I want to tell you about Scott, a friend of mine who lives in the upstate of South Carolina. After a year and a half of being a modern day leper, he finally agreed to my interview. No, Scott does not have Hansen's disease. However, he has been shunned and forced to live on the edges of society, similar to the lepers of Biblical times.

It wasn't always like that for Scott. He attended Clemson University where he received two degrees, and used his knowledge in a State job for over twenty years. Now, he occasionally gets an odd job cleaning someone's yard or he hauls scrap metal to a recycling plant for a few dollars.

Scott is labeled as a sex offender. He is a modern-day leper. A boogeyman. Law enforcement officials have called him a scourge on society. But there is much more to the story. Did he get what he deserves or is he a product of a witch hunt?

Scott developed a compulsion for on-line chat and mild pornography. This was not something that over-took his life, but the time he spent chatting with women and looking at pictures increased over the years. The step that led to his legal problems began when he purchased a web cam.

Some of Scott's on-line acquaintances encouraged him to show his body. Eventually he did and it became a boost to his ego. One day when he was chatting, he clicked on a female name in a yahoo chat room. She indicated that she was thirteen-years old and lived in Spartanburg, SC. Scott admitted to me that he should have turned the machine off at that moment – but he didn't. He did, however, tell her that she was too young and said “goodbye.” She pursued him. She told him that she needed to talk to someone about boys but had no one to turn to. She was convincing, almost as if she wasn't really a thirteen-year old. Scott relented and after a discussion of teenage sexuality, he activated his web cam and showed his body to her. Scott told me this story, smothered in shame and embarrassment. He made it very clear that he never asked her to meet him or spoke of sex with her in any manner.

Scott's life changed two weeks later when he answered a knock at his door. Six law enforcement agents were in the yard. He was arrested for Criminal Solicitation of a Minor. This law, passed in 2004, is felony in South Carolina and carries up to ten years in prison. Scott's life would never be the same.

Before his arrest, Scott was a respected member of the community. He was a deacon and Sunday school teacher. Now, he has been made a criminal. I say “made” because the person he was talking to on the computer was a Spartanburg County Sheriff's detective. He never talked to a minor, yet upon his arrest, the officer said “parents had complained”. Also, the officer stated that if he wrote a confession “things will go much better for you.” This was after his Miranda right “to remain silent” had been read.

Scott's house was searched and several computers were confiscated. He was told by the arresting officer that he would get them back. That was almost two years ago. The Spartanburg Sheriff's office still has his computers.

Since Scott was a State employee, the media had a field day. As a matter of fact, before he had arrived at the Spartanburg Detention center the Spartanburg Herald was calling his house and asking for his wife by name. I wonder how they knew about this case before it became public record?

Five months later, Scott entered a guilty plea for Criminal Solicitation of a Minor. He received five years- suspended to three years probation, the sex offender registry for life, and an eighteen month therapy class. The probation cost $100 per month and the therapy $45 per week. Also, the sex offender registry cost $150.00 per year. I was shocked that being a criminal is so expensive.

Scott spends a lot of his time alone. The Southern Baptist Church he attended for 27 years will not allow him to worship with them and the YMCA sent him a letter revoking his membership. The large body of acquaintances and friends has dwindled to a handful. His support groups have disappeared.

The following comments are my opinions and food for thought. I want to protect children. But do these sting operations actually protect? It seems to me that they simply create criminals. These programs are like casting a net in the sea and hoping a shark might get caught. A lot of good fish are hauled in as well. How many kids hang out in the “South Carolina” chat room of Yahoo.com?

There was one thing that Scott said many times in our interview. “I was wrong for doing what I did”. I agree. Scott was wrong. But does it require a felony and a lifetime membership to the Sex Offenders Registry to punish Scott? It seems to me that when we give a man (or woman) no hope then we are setting up a volatile situation. Yes, there are predators out there that need to be stopped. Scott is not one of them.

The South Carolina Attorney General's Internet Crime Against Children task force has “netted” more than one hundred men since the law passed in 2004. When the 100th man was arrested, Henry McMaster and his 37 disciples were shown on the TV news having a toast and patting each other on the back. Has the focus turned from protecting children to promoting a program?

When Scott exposed himself to an undercover cop by way of web cam he broke the law, but why brand him with a scarlet letter for life? At the very least, allow the men who are distinguished as non-predators the ability to have a periodic review before the Probation and Parole board. . How are we helping children by watering down the Sex Offenders Registry with men who happen to turn on a web cam. Is this the same man that is hiding at the bus stop or lurking around the playground? Of course not! So, basically, when a parent searches the registry for offenders in their neighborhood, it means nothing. How does this protect children? By loading the registry down with created criminals the registry is useless. So why isn't something done? Three reasons: First, it is political suicide for a politician to side with a sex offender. Second, law enforcement sends out propaganda stating that Sex offenders have a high rate of re-offending. According to the book “Sex Offenses and the Men Who Commit Them,” 91% of sex offenders never re-offend sexually. Law enforcement pads the numbers by adding any offense to the sex offender's recidivism rate. So, if a sex offender gets a DUI, it is reported that he re-offended. Third, it is much safer for an officer to sit behind a computer than to be on the streets of Upstate South Carolina, especially since South Carolina is ranked number three out of the twenty most dangerous States and ranked number one in assaults.

I think protecting children is important. But often our attempts to protect actually set up situations to help true predators go unnoticed. We need to be careful and not fall for any and every program that is placed under the umbrella of “child protection”.

Anything that we accomplish today can only be judged by its impact on future events. This is why we make laws and policies with the ability to change or amend them as our world and society changes. Adaptability is a requirement for survival. The views and laws concerning these people we label as sex offenders needs to be revisited.

Consider this quote:

“The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation.”

Think about it. Oh, by the way, that quote is from Adolph Hitler. Share and Enjoy:


5 Responses to “Sex Offenders: The Modern Day Leper”

1. Robin says: March 28, 2009 at 2:14 pm

Well, this is one that even I would hate to debate simply because I feel that anyone who hurts a child should be locked away for ever. With that said, does the whole program need to be better worded and adjusted for certain offenses? Yes, absolutely without a doubt.

Case in point that those who steal something worth $5 are not treated the same as someone who steals $5000. Each case should be viewed on the playing field in which it fits.

2. shadowmoon87 says: March 28, 2009 at 8:00 pm

I would say this is paranoid or simply political issue and have nothing to do with child abuse. At least the history told here.

That's like leaving a wallet on the train station and arresting anyone who picks it up. I wonder what's up with the judgment system.

I have no words and my hatred toward this is preventing me to think straightly.

3. Sex Offender Issues says: March 29, 2009 at 10:42 am

Good article, but the quote at the end, was not from Hitler, as I once thought, but it is from a man called: Rabbi Daniel Lapin.

I am totally against ANY form of abuse to any human being. And I believe anyone who murders another human being should be in prison for the rest of their life (until they die). I do not believe in the death penalty for anyone. Also, I believe that once a person has been in and out of prison and has served their probation and parole, done everything required of them, and what was signed on the “contract” when they took the plea, none of this should be required of them, none of it. The state cannot tear up a contract like this, which they are basically doing, it's unconstitutional. Many people, if they had known they would be faced with all this, they would have NOT taken a plea deal. And the courts are very aware of this and this is why they made it retroactive; thus violating ex-post facto laws! They should be allowed to get on with their life as if nothing happened. I'm not saying for it to be removed from their record, but, the crime should be removed from public view and background checks, they should not have any more restrictions, shaming, etc. If they commit another crime, then they face a lot more punishment, like everything else is treated.

When are we going to move away from being “TOUGH ON CRIME” and move to being “SMART ON CRIME?” If you locked every single s*x offender up, at this moment, or killed every one of them, do you think the problem is over? No, more will follow.

I've heard many people say “If these laws protect one child, then they are worth it!” And at the same time, if millions are tortured, it's ok. Offenders are losing their homes, jobs, families, and children and cannot find new jobs or homes due to the insanity of these laws. The families are also made into outcasts for associating with or being related to an ex-offender and their own children are harassed and bullied at schools due to a family member being an ex-offender.

I know these laws are a sensitive issue, but as all issues, they must be discussed and we must come up with a valid solution that will work. The laws, as they exist now, DO NOT WORK! People are always saying they cause unintended consequences. These laws have been on the books for years now, so nothing is unintended anymore. When are we going to set aside fear, hate, rage and anger and come up with a real solution? History has proven that these feelings NEVER get good laws passed but only create bad ones that punish and torture many people. These knee-jerk reactions to a slim number of high-profile crimes, like Adam Walsh and Jessica Lunsford, MUST STOP!

When an ex-offender is forced to move from his/her home, thus having to sell it, cannot find another home within the law due to the residency “buffer” zones, get fired from their jobs due to being on the registry, cannot find a new job due to being on the registry, their husband/wife lose their jobs due to a significant other being on the registry, their children lose their friends and are harassed and bullied in school due to a family member being on the registry, thus destroying the children's lives, ex-offenders are forced into homelessness and to live under bridges, harassed by police, neighbors and probation/parole officers, have to wear “I'm a s*x offender T-shirt” or have a neon green license plate on ALL their cars, have “s*x offender” on their drivers license and forced to renew their licenses every year, forced from shelters during tornadoes or hurricanes, cannot give blood at some places due to being discriminated against for being on the s*x offender registry, denied housing due to being on the registry, signs placed in their yards inviting harassment and ridicule from the neighbors, forced to move when the neighbors start picketing outside the ex-offenders home, the list is endless.


Sex Offender Issuess last blog post..MA - OUR OPINION: City wrong to use schools as zoning weapon #

4. Thomas says: March 29, 2009 at 11:33 am

The problem with it all is that the word SEX OFFENDER denotes some one that is a child molester . The problem with all this is that sex offenders have a LABEL and ARE shunned and segregated from society ! this is done by knee jerk legislation made to make you feel good and for you to VOTE for the politician and law makers . All sex offender laws are against the Constitution and bill of rights but some how with the very nature of the LABEL sex offender we all think that it is OK to pass such laws , We have yet to look at what these laws have done clearly nothing has stopped any one from becoming a sex offender but a sex offender has a VERY low rate of recommitting there crime . 10% of ALL sex offenders re- offend . Now lets look at whom is a sex offender . Some a teens engaging in sex most 18 year old boy having sex with a 15 year old girl end up stuck on a registry ! Then there is the father that has sex with his child yes sick as it is there is that or the uncle mother or family friend taking advantage of the child and sexually abusing them . Over 90% of ALL sex offenses against a CHILD are done by these people NOT some stranger the rest 10% are rapes . Now they lumped every one together tagging them all as child molesters and rapists ! No this is wrong first off there should be NO LABELS AT ALL no one should have to be shunned segregated or have any ONE of there rights violated for this remember most are teens and the rest are Uncles , Fathers , mothers , brothers , friends and / or some one that is very CLOSE to your child . now we have the internet as well which I think NO child should be on at all AS they are sending naked pictures of them selves to other boys and them boys are now being charged with child pron ! cell phones internet and any tech that brings a child into a adult world is some thing they should be kept away from ! Now what has the registry done ? Well it has increased the rate of murder since making a target for a vigilante has become the job of the gov. Homelessness by legislation is also being done by the gov. and law makers , there is a huge increase in assaults against sex offenders as well again some thing the registry was NOT MEANT FOR THE PUBLIC TO DO has become a government sanction event ! Joblessness as well . Now we come to the shelters since the Red Cross and other homeless shelters are band from taking ANY sex offender in during natural disaster and even the harshest of weather we have what is called DEATH by Legislation ! This is what the registry has done and tell me just how many children has the registry protected ? there has not been one study done as to the protective effectiveness of the sex offender registry but there has been tons of research on the negative and unconstitutional affect of the registry ! So what we are doing with the registry is more harm than good but since most feel the NEED to know we are Labeling , segregating , adding more punishment and putting them in harms way for our own personal vengeance and hate when will this stop ? when do we as Americans stand up and say enough of this ! Laws made out of vengance and hate can not be a part of the American way !

5. Thomas says: March 29, 2009 at 1:09 pm

What I fail to see is just how this is not entrapment . you have people pretending to some one they are not a man saying you are too young and he still ( AGAIN A MALE ) gets convicted of a crime that really never happened or even existed in the first place . HOW mad I am at this government and how they use technology that is designed for ADULTS as you have to be an adult to enter into a contract and in order for any one to get internet access they have to enter into an agreement so then we allow CHILDREN to use this Internet and then use that same ” Tool ” to entrap and convict MEN of sex crimes ? What has happened to America ? where is Justice and fairness and WERE the HELL are the parents ? Parents need to wake up take the Internet and cell phones from children they have NO right to be on AN ADULT orenated technology in the first place ! MY god do you take your children into bars ? “R ” rated movies ? Do you let your children smoke or take drugs ? THEN why do we let children on the Internet ? Clearly they have no place here as well seems they all get sexually abused and solicited so why is it that we are allowing children to use the Internet ? I am not against children using computers just the internet as it is clearly an UNSAFE place for them to be no matter what age they are till they are 18 years old all children should be ban from using this form of communication not only for there protection but for the protection of MEN AS WELL !