Sex Offender Treatment, Can They Be Cured?

We've been looking into registered sex offenders, where they live, who supervises them and how their risk levels are determined.

Now, we're taking a closer look at what motivates a sex offender and how they got to where they are today.

For a better understanding of what makes them tick, we're sitting down with a sex offender who is trying to turn his life around.

In this Newschannel 6 exclusive, Lindsey Rogers talks with a man convicted of sex crimes and a treatment counselor and pushes her for the answer to the question on everyone's mind, 'can these individuals really change?'

"The majority of sex offenders happen in their own home, I did," the sex offender we talked with said.

He is a registered sex offender currently on probation in Wichita Falls. We're keeping his identity anonymous out of respect for his victim.

His sentence of seven years probation came nearly two decades after his sex crime act actually happened.

"Some of these guys may have been offending their victims for years. If it was an incest situation they may have been doing it for years, they may have multiple victims that they were offending against that it was going on for a very long time," treatment provider Emily Orozco said.

The offender said his offense went on for two years with one victim.  Now, he is working to turn his life around.

"What we do in this program, what we learn is how to think. How to think correctly, not have deviant thoughts, but have healthy thoughts. We learn to examine ourselves and examine our thinking and change our thinking and monitor that thinking every minute of the day," he said.

He is currently in a court ordered treatment program through the Wichita County Probation Department.

Orozco is his treatment counselor and said most sex offenders start thinking deviant thoughts in their adolescence.

"Statistics show no one has once offense. Statistics show the average individual who commits an act of incest with females inside his home has at least two victims. And so when you're looking at statistics what you're going to find is that they may have been caught for one," she said.

Orozco said it's all about changing not only how a sex offender acts, but more importantly, how they think.

"Most of these guys didn't know how to have good relationships, that's why they're here. So, in this process they learn how to have good relationships with people, how to treat people, how to establish boundaries , what boundaries are about and what love's about," she said.

"The only way I can keep from having a new victim is to watch my thinking."

Once a week, a group of up to 12 sex offenders will meet for a treatment session.

"During this process they have to tell us about everything they were thinking, all the fantasies they were having, how they wanted their victim to respond, they would have to tell us how they set up the victim, how they groomed the victims, how they groomed everybody around them to believe they were this innocent person not doing anything wrong. And then from the beginning to the end they would have to describe what they've done," Orozco said.

The idea is to share everything in hopes they can learn from each other's mistakes and successes and ultimately keep each other accountable.

"When you have a group of individuals who have committed the same types of offenses or in the same area, sex offenses they're going to listen to each other more than they would someone outside that setting," she said.

Sex offenders on probation and parole are also required to meet one-on-one with a treatment provider.

"Those who come in and work treatment, work hard. It's hard, it's not easy. When they make the decision and make the choice to say, I'm going to do this, they work hard. They work they put out is intense and it's not easy to come in and say look at all the ugly things I've done. This is a process and then to bring their families in and say guess what I didn't just do what they caught me doing. Here's everything else. This is a tough process, it's tough for them, it's tough for the families. To me, probation is a privileged," Orozco said.

"They probably spend $250 a month on treatment plus pay for their own polygraphs if that's part of the treatment," Wichita County Probation Director Dave Johnson said.

The sex offender we talked with claims treatment is helping him control his temptations.

"I would still be using many of the deviant thoughts deviant actions, the wrong way of thinking. I may not have had another victim but I would still have been doing the deviant sexual things that I did."

But, can it change them for good?

"When they decided they want to change, yeah, I think they do change," Orozco said.

She said those who are in denial, unable to accept responsibility for what they did and be accountable for it, will never change.

If that's the case, she says treatment won't work and she must discharge them.

"Along with the bad stories of watch your children be careful and ask questions, there's good stories because there are guys out there who do change and there are individuals out there who say I don't want to do this anymore and I don't want to create any more victims. And ultimately that's our goal is no more victims," she said.

"When you get treatment, we change, and we become the people we should have been in the first place."

Offenders are taught in treatment that they did a bad thing, but are not bad people.

"In some ways, thinking about getting off probation and being out on my own constantly scares the crap out of me."

So in eleven months will he trust himself to keep himself accountable without group sessions?

"Yes, because I also have my wife, my family, my neighbors who know about me that I'm still accountable to and if I have a problem and I start having thoughts and problems I can go to them with those because they are my support group."

Thursday night Lindsey will take a look at some national efforts to help keep better tabs on registered sex offenders, whether juveniles should have to register and if the laws are really helping.

We're also looking at ways law enforcement suggests on how to protect your family.

"The whole idea that sex offenders go out and lurk around in parks and try to snatch children is, that's out of proportion from what we see. It's more caregivers, relatives," Sgt. Ginger Gilmore said.

The key tip here, always be aware.

Law Enforcement officers need your help catching this most wanted sex offender in Texoma.

22-year-old Jonathan Guadalupe Cantu is wanted for violation of probation for sexual assault of a child and violation of probation for burglary of a habitation.

He is 5'8'', 170lbs. with black hair and brown eyes.

He has a "Texas" tattoo on his upper left arm and a "Soccer #8" on his upper right arm.

If you have any information that may lead to the capture and arrest of Jonathan Cantu you are asked to call the Wichita County Adult Probation Department at (940) 766-8213.

Jonathan Cantu, 22 years old