When a Predator Wants to Pray
October 28, 2012 2:06 PM   Subscribe

The early months of 2012 at Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Synagogue were busy with the things typical for a liberal congregation: a phone bank for gay marriage, a silent retreat, a weekend study session on unorthodox ideas such as observing Sabbath through dance and movement. Then in February, David Kaye, a longtime Montgomery County rabbi and registered sex offender, started attending Saturday services. Also: When a Predator Wants to Pray
posted by OmieWise (87 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
It sounds like this congregation would be well served to contact B4U-ACT and the people running the therapy in Germany and look to make their congregation a place where this man can find the support he needs to keep from offending again.
posted by hippybear at 2:13 PM on October 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, what a dilemma.

May I ask why you felt it necessary to call out NBC in the tags? How the guy was discovered to be a predator doesn't seem relevant..
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:14 PM on October 28, 2012


(also, your second and third link appear to be identical)
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:16 PM on October 28, 2012


To Catch A Predator clip.
posted by OmieWise at 2:16 PM on October 28, 2012


Proper second link.
posted by OmieWise at 2:18 PM on October 28, 2012


To Catch A Predator clip

Is that really necessary as part of this?
posted by hippybear at 2:20 PM on October 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


How the guy was discovered to be a predator doesn't seem relevant..

Sort of yes, sort of no. The fact that the show re-aired while this conflict in the temple was going in is certainly relevant.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:22 PM on October 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


Unfortunately pedophiles are an often times covered up aspect of certain parts of the Jewish community.
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 2:25 PM on October 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


The fact that the show re-aired while this conflict in the temple was going in is certainly relevant.

Possibly. It certainly sounds like it made a lot more people aware of his presence, but it seems like the sort of thing that was eventually going to get out regardless.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:26 PM on October 28, 2012


The letter also explained that the decision was made in executive session, in order to ensure confidentiality. According to Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb, the congregation's spiritual leader, a "backbreaking amount of time" was spent on how to handle David Kaye's presence in the synagogue. Synagogue leaders pored over best practices literature and contacted sex offender experts, including psychiatrists, prosecutors and detectives. Adat Shalom also received guidance from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. At one point, the board talked about permitting Kaye to continue worshipping there, but with certain restrictions.


I'm never a supporter of religion, but you've gotta love the Jews. They're not perfect, but if every religion was as thoughtful and reasonable as the Jewish religion, there would be a lot more peace in the world.
posted by gagglezoomer at 2:29 PM on October 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


I feel like the compassionate thing to do would be to allow him to pray, with the understanding that he would necessarily be observed closely. On the other hand, I understand not wishing to engage in the extra work that would be required to keep an eye on someone who has demonstrated poor impulse control with a harmful impulse.

It's difficult; when is the debt on the intent to cause harm paid, or is it ever?
posted by Mooski at 2:41 PM on October 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


My wife knew David Kaye professionally. He was once with "PANIM:The Institute for Jewish Leaders and Values." When he was arrested, there was a huge uproar and amongst many Jewish educators.

Anyway, we're members of a shul, and I have two young children. The synagogue isn't exactly my kids' home away from home, but it is a large building where they get to run around without tight parental supervision, because we trust the other kids they play with, and trust the adults who might be around them at any given point in time not to hurt them.

I would be pretty damned worried if a sex offender were coming to services at my synagogue when my kids were there. I would. Especially if the offense in question was solicitation of sex from a child. There's a high recidivism rate for 'rehabilitated' sex offenders.

As a Jew, I say, "Let him pray." Now that he's served his time, he deserves to be allowed to reenter society and try to make a life for himself. But at the same time, I'd want him to keep the hell away from my kids. That's a visceral, emotional reaction. Not a logical one.

I don't envy the synagogue the decision they had to make. I'm torn on whether they did the right thing or not. But I am glad they went to such lengths to try and figure out what to do.
posted by zarq at 2:42 PM on October 28, 2012 [19 favorites]


They're not perfect, but if every religion was as thoughtful and reasonable as the Jewish religion, there would be a lot more peace in the world.

I realise you didn't intend it, but this is like the perfect troll comment. It's absolutely impossible to respond to this huge oversimplification without starting an absolute flaming wreck of a thread.
posted by jaduncan at 2:43 PM on October 28, 2012 [6 favorites]


It's absolutely impossible to respond to this huge oversimplification

You're 100% right. It was an off-hand comment.
posted by gagglezoomer at 2:46 PM on October 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


More on topic: I'm not entirely sure why the option of merely having him chaperoned at all times does not appear to have been discussed; even the judge in his court case recognised that it's a reasonable course to allow supervised passing contact with children.
posted by jaduncan at 2:46 PM on October 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Locally, one of our established churches has offered an explicitly child-free service where no children are present in the building. Unfortunately, no one in the target group of adult sex offenders seems to have attended. I'm not sure if they're still doing it.
posted by Madamina at 2:59 PM on October 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is that really necessary as part of this?

Can you say more about why you think it's inappropriate? It seemed like enough part of it that it was worthwhile to include it, if not in the original post.
posted by OmieWise at 3:04 PM on October 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


There's a high recidivism rate for 'rehabilitated' sex offenders.

The recidivism rate often comes up when this topic is discussed. One comment in the WJW link above: "With an almost 100% recidivism rate, NO child molesters do NOT have rights to ANYTHING."

Is there anything unusual about the recidivism rate of child molesters compared to other types of criminals? Or is it that people don't mind living with other criminals who are at least as likely to offend again, but they refuse to accept any non-zero chance of a child molester offending again?
posted by pracowity at 3:05 PM on October 28, 2012


Is there anything unusual about the recidivism rate of child molesters compared to other types of criminals? Or is it that people don't mind living with other criminals who are at least as likely to offend again, but they refuse to accept any non-zero chance of a child molester offending again?

Not just child molesters, but most serious sexual offenders. There's a huge difference between crimes of compulsion and crimes of percuniary gain. Wealth has other sources, and the act of sleeping with children/the unwilling etc does not. If people can only be sexually fulfilled by those things, they have quite the evolutionary drive pushing them to reoffend.

An easy way to tell is the concept of criminal versatility. People with compulsions tend to commit the same crime over and over again, whilst it is a common refrain with con-artists that one should never do the same con twice in succession. This is why it's important that the police take minor sexual offenses seriously; they tend to escalate.
posted by jaduncan at 3:10 PM on October 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


(A year of sentencing studies. I can provide links if you want.)
posted by jaduncan at 3:11 PM on October 28, 2012


Links are good.
posted by pracowity at 3:16 PM on October 28, 2012


I think it all depends on how serious the individual offender is about not offending again. Given the right kind of therapy and support, people who are honestly seeking to keep from molesting children again CAN and DO succeed. Just as there are probably many living amongst us who are sexually interested in children who never do anything untoward whatsoever.

I think the thing to realize is that serving a jail sentence and then being released to one's own devices is not rehabilitation for people with anti-social compulsions. They require support from the community, through therapy and accountability, and self-actualization to keep from reoffending. Rehabilitation isn't an unlockable achievement with a badge for such people, it's a daily work-in-progress.

Demonizing them and casting them out of potentially supportive community structures is not the way to keep this kind of person from acting out their compulsions.
posted by hippybear at 3:20 PM on October 28, 2012 [7 favorites]


Given the recent pedophilia scandals, shouldn't every organization that deals with children have a policy in place which states that no adult may be alone with any number of children, ever? Maaaaybe put in an exception for guardians, but even then.

Given that such a policy is in place, I don't see why a known predator is more harmful to a community than the unknown predators who haven't been caught yet.
posted by muddgirl at 3:34 PM on October 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's odd to me that the notion of the unknown sex predator "in their midst" never came up. Maye it did, and it's just not discussed in the article.
But, really, in a congregation the size of Adat Shalom, there's got to be some no one knows about.
So, what then? In some ways, Kaye becomes the safest "predator"-the one everyone knows about. But what of the father abusing his daughter, and the guy in the corner who always keeps candies in his talit bag (OK, I grew up knowing who each and every one of those guys was because I like candy. I'm not saying they're all/or any of them are pedophiles-but it's good cover. )
Anyway, seems like it should have been a moment to consider their policies re:children and adults generally. Because the ones you don't know about are the scariest.
I'm not taking a position on whether they allowed him to pray there or not. Both sides are compelling and I'm sure there are important details the general public still don't know.
posted by atomicstone at 3:37 PM on October 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


For a quick and dirty guide I would recommend Hanson and Bussiere (2005) "The Characteristics of Persistent Sexual Offenders: A Meta-Analysis of Recidivism Studies", available here: http://www.neulaw.org/papers/hansonandmortonbourgon2005characteristics.pdf

Ballpark figures: "On average, the observed sexual recidivism rate was 13.7% (n  19,267; 73 studies), the violent nonsexual recidivism rate was 14.3% (n  6,928; 24 studies), the violent recidivism rate (including sexual and nonsexual violence) was 14.3% (n  11,361; 29 studies) and the general (any) recidivism rate was 36.2% (n 12,708; 56 studies)."

Note that this doesn't differentiate between rapists of adults or children; if you really want I can dig out more, but it'll talk a little time. The ballpark figures aren't that different, and it should be noted that this isn't the recidivism rate but the observed recidivism rate.

This should be put in context with the fact on average offenders admit to two to five times as many sex crimes as those that have been detected (see Groth, "Undetected Recidivism among Rapists and Child Molesters" for more on this), but with even an observed level of 13.7% it means having to adjust for a constant rate of risk.

TL;DR: On a risk-management level you have to assume that the person would reoffend; it's likely that they do at least 10-20% of the time. If they are willing to reoffend, it often becomes a cycle.
posted by jaduncan at 3:39 PM on October 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


it should be noted that this isn't the recidivism rate but the observed recidivism rate.

That's a given for any crime rate, isn't it? The world is full of criminals no one has caught.

But what I'm asking is whether they are more likely to offend again compared to other types of criminals. For example, what's the recidivism rate for thieves compared to sex offenders? Is there any data to back up the common claim that sex offenders (and especially child molesters) have a particularly high rate of recidivism?
posted by pracowity at 3:58 PM on October 28, 2012


For example, what's the recidivism rate for thieves compared to sex offenders?

People worry a lot less about the relative possibilities regarding someone stealing your kid's ipod as opposed to the potential for molestation.
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 4:02 PM on October 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


pracowity: “But what I'm asking is whether they are more likely to offend again compared to other types of criminals.”

Well, all I did was google "recidivism rate," but Wikipedia discusses a study done on prisons from their release in 1994 to three years later, and mentions the following findings:
Released prisoners with the highest rearrest rates were robbers (70.2%), burglars (74.0%), larcenists (74.6%), motor vehicle thieves (78.8%), those in prison for possessing or selling stolen property (77.4%), and those in prison for possessing, using, or selling illegal weapons (70.2%).

Within 3 years, 2.5% of released rapists were arrested for another rape, and 1.2% of those who had served time for homicide were arrested for homicide. These are the lowest rates of re-arrest for the same category of crime.

The 272,111 offenders discharged in 1994 had accumulated 4.1 million arrest charges before their most recent imprisonment and another 744,000 charges within 3 years of release.
The article also mentions a 60% general recidivism rate. So if the 36% figure given as the recidivism rate of sex offenders is correct, it's a bit lower than the general rate. Of course, the bit I quoted above gives a 2.5% recidivism for rape; I'm not sure if that means these figures might be wrong, or if the rapists are just way off the average for the rest of sex offenders.
posted by koeselitz at 4:18 PM on October 28, 2012


muddgirl: "Given the recent pedophilia scandals, shouldn't every organization that deals with children have a policy in place which states that no adult may be alone with any number of children, ever? Maaaaybe put in an exception for guardians, but even then.

Given that such a policy is in place, I don't see why a known predator is more harmful to a community than the unknown predators who haven't been caught yet.
"

I agree. Put protective measures in place, then welcome the offenders with open arms, saying "At least we don't have to worry if this one will suddenly turn out to be a predator." I think the worst thing that could happen, and yet somewhat likely, is for a community to be so focused on keeping tabs on a convicted offender that they completely miss the unnoticed one.
posted by rebent at 4:18 PM on October 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


If we view paedophillia as a sexual compulsion, that cannot be cured, and we seek both the autonomy of individual, and the safety of children--how does one work that balance?
posted by PinkMoose at 4:20 PM on October 28, 2012


My old church had to struggle with pretty much the exact same thing not to long ago. To my understanding, the man was assigned several volunteer buddies he was expected to be around whenever he was in the church and one of whom would walk with him to services, using the time to catch up with him every Sunday. He was forbidden from entering the administrative/education wing where children were, or interacting with children in any way for obvious reasons, everything was dependent on him remaining in therapy, and his presence prompted a thorough overhaul of the entire child safety policy. A lot of the thinking was that this man needed love and support both because, unlike shunning him and passing the buck, it would actually help prevent him from hurting children as well as because he was a human being and a himself child of god and thus inherently worthy of it.
posted by Blasdelb at 4:24 PM on October 28, 2012 [17 favorites]


If we view paedophillia as a sexual compulsion, that cannot be cured, and we seek both the autonomy of individual, and the safety of children--how does one work that balance?

They don't gain full autonomy after rehabilitation.

The way it is handled now is the offender is treated with therapy (and possibly medication as well) for their entire lives. And their communities are warned that they may still pose a danger to children.
posted by zarq at 4:27 PM on October 28, 2012


Previous MetaFilter thread on possible alternative therapy options for pedophiles.
posted by hippybear at 4:34 PM on October 28, 2012


It's odd to me that the notion of the unknown sex predator "in their midst" never came up. Maye it did, and it's just not discussed in the article.

It's odd to me as well. I thought it was common knowledge that the vast majority of children who are sexually abused are abused by close friends and family members rather than by predatory strangers. Given that this congregation knows this man's history and the risks he poses, I would have thought it should be rather easy to put measures in place to minimize the risk he poses.

Other members of the congregation, not so much. But if the estimated prevalence of child sexual abuse is anything close to accurate, he isn't going to be the only risk to children in that community. The only difference between Kaye and the others is that they haven't walked into a televised sting mounted for your entertainment pleasure.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:45 PM on October 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


The recidivism rate for sex offenders who have completed treatment is extremely low. As stated before 5%-7% seems to be the accepted number. However, treatment is long, expensive and pretty difficult for many people. In Oregon they may remain in treatment for decades. I personally know of one guy whose offense happened when he was 18 and he was still attempting to make it through a treatment program at age 34.

Part of treatment is to understand and steer clear of situations that could cause them trouble. They should not be alone with children and in social situations they should have a sponsor who is aware of their crimes and able to intervene if necessary. They also should notify an authority figure within the church and discuss their situation with them.

If the offender is not following these sorts of rules, then they are not following their treatment plan or they don't have one. In this case outright exclusion seems necessary.

Now Sex Crimes is new political boogey man and is being used to justify egregious intrusions in privacy and pumping up the "tough on crime" crowd. 19 year old having sex with a 17 year old? Inappropriate internet images on your comp? I feel sorry for all the people with minor crimes who are being rolled up with the sexual predators, in this case it is all about politics and has little to do with the severity of the crimes.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 4:53 PM on October 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


I feel sorry for all the people with minor crimes who are being rolled up with the sexual predators

In some locales, public urination is an offense which includes registry on sex offender roles.
posted by hippybear at 4:58 PM on October 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


I remember this. We had interviewed Sid Schwartz from Panim where Kaye was a somebody. It was a humiliating moment for a lot of rabbis and not discussed at all. Interfaith Voices did a piece but it was only his Dateline appearance which made it a national story. There is no way to cut sexual predation any closer to the bone because people who aim to fornicate with children are so loathsome. I recall that immediately following the story we had someone on from the Religious Institute for Faith, Sexuality and Healing (or some combo of those words) who surprised by noting that the most documented abusers of young children are teenage girls.
posted by parmanparman at 5:20 PM on October 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is not a guy who was convicted of public urination. He tried to set himself up so he could have sex with a 13 year old kid. Kaye was in his 50's. This case is absolutely about the severity of his crime and is not political paranoia. He was trying to have sex with a child.

Parmanparman, my wife runs an annual conference for Jewish educators. Just want to note that the case was discussed at length amongst both rabbis and educators in professional fora. He was well-known, and what he had done dismayed a lot of people.

I made a comment a while back that included links to related sites. Abuse by Jewish clergy of children is a real and serious problem which is often overshadowed in the news by pedophile Catholic priests.
posted by zarq at 5:46 PM on October 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


Excluding this guy is just an easy way for the synagogue to pretend that all their kids are safe and nobody they know would do any such thing. Assuming there's at least one child in the congregation who has been or is being abused by someone 'ok', I wonder how this made them feel. If they want to, i hope they get the chance to spit in the face of everyone advocating Kaye be thrown out.
posted by jacalata at 6:55 PM on October 28, 2012


This is not a guy who was convicted of public urination.

Right. I think that is clear to anyone who is reading this thread, let alone anyone who has read the linked articles.

But I was responding to someone other than you, zarq, and was agreeing with them in making it clear that there are people who are rolled in with sex offenders who don't necessarily deserve to have that stigma follow them for the rest of their lives.

That said, the way we as a society treat those who ARE sex offenders, especially those with in inclination toward children, is shameful. We need to find a better way. I would hope this congregation can find a way forward which offers hope and respect for this individual and others like him. Given the general tenor of society at large, let alone this discussion thread here, I suspect that won't happen.
posted by hippybear at 7:03 PM on October 28, 2012


psycho-alchemy: “The recidivism rate for sex offenders who have completed treatment is extremely low. As stated before 5%-7% seems to be the accepted number. However, treatment is long, expensive and pretty difficult for many people.”

First, nobody in this thread has quoted a recidivism rate of 5% to 7%, so I'm not sure where you're getting this from. Second, is there really a standardized and accepted treatment process for "sex offenders"? This covers an extraordinarily wide range of crimes and behaviors.

Or do you mean there's a standardized and accepted treatment process for pedophiles? If so, can you provide some background, along with maybe a cite on the 5% to 7% figure? I'm interested in knowing a bit more.

hippybear: “I would hope this congregation can find a way forward which offers hope and respect for this individual and others like him. Given the general tenor of society at large, let alone this discussion thread here, I suspect that won't happen.”

I think the most direct way to that is by thinking and talking about treatments for pedophilia. One says "treatments" because I have a feeling this is an actual disorder that ought to be treated and, if not cured, then at least sublimated and nullified as much as is possible. Making such treatment readily available to those who need it seems like the best we can do.

As far as I can tell, here in the United States we neglect almost entirely any kind of post-prison rehabilitation or treatment. Even thieves and drug dealers and other criminals whose crimes weren't apparently driven by mental illness really need some rehabilitation or help readjusting to society; but it is denied in almost every case. I guess the higher stakes in cases of pedophiles might drive us to treat more often than in lesser crimes, but I'm not sure that's true.

Mostly, I guess I'm just wondering. If what psycho-alchemy said above is correct (and I suspect it is) then we owe it to everyone to make these programs more available.
posted by koeselitz at 7:22 PM on October 28, 2012


I also wondered why he didn't have the option of supervised attendance only. It seems like a reasonable balance, and it also appears there would be a number of people who would have been willing to take on that role.

Inclusion is a really important part of the more liberal Jewish synagogues -- my shul has taken a huge step towards much more inclusiveness -- but on the other hand, just because there might be other sexual predators in the synagogue doesn't mean you should ignore the one you know about.
posted by jeather at 7:42 PM on October 28, 2012


Those relative recidivism rates are useless, because there is no context to them. What might be the actual recidivism rates, for example, in cases where child sexual predators join community and/or religious organizations, where there are children present often in unsupervised or semi-supervised circumstances?

Also you have to be very very careful with the idea of even supervised access to community spaces, especially if the predator is a glib and manipulative sociopath who manages to convince everybody that what they are doing is relatively inconsequential (Jerry Sandusky, Jimmy Savile, Gary Glitter/Paul Gadd, etc.).

I do understand that in the end it is up to the congregation, and that the congregation might seek to exercise whatever religious/moral/philosophical positions it feels are important. Then again, if I were religious, and it were my congregation with my kid attending, I'd exercise my own freedom to leave.
posted by carter at 8:20 PM on October 28, 2012


In some locales, public urination is an offense which includes registry on sex offender roles.

Could you provide a cite?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:23 PM on October 28, 2012


Could you provide a cite?

Sure thing. Georgia, for example. (although it's left to the discretion of local law enforcement)

Until a year ago: Oklahoma

In less recent citations (I have no idea if laws have changed in the intervening years):

New Hampshire
Colorado

There are plenty of other citations available online, yours for only the cost of a short google search.
posted by hippybear at 8:35 PM on October 28, 2012


Whups, you are of course correct. The laws exist.

What I've been looking for for a long time is a citation of someone who was forced to be on the sex registry for the sole crime of public urination.

It definitely could happen, and everybody has a friend of a friend who knows someone that it happened to; I'm just just trying to find out if it's ever actually happened. Every once in a while one of these laws gets dragged into court, but the case is never that clean.

Somewhere there is a court file with the arrest record and sentence all there. My impossible search continues....
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:09 PM on October 28, 2012


Tell Me No Lies: “Could you provide a cite?”

hippybear gave a cite, but if you want something anecdotal – a friend of mine in Colorado pulled over in the middle of the night to take a piss on a country road, a cop drove up right at that moment, and he got an indecent exposure citation. They were actually going to put him on the sex offender registry – no jail time, just a small citation and the sex offender registry for life. If his uncle wasn't a former assistant DA who managed to handle the case and fix it with the right people, his life would be a lot worse right now.

Seriously, it happens.
posted by koeselitz at 9:12 PM on October 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


And on preview – yeah, it's anecdotal. I guess it's not really the point of this thread, anyway.
posted by koeselitz at 9:15 PM on October 28, 2012


Right. I think that is clear to anyone who is reading this thread, let alone anyone who has read the linked articles.

But I was responding to someone other than you, zarq,


So?

I was also responding in part to someone other than you. In fact, I was addressing the same comment you did.

You replied to a comment in which psycho-alchemy said the following: Now Sex Crimes is new political boogey man and is being used to justify egregious intrusions in privacy and pumping up the "tough on crime" crowd. 19 year old having sex with a 17 year old? Inappropriate internet images on your comp? I feel sorry for all the people with minor crimes who are being rolled up with the sexual predators, in this case it is all about politics and has little to do with the severity of the crimes.

I think that it muddies the water quite a bit to speak about Kaye's case while in the same breath trivializing motivations for convictions of sexual offenders as a political boogeyman.

psycho-alchemy also quoted but gave no citation for a statistic of 5-7% ricividism which conflicts with much higher numbers for incidence of repeat offense cited in two studies upthread.

Given all of this, it seemed worth noting once again why the topic of this FPP, David Kaye, was convicted on evidence.
posted by zarq at 10:04 PM on October 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


If his uncle wasn't a former assistant DA who managed to handle the case and fix it with the right people, his life would be a lot worse right now.

Nynnng. I am split between approving of him not being on a sex offenders register for urination and slightly astonished at the blatant corruption shown by the fact it got dropped because of who he is related to.
posted by jaduncan at 10:31 PM on October 28, 2012


There are minors on the sex offender registry who got there by having sent naked pictures of *themselves* to their girl/boyfriends. The consensual sex wasn't a crime, but sending photos of the participants was. Talk about ruining lives.
posted by bashos_frog at 10:39 PM on October 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


jaduncan: “Nynnng. I am split between approving of him not being on a sex offenders register for urination and slightly astonished at the blatant corruption shown by the fact it got dropped because of who he is related to.”

Yep. Gotta love Colorado: the Alabama of the West.
posted by koeselitz at 10:41 PM on October 28, 2012


Is there anything unusual about the recidivism rate of child molesters compared to other types of criminals? Or is it that people don't mind living with other criminals who are at least as likely to offend again, but they refuse to accept any non-zero chance of a child molester offending again?

I guess people take the slightly raised prospect of having their car broken into with more equamity than the slightly raised prospect of their child being abused or something.
posted by jaduncan at 10:42 PM on October 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm just just trying to find out if it's ever actually happened. Every once in a while one of these laws gets dragged into court, but the case is never that clean.

Depends on what you mean by being "that clean".

Here's a man who was put on the sex offender list for pissing in public. He was on probation for some reason, and had a drug offense on his record. Is that clean, or not?

Scroll down on this page to find this paragraph:
MaryLu Cianciolo, a Chicago immigration lawyer, recalls consulting with a Mexican immigrant, a construction worker, snared by Operation Predator. He had answered nature's call behind a garbage can in an alley within 100 yards of a Chicago school. He was spotted by a police officer, arrested and convicted of public urination and indecent exposure. Those convictions were enough to put him in line for deportation proceedings, said Cianciolo, who lost track of the man after he didn't hire her.
It could be argued that he was guilty of pissing while Mexican. Is that case clean, or not?
posted by hippybear at 10:57 PM on October 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


The man should be given access to a spiritual community. I do not believe that means he has to be allowed in the building without a chaperone, though.

I've talked about this before, but two years ago, one of the guys in my church choir was arrested while driving from Washington to Colorado to meet who he thought was the willing mother of a 6-year-old girl, and who was in fact an FBI agent. He had been corresponding with these people for months, he had sent sexual items through the mail to "her." (Side note: the dude used to play peekaboo with my 4-year-old daughter every Sunday during coffee hour in the narthex. He was not creepy at all. I mean that. Don't rely on creepdar.)

It so happened that the church leadership found out about this on the day our choir rehearsed; we'd been wondering why Gary wasn't at rehearsal, and then one of the pastors showed up to tell us what had happened and answer our questions. Immediately after speaking to us, that pastor got on a plane and flew to Colorado to meet with Gary, figuring that if ever there was a time in a person's life when they needed pastoral care, that was the time. During that meeting, he stressed to Gary that he was still a church member and that the pastoral staff would be totally available to him via email and phone, but that he was not going to be able to come back into the church building pretty much ever again.

I thought that was a good compromise. Gary was tried and convicted -- there was a mountain of evidence -- and sentenced to 15 years in prison, so it's kind of a moot point (he'll be 85 when he's released). But just because someone has fucked up terribly or may even be a horrible person doesn't mean that they don't need spiritual guidance.
posted by KathrynT at 11:04 PM on October 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


Hello - I write "safe sanctuary" and "safe church" policies for protestant Christian churches and so I think I might have something to offer.

I have worked with several churches that have dealt with precisely this issue. Two of them had attached education centers. There is no way to universally protect or prevent children from harm and I think this is why I remain childless to this day... after having been exposed to the worst...

The most important thing any church/temple/community center can do to prevent the abuse of children and other vulnerable individuals is to instate a "two adult" policy. This means, essentially, that no child or other vulnerable person will be outside of the purview of two adults. It isn't foolproof but it has proven effective. Volunteers should be vetted so that "adult volunteer" means a person who has no federal criminal record and that there is paperwork confirming the individuals capacities. (References, job history, residency, etc.) If there is at least one other person watching it dramatically reduces the chances of abuse.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:13 PM on October 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


As far as I can tell, here in the United States we neglect almost entirely any kind of post-prison rehabilitation or treatment.

A lot of that is probably due to nimbyism. Many people may theoretically be in favor of post-prison rehabilitation and treatment, but they will vote against anyone who wants to put such a facility anywhere near their own homes, and they will vote for anyone who promises to keep all sex offenders about a million miles away from their children. It's a natural reflex.

People vote for local prisons because prisons bring jobs to their shitty little towns and create big customers for existing local suppliers. Maybe there isn't enough money in rehabilitation programs to make them worth the risk of living next door to them?

But I bet there is money in catering to registered sex offenders in other ways. There are about three quarters of a million registered sex offenders in the United States. That's more people than live in Boston or Seattle or Denver. How about this: Buy up derelict towns, encourage sex offenders to move in, and ban all children. Make the whole town one big rehab facility. No schools. No child care facilities. No playgrounds. No visits by any minors. Big signs on all roads leading into town: No Children Allowed. If you bring your child into town, then you, and not the local sex offenders, are breaking the law. If you bear a child while living in town, that's your problem, not everyone else's problem; maybe you need to move out. The town law enforcement officers are also registered sex offenders -- convicted of pissing in public, etc. -- so don't even think of coming into town to stir up trouble.
posted by pracowity at 1:11 AM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


McNeil Island in Washington State has been used along those lines
posted by Blasdelb at 1:16 AM on October 29, 2012


That island sounds like a prison. A prison for after you get out of prison. I'm talking about making a place they're free to leave but that registered sex offenders would want to live in because there is plenty of sympathy and support and no off-limits areas. A real town with real industries and real jobs, not a government-run lock-up facility, so it makes its own money. And because there are zero children in town, no one has to worry about them.
posted by pracowity at 2:14 AM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Inappropriate internet images on your comp? I feel sorry for all the people with minor crimes who are being rolled up with the sexual predators, in this case it is all about politics and has little to do with the severity of the crimes.

Do you mean child pornography? I don't think "inappropriate" is a good word to describe child pornography.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:35 AM on October 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


[A couple of comments deleted. Calling people lunatics isn't really a great way to participate here, and it would also be great not to turn the thread into a pro-ephebophilia argument. The post isn't about whether laws should be changed on that.]
posted by taz at 3:48 AM on October 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


In addition to the weird legal corruption, one of the biggest problems with McNeil island is how really toxic the island's culture became. A bustling black market in child pornography, bribery, and hard drugs quickly developed and the guards - who were themselves not pedophiles - became complicit. This is on an island physically separated from the rest of society and the internet, and accessible only by a heavily secured ferry. Presumably any real town populated with pedophiles would become much worse, with child pornography passable by sneaker-net, and predators able to work with each other to prey on the children of neighboring towns.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:56 AM on October 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


If they were all be in one place rather than scattered throughout every town, they would be a hell of a lot easier to monitor, treat, and rehabilitate.

What else can you do with them? Life sentences? Death sentences? If you let them out of prison, you are saying they need to live and work somewhere in regular society, but nobody wants them living in their town. They end up living under bridges, which is not exactly what you want in terms of monitoring and treatment.
posted by pracowity at 4:51 AM on October 29, 2012


What else can you do with them? Life sentences? Death sentences? If you let them out of prison, you are saying they need to live and work somewhere in regular society

Yes. With regular jobs, provision of therapy (especially since most of the time it's a repetion of a cycle of abuse), supervision, and a quiet list to ensure that they don't get jobs in contact with children. I'm not from the US however, so that's generally what the deal is here.
posted by jaduncan at 6:11 AM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


As a Jew, I say, "Let him pray." Now that he's served his time, he deserves to be allowed to reenter society and try to make a life for himself. But at the same time, I'd want him to keep the hell away from my kids. That's a visceral, emotional reaction. Not a logical one.

Actually, I would say that is a very logical reaction. The emotional one is the one where you think that he deserves a second chance to be a part of a community to the point where you'd welcome him into yours.
posted by disconnect at 6:35 AM on October 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


all the evidence is that sex offenders have a lower recidivism rate than other offenders -- pretty clearly under 50 percent (although sometimes people try to amp this up by making big assumptions about unreported crimes, ignoring that the unreported crimes are driven by a few Sandusky-like predators who are a minority in the first place).

Am I the only one disturbed by the relentless dehumanization of sex offenders against children? There are so many things in this society that damage children -- we have the highest child poverty and infant mortality rates in the industrialized world, everything from inadequate health care to high incarceration rates to high divorce rates damages kids. Sex crimes are perhaps uniquely icky but they are not uniquely harmful compared to violent crimes, drug dealing, neglect, etc. Defining one slice of criminals as irretrievable monsters and setting up a vast system for 'shunning' them and forever destroying their personal lives even after they serve long sentences in one of the harshest prison systems in the world seems dangerous from a lot of perspectives. Not to mention setting up a giant bureaucracy devoted to more or less entrapment of these guys -- baiting people on the internet to live out fantasies that they might not otherwise act on. This is a government machinery that could be turned on the public in lots of ways. And it probably serves more as a distraction from genuine child welfare than an aid to it.
posted by zipadee at 8:45 AM on October 29, 2012


I'm curious whether he is known to ever have actually molested a child. The article says he was convicted in a sting operation. I have no details at all of the sting that caught him, but I have read detailed accounts of other stings based on on-line interaction that make me believe entrapment is a real possibiity. That might make some difference to me, were I faced with a similar situation in my Quaker meeting.
posted by not that girl at 9:05 AM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I'm curious whether he is known to ever have actually molested a child. The article says he was convicted in a sting operation. I have no details at all of the sting that caught him, but I have read detailed accounts of other stings based on on-line interaction that make me believe entrapment is a real possibiity. That might make some difference to me, were I faced with a similar situation in my Quaker meeting."

Even if we were to consider whether he was indeed entrapped into soliciting what he believed to be a 13 year old boy to be something relevant to a house of worship, the chat logs have been made available online, and they are not very ambiguous. I should hope that, regardless of the any hypothetical legal situation, a meeting would at least pray hard on and excercise extraordinary caution with anyone who could be entrapped into soliciting a child for sex.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:34 AM on October 29, 2012


I don't think anyone is arguing that he should be allowed to teach Sunday school or lead Boy Scout camping trips. People are arguing that he shouldn't be excluded from adult activities merely because (presumably supervised) children are in the same building.

I respect that this is a very complex and fraught decision in any community, and I personally don't question the decision made by this synagogue. But I think in general every community needs to take a step back and think, "Are we really helping children by teaching them that some adults are Monsters, and by extension other adults are perfectly safe to interact with in inappropriate ways?" How does exculding known pedophiles from adult activities protect children from, say, the rabbi or troop leader who hasn't been detected yet, and is presumed safe because of that fact?
posted by muddgirl at 9:40 AM on October 29, 2012


I'm not sure how treating crimes against children as serious and worthy of community sanction protects those who would commit crimes against children. It seems more that the effect would be the opposite--children would feel that the adults around them take sexual advances and assaults against children very, very seriously. That, to my mind, can only be a good thing.

As an adult woman I would love it if a group or community I was involved in would take a sex offender who offended against an adult's participation in the group this seriously. It would make me feel safer going to the leadership about another member of the community because I would know that there's not a kneejerk "if they're in the community they're okay no matter what" attitude.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:29 AM on October 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


If someone isn't fit to be integrated into adult society, what's the point of letting them out of jail in the first place? How could any parent feel safe working with him? Or going to the same grocery store as him? Or living in the same HOA as him? By letting him out of prison, aren't we signalling that we don't take sexual advances and assaults against children very, very seriously?
posted by muddgirl at 10:38 AM on October 29, 2012


(I don't think I have answers to these questions.)
posted by muddgirl at 10:38 AM on October 29, 2012


I'm curious whether he is known to ever have actually molested a child.

He was arrested for sexual solicitation of a minor. Basically he arranged a molestation on-line and was arrested when he showed up to carry it through.

I have no details at all of the sting that caught him

Here you go, the complete (NSFW, obviously) transcript.

I have read detailed accounts of other stings based on on-line interaction that make me believe entrapment is a real possibiity

Over the years I've had reason to read through about twenty of the Perverted Justice transcripts, and they've all been pretty straightforward. One thing you can say about Internet Vigilantism is that the record of exactly what occurred is extraordinarily clear.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:44 AM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Locally, one of our established churches has offered an explicitly child-free service where no children are present in the building. Unfortunately, no one in the target group of adult sex offenders seems to have attended.

You say adult sex offenders, I say pleasantly quiet. Sadly they appear to have called the whole thing off.
posted by jaduncan at 11:11 AM on October 29, 2012


Is that case clean

Neither of those cases are clean in that neither are actually cases. The first one makes a claim about a case that happened 35 years ago in MA, and the second one is a story a non-client told a lawyer once.

As I said above, somewhere there is a court file with an arrest record and sentence. I doubt it will be as clean as:

Defendant: John Doe
Convicted of: Public Urination
Sentenced to: 1 year probation and addition to the sex offender list

... But I'm hoping to find something close. Given how many jurisdictions have searchable court archives I'm sure it's out there to find.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:16 AM on October 29, 2012


I am all right with some actions having permanent social consequences. Preying on children is one of them.

A shul is a community gathering place and it is absolutely appropriate to prioritize the safety of the vulnerable over the comfort and inclusion of predators. If a particular community institution feels that it is possible to do both simultaneously, good for them. But it is no obligation and there is no great record of success at it either.

Of course this doesn't preclude taking steps to protect against unknown predators. In fact, I believe that a decision to ban someone for having preyed on the vulnerable gives a community more credibility and efficacy when it comes to empowering victims and witnesses than endless benefit of the doubt for perpetrators.
posted by Salamandrous at 1:12 PM on October 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


I agree with what Salamandrous posted 100 percent. The idea that by banning known predators one is somehow giving shelter to as-yet-unknown predators is bizarre.
posted by grouse at 1:37 PM on October 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


I didn't say that it gives shelter to as-yet-unknown predators. I said that it teaches children that some people are Monsters and some people are Not Monsters (which I don't really believe is true). I also said that I respect the decision made by the synagogue. I don't and can't disagree with it. I don't know how to state it any clearer.
posted by muddgirl at 1:45 PM on October 29, 2012


I was not responding to your comment, muddgirl.
posted by grouse at 1:47 PM on October 29, 2012


"I'm not sure how treating crimes against children as serious and worthy of community sanction protects those who would commit crimes against children. It seems more that the effect would be the opposite--children would feel that the adults around them take sexual advances and assaults against children very, very seriously. That, to my mind, can only be a good thing."

I think it would be awfully hard to characterize this community's reaction to David Kaye as either not serious or uncritical of him, regardless of whether final decision ended up being one of expulsion or not. Anyhow, the argument I think most folks have been making in this thread isn't that expulsion would somehow protect predators, but that it would if anything still serve to indirectly protect the predation of the expelled by isolating them, leaving them with fewer responsible adults in their lives keeping an eye on them, and through inaction make children more likely to be harmed. Obviously any community's first priority needs to be the safety of its children, and if that could not be guaranteed then there could be no moral argument for including this guy, but, depending on the context of what is possible for them, allowing him to pray and taking his attempt at assaulting a child seriously do not necessarily need to be mutually exclusive.

"As an adult woman I would love it if a group or community I was involved in would take a sex offender who offended against an adult's participation in the group this seriously. It would make me feel safer going to the leadership about another member of the community because I would know that there's not a kneejerk "if they're in the community they're okay no matter what" attitude."

Any moral attempt at inclusion for this man would absolutely need extraordinary measures to be taken, perhaps like the ones my community did mentioned upthread, and just ignoring his presence obviously could not be an option. I'm not sure anyone is saying that David Kaye is alright no matter what, I don't think even David Kaye is saying that, but there is something radical and life-changing about deciding that everyone is inherently worthy of love and support in what they need, that is distinct from deciding that they are entitled to it, and about being in a community that has. If this community was for some reason likely not actually in a position to offer that support, whether because of logistical limitations in their ability to actually guarantee safety, or because there were survivors or others for whom nothing but expulsion could make them feel safe, or whatever - there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, the kinds of religious institutions that explicitly serve the most downtrodden and outcast having a basic bias towards inclusion wherever possible I think is a good thing.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:49 PM on October 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am all right with some actions having permanent social consequences.

I was thinking about this the other day in terms of recidivism.

When we (society) release a class of criminal from jail we generally know the recidivism rate and are saying that we are willing to tolerate a certain number of robberies/assaults/murders in the name of justice for the larger group.

What's interesting with the sex offender list is that we effectively never let you go. We are willing to tolerate zero sex crimes, no matter what the cost to the offenders.

It just seems weird (although I guess not surprising) that we're so much more comfortable with violence.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:20 PM on October 30, 2012


Tell Me No Lies - I think it's really helpful to distinguish between different forms of consequences. Jail is one consequence (and actually we do not lock up sex offenders forever either), but I was talking about social consequences.

The fact is that victims don't get an end date for the social and psychological consequences of what happened to them. It doesn't seem unjust to me that victimizers would not be entitled to that end date either just because they've fulfilled whatever state-mandated consequences circumstances have handed them.
posted by Salamandrous at 3:31 PM on October 30, 2012


The fact is that victims don't get an end date for the social and psychological consequences of what happened to them.

that's true for victims of violence too, people hit by drunk drivers, and so on. It's pretty damn traumatic to be beaten during a mugging or a home invasion robbery, to be maimed in a car accident, etc. I think the special treatment for sex crimes has to do with attitudes toward sex more than victim impact.
posted by zipadee at 9:45 AM on October 31, 2012


It's pretty damn traumatic to be beaten during a mugging or a home invasion robbery, to be maimed in a car accident, etc. I think the special treatment for sex crimes has to do with attitudes toward sex more than victim impact.

I'm not sure if what you're suggesting is that sex crimes are treated differently because we have a moderately prudish society that sees sex as somehow bad in and of itself, and therefore is extra concerned about sex crimes, but I think that that's an overly limited view. That may play into it somewhat, but I think there's a fundamental difference between being beaten in a mugging, or having your house broken into, or even having your child killed by a drunk driver, and the kind of violation represented by a sex crime. In the latter case, one of the most intimate physical acts in which two people engage has been violated in a way that is likely to affect all future intimacy. I don't think it's prudishness to view that as singularly disgusting.
posted by OmieWise at 9:59 AM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think there's a fundamental difference between being beaten in a mugging, or having your house broken into, or even having your child killed by a drunk driver, and the kind of violation represented by a sex crime. In the latter case, one of the most intimate physical acts in which two people engage has been violated in a way that is likely to affect all future intimacy.

I find it somewhat bizarre to say that sexual violations are inherently worse than invasion of physical autonomy through savage violent assault, lasting physical injury, or death. There's also the puzzle that our view on the unique harm created by sex crimes seem to be getting more severe even as we permit a pornified, sexualized popular culture that encourages people to engage in sex that is anything but intimate.
posted by zipadee at 2:28 PM on October 31, 2012


I find it somewhat bizarre to say that sexual violations are inherently worse than invasion of physical autonomy through savage violent assault, lasting physical injury, or death.

Then you seem to have a different understanding of sex, and the relation it has to the evocation and expression of intimate physical love, than I do.
posted by OmieWise at 5:26 PM on October 31, 2012


Assault resulting in PTSD can lead to some major problems with sexual intimacy as well. Nothing like flinching every time you're touched to kill the mood.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:49 AM on November 2, 2012


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