Tuesday, April 24, 2012

If you knew I loved a sex offender...would you feel the same way?

Before I begin, I'd just like to make one thing very clear.

I do not advocate or condone sexual abuse, exploitation, assault, or any other relations between children and adults. I believe that sex crimes should be punished justly, and acknowledge that the pain suffered by victims of sex crimes and their families is real and incomprehensible to most of us. My belief is that there are better ways to manage how we treat individuals convicted of sex crimes after they have completed their sentences - methods that do not put them or their families in danger and make it possible for them to become contributing, stable members of the community. I am confident that by utilizing research, statistics and science, we can craft laws that educate children and adults about the truth behind sex crimes, and effectively prevent these crimes from happening in the first place.

Occasionally when going about mundane activities such as running errands, pumping gas, or walking my dogs, I find myself wondering what the people I encounter might assume about me. I think I'm a fairly pleasant person; I try to smile and wave if I catch someone's eye, I make a point to be genial with cashiers, receptionists and other customers. I hold the door for people, say thank you and excuse me. Those who are acquainted with me know I have a soft spot for rescue dogs, love my job as a church pianist and thoroughly enjoy a good game of Pictionary. I'm often described as charming, passionate and clever. I bet if I were to tell most people I interact with regularly that I regularly fear for my safety in my own home, they would be confused, and if I asked them, would say that someone like me shouldn't have to feel that way.

But do they really believe that? If these pleasant strangers were to discover that I share my life and my home with someone who, according to New York state, is a "sexually violent predator" - would they still feel that me and all my charms deserve the same right to privacy and stability that they do? Would they go home and tell their family not to go near me or my house because they might get violently and sexually preyed upon? Would all the things they like and know about me, become meaningless?

I would like to hope that somehow, the good they know about me would be enough for them to stop and think for a second, that maybe everything they've heard and been told about sex offenders might not be true, if a person like me loves one. I would really like to hope that after meeting the sweet, gentle, compassionate man I love, they might question the validity behind his inflammatory label - and see how easy it truly is for good people to make mistakes - or simply get caught up in the aftermath because they love someone who has.

By supporting the public sex offender registry and consciously remaining unaware of the facts, society is telling me that I have no right to safety or security; that it's okay for me to be ostracized; and that I do not deserve to be happy with the person I love. They would never know it if they passed me on the street - or even if they interacted with me. I look, act, and talk like almost everyone else . Not the fact that I am a human being, an American, or a woman are enough to grant me the right to freedom or basic privacy - the darkest day of my loved one's past is the sole determining factor of my worth.

I don't think I'm amazing, or particularly spectacular. I think I am pretty normal. I don't think I deserve better treatment than anyone else. But I do think I deserve the right to be me, unapologetically and without fear.  That includes sharing my life and home with the person I love. Would you deny me that? Would you deny anyone that? I want someone to come up to me and tell me, to my face, how in hell that protects children, families or anyone. Can you?






40 comments:

  1. You are very good at putting your feelings into words. Also, very brave for not being afraid to speak the truth. I admire you shana and pray that someday soon we will all be able to walk with our heads held high and not be in fear. No one should have to live that way.
    Keep up the great work.

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  2. Your boyfriend had sex with a young girl. A pre-pubescent girl. A girl who isn't even old enough to have sexual urges. Whether or not he regrets it or not, whether or not he's a changed man... there are patterns with this that any parent would be idiotic not to anticipate. I don't know whether or not you have children, but I can tell you if your boyfriend moved into my neighborhood I think its important I know, as a mother of young children, that your boyfriend has this history. He didn't just flash a football field. In fact I did a little research on the case and he said she came on to him! What was she, 6?! I can tell you right now you will be hard pressed to change this because its not just government officials that want a registry, its parents. He gave up his rights the moment he engaged in sexual conduct with a young girl. He knew it was wrong the moment he thought about following through with it. Unfortunately, there are some mistakes we make in life that make a permanent mark on our future. Sometimes there are no do overs, nor should there be in this case.

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    1. My boyfriend was a sexually abused 12-year-old at the time of his crime, and there was no sexual intercourse. I don't know what "research" you think you've done, but none of your facts are accurate other than the victim's age. This is precisely my point, actually. You know literally nothing about us, but you've made a judgment that is not only incorrect, but damaging. Now, would you prefer to know the truth, or continue believing a lie?

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    2. I'm not the least bit surprised that you decided to post as an "anonymous" commentor. I can't believe the ignorance that continues to plague our "civilized" country. Why should that man have to feel the wrath of people like you for the rest of his life? He paid his penance and has done a better than outstanding job of proving he belongs in society with everyone else. He has a girlfriend, a house and a life that I'm sure he's like to live without ignorance constantly following him around. Next time you comment with facts that are not sound, please leave your name so we can know that at least you had the guts to stand behind what you say. Shaun Webb, Michigan

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  3. YOU chose to stay in a relationship with a sex offender. If you don't like having to be part of the registry, then get out of the relationship. The world doesn't owe your boyfriend that chose to engage in sexual conduct with his 6 year old sister anything. He gave up his freedoms the second he followed through on that act. Don't do your sister and you won't have to register!

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    1. I love a person who was a sexually abused 12-year-old child and acted out very inappropriately. This person also saved me from a lifetime of severe physical abuse. I'm not asking "the world" for anything, other than the opportunity to be safe and stable in our own home. Are you interested in the actual facts behind our situation, or would you rather be like everyone else, make assumptions and think you're in some way shape or form protecting children? Your attitude puts us in danger and there's no excuse for that.

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    2. Shame on you Lorraine. When you get done casting stones at this nice young couple, come over to www.amotionforinnocence.wordpress.com so you and I can go toe-to-toe. I welcome ignorance such as yours and look forward to making you look like the completly ignorant fool you seem to portray. Shaun Webb, SO, Michigan.

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    3. Believe it or not I do feel sorry that your boyfriend was abused. That's horrible. Patterns do repeat. Abuse patterns do repeat. So should your "privacy" and safety come before a parent's right to know wether or not they live next to a man who has sexually abused a child before? If you lived next to a guy that has raped women wouldn't you like to know? Unfortunately, your bf made a decision that has made a permanent mark on his record. I understand he was young and a child himself. I am all for protecting children. I am all for breaking patterns of abuse. Unfortunately patterns can and do repeat themselves. IF someone stole a cookie out of the cookie jar, would you go and investigate the person who has a history of it first, or would you go and look at everyone who has a clean record? It is a profiling of sorts, and profiling is not 100%. But let's face it, people would profile if it didn't have some record of success.

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    4. Thank you for responding. Frankly, danger is all around us; we have a registry for one very specific type of crime, but no others. And even if we did, registries don't show us the people who haven't been caught - or, who just haven't committed crimes yet. There's no substitute for vigilance, caution and awareness.

      I actually do support a system that uses facts, research, and professional testimony to evaluate people who may truly represent a danger to society. If we know who they are, we can monitor them effectively. But if we assume all 750,000+ individuals on the registry are dangerous - based on a relative few high-profile cases, we lose the ability to be effective at all. The research overwhelmingly indicates that re-offense rates for the majority of SOs are extremely low (www.endsexcrime.org/theproof.html#recidivism) and juvenile SO rates are even lower.

      Think about it; we don't trust children with cigarettes, alcohol or explicit material. But, when they act out inappropriately, we want to treat them like adults? I absolutely, 1000% support treatment for juvenile offenders - and I am not saying that it's okay for them to act out sexually. We just need to treat them like the children they are, and at least give them the opportunity to become adults.

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    5. Actually Lorraine, the registry has not helped solve crimes nor deter crimes. Just because the registry is there does not mean it is effective. Over 95% of all new sex crimes will be committed by first time offenders. That means if you focus on the 5% (registered sex offenders) you miss the 95%. In investigating sex crimes the most important suspects are always family members and close friends. Not the stranger down the street.

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  4. "Anonymous" and Lorraine: your comments shows a disturbing lack of understanding of human interaction, let alone crime and punishment. Our country used to be better then you/that. We were educated and civilized. Your mob rule mentalities and lack of education is much more dangerous than ANYTHING that Geoff ever did for whatever reason. Pity.

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    1. Better? When? When they were killing the natives? When they were burning witches? When they were hanging blacks? When they were locking up Asians into camps? When they were prosecuting homosexuals? The US has been pretty good at keeping to its roots, at least since the Europeans came over.

      The whole justice system hasn't evolved since forever. They use to hang people out in public for entertainment before they started locking them up in cells. It was more humane but since then... nothing has changed.

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  5. "Anonymous" (gee...I wonder WHY?) & "Lorraine Malcolm".. I pretty much wanted to take a long, hot shower and hard scrub after reading your crappy posts to Shana. Like, are you both for REAL? Were you both raised by negligent drug dealers, or just perhaps very ignorant parents that showed no compassion for you? You words and intention are course and vile. May your own HATE and venom consume you both.

    We are dealing with COWARDS... Vile, self-loathing, punk-ass cowards from BOTH genders... We live and function with PIGS on these "news" and blog sites... we pay a price for walking deep in the MIRE of their all-consuming HATRED for our truth and light. Stay the course Shana....stay the course...full speed ahead!

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  6. First off...how did this ”anonymous” find out what your bf name is & his charges? Seems like she needs to take more time in learning facts...not opinions. 2nd this Lorriane chick....ignorant. You cant help who u love....she must have never experienced true unconditional love!

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    1. My experience is that people gunning for sex offenders have something in their own lives to hide. Most do not seem to be sexual assault victims, although a few victims have lashed out. Most seem to be people struggling with their own demons...alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic abuse, financial troubles and what not. These people are looking for scapegoats and what better goats to scape than sex offenders?

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  7. I too love a "sex offender" and have many times been brave and told people of the situation which consumes our lives which is dealing with the continuous consequences and punishment from a teenagers mistake. Most look at me afraid and shocked for my safety because of his status. So many times I spend so much energy assuring them that he is an amazing person. We don't choose who we love. My love was not abused as a child. He just made a mistake and now close to 30 years old we still deal with it. I respect the people who are open minded and realize that they have done the exact thing he did. Everyone who meets my love says that the title does not fit because he is not a threat and the most good hearted person they know and not a "sex offender" as society says.

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  8. I do think the registry is too broad. Teenagers that flash, teenagers that engage in consensual sex are just a few that might be included on the registry. However... do you truly think its responsible to release offenders with a legitimate concerning record back into society without having some form of checks and balances in place? I understand what your plight is all about and I am open minded about it. But I live my life with one important rule: "Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me."

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    1. I do believe that those who display legitimate signs of danger to the community should be actively monitored. That, by itself, is a very logical and intelligent thing to do. If we know who truly presents a potential threat, we can respond to them individually and effectively. The problem is the painting of all "sex offenders" with a broad brush. Research and expert testimony all indicate that the high majority of SOs will not re-offend, and despite the way they are portrayed by the media, most have not harmed children or have used violence. Having been a domestic violence victim - as well as loving someone who experienced severe childhood sexual abuse - I certainly support effective measures that would prevent others from experiencing that. A big part of that is being smart, not emotional about how we react.

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    2. One more question then. I am not sure exactly what happened to your significant other... but from the list of comments here in sounds like he probably had an inappropriate relationship with a youth when he too was still a youth. I get that you think a child in his case would need counseling... but what would you suggest in his case happen after release from prison? You don't think you are being emotional on any level on how you are reacting to his case or someone that might be in his same shoes? Its human nature to respond emotionally. Sex abuse is probably one of the worst things that can happen to a person. It is emotional in its nature and it causes mental, emotional, and physical pain unlike any other. I am just wondering if in your personal case here, do you think there should be absolutely no monitoring or further recourse? I am asking without any judgment. He was obviously severely impacted emotionally, mentally, and probably physically by what happened to him. I am guessing the person he engaged in this act was as well. If you ask me, there should definitely be some type of checks and balances in place, and unfortunately, right now the only option is the SO registry. You are correct it saying it is a broad brush, but even if you think he will not re-offend, do you think on some level there could be a chance of re-offense by him or someone else in his shoes? You would not have this blog or be so vocal, and in turn advertising your registry if you yourself weren't reacting emotionally. Just trying to look at the situation completely objectively from both sides.

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    3. I go into detail about my fiancee's situation in the first few entries on this blog. The very, very short story is that he sexually abused his 6-year-old half sister when he was 12; their mother had been severely abusing him since he himself was about 6. Their mother was aware of what was going on, and chose to not only ignore it but encourage it. When he was 16, she arbitrarily decided to report him to the police, and that was it. None of the abuse she inflicted upon him was ever punished.

      Absolutely, I am emotional about this subject. There's no way that I couldn't be. But, I only became vocal about it until after I learned, read and discussed it objectively, too. There simply is no evidence that the registry has been effective in reducing or preventing sex crimes. Again, it is the problem with the broad brush; there are 200+ offenses that can brand someone an SO, yet our system treats everyone as though they have committed the "worst" possible offense, even though the "worst" offenders make up a very small majority of registrants. There is simply no way a system like that can be effective.

      I believe in treatment (which my fiancee, and many others like him, continues to engage in) and at least the opportunity to become a contributing member of society. If we restrict them so severely that it is impossible to do so, we give them little incentive to try. Imagine if you could not get a job, could not afford housing or food, and were completely ostracized by the community. Would you be motivated to try? If you had the opportunity to work hard, earn a living, have a healthy support system, you would probably value your life and your choices a lot more.

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    4. The justice system and it's prisons do not serve to rehabilate people, they are not interested in real solutions to crime. The current prison system is more about profit, less about function. This much should be obvious.

      Study after study shows that prisons make people more violent. Even prison guards become more violent in prisons. So if we were really interested in curing violence, we wouldn't lock people up in prisons at all. We would find some other means based on deep knowledge and understanding of social human development. Politicans don't have that kind of knowledge, they are just idiots with power who pass stupid laws to get re-elected.

      Even the worst offenders are products of our society. It isn't fair to condemn them without also condemning that which created them, is it? If you want to get to the root of a problem, you have to dig deep. Easy solutions are for the less intelligent only.

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    5. I agree with everything you said. I simply do not have faith in our society that enough people could comprehend that, and be willing to work toward it and make the necessary sacrifices to achieve it. Sad, no?

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    6. Gregory C.....your reasoning leans on an assumption that sex offenders repeat sex crimes, therefore they need public monitoring. This is a common but faulty assumption. Sex offenders rarely repeat sex crimes. Take my word or do a quick Google search on legitimate sex offender recidivism rates. With that myth busted what then is the reasoning for the registry? Most registrants have long since been out of prison and off parole. They have stayed crime free for years if not decades. Professionals have finished monitoring them. Why then is the public subjected to monitoring these law abiding citizens?

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  9. I wonder how much of the feedback Shana receives is sexism. If the roles were reversed and a man blogged about his relationship with a female, say, illegal immigrant, would he be profiled as "emotional" as one commenter has said? It seems society has a preconceived notion of who a woman in a relationship with a sex offender must be. Surely she must have low self esteem or he must be "conning" her. Never can the merits of the relationship stand on its own. One cannot image a woman simply falling in love with a sex offender for the exact same reasons other women fall in love. Most importantly she is too flawed to examine sex offender issues rationally. Never mind that this issue is hers and she knows of it first hand.

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    1. Whenever I'm on the news, one of the first accusations is that I'm only with my fiancee because I have no self esteem, or he's lying to me, or I suffered some kind of abuse and never dealt with it. Very, very rarely does it occur to people that maybe, he's an incredible person who I love because of exactly who he is. Another funny thing, is that this blog began as a way to tell his story... all of our history is right here in this blog for anyone to read OR even watch. But sadly, the same people who claim to care about children, are the first ones to bully, throw stones and tear others down. When you give them the facts, they don't respond. It really shows you who truly comes from a place of caring, and who doesn't.

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    2. Shana,

      From you post above it seems your relationship is held to a higher standard than most. How do you deal with the normal ups and downs of a relationship when you have this impossible standard over your head?

      Mary

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    3. Probably not unlike most other people. Knowing that we have a huge challenge that many don't makes us work even harder than we might otherwise to understand each other, really be aware of what we are saying and how it sounds to the other person, and accept that we experience things differently a lot of the time. I firmly believe we feel love more intensely because of the extreme difficulties we've had to face and overcome together, and that love is what fuels me.

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  10. Wow, this is what I needed to see. Someone I've recently reconnected with is on this list. We've dated in the past. He was always a great guy, got caught up in some stuff. The thought to pursue a relationship is there.

    He made a mistake, a horrible mistake. Even though I care about him, I don't know if I can do it. I'll always be worried.

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    1. Sissy,
      I wish there were easy answers here but unfortunately there aren't. Ultimately it comes down to your gut and your heart. In the beginning, when I knew I was in love with my fiancee but was very worried about the unknown, it helped me a lot to start researching (objectively) about sex offenders and sex crime. If I was setting myself up for heartbreak I wanted to know. I was very surprised to learn that so much of what we hear/read about sex offenders is not true. At that point it was a relief, and it still is, but unfortunately that didn't help prepare me for the other negative aspect of loving a sex offender - the public's reaction. I could care less what people think about us personally, however it is draining, hurtful and scary wondering if their ignorance will someday put us in danger. The fact that our address/vehicle info is public is frankly terrifying to me. As hard as this has been I love him and I can't imagine being without him, but it will always be different than being with someone who isn't on the "magic list". If you want to talk please feel free to email me! iloveanso@gmail.com

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    2. I have a sex offender boyfriend. His offence happned when he was 16 now 26. Mu problem is that I love him to death and feel he is my other half. But because I stand for what I believe in and that is him. I know he will never do it again it. Was a terrible choice he made and hes able to eccept that. Ok so where my problem lies is that ive lost mother one of my sons friends and other family. My mom turned him into parole for beon around my kids in witch he was never inapproiate with them and now hes doin 2 years for violating. Hes decided to finish his time get off parole and start his life over with me. We plan on getting married when he comes home. Im writing this to you hopeing you can give me some advice. My situation pains me so much and I feel so lost.

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  11. Thank you for this blog. I deal with this every day of my life, because of suffering from depression and making a mistake.Nearly 10 years ago, I was a single divorced Dad, with no female relationship at all. For some reason or another, when ever I did start a relationship with a woman, they would tell me of things that had happened to them in their past. I just couldnt understand. I had no words of comford for them. I desperatly wanted to have a loving and caring relationship, but for years I had none at all. I began to believe,"due to unknown biological depression" that it was all my fault that none of the relationships would last was because I didnt understand or believe what they were telling me. I didnt believe that it was even possible. I didnt know much about computers but I got started trying to find answers so, maybe by the time I met someone else, and they started telling me thing like I had heard before, maybe I would have something knowledgable to say to them. I answered an ad one day and ordered some material from what I thought was a skumbag, not thinking it would be wrong. I thought that for some "STUPID" reason, I might be able to figure out why someone would do such things to someone they were supposed to love. A few days later, a pop-up page kept comming up on the screen of my computer, that I couldnt get off the screen. Somehow it had froze up my computer. I had to unplug it from the wall just to turn it off. The only way to get the images off the screen, was to send them to the computers breifcase so, I did. The next day, the FBI was there and the rest was a nightmare. Without money, and a lawyer who was in bed "so to say" with the prosecutor. I was done. They found that I was and had been suffering for most of my life with biolocical depression and that had I know about it and been on meds for it, I wouldnt have done what I did. But nobody cared about that, me, my son, my family or the fact that I had never been in any trouble in my life, and I was about to turn 40 at that time. Long story short, I got 5 years in prison and 10 years of probation and I'm on the registry for life. Am I really what needs to be on the registry? Why? And for life?
    I worry every day if I will loss my job, if someone will try to harm me or anyone with me, and of what "STUPID" law they will come up with next, to make my life even more miserable than it is allready. And last but not least, I'm still all alone with no relationship and fearful that no one will ever have me, and get to know the real man I am. The man that is full of love and compassion for others, and has not and would not ever harm anyone. NOW! What about me? Am I a monster?

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  12. I recently came across this blog and I have to say I am so happy that I am not the only one dealing with this issue. My boyfreind is also a "sex offender" and we have been struggling every day to keep our relationship strong and free of judgement. Everybody links sex offenders to child molesters and rapists when this is the farthest thing from the truth in my case. My boyfriend frequently used limewire to download music for his mp3 player and after downloading what he thought was a song turned out to be a video of child porn and the police just happened to be doing a "sting" on the person who produced and distributed the video, leading the police straight to my boyfriends house after download. One click on a link that was supposed to be a song ruined my boyfriends life and mine along with it. There is no future for us anymore because of this, if I want to grow and succeed I will have to cut all ties with my boyfriend because when you're dating somebody with such a charge people treat you like YOU are the criminal. What is the point of having a relationship that is frowned upon or a relationship that you have to hide? He is the love of my life and always will be, but because of one innocent mistake I have to make the choice to either leave him after 5 years together in order to get where I want to be in life, or to stay with him and constantly be judged by ignorant people. I understand the need for the sex offender registry, I am not in any way putting it down or saying that it is a bad thing to have. I just think it is 100% unfair that the law ruined a man's life because of what another man produced and distriubuted under a song title's name. One click of a button and a life is ruined.. it's ludacris.

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  13. What doesnt make sense of your version of the story is the timeline. You kept saying your boyfriend was 12 at the time of his crime. But obviously wasnt prosecuted until he was an adult? I have never heard of a State's Attorney's office leaving on a back burner a crime and waiting for the perp to prosecute for that many years. Wasnt the Statute of Limitations in effect in that state at the time of Crime? Something doesnt ring true here.

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    1. The crime was not reported by their mother until he turned 16, and then it took nearly 2 years for him to be convicted. When he was finally convicted and sentenced, he was days from 18. If you've read or listened to my earlier accounts of his life, the abuse, and the trial, this post will make more contextual sense. There was obvious prosecutor misconduct and bribery in his case and in my opinion, no one received justice, not even his victim.

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  14. I kinda feel hurt and lost. See my b/f was added to the lost at 16 he is now 26. I wasent gonna tell my mom cause I knew how she would feel, but she found out. I talked with her and she seemed to understand. My son on the other hand hates everyone and told my mom my b/f kissed him on the forhead. Mind you my son had no idea. So my mom decided to call his parole officer and have him violated. My mothetr ends up telling my 12 year old what my b/f had done. Not for the past month that my b/f has been back in jail, he got 2 yrs but is deciding to max out 4 years so he can be done with everything. But since the past month my son moved out and neithet he or my mom will talk to me. Mom calles me discusting and my son calls me far worse. Word got out and not my whole street who use to be cool with me mn ow shun me away including some of the kids on my street. Now when my b/f gets out I plan to ne living elc where and were gonna be togethet and eventually get married. He is the sweetest man and very considerate of others and will help anyone hes just a real goodman. But now im kinda in a situation with family and friends that idk what to do. I hurt and feel so lost. They try to tell me a person like him never change. I know him better then that and I know he is truley sorry for what he did and will never ever make that mistake again. He couldent hurt a fly now.. but im stuck and dont know what I should do about the rest of it.. if possible any advice would help.

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    1. Eva, email me at shana.rowan@usafair.org... let's talk! :)

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  15. Hello Shana! First, let me say I admire you for what you are doing. It takes a a lot to put yourself out there like this. I too am in love with a sex offender. I have only known this man for two months but I can honestly say that I know it is for real. We have many things in common and in this short amount of time we have formed a very strong bond with one another. We are both older - he is 42 and I am 36. I would really like it if we could talk some more "off-line" as I am new to this and have a lot of questions. I would vey much value your advice.

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    1. Deborah, feel free to email me at shana.rowan@usafair.org!

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  16. If he was only 12 when it was going on he should have been given counseling...lots and lots of counseling...and be done with it...How at 12 being sexually abused himself would he even understand what he was doing was wrong? :( I feel for you! Minors should almost never be allowed to be put on the SO list (maybe some exceptions for 16/17 year olds if their crimes are violent in nature) for the most part they can be redeemed...why are kids as young as 8 being put on there for goodness sakes? its terrible! There should at least be a difference in having to register for people on the lower level! They aren't violent predators they aren't going to repeat their crimes most given half a chance try and become productive members of society and fall in love and want families of their own!!!

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    1. Hi Anna,

      Thanks for your comment, and please feel free to email me at shana.rowan@usafair.org or sign up at www.usafair.org. We are fighting for the rights of families and for evidence-based sex offender laws.

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