As a registered sex offender for something I did when I was 20, I have to thank you from the bottom of my heart for Margo Pierce's well-researched and truthful cover story ("Next Comes Burning at the Stake," issue of Aug. 15).
I had consenting sex with a minor who I believed to be older at that young age of 20, and I feel absolutely terrible for what I did. I completed therapy and took a lie-detector test as required. In addition, I had a forensic psychiatrist evaluate me, at my expense, all to say I didn't have an attraction to children and that I wasn't likely to reoffend.
I knew this, but it did nothing as far as keeping me off this "sex offender" list. I have had things thrown at me, lost two jobs and been evicted over being on this list, which kills me because I didn't hide it from any of these people.
Nobody knows me for who I am. They think I'm some terrible child molester or monster when I just want to live my life and maybe find a job that will give me full-time hours.
What I did was wrong, stupid and illegal. I took responsibility for it, and I feel that I should be allowed to move on.
I'm 25 now, and some days I just wake up hoping to die.
Articles like Pierce's, however, give me hope that maybe things will change and remind me that not all of this country has gone completely insane. I feel for the families of these victims, but at the same time I didn't do the crimes I'm paying for. I didn't kidnap Adam Walsh, Jessica Lunsford, Megan Kanaka or anyone. I didn't rape or kill someone, and I'm as disgusted by those crimes as anyone else — if not more so, because as a registered offender it reflects on all of us.
If I had killed someone, I'd have a better shot at a future than I do right now. And what I did didn't even require prison time.
Anyway, thank you for giving me hope and reason to pray for some sanity. I hope this article really touches someone who isn't personally affected by this issue like me or my family.
My mom calls me daily — she lives out of town — to make sure I haven't killed myself over this. She knows it's more than just crossed my mind. I hate that my mom has to think like that.
If I keep reading rational things like Pierce's article, maybe someday someone will stand up and say, "This isn't right."
— David Coffman, Tampa, Fla.
I want to applaud your courage and willingness to declare that this particular emperor is indeed naked ("Next Comes Burning at the Stake," issue of Aug. 15). I'm so happy that someone outside "the field" has taken on the issue of how to ensure that high-risk sex offenders are not free to prey on more victims while not bowing to hysteria in ways that don't provide any real protection.
Our association is working hard to ensure that juvenile sex offenders in Ohio receive effective treatment and can transition back into their home communities safely and productively. Thanks to Margo Pierce for taking on an issue that's so emotionally charged and vitally important.
— Penny M. Wyman, Executive Director,
Ohio Association of Child Caring Agencies,