A monster pled guilty to his despicable acts in open court this week.
To avoid the death penalty, Ariel Castro – the man who held three young women in Cleveland captive for 10 years, who brutally beat, raped, and starved them, killing one of his children in the womb – pled guilty to 977 counts. Castro was sentenced to life in prison plus 1000 years. The plea deal spares the women from testifying at trial.
Castro attempted to lay the blame for a decade of voluntary, heinous acts on supposed sexual abuse in his own past and an addiction to pornography. This was nothing less than slander against the many child abuse survivors who would give their lives rather than harm a child.
According to Childhelp[i], about 30% of child abuse and neglect victims abuse or neglect their children. This tragic figure tends to mask the fact that 70% of victims do not abuse or neglect their children.
Evil is, in other words, a result of choice.
The Abel study of non-incarcerated sex offenders (those offending against both child and adult victims) found individuals from every walk of life, and all levels of education; 80% between the ages 20 – 49; 53% married, formerly married, or at some point in a partner relationship; and the majority employed[ii]. In some 59% of cases, intense interest in sex with a non-consenting person (child or adult) began in adolescence[iii] apparently without a trigger.
In studies of juvenile sex offenders, Johnson and Schreir reported prior physical or sexual abuse by 66%; Longo reported prior abuse by 47%[iv]. To the extent these figures are accurate, they suggest 34% – 53% of juvenile sex offenders were never themselves abused.
Admittedly, many factors influence our choices. But the choices remain in our control. Monsters make themselves.
[ii] The Future of Children, Judith V. Becker, PhD, Princeton University http://www.princeton.edu/futureofchildren/publications/docs/04_02_09.pdf.
[iii] As above.