Friday, October 12, 2007

MN - Suspended Veteran Clearwater County Minnesota Deputy Sheriff Eugene Harmon Charged With Child Molestation

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CLEARWATER COUNTY - A suspended Clearwater County deputy has been charged with sex offenses after an investigation into the reports of a young girl who said the man touched her inappropriately on several occasions.

Eugene Harmon, 48, from Shevlin, Minn., who’s been a Clearwater County deputy for more than 20 years, was charged today with five counts of felony criminal sexual conduct, according to the Polk County Attorney’s Office. The investigation was referred to Polk County to avoid a conflict of interest in Clearwater County.

Harmon made an initial appearance in Clearwater County District Court this morning, according to Polk County Attorney Greg Widseth. Bond was set at $30,000 surety or $3,000 cash on various conditions of release.

The victim, who was reportedly between 5th and 6th grade when the alleged sexual conduct began, told her mother about the abuse because she “thought her younger sister had been molested” and that “(Harmon), may have been doing it,” according to court records.

The younger sister of the alleged victim did not report inappropriate touching, according to court files.

Harmon is accused of touching the older child’s vagina, her breasts, and peeping at her through a bathroom window as she readied for a bath, according to the complaint against Harmon.

In police interviews, Harmon denied touching the child. Harmon said “he’s never done anything but try to be a role model or father figure to her,” according to the complaint against him.

Harmon was suspended with pay at the end of July.

Sex Offender Laws May Do More Harm Than Good

Sarah Tofte
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Sex offender laws may be doing more harm than good. That is the conclusion Human Rights Watch came to after two years of intensive research into sex offender registration, community notification, and residency restriction laws in the United States. Our research convinced us that politicians failed to do their homework by enacting popular laws without seeking expert advice on how best to prevent sexual violence.

Instead of an informed debate about how sexual violence ravages this country, politicians and the media have largely focused on child victims of truly horrific crimes by previously convicted sex offenders -- like the murders of Megan Kanka, Polly Klaas, and Jessica Lunsford. Horrific yes, but uncommon, which means the laws are designed to tackle only a tiny minority and fail to address the full picture of sexual violence.

A growing number of child safety and rape prevention advocates agree that current laws are not working. For example, the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA), a state-wide coalition of 84 rape crisis centers and sexual assault prevention programs, had this to say about residency restriction laws: They "waste valuable resources on sex offenders who are unlikely to reoffend, while leaving a deficit of treatment, supervision, and focus on offenders who we know should be receiving more intense scrutiny."

Two popular myths about child abusers underlie many of our sex offender laws: first, that our children have most to fear from strangers, and second, that sex offenders will inevitably repeat their crimes. But the data tell a different story. More than 90 percent of child sexual abuse is committed by someone the child knows and trusts. And recidivism rates for sex offenders are far lower than most people believe -- authoritative studies show that three out of four do not re-offend within 15 years of release from prison.

Furthermore, focusing much of our public policy resources on restricting the rights of former sex offenders will do very little, if anything, to protect the 87 percent of victims of sexual violence who were abused by someone who had no previous sex crime conviction.

Residency restriction laws, in place in 20 states, are based on another popular belief about former offenders -- that keeping them away from places where children gather will reduce their risk of re-offending. But there is no evidence these laws diminish crimes against children and some to suggest the opposite.

A recent study by the Minnesota Department of Corrections analyzed 224 sex offender recidivists to see if where they lived had an effect on their crimes. The study found that residential proximity had very little impact on a recidivist's opportunity to re-offend. Many took pains to drive far from their neighborhoods in order to re-offend. More than half (113) came into contact with their victims through "social or relationship proximity" to the child. The most common example was that of a male offender who found his victim(s) while socializing with their mother.

The main impact of residency restrictions may be to drive former offenders underground, away from families, police supervision and the help that can stop them re-offending. As an Iowa sheriff pointed out, "We've taken stable people who have committed a sex crime and cast them out of their homes, away from their jobs, away from treatment, and away from public transportation. It's just absolutely absurd what these laws have done, and the communities are at greater risk because of it."

Law enforcement officials and sex offender treatment providers repeatedly told Human Rights Watch that isolating former offenders is counter-productive. Existing parole and probation laws already permit law enforcement agencies to place restrictions and conditions on former offenders when appropriate.

All registered sex offenders must provide a home address, but because of the restrictions, some do not have a home. Police in Iowa, which has seen residency restrictions backfire, have resolved this conundrum by allowing individuals to register as homeless, if they specify a location. So users who go to Iowa's online registry will find addresses listed as "on the Raccoon River between Des Moines and West Des Moines," "behind the Target on Euclid," and "underneath the I-80 bridge." I visited some of these "addresses." The areas are industrial, polluted, noisy, full of debris, and, in one case, right next to an active railroad track.

As a Des Moines police officer explained, "We don't expect that the registrants are actually living under the bridge, it's just one of the few places where they are legally allowed to admit they are living, and so they list that as their address, and go live someplace else."

Since the law took effect in Iowa, police have lost track of hundreds of former offenders.

Even online registries, where the personal details of offenders, but not necessarily the nature of their crime, are accessible to anyone with an Internet connection, may not be that useful. Some were convicted of non-violent offenses, others were children when they committed their crime. Police already have the duty to inform neighbors when an offender who might pose a threat moves in.

But it's one thing to say parents should be told there's a dangerous man living next door -- which they should -- and quite another to let anyone browse the registries to see who's listed, regardless of any need to know. Unfettered access to registry information can and does lead to harassment, ostracism and even violence against former offenders. That doesn't protect anyone. More effective would be to ensure that police actually pass on potential threats to the relevant community.

We deserve laws that protect everyone from sexual violence. Former offenders need laws that allow them to rebuild their lives -- because when they succeed in safely rejoining their communities, we are all made safer. State and federal legislators should end residency restrictions and reform online registry and community notification laws so they target high-risk offenders.

It's not surprising that those who know something about the nature of sexual violence in the United States have started to criticize the way the laws treat former sex offenders. But it's a shame that politicians don't seem to be listening to the experts who could help to craft laws that might actually prevent sexual violence.

GA - Lawsuit: 11-Year-Old Sexually Assaulted On Delta Flight

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This is insane! Next they will be saying sex offenders cannot fly either!


ATLANTA -- The family of an 11-year-old Alabama girl has filed a lawsuit against Delta Air Lines after the child said a man sexually molested her on a flight from San Diego to Atlanta.

Savannah lawyer Mark Tate is representing the family. He says the girl, whose name is not included in the lawsuit, was traumatized.

Tate says the girl reported the assault to her mother when she got off the plane January 6, but authorities have filed no criminal charges and have not identified a suspect. The mother took the report to police in Huntsville, Alabama, Atlanta police and the FBI.

Delta spokeswoman Susan Elliott says the airline tries to properly serve all passengers and to ensure their safety and security. She says Delta has special rules for keeping a close watch on children flying alone.

The lawsuit filed in Fulton County State Court says the girl was on a return trip from San Diego where she was visiting her father. Her mother, a 31-year-old property manager from Huntsville, was set to meet the plane in Atlanta.

The lawsuit says the man began rubbing himself while rubbing the child's face.

CA - Schwarzenegger took sexual harassment course

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See the videos at the end. You decide. Should he be a sex offender?


SACRAMENTO (AP)Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose campaign was dogged by allegations of sexual misconduct, volunteered to take a two-hour course about preventing sexual harassment earlier this year.

Schwarzenegger wasn't required to take the training course, which was conducted by a deputy attorney general who is an expert in employment and discrimination law, his spokeswoman Margita Thompson said Wednesday.

Schwarzenegger said he volunteered to take the course along with his senior staff, who were required to take the class as part of his administration's policy, according to Thompson.

"We all went through that a long time ago," he told the San Francisco Chronicle Tuesday. "Absolutely. We all did."

The training is optional for statewide elected officials such as the governor, secretary of state and attorney general.

Five days before his election, the Los Angeles Times detailed allegations from six women who said Schwarzenegger groped or sexually harassed them between 1975 and 2000. By the Oct. 7 election, the number had grown to 16.

Schwarzenegger apologized for having "behaved badly" toward women in the past but refused to discuss the allegations in detail until after he was elected. After the election, he pledged to hire an investigator to look into the allegations, but a month later decided against a probe, saying it would be only used as political fodder.

Members of the California Legislature and their staffs take sexual harassment prevention training course every two years. State personnel officials said most state agencies also require a course.

Women's rights advocates said they were pleased the governor had educated himself about sexual harassment.

"Every elected official and everyone in business should take this training. And given the allegations against this governor, it was particularly important for him to take a class," said Helen Griego, executive director of the California chapter of the National Organization for Women.

IL - OGLESBY: Screws may be tightened on sex offenders

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Being tough is not necessarily the way to go. Homeless non-sex offenders have it better than sex offenders. Every where they go, the public bitches and moans. Where the hell can these people live? You could banish them 50 or 100 miles and it still would not make any difference, since 90% or more of all sex crimes occur in the victims own home, so you see, doesn't work! You can only tighten the screws so much, before the start vanishing in droves and committing other crimes because you are making life impossible, which is probably your REAL GOAL!! If that is the case, then why not open up the concentration camps and get the overs fired up and ready to go?


Oglesby officials want to make things tougher in their city for registered sex offenders.

Public Health and Safety Commissioner Tom Porter recently suggested the City Council enact an ordinance requiring sex offenders to register with police every month, instead of every year as state law requires for most offenders. Police Chief Tom Kramarsic suggested the idea to Porter.

Kramarsic believes there is a community in the Chicago suburbs that has the monthly registration ordinance, which has survived legal tests.

The next step is for City attorney Vincent Brolley to determine what type of penalty would apply to offenders who fail to register monthly. Kramarsic said if the penalty permitted by the state law can be applied, then offenders failing to report monthly could go to prison. Failure to register as a sex offender usually is punishable by as long as five years in prison.

"Registering once a year isn't enough to protect our children and adult residents," said Kramarsic. "Once per month still might not be enough, but it will help."

Most sex offenders in Illinois are required to register with police each year for 10 years, but failure to register -- beside possible prison -- can lead to the offender having to register for 10 more years. More serious offenders must register every year for life, with the worst offenders having to register every 90 days for life. Offenders who change addresses or jobs must inform police of the change within 5 days.

As of Thursday, there were six registered offenders in Oglesby and 189 in La Salle County as a whole.

WI - Grafton lawyer advises against some limits on sex offenders

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Measures aimed at child safety go to Village Board on Monday

Grafton - A Village Board committee, on the advice of Village Attorney Michael Herbrand, has rejected two amendments to proposed ordinances that would restrict where sex offenders convicted of crimes against children could live.

The Village Board on Monday night will consider the ordinances.

The board's Public Safety Committee on Tuesday night reviewed a request made at a hearing Sept. 18 to have the village prevent landlords from renewing leases of sex offenders who currently live in Grafton.

In a memo to the committee, Herbrand wrote that the case law he has reviewed generally refers to an offender's right to have a notice or warning on where he or she can live, and the assurance that he or she can continue to live there.

Herbrand also cited a U.S. District Court decision for the Northern District of Ohio that says, in part: "Subjecting a sex offender to constant ouster from his or her home seems a significant deprivation of liberty and property interests. It sentences them to a life of transience, forcing them to become nomads."

According to the state sex offender registry, 10 offenders convicted of crimes against children live in the 53024 ZIP code, which covers the Village of Grafton, and two live in the same ZIP code in the Town of Grafton. A total of 21 registered sex offenders live in the 53024 ZIP code.

The committee rejected a request from residents seeking to prevent a sex offender convicted of a crime against a child from living within 1,500 feet of a school, foster home, day care center, public park, library, playground, swimming pool or other aquatic facility. The proposed ordinance calls for a 1,000-foot barrier.

Herbrand wrote that the larger buffer "would, effectively, eliminate almost all residential housing from availability for offenders."

He also wrote that the ordinance probably would be unconstitutional "because it banishes the offender from any opportunity to live in the village."

90% of homes covered

Committee Chairman Jim Grant said most blocks in Grafton are about 800 feet long, and the 1,000-foot barrier would cover about 90% of the homes in Grafton.

City of Wauwatosa officials are considering an ordinance that would forbid sex offenders from living within 500 feet of any school, park, playground, day care center or other facility that attracts children.

Similar ordinances in Germantown and Franklin prohibit sex offenders from residing within 2,000 feet of such facilities.

In Waukesha County, the Cities of Brookfield and Waukesha are discussing similar restrictions. Other communities, including Menomonee Falls, have approved restrictions.

PA - W-B sexual offender restrictions are defeated again

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Latest proposal by outgoing Councilman Jim McCarthy aimed at predators fails 5-2.

WILKES-BARRE – Jim McCarthy reintroduced his sexual offender ordinance Thursday, and council defeated it again.

After the 5-2 vote was taken, McCarthy threw his hands in the air and said, “I’m done.”

McCarthy did not seek re-election. His term expires at the end of December.

“I just can’t understand why Wilkes-Barre’s children are the only ones not protected from these predators,” McCarthy said. “If somebody has a better idea, please bring it forward.”
- Maybe because not all sex offenders are predators, and these blanket laws don't work?

Council president Bill Barrett also voted in favor of the measure.

Councilwoman Shirley Morio-Vitanovec called the proposal “a feel-good ordinance” that wouldn’t protect all of the city’s children. Council members Tony Thomas, Kathy Kane, Michael McGinley and Phil Latinski agreed.

Kane cited a recent letter from Lauren Taylor, executive director of the Pennsylvania Sexual Offenders Assessment Board. Taylor said research shows that there is no correlation between residency restrictions and reducing sex offenses against children or improving the safety of children. Taylor also said the same research doesn’t support the belief that children are more likely to be victimized by strangers at the restricted areas than other locations.

She said 74 percent of sex offenses are committed by perpetrators who knew their victims.

Latinski said 98 percent of convicted sex offenders repeat their crimes.
- This is a total lie. Many studies show sex offender recidivism rates are LOW!! Here is one from the Bureau of Justice, and some state specific studies.

“Help doesn’t help these people,” Latinski said. “Sexual predators don’t care about distance. They will travel miles to commit their crimes.”
- Treatment DOES help you idiot! You have been brainwashed by the AG's and media. If most crimes are committed inside the victims own home, how does pushing them XXXX feet away help anything?

In other business, Frank Sorick of South Wilkes-Barre questioned the salary of Mayor Thomas Leighton, who is paid $79,911 per year. He said Scranton’s mayor is paid less than some city administrative staffers. Latinski noted Scranton is classified as a distressed city, making it eligible for certain government funding, and that classification allows only limited salaries of city officials.

Linda Stets, the Republican candidate for mayor in the city and a candidate for city council in District D, asked council to consider turning over the old No. 9 fire house in Parsons to the residents. She said it could be used as a meeting house for senior citizens, youth groups and other community activities.

City Attorney William Vinsko told council of zoning ordinances regarding the placement of political signs. Vinsko said the signs are not permitted within 660 feet of any limited-access highway and they must be kept in good condition. He said all signs must be removed immediately after the election.

Vinsko said that, starting Monday, the city will begin removing signs that violate any of the terms of the city’s ordinances.

CA - State defies high court over sex offenders

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Hundreds will be sent back to prison for violating Jessica's Law.

SACRAMENTO -- -- Vowing to fight an order from the state's highest court, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and corrections officials Thursday defiantly began sending hundreds of freed sex offenders back to prison for violating strict residency requirements imposed by voters last year.

The California Supreme Court late Wednesday temporarily blocked the state from arresting four sex offenders who went to court in an effort to avert arrest under what is commonly known as Jessica's Law, which decrees that they must live more than 2,000 feet from schools, parks and other areas where children gather.

Though the justices indicated that they would decide the case within weeks, Schwarzenegger said the order would not halt the arrests of 850 other convicted sex offenders who have not complied with the residency rules.

"My administration will vigorously defend against challenges to Jessica's Law and protect the will of the people. I am disappointed with the court's order, but remain committed to the full implementation of Jessica's Law," the governor said in a statement. "I have directed my administration [to] put every available resource into enforcement."

Officials said they expect the arrests to take about two weeks.

Those facing arrest represent 17% of the more than 5,000 offenders who state officials say are subject to the 2,000-foot requirement because they have been on parole -- either for a recent sex crime or an old one coupled with a new non-sex crime -- since Proposition 83 was approved overwhelmingly last November.

Lawyers for the four petitioners, who were identified in court papers only by their initials, said that in light of the governor's decision, they would return to court as early as today to seek a broader order applying to everyone threatened with arrest.

"I think the governor should respect the court's process," said attorney Ernest Galvan of San Francisco. "It's not about public safety. It's about politics."

Corrections officials Thursday night said they had not yet tallied the number of offenders arrested on the first day.

One man was arrested while taking a class at the Sacramento North-Natomas Parole Office. Another offender in the area was handcuffed while visiting a friend and sent to jail; he had been living in an orange car on blocks inside a carport, 300 feet from a school field.

Opponents of the law say it is too restrictive and sweeping, snaring people like one of the men in the Supreme Court case who was convicted 22 years ago of indecent exposure for urinating beneath a railroad trestle in Texas and was recently released from prison after serving time for a non-sex crime.

Another petitioner was convicted in 1998, when he was 16, of a crime involving sexual contact with a 15-year-old. He came under Proposition 83 because of a traffic citation that had violated his parole.

The four men -- two from San Diego County, one from Santa Clara County and one from San Francisco -- contend that the law is unconstitutional, will drive them from their longtime homes, impose an unreasonable condition of parole and levy new punishment for old crimes.

Diane Marie Amann, a law professor at UC Davis, said the state is within its legal right to enforce the residency law against sex offenders not connected to the case.

But a decision in favor of the four men could invalidate the law completely, Amann said.

"It would surely provide for more orderly enforcement if the process of arresting people was postponed until it was certain that that was a legal procedure," Amann said.

States in similar circumstances often wait until legal questions are resolved before taking action. Since the U.S. Supreme Court accepted a death penalty case from Kentucky involving lethal injection, for example, many states have barred executions using that method.

In California, officials spent nine months deliberating how to interpret Proposition 83 and seven weeks warning some offenders that they must move.

On Thursday, corrections chief James Tilton ordered parole agents around the state to begin calling sex offenders into parole offices and asking them to prove they were living outside the restricted zones -- and arresting them if they could not.

"We can second-guess all kinds of court issues," Tilton said. "Right now I have a specific ruling that applies to four people. It doesn't apply to the rest. Do I not enforce Jessica's Law for the rest, waiting for some other ruling?"

Those arrested will have to face the state parole board, which can decide how long they must stay in prison once they return.

Since its passage, about 2,100 sex offenders have complied with the law, while 1,900 are back in custody for other reasons, 100 have unknown whereabouts and 61 have died, prison officials said. The 400 to 500 sex offenders who will be going on parole each month will now have to find residences or face arrest.

Civil rights activists have said that in some densely developed cities, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego, it is nearly impossible for sex offenders to comply with the law because so few locations meet its requirements. State officials Thursday could not provide the addresses or a geographical accounting of offenders who are out of compliance.

However, Tilton did say that many offenders had succeeded in complying with the law by becoming homeless.

Homeless sex offenders must report to parole offices daily, where they can also charge up their battery-powered monitoring devices that are also required under the law.

"There is no exemption for me to say, 'Well, by the way, because there is no place or you can't find a place, therefore you can live in a location near a school,' " Tilton added.

The husband-and-wife legislators who wrote Proposition 83, state Sen. George Runner and Assemblywoman Sharon Runner, both Republicans from Lancaster, have shown little interest in sex offenders' circumstances.

"It's outrageous that we would allow sex offenders -- even one -- to live across the street from a school or park," they said in a joint response to the court's ruling.

"In interpreting this law, the presumption should favor the safety of California's children, not the inconvenience of sex offenders."

TN - Former cop charged with bribery, statutory rape while in jail

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A Sweetwater man who had served as a Loudon police officer before allegedly burglarizing area homes, has been charged with bribery and several counts of statutory rape.

Steven Robert Gutt, 24, currently has five counts of aggravated burglary and two counts of theft over $1,000 scheduled to be heard before the Monroe County grand jury later this month. Now he faces more charges after he and his alleged underage girlfriend reportedly tried to bribe a Monroe County jailer.

Monroe County Sheriff’s Public Information Officer Jennifer Bledsoe said Gutt approached Correctional Officer Thomas Grande about trading him a pair of boots and duty gear for Grande to bring him a cellular telephone. The phone was to be delivered by a female friend of Gutts.

Grande told Corrections Sgt. Tim Pierce about the alleged bribe and Detective Pat Henry set up a sting operation on Oct.10. Henry gave a voice recorder to Grande who recorded Gutt offering him the bribe.

A controlled delivery of the phone was set up outside of the jail and the female juvenile delivered the phone and a $20 bill to Grande. Henry was stationed at a nearby location and photographed the transaction.

The 17-year-old girl was taken into custody by Henry and Grande after the phone and the money were exchanged. The juvenile’s mother was contacted and arrived before the juvenile was interviewed. The juvenile gave a written statement of the facts and circumstances around the events of Oct. 10, as well as admitting that she and Gutt had a previous sexual relationship.

The juvenile was charged in Monroe County Juvenile Court and released to the custody of her mother. Gutt was charged with bribery, attempt to introduce contraband, conspiracy to introduce contraband, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and five counts of statutory rape. Gutt was arrested Aug. 30 along with Hubert Elam Jr., 54, Henderson Drive, Madisonville, after confidential sources led the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office to them as the possible instigators of at least 30 burglaries spanning nearly a year.

The two men were allegedly using different methods to find out when people weren’t at home and burglarizing their residences. This allegedly included robbing the homes of preachers while they were in church. Gutt has been in jail since being arrested on those charges.

MO - Clay County officials accuse former police officer of child molestation

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A 37-year-old former Pleasant Valley police reserve officer was charged this afternoon with six counts related to a sexual relationship with a teenage girl over several years.

Erik C. Henson was arrested Wednesday after Pleasant Valley authorities learned about the allegations.

He is accused of six felonies, including statutory rape, statutory sodomy, child molestation and forcible rape. Henson is being held in the Clay County Detention Center. His bond is set at $100,000 bond.

Pleasant Valley Police Chief Jim Daum said this afternoon that he learned of the allegations and confronted Henson, after which Henson immediately resigned. Daum said he then took Henson into custody and transferred him to the Liberty Police Department.

The alleged victim reported the crimes to the Liberty Police on Oct. 2.

According to court documents, the alleged acts began in 2000, when the victim was 13 years old and continued for several years. The alleged victim provided love letters from Henson as well as a 1988 high school class ring engraved with his name and a photo of the two “cuddling.”

MS - Former officer (Timothy Craft) and ex-girlfriend (Lola Hulsey) charged with sexual battery against 4-year-old girl

Timothy Craft
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PURVIS - A former Hattiesburg police officer is being held on a $1.25 million bond on charges of child exploitation and sexual battery against a child who was four years old when the alleged crime occurred, authorities said.

Timothy Craft, 42, was arrested by the Lamar County Sheriff’s Department on Friday. He was a police officer for the city of Hattiesburg from August 1992 to April 1994, according to the Hattiesburg American newspaper, which cited city records.

Craft pleaded not guilty to the charges at an initial court appearance Monday. Justice Court Judge Carol Ann Bustin said Craft could serve a life sentence if convicted.

Jones County investigator Matt Ishee said a two-year investigation revealed that Craft had taken more than 100 lewd photos of the girl in August 2004. He also is charged with engaging in sexual acts with the girl, according to affidavits.

Craft’s ex-girlfriend, Lola Hulsey of Hattiesburg, was convicted two years ago of one count of child molestation and sentenced to 12 years in jail. Craft was originally charged on one count of child exploitation at the same time as Hulsey in April 2005, said Assistant District Attorney Dennis Bisnette.

However, Craft was never taken to trial at the time “because he furnished evidence against her (Hulsey) we couldn’t get otherwise,” Bisnette said.

The couple was charged with abusing the same girl, officials said.

The charges filed against Lola Hulsey and Timothy Craft rise out of the same facts and circumstances,” said District Attorney Hal Kitrell. Kitrell said he cannot reveal further case details or similarities at this time.

Hulsey was charged after pictures of the girl appeared on Craft’s computer. The pictures were taken at Hulsey’s residence in Lamar County, Ishee said. Craft was allegedly the photographer.

Lamar County Sheriff Danny Rigel said the investigation is ongoing and future charges against Craft are possible.

Two Videos discussing sex offenders

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