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The Court and Juvenile Sex Offenders. Tom C. Rawlings Director, Office of the Child Advocate State of Georgia Unruly schoolboys or sex offenders?. Sunday, July 22, 2007 SUSAN GOLDSMITH The Oregonian Staff

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the court and juvenile sex offenders

The Court and Juvenile Sex Offenders

Tom C. Rawlings

Director, Office of the Child Advocate

State of Georgia

unruly schoolboys or sex offenders
Unruly schoolboys or sex offenders?

Sunday, July 22, 2007


The Oregonian Staff

The two boys tore down the hall of Patton Middle School after lunch, swatting the bottoms of girls as they ran -- what some kids later said was a common form of greeting.

But bottom-slapping is against policy in McMinnville Public Schools. So a teacher's aide sent the gawky seventh-graders to the office, where the vice principal and a police officer stationed at the school soon interrogated them.

After hours of interviews with students the day of the February incident, the officer read the boys their Miranda rights and hauled them off in handcuffs to juvenile jail, where they spent the next five days.

Now, Cory Mashburn and Ryan Cornelison, both 13, face the prospect of 10 years in juvenile detention and a lifetime on the sex offender registry in a case that poses a fundamental question: When is horseplay a crime?

Bradley Berry, the McMinnville district attorney, said his office "aggressively" pursues sex crimes that involve children. "These cases are devastating to children," he said. "They are life-altering cases."

Last year, in a previously undisclosed prosecution, he charged two other Patton Middle School boys with felony sex abuse for repeatedly slapping the bottom of a female student. Both pleaded guilty to harassment, which is a misdemeanor.

  • “People seem to forget that two teenage girls, including a minor, are the victims. The 17 year old girl accused the young men of rape. She has never recanted. Sex with a semi-conscious female who cannot grant consent is rape. A minor cannot give consent. I stand with the girls. Genarlow Wilson is NOT the victim. The two girls in a hotel room with 6 stoned adults are the victims.”
  • “I also stand with future possible victims of politically correct apologists who want to turn loose convicted sexual predators. There is very real danger involved. One of Mr. Wilson’s buddies in the hotel room, while awaiting trial, impregnated a 12 year old and has been convicted of statutory rape.”
          • Sen. Eric Johnson, Majority Leader, Georgia State Senate
georgia s seven deadly sins
Georgia’s “Seven Deadly Sins”
  • The superior court shall have exclusive jurisdiction over the trial of any child 13 to 17 years of age who is alleged to have committed any of the following offenses:         (i) Murder;         (ii) Voluntary manslaughter;         (iii) Rape;         (iv)Aggravated sodomy;         (v) Aggravated child molestation;         (vi) Aggravated sexual battery; or         (vii) Armed robbery if committed with a firearm.

Could this happen to your child? Your brother?  Your friend?

“Genarlow Wilson sits in prison despite being a good son, a good athlete and high school student with a 3.2 GPA. He never had any criminal trouble.  On the day he was to sit for the SAT, at seventeen years old, his life changed forever.  He was arrested.  In Douglas County he was accused of inappropriate sexual acts at a News Year’s Eve party.  A jury acquitted him of the allegation of Rape but convicted him of Aggravated Child Molestation for a voluntary act of oral sex with another teenager.  He was 17, and she was 15.

Along with the label “child molester” which will require him throughout his life to be on a sexual offender registry, Genarlow received a sentence of eleven years — a mandatory 10 years in prison and 1 year on probation.”

who even knows what works
Who even knows what works?

In the early 1980s, a therapist named Robert Longo was treating adolescent boys who had committed sex offenses. Their offenses ranged from fondling girls a few years younger than they were to outright rape of young children. As part of their treatment, the boys had to keep journals – which Longo read - in which they detailed their sexual fantasies and logged how frequently they masturbated to those fantasies. They created "relapse-prevention plans," based on the idea that sex-offending is like an addiction and that teenagers need to be watchful of any "triggers“ (pornography, anger) that might initiate their "cycle" of reoffending. And at the beginning of each group session, the boys introduced themselves much as an alcoholic begins an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting: "I'm Brian, and I'm a sex offender. I sexually offended against a 10-year-old boy; I made him lick my penis three times.“

Sex-offender therapy for juveniles was a new field in the 1980s, and Longo, like other therapists, was basing his practices on what he knew: the adult sex-offender-treatment models. "It's where the literature was," Longo, a founder of the international Association for the Treatment of SexualAbusers, told me not long ago. "It's what we'd been doing.“

As it turns out, he went on to say, "much of it was wrong."

New York Times, 7/22/07

juvenile sex offenders
Juvenile Sex Offenders
  • One-third of sexual offenses against children are committed by teenagers.
  • Sexual offenses against young children are typically committed by boys between the ages of 12 and 15.
          • National Center on Sexual Behavior of Youth
juvenile sex offenders1
Juvenile Sex Offenders
  • Recent prospective and clinical outcome studies suggest that many juveniles who sexually abuse will cease this behavior by the time they reach adulthood, especially if they are provided with specialized treatment and supervision”
        • Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers
juvenile sex offenders2
Juvenile Sex Offenders
  • One study suggests that approximately 40 to 80% of adolescent sexual abusers were victims of sexual abuse
          • Hunter, J. and Becker, J., "Motivators of Adolescent Sex Offenders and Treatment Perspectives”
adam walsh act
Adam Walsh Act
  • Regarding juveniles, the act defines a conviction for purposes of registration and classification to include juvenile adjudications if the juvenile offender is at least 14 years of age at the time of the offense and the offense adjudicated is comparable to or more severe than the federal offense aggravated sexual abuse.
  • Could include engaging in oral sex with a child under 12
normal sexual development
Normal Sexual Development

In the first year of life

  • Most children discover the pleasure of genital- self stimulation

From two to six years of age

  • Children may begin to engage in sexual play with peers. Penile erection, by rubbing in female preschoolers, sexual exploration games, touching and rubbing of one’s genitals, exhibitionism, voyeurism, use of dirty language and flirtatious behaviors have been described in normal children 2-6 years of age.
normal sexual development1
Normal Sexual Development
  • Middle Childhood

Sexual interest during the middle childhood years waxes and wanes with the degree of sexual stimulation and sexually sensitizing experiences

growth of healthy sexuality
Growth of Healthy Sexuality
  • Intimacy learned through interaction with peers
  • Learning personal roles in and out of one’s family
  • Changing ideas as a result of puberty
  • Sexual feelings find an appropriate place in one’s life
  • Learning societal rules
  • Learning about reproduction
what is sexual abuse
What Is Sexual Abuse?
  • “A sexual offense involves the use of greater age, force, prestige, intelligence or other source of power to coerce another person into a sexual act to which they might not otherwise consent” (Breer, 1987 )
what is a sexual offense
What Is A Sexual Offense ?

The offender uses his/her greater power to exploit his/her victims

Criteria :

  • Age
  • Force
  • Power
  • Consent
  • Place
what is a sexual offender
What Is A Sexual Offender ?
  • A part of the sexual gratification obtained by the sexual perpetrator arises from controlling, dominating, and/or humiliating the sexual partner.

(Breer, 1987 )

offending vs experimentation
Offending vs Experimentation

Greater than 3 year age difference

Sexual involvement with pre-pubertal child

Difference in status and sophistication

between the sexual partners

offending vs experimentation1
Offending vs Experimentation

Exploitation and control are features of offending and not experimentation.

Force clearly identifies an offender.

Sexuality with focus of control, domination, and /or humiliation is not a characteristic of experimentation

guidelines for assessing sexual behavior
Guidelines for Assessing Sexual Behavior
  • What are the power positions of the participants ?
  • Is force or intimidation involved ?
  • Is ritual or sadistic abuse involved ?
  • Was secrecy involved ?
  • How developmentally appropriate are the

sexual acts ?

Sgroi (1988)

the bottom line what most judges want
The Bottom Line: What (Most) Judges Want
  • Education on the issue
    • What does “Juvenile Sex Offender” mean?
    • What do all these reports mean?
    • What caused this child to act in this manner?
  • Risk Reduction
    • What are the chances of it happening again?
    • What can we do to reduce the likelihood of reoffending?
    • Is this child dangerous, misguided, mean, mentally ill, reacting to prior abuse, etc?
the bottom line what most judges want1
The Bottom Line: What (Most) Judges Want
  • Satisfaction for the Victims and Community
  • Treatment for the Offender
    • What programs work? Can you afford them?
  • Cover
    • Not necessarily a bad thing
    • Judges need the freedom to do what is right, but with sex offenses that often will require a lot of explanation.
this powerpoint can be yours
This Powerpoint Can Be Yours!
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