DEAR ABBY: As a licensed psychotherapist who has worked with both victims and perpetrators of sexual abuse over the past 25 years, I would like to respond to "Stunned in the City," who found her co-worker's name on a website for registered sex offenders.
Registered sex offenders have been convicted and incarcerated for their crimes as well as serving a probationary period upon release. However, unlike other criminal offenses, they never finish "serving their time" - both in the areas of where they can live and how they can live (employment). They continue to serve a sentence that can never be completed and are stigmatized for the rest of their lives.
The reason for this is because of a "one-size-fits-all" approach to punishment, be it a onetime offender or a serial rapist. Most sexual abusers are either members of the family or a close family friend, and most are never reported. Only a small percentage of registered offenders pose a danger and should be under surveillance. The others should be allowed a second chance to continue with their lives without undue harassment.
If "Stunned" reports her co-worker to her employer, she will jeopardize his livelihood, which he needs to redeem his life.
- Already Paid His Debt
DEAR A.P.H.D.: I received mail from mental-health professionals, employers, parents and people who are on the sex offenders' list regarding the letter from "Stunned." All of them stated that the range of crimes that can add someone to the list is very broad. The list is no more than a starting point for people to begin their own research into public records before telling an employer or another person.