Sympathy for the Devils: Should Sex Offenders Have More Rights or None at All?

Sympathy for the Devils: Should Sex Offenders Have More Rights or None at All?
Illustration by Brian Stauffer

On a blue, sun-soaked Saturday in December 2007, Valerie Parkhurst's white Suburban took the asphalt at a purposeful creep past the blocks of modest ranch homes between Griffin Road and 595. The city of Davie was still blue-collar at the core, but the edges were going. Here, you'd see an unruly lawn; there, a jaundiced house front crying out for a new coat of paint. Back when Parkhurst was a single mom in the '70s and '80s, it was all good ol' boys, pickups filling every driveway. Everyone knew everyone — or at least thought they did. That was before the sex offender registry revealed the boogeymen down the street.

The same cheap real estate that lured young families had also brought the "freaks," "the sick fucks," and "the worthless examples of human DNA," as Parkhurst would call them. Rapists. Child molesters. Kiddie porn fiends.

Parkhurst had anointed herself a one-woman line of defense for the 33314 ZIP code. "I didn't choose this fight," she was fond of saying. "It chose me."

After Gail Colletta's son was busted for child porn, she began crusading for more lenient laws.
Monica McGivern
After Gail Colletta's son was busted for child porn, she began crusading for more lenient laws.
Damian Garcia's family might lose their home due to a Lake Worth ordinance restricting where sex offenders can live.
Kyle Swenson
Damian Garcia's family might lose their home due to a Lake Worth ordinance restricting where sex offenders can live.

It didn't have exactly the same adrenaline kick as her usual sport, knocking through the Everglades harpooning gators. But every morning, she scrolled through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's sex offender database to see whether any criminals had been released into her neighborhood. She checked news stories about offenders striking again. In her mind, every name was a possible time bomb ticking down to the next boom. Her job was to publicize where these scumbags lived so good people could steer clear.

She pulled into the parking lot of a yellow two-story apartment complex and killed the engine. Dressed in cotton drawstring capri pants and a white T-shirt, Parkhurst, then 52, moved from car to car, slipping fliers underneath windshield wipers. They warned neighbors that Dale Weeks had been convicted of sexual battery and imprisonment in 1995 — the latest entry in a criminal career including battery and grand theft. He was such a sicko that he requested the police evidence photos of his victim's genitals.

A chunky Hispanic woman approached Parkhurst and asked what she was doing. Parkhurst spotted a husky guy with graying hair pop out from one of the apartments — Weeks. Parkhurst sensed the two were an item. "I'm just telling you," she said in her tough-gal voice, "that we want him out."

Two hours later, Parkhurst was hunting a Davie side street for another bad guy. In her rearview mirror, she noticed a Chevy Lumina riding her bumper. Weeks was riding shotgun; his girlfriend was behind the wheel.

Oh, Valerie thought, they wanna play.

The street dead-ended. The Lumina behind her, Parkhurst was trapped. She tossed the Suburban into park and hopped out.

"Are you following me?" she shouted. "Move your fucking car! You're a convicted sex offender. You'll go to jail for this shit."

"You no good fucking bitch," Weeks growled and moved from the car, Parkhurst remembers.

Her 9mm Glock was tucked on the floor, as always. She ripped it from the Velcro holster, squared up in a two-handed range stance, a trigger pull away from standing her ground.

Weeks' woman was pulling at his side. When the two retreated back to their car and inched it back, Parkhurst did the same. But the Lumina halted. The passenger door shot back open.

Oh fuck me, Parkhurst thought.

This time, she emerged from her car with a 20-gauge Remington automatic shotgun. "I've got no problem killing you," she announced.

By the time officers arrived to cuff Parkhurst for aggravated assault with a firearm and carrying a concealed gun without a license, both parties had cooled and were sitting in their vehicles.

This high-noon suburban standoff caused a minor rumble in the local media. But to a small but intense niche scattered across the country, it gave Parkhurst hero status. In online forums where they religiously gathered, vigilantes and sex offender watch groups cheered Parkhurst by her online handle, "the Valigator." She'd faced down the bad guy without blinking. "I should have put a bullet through his head," she'd say later.

But for every one of these hardliners, there was an equal and opposite force. Another group was emerging — people who dared to stand up for sex offenders, arguing that they'd done their time and paid their price to society. Yet the sex offender registry — an indignity faced by no other type of criminal — left them ostracized, sometimes unfairly and often for life. It eliminated any hope of rehabilitation or reintegration into society. The registry needed to be reformed, they argued.

Both the hardliners and the reformers say the current system of sex offender management is flawed — but they have radically different ideas about what should be changed. These opposing groups are embroiled in an intense, ugly face-off about whether the lowest of society's low should have more rights — or almost none at all.

Only 40 miles to the north of the Valigator, another suburban mom was quickly becoming a flag bearer for the opposite team.


Gail Colletta, a blond marketing executive, hadn't even had time to change out of the oversized T-shirt she wore to bed when the knock came at the door of her Boynton Beach villa in July 2009. Her husband, Julius, was in the shower. After a tense run of sleepless nights, Alex, her 21-year-old son, was finally passed out in bed. She saw a caravan of police cars. One of the neighbors must need help, she thought.

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148 comments
bama.nutzgaming
bama.nutzgaming

Ok, murderers, drug dealers, meth makers, drug users, duis, home invasions, fraud, gang violence. all these horrible people are treated soooo much better than any sex offender for any reason from the littlest crime up to what they should be put to death for. I do agree with val that the ones that raped children over and over should be put to death for in prison, general population (where someone will put them to do) for life. statutory rape would be the only crime that should not be registered for life nor should it have an outcome for life for the individual. in my state, statutory rape carries a min to max sentence of 1 to 2 years. registry for life is not forced for it. registry for the term of probation is. I know someone here with that charge that now is trying to steer those with a sexual problem to late teens away from this life. He meets with officials to find these individuals and get them into therapy before its too late. He is no longer on the registry as of December 30 2013. Should he die too? Should he be shunned for a mistake he made at the age of 20 with a girl that was 3 years younger? No. some homicides and even murderers go on to do small prison time between 4 and 20 years, do 5 years of parole after release and is longer looked after by the probation or parole or community. How is this ok for you? Drug dealers have taken the lives of millions and millions of kids and adults, but you let them go free before a sex offender. Reoffending people will always be there but not only sex offenders and not a lot of them. Drugs and dui offenders are more likely to reoffend than sex offenders. Oh yea and that guy that I have told you about. its me. I really wish you would try and come up here to my state of Tennessee and tell me where I can and cannot live. I really wish you would pull a weapon out on me in my front yard. I messed up once. Now I am trying to change things here before anyone else makes that same mistake. I really wish you would travel with your little group of advocates and find me and threaten. I wish you would. For these other commenters, let it be, lets see if shes all that she says she is. lets see if she has the balls to come up to my property and start some bs. I am not the typical ex sex offender. I fight for the would be victims now, while going to school to better my life and work on some hobbies like new culinary masterpieces in the bbq section. I help my elderly parents out. I help my father out, a bronze star recipient from the United States of America. I support my marine brother and cherish the niece that was born 5 days ago. I love my country and now im a law abiding citizen. As a matter of fact of reoffending, you reoffend quite a lot. Hypocrite much? aggravated assault in Tennessee is a felony. oh yea and im muslim on top of it but my religious beliefs do not sway my community beliefs. Stop judging people that have already been judged. Stop judging criminals since you yourself are one. You should know better. I bet you try to tell me that your crime was for the good of society but that's not right, no crime is good for society. Learn to live with all people. I wish you would be what you say you are and say something to me.

blastout
blastout

Yeah whateveryousay... How did U learn to be so crazy... ?? I hear Ur getting ready for that big dirt nap... What happened..?



whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

I'm sick and tired of sex offenders saying that they have "served their sentence" or "done their time." If your sentence includes being on the registry, then your sentence isn't complete until you are taking the big dirt nap. Enjoy!  Remember why you are on it.

val03
val03

In as much as I was pleased with the article I doubt more could have been accomplished than reading the comments under the article. They give a very real insight to the mindsets of offenders that most people would not be privy too. Oncefallen aka Derek Logue and Gail Colletta are very close and piggyback off each others statements and opinions. They communicate daily along with other "minutemen" to bombard any articles that profile more stringent laws or actions against sex offenders. Yet they wont bother to "log-in" on an article that shows the pure depths of evil these diviants will engage in. Their single minded goal is to abolish the registry and make sex crimes a mental illness not a criminal felony. These groups umbrella any offender with any crime under their belt to Stand as A United Front to alleviate any repercussions for these crimes.  Valerie Parkhurst

darthjohnny48
darthjohnny48

This "Valerie person" is a gun toting nut and the spokesperson of a closet fascist constituency. She speaks for cowards, who are little better than closet perverts themselves - hiding behind the idea of a "silent majority". She should stand her ground with the alligators, while her followers should be ostracized and forced to live and fester under the bridges of other offenders - their kin.

hlain9152
hlain9152 topcommenter

So apparently you have an obsession with this Valerie person. You're the hate-obsessed freak. Idiot perv.

DrCroland
DrCroland

Thank you for putting a human face on those people whom all of society has turned their back on, sometimes for reasons that would make little sense in most other countries. In the case of Damian Garcia, for instance, had he been 1 year younger at the time, the consensual relationship he had would not have been technically between an "adult" and a "child". But "sexual offenders" have become the target of a modern-day Salem witch hunt, and our society has become so ridiculously paranoid that even an iconic image like the Coppertone girl's tushy can longer be shown. Yet all kinds of illicit images are floating about in cyberspace that could destroy a person's life if they were to click on them, even by accident... I accept the fact that Big Brother is watching and privacy is dead, but can't someone do more to educate people? Btw Valerie Parkhurst is a vicious and dirty lowlife who gets her kicks out of bullying people who have already paid their debt. It's too bad that, back when she used to shoot alligators, one of them didn't take its revenge on her. At least they have a place in the natural food chain and are useless, sadistic parasites.

borninlyoko
borninlyoko

What people seem to not get is that there are a lot of things that can brand you a sex offender or a child molestor. Do people deserve to die or lose any chance at a decent life because of a mistake? No. If someone's wrongfully convicted of a sex crime, they're essentially dead to society. Are there some people who deserve to spend the rest of their life behind bars? Definitely. Does every person on that list? No way in hell. Am I a sex offender? No. Do I sympathize with some of them? Yes, because some people make stupid mistakes. Do I sympathize with all of them? No. But people like Parkhurst can and will drive people to suicide. I know some of you will jump up and down, and celebrate like the Fourth of July, but if any of you were branded a sex offender, how would you react to Parkhurst handing out fliers denouncing you as the lowlife scum of the earth? I hope to hear from some of you, and see what your responses are to this.

LawCheck
LawCheck

@whateveryousay  

Then why should murderers receive sentences that are often more mild? You're using the criminal justice system for nefarious purposes and it's starting to burden law abiding, morally upstanding citizens because we can tell the difference between the truly dangerous offenders and the ones who aren't. 

LawCheck
LawCheck

@val03  

I don't think you can lump them all together like that. It's counter-productive. 

val03
val03

. They use false(low) reoffend rates and vigilanti articles to highlight their efforts. What they wont tell you is 97% of vigilanti actions towards sex offenders are committed by family or aquaintances of the family after the offender has targeted a victim within that circle. Sex offenders and their advocates use the "18 year old having consentual sex with their underage girlfriend" as their mantra for reform. In the registries heyday any person looking at any registry would have been hardpressed to find that conviction. It has never been as common as these Pro-offender groups infer it is. The truth is, offenders do not want the Romeos removed due to the nature of "their" convictions and that they wont qualify for removal. Thus the push to abolish the registry all together. Ask any offender what his crime was and he will hide "behind the Romeo scenario" . Offenders Lie, they all LIE. Never take an offenders word for the circumstances of their conviction. Court transcripts are the only reliable source. ..Valerie Parkhurst.

whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

@darthjohnny48 God bless her.  Sexual predators are nothing but human waste.  From the eyes of the victim motive doesn't mean a thing. 

The registry should be far more comprehensive and include current photos, residences and work places if any.  

val03
val03

DarthJohnny is a Dade county sex offender who has some very real issues that his Twitter account screams loud and clear. Seems Mr. McLeod likes the sexual stimulation that "feathers" give him hense the name "Featherdude" and of course Child Porn. He rates the best FREE Wi-fi places that  he can get to on his bicycle (really like Dunkin Donuts)  and enjoys hanging out at the West Dade, Concorde and Kendall Libraries. Complains his meds arent balanced and his boat is always broken. Mom and sister take him to breakfast and dinner at least 5 times a week and touts himself as a maintence man who doesnt seem to work much. Cant seem to stay too far from the States oversight due to a couple of VOP's and couldnt walk the straight and narrow if an arrow was painted on the ground for him.

centaurea
centaurea

@darthjohnny48 Dude, my only regret is that the alligators didn't have her for lunch when she was taking her cowardly pot-shots at them. At least they have a rightful place in the natural world, which is more than can be said for her.

centaurea
centaurea

@hlain9152Pssst...  "hlain9152" and Valerie Prickhurst are one and the same. Pass it on

whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

@DrCroland The witches were innocent.  Convicted sex offenders are not.  Some would argue quite successfully that sexual predators are sadistic parasites.

val03
val03

My you boys have been busy..I like Damian Garcia. He is a good guy and should be able to petition off the registry. My opinion is he doesnt pose a threat to anyone. You happy now?

hlain9152
hlain9152 topcommenter

@DrCroland A convicted sex offender calling someone else a sadistic parasite. What a fucking joke!

centaurea
centaurea

@DrCroland I think you actually meant to say that unlike Parkhurst, the alligators are NOT useless, sadistic parasites.   :-)

whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

@borninlyoko The victim of the "mistake" is often of child who's entire life is ruined because of "just one mistake."

Remember that the victims lives are usually destroyed.  The numbers of alcoholics, drug addicts and suicides that are created by "just one mistake" are staggering.  

val03
val03

umm almost brought a tear to my eye borninlyoko, almost but not quite. I only focus on the worst of the worst which obviously sex offenders cant quite seem to grasp what that definition might be. I dont like sex offenders who kidnap, rape, torture and attempt to chew the genitals off their victims, but for guys like you I am sure he (Dale Weeks) would become a platinum member of your "poor poor sex offender club" or be categorized as "people just make stupid mistake" fraternity..right?

cpelata
cpelata

@borninlyoko What about the victims of your/their crime? Do they ever really get peace?

whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

@LawCheck  If you make an assumption that makes your point of view weak. Do you assume I support milder sentences for murderers?  I do not.  I think they should be more harsh than that of sex offenders.  I do not support weakening sexual offender sentences, I support making the punishment for murders harsher. I am not using the criminal justice system for nefarious purposes.  The sex offender registries have been found to be constitutional.  I support the registry and am happy it keeps it's boot on the necks of sexual offenders.  Judging the danger level of sexual offenders is subjective and I side with caution.  Sexual offenders deserve the registry and will where it around their necks for all to see. They should feel lucky to be free in society at all.

bama.nutzgaming
bama.nutzgaming

@val03 no they don't, I don't see anyone saying anything about tupac when he went upstate of sexual abuse, tis a sex crime, he was a sex offender. but you say nothing. I did a crime that included someone 3 years younger than me hence statutory rape, mitigated. I am free of all obligation, I have a beautiful job making 2 grand a week, more than non offenders. hell I might make more than or close to what you make. imagine that. a person with a sexual conviction still in school, still trying to make his life better than what it was after the conviction. that person not giving up on what his life had been but instead trying to make his life better than it ever was. I didn't lie about mine, I plead guilty, I been doin what I am supposed to do. I don't look over my shoulder or live in fear. why did you pull a gun out on someone that you started harassing? are you gonna use the he is a sex offender and I am an outstanding citizen scenario?

whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

@val03 Keep up the great work!  Pedos and predators need to be in the public's eye all of the time.

barefootmama0709
barefootmama0709

@val03 If you're going to be a "vigilanti", learn how to spell it. Christ. And if you haven't learned yet that people's words often get twisted in court cases, you probably never will.

bama.nutzgaming
bama.nutzgaming

@whateveryousay@darthjohnny48 I agree, it should include all of that, but it should include little dick riders like yourself lol, youre pathetic my dude, straight pathetic, I wish you and val would come to dinner soon with my city, please start traveling that would entertain me. you use fear towards the general public to get your voices heard, lol its soooooo cute. I use facts and logic. watch what I can do.

val03
val03

Centaurea is another  angry sex offender who has a real problem with the "truth" kinda like he had in front of the judge that convicted him.

centaurea
centaurea

@val03 No Valerie I am not yet happy... although this surprising statement by you may be a small step in the right direction, it is only words not backed by deeds. Also, you still are lumping all "offenders" together whether they actually have hurt someone or not. It is extremely cruel and unconscionable that you would want a person like Alex Colletta to be locked up for ten years together with real rapists and pedophiles, when all he did was download some pictures that were made by someone else. He needs psychiatric help but not to be locked up with hardened criminals. Incidentally, YOU are a criminal yourself and it is my fervent hope that you soon get a taste of your own medicine.

centaurea
centaurea

@terriers2 @DrCroland You two idiots are sicker than the sex offenders. Why don't you both take good look at that butt-ugly Valerie bitch and turn to stone?

centaurea
centaurea

@hlain9152 @DrCroland Oh there you are again, you clearly are a disgusting hater who enjoys torturing people, even after they have already been punished, just like that Meduda hag herself. Why don't you two get married? You sicken me.

LawCheck
LawCheck

@whateveryousay who writes:

 "Remember that the victims lives are usually destroyed.  The numbers of alcoholics, drug addicts and suicides that are created by "just one mistake" are staggering.  "

Obviously, this is true at least some of the time. However, there are many cases where there a victim doesn't even clearly exist. In Ashcroft v. Free Speech coalition, images considered pornographic weren't even of real children, but were drawings. In Handley v. United States, the same thing happened; no real children were even involved. Crimes against virtual victims should be punished by sending people to virtual prisons.  

"The numbers of alcoholics, drug addicts and suicides that are created by "just one mistake" are staggering.  "

More research of a higher quality, research that doesn't lump many different types of crimes together, needs to be conducted to see if the punishment is fitting the crime in most cases. In many cases, I suspect it is counterproductive and causing far more damage to the offender than the offender's crime caused the victim to experience. Look at how William Elliott basically got the death penalty in Maine due to the registration requirements because he had relations he and his victim believed to be consensual at the age of 19 when his victim was 15; his victim believed she was consenting. William Elliott was murdered. Who experienced greater harm? Elliott, or his "victim?" The next time you watch Nancy Grace, think about that.

bama.nutzgaming
bama.nutzgaming

@val03 you made a few mistakes criminally also but I will choose to not  let it go and to now ostracize you throughout the US as part of the gun control movement to get crazy dumb hoes like you away from any firearm.

borninlyoko
borninlyoko

I'm trying to figure out which side this comment falls on. And honestly, I lost track of who was whom in this article. Did some people make mistakes? Yes. We're they idiotic mistakes? Definitely. Should someone be punished for the rest of their lives for that? Not necessarily.

borninlyoko
borninlyoko

@cpelata @borninlyoko First of all, I am not a sex offender, second of all, would killing someone, or bringing their face back over and over again in the form of ostracization bring peace to the victims any more than allowing those who are trying to live an honest life after their actions? I do not dispute that there are those who deserve to live out the rest of their natural, or less natural, lives behind bars (depending on the decision of the courts, not the whim of vigilantes). Those who have no interest in reforming themselves. And those that do are subjected to the treatment that Parkhurst has brought upon these people, by the logic of social psychology, are more likely to live up to what is expected of them, which is to relapse into their previous behavior.

LawCheck
LawCheck

@whateveryousay

"The sex offender registries have been found to be constitutional."

Only if it's not punishment, as the court EXPLICITLY wrote. 

In Smith v. Doe, the majority wrote, "Because the Alaska Sex Offender Registration Act is nonpunitive, its retroactive application does not violate the Ex Post Facto Clause." Pp. 4-18. http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=538&invol=84

 

They explicitly said that sex-offender registration was NONPUNITIVE/not considered punishment, and they have never considered the requirements for NON-VIOLENT offenders. If sex-offender registration is to be approached from the perspective of punishment, the perspective you suggest it is the correct one, then the court may very well strike it down.It has never faced an 8th Amendment challenge as far as I know, when the case has concerned a non-violent offender, or any offender. Most of the challenges have concerned ex post facto or due process challenges. 

Furthermore, three judges on the court, Stevens, Breyer, and Ginsburg, known for being the most honest, all dissented so the ruling doesn't have a lot of credibility. 

There needs to be a middle ground. I think Donatello's David(the bronze one) is offensively pornographic, but nobody else seems to agree. Still, I wouldn't throw somebody on the sex-offender registry for showing it. Anybody who is truly dangerous enough to be subject to these types of registration restrictions is too dangerous to let out of prison. 

Society is experiencing tremendous social and economic damage as a result of these vague and selective sex-offender restrictions. Roughly 10-20% of the population over 40 has gone streaking at some point, which is a sex crime. Are you seriously telling me that 10% of the population should be subject to a life-sentence of de facto imprisonment via sex-offender registration? About 25-30% of the population has had sex with someone under the age of 16 while being between the ages of 16-19, which is a sex-crime in most states. Are you telling me that 25% of our population should receive life sentences via sex-offender registration?

Should Thomas Jefferson still be on our money and honored with a memorial even though he had a sexual relationship with a 16 year old girl, while he was in his fifties? 

The difference between you and me is simple: you seek to maximize safety generally even if it comes at the expense of others' liberty, and I seek to maximize liberty for everybody, even if it results in slight loss of safety. The only purpose the sex-offender registry should serve is to protect the public from violent offenders with a VERY HIGH likelihood of re-offending and committing a VIOLENT crime. This rehabilitation-focused penal system is the only way to reduce poverty, generate jobs, and protect children. If you look at how Josh Graven was abused as a child by proxy because of these laws, it's clear that they're failing to protect children.

bama.nutzgaming
bama.nutzgaming

@whateveryousay@val03 while we are at it, since this country is supposed to be built on the phrase all men are created equally, equal opportunity. lets put in the eye, all released convicted murderers, drug dealers, drug users, thieves, alcoholics, no more aa, frauds, extortionists, vandalists, dirty cops, slanderers, since slandering is a crime, bullies, since bullying is a crime. you cannot put in the public eye of the united one group and leave the rest out then that would become a hate crime. lets put the racists out there also, all of them. you sir, are pathetic and you will meet your make far before I will.

bama.nutzgaming
bama.nutzgaming

@darthjohnny48@val03 well it looks like a case of slander against her, doesn't it. shes an aggravated assaultist that still owns weapons. I agree with your statements, and I promise you I will piss tthose two off to the point that they will search for me, hopefully shes a wee bit better than idle threats on the internet.

bama.nutzgaming
bama.nutzgaming

@val03 its hilarious, it really is. the ones that don't agree with you, you slander them saying they are sex offenders. has it occurred to you that maybe youre just a nut job that has no sense of common sense. MAYBE, just maybe, youre a sex offender in hiding, pretending to hate other predators so no one will look into your hard drive? maybe you don't want them to know you secretly like little girls, since your preference is lesbian. maybe you just want to get rid of the other competition to keep the kids to yourself? do you see what speculation gives someone? it gives them power?

centaurea
centaurea

@val03 I am not a sex offender you stupid bitch and never was one. I am just an ordinary citizen who is extremely concerned about the effect that crazed, maniacal vigilantes like you are having on what was once a democracy where people are innocent until proven guilty and if found guilty, are supposed to be free from further torment by freaks like you after they have served their punishment.

whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

@centaurea Even if someone just watches child porn they are guilty.  Some poor kid was abused to make that for the entertainment of the predator.

whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

@centaurea They haven't served out their debt of their debt includes being on the sex-offendor registry.  Remember, a healthy alternative to the sex-offendor registry is an automatic 25 years to life sentence.  The registry is a gift rapists, pedophiles and child porn pushers.

centaurea
centaurea

@hlain9152 @centaurea @DrCroland Valerie... you're an even bigger loser than the people you harass and torture. You have a hate-infested mentality and have forgotten that they are human beings who have already served out their debt, but that's not enough for you... what do you want now, their blood? This is what I meant btw when I said the word parasite.

 
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