By Joanna Small
A US Department of Justice study shows female sex offenders tend to get more lenient sentences than men who commit the same or similar crimes, and the same goes for perpetrators in the Ozarks.
SPRINGFIELD - There's not a lot of hard data about this but there are anecdotes. Courts tend to be more sympathetic towards women offenders. Their sexual crimes are rarely violent and most often statutory with older teenage victims. One mother tells us that shouldn't matter.
"Our boy is a hero for going through the court system."
We first talked to this Ozarks mother a year and a half ago when [name withheld] faced three counts of felony statutory rape in two Ozarks counties for having sex with a 14-year-old.[name withheld] 's set for sentencing on two of the counts at the end of the month.
"Being she's a woman I don't know if it's going as hard as if she was a man. I feel like a man gets put in jail right away and she should have been put in jail right away," the mother tells us.
Instead [name withheld] posted a $10,000 bond, twice, and moved just five miles from the family. And she'll stay there if she gets probation as her attorneys have requested.
"It's been really hard; I would not wish this upon an enemy. My family was all torn apart."
Mom may be right to be concerned. A ten-year long study of the US Department of Justice shows female sex offenders tend to get lighter sentences. Although the same percentage of offenders for both sexes tend to do jail time, women typically do less. Men's sentences are between 6 and 31% longer than women's for the same or similar crime.
"I think if you look at the community there are still stereotypes that women don't pose as much a threat as men," explains Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson.
Maybe that's why then 23-year-old teacher [name withheld] got five years probation for having sex with a student in three different counties. Only after probation violations and failing to register as a sex offender twice was she sentenced to prison time.
[name withheld], charged with raping and sodomizing a 10-year-old boy for two years, got seven years. Patterson says the offenders gender is moot when he seeks a sentence, yet: "There's a misperception that males are not as traumatized by sex acts performed or by psychological effects after."
"Because it happened to be a woman with a boy the world tends to pat a boy on the back and not have that much sympathy for him, but at the same time he's a child and she's an adult," the mother from the beginning of our story concludes.
We took a look at a few similar statutory rape and sodomy cases in the Ozarks where the offenders were men. [name withheld] is serving 20 years in prison for sex acts with a child under 14-- remember [name withheld] got seven.
[name withheld] got four years for sex with a 14-year-old, while [name withheld] originally got probation.
Patterson also tells us many sex offenders were themselves victims at one time in their lives, and women abused as children tend to elicit more sympathy in sentencing than men who were abused.