Doctors say adults who commit incest were often abused - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Doctors say adults who commit incest were often abused as children

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The case of a Bethel father accused of having a sexual relationship with his daughter continues to shock those who are learning about it.

And what may come as a surprise is that sex between relatives may not be as uncommon as people may think.

Bethel police arrested George Sayers Jr. and Tiffany Hartford Monday and charged them with third-degree sexual assault after the DNA tests proved they were father and daughter to each other and parents of a child.

Police said they discovered the incest when they got a complaint of the family distributing pornography.

Investigators told Eyewitness News they were tipped off to this relationship by the former girlfriend of the daughter.

She contacted police when she learned the family was selling pornographic photos and videos of her taken while she was underage. The videos showed Hartford and the woman engaging in sexual acts when she was as young as 16.

That investigation began all the way back in February and ended with the father and daughter being arrested this week.

Sex between relatives is hard for many to even think about, but it's something that Dr. Les Lothstein, who is a clinical psychologist who counsels patients with sexual problems, has spent years listening to.

"It's very rare that someone who has a good mental state and functions in the community does not know what they're doing is wrong, of course they know what they're doing is wrong," Lothstein said.

In Connecticut, incest is treated as sexual assault. Both the child and the parent can be charged if they engage in sexual intercourse with another person they know is related to him or her.

When police interviewed Sayers and Hartford, she claimed they didn't know Sayers was her father because at the time of her birth, her mother was having sex with Sayers and another man named Lee Hartford.

Tiffany Hartford told police she believed that Lee Hartford was her father, but they admitted to police they didn't know for sure.

Many studies have been done on sexual deviation and 95 percent of all child sex cases involve a parent or a relative with very few cases are a complete stranger, Lothstein said. And 65 percent of all sexual child abuse take place between siblings.

Lothstein said adults who engage in sex with their children are most often victims themselves. The abuse could go back as many as three generations.

And young boys who are abused usually turn violent, while girls draw inward and have self-esteem issues. And Lothstein said he believes getting involved in pornography fits that behavior.

"Sex is a very easy profession to get into," Lothstein said. "All you need is a camera to produce pictures that will flow into the $60 billion a year for adult porn and about $12 billion a year for child porn."

Doctors said there is no cure for this behavior, but there is treatment, which is a combination of therapy and medication. Judges can and do order this treatment when someone is arrested and sentenced.

Bethel residents reacted to the news Thursday.

"I'm very surprised, you know, very surprised that something like that would happen in the neighborhood," said neighbor Joseph Cambell.

Sayers is being held on a $100,000 bond and Tiffany Hartford is being held on a $25,000 bond.

The child is currently in the care of the Department of Children and Families. Tiffany Hartford, once released, must comply with DCF.

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