NOTE: In the years since I have written this commentary, many others have fallen as the result of various sex scandals, from Chris Hansen getting busted by a “unfaithful married men” sting, to the 2021 sex trafficking allegations against Florida Representative Matt Gaetz. Everyone accused, even someone like Matt Gaetz, is innocent until proven guilty. Yet, there is a certain satisfaction is seeing the same people who promoted oppressive laws against Registered Persons now facing the very monster they helped create.
Political Sex Scandals and Double Standards
An Editorial by: Derek “The Fallen One” Logue
May 3, 2008, Last updated Feb. 5, 2009
Sex offender laws are a very controversial method of attempting to reduce sexual violence, but there are major discrepancies in the application of these laws. If you are a politician, a celebrity advocate, or a hot sexy teacher, chances are you won’t see the inside of a prison. Such double standards draw attention away from an honest approach to the issues.
PART 1– The New Curse: Sex Offender Laws Come Before Politician Sex Scandals
“It hits me right in the gut because it’s absolutely false and incorrect. I never had sex with a child, I never had sex with a minor. A pedophile is somebody who is having sex with a prepubescent person. I mean, that is an outrage to be called that.“
— Former congressman Mark Foley
First was the infamous “Curse of the Bambino.” Next came the “Madden Curse,” where football players placed on the box of every yearly Madden video football game end up suffering a career threatening problem. Now, it seems, a new curse emerges, befalling many “get tough on sex crimes” politicians; perhaps we can call it the “curse of the sex scandal.”
It seems every time a politician pushes for tougher laws against sex offenders, they end up being caught in the very same situation they are attacking. New York Governor Elliot Spitzer was busted for soliciting prostitute after making it a registered sex offense. Idaho Senator Larry Craig opposed gay marriage but was caught soliciting gay sex in a public restroom. And Florida congressman Mark Foley pushed the Adam Walsh Act through congress, but was later caught sending sexual messages to underage congressional pages.
Now we have Ohio Attorney General Mark Dann, who, ironically, ran on the platform of “cleaning up corruption.” Dann helped Ohio become among the first states to pass the Adam Walsh Act, which placed thousands of low-risk former offenders into the high risk category. However, the scandal began with a top aide accused of sexual misconduct, but has now ended with Dann admitting to being involved in an affair with a subordinate. This has deeper implications than one may realize. You see, if the woman in the scandal claims Dann used his position to influence her into this affair, it is rape. Thus, Dann could very well end up registering four times per year for the rest of his life as a “sexual predator.” It could happen, but honestly, I doubt it. Dann has asserted he won’t step down as Ohio Attorney General.
When ABC ‘s 20/20 ran the “Age of Consent” special on March 14, 2008, reporter John Stossel mused why someone would crusade so zealously against the very actions they are committing behind closed doors. They say, “Do as we say, not as we do.” Do they hate their inner demons? Do they try to hide suspicions of their own improprieties by shifting the public focus? Or do they recognize that sex offenders are a sure ticket to attention and vote getting?
Scandals receive much attention, but they illustrate the failure to address a major issue. Few people acknowledge when they have an issue with their sexuality that needs to be addressed. There are few places to turn to when a person DOES admit to needing help, as the stigma of having a sexual addiction is such a barrier to getting the help a person needs. They have nowhere to turn. Sadly, if we cannot depend on our leaders to provide for prevention, education, and counseling for sexual addictions, to provide open and honest discussion on deviant sexuality, and remove the stigma for seeking counseling for sexual addiction, we stand no chance of cleaning up sex scandals in our own government, much less the public at large.
Part 2: Do as I say, Not as I do
“You know, women can be an addiction, and you have to deal with it…Oh, I had it for years and didn’t think I had it.” — John Walsh talking about his sexual addiction on Larry King Live
Perhaps the most famous of child victim advocates, John Walsh of America’s Most Wanted, has made his share of controversial statements. Walsh had told us NEVER hire a male babysitter, and stated we should implant exploding anus chips in sex offenders. But on the July 15, 2003 episode of Larry King Live, John Walsh admitted to suffering from a sexual addiction and cheating on his wife, but states he was cured of his sexual addiction. If Walsh can be cured from his sexual issues, then who is to say everyone else who has suffered from sexual issues cannot be cured?
“We’re talking about Romeo and Juliet here, not some 36-year-old pervert following around a 10-year-old” — Child Victim Advocate Mark Lunsford, following his son’s arrest on sex charges
John Walsh is not alone in considering himself the exception to the rule. Another child victim advocate, Mark Lunsford, experienced controversy in 2007 when his then 18-year-old son, Joshua, was arrested for fondling his 14 year old girlfriend. Granted, these aren’t charges I feel should incur a lifetime on the sex offender registry [as noted in my “Criminalizing Teen Sex” article] but why make the son of a celebrity advocate an exception to the standard? By contrast, consider the case featured on the Ricky’s Life website [http://rickyslife.com/] — a 16 year old landed on the registry, classified a “sexual predator,” for consensual sex with his teen girlfriend.
Usually, we hold people in positions of authority to higher standards than the populace; in these cases, we do not. Why? What makes them above the law? Are lawmakers or advocates for laws above the very laws they propagate? Again, this mentality creates an honest approach to sex offender issues.
Part 3 — Hot for Teacher: Teacher/ Student Sex Scandals Exemplifies Sentencing Double Standards
“To place an attractive young woman in that kind of hell hole is like placing a piece of raw meat in with the lions” — Debra Lafave’s attorney, John Fitzgibbons
No single statement exemplifies the double standard more than the infamous Debra LaFave teacher sex scandal. LaFave took a pleas bargain after having sex with a 14 year old boy and served 3 years of house arrest. Later she was charged with a probation violation for an alleged sexual conversation with an underage co-worker, but was later dropped. However, more striking than the case itself was the general mood of the article. In cases where teenage girls have sex with male teachers, the consensus would be the man is a “pedophile” or a “sexual predator.” In this particular case, a very large number of people sympathized with LaFave, and others even treated the boy as a hero or made comments about how “lucky” he was for sex with his “hot teacher.” Some websites even offer up voting for the hottest teacher sex scandal. Such attitudes only further exemplify this gender gap in the perception of sexual offending.
Even though studies suggest only some small differences between sexually offending females and males, it is our perception of the female sex offender that makes a difference. Our culture tends to view female sex offenders in a far different than males. According to a number of articles, the prevailing attitude is female sex offenders are not predatory and the victims are not harmed, or even in some cases, “lucky.” Women are viewed as having a mental illness or was abused themselves, while men are seen as animals or predators. And women are seen as less dangerous than men overall. Surely this mentality affects sextencing for sex crimes.
Psychologist Katherine Peterson of the Kentucky Department of Corrections said those who are caught generally receive lighter sentences than men [http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,101140,00.html], a view many agree with, although local prosecutors will likely deny it.
Part 4: Celebrity Roast- Roman Polanski
“When I was younger I really didn’t have any control over the situation, but now I want to deal with it on my own terms. I don’t carry feelings of anger towards Polanski. I even have some sympathy for him, what with his mother dying in a concentration camp and then his wife Sharon Tate being murdered by Charles Manson’s people and spending the last 20 years as a fugitive. Life was hard for him, just like it was for me. He did something really gross to me, but it was the media that ruined my life.” — Samantha Geimer, the victim in the Roman Polanski sex crime case from 1977, in a recent People magazine interview
Roman Polanski is a fugitive from the law. After pleading guilty to a charge of “unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor,” and later fled to his home country without serving his sentence. France refuses to extradite Polanski to the USA. Normally this would spark outrage, boycotts, and ostracism, but not in the case of Roman Polanski, who, after his flight from justice, has won six Oscar awards for his work on the movies Tess (1979) and The Pianist (2002).
The average registrant rarely gets this kind of support. The victim in his case has forgiven him long ago. The French “adore” him. Even a Sundance Film on the sex scandal cast Polanski in a benevolent light. He received a standing ovation for his award winning films. The average registrant that has served his/ her sentence is not even given the opportunity for redemption, much less revered. If Polanski, who never served his time, can be forgiven and supported even by the victim in his case, why do we find it difficult as a society to give the same consideration to someone who did serve time and has rehabilitated and strives to rebuild his or her life?
As an aside, by today’s standards, many celebrities like Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis, who had married underage females, would be considered “sex offenders” today.
Politicians, celebrities, and “hot teachers” are not above the law, but as long as we hold them to different standards, we fail to address the root causes of the problem. In spite of the overwhelming amount of research to the contrary, our perception of the sex offender remains the dirty old man in the bushes. Try as we might, there is no “us” and “them.” One of the strongest beliefs held by those in the throes of illness is the belief of “everybody but me.” There are no exceptions. And we must address sex offender issues in an honest and equal manner. Only then can we hope to achieve the ultimate goal of NO MORE VICTIMS.
Links Of Interest:
http://www.politicianregistry.net/ — The National Online Registry of Dangerous politicos
www.armchairsubversive.org — Republican scandals
http://stopbaptistpredators.org/index.htm — Baptist SNAP
http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=17357 — Top Ten Democratic Political Scandals
Specific Sex Scandals:
Ohio AG Mark Dann
http://www.newsday.com/business/ny-stspit0311,0,2330333.story — NY Gov. Eliot Spitzer
http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/story?id=3546350&page=1 — Idaho Sen. Larry Craig
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/29/AR2006092901574.html — Mark Foley
Foley Breaks his Silence!
http://cbs5.com/politics/mark.foley.interview.2.862305.html — From CBS 5
http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2008/nov/12/former-rep-foley-defiant-apologetic-in-02/ — Another article with the entire
interview on video
Do as I say, not as I do!
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/zap-presstournotes,0,1056741.story?coll=bal-news-nav — and —
John Walsh’s “exploding anus chips” speech
http://online.wsj.com/public/article_print/SB118782905698506010.html — John Walsh tells us NEVER hire a male
http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0307/15/lkl.00.html — John Walsh’s Larry King Live interview admitting his
sexual addiction and cheating on his wife.
http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-05-31-lunsford-arrest_N.htm?csp=34 — USA Today article on Mark
Lunsford’s son, Joshua, who was arrested on sex charges in 2007
http://www.operationawareness.com/Josh_Lunsford_justice.html — Outcome of Joshua Lunsford sex crime case; 10
days in jail and no registry!
Other Double Standards
database.html — The UK gives celebrities and politicians immunity from their controversial child registers!
http://wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=39783 — The big list of teacher-student sex scandals
http://www.menstuff.org/columns/steinberg/lafave.html — Men’s Stuff article on Debra LaFave discusses the case
and the reactions of the public towards the case.
http://www.theawarenesscenter.org/femalesexoffenders.html#cultural — A list of articles on the subject of female sex
http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20124052,00.html — The Roman Polanski sex scandal as told by the
victim in that case
http://movies.aol.com/news/story/_a/polanski-sex-scandal-film-hits-sundance/20080120131809990001 — The
Sundance Film on the Roman Polanski study