US & Canada

Francis Tullier castrated as term of prison release

Francis Tullier, in a booking photo provided by the West Baton Route Parish Sheriff's office
Image caption Tullier was initially charged with more than 500 counts of child molestation

An elderly child molester has been surgically castrated as a condition of his release from prison, police say.

Francis Tullier, 78, pleaded guilty in 1999 to three counts of molesting young girls over the previous two decades.

He underwent the procedure at his own expense, and is expected to be released from a Louisiana prison next week.

"We wish they would use it more often," West Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office Maj Richie Johnson said, adding he thought it would be an effective deterrent.

Tullier was arrested in 1997 and charged with more than 500 counts of molesting six girls aged six to 12 in the 1970s and 1980s.

In a 1999 plea deal to three counts - which Maj Johnson told the BBC was agreed in part to spare victims from having to testify in court - Tullier agreed to be surgically castrated within six months.

Rare procedure

The procedure was put on hold because Tullier became ill. He will remain under state supervision until 2024.

As of last year, seven states had some provision in the law for chemical castration of sex offenders, in which the offender's testosterone level is lowered through routine pharmaceutical injections, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Two - Louisana and Texas - allow for the surgical method.

Surgical castration of sex offenders is exceedingly rare, Dr Fred Berlin, director of the sexual behaviour consultation unit at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, told the BBC.

Maj Johnson said he was aware of only one previous instance.

Dr Berlin said chemical castration achieved the same objective without the trauma of surgery, and said a surgically-castrated offender could rebuild sexual desire with testosterone purchased on the black-market.

"I don't see any advantage - and I see a number of disadvantages - of doing it surgically rather than pharmacologically," Dr Berlin said.