Interview with a Sex Offender

The case information was pretty weak, with no evidence at all. A 13 year old girl had disclosed to her school counselor that her step-father was “touching her” inappropriately and making her feel nervous. The counselor reported the allegation to Health & Welfare authorities, who notified the county Sheriff’s office that had jurisdiction in the small mountain community. The Sheriff assigned the case to one of his top investigators, a veteran who had worked many child abuse cases in her career. When the Sheriff’s Investigator met with the involved parents of the young girl, the hostility was tremendous. The stepfather yelled and screamed, the mother continually said her husband couldn’t or wouldn’t do such a thing and the investigator was ultimately asked to leave their house. The Sheriff’s Deputy, acting in concert with a Health & Welfare caseworker, declared the girl in imminent danger and removed her from her home, along with three younger children, pending the outcome of the investigation. The girl went through a forensic interview process with a team of forensically trained medical personnel, where she received a complete physical exam and forensic interview where she related the extent of the abuse. During this forensic interview, the girl disclosed that her stepfather had been giving her back rubs which ended up with him fondling her breasts. He also had rubbed her buttocks during these back rubs and she could feel that he had a penile erection during these situations. She also had the feeling that her stepfather had been spying on her at night when she was sleeping, although she couldn’t actually remember seeing him in her room. The man, of course, denied ever sexually touching the girl in any way. That’s where the investigation stalled. The parents retained an attorney, who communicated with the State’s Attorney in subsequent court hearings. The presiding judge continued the case twice to allow for the investigation to be completed. At the third appearance, the parents appeared in court unrepresented and announced they had fired their attorney and requested time to hire another one. This request was granted. In the meantime, since the allegation of abuse had been made against the father, not the mother, she was allowed full access to her 13 year old daughter during supervised visitations. The mother convinced the daughter (who was getting tired of living in a foster home) that if she said she had been making up the original allegation, the case would be dropped and everyone would be allowed to go home. The “victim” officially recanted (took back) her allegation to the Sheriff’s Department, saying she made the whole thing up. However, the plucky Sheriff’s investigator had discovered that the stepfather also had female children from a previous marriage, who were now in their 30’s. At first very reluctant to make statements, both women ultimately related to the investigator how their father had molested them when they were in their teens. The primary thing he had done was to rub and fondle their breasts and buttocks. They both refused to testify about the abuse, however, saying they were still afraid of him. Finally, 4 months after the children were removed from the home, the Court, the State’s Attorney and the new defense attorney for the parents agreed that the children would be allowed to return home and all criminal charges would be dropped if the father took and “passed” a polygraph examination. If he “failed”, he would be charged criminally and the case would go to trial. Both attorneys agreed with the court that I should be the one to administer the polygraph. On the day of the polygraph, the stepfather (let’s call him Jack) arrived at my offices an hour early for his appointment. He was accompanied by his wife, not his attorney. I noticed that his wife was doing all the talking, even answering when I asked Jack direct questions. I sent him away for an hour and instructed him to return, with only his attorney, at the scheduled time. When Jack returned, I noticed that he appeared withdrawn and very jumpy. The attorney, by prior agreement, waited in a viewing room with the State’s Attorney, but did not interject during the process. The viewing room consists of a closed-circuit television system which allows the polygraph interview to be monitored in real time. I first asked Jack to tell me a little about himself and asked him why he was involved in this situation. As he started a long, rambling discourse about how the state was picking on him, I noticed he had a nervous tick that was on the left side of his neck, near the carotid artery, which appeared whenever he talked about the allegations. I also noticed that the ratio of his story was 80% about irrelevant aspects versus 20% concerning the issue in question. As I gently led Jack through all of his stepdaughter’s allegations, he would at times become quite belligerent, and then calm himself. I soon noticed that certain allegations caused him more stress than others. I asked Jack what his other children would say about him, if they were asked. He replied that they would say he was a good provider, was always there for them and was a very loving man and father (at which point he had tears in his eyes). I told Jack that I could see that this situation was literally tearing him up. I told him that I could see his pulse pounding, could hear his stomach grumbling and could see that he had a stricken look on his face. I told him that I was there to alleviate his stress, to get everything out in the open once-and-for-all and stated that I didn’t even think we needed a polygraph in this situation. I told Jack I could tell that he was ready to tell me everything (at this point he was nodding). I explained to Jack that there are two kinds of people who touch their children sexually: 1. The parent who loves his children so very much that sometimes they “cross the line” in expressing that love, and felt badly about it; or 2. The kind of person who sexually fondles their children to cause them hurt, shame and embarrassment, just so they can get sexually aroused and couldn’t care less about what they had done. I told Jack that I could already see what kind of man Jack was, could see it as plain as day. He was the kind of guy who loved his daughters to pieces, who loved them so much he wanted to hug and touch them all the time. I told Jack I also knew that, from talking to her, his stepdaughter wasn’t lying about the situation. I next stated that I could tell that Jack was bothered by what he’d done and that was a very good sign, because it showed that he was a good man with a conscience. I told him that I wanted to work with him to try and resolve this situation and make him feel better about himself. Jack sat for some time with his head hanging down, then said “OK, let’s make this right” and proceeded to tell me about molesting his stepdaughter. Not only that, he admitted to me that he had fondled his older daughters when they were young (we already knew that) and admitted sexually fondling his 6 year old stepdaughter (we didn’t know that) in the same manner as he had touched the 13 year old victim. I talked with Jack for about another hour, about what led him to commit these acts, how he had felt covering them up and what other deviant acts he had committed. I found out that he had been engaging in voyeurism with his daughters (he drilled holes in the bathroom wall so he could see them bathing) and had masturbated in the girls’ room at night while watching them sleep. Obviously, Jack was a very troubled man. Near the conclusion of the interview, I told Jack that I didn’t want him to write out a statement for me. What I wanted him to do instead was write out a letter of apology to his stepdaughters, telling them exactly what he had done and assuring them that he would never do this again. This took Jack about 20 minutes. When I exited my office and went to the viewing room, I was surprised to see two prosecutors, Jack’s attorney, two Health & Welfare caseworkers and the Sheriff’s investigator all watching the monitor. Two of the women were sniffling and obviously had been crying while they watched the interview. The lead prosecutor said “How the hell did you do that?” and proceeded to tell me that they (the assembled audience) all felt at the beginning of the interview that Jack was probably not guilty of the allegations and that they were amazed when he started confessing. I was astounded that the audience had believed Jack for any time period. I had seen signs in Jack from the first which told me he was lying. I had mixed emotions. First, I was glad Jack had confessed, because now we could resolve the case legally without having the 13 year old girl testify. But, I was saddened that these children had been living in a foster home for 4 months, when the case could have been resolved much sooner.

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    2 Responses to “Interview with a Sex Offender”

    1. Yan says:

      It’s really scarrying..

    2. It’s like you’re on a misison to save me time and money! ;)

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