The Team of Eminent Presenters

A woman with long hair and a smile.

Keynote: Franca Cortoni, PhD, CPsych

Women who sexually offend: Assessment, treatment, and management
Franca Cortoni, PhD, CPsych
Professor, School of Criminology
Université de Montreal & Research Fellow,
International Center for Comparative Criminology

Franca Cortoni received her PhD in clinical & forensic psychology from Queen’s University in Kingston. In 2007, after many years with the Correctional Service of Canada where she worked as a psychologist specializing in research and treatment of sexual offending, she joined the School of Criminology at the Université de Montréal where she is a Professor of criminological psychology and Research Fellow at the International Centre of Comparative Criminology. Her research focuses on the factors associated with the development of sexual offending behavior, risk assessment, and treatment of both women and men convicted of sexual offenses. She has published two books on women who have been sexually offended, and her current project focuses on understanding the factors associated with improved outcomes in the treatment of sexually offending behavior.

A man with a goatee smiles for the camera.

Jeffrey Aaron, Ph.D.

Jeffrey Aaron, Ph.D. is a clinical and forensic psychologist. Currently the Juvenile Justice & Behavioral Health Program Manager for the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Services, he previously spent almost 18 years at the Commonwealth Center for Children and Adolescents, Virginia’s only public psychiatric hospital for children and adolescents, in clinical roles and as the hospital’s director. He is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry & Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia Medical School and associate faculty at the Institute of Law, Psychiatry & Public Policy. He also has a private practice in which he conducts forensic psychological evaluations of adolescents and adults, and he has served as an expert witness in Juvenile and Circuit courts across Virginia. Areas of forensic specialization include evaluation of confessions, mitigation, post-traumatic stress, and juvenile justice. Dr. Aaron was a member of the Mental Health Workgroup of the Governor’s Task Force on School and Campus Safety, the Charlottesville/Albemarle gang intervention project known as Gang Reduction through Active Community Engagement (GRACE), and the Virginia Interagency Task Force charged with making recommendations to the Virginia General Assembly regarding the transformation of Virginia’s juvenile justice system. He is also actively involved in training public safety officers to have a better understanding of and interactions with youth.

A woman in police uniform standing next to an american flag.

LT. Heather D. Harris

Lieutenant Heather D. Harris has had a career in law enforcement spanning 21 years, all of which have been with the Prince William County Police Department. Positions held include an Officer within Operations, First Sergeant, and currently the rank of Lieutenant. She has also spent time as a detective within the Special Victims Bureau, as well as a School Resource Officer at Marsteller Middle School.

Lieutenant Harris earned an Associate's Degree and completed Police Executive Development through the Penn State Justice and Safety Institute and has attended the Seminar for Law Enforcement on Constitution Principles through the Center for the Constitution at Montpelier.

A woman with short blonde hair wearing a white sweater.

Rachel Taylor

Rachel Taylor is the Director of Sexual Assault Services at Action in the Community Through Services (ACTS), the only nonprofit in Prince William County serving victims of sexual violence. She began her career working in sexual assault in 2013 when she worked for the VADOC as a Probation Officer for the Sex Offender Team at District 35 in Manassas. In 2017, Rachel became the Senior Probation Officer over the Sex Offender Team, a position she held for 5 years. She cherishes the time she spent working at District 35 and the dedicated individuals she met along the way - some in very unexpected places, such as Robert Buswell. His passion for justice and emphasis on the importance of each part of the criminal justice system highlight the critical work of professionals dedicated to managing sexual assault. Inspired by Robert's story, Rachel sought to expand the work she was able to do in the community, eventually leading her to a career change in 2022, serving the victims of sexual assault. The story presented today is a reminder to all affected by these cases that committed individuals are working and fighting to protect the community before, during, and long after the conviction.

A man in a suit and tie with his chin resting on his hand.

Robert Buswell

Robert Buswell was a victim of child abuse by a coach in the 1970s. Due to the abuse that occurred, Rob was mislabeled, which changed his trajectory and set the stage for his life from 1978-1994. Barriers, obstacles and a manila folder full of lowered expectations sealed his public-school education fate. Three years after graduating high school, Rob applied to a small college that took a chance on him and he graduated in a total of three years with two diplomas. He was no longer saddled with the baggage of that manila folder full of rubber stamps that told him what he couldn’t do. He had faced and defeated all the obstacles in his life but one, the abuse that was the root cause of his pain. In 2007, Rob had a paradigm shift in his life that allowed him to finally come forward in an effort to protect other children from his abuser. During the case against his abuser, a gap in the sex offender registry was discovered. After his predator was convicted, Rob fought for several years and was instrumental in getting two laws passed. One exposed 5,604 child predators who had skirted the registry, just as his abuser had, due to a gap in the law after their crimes were adjudicated. Rob lives in Virginia with his family and three dogs and continues to fight for child advocacy rights.

A group of people sitting around a table.

Randi Lanzafama

Randi Lanzafama is the Chief of Sex Offender Programs and Monitoring Unit for Virginia Department of Corrections/Community Corrections and has been in this position since January, 2007.  She is responsible for sex offender programming in the 43 probation and parole districts including, but not limited to, sex offender treatment, polygraph, GPS and conditional release. Ms. Lanzafama has 17 staff members, 3 Deputy Chief and 14 Senior Probation Officers and 3 Probation and Parole Officers.

Ms. Lanzafama holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan.  She earned her Master of Education in Agency Counseling from Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia.  Additionally, she is a Certified Sex Offender Treatment Provider with the State of Virginia.

Ms. Lanzafama began her career in the criminal justice field as a Senior Case Manager with the Community Diversion Incentive Program, Petersburg, Virginia. After a time in that position, she began working in juvenile corrections and spent six years as a Juvenile Probation and Parole Officer.  In 1993, Ms. Lanzafama began working as a Probation and Parole Officer with District 35 Probation and Parole, Manassas, Virginia.  In 1996, she was promoted to the first Senior Probation and Parole Officer Sex Offender Specialist position created in Virginia.  In that capacity, she helped develop the policies and standards for the supervision of sexual offenders in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  She remained in this role until 2005 when she was promoted to Deputy Chief Probation and Parole Officer.  In 2001, Ms. Lanzafama was named Virginia Probation and Parole Association 2001 Line Officer of the Year.  In May 2023, Ms. Lanzafama was awarded the Oliver Beckner Lifetime Achievement Award.

A man with glasses and a blue shirt

A. J. Spencer

A.J. was raised in Nottoway County, Virginia, where he began his career of public service dispatching for local police departments as a teen.  After high school, he became a patrolman for the Blackstone Police Department for two years.  Upon completion of the Virginia State Police Academy in 1978, he was assigned to Chesterfield County, where he served as a uniformed Trooper.  In 1986, he was promoted to the position of Special Agent and during his tenure, he was trained in various forms of investigation (crime scene, arson/bomb, violent crime, police shooting), computer crimes, and polygraph. 

As a licensed polygraph examiner with the State Police for thirteen years, he conducted criminal, administrative, and pre-employment polygraph examinations.

In 2007, AJ was given the opportunity to learn the administration of Post-Conviction Sex Offender polygraph examinations.  After his retirement from the State Police, he and his wife, Joy, formed Spencer & Associates Polygraph Services.  Since then they have offered PCSOT throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.  They are assisted in their business by their daughter, Shannon, and fellow licensed examiners Al Moore, Matt Hileman, and Wayne Wilson.

A woman with long hair is looking at the camera.

Dr. Michele Laaksonen

Dr. M. Laaksonen is a licensed Clinical Psychologist, licensed Professional Teacher, is a certified sex-offender treatment provider, and a certified Advanced Victim Services Specialist.  She also holds a graduate certificate in Sexual Health Education and Therapy.  She is currently a trainer with the Department of Corrections and runs a part-time private practice for therapy and consultation that has served as a Certified Batterer Intervention Program.  

Overall, Dr. Laaksonen has endeavored to assist in the prevention and treatment of sexual assault and PTSD by working with both victims and offenders, throughout legal-medical and social systems at the local, state, and federal level, in advocacy, clinical, research, teaching, and administrative capacities over the past twenty years.

A man with glasses and a tie

Joe Lynch LCSW

Joe Lynch LCSW, in 1985 in conjunction with Dr. Mario Dennis and other therapists, Co-founded one of the first outpatient sex offender treatment programs in Virginia; “Shenandoah Valley Sex Offender Treatment Program. In 1996 he advocated for the establishment of the Certified Sex Offender Treatment Provider credential. He served in conjunction with Dr. Michael Ito and Dr. Issac Van Patten on the Sex Offender Treatment Provider Certification Advisory Committee of the Virginia Board of Psychology, to develop the initial regulations for the Certified Sex Offender Treatment Provider credential.

Mr. Lynch has served on many Boards and committees including: The Virginia Board of Social Work (1987-1997), State Human Rights Committee, Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, (2006-2010), Health Practitioners Intervention Program Intervention Committee, for the Department of Health Professions, (2003-2010).

He served as an Adjunct Assistant Professor for Department of Social Work, James Madison University and part-time Instructor for Eastern Mennonite University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Mary Baldwin College. Mr. Lynch has presented training on Ethics for Mental Health providers many times including for VSOTA conference in 2012. Mr. Lynch has led legislative efforts in Virginia that established Privileged Communication for LCSW's, LPC's and LCP’s and in 2020 legislation that added LCSWs to 9 sections of the Code of Virginia in order for the children’s clients of LCSWs to have more protection in civil legal proceedings.

He was Co-Founder of the Community Mediation Center, and Citizens Against Sexual Assault, programs in Harrisonburg. 

A man in suit and red tie smiling for the camera.

Robert P. Landau

Robert Landau is a seasoned litigator who focuses his practice on defending behavioral and medical providers in malpractice lawsuits and disciplinary proceedings. He has successfully represented social workers, psychologists, mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, psychiatrists, psychiatric clinical nurse specialists, physicians, nurses, hospitals, health care practices and other health care providers. 

He has been selected many times for the Rhode Island Super Lawyers list. He has practice in the state and federal courts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts and has had numerous jury trials with many defense verdicts. He handles any appellate issues that arise from his trials and has appeared regularly before the Rhode Island Supreme Court.  He also has extensive experience in alternative dispute resolution.  He has lectured extensively to mental health providers relating to risk management and consults with behavioral health clients on risk management and clinical practice issues.

A man in a blue shirt and tie standing outside.

David R. Boehm, LCSW CSOTP

David has over forty-five years of advanced clinical and administrative practice that included community organization, supervision of staff, graduate and undergraduate instruction at Virginia Commonwealth University and Radford University and professional speaking.  He is a 1981 graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a Master’s in Social Work, and a 1977 undergraduate of Virginia Tech.  David has been an LCSW since 1985 and a CSOTP since 1998.

David started his career at Southwestern Virginia Mental Health Institute in 1977 and then as an Assistant Warden and Warden with the Virginia Department of Corrections from 1989 until 2017, when he retired.  He has a part-time private practice consisting of Batterer Intervention Programs, completing Student Threat Assessments, pre-employment Mental Health Evaluations for several police and sheriff departments and sex offender treatment.  His professional affiliations include being a Board Member with the Virginia Sex Offender Treatment Association (VSOTA), and current Chair of the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health Human Rights Committee.  He is a past Board Member and Chair of the Board of Health Professions, the Virginia Board of Social Work and the Virginia Family and Children’s Trust Fund, and past President of the Virginia Chapter of NASW.  David makes his home in Marion, Virginia.

A man with beard and jacket standing in front of trees.

Alex Rodrigues, Psy.D.

Dr. Rodrigues is a forensic psychologist and operates a private consultation practice where he completes a variety of forensic evaluations, including sex offense-related evaluations, competency to stand trial, insanity, and juvenile transfer assessments.  Dr. Rodrigues has been qualified as an expert and testified in various jurisdictions.  The Colorado Sex Offender Management Board (CSOMB) has recognized Dr. Rodrigues as an approved provider/evaluator for both juvenile and adult populations.  Additionally, he is a volunteer participant for CSOMB’s best practice committee, reviewing emerging practices for adoption and implementation.  He previously served as a psychologist on a pre-trial unit at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C. as well as a member of the hospital’s forensic consultation service, completing both competency to stand trial and risk assessments.  Recently, Dr. Rodrigues opened a satellite office in Colorado to complement his practice in the D.C. metropolitan area. Aside from court-related evaluations, Dr. Rodrigues provides consultation to law enforcement, government agencies, and corporations on mental health/violence related issues in the workspace.