WHY DO FOLKS COMMIT SEX OFFENSES?

MY SEARCH FOR ANSWERS

I have always searched for the answer to the question: “Why do people commit crimes?” I’m not the only one. Behavioral science specialists have searched for years. These specialists have studied the minds of serial killers- people who seem to suffer no pangs of conscience from taking the life of someone and shattering the lives of the victim’s loved ones. Indeed, it seems that one of the primary motivations of the serial killer is to seek pleasure from the suffering the killer inflicts on the victim and the victim’s loved ones.

But what about sex offenders who, for the most part, are law-abiding citizens? Even to a child molester who can’t control his impulses, the idea of robbing a bank or stealing a loaf of bread would be unthinkable.

Over the years, I have interviewed hundreds of individuals about their reasons for committing the crime of which they were convicted. I have especially made it a point to interview those convicted of sex crimes. Why didn’t they seek some legal means of satisfying their sexual impulses before they selected the illegal course of conduct?

I have also interviewed scores of individuals who had not yet been caught. I always interviewed these subjects in my capacity as an attorney-the subjects either were clients charged with a crime or persons seeking legal advice. There have also been many occasions when I have been on the streets or in some dive and have invited street people to a nearby coffee shop for an interview. I always offered some legal advice in exchange for a few minutes to interview them. The reason is that, so long as we had an attorney-client relationship, and although I told them that their comments might find their way into a book I have been working on, I could assure them of complete confidentiality and anonymity. I would never reveal their identity (I don’t even know the true names of some of the interviewees-the ones who were not my clients), nor would I reveal any details that could lead to their identity. Most of the excerpts from these interviews have been modified or paraphrased to extinguish any hint of identity.

I am not a behavioral scientist professional nor am I a psychologist or a psychiatrist. Any opinion I express is based entirely from interviews with these people over the past 45+ years.

JOHN-A SERIAL RAPIST

John, age 30, convicted of multiple counts of forcible rape, came from a good family. His parents seemed quite normal and very loving. John never had a happy relationship with a woman. Career-wise, John’s life never went anywhere. But his brother was a pillar of the community and a substantial business success.

John would lure women into the back of his van, then tie them up and rape them. He never caused any additional bodily injury or death. After his conviction, I was retained to handle his appeal. He was more candid with me than are most convicted rapists.

“I never had much success with women. I am not very good looking and was never popular in school. Women always rejected me and, in my mind, ridiculed me. I always felt like a worm. When I had women in my van, I was in power. I got back at them. Afterwards, I felt sorry for what I had done.”

John was one of the only rapists I ever encountered who expressed profound, and what I consider genuine, remorse for what he did. He also seemed to have unusual insight into himself. Perhaps if his feelings of worthlessness had been recognized, verbalized and treated at a very young age, he might have directed his self-anger in a different direction. One thing is certain: John’s forcible sexual encounters have not elevated his self-esteem.

GIL-A GOOD MAN WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN MORE PRIVATE

Gil, a married businessman, has two children. He is an observant church-goer and a law-and-order conservative Republican. Gil was arrested in his car while orally copulating a male prostitute. He told me that he will never forget the sinking, daunting feeling the moment the police officer knocked on the window. His first thought was that he wished he could turn the clock back by thirty seconds. Obviously, that never can happen.

He also told me something that I hear very often. As he embarked upon the encounter, a strong inner voice told him to stop. He almost knew he was going to get caught-but his relentless compulsion overpowered his sense of reason. Here is the interesting part:

“I am not a homosexual. I love sex with women. But I also love giving head to a guy.”

Gil lost his job, his marriage and, under the city ordinance at the time, forfeited his car- huge prices to pay for something that could have been avoided.

Years ago, homosexuality was classified by the American Psychiatric Association as a disease. Later, and still, to an extent, today, some folks view homosexuality as immoral behavior. Some still retain the mistaken view that folks become homosexuals by choice. Others attribute the cause to an over-protective mother-or a father who could never express approval to the child. Today, society has become more enlightened. I don’t have the answers, but it does seem that many folks experience homosexual urges at an extremely young age-perhaps as early as two or three-certainly before they were capable of making a choice!

Regardless of the reasons, (and Gil did say that he felt sexually confused as early as five years old), Gil certainly was too frightened to reveal his feelings to anyone. It was not too many years ago (and it still exists today), that a child would be shunned by the family and taunted and perhaps physically attacked by peers at school.

Gil obviously would have been better off had he learned to channel his desires into a scenario that was not against the law. For example, perhaps he could have met another married man with similar urges and worked out some sort of a discreet relationship. Of course, that would be considered marital infidelity. I make no judgment on infidelity except to emphasize that it is not a crime.

Last time I spoke to Gil, he was still in denial about his bisexuality. What I hope Gil has learned is that if he wants to orally copulate another guy in the future, he should not do it in public view and should not do it with a prostitute. Oral copulation in private between consenting adults is not a crime. Perhaps if Gil sought some counseling on to deal with his bisexuality, it would be easier for him to make this decision.

AMBER-AN UNHAPPY TRANSSEXUAL

Amber is a 22-year old transsexual. The number of these folks who engage in prostitution has proliferated in Los Angeles. These women (I will refer to them as women), are in various stages of sexual transformation. Some have had their genitals surgically altered while others have fully developed breasts and, as they refer to themselves, fully functional penises. I have represented quite a few of these individuals. One factor which seems to be common among them is that they often suffer from agitation and various degrees of depression. Many have told me about their miserable childhoods when they discovered they were different and could tell no one of their feelings or do anything about them. They felt like little girls trapped in a boy’s body.

"I always wished I had a vagina. I would love to be a complete woman. Yet, I enjoy sex as a woman as well as sex as a man. And my customers, most of whom are very masculine men, desire either or both. Some of them give head or anal sex to me and some want me to do it to them. I have also had a few good looking women as customers. They claimed not to be lesbians, but felt that I was an acceptable means of exploring their lesbian fantasies."

"I have no choice but to be a prostitute. Look at me-who would hire me as a computer operator or even as a receptionist?"

MORRIS-A RELIGIOUS MAN

Morris is a 39-year-old Hassidic rabbi. He was arrested in his car as he was about to orally copulate a transsexual. He was attired in full religious garments-black hat and a long black coat. It was critical that his congregation and family did not find out about this episode. There were several defects in the prosecution's case-I was eventually successful in obtaining a complete dismissal.

"I don't know what compelled me to do this. This conduct was entirely against the teachings of my religion. I have no explanation for what I did."

Men who have been arrested with transsexuals are very reluctant to talk about their motivations. They seem to be more embarrassed than men who are caught with female prostitutes-or even with male prostitutes. In speaking with a number of transsexuals, I have learned that some men perceive the transsexual as a woman and seek oral sex from them. They seem to "justify" their attraction to transsexuals with the assertion that the transsexual is a woman.

Other men want to engage in submissive homosexual activity with the transsexual. These men want to orally copulate the transsexual or desire the "bottom" position during anal sex. Again, some of these men "justify" their attraction to transsexuals with the assertion that the transsexual is a woman.

RANDOLPH-HE WAS ADDICTED TO PORN

Randolph is a successful businessman in his early 40s. He was arrested after a fellow employee called the police and said he noticed Randolph downloading child porn on his computer. While Randolph's first case was pending, he was arrested a second time after another employee noticed Randolph doing the same thing. Randolph eventually jumped bail and I was discharged as his attorney.

"I just get off on fantasies of girls from the ages 9-14. That is all I ever think about. Women my age just don't turn me on. I have never acted on the fantasies, but I certainly would if the opportunity arose."

LEON-TRIED TO DATE A PRE-TEEN

It has always been my theory that men who prefer sex with underage girls are acting out impulses which they first experienced as very young children. Perhaps if they could have revealed their childhood secrets, they could have obtained therapy and could have turned their adult impulses into sexual desires that were within the law. Leon is a good case in point.

Leon is (or was), an attorney in his mid 50s. He was arrested for soliciting sex over the internet from an individual whom he thought was an 11-year-old girl. It turned out that the girl was a male undercover police officer. Over the internet, he made a date with the "girl." When he arrived at the meeting place in the park, he was arrested.

"I am only turned on by young girls. Ever since I was about five years old, I have had fantasies of undressing little girls. I felt that there was something wrong with me, so I never told anyone about my feelings.”

BEN-A TOUGH IRS AGENT WITH A WEAKNESS

Ben is an IRS agent in his mid-30s. He told me that he was a field auditor and derived pleasure from making taxpayers suffer and squirm. My impression was that he exerted extreme hostility and sadism toward taxpayers whom he was investigating. Although I pride myself in my ability to represent anyone and put my feelings aside about who they are or what they do, I must confess that I harbored some pleasure in observing this IRS agent squirm. Nevertheless, I represented him vigorously and was able to cut him an excellent deal.

Ben was charged with soliciting a prostitute. While the case was pending, he was arrested again for the same charge. He also had a prior conviction. In California, a second conviction of soliciting a prostitute carries a mandatory 45-day jail sentence.

"I know that I am a sex addict. One way or another, I have to have sex and/or masturbate at least three times a day. I have had tons of therapy and nothing has changed.”


Can anything be done to reduce the numbers of sex crimes? Although many people “enjoy” engaging in illegal sexual conduct, I have no doubt that the level of pleasure drops to zero the instant the police knock on the door.

Some of my clients have recognized that their sexual impulses are destroying them. Other people see nothing wrong with the crimes they commit-or they are in complete denial. Some admit that they would continue to engage in illegal sexual conduct if they could be assured that they would never be caught. I feel that these folks should address their impulses and attempt to control them. As I have stated repeatedly, if sex crime disappeared, I would be delighted. My feelings arise, not only out of moral judgment, but because I share the hopes of clients that they will not be faced with severe criminal penalties in the future.

I wish that there were answers to the question of how the numbers of sex crimes could be reduced. Perhaps there is. It is indisputable that sexual fantasies and urges occur in children at a very young age. And young kids have no one to talk to about these feelings. Thus, the feelings are suppressed and become sources of guilt and shame. These repressed feelings might manifest themselves in the form of sexual misconduct when the child reaches adulthood.

It may seem like a radical concept, but perhaps if sex education were made part of the elementary school curriculum-and if highly trained professionals could teach classes about the dynamics of sexual fantasies and urges and how to cope with them at a very young age, perhaps children could be taught to redirect their feelings in more positive directions.

The example I always use involves driving a car. Many of us, perhaps around ages 10-15, had urges and fantasies about getting behind the wheel. What kid has walked past a new car showroom without engaging in this fantasy? Yet, all of us were schooled and reasoned with on this subject. We were taught that it’s all right to have the fantasy, but that we are too young to take on the responsibility of driving. Education has been effective with this subject. As far as I know, few kids under driving age have stolen cars. And I doubt that few adults have become car thieves because of repressed childhood desires to drive. And I doubt that repressed childhood fantasies to drive a car are the primary reason why adults steal cars.

For the most part, sex therapy has accomplished little with adults. Perhaps it should be introduced before illegal adult behavior breaks out. Just like drug addiction, sexual impulses that result in crime is a serious public health problem that must be addressed and hopefully solved.

Law Offices of Stuart J. Faber
Stuart J. Faber, Esq.

3699 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 700
Los Angeles, California 90010
213-384-8886
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