Sexual Privilege...who Pays Depends on Gender and Economic Status

A former Oregon Governor admitted to sexually abusing a teenaged neighbor of his for at least a year, while he was mayor of Portland in the 1970s.  The victim died at age 49 a few years ago, after a history of substance abuse and mental illness.

No criminal charges derived from these actions. The lesson? If you’re a powerful male, you can afford the best defense and the criminal justice system will mostly look the other way.

Newer strategies of sex offender treatment begin with the idea that people can only learn and change in a trusted environment. So groups are often arranged in a circle, rather than rows of desks. Trust is built by eliminating the artificial boundary of “us and them”. The “expert” is more of a facilitator. Students are seen as real people, not their criminal record. 

The Value of Peer-to-Peer Treatment

Without peer support in the community, those with fragile mental health and sobriety issues may quickly find themselves back in desperate straits, and another trip to the emergency room, the hospital psyche ward, or jail.

Thankfully, there is an increasing acknowledgement about the value of peer support that is less about diagnosis, medication and hospitalization. Unfortunately, there are too few of them to serve the growing population in need. But here’s a glimpse at the model.

Supreme Court Reverses Sex Offender Conviction because of Racial Bias in Trial

Racial bias is “a familiar and recurring evil” in the criminal justice system, said a US Supreme Court majority last month.

One of the jurors in the Colorado case was a former law enforcement officer who, during jury deliberations, uttered a number of statements indicating his bias."…blatant racial prejudice is antithetical to the functioning of the jury system and must be confronted," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote.

Incest is usually a family matter, with the victims sexually abused by a family member or person close to the family. It is one of the most common, and least reported crime.

Victims of incest often shoulder the blame, shame and trauma for years, maybe decades, after the assault. Reporting it, and finding treatment both for the victim and the offender are very important. Reporting it is the only way in which we can break the cycle so prevalent in our culture.

Who Are the Offenders?

Offenders are a lot like you or me. They span all age groups, gender identification and religious preference. Some are wealthy and others poor. Some are intellectually and/or developmentally disabled. 

In the U.S., the majority of sex offenders are white men. That doesn’t mean that there are none from other backgrounds and cultures. The thing they have in common: all of them make mistakes. Most of those I’ve worked with regret their actions and make needed behavioral changes.