RIT study is Butner Redux deja vu

Michael M . . . A recent study conducted by researchers at the Rochester Institute of Technology, or RIT, is already being cited in Federal Court cases to support the false presumption of a high rate of unreported child molestations by those convicted of child pornography offenses. This is despite the fact that it suffers from exactly the same serious flaws and inaccuracies as the infamous and thoroughly discredited “Butner Redux” study, which first appeared in the Journal of Family Violence in 2009.

For those who may be unfamiliar with the Butner Redux controversy, here are some of the basics. There were actually two studies conducted at FCI Butner. The “First Butner Study”, a preliminary study done in 2000, suggested a significantly higher rate of hands-on offenses among the population of child pornography offenders than had been known at the time of sentencing. That study involved just sixty-two people in a Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP) group, whose crimes “involved the production, distribution, receipt, and possession of child pornography, or involved luring a child and traveling across state lines to sexually abuse a child.”

Butner Study Redux, or the second study, was conducted between 2002 and 2005. It began with 201 SOTP participants and concluded with 155. The 46 exclusions were for voluntary withdrawals, expulsions, and one death. The results of the study suggested that at sentencing, 26% of the study subjects were known to have committed a hands-on offense against a minor. By the end of their SOTP treatment, 85% had admitted to molesting at least one child. The study’s conclusions were widely circulated in the media and cited by prosecutors in court cases to justify longer prison terms for CP defendants.

Almost immediately, the Butner studies came under intense scrutiny and criticism for institutional bias, sloppy methodology, misrepresentational sampling, flawed data gathering, and subject coercion.

First, let’s examine how this “peer reviewed study” first appeared in the Journal of Family Violence.  From their submission guidelines: “Pay $3000 for Springer Open Choice [Plan] to have articles made available with full, open access.” The guidelines also state, “All manuscripts are assigned to an editor who will manage the external peer review process. The Journal encourages authors to recommend individuals who could be considered as reviewers [and] are given the opportunity to request the exclusion… of individuals.” In other words, the author gets to pick who does – and doesn’t – conduct the so-called “peer review.”

Second, let’s take a look at the subjects of the study. Each had been convicted of at least one federal sex crime which involved child pornography and was incarcerated in a federal prison. To characterize this sample as being typical of all persons in the general population outside of prison who have ever viewed child pornography would be somewhat akin to comparing those in federal prison for larceny with everyone who has ever stolen a candy bar.

Next, consider the way SOTP works. The foundational purpose of SOTP is to get participants to overcome denial, admit their wrongdoing, take responsibility for it, and commit to never offending again. It is typically, for all intents and purposes, a one-size-fits-all curriculum that unfortunately treats all sex offenders like violent rapists. It is extremely ill-equipped to address non-contact crimes such as internet crimes or child pornography. As a result, this often results in group facilitators and participants attempting to “shoe-horn” non-contact crimes into a “hands-on” criminal context for lesson plans and exercises.

Participants who minimize or justify their crimes are shamed or berated. Anyone who claims to have been wrongly convicted is reprimanded and may be thrown out of the program. On the other hand, participants who admit to wrongdoing – any wrongdoing, even hypothetical acts or fantasizing about them – get rewarded.

One should also keep in mind the fact that the facilitator gets to define “sex crimes” however he or she likes. I once had an SOTP facilitator tell me that spooning with my wife while she sleeps is a sex crime, since she cannot give consent to being touched while sleeping! Participants were instructed by facilitators that their recollections didn’t need to be accurate and, in fact, shouldn’t be so accurate that they could result in being charged with additional crimes. Participants were even encouraged to include incidents that occurred when they were very young children.

In the end, many prison SOTP participants tell program facilitators exactly what they want to hear, since successful completion of SOTP can lead to their eventual freedom. The system is highly coercive and gives participants every reason to exaggerate or lie about any previously unreported offenses. After all, they have nothing to lose by doing so and everything to gain. In statistical terms, studies utilizing such methodologies suffer from “researcher demand characteristics.”

Fast forward to 2018, and researchers at the Rochester Institute of Technology have used exactly the same flawed methodology as Butner to conclude: “More than half of the men on federal probation in western New York for child pornography possession had instances of sexual contact with children that were previously unknown to legal authorities.”

Respected researchers and statisticians should thoroughly examine the RIT study immediately and critically before it becomes another Butner “blunt force object” to be used by prosecutors nationwide to paint all CP defendants with the label of “unindicted child molester.”

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Michael McKay

Michael McKay is NARSOL's Director of Marketing and a frequent contributor of articles to the NARSOL website. He is the published author of several non-fiction books, contributing editor & board member at LifeTimes Magazine, the executive editor of The Registry Report, and founding host of Registry Report Radio on BlogTalkRadio.

This topic contains 16 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by Avatar Phil 6 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #50735 Reply
    Michael McKay
    Michael McKay

    Michael M . . . A recent study conducted by researchers at the Rochester Institute of Technology, or RIT, is already being cited in Federal Court case
    [See the full post at: RIT study is Butner Redux deja vu]

  • #50739 Reply
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    d

    Class action defamation of character lawsuit is this possible?

  • #50740 Reply
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    Tim

    On Rochester, NY
    Gimme a break. East coast elites claiming they’ve identified an overlooked aspect about the causal connection between child pornography and sexual aggressiveness like child molestation. It is a false narrative. Pictures or other images that contain naked babies or nude children are too often erroneously characterized as PORNOGRAPHY! Here again we must mark the distinction between being ACCURATE or\and being VALID. What makes images immoral or abhorrent is a strictly cultural distinction that law (not individuals) cannot readily define.
    Mike is absolutely correct the Up State New Yorkers are relying solely upon the “self reporting” type of statistical information gathering for their report. That particular survey type has some inherent technical problems with over and under reporting. In fact, it’s flaw well known and tends to effect the measurements of standard deviation. IMHO the report is propaganda.

  • #50748 Reply
    Michael McKay
    Michael McKay

    The only material difference between the two studies is the fact that in the Butner studies, the participants were prisoners hoping for parole, while the subjects of the RIT study are on federal probation hoping to avoid revocation and successfully “graduate” from the sex offfender treatment program.

    Every data point in this new study – every factor, variable, or parameter relies upon on self-disclosed information from participants who are being coerced and rewarded for telling facilitators and therapists exactly what they want to hear. None of the information provided by partipants – including reports of participants’ own childhood abuse, mental illness, sexual paraphilias, and history of deviancy were in any way objectively validated by the researchers.

    I’ve seen the process at work, up-close and personally, while participating in an SOTP therapy group. Facts are endlessly “massaged until they fit the narrative.” Your sexual history (a writing assignment all SOTP particpants must complete) is submitted and “critiqued” by the group and its facilitator. Then, they literally tell you how to rewrite it. If you balk at this attempt to rewrite your own personal history, you risk being thrown out of the program and having your probation revoked. And, as if that weren’t bad enough, you may be required to take polygraph exams to “verify” this largely coerced and possibly bogus sexual history narrative. Imagine taking a “lie-detector” test about events that may or may not have happened to you as a child, decades ago.

    It is upon such a foundation that this study, and others like it, rest. To say that its conclusions are derived from palpably flawed data and a demonstrably disingenuous methodology is to grant it a level of charity that it doesn’t deserve.

    To read the actual report in its entirety: An Exploratory Analysis of Child Pornography Possessors Supervised by Federal Probation in the Western District of New York – https://mikeregistryreport.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/final-report_analysis-of-cp-possessors-in-wdny.pdf

  • #50758 Reply
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    Dustin

    Don’t be surprised. The study was commissioned by federal probation officials, meaning RIT was probably specifically instructed what the study’s’ conclusions were before the grant was paid.

  • #50774 Reply
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    Michelle

    Thank you for sharing this information and taking the time to spell it out. So true. These programs get to the point where folks say what they know they want to hear because it is the only way. It is a shame because that can make a miss opportunity to help, heal and learn.

  • #50791 Reply
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    chris

    I was told that by Federal Parole officer when I was let off supervision. The whole I’ll see you again because thats what stats say and probably for something worse. Owell jokes on her its been 8 years since then and I have not. 2 years and I can apply to get off the registry and my SOR Officers says he likes to help and put in good words for the ones that are able. So hopefully this will happen.

  • #50795 Reply
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    kathleen

    Thanks for bringing this information out. There was one piece I was curious about…
    You mentioned $3000? The participants paid money to be in the set of date??? Or got paid??? Regardless, anytime money or something of value (say freedom!) is offered beyond reimbursement for time and expenses to a data set group, the results are invalidated. All this study would prove is something like: ‘50% of people who paid $3000 to be included in this study were willing to claim previous symptoms in order to gain a favorable completion’.

  • #50806 Reply
    Michael McKay
    Michael McKay

    No, Kathleen…

    The “researchers” (likely) paid a magazine $3000 to have their paper published in the Journal of Family Violence. This is what we authors call “vanity publishing.” In other words, if what you are writing is any good, publishers will pay YOU for your work. When it comes to research papers and the journals which publish them, the reputable ones don’t charge you a fee for inclusion. They also don’t let you pick who gets to do the “peer reviews” of your work… another indiction that the Butner study was a piece of crap.

    As for the R.I.T. study, it was commissioned (paid for) by the (Federal) Western District of NY Probation Department, which already tells you where the inherent bias is going to be. And it has NOT undergone any type of peer review and probably wont get published in any reputable journal for all the reasons I’ve outlined. Even so, it is being used by prosecutors and probation officers to justify longer prison sentences and probation revocations.

    • #51081 Reply
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      Tim

      Mike,
      I surmise that the convention center located in Rochester often hosts LEO Union types.

  • #50834 Reply
    Avatar
    Saddles

    Like Robinson Crueso its primitive as can be. One wonders in these studies. I wonder if no man is an island. Sure man wants results, and with more results government seems to get by with pursusion, inducment intimidation, force, or other means for one to confess in criminal Justice cases or take the ole plea deal of true justice. I wonder if this country is for the people with those of social standards or is it some media factror today.

    I wonder who’s accoutable in this wall of understanding. Is this not some peoples way of hocus pocus of truth. I wonder if a lot of us today are treated like the hole-in-the wall gang in or by this devious human justice means.

  • #50970 Reply
    Avatar
    Maestro

    “I once had an SOTP facilitator tell me that spooning with my wife while she sleeps is a sex crime,”

    By this logic EVERYONE is a sex offender and NO ONE should ever speak poorly of those convicted of sex “crimes” ever again. See, this quoted statement above, spoken from the mouth of someone who is in the business for the paycheck, should be what gets published in a nation-wide magazine article. Imagine the relationships and marriages THAT type of statement would/could ruin. “Hunny, don’t you dare make any contact with my body while I’m sleeping! And don’t kiss the kids on the forehead while they’re sleeping either. You read that article! Don’t become a pervert!” Yeah, that’s what marriage is all about.
    (Seriously, saying that spooning with your sleeping partner is a sex crime sounds very liberal left-feminist.)

    But of course you’ll have your typical high and mighty goodie-two-shoes who will “minimize” such an “offense” and still wish death on OTHER sex offenders.

  • #51139 Reply
    Avatar
    Bill

    Has anyone heard about the great work neuro-scientist are doing with Asperger’s and Bi-polar patients. For those of you that don’t know…one of the symptoms is hypersexuality. Bipolar and aspergers are disorders are biochemical; you are born with them. The hypersexual brain will be drawn to porn and a drive to dominate. It can be controlled by medication and therapy.

    Hopefully, the aspergers, bipolar, and sex offender therapist are already getting together to work this out…nope, they don’t like to be associated with the sex offender crowd because they have also had a hard time getting the media to stay away from them.

    Well, get there someday folks. It’s just a matter of time.

  • #51164 Reply
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    Bob M

    I took SOTP at FCI Englewood in 2016. There we were taught that pictures of nude, semi nude of underage people would not be called child pornography but called “child abuse images” just saying.

  • #51503 Reply
    Avatar
    Mike

    So what i dont understand is every single state including the federal government has since done a study and every single study shows that recidivism rates are 4.5% and lower and now the rit study and all it’s false information is false, so why are the laws still on the books when it shows that the rit study is false and the government used those studies to make the laws which is fraud and the government can be sued so what is going on in this world.

    • #51628 Reply
      Avatar
      Minor American

      Because corrupt people in power are lying about fact and confusing with fear and we the people must uniteotherwise no change will occur! I might add, that once laws are passed it must be countered with viable, sensible alternatives to be accepted by the authorities and masses ! Solutions to laws are found within the laws ! One example is changing or updating /revising equal employment protections to include all ex felons ! Another is to severely disrupt corrupt politicians, legislators, lobbyists who are violating Civil and Constitutional Rights to perpetuate more penalties and restrictions!
      Thanks!

  • #52050 Reply
    Avatar
    Phil

    This is an absolute bullshit report that has been dis proven by its original research clinicians and THOUSANDS of cases = case law has discredited these so called “Professionals” Please scroll down and see “Johnson – 588 F. Supp 2d 997 (SD Iowa, 2008)” research the case law / language yourself.

    I have ALL OF THESE PUBLICATIONS FOR ANYONE WHO WANTS THEM.
    I can send you a link to them all.

    Google Search and read the full reports for yourself:

    REPORTS SUBMITTED TO CONGRESS:

    01 – Full_Report_to_Congress – Federal CP Offences – 2012
    02 – Testimony Seto – US Sentencing Commission – 2012

    LAW REVIEW PUBLICATIONS:

    01 – Disentangling Child Pornography from Child Sex Abuse – Washington University Law Review – Vol 88 Iss 4 – 2011
    02 – THE EFFICACY OF SEVERE CHILD PORNOGRAPHY SENTENCING – STANFORD LAW & POLICY REVIEW – Vol 222 – 2011
    03 – CONGRESSIONAL MANIPULATION OF THE SENTENCING GUIDELINE FOR CHILD PORNOGRAPHY POSSESSION – DUKE LAW JOURNAL – Vol. 601015 – 2011
    04 – CHILD PORNOGRAPHY, THE INTERNET – HARVARD LAW REVIEW – Vol. I22 2206 – 2009
    05 – Rethinking Traditional Conceptions of Child Pornography – Chicago-Kent College of Law – Vol 89 Iss 2 – 2014
    06 – Carol S. Steiker – Lessons from Two Failures: 2005
    07 – Head verses Heart – Fordham Law Review – Vol 82 Iss 3 – 2013
    08 – REAL WORLD PROBLEMS OF VIRTUAL CRIME – Yale Journal of Law and Technology– Vol 7 Iss 1 – 2005
    09 – The Limits of Child Pornography – Indiana Law Journal – Vol. 89 Iss. 4, Article 4. – 2014
    10 – One Click, You’re Guilty – Catholic University Law Review – Vol 05 Iss 3 – 2006
    11 – The Limits of the Criminal Sanction – Indiana Law Journal – Vol 44 Iss 3 – 1969
    12 – No Contact Parole Restrictions: Unconstitutional and Counterproductive – Michigan Journal of Law – Vol 18 Iss 2 – 2012
    13 – Human Zoning – Univ of New Hampshire Law Review – Vol 5 Iss 6 – 2006
    14 – CHILD PORNOGRAPHY, THE INTERNET, AND THE CHALLENGE OF UPDATING STATUTORY TERMS – Harvard Law Review – Vol. 122 – 2009
    15 – The Peril of Paroline – BYU Law Review – Vol. 16 Iss 1 – 2016
    16 – The Harms of Child Pornography Law – U.B.C. Law Review – Vol. 36 Iss 1 – 2003
    17 – The Case for Extending Pretrial Diversion to Include Possession of Child Pornography – Univ Massachusetts Law Review – Vol. 9 Iss 2 – 2014
    18 – Punishment Without Purpose – Cleveland State Univ Law Review – Vol. 65 Rev 231 – 2017
    19 – Private Possession of Child Pornography – William & Mary Univ Law Review – Vol. 29 Iss 1 – 1987
    20 – Child Pornography: Ban the Speech and Spare the Child? – DePaul Univ Law Review – Vol. 32 Iss 3 – 1983
    21 – INVERTING THE FIRST AMENDMENT – Univ of Pennsylvania – Vol. 149 Iss 4 – 2001
    22 – Virtual Child Pornography Laws and the Constraints Imposed by the First Amendment – Barry Law – Vol. 16 Iss 1 – 2011
    23 – Government Hacking to Light the Dark Web: – Stanford Law Review – Vol. 70 – 2017
    24 – SIXTH CIRCUIT HOLDS THAT IMPOSING A SIGNIFICANTLY BELOW-GUIDELINES SENTENCE INFORMED BY A JURY POLL IS NOT SUBSTANTIVELY UNREASONABLE. – Harvard Law Review – Vol. 130 – 2016
    25 – REFLEXIVE VIOLENCE: CHILD PORNOGRAPHY AND TERRORIST SPEECH AS FIRST AMENDMENT CARVE-OUTS – Temple Law Review – Vol. 89 – 2017
    26 – Sex, Cells, and Sorna: Applying Sex Offender Registration Laws to Sexting Cases – William & Mary Law Review – Vol. 52 Iss 5 – 2011
    27 – TODAY’S TOOL FOR INTERPRETING YESTERDAY’S CONVICTION – Wisconsin Law Review – Vol. 153 – 2015
    28 – Deconstructing the Myth – Troy Stabenow – 2008

    SOME CASE LAW REFERENCES:

    LANGUAGE SITING DEFENDANTS ONLY CRIMINAL ACTIVITY BEING CONSUMPTION / VIEWING OF ILLEGAL MATERIAL & THAT ALL OTHER ASPECTS OF THEIR LIVES INVOLVE POSITIVE INFLUENCE AND PRO-SOCIAL CONDUCT:
    • Falso 544 F.3D 110, 122; (2D Cir 2008)
    o Its an infernal fallacy of ancient standing to conclude that, because members of Group A… are likely to be members of Group B… then group B is entirely, or even largely composed of members of Group ‘A’.

    • Dorvee 604 F.3d 84, 94 (2d Cir 2010)
    o Finding error in courts “apparent assumption” between possession and risk of acting out… did not account for specific factors under 3553 (a).

    • Stern 590 F. Supp 2d 945 (ND Ohio, 2008)
    o Recognizing the difference in culpability between a viewer and a producer and wide variations of sentences in ‘C.P.’ cases.

    • Johnson 588 F. Supp 2d 997 (SD Iowa, 2008)
    o Systematically dismantling the “Butner Study” (proclaiming ‘C.P’ consumers are all molesters as well)

    • Apodaca 641 F.3d 1077; 2011 (No. 09-50372)
    o Grossly over estimates the risk that defendants who are convicted only of ‘C.P’ downloading from the internet and who have no prior child sex abuse convictions, will commit a contact sex offense against children

    • Moreland 568 F. Supp. 2d 674, 687 (SD W. VA. 2008)
    • Cruikshank 667 F. Supp. 2d 697 (SD W. VA 2009)
    • Grober 624 F.3d 592 603-10 (3d Cir 2010)
    • Diaz 720 F. Supp. 2d 1039 (2010)
    • Manke 2010 US Dist Lexis 3757
    • Phinney 599 F. Supp. 2d 1042 (2009)
    • Autery 555 F.3d 864 (2009)
    • Rowan 530 F.3d 379 (2008)
    • Pugh 515 F.3d 1179 (2008)

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