taking a life will pretty much always get you jailed. Zero tolerance and all.

  34. Captain America July 16, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

    I agree with K2.

    I think we as a culture have encouraged teens to have sex.

    Why? because it’s dramatic and it’s exciting television.

    The whole ” Young-People-Must-Have-Sex-or-Turn-Blue ” Absolutism is such a joke.

  35. Donna July 16, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

    “As for putting murderers on a list, there is no need. … there are those that are gang related, that will already be known to local law enforcement.”

    A registry has nothing to do with law enforcement. Law enforcement has unlimited access to all the information contained on the sex offender registry. No special list needed. Registries are for the PUBLIC. Gang-bangers are no more known to the general public than sex offenders. Let’s put them all on lists. All criminals.

  36. Matthew July 16, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

    There is something to the people not wanting to report it for fear of ruining the offender’s life.

    About 12 years ago I dated a woman whose sister raped her for years with a broomstick, and the emotional problems that caused left her vulnerable to being raped by a middle school teacher as well. Her parents told her to keep it quiet because the scums’ lives would be ruined. Those two are cases where a lifetime registry more likely makes sense though.

    It’s highly disturbing that even evidense a fake ID was used to get access to an adults only area can’t be used as a defense.

  37. John July 16, 2014 at 12:50 pm #

    @Donna….yes that is true, but knowing you could be thrown back in the slammer if you got caught even being around children I think would be a good deterrent to reoffending. Again, I’m just playing “devil’s advocate” here.

    @Marie:

    Quote: “The rate of re-offending for sex offenders hangs around 5%, AS IT WAS BEFORE THERE WAS A REGISTRY.”

    Those last few words, assuming they are fact and there is no reason to believe otherwise, would definitely be a good argument against those who claim the low recividism rate is due to sex offenders not being allowed around children. Thanks for clarifying that Marie! It’s just too bad our torch bearing public refuses to see and believe that key piece of data.

  38. marie July 16, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    Sex offenders have families. When my husband comes home from prison, he will be on the registry. My children’s address, my address, will be there, my vehicle will be listed. Do I feel any safer? Are my kids any safer? Nope. Especially not when sex offenders have been killed for nothing more than being listed on the registry. When we argue that only the most dangerous offenders should be listed, we are saying, “THAT family should be listed on the registry.”

    There are over 750,000 people on SORs in the US. Imagine how many families that means, how many children have to live with their address on the registry.

  39. Dhewco July 16, 2014 at 1:08 pm #

    GeneGenie,

    Someone else might make this point, but I have to say it. (I haven’t read past your post at this point, so If I repeat someone else’s post, sorry).

    There’s a difference between “I thought she was 18” and “She told me she was 18.” A 15 yo can definitely pass for older. Without a DL check or a birth certificate check, not to mention meeting the parents..there’s no way for sure to tell how old a girl is. It sounds like the 15yo’s parents were encouraging her saying she’s older. That’s a whole different sitch.

  40. Donna July 16, 2014 at 1:17 pm #

    “but knowing you could be thrown back in the slammer if you got caught even being around children I think would be a good deterrent to reoffending”

    Only if you don’t have any interest in reoffending to start with – which would greatly decrease your chances of being a recidivist anyway. If you want to reoffend, it is no deterrent at all. My clients make some of the most irrational choices known to man, but none of them involve being stopped from committing a GREATER crime by something that is comparatively a slap on the wrist.

  41. Dirk July 16, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

    It does need reform though.

  42. John July 16, 2014 at 1:37 pm #

    @J:

    Quote: “The problem with this is political. Sex offenders are low hanging political fruit. Torturing sex offenders is an easy way to score ‘doing it to help the children’ points. Of course nobody wants to come to the defense of these people”

    Boy did you EVER hit the nail on its head here J! That is why I REFUSE to vote for any candidate who runs on the platform of “I’m here to protect the kids!” Then they boast of how they’re gonna enact tougher laws and longer prison sentences for anybody who abuses a child.

    As far as I’m concerned, that is a cheap way to get votes! Because we already have tough laws and long prison sentences for anybody who even looks at a child the wrong way! The crazy sex offender registry is proof because it is based on the protection of children. That is the reason it is so unreasonable and causes more collateral damage to families than it does protecting children!

    And you are right in that any politician with reason who attempts to rein all this in is considered somebody “who doesn’t care about children” and therefore commits career suicide.

    More and tougher laws against what some people perceive to be “violations” against children are likely to cause more collateral damage than they’re worth but yet are highly unlikely to be reformed.

  43. J.T. Wenting July 16, 2014 at 2:24 pm #

    “I am teaching my sons that you must ask for ID before sleeping with a girl and even get a picture of said ID on your camera phone and save it so you have proof you did ID her and have plausible deniability that you thought she was of age. ”

    Doesn’t matter. The girl can carry a fake ID and you’re still f*cked because only the real age matters when you get arrested…

    “I believe registries are wrong, period. Do people forget that police have always had access to criminal records? So it’s not like a genuine rapist is going to be forgotten if he’s not listed on a website. ”

    Such lists lead to vigilantism. People get their property vandalised, get death threats, etc. etc..
    Many have to change their name and appearance, move to other cities/states/countries and live there under false names, hoping they’re not found out.
    And that even after they’re taken off the official lists, as there are scores of unofficial lists run by “pedophile hunter groups” where you’re on for life just on a rumour (no police action needed, many of those guys just assume anyone reported to them must be guilty or there’d have been no people reporting them).

    “He went totally public with his (relatively benign) story and has earned largely sympathy especially from people who offered him jobs.”

    in reality he’d not be believed, he’d be hunted down and destroyed by people thinking and screaming that “he’s making up a story to make himself look innocent so he must be guilty”.

    ” “I was fine to drive.” Not sure which point you’re trying to protect here.”

    there was no intent. Intent is supposed to be required for any criminal conviction.

  44. Donna July 16, 2014 at 4:19 pm #

    “Intent is supposed to be required for any criminal conviction.”

    The intent required for most criminal convictions is just the intent to commit the act that is a crime. There is no requirement that you intended to break the law or had knowledge that your actions were against the law. Here, the only intent required is the intent to have sex with the person that you had sex with.

    For most crimes you have the defense of mistake of fact. That means that if you can show a legitimate mistaken belief about a fact, and if things were as you believed them to be, no crime would have occurred, then you are not guilty of a crime. For example, if I take your bike truly believing it to be my bike, then I haven’t committed a bike theft.

    Mistake of fact as to the age of the victim is not available as a defense to stat rape. It should be, but it isn’t.

  45. M. July 16, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

    So…we’re supposed to ID all potential sex partners now? What even? If someone tells you they’re 18, or even if they lead you to believe they are (like being in a bar or claiming they’re in college), that should be enough to protect someone from prosecution. It’s utterly absurd to think that people should be responsible for confirming the age of a potential partner.

  46. Laurambp July 16, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

    If my grandparents would have gotten married today instead of 1948, my grandfather would have been considered a sex offender. She was 16 (two months shy of 17) and he was 30. They were happily married for 60 years (three weeks shy of 61).

    What changed in our society that made 18 this magical line you can’t cross more than 2 years? Why are teenagers treated like children that can’t make their own decisions about sex and men?

  47. marie July 16, 2014 at 5:39 pm #

    If my grandparents would have gotten married today instead of 1948, my grandfather would have been considered a sex offender. She was 16 (two months shy of 17) and he was 30. They were happily married for 60 years (three weeks shy of 61).

    It isn’t the dating that is illegal; it is the sex. Your grandparents probably dated without the sex. Not that I know for sure, of course. The big difference is that society cannot conceive of couples dating without sex. So, today, if your grandparents dated without sex, he would be called a pervert for dating a “child” anyway.

    Congratulations on having such a fine example of marriage in your family!

  48. Papilio July 16, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

    All in all you don’t have much choice if you’re an American 15-year-old girl who actually wants to have sex, do you? It’s either a boy your own age (those babies…) or forced abstinence. Or a fake ID and some spy-worthy lying skills.

  49. Yocheved July 16, 2014 at 5:51 pm #

    The whole sex offender registry is a joke. I live two blocks away from a halfway house for level 3 sex offenders. My daughter has to walk past that house to get to school. Next door to the halfway house is a family with 6 kids. The house next to them has 10 kids, and 2 grandkids. The house right around the corner has 5 kids, and another one has 3 kids.

    How is the registry or the “housing restrictions” keeping offenders away from kids???

  50. BL July 16, 2014 at 6:00 pm #

    @Papilio
    “It’s either a boy your own age ”

    They can both be charged with statutory rape of each other. It’s happened.

  51. Hans July 16, 2014 at 6:05 pm #

    That’s a depressing story. In the country where I live, consensual sex between a 15 and a 20 year old is perfectly legal. It would only be illegal, if the 20 year old would be her teacher, doctor, lawyer, priest, public servant or anyone taking advantage of his authority over her.

    The consensus among society over here is that the parents themselves should teach their children appropriately how to behave and when and how to say “no”.

  52. Reziac July 16, 2014 at 10:02 pm #

    I read the paper. In particular Table 5 is interesting, where a correlation is shown between sex offenders and general crime committed by same. It looks to me like either 1) people who commit sex crimes are more likely to commit other crimes (probably true for the actual violent offenses, but not for consensual statutory offenses) or 2) people who are ‘sex offenders’ wind up committing more crime because their lives are screwed in general.

  53. J.T. Wenting July 16, 2014 at 10:56 pm #

    “The intent required for most criminal convictions is just the intent to commit the act that is a crime. There is no requirement that you intended to break the law or had knowledge that your actions were against the law. Here, the only intent required is the intent to have sex with the person that you had sex with. ”

    yes, which is absurd. It should be (and in any just justice system it would be) that you had the intent to have sex with a minor.
    But it isn’t. Police can (and do) set up sting operations where they send a minor to have sex with people, telling them they’re 18 or 19, even carrying false ID, and then busting in to “stop the crime”.

  54. J.T. Wenting July 16, 2014 at 10:59 pm #

    “What changed in our society that made 18 this magical line you can’t cross more than 2 years? Why are teenagers treated like children that can’t make their own decisions about sex and men?”

    Redefinition of what constitutes a person who can make his/her own decisions.
    And oh, there’s no “2 years” in there. If he were 18 years old and 1 day now and she 18 years old minus 1 day he’d be a pedophile…
    And there’s talk of raising that to 21, even 25 I believe, in some places.

  55. J.T. Wenting July 16, 2014 at 11:04 pm #

    @Reziac most likely mostly #2. You end up on the register for life for kissing your 16 year old girlfriend on your own 18th birthday, you now are pretty much screwed for life when it comes to finding decent housing, a decent job, and a lot of people will harass and persecute you where ever you go.
    So you tend to drift towards crime to make ends meet, probably end up on the street or in run down neighbourhoods where crime is rampant. One thing leads to another and soon you’re a career criminal.
    Of course the first thing you’ll end up doing is fleeing town which is a crime for you as you’re supposed to report to parole officers every few days for years (maybe for life) so they can keep track of you to make sure you’re not walking past a school on the way to the supermarket…

  56. trekatch July 17, 2014 at 12:25 am #

    Similar to what my son went through. Girl listed as 18 in her nonlinear dating profile(he was 19). Dated, had sex, she told I’m she was 16, he stops seeing her, dad turns him in….she was really 14. Texas small town we live in has requirement that he not go “within 1000 feet of anywhere children may gather” that includes driving by one to get to work, store, probation office which was built halfway between two daycares. Every offender violates the law just to report to probation! He is on the list for life.

  57. Nora July 17, 2014 at 1:22 am #

    Yeah – I think this is a case of purposeful ignorance. A 5 year age gap is huge at those ages. There’s no way the age difference was lost on him. I think he should have been punished. Maybe not for life since the girl wasn’t pre-pubescent.

  58. Margot July 17, 2014 at 6:22 am #

    @Nora. I can’t agree. My 11 year old daughter looks about 14. Heaven forbid when she’s only 15 and looks about 19. There may be a reasonable difference between a 15 year old and a 20 year old who look and behave in age appropriate ways, but take a mature 15 year old and an immature 20 year old and there’s not a lot in it.
    These are complex matters and require complex and flexible approaches. The more salient issue than age of consent is age and stage of development relative to the other party.

  59. E July 17, 2014 at 9:22 am #

    @Nora – that’s complete BS. Of course someone can pass for a lot older.

    Just this week I was standing in a checkout line behind a woman and her son. The cashier was making small talk with them and there was discussion of where he was headed. He listed a nearby (prestigious) University. The cashier complimented him for getting accepted there and then he and his Mom started laughing. He was headed there for a Football camp as he was entering High School (a rising freshman). Even I took a double take because this kids was SO tall and looked NOTHING like a high school freshman.

    There is no doubt in my mind that the same could be said about some female freshman. If the story is as we’ve been told, the family KNEW she could pass for older and that’s why they took the angle they did — to exploit if for their own goals.

  60. Donna July 17, 2014 at 9:51 am #

    “It looks to me like either 1) people who commit sex crimes are more likely to commit other crimes (probably true for the actual violent offenses, but not for consensual statutory offenses) or 2) people who are ‘sex offenders’ wind up committing more crime because their lives are screwed in general.”

    The vast majority of convicted sex offenders are no different than the vast majority of other criminals. They are poor, uneducated, from dysfunctional families, often mentally ill and/or addicted. This goes for statutory as well as violent offenses. This entire group has a very high rate of criminality and an extremely high rate of recidivism. There are many reasons for that that have absolutely nothing to do with the nature of the crime.

    Some of the other crimes that sex offenders commit are directly related to being sex offenders. In fact, an entire new crime has been created that pertains only to them – violating registration laws. Add in the high rate of umemployment and the high rate of homelessness among sex offenders and they are well placed to commit additional crimes just in existing.

  61. Donna July 17, 2014 at 9:58 am #

    “And oh, there’s no “2 years” in there. If he were 18 years old and 1 day now and she 18 years old minus 1 day he’d be a pedophile…”

    That is not true. Consent laws vary greatly from state to state, but none are this stringent.

  62. jimc5499 July 17, 2014 at 10:08 am #

    Has anybody noticed that apparently only men can be a “sex offender”? My sister does computer forensics for a county District Attorney’s office. She didn’t mention specifics but, a few years ago they prosecuted a man for having sex with his 17 year old girl friend and for having child pornography. This is where it gets strange. A married couple takes their computer to have a virus removed. The tech finds a video of a young couple having sex and turns it over to the police as child pornography. When the police investigate, they find out that it was the married couple in the video and it was taken when they BOTH were 17. Only the man was prosecuted and he ended up with five years probation and posted on the offender’s list.

    The office where my sister works is responsible for maintaining and updating the list for their area. When an “offender” notifies them that “he” has moved into the area, the list is updated immediately. when an “offender” notifies them that “he” is leaving the area, he is kept on the list for at least six months after “he” has moved. The reason for this is GRANT MONEY. There is a person in that office, who’s entire job is to apply for grants from the Federal and State governments, as well as from private foundations. These grants can be for DUI checkpoints, sex predator lists and stings, cyber bullying and other things.

    Keeping as many people on the predator list as possible makes it easier to get this grant money. The people who administer these grants never double check the information they are given. Last year a Foundation that I’m not going to name (think ketchup) gave several million dollars of these grants, including $500,000 to the office my sister works in.

    Keeping the list numbers high also helps out those “low hanging fruit picking politicians”. The last election, one of them claimed that the county had over 500 sexual predators, when there was actually less than 200.

  63. Papilio July 17, 2014 at 10:41 am #

    “The tech finds a video of a young couple having sex and turns it over to the police as child pornography. When the police investigate, they find out that it was the married couple in the video and it was taken when they BOTH were 17. Only the man was prosecuted and he ended up with five years probation and posted on the offender’s list.”

    ““It’s either a boy your own age ”
    They can both be charged with statutory rape of each other. It’s happened.”

    Of COURSE…!!!! If you see a chance to get a minor behind bars and on the SOR for life, why the heck not take it… It’s the Land of the Free after all :(

  64. no rest for the weary July 17, 2014 at 4:54 pm #

    Definitely agree that males are disproportionately punished in cases where mutual sexting, nude photos, and consensual sex are concerned.

    How many cases are there of a 15-year-old boy having sex with an 18-year-old woman? Probably lots. Or an 18-year-old girl having sex with a 16-year-old boy, or a 23-year-old woman having sex with a 17-year-old boy.

    And how many get reported? Oh, probably next to none. And why is that?

    Could it be we have an incredibly archaic way of thinking about sexuality? We think boys who have sex with “older women” are “lucky” and we think that girls who have sex with older men are “victims.”

    But I would hazard that there are plenty of cases where the boys were actual victims, and the girls considered themselves “lucky.” It’s just that boys would NEVER admit to being coerced, and girls are “guarded” by hysterical parents who turn their boyfriends into the police if they don’t like the fact that their daughter is sexually active.

    Who ends up on the registries? Males. Do you think an older sister ever touched her younger brother’s penis? I do. But they don’t typically end up getting sent up the river for it, because our culture is biased toward punishing males for being sexual and denying that females are sexual at all.

  65. Terrador July 18, 2014 at 3:13 pm #

    I think most of these comments are missing the reason that these laws exist. The risks of sex are NOT equal for a man and a woman. What kind of life do you think a 14 year old girl faces if she gets pregnant? Is she mature enough to understand that risk? It doesn’t matter if she is an honor student or the best athlete her school has ever seen. If she gets pregnant, dreams of college and the Olympics are usually gone forever. I cannot understand how so many of you say that a man’s life could be RUINED because he slept with a teenage girl without realizing that the girl faces that risk as well. There is no reason that society should not create laws that make a man scared to sleep with a woman that he doesn’t even know. Do you think women can sleep with a man they do not know without fearing consequences? A 20 year old man who marries a 15 year old is not a pedophile, but a 20 year old man that would casually risk the future of a 15 year old girl for a night of fun does deserve the label of sexual predator imo. The reason there are statutory rape laws is to allow a girl to at least finish high school without getting pregnant by discouraging men from sleeping with her.

  66. SOA July 18, 2014 at 8:23 pm #

    I would rather my kids get no loving than have their lives ruined for a consensual sexual encounter. I don’t care if they have sex before 18 as long as they use protection and don’t get any STDs or get anyone pregnant. But I don’t want their lives ruined because some girl lied about her age.

    It is insane that a man could go to jail when it was a girl showing a fake ID. Then what is the solution exactly? No one have sex ever I guess?!

    I had consensual sex at 15 with an 18 year old. I knew exactly what I was doing. I wanted it. I consented. I was not taken advantage of. It is an insult to feminism to act like women even young women cannot know what they want and know their own bodies and be in charge of their own bodies.

  67. Donna July 18, 2014 at 8:57 pm #

    @Terrador – ummmm, do you really not understand basic human physiology enough to know that a 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 year old boy can impregnate a girl? There is absolutely no pregnancy-related reason to make sex suddenly become illegal at age 18 when the male has been able to impregnate his female partner for the 5-6 years prior. To the contrary, if a 14 year old girl is going to get pregnant, it would probably be better if it was by an over-18 year old male who could at least get a job and help support the child, unlike your average 14 year old guy.

  68. SOA July 18, 2014 at 10:41 pm #

    This country has a deep issue going on where women have all the power and its wrong. Women get to decide if the baby is aborted, born and raised or adopted. The men get little to no say about this. Women can say they are raped and are automatically believed even in cases where it did not happen. Regret sex does not equal rape.

    Women can sleep with young men and get away with it, but if a man does the same he ends up in jail.

    Women can rape men and get away with it. I know a guy who was attempted raped by a woman. But he did not bother to report it because no one would have believed him or cared about him.

    I really worry about the future for my sons. I feel like everything is stacked against them and I fear that one moment of lust could ruin their whole lives even if it was a consensual act with a girlfriend they loved. It is shameful.

  69. no rest for the weary July 19, 2014 at 2:16 am #

    Terrador: There are lots of effective ways to prevent pregnancy, but criminalizing consensual sex is not one of them.

  70. Amanda Matthews July 20, 2014 at 11:40 am #

    “and do what my friend did and give a fake name when he randomly hooked up with girls. I mean really it has come to that.
    No, that is in no way any kind of crime and he does not belong on the registry.”

    That’s just as bad as lying about age in my book. Either way you are using a lie to get someone to have sex with you. And what if the birth control fails and the woman needs to get in contact with him?

    “a 20 y/o man slept with a 15 y/o girl. That’s illegal for a reason”

    Yeah, you’re right… we should be fighting the ridiculousness that a 20 y/o sleeping with a 15 y/o is illegal in the first place! They are closer in age than my husband and I!

  71. Suzanne July 21, 2014 at 11:24 pm #

    Well, I guess my father could have been on this list if it existed in the late 50’s. When he met my mother he was 21 and she was 17, but he didn’t know it. He thought she was older; he didn’t think to ask and she didn’t think to make note of it. They have been happily married for 54 years.

  72. Warren July 22, 2014 at 10:45 am #

    Let’s face it, the same old standards still apply today, despite so called equality.

    If a 25 yr old women was to have sex with a 16-17 yr old male, the boy is seen as a stud or really lucky.

    Reverse the genders and the teenage girl is a rape victim.

  73. Meklorka July 27, 2014 at 6:34 am #

    I’ll be quite honest – while I am sure that some of the stories of people being falsely accused/tricked/put on a registry unfairly are true examples of an unjust legal system, I know many more offenders who have never been caught or charged, and I really fear stories like this ultimately send the wrong message or push us in the direction of less accountability, when we need more (but in a different form). Child sex abuse, especially when the victims are young men, is under reported, not taken seriously, not prosecuted, etc. This is even the case when its with female victims oftentimes. Honestly, I have been in some situations where I was not sure if my prospective partner was 18 – so I asked to see some ID. Why not? If we can card for alcohol and for porn, why not for sex? To me I hear a lot of stories like this, and while some are true, there are a lot of honest to gods sex offenders who use the same stories to try to undermine the system or gain sympathy. I should know, I was once engaged to one. I am not making any statement on the truthfulness of this story, but the 15 year old was a victim too it sounds like – clearly from the story she was put up to this by family members who should have been protecting her.