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John. A story of a rapist.


From the first letter John sent I knew I wasn’t dealing with the sharpest tack in the box.

He was barely literate and it was difficult to work out what he was trying to say and what he wanted of me.

What I did know was he was in the sex offender section of Long Bay Prison and insisted he had never raped anyone. I got no answer to my questions as to whether he wanted assistance mounting an appeal or who his lawyer was, but he repeatedly said ‘everyone’ should be told he was not a rapist. By ‘everyone’ he seemed to mean prison authorities and his fellow prisoners.

In Australian prisons sex offenders, particularly child sex offenders, are of very low status among prisoners and prison staff alike. They are often kept separately from the main population – partly for their own protection – and have greater restrictions placed on visitors, allowable possessions and the right to associate with other prisoners. In order to gain parole they must usually complete a sex offender rehabilitation program, even though such programs are often not available to them and have never been convincingly shown to reduce the risk of reoffending.

Most sex offender programs are based on ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’ style philosophies that insist the participant must start by admitting he is a sex offender, he has always been a sex offender and will always be a sex offender – the most he can hope for is that he will become a recovering sex offender who no longer offends. There is no evidence whatsoever such approaches help and there is some evidence they increase the risk of recidivism. Contrary to popular belief, the best research available suggests recidivism rates for sex offenders are quite low, but there is good evidence extended periods in prison increase the risk of subsequent sex offending and the likelihood further offences will be violent.

They are winding Clockwork Oranges in there.

After several exchanges of correspondence and a few brief, monitored prison phone calls I decided to look up John’s court transcripts to see if they would give me a better idea as to what he was on about. I also discovered one of the members of the activist group I was working for had done time with John during an earlier stint in prison and he was able to fill in a few more details.

This is the story that emerged.

As a child, John had been either orphaned, abandoned or removed from his parents and spent much of his life in institutions of one kind or another. He had a long list of convictions for mostly minor property offences until being arrested for armed robbery of a service station. John acted as lookout and his sentence had been relatively short.

While on parole he had taken to spending sunny afternoons in the garden of his Housing Commission flat drinking beer, despite alcohol consumption being in breach of his parole conditions (“They can’t throw me in jail for drinking beer!”, “Yes they can, John”, “Well I don’t care. I’m not scared of them.”)

One afternoon a young lady stopped in passing and struck up a conversation. John invited her in to share some beer and she accepted. One thing led to another and they spent the night together in John’s flat.

Early next morning the young lady awoke in a panic saying she had to go and her mum would kill her. John offered to call a taxi but she ran out in some distress.

That afternoon John was in his accustomed spot in the garden when police rolled up and arrested him for rape. He later learned that the young lady, though over 30, was intellectually handicapped with an estimated mental age of about twelve and was not considered capable of consenting to sexual intercourse.

John was convicted of statutory rape and that, along with breach of parole and his previous criminal record, earned him a two year sentence with a non-parole period of over a year. The nature of the charge led the prison system to classify him not only as a sex offender, but a child sex offender.

A Rockspider! The lowest of the low in prison hierarchy. No wonder he wanted to tell everyone he wasn’t a rapist.

I made inquiries of prison social workers and a sympathetic senior administrator in the Department of Corrective Services about having John’s classification changed and was told there was no chance. I briefly considered writing his story up in the magazine published by our activist organisation which was circulated to politicians, academics and prisons across the country as well as to other media outlets but decided such an article would be more likely to create problems for John than help him. He had pleaded guilty on his lawyer’s advice and there seemed no scope for an appeal.

There was nothing I could do for him.

The nature of John’s crime got me thinking about statutory rape prosecutions in cases like this.

I doubt John’s intellectual age would have tested any higher than that of his victim. If two twelve year olds had been caught having sex it’s very unlikely either would have been charged with an offence.

What is the intent of such laws?

Is it that the woman should never be able to have sex because she cannot give legal consent?
Surely that would be a breach of her human rights.

Is it to prevent her from being sexually exploited by people far more intelligent than her?
If so, John was not the sort of person those laws were meant to be used against.

If it is about exploitation, what about my situation?

I don’t give much credence to IQ tests but when subjected to them I have produced some pretty high scores. Some of my sexual partners would have got much lower scores than I.

If John had exploited his ‘victim’, had I been exploiting my former partners?
Food for thought perhaps, but not particularly fruitful thought.

The last I heard of John he had been charged with assaulting a prison psychiatrist – the first violent offence in his long criminal career – and was set to have his sentence extended by several years. I’d some prior contact with the psychiatrist involved and he struck me as a dishonest, arrogant shit who hated prisoners even more than do most prison officers.

Maybe John finally got fed up with being called a rockspider.

From → autobiography

  1. Very interesting read. I spent the first third trying to figure out things like why a ten year old was drinking beer. I’d read this sentence “His literacy level was well below the average for ten year old Australians and it was difficult to work out what he actually wanted from me” and assumed it was going to be about a ten year old. Never mind that that couldn’t make sense. I thought that was going to be the point. I’m punchy from writing a long post myself. Anyway, yeah, I finally figured it out.

    This is funny – “I don’t give much credence to IQ tests but when subjected to them I have produced some pretty high scores. Some of my sexual partners would have got much lower scores than I.”

    The world often doesn’t conform to logic at all. It’s disappointing.


    • Yeah, I can see why that line would cause comprehension probs.
      It’s pretty kludgy even without the ambiguity.
      I’ll rework it.

      The whole notion of IQ strikes me as pretty weird.
      When people like Murray and Hernstein use their cultural weightings to ‘prove’ some races are more stupid than others it’s just plain offensive.

      I can see that it might be possible to quantify differences in certain skill sets, claiming there’s such a thing as ‘mental age’ is a joke – especially as some things, such as abstract thinking talent, is known to deteriorate with age.

      All my best computer programs were written in my late teens or early 20s.


  2. i can see that you have a soft corner for John but well you answered yourself in the article. Yes you DO EXPLOIT sexual partners. or well CAN. and they dont have to be retards. heard about playing with feelings? making teenagers fall in love and then blackmail them using tapes and stuff? you would call that mutual agreement? sure the girl or guy agreed to get laid but they agreed to a guy or girl who turned out to be exactly opposite of what they thought of him/her and in a nutshell they got out smarted. people exploit each other for all the reasons not just sex and its always about who is more clever and who is not.
    IQ tests, well thats interesting cause i have been researching a lot about IQ tests, and I have given 3 of them which are legally recognised. see doctors tell me and my parents that i am included in the most high IQ level people, which constitute like 3 or 5 percent of world, but still i havent invented the cure to stupidity or started a company. I even struggled in engineering but doctors still say that i have such a high iq level.
    IQ tests measure “defined Intelligence” what humans have defined intelligence to be, they measure reasoning skills, logical skills, maths etc etc. they are not a measured number representing human brain. like his dick is 6 inches and his brain is about 130 to 145. LOL no. IQ tests are really really narrow.
    so It is even possible that people who are low on iq tests may actually exploit you. its all about tricks and trades and what you are good at. i am good at football, i understand it perfectly. you play with me on ground, on some first person action game, simulation, franchise contests, any thing, i will have a upper hand cause i just understand it and now i have been practicing it for so much time.

    similarly some people are good at getting laid and they are called all sorts of names and they may fail some times but just introduce a perfectly normal person to them who hasnt got much exposure to this field and bam, they will be in “love” and in bed in no time. so yes man, we do and we can exploit sexually.

    this john guy, you know him better, but still i would say, he may have been so much intoxicated to realise that the girl was mental. for one, he should have realized that she is a virgin or obviously not too good in bed (if indeed she was retard) , he should have realized at-least that something doesnt add up. and good to see me back? 😀


  3. Of course it’s good to see you back.
    I was starting to think you’d self-detonated with all that effort for Ghalia’s birthday.

    The point with John is that he wasn’t any brighter than the woman he was convicted of raping, so he wouldn’t have known she was retarded no matter how sober he was. A lot of his friends from the institutions he’d grown up in also would have been intellectually handicapped, so she just seemed normal to him. And I doubt she was a virgin.

    You’re dead right that you don’t have to be good at IQ tests to exploit people. There’s another kind of test – just as silly – called ‘Emotional Quotient’ (EQ) that supposedly shows how emotionally sophisticated you are. Presumably people with high EQs would be better at manipulating others than people with high IQs – and those with high IQs often have low EQs (geeks for instance).

    Actually I’ve been told more than once I have Asperger’s Syndrome which pretty much means I have a low EQ. I did really badly with girls (compared to most of my friends) until I worked out a few (probably exploitative) techniques in my late teens that often did the trick – at least with girls who didn’t know me very well.

    I’ve always been really bad at long term relationships though.

    My grandfather gave me some good advice for getting laid.

    Granddad: Just walk up to any girl you like the look of and ask if she wants to fuck.
    Cabrogal: Gee Granddad, you must get a lot of slaps in the face.
    Granddad: Yeah, but you get a lot of fucks.

    I agree completely with all you say about IQ.
    You must have a pretty high IQ to have worked it out ;).


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