The predator within

He didn’t look threatening or scary, yet he wasn’t exactly normal-looking. When outside the prison walls, he was a member of an organized religion and worked as a house painter. He would stare at you in an unnerving way and was a little slow on the uptake, but that may have been due to the drugs.

The middle-aged man was going through intensive therapy just after release from a Utah prison on a sex-offense conviction. He was enduring a bizarre sort of marriage counseling in combination with a sex-drive-reducing drug. You see, they were trying to wean him off his desire for young boys and reintroduce him to his wife. He had been given doses of Depo-Provera to kill his sex urges long enough to allow the therapy to take hold. Once he was on this new road to blissful heterosexuality, the Depo would be reduced. Yep, it was a road fraught with distraction and disappointment.

He had already taken me on a scary tour of Salt Lake City for a story on how to protect children from sexual predators. So, here was the pro telling us how he selected his victims from video-game rooms, malls and parks. He went for the poor, ugly kids who were off by themselves. He called them the funny-looking ones, and he could relate. He knew they would be lonely and needing money to have fun. He then claimed prison had taught him the error of his deviant ways.

Although he had his patient wife standing by, it is usually very lonely to be a convicted sex offender who is identified by law enforcement and ostracized by neighbors (see “Branded”). No, we shouldn’t forget the crime, but hey, the criminals did the time, so shouldn’t they be left alone to face the difficult world in which they live?

If law enforcement wants to out the really dangerous people, then perhaps we should know of every repeat, violent carjacker and home invader who gets released from prison and moves into our neighborhoods. But I guess that would create unnecessary paranoia.