I recently received an e mail via Family Arrested from a lady I will call “Sue.” Sue said she is 59 years old and that her father has just been convicted of molesting a child. Sue didn’t say how old her dad was, but I would “guesstimate” he is at least 80 and maybe more.
I’ve worked with the elderly a great deal as well as psychiatric patients, both old and young, and one of the things I have observed with elderly patients, especially men, is that they start to lose their judgment first as their minds start to diminish and one of the things they gain is the desire for sex. Many men act out sexually in very inappropriate ways due to this lack of judgment and impulse control. They may be “basically” sane and in touch with “reality” but they are not what they were before their neurons started to die. While the law allows for a person who is “completely out of touch with reality” to use an “insanity defense” that usually does not apply to these elderly people (and others) with diminished capacity. These people are generally held by the law to the same standards as everyone else, but in reality, they should have mitigating circumstances taken into account. Prison may not be the appropriate venue for these people.
Once when I worked the geri-psych ward at a large local hospital we had an elderly male patient who came in so depressed he wouldn’t even swallow if you put food in his mouth. He would simply sit in whatever place or position you put him, staring at the wall with his mouth hanging open. After several weeks however, the man started to perk up with medication, though he still had some short term memory problems, fairly normal for a man in his early 80s, and I had become fairly attached to the now pleasant old man. One day he put his arm around my shoulders and like a 15 year old boy might do on his first date, “accidentally” reached far enough around to grab hold of my breast. I didn’t make a big deal out of it, and actually saw it as a POSITIVE THING because though he was inappropriate, at least he was showing some interest in living again.
When I told the psychiatrist about the incident he was going to light into the guy, but I told the doctor that I was not offended, that I actually saw it as a positive thing in that he was starting to interact with others.
Another example is my elderly neighbor down the hill from me. After 60+ years of marriage his wife died and he was very lonely. Kids and grandkids all grown, and he was mildly sexually inappropriate with the nurses aids sent to clean house and help him with personal grooming, etc. He tried mildly to hit on me a few times, but then he lached on to a “meth-ho” that he met in a Wal Mart parking lot. Because he was lonely, starting to lose his judgment (one of the first signs of senility) he was a perfect victim for this con woman who was willing to trade sexual favors for a place to stay and for money for drugs, tobacco and alcohol.
I helped my neighbor’s daughter keep an eye on him, but one thing led to another and the woman got into a fight with my neighbor and he ended up with a broken neck. After he left the hospital against medical advice, he moved back into his remote home by himself. In the meantime his truck had been stolen (a blessing from God as he did NOT need to be driving) and eventually became “senile ENOUGH” that he was transferred to a nursing home. Because he was, again, sexually inappropriate and combative in the nursing home, they pitched him out, into a locked psychiatric facility for ambulatory people with diminished mental status.
A true pedophile never loses the urge or maintains the impulse control not to offend again if let out of prison. I read an article a few years ago about a serial child rapist who was in prison and was 100 years old and still dangerous to release. Here are a couple of links about him. This man is what I would call a “true” pedophile, probably for his entire adult life.
http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-201_162-5966563.html He was released on parole, but then shortly violated it and was sent back to prison.
The elderly or mentally retarded or mentally ill with diminished capacity to control their urges and diminished judgment are not true pedophiles or sexual offenders. That does not mean however that they don’t need to be in a facility where they can not practice these behaviors, but they should not be lumped with the true pedophiles and sexual offenders.
Unless this woman’s father has been a pedophile all along and was only now discovered, I hope that he will receive the appropriate treatment but not sent to prison to die incarcerated with true offenders, but that children will be kept safe from his behaviors.