Shawna had consensual sex on her 19th birthday with a 14 year old boy. For this she is on the Sex Offender Registry for life and is not allowed on playgrounds.

Why This Mom Can’t Go to the Playground With Her Kids

In this 9-minute video  you’ll meet Shawna, an Oklahoma mom not allowed to play with her kids on the playground because of a “sex offense” she committed at age 19: She had consensual sex with a boy, 14. That was 15 years ago. She is on the registry for life, and registrants are banned from playgrounds.

This short was made by David Feige, a public defender and documentarian. Below it I have excerpted some of what he wrote about Shawna and another “offender” you’d probably be proud to have as your son. Don’t read it if you can’t stand feeling rage at the way we have taken the decent, human desire to protect our kids and twisted it to justify sadism.

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Feige met Shawn at a group therapy session for sex offenders he was attending to gather information for his documentary, Untouchable. As he writes at The Marshall Project:

Listening to Shawna’s story, it became immediately clear that she was far from the kind of person we imagine when we think about sexual predators. She wasn’t some serial rapist or violent pedophile, but rather a young woman who happened to hook up with the wrong guy on her birthday. And as we continued to work on the film, we consistently found others consigned to the margins of society and slapped with a “sex offender” label that didn’t quite seem to fit.

In a desolate parking lot a few months later, I met Adrian. And while his story ultimately didn’t become part of the film, it stuck with me. Adrian was a junior at North Dakota State majoring in business management, when he travelled to Miami for spring break. There, he met a girl at an 18-and-over club. They flirted and danced, then walked to the beach where they had sex. They spent about five days together, hanging out on and off and occasionally hooking up.

Adrian returned to college after the trip and all seemed well, until seven months later when he got a call from a detective with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. As it turns out, the girl had used a fake ID to get into the club. She was actually 15 years old at the time. Her mom filed a complaint when she found out what had happened.

Asked to return to Miami to answer some questions, Adrian took a bus back to Florida. He explained to the detective that everything was consensual, and that he’d assumed the girl must have been 18 or older since she was in the club. Officers recorded his statement, thanked him for his co-operation, handcuffed him and placed him under arrest. Unable to post the $40,000 bond set by a judge, Adrian remained in jail for nearly eight months. It was the first and only time he’d ever been arrested.

In Florida, as in most other states, the fact that the girl was a willing participant was not a defense. Having admitted to the affair and facing some twenty years in prison, Adrian had no choice but to plead guilty to four counts of lewd and lascivious battery of a person under 16. That guilty plea guaranteed he’d spend the rest of his life listed on Florida’s sex offender registry.

Is there any silver lining to these cases? Some evidence that our sex offender laws are at least making children safer?

Study after study has shown that our sex offender registries are utterly ineffective at reducing sexual violence, and that public notification about sex offenders may actually increase recidivism by making reintegration into society nearly impossible. But what Adrian and Shawna’s stories highlight is a more general problem with our approach to sex offenders: In our zeal to protect children and get tough on crime, we have allowed our criminal justice system to run amok — expanding categories and exacting punishments that upon closer inspection few of us would really condone.

Five years after his guilty plea, Adrian had been rejected from more jobs than he could count. Unable to find housing that complied with a Miami ordinance that prevents registrants from living within 2,500 feet of any public or private school, daycare center or playground, Adrian was was forced into homelessness. He slept in a car parked in a lot — one of the few places sex offenders are actually allowed to reside. His college career was over, as was any hope he ever harbored of having a productive life. Then, two years ago, almost a decade after his conviction, Adrian failed to properly register his whereabouts with the police. As a result, he was sentenced to three years in prison.

There are more than 800,000 Americans who are now required to register as sex offenders. And contrary to popular belief, violent serial pedophiles do not fill the ranks of the registered. Rather, a wide swath of sexual thoughts and actions can lead to the lifetime of stigmatization that being on the sex offender registry entails.

Read the rest here. As for what we can do to turn our country away from ineffective, cruel punishment toward policies that actually make kids safer?

My suggestion for today is: Share this video. – L

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Shawna had consensual sex on her 19th birthday with a boy, 14. For this she is on the Sex Offender Registry for life and not allowed on playgrounds.

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30 Responses to Why This Mom Can’t Go to the Playground With Her Kids

  1. Theresa Hall September 19, 2017 at 10:30 am #

    Sorry but the guy who fell for the old I’m older than I’m actually am trick is never going to be a bad guy in my mind no matter how much the law says they are. If we’re going to punish someone it should be the big fat liar.

  2. Shawn D. September 19, 2017 at 12:44 pm #

    Horrible. Ruining folks’ lives for no effective gain for society.

  3. John B. September 19, 2017 at 12:59 pm #

    I think in SOME states age misjudgment, or however you term it, is allowed as a defense but it most states, it’s not. My nephew’s friend was 6 feet tall when he was 14 and had facial hair and even hair on his chest. He was also on the football and wrestling team and looked like he was > 21! He could have easily snuck into a fraternity party at the local college where he could have met a 19-year-old college girl and took her back to her dorm room to have sex with. Fortunately he was a good kid and never even thought of doing anything sinister like that.

    But there are cases like that and if the state does not take into account minors who obviously look 10 years older than they really are, these conniving kids can ruin a person’s life forever and then they’re treated like poor abused victims. When I hear of cases like that, it makes me want to throw-up!

    The sad part is, in the case of Shawna having “consensual sex on her 19th birthday with a boy, 14” the law does not consider sex with a 14-year-old as being “consensual”. Even thought the boy willingly and fully participated in the act, the law says he didn’t consent because he was too young to consent. With that being the case, Shawna technically forced him to have sex with her and therefore, “raped” him.

    Certainly NOT even close to being indicative of the real life event!

  4. Andrew September 19, 2017 at 1:26 pm #

    It is very simple. The sentence should fit the crime.

    These disproportionate life-long restrictions ruin lives for no discernible benefit.

    They amount to cruel and unusual punishment.

  5. Railmeat September 19, 2017 at 1:46 pm #

    The increasing number for for profit prisons might have *something* to do with this.

    Not everything of course, but legislators beholden ONLY to those that fund their campaigns, have no incentive to change these ridiculous laws, but every incentive to keep them in place, when such laws benefit for profit prisons and their lobbyists.

  6. Workshop September 19, 2017 at 2:21 pm #

    These laws don’t benefit prisons, as the people are impacted after their sentence (if any) has been served.

    However, politicians benefit enormously by being “tough on crime” and “for the children” in one fell swoop.

    And politicians of any party who defend people like Shawna are easily attacked by their political opponents.

  7. elizabeth September 19, 2017 at 2:21 pm #

    This sickens me. Statutory rape laws were meant to protect people (not just kids) coerced into sex. For grades, food, shelter, and many other favors. Theyve been bastardized to mean any adult who has sex with a willing participant under the age of consent, whether they realized it or not. Ugh.

  8. David N. Brown September 19, 2017 at 2:32 pm #

    The flip side to this is that various parties have complained for years that female offenders are both underreported and lightly treated when caught. It’s my understanding that virtually all such crimes lack a violent element, except where the female is directed by a dominant male.

    As for Adrian’ s case, it would be worthwhile to lay down more penalties for bars and clubs that fail to screen out minors. It would be particularly amusing to see how much they might improve their procedures under motivation.

  9. JKP September 19, 2017 at 2:39 pm #

    One thing that jumped out at me in the video is that she was drunk and her “victim” actually worried whether she was too drunk to consent and whether he was taking advantage of her. So basically, if he had been a couple years older, he would have been the one on the sex offender registry because she was too drunk to consent.

  10. Railmeat September 19, 2017 at 3:16 pm #

    Workshop writes:

    “These laws don’t benefit prisons . . . ”

    Sure they do. Everyone on that list, all 800,000, are one typographical error on a registration form from being sent *back* to prison.

    Just like the poor SOB ‘Adrian’ in the story Lenore related above.

    Follow the money. Always follow the money.

  11. Lizanne September 19, 2017 at 3:34 pm #

    “As for Adrian’ s case, it would be worthwhile to lay down more penalties for bars and clubs that fail to screen out minors. It would be particularly amusing to see how much they might improve their procedures under motivation.”

    I don’t think even more penalties for bars and clubs is the answer. Maybe we should lay down more penalties for people who lie about their age. That seems to be a common thread in a lot of these stories.

    As Theresa Hall said, let’s punish the big fat liars.

  12. Emily Gaudreau September 19, 2017 at 3:58 pm #

    I will share this for sure! I know a woman that got caught skinny dipping at night by herself and is now on the sex offenders list. I’m creating a course for parents to help protect them against sex abuse, bullying and how to instill cyber ethics. This will be a perfect into the sex abuse section!

  13. Theresa Hall September 19, 2017 at 4:13 pm #

    Teens are not helpless little kids when it comes to sex. They aren’t small children who in a lot ways are figuring out this world we live in. No matter how much people hate that their kids are hooking up the fact is most teens are doing it and we don’t need law involved in the first place most of the time.

  14. Dienne September 19, 2017 at 4:29 pm #

    Teens are not helpless little kids when it comes to having consensual sex with other teens or very young adults. But when it comes to older adults, especially those in a position of power such as teacher, coach or pastor, there is very definitely a power differential and they can be very nearly helpless, or at least way too easily coerced. I don’t think a 22 year old having sex with a 15 year old should be on the registry, but a 32 year old? Yes.

  15. Theresa Hall September 19, 2017 at 4:51 pm #

    Well no one should coerce anyone into having sex with them no matter the age or the job. In my opinion if you coerces someone into sex then it’s rape.

  16. Eric S September 19, 2017 at 5:15 pm #

    Blanket laws, blanket punishment. These laws are open to interpretation. And pray you never get a sanctimonious judge or jury. And as someone mentioned, the one that lied to other person should be the one charged. This will keep minors from doing stupid things like the one in the story. As well, establishments that allowed the minor in a place that requires them to be 21 or older, should be charged as well. Like accessory to the “crime”. C’mon, if they are going to make stupid charges, they must as well go all out and charge everyone involved. Including the minor’s parents. You know, for not keeping an eye out for what their kid is doing. “Bad parents” and all. Many “bad parents” getting charged and jailed.

    My understanding, the LAW/Justice is blind. It doesn’t pick and choose. But then again, the law is enforced by people. Who can be corrupted, manipulated, and bribed. Making the law a joke.

  17. Workshop September 19, 2017 at 5:25 pm #

    Rainmeat, the prisons don’t really benefit from this as much as politicians.

    Following the money is often the case, but here it’s more of a case of “cui bono?” Power, specifically the type that comes with elected office, moreso than money.

    Many politicians are dedicated public servants. Despite me not agreeing with most of them, they don’t usually have nefarious motives. They most likely truely believe that these laws are “Good”^TM. And if the laws are Good, even though a few people get hurt by them, is it worth it to me to sacrifice my powerful position to take a moral stand? Probably not.

    Real life isn’t the movies. Just as the kidnapping plots don’t happen, neither do the evil politicians beholden only to their donors. Politicians care far more about being elected.

  18. Donald September 19, 2017 at 5:42 pm #

    This is an extract from my blog. In it, I explain how bureaucracy has become similar to that of Godzilla attacking Tokyo! It’s extremely powerful and has very little intelligence.

    http://www.psychologyinpictures.com/bureaucracy

    This is a scathing attack on bureaucracy while at the same time it’s standing up for bureaucrats.

    Q. How can you be on both sides?

    A. I’m not. I’m highlighting the concept of a third side. A bureaucracy is like a ship. The bigger the bureaucracy, the bigger the ship AND THE MORE LIKELY THAT IT HAS NO CAPTAIN! This is the third side. I want to show that the system has taken on a life form of its own. Many bureaucrats have little or no power. They can only follow procedures or get fired.  (even jailed!)

    Many bureaucrats are only the crew members without a captain! The ‘enemy’ is its own growth that spreads uncontrollably like a noxious weed! The bureaucrats themselves have lost control and became slaves to their own creation! Regulations and procedures rule the roost. If they encounter any circumstance that isn’t covered under the procedures, they find themselves ‘stuck’. That’s because their authority to use judgment has been greatly undermined!

  19. AmyP September 20, 2017 at 9:41 am #

    What really irks me about this whole thing is that for every store you find like these, you can find a story where somebody that’s really commit an awful sex crime get a slap on the wrist. I was molested for years as a child and know many others and the range of consequences has been so widespread. Some people get probation. Some people get life in prison. I guess the problem is that there’s a lot of factors when it comes to sex crimes so therefore a lot of discretion, but we have to do better. Regardless, even if somebody is a violent rapist the registry accomplishes nothing. We would be better off just putting those people in prison where they belong instead of a stupid list. And let’s not group people who accidentally have sex with minors or pee on the side of the road with people that molest children on a daily basis or forcefully rape people. Yes people that work in a school setting and coerce young girls and boys should not work in those settings anymore, but after they serve their sentence their criminal record should suffice in preventing them from that type of employment. We don’t need a registry for that.

  20. Theresa Hall September 20, 2017 at 10:29 am #

    Yeah you got a great point Amy but have you ever found the government to sensible. Some these laws probably started meaning well but you can’t regulate common sense so of course when you try to it goes crazy.

  21. David N. Brown September 20, 2017 at 12:24 pm #

    @AmyP: I have given thought to the idea of a registry for offenders actually diagnosed w/ pedophilia or other mental disorders that could contribute to recidivism. Confidentiality rules would probably limit access to such a list to police and clinical professionals only. Registration could also include express instructions for police to notify family, a guardian or a doctor if the subject is questioned or arrested, which would be enough of an upside that quite a few might register voluntarily.

  22. Red September 20, 2017 at 12:24 pm #

    @AmyP: What you find about many of these stories is that because the person actually participated with police–admitting to the sexual contact–they end up with NO ROOM to bargain for a lesser charge or lesser sentence. Whereas the people who have truly done wrong know to lie to police.

    One of the better lessons here is: DO NOT voluntarily cooperate with police until you have first interacted with legal representation. Keep your mouth shut.

  23. Mya Greene September 20, 2017 at 12:31 pm #

    Red, this is tough. The range acceptable ways of invoking Miranda rights has narrowed significantly, and most suspects have no idea how to properly invoke their right to silence+public defender. The instinct is to politely make a request, when what’s needed for the police to get the point is a direct demand.
    Additionally, police will often try to twist anything except express denial into being considered a confession, and will spend hours wearing the suspect down until they speak.
    I think we need more awareness of our rights, and more reasonable ways for invoking them.

  24. AmyP September 20, 2017 at 12:59 pm #

    I’ve thought about it and this is obviously just speculation but it may have to do with how we treat the topic of sex here in the United States. You have those that don’t believe (even subconsciously) that sex crimes are a big deal or have a warped idea of what consent is, or don’t take crimes against women and children seriously (of course it happens to men too but those not taken seriously for different reasons). On the other end of the spectrum you have the “all sex and nudity is bad,” people. And I’m not saying these are always conscious biases, but they are there under the surface. This would translate in the wide range of sentencing. There’s progress, but it seems to me in some ways the topic of sex is taboo compared to other places. Hopefully we can one day be a place that starts the topic of sex and consent early and honestly with our youth where there won’t be such a wide spectrum. I know there are lots of other things going on, but just some thoughts i had.

  25. Railmeat September 20, 2017 at 5:03 pm #

    Hi Workshop:

    You wrote: “Politicians care far more about being elected.”

    And you are quite correct. But that doesn’t happen without the funds provided by those that select the agenda said politicians must follow, lest they endanger the funding stream.

    For profit prisons are hardly at the top of that list, but they are there. A ways down the list perhaps, but they’re there. And voting to keep laws such as these in place is part of the transaction. All the rest is posturing, self justification, and self deception. No conspiracy required.

  26. Nicole R. September 21, 2017 at 10:13 am #

    This is all so sad. I really think there needs to be a determination of dangerousness to put someone on these registries! There is a HUGE difference between having consensual sex with someone near your own age (or whom you believe to be so) and jumping out of bushes raping random children. This woman is not a danger to anyone!

    I would definitely vote for candidates who wanted to fix this mess, but I think they’re scared to campaign that they WILL work to fix it. What are the realistic actions people can take now?

  27. K September 21, 2017 at 10:51 am #

    It feels like there HAS to be some way to hold underage minors accountable when their lies leave people like Adrian in this situation. Can someone be sued for misleading another person? Could the adult press charges for rape himself, because he didn’t consent to having sex with a 15-year-old?

  28. Berlinmom September 21, 2017 at 3:56 pm #

    What really strikes me about Shawn’s and Adrian’s story is that in Germany they probably would’nt be guilty of committing any sex offense at all (even though in the article I couldn’t find Adrian’s exact age when he had sex with the girl). German laws are much more aimed at giving the teenagers responsibility for their sex life so sex with minors is not per se a crime, it depends very much on the circumstances, unless the teenagers are 13 or younger (then it’s always considered sexual abuse). So I really do think that it has a lot to do with sex still being a taboo in the US. Those who have ever spent some time at some of the beaches in eastern Germany where you often are in the minority if you are wearing any fabric on your body can only laugh at stories where people get on the sex offender’s registry for skinny dipping.

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  30. Dingbat September 24, 2017 at 1:39 pm #

    AmyP

    Just take a look at the mess on college campuses (I’ve been following since 2008). I’m not sure how people are supposed to know what Consent or sexual coercion is when colleges do not even begin to use sane, standard, legal/non right violating definitions in their policies or discussions on the matter.

    Affirmative Consent was mocked by the liberal masses in 1991 (hammered by SNL) as it should have been because it has caused all the confusion and wrongful persecution people said it would, and then some.Colleges continued to enforce it on students until it eventually seemed normal to portions of a generation. No one can even agree on standard definitions and students are more confused on the matter than ever.

    These policies have a habit of filtering down to primary education.

    Lawyers continuously call out colleges for vague, overly broad policies that trample rights, persecute protected speech and innocuous action that does nothing more than hurt a students feelings.

    You’ll find variations of Blurred Lines lyrics listed as examples of sexual coercion in college policies. Someone saying, “I/you know you want it” is listed as an example of using blackmail and/or non physical force to obtain sex. A male student telling a female student he does not want to be in a sexless relationship, something every adult has the right to do (make your intentions clear), is listed an example sexual coercion. The number of students that have been charged with this overreaching, persecutory form of non coercion is obscene. At many universities coercion negates consent so students are charged with rape for hurting your feelings or saying something you don’t want to hear.

    Women used to be aware that there was a risk involved with relationships. If a guy tells you he does not want to be in a sexless relationship, you think it over. If you decide you want to stay with him, have sex with him and it doesn’t work out… that’s not rape. That’s not coercion. It’s insulting to victims of rape and coercion to pretend it is. You have/had a choice, you made it, there were no guarantees and it didn’t work out. Put on your big girl pants and learn your lesson.

    Bad sex and bad descions have been redefined as rape.

    I will agree it can be odd mix. Again, looking at the mess on campuses… if you spend time reading over the 50+ cases (so far) where colleges have been ruled against for violating the (often falsely) accused students due process rights … it’s a mess! College Kangaroo Courts have watered down every serious crime, charged, expelled and blackballed falsely accused male students who were actually raped by their accuser (confirmed by text messages not allowed to be shown in KC) and at the same time they have talked female students set on fire by their boyfriends, on camera, into not going to the police and handling the case in house.

    It’s the odd mix of hyper puritanical sex is bad attitudes + the watering down serious crimes to an absurd. + taking the watered down crime to insane/hysteria driven extreme
    and not taking confirmed serious crimes seriously at all.