Laurapred.jpg
The Oprah Winfrey Show
Laura, Mother of 4, Molester of 100
The state's Special Commitment Center for sex offenders got the national TV once-over in

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'The Most Dangerous Child Sex Offenders in America': Oprah Does McNeil Island

Laurapred.jpg
The Oprah Winfrey Show
Laura, Mother of 4, Molester of 100
The state's Special Commitment Center for sex offenders got the national TV once-over in recent weeks from entertainment shows Oprah Winfrey and Inside Edition, and you had to wonder if you were seeing McNeil Island or Devil's Island.

A demon island for sure, as both programs focused on McNeil's inmates as exiled from the motherland. Said Oprah: "One hour outside of Seattle, there's a small island in the Puget Sound that people rarely visit. Some residents rarely leave." IE said "It's one of the most controversial and bizarre communities in America, where sex predators live on an island and most are never allowed to leave," labeling it Sex Predator Island.

A reality show, in other words, or at least TV's version of reality, which tends to be the precise opposite. Some highlights:

"Believe it or not," IE reported, "at this treatment facility, even though these sex offenders are considered violent, the guards do not carry guns. In fact, they don't carry any weapons. Instead the facility relies on razor sharp fencing and 200 security cameras to maintain order."

IE's Lisa Guerro interviewed rapist Richard Kurtis who "says he's learned to control his demons but seconds later, what he says is shocking. Guerrero asked, 'You are willing to tell me that when you get out, if I live next door to you, there is not a one percent chance that you would ever hurt me?' 'I can't say that,' said Kurtis. 'Then that's scary,' said Guerrero," whose neighbors are apparently 100 percenters.

Meanwhile, on Oprah, Lisa Ling reported that McNeil is "a mental health facility for Level 3 sexual predators - the worst of the worst," most of them child molesters. Ling doesn't like eye contact and clearly wanted to be somewhere else, but her reporting was more thorough than IE's, particularly her interview with "Laura," (Laura Faye McCollum) the one female among nearly 300 SOC inmates.

"I didn't need to groom my victims because they were so young," said Laura, a mother of four committed in 1989 and who confesses to "100 or more" molestations. "But I did have to groom their parents," focusing on low-income, drug-addicted moms, offering them drugs and alcohol. "It's not like every time I see a kid, I get aroused and know I want to hurt them," she says. "It's being in the line of their care, like having to bathe them or change them. ... I did bad things, really bad things."

The message from both programs reinforced the notion of predatory sex as an incurable disorder, and that nobody's getting off this island alive - though under conditional release, some have. They remain under state control, guilty, like all the center's offenders, of future crimes. But there was little air time for that discussion.

 
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