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The Sex-Offender Test

How a computerized assessment can help determine the fate of men who’ve been accused of sexually abusing children. Full Article

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  1. ab

    Not sure I have taken the exact test described, but I have taken a visual reaction test. What the article does not mention is the clinician who sets up the test or maybe even the directions ask the test taker to imagine wanting to do something sexual with the people depicted.

    First of all none of the people are doing anything suggestive (which is largely a subjective determination anyway), but whatever, try to imagine non sexual images as having sexual context. Second just because someone might be more interested in an one image over another doesn’t mean their interest is sexual. Yet because these tests are measured through a biased perspective of course the results will be skewed

    • mch

      I had to take a variety of weird tests prior to sentencing. The results, as interpreted by the court ordered, state paid psychiatrist would determine whether I got probation or prison. Strange, strange tests of different eyes, face shapes, family history, personal history, etc…four hours total. Modern quackology at it’s finest, and a fat payday for the shrink.
      The written assessment was a joke, a stretch to find something they could hang me on, but there was nothing. It was full of words like “may be, might be, could be, is possible, may not and so on… but no concrete, factual data of any kind. There was even a category from the DSMIV that has now been removed from it. Let’s be honest and realistic here, you are shown a picture of a curvaceous and rather buxom older teen in a bikini and asked to comment on it…like WTF!
      All the predictors that are used are voodoo science. Remember the blind man in the dark basement looking for the black cat that was never there.
      They have no category in the DSM for the guy that just screwed up one time. I got 5 yrs probation.

    • Timmr

      I didn’t know there was anything sexual to measure. The idea that you can measure someone’s propensity to offend is misleading. In animals, an erection or increased nerve activity and blood flow in the skin can be caused by many things, fear, aggression or attraction, I’m sure it is no different in humans — more complex animals. Part of it is also environmental and situational. I remember at my test being extremely bored and a little angry, what with looking into a machine at images with nothing sexual about them, with a wire clipped to my finger like a lab monkey.
      I suppose it is like the polygraph, if you want it to work, you have to believe it will work.
      By the way I knew someone who had passed all his polygraphs and the Abel test and was one of those rare ones who re-offended. He couldn’t wait. He was arrested a couple of months after his probation ended. One of those guys who wanted everyone to know how he was not one of those kinds of guys. If they had something like a better BS-ometer, they might have known better.

  2. Stanley K.

    I recently took the Abel Assessment during an evaluation for a Certificate of Rehabilitation. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it’d be. I think it took me all of ten minutes to complete the assessment. Don’t understand why it took the guy in the article almost two hours — maybe because there is an underlining problem. I was found to not have a sexual attraction to children, which I was surely confident about going in. The first round of pictures the Dr. actually sits in with you as you take the test. The Dr. will claim this is a “practice round”. The images that pop-up on screen are not sexual in the least bit; just random pictures of kids, middle-aged guys, and women along with some mid to late teens. Most are in bathing suits and a few of them are just pictures of inanimate objects like bras and panties lying on the floor. The Dr. will then ask you to imagine yourself in the room with the individual in the image and rate your sexual interest on a scale of 1 to 7. The number “1” being genuine disgust and “7” representing a high sexual interest. Conversely, the number “4” registers as a neutral number, meaning no disgust, no interest. Being that I’m filing my CoR in LA County, I’m fairly confident I won’t have to register come my birthday at the end of the year. From everywhere I’ve read judges in LA County have a higher rate of granting CoR’s than anywhere else. My attorney suggests I make the appointment anyway, and go in with a big smile on my face and politely hand them the paperwork that says I no longer have to register. He claims it’ll be therapeutic.

    • Dg

      How long do they consider “normal” to look at an image before going to the next one?

  3. Q

    I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that anyone would think, let alone believe that you can tell the thoughts in the deepest recesses of an individuals mind by how long they look at a picture.

    It’s highly disturbing that the courts rely on this unproven trash science instead of taking the time to review and base their judgments on scholarly opinions and empirical fact’s/evidence.

    I’m glad I was never subjected to this witch doctor voodoo garbage, as I have an extremely low tolerance for things I instinctively know to be BS. I’m sure my attitude would have earned me some hard time. As things turned out I spent 5 days in jail, and that was enough BS for me for a very long time.

    Unfortunately, I soon found that the mere fact that I was charged with a “sex” crime (even though there was no sex-no other human being involved) that BS would become a living, breathing part of the rest of my life because the courts believe in this kind witch doctor trash.

    There is one good thing about the Able Assessment, and that is that it’s not physically intrusive and humiliating like the plethysmograph. And that is the only good thing I have to say about anyone or any test that claims to be able to tell what a person thinks; that’s impossible.

    • Stanley K.

      I imagine if it takes an individual longer than two seconds upon seeing an image of a child in a bathing suit to determine whether or not they’re sexually attracted is a legitimate reason for concern. I understand the significance of the test. This tells me the individual taking the test has a pathological attraction towards children, therefore, the longer the individual debates internally as to whether or not they’re attracted is a nail in their own coffin. As to the level of attraction, there’s no way to determine for sure, but I suppose any level of sexual attraction is all it takes for the Courts to become hesitant regarding a suspected offender. It’s quite simple: attracted or not attracted. No room for debate.

      Considering I passed the assessment I’m probably biased regarding my views. One can cry and argue till they’re blue in the face, but a standard must be met in order to reverse the Court’s opinion on any singular sex offender. How else are the Court’s to determine who needs “weeded out” from those who pose significant dangers?

      Instead of condemning the system it’s probably best to play ball if you anticipate getting off the registry. Seems to me the ones who complain the most know inside their own hearts the truth of their own actions.

      We’ve debated before. I look forward to a rebuttal.

      • ab

        You might have debated the other person, but not me. Like you the results on the test I took revealed my attraction to within the acceptable social range. Just because I was instructed to think about someone in a sexual way does not mean I will be able to do so. Although I have a very low sex drive and have not thought about doing anything remotely sexual to anyone since I was 16. That’s over 12 years ago. I am a virgin.

        Also not everyone has the same ability to instantly determine how attractive another person might be.

  4. Two States east

    Gene Abel is the same quack that created the “117 victims” myth. See: Derek Logue’s ONCE FALLEN, Myth# 6, third one down. And thank you Derek for your website. Q, your comment is spot on !!

  5. Two States east

    I should explain the Plythismograph in detail for anyone who hasn’t had one: Using my case: every 90 days for first year outpatient program. $75.00 each time. Then semi annually until graduation. Alone in a small room.The flexible ring, you put it on yourself. It’s just a circular pressure sensor. The therapist is outside the room, but he watches you through a small window.

    Room darkened. Then slide projector. Only 6-7 slides. They come from confiscated CP provided to the program by local law enforcement. Leaves each slide on for about one minute. Therapist watches you to make sure you don’t close your eyes, and are looking at the picture. Slides get increasingly graphic. Then part one is done.

    Second part: No more slides, on to the listening part. Still wearing the ring. Three fictitious plays, each one is about 5 minutes long. The last one is violent.

    The ring picks up even the slightest change. It picks up arousal even before you realize it. Because the program is coming at you weekly there many tools employed, many factors. The Plythismograph is just one factor.

    I’m not saying I’m for or against it. At that time I just wanted all the therapy I could get. I never wanted to ever molest again. That was 30 years ago. But I’ll never forget that god dammed room.

  6. Michael

    Psychology: The alchemy of the 20th century and beyond.

  7. mike r

    Man i would be go to hell if I would sit there and let them make me look at cp. Screw that I don’t want to see that disgusting crap there’s no way I would met them force me to veiw it either. Sorry to people who do get off on that cp crap but its disgusting to me and I wouldn’t tolorate it.

  8. Paul

    I wouldn’t mind seeing our entire state Senate and Assembly contingent required to take the Abel Assessment and P-graph prior to assuming office following each future election. The public might find the results very interesting to say the least. I’m guessing that more than one representative would decline or create a bill to cease the administration of those tests due to the potential for “false readings”.

  9. Timmr

    I think the following statement describes our present scientific ability, or lack of, to predict what human beings will do: “…MIT Linguist Noam Chomsky once said: ‘If we can’t explain why a cockroach decides to turn left, how can we explain why a human being decides to do something.'” — Smithsonian Magazine, July-August 2015, p.114.
    It is good article about the difficulty of understanding even a simple fish brain that has 6000 time less neurons than a human brain (Ibid, p. 112.)

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