Over the last several months, I have received dozens of emails from readers asking questions about sex offenders; specifically, whether ‘they’ would be classified as a sex offender based on their own thoughts and sexual desires towards others. As a Criminologist, I have profiled sex offenders over the years and I can answer many of those questions and concerns from a criminal justice aspect; however if you or someone that you care about has had thoughts related to criminal tendencies, to where the individual is likely to act or has acted in the past against others in a criminal sexual nature, then I would suggest reaching out to a therapist, counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist and/or law enforcement agency. For the purpose of this article, therapist, counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, and physicality will be used interchangeably.
Patient Confidentiality: Physicians have always had a duty to maintain their patients’ confidentiality as long as they do not believe that the patient will hurt themselves or others, or commit felonies. In certain situations, patients need to be made aware that confidentially can be broken if any of the above mention has occurred or is believed by the physician, will occur.
In essence, the physician’s duty to maintain confidentiality suggests that a physician may not disclose any medical information revealed by a patient or discovered by a physician in connection with the treatment of a patient unless they believe that the patient has/will commit a felony or hurt themselves or others. In addition, the AMA’s Code of Medical Ethics states that the information disclosed to a physician during the course of the patient-physician relationship is confidential to the utmost degree. As explained by the AMA’s Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, the purpose of a physician’s ethical duty to maintain patient confidentiality is to help the patient to feel open about sharing their thoughts and actions in full disclosure of information, to the physician with the knowledge that the physician will protect the confidential nature of the information disclosed. Full disclosure enables the physician to diagnose conditions properly and to treat the patient appropriately. In return for the patient’s honesty, the physician should not reveal confidential communications or information without the patient’s express consent unless required to disclose the information by law.
Note: Unless a felony has been committed, there are special circumstances where it is believed that the individual will commit or has committed in the past; is likely to harm themselves or others; based on either the client’s self-disclosure or on a set of diagnostic Q&A between the therapist and the client, where public safety is a concern, or close friends and family members of the individual may be in immediate danger, then the therapist may be ethically required to contact the local authorities. However, in most cases and depending on state and federal statue, the physician/therapist is duty bound to confidentiality and may require a subpoena to break said confidentiality. However, it is equally important to note that if the police or social worker is contacted in lieu of a therapist/physician, and a ‘confession’ has been made, then confidentiality is non existent. This does not mean that an attorney can argue that the person making the confession was not in the right state of mind or aware of his rights during said confession. If the person confessing has not committed a crime but states that they have thought about committing such a criminal act; especially where young children could be victimized, then they could be charged with intent to commit harm, or the Department of Social & Family Services may be required to do an emergency removal of any minors in the home where the ‘confessing’ individual lives or has access to.
The thing to remember is that, yes; it is good when an individual has reached a personal self-awareness that they need help, and more so, when they actually convince themselves to seek help rather than to act on their desires. Think of all those sex offenders out there who have not been caught, or even those who have; if only they had sought out help before hurting their victims. However, it is also important to recognize that even individuals who have not yet committed crimes, are entitled to the same rights as everyone else. The problem is that even if an individual has not committed a crime of a sexual nature but seeks help, many police departments are powerless to help. Unlike Hollywood where some science-fiction movies have psychics, alien technology, and other means of predicting crimes before they occur, in 2012 and in most cases, the police cannot arrest suspects based on what they ‘might’ do. If a crime has not been committed, then there may be little standing for the police to get involved. How sad is it that the police need a confession or a victim in order to get involved, legally? When in reality, I would suspect that many individuals who seek help for future acts, have already committed similar crimes in the past and now they feel guilty.
The reason that confidentiality does not apply is because as far as the police are concerned, there is either a victim out there who has not reported the crime, or the police truly believes that the individual will commit a crime. The police will not have the individual’s best interest but rather any potential victims. Think of it as a preemptive strike by predicting that there is a high probability that the suspect will act out their sexual desires in the form a crime. Unfortunately, things like self-control and freewill is not always full-proof. Besides, if they could prevent themselves from acting on their desires then they probably would not be seeking help in the first place.
On the other hand, often victims of sexual offenses do not always report their crimes for one reason or another. So, even if the individual has not acted on their desires but is merely seeking help because they might, then the police must take every precaution into consideration – but, as unfortunate as it sounds, if there is no reporting victim, then the police may be limited to do anything. After all, the police cannot make future arrests based on crimes that have not yet been committed or reported. Note: If you are someone who believes that you might be a sex offender and has or plans to act on desires of a criminally sexual nature then, do not let these police limitations from seeking help. If the police will not or cannot help you, then please seek counseling or psychiatric help. If you are a single parent or caregiver of children who you believe to be in danger by you; call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.
Disclosure: Likewise, I am more than happy to answer any questions with my expert opinions, however, I too can not guarentee any confidentiality and may be morally obligated to contact the police depending on the type of emails that I receive. For example, a few months ago, I received an email from a man, 44, who inquired about the statues of limitations with reference to child molestation. Of course, those were not the words he used. Instead, he basically stated that a few years ago he had an affair with one of his female students. He claimed that they were in a mutual relationship and that they were in love. In addition, his main concern was whether it was ethical for a teacher to date a former student who was now 19? At the onset of the affair, the victim was in junior high school.
Let us do the math here; technically, the student was between the ages of 12-14 and he was her teacher but claimed that she flirted with him and would not stop so he finally gave in to temptation. I have said this in the past and I will continue to say it; “Minors cannot legally consent to sexual relations with adults!” There is no grey area! The teacher should have reported the incident to the principle and the ‘child’s’ parents. That said, I wish that I could protect the confidentiality of my readers and I will change their names when addressing their issues through examples like this one; however, based on the example above and my background in criminal justice and law enforcement, I cannot guarantee confidentiality. Needless to say, the police and school administration were contacted with this individual.
Sex Education for Teachers
Warning for teachers who fantasize about their students; yield your mind before your thoughts become actions. A minor cannot consent to sexual relations with adults. Sex Education does not translate to; teachers who fantasize with students. If this is YOU, instead of wondering how you are going to get away with it, just assume that you will not. Please seek help.
Refer to the slideshow with the aggressive date in a movie theatre. No means No! A dark movie theatre does not green-light either person to take advantage of the other. Please be aware of body and verbal language. If this is YOU or you have thought about doing something like this, please be aware that you have crossed the line and depending on your state statue, you have just committed a crime of sexual assault.
Often sexual assault and rape manifests into other forms of physical assault. Victims have been known to sustain bruises around their arms and wrists, thighs and ankles, neck and face as the result of defending themselves against aggressive attackers. The problem is that visual scars can heal or be covered up by make-up and layers of clothing but emotional scars can last a lifetime. If YOU have sexually attacked a victim or you have thought about doing so, please make note of these scars!
Marital Rape is a crime in most states. If a spouse does not consent to sexual relations and they are forced by their partner, it is a crime. Marriage does not equal property or requires force to have consensual relations. If one spouse does not consent, then the other spouse must stop and further actions.
Often a rapist will spike a cocktail of an unsuspecting but potential victim. If YOU have thought about doing this, or if you have done so in the past, please be aware that this is traits of a sexual predator. In addition, if the victim dies as the result of the drugs used, and mixed with alcohol, YOU could be facing a charge of manslaughter with special circumstances. More often than not, drugs such as GHB or sleeping pills are mixed with alcohol; however, a sexual predator may douse a bottled water and other non-alcoholic beverages if their intended victim was not drinking cocktails/beer. Once again, if YOU have thought about doing this, or you have in the past, you have exhibited traits of a sexual predator.
Rape is typically about control and power. Sexual harassment by supervisors is another type of sexual predator who uses power, control, and manipulation to get what they want. Women can be sex offenders with men as their victims. Likewise, females can sexually harass other female employees; and male supervisors can sexually abuse other male employees.
Hiding under Beds, in Closets and Fitting rooms
Hiding under beds or in bedroom closets to spy on unsuspecting victims undressing, are traits of a sexual predator; and yes, those undressing are in fact victims. Often sexual predators will pretend to try on clothing in department stores with co-ed fitting rooms and peek from above walls or underneath doors and curtains to spy on others. Note that some predators will use reflective mirrors and cell phone cameras and videos to spy on unsuspecting victims undressing. If YOU have thought about doing this, you have done so in the past, or you have viewed videos online of unsuspecting victims undressing, this is a trait of a sex offender. Also note: If you have watched these types of videos online and you have forwarded to others, then you have committed acts of pornography distribution which carries a felony charge. It does not matter if you were the individual who recorded the live video or a random person watching the video. It is still a crime and you could be added to the sex offender registry.
Thinking about Sex
If you are constantly thinking about sex it does not necessarily mean that you are a sex offender; however, if you constantly think about sex and fantasizing about how you can ‘get away’ with it by taking advantage of others, then this IS a trait of a sexual predator.
Online chat rooms may seem like a thing of the past, but using social networking websites like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace to lure children into sexual escapades regardless of how old they may look to you, is another trait of a sexual predator. This can also be a form of pedophilia.
- Males: whether you intended to show your genitals to an unsuspecting adult or child, or you could not find a restroom in time and you decided to urinate in the bushes, you may find yourself on the sex offender registry. In most states, both actions are considered traits of a sex offender.
- Females: the same can be said of females who flash their breasts to unsuspecting adults or children, or find a quiet place to ‘urinate in public.’ Females can also have sex offender tendencies too. no matter how innocent their intentions may be.
Dressing up in only a trench coat, socks and shoes (hat optional), and flashing unsuspecting adults or children may seem like fun and games but this is another trait of a sexual predator.
Do not let the robe and gifts fool YOU! If you are a male or female religious figure and you have fantasized about sexual relations with children, then may God save your soul because your victims will feel like they are in hell and hopeless. If you truly are a man/woman of God, and you have these types of thoughts, then it may be time to confess your thoughts and intentions to a non-religious counselor or law enforcement officer. Hiding behind religion is an abuse of power and traits of a sex offender.
Charm vs. Anger
Do not let your charm fool them! If you give the appearance of a nice guy and someone that women trust, then do not take advantage of that trust. If you need to tell women what they want to hear and say things that will tip-toe around conversations where she is likely to use words like ‘no’ or ‘stop’, then you are known as a gentleman rapist. Simply changing the subject before they have the opportunity to say ‘no and stop’ to avoid later justifications that they never said those words, is still traits of a sexual predator. YOU do not need to be an aggressive person in order to be a sex offender.
ABUSE: Refers to harm; injury; damage; neglect; mental, physical, and/or emotional
ABUSER: Refers to an individual who has sexually molested a child. An individual who is believed or known to have harassed, assaulted, or abused a sibling, friend, coworker, a significant other, a parent, a extended family member, etc. with repeated abuse. An abuser can also be, identified as, but is not limited to an assailant, molester, perpetrator, felon, and clergy.
ADMISSION: (criminal law); refers to the voluntary acknowledgement that certain facts are true.
AGE APPROPRIATE: Refers to the mental capacity, or physical criteria, for which individual state legislation, constitutes consensual age ranges.
CHILD ABUSE: Refers to any form of cruelty to a child’s physical, moral, or mental well-being.
CHILD EXCITEMENT: Refers to a federal offense, which is also a felony: an act of arranging a sex meeting with a minor, and then showing up for that meeting.
CONFESSION: Refers to criminal law; an admission of guilt, or other incriminating statements made by an accused.
CULPABLE MENTAL STATE: Refers to the state of mind which is necessary in order to commit a crime. At common law, both intent to commit a crime, called the mens rea, and the acts, which constitute the crime, were required to establish guilt.
FROTTEURISM: Refers to touching and rubbing against a non-consenting individual.
GROOMING: Refers to an attempt. to gain the trust and affection of a child by manipulating his/her mind by flattery; or by showing false empathy for their feelings. A predator grooms a child by offering praise.
MOLEST: Refers to sexual assault.
MOLESTATION: Refers to acts that involves, exposes, or even asks children to engage in sexual activity or exhibition. This can include improper clothed, or unclothed touching of the victim; exposure to pornographic materials or objects, acts of bestiality, coercing sexual acts between children and other adults, cybersex, or performing indecent sexual acts in the presence of a child.
MOLESTER: Refers to an assailant, perpetrator, or abuser who commits the act of molestation.
RAPE: Refers to unlawful sexual intercourse with a person without his or her consent. Many states have replaced the common rape definition with “sexual assault” statues, which is generally gender neutral, and provide that it is a crime to knowingly, cause another individual to engage in an
SEX OFFENDER: Refers to a person who is, convicted of a sexual offense such as rape, sexual assault, sexual misconduct, sexual contact, or lewdness. In some states, sexual activity between consenting adults of the same gender is, classified as criminal. Some states house sex offenders together and offer specialized counseling programs in an effort to successfully treat and rehabilitate such offenders; and thus prevent recidivism. Some states require lifetime registration of offenders with law enforcement.
SEXUAL ASSAULT: Refers to Criminal Activity that includes sexual intercourse, oral sex, touching of genitals, or touching of the body in an explicitly sexual manner without permission.
SEXUAL CONDUCT: Refers to the unlawful intentional touching of intimate body parts for degrading or humiliating the victim or sexual gratifying the offender. Many states have adopted First, Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth degrees of this criminal act.
SEXUAL SADISM: Refers to an individual who becomes sexually aroused by acts that cause another person to suffer mentally or physically.
SEXUAL VIOLENCE: Refers to a criminal behavior, which includes, but not limited to; rape, sexual assault, violence, or threats of violence to force s sexual act.
VOYEURISM: Refers to an individual who becomes sexually aroused by observing an unsuspecting person who is naked; undressing; bathing; engaging in sexual activity.
- Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous—Refers to a support group, which is open to individuals who have difficulties with intimate relationships and sexuality; and for individuals who are sexually compulsive.
For additional information, I recommend the following reference book:
Criminologist, Joshua B. Seth (2009). Offenders and Abuse: An Awareness Guide to Shielding the Community (Available in Paperback and Kindle). PublishAmerica