Little girl robbed of innocence

Published 12:36 am Wednesday, July 15, 2009

(Editor’s note: This is the second in a series about sex offenders. The third and final installment will publish on Sunday.)

She was 7 years old when a friend invited her and her 2-year-old brother over to his house to watch television. He had her lay her head in his lap.

He took his penis from his pants and rubbed it on her face. She made an excuse and ran from the house, taking her brother with her.

Email newsletter signup

This is how one Dallas County child lost her innocence forever. Because The Selma Times-Journal does not identify the victims of sex crimes, we will call her Mary Doe.

The sexual assault happened three days in a row with this longtime family friend. It escalated, Mary said, from talking about sex to touching to the final act during a television show.

Now 13, Mary talks about the therapy that got her through the hard times after having to talk about her assailant before a courtroom of people in the initial phase with the assailant looking at her.

Mary’s mom, we will identify as Jane Doe, recalls that day.

“She wanted to go to his house and eat popcorn,” the mother said. “She came in and I could just tell something was wrong. She wasn’t acting herself.”

Mary already knew what sexual molestation meant. Someone had hurt a relative that way. Jane, the mother, had instructed Mary about good touches and bad touches.

After Jane threatened to call the neighbor to find out what happened, Mary told her mother about the incident.

“I lost it,” Jane said. “I was pretty hysterical.”

Then came the call to the authorities and the legal road that followed. The perpetrator, a friend for years, was on probation for receiving stolen goods, they found out.

The family also discovered their friend was forced to leave another state because he had molested his daughter and her friend.

At the first hearing, Mary had to testify.

“His lawyer was just awful to her,” Jane said. “It was awful having to look at him and he was such a good friend and he had done something like that.”

Later, the district attorney offered a deal of five years with 15 years suspended and five years supervised probation. The state offered the deal to keep Mary from having to testify again.

At first the defense didn’t want to take the offer, but they finally caved in. He went to prison and was released in April.

“We’ve run into him several times and it was just awful,” Jane said. “He acts like nothing is wrong and it just makes me sick. He is with women with little girls. It just makes me sick.”

The sex offender lives nearby, but not too close.

He is one of 98 registered in Dallas County. He is one of more than 7,000 in Alabama.

There are basically two types of pedophiles said Selma Police Lt. David Evans. The first is the opportunistic offender.

“They are people who have no moral restraint whatsoever. It doesn’t matter if the person is young or old, they will assault them,” Evans said.

The second type is the preferential offender, the police officer said. That person is a true pedophile.

“They have a certain age group that they tend to focus on and will sometimes go between different genders. It may appear that the offender has a preference, but sometimes it is just what is easiest to prey on and other times it is that they do not want to break society norms, even if they are pedophiles.”

Not all sex offenders are pedophiles.

Maggie Davies, a member of the Child Advocacy Center board and a children’s advocate, points out that sex offenders could be rapists but she makes very clear that the rapist is different from the pedophile.

“Rape is an act of violence, not sexual,” she said. “Experts say a rapist has the same drive like an arsonist. Those can be controlled.”

Davies has worked with victims of sex offenders and kept up with the whereabouts of those registered sex offenders in Dallas County for five years. She became involved in watching out for sex offenders because, as she said, somebody had to do it.

“Because nobody was when I got here,” the Selma resident said. “We had over a 70 percent rate of non-compliance when I started being verified. We are a lot better now.”

Davies has been on television asking for help. That’s how she connected with Jane Doe.

“She came to me after one of my TV interviews,” Davies said.

Davies went out to the home and made sure Mary’s attacker was not in violation. “I also complained to the sheriff when I saw him two aisles over from where she was in Wal-Mart.”

Mary still has a hard time sleeping sometimes, she says, but rest comes easier now than then. She doesn’t feel safe sometimes.

“I get worried he probably will come up to my house,” she said.

Mary won’t go anywhere alone.

Therapy has helped. Her mom has kept her safe.

There are other scars. At 13 most girls are boy crazy. Mary has a boyfriend who lives far away.

“I’m worried to have a boyfriend,” she said. “I don’t want one who moves too quick. I don’t like to be around guys too much older because I get kind of worried”

But she’s getting better every day.

“I don’t think about it too much,” Mary said. “It was really a long time ago.”