Alex Blaze

Glenn Murphy's on a sex offender registry, and I do care

Filed By Alex Blaze | June 23, 2008 12:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics, The Movement
Tags: Glenn Murphy, Indiana, sex offender registry, young Republicans

A prominent, up-and-coming Republican gets sentenced in accordance with state law for a sex crime he pled guilty to, and what do I feel?

Concern. For him, not The Children.

Glenn Murphy was the president, for several weeks, of the Young Republicans National Federation and the chair the Clark County, Indiana, Republican Party. After he and another Young Republican spent the night at a friend's house to sleep off a YRNF function, the other Young Republican awoke to find Murphy sucking his cock.

Murphy's defense was consent. Then he apologized for the whole thing. Then his lawyer tried to "come to an understanding" with the victim.

After several other men came forward with similar accusations against him, he pled guilty and got a life sentence.

To a sex offender registry, that is:

The plea bargain calls for a six-year prison term, with four years suspended. That means Murphy could serve only one year in prison under Indiana's policy of reducing a sentence by a day for each day of good behavior.

After leaving prison, Murphy would be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. Carmichael scheduled formal sentencing for June 30, when she will announce her decision on whether to allow the deal.

According to the Indiana Sheriff's Department website, if he stays in Indiana:

  • He will have to verify his address once every 90 days.
  • He will have to report address changes within 72 hours.
  • Neighborhood associations will be notified that a sexually violent predator is living in their neighborhood (yes, he has to register as a "sexually violent predator").
  • Anyone in the state can look up his name and find out that he's a sexually violent predator.
  • He will have to report any absence from his primary address for more than 72 hours for the rest of his life.
  • He will never be allowed to work or volunteer on school property, at a youth program center, or at a public park.
  • He will first be able to appeal his status as a "sexually violent predator" 11 years from now.

I'm fully respectful of what the victim went through, the humiliation and mental suffering, by being forced to participate in sex when he didn't want to. No one should have to wake up to such a humiliating experience, and no one should be put in the position of absolute powerlessness that sexual assault puts them in.

What Glenn Murphy did was wrong and he deserves to be punished. I'm sure he has some issues to work through as well, so he also needs treatment. And if we live in a humane society, both he and the victim would be able to get access to a psychologist to help them through this (I have no idea if that's what they're getting or not).

But the punishment still seems a bit... harsh. One might say cruel.

The two years of prison? Absolutely. The life-long registering as a "sexually violent predator"? Weren't we supposed to give people a chance to reform?

Imagine being told that a "sexually violent predator" was living next door to you. It's not just some gossip telling you this, but the state of Indiana. Do you feel afraid? Should you feel afraid?

But the worst part is all the people who are going to see that he's a "sexually violent predator," worse than a regular sex offender, and harass him till he moves out. These laws were implemented under hysteria surrounding sex offenders and anxiety around sex, not any evidence that they prevent sex crimes.

Being demonized in this way prevents these people from finding work, finding stable housing, and leading fulfilling lives. From Human Rights Watch:

Laws aimed at people convicted of sex offenses may not protect children from sex crimes but do lead to harassment, ostracism and even violence against former offenders, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Human Rights Watch urges the reform of state and federal registration and community notification laws, and the elimination of residency restrictions, because they violate basic rights of former offenders.[...]

The 146-page report, "No Easy Answers: Sex Offender Laws in the United States," is the first comprehensive study of US sex offender policies, their public safety impact, and the effect they have on former offenders and their families. During two years of investigation for this report, Human Rights Watch researchers conducted over 200 interviews with victims of sexual violence and their relatives, former offenders, law enforcement and government officials, treatment providers, researchers, and child safety advocates.

"Human Rights Watch shares the public's goal of protecting children from sex abuse," said Jamie Fellner, director of the US program at Human Rights Watch. "But current laws are ill-conceived and poorly crafted. Protecting children requires a more thoughtful and comprehensive approach than politicians have been willing to support."

In many states, registration covers everyone convicted of a sexual crime, which can range from child rape to consensual teenage sex, and regardless of their potential future threat to children. Unfettered public access to online sex-offender registries with no "need-to-know" restrictions exposes former offenders to the risk that individuals will act on this information in irresponsible and even unlawful ways. There is little evidence that this form of community notification prevents sexual violence. Residency restrictions banish former offenders from entire towns and cities, forcing them to live far from homes, families, jobs and treatment, and hindering law-enforcement supervision. Residency restrictions are counterproductive to public safety and harmful to former offenders.

Sex offender laws reflect public concern that children are at grave risk of sexual abuse by strangers who are repeat offenders. As the report documents, however, the real risks children face are quite different: government statistics indicate that most sexual abuse of children is committed by family members or trusted authority figures, and by someone who has not previously been convicted of a sex offense.

In addition, the laws reflect the widely shared but erroneous belief that "once a sex offender, always a sex offender." Authoritative studies indicate that three out of four adult offenders do not reoffend. Moreover, treatment can be effective even for people who have committed serious sex crimes.

Various studies have also shown that treatment can reduce recidivism up to 59%.

To access the Indiana sex offender registry page, I had to acknowledge the following:

Information in this registry may not be used to harass or threaten offenders or their families. Harassment, stalking, or threats may violate Indiana law.

Why would they make me read that if they weren't afraid that I might actually do it?

I don't know why he needs to be kept out of parks and school property, either; his crime wasn't against children. There's no reason to believe that he's a pedophile considering that the victim was an adult.

I suppose that as a gay man (like Glenn Murphy, whether he can admit it or not) I'm particularly sensitive to this. I've never done anything like what Murphy did, but, then again, I was raised by a hippie father and a leftist mother who went to college with the resistance to a right-wing Latin American dictatorship. They were both educated, open-minded, and accepting of gay people, and so it was easier for me to accept that part of myself when I came of age than it is for many other gay men.

But if it wasn't? If I turned self-hating gay Republican closet case? Who knows, I might be doing things like Glenn Murphy here or Larry Craig or Mark Foley.

Not that it's that far from me anyway; as recently as 2003 I could have been forced onto a sex offender registry just for having consensual sex with another adult man in the wrong state.

I hope that he gets the treatment he needs. But I also hope that we develop the compassion needed to say, hey, he's guilty of a sex crime, now what can we do to actually improve everyone's lot instead of reaching for the closest knee-jerk reaction?


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On one hand, I agree that the society we live in definitely had a hand in making Murphy the type of desperate, self-hating man that felt he had to initiate sex with an unconscious man. It's sad that he doesn't feel that he can live an open and healthy life.

But on the other hand, forcing yourself on an unconscious person is a serious crime. If it had been a woman that Murphy had assaulted, would his sentence still seem too harsh? The failings of the sex registry aside, I would expect someone who forced himself on a woman to get at least what Murphy got.

elizabeth | June 23, 2008 1:51 PM

I also have major concerns with sex offender registries, for a number of reasons, including those you stated as well as the fact that I think they give a false sense of security (as the vast majority of sexual violence is committed by people known to the victims/survivors, seeing people who commit sexual violence as people on this list, in this registry, Out There, is a pretty dangerous wrong assumption). My problem with this piece, though, is that it feels like you are saying, "All he did was have non-consensual sex with another man! He was dealing with a lot inside! He shouldn't be on this list forever!" To me, though, the fact that (I agree) he shouldn't be forever on a list has nothing to do with the hierarchy of sexual violence and how social stigma against queerness plays into it--it has to do with the fact that lists like this are harmful in so many different ways, to everyone in a community, and even when people do really awful things--like raping someone, which is what I would consider this to be, as laws vary by state and country--putting them on such a list does not help keep people safer and does not give the offender any reason, or opportunity, to try to be accountable and change their actions.

The purpose of sex offender registries isn't to punish. The punishment is jail time. They're only meant to keep people safe.

The point of bringing up the gay stuff was to show that what Glenn did is treatable. I don't think (and this is my far-removed-from-the-situation perspective) that he is at all "once a sexual predator, always a sexual predator." I don't think we've seen any evidence that he'll lurk around schools waiting for an eight-year-old boy to grab and kidnap.

I do think that when his neighbors find out he's a "sexually violent predator," they'll make the assumption that he'll be waiting in the dark, behind the bushes, knife in hand, ready to rape a woman. I don't think we've seen any evidence that that's him.

The punishment for his crime was the 2 years. If we think he deserved more, that's another debate. The sex offender registry is meant to protect the community. It won't protect the community, but therapy would. That's my argument.

I completely support challenging sex offender registries, and the criminal justice system in general, as a means for addressing this type of crime.

The sex offender registry is meant to protect the community. It won't protect the community, but therapy would. That's my argument.

I agree with you there. But I take huge issue with this idea:

If I turned self-hating gay Republican closet case? I might be doing things like Glenn Murphy here or Larry Craig or Mark Foley.

Larry Craig was cruising for consensual sex in a public space. Glenn Murphy on the other hand sexually assaulted multiple people. The two are worlds apart, and I'm really shocked that you'd lump them together so casually.

I reject the notion that being a closet case leads one to commit sexual assault anymore than being out prevents one from doing so.

Nick~ I actually think that our demonizing sex crimes beyond any recognition that we all have the ability/potential to commit them prevents us from finding effective solutions. My point with that statement, in that paragraph, was that I am looking for a way to identify with three prominent gay/homosexual/queer men who either are or will have to register as sex offenders (actually, how did that Mark Foley case turn out?).

Maybe if I were a total closet case I wouldn't be like any of them. Maybe there's nothing that could change about my social position or upbringing that will make me do what any of the three of them did. I'd at least like to keep myself open to the possibility that I could be both victim and perpetrator in all those cases to maintain some perspective and compassion.

I'm also totally against lumping various sex crimes together in terms of degree is wrong, as that's pretty much what this post was about. Those three examples were picked because they were so different (unconsenting adult gets dick sucked, one tries to have public sex with another consenting adult, another perved, possibly more, on consenting minors). And yet they all have to or will have to register.

I don't know about a relationship between the closet and their crimes, hence the word "might." But I do know that the closet cases I've met have been pretty creepy, and that desperation and unexpressed desire make people act out stupidly, aggressively, and in a weird combination of cautious and dangerous.

To protect the community...

...so how does the murderer registry work? Where can I find who's on the assault and battery list? How long has there been an arsonist list?

That we have a lifetime registry for sexual offenders (including consensual sex with a minor teen offenses) and no such registry for people with a history of violent behavior speaks much more about our sexual hangups than anything else.

I actually think that our demonizing sex crimes beyond any recognition that we all have the ability/potential to commit them prevents us from finding effective solutions.

That is such an important point. I really like that part of what you're saying, and your comment cleared up a lot of my concerns. But this language is problematic for me:

unconsenting adult gets dick sucked

It's passive. The other two examples you give focus on the actions of Craig and Foley, but this one focuses all the attention on the survivor. Instead it should read something like: "one sexually assaults a sleeping adult, one tries to have public sex with another consenting adult, another perved, possibly more, on consenting minors".

Do you see the difference? I’m reminded of this article on the grammar of male violence.

Actually, yeah, I saw the difference when I was writing, but as a parallellity issue. But I just thought (really, I think like this), It's just a comment, there's no need for that level of formality.

You're right. Thanks for pointing that out.

Cindi~ Of course those crimes don't get registries!

Jeez, do you want to demonize someone who committed a crime for life? Let them get on with their lives!

"The point of bringing up the gay stuff was to show that what Glenn did is treatable."

No, by your own statistics, it is sometimes treatable, some of the time. There is no fool-proof system, but therapy (which all convicted sex offenders complete as a condition of probation in Indiana) helps the sex offender, and the knowledge of this person's crime helps the community. Not a perfect system, but it sure beats just therapy.

See, that's the thing that really sucks when you finally get busted for molesting multiple men while they sleep-the consequences tend to follow you around for life. Hindsight is 20/20. Sucks he has to fill out all this paperwork and be a pariah, but I'd rather take my chances on that and give an innocent person a chance to arm themselves with knowledge than have someone be victimized again all in the name of letting him get on with his life.

And this is a whole other can of worms, but what exactly is wrong with shame as punishment? Perhaps we wouldn't have a lot of the crime we do today if it still carried the stigma it used to. In today's world, we glamorize crime, we don't condemn it.

And I think you are incorrect about Larry Craig having to register as a sex offender, but please correct me if I am wrong.

Ah, Chuck.

Not a perfect system, but it sure beats just therapy.

Prove it. Please. Prove that sex offender registries reduce recidivism.

See, that's the thing that really sucks when you finally get busted for molesting multiple men while they sleep-the consequences tend to follow you around for life.

Actually, no. He was busted for molesting one man. The others said they'd testify if there was a trial, but there wasn't, that his charge was related just to the victim in Cook County.

Sucks he has to fill out all this paperwork and be a pariah, but I'd rather take my chances on that and give an innocent person a chance to arm themselves with knowledge than have someone be victimized again all in the name of letting him get on with his life.

Please explain how labeling him as a "violent sexual predator" will prevent someone else from getting victimized. The victim in this case wasn't his neighbor and never would have looked him up on a registry even if he were on one.

what exactly is wrong with shame as punishment?

Who's talking about shame?

And we aren't talking about punishment, we're talking about sex offender registries. If you want to say that 2 years isn't enough, please articulate that.

Re Larry Craig, yeah, my comments response to Nick was inaccurate. I can't find anything about him having to register as a sex offender. He pleaded himself down.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 23, 2008 10:09 PM

And you make a good point about him having "pleaded himself down" Alex. The older, and better connected, who have perhaps done ten times the harm get do do that which is why the judicial system is unfair to younger persons and minorities.

But Glen Murphy is 33 and was obviously taking advantage of a younger person. OK, one person complained and a few brave young hetero men/boys allowed they would testify against him if it went to trial. By my gay math (and abusers of this type I have known) he has performed this act not on one, six, or a dozen, but hundreds who will not testify.

I have long felt that there had to be a connection between childhood sexual abuse and the rabid hatred of Gay people by some hetero men. If you look on the data bases for sexual predators you will find them in every community, or any size,across the country.

Yes, punishment and two years will be adequate considering what could likely happen to him in prison. Yes counseling, to control his problem and allow him to develop real relationships with people. Yes monitoring, because it is the law. If you dislike the law a movement must be begun to overturn it. As an abuse survivor myself I would have to say I will not be participating in that one.

"Prove it. Please. Prove that sex offender registries reduce recidivism."

I never said it did. I said "There is no fool-proof system, but therapy (which all convicted sex offenders complete as a condition of probation in Indiana) helps the sex offender, and the knowledge of this person's crime helps the community. Not a perfect system, but it sure beats just therapy."

By that, I mean the knowledge arms the community with the ability to be vigilant against the offender. Sometimes the best recidivism is avoidance, which is why even after therapists say sex offenders are "cured" they still urge them to avoid contact with tempting situations.

"Actually, no. He was busted for molesting one man. The others said they'd testify if there was a trial, but there wasn't, that his charge was related just to the victim in Cook County."

You are splitting hairs there. And you will recall that it was the Judge's decision that the prior bad acts of the defendant could be used against him at trial that persuaded him to plead guilty. The standard for 404b evidence is pretty high, and requires among other things, that the Judge find the witnesses to be credible. Murphy and his lawyer must have thought they were too, since they hot footed to a plea when the ruling went against them.

"Please explain how labeling him as a "violent sexual predator" will prevent someone else from getting victimized. The victim in this case wasn't his neighbor and never would have looked him up on a registry even if he were on one."

Well, if just one person avoids another Murphy sleepover as a result of this, the registry will have done it's job.

"Who's talking about shame?"

Never said you were. That is why I began that sentence with "And this is a whole other can of worms."

"Re Larry Craig, yeah, my comments response to Nick was inaccurate. I can't find anything about him having to register as a sex offender. He pleaded himself down."

I don't believe that even the lead charge Craig was charged with was a registerable offense in Minnesota. Proof?

Robert, I hope this question isn't too uncomfortable, but at what age did you experience sexual abuse? It could be argued that depending on the age category, crimes can be more heinous than others.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 24, 2008 5:18 AM

Ten, through sixteen, sporadically by my father's best friend. I did not ask for it, (even if I had it would have been wrong) I did not know what to do about it (was embarrassed by it and thought it was my fault) and I know I was not the only victim. And no, in 1963 I could not have talked to my parents about it.

When I find out someone is a "chicken hawk" I just get away from them. When I came out and we were all in the same boat according to the APA these guys loved to hover around the social edges at college campuses looking for their next victim, and brag about how young they were among themselves. In smallass Lafayette Indiana I knew two different men past fifty who were only interested in those under eighteen in 1972. One of them, surprise, was a scout leader and the other was an opportunist with runaway teens. They still make my skin crawl.

And their heterosexual victims walk through their lives not talking about it out of fear, ignorance and the embarrassment of exposure. I believe that they are also the hard core Gay haters. I believe Human Rights Watch is correct. There are no easy answers. I do not believe Glen Murphy is necessarily a gay man. Predators thrive on having others in their control.

My opinion, my observation at ground zero, and enough said. Thank you for your posing Alex.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | June 24, 2008 8:00 PM

I called the folks vetting Republican vice-presidential running mates for John McCain to ask them if they would have automatically taken Larry Craig off their "short list" had he been on the sex offender registry. They said that under no circumstances would they have put Larry on the "short list", regardles of registry status. Do you see any sigificance in that?

how can anyone complain about a sex offender registery?! you'd have to be a sex offender yourself to have an issue with it. if some guy goes around blowing other guys, or anyone for that nature while they're sleeping, passed out or whatever, guess what? they're a sex offender. it's part of the freakin definition. just MAYBE if he was experimenting this one time, but u even say in the article that there's been numerous offenses in the past. so he's a REPEAT sex offender. don't defend him! wierdo. would u say the same if you were the victim???