By Sarah Foster Special to Published Mar 13, 2010 at 11:10 AM

This morning I went to three online news sources, both national and local, and found that each source had at least one separate story on sex offenders, ranging from rape to assault and kidnapping of a minor to assaults taking place in government-run institutions.

Just last week, Joel Hoffman assaulted a young woman from my alma mater in her apartment. Hoffman is now being held on $50,000 bond and faces charges of first-degree sexual assault, kidnapping, child enticement, stalking a child, burglary and four counts of second-degree sexual assault.

Many of these charges stem from Hoffman's prior assaults involving a 16-year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl. He faces up to 306 years in prison, and I'm hoping he's sentenced to each and every one of those years.

A 48-year-old Brookfield man was recently charged with kidnapping and raping a 14-year-old girl. He enticed her into his car, gave her alcohol and drove to an apartment where he raped and beat her in the building's basement. Sunil K. Singh told police he slapped the girl numerous times "to keep her from crying."

Just yesterday, the Journal Sentinel released a story about serious, recurring sexual assaults occurring between patients at the Milwaukee Mental Health Complex -- at least one of which resulted in the pregnancy of a 22-year-old mentally-disabled woman.

A 33-year-old teacher in Burbank, Calif., confessed this week to having sex multiple times over many months with one of her 14-year-old students. She's a married mother of three. If she is convicted, Amy Beck could face up to seven years behind bars. Cases like this are especially troubling due to the notion that school should be a place where children feel safe and where their parents can feel confident that, at the very least, their child's teachers are trustworthy and constantly have their child's best interest and safety in mind.

All of the cases I've just mentioned were reported within one week of each other, and these are just the cases that make the news. I shutter to think of all the unreported cases of rape and varying degrees of assault in which the victims are too afraid or ashamed to come forward.

A recent NPR story uncovered some nauseating sexual assault statistics from college campuses, as well as a lack of support for student victims from universities around the country.

In a study funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, one in five female college students will be sexually assaulted. The woman in the NPR story did not report her rape at the University of Wisconsin-Madison until a college professor encouraged students to come forward with on-campus crimes, specifically rape.

The University of Wisconsin supposedly investigated her claims, but in the end decided against enforcing punishment on the men who raped her. She appealed to the Department of Education.

Again, her accusations were brushed under the rug as the DOE reported that the university acted appropriately in its judgment not to follow through with charges.

In fact, from 1998 to 2008, the DOE ruled against universities in only five of 24 complaints. These are not encouraging numbers for rape victims.

In another NPR report, psychologist David Lisak reveals chilling statistics from a study he conducted to find "'undetected rapists.' Those are men who've committed sexual assault, but have never been charged or convicted."

Lisak asked his subjects questions such as, "Have you ever had sexual intercourse with someone, even though they did not want to, because they were too intoxicated [on alcohol or drugs] to resist your sexual advances?" or "Have you ever had sexual intercourse with an adult when they didn't want to because you used physical force [twisting their arm, holding them down etc.] if they didn't cooperate?"

One in 16 men answered yes. Lisak admits it wasn't difficult to get these answers out of his subjects; rather, they wanted to talk about it, as if they were bragging.

What possesses any man or woman to assault another person sexually? Rape and sexual assault are not about love -- or even about sex. Rape is about power. The NPR story points out that rape is often used as a terror tactic and is famously a part of war, as in "rape and pillage." The following are some statistics from the National Alert Registry:

  • 61 percent  of violent sex offenders have a prior record.
  • 24 percent of those serving time for rape and 19 percent of the ones serving time for sex assault were on probation for rape or sexual assault at the time of arrest.
  • 28 percent of released rapists were re-arrested within three years and charged for a new violent crime.
  • There are approximately 400, 000 registered sex offenders in the United States alone.

Clearly, on any level, anyone with the desire to hurt another human -- especially a child -- in this way has numerous screws loose. The big question is, can anyone with this type of mental defect ever be "cured" or rehabilitated enough to be trusted in society again?

Wisconsin has registered and tracked sex offenders since 1997. According to the registry, there are seven registered sex offenders living in my immediate area, which is close to UWM on the East Side.

There were 64 offenders in the immediate area of my apartment just south of Downtown. I knew I upgraded when I moved, I just didn't grasp quite how much. Log on to to find out more about the registry and to track sex offenders in your area.

Sarah Foster Special to

No, the sex columnist's real name is not Sarah Foster. (Foster is the model/actress that played an ex-lover of Vincent Chase in the first season of "Entourage.") In reality, our sex columnist is a Wisconsin native with a degree in journalism and a knack for getting people to talk to her.

Sarah never considered herself an "above average" listener. Others, however, seem to think differently. Perhaps she has a sympathetic tone or expression that compels people to share their lives and secrets with her despite how little they know her. Everyone from the girl that does her hair to people in line at the grocery store routinely spill the details of their lives and relationships to Sarah, unprompted but typically not unwanted. It’s strange to her that people would do this, but she doesn’t mind. Sarah likes that she can give advice even if it is to complete strangers.

So why the pseudonym? Simple. People tell Sarah these things because for some reason they trust her. They believe she cares and therefore will keep their secrets in a locked vault the same way a best friend or therapist would. Sarah won't name names, but that vault is now unlocked.