A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Friday, February 17, 2012

History: Sex Crime Panic, Monmouth County (1947 - 1950)

Uncontrolled Desires: The Response to the Sexual Psychopath (1920-1960), by Estelle B Freedman says that there was a post-World War II media craze over sex crime that had its origins in a 1931 German movie. "Sex Panic and the Punitive State," by Roger N Lancaster, draws from Freedman's work.

The Matawan Journal raised the volume on sex crimes in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Maybe it was in response to J Edgar Hoover's statement in 1947 that "the most rapidly increasing type of crime is that perpetrated by degenerate sex offenders" and his call to respond, "Should wild beasts break out of circus cages, the whole city would be mobilized instantly. But depraved human beings, more savage than beasts, are permitted to rove America at will."?

Monmouth County Prosecutor J Victor Carton reached out to movie theater operators to warn them that a sexual predator was targeting 9 - 14 year old girls, according to the 6 Feb 1947 edition of The Matawan Journal. Half a dozen such incidents had occurred in the previous few weeks, most in movie theaters.

The 1 Jan 1948 edition of The Journal (pg 4 col 2) publicized the rise in sex crimes, often by repeat offenders, in Monmouth County. "Local police in this area know the sex type of offense is on the increase. The public may not be aware of conditions because the circumstances surrounding this type of crime often are not publicized; however, an aroused public opinion in regards to the problem is necessary if conditions are to be improved. This is especially so since a high percentage of such crimes have children as the unfortunate victims."

New Jersey Attorney General Theodore D Parsons (1948 - 1954) announced pioneering legislation to fight sex crimes in the state, according to the 15 Sep 1949 edition of The Journal.

Keyport Chief of Police Leroy Sproul called for public vigilance for sexual predators, especially those seeking to victimize children, according to the 16 Feb 1950 edition of The Journal. His concern was based on rising national statistics in the realm of sex crime, not a local problem, but the trend was troubling and could affect the local area. Chief Sproul urged parents to report anything suspicious.

"The chief pointed out that cases of rape and murder of small children have shocked the nation and have caused many police authorities to wonder if certain types of sex insanity are on the increase. Offenders apprehended range in age from youths in their teens to men in their late sixties, Chief Sproul said. He stressed that increased molestation of girls and women is posing a new police problem, which even the most efficient patrol activity cannot check without aid of the public."


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