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August 15, 2009

"Did The Economist Do Sex Crime Victims Justice?"

The title of this post is the headline of this interesting commentary by Robin Sax at The Huffington Post, which is a response to the articles noted in this post from a recent issue of The Economist.  Here is how the commentary begins:

It's not often when an article from The Economist screams, "Robin, you need to read me." But it happened on August 6, 2009 when I read America's Unjust Sex Laws with the stringer, "An ever harsher approach is doing more harm than good, but it is being copied around the world."

When I finished this article, my first feeling was shock. Clearly whoever wrote this article was a journalist and not a therapist, social worker, prosecutor, judge, and obviously not a politician. Nor did the writer live in the trenches of child sexual assault, as I have.  Not wanting to rush to judgment, and agreeing/conceding some of the points presented, I decided to wait a few days to form any firm opinions on the article.  Now that three days have passed, my nagging concerns have not subsided and I must address some of the issues I have with this article.

First of all, child sexual assault is a disgusting issue -- we all can agree on that.  But what most people don't realize is that far more often the misuse or abuse of sex laws lies with the enormous number of cases that do not get prosecuted -- or even filed!

This occurs because the cases may not have qualified legally: there may have been lack of corroboration, lack of sufficient evidence, or dueling viewpoints ("he said/she said)."  Sometimes, too, the perpetrator was so crafty in his abuse and so skilled, he ensured that corroboration would not be possible. Other times, there was a delay in the disclosure.

If anything should be explored about the state of the law relating to sex offenders, it's the huge issue of a lack of prosecution, rather than too much of it!

Ultimately, I think this piece's criticism is misunderstanding the focus of the discussion in The Economist.  The original piece was mostly concerned with the undue expansion and misuse of sex offender registries and residency restrictions; this reaction piece is mostly concerned with the challenges of effectively prosecuting offenders who sexually abuse children.  Ironically, there is possibly important common ground here: sophisticated prosecutors in Iowa and other regions have detailed that the undue expansion and misuse of sex offender registries and residency restrictions may make it harder to effectively prosecute offenders who sexually abuse children.  Disappointingly, though, common-ground insights often get lost in broader panics over sex offenders.

August 15, 2009 at 11:00 AM | Permalink


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She's kinda getting her ass kicked in comments. Which seems appropriate, as it is not a reasoned piece.

Posted by: Matt | Aug 15, 2009 1:51:40 PM

This is just another example of "Children don't deserve the bad things that happen to them, so it's OK that bad things happen to adults, even if they don't deserve it."

Posted by: Anonymous | Aug 15, 2009 4:57:34 PM

She would make a great candidate for The Fallen One's famous Shiitake Awards.

"Giving anti-former offender politicos and celebrities what they really deserve! A load of Shiitake!

If you don't know about it, it's pretty effective and becoming very popular.

Check it out

Posted by: letsgetreal | Aug 15, 2009 6:10:37 PM

The bigger problem with this article is it's underlying premise. It's like saying the failure of our drug laws is based upon too few prosecutions. How can anyone prove that. Obviously, if everyone is a child molester then too few are being prosecuted. But short of that her thesis is pure random speculation. I too have worked in the trenches of child sexual abuse and I certainly agree that there were cases, in my mind, that were not prosecuted but I wish that were. But I also thought that there were cases that were prosecuted that I thought should not have been. It's not a perfect system and in the end it wasn't my decision.

Her so called essay is just more "there is a pedo under you bed" screeching. It's really sad. I guess for some people commies just don't cut it anymore.

Posted by: Daniel | Aug 15, 2009 9:14:02 PM

This website shows how sex offenders use the dynamics of child sexual abuse to abuse again and again. It contains trial transcripts of a guy that was charged and admitted to the crimes in 1989 but without a child willing to testify, the DA in Texas sent him to superficial counseling and sent him on his way 100 miles north to Kansas. Allegations surface again in Kansas during 2002. This time there is a trial. 1989 prior bad acts were admitted as evidence at the trial and a Seward County Kansas Jury acquitted him.

The man's own testimony said that young boys touched themselves sexually in his home after he gave them a nude massage, but he never touched them in a sexual manner. According the the jury, a nude massage did not constitute sexual "touching" as defined in the Kansas statute.


Posted by: Bill Aaron | Aug 15, 2009 11:33:53 PM

The hysteria is manufactured by the vile feminist lawyer and its male running dog to generate worthless government lawyer jobs. To them, all sex is assault. They constitute a bias hate group, out to plunder and destroy the productive male, to fund and empower the parasites they are and represent.

None of the left wing ideologues here will speak this self-evident fact. They will allow the real sex predator to roam the streets, picking up and murdering children making the mistake of walking in the street. Those serial murderers they fully protect from proper remedy, which is death. Then they go after mostly males on tiny lawyer gotchas. These rent seeking, government, make work, lazy, shiftless internal traitors should be removed, put on trial themselves, and summarily executed. To deter. The criminal law is in utter failure, immunizing the guilty and persecuting the minor infraction of worthless rules. One hundred real crimes will take place before a single consequence results.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 16, 2009 3:38:52 AM

Doug, Ms. Sax is a smart woman. I don't believe for a second she is "misunderstanding" the issues raised in the Economist. Instead she is trying to obfuscate them. She presents her post as a rebuttal, then notably fails to disturb in the slightest any of the magazine's core arguments.

If someone from her Nancy-Grace-ish perspective would actually take on a point by point response to the Economist articles, that would be a useful and interesting debate. Instead she grants there are legitimate (mostly unnamed) critiques of registry systems and residency restrictions but insists that other, different concerns that she wants addressed must be dealt with "before we start protecting the offenders." So she admits there is need for reforming registries, but would have us wait until some utopian future without sex crimes before it's time to change the laws.

Perhaps her copy of the magazine should resume screaming, "Robin, you need to read me again!

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Aug 16, 2009 9:04:08 AM

Social-networking ban for sex offenders: Bad call? (CNet.com)

Kicking Sex Offenders Off The Internet? (CBSNews)

Posted by: George | Aug 16, 2009 11:00:05 AM

The economist is a progressive social science magazine with a fairly centrist view on economics. It is against the war on drugs, and various American hysterias where a mania drives us and law enforcement and the justice system to just over-do it. (prosecutorial zealotry) Of course these are bad crimes and no one is denying it. But the google maps of clusters of offenders litering so many towns in America should raise some questions. I think there are experts who feel we need to revamp the whole registry patchwork of individual state systems. I for one, do not believe urinating in public, say behind a bush or dumpster is a sex crime. Yet was it 5 states that put those people on their lists? In places like NYC you literally will not be allowed to use a bathroom unless you are a paying customer at a restaurant or pub. Some people have legitamate medical conditions and others may just be drunk, but all the same they have to go. Public nusiance maybe, but sex offender no. The Economist has a unique talent for spotting trends in cultures and I agree, we in America are very hysteria prone. We seem to be criminalizing the entire nation bit by bit by our ever expanding laws in just every dimension. Freud said a quarter of his female patients, often from well to do families, experienced some form of this. So are we going to put an eighth of 300 million people on registries? Fear sells in America, but is its selling us a better democracy? It needs a rethink. That is all the Economist is asking us to do.

Posted by: Brian | Aug 29, 2009 8:04:42 PM

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