Crime & Courts

Nov 2, 2011 1:57 PM by Erin Schermele (Great Falls)

How effective is sex offender rehabilitation?

As a member of Montana's Sex Offender Treatment Association, licensed counselor Barb Bottomly deals with recovering sex offenders daily.

Bottomly noted, "Sexual addiction is not a curable thing. It's a treatable thing, it's a manageable problem. But usually adult sex offenders will continue with treatment in some form or fashion for long into their lives. It's a lifetime thing."

A psycho-sexual evaluation determines treatment for sexual offenders, but once completed and released back to civilian life, there is no guarantee they won't offend again.

Detective Noah Scott of the GFPD sex crimes unit said, "Some rehabilitation does work, but I don't think you are ever going to cure somebody of having these thoughts or feelings towards victims."

Officials point to a study done in Denver showing that more than 50% of convicted sex offenders commit a new sex crime after being released (link to study).

The internet is cited as an increasing problem, turning actual offenders on to pornography, and vice-versa.

Neither Bottomly nor Scott see a trend in what makes a person commit a sexual offense.

Bottomly said, "All sex crimes, pretty much the bottom line is power and control. "I can't really say there is a root of the problem. It's just something that they've found fulfills a need and they've found a deviant way to satisfy that and unfortunately it's pretty hideous."

Scott is confident in law enforcement's ability to monitor convicted sex offenders, but what he is most concerned about is the offenders who are not yet on law enforcement's radar.

He said, "The most dangerous sex offender is the person out there that we don't know about. These are the people that haven't had the counseling that are right now abusing their children or another victim and we just don't know about it."

Bottomly concluded, "Children don't make up stories of sexual abuse, they can't talk about things they haven't experienced. So that would be my number suggestion is to listen to your kids because they're not making this up."

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