Proctor murder fuels debate over sex arousal tests
The disturbing murder of Kimberly Proctor at the hands of two teenage psychopaths has re-ignited the debate over a controversial testing tool for young sexual offenders that was halted by the province last summer.
For years, therapists have used penile plethysmography tests, or "phallometry," for boys as young as 13 in sex offence treatment programs to measure their sexual arousal level and help treat their dangerous behaviour.
The boys view pictures of nude and semi-clad children and listen to audio descriptions of forced sexual scenarios while a ring device is attached to their penis.
The testing was halted permanently last summer by B.C.'s minister of children and family development, who said although the tests are intended to help develop treatments for sex offenders, the questionable nature of the procedure outweighs any potential benefits. The testing is still used on adult sex offenders.
The ministry said it was forced to take swift action after it was revealed one of the men who conducts the tests was charged with a non-related sexual assault in 2009.
A veteran forensic psychiatrist who worked on the Proctor case says the province has taken away a valuable tool that could prevent young offenders from becoming sexual offenders as adults.
Dr. Roy O'Shaughnessy said, "The teens are on the severe end of the spectrum."
Psychiatric reports said Kruse Wellwood and Cameron Moffat show little hope of rehabilitation. But O'Shaughnessy, the former clinical director of Youth Forensic Psychiatric Services, says the majority of less severe young sex offenders can be helped and treated.
O'Shaughnessy says the test is important because it helps therapists detect whether young people have deviant sexual arousal.
He also believes it's better to have that information at a young age, to bolster the chances of rehabilitation.
"For many, we can teach them how to control arousal and change their lives," he said.
Psychiatrists say that sexual deviance is a strong sign that a sex offender will attack again.
Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, the Representative for Children and Youth, has been investigating the test and will release her recommendations later this month.
The BC Civil Liberties Association and the group Justice for Girls have both raised concerns over the testing.
O'Shaughnessy says society as a whole benefits from the early treatment of adolescent sexual offenders.
"It may prevent them from becoming adult sexual offenders," he said.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Mi-Jung Lee