There has been a lot about sexual misconduct in the news. The Catholic sex slave story. The co-founder of Sundance story. Others.

There have been several interwoven threads, and they came up in a discussion about someone I know who was convicted of a sex crime more than thirty years ago and whose home ward has never forgiven them.

Should it matter what the crime was or what the circumstances were?

Should it matter that from a wild summer as an eighteen year-old they have now matured, with a family, a job and a security clearance?

I’ve wondered, ever since I officed down the hall from a therapist and was assigned as an attorney ad litem in a difficult procedural case (I was pulled in to deal with the overlapping res judicata and collateral estoppel issues and a court of appeals decision that the presiding court couldn’t make sense of).

That experience eventually led to my serving on the board of a child advocacy center, doing a fair amount of pro bono work and serving on the board of a rape crisis center. I’ve paid out of my own pocket for therapy for victims.

But almost thirty years ago, I and the therapist down the hall had a serious talk about whether or not any redemption was possible for the sex criminals she dealt with (she was court assigned to some criminals and many victims). I was intent on protecting their victims but I wondered what could be done for them.

In general, she felt that only those who immediately confronted the evil of what they had done had a chance of breaking free of it. That is, if a person confesses what they did to the police and faces the consequences without any attempt to cover it up or minimize what they had done, then they had a chance.

They also rigorously avoid the chance of a relapse and accept consequences and restrictions. In Europe sex offenders often choose [chemical] castration and more than 85% report an increased quality of life as a result as they no longer feel a drive to do things they find and acknowledge as abhorrent.

Otherwise, all you have is an invitation to do more and worse things. Minimizing things encourages repetition (just as exaggerating things encourages other issues).

Do people deserve redemption? I think the relief society president who had engaged in some prostitution the summer she moved away from home and into a new job more than deserved it.

After all, redemption is why Christ came into the world and took up the cross.

File:Brueghel II, Pieter - Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery 1600.jpg


What do you think?

Who deserves redemption? On what terms?


Images from Wikimedia Commons.