Sex therapist: Don't just focus on offender who makes headlines

Apr 20, 2016 8:49 PM

Chico residents have had a strong reaction to the possibility that sexually-violent predator Fraisure Smith might be moving to town. World-renowned sex therapist Dawn Horwitz-Person wants parents to know that there's a bigger risk their kids could be victimized by someone they know who is not on the California Sex Offender's Registry. Says Horwitz-Person, "It sounds scary and I totally understand why everybody is freaked out. (But) there are sex offenders all over Chico and Butte County." Horwitz-Person has been working with sex offenders for years, including men and women of all ages, and all classifications. She says many people get plea deals that keep them off the registry. "There are some on probation, some on high-risk parole-there are sex offenders everywhere," she says, "Some of them take a plea bargain that involves not registering, so now you don't even know they're there."

Horwitz-Person does not believe that chemical castration works. She says the driving force for an offender is their brain. Says Horwitz-Person, "I know everybody loves to say 'oh just cut it off,' but it's not going to stop an offender from offending. If they want to offend, they'll use hands, they'll use objects, they'll use something else...It's about control. It's about power. It's about anger."

While she says it is important to know about the high-risk offenders in the area, most offenders are people no one suspects. She says, "Ninety-plus percent of the offenses are somebody you know somebody, somebody you trust-the coach, the grandfather, the auntie....realistically and statistically speaking, the person that might harm your child is somebody you're allowing into your house. Not the person who was just released."

Horowitz suggests speaking to kids about 'Ok touch, Not Ok touch,' and monitoring who they speak to online. She says many offenders groom victims for months, even years, and sometimes they groom the entire family as well.


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