Houston Press Lists Top 10 “Hottest” Sex Offenders

A few days ago, a website called Houston Press (which is affiliated with Village Voice Media), published a list of the top 10 “hottest” sex offenders.  The point?  Stereotypes of sex offenders, according to the author, are of men who are “not good looking.”  This list showed photos of “hot” women who had also committed crimes that included sexually assaulting teenagers and, in the case of one woman, aggravated sexual assault against a 2-year-old boy (I’m not linking to the list because I don’t want to generate more traffic toward it).

Needless to say, there was an immediate uproar.  But when Richard Connelly, the post’s author, apologized, he did not appear to realize just how offensive his post was.  Instead, he claimed that he was trying to be provocative, and break the stereotypes surrounding sex offenders.

“In an attempt to catch attention (and yes, eyeballs and clicks), I thought of the ten hottest female sex offenders. ‘Hottest’ because it’s a Web-headline staple for such listicles,” he explained.  “I also wrote an over-the-top intro, trusting that the outrageous headline (Anything putting ‘hottest’ near ‘sex offenders,’ I thought, would clearly show over-the-topness) would indicate this was fully intended to shock.”

Connelly says that it was “not his intention” to glamorize or trivialize child rape.  Why none of his editors thought this would be a problem is another question.  But it’s hard to believe that Connelly didn’t realize that this would be a horrible, offensive way to deal with the issue of sex offenders.  And it raises questions about journalistic ethics when part of the reality of writing for websites is that writers are trying to generate traffic to their site.

As Jessica Wakeman points out, “All writers deal with sensitive subjects to others — whether it’s abortions, miscarriages, ‘medically necessary’ plastic surgery — at some point or another and you always try to inject humor into it so as not to truly offend anyone.”  But, she adds, “That after-the-fact explanation does not absolve him, or his employers, of their responsibility.”

And, as Irin Carmon wrote on Jezebel, “We’re having a lot of trouble buying Connelly’s claim that he was making a socially relevant point when he chose to showcase female sex offenders, who make up a minority of the registry, and his intro read in part, ‘There are females on [the sex offenders list], too. Most of them are not good-looking, true, but who takes a good mugshot besides Tom DeLay?  We combed through 15 of the biggest counties in Texas and came up with the ten hottest women in the database.’”  That’s not, as Irin rightly says, very convincing support for Connelly’s claim that he was trying to show that sex offenders look like everyone else.

The fact is, also, that female sex offenders make up a minority of the registry.  So while Connelly may claim that he was trying to “raise awareness” about the different types of people who commit horrible crimes like the ones he highlighted, what it really turned into was fetishizing child rapists because they were conventionally attractive women.  There is a line between provocative and offensive.  Connelly crossed it.  And he should not be forgiven because, after the fact, he said that he was trying to raise consciousness.  Someone in the conversation didn’t get the point — but it’s Connelly, his editors, and his publishers, not the people who called them out.


Photo from Flickr.

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Mary T.
Mary T.2 years ago

OMG, Hottest sex offender...OMG, what in the hell is wrong with this world...they are sex offenders because they did something bad to others. who cares what they look like, lots of rapist are the handsome Alll American Boy like Ted Bundy

Petra Luna
Petra Luna4 years ago

Sex offenders are NOT "HOT" they're criminals. We need to protect our children.

Lika S.
Lika S.4 years ago

Okay, I realize that anyone trying to add a positive title like hot to sex offenders, but seriously? We do need to get off of the stereotype of the ugly and desperate person who can't get a date is the offender, and needs to be felt sorry for because otherwise they can't get a date type sentiment.

Sex offenders are about power. Taking power over the victim. It's about access, the stranger danger is a minority, and it's not always the creep, whose already afraid of the public. Most often it's the favorite teacher, or the well liked young minister, etc.

Good article, and definitely things to ponder.

Luann DeLuca
Luann DeLuca4 years ago

Was not Ted Bundy an extremely good looking man? I am sure that is how he was able to perpetrate the enormous number of serial murders due to the fact his attractiveness threw his female targets offguard.

Judith Corrigan
Judith Corrigan4 years ago

I think that it was a good way to raise awareness and challenge peoples perceptions of sex offenders.People may be offended but they are talking about it.

Joy Jin
Joy Jin4 years ago

Why would someone do that? Doesn't that just encourage more sex offenders?

CHRISTOPHER S.4 years ago

The fact that Care2 knows that they are wrong on this one is clearly highlighted by the failure to include their typical reader survey question at the end of the article... Afraid to discover that most of us may not agree with your promotion of censorship?

colleen prinssen
colleen p.4 years ago

could be half a good idea. everyone would want to think "sex offenders are only ugly, fat,greasy, disesed looking 40+ year old men with 8 teeth and horrible skin"

or, "you can tell because the look like a creap" or "look too wholesom"

hot teachers sexualy assult 15 year old boys? or just sleep with them? both are illegal. but to me, making it like "drug someone and rape" or "hit in the head and rape". but then again "ewww why is a teacher smoozing with her teen students? who cares how old she is, she can't get a man her age? ewww, what would a teen boy want with a older woman anyway???"

too bad this "hot or not" list wasn't funded by pervertedjustice's website

Ernie Miller
william Miller4 years ago

People need to be able to print and say what they believe. Yes he may have been pressing the boundries and aiming for clicks and money but he also does show a point that Sex offenders come in all types and every one needs to loke out for their children family members and neighbors to prevent any one from being molested and harmed.

Myriam G.
Myriam G.4 years ago

I agree that his choice of words are too provocative and I'm not so sure about his intents but... he's got a point.
It is true that a lot of people, specially young people, think that sex offenders are ''ugly dudes who can't get any''. Just like in cartoons, or in blockbuster movies, where the good guy has the face of an angel, and the bad guy is hopelessly ugly... This can put young people at risk, thinking: '' this guy I just met is good-looking, he's GOT to be honest... It must be safe to go with him for a ride!''
A few years back, in Montreal, some horrible man raped and killed a young woman, then another one. They finally caught him. He was a very beautiful man, and the police thought that's partly how he lured his victims.