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  • 25 Nov 2014

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Oregon shouldn't coddle its sex offenders

My View: Victims don't want us to rethink registration of those convicted of sex crimes


by: PORTLAND TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT - East Portland resident Danielle Tudor worries that the man who raped her many years ago will some day be paroled. She would like police to focus their attention on the most violent sex offenders.I read with great interest the Tribune series in regard to sex offenders (Feb. 14 and 21) and feel compelled to express my thoughts.

I write from the point of view of a victim of a stranger-to-stranger rape. I now fight every two years to keep my attacker (Richard Gillmore, known as the “jogger rapist”) in prison. He victimized nine women that we know of. I say that because statistics show that rape, incest or molestation are not always reported by victims. Some victims think the abuse was somehow their fault.

We put the sex offender registry system in place as a “warning signal” for law enforcement and the public. However, we now seem to be re-thinking this whole system, and I cannot for the life of me fathom why.

After reading the articles, particularly some of attorney Judith Armatta’s quotes, I was left feeling the reason I reported my rape was because I had a hang-up about sex and was vindictive. Nothing could be further from the truth. Whether the perpetrator is a stranger or someone they know, a rape victim who reports the crime is a hero. Why? It is one of the hardest things you would ever have to do in your life.

Do I feel a perpetrator should be held accountable? You bet I do! Am I trying to be vindictive? I don’t think so. I just want to make sure no one else suffers at the perpetrator’s hands. In the case of statutory, consensual sex, I do give some leeway.

I understand that we have made great strides in eliminating these cases from the registry. I am also not opposed to lesser, first-time offenders being able to petition to have their name removed from the registry if, after serving their time, they keep a clean record over a designated period of time. I am not trying to say “once a sex offender, always a sex offender.”

Unfortunately, that saying probably comes from statistics that show rehabilitation is difficult for most offenders, and those labeled as “dangerous and predatory” should never be off the registry

Viewing child pornography, contrary to many people’s view, should be a major offense. A child somewhere is being abused to provide those pictures. It is not a victimless crime.

I was appalled at Alissa Ackerman’s assessment that only a small number will re-offend sexually when released from prison. She asserts that most sex crimes against children are not because they are attracted to them; rather, the perpetrator was under stress or angry and a child was an easy target. It sounded like the idea of having to sacrifice the safety and security of a child was a small price to pay to help rehabilitate someone’s sick mind.

Ridiculous. How many of us have experienced these same emotions but do not lash out in a sexual crime against a child? In many respects, being molested by a trusted adult figure is harsher than a stranger-to-stranger rape. In many cases, these victims will still see their perpetrators on a regular basis because they are family or friend and, in some cases, the abuse may continue. Such crime violates a “rightness of society,” if you will.

Our job is to protect our children. As a result, it is unthinkable to me that we are talking about being understanding and sensitive to sex offenders. It’s like trying to convince me that I should be polite to a wild animal just before they attempt to devour my child in front of my eyes.

I am sure what leads an individual to become a sex offender is different from case to case. However, one thing is true: it is a process of choices and decisions along the way. While they may want to lay blame somewhere and they bemoan the fact of how unfair their punishment is, the reality is, it was their choice.

Surely we aren’t naive enough to think that the punishment for their behavior never crossed their mind while committing the offense. Such behavior given into, over time, becomes so ingrained it becomes almost impossible to change. To lead the public to believe that these individuals can be reformed is nothing short of false. The reality is more often than not, you can’t.

Sex crimes are some of the most reprehensible, yet we want to coddle the criminal in the name of being “sensitive”?

At the same time, a victim of a sexual crime has no eraser, no delete button that can undo the past. Many live with that experience in the forefront of their minds. The memory is never far away. Some can go on and live a productive, normal life. For others, their lives are destroyed.

I say our compassion, concern and sensitivity should go to those who have survived rape, incest or molestation. These are the ones we need to help get back their life.

As it stands, Oregon is hemorrhaging sex offenders because we are so lenient. If we want to stop this influx of sex offenders into Oregon, then we need to be matching other states’ consistency in keeping a shorter leash on registered sex offenders. Being required to register once a year hardly seems adequate.

I understand our law enforcement resources are limited in comparison to the number of registered sex offenders. In my mind, that makes the registry that much more vital. The public needs to be aware who these people are and know if they live in their neighborhoods. As far as I am concerned, the offender gave up his privacy when he committed the sex offense.

Our focus needs to be on the public and the measures we need to take to keep us safe.

Danielle Tudor is a Portland resident.