What’s the Real Rate of Sex-Crime Recidivism? May 28, 2016
One sentence in a 1986 mass-market magazine continues to sway court cases involving sex offenders.
By Steven Yoder
In the early 1980s, rehabilitation counselor Robert Longo could hardly have known that his work with convicted sex offenders would make him a minor celebrity. At the time, he was running a program at the
to treat and
rehabilitate prisoners who had committed sex crimes. It was a new field, and
Longo says they were using what at the time were considered innovative
approaches: aversive conditioning, administration of Depo-Provera to reduce
testosterone levels, and penile plethysmography to measure arousal. Oregon State
In 1985, documentary filmmaker John Zaritsky heard about Longo’s work and gave him a call.
program was featured prominently in the resulting HBO special, Rapists:
Can They Be Stopped? While the film was being shot, word got around
about Longo’s methods, which were seen as a potential solution to ending rape.
He started getting invitations to appear on Oprah — he was on five times in all, he remembers — and now he was being quoted in the New York Times
and national magazines. Oregon