Mind of a Predator
As the nation watches what may be one of the worst cases of sexual abuse of children ever, we wonder: What makes a pedophile? The possibilities will frighten you—but not for the reasons you may think.
(page 5 of 6)
Bowers is the national director of Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE), an outreach program of the Sex Abuse Treatment Alliance, which provides support to those who work with or are interested in issues of sexual abuse and its prevention. For the past several years, Bowers has championed the CURE-affiliated Sex Offenders Restored through Treatment (SORT) as a leading advocate of sex offenders as they work to restore their places in mainstream society.
“Is there a cure for those with sex offenses?” Bowers asks. “Most will tell you that there is none. Am I cured? No. Am I in control? Absolutely.”
In 1972 Bowers served a 20-month sentence in a Kansas state prison after being charged with the crime of indecent liberties with a child. Eleven years later, in 1983, he was convicted of the same offense again. While incarcerated, Bowers received treatment through an innovative program at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He stayed in the program for six years.
“There was a part of me that was afraid, that I would fail, that I would go back to where I was,” Bowers says. “I didn’t want to go back to the secrecy. It had cost me two jobs. Therapy opened up for me the idea that I know the struggle, and that treatment in the right way, melded with my total resolve to improve. I had a part of my personality that was compulsive, but I hadn’t put the pieces together to see what that was. Therapy gave me a plan to control my life and have an understanding of who I was.”
Do years of incarceration and therapy entitle a sex abuser to regain a full and complete life? Advocates of victims’ rights have called for punishment from lifetime imprisonment to, for men, chemical castration. They wonder if a freed abuser will abuse again. Those who support the rights of sex offenders point to the slim recidivism (repeat offense) rates. Percentages range from 5 percent to 15 percent, according to local experts.
Perhaps more than any other incident, the kidnapping, sexual assault and murder of 7-year-old Megan Kanka on July 29, 1994, in Hamilton Township, New Jersey—at the hands of Jesse Timmendequas, a neighbor who had two previous convictions for sexual assault—galvanized thousands to encourage the federal government to help states in developing a comprehensive system for tracking sex offenders and alerting communities.
Megan’s Law, passed in 1996, required law enforcement authorities to publicize information about registered sex offenders, including the offender’s name, picture, address, incarceration date, and nature of his or her crime. Under the law, persons convicted of sex crimes against children must notify local law enforcement of any change of address or employment after release from custody, including prison or a psychiatric facility. The notification requirement may be imposed for a fixed period of time—usually at least 10 years, sometimes more.
The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 created a national sex offender registry. It instructs all states to apply identical criteria for posting offender data on the Internet. The law mandates that the most serious offenders update their whereabouts every three months for life.
Page 6: Mind of a Predator, continues...