IV. Sexual Violence in the United States

Being sexually assaulted as a child, for me, was like having my heart ripped to shreds. I am still trying to put it all back together.

—Naomi L., a 32-year-old child sexual abuse survivor, who was molested from age six to 10 by her step-uncle10

Sexual violence is a serious problem, and any recidivism rate is too high. But recidivism rates for sex offenders are not as high as politicians have quoted in their attempts to justify the need for overly harsh sex offender laws.

—Dr. Jill Levenson, expert on sex offender treatment and management11

Patty Wetterling, a national child safety advocate whose son was abducted in 1989 and is still missing, has aptly identified the core problem with US registration, community notification, and residency restriction laws for sex offenders: “People want a silver bullet that will protect their children. There is no silver bullet. There is no simple cure to the very complex problem of sexual violence.”12 In order to effectively combat sexual violence, public officials must first understand it. Research on sexual violence reveals a very different picture of who the perpetrators are and what their likelihood of reoffending is compared to what the public assumes.

Sexual Violence

Sex crimes constitute a relatively small proportion of reported violent crimes in the United States. According to crime victimization surveys, rape and sexual assault accounted for 3.7 percent of the violent crimes in 2005 against people age 12 or older.13 Nevertheless, given their impact on the victims, sex crimes must be seen as a significant problem, particularly when children are the victims. Furthermore, sexual violence is perhaps the most underreported violent crime, meaning that the number of victims of sexual violence is far higher than what is reported. For example, a study by the National Institute of Justice found that only one in five adult women rape victims (19 percent) reported their rapes to police.14

In one 2000 study that looked at data from 12 states, persons under the age of 18 at the time of the crime accounted for two-thirds of all victims of sexual assault reported to law enforcement agencies.15 According to a 2006 report, an estimated 89,500 cases of child sexual abuse were substantiated by child protective agencies in 2000.16 Children under the age of six represented one in every seven victims of sexual assault, or 14 percent of all victims.17 In each of the different sexual assault categories (for example, forcible rape, forcible sodomy, sexual assault with an object and forcible fondling) children below the age of 12 comprised about half of the victims.

In 2005 there were 191,670 recorded victims age 12 and older of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.18 These statistics almost certainly underestimate the extent of the crimes, because victim fear, shame, or loyalty to the abuser contribute to underreporting.19 Self-report victimization surveys have found that 23 percent of women were sexually abused before the age of 18.20 Females are far more likely than males to be the victims of sexual violence, constituting 86 percent of all sexual assault victims.21 Based on reported crimes, a male is most likely to be sexually assaulted at age four, and even then his risk of sexual assault is half that of females of the same age.22 Among adolescents, females are victims of sexual assault at 10 times the rate of males.23 Indeed, the proportion of female victims increases with age at the time of offense: by age 19, 95 percent of victims are female.24

The reluctance or inability of survivors of abuse or their family members to report sexual assault crimes to law enforcement contributes to the fact that the majority of sex crimes never lead to arrests and convictions.25 The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that an arrest is made in only 27 percent of all cases of sexual assault. The assaults of juvenile victims were more likely to result in an arrest (29 percent) than were adult victimizations (22 percent), but assaults against children under age six resulted in an arrest in only 19 percent of the cases.26

Sexual violence in the US is, fortunately, decreasing—over the period 1993-2005, the rate of reported adult rape and sexual assaults declined 69 percent.27 Incidents of reported sex crimes against children have also decreased significantly in the past decade. According to a 2004 report by the Crimes against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, cases of child sexual abuse substantiated by child protection agencies fell 40 percent between 1992 and 2000; the report’s authors believe that some of this drop reflects a decline in the occurrence of sexual abuse, in addition to other factors such as stricter reporting practices.28

It would be difficult to overestimate the devastating effect sexual violence can have for survivors. For adults, the emotional and psychological consequences of sexual violence can be profound and enduring, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.29 According to the American Psychological Association, children who have been sexually abused may suffer a range of short- and long-term problems, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, guilt, fear, withdrawal, self-destructive behaviors, and sexual acting out.30 Given the consequences of sexual violence, it is understandable that society wants it to end.

Danger from Strangers?

With the purpose of helping parents identify unknown convicted sex offenders in the neighborhood, sex offender laws like community notification schemes reflect the assumption that children and adults are most at risk from strangers. Yet sexual violence against children as well as adults is overwhelmingly perpetrated by family members or acquaintances.

The US Bureau of Justice Statistics has found that just 14 percent of all sexual assault cases reported to law enforcement agencies involved offenders who were strangers to their victims.31 Sexual assault victims under the age of 18 at the time of the crime knew their abusers in nine out of 10 cases: the abusers were family members in 34 percent of cases, and acquaintances in another 59 percent of cases.32  When the sexual assault victim was under six years old, almost half (49 percent) of the offenders were family members.33

Sex abuse crimes against children that have received the most media attention and have consequently generated great public concern typically involve a child who has been kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and killed by a stranger. Although such crimes are seared into the public consciousness, they represent a tiny fraction of crimes against children. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) estimates that around 115 children are abducted per year by non-family strangers—of which 46 result in the death of the victim.34 The number of those cases that included sexual abuse is unknown. According to a 1997 analysis of 1,214 juvenile kidnappings, 49 percent of juvenile kidnappings are perpetrated by family members, 27 percent by an acquaintance, and 24 percent by a stranger.35

High Rates of Recidivism?

Sex offender laws also reflect the assumption that previously convicted sex offenders are responsible for most sex crimes. Yet according to a 1997 US Department of Justice study, 87 percent of the people arrested for sex crimes were individuals who had not previously been convicted of a sex offense.36 

The focus of sex offender laws on people who have previously been convicted of sex offenses may originate in the misperception that most if not all of those who have committed sex crimes in the past will do so again. Legislators, public officials, and members of the public routinely claim that people who have committed sex offenses pose a great risk to the public because they have “astronomically high” recidivism rates.37 For example, federal legislators justified the need for federal sex offender laws by asserting sex offender recidivism rates of 40 percent, 74 percent, and even 90 percent.38 Legislators rarely cite, nor are they asked for, the source and credibility of such figures. In addition, most of those who make public assertions about the recidivism rates of sex offenders take a “one-size-fits-all” approach; they do not acknowledge the marked variation in recidivism rates among offenders who have committed different kinds of sex offenses, nor the influence of other factors on recidivism. 

Accurately measuring reoffense rates of people previously convicted of sex offenses is difficult, confounded by many factors.39 Some offenders claim to have committed many offenses prior or subsequent to the one for which they were arrested and convicted.40 It may be that such self-reports of long offense histories by a few offenders have led to the perception that all sex offenders have high rates of reoffending. But numerous, rigorous studies analyzing objectively verifiable data—primarily arrest and conviction records—indicate sex offender recidivism rates are far below what legislators cite and what the public believes. 

The US Department of Justice tracked 9,691 male sex offenders in 15 states who were released from prison in 1994 and found that within three years only 5.3 percent of all sex offenders were arrested, and 3.5 percent convicted, for a new sex crime; 2.2 percent were rearrested for a sex offense against a child.41 Among the released child molesters (defined in the study as someone convicted of a forcible or non-forcible sex crime against a child), 3.3 percent were rearrested for a sex crime against a child.42 Sex offenders with prior histories of sex offenses had somewhat higher rates of rearrest: 7.3 percent of child molesters and 8.3 percent of all sex offenders with more than one prior conviction for a sex offense were rearrested for another sex crime.43


The most comprehensive study of sex offender recidivism to date consists of a meta-analysis of numerous studies yielding recidivism rates for a period of up to 15 years post-release for people convicted of such serious offenses as rape and child molesting.44 The analysis, which included over 29,000 sex offenders, found that within four to six years of release, 14 percent of all sex offenders will be arrested or convicted for a new sex crime.45 Over a 15-year period, recidivism rates for all sex offenders averaged 24 percent.46 This is not a trivial rate by any means, given the seriousness of the offenses committed. Yet it also indicates that three out of four sexually violent offenders do not reoffend.  

The study also found that recidivism rates varied markedly depending on the kind of sex crime committed. For example, recidivism within four to six years of release from prison was 13 percent for child molesters, and 24 percent for rapists. There are also differences within types of crime. For example, men who molest boys have the highest measured rates of recidivism of any sex offender.47 Within five years, their rate of sexual recidivism was 23 percent, and an additional 12 percent committed another sexual offense over the next decade.48 Thus, over a 15-year period, about one out of every three men who have molested boys will be arrested or convicted of another sex offense.  

State-specific studies have yielded similar results. For example, in Ohio, only 8 percent of former sex offenders were reincarcerated for another sex offense within a 10-year period.49 Sex offenders who returned for a new sex offense did so within a few years of release.50 Within three years of their release, 2 percent of New York inmates who had served time for a sex offense returned to prison with a conviction for another sex offense.51 Within nine years, the number was 10 percent.52

Sex offenders do not recidivate at far higher rates than other offenders, as is often believed. A federal study of prisoners released in 1994 found that 67.5 percent of all former prisoners were rearrested for a new offense within three years of their release.53  Rearrest rates varied by category of crime: 70.2 percent for those who had been in prison for robbery, 74 percent for burglary, and 41.4 percent for homicide. Released rapists had a rearrest rate of 46 percent.54 These rearrests are for any crime, not necessarily the same type of crime for which they had been in prison. Only 2.5 percent of prisoners who had been convicted of rape were arrested for another rape in the three-year post-release period.55 The other released rapists were either rearrested for something other than rape (for example, non-sexual assault or property offenses) or not rearrested at all. 

Some of the public misapprehensions about the rates at which sex offenders recidivate may have originated with calculations by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) as to the relative likelihood at which released prisoners are rearrested for the same type of crime as that for which they had been in prison. In a study published in 1997 based on prisoners released in 1983, the BJS calculated that relative to other offenders, a rapist was 10.5 times more likely than other released prisoners to be rearrested for another rape.56 More recently, based on a study of prisoners released in 1994, the BJS calculated a rapist’s likelihood of being rearrested for rape as 4.2 times a non-rapist’s odds.57

However, the odds of 10.5 or 4.2 do not mean that rapists’ rates of recidivism are 10.5 or 4.2 times greater than the recidivism rates of other offenders.58 The figures are properly understood as indicating the “degree of specializing” that is apparent among many offenders.59 For example, according to the BJS, a robber is 2.7 times more likely of being rearrested for another robbery as compared to an offender who had not been serving time for a robbery.60 Specialization is not absolute; non-rapists are also rearrested on rape charges. For example, 1.2 percent of the prisoners who had been serving time for robbery were rearrested for rape.61 Indeed, people who had been serving time for rape were responsible for only 4.8 percent of the rapes committed in the three-year post-release period by all prisoners released in 1994.62

Most prisoners who are going to reoffend do so fairly soon after their release from prison.63 This is also true for sex offenders. For example, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, during the three years following release from prison in 1994, 40 percent of the rearrests of sex offenders for new sex crimes occurred in the first year.64 In Ohio, of all sex offenders who came back to prison for a new sex offense within a 10-year post-release period, one-half did so within two years, and two-thirds within three years.65 The corollary—for people who have committed sex offenses as well as other kinds of crimes—is that the longer someone remains offense-free in the community, the less likely he or she will commit another offense. For example, the 2004 meta-analysis of sex offender recidivism studies cited above indicated that an average of 20 percent of all sex offenders would be arrested or convicted for another sex offense over a 10-year period after being released into the community. But, for offenders who remained offense-free for five years, their recidivism rate for the next 10 years declined to 12 percent; for those who remained offense-free for 10 years, their recidivism over the next five years declined even further to 9 percent. After 15 years offense-free, the recidivism rate for the next five years was 4 percent.66       

A number of other factors are also correlated with recidivism. One such factor is the relationship of the victim to the offender. Offenders whose victims were within the family recidivate at a significantly lower rate than offenders whose victims were outside of the family.67 For all child molesters, the lowest reoffense rates were for those who abused family members—13 percent after 15 years living in the community.68 The age at which a sex offender commits the sex offense also has a substantial association with recidivism. Offenders older than 50 when released from prison reoffended at half the rate of those younger than 50—12 percent versus 26 percent, respectively, after 15 years.69  

Some experts who specialize in the treatment of individuals who commit sex offenses are not surprised that individuals caught for their sex crimes have a relatively low recidivism rate. As one treatment provider told Human Rights Watch, “When an individual is caught and held accountable for his behavior, he often becomes motivated to get better. His behavior is no longer a secret, and it becomes a reckoning point for him—he must decide whether he is going to change his behavior, or face the consequences.”70

Case Study: North Carolina

Human Rights Watch did a case study of North Carolina to determine how many of the offenders on its online sex offender registry had been convicted of another sex offense after they were released from prison into the community, and the kinds of crimes for which the registrants were required to register. We chose North Carolina because it is one of only two states that we could find whose registries list the date of release into the community. North Carolina’s registry includes persons convicted of sexually violent offenses,71 offenses against minors,72 and other sex offenses.73   Depending on the gravity of their offense, offenders must register either for 10 years or for life.74 Ten-year registrants may petition for removal from the registry after 10 years, providing they fulfill certain requirements.75 Lifetime registrants may not petition for removal from the registry.76

Human Rights Watch analyzed the criminal histories reported on the registry for a statistically significant randomly chosen sample of 500 out of the total 10,073 registrants living in the community. The overwhelming majority, 98.6 percent, were one-time offenders, that is, their only sex offense was the one for which they were currently required to register. The earliest date of release in the sample was 12 years ago, and no offender living in the community 10-12 years from release has been reconvicted for another sex offense. Of the 36 percent of the sample (183 offenders) who had been out of confinement for more than five but fewer than 10 years, only 2.19 percent (four offenders) had been reconvicted. All four of these recidivists were reconvicted for “indecent liberties with a minor.”

In our sample, 67 percent of the registrants reported indecent liberties with a minor as the registerable offense (this is a broadly-defined offense77 that need not include violence and need not even involve physical contact with the minor victim).78  Another 10 percent were registered for rape (first and second degree).79 The other 23 percent were registered for other sex crimes.

Among the 13 registered sex offenders in our sample who were under 18 at the time of conviction, six were registered for indecent liberties with a minor, and four were convicted of second degree rape (rape not involving the use of a weapon).



Treatment of sex offenders can contribute to community safety. Offenders who participate in and complete treatment are less likely to reoffend than those who do not.

As the Center for Sex Offender Management (CSOM) has pointed out, the current emphasis on registration, community notification laws, and residency restrictions for individuals who have been convicted of sex offenses “has begun to overshadow the important role of treatment in sex offender management efforts.”80 The CSOM believes mandated specialized treatment as part of probation or parole conditions is an integral and important component of effective community supervision.   

The classification, diagnosis, and assessment of sex offenders for treatment are complicated by a high degree of variability among individuals in terms of personal characteristics, life experiences, criminal histories, and reasons for offending.81 The effectiveness of treatment at reducing reoffending behavior depends on many factors, including the type of sexual offender (for example, child molester or adult rapist), the specific treatment models and modalities being used, and the nature and extent of probation or parole supervision.82 Most sex offender treatment programs in the United States use cognitive-behavioral treatment as well as relapse prevention (designed to help sex offenders maintain behavioral changes by anticipating and coping with the problem of relapse).83 According to the CSOM, effective sex offender treatment holds offenders accountable and reflects the “notion that if an offender can be taught to manage successfully his propensity to sexually abuse, he becomes less of a risk to past and potential victims.”84

Early studies, conducted in the 1970s and 80s, did not detect differences in recidivism rates between sex offenders who had undergone treatment and those who had not.85 Some recent research has produced similar findings. These findings have been widely publicized, opening the door to public policies predicated on the assumption that “treatment doesn’t work” and sex offenders will invariably recidivate.86

Other studies, however, have testified to the positive impact of sex offender treatment. For example, a recent meta-analysis of 43 studies of 9,454 convicted sex offenders (5,078 treated and 4,376 untreated) found that contemporary cognitive-behavioral treatment was associated with a 41 percent reduction in recidivism.87

10 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Naomi L., October 12, 2006.

11 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Dr. Jill Levenson, professor of Human Services at Lynn University and national expert on sex offender management, October 31, 2006.

12 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Patty Wetterling, January 8, 2007.

13 Shannan Catalano, US Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), “2005 National Crime Victimization Survey,” September 2006, (accessed July 13, 2007).

14 Patricia Tjaden and Nancy Thoennes, National Institute of Justice (NIJ), “Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Rape Victimization: Findings from the National Violence against Women Survey,” January 2006, (accessed July 13, 2007).

15 Howard Snyder, BJS, “Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement,” July 2000, (accessed July 13, 2007), p. 2.The data reflect reports to law enforcement agencies in 12 states gathered between 1991 and 1996.

16 David Finkelhor and Lisa Jones, US Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), “Explanations for the Decline in Child Sexual Abuse Cases,” Juvenile Justice Bulletin (January 2004), (accessed December 4, 2006).

17 Snyder, BJS, “Sexual Assault of Young Children,” p. 11.

18 Catalano, BJS, “2005 Crime Survey.”

19 Anna Salter, Transforming Trauma: A Guide to Understanding and Treating Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse (New York: Sage Publications, 1995).

20 David Finkelhor, “Sexually Abused Children in a National Survey of Parents: Methodological Issues,” Child Abuse and Neglect: The International Journal, vol. 21 (1997), pp. 1-9.

21 Catalano, BJS, “2005 Crime Survey.”

22 Ibid.

23 Ibid.

24 Ibid.

25 Snyder, BJS, “Sexual Assault of Young Children,” p. 11.

26 Ibid.

27 Catalano, BJS, “2005 Crime Survey.”

28 Finkelhor and Jones, OJJDP, “Explanations for the Decline.”

29 Safe Horizon, “After Sexual Assault: A Recovery Guide for Survivors,” (accessed January 8, 2007).

30 American Psychological Association, “Understanding Child Sexual Abuse: Education, Prevention, and Recovery,” 2001, (accessed July 13, 2007).

31 Catalano, BJS, “2005 Crime Survey.”

32 Snyder, BJS, “Sexual Assault of Young Children.”

33 Ibid.

34 Howard Snyder and Melissa Sickmund, OJJDP, “Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 2006 National Report,” (accessed November 28, 2006), p. 44. Of the 1.3 million children or youth under the age of 18 reported missing from home in 2005, the vast majority of non-family abductions were teens—not younger children—and most were kidnapped by someone they knew somewhat, not by strangers or slight acquaintances.

35 Ibid.

36 Lawrence Greenfeld, BJS, “Sex Offenses and Offenders: An Analysis of Data on Rape and Sexual Assault,” February 1997, (accessed July 16, 2007).

37 Congressional Record, vol. 140, statement of then-Representative Jennifer Dunn (R-WA) in support of Megan’s Law (“[t]he rate of recidivism for these crimes is astronomical because these people are compulsive.”).

38 Congressional Record, vol. 142, statement of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) (“we know that more than 40 percent of convicted sex offenders will repeat their crimes”); Congressional Record, vol. 139, statement of Representative Jim Ramstad (R-MN) (“[a] study of imprisoned child sex offenders found that 74 percent had a previous conviction for another child sex offense.”). A few minutes after the statement of Representative Ramstad, then-Representative Fish repeated the same recidivism rate of 74 percent. Congressional Record, vol. 151, statement of then-Representative Mark Foley (R-FL) (“There is a ninety percent likelihood of recidivism for sexual crimes against children. Ninety percent. That is the standard. That is their record.  That is the likelihood. Ninety percent.”).

39 It is also important to note that studies on recidivism rates vary depending on how recidivism is defined. Some studies look at arrest rates, others at conviction rates, and some include informal reports to child protection agencies and self-reports. The length of the follow-up period may vary as well. As the follow-up period increases, so does the cumulative number of recidivists. Further complicating matters is that many sex offenses are never reported to the police.

40 Gene Abel et al., “Self-Reported Sex Crimes of Non-Incarcerated Paraphiliacs,” Journal of Interpersonal Violence (1987), pp. 3-25.

41 Greenfeld, BJS, “Sex Offenses and Offenders.”

42 Ibid.

43 Ibid.

44 Andrew Harris and R. Karl Hanson, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada, “Sex Offender Recidivism: A Simple Question,” 2004, (accessed August 24, 2007), pp. 3-6. The study used data from 10 follow-up studies of adult male sexual offenders (a combined sample of 4,724) from Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Ibid. p. ii.

45 Ibid., p. 7.

46 Ibid.

47 Ibid., p. 23.

48 Ibid.

49State of Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, “Ten Year Recidivism Follow-up of 1989 Sex Offender Releases,” April 2001, (accessed August 24, 2007), p. i.

50 Ibid.

51 Based on an analysis of 12,863 releases between 1985 and 2002 of inmates whose most serious conviction offense had been rape, sodomy, sexual abuse or other sex crimes. Leslie Kellam, State of New York Department of Correctional Services, “2001 Releases: Three-Year Post Release Follow-Up,” 2002, (accessed August 24, 2007), pp. 17-18.

52 Based on an analysis of 556 sex offenders released in 1986 and followed through 1995. State of New York Department of Correctional Services, “Profile and Follow-up of Sex Offenders Released in 1986,” 1995, (accessed August 24, 2007), p. 20.

53 Patrick Langan, BJS, “Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994,” June 2002, (accessed August 24, 2007), p. 1.

54 Ibid.

55 Ibid., p. 9.

56 Allen Beck, BJS, “Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1983,” 1997, (accessed August 24, 2007), p. 6.

57 Langan, BJS, “Recidivism 1994,” p. 10. Someone convicted of a sexual assault other than rape was 5.9 times more likely than someone convicted of a non-sexual crime of being rearrested for sexual assault. Ibid.

58 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Allen Beck, chief, BJS Corrections Statistics Program, April 30, 2007.

59 Ibid.

60 Langan, BJS, “Recidivism 1994,” p. 10.

61Ibid., p. 9.

62 Ibid.

63  For example, in “Recidivism 1994,” as much as two-thirds of all recidivism occurred in the first year after release.  Recidivism rates were also highest in the first year for prisoners released in 1983 and tracked for three years. Beck, BJS, “Recidivism 1983,” p. 1.

64 2.1 percent out of the total of 5.3 percent who were rearrested by the end of year three. Patrick Langan, Erica Schmitt, and Matthew DuRose, BJS, “Recidivism of Sex Offenders Released from Prison in 1994,” November 2003, (accessed August 24, 2007), p. 25.

65 Ibid.

66 Harris and Hanson, “Sex Offender Recidivism: A Simple Question,” 2004, p. 1.

67 Ibid.

68 Ibid., p. 7.

69 Ibid.

70 Human Rights Watch interview with a treatment provider, June 26, 2007.

71 The following offenses are defined as “sexually violent”: first degree rape, second degree rape, first degree sexual offense, second degree sexual offense, attempted rape or sexual offense, intercourse and sexual offense with certain victims, statutory rape or sexual offense of a person who is 13, 14, or 15 years old where the defendant is at least six years older, subjecting or maintaining a person for sexual servitude, incest between near relatives, employing or permitting minor to assist in offenses against public morality and decency, felonious indecent exposure, first degree sexual exploitation of a minor, second degree sexual exploitation of a minor, third degree sexual exploitation of a minor, promoting prostitution of a minor, participating in the prostitution of a minor, taking indecent liberties with children, and solicitation of child by computer to commit an unlawful sex act. The term also includes the following: a solicitation or conspiracy to commit any of these offenses; and aiding and abetting any of these offenses. N.C. Gen. Stat. 14-208.6 (2006).

72 "Offense against a minor" means any of the following offenses if the offense is committed against a minor, and the person committing the offense is not the minor's parent: kidnapping, abduction of children, and felonious restraint. The term also includes the following if the person convicted of the following is not the minor's parent: a solicitation or conspiracy to commit any of these offenses; and aiding and abetting any of these offenses. N.C. Gen. Stat. 14-208.6 (2006).

73 Under N.C. Gen. Stat. 14-208.6 (2006), the following persons must register: (a) Those convicted of an offense against a minor, a sexually violent offense, or an attempt to commit any of those offenses, unless the conviction is for aiding and abetting (a conviction for aiding and abetting requires reporting only upon a court determination); (b) Those convicted in another state of an offense requiring registration under the laws of that state; (c) Those convicted in another state or in a federal jurisdiction of an offense that is substantially similar to an offense against a minor or a sexually violent offense under North Carolina law; (d) Those convicted of secretly peeping into a room occupied by another person if: (i) using a device to create a photographic image of another person in that room for the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of any person; (ii) the person secretly or surreptitiously uses any device to create a photographic image of another person underneath or through the clothing being worn by that other person for the purpose of viewing the body of, or the undergarments worn by, that other person without their consent; (iii) the person for the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of any person, secretly or surreptitiously uses or installs in a room any device that can be used to create a photographic image with the intent to capture the image of another without their consent; (iv) the person knowingly possesses a photographic image that the person knows, or has reason to believe, was obtained in violation of the sex offender statute; or (v) the person who disseminates or allows to be disseminated images that the person knows, or should have known, were obtained as a result of the violation of the sex offender statute.

74 Under N.C. Gen. Stat. 14-208.6A (2006), there is a 10-year registration requirement for persons convicted of certain offenses against minors or sexually violent offenses. Lifetime registration is required for recidivists, persons who commit aggravated offenses, and sexually violent predators.

75 N.C. Gen. Stat. 14-208.12 (2006).

76 N.C. Gen. Stat. 14-208.23 (2006). For any registrant, the time period required for registration can only be terminated if conviction was set aside, vacated, reversed, or pardoned. N.C. Gen. Stat. 14-208.6C (2006).

77 N.C. Gen. Stat 14-202.1 (2006)(a). A person is guilty of taking indecent liberties with children if, being 16 years of age or more and at least five years older than the child in question, he either: (1) Willfully takes or attempts to take any immoral, improper, or indecent liberties with any child of either sex under the age of 16 years for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire; or (2) Willfully commits or attempts to commit any lewd or lascivious act upon or with the body or any part or member of the body of any child of either sex under the age of 16 years.

78 State v. Turman, 52 N.C. App. 376, 278 S.E.2d 574 (1981) (holding that touching of the child by the defendant is not necessary in order to constitute an indecent liberty under this statute).

79N.C. Gen. Stat. 14-27.2-14.27.3 (2006).

80 Center for Sex Offender Management (CSOM), “Understanding Treatment for Adults and Juveniles Who Have Committed Sex Offenses,” November 2006, (accessed August 24, 2007), p. 11.

81 Robert Prentky, Raymond Knight, and Austin Lee, US Department of Justice National Institute of Justice (NIJ), “Child Sexual Molestation: Research Issues,” June 1997, (accessed August 24, 2007), p. v.

82 CSOM, “Understanding Treatment,” pp. 5-9.

83 CSOM, “Myths and Facts about Sex Offenders,” August 2000, (accessed August 24, 2007). (”Offense specific treatment modalities generally involve group and/or individual therapy focused on victimization awareness and empathy training, cognitive restructuring, learning about the sexual abuse cycle, relapse prevention planning, anger management and assertiveness training, social and interpersonal skills development, and changing deviant sexual arousal patterns.”).

84 CSOM, “Community Supervision of the Sex Offender: An Overview of Current and Promising Practices,” January 2000, (accessed August 24, 2007).

85 L. Furby, M. Weinrott, and L. Blackshaw, “Sex Offender Recidivism: A Review,” Psychological Bulletin, vol. 105(1) (1989), pp. 3-30.

86 For examples of current public and professional doubt regarding the efficacy of treatment of sex offenders, see Abby Goodnough and Monica Davey, “For Sex Offenders, A Dispute Over Therapy’s Benefits,” New York Times, March 6, 2007. 

 87 The rate of recidivism declined from 17 percent to 10 percent after approximately five years of follow up. R.Karl Hanson et al., “First Report of the Collaborative Outcome Data Project on the Effectiveness of Treatment for Sex Offenders,” Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, vol. 14(2) (2004), pp. 169-194.