Self-Entitled Sex Offender
By Detective Don Howell
Cancer InCytes Magazine - Volume 4, Issue 2, Winter 2015
Published December 7th, 2015
Managing Editor: Juliana Zhu, Esq.
A new type of sex offender has been creeping his way into our society. He's really no different than your run of the mill rapist, but he is so subtle in his approach that the victims often question if they were raped or not. I'm referring to self-entitled offenders. Law enforcement has been seeing them for years, in a variety of locations. One of their preferred habitats is college campuses. This offender is able to blur the line between consent and force so well, that even the offender doesn't see his actions as suspect. His victims often ask, “Was I raped?” Call it “acquaintance rape” or “date rape” or something else. It's starting to get a lot of national attention. The answer to the problem isn’t just about improving the legal system. The answer starts with parent-child relationships at home.
If you take a close look at your average university, it has a population larger than most American cities. That many people, in one place, will always have its share of sex offenders and those vulnerable to assault. College life also carries with it the “rite-of-passage” mentality. So, let’s be honest and agree that a lot of college students are having a lot of consensual sex.
This open secret is the perfect backdrop for the self-entitled offender. Operating in plain view, this offender is able to assault at will with little chance of being caught or even thought of as being anything other than “lucky”.
I recently read Jon Krakauer's book, MISSOULA: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town, and I have to say it is a must-read for anyone planning on sending their kids off to college. Krakauer details several, real life, acquaintance rape scenarios as detailed by the young women – the victims – followed by the actions or lack of action by the court system. He also, correctly, labels the offenders as feeling “self-entitled”.
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Why is this relevant to us? Because, in many respects, a college campus is one giant pipeline. It's really no different than a scouting program, a sports club, or recreation center that draws in clients along with a few offenders.
In Missoula, there is an interview with an offender who, in great detail, explains how he targets young girls who are new to the campus, and invites them to attend an upcoming party at an off-campus location. During the week, the offender narrows his attention to the girl(s) who are away from home for the first time and are apprehensive about fitting into campus life. The offender assures the girl(s) that the party will be fun, and implies that it is a safe event for them to attend. When the girl(s) arrive at the party, the offender quickly offers them a lot of alcohol, which the girl(s) feel obligated to drink. Once drunk, he takes one of the girls to his room, where she cannot fend off his advances.
In the book the offender is very candid, stating that if he needed to hold the girl down or forcibly remove her clothes, in order to get what he felt he deserved, well, then that was “okay”.
The girls, for a variety of reasons, including low self-esteem, question themselves and ask, “Was I really raped?” Many never report the crime.
Remember what a pipeline is: it's a way to attract a large number of potential victims to a location/person. Then, via a selection process, the more vulnerable candidates are selected, a.k.a. groomed, and then pulled into the pipeline. In the college campus version they are plied with alcohol to the point that any attempt to resist is futile.
The college offender views himself as being entitled to “score” with as many girls as possible. After all, for him this is part of his college experience, and therefore he sees nothing wrong with using alcohol and a little force to get what he wants. But make no mistake about it, this offender is without a doubt a rapist, using only enough force and/or alcohol/drugs to capture his prey.
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In Missoula, the author describes what he sees as a failure on the part of law enforcement and the courts to take proper action in this type of case. He adds that law enforcement needs additional training in the area of sexual assaults, including acquaintance rape. I agree about the training. My first book was directed to a law enforcement audience and designed to improve the victim and offender interviewing process. It was also designed to aid in identifying which type of sex offender was involved. That being said, prosecuting this type of case is very difficult. Also, increasing the number prosecutions will have a very limited effect on reducing this type of assault.
Prevention does not lay in filing criminal charges in cases that cannot be won in court. In fact, the prosecutor's office has an ethical duty not to file criminal charges if there is only a 50/50 chance of winning. In order to insure that the powers of the prosecutor's office are not abused, a case needs to be closer to a 95/5 percent chance of a guilty verdict before charges can be filed.
Prevention starts at home. There needs to be a strong connection between parents and their children. Fill them up with self-esteem. That way they won't feel the need to drink themselves silly, just to fit in. We can't continue to be 'helicopter parents', raising kids without a social radar, a.k.a. being street smart, then send them off to school 3,000 miles away and assume that they will be “fine”. Also, we cannot assume that going to the same school with “that nice neighbor boy, who has known our daughter since kindergarten” will mean that the neighbor boy will protect her. Trust me, he's a guy! He will want to have sex with your daughter. Your daughter needs to know this.
As parents we tell our kids, especially our daughters, that they cannot go down the dark alley or walk home alone after dark. We also need to tell them not to trust some 'nice boy' at the fraternity party. This is not an infringement on their right to experience college life. It's common sense, and common sense starts at home, at an early age.
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About The Author
Detective Don Howell, lecturer and author of Sex Crime Interviews, Simplified, can be reached at dhowell [at ] dhlectures.com. He is a retired detective with over 30 years’ experience in the Huntington Beach Police Department (California). He has taught at the University of Southern California’s School of Sociology for 12 years and written several books on sex crimes. He is also an editorial advisor for the Department of Culture, Law and Policy at Cancer InCytes Magazine, from which he received the Advocate Spotlight Award in the Summer of 2015.