ABC13 gets answers from rapists inside Texas prisons

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Convicted Texas rapists warned ABC13 Investigates there is little people can do to avoid rape "if the perp is determined."

Another warned, "no one is ever safe."

In a more disturbing set of answers, more than two-thirds of ABC13 survey respondents admitted the sexual assault they are currently serving time for was NOT the only one they've ever committed.

In December 2016, ABC13 sent surveys to hundreds of Texas inmates convicted of sexual assault. Some of the answers reflect much of what is well known about sexual assault: 36 percent of convicted rapists said their victim was someone they were dating.

When we asked the men in prison (all of our respondents were male) why they picked their victim, the results were harder to group. One said the way she looked and he was angry at the rejection when she turned him down.

"I believe sexual clothing makes a rapist look at you. They get angry when the woman isn't how she is dressed like. They feel rejection," he said.

Another said because she "couldn't fight back."

The other responses were incredibly varied and included:

  • "Where her car broke down"

  • "We were alone in the same bed"

  • "She asked me to dance"

  • "She chose me"

  • "I thought she was my wife (suspect was highly intoxicated)"

  • "We met because her ex-boyfriend robbed and shot me"

There were no groupings of note for why specific victims were chosen, but there is an incredible amount of victim-blaming and denial. When asked if they considered their assault to be a crime, 35 percent said they did not.

"If she had given me my due right as my wife, I would not have forced myself on her," one respondent told us from behind bars. His sentiment is a clear violation of Texas law which always allows women - married or otherwise - to say no. Texas law similarly makes it a crime when women - married or single - cannot consent to sex due to drug or alcohol use.

Fifty-two percent of respondents told ABC13 their victims were sober during the sexual assault.

But 58 of assailants were drunk or high when they sexually assaulted their victim.

"I used to use the excuse that I was drink or high. It's not an excuse," one of the men said.

The offenders are weeks away from completing the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's Sexual Offender Treatment Program. Almost all sexual assault parolees are expected to successfully complete the course before being released from a Texas prison.

As part of the therapy, the convicts must admit what they've done and that even if drugs or alcohol were involved, it was not the reason for the crime.

The same convict now describes his motivation as a need for power and control, hoping Texans will give him a chance to prove he's changed.

Joseph Bon-Jorno who manages the treatment program told us, "They're forced to come up with a very viable plan that pertains to their lives of how they will go from prison and not re-offend."

His statistics seem to suggest the treatment is working. The overall recidivism rate for all offenders leaving Texas prisons is 21 percent, but only 11 percent of graduates from TDCJ Sex Offender Treatment programs re-offend.

As part of treatment, Bon-Jorno told ABC13 Investigates' Ted Oberg, "In large part they've had other (sexual assault) offenses. They will speak of the number of victims they've had. It gets rather eyebrow raising when it comes to hundreds of people."

In fact, 69 percent of respondents to the ABC13 survey admit the assault they were convicted of was not their only sexual assault.

When it comes to stopping sexual assault, 96 percent of the convicted rapists told their victims didn't fight back in any way.

In the survey, 69 percent of the convicts said they were unarmed during the assault.

ABC13 asked convicts for their advice on how to stop assaults.

There was no common answer, but many gave their advice:

  • "Put up a fight of any kind"

  • "Make that person feel guilty about what (is) about to take place and explain this is not sex"

  • "Do not put yourself in the position to be alone with someone they don't know"

  • "Don't open your (car) door for anyone but a police officer"

  • "Always be aware of your surroundings and don't go out alone"

Bon-Jorno, the TDCJ treatment manager, echoed the final piece telling us, "As part of being aware of surroundings, 'trust-your-gut' when there's a sense of it being unsafe around someone." He added, "Make plans ahead-of-time for how to deal with scenarios (if the car breaks down, someone comes to the door, etc.) to remain safe."
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