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HI: Cause of Action for Shaming Sex Therapy May Not Accrue Until after Release from Prison

[ 6/7/18]

On August 29, 2017, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held “it may be reasonable for an incarcerated individual who is told she must resurface past sexual trauma to overcome them to rely on these assurances, and to view associated feelings of emotional distress as normal, contractive responses incidental to the healing process.” In its ruling, the appellate court found it was error to deny a request to amend a complaint to allege the plaintiff was not aware she had been “injured by the therapy program until sometime after she stopped participating in the sessions.”

Before the Ninth Circuit was the appeal of Alexandria Gregg, who claimed she developed a psychological disorder years after she underwent sexual shame therapy sessions at Hawaii’s Kauai Community Correctional Center (KCCC) between March and November 2011. [See: PLN, Jan. 2017, p.40]. The complaint alleged Gregg participated in the Life Time Stand (LTS) program, which was run by KCCC Warden Neal Wagatsuma. The program purported to provide “therapy, counseling, and mental health treatment.”

According to Gregg’s complaint, LTS sessions involved “public sexual shaming.” Prisoners were forced to stand at a lectern and speak about their sexual histories before large groups of men and women prisoners and staff. During one such session, Gregg was asked “whether she had sex while on drugs,” “how many partners [she] previously had sex relations with” and “whether she had been raped.” Warden Wagatsuma then “ordered her to elaborate on previous incidents of rape” in which she was the victim. Prisoners were required to hold up sexual pictures of themselves as Wagatsuma called them “whores.” The sessions were videotaped and shown to the wider prison population.

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  1. Jack

    Jesus Christmas. How terrible.

  2. AO

    Wow. Great ruling. I wonder if anyone involved will suffer some consequences? No, wait. We fully have the Nuremberg Defense in this country, absolving officials of pretty much all wrong doing.

    I’m so glad I landed in an actual quality rehab program. Reading about all these “rehab” programs around the country and how they abuse people is incredible.

    • Staci

      My spouse is on probation and going through the state mandated therapy (Missouri) and he has had to do the same thing. When you stand in front of the group and give your sexual history, they can veto it and you have to keep revising it and presenting it until the group passes it. In addition, you have to take a sexual history polygraph to make sure that you are telling the truth. There are about five reports that have to be given in the same manner.
      My spouse has lost about 50 pounds and looks absolutely terrible. In addition he has been kicked out of our home because we live too close to a school and hasn’t been allowed to see his children who are under 17 (all of this is for a non contact non violent offense). His therapist commented that he looks suicidal, but has there been any offer to help him deal with the shame and guilt? Absolutely not. Ninety-nine percent of his “therapy” is about making him feel guilt and shame. I am ashamed that this is the America that we live in.

      • wonderin

        “When you stand in front of the group and give your sexual history, they can veto it and you have to keep revising it and presenting it until the group passes it.”
        And if they won’t pass you?

        • Staci

          Great question! My spouse has presented one piece four times. He finally gave it to the therapist and asked the therapist to look over it and let him know what he/she thinks it needs. It is a nightmare because one piece has taken five months and still hasn’t “passed.”

  3. wonderin

    Psychologists are the witch doctors of this day and age but people are so desperate for answers and cures they’ll buy into almost any crap they dish out.

  4. Gwen

    I’m utterly speechless.

  5. kind of living

    witch hunter moral therapy these people are unreal . How is it that they get away with these in your face crimes calling it therapy ? put them back in stocks in tell this SO says what we want them to say , stupid as hell !

  6. Real Treatment Has No Shame

    How is this different from conventional sex offender “treatment?” Everything regarding sex offender treatment is designed to shame.

    The polygraph, for example, requires that you disclose personal and embarrassing sexual history — even several years after conviction, incarceration, and release. Often, the polygraph examiners are demeaning — as they work in concert with fake “doctors” and unlicensed interns. The polygraph is used despite it ridiculously assuming that increased heart rate and/or breathing is indicative of deception. Assuming polygraph logic: Anytime you have increased heart rate and/or breathing (like when exercising), you are also lying. How absurd!

    ABEL is another shameful experience. During ABEL, which many of you have probably taken, you are forced to look at grotesque images and score them accordingly. You are then forced through the “containment model,” with “containment meetings” in which your personal history is shared with often dozens of people — including probationers/parolees, as well as their probation/parole officers — in a conference room. “Therapy” without confidentiality at its worse.

    Many are also shamed with their Static 99R score. The higher the score, the more you are shamed in “treatment.” The Static score has nothing to do with the underlying offense, as the Static 99R score is based entirely off of 10 questions. 10 questions that have nothing to do with current age, or even the amount of time you’ve been free in the community without offense. The Static 99R is flawed because it’s “static” and not dynamic. The Static 99R’s flaw is literally in its name because people are not “static!”

    • Joe

      The Static-99 does not claim to predict risk of re-offense for a person’s lifetime. Never has. It very clearly states in its preamble that it is only valid for a very limited number of years. Because people are not static. It is politicians and legislators that twist it to be something it is not.

      It also does not “punish” anyone for certain offense characteristics. It assigns weight to certain categories based on the statistic that offenders convicted of such conduct (stranger, male victim, non-contact) DO re-offend with ANY sex crime with a greater probability than others. I can’t find it now but it is all in the supporting data. Here it is commenters (guessing the same one or very few) on this web site who twist it to be something it is not.

      • Richard

        You can’t find it but it’s in supporting data? Do you mean data created by Karl Hanson to rationalize Karl Hanson’s own scam? Because I’ve also read data that says younger offenders are more malleable to therapy; that non-contacts are less likely to reoffend; and that the STATIC-99 tests disproportionately hurt gays.

        As for your claim that the STATIC does “not ‘punish’ anyone for certain offense characteristics,” then you’ve obviously not read the tiered law and/or attended the meetings. People who score “high” on the STATIC-99R — which amount to several thousand in California alone — are not only subjected to increased scrutiny during their supervision period, but they will be classified as Tier 3!

        If you don’t think being classified Tier 3 solely because of the STATIC-99R is “punishment,” then perhaps you could benefit from reevaluating your motive(s). Also, you should take some of the time to talk to some of the people at the meetings. Unfortunately, perhaps to your dismay, a lot more than “one” or a “few” are hurt by the STATIC-99R.

      • Real Treatment Has No Shame

        @Joe, you say the Static 99R “assigns weight to certain categories based on the statistic that offenders convicted of such conduct (stranger, male victim, non-contact) DO re-offend with ANY sex crime with a greater probability than others.”


        Do you realize that the Static 99R is literally a melting pot of various sex offenses and people? When the Static mixes all types of sex offenses and individuals together, there is literally no sample representativeness. I’m not alone in pointing out that it isn’t clear what exactly the Static is measuring. Also, are you seriously making the claim that 10 questions forecast a person’s behavior? Also, do you recognize that the 10 questions (“risk factors”) were originally derived from a sample of Canadian and UK men, deemed “particularly violent,” from the 1970’s?

        Even more troubling is the fact that developer Karl Hanson has been very protective of the “data” that he uses in his experiments. Hanson’s most recent report to CASOMB was led by his PhD student from “Carleton University,” a guy named Seung C. Lee, whose “further goal is to achieve the international generalization of risk assessment tools for sex offenders.”

        Seung Lee’s Bio:

        Read how Seung C. Lee “would like to exam (sic) if the risk assessment tools used in the western countries is also valid to be applied to the sex offenders in Asian countries.” Can you recognize the inconsistency? Lee claims to want to see if risk assessment can be used in Asian countries, yet he proclaims that his “goal is to achieve the international generalization of risk assessment.”

        SARATSO’s Biased Study by Seung Lee and Karl Hanson (also note government attorneys as co-authors Nyssa Fullmer, Janet Neeley, and Kerry Ramos):

        Conflict of interest anyone??

      • Possible ambiguity

        These statements, except for the last sentence, are correct with the clarification that ANY means any sex crime out of a pool of all sex crimes. Not to be confused with “every specific sex crime”.

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