Female Sex Offender Struggles in All-Male Unit

Minn. state doesn't know what to do with Rhonda Bailey
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 8, 2014 10:19 AM CDT
Female Sex Offender Struggles in All-Male Unit
In this July 16, 2014, photo, Rhonda Bailey, 48, talks about a picture that she drew as part of her art therapy at the Minnesota Sex Offender Program in St. Peter, Minn.   (AP Photo/Amy Forliti)

Rhonda Bailey has done some horrific things. The 49-year-old woman raped two young boys, ages 9 and 10, in 1990 and has spoken since of her "inability to control her urges" to sexually abuse children, reports the AP in an exclusive interview. But Bailey was a victim of childhood sexual trauma herself: She was repeatedly beaten and raped by her father and another relative growing up—she says the abuse began when she was 5—and when she was 14, she had a baby fathered by one of the two. Bailey, who has a low IQ, is currently the only female in Minnesota's sex offender treatment program—and the state says it won't move her and that there aren't many other ways it can deal with her case, even though she's living in an otherwise all-male unit.

Experts say that, considering her childhood history and mental issues, it's "shocking" Bailey has to live with men and, until recently, hear details of the victims they abused in group sessions. After the meetings, Bailey says, "When it was time to go to bed, I would have a flashback—seeing when my dad was sexually abusing me." She now does individual work, including art therapy. Doctors acknowledge Bailey "has a deviant arousal to children and violence" and say that she needs a specialized program. "I believe rather than making her better, her issues have been prolonged," a court-appointed expert says. Bailey, who counts some of the male offenders among her friends, says she'd rather be around women in a halfway house or group home. Officials are discussing her options. (More female sex offender stories.)

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