Treating sexual predators

Wednesday, July 31st 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Can child predators be successfully treated so that they might rejoin society? News on Six reporter Patrina Adger has the story.

Bishop Edward Slattery: Catholic Diocese of Tulsa, “I should have never placed Father Lewis in any position which might have placed any young person at ay risk." In a news conference Tuesday, Bishop Slattery said Father Ken Lewis was sent to a psychiatric treatment center in 1994, after Lewis was apparently involved in several incidents of questionable behavior with young boys.

Slattery allowed Lewis to come back into the ministry a year later saying, "His conditions seem to tell me he was stable."

"Normal people don't get accused of molesting children and certainly not more than once." As a therapist at Christian Family Institute, Dr. Dale Doty treats victims as well as predators in sex abuse cases, including priests. "Some are just here for treatment because they realize they have a problem, they've crossed lines inappropriately."

Doty says it takes very in-depth treatment to get to the root of the reason why an adult would fantasize about touching a child. Once that's established and an evaluation is performed, he says there's contradictory evidence as to whether pedophiles are even curable. "We will hook people up to monitoring devices that measure sexual arousal and we will show them pictures of children not nude pictures just people playing on the street."

Court ordered patients are encouraged to seek further treatment and are monitored regularly. Doty says those in helping professions like priests and teachers have been told that being alone with a child is not a good idea, because the intent of any kind of affection has different meanings to different people, and so-called "innocent touching" could lead to seduction and a prelude to more.

And he says putting child predators back in that dangerous environment after treatment is not a good idea. "If they can't seem to ever get a grip or they continue to minimize it or worse normalize it or defend it those people are dangerous and the only solution in my opinion is to lock them up and put them away.”

Doty says it's also up to the predators not to put themselves in an environment where they might feel an inkling of temptation toward hurting a child. We also want to point out that Father Lewis has not been charged with any form of sex abuse.