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From the week of July 1, 2004

Thanks for devoting another good story to this discussion. I hope it helps people doing lots of drugs with young people to wake up and go do something less dangerous, like actually helping make something good for someone. Maybe your story will help them remember to ask for ID?

Paula Hook
Denver

Questionable practices:I have been researching treatment for juvenile sex offenders and children with sexual behavior problems, and have found many disturbing practices that even some sex-offender therapists are beginning to question. They are similar to the practices described in "Arrested Development" but are used on teenagers and sometimes even prepubescent children. I have documented these practices, their harmful effects and what researchers, therapists and journalists have said about them on my website, www33.brinkster.com/ethical.

Geoffrey Birky
Denton, Maryland

Justify your love: I am writing to voice my concern about "Age Inappropriate." Though the article does present valid facts regarding laws/guidelines that manage Colorado's sex offenders, it primarily painted its subjects as victims of the system, which I feel is very "inappropriate." Let me give you a little background here. I, too, am a sex offender: I had sex (on two occasions) with a fifteen-year-old girl who has a low IQ. From these encounters, I got her pregnant. I also manipulated other females of multiple ages for sexual gratification. I was sentenced on two counts of attempted sexual assault on a minor and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. I also have to participate in a sex-offender treatment program, as well as register quarterly as a sex offender with my local police department. I have also placed myself in a position where I violated the conditions of my treatment. But this is where the similarities stop.

Like me, the subjects of this article had sexual contact with a minor. They made a choice to have this contact and were not forced or coerced into having the sexual contact. Said Tina, "I decided to go with him because it was safe." Curtis and Tina tried to "justify" their actions as well. Curtis said his victim "planned it, setting up the tryst close to Valentine's Day to make it seem more romantic." According to Tina, "Timothy started it." Trust me: I have been in their shoes and minimized and justified my offense, too.

The reality here is that we all chose to have a sex with a minor...a child. In the State of Colorado, when one chooses to have sex with a minor, whether it be supposedly consensual or not, it is a crime. Adults caught after having sex with minors need to accept the consequences of their inappropriate actions, and most of the time this includes sex-offender treatment and sex-offender registration. Offenders can whine and complain about how brutal and torturous this treatment is, but we would not be in it if we had made a positive choice and intervened before going over the line. I feel that by making Curtis, Tina and others look like victims of a system, you not only are slapping other offenders in the face (for making progress in their treatment), but you are also furthering victimizing all victims of sex crimes. Remember that victims range from the actual victim of the crime to the family/friends of the victim.

Shame on you, for you did not tell the whole story. Why don't you get the reflections of sex offenders who are not only working at bettering themselves, but also using tools to keep society safe? Do not make a victim out of someone who should not be a victim. Look at ways to help out people that sex offenders like me have hurt.

Name withheld on request

Banished and vanished: Eric Dexheimer's "Age Inappropriate" presents some sympathetic cases of non-violent, non-predatory defendants who were branded for life as being sexual offenders. However, he failed to mention the group that is punished even worse: non-citizens. If any of the offenders described in the story had been a non-U.S. citizen, she or he would face deportation and essentially lifetime banishment from the U.S. Under the 1996 changes to the Immigration and Nationality Act, any conviction of rape or sexual abuse of a minor, however consensual or non-violent the actual act was, is an "aggravated felony," the most serious type of crime under immigration laws. As aggravated felons, these individuals would have virtually no defense to deportation (except for the very few who may be able to show they would be tortured back in their home countries). Further, the statute bars them from ever returning to the U.S.

Such non-citizens are being deported (now called "removed") on a regular basis. They may be returned to a country where they have no family left and do not speak the language. They may leave behind elderly parents who need care, or children who need support. The laws give immigration judges no discretion to make exceptions. As Dexheimer's article mentioned, their offenses, such as consensual sex with a fifteen-year-old, may not be a crime in their culture, so they have no idea they may face lifetime banishment.

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