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Who Commits Sex Crimes?

February 1, 2002, 10:15 PM by DeeAnn Tiede

Click here to watch this story (Windows Media) Don't have Media Player? Click Here. Unwanted advances, forcible rape. Sex offenses are the kind that can make anyone's skin crawl. But when we report those crimes on KELOLAND News, the offenders usually have at least one thing in common... they're men. Do women offend? Thumb through the list of registered sex offenders in Minnehaha County and you'll find Perry's, Richard's, Roger's and Russell's. Rarely does a woman's name appear on the list. "Very seldom. Since 1995, I've only registered four in this county." Police crime analyst, Arden Goering keeps track of sex offenders in the Sioux Falls area. Suzanne, Michelle, Rhea and Bonita are the only women to ever registered here... at least two have moved to other cities over the years. Female sex offenders are so uncommon... Georing says, "One of 'em was for incest." Georing can remember each of their crimes. "One of them was for rape," he says. A check of our KELOLAND archives, looking for alleged sex offenders we've told you about in the last few years, brings the same result. There's Jason Frye, charged with the kidnapping and rape of a 7-year-old girl. Frye's friend, Brandon Herrmann, will be questioned when he returns from Texas. There's Chamberlain school board member and businessman Charles Chernotik, guilty of rape. Lawrence Vander Esch of Hull, IA, co-founder of the Pizza Ranch chain, molested teen boys. And Turner County farmer Greg Farrar got 2 years and one weekend a month for three years for making obscene phone calls to women. The South Dakota Department of Corrections also keeps track of who's committed sex crimes. 256 rapists are locked up in the state. 250 are men. Six are women. Sexual contact with a child - a total of 155 offenders. 154 are men. One woman. Newberger says, "It's known as a male offense - a male crime." Jay Newberger teaches sociology and criminal justice at USDSU and is the state's retired court services director. He, and other educators agree there are no hard, fast facts about what causes more males to offend, but they have an idea. Newberger says, "Males, I think are probably socialized more toward violence." In Newberger's 35 year career, female sex offenders were rare. Newberger says, "I've only known and worked with two. Both of them were involved with sexual offenses against children while they were babysitting... infants, basically." The only female sex offender KELOLAND News has covered recently is Sharon Smidstra. The 34 year old, mother of five, pressured troubled teen boys she was supposed to be caring for at a Magnolia, Minnesota group home, into having sex with her, then paid them back with marijuana and cigarettes. Smidstra got 7 years. Newberger says, "It's only been probably since the late 70's or early 80's that we've had such an increase, a dramatic increase, in females being arrested and processed in the system." No matter male or female, Newberger says sex offenders aren't after sex. They're want power... and they're weak. Newberger says, "Weak in terms of self-esteem." Punishment and long-term treatment are a must, Newberger says. Newberger says, "Most of these offenders, male or female will end up in society one day and there's certainly enough potential victims, they can once again repeat that type of behavior and it ought not happen." To anyone. With Eye on KELOLAND, I'm DeeAnn Tiede. National data supports what local and state numbers show. In 1999, there were nearly 22,000 forcible rapes in the U-S. 98.9% of them were committed by men. A lack of reporting by male victims might also be a factor in why fewer females are charged with sex crimes.

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