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Psychopathic Sex Offender | Life for Parents of Sexually Assaulted / Murdered Children

The Psychopathic Sex Offender

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[*Abuse and severe harm to children referenced]

This article focuses solely on individuals with psychopathy, who seek to have sexual encounters with individuals under 18 years old – children. Individuals with a paraphilia or preference for children, who demonstrate other personality disorders, traits or styles (non-psychopathic) will not be addressed in this article.


When we look along the spectrum of psychopathy, we come across a group that is so violating, manipulative, conning, and deceitful that it is nearly unimaginable that such a person could exist. The true wolf in sheep’s clothing- the psychopathic pedophile.

They lack guilt, remorse, and shame and tend to repeat their sexually deviant acts throughout their lifetime. They leave behind a long trail of broken spirits, trauma, and years of emotional torment and struggle for their victims to bear. This group preys upon the most innocent in society – our children. Their behavior is predatory (Lanning, 2010), however their mask of normalcy will make it difficult to detect that this great guy is hiding dark traits.

Empty Swings

Sadly, there will be children, parents and families who will have their lives forever changed by a psychopath of this variety. Most will know the perpetrator, as he will have perfected a ‘safe mask’ and appealing grooming package that allows him to go undetected. Some of these individuals will be family members.

Other families will not know the perpetrator and not realize their child fits the preferences of a psychopathic stranger. The charming psychopath who takes the time to embed themselves into the child’s life and the stranger (psychopath) hunting from a distance are both extremely dangerous.

Lanning (2010) categorized child molesters into three general categories with regard to relationship to the child.

  • Family member
  • Acquaintance [e.g., via perpetrator’s job, youth organization/ groups, clergy, etc.]
  • Stranger

Psychopaths who are sexually deviant and prey upon children tend to have difficulty inhibiting this behavior on their own. For some, it is an intense, often overwhelming impulse they are driven to satisfy. Hence, the reason many psychopathic sex offenders, pedophiles, and child molesters repeat their behavior. There are some offenders with psychopathic traits, who will engage in this behavior simply because the opportunity presented itself.

The neurobiological profile of psychopathy prevents these individuals from integrating information appropriately to learn from prior negative experiences. There is no guilt or remorse to cause them to feel badly for what they have done.

They tend to lie, minimize, and restructure the encounters (Lanning, 2010). In that way, they continue to be perceived (if only in their own mind) as a normal human being, rather than a dangerous sexual offender.

“I would never touch a child … that’s sick!”

“I expressed my love to her. Who better to do that than me?” 

“I care about kids, I wouldn’t do anything to hurt him!”


When they are within a highly motivated (hunting) state of mind, they give no concern to consequences. They usually assume there will be no price to pay for their behavior, as they will rely on their manipulative skills to get out of any potential trouble. They are arrogant and confident in their abilities to lie and deceive. Jail is not a deterrent.

They have no difficulties living with themselves, as there is no conscience present to hold them accountable. There are no feelings of guilt or shame to battle. Again, they feel nothing toward the victim, except for perhaps anger for causing them to get into legal trouble. They can feel for self only. Care does not extend beyond that.

Unfortunately, it is unlikely that psychopathic sex offenders are in prison carrying a heavy heart for what they have done. They likely sleep well, except for extraneous factors, such as noise or the inability to leave. None of their pain is for the victim. A psychopath’s system of morality, empathy, bonding, concern, care, and remorse are severely dysfunctional. Therefore, they feel absolutely nothing for their victim.

Aside from the presence of a significant physical disability, age is not a mitigating factor. Psychopathic sexual predators do not become significantly safer as they become older. Although they are not the same predator they were when they were 30 years old, leaving him alone with a child could put that child at severe risk. Any level of a sexual predator is potentially dangerous! Their brain disorder is still present. They must always be closely monitored with children.

Aside from targets of opportunity, predatory psychopaths tend to meticulously plan, troll, and capture what they desire (highly goal directed). As one might expect, frontal and temporal lobe dysfunction (brain) is present (Wiebking & Northoff, 2013). Therefore, the responsibility falls in the hands of non-psychopathic members of society to keep our most vulnerable safe. Our children are no match for a skilled, manipulative and/or charming psychopath on the hunt for a fix.

It is natural for one’s guard to be down when a person is kind, encouraging, generous, and helpful to our children (e.g., the mask of many psychopathic sexual offenders). However, the risk is too high to not be attentive to the adults who spend time with our precious loved ones.

Parents of Victims

Some parents, whose lives were forever changed by the actions of psychopathic predators, attempt to make a difference in our world. Through their pain, many have been able to reach into the depths of who they really are – loving, caring, compassionate beings. Although they have lost the most precious people in their lives (their children), they used their pain as a source of strength to help others. These parents are committed to heightening society’s awareness of individuals who lack morality, a conscience, self control, and empathy. People who they refer to as “monsters” (e.g, parents of  Somer Thompson, Jessica Lundsford, and Samantha Runnion).

One parent, Mrs. Erinn Runnion, founded The Joyful Child Foundation, to raise awareness of the presence of child predators and psychopaths. Mrs. Runnion lost her beautiful daughter, Samantha Runnion, in 2002. Samantha was sexually assaulted and murdered by a psychopathic predator, Alejandro Avila.

The predator who ended Samantha’s young life was actually charged with prior sexual offenses against two minors prior to killing Samantha. Avila was acquitted of those charges, as it seems the jury did not believe the girls who accused him of the molestation. Avila was able to manipulate his way out of trouble (a skill that most psychopaths possess).

Mrs. Runnion spoke out after the trial,

I blame every juror who let him go,

every juror who sat on that trial

and believed this man over those little girls,

I will never understand.

And that is why he was out.

And that is why his sickness was allowed to do this.”

As demonstrated via the Samantha Runnion case, psychopaths with these symptoms (pedophilia) do not inhibit their sexually deviant urges on their own; they tend to indulge in them. Being locked away from society is often the best protection.

Making a Difference

Through her pain, Mrs. Runion demonstrated strength, as she was still able to open her heart and help other mothers and fathers. Her foundation seeks to help parents so that they do not have to endure the pain and loss she has suffered.

[Mrs. Erinn Runnion, founder The Joyful Child Foundation]

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Lanning, K. V. (2010). Child molesters: A behavioral analysis (5th ed.). Alexandria, VA: National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

Wiebking, C. & Northoff, G. (2013). Neuroimaging in Pedophilia. Current Psychiatric Reports, 15:351

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