“Consensual Consequences” by Lynn Gilmore is the true story of a woman’s journey married to a registered sex offender. After ending her first marriage, the author moves closer to family in Arkansas to start a new life. Soon after arriving, she meets Allen, a never before married man, who, though flawed, gives her the positive attention she’s been seeking. He confesses that he is an alcoholic yet he is never abusive to her or her two daughters. The most shocking confession Allen makes, though, is that many years before he had had consensual relations with a girl under the age of sixteen at a party. Though confessing to not realizing her age, he is charged with third-degree carnal abuse and required to register as a sex offender. Gilmore marries Allen anyway and in the years she has been with him, never had any fear that this one time act in poor judgment would ever be repeated, and according to her, it has not. However, the fact that Allen must be a registered sex offender, makes their lives (including the life of their young daughter together) quite challenging as they are faced with having to confess their secret publicly and never allow Allen on school grounds without another adult.
“Consensual Consequences” is an interesting read. While the first part mostly highlights the love affair between Gilmore and Allen, the last part of the book comes on strong, in a good way. I will admit that I was skeptical about “feeling sorry” for a registered sex offender and quite honestly couldn’t care less if they were all lumped together. However, after reading this book I have changed my mind, and I assume that was the intent of the author, to educate people about the wide array of offenses that cause people to be placed on the registered sex offender list including underage teenage consensual sex, public urination, etc. Her point is well made that placing everyone on one list doesn’t help us parents to distinguish who is most a threat to our children (by seriousness of the crime). That point alone didn’t convince me to want to change the laws, but the point that law enforcement is then forced to spread themselves thin keeping tabs on all of the registered offenders, no matter the offense, instead of better tracking the rapists or child molesters, for example, makes perfect sense to me. I’d much rather the energies be focused on those dangerous to society rather than a teenage boy who had sex with his seventeen-year-old girlfriend and got caught by an angry parent. I don’t have the answers, but Ms. Gilmore’s mission seems logical. “Consensual Consequences” will really make the reader think.
Consensual Consequences: A True Story of Life with a “Registered Sex Offender”
Robert D. Reed Publishers (2011)
Reviewed by Marissa Libbit for Reader Views (4/11)