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LAS VEGAS -- The mother of a girl who was videotaped being raped years ago had no idea of the abuse before last week, when a friend saw the child's face on the news and called her, the woman's attorney said Tuesday.
Attorney Jerry Donohue called the woman "a typical American single mother" who worked six days a week and was "trying to be 'supermom."' He said the abuse appeared to have taken place about four years ago while the child was left in a baby-sitter's care.
The girl, now 7, appeared to be a "happy, perfectly healthy little girl" during a recent afternoon with medical professionals, Donohue said during a brief statement outside his Las Vegas office. He said she may have been just 2 years old when she was assaulted.
"I believe she has no memory of this event," Donohue said, although he added that he could not be sure.
Authorities released portions of the video last week, desperate to find a child they feared could have still been in danger.
Donohue said the mother had no relationship with a man being sought in the attack. Police and the FBI are conducting a nationwide manhunt for Chester "Chet" Arthur Stiles, 37, whom they consider armed and dangerous.
Police say they believe Stiles is the man who raped and videotaped the girl, who was about 3 years old at the time. He has not been charged in the attack but is wanted in a separate case.
Stiles has been described as a violent survivalist who always carries a weapon and has a string of arrests dating to 1999.
The mother had "no relationship with Stiles. None at all," Donohue said. "This event is believed to have occurred while she was at work."
Donohue said he knows who the babysitter was when the mother believes the girl was attacked, but could not reveal that information because of the police investigation.
Donohue said that given the six-month time frame the mother believes the abuse could have taken place, the girl might have assaulted shortly before she turned 3.
Donohue pleaded for privacy for the family, and said the mother was cooperating with the police search. He would not identify the woman and asked that photos of the girl no longer be publicized.
Authorities have said the 30-minute tape was recorded four years ago in Las Vegas and surfaced last month. Donohue told reporters that neither he nor the mother have seen it.
Donohue said he hoped the young girl's attacker would be captured or kill himself.
"Speaking as a father myself, I wish the guy would dig a hole in the desert and put a gun in his mouth," Donohue said. "Wild West justice, the way I see it."
Police Capt. Vincent Cannito said police were checking hundreds of tips received since authorities named Stiles as the suspect in the case. He called Stiles "a very dangerous individual" with a violent past.
Stiles was being sought on an unrelated warrant issued last year charging him with fleeing to avoid prosecution on allegations he groped a 6-year-old girl in 2003.
Police have said Stiles has a string of arrests on charges including assault, battery, resisting a police officer, auto theft, leaving the scene of an accident and contempt of court.
He was convicted in 1999 in Las Vegas of carrying a concealed weapon, and in 2001 of conspiracy to commit grand larceny, according to court records. Stiles also pleaded no contest in Houston in 1993 to unlawful carrying of a weapon.
The district attorney in Nye County, where authorities first learned of the tape and pleaded for help to find the girl last week, also identified Stiles as a "survivalist type" who claimed to have weapons, a Navy SEAL background and always carried a knife. However, District Attorney Bob Beckett said he could not confirm the information.
Tina Allen, a former girlfriend in Las Vegas, told CNN's "Larry King Live" on Monday night that she worried Stiles might emerge from hiding to harm her and said she would seek police protection.
Las Vegas police spokesman Jose Montoya said Tuesday that detectives hoped to meet with Allen by Wednesday.
The video came to light last month after a man claimed to have found it in the desert outside Pahrump, a Nye County town about 60 miles west of Las Vegas. Sheriff's officials said Darrin Tuck, 26, had it for as long as five months and showed it to others before turning it in.
Tuck was being held after his arrest on a probation violation, and will likely face pornography charges, Beckett said.
The Associated Press is no longer identifying or releasing photos of the girl because she is a suspected victim of sexual abuse. It did so earlier in the interest of her safe recovery.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
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Why do I not believe this? I have a suspicion it was murder because someone found out he was a sex offender. But, who knows.
RHOME - A custodian was found dead inside a Wise County school and it's what police discovered about that man that has some parents very concerned.
Wednesday students at Chisholm Trail Middle School in Rhome were sent home with a letter from the Northwest Independent School District. The note explains what happened at the school early Tuesday morning.
The body of Jose Cortez-Lopez, a janitor at the school, was found inside the boy's locker room. According to reports, other janitors found the 37-year-olds body just after 1 a.m.
Rhome police say Lopez died from autoerotic asphyxiation, which occurred during an act of self gratification. He was found with a plastic bag over his head.
Further investigation by police revealed that Lopez had lied about his true identity and his criminal history. It turns out Lopez is a registered sex offender who in 2006 was convicted of indecency with a child, in Tarrant County.
Lopez, who was employed by GCA Services Group, had identification and documentation under the name Hector Garza. Southern Building Services, Inc., a part of GCA Services Group, provides custodial services to public and private K-12 schools across the country.
"I know that the principal said that he was contracted through another company. But you would think they would have to have background checks," said parent Tracy Neatrour.
Presenting identification as Hector Garza, Lopez passed a criminal background check done by GCA Services. Both school district and GCA Services officials say they were shocked to learn that Lopez possessed documentation of at least two identities.
A press release sent out by Northwest ISD said, in part, "Thorough background checks are standard practice and this man had a clean record based on the identity presented at the time of employment. The documentation was complete and necessary for employment."
Administrators at Chisholm Trail say classes will continue as scheduled and counselors are on hand to talk with concerned students or employees.
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Look, in todays age, we should be taking everyones DNA, so when a crime is committed, innocent people will not be thrown in prison and lose years of their life. If these people are exonerated, the STATE who falsely accused them, need to compensate them for lost years of their lives. You are suppose to convict if they are guilty BEYOND A SHADOW OF A DOUBT! Not the other way around. This man lost 12 years of his life, for nothing!!!!!
New DNA testing has exonerated an inmate in another case connected to the Houston Police Department's troubled crime lab, officials and attorneys announced Wednesday.
The Harris County District Attorney's Office said retesting of evidence in the case of 47-year-old Ronald Taylor showed he did not commit a rape that sent him to prison 12 years ago.
Prosecutors and Taylor's attorneys are now working to free him. Two other inmates have been released from prison during the review of the crime lab's work.
The new DNA testing was paid for by the Innocence Project, a New York-based legal clinic representing Taylor.
"I'm very unhappy and dismayed by the fact an innocent person has been sent to prison," said Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal.
Taylor was convicted in 1995 and sentenced to 60 years in prison for the rape of a woman in her home two years earlier. He had previously spent time in jail for writing bad checks.
Nina Morrison, Taylor's attorney, said the victim told authorities her attacker had ejaculated and officers who responded to the scene indicated they could feel dampness on the victim's bed sheet.
At Taylor's trial, an analyst with the crime lab's serology section, testified testing she did on the bed sheet showed there was no semen on it.
But ReliaGene Technologies, Inc., a private lab in New Orleans, retested the bed sheet in July and found there was semen on it.
The retesting yielded the DNA profile of another man who was in a law enforcement database.
Rosenthal said this other individual, who looks like Taylor, is currently in prison for failing to register as a sex offender.
But because the statute of limitations has run out in the rape case, authorities will not try to prosecute this other man, he said.
"Semen was found in the exact same spot where the analyst said there was no semen," Morrison said. "This is another example of faulty testing in the HPD crime lab."
The Houston crime lab's work has been under scrutiny since 2002, when the DNA section was shut down after an independent audit raised red flags about analysis procedures. Inaccuracies were later found in four other lab divisions that test firearms, body fluids and controlled substances. The DNA section has since been reopened.
In June, Michael Bromwich, a former U.S. Justice Department inspector hired by the city, released the findings of his two-year investigation of the lab. The report commended the city's efforts to rebuild the crime lab, but cited hundreds of "serious and pervasive" flaws in forensic cases mishandled by the lab's DNA and serology sections.
Taylor was convicted mainly on the victim's identification of him, Morrison said. But the victim told authorities she only caught a glimpse of her attacker's face.
Morrison said motions asking for Taylor's release should be filed in court by next week. She hopes to have Taylor freed sometime this month.
Prosecutors will submit paperwork to ask for a pardon for Taylor from Gov. Rick Perry's office. But a pardon will not wipe away Taylor's conviction.
Taylor's attorneys plan on asking the court to overturn his conviction, wiping it away, Morrison said.
Rosenthal said his office would not object to this.
"One of the things the public should know is the criminal justice system worked in this particular case and is working to free an innocent individual," Rosenthal said.
Bromwich's report suggested a special master be appointed to review 180 blood-analysis cases from the 1980s and early 1990s involving inmates now in prison.
Rosenthal reiterated his opposition to a special master, saying prosecutors are reviewing these 180 cases, as well as looking at cases connected to lab evidence that was mislabeled and improperly stored.
Morrison said Taylor's case is a glaring reminder that a system needs to be put in place to review all cases affected by faulty crime lab work.
"It's critical that there be a more comprehensive response to investigating all of these cases," she said.
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Southern Center for Human Rights
Current HB-1059 (Sex Offender Law) Litigation | Yahoo Group
2006 News Letter (PDF)
2007 News Letter (PDF)
We hope this finds you all well. We just wanted to provide you with a brief update on the Whitaker v. Perdue lawsuit, as we have recently been receiving phone calls from many of you.
At present, we are in the discovery phase of the litigation. This means that the plaintiffs and the State are exchanging information about the effect of the law, including how many people have had to move and/or lose their jobs. This is a big job, given the size of the plaintiff class (about 13,000 people). The discovery phase of the case will last at least until January 15, 2008. No trial date has been set yet. As always, we will be sure to keep you informed of any changes or important information.
In the last couple weeks, we have heard from individuals who have been notified by their probation officers that they will be subject to additional restrictions on the night of Halloween. These restrictions may include curfews, heightened reporting requirements, and mandatory meetings to take place during the evening hours of Halloween, among other things. We recognize that these restrictions are likely frustrating for many of you and your families. While these restrictions are unfair as applied to many people, it would be difficult to challenge them in court since the law gives individual probation officers a lot of discretion about when to require people to report to the probation office (see OCGA 42-8-35(a)(3).) In addition, we must focus all of our energies on the Whitaker v. Perdue lawsuit and our efforts to prevent people from being evicted from their homes and forced from their jobs. We are unable to challenge the additional Halloween night restrictions.
All the best,
Sara, Sarah, Lisa, James and Mica
Southern Center for Human Rights
83 Poplar St.
Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 688-1202- voice
(404) 688-9440- fax
42-8-35. Terms and conditions of probation
(a) The court shall determine the terms and conditions of probation and may provide that the probationer shall:
(1) Avoid injurious and vicious habits;
(2) Avoid persons or places of disreputable or harmful character;
(3) Report to the probation supervisor as directed;
(4) Permit the supervisor to visit the probationer at the probationer's home or elsewhere;
(5) Work faithfully at suitable employment insofar as may be possible;
(6) Remain within a specified location; provided, however, that the court shall not banish a probationer to any area within the state:(A) That does not consist of at least one entire judicial circuit as described by Code Section 15-6-1; or
(B) In which any service or program in which the probationer must participate as a condition of probation is not available;
(7) Make reparation or restitution to any aggrieved person for the damage or loss caused by the probationer's offense, in an amount to be determined by the court. Unless otherwise provided by law, no reparation or restitution to any aggrieved person for the damage or loss caused by the probationer's offense shall be made if the amount is in dispute unless the same has been adjudicated;
(8) Make reparation or restitution as reimbursement to a municipality or county for the payment for medical care furnished the person while incarcerated pursuant to the provisions of Article 3 of Chapter 4 of this title. No reparation or restitution to a local governmental unit for the provision of medical care shall be made if the amount is in dispute unless the same has been adjudicated;
(9) Repay the costs incurred by any municipality or county for wrongful actions by an inmate covered under the provisions of paragraph (1) of subsection (a) of Code Section 42-4-71;
(10) Support the probationer's legal dependents to the best of the probationer's ability;
(11) Violate no local, state, or federal laws and be of general good behavior;
(12) If permitted to move or travel to another state, agree to waive extradition from any jurisdiction where the probationer may be found and not contest any effort by any jurisdiction to return the probationer to this state; and
(13) Submit to evaluations and testing relating to rehabilitation and participate in and successfully complete rehabilitative programming as directed by the department.
(b) In determining the terms and conditions of probation for a probationer who has been convicted of a criminal offense against a victim who is a minor or dangerous sexual offense as those terms are defined in Code Section 42-1-12, the court may provide that the probationer shall be:
(1) Prohibited from entering or remaining present at a victim's school, place of employment, place of residence, or other specified place at times when a victim is present or from loitering in areas where minors congregate, child care facilities, churches, or schools as those terms are defined in Code Section 42-1-12;
(2) Required to wear a device capable of tracking the location of the probationer by means including electronic surveillance or global positioning systems. The department shall assess and collect fees from the probationer for such monitoring at levels set by regulation by the department; and
(3) Prohibited from seeking election to a local board of education.
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My lord people! It was a topless women and a high school? Yes, it was wrong, but appears to be an HONEST mistake. I'm sure these high school kids have seen more than that on TV or a movie. Come on, give the man a break!!!!!! If this is a crime, then you need to go after all the TV shows, movies, porn industry, magazines, etc. I cannot believe this is what this world has become, when BREATS freak people out.....
NORWALK -- A state legislator surprised a high school class when the computer he was using projected a photo of a nude woman during a lecture on how a bill becomes a law.
State Rep. Matthew Barrett was giving a civics lesson Tuesday when he inserted a data memory stick into the school computer and the projected image of a topless woman appeared instead of the graphics presentation he had downloaded.
Police interviewed Barrett and school officials and seized the data memory stick and the computer to determine where the image came from, a state highway patrol spokesman said.
Barrett said there were a few snickers from the approximately 20 students in the senior government class at Norwalk High School when the image appeared. He said he immediately pulled the memory stick out of the computer.
The legislator said he finished his lecture using printouts and then met with the school's principal and technology staff, who examined the stick. He said the school's technology director determined the stick had a directory of nude images in addition to Barrett's presentation on civics lessons.
"I have no idea where these came from," the Democrat said.
Barrett said the data memory stick was a gift he received about three weeks ago from a legislative liaison from the state Library of Ohio.
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Two men both face a possible 10 years in prison for allegedly downloading child pornography on their work computers at NASA's Ames Research Center.
Two former NASA employees have been indicted for allegedly possessing child pornography on their government work computers.
A grand jury in San Jose, Calif., handed down separate indictments for Christopher Burt Wiltsee, 56, of Morgan Hill, Calif., and Mark Charles Zelinsky, 56, of San Bruno, Calif. If convicted, both men face a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and a fine of $ 250,000 and would be forced to register as sex offenders.
According to the indictment, in June of 2005, Wiltsee was working at the Ames Research Center of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) when it was allegedly discovered that he knowingly possessed images of child pornography on a government computer. A second indictment also noted that Zelinsky was employed at the same NASA research center in August of 2005 when it was discovered that he too had images of child pornography on his government computer.
The images had been transported in interstate and foreign commerce, the indictment charged. The document did not specify how many images were found on the computers or how long they might have been on the machines.
Mike Mewhinney, a spokesman for the Ames Research Center, said in an interview that he would only confirm that both men worked there during 2005. He would not say how long they were employed at NASA or what positions they held there.
The cases will be tried in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, Calif. Both men, according to the DoJ, were investigated by NASA's Office of the Inspector General.
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You see! If you are rich, famous, cop or politicians, laws do not apply to you. You get treated with ROYALTY!
Remember a couple weeks ago I reported on Uncle Kracker and his late night rape rendezvous? Well, he pleaded guilty in a North Carolina court to misdemeanor charges he assaulted a woman in a downtown nightclub after a concert.
The judge sentenced Kracker to 12 months probation and fined him $1,500. Kracker must undergo an assessment to determine if he's addicted to alcohol.
Prosecutors agreed to drop the original felony charge of second-degree forcible sex offense in exchange for the guilty plea.
Kracker denied the charges last month saying "It's regrettable that someone would make this kind of an allegation, it's not the kind of thing that I'd do, as a father of three girls ... I'm saddened that anyone might think I'm capable of this sort of thing."
So he is not only a sexual predator, but a liar too. Something seems very strange about this country if a man pleads guilty to a crime as a means of actually avoiding punishment.
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An Austin couple want their neighbors to know they're not sex offenders -- even though a notice from the state might have suggested otherwise.
The couple bought a home where a sex offender used to live, but because of a clerical mistake, it appeared the offender still lived there.
Registered sex offender Zamaripa is behind bars in the Travis County Jail as of Tuesday night. But a notice recently showed up in his old northeast Austin neighborhood warning that a sex offender has moved in.
Instead, it's a young couple, and they're desperate to set the record straight.
Clint and Alexis Jurek just bought their first house and got ready to move in with baby, Max. Then a post card came in the mail.
"All of our neighbors think that a sex offender lives at our address," says Alexis. "And not only that, but our house has been vandalized."
Someone broke a door shortly after the notice showed up -- months past when the offender apparently left.
"Definitely worrisome," says Clint. "I have a five-month-old child that I have to move into the house in two or three weeks, and I can't move him into a place where there could be flying glass."
Notices are required by law -- as are verifications before mailing.
"In the process of doing those verifications, the record for this particular sex offender got lost in the shuffle," says the Texas Department of Public Safety's Tela Mange. "Reappeared about four months later."
DPS says it checked with Austin police -- and was told the offender still lived there.
APD is looking into the miscommunication. And DPS is streamlining processes in the wake of the mishap.
"We're very sorry to the family," Mange says. "And we're doing what we can to fix the situation and make sure it doesn't happen again."
Neighbors are set to receive letters informing them of the mistake.
"It was an inconvenience to me," Clint says. "But who I really feel sorry for are the people in this neighborhood who lived here for six months with a dangerous person."
Now they're getting back to living their dream and putting this nightmare behind them.
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By a 7-1 vote, the City Council has put new teeth into an old ordinance, holding landlords responsible when they rent to registered sexual offenders.
When enacting the ordinance in May, restricting residency by convicted sex offenders from within 2,500 feet — about one-half mile — from an school, playground, or day care facility, councilors withheld any landlord responsibility, saying at the time that they wished to hear more about that aspect from the city attorney.
This week, the council decided to place responsibility on the landlords.
Objecting to the landlord clause was property owner Daniel Patrini who spoke to silence and blank stares from councilors during Monday's public hearing.
"Who's going to monitor this?" Patrini questioned, saying he believes the city has plenty of employees who should be keeping an eye on sexual predators — especially the police.
Patrini said it is similar to the city's nuisance ordinance that penalizes landlords up to $500 if police come to an apartment three or more times during a 12-month period. The sex offender ordinance also will penalize offending landlords with a fine as much as $500 after one warning.
"Why don't they put these people in jail?" he asked rhetorically and complained that sex offenders belong behind bars along with the other people who cause trouble in apartments.
Following the public hearing, the council began its discussion.
Ward 1 Councilor Linda LaFever, who, along with Glen Feener of Ward 2, spearheaded the original residency restriction, as well as Monday's revisions, said she was an apartment manager and it simply required a landlord to check the online state sex offender registry against any applications for apartments.
"This is not hard to do. Print it and attach it to the application," said LaFever, speaking directly to Patrini.
Some city councilors found other provisions in the proposed changes objectionable — especially the inclusion of the golf course as an area around which convicted sexual predators cannot live.
"Isn't that kind of stretching it?" asked Ward 2 Councilor Jay Bowers who ultimately made a motion to remove golf courses from the list of proscribed areas, mostly on the grounds that they are privately owned.
"I have a problem with this, too," said Ward 2 Councilor Doug Boyd, who seconded Bowers motion. "With all due respect, this is stretching it."
With Ward 3 Councilor Annette Andreozzi already saying she would not vote for any of the proposed changes because of the undisclosed opinions of the city attorney, LaFever and Feener saw their majority slipping away and conceded that golf courses could be removed in order to preserve the remainder of the proposal — the importance of which was the landlord culpability clause.
Ward 3 Councilor Jeff Rabinowitz, an open critic of the entire residency restriction ordinance, spoke against it on the record but he did not attend Monday's meeting.
"It's like talking to rocks," said Patrini after the vote and outside the council chambers. "It's unacceptable and not my responsibility."
"If they come after me, I'm not going to pay anything," he said, adding that he does not own a computer and that every time he has called the police to check on tenants, he is told it is privileged information. "Let 'em take me to court."
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By Jean Beck
Special to The Times
When a sex offender commits a horrendous crime such as that with which Terapon Adhahn has been charged, we want to do something dramatic so such a thing doesn't happen again. We want to make an example of the latest perpetrator, believing that stronger punishment will deter others. Overwhelmingly, we want to protect our children. Please! Don't let there be another Zina Linnik taken from her family, brutalized and murdered.
I see this latest atrocity as a wake-up call. How do we stop new offenses? We have come a long way in the past few decades. We no longer automatically believe that a woman who was raped, for example, was "asking for it." We have done a remarkable job educating victims to speak out, to report the crime. And we have done a remarkable job providing adolescents with books that fully inform them how their sexual equipment works and what to do if someone abuses them sexually.
And yet, these measures have not decreased the number of sexual offenses committed. Despite our current efforts, the number of offenses continues to rise.
At some point, we have to face the fact that human beings have primitive innate drives and that our higher, intellectual capacities do not automatically trump these urges. The people who commit sex crimes are not all psychopaths. They are not all murderers. They are our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, bosses and co-workers, neighbors, friends and spouses. They are everyday people with overpowering urges they have an insufficient ability to control. They need our help, and it's far more impactful for them to get help before they commit a sexual crime.
And what shall we do with those who do offend? Given what you've heard from the media, you may believe that all sex offenders become repeat sex offenders. You may believe that most sex crimes involve abduction and murder. You may believe that the rate of recidivism is much higher among sex offenders than other types of criminals. If you believe these things, you are wrong.
Most sexual crimes are committed by people known to the victim. Of about 500,000 registered sex offenders nationwide, only a few were involved in either abduction or murder. According to the Washington State Institute for Public Policy, in Washington state the recidivism rate among sex offenders for a new sex crime is less than 3 percent — lower than that for all other felonies. And about 86 percent of sex crimes are committed by people without a prior conviction for a sexual crime.
When a sex offender is motivated to change — and a great majority of them are — treatment can be very effective. Yet, fewer than 50 percent of convicted sex offenders receive treatment in lieu of prison or while in prison when that motivation to change is highest.
Awareness is fundamental to prevention. The most effective way to prevent sexual crimes is to teach our young people how to control their urges — give them facility with the myriad and powerful desires that come with being human. We must also educate our entire population about the behaviors that may lead to offenses. We must look at the roles pornography and sex addiction play in creating offenders. We must then find the courage to actually speak to potential offenders about their escalating risk and how to get help before they act. We must make help available early on.
And for those whom our best efforts fail and who do offend, remember that they are our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, bosses and co-workers, neighbors, friends and spouses who have made a terrible, painful, yet human mistake. We must include, along with punishment, the opportunity for treatment and a path back into a community which, fully informed, can support them to be safe, contributing members of society.
Jean Beck of Lynnwood is a grandmother who is interested in creating a safe world that works for everyone. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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A Barrow County deputy has been charged with 20 felony counts of sexual exploitation of a child, in relation to child pornography found on his personal computer, authorities said.
The GBI is investigating four-year Deputy Jason David Gaub, 32, of Winder, after an anonymous tip came in about him.
Investigators said that nothing improper has been found on his work computer, just on his home machine.
Early Tuesday evening, the Barrow County Sheriff's Office issued a statement about Gaub.
"We at the Barrow County Sheriff's Office do not differentiate between the general public and Sheriff's Office employees when it comes to the commission of an illegal act. If anything, we hold ourselves to an even higher standard," the statement read.
- Oh I believe that, NOT!! We'll see by the sentence he gets.
GBI investigators came to Gaub's Winder home Tuesday morning and, according to shocked neighbors, left with several boxes of material. They spent about four hours at Gaub's home, and his wife was there for at least a part of the time that investigators were there.
Gaub was taken to the Barrow County Jail, but has since been transferred to another location. He will be transported back to Barrow County for his first court appearance, which has not yet been set.
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The establishment of the sex offender registry has initiated a unique, multi-faceted controversy among the public. Determining whether public access to the information is beneficial or simply going too far is what many find it difficult to agree on.
According to the sex offender registry, started in July 1994, all adults and juveniles convicted as adults are required to register their personal and residential information on an online database. This database, which was revised in July 2006, is accessible to the public. This makes it possible for anyone to find out where sex offenders live in any area.
“This system is meant to favor public safety, or at least what we perceive to be public safety,” said Brent Myers, research analyst at the Indiana Department of Correction. “It’s a very complex issue, and it does affect lives.”
And it is this complexity that is a major reason why the sex offender registry has been added to the stack of controversial issues in our society. With every restriction, an opinion follows, usually varying with another.
Myers, who oversees all sex and violent offender registry for the state of Indiana, has been with the DOC for two years.
He said that high-risk and low-risk offenders are generally treated the same. All offenders must register and participate in active reporting to law enforcement for information updates. High-risk offenders report more times annually than low-risk offenders.
But while law enforcement may generally treat offenders the same, public reaction toward offenders can vary immensely.
“People have difficulty envisioning female sex offenders,” said Diane Mains, staff attorney at the DOC. “Of our sex offenders, females make up a very small ratio.”
Mains, who has been with the DOC for nearly ten years, said the majority of female sex offenders come up in cases of neglect and abuse.
The public has created something of a double standard in their reaction toward male and female sex offenders. The view of female offenders as being involved in teacher-student relationships is more common than the thought of the female as a predatory sex criminal.
Once registered, regulations concerning where offenders can live become more complicated. Though each state differs in law and registry restriction, most prohibit offenders from living within 1,000 feet of school properties, child daycares and public parks.
Because of the restrictions, neighborhoods sometimes take the power of the registry into their own hands.
Dr. Patrick Clauss, professor of English at Butler University, said he witnessed one such occurrence in his hometown of Fishers, Ind., five years ago.
Clauss said a group of neighbors discovered that an offender had moved into the neighborhood. They surrounded the offender’s home, picketing and protesting in the yard.
“I still have really mixed feelings about it,” Clauss said.
And mixed feelings among the public are what establish the registry as a controversial issue to begin with.
Clauss said he does feel as though the registry is effective as a means of critical information, but said he wonders still if he should have access to this information.
Though his opinion on sex offenders is from a more protective standpoint as the parent of two young children, he also said that one-time offenses of youth don’t always have much significance later on.
With this, Clauss brings to light an interesting thought. If someone is convicted of a one-time sex offense at a young age, it is possible his name is put on the registry for life. Thirty years later, will this matter?
This can happen in the case of juveniles convicted of non-typical types of sex offenses, such as consensual sex with a minor which is classified as rape. And this question of crime significance is the source of mixed feelings on the issue.
Dr. Kenneth D. Colburn Jr., a Butler professor of sociology, said controversy is rooted in disagreement of how much punishment is enough, and the loss of privacy of people not knowing someone was convicted of a crime.
“It goes back to the issue of when a person has paid their debts. When is enough, enough?”
With varying public opinion, this question may never have a concurring answer. But Colburn said he wonders if the registry is really even making the public safer. He said it can be a helpful tool, but there are problems with how accurate and updated it is. It won’t always be able to solve the problem of public safety.
“There’s a difference between being safe and feeling safe,” he said. “Are first-time offenders really the kind you can plan for? The registry isn’t going to help with that. It’s only as good as the person complying to the law.”
Because the information on previous offenses and current location is provided by the offenders themselves, a major complaint of the public is inaccuracy of information.
Myers said a lack of quality information results from limited criminal history in court documents.
“This will always be a weakness because it’s offender-based,” he said. “It’s only as good as the offenders who reported the information, and it can be a sense of false security. But some system is better than no system at all.”
Clauss said he agrees that many problems can come from inaccurate information in the wrong set of hands, such as vigilante justice.
“Neighborhoods are taking it into their own hands to deal with offenders,” he said. “[In the situation in Fishers], most people probably didn’t know all the details.”
Issues of fairness in the registry are also bringing to light a controversy within a controversy.
Myers said that it is not unheard of for an offender to move in next door to a residence that establishes a home daycare when they normally would not have one. Doing so forces the offender to move elsewhere, or it is violation of law.
If this is a recurring theme, this creates yet another problem.
“In many cases, there are literally no places for offenders to live,” Myers said.
Fairness and information inaccuracy aside, the registry is still used by citizens. But not everyone is logging on.
Whitney Sharp, a Butler sophomore political science major, said she’s not incredibly familiar with the sex offender laws in Indiana, or the registry. She said that as a college student, she feels sex offenses are not really thought of as occurring on campus, so students don’t really think about the issue.
“The news seems to direct sex offender issues toward parents, not students,” she said.
Sharp also feels that the public in general should be able to access this information to become more aware of their surroundings.
“I think more people should be aware of its existence,” she said. “Offenders are often repeat offenders.”
Mains said she agrees that much of the public thinks along the lines of “once a sex offender, always a sex offender.”
She said she feels there is very little public knowledge of exactly what the registry is, but that the majority of the public would agree it’s a good thing.
“The whole issue of sex offenders is very emotionally charged,” Mains said. “They are so personal. Sex offender crimes are the kinds people don’t easily move forward from.”
But Myers feels that in regard to public information, they are moving forward.
“What it comes down to is that we’re all afraid of sex offenders,” he said.
Myers said he doesn’t think this fear is increasing or decreasing, but the public does hear about it in the media often.
Mixed feelings and disagreement on this issue is common because of the detail in restrictions with respect to the seriousness of the crimes. But with the registry, the public is given the choice, if nothing else, to be informed.
“Some would agree that’s why the registry is bad, but I would argue that that’s why the registry is good,” Myers said. “These tools give people the power to be aware.”
View the article here | eAdvocate Rebuttal Here
This is from the original FamilyWatchDog response, which they removed from their site. I would not agree with HRW in submitting court documents via the link below, that is none of their business.
(New York, October 3, 2007) – FamilyWatchdog.us and Human Rights Watch have engaged in frank and open discussions concerning the Human Rights Watch report “No Easy Answers: Sex Offender laws in the US.”
Through our conversations, we acknowledge that we share the goal of preventing sexual violence and living in a world one day where there are no more victims. We disagree about the risk registered sex offenders pose to the public and the fairness and usefulness of current sex offender laws. Human Rights Watch stands by its report’s conclusions and recommendations, and FamilyWatchdog.us strongly disagrees with the report’s findings.
But both organizations are committed to constructive dialogue that will focus public attention on the full nature of sexual violence in this country and the best way to prevent it.
In addition, FamilyWatchdog.us announces an initiative to allow offenders or other interested parties to submit certified court documents detailing an offender’s sex offense convictions to FamilyWatchdog.us. Visitors will be able to view these documents in order to assess the risk the offender may pose. Additional information about this free program may be found at http://www.familywatchdog.us/submitcourtdocs.asp.
- DO NOT SUBMIT YOUR ARTICLES, IMO! It's none of their business, and if someone wants your criminal history, they can pay the fee to get it, why give it out free of charge?
FamilyWatchdog.us and Human Rights Watch will continue to discuss with one another ways in which they might work together on issues where they are able to find common ground. For example, both organizations support the removal from registries of individuals who pose no-risk to the community and the need for more public awareness about the nature of sexual violence and more resources for support and treatment of survivors of sexual violence.
There is truly no silver bullet to stop sexual assaults, and there is much work to be done. We ask everyone to join us in this effort to make our communities safer places to live.
--Human Rights Watch and FamilyWatchdog.us
View the article here
KEARNEY - A former Ravenna police officer faced a detailed recounting of six sexual encounters by his accuser during his trial for sexual assault on Monday.
Larry Williams, 51, of Holdrege, has been charged with five counts of first-degree sexual assault and one count of sexual assault of a child in Buffalo County District Court.
On Monday, the first day of his trial, his accuser gave her account of six specific sexual encounters with Williams while she was 14 and 15 years old, using a detailed school planner she kept at the time to pin down dates.
But during cross-examination, the accuser acknowledged that she had initially denied a sexual relationship with Williams to investigating state troopers and had been unsure in a 2005 interview about when two of the instances took place.
The accuser, now 20 years old, said she met Williams at about 12, when he frequently responded to 911 calls by her mother regarding violent family arguments at her home.
Both the accuser and her mother said Williams often gave her short rides on those calls in order to calm her down.
Their relationship became more involved, the accuser said, until he fondled her breast in his police cruiser while on patrol when she was 14.
A year later, in 2002, she said, they had sex for the first time at the Ravenna police department.
She detailed four other instances of sex one for each first-degree sexual assault charge at the city council chambers, city swimming pool and police department shooting range, all but one while Williams was on duty.
Each of the instances was marked in a school planner she said she used to keep track of what she did with Williams.
But the accuser also acknowledged that during an interview with the Family Advocacy Center shortly after her mother reported the relationship, she wasn't sure whether the first time she had sex with Williams was when she was 15 or 16.
The charges in the case require that the incidents occurred while the defendant was 15 or younger.
Williams resigned from the Ravenna Police Department in January 2005, after nine years with the department, shortly after the accusation was made.
The Independent's policy is not to identify victims of sexual crimes. The trial is scheduled to continue through Wednesday.