Age Inappropriate

A casual fling can earn a lifetime label as a sex offender.

He also had to keep a journal every night, as well as a sexual-thought log every day, which detailed each sexual notion that popped into his head. He says his lack of entries proved troubling to the counselors. "They wouldn't believe that I would go through a day without a sexual thought," he says. "They'd say, 'That's not possible.' So I'd make a lot of it up -- like, 'I saw a girl on the street today, and I was aroused.'"

In fact, Curtis began fabricating a lot of his stories. He wasn't stupid, and he soon figured out that it was easy enough to say what the counselors wanted to hear -- stories and thoughts that fit his conviction. After all, if he'd been found guilty of sexual assault on a child, he must then desire children.

The lies highlighted his dilemma. If he continued to insist he wasn't a sexual offender or tried to point out that his crime was different than that of a pedophile's, he was judged to be in denial. Yet if he cooperated and said what he was expected to say, he was a confirmed sex offender, a stalker of little girls.

Anthony Camera
Jill McFadden is program administrator for the state's 
Sex Offender Management Board.
Anthony Camera
Jill McFadden is program administrator for the state's Sex Offender Management Board.

In late 2002, Curtis's counselors noted that he was not participating well in his therapy -- missing sessions, not accepting responsibility for his actions, and acting resentful of staff members. One day in December, while attending a group session, he was arrested for violating his probation by not complying with his treatment plan.

Curtis was released from jail in early February 2003. Because he'd failed to follow the program, though, this time he was placed on an even more restrictive schedule: two group sessions a week and two study halls on weekends. He resolved to do better ' which, in his case, meant lying more convincingly.

"I was trying my hardest to find things to say that would put me in their category [of child sexual predator], but I just couldn't," he says. "They wanted me to tell them stuff that wasn't there. So my counselor kept saying that I was 'unaccountable.'"

Money was a big problem, too. T.H.E. charges clients for its court-ordered services, and they aren't cheap. Curtis says his counseling and therapy sessions ran about $700 a month. (A billing statement confirms that he and his family paid about $5,000 to T.H.E. over the course of his treatment.) And, with his schedule of required meetings, he was finding it hard to hold down his full-time construction job. He began to fall behind on his payments -- which, at T.H.E., is reason enough to be written up for non-compliance and thrown back into jail.

But all of that was simple compared to what both Curtis and Jamie considered the harshest condition of Curtis's designation as a sex offender of minors: the prohibition against any contact with anybody under the age of eighteen. The rule is standard for most child sex offenders.

Curtis's sister, Erin, was fourteen when her brother was arrested. There had never been any suggestion that Curtis had acted inappropriately around her. In fact, their mother says, now that both were older, they were becoming close friends. After Curtis's conviction, however, they couldn't be in the same room together.

"It was a nightmare," Jamie recalls. "Before Curtis came over, he'd have to call and ask if his sister was going to be here. She'd either have to leave or go into her room and shut the door. Holidays were especially bad. At Christmas, first my older son, daughter and I would open our presents. Then they'd leave, and Curtis would come over and open his by himself."

T.H.E. refused to make any exceptions for the Franks family; in fact, it clamped down further. In early 2003, Jamie recalls, Curtis was at her house watching a movie. Suddenly, Erin walked in the house.

"Curtis panicked," she says. "He didn't even look at her." He bolted into another room. Still, he told his counselor about the incident. According to Jamie, the therapist was unsympathetic: From that point, in addition to the prohibition against seeing his sister, T.H.E. also banned Curtis from seeing his mother. "They said he needed a 'time out' from me," she remembers.

Because sex offenders are thought to have a lifetime curse, like alcoholism, T.H.E., like Alcoholics Anonymous, offers support for the family members of sex offenders. Jamie was told that T.H.E. had an eight-week course that would qualify her to become an official "supervisor" for her son's interactions with Erin. After the course, the family could be reunited again for short, monitored visits.

Jamie quickly signed up with her son. Curtis's stepdad also registered for the classes. The four of them paid nearly $1,000 for the sessions. About halfway through the course, though, Jamie says she was told that it was only the first step toward qualifying as a supervisor. Although she and her family members finished the sessions, they never were designated as supervisors.

Separated from his family, Curtis was sliding downhill in his own program. Judged once again to be "non-compliant," in the summer of 2003 he was fitted with an ankle bracelet. Paired with a Global Positioning System, the bracelet allowed Curtis's counselors to keep tabs on him at all times.

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The criminal justice system has also been getting ridiculously tough lately on adult men who marry teenage girls.>>>>>click onto

Not like the good old days when it didn't even matter how much older the groom was than the teenage bride.  So long as nobody was being forced into anything they didn't want to be in, the marriage was just as legal as two same-aged sweethearts.>>>>

Eric Dexheimer?  You should do your next story on something like this.  That is, adult grooms marrying teen brides.  In the United States of America, of course.  In non-Mormon and non-Muslim communities, that is.  Forget about the Middle East.  Too many wackjobs over there.