Expert: More treatment needed for sex offenders

Posted at 5:40 PM, Sep 22, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-22 17:40:33-04

Two horrendous cases of sexual assault happened or started in Ybor City in less than a month. Both of them committed by registered sex offenders. One local expert says he doesn't believe enough is being done to treat the offenders in and out of prison.

In August, Tampa Police arrested 40-year-old John Knight for drugging and assaulting young women and girls at his home in Ybor. Several years ago, he was convicted of assaulting a young girl in Sarasota County.

This past weekend, Deputies arrested former heavyweight boxer Barry Lineberger for kidnapping a woman, taking her to his home and sexually assaulting her.

In both cases, the men picked up their victims outside of a club in Ybor. 

"It's like being a fox in a hen house." Bob Whitford, director of Psychotherapy Forensic Services, said.

Whitford has been treating sex offenders for the past 40 years.

"Most of the time they engage in behaviors because of emotional disorders like anxiety, disorders, guilt and anger." He said.

All of those are things Whitford believes can be treated and corrected. But, he adds, it's treatment that's not readily available or required in prison or after release.

When asked if offenders are being treated enough, Whitford responded by saying "No, they're no."

According to the Florida Department of Corrections, 29 percent of sex offenders re-offend. Whitford says that drops to 7-10 percent after treatment. 

While treatment is offered in prison, it's not always required.  

We requested information about any treatment Knight may have received while in prison, but were told the DOC could not release that information because of health privacy laws.

Still, Whitford is convinced more resources and treatment could reduce the number of crimes committed by registered offenders.

"A lot of time, people can change." He said.