046: Sexual Offenders – How do we proceed?

Natasha Helfer Parker interviews John Simpson, a therapist who has worked with the forensic population for 30+ years – specifically those who sexually abuse women, men and children.  He has treated more than 1700 people who have been convicted of sexual assault, providing risk assessment, sentencing recommendations, psychological assessments and sexual offender treatment.  They discuss sex crime – what we know about it – some of the treatments that can be helpful to this type of population (including a program John developed which has had tremendous success in having people not re-offend) – and the implications for the communities they live in once not incarcerated.  They also specifically address some of the ways wards and stakes can work with their members to ensure safety for all, comfortable boundaries and education.  Please be aware that this topic can be triggering to those who have been assaulted – it may not be an interview some would be comfortable listening to.

Many thanks to The Lower Lights for the beautiful bumper music and to James Estrada of Oak Street Audio for audio production of this podcast.

4 comments for “046: Sexual Offenders – How do we proceed?

  1. Daniel Parkinson
    November 29, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    I think this practitioner’s approach to sexual perpetrators is brilliant. I do question his stance on pornography. There are some fairly compelling statistics that point to access to porn as actually decreasing sexual violence, both in the USA and abroad. I wonder if he has any particular reason (such as stats or studies) as to why he feels that pornography increases the risk, (other than anecdotes or clinical experience, since these are interesting but not as reliable as studies).

    • Rob Cox
      December 6, 2014 at 11:26 pm

      I’ve had to do a lot of research on this topic, as I work for an agency while finishing up my MA in Counseling Psych degree in Berkeley, Ca. I’ve spoken to several Sex Offender Program Directors in the Bay Area and all of them have made comments consistent with Mr. Simpson’s remarks. They have emphatically stated that they would never prescribe pornography to recovering sex offenders.

  2. Courtney
    December 8, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    Natasha, I think it was my question a while back you are referring to re: the ward situation with a sex offender. What happened in our ward is very different than the example you gave though so perhaps not. The sex offender was the nephew of someone in our ward and was being released from prison. There was a community meeting about him when he was released, he was barred from other public spaces with children etc (schools, libraries etc) because he was the highest level sex offender so confidentiality wasn’t an issue (we all knew). The church leadership called a “public” meeting where we watched snippets of conference talks about forgiveness etc. and it felt manipulative to many in attendance, who felt like the boundaries of the girls in the ward who were nervous weren’t being thought about while trying to save and support the lost sheep. It ended up that they changed the plan based on the feedback from having an escort with him to only attending elders’ quorum. He never came–I don’t know that he really was interested in coming but his parole officer thought it would help him in finding support and a job. His family was pretty offended at the response, and families were offended that their worries weren’t really considered at first. After listening to this and going through that experience (I was a Mia Maid advisor at the time and had a couple Mia Maids who didn’t want to come to church with him there), I think it was too soon. He had just come out of prison and no one knew what to expect and what he would do. It seems like a congregation needs some time when there is a public situation like this to develop a level of trust in the perpetrator and the church leaders. It’s a tough situation trying to protect the different boundaries.

  3. Lost
    May 9, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    I don’t understand the issue of confidentiality for the offender. Members should be aware of at least some danger so they can protect themselves and their families. Why is the perpetrators privacy and spirituality and feeling safe always more important, and I am not saying not important, than the victims and future victims? How can someone ever feel safe at church when others are protected through the excuse that leaders did not have to say anything because it’s confidential? How it it protecting families? Respecting victims boundaries and possible future victims is not always handled in the way he describes it should be. Instead victims are shamed and told to forgive or they are the problem. I just can not make sense of any of it. Feel more depspondent now than before listening. The thought of leaders listening to this and justifying their actions makes me feel so sick. I just can’t comprehend it.

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