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One in four female college seniors experience a sexual assault

When parents send their kids off to college, they expect the college to assume responsibility for a safe campus. To that extent, the college becomes loco in parentis. A lot of colleges take that responsibility seriously. And a lot of them just take the parents’ check.
Last week the Association of American Universities released its survey of sexual violence on campus. This study—one of the largest ever undertaken— found that one in four female college seniors had experienced a sexual assault. Almost 75 percent of them did not report the assault for fear that they wouldn’t taken seriously by authorities, and they might even be blamed for their own victimization.
How did this state of affairs come about? Rape is not a minor crime like having your bicycle or your laptop stolen. Yet there are still plenty of colleges where a student accused of cheating is more likely to be expelled for bringing dishonor to a school than one accused of rape. When colleges fail to take strong action against rapists on campus, they ensure that more rapes will follow, since campus rapists almost invariably turn out to be serial rapists. In this regard, the college administrators are contributing to an unsafe environment.
Rape has far reaching implications for the victim. Her quality of life may change dramatically. She has been traumatized, so she may find it hard to leave her room. Maybe she has chronic insomnia. Maybe she starts drinking heavily or using drugs to blot out the flashbacks. Maybe her grades fall. Maybe she drops out of school. For a long time she may find it difficult to trust men.
Whatever changes she might undergo, one thing is certain: a rape victim never sees the world the same way again. Her life has been altered, not by her own agency but by the man or men who violated her. And when college administrators refuse to expel her rapist/s, they contribute another layer to this horrifyingly different experience of the world. As well as feeling unsafe, now the victim feels alone, betrayed by those she trusted to find justice for her. The perception she is living in a world where the innocent are punished, and the guilty walk free, may lead to despair, self-harm, and worse. This is a far cry from the education her parents had in mind for their daughter when they signed the first tuition check.
Rape is a hate crime, and it should be prosecuted as such by college administrations. Just as a lynching would not be tolerated, neither should a rape be shrugged off. Rape is not the product of sexual desire. Rape is the product of a sense of male entitlement and a lack of respect for women. Rape is brutal and since it is intended to cause suffering. As such, it is sadistic.
It is a grave error for college administrators to minimize rape as hi-jinks that got out of hand, or an alcohol fuelled misunderstanding where No was read as Yes. Rape is a serious crime, prohibited by law. It is not a minor crime like being caught with a small amount of marijuana in your possession, so why do some colleges persist in treating it as such?

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I met a man

I met a man at a fund raising event. When I first walked in the door I realized with some dread, that I couldn’t see a single person I knew, so when the stranger introduced himself, it was a welcome relief. We fell into easy conversation. He was in his sixties. He was a pleasant, lively and intelligent conversationalist. I learned that he was a professor at a liberal arts college. I remember he was passionate about the environment, and that he was divorced, with a daughter in her twenties. We were getting along like a house on fire, until the moment he asked me what I was writing about, and I answered that I was writing about sexual assaults on campus.

My fellow guest chose to interrupt me at that point.  He informed me stiffly that his college had been one of those investigated by the New York Times for its inadequate and improper handling of a sexual assault case. I remembered the story. The administration had treated the distressed victim unfairly, and despite compelling evidence, the rapist had gone unpunished.

I gave him a sympathetic smile. I assumed the professor’s sudden tension resulted from his embarrassment at the way his college had mishandled the case. Hell, I would have been embarrassed. But he wasn’t embarrassed, he was angry about the negative publicity. Nor did he appear interested in what I had found in my research into campus rapes. He already had the answer to the problem: he said, college girls just had “to stop drinking and dressing like sluts.”It astonished me that this man who had been in college in the late 1960s, when the Women’s Liberation movement was flourishing on campuses, blamed victims of rape for “bad choices” and didn’t have a word of blame for the rapists. His underlying attitude was that boys will be boys, and they can’t be expected to control their urges. Odd to reflect that I actually have a higher opinion of men than he does. Because I don’t believe most men will automatically take advantage of inebriated girls in sexy dresses. I believe predatory men do that, and in many cases they have spiked the drink that got their victim inebriated.

It surprised me that an intelligent, liberal and educated man of his age was so comfortable trotting out these sexist clichés, but there it was. On the issue of global warming, he was well informed, and he was certainly concerned about the planet, but when it came to violence against women he was neither well informed nor concerned. He may as well have been born a Martian because we didn’t seem to inhabit the same world. Had I time traveled to the 1950s? Or were we now living in Iran? The professor’s attitude that it was the responsibility of women not to dress in a way that inflamed male lust didn’t seem much different to attitudes in patriarchal countries like Saudi Arabia where the morality police have the right to arrest a woman for improper dress, such as not wearing her veil.

The flipside of the attitude that it’s the woman’s responsibility not to get raped is of course that it’s a woman’s fault if she does. In that argument, sexual violence is not the responsibility of the rapist. And that’s the attitude behind every college administration which has absolved young men of rape on the grounds their victim was dressed sexily or had one drink too many.

I am not saying my companion is typical of a 65-year-old white male in this country, but I do think he’s probably representative of the older male politician who historically has shown zero interest in the issue of violence against women. There are many such men in Congress and the Senate who are more interested in protecting corporations from higher taxes than protecting university students from being raped.

However, there is a new generation coming up behind them, and I have high hopes. A couple of months ago, I was heartened to read in the New York Times that Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced at a press conference that he had instructed “the State University of New York to overhaul its approach to investigating and prosecuting sexual assault, including making affirmative consent the rule on all 64 of its campuses.” Declaring campus sexual assault to be a national epidemic, Cuomo said that these changes would lead to a statewide law “regulating sexual assault at all New York colleges and universities.”

My interlocutor from the prestigious New York college must be bristling at the injustice of it all.

Stig Larsson and the U.S. Congress

In 2009 President Obama declared a National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. “Sexual assault is pervasive in the United States,” stated the President. “One recent study found that 18 per cent of women in this country have been raped in their lifetimes.” Barack Obama issued a rallying cry. “ I urge all Americans to respond to sexual assault by creating policies at work and school, by engaging in discussions with family and friends, and by making the prevention of sexual assault a priority in their communities.”
Well, he did his best. Did it become a priority in most communities? Nope. Did it become a priority for state governments? Hardly. The President’s call to action pretty much fizzled, while statistics for sexual assault continued to rise. Does this nationwide indifference  encourage rapists to believe no one takes attacks on females seriously? Of course. How could it not?
Several years ago TV journalist Jane Velez-Mitchell declared that there was a “war on women.”’ She’s right. With nearly one in five women in the USA having experienced at least one rape, that’s a useful way to look at it. After all, Congress has a history of funding wars with taxpayers’ money. Now, imagine if Congress became just as committed to fighting the “war against women. ” Imagine if from middle school on, all females received training in how to escape dangerous individuals and situations.
Schools are mandated to instruct students —female and male—on what to do if a gunman is loose on school premises. So, ironically,  girls learn how to protect themselves against a mass killer— it is unlikely they will have to use these skills, but better safe than sorry! —but they don’t learn how to fight off a sexual assault. Although twenty percent of them will face that situation one day!
As well as training girls how to deal with dangerous individuals and unsafe situations, schools should be training boys as well. Not just how to lead other students to safety when a gunman roams the halls—although that is laudable— but how to stop a rape, and ensure the victim’s safety. There are a lot of boys who would welcome that training.
Stig Larsson was once a boy like that. As a teenager, he witnessed a gang rape. He felt powerless. He didn’t know what to do. His failure to act haunted him for years. As a result he created the character of Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. From a young age, Salander trained herself how to defeat any man who attempted to hurt her. The author said through his protagonist’s example he wanted to empower girls to be able to fight back effectively.
Wouldn’t it be something if Congress saw the same need, and actually did something about it?

Thought Crimes and Gilberto Valle.

Last night I watched the documentary ‘Thought Crimes’ on HBO. Did you see it? The subject was the Gilberto Valle trial. You’ll remember that he was freed by Judge Gardephe on appeal. The judge’s decision still baffles me. He ruled that Valle’s plans to kidnap, rape and cook women existed only in his own imagination. The judge said he was persuaded by the defense argument that the Cannibal Cop was merely sharing fantasies on the internet to like minded deviants: they were ugly, and misogynistic but essentially harmless.

But Valle had specific women in mind, not fictional ones. And he admitted to using police computers to track down addresses of the individuals he had described to his online buddies as his “prey.” To me, that shows he wasn’t musing; he intended to carry out the detailed plans he described. He was found guilty of “intent” to commit a crime.  Judge Gardephe’s decision that Valle doesn’t pose a risk to society disturbs me. Would the judge have felt the same way in a case where a man had not only been online discussing plans with co-conspirators to bomb City Hall, but had also done illegal searches on police computers, and tried to learn how to make bombs (in Valle’s case, it was chloroform) If the man argued it was merely a “fantasy”, would the Judge have released him back into society. I don’t think so. And what about Jeffrey Dahmer? If he had been chatting to fellow cannibals online about his heinous plans to capture and dismember young men,and he had done surveillance on them too, would the judge dismiss Dahmer as a harmless fantasist? He’d be irresponsible if he did. Anyway, I came away from the documentary believing that Valle was a dangerous individual who poses a danger to women, including his own wife.  I wrote a post a while back, addressing the Judge.  Here’s what I said:

Why was Gilberto Valle released yesterday after being found guilty in 2013 of conspiracy to kidnap? Oh yes, the judge who heard his appeal, decided the former New York City cop was harmless. Just a regular guy —like Jeffrey Dahmer was a regular guy. “This is a conspiracy that existed solely in cyberspace,” said the judge, Paul G. Gardephe. Well, I’m never going to get to meet you in person Judge, so I’ll just have an imaginary conversation with you in cyberspace.

I disagree with your decision, Judge Gardephe. I believe you’re wrong to regard the internet as a forum where psychopaths reveal murder fantasies to each other to great applause, but that’s as far as it ever goes. Recently, Elliot Rodgers went online to PickUpArtists, another website where men express hatred of women. Rodgers outlined his plan to shoot as many women as he could, and he went out and completed the task. He killed six people and wounded 13 others near the University of California before his rampage was ended.

Now, I have a question. If you had been given a transcript of Elliot Rodgers’s chat room conversation where he announced his intention to murder women, would you have dismissed it as insufficient to prove intent to harm? If you had, that decision would have come to haunt you. Well, Judge, like Elliott Rodger, Gilberto Valle was writing of his intent. And you have released Gilberto Valle. I hope that decision doesn’t come back to haunt you.

You ruled that a plan to commit a crime if it is shared on the internet —no matter that the research has suggested extensive planning—should not be taken seriously. I can assure you that if a plan to kill the President was discussed on the internet and the offender had been to scout out the White House, it would be treated as a credible assassination plot. No federal judge would release the prisoner from jail so he could walk free around Washington. DC.

And what if you were the intended victim? If a rage-fueled individual with a hatred of the justice system shared his plan online to break into your home and abduct, torture and kill you, and if he had located your address and followed you there, would you dismiss it as harmless fantasy and sleep peacefully in your bed at night? I doubt it.

So, what is it about the internet in this particular case that makes it a crime free zone for you? I don’t understand why you believe Mr. Gilberto Valle—a man with a manifest rage against women—did not have the intention to carry out his heinous plans. After all, he made plans. What if plans for the kidnapping of the famous Lindbergh baby had been discovered before the event actually occurred in the 1930s? Should a judge dismiss such plans as ‘fantasy’ because the child hadn’t yet been kidnapped? Should the conspirators be given their freedom even if they had tracked down the address of the Lindbergh baby, and had started lurking outside? Of course not. They had intent. And in the case of the Cannibal Cop, he had crossed the boundary from planning into action. He had taken the risk of illegally searching for his proposed victim’s addresses on a law enforcement data base, and he had begun stalking them. Doesn’t that imply intent to kidnap and kill?

“The highly unusual facts of this case reflect the Internet age in which we live,” you ruled. When it comes to sex crimes, the boundary between fantasy and realization isn’t as thick as the Great Wall of China, Judge. It’s thin. Every criminal profiler knows that. In the 1980s FBI profilers interviewed hundreds of homicidal sex predators in jails around the USA. John Douglas recalled: “One of the things we clearly established was that in any sexually related predatory crime, the fantasy always precedes the acting out.”

Roger Depue was head of the FBI’s Behavioral Sciences Unit at Quantico at the time. In his memoir, he wrote that it is inevitable that once a violent fantasy takes root, the homicidal sex predator becomes obsessed with figuring out how to bring it to life. Other interests are pushed aside. I’m guessing Gilberto Valle didn’t have much time for other hobbies while he was researching torture. The guy was a ticking time-bomb.

But let’s give the last word to serial killer Edmund Kemper who brought mayhem, death and suffering to eight women. “I knew long before I started killing that I was going to be killing, that it was going to end up like that. The fantasies were too strong. They were going on for too long and were too elaborate.”

You should have done your homework, Judge Valle before you let the prisoner walk.

Psychopathy and its Relationship to Serial Murder

I came across this recently.  The FBI Symposium happened in 2005 but its findings are just as relevant today.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation hosted a multi-disciplinary Symposium in San Antonio, Texas, on August 29, 2005 through September 2, 2005. The goal of the Symposium was to bring together a group of respected experts on serial murder from a variety of fields and specialties, to identify the commonalities of knowledge regarding serial murder.

Attendees at the Serial Murder Symposium agreed that there is no generic profile of a serial murderer. Serial killers differ in many ways, including their motivations for killing and their behavior at the crime scene. However, attendees did identify certain traits common to some serial murderers, including sensation seeking, a lack of remorse or guilt, impulsivity, the need for control, and predatory behavior. These traits and behaviors are consistent with the psychopathic personality disorder. Attendees felt it was very important for law enforcement and other professionals in the criminal justice system to understand psychopathy and its relationship to serial murder.

In  my first book The Girls’ Guide to Predators; the Games Some Men Play I recommend something similar: that women who are being stalked, learn all they can about the characteristics of psychopathy.  These guys actually do seem to play by the same rulebook, so it can’t hurt to Know they enemy!   Estimates vary among the experts but the general consensus is that between 50 and 90 percent of men who stalk women are psychopaths. (So that’s somewhere between half of them, and almost all of them!)  If she understands how a stalker thinks and behaves, a target will be better able to anticipate his next move and take precautions, rather than being caught off guard. One excellent resource is the Love Fraud website, which is run by Donna Anderson.

Cannibal Cop Leaves Jail

Why was Gilberto Valle released yesterday after being found guilty in 2013 of conspiracy to kidnap? Oh yes, the judge who heard his appeal, decided the former New York City cop presented no danger to the women he made plans to rape, torture, dismember and cook. In other words, despite tracking down their addresses, and researching ways to abduct, kill and cannibalize their remains, he was harmless. Just a regular guy —like Jeffrey Dahmer was a regular guy.

“This is a conspiracy that existed solely in cyberspace,” said the judge, Paul G. Gardephe. Well, I’m never going to get to meet you in person Judge, so I’ll just have an imaginary conversation with you in cyberspace.

I disagree with your decision, Judge Gardephe. I believe you’re wrong to regard the internet as a forum where psychopaths reveal murder fantasies to each other to great applause, but that’s as far as it ever goes. Recently, Elliot Rodgers went online to PickUpArtists, another website where men express hatred of women. Rodgers outlined his plan to shoot as many women as he could, and he went out and completed the task. He killed six people and wounded 13 others near the University of California before his rampage was ended.

Now, I have a question. If you had been given a transcript of Elliot Rodgers’s chat room conversation where he announced his intention to murder women, would you have dismissed it as insufficient to prove intent to harm? If you had, that decision would have come to haunt you. Well, Judge, like Elliott Rodger, Gilberto Valle was writing of his intent. And you have released Gilberto Valle. I hope that decision doesn’t come back to haunt you.

You ruled that a plan to commit a crime if it is shared on the internet —no matter that the research has suggested extensive planning—should not be taken seriously. I can assure you that if a plan to kill the President was discussed on the internet and the offender had been to scout out the White House, it would be treated as a credible assassination plot. No federal judge would release the prisoner from jail so he could walk free around Washington. DC.

And what if you were the intended victim? If a rage-fueled individual with a hatred of the justice system shared his plan online to break into your home and abduct, torture and kill you, and if he had located your address and followed you there, would you dismiss it as harmless fantasy and sleep peacefully in your bed at night? I doubt it.

So, what is it about the internet in this particular case that makes it a crime free zone for you? I don’t understand why you believe Mr. Gilberto Valle—a man with a manifest rage against women—did not have the intention to carry out his heinous plans. After all, he made plans. What if plans for the kidnapping of the famous Lindbergh baby had been discovered before the event actually occurred in the 1930s. Should a judge dismiss such plans as ‘fantasy’ because the child hadn’t yet been kidnapped? Should the conspirators be given their freedom even if they had tracked down the address of the Lindbergh baby, and had started lurking outside? Of course not. They had intent. And in the case of the Cannibal Cop, he had crossed the boundary from planning into action. He had taken the risk of illegally searching for his proposed victim’s addresses on a law enforcement data base, and he had begun stalking them. Doesn’t that imply intent to kidnap and kill?

“The highly unusual facts of this case reflect the Internet age in which we live,” you ruled. When it comes to sex crimes, the boundary between fantasy and realization isn’t as thick as the Great Wall of China, Judge. It’s thin. Every criminal profiler knows that. In the 1980s FBI profilers interviewed hundreds of homicidal sex predators in jails around the USA. John Douglas recalled: “One of the things we clearly established was that in any sexually related predatory crime, the fantasy always precedes the acting out.”

Roger Depue was head of the FBI’s Behavioral Sciences Unit at Quantico at the time. In his memoir, he wrote that it is inevitable that once a violent fantasy takes root, the homicidal sex predator becomes obsessed with figuring out how to bring it to life. Other interests are pushed aside. I’m guessing Gilberto Valle didn’t have much time for other hobbies while he was researching torture. The guy was a ticking time-bomb.

But let’s give the last word to serial killer Edmund Kemper who brought mayhem, death and suffering to eight women. “I knew long before I started killing that I was going to be killing, that it was going to end up like that. The fantasies were too strong. They were going on for too long and were too elaborate.”

You should have done your homework, Judge Valle before you let the prisoner walk.

Obama urges students to do more to help prevent campus rapes

In 2009, President Barack Obama declared April to be National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. “Sexual assault is pervasive in the United States” said the President, in a solemn address from the Rose Garden. “One recent study found that 18 per cent of women in this country have been raped in their lifetimes. ” After detailing the worrying statistics, Obama gave a call to action : “ I urge all Americans to respond to sexual assault by creating policies at work and school, by engaging in discussions with family and friends, and by making the prevention of sexual assault a priority in their communities.”

Yup, that what he said back in 2009. Talk about a fizzler. Did “all Americans” respond to sexual assault in the ways the President recommended? Uh, nope. Now I’m not letting ordinary citizens off the hook, but even more striking than our lack of action was the deafening silence from those in positions of power.   Where was the church? The university chancellors? The senators, congressmen, state governors and city mayors? I guess they thought they had better things to do with their time than declare war on sexual violence.  Instead of the vast improvement Obama called for back in 2009, the statistics for sexual violence against women and girls continued to worsen.  In 2012 a study by the US Centers of Disease Prevention and Control reported that one in five women in this country has been raped or experienced an attempted rape, and “1.3 million women annually may be victims of rape or attempted rape. (New York Times 4/9/2012). Law enforcement officials also voiced the opinion that the country is in the midst of an “epidemic of sexual violence”.

When did society start accepting sexual violence against females as something sad but…well, inevitable?   Politicians are so complacent about sexual violence that it’s not an issue they even bother to campaign on. Is that because sexual assault is predominantly a crime against women and girls? It’s looking that way, isn’t it? I’m pretty sure that if 1.3 million males were raped in the USA in the year 2012, it would not only be unacceptable, it would be the number one issue on every politician’s lips. A situation where  one in 5 women is a rape victim adds up to millions of victims living in this country. It tells us something else: with such high numbers, there are a lot of rapists out there.   The FBI also tells us that most rapes are committed by repeat offenders. In fact, according to FBI experts in sex crimes, there is no such thing as a non serial rapist; there is only a rapist who was sent to jail before committing a second rape.  Rehabilitation has been proven not to work on serial rapists, which makes it a baffling decision whenever parole boards release violent offenders early for ‘good behavior’.  In jail these predators were removed from their prey. . Good behavior towards guards and fellow inmates does not guarantee future good behavior towards women and girls.   The Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports that of more than 560,000 registered sex offenders in the country, “at least 100,000 are ‘missing.’”

In the first two or three years after Obama first announced National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, there was little evidence of any nationwide change in sexual assault awareness. But then gradually the topic of campus rapes became hot news, and so did military rapes. In both those closed environments, the institutions—the military, the universities— had failed to treat the victims’ complaints seriously, and let their rapists go free, no doubt to prey on others. There is evidence that because of these high profile cases, ordinary people are getting fed up with the way rape victims are being treated, and so last week President Obama tried again. He called for a shift in the country’s response to victims of sexual assault, and a vast improvement in the way women are treated.   “Our society doesn’t sufficiently value women” he stated emphatically. He called for a “fundamental shift in our culture” .

Obama acknowledged that improvements to the problem of sexual violence against women had not progressed much under his tenure. “We’ve been working on campus sexual assault for several years, but the issue of violence against women is in the news every day.” So he tried a different tack. Instead of another appeal to those in positions of power to make fighting sexual assault a priority in their communities, an appeal which had previously produced such a lackluster response, he shifted his focus to the younger generation.   In a speech from the East Room of the White House, he announced a plan aimed at empowering students to do more to prevent sexual assaults on their campuses. Actually students have already been galvanized into taking action, so Obama is just encouraging the flames of protest, but it’s worth doing. The campaign’s name is “It’s on us,” and the intention, said the president, is send a message that every individual has a responsibility to confront the issue of sexual violence. We can only hope that students will continue to challenge the ongoing apathy of politicians and institutions to the issue of sexual assaults.  Now, that would be an example of a real community, one that looks out for each other.

The Cannibal Cop Leaves Jail

Wow! This breaking news story is hard to wrap my head around. Why was Gilberto Valle released after being found guilty in 2013 of conspiracy to kidnap? Oh yes, the judge who heard his appeal, decided the former New York City cop presented no danger to the women he made plans to rape, torture, dismember and cook. In other words, despite tracking down their addresses, and researching ways to abduct, kill and cannibalize their remains, he was harmless. Just a regular guy —like Jeffrey Dahmer was a regular guy.

“This is a conspiracy that existed solely in cyberspace,” said the judge, Paul G. Gardephe. Well, I’m never going to get to meet you in person Judge, so I’ll just have an imaginary conversation with you in cyberspace.

I disagree with your decision, Judge Gardephe. I believe you’re wrong to regard the internet as a forum where psychopaths reveal murder fantasies to each other to great applause, but that’s as far as it ever goes. Recently, Elliot Rodgers went online to PickUpArtists, another website where men express hatred of women. Rodgers outlined his plan to shoot as many women as he could, and he went out and completed the task. He killed six people and wounded 13 others near the University of California before his rampage was ended.

Now, a question. If you had been given a transcript of Elliot Rodgers’s chat room conversation where he announced his intention to murder women, would you have dismissed it as insufficient to prove intent to harm? If you had, that decision would have come to haunt you. Well, Judge, like Elliott Rodger, Gilberto Valle was writing of his intent. And you have released Gilberto Valle. I hope that decision doesn’t come back to haunt you.

You ruled that a plan to commit a crime if it is shared on the internet —no matter that the research has suggested extensive planning—should not be taken seriously. I can assure you that if a plan to kill the President was discussed on the internet and the offender had been to scout out the White House, it would be treated as a credible assassination plot. No federal judge would release the prisoner from jail so he could walk free around Washington. DC.

And what if you were the intended victim? If a rage-fueled individual with a hatred of the justice system shared his plan online to break into your home and abduct, torture and kill you, and if he had located your address and followed you there, would you dismiss it as harmless fantasy and sleep peacefully in your bed at night? I doubt it.

So, what is it about the internet in this particular case that makes it a crime free zone for you? I don’t understand why you believe Mr. Gilberto Valle—a man with a manifest rage against women—did not have the intention to carry out his heinous plans. After all, he made plans. What if plans for the kidnapping of the famous Lindbergh baby had been discovered before the event actually occurred in the 1930s. Should a judge dismiss such plans as ‘fantasy’ because the child hadn’t yet been kidnapped? Should the conspirators be given their freedom even if they had tracked down the address of the Lindbergh baby, and had started lurking outside? Of course not. They had intent. And in the case of the Cannibal Cop, he had crossed the boundary from planning into action. He had taken the risk of illegally searching for his proposed victim’s addresses on a law enforcement data base, and he had begun to stalk them. Doesn’t that imply intent to kidnap and kill?

“The highly unusual facts of this case reflect the Internet age in which we live,” you ruled. When it comes to sex crimes, the boundary between fantasy and realization isn’t as thick as the Great Wall of China, Judge. It’s thin. Every criminal profiler knows that. In the 1980s FBI profilers interviewed hundreds of homicidal sex predators in jails around the USA. John Douglas recalled: “One of the things we clearly established was that in any sexually related predatory crime, the fantasy always precedes the acting out.”

Roger Depue was head of the FBI’s Behavioral Sciences Unit at Quantico at the time. In his memoir, he wrote that it is inevitable that once a violent fantasy takes root, the homicidal sex predator becomes obsessed with figuring out how to bring it to life. Other interests are pushed aside. I’m guessing Gilberto Valle didn’t have much time for other hobbies while he was researching torture. The guy was a ticking time-bomb.

But let’s give the last word to serial killer Edmund Kemper who brought mayhem, death and suffering to eight women. “I knew long before I started killing that I was going to be killing, that it was going to end up like that. The fantasies were too strong. They were going on for too long and were too elaborate.”

You should have done your homework, Judge Valle before you let the prisoner walk.

The Highway Serial Killings Initiative.

By the late 1960s, the US highway system had become a major hunting ground for serial killers.
When he was living in Seattle, Ted Bundy drove his VW across several state lines to abduct women. Jerry Brudos drove his station wagon up and down the I-5 freeway, from Portland to Salem to Corvallis, looking for women he could pick up. David Gore often teamed up with his cousin Fred Waterfield: “one of us would pick the other up early and we’d literally drive hundreds of miles hunting”.

Predators on the road keep an eye out for stranded female motorists, hitchhikers, lovers at scenic lookouts, women working a late shift at a 711, girls on beaches, and prostitutes at truck stops

“I never had to go far to find a victim for most all truck stops across the US had whores working in and around them. ( Joe Roy Methany)

Like Joe Roy Methany, and Keith Hunter Jesperson, a high percentage of serial killers now behind bars were once employed as long haul truckers. There is little to no criminal background checks on these jobs, and the amount of freedom and the lack of supervision is attractive to an antisocial type. With a long haul truck, it is also relatively easy for a serial killer to get away with murder. One FBI investigator explains “You’ve got a mobile crime scene. You can pick a girl up on the East Coast, kill her two states away and then dump her three states after that.”

Between 1980 -2010 the bodies of more than 500 missing women were found dumped near major highways. However, the numbers are likely to be “grossly underreported” says the FBI, which expects the total number of such homicides is probably in the thousands. The FBI suspects American highways have become dumping grounds for serial killers.

The more than 500 victims included prostitutes and hitchhikers – many of them picked up at truck stops or gas stations-, women whose cars had broken down, and women with jobs at 24 hour businesses along major highways.

The fact the killers have never been identified, prompted the FBI to set up The Highway Serial Killings Initiative in 2010. It has interrogated scores of truckers, particularly those who had come under suspicion for sexual assaults before 2010 but might not have been arrested for lack of evidence.

More than 200 potential suspects have been identified but as yet only 10 suspects – believed to be responsible for 30 homicides – have been arrested.

Ten arrests is obviously inadequate admits the FBI, when weighed against the hundreds of women’s bodies that have been found, but investigators are confident there will be more arrests in the future.

On the Road.

Lucinda Schaefer got out of her fellowship meeting early, and decided to walk home along the Pacific Coast highway. The sixteen year old girl was unaware she was being followed by two men in a van. After she turned into an empty suburban street, Lawrence Bittacker parked the van further down the road. Roy Norris got out and waited for Lucinda on the pavement. As she went to pass him, he tackled her and threw her into the van, which then sped off. She was never seen alive again.

In a study of serial rapists, the FBI reported that almost a third of them identified themselves as compulsive drivers. They said driving gave them a sense of freedom. While they drove they kept an eye out for a girl – or even two girls- walking along the side of the road.

“I would find a girl walking” (serial killer Gerald Stano)

So what’s the best thing to do if you’re walking along a road and you notice a male driver following you in his vehicle . Police say you should turn and run in the opposite direction. It will take the driver a while to turn his vehicle around, especially in traffic, and he might decide it’s too much trouble. Meanwhile you have bought yourself valuable time to escape.

If a man jumps out of a van and strides towards you, you shouldn’t wait to find out what he wants, just take off running. If he pursues you, and there are other drivers around, run along the middle of the road, waving at them to stop. It’s better to take the risk of being injured than to be abducted.

If the drivers don’t stop, yell at them to call 911. Someone will have a cell-phone.

If the predator manages to chase you off the road, you should continue to run in the direction of other people: a house, a barking dog, a factory.

Cyclists on a lightly traveled road are nearly as vulnerable as pedestrians. It is not uncommon for a predator to knock the cyclist off her bike, and abduct her in his vehicle.

If you believe a vehicle following you, ,quickly around and peddle the bike in the opposite direction. As I mentioned before, it will take the driver a while to turn his vehicle around, and he may decide it’s not worth it.