Pastoral care of sex offenders II:
Victim or victimless crimes

Although some argue that victimless crimes do not exist, we can in fact distinguish whether sex offenders have committed crimes against a particular person or not.

And this distinction is indispensible when Christian prison ministries ask a church to accept a convicted sex offender as a member.

There are many issues to evaluate before accepting a convicted sex offender as a church member.

The first is whether the offender’s crime involved contact with a real victim or whether it was victimless crime.

That is, do the sex offender’s fantasies become externalized so a real human person experiences the consequences of the offender’s actions, or do the fantasies remain internal...only having an impact on the offender?

So let’s compare victim and victimless crimes by sex offenders and see what might be the implications for church membership on release from prison.

Sexual crimes with victims

There are many crimes of increasing severity when an actual victim is involved with a sex offender. These can range from verbal harassment to rape.

A predatory sex offender requires supervision from law enforcement…from the courts…from the mental health professionals and from the church where the offender is seeking membership.

This creates a possible administrative solution for the church in considering membership for sex offenders who have violated real people.

Church authorities are free to offer conditional membership to a sex offender who has committed a crime against an actual victim.

This would be a formal agreement with the offender that he or she would resign membership in the church…if the offender did not live up to the requirements of the agencies and professionals supervising the offender’s compliance with the conditions of release.


A victimless crime is defined as an activity that is illegal but which causes no discernable physical or mental harm to a real person by the perpetrator. For example…

Here's a no victimless crime offense...

The recapitated decapitated teenage boys

Father Henry had a psychosexual condition known as ephebophilia.

He was a priest for 15 years in a religious order that ministered to youths in the throes of their adolescent sexuality development.

He was referred for residential treatment for alcohol abuse …not for sexual misbehavior.

He had entered a seminary at the age of 14, soon after graduating from grammar school.

Fourteen is the the era in a child’s life when their bodies are changing and their sexual awareness is heightened. At the same time, they learn how to socialize their sexual interest in others in the adolescent peer group. That is, they learn the accepted social actions for expressing romantic and sexual interest in others.

In fantasies there may be no rules for expressing sexual interest in imaginary people. However, in the adolescent peer group teenagers learn the social behavior rules, the boundaries, for expressing their sexual interest in real people.

Father Henry missed this socializing part of his sexual education and development by entering the seminary at an early age. And the lack of any further psychosexual development resulted in the disorder called ephebophilia. His sexual interest was arrested at the age where he stopped developing... early adolescence.

Father Henry’s psychosexual assessment revealed that he was sexually arrested at about 14 years of age, the age he entered a seminary that forbid close friendships and no sexualized behaviors or even sexual thoughts.

His arrested level of development was apparent in his sexual interest which was limited strictly to young adolescent males. He downloaded to his computer sexual images of teenage males. Then he would replace the anonymous model’s face with those faces, cut out of yearbooks, of boys he knew from ministry.

He never said anything inappropriate to any of the boys in his care, and he never touched them, or in any way tried to seduce them. There were no complaints against Father Henry for inappropriate speech or behavior with the boys.

They were simply objects of his fantasy whose faces he superimposed on the bodies of anonymous boys downloaded from web sites. His sincere but sad response to why he did this was “I just wanted to experience the things I’d missed as an adolescent in the seminary.”

His aberrant sexual behavior had no victims.


In terms of risk management by church officials…a person who commits victimless crimes, such as possessing illegal pornography, does not present the same risk issues as someone who seeks experience with actual victims.

Those sex offenders who do not seek and harm victims are more in need of moral rehabilitation, and psychological and social development than they are of punishment. So here's a caveat..

Beware of political correctness

When evaluating sex offenders Church officials considering whether to accept a released sex offender have to be careful not to do their evaluations by using commonly accepted politically correct" "wisdon" and "facts" that are neither proven to be wise nor factual.

For example, for political reasons, some people make statements about pornography that are unsubstantiated by research, case law or experience.

One such pseudo-argument is that pornography degrades women.

While that may be someone’s strong feeling, the assertion is not only subjective opinion but it is incomplete because by the same token pornography is equally degrading to men, and to the people who produce, cast, direct and buy the films.

Pornography is an equal opportunity victimizer...it does not single out women as its only victim.

Another unsupported assertion is that pornography promotes violence against women. But one is hard pressed to find evidence in scientific research or adjudicated cases of violence against women that pornography was even involved let alone the cause of the violence.

Keep in mind that rape of women or rape of men is not about sex, either the pornographic variety or the plain vanilla variety.

Rape is primarily about the assertion of power. It is about violence as an expression of power. It is about anger, degradation, punishment and humiliation of the victim.


Evaluating a sex offender for church membership from the unsubstantiated assertions of gender politics would be an injustice because those assertions may 'convict' the applying member of crimes he or she never contemplated and never commmitted.

Motivation is an important part of any evaluation of a released sex offender...

Victimless crimes and sex offender motivation

Victimless pornography offenses may give church personnel reason to decline to accept such an offender if, after evaluating the situation and the person, they conclude that the sex offender is not likely to be rehabilitated (e.g., frequent recidivism)

The victimless crimes offender may also be dealt with in the same way if conditions of release were imposed on him or her. Such conditions might be counseling… support groups… medication… and so forth.

As part of their pastoral care, church officials could, and should, monitor the sex offender’s compliance with any imposed conditions by seeking periodic reports from the court …mental health professionals …and any others to whom the offender has obligations.

This checking up by church officials is not to add to the police powers already in place for the released sex offender. Rather, it is for the church authorities to assess the motivation of the released sex offender toward spiritual renewal as a member of the church.


Whether the sex offense was victimless crime or directed against a real person is an important part of an evaluation by church officials when a sex offender seeks membership in their church.

From this victimless crimes page you can return to the sex offenders page.

Or you can...



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