Thursday, April 12, 2007

Sex predator’s counselor overdoes rehabilitation

Sex predator’s counselor overdoes rehabilitation

The things people do.

That’s what we’re thinking, shaking our heads, about the state rehabilitation counselor who apparently got excessively chummy with a convicted rapist in her charge.

But there’s really nothing funny about the incident, which occurred Sunday in Lakewood. The counselor’s lapse in judgment could have had tragic consequences.

According to Lakewood police, the counselor was supposed to be escorting one of her clients, Casper Ross, on a visit to a relative’s home in Lakewood.

Casper isn’t just any client. Convicted of raping a 12-year-old girl in 1987, he has been undergoing treatment at the McNeil Island Special Commitment Center, which houses sexual predators considered too dangerous to release after their prison sentences end. Casper has admitted six incidents of “rape behavior,” according to records.

One thing the incident demonstrated is that Lakewood police officers are doing their jobs. Officers occasionally check to see if commitment center residents and their escorts are following the rules established for off-island visits.

Counselors considered Ross at low-risk “for sexually acting out,” which was one reason he was allowed to make the trip to Lakewood.

But the officer checking up on Ross at what was supposedly his relative’s home discovered that the counselor’s state car wasn’t parked out front as required. That led to much banging on doors and windows.

Eventually the officer was admitted inside, where he first encountered a disheveled counselor, then Ross strolling out of the bedroom, buckling his belt. It sounds like a scene from a TV sit-com. No laugh track here, though.

Both Ross and his counselor are in a lot of trouble. The counselor has been placed on leave. Ross isn’t going to be visiting any relatives on the mainland for a while.

Lakewood officials, naturally, demanded an explanation from authorities at the commitment center. An investigation is underway. It goes without saying that sexual contact between commitment center residents and staff members is forbidden.

For some people, sex truly addles the brain. It’s not reassuring for Lakewood residents to think that the urge can so overwhelm the judgment of someone trained to work with sex predators.

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