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Castration of sex offneders

Surgically Castrated Boy Molester July 6, 2002

Posted by Orchiectomy on 2002-08-20 09:48:01

Jurors consider whether to free castrated sexual predator By Andrea Cavanaugh, http://www.staronline.com/vcs/county_news/article/acavanaugh@insidevc.com July 6, 2002

Earlier this year, Stephen Norten took what many would consider to be extreme measures to rid himself of his decades-old urge to sexually molest little boys -- he was surgically castrated. Now his attorney said he's ready to rejoin society under close supervision.

But prosecutors would like to keep him committed to a state mental hospital, as he has been since 1997, shortly after California enacted its controversial sexually violent predator law.

Now a Ventura County jury is deliberating whether Norten is likely to reoffend as a violent sexual predator after a surgeon removed his testicles in January.

The sexually violent predator law allows for incarceration after an offender's sentence has been served if it can be proved he still poses a danger to society. The defendant is entitled to a hearing every two years to determine whether he still poses a danger.

Norten's long history with the criminal justice system began in 1981, when he pleaded guilty to sodomizing a Simi Valley boy. He has acknowledged sexually assaulting at least 100 boys.

During closing arguments Friday, Senior Deputy District Attorney David Lehr told the jury that Norten could regain his sexual drive by injecting testosterone.

Even if he doesn't inject hormones, Lehr said, Norten's habit of befriending little boys and then sexually molesting them stemmed in part from personal problems that still remain, including crushing loneliness.

"The personality issues we're talking about didn't get removed with the surgeon's knife," Lehr said. "Those personality traits ... didn't magically go away with the castration."

Deputy Public Defender Neill Quinn warned jurors to make sure their decision is governed by the law, not their emotions. "You hold the ability to ignore the law in this case and concentrate on all the fears and unknowns," he said. "If you follow the law, there is only one verdict. You don't have sufficient evidence to find he's a sexually violent predator."

If released, Norten plans to live in a rural area in Arizona, where for the first three months he would see a probation officer four times a week and be allowed to leave his home only to go to work and do errands.

Prior to closing arguments, the jury heard testimony from Dr. Robert Owen, a psychiatrist with the California Department of Mental Health.

Owen said Norten's score on the Static 99 test, which measures the likelihood of sexually violent recidivism on a scale of 0 to 12, was 9 both before and after the surgery, although he acknowledged under cross-examination that the test was not designed to evaluate castrates.

However, Owen said that, based on statistics, the odds are good that Norten would not reoffend. Although studies vary, most gauge the recidivism rate for castrated pedophiles at around 3 percent. "The safe bet would be the 97 percent," he said. "Three percent would be the foolish bet."