Sex Crime Cases Don't Always Fit Stereotypes

People are often shocked when a friend, neighbor or relative is charged with a sex crime, partly because the culture has developed a stereotype of sex offenders. However, many sex offenders are like most people. They work, have families and participate in their communities and are not dirty old men in raincoats. Recent New Jersey sex crime cases illustrate the inadequacy of stereotyping.

Teachers

A West Orange High School English teacher was recently arrested on charges of having sex with one of her students, a 15 year-old boy. She was charged with first-degree aggravated sexual assault, second-degree sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child. She had been given the Teacher of the Year award in a previous year.

Students

A 20-year-old Princeton University student has been accused of taking sexually explicit photos of another student without permission. He has been charged with invasion of privacy. If convicted, he could receive as much as five years in prison.

Small-town residents

A Watchung man was arrested on child pornography and invasion of privacy charges after he was caught filming boys in an amusement park restroom. He was also charged with sexual assault of a child, filming a child in a sexual act and possession of child pornography, based on images found in his camera.

Police officers

A former Woodbridge Township police officer was recently found guilty of sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault. The 18-year veteran was previously convicted in 2006 and 2009, but both convictions were overturned. His law enforcement career ended when he was first arrested in 2005.

Neighbors

Supporting the belief that most sex crimes occur between people who know each other, a 21-year-old New Jersey man was arrested after allegedly assaulting two teen-age neighbors. He will face charges that include aggravated sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault during the commission of a crime and burglary.

The usual suspects

Of course, some sex crime defendants are not surprising. Priests have been in the news in the past few years not just because they allegedly committed child sex abuse, but also because the Catholic Church tried for years to hide the crimes.

Similarly, the Boy Scouts have known for years that troop leaders and officials were abusing boys. However, a recent investigative report by the Los Angeles Times revealed that even when the organization was aware of sexual abuse, it preferred to handle it quietly, asking the offender to step aside rather than contacting the police.

It does not really matter whether you fit the stereotype of a sex offender. What is important is to obtain skilled legal representation even if you are only under investigation for a sex crime. If you take action before you are charged, you may save your future, your family and your position in the community. There is a great deal at stake.

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