Sex Crimes

What is it Like to Have Brunch with Sex Offenders?

Josh Gravens went to prison when he was 12 for touching his sister's vagina. Now he's fighting to change the laws that destroyed his life.

|

Originally published on March 30, 2015. Text below:

When Josh Gravens was 12, he was locked up for three and a half years for touching his sister's vagina. Upon his release, Gravens was added to the Texas Sex Offender Registry, a publicly searchable database that identifies him as the perpetrator of a sex crime and tracks where he lives. He was ostracized in high school, nearly chased out of college, and as an adult, has found it difficult to find work or lead a normal life.

When he was 19, Galen Baughman was sentenced to six and a half years for having a consensual relationship with a 14-year-old. When his release date came up, the state of Virginia refused to let him go on the grounds that he was a danger to society. So he served an additional three years; under Virginia's civil commitment laws, he might have spent the rest of his life locked up.

Gravens and Baughman were the featured guests at a brunch held on March 22, 2015 at the home ofReason.com Contributor Lenore Skenazy that was aimed at bringing attention to how our criminal justice system tramples on the rights of people charged with sex crimes.

Skenazy decided to host the brunch "not because I'm pro sex offender," she says, "but because there are so many people with this label who pose no threat to children whatsoever, and I wanted the public to start realizing that."

Listen to an mp3 of the entire one-hour-and-25-minute event:
Read Skenazy's article about the event in the New York Daily News.
Read an interview on the topic with Skenazy in Salon.
Learn more about Josh Gravens, who could go back to prison for allegedly failing to register his most recent address with state authorities.

Produced, shot, and edited by Jim Epstein.
6 minutes and 11 seconds.

Scroll down for downloadable versions and subscribe to Reason TV's YouTube Channel to get notified when new material goes live.
This post was updated to correct Galen Baughman's name. He was originally identified as Matthew

Advertisement

NEXT: Baylen Linnekin: The Supreme Court Must Rule on Mandatory GMO Labelling

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. You can see registered sex offenders on crime maps there is so many of them everywhere and there is no information on the nature of their crime renderering them worthless. I wonder how much money is wasted on this meaningless bureaucracy.

    1. I wonder how much money is wasted on this meaningless bureaucracy

      It’s for the children, so you’re not allowed to ask that question, it’s hate speech.

      1. Money spent on pubsec union members and crony suppliers is never wasted.

    2. there is no information on the nature of their crime renderering them worthless

      Well, it’s obvious that in the case of the second guy, he just exhibited the poor judgement that all 19-year old men exhibit. As for the first guy, though, help me out here; I was an only child, so is touching your 8.5 year old sister’s genitals just something that happens in the course of a day? There really are some missing details to his story that would either exculpate or incriminate. If the former, you’d think Gravens would go out of his way to highlight them; if the latter, shame on Skenazy for not providing them.

      1. Yeah, I don’t think anyone is saying that that a 12 year old should be playing with his younger sisters va ja ja but that doesn’t warrant lifetime on a sex offender registry even if you think such a registry is a good idea to begin with. 12 year old certainly ly has less sense of good judgement than a 19 year old.

      2. Touching wasn’t normal for me and my siblings but some curiosity about the other’s parts was. I suspect it happens in some families and nothing comes of it in the long run. I’m wondering how/why the authorities got involved in his case. Maybe he did something fairly innocent at school or someone else’s house, and they overreacted. I can’t imagine a scenario where parents call the police on their own kid for that.

        1. I can’t imagine a scenario where parents call the police on their own kid for that.

          Indeed, and that’s one reason I want to know more about the story. We have no idea of how his sister characterizes the event. Considering the unusualness of the case, I argue that it would have been more responsible for Skenazy and company to have taken the time to make the case that this was just Gravens playing doctor, as opposed to acting on certain feelings that a 12 year old boy at puberty’s and sexuality’s gate might have, before making him the face of Reason’s latest advocacy campaign.

          1. There would have to be a whole hell of a lot more to the story to warrant criminal charges against a 12 year old. Sexual and body curiosity is perfectly normal for children. To treat such interactions between children as somehow deviant is itself criminal. Yet that is the perverse and pathological approach this society has taken. Our society’s insane fear and demonization of human sexuality causes great harm.

            1. “There would have to be a whole hell of a lot more to the story to warrant criminal charges against a 12 year old.”

              Because it would be unthinkable if this sort of thing were SOP, right? They call it the JUSTICE system for a reason, right? Right? Ergo, everyone must be hiding what the kid really did.

              QEfuckingD.

        2. They didn’t call the police, they called their church for counseling. The counselour said he/she was required to report it to police.

        3. LTTFV (listen to the fucking video)

      3. Whatever it is, it shouldn’t be a criminal matter. Unless, as you say, there was a lot more to the incident than the description suggests.

      4. You can read about his case here. In partial answer to your questions:

        When Josh Gravens was 12 years old, he made a terrible mistake. He and his sister, who was 8, had sexual contact, twice. “Like, where my body part touched her body part,” he says. “It was never penetrative. Obviously, it couldn’t have been what they call consensual, but it was playing.”

        Josh’s sister told their mother, who was alarmed. She wanted to ensure that, even if Josh’s intentions were only curious, he learned appropriate behavior right away. She called a Christian counseling center near their home in Abilene and described what happened. She was informed that, by law, the center had to report Josh to the police for sexual assault of a child.

        He’s also been off the public sex offender registry for about two and a half years.

        Also, in response to AlmightyJB, I’m pretty sure most state sex offender registry databases do, in fact, list the crime for which the offender was convicted (my state does). I suppose that arguably lacks “context”, but a lot of sex offense crimes are fairly self-explanatory.

        1. Josh’s sister told their mother, who was alarmed. She wanted to ensure that, even if Josh’s intentions were only curious, he learned appropriate behavior right away

          Ok, so she obviously knows what this proper behavior is, but she doesn’t have the ability to teach it to her own son.

          The mother in this case is a complete idiot. I feel bad for the son, he should never have had to go through this shit. Kids engage in all sorts of odd and sometimes dangerous behavior because they’re so curious. They shouldn’t be made into some sort of pariah because of it.

          We were a lot better off as a society when parents accepted responsibility for their own kids and part of that responsibility was dealing with situations just like this one.

          1. “Ok, so she obviously knows what this proper behavior is, but she doesn’t have the ability to teach it to her own son.”

            I think parents are often at a loss when dealing with the behavior of the opposite sex child. If there was a father in the picture she should have told him instead of calling a stranger.

            1. If there was a father in the picture she should have told him instead of calling a stranger.

              Perhaps, but the moral of Gravens’ story is that at any point you bring it outside the family, you’re going to have to deal with mandatory reporting laws. And considering the utter lack of prosecutorial discretion in the cases, such laws might disincentivize families from doing just that, even if the psychological help is necessary.

              1. considering the utter lack of prosecutorial discretion in the cases, such laws might disincentivize families from doing just that

                Silly HM! Incentives are merely a tool of the patriarchy. People do not respond to them, unless some bureaucrats wants them to respond.

              2. I don’t know. When I was a kid a simple harsh scolding was enough to usually shame us into not repeating the forbidden behavior.

                These days kids need psychiatrists, counselors, cops, courts, and who knows what else to cure them of their sins.

                I say our society has went straight to hell. I wouldn’t raise a child in this country today, period.

                1. Your lawn, do you need me to get off of it?

                2. “These days kids need psychiatrists, counselors, cops, courts, and who knows what else to cure them of their sins.

                  I say our society has went straight to hell. I wouldn’t raise a child in this country today, period.”

                  But think of all the jerbs created by these new “necessities!”

                  Also, ‘has went?’ Come on.

          2. No, the mother was not a complete idiot. Parenting is something you do few times in your life, it’s not like you turn pro. Lots of parents want advice. She had no idea it would become a police matter due to some technicality.

            This is a system defect. The system has to fail one way or another. People had complained that too much abuse went on in families, where at one time you could nearly get away with murder, so rules were propounded making categories of things & taking away discretion, so discretion could not be abused. Who could blame people for having such concerns, considering what’d been rumored for, uh, centuries, about the abuses in the Catholic Church that are now proven?

        2. Thanks for the information, PM.

          I agree that his case should not have been part of the judicial system, but Gravens does himself no favors by obscuring what happened. While I understand why he might evasively say “my body part touched her body part”, as opposed to “I touched her vulva with my penis”, it downplays something that shouldn’t be downplayed. He does bear some responsibility for his actions, and fortunately, it seems that he has in that as an adult, he has chosen to break the cycle of abuse. Why Skenazy chose not to reveal probably the most sympathetic and explanatory part of his story, that he was abused earlier himself, is a mystery to me.

          1. “Why Skenazy chose not to reveal probably the most sympathetic and explanatory part of his story, that he was abused earlier himself, is a mystery to me.”

            I guess I should read that article too. I have to say I was feeling more sympathy for the younger sister than for him.

        3. What I see in Franklin County, OH are very generic offeneses for the most part. Sometimes they don’t list an offence at all. Their is absoluty no detail behind what happened. Even the date of the offense is not always noted. There is a big difference in Importuning when the age difference is small and when it is large. The point is that I have no idea from the information whether this person is a threat to women, a tbreat to children,, a threat to teenagers, or a threat at all. Maybe your area provides more information.

          1. In fact, the only guy listed in my neighborhood does not have any offense noted. All I know is that he’s on the list.

          2. It does vary by state quite a bit. My state’s db lists the date of conviction, the actual statute violated, and a (fairly generic, as you say) description of the crime. In addition there’s one or several photos of the registrant, as well as their DOB, so you can kind of put the crime into context of their age at the time. For example, here’s part of the page for a randomly selected registrant generated by a search based on my ZIP code:

            Conviction and Incarceration Information
            Conviction
            Conviction Date: 1988-02-23
            Court: 3RD JUDICIAL DISTRICT JUST CRT
            Conviction Location: FALLON, NV
            Conviction State: NV
            Statute: NRS200.366
            Conviction Description: SEXUAL ASSAULT

          3. I have no idea from the information whether this person is a threat to women, a tbreat to children,, a threat to teenagers, or a threat at all.

            I have a friend who was charged with “sexual assault” for something that happened during a sonogram. Because he was in a hurry, he didn’t wait for a nurse to sleep in the corner while he did the sonogram. Even though it is not uncommon for the sonogram wand to be inserted inside the woman, apparently, since there was no female present, it was obviously some kind of rape. When he pointed this out in court, the cunt judge actually told him “do not tell me what is medically necessary”.

            As a part of his probation, he is not allowed around children. Even if you assume that he really did what he did with some kind of malice or perversion, how this translates to being a child molester is illogical. Apparently, if you are a “sex offender” even if that is “public indecency” for public urination, you are a child rapist in the making.

            I always thought that sexual criminals had specific tastes. I did not think that child molesters were interested in adults, for instance. Homosexuality is also supposed. Even though my friend is not gay, has never been gay, is not accused of committing a crime against the same sex, he is supposed to be a threat to little boys.

            It really does shock me that more of these individuals don’t “go postal”. I think if I was in his position there would be a trail of dead bodies with my own at the end.

            1. It really does shock me that more of these individuals don’t “go postal”

              The really scary scenario is that after we’ve created a few million more ‘sex offenders’, they all go postal at the same time. What do they really have to lose?

              1. My friend has very little to lose. A career of over 20 years flushed down the toilet.

                What is also bad is that he is not supposed to drink any alcohol. He wasn’t drunk at the time of the alleged crime and has no criminal record involving alcohol. Drinking would apparently cause him to go into STEVE SMITH mode.

                1. We’ve went completely insane as a society. And now you have the crazed SJW crowd with the full support of academia and the media, trying to turn everyone into some sort of serial rapist or klan like bigot and ruin their lives.

                  The coming blow back on this shit is going to be very ugly.

                2. What kind of work does he do now?

              2. “The really scary scenario is that after we’ve created a few million more ‘sex offenders’, they all go postal at the same time. What do they really have to lose?”

                Well, that would just prove they were evil and we were right to put them on the registry to begin with!
                /sarc

            2. We had a tech who was accused of sexual assault. Don’t recall the details, but I think it involved imaging of some veins in an elderly woman’s thigh. She didn’t understand the procedure (“our” bad, although the doctor is ultimately responsible), and filed a complaint.

              We investigated, the cops investigated, and . . . wait for it . . . nothing else happened.

              The judge your friend’s case is an utter moron. Unless the clinic completely and uttely screwed the pooch on informed consent, there should be an actual written signed consent form for the procedure.

              1. One reason I would never be a doctor is because I would have to insist, for my own legal safety, on never treating women or children. Hell, it’s gotten to a point where one feels one has to avoid gratuitous interaction with (American) women in the workplace because any normal non-robotic social interaction would most likely qualify as harassment if they are the type to interpret it as such.

      5. It’s like Thomas Sowell says “Each new generation born is in effect an invasion of civilization by little barbarians, who must be civilized before it is too late.” But it’s up to parents, not law enforcement to do the civilizing, ideally they should only enter into it at the “too late” stage.

        I don’t know enough information to say about the 12 year old boy with his 8 year old sister. At face value that does seem kind of messed up, as well as the 19 year old with a 14 year old. Although I don’t agree with the sex offender list thing.

      6. This child was only 12 years old. If an adult has any sort of sexual contact with a 12-year-old or younger, he or she is charged with rape of a child. Why? because a 12-year-old is not emotionally or intellectually mature enough to understand the ramifications of a sexual encounter or the consequences thereof.

        Now, how is it that in this case the court suddenly decides a 12-year-old can form mens rea (criminal thought/intent) and understand his actions in such a way that he can justly be placed on the sex offender registry for the rest of his life? His sister was 8-1/2 years old. He was 12 at the time. That’s only a difference of 3-1/2 years. They’re in the same peer group. I don’t see how this could even remotely be considered a sexual offense. The boy was curious. I’m reasonably confident that young siblings experiment sexually at some point. They may “play doctor” as it used to be termed. But in this day and age there is a mindless, moronic fear of sexual predators and we’ve let that monster vilify kids for kid behavior that has nothing to do with a predatory sex crime. Read this:

        http://www.care2.com/causes/10…..ender.html

        I can’t think of a more heinous and insidious form of child abuse and exploitation than for an ambitious, cold-hearted D.A. to get a sex offender conviction against a preteen child and force them to be on an adult registry next to REAL predators for life.

    3. I’ve made $64,000 so far this year working online and I’m a full time student. I’m using an online business opportunity I heard about and I’ve made such great money. It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it. Heres what I’ve been doing
      http://www.work-mill.com

  2. What is it Like to Have Brunch with Sex Offenders?

    I don’t know; I’ve never been on a Reason cruise.

    1. I sense a disturbance on my zing meter

    2. You’ve had brunch alone, though, right?

    3. Well I went to a Penn State Coaches’ brunch once, does that count?

    1. There seemed to be some stupid for both sides at that event.

      1. True. I only posted it to highlight the single comment by a lefty. Lefties, no matter where they are, they seem to know their talking points well.

  3. the system created works poorly all around; no one is served by it. Basically, govt ideas in action.

  4. Yeah, so I use library computers in Phoenix AZ, and their utterly puritanical censoring software (admittedly farmed out from someone else) decides to block the video.

    That says something, I don’t know what though.

  5. My friend’s step-aunt makes $70 every hour on the computer . She has been out of a job for seven months but last month her pay was $17651 just working on the computer for a few hours. website link.
    ? ? ? ? LIFETIME OPPORTUNITY ? ? ? ? ?

    ??????? http://www.jobsfish.com

  6. WHY CAN’T THEY REUSE THE GODDAMN COMMENTS THREAD when they recycle a story like this?

    1. They used to, so why’d they stop?

      1. VERY late but…… The biggest complaint was the reuse of the original comments. When they recycled 2 year old stories you might find yourself responding to a 2 year old comment made by someone who hasn’t been here since they made the comment.

  7. The sex offender registry is an illegal ex-post facto law of which the only outcome is harm to community safety, offender and those people the offender is close to.

    The sex offender registry is given to the public in unlimited ways to be used to discriminate in unlimited ways.. The outcome of the registry is a loss of safety and/or security.

    A conviction of any sort can be used to put a person on a sex offender registry at any time.
    The easiest route to despotism has always been the idea that criminals cannot be rehabilitated and the State, through the legislature is the only institution capable of protecting society. In response to this inherent and obvious injustice there came LAWS that protected the convicted. Those laws are the “prohibition on ex-post facto laws” and “prohibition on double jeapardy”.

    When the State is unable to follow their own laws, or give “equal protection” under the law, it becomes a well-founded RIGHT to flee laws that violate basic and fundamental RIGHTS.

    I REFUSE to follow a registry whose only outcome will be harm to me, takes fundemental rights, is passed ex-post facto and has no forum for challenge or appeal under any standards.

    Until there is some DUE PROCESS, your registry is PRESUMED to be illegal and without credibility. Credibility of State action against anyone is found in DUE PROCESS. Your laws have
    none, and therefore I REFUSE to follow your registry, or registry laws.

    This article only makes my argument stronger.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.