Sex offenders speak out
By 02/28/2008 00:00:00
The Ellis County Press
ELLIS COUNTY - Last week, a controversial series by The Ellis County Press exposed the problems of sex offenders on probation in Ellis County versus those who were sentenced to prison.
The numbers revealed more than 75 percent of registered sex offenders in Ellis County received probation instead of prison for their crimes, thanks to plea deals with County/District Attorney Joe Grubbs and his team of prosecutors.
Last week, this reporter had the chance to interview two sex offenders, both convicted of the same crime: aggravated sexual assault of a child. One received prison and the other, despite, a lengthy arrest record and prior offenses for indecency with a child, received probation. Both talked about their sentences and how likely they are to re-offend, based on their sentences and subsequent restrictions and counseling.
The Ellis County Press will identify the offenders as 'Michael' and as 'Leo,' as they have agreed to take part in this story. Due to their exposing the flaws in the system, they fear retaliation by prosecutors, as both report to probation and parole officers.
Michael was sentenced to one year probation for aggravated sexual assault of a 13-year-old. He had previously been convicted in another county for indecency with a child by contact and received deferred adjudication probation.
Leo was sentenced to six years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice system for aggravated sexual assault against a 13-year-old female. He had also received a probated indecency with a child by sexual contact charge, which was deferred, again, in another county.
As a requirement, sex offenders must undergo sex offender treatment, known as the Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP) for short. This consists of both group and one-on-one sessions.
During the interview with 'Michael,' 39, this reporter asked him what he thought about his punishment. He said he wanted to avoid prison at all costs and that his lawyer, a friend of Joe Grubbs, had struck a deal with him for a one-year probated sentence.
While expressing remorse for his crime, 'Michael' said that he was concerned he would re-offend. When asked why he was afraid he would re-offend, the response was 'because my sentence was so light, and I am not made to undergo a stringent program like an inmate who is locked up.' He was then asked what his requirements were. He said 'I go to a counseling session a couple of times a month, and report to my probation officer…other than that, I have free reign to do as I please….it is very tempting sometimes.'
'Had I been locked up, I know I would be monitored [24 hours, seven days a week], and there is no way I could victimize a child again.'
When asked why he chose to victimize children, he said that as a child, he too, was victimized, and that he had sexual urges he could not control.
'Michael' said looking back, he is glad he isn't locked up, but because of his urges he is going to undergo chemical castration because the system has failed both him and his victims.
He made it very clear that sex offenders on probation are not closely monitored, and do not undergo the same treatment as incarcerated offenders.
For an incarcerated offender, treatment begins on the first day and is conducted daily in the prison system, according to 'Leo.'
'Leo' is 40 years old. 'Leo' successfully completed his sentence without any conduct violations and had an exemplary prison record. He told The Ellis County Press that offenders are monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He said not only did he undergo the SOTP counseling, he underwent other psychological treatment as well, which is not offered to probationers.
When asked if he believed sex offenders should receive probation, he replied, 'absolutely not- that is like having a kid in a candy store.'
He clarified this as saying that because probated sex offenders do not undergo intense supervision and rehabilitation, they most often re-offend, just as he did initially. 'Leo' said he does not have any sexual urges towards children, and in-fact, has since met a female companion of equal age and has been married for three years.
His wife, Debbie, was made totally aware of his past, however, and chose to date and eventually marry 'Leo' because he proved himself as being rehabilitated, something they both thank the Texas prison system for.
While having regrets about being free, 'Michael' knows that Grubbs' office has afforded him the opportunity to victimize again. Was the 'deal' worth it?
'Not really. They just want to clear cases,' he said. 'They don't care about the kids.
'Anytime you let a pedophile walk, they continue to prey on kids, even if the ‘conviction' helps the DAs stats when it comes election time'
Freelance reporter Jeremy Phillips is a licensed private investigator and peace officer.