The Douglas County court system is routinely flooded with sex crime cases involving suspects with no criminal record.
But that provides a clue about how serial sex offenders can navigate society without coming into contact with the criminal justice system, said David Lisak, a forensic psychologist who led a training session in Topeka this week.
“What we find is career serial offenders who started in adolescence,” said Lisak, who’s conducted extensive research on serial sex offenders. Those who do eventually get caught up in the criminal justice system typically have scores of other victims from unreported crimes, he said.
Lisak, a psychology professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston, spoke to about 200 advocates, police officers, investigators and others from the criminal justice system Tuesday as part of the Kansas Coalition against Sexual and Domestic Violence’s annual “Safe Homes, Safe Streets” program. Representatives from local agencies such as GaDuGi Safe Center and Willow Domestic Violence Center were among those in attendance.
Lisak’s training sought to dispel a variety of myths about sexual violence, including sexual offenders in college communities.
In recent months, several students at local colleges have been arrested for sex crimes where alcohol was a factor.
Lisak cautioned against the idea that such offenders are those who made a one-time mistake influenced by drugs or alcohol. While he couldn’t speak specifically about any one case, Lisak said his research shows such offenders often engage in a period of sex offenses spanning years.
That’s why it’s important for advocates and those in the criminal justice system to stop offenders the first time such behavior is reported.
“You’re stopping a one-man crime wave,” Lisak said.
Some recent local sex crime cases: