Georgia Sex Offenders Ordered Into, Then Out of the Woods

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Several convicted sex offenders in Georgia, home to some of the toughest laws in the country, were told by their probation officers to take up camp in a woods because all but one of the state’s homeless shelters don’t meet state requirements to be 1,000 feet from any place where children may gather.

One of the offenders, 34-year-old William Hawkins, is on the sex offender for an offense committed against a 12-year-old when he was 15 (the crime was “sexual battery,” those it isn’t clear if the sex was coerced).

After the A.P. broke the story of the enclave in the woods over the weekend, the offenders were told yesterday to pack up and move again, though it isn’t exactly clear where they’ll go. They can also be re-arrested for failing to notify state authorities of their new residence after moving. Not having a residence to report apparently isn’t an excuse.

If they’re permitted to cross state lines, I wrote last year about a bridge in Florida they could live under.

Digg it |  reddit |  del.icio.us |  Fark

45 Responses to “Georgia Sex Offenders Ordered Into, Then Out of the Woods”

  1. #1 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    That’s what I want to see, a band of restless, itinerant, homeless sex offenders.
    Good thing they’re being monitored!

  2. #2 |  MattH | 

    Uh oh, was there ever a sequel to Deliverance?

  3. #3 |  jppatter | 

    I would love to see if Hollywood, the LA Times, the French government, et al. will be as forgiving and understanding of these people as they are of Roman Polanski. Somehow I doubt that will happen.

    That said, the whole demonizing of “sex offenders” (who may or may not actually deserve that title) is pretty pathetic. Why not just brand them with scarlet letters while we are at it?

  4. #4 |  Steve Verdon | 

    I’d be curious how many sex offenders have simply disappeared into society. Fail to report your new location, scrounge enough money get a fake driver’s license and/or leave the state. Illegals manage to get by quite nicely, so what is the percentage that simple disappear and thus make it easier to re-offend.

    I would love to see if Hollywood, the LA Times, the French government, et al. will be as forgiving and understanding of these people as they are of Roman Polanski. Somehow I doubt that will happen.

    That’s it, lets round them up, put them on a plane and send them to France. We’ll expedite passports and visa applications and only tell the French when the plane is taking off after the cargo has been delivered.

  5. #5 |  Jesse | 

    How can it possibly be legal in this country to order people to live in the woods or under a bridge. We are declining RAPIDLY. Oh yeah, its for the children.

  6. #6 |  Zargon | 

    #4
    I’d be curious how many sex offenders have simply disappeared into society.

    Honestly, that’s probably the smartest thing to do. It’s about the only possibility of ever having anything resembling a normal life ever again. I wouldn’t say illegals manage to get by nicely, but it sure seems like they’re better off than these guys. Of course if you’re caught, they’ll lock you in a cage, but how much worse is that than being forced to live in the woods?

    Of course, the fact that some people do attempt that route will be presented as evidence of how dangerous they are when they jack up the movement restrictions, slap on gps ankle bracelets, give them 6 pointed stars to wear at all times, and finally fire up the ovens.

  7. #7 |  SJE | 

    “One of the offenders, 34-year-old William Hawkins, is on the sex offender for an offense committed against a 12-year-old when he was 15 (the crime was “sexual battery,” those it isn’t clear if the sex was coerced).”

    According to Georgia statute:

    16-6-22.1. Sexual battery.
    (a) For the purposes of this Code section, the term “intimate parts” means the primary genital area, anus, groin, inner thighs, or buttocks of a male or female and the breasts of a female.
    (b) A person commits the offense of sexual battery when he intentionally makes physical contact with the intimate parts of the body of another person without the consent of that person.

    (c) A person convicted of the offense of sexual battery shall be punished as for a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature.

    So, a horny 15 year old touches another “inappropriately.” In fact, we don’t even know how much “intent” there was in this particular case. Now he is an outcast for life. WTF!

    We need to get some characters like this, check their backgrounds, clean them up and put them in a suit, then get them before the cameras and into the state house. Its easy to demonize some creepy pedophile, but its a different story when we have someone forced to suffer for the rest of his life for being a horny teenager.

  8. #8 |  Chris in AL | 

    Since prison is supposed to be a deterrent, making these guys’ lives more miserable than prison is probably not a good idea.

    By making it impossible for these guys to actually re-enter society, and making their life outside worse than prison, what incentive do these guys have to stay out of prison? Prison is three hots, a cot and, apparently, pretty easy access to drugs if you want them.

    So tell me why these guys should not go back a-rapin’ until they get caught? Worst case scenario, they go to prison.

    /I know they aren’t all rapists and don’t all deserve to be on the list. But since they are considered just as bad…well, as they say, if you are going to do the time, might as well do the crime.

  9. #9 |  SJE | 

    To make it clear to the non-lawyers, patting someone’s behind would be sexual battery.

  10. #10 |  Ira | 

    Shit like this makes me sad to live in Crackertown.

    Pedofiles living wild in the woods.

    Bigots running the local governments.

    And all my neighbors are damn dirty hippies.

    I need more beer.

  11. #11 |  Steve Verdon | 

    So, a horny 15 year old touches another “inappropriately.” In fact, we don’t even know how much “intent” there was in this particular case. Now he is an outcast for life. WTF!

    Its probably even worse. It might have even been consensual (using common sense vernacular not legal vernacular which is rarely sensible) in that the girl wanted him to touch her. But due to her age she can’t give legal consent so he is a child rapist.

    To make it clear to the non-lawyers, patting someone’s behind would be sexual battery.

    So would taking a leak in a spot where a child sees your package. Visiting a hooker might land you on a sex offender registry. Neat uh? The prostitute wants to do the act, you want to do the act, but the busybody theocrats don’t like it so 15 years of your life ruined.

  12. #12 |  Steve Verdon | 

    /I know they aren’t all rapists and don’t all deserve to be on the list. But since they are considered just as bad…well, as they say, if you are going to do the time, might as well do the crime.

    Don’t think I could destroy an innocent life like that. However, the people who put this messed up system in place…well they ain’t so innocent. The people who enforce the system, they ain’t so innocent either. And if I found myself on a jury for a person who thought the same way and took matters into his own hands, I’d be inclined to nullify.

  13. #13 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Who here did NOT have sexual content with a minor when you were yourself a minor? So, start with (in some cases) “There but for the grace of God…”

    Next, our morality isn’t tested in dealing with healthy, friendly people. It is tested with those that commit the most vile of acts. A commitment to justice should still prevail. And, justice ain’t got nothing to do with this particular subject.

    Finally, can’t most of the sexual offenders just live in their offices at the Georgia capital building? <—see what I did there?

  14. #14 |  Nando | 

    #6 SJE

    According to Georgia statute:

    16-6-22.1. Sexual battery.
    (a) For the purposes of this Code section, the term “intimate parts” means the primary genital area, anus, groin, inner thighs, or buttocks of a male or female and the breasts of a female.
    (b) A person commits the offense of sexual battery when he intentionally makes physical contact with the intimate parts of the body of another person without the consent of that person.

    (c) A person convicted of the offense of sexual battery shall be punished as for a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature.

    SJE,

    Using that definition, I wish one of the Governor’s/Senator’s/Congressman’s aides/secretaries/assistants would file charges for having been “touched” on the buttocks.

    Also, I guess a sports player can charge another one for patting him on the buttocks after scoring.

  15. #15 |  Mafoo | 

    The title made me imagine a really messed-up production of a famous Sondheim musical.

  16. #16 |  Chris in AL | 

    @ Steve

    I couldn’t hurt someone like that either. But I can say that with conviction only because of the life I have lived. I wonder how many years of being on that list undeservedly, living in the woods, on the streets or under bridges, it would take before I no longer stay true to my convictions.

    Haven’t they done psych experiments to research how long it takes before a person changes their behavior, based on how they are treated? For example, if you treat a kid like a liar all the time, how long before they start telling lies. Or if you always treat a nice person as if they are mean, how long before they start acting mean?

    I think this system is flawed on all levels. One of which is that we may well be creating more of the very thing we fear.

    And chances are that if your kid gets molested, it will still be by his uncle, or a neighbor. Not any of these guys in the woods.

  17. #17 |  SJE | 

    Steve: taking a leak and exposing yourself would not, under the language of the statute, be “sexual battery” because there is no touching. That said, I am sure someone will find a reason to lock up some poor kid.

  18. #18 |  SJE | 

    Wait, its gets worse. He has a wife and house in Virginia, but it seems that GA law will not allow him to live there, but will not allow him to live in GA unless he hides in the woods. I think that there are some constitutional issues here.

    Anyway, from the story:

    The former truck driver has been on the registry since he was convicted of attempted sexual battery of a 12-year-old in 1991 when he was 15. He said after he emerged from his latest stint behind bars without a place to live, he was directed to the forest despite pleas from his wife to allow him to live at the couple’s home in Swords Creek, Va.

    “I don’t understand how the state gets away with it,” Mindy Hawkins said from her home in Virginia. “This is ridiculous — especially when he has a family, a home, a support system here. It’s inhumane.”

    Her husband had tried to make the meager outpost feel as much like home as possible as he waits for his probation to end early next year. Now he is scrambling to find another place to pitch his tent in the next 24 hours.

    “I don’t know where I’m going to go,” Hawkins said. “And if I don’t have anywhere to go, they will re-arrest me.”

  19. #19 |  Deoxy | 

    If I were in such a state, I would seriously consider the “blaze of glory” option. Not only would the torment cease, not only would it be cathartic, but there’s a decent chance that it would be good for society.

    Personally, I think real pedophiles (those attracted to children when they are clearly adults) need to be locked up for good. If they are so terrible that they need to be registered to be out… well, don’t let them out.

    The main problem here is the ridiculous scope creep of the term “sex offender”.

  20. #20 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Here is the problem I have with these sex crimes. You can inflict serious pain on someone in any way that is not considered a sex crime and it is almost always considered less of an offense than merely having physical contact with someone’s “intimate areas”.

    The perverted nature of sex crimes are taken for granted. Merely suggesting a sex crime is not the product of a incurably sick, twisted, individual is itself almost considered a sign of perversion. It’s one of those taboo topics like questioning aspects of the holocaust or the differences in intelligence between the sexes or races.

    I don’t like taboo topics. I don’t like those who insist that they know all the answers so no further discussion need be allowed. I especially don’t like that we humans have a history of destroying people for believing taboo ideas that later turn out to have merit (such as the earth is round or that homosexuality is not a mental illness or that dirty words are not harmful).

    My biggest complaint against sex crimes is that the injury they inflict is often far more psychological than physical. There is no doubt that a child can be devastated by sexual molestation that actually causes no physical harm. But, I think society spends a lifetime saturating people, from the time they’re tiny through adulthood, with a fear and hypersensitivity to anything sexual so that by the time something happens, the impact is certain to be paralyzing and destructive. Follow that with the trial/media phase where public revenge is sought, as if the victim is mere bait sacrificed for the voyeuristic entertainment of the community. Finally, the evil perpetrator is declared fair game for a perpetual humiliation that snuffs out any remaining hope he might have of future normalcy, sometimes leaving even the victim feeling guilty of having been a part of it. Is this what we really want to do to people walking around in our communities? Is treating people like animals really making us more safe?

    The non-violent sex criminal may expose himself, have sex with underage girls, and fondle little boys, but it’s society, with its conditioning before the crime and the intensity of its reaction after the crime that ensures it becomes the defining moment of the victim’s life (apparently doubly true if you’re a celebrity). It’s like being told from the day you’re born to be paranoid of being bitten by a dog and, when one finally does, you react with years of pent up fear. And to top it off, everyone suddenly treats you different from then on.

    The best way to reduce the devastation caused by sex crimes in this country is not to make sex offenders live under bridges. It’s to get society to stop the ubiquitous preconditioning of kids (and adults) and treating victims in a way that ensures the very worst possible psychological impact.

    I know my point of view must be pretty radical because I have yet to hear it voiced by anyone on a morning TV news talk show or in a 60 Minutes segment or on 20/20. It’s a lot more fun just hating sex offenders. “Git yer torches and pitch forks and we’ll meet up b’hind Jed’s barn. We’re gonna have us some fun!”

  21. #21 |  ktc2 | 

    Careful Dave! Anyone who doesn’t help with the witch hunt must be a witch!

  22. #22 |  ktc2 | 

    And by the way, you are quite correct. Not everyone who has a sexual experience at an early age is traumatized by it. It is purely a conditioned response, a cultural mores.

  23. #23 |  Jenn | 

    My first thought when I saw this story on the front page of AJC.com yesterday was “way to go, they’ll get kicked out of there now!”. Only that pathetic excuse for a newspaper would publicly identify WHERE these guys were staying. This state (GA) has been dealing with the unintended consequences of these stupid laws for years now! Seems like for months after they passed it you got about a story a day of some family having to sell their house and move or someone becoming unemployed because they lived, worked, etc too close to a school and even though they’d been out of jail for 20 years and productive members of society, they were still “sex offenders”.

    I think the laws need to target child molestors and drop the stupid term “sex offender” which is way too broad and demonizes way too many.

  24. #24 |  Marty | 

    looking back on my junior high and high school hockey teams, I’d say 80% of the players were guilty back then of ‘crimes’ serious enough to be registered as ‘sex offenders’ today. To my knowledge, none of the guys I ran around with (and I still skate with a bunch of them 25 yrs later) are bad guys.

    These sex offenders are just gonna go underground, like the illegal immigrants. Cash jobs, begging, becoming real criminals, etc will be the real choices they have to make to survive. None of the choices they’re being given are beneficial to us.

  25. #25 |  Waste | 

    Off Topic. Hadn’t seen this mentioned yet though I haven’t gone thru all the comments. Apparently a private police force company from CA showed up in a small town in WY and took over the unused jail there and with a police logo noone had seen before.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/09/29/crimesider/entry5351491.shtml

  26. #26 |  Steve Verdon | 

    Steve: taking a leak and exposing yourself would not, under the language of the statute, be “sexual battery” because there is no touching. That said, I am sure someone will find a reason to lock up some poor kid.

    I didn’t say it was sexual battery, but that it could land you on a registry. Indecent exposure to a minor and all that.

    I couldn’t hurt someone like that either. But I can say that with conviction only because of the life I have lived. I wonder how many years of being on that list undeservedly, living in the woods, on the streets or under bridges, it would take before I no longer stay true to my convictions.

    Good point, but I’d like to think that I’d still focus my ire and wrath on those who deserve it.

    Personally, I think real pedophiles (those attracted to children when they are clearly adults) need to be locked up for good. If they are so terrible that they need to be registered to be out… well, don’t let them out.

    Yes, but that actually makes sense and we can’t have that, we’re a democracy for Christ’s sake!

    By the way, yet another thread without the wisdom and insight of that apologist for the State seeker6709. Who is going to speak for the poor abused children?!?! We certainly can’t let the parents speak for their children.

  27. #27 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #23 Marty

    looking back on my junior high and high school hockey teams, I’d say 80% of the players were guilty back then of ‘crimes’ serious enough to be registered as ’sex offenders’ today.

    That makes me wonder. Is there a statute of limitations for playing doctor? If not, I may need to start looking for a bridge with wifi.

  28. #28 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #18 Deoxy

    If I were in such a state, I would seriously consider the “blaze of glory” option.

    I suspect that there are plenty of guys out there thinking the same thing. No responsible justice/penal system does as much to actively promote an absolute sense of hopelessness that the sex offender registry does. I think we can rest assured it’s only a matter of time before someone takes that way out. Heaven help those who become the collateral damage.

  29. #29 |  Andrew Williams | 

    I’ve noticed before the correlation between those charged as sex offenders and those who were molested as children. This is almost never taken into consideration at sentencing.

    The other problem, as Dave K points out, is that the media and gov’t have so thoroughly convinced people that sexual abuse is ALWAYS traumatizing and ALWAYS takes years or even decades to recover from that yes, if someone is sexually abused, they respond as directed. I’ve heard of cases–documented in one of Camille Paglia’s books–of rape “counselors” telling women that “you will never get over this.”

    Just another reason we’re so screwed up as a country. Legalize prostitution, give pedophiles treatment and therapy instead of prison, and a lot of sexual BS will go by the wayside.

    Or is that too reasonable? Yeah, probably.

  30. #30 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #28 Andrew Williams

    Nicely stated, as always. I should learn to be so concise.

  31. #31 |  tariqata | 

    Dave K: I agree that the term “sex offender” has been expanded too far, and even for those people who I believe it should cover (i.e., rapists, yes, streakers, no), restrictions that prevent them from living anywhere, or force them to live under bridges, are just about the worst way to deal with them I can think of.

    That said, your comment here forced me to go chew some rage before I could respond:

    Here is the problem I have with these sex crimes. You can inflict serious pain on someone in any way that is not considered a sex crime and it is almost always considered less of an offense than merely having physical contact with someone’s “intimate areas”. …

    The best way to reduce the devastation caused by sex crimes in this country is not to make sex offenders live under bridges. It’s to get society to stop the ubiquitous preconditioning of kids (and adults) and treating victims in a way that ensures the very worst possible psychological impact.

    It’s true that people can survive and heal from the psychological impact of rape and sexual abuse. But the best way to reduce the devastation is not to spread the message that one will recover; it’s to spread the message that it’s not okay to impose your sexual desires on someone who does not consent, full stop.

    The term “sex offender” has been trivialized through overuse and abuse; that doesn’t negate the fact that rape – and unwanted touching and fondling, for that matter – are a violation of the integrity of the person. I agree with you that most people who commit these acts are not sick, perverted, inhuman – so it ought to be possible to prevent the crimes by teaching them from the beginning that no sexual act is permissible without (meaningful) consent.

  32. #32 |  Mattocracy | 

    I drive pass these guys everyday going to work in Atlanta. As I’m sure that others have mentioned above, not everyone in the woods is real predator. More than a handful are listed as sex offenders for bullshit reasons. But as several of my narrow minded coworkers have shown me, most people never even consider that any of them could be locked up because of over zealous prosecutors.

    That is the real problem. The general public hears “sex offender” and they can’t get passed the negative emotional rush. Certainly not enough to even comprehend that huge number of people on the sex offenders list for actions that aren’t even remotely related to child rape.

    If we want real change, we need to start talking about how many people are unjustly placed on the SO list. That’s the only way we can get the general public to start seeing this draconian approach to sex regulation.

  33. #33 |  Aresen | 

    Maybe they should just set up “sex offender” colonies and require them to wear large bells. Then we could require that they clang the bell and cry “sex offender” with every step.

  34. #34 |  Waste | 

    Are sex offenders the new lepers?

  35. #35 |  Don K | 

    As I commented yesterday on another blog, were I a state legislator I would be sorely tempted to propose a sentence of life without parole for every crime that puts one on the SO list. I mean, if you’re going to ruin someone’s life for peeing in the alley behind a bar, you might as well do the decent thing and give him a roof and three squares, right?

    Of course, that (among other legislation I might propose) is why I would never be re-elected.

  36. #36 |  Mike T | 

    I would compare this case to a leper colony, but then leper colonies were a rational response to a horrible, highly contagious disease that couldn’t be treated until the last few generations…

  37. #37 |  Aresen | 

    @| Mike T | September 30th, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    Actually, leprosy is not highly contagious. Between 90 and 95% of the population is naturally immune. Mostly, it was the disfigurement caused by the disease that led to lepers being ostracized.

  38. #38 |  MSLGW-CEO | 

    The draconian laws endanger children. The murder of Christopher Barrios is a prime example of Georgia’s legislators culpability. “If it saves one child,” is the mantra.

    Laws cannot save any one determined to commit a crime. Prevention through education is the only way to prevent crime. 93 percent of all new sex crimes are committed by people NOT on the registry.

    They are your family members and those known to you. Wake up folks, you have been blinded by the entertainment news media and politicians for ratings and votes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RA8ArddZgLk

  39. #39 |  MSLGW-CEO | 

    A three year study by the U.S. Justice Department on Recidivism.
    The results are very interesting since these laws are all based on the myth and lie that sex offenders have a high rate.

    Highlights include the following:

    * Released prisoners with the highest rearrest rates were robbers (70.2%),
    burglars (74.0%),
    larcenists (74.6%),
    motor vehicle thieves (78.8%),
    those in prison for possessing or selling stolen property (77.4%), and those in prison for possessing, using, or selling illegal weapons (70.2%).

    * Within 3 years, 2.5% of released rapists were arrested for another rape,

    and 1.2% of those who had served time for homicide were arrested for homicide.

    * The 272,111 offenders discharged in 1994 had accumulated 4.1 million arrest charges before their most recent imprisonment and another 744,000 charges within 3 years of release

    To my way of thinking, if law makers were serious about PREVENTION. They need to only be concerned with:
    1. The REPEAT offender

    2. The VIOLENT offender

    3. The offender who DID NOT KNOW THEIR VICTIM!

    See: STUDYS:
    http://cfcoklahoma.org/New_Site/index.php?option=com_fireboard&Itemid=0&func=showcat&catid=83

  40. #40 |  Sam | 

    A side note, since these threads are near and dear to my heart:

    Please stop needling Seeker. I don’t know if he’s still trolling about or not, but the one time I ran across his comments I found them to be a reasonable and well reasoned attempt to discuss a point of view I disagreed with…and I even agreed with some of what he said.

    Even if he was a complete tool whose comments were embarrassing to even attempt to read I would disagree with the childish manner in which I’ve seen his name bandied about in multiple forums. It’s beneath the generally intelligent discourse on this site, please stop.

  41. #41 |  pam | 

    I thought sexual battery was a vibrator?

  42. #42 |  Toonhead | 

    Based on what I’ve read in previous blog postings, it appears that simply being a male over the age of 13 residing in the state of Georgia is a “sex offense”.

  43. #43 |  Pablo | 

    #42–actually just being a male is enough. No age requirement. And GA even isn’t as bad as some states. At least here, new misdemeanors do not require registration (old misdemeanor convictions or out of state ones can trigger the requirement, however–equal protection problems, anyone?). In other states things like peeing behind a bar or asking a hooker for a blow job will get you on a registry.

  44. #44 |  The Liberty Papers »Blog Archive » Hollywood’s Incomprehensible Defense of the Child Rapist, Roman Polanski | 

    […] yesterday, Radley Balko reported at The Agitator that Georgia sex offenders were ordered to live in the woods…until the story broke and the public […]

  45. #45 |  Benjamin | 

    Reminds me of Chief White Halfoat from Catch-22.

Leave a Reply