Child Sex Offender, Now an Adult, Must Register

by TChris

Should children ever be forgiven for mistakes that result from immature judgment? The trend in recent years has been to treat children as adults when they enter the criminal justice system, subjecting them to adult consequences on the theory that they deserve it for committing "adult crimes." That philosophy is tough on a kid who grows up and wants a fresh start in life. It's particularly tough when the kid may be branded as a sex offender for a good part of his adulthood.

Shawn Murphy was 13 when he forced his 11-year-old cousin to have sex with him. Now that he's turned 18, his name has been posted on Iowa's sex offender registry website.

"It causes a lot of problems and doesn't make much sense," said Gail Ryan of the National Adolescent Perpetrator Network's Kempe Children's Center. "With juveniles, we have pretty strong consensus in the field that we shouldn't be calling kids sex offenders when they're adolescents, when they're still forming their identities."

Juvenile sex offenders -- particularly those who have been through a treatment program -- are unlikely to become recidivists, but being labeled a sex offender may become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

"Calling juveniles sex offenders in and of itself is not productive," Ryan said. "It is not productive to have them thinking of themselves as sex offenders, when that's not who we want them to be."

As Donna Coleman, director of Children's Advocacy Alliance, said: "I don't think we should label them. We should try to rehabilitate them."

Shawn Murphy shows every sign of being rehabilitated, but that didn't stop his school, upon discovering his name in the sex offender registry, from trying to boot him out. Ultimately, Shawn worked out a compromise: he'll be allowed to graduate, but he can't attend classes for the rest of the year. For the crime of depriving Shawn of the rest of his high school education, there is no punishment.

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    We have gone mad. Our children are reflections of our selves. Where are Christen values when we really need them?

    Why is there no "Convicted Thief Registry"? Does requiring someone to announce past crimes that they have served time on violate their rights? Of course sex offenders are "EVIL". Maybe we should just stone them.

    I am very nervous about these registries sweeping the country. It starts with sex offenders, but it won't be long until DUI offenders are also listed, knowing the power of lobbies like MADD, and the loads of statistics ready to confirm the average person's suspicions that drunk drivers tend to be repeat offenders. So why stop there? How bout convicted drug users, we should have a right to know if some crack head is in the neighborhood, looking to rob us, right? I feel dirty saying it, but it may be time to stand up for criminal rights...you do the time, you suffer the punishment, then you are FREE. Should be able to vote after your sentence is served as well. Maybe that way criminals (and the accused in general) wouldn't be so sidelined in politics.

    Re: Child Sex Offender, Now an Adult, Must Registe (none / 0) (#4)
    by Darryl Pearce on Wed Mar 30, 2005 at 05:11:37 PM EST
    Wow! Good thing there's no evidence of a certain "mooning" on the Hwy 14 in 1977...

    Skaje states ...you do the time, you suffer the punishment, then you are FREE. Should be able to vote after your sentence is served as well. Should we give them their guns back, also?

    Re: Child Sex Offender, Now an Adult, Must Registe (none / 0) (#6)
    by Johnny on Wed Mar 30, 2005 at 05:47:57 PM EST
    Soldier, thats a good question, and I feel the answer is no, but thats not the point. Not even remotely. The point is that a 13 year old kid committed a crime, and now faces a lifetime of punishment above and beyond what the legal system decided was right for him. My neighborhood has a strict policy against convicted sex criminals from living there... Imagine the uproar if a community decided to publish the names of those convicted of, say... Domestic abuse? Reckless driving? Imagine if you or I had to go door to door, telling people "I have had a DUI, the state of "X" has determined that the 2 years I did in prison was not enough, I must now inform all my neighbors that I have been convicted of this crime." When does the punishment stop?

    This is a tough one. One the one hand, a minor is a minor. They are not able to think ahead. That comes with maturity. But ... The point is that a 13 year old kid committed a crime, and now faces a lifetime of punishment above and beyond what the legal system decided was right for him. in this case the crime committed was rape. The victim has to live with these scars for the rest of their life. Why should he get a break? It's a tough one.

    this nation is insane and the people who use kids as political tools are many. in this case the kid was under age and must not be looked at as an adult. But i got news for people soon little kids will be sent off to adult pirsons for reeducation. No kid should be marked as evil at 10 years old, or 15 years old, so many have been used bY our non educational system its a joke on all of us. OH Yes one reason why the system wants to mark kids for life, is no social benefits no schools ed, money for college, no Social security payments if the guy lives to that age after working as a slave for life, and the best part is the government can use him for a political symbol of telling people how great and just our government is. people, "See it for what it is", you are next in line.

    Johnny, I can sympathize with your points and your feelings for the boy. However, I can also sympathize with the victim. Additionally, even if we could get the recidivism rate down to 10%, that is still a huge amount of crimes that, perhaps, could be prevented. I don’t think there is a good solution to this problem. No matter what you do, someone ends up being hurt. I prefer to direct that hurt toward the perpetrators, rather than the victims.

    Johnny, a further though. Several months ago, I had a person inform me that he had once committed a crime and had served prison time for it. He did not have to inform me. He did so because of his position in the organization and because I was the “head” of the organization. He put no conditions on telling me. I could have blabbed it to the whole world. Of course, I didn’t. The point is, he had learned to take responsibility for his crime. His frankness surprised me. And, I suspect that most criminals, at least the ones that are sorry for their crimes, are like that. I don’t like to base opinions on one incident, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the boy is more accepting of his situation than I think I would be, in his place.

    The article states that between 8 and 14% of convicted juveniles will commit another sexual assualt as adults. Put 8 convicted juveniles in a row and choose one to babysit your kid. Do you feel comfortable? Here in Florida we just a buried a girl raped and killed by a sex offender. Yeah, I feel sorry for them.

    Re: Child Sex Offender, Now an Adult, Must Registe (none / 0) (#12)
    by Johnny on Wed Mar 30, 2005 at 08:05:44 PM EST
    Well, I firmly believe that "registering" sex offenders could not possible do anything to reform these people. It amounts to LWOP "lite". At best, it will allow parents the ability to say "stay away from that person, s/he is a convicted sex criminal." That is priceless to me, as a father of a 4 year old. However, at what point does the punishment end? Seriously. We now know who lives among us as sex offenders, but what of killers? Drug dealers? Don't we deserve to know that as well? Why single out this one type of very rare criminal? If it is about protecting kids and their innocence, what then about drug crimes, DUI crimes, abuse, etc etc? I am just looking for some kind of consistency. Also, does anyone have any stats that show sex crimes have dropped as a result of this? I know this has nothing to do with deterrence, but I would be interested to know. his is tough, especially as the perp was a 13 year old, who is now being treated as if the crime he did was committed as an adult. I don't usually post on the charge kids as an adult topics, but this one is extremely interesting. TL has been a hotbed of pederasts lately. Running the spectrum from 13 to 87.

    Personally, I wouldn’t have a problem with criminals being able to earn their way off the list. Say, ten years without a criminal conviction. It seems to me that that might have a rehabilitative effect. But, I would fear that liberals would have the time period reduced to six months or some other meaningless amount. I also would not have a problem with including other felonies in the list, but only if the type of crime was also included. LOTS of people would have problems with that, though.

    I think it should depend on the crime. A guy in my hometown served 8 months in jail for his underage girlfriend taking naked pictures of the two of them. Her mother found the pics and he was conviced of molesting her or some nonsense, even though she testified that she took the pictures because she wanted to. After the court case she kinda spiraled down into a depression and tried to kill herself. He came out of jail really really messed up. In a case like this, I don't think it is remotely fair that he should have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. On the other hand, my girlfriend was repeatedly raped and molested for 3 years starting when she was 6 and he was 13 by a kid whom she had known all her life (his parents worked with hers as magazine writers). That kid was never charged, but if he had been I would be all for him being listed as a sex offender. I don't think it should be about age, it should be about the crime committed.

    Should we give them their guns back, also? A good question. I'm more of a social libertarian than a strict social liberal, so I personally believe that once criminals have served their time, they should be able to be full citizens again, including gun rights. Especially if the crime was not even gun-related. I donít think there is a good solution to this problem. No matter what you do, someone ends up being hurt. I prefer to direct that hurt toward the perpetrators, rather than the victims. I agree with that. There's a balance to be found in law enforcement, between protecting the citizens, while not trampling their civil rights. It's not a black and white issue. I just personally feel that on principle, a criminal should get all their rights back once they have done their time. If necessary, jail time can be increased for heinous (and habitual) crimes like child molestation, instead of letting them out quick and then putting them on registries.

    Re: Child Sex Offender, Now an Adult, Must Registe (none / 0) (#16)
    by Aaron on Thu Mar 31, 2005 at 05:47:45 AM EST
    Angie, notification laws aren't part of the offender's punishment. They are an add-on which is supposed to protect the community. There are some decent arguments [url=http://www.expertlaw.com/library/criminal/megans_law.html]for and against these laws[/url]. There was an infamous case in Michigan, about 20 years ago, in which an offender with a significant history of violent juvenile sex offenses escalated, as an adult, to killing some of his victims. I doubt that community notification would have helped in that case, given the facts and circumstances, but registration may well have helped the police identify him sooner, particularly given that one of his juvenile offenses was very close in m.o. to his murders. Michigan presently has the odd rule that the public is only notified of adult offenders in the community, or of certain juvenile sex offenders once they reach adulthood. Arguably, for the juveniles, this keeps the public in the dark when the offenders are the most dangerous. In any event, public notification laws and public registries should be about danger to the community. If not, they become cluttered with useless information which serves to make it difficult to find truly dangerous individuals on the list. What good does that do for anybody? Perhaps overinclusion, like so many other things, is the result of fear on the part of politicians - they don't want to be blamed when an offender, not deemed dangerous, commits a crime and is found not to be included on the public list.

    I find this discussion very interesting, as I'm sure those of you who read and participated in other discussions of pedophilia on TL this week do. Thirteen is when your adult hormones kick in and sexual identity begins to be formed. If you were messed up or messed with as a child, It's gonna come out in your early teens. So, at what point does the "scarred for life" victim become the "evil monster" incapable of rehabilitation? Using this logic we should register all victims of sexual abuse as they are the most likely to grow up to offend in this way. Truthfully, wouldn't you want to know if the father of your future children was molested as a child? Wouldn't it make you just a little more cautious deep down? My point is that there is a lot of gray area here, especially in the formative years. Soldier, while you make a good point about taking responsibility, I don't completely buy the direct relationship between his telling you and his taking responsibility. For example, lets say he was the 13 yr. old mentioned here. Let's say that he got counseling, "took responsibility" etc. Do you think he would have confided that to you? And if you weren't so understanding and his career was ruined by you as a result of his confession, (lets say he worked for Boca Jeff, for example), is it fair to consider that "part of the punishment" because he committed the crime? In truth, it seems like many people who we really don't need to keep "an eye" on in our neighborhoods are ending up on this registry. It is actually not that easy to see the listings and it doesn't actually even tell you what they did besides three general categories of Levels I, II and III. There was actually a guy listed on our street - I asked some of the neighbors and the same old people have lived in the listed house for about 50 years. I felt pretty nasty whispering to neighbors about the "guy on the list". If he really did live there, we may have been very unfair in our judgments without having a way of knowing. The main thing I don't like about the democrats is this idea of legislating advocacy for victims that involves making a bunch of laws "for the public good". They almost always end up infringing on our privacy and freedom and creating a slippery slope where individuals are preemptively convicted.

    The brain is going through a tremendous process of growth, neural pruning and neural re-alignment during the teen years. Teenagers often act impulsively and misinterpret the reactions of others because of this process. Often teenagers' stupid actions come from this brain in progress, not because of hormones. It is simply ridiculous to treat the actions of a 13 year old the same way as one would treat the actions of a 21 year old whose brain is mature. Teenagers can be rehabilitated because the brain is still developing. As far as life-long trauma goes, I can tell you from personal experience that one can let events traumatize you forever, or one can decide to move on. Often parents are the ones who traumatize children even more by perseverating on events. People can and do move on, or they can choose perpetual victimhood.

    Re: Child Sex Offender, Now an Adult, Must Registe (none / 0) (#19)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 31, 2005 at 08:17:04 AM EST
    I'm w/ Angie, this is tough. In general, I am firmly against criminal registries of any kind. Too much like the "scarlet letter", and a potential slippery slope as mentioned above. I have wavered a bit, molestation is so heinous I can understand the public wanting to know of convicted sex offenders in their neighborhood, and it is extremely difficult for me to garner a shred of sympathy for those that harm children. Then again, I've read horror stories of people convicted of indecent exposure, or statuatory rape involving 19 and 16 yr. olds in a relationship ending up on these lists. A tough one indeed. The potential for those undeserving of the "sex offender" label ending up on the list and stigmatized for life is to much for me to bear. I must err on the side of freedom and the rights of the individual. Freedom isn't free, not knowing the criminal history of you neighbor is a price I'm willing to pay for freedom. Very, very tough though.

    A rhetorical question, kdog. Aside from our visceral reaction to child molesters, what makes them so much more heinous and hurtful to children than the average physical and emotional torturer of children? Just questioning my reactions and others...

    Re: Child Sex Offender, Now an Adult, Must Registe (none / 0) (#21)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 31, 2005 at 08:58:23 AM EST
    Good question mfox, and a tough one. They are very similar, and my utter contempt applies to all who harm children in any way (sexually, physically, and emotionally). I would guess it would be somewhat easier for a child to overcome physical or emotional abuse, as opposed to sexual. Any abuse would be difficult to overcome of course, but sexual abuse is especially scarring and heinous. That's my best guess. That and it's just so freakin' sick.

    Michelle, are you saying that the 13-year old boy should be treated with understanding, but that the 11-year old girl should have the maturity to "just move on?"

    mfox - if I had ruined his career (and that wouldn't have been possible in this case), then I feel that I would have been committing a moral crime against him, although not a legal crime. I would be responsible for that, just as if I had taken a gun out and shot him. But, I think I know what you are getting at. No, I would not consider it "part of the punishment", I would consider it a consequence of his actions. To continue with your example, let’s say he worked at a high-class daycare in Hollywood, CA and the daycare found out about his crime. They decide to dismiss him. If they dismiss him because of the harm his presence does to the daycare’s reputation, I would consider that “part of the punishment”. If they dismiss his because of the perceived threat to the children, I would consider that a consequence of his actions.

    kdog, you answered mfox's question a heck of a lot better than I would have. Up to a couple of months ago, I equated child sexual abuse with rape, placing them on an equally heinous level. Then I read Michael Reagan’s book, Twice Adopted. He convinced me that child sexual abuse is considerable worse, just by discussing his own life. He also influenced my views on the effects of divorce on children, although there, I was at least leaning in the right direction.

    No, I'm not saying that at all. I'm saying that all trauma is eventually overcomeable. The 11-year old suffered, there is no doubt at all about that, and it is a terrible trauma to overcome. I have had several relatives of mine be victims of rape. To say they haven't been traumatized is to trivialize what they've been through. But to say their life is ruined forever is to say that humans can't overcome anything. It is estimated that up to 1/4 of all women have been sexually assaulted. Would you say that 1/4 of all women are so traumatized their lives are forever ruined? I have trouble saying, however, that a child cannot be rehabilitated, even when he commits a horrendous crime. That flies in the face of brain research as well as the premise of most religions.

    Michelle, most religions have a vested interest in believing that rehabilitation is always possible. If they take the approach that “once your damned, your damned”, they will quickly go out of business. Yes, I know, I’m a cynic. I know very little about brain research, but I suspect that any research would show that there is nothing physiological to prevent rehabilitation, which is not the same thing as saying it is always possible. Please correct me, if I’m wrong. Regardless, it still sounds like you are expecting society to correct the boy’s problem and expecting the girl to deal with her’s, herself. Perhaps we are approaching this from different directions. If I had to choose between having been sexual assulted at age 11 or having my name on a list for the rest of my life, I would certainly choose the latter. Can’t the boy just learn to live with the “trauma” of his name being on the list? Back in 1970, my name was on a list – at the local draft board. That probably had a larger impact on my life, than the list will have on the boy’s life. But, I never looked at my being drafted as a punishment. Are you looking at it that as long as the boy’s name is on the list, he has not been rehabilitated? I don’t agree with that, but I can understand it.

    from someone who knows you dont dwell on it but it wont go away- ever. something will trigger a memory a word a smell a sound and when you least expect it. please don't lump all of us together some are more resilent some hide it better but all are affected.

    anon, thanks for the sobering thought.

    And now with the new bill introduced in the US House, the young Mr. Murphy will have his status elevated to 'sexual predator', wiht a requirement that every time he move he not only notifies the local PD at his new address but it now becomes HIS responsibility to find all the schools nearby and let them know. Additionally he will have to notify no less than two media outlets in his area so they can publish his presence. He'll have to do this for the rest of his life, and failing to do so will be a Federal offense with a mandatory two-year prison sentence. All this because his victim was a minor. The fact that Mr. Murphy himself was also very much a minor is totally irrelevant to the US Congress that claims to be 'protecting' the children.

    Interesting comments, Soldier and I don't disagree with any. Your analogy of the offender working at a day care is a bit narrow though. Conceivably only a real sexual predator would attempt to work in a daycare after being listed with the registry. Also, continuing on mystikwarrior's comments, how do you handle a junior high school student who, as a registered sex offender, must stay away from "children" his own age?

    All in all, bickering aside. Truth is I don't know any moms who have actually checked out this list. It stinks of assumption of guilt after a crime is committed and really doesn't serve the public interest but for making politicians look "tough on crime" Apparently, if your wife accuses you of abuse during a messy divorce, you too could end up on this list. Additionally, as anon and Michelle (?) might tell you, these abusers are often family members or people whom busy, overworked or I hate to say lazy parents allow into their children's lives. My apartment neighbor lady has a cute dog my son likes to visit. She has heretofor lived alone and I have let him go downstairs and visit alone. Recently I realized that my neighbor had a new female roommate who has a rather unsavory (I'm such a damn elitist) boyfriend that seems to be around alot. He may be a great guy. He may not be listed on any registry. But I don't need a registry to tell me that my son won't be visiting ANY apartment unsupervised with an unknown adult male around. I don't need a registry to tell me that. I'm willing to take my chances on discussion, education and close supervison of my five year old.

    a thirteen year old child that tortures small animals might turn in to a cold hearted serial killer a thirteen year old child that overpowers and rapes a younger weaker child may become a serial rapist. do you want to take a chance? perveous studies show that they start young. how many time have you watched a person put away and tought 'why didn't they do something sooner?' 'all the signs were there'

    I was convicted of aggravated sexual assault at the age of sixteen (now 22)in juvenile court, at the time I did not realize the ramifications of what i did. I deeply regret commiting the offense. after being in a residential treatment center and completing therapy I am a completly different person. Now because of a moronic texas law my pictures, address, etc. are posted on the internet for all to see even though I am a onetime offender. It has caused hell in my life. Luckily I will hopefully soon get a motion for deregistration granted and the info will be taken off. Then next year when i turn 23 i can have my record expunged.

    how about this one: a 12 yr old girl tells a 17 yr old boy she is 13. The mother of said girl allows them to be together and also says she is 13( yes i know still too young) they both give each other hickeys. Said mom gets turned into HRS ,hence ,investigation. 12 yr old not a virgin, said mom lets her drink booze,run around, call boy, etc. Said boy is a virgin. No sex invovled just hickeys.Should boy be charged as an adult and be a sexual offender for life?

    I'm not trying to say i'm the victim. (none / 0) (#35)
    by Speak13270 on Sun Jul 29, 2007 at 12:50:41 AM EST
    "Can't the boy just learn to live with the "trauma" of having his name on a list?" It's more then just having your name on a list. The victim is not constantly reminded of the attack and it does not hold them back from living their life however the "sex offender" is forced to remember the horrible horrible things that they have done everytime they turn around.

    I admit i am a convicted offender in texas. I was charged with indecensy with a child at the age of 15, i was  14 when i committed my crime. I feel like my punishment is never going to end. AS far as i know i have to register until i'm 29, and i can't get my record expunged before then. I'm 19 now and i have a child on the way. The women that i was with was fully aware of my past history. She plans to use it against me so that i will be forced to pay child support without ever getting to know my own child. I can't find decent work or even housing. I was forced out of highschool a week before taking my SAT's which kept me from getting any scholorships for college even though i already have my GED and i was a straight A student. I have had numorouse threats and harrasments against me for what i have done. The sad thing is though I know i deserve a lot of this. It was my own actions that caused this. However, society expects us to be rehabiltated members but it's impossible when people become so passive agressive to our past historys. All other juvenile offenders are alloud record expungement at a certain age. The same should go for us. We commited crimes like everyone else. We should serve equal punishments like them. As for my victim goes. I know that i hurt her. There is no denying that. I wish i could do more to let her know that i am sorry, however i can only apologize so much. Yes she will be scarred for the rest of her life. However I think it would help her to recover a little bit if she knew that I was truly sorry and working on getting my own life in order. Because i can't prove that when i'm not alloud out of the gutter.

    My comment is valid. (none / 0) (#38)
    by dancingjane on Tue Feb 08, 2011 at 09:27:22 AM EST
    You are quite the bully.