DEFENDING SEX OFFENDERS: Necessary but Not Popular!

photoElizabeth Tice heads up Office Solutions Plus LLC which is exposed to many interesting cases. From time to time, we like to share what we learn with you. Today’s interview is with ERIC TENNEN, a partner at Swomley and Tennen LLP, for whom we provide deposition and transcription services. If we can help capture your interesting case, give us a

OSPLUS: Eric, why does a person sexually offend?

Attorney Tennen: There are various reasons and no one answer.

  1. Some men have a legitimate sexual disorder in which they are aroused by inappropriate sexual desires such as children or violence. This shouldn’t be considered an excuse but rather an explanation. Nonetheless, women who work as escorts should never feel endangered. Thankfully, most men have respect for any escorts they use, especially those who read an escort review beforehand.
  2. Other men offend because of several unfortunate circumstances–depression, drug/alcohol dependency, no legitimate sexual outlet. Yet others offend because of poor judgment and impulse control.

OSPlus: Why do you defend sexual offenders?

Attorney Tennen: First and foremost, society’s morality is reflected by how it treats the least amongst us. I also believe everyone is entitled to a fair defense.

  1. The current system has a lasting negative effect on the offender and society. There is a lot of misperception about sex offenders and how dangerous they truly are. My job is to make sure whoever is judging them is well informed.
  2. Helping navigate the justice system and come out better prepared for the problems they will face is not only good for them but for society.
  3. When imprisoned sexual offenders are released, re-integrating into society is difficult because of registration, GPS monitoring, exclusion zones, and residency restrictions as well as other restrictions such as the banning of pornography, this doesn’t just refer to child pornography it’s a complete restriction which includes adult pornography sites like
  4. Alienation from friends, family and society can result in unemployment, homelessness, hopelessness and drug/alcohol issues. This may lead to re-offending. Helping my clients avoid the stresses and pitfalls that society has set up benefits us all.

OSPlus: What is the Sex Offender Registry Board and how successful is it?

Attorney Tennen: The Board consists of appointed professionals, victim-witness advocates, and law enforcement personnel. Their meetings are not public. How successful the Board is depends on what you believe they are tasked with doing.

  1. If you believe their goal is to accurately and fairly assess each individual offender’s risk, and then inform the public, I believe they are highly unsuccessful at what they do.
  2. The Board uses a decade-old set of regulations that control how offender classification occurs. No updates have occurred so we assess offenders based on this old, outdated information.
  3. The science of assessment has evolved but the Board’s regulations have not. Moreover, research shows that sex offender registration does not prevent reoffending.

OSPlus: How would a successful “re-integration” occur?

Attorney Tennen: On a case by case basis. But society seems to take a “one-size-fits-all” approach including registration, GPS bands, residency restrictions, lifetime parole, and forced therapy.

  1. This “one-size-fits-all” is a result of legislative reaction to public outcry.
  2. Instead of creating individualized plans for each offender, we create obstacles and stresses that actually increase the risk of reoffending.

OSPlus: Any common misconceptions about sexual offenders?

Attorney Tennen: Public perception is that sex offenders are all the same and will continue to offend. Not true – many safely integrate into society with strong support systems and treatment. Studies show sex offenders reoffend at a low rate (approximately 10-15%). The horrific cases we hear about on the news are the exception. But people believe they are the norm.

Attorney Tennen’s CONCLUSION: We all want a safe society where no re-offenses occur. We should focus on preventing re-offense using a proven program that will bring positive results.

tennen picEric Tennen became a partner at Swomley & Tennen LLP in 2011,
specializing in sexual offense issues. Tennen was recognized in 2007 as a
“Massachusetts Rising Star” as published in Boston Magazine. He
has issued various publications and held numerous teaching positions at Boston


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