One evening, in the wee hours of the night, I had insomnia. So I turned on the television to watch an old 20/20 TV show. I think the episode I watched had originally aired back in the year 1999 or 2000. In this episode, Cynthia McFadden interviewed a chemically castrated male named Joseph J. Smith from San Antonio, Texas. Here is his story:
Smith, a resident of San Antonio, experienced uncontrollable sexual urges that he satisfied by running around a neighborhood at night in nothing more than his socks and a ski mask. He peeped into his neighbors’ bedrooms and stimulated himself. After numerous calls by concerned citizens to San Antonio police, he came to be known as the “Ski-Mask Bandit”. But one night, Smith went too far. He entered a home in his unique outfit and raped a woman. Despite tremendous efforts, San Antonio police couldn’t catch him!
Out of fear, Smith’s victim moved away and left her home vacant. A neighborhood watch was organized to help police catch him. Volunteers diligently staged a stakeout of the now-empty home, hoping Smith would return to the scene of his crime. As predicted, Smith returned, and the Texas posse wrestled him down. A jury convicted Smith of twice burglarizing and attempting to rape the same woman. Unfortunately, the jurors gave Smith ten years’ probation instead of jail on the condition that he get weekly injections of Depo-Provera.
The drug therapy worked well for many years. Monitoring the probationer and administering the drug wasn’t even a problem. Smith was a model citizen on the drug. When he was interviewed on 20/20 by reporter Cynthia McFadden, Smith described how his weekly Depo Provera injections completely stopped all sex drive, which he stated as “so over-the-top … so terrifying that I became irrationally uncontrollable. My testosterone made me lose my self-control. That’s why I hurt others.”
“The danger after a while,” Smith acknowledged, “was the drug eventually gave me a false sense of security that I could one day be normal again. After years on the drug program, I convinced myself that I would be ok if my dosage was lowered, like an alcoholic can convince himself that he can have a beer every now and then.”
Sadly, that is exactly what happened. Smith convinced his supervising doctor to lower the dosage on year 8 of probation. He successfully found a truck-driving job in Virginia and married his nurse (who administered his weekly injections). Soon, the couple wanted to try to start a family. The supervising doctor agreed.
The remaining two years of his probation passed with no problems (even on the lower dosage) and Smith was released from both Virginia’s and Texas’s radars. “As long as Texas didn’t seem to show much concern, we decided to take (Smith) off our books,” Virginia Department of Corrections spokesperson Larry Traylor said.
After probation, Smith discontinued taking Depo Provera altogether, and soon he was the father of a 5-year-old daughter. He supervised sleepovers held in his own home, in a neighborhood where nobody knew about his past. Well, it doesn’t take a magic eight ball to predict how long it would take Virginia police to receive concerned reports of a peeping tom who ran around the neighborhood in nothing but his socks and a red bandana. They nicknamed the culprit “The Bandana Bandit.” (by the way, his wife, aware of the local news, said nothing. In addition, she worked nights at the local hospital, leaving Smith in charge of their daughter.)
It was only a matter of time before Smith raped again. Unfortunately, this time it was a child attending one of those slumber parties. DNA evidence also linked Smith to other previous rapes, and now he is serving life in prison plus 20 years.
Today, hopefully, this would not happen. In solace, I realize Smith would be diligently and accurately tracked today with the nationwide database of sex offenders. And regardless of whether or not he moved, I am praying he would not have been allowed to EVER reduce or discontinue his drug therapy as a convicted rapist at ANY time, despite his wanting to procreate.
For a transcript of the show, go to http://www.pandys.org/escapinghades/chemicalcastration.html