January 19, 2006

Child molesters, enablers must face tougher penalties

The New Hampshire Union Leader, Commentary

IN THE PAST few years I have had the privilege of representing nearly 150 victims of childhood sexual abuse. They were victims of abuse by clergy, teachers, day care workers, neighbors and family members. I have heard their stories and witnessed their pain. I have also had a chance to investigate and analyze the circumstances surrounding their abuse, including taking lengthy depositions of several of these serial offenders.

While imposing harsher criminal sentences on convicted child molesters is just and appropriate, it is debatable whether such measures will actually serve to prevent or deter sexual offenders from preying on children. The same can be said for “residential” type restrictions, i.e., prohibiting these people from living near schools.

Paraphilia, pedophilia and ephebophilia are diseases. Sex offenders are not only sick, but are “addicts,” driven from within to seek out and exploit their prey at all costs. They are also masters of gaining trust and avoiding detection and prosecution. To believe that such people can be deterred by increasing their sentences on the chance they are convicted, or by telling them they can’t live next to schools, is probably as naive as it is politically expedient.

Posted by dcoday at January 19, 2006 02:54 PM