Age Inappropriate

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

The unit also came with a text-message box. If the GPS was not getting a signal, the box would beep and tell Curtis to walk outside and look at the sky. It also alerted him if he strayed too close to a forbidden area. For example, a message warning him to "Stay away from your mother's house!" would flash on if he drove or walked too close to Jamie's home.

On November 2, Curtis was arrested and sent to prison for violating the conditions of his probation by leaving the state. His construction boss had asked him to do an overnight job in southern Wyoming.

Since that time, he has been out of prison once. At Thanksgiving, Curtis was given permission to attend his grandmother's funeral in Minnesota. He was allowed to sit next to his sister on the plane to and from the event. "He got to spend time with Erin, and there were plenty of children at the family gathering," Jamie notes. "For a while, we were able to pretend everything was okay."

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.

Everything seemed so normal, in fact, that she toyed with the idea of helping her son escape: "I thought more than once, 'Should we just give him some money and tell him to disappear, to Canada or Hawaii? He could work on a farm..."

This past January 12, Curtis agreed to another plea bargain, one that reflected an even lesser crime than the one he'd pleaded guilty to nearly two years before: attempted sex assault on a child. He was sentenced to three years in prison.

Although the new sentence relieves Curtis of further sexual-offender treatment when he is released, Jamie says she will struggle with her son's label for the rest of her life. "He's not a sex offender in my eyes," she insists. "And he never will be."

For reasons that are not entirely clear, Tina Martin wasn't arrested for her sexual dalliance with Timothy until nearly two years after their relationship had been discovered and terminated. Lawyers involved in the case say that Timothy had gotten into legal trouble and may have blamed his behavior on his relationship with Tina. In mid-2000, she was charged with forcible sexual assault -- rape -- and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The charge was later reduced to sexual assault on a child, or statutory rape. Tina's trial began on October 22, 2001.

At her trial, Tina's behavior was volatile. The day after it began, she suddenly agreed to plead guilty to the statutory-rape charges. Then, at a post-conviction evaluation, she just as suddenly refused to admit to having had sex with Timothy. Sensing a big denial problem, probation officials ordered Tina to stand trial again, in June 2002.

This time the trial proceeded to the end, when Tina was found guilty of engaging in a pattern of sexual assault on a child. Like Curtis, she'd participated in a consensual relationship, only to find herself labeled a child molester. For her indiscretion, Tina was looking at 64 years in prison. (Because her crime had occurred before November 1998, she was not a candidate for the Lifetime Supervision option.)

Then, in an extremely unusual move, the Arapahoe County District Attorney's Office offered Tina a rare -- and compassionate -- deal. Prosecutors said that they would ignore the jury's guilty verdict if Tina would agree to plead guilty to a single instance of sexual assault on Timothy. That would drop her sentence down to a mere six years of probation.

All Tina would have to do for the extraordinary offer, they said, is go through sex-offender treatment. The conditions were standard: group therapy, some counseling, register as a sex offender. Also, Tina was not to have any contact whatsoever with anyone under the age of eighteen. Her probation began on July 30, 2002.

The reality of her sentence, though, was far from easy. Tina soon began experiencing all the standard problems of sex-offender treatment. Already on public assistance (a probation report shows her collecting $801 a month), she had difficulty making her therapy payments, about $40 a class for therapy.

As a sex offender, she was also required to tell all potential employers about her conviction -- a bit of conversation, she discovered, that was not the best way to sell herself to a potential boss. She quickly learned when a job interview was going to be fruitless: "Men would hire me, women would not." She eventually found work as a flagger on a highway crew.

Like Curtis, Tina also struggled with her sex-offender classes. She couldn't see how she fit in with the molesters and pedophiles she was forced to associate with. "There were people in there who had assaulted four-year-olds, who'd had twelve or thirteen victims," she recalls. "I would go home and cry after each session. It was hard to hear what had happened to those kids. Those people scared me."

She found the tests she was given to determine her sexual deviances a mixture of strange and laughable. "One question asked whether I'd ever flashed somebody without their permission," she recalls. "I said, 'Does mooning somebody count?' And they told me, 'Yes, because the person had not given his permission.' The tests also asked me about bestiality, sadomasochism, frottage -- things I'd never even heard of."

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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.