Female Sex Offenders a Rarity

Posted at: 09/04/2013 11:34 PM
By: Katie Eldred

Two disturbing child sex abuse cases in the area within just the past two months. Both times adult women accused of victimizing young boys.

In July an Austin woman was arrested for performing oral sex on a 13-year-old boy. This week similar allegations against a Winona County woman.

Prosecutors tell us despite these two cases it is still rare to see female sex offenders.  But experts say that doesn't necessarily mean that cases involving female sex offenders are not happening.

"One of the leaders in sexual child abuse prevention talks about it saying, that their sexuality has been hijacked by the popular messages, or in this case, someone else," said Jeanne Ronayne.

Ronayne of Olmsted County Victim Services says scars are always left behind in the case of sexual child abuse. She says cases where the offenders are females and the child says they were willing are no different.

Like the recent incident in Winona County where 43-year-old Pamela Fahy was allegedly found having sex with a 13 year old. According to the criminal complaint the boy admitted that they'd had multiple sexual encounters and that he had initiated it.

"There's the vulnerability and then there’s fact that she was a paraprofessional and a foster mom, there's a higher standard that people expect from people in those roles," said Karin Sonneman.

Winona County Attorney Sonneman says for whatever reason it is very rare to see females as the sexual offenders.

"Not very often that we see that, that was one of the first things that came to mind, is we don't see many females," said Sonneman.

Even more rare, this was not the first case in the area this year. Lisa Espe was arrested in Austin in August for allegedly performing oral sex on a child younger than 13.

But why do we see less of female sex offenders?

"There is a concern with more male children whether they are offended by women or men, are they less likely to report child sex abuse, and the answer is yes," said Ronayne.

Ronayne says we may not hear of as many boys offended by females because of the way our society mistakenly looks at sex.

"We might say it's a rite of passage for a boy and we might and yet there are other things we'd call a girl," said Ronayne.

She says these incidents no matter the circumstances have lasting effects on the children involved.

"As we are developing our understanding of relationships, consent, respect, and all of that, it can be very damaging," said Ronayne.

Espe pleaded not guilty back in August. Fahy was released Tuesday on a conditional bond. Her next court appearance will be later this month. She could face a maximum sentence of 15 years.