Wednesday, June 10, 2009

New Sentencing For Man Who Was Spared Commitment Because He Found Religion

In Seattle, Washington a man who had already been sentenced to life in prison for 2 rapes is facing another life sentence for a sexually-motivated murder committed within a week of those 2 rapes during May 2004.

This murder and those 2 rapes wouldn't have happened if the effort in 2003 to have Curtis Thompson committed as a sexual predator had been successful. They also wouldn't have happened if the sentence for those first 4 rape convictions hadn't been just 18 years.

From the Olympian:

Thompson previously spent time in prison for four rapes, but in 2003 a Seattle jury declined to commit him as a sex predator because he said religion had transformed his life.
I believe that jury was conned not only by Thompson who had been convicted of 4 rapes at that time which were described as extremely brutal, but they were also conned by our general assumptions about sexual violence which too often are quick to negate specific information about the crimes and criminal habits of sex offenders in favor of general stereotypes.

This is an extreme example of the harm which can be done when someone's general manner in or out of prison doesn't fit our assumptions about those who commit rape or who will continue to commit rape once released from prison.

Some might see this man's crime spree as proof that my positive answer to the question: Can all men refrain from committing rape? was the wrong answer. But I believe this man was capable of refraining from violence and he made the deliberate decision not to do so based on his personal values and beliefs related to the treatment of women. In the short term rape and murder gave this man a huge payoff.

Finding religion is often presented as a magic cure-all, but a study on inmates found that sex offenders with lifelong religious beliefs committed more serious sex crimes than their non-religious counterparts. Since some popular religions view women as subservient to men a sex offender who genuinely embraces a new religion or who reconnects with a familiar one may feel justified in holding onto all of the dangerous beliefs which aided that person's history of sexual violence.

That now-religious person could in fact become more dangerous. Religion has a long history of being misused to justify genocide and terrorism. Many of the so-called decent people who blame girls and women for rape point back to the story of Adam, Eve and the apple as their proof for their unapologetic decision to side with certain types of rapists.

This is rationalization and that means rational decisions which means the person who rationalized violence found a way to support the choice to be violent.

Throughout the trial, Thompson had many outbursts including threatening to kill the judge, the prosecutor, and also berated Byars' family.
These outbursts might be seen as more evidence that Thompson was incapable of controlling himself, but I believe he had no genuine interest in self-control at this point and no respect for the law or the criminal justice system. Disrupting this trial likely was likely very satisfying to this man.

Some people's violent habits and violent tastes make them too much of a danger to ever risk that they will refrain from rape. The traditional criminal justice system should be able to deal with this danger, but when it always does so it also risks locking away those who will choose to not reoffend.

Thompson's crimes after his unsuccessful commitment trial are highlighted in the efforts last year to commit another Washington state sex offender, Richard Hosier.

"Without a doubt, Richard Hosier is a disgusting and repulsive individual," [defense attorney] Price told the King County jury Thursday. "There's no one in this room who would dispute that." But, she said, her client isn't a high risk to reoffend and could be treated outside the walls of the McNeil Island center. [...]

In interviews with detectives, Hosier said he "mistrusted all females from birth to death." "Their existence had no value for him other than sexually," Senior Deputy Prosecutor Rod Scarr told jurors Thursday, reading from a police statement.

With a history of sex assault since he was a teen, Hosier has admitted to raping about 30 women and children during the late 1970s and early 1980s, often picking up hitchhikers and assaulting them. Most recently, he was convicted of leaving sexually explicit notes at several locations around Snohomish County, including a day care center.

Again, I believe this man was capable of refraining from rape, but his beliefs give him little reason to refrain and that makes him very dangerous. Not surprising, to me at least, this man was a model prisoner and an example to other prisoners. But most of those he dealt with during his time in prison were other men. Since sexual violence is about control, not a lack of control, many sex offenders don't have a problem coping with a highly controlling environment.

In the end the jury agreed with the prosecutors and Hosier was civilly committed. This isn't a perfect system but it a system we cannot afford to ditch unless or until a better system is in place.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:49 AM   1 comments links to this post


At June 10, 2009 4:45 PM, Blogger JENNIFER DREW said...

I agree men's sexual violence against women is all about male control and subordination of women. But our male-centered society constantly raises new myths and justifications for men's sexual violence against women. If male sexuality is so dangerous why then are not all men committing rape against women. The answer of course is that not all men believe male supremacist lies concerning how male sexuality has been constructed. Therefore, some men respect women's sexual autonomy, but unfortunately such men are few in number compared to the rapists and their apologists.

Blaming women is an easy cop-out because it diverts attention away from male accountability and responsibility. Men as a group are routinely not held to the same high standard as women and this means women are held responsible not only for their behaviour and actions, but also the actions and behaviour of men who commit sexual violence against women.

Eve did not force Adam to eat the apple, rather Adam made a free choice to eat the apple. Eve did not coerce or threaten Adam but this is conveniently forgotten because misogynistic beliefs blame women for all the world's ills, including men's violence against women.

We must hold men to a far higher standard of behaviour rather than the bare minimum which currently exists. Only the most extreme forms of male violence against women are seen as violence, whereas everyday 'little rapes' go unnoticed because men are supposedly incapable of managing their emotions.

Yet this is at odds with dominant notions that women not men are incapable of rational thought because women's emotions supposedly rule their lives. However, men too have emotions and feelings and men like women are fully capable of controlling and managing their emotions - only many men choose not to but scapegoat women.

Thompson's outbursts were not those of an uncontrollable man rather he chose to disrupt the court proceedings because he has no respect for the law or legal proceedings. Therefore Thompson made a free and informed decision to make empty threats to the court officials and victim's family. Thompson was attempting to intimidate individuals because he holds them in contempt. Such actions are not those of an uncontrollable man but are those of a violent and manipulative male.


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