Remorse: A gnawing distress arising from a sense of guilt for past wrongs, according to Merriam-Webster.
In a recent interview TV star Bill Cosby stated he was “not remorseful and did nothing wrong”, maintaining his innocence in the sexual assault crimes that were leveled against him in a well- known TV news media circus court case.
So what happens to those accused of sex offenses who maintain their innocence throughout their trials, prison sentences and even after they are set free? Where is the line in the sand drawn between those who staunchly maintain their innocence and those” sex offender treatment providers” who insist offenders show remorse as a means of successfully progressing thru treatment?
From all that’s been written about Bill Cosby’s case, his version and his accusers version, all we know for sure is that he has always maintained his interactions with his accusers were consensual and they have always insisted otherwise and that Mr. Cosby ended up on the losing end of the court battle.
Is a guilty verdict all that’s required for “sex offender treatment counselors” to insist that Mr. Cosby, or anyone else for that matter, express guilt and remorse for their actions? And, if one doesn’t accept and acknowledge those feelings in treatment, do counselors have the right to report that treatment hasn’t been successful or that the offender has failed to be rehabilitated? Does the fact the Mr. Cosby has always maintained his innocence and therefore sees no reason to express guilt or remorse even matter to his counselors?
Prison and parole “sex offender treatment programs” stress accountability for one’s actions, individual acceptance of the wrongs one has perpetrated on their victims. Offenders are urged to express feelings of empathy for those they have harmed, guilt and remorse for their actions. There are however inherent problems with these kinds of clinical expectations.
Granted, while some offenders may truly have feelings of guilt and remorse, some offenders, for a variety of mental health reasons, may never be capable of feeling those feelings. Some offenders are charged with not exhibiting sufficient remorse to satisfy their treatment counselors, while some will just learn to parrot exactly what their counselors want to hear in order to make progress and be done with treatment. Still, there are those like Bill Cosby whose belief in their innocence is so strong that they simply refuse, on principle, to express feelings they don’t feel are theirs to own. While clinically this refusal to show remorse shouldn’t be held against a person who proclaims their innocence, it doesn’t fly very well in the “sex offender treatment system” and will almost certainly delay a registrant’s completing treatment in a timely manner.
Expecting a pat, standard set of feelings and emotions to be expressed by “sex offenders” as a means to gauge their success or failure in treatment is ridiculous. This is another example of treating all offenders labeled “sex offender” exactly the same. In “sex offender group therapy” providers often mistakenly treat the label, not the individual, and assume all “sex offenders” are equally guilty of crimes that require expressions of “guilt and remorse” as a kind of emotional payment for their sins.
It seems there is no “client maintains he is innocent” box to check off on generic treatment plan forms.
Is remorse a rehabilitation requirement for any other offense?