TUCSON, Ariz. (KVOA) — A multi-agency operation involving Tucson Police lead to the arrest of nine child predators in our community.
This was a 4-day operation in which undercover agents took part in online chats with adults, the agents posing as kids ages 7 to 16.
According to TPD, the adults agreed to meet these agents pretending to be kids in person to engage in sexual acts.
The operation ran from Jan. 31, to Feb. 3.
At the end of the operation, nine people were taken into custody after showing up to meet the kid they were chatting with online and booked into jail on various charges including luring a minor for sexual exploitation, child sex trafficking, and more.
News 4 Tucson had the chance to speak with a clinical psychologist about the psychological side of what comes next for these child predators.
“Can child predators be rehabilitated?” asked News 4 Tucson’s Megan Spector.
“We can rehabilitate the low-risk offenders. The high-risk offenders I have never really seen good research that says they can be rehabilitated,” said Dr. Connor.
Dr. Ed Connor is a clinical psychologist who has worked with sexual predators since the mid-90’s.
News 4 Tucson walked him through the Tucson Police Department’s undercover operation to catch child predators in our community and asked him what he looks for during his evaluations of these cases.
“Typically we have what’s called a psycho-sexual risk assessment,” said Dr. Connor. “And what that means is we’re gonna do a psychological evaluation with the sexual deviancy component and just try to classify are they a low risk, moderate risk or high risk.”
Research from the non-profit ‘Race Against Abuse of Children Everywhere,’ says that most perpetrators will continue to abuse children if they are not reported and stopped.
They say an average serial child molester may have as many as 400 victims in their lifetime.
“The individual with repeated crimes against children, they’re more difficult to treat. Normally, like any medical problem, it goes for psychology as well. If you catch something early, it’s easier to treat,” said Dr. Connor.
Tucson police caught 9 child predators, but based on this research, we know this could have saved hundreds of children.
Dr. Connor says social media has opened the door for predators to gain access to children more easily and quickly, adding responsibility to parents.
“We really instruct parents to really know who your children are talking to online. Check their cell phones, check their computers. Gone are the days where we should turn that over to the children to self-monitor because there are too many predators online,” said Dr. Connor.
If you’d like to see if there are sex offenders living in your area, you can check the sex offender registry and type in your address.