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Newspaper Apologizes for “Hottest Sex Offender” List

Today in offputting, we hear from Poynter that Houston Press, a Village Voice affiliate, wrote a post called “10 Hottest Women on the Texas Sex Offenders List.”

Funny stuff. Note that women on the list have assaulted boys and girls ranging from two to 16 years old.

The writer of the piece, editor Richard Connelly, was, obviously, taken to task in the comments under the post, such as this one: “There is nothing about child molestation that should be glorified. I cannot believe this got published and everyone involved should be fired.”

Now he has issued an apology, and explained the genesis of this post:

Last week I spoke to two veteran child-porn prosecutors… It triggered an idea about how people have a pre-conceived notion of what dangerous predators “always” look like — slovenly fat guys in t-shirts asking kids if they wanted a ride — and how best to shake that notion up.

An item on “10 sex offenders who don’t look like sex offenders” might have done the trick, but seemed boring.

In an attempt to catch attention (and yes, eyeballs and clicks) I thought of the 10 hottest female sex offenders. “Hottest” because it’s a web-headline staple for such listicles.

Everyone is guilty of using outrageous headlines to get clicks. And certainly, this drew attention to the issue. But it is mind-blowing that the writer thought people would click through the list of women and look at the information on victims — including a 2-year-old victim of aggravated sexual assault — without finding the whole concept sick beyond all reason. Some things, like the seriousness of child sexual abuse and the crude world of sensational journalism, should not be combined with such little sensitivity.

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