There is no question that the thought of your child being the victim of a sexual predator is one of the biggest fears parents have. The idea that someone would hurt them in this way is soul crushing. Sadly, that is a reality too many parents have to deal with. For many, there is legal justice at the end of the horror story. However, for one Seattle family, the nightmare began all over again when they got word that their daughter's rapist was released from jail. Their fear: he will brutalize another child.
At the age of 13, Cory Roberts was jailed for beating and raping a 3-year-old girl he was babysitting. The vicious crime left the toddler paralyzed and brain damaged. Released 11 years later from a juvenile detention center in 2001, Roberts assaulted a 3-year-old boy within weeks and was sent back to prison. Now he is set to be freed again after a psychologist evaluation concluded that he is no longer dangerous or sexually attracted to children.
Even so, this story brings up a chilling and important conversation -- can pedophiles really be cured? Are children ever safe around someone with this type of history? "Pedophiles are likely to commit the crime again if they have not been sufficiently rehabilitated through psychiatric treatment and if they don't return into a supportive environment once they have been incarcerated," says renowned psychiatrist Carole Lieberman.
In fact, according to a Harvard Medical School publication, the recidivism rate is alarmingly high. According to studies, one-fourth of heterosexual predators will commit the crime again and one-half of homosexual offenders will.
Though Lieberman insists there is a formula for keeping pedophiles from repeating the crime. "The best psychiatric treatment for pedophiles combines intensive psychotherapy to get at the root of his pedophilia, with medications, which can include testosterone-suppressing drugs and medication to address any additional psychiatric disorders the patient has, such as depression," she adds.
Lieberman, who has provided expert testimony in numerous trials involving child sexual assault, stresses that pedophiles should also stay away from alcohol, drugs, keep a job that occupies their time, and find outlets for sexual urges (such as masturbation or having an adult girlfriend or wife). And though there is no "cure," patients in steady treatment programs "feel less sexually aroused around children and are able to manage that arousal."
But for the community that Roberts has re-entered, the question remains, has he really turned his life around? He now lives in a halfway house and will be under strict supervision for the next 21 months. However, Kelly McGinnis, the mother of his first victim, isn't hopeful: "I know he's going to hurt someone else" she said. Let's hope and pray that she is wrong.
Do you think a pedophile can be successfully rehabilitated?
Image via © Elisa Lazo de Valdez/Corbis