Podcast: Can You Shed The Sex Offender Stigma?

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Can You Shed The Sex Offender Stigma?

Can you shed the sex offender stigma or label? Yes. In fact, one man is doing it.

In this episode, I briefly discuss the story of Justin Vargas, a teen basketball scout in Phoenix, Arizona. Vargas was convicted of sexual contact with a 15-year-old girl when he was 23, and which requires him to register as a sex offender. For the last three years, he’s been a scout and performs a very important role for teen basketball players. Vargas continues to prove himself over and over, but fear and hate persist from parents and the community.

So is it possible to shed the sex offender label? In this important podcast episode, I talk about shedding the label for yourself, rather than people that don’t know you. Take accountability. Take responsibility. Do good things. These are all important steps in shedding the sex offender label.

Podcast Transcript

[00:00:11] The hope is to encourage registered citizens, former inmates in anyone facing stereotypes and social ostracism to move beyond societies,

[00:00:27] Are you able to shed the sex offender label? That that is a big question. That’s a tough question. I, in my personal belief would have to say yes, but it’s going to depend on a variety, a variety of factors, including the person that has committed a crime and the people around that person and also the community.


[00:00:54] So let’s talk about a few of these things. Can you shed the sex offender label? I said, yes, but in some cases it might not be possible. And the reason why I say this is you can’t prove to everybody that you are not your crime in this case. You’re not that person that committed the sex offense. So you are separate from that label, separate from that crime.


[00:01:21] I want to bring up a story that I read recently in the Phoenix new times. And the article is titled a “Scout for teen athletes tries to shed a sex offender stigma“, and he’s doing it. This is proof that it can be done. His name is Justin Vargas. He’s 36 years old. He is a scout for the Phoenix high school boys basketball team.


[00:01:47] He’s also one of two members of the show “basketball company” under which label he organizes tournaments for up and coming players that can show off their skills. What’s amazing about this man is he’s not hiding his offense. He was convicted of having sexual contact with a 15-year old girl when he was 23 which requires him to register as a sex offender.


[00:02:18] Now, I’m not going to get into, is that the right thing to do? Of course it isn’t, but I want to talk about what he’s doing now and what kind of person he is and how he’s shedding this stigma. He doesn’t hide his crime. According to the article, he doesn’t go around telling people about his crime. Like, Hey, you know, I’m a sex offender, but if it’s brought up, he talks about it with people.


[00:02:47] He talks about it with, with parents of the teenagers involved in the basketball camps and stuff like that. He also talks to you know, anybody that has questions, he will discuss his offense and how it’s changed him as a person. And the reason why he isn’t that label. I have to say, I am, I’m very excited to see somebody like Vargas doing this out in the community.


[00:03:15] He has taken ownership of his offense and he’s proving himself now. The negative thing about this is, and he talks about this in the article. He has to prove himself over and over and over again. And that can be extremely emotionally exhausting. I’ve done it. You may have done it. Every time someone new comes along that doesn’t know who you really are.


[00:03:48] You have to prove yourself and it’s exhausting and I’ve done it for years. But it has to be done because you built history as you prove yourself over the years, a good history of who you are, and then people can’t argue with you. What ammunition do they have? Yeah, they can say, Hey, you did this crime, but if you’ve proven yourself over a years, you can say, look, this is what I’ve done.


[00:04:18] I am not a pedophile that is going to, you know, kidnap your child or something like that. According to the article here, again, this is in the Phoenix New Times. Parents have raised concerns and, you know, I’m not surprised about that because again, they don’t know, know this man personally He’s even had personal confrontations with some of them and people have posted about his past on social media.


[00:04:46] Well, and I understand that, you know, I mean, I am, I am speaking about my offense as a registered sex offender. I’m doing a podcast and a YouTube channel. I get rude comments and I’m sure Vargas does as well. And it sounds like he does some parents have even called the police to report him. It’s frustrating.


[00:05:10] It’s frustrating. I don’t know Vargas personally. I am going off what I’ve read, but he is a fixture in the community and he has taken full responsibility for his actions. And he’s doing good. So let’s calm down folks. Let’s let’s give this man a chance. What’s interesting is Vargas was quoted in the article quote.


[00:05:36] “If a parent knows me, it generally never becomes an issue.” It is the fear of the unknown that people react to. And I understand that we have to protect our children and you know, that’s going to come first. We have that fear of, Oh my God, my child can be in danger. I totally understand that. I’m a parent myself, but I have to ask myself would this gentleman get the same hate if he was convicted for a drug offense, selling to minors.


[00:06:15] Maybe, I don’t know, possibly, but I know in this case, because he’s on the registry, he gets a lot of fear from parents and the community. Some parents I have, as I mentioned, posted comments on social media. One gentlemen posted his photo, his mugshot on Twitter, and he’s had to justify his involvement in teen sports to authorities from local police to state sex offender managers, at least 10 times.


[00:06:43] Sometimes because of parent complaints, he’s tried to be transparent about what he’s done and how he’s changed, but the stigma of registering as a sex offender sticks with him. “You fucked up, be accountable. That’s all it is.” Vargis says. And I agree with that. You messed up move forward.


[00:07:07] Now it goes back to the question. Can you shed a sex offender label? I would have to say yes again, it is possible, but it’s almost for yourself. Think about it. Who are you shedding the label for you, yourself or people you don’t even know? I’m going to have to say the most important way is to shed it for yourself.


[00:07:35] Realize that you are not a person that is going to harm others that you are doing good. And yes, you screwed up big time, but you’re moving on and you’ve taken full responsibility. It’s almost like forgiving yourself. You’re forgiving yourself. You’re shedding that label for yourself. If you feel good about yourself than other people will too.


[00:08:06] So that’s my comments for today. There are, you know, other facts and points of this this article that you can read it’s on the Phoenix New Times website, and just, just search for a “scout for teen athletes.” I want to congratulate this man, and I would love to have him on the podcast.
[00:08:28] I don’t normally do interviews. But if Mr. Vargas is listening or eventually hears this podcast, contact me and I’d love to chat with you. I wish you good luck in your future and continue doing what you’re doing. I’m The Outspoken Offender. And thanks for listening to the podcast.


[00:08:58] My hope is to encourage registered citizens, former inmates, and anyone facing stereotypes and social ostracism to move beyond society’s labels. Thanks for listening to the podcast. I’m The Outspoken Offender. You can find me on YouTube and Twitter. Remember you are not your label.

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