Friday, November 2, 2007
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He also ordered a woman with history of mental problems to drop her pants
RICHMOND - A judge who ordered a woman to drop her pants and decided a custody dispute by flipping a coin was removed from the bench by the Virginia Supreme Court on Friday.
The decision against Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Judge James Michael Shull of Gate City was unanimous.
“Unless our citizens can trust that judges will fairly resolve the disputes brought before our courts, and treat all litigants with dignity, our courts will lose the public’s respect and confidence upon which our legal system depends,” Justice Barbara Milano Keenan wrote.
According to the court, Shull admitted tossing a coin to determine which parent would have visitation with a child on Christmas. Shull said he was trying to encourage the parents to decide the issue themselves but later acknowledged that he was wrong.
The pants-dropping incidents, the court said, “were even more egregious.”
The court said they occurred when a woman was seeking a protective order against a partner who she said had stabbed her in the leg. Shull knew the woman had a history of mental problems and insisted on seeing the wound, the court said.
The woman dropped her pants once to display the wound, then dropped them a second time after Shull left the bench for a closer look to determine whether the woman had received stitches.
A court bailiff testified before the commission that after the hearing, he asked Shull, “Did you see what that lady had on?” According to the bailiff, Shull replied: “Yeah, a black lacy thing ... it looked good, didn’t it?”
Shull denied making the comment. His attorney, Russell V. Palmore, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Friday.
The justices could have merely censured Shull, but they noted that he had appeared before the Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission in 2004 for allegedly calling a teenager a “mama’s boy” and a “wuss” and advising a woman to marry her abusive boyfriend. That complaint was dismissed with an admonition to Shull to chalk it up as a learning experience.
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When Mary Smith found out recently that a registered sex offender had moved into the neighborhood, her first thought was of her children.
"Obviously it scares me," said Smith. Registered sex offender Steve Haraga moved into the home on Schooner Beach Drive recently. He is listed on Megan's Law website as being convicted for lewd and lascivious conduct with a child under 14.
But Haraga has completed his prison time and says he's been off parole for the past seven years. That's what worries neighbors. Since Haraga is no longer on parole, he is no longer subject to state restrictions such as Jessica's Law, which prohibits registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park.
Several neighbors expressed worry when they said they saw Haraga passing out candy to children on Halloween night. Speaking by telephone, Haraga says he's being unfairly singled out.
"I came up here to start a new life...if I'm doing something wrong, I'd like to know," said Haraga.
Haraga says he regrets the incident that happened 25 years ago and says he asks God for forgiveness. He says he suffers from depression and asks neighbors for consideration.
"I guarantee I will not do anything," said Haraga. Speaking from her home in Los Angeles, Haraga's step-daughter says she wishes people would not be so quick to jump to conclusions.
"It's a natural reaction the neighbors are having," said step daughter Natasha. "For Kern County, I just say get to know the man, he's a community person, he's a family man. If they want to knock on his door with respect and dignity, they will see," she said.
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A man mistakenly identified as a child molester by his children's principal has filed a notice of his intent to sue Fort Wayne Community Schools.
Jose R. Luera this week filed a claim with FWCS, state Attorney General Steve Carter and the Indiana Department of Insurance, claiming Indian Village Elementary School Principal Stephany Bourne slandered him when she wrote a letter last May severely limiting his movements there because "we do not allow persons with sex-offense convictions access to children within our schools."
But after being contacted by Luera's attorney, Nikos Nakos, Bourne on June 7 sent a letter of apology, saying an "error occurred with regard to the background of Mr. Luera." During their investigation of allegations made against Luera, Nakos said, they had apparently confused him with convicted sex offender Jose R. Leura, a Florida man with the same birthday as Luera.
In her letter of apology, Bourne said she had simply been trying to protect the safety and security of her students. But the case of mistaken identity -- which Nakos insists could have been avoided through a more-thorough investigation -- subjected Luera, 41, and his wife, Rose, to "liable (sic), slander, interference with business relations, negligent infliction of emotional distress," and violated state and federal constitutions.
"(Luera's) had a lot of sleepless nights, counseling and legal fees," said Nakos, who would not identify the size of financial settlement being sought. The tort claim filed this week, however, notified school officials a lawsuit will be filed if an out-of-court settlement cannot be reached.
FWCS spokeswoman Krista Stockman on Thursday said the district does not comment on pending litigation.
Rose Luera said last month that school officials never contacted the couple after receiving the sex-abuse allegations. If they had, she said, they would have been directed to a national sex-offender database containing a picture of her husband's near-namesake -- whose physical size and appearance are considerably different.
Ironically, Nakos' legal notice contains its own case of mistaken identity. The Lueras' two children attend Indian Village, 3835 Wenonah Lane. But, according to the letter, the incident took place at Indian Meadows School.
That's in the Southwest Allen County Schools district.
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WILMINGTON — An 18-year University of Delaware police veteran was sentenced today to 60 days in prison for downloading child pornography while on the job.
“I am truly ashamed of my actions,” 47-year-old Mark V. Stallmann said before being sentenced on two counts of possession of child pornography and one count of official misconduct.
At the conclusion of his prison term, Stallmann must serve two years probation, at which time he cannot use a computer or come in contact with the University of Delaware. He will also have to register as a low level sex offender.
According to court documents and court testimony, Stallmann used three University of Delaware police department computers to view child pornography on nine occasions, starting April 12, 2004, and ending Oct. 17, 2006. The child porn was just a fraction of pornography he was downloading, according to court testimony.
According to University of Delaware records, Stallmann began working with the school's Department of Public Safety in 1989. The 2006-2007 UD campus directory listed Stallmann as an investigator. Stallmann, who pleaded guilty to the charges in September, no longer works at the school.
The sentencing guidelines did not require prison time for these charges. But New Castle County Chief Prosecutor Paul R. Wallace insisted these circumstances required some jail time, including because as a police officer Stallmann held a position of public trust.
“It takes one Mark Stallmann to diminish their view in the public,” Wallace said.
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Quote by the well respected Oprah on the myth of "stranger danger":
But “as often is the case, child abuse, sexual abuse happens right within the family, right within the confines of people you know, she said." Winfrey has spoken in the past of being raped by a distant cousin at age 9 and then abused by three other men, trusted family friends.
Spokesman says former dorm employee will face ‘several charges of abuse’
JOHANNESBURG - South African police have arrested a former dormitory employee at Oprah Winfrey’s leadership academy for girls on charges of abuse, including indecent acts.
At least seven alleged victims have submitted statements about the woman, police said.
“A former dormitory employee (27) has been arrested yesterday by the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit on several charges of abuse,” a statement from police spokesman Superintendent Lungelo Dlamini read.
“Several charges including alleged assault, indecent assault, crimen injuria and soliciting girls under age to perform indecent acts are being investigated against her. At least seven victims have already submitted statements.”
The suspect is being held by police and is expected to appear before a magistrate on Monday, said the statement.
A spokeswoman in Chicago for Winfrey said there was no one immediately available for comment.
The $40 million academy has been dogged by controversy since it opened in January with a launch attended by singers Mariah Carey and Tina Turner, actor Sydney Poitier and filmmaker Spike Lee.
Winfrey selected the first class of 152 poor, mostly black pupils to attend the school that boasts state-of-the-art facilities including laboratories, a yoga studio and beauty salon.
Tuition and board is free. The academy provides its 450 students with textbooks, uniforms and meals.
No junk food
In March, some parents complained the school was too strict and its restrictions on visits, phone calls and email contact were comparable to rules in prisons.
In May, some parents complained their children were not allowed junk food and, when they visited the school, they had to go through a security gate.
Crimen injuria refers to the crime of injuring another person’s dignity. This can cover racial abuse and sexual offenses against children.
“We would like to thank a team of experts appointed by the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls who compiled a misconduct report which was later handed to the police,” said the police statement.
“The report assisted members of the police to speed up investigations, that is, victims as well as the suspect were already identified.”
South Africa’s Rapport newspaper had reported that Winfrey had flown to meet parents and school officials, and asked for forgiveness for letting them down.
The residential academy is situated on 52 acres at Henley-on-Klip, south of Johannesburg.
Reporters who visited the school after reports of abuse were published were denied access to children and administrators.
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More proof the public cannot handle the sex offender registry.
Two men who targeted a neighbor because they believed local rumors he was a sex offender, have both been jailed.
They went round to his home in Clayton Brook in order to frighten him, Preston Crown Court was told.
He was not in his flat but they stole what a judge called a "huge amount of property."
Prosecutor Paul Brookwell explained to the court the target of the offences was, "an eccentric, but not a sex offender."
After a drinking session Shaun Traynor and Christopher Wyton decided to go to the victims first floor flat.
They smashed the door in, saw he was not there and took about 32 items of property.
The occupier was a collector of odds and ends, the court heard.
Traynor, 20, of Seven Acres and Wyton aged 23 from Long Acre, both Clayton Brook, each admitted burglary.
Recorder Marc Willems jailed Wyton for 10 and a half months and sent Traynor, who had a previous conviction for house burglary, into youth custody for 16 months.
They were entirely wrong to seek to take the law into their own hands and had believed local rumours about their victim, the judge told them.
Mr Chris Hudson, for Traynor said it was accepted the motive for the offence was "unattractive."
Andrew Alty, representing Wyton, said he had never committed a burglary before.
"The offence happened on impulse after they had been drinking", Mr Alty added.
Recorder Willems told the defendants he "took no pleasure" in passing custodial sentences but the offence was so serious he was left with no alternative.
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Read his "unrepentant" letter at the end.
A Connecticut lawyer still insists that his daughter was molested by the neighbor he fatally stabbed - and believes the police investigation that cleared the dead man was a cover-up.
An unrepentant Jonathon Edington, who is serving 12 years, wrote The Post that he copped a plea only because he feared a life sentence if he went to trial.
In the letter, Edington insists he murdered Barry James because "I thought [he] would again attack, and possibly abduct, either my own daughter or other neighborhood children."
The bizarre crime, which stunned the upscale community of Fairfield and became a national sensation, took place last Aug. 26, when the 29-year-old patent attorney climbed into James' bedroom and repeatedly plunged a knife into his chest.
Edington told police after the shocking crime that his wife, Christina, had told him that their daughter said she'd been molested by the 59-year-old James, who was diabetic and walked with leg braces.
Christina did not cooperate with the police investigation, which found that James was not guilty.
In his letter, Edington writes, "What the Fairfield police actually did was to conduct a sham investigation and not a genuine inquiry into the truth of the matter."
He claims, "The James family had an extensive, decades-long involvement in the town of Fairfield, including the Police Department, and apparently were able to use their clout to influence the investigation."
He also suggests another motive: "The police also wanted the people of Fairfield to believe they were safe.
"They did not want people to think that a child molester had lived in their midst for decades and that the police had failed to protect their children."
He faulted the cops for using a male officer to interview his daughter, saying, "Why would a young child who had been victimized by one strange man choose to speak about this victimization to another strange man? Of course, she did not discuss it. She was afraid."
Asked about the charges, Fairfield police Capt. Gary MacNamara insisted, "We found no opportunity for Mr. James to commit the crime."
He added that Edington's wife "refused to cooperate with us."
Asked about her husband's letter, Christina Edington said only, "I'm sorry. I have no comment."
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Two Staten Island cops are in hot water for trying to scare a 14-year-old boy they caught tossing eggs on Halloween by stripping off his clothes and dumping him in a desolate area, a police source and family members said.
Officers Thomas Elliassen and Michael Danese caught the prankster throwing eggs at cars in a 120th Precinct neighborhood about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, the source said.
The cops drove the teen to a swampy area of the 122nd Precinct, dropped him off wearing only boxer shorts and socks and left, the source said.
The boy, Rayshawn Moreno of Graniteville, walked to a Burlington Coat Factory store on South Ave. and asked a security guard there to call his parents, who picked him up, his dad said.
"Rayshawn was taken to a secluded, remote area, stripped of his clothes, beaten by the officers and left for dead," said his father, James Hezel.
The cops later told their supervisor that they dropped the kid off to scare him, the source said. They said they returned to find him later but that he was gone, the source said.
"He is shaken up. He is scared. He is terrified," Hezel said of his son, a freshman at Port Richmond High School.
Elliassen and Danese were put on modified duty. Their guns were taken away, and they were both working behind desks, the source said.
"The officers were placed on modified assignment based on a complaint made and the matter is under investigation," an NYPD spokesman said.
Internal Affairs Bureau detectives interviewed the boy and his mother last night.
Hezel said he believed the officers, who are white, picked on his son because the teen is black.
"There's still racism in the New York Police Department, especially in Staten Island," the father said.
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More Registering 'Transient' To Avoid Jessica's Law Restrictions
SACRAMENTO - Hundreds of California sex offenders who face tough new restrictions on where they can live are apparently side-stepping the law by declaring themselves homeless.
New numbers from the state Attorney General's office show a 27 percent spike in homelessness among California's 67,000 registered sex offenders since Jessica's Law took effect a year ago. They've been prohibited from living within 2,000 feet of a park or school, so they've been getting around the restriction by registering "transient," or homeless, which is legal.
"If they can't eat, and they can't put food on their family's table, they will go underground," said criminal defense attorney Michael Chastaine. "We're going to force them into that situation. And it's a tragedy."
Critics of Jessica's Law predicted the result would be that numerous offenders would fall off the radar. Governor Schwarzenegger's advisory panel on sex offenders is preparing a report urging lawmakers to address the problems related to Jessica's law.
The transient loophole is a priority.
"It's easier to monitor somebody for public safety purposes if you know where they actually live, than it is when they're actually homeless," said Dave Runnels of the California Sex Offender Management Board.
The California Department of Corrections insists public safety isn't compromised, even though the number of homeless sex offenders has grown to 2,700 in the last year.
Transient sex offenders still have to follow the 2,000-foot rule.
"We supervise them even closer than if they had a permanent address," said Bill Sessa of the California Department of Corrections. "In addition to that, they have to have daily contact with us."
Parole agents, though, just take the word of sex offenders when they report their whereabouts. And while homeless sex offenders are a priority to get a GPS ankle bracelet, the state doesn't have enough for all of them.
The panel that'll make recommendations on who to fix Jessica's Law is expected to release the report in January.
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Unlike lawyers, who can't be canned by their firms for insisting on adherence to ethical guidelines, journalists who object to how their employer operates do so at their own risk.
That's the lesson of federal Judge John W. Darrah's dismissal of the lawsuit filed by Marsha Bartel, a former Chicago-based "Dateline NBC" investigative producer who alleged NBC News fired her last year because she refused to work on the "To Catch a Predator" series of reports out of ethical concerns.
NBC said Bartel was let go with three years left on her four-year contract, after 21 years at the company, including a decade at WMAQ-Ch. 5, because of cutbacks at the network.
But Bartel contended she was sent packing because she objected to the "Predator" project, in which men apparently seeking illicit sex were exposed on national TV. She complained the popular if controversial stings, fronted by Chris Hansen, were corrupted by Perverted Justice, the volunteer group enlisted by "Dateline" to pose online as underage boys and girls.
Her suit claimed Perverted Justice failed to keep accurate, verifiable records of its online interaction with potential predators, a point that attorneys representing some of those arrested through the "Predator" stings have cited in contending their clients were victims of entrapment.
Bartel had claimed breach of contract and sought $1 million plus interest and costs
Her contract said she was required to comply with NBC standards, which she believed she was following when she reported her concerns to the show's executive producer and others, including Hansen.
But the New York Supreme Court has ruled an employer is free to terminate an employee at any time for any reason or no reason, and Darrah determined that the narrow exception protecting attorneys resisting pressure to breach ethical guidelines couldn't be extended to journalists.
"Obviously, I'm disappointed," Bartel, now working at Chicago's WFLD-Ch. 32, said Thursday. "But the comments I made, I still stand by and they need to be looked at."
NBC's "Predator" isn't completely off the hook yet.
Many advertisers have grown wary of the exposes, which get regular exposure on NBC's cable sister, MSNBC, and the series has been the subject of critical pieces in Esquire, Rolling Stone and on ABC News' "20/20" newsmagazine.
Also, still pending is a lawsuit claiming "Dateline" was responsible for a Texas prosecutor's suicide when Hansen and his crew showed up at his home with police after some damning Internet chats. NBC has said the suit has no merit.
As for the Bartel case, NBC News, which has never bought the idea that "Predator" was in any way ethically compromised, issued a brief statement: "We believed from the beginning that this case was without merit and we are pleased with the judge's decision."
HE'S HIRED: Making official what had been anticipated for several weeks, Citadel Broadcasting Corp. has signed Don Imus to do mornings on New York's WABC-AM, beginning Dec. 3.
Citadel intends to syndicate Imus' program nationally, but don't look for the controversial host, fired by CBS Radio and cable's MSNBC this spring after an on-air racially insensitive insult of the Rutgers University women's basketball team, to land on Citadel-owned WLS-AM 890 anytime soon.
WLS morning hosts Don and Roma Wade remain under contract to WLS for another year, and John Gallagher, president and general manager of both WLS and sister station WZZN-FM 94.7, said there have been "no discussions" about putting Imus on the station and "no anticipation" of doing so.
SHE'S RETIRED: Ruthellyn Musil, Tribune Co. senior vice president for corporate relations, whose 36-year career with the company began at age 20 as a clerk in the Chicago Tribune's public service office, has retired for family reasons. Musil's father, longtime Chicago American and Chicago Today night editor Gene Roguski, died late last month at age 96.
Gary Weitman, Tribune Co.'s vice president of communications, will assume Musil's duties on an interim basis.
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A Madison defense attorney lashed out at a former Columbus police officer Thursday, insinuating that he led on his client while undercover and then had him arrested.
Christopher Hurst, 30, was a Janesville Craig High School special education aide when prosecutors said he traveled to Columbus to meet a person he believed was a 15-year-old girl in March 2007. The girl turned out to be then-Columbus Police Officer Dennis Weiner, who was posing as a young girl during an Internet predator sting operation.
During a preliminary hearing Thursday, attorney Christopher Van Wagner peppered Weiner with questions about the lurid conversations prosecutors said the two engaged in as they conversed in an adult online chat room. Van Wagner repeatedly suggested that Weiner turned the conversation toward sex by leading on Hurst with his comments.
"When he asked where you would like to go if he took you shopping, you responded Victoria's Secret?" Van Wagner asked Thursday.
Weiner agreed that he made the statement.
"The reason you used that was to get the person you identified as Mr. Hurst focused on sex, right?"
Weiner denied that was the purpose of what he said.
Van Wagner continued on a similar line of questioning and repeatedly was stopped by Judge James Miller, who ruled that a preliminary hearing is not the proper forum to question the intentions of witnesses. Miller ordered the attorney to focus on the facts in the case.
According to the criminal complaint, Hurst suggested numerous sex acts in which the two could engage when they met.
Under questioning from Columbia County Assistant District Attorney Linda Hoffman on Thursday, Weiner testified that Hurst acknowledged he took part in the lurid discussions with Weiner, whom he believed to be a young girl.
Weiner said Hurst drove to Columbus in a red Chevy Beretta, the same vehicle he said he would drive during the online chats. Weiner said after Hurst's arrest, he admitted that he planned to break the law.
"I asked him if he came to Columbus today for the purpose of having sex with a 15-year-old female," Weiner said. He responded, "Yes."
Miller said there was enough evidence for the case to continue. Hurst's next court appearance has not been scheduled.
During a series of interviews with the Daily Register in April, Weiner said he allowed the men under investigation to make all the moves and merely responded to requests as they step up the graphic conversations. Shortly after Hurst's arrest, Van Wagner called the methods employed by Weiner "blatant erotic enticement."
After the hearing Thursday, Van Wagner said there is no evidence to show Hurst intended to break the law and pointed to parts of the conversations in which Weiner asked Hurst to bring condoms and lubricant.
"He didn't have the items they talked about with him," he said.
Some experts have questioned the methods used by law enforcement to catch predators, stating that often no actual illegal act occurs. Questions also have arisen about whether the tactics used by law enforcement amount to entrapment.
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen previously said he supports undercover operations aimed to protect children from predators. Van Hollen said investigators in the Wisconsin Department of Justice routinely use similar tactics during their investigations.
Hurst resigned from his position at Janesville Craig High School a short time after the charges were filed. Weiner no longer is employed as a part-time officer at the Columbus Police Department and remains a full-time officer at another department. Weiner said he left the Columbus position for personal reasons, citing the amount of time he was spending between the two jobs.
The Columbus Police Department is not operating such online sexual predator investigations at this time.
If convicted of the single count of use of a computer to facilitate a child sex crime, Hurst could be sentenced to serve a maximum of 40 years in prison and fined up to $100,000. He remains free on a $5,000 signature bond.
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State Republican Chairman Jim Herring told a business gathering Thursday that Gov. Haley Barbour deserves another four years in office for leading Mississippi to "unparalleled prosperity" since Hurricane Katrina.
Democratic Chairman Wayne Dowdy said his party's gubernatorial nominee, lawyer John Arthur Eaves Jr., is honest, forthright and courageous. But Dowdy, a former congressman, stopped short of saying the Democrats will grab Mississippi's top elected office.
"I'll make one prediction to you, and I'm a pretty good predictor in my life," Dowdy told about 1,100 people at the Mississippi Economic Council's annual Hobnob event. "On Tuesday night, you're going to have to stay up real late in the governor's election."
Polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Barbour, Eaves and candidates for other statewide, regional, legislative and county offices will spend the next few days trying to woo undecided voters.
At the Hobnob, people in business suits gathered under a cavernous white tent on the grounds of the state agriculture museum in Jackson where candidates were introduced with flourishes from a jazz band.
Attorney General Jim Hood walked on stage and the band's trumpeter, state Senate attorney Bob Davidson, waved the music to a stop and pointed smoothly to Hood.
Hood, a Democrat, is seeking a second term. He said he has spent his entire career as a prosecutor while his Republican challenger, Al Hopkins, is a trial lawyer who lacks experience prosecuting cases.
"When it comes to protecting your family, your daughter's in the bedroom and some sexual predator is trying to talk to her over the Internet, who are you going to call?" Hood said. "You're going to call Jim Hood as your attorney general to come in and prosecute those perverts."
Hopkins repeated a frequent criticism about one of Hood's top campaign contributors, Booneville lawyer Joey Langston, having received millions of dollars for representing the state in a massive lawsuit against telecommunications giant MCI, the former WorldCom.
The state collected about $100 million in the lawsuit, and Hood has said the fees paid to Langston and another private attorney were negotiated separately.
During his discussion about the attorney's fees, Hopkins puzzled some spectators as he paraphrased a German theologian's statement about resisting Hitler - a statement usually reserved for lessons about justice or civil rights.
Hood, who missed Hopkins' speech, shook his head when reporters told him about the reference.
"Hitler?" Hood said. "Really?"
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OKLAHOMA CITY - Several new laws cracking down on sex offenders took effect Thursday, including a new three-tiered classification system that some experts say misses the mark. The new law was required under the federal Adam Walsh Act, which states must comply with at the risk of losing federal funding, said Jim Rabon, who oversees the sex offender registration program at the state Corrections Department.
Rabon said a survey of people convicted of sex offenses in the past year showed that 78% of those would fall into the highest-risk category. Among the crimes that qualify for the highest-risk category are lewd or indecent proposals to a child under 16, first-degree rape, forcible sodomy, incest and sexual abuse of a child.
``That's the 78% we want to be focusing our efforts on,'' Prater said.
Level 1 offenders must register for 15 years, and level 2 offenders must register for 25.
The highest-level offenders must register for life and must update their address every 90 days. Lower-risk offenders register every six months or one year.
Rabon said it could take as long as 90 days to update the registration information for all the state's offenders.
``I like the intent of the law,'' said Sgt. Gary Stansill of the Tulsa Police Department. ``I think we're going in the right direction, but we are not there yet.''
The new law ranks sex offenders into three categories of perceived risk, based on their offense. What it doesn't do, however, is take each case in the proper context, Stansill said.
Detective Nancy Lombardo, who is in charge of Lawton's sex offender registry, said her agency still is struggling to understand the requirements of the law. While it lessens some requirements for registered sex offenders, it places tougher restrictions on others.
Ultimately, all the change seems to mean is more work for local police and any tangible benefits of the law remain to be seen, Lombardo said.
An Oklahoma law passed last year prohibits registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school, park or day care center. The amended version gives a more specific definition of a day care center to exclude some smaller home-based child care centers.
That means police must start redrawing complex boundary maps that outline where an offender can live legally, Lombardo said.
``I would hope it helps, but we already have so many delinquents,'' Lombardo said.
Opponents of the law have argued it puts so much space off limits that offenders find it difficult to find a place to live.
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said the residency restrictions designate so much space as being off-limits that it makes prosecuting violations of the law almost impossible.
Also beginning Thursday, aggravated or habitual sex offenders in Oklahoma will be identified when they apply for either an original or renewal driver's license or a state identification card, according to the Department of Public Safety.
The driver's license or ID card of these offenders will be labeled with the words ``sex offender'' in three places on the card. Offenders will be required to renew the license or ID card annually.
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BILLINGS — Despite pleas for leniency, a former state employee from Helena will spend 14 years in federal prison for having and distributing child pornography.
Kenneth Kyle Wynn, 46, apologized at his sentencing in U.S. District Court in Billings on Wednesday. “I want to take full responsibility for my actions. I need some help,” he said.
Senior U.S. District Judge Jack Shanstrom refused a defense request for an eight-year term but sentenced Wynn at the low end of the guidelines.
“This is a case where everybody’s a loser,” Shanstrom said.
Despite Wynn’s remorse, there has to be deterrence, Shanstrom said. “Punishment in this case is just for both you and the public,” he said.
Wynn, who worked for 16 years for the Montana Department of Administration Information Technology Service Division, pleaded guilty in June to three counts of distributing child porn and to one count of possessing child porn from 2004 until 2006. The judge dismissed five other counts.
A grand jury indicted Wynn after an undercover investigation in which Wynn, who thought he was sending images through the Internet to an underage girl, actually was communicating with an FBI special agent.
Wynn used his home computer to send sexually explicit photographs of himself to the agent, who was posing as a teenage girl, Assistant U.S. Attorney Marcia Hurd said. Agents served a search warrant at his house and took his computer. A forensic computer examiner found child porn images that Wynn had obtained on the Internet.
Wynn’s attorney, Wendy Holton, argued that 14 years was unreasonably harsh for a first-time offender. Wynn went into treatment after the search and before he was charged. Despite efforts by the undercover agent to get him to come to Billings for a meeting, Wynn refused, she said.
Wynn was living more of a “fantasy life” but didn’t intend to act on having sex with a minor, Holton said.
Michael Scolatti, a Missoula psychologist specializing in sex offender treatment, testified for the defense that out-patient treatment would be appropriate for Wynn. “Overall, he’s a good guy in a lot of ways and can be treated,” he said.
Wynn’s mother, Wilma Wynn, broke down crying as she testified that her son was remorseful and ashamed. But, she said, he has strong family and church support.
“I hope I’ll be able to see him free before I go. And I’m 74,” she said.
Wynn has chronic health problems and, as a result of his crimes, has lost his marriage, his home and his job, Holton said.
Wynn told the judge that despite the losses he has suffered, he was looking forward to therapy. He was making progress until being incarcerated after pleading guilty in June, he said.
“Now I’ve learned the recipe for meth,” Wynn said. “I don’t see that as a healthy environment. I’ve made some terrible decisions. I’m willing to be the epitome of someone who had been through therapy and not repeats.”
The prosecutor said Wynn initiated the sexual conversations and continued chats for two years.
“This isn’t a fantasy life. This is an actual life. It’s just the first time he’s been caught,” Hurd said. “What about the kids in the photographs? That’s the reason he’s here. He has earned every month of a 168-month sentence.”
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Warning: Content is of Explicit Nature.
Click Here to Watch Interview with DA Rachel Caputo
Click Here to Watch Interview with DA Rachel Caputo, Part 2
Click Here to Watch Interview with Sheriff Victor Hill
Click Here to Watch Interview with Chief Deputy David Davis
Massage Parlors Still Open
Massage Parlors Open Again?
13WMAZ has learned of a case in which investigators from the Bibb County Sheriff's Office admit they engaged in sexual activity with suspected prostitutes to make their case.
Undercover investigators went into a business on Arkwright Road and wrote in their report that they engaged in sexual activities with employees at the Four Seasons Sauna before they returned later to arrest them.
13WMAZ obtained a police report that says in 2004 Sheriff's investigators Ted Darley and Duncan Matthews received sexual services from employees at the Four Seasons Sauna.
They paid employees with $480 in tax payers' money. Hours later they charged Che Sun Lee with pimping and keeping a place of prostitution and Myung Rim Oh with prostitution and masturbation for hire.
"I think that the way these cases are investigated is horrendous," says Rachel Caputo, the defense attorney who represented Lee and Oh before she left her law firm for health reasons.
Caputo says it's doubtful a jury would convict the women because of what the officers did.
Georgia law 16-6-9 says "A person commits the offense of prostitution when he or she performs or offers or consents to perform a sexual act, including but not limited to sexual intercourse or sodomy, for money or other items of value."
That means according to the law officers only need to be solicited to charge someone with prostitution.
Sheriff Jerry Modena refused us an interview, but Chief Deputy David Davis said sometimes they ask investigators to engage in sex acts with people they investigate.
"We wouldn't ever have an investigator go in and do something that was against his or her own moral code and of course against anything that the sheriff's office has a policy on," Davis said.
He says investigators only go into a suspected place of prostitution enough times to establish a crime.
"The investigators may have to go back a second or third time to make sure that all of the employees are engaged in the various activities," Davis said.
13WMAZ asked the Sheriff's Office for the investigative file. It says investigators engaged in sex acts with Four Seasons Sauna employees five times. Four seasons is still open for business three years later.
In Clayton County, just south of Atlanta, the Sheriff's Office shut down all of their massage parlors last year. Police reports show investigators never had sexual contact with anyone.
"It's not necessary to have to go through the actual sexual act," said Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill.
Hill said his officers did not find case law that said a case could be dismissed if officers had sexual contact with prostitutes as part of the investigation, but they didn't want to take that chance.
"We still didn't want any defense attorney to say that my guys were a party to the crime, and all the law requires is that they were solicited," Hill said. "So what we want to do is simply be solicited and stay within the confines of the law and go forward."
To be fair and balanced we contacted both investigators Ted Darley and Duncan Matthews to get their side of what happened. Neither would talk to us.
This 2004 case just recently got settled in state court.
According to Bibb County's Solicitor-General Otis Scarbary, defendant Che Sun Lee pled guilty in absentia, which means she pled guilty without coming back to the county.
She entered her plea in September.
Lee paid her $740 and is serving 12 months probation.
An Assistant Solicitor dismissed the charges against Oh, the other defendant, because they couldn't find her.
According to Chief Deputy Davis the sheriff's office has not investigated any more massage parlors since this 2004 case
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BROOME COUNTY -- A Scranton police officer is arrested on sexual abuse charges stemming from an incident in Broome County.
Pennsylvania State Police arrested Theodore Schmidt, 44, Wednesday at his home in Scranton.
New York State Police say Schmidt had sexual contact with a 16-year old girl in the town of Kirkwood.
He is charged with sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child.
Schmidt is currently an officer with the Scranton Police but has been on paid disability for a work related injury.
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BOERNE — A second indictment alleging indecency with a child has been returned in Kendall County against former Fair Oaks Ranch police Sgt. Robert P. Couture Jr., 43, of Boerne.
A trial was to begin Tuesday on the first charge, but the judge granted a defense motion for a continuance in light of the second indictment.
Both charges arose from claims from a teenage girl who said Couture groped her in November 2005 while he was off duty. He was fired in February 2006, two months before being arrested.
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MANSFIELD - A 15-year-old girl started to cry, taking a lengthy pause before answering a question about possible sexual abuse.
She was the first witness Thursday in the trial of Brian Crawford, the former city corrections officer accused of 43 sex crimes involving two girls. Crawford, 33, of Crestline, is charged with eight counts of rape, 15 counts of sexual battery and 20 counts of gross sexual imposition.
The 15-year-old and another girl, now 13, previously told police the sexual abuse started when each was 7 and living with Crawford and their mother.
In his opening statement, defense attorney Lewis Williams said the girls resented Crawford because he was too strict. Williams said they made up their stories to get Crawford out of the house.
“They felt this was a way to get rid of Brian,” Williams said. “I don’t believe they knew the magnitude of what they were getting into, but once they got into it, they ran with it.”
The 15-year-old broke down on the stand only once, when Richland County Assistant Prosecutor Bambi Couch-Page asked her about Crawford touching her. She said the first time he touched her inappropriately was the day she wore a skirt for third-grade orientation.
“He was pretending to tickle me,” the teen said.
The girl said Crawford did monthly “doctor checkups” of her body.
Crawford, wearing a white dress shirt, a tie and gray slacks, was noticeably lighter from his time in jail. He took frequent notes as the girl testified.
The alleged sexual abuse went unreported until March 10, when the younger girl told her mother, who in turn asked the older girl if she thought Crawford was capable of such acts.
“I wouldn’t doubt it,” the 15-year-old recalled saying. “I said, ‘He’s doing the same thing to me except he’s not raping me.’ ”
Couch-Page asked the girl why she had never told anyone.
“I was scared,” she said. “I didn’t know what he would do. He was an intimidating person.”
Crawford wrestled on the minor-league circuit as the Canadian Crusher. The Mansfield native has family in Canada.
The teen said her mother initially believed her but no longer does. Stacy Crawford has been charged with four counts of obstructing justice and one count of obstructing official business in the case. She will be tried separately.
Couch-Page asked the girl about the defense attorney’s claim she made up her story to get rid of Crawford.
“I didn’t lie about it to get him out of the house,” the 15-year-old said. “It was the truth.”
On cross-examination, Williams pointed out discrepancies between the girl’s initial statement to police on March 10 and an interview with Children Services three days later.
Williams also asked the teen about complaints she reportedly made about Crawford to a neighbor nearly a year before police became involved.
“You’ve always been a kid who was above average in intelligence,” Williams said, seemingly implying she was smart enough to concoct a story.
Couch-Page revisited the issue on redirect.
“Did you resent him badly enough that you would make up a story about being sexually abused?” the assistant prosecutor asked.
The girl said she didn’t.
The trial will resume today before Common Pleas Judge James DeWeese. It is expected to last three or four days.
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By John J. Fanning
We had just arrived at the 15th hole on the number 2 course and my playing partner, Rails Finnerty, started to tell me about a disappointing trip he had taken to Nevada the week before.
“I flew out there with my son for the weekend,” he said.
“Oh yeah? How old is your son now,” I asked.
“Fifteen,” he responded.
“Kind of young for the casinos,” I opined.
“We didn’t go to Vegas,” he said. “We went outside of Vegas to some fancy bordello they have there.”
I stopped in mid-stride on my way to the tee box. “Wait a minute,” I said. “Are you telling me that you took your son to a whorehouse?”
“I tried,” he said. “They wouldn’t allow him inside. They actually asked for proof of age,” he said. He sounded dejected and looked upset about it.
I stuck my tee into the ground and positioned a Titleist carefully on its top. I stood and looked down the fairway, trying to concentrate on the game while at the same time trying to make sense of what Rails had just told me.
After a few moments, I bent down and retrieved the tee and ball, putting them into my pocket. I walked over to Rails and said, “I think we’re done here. Let’s get a drink.”
We drove silently in the golf cart to the clubhouse and took two seats in the near empty bar. I ordered my usual Makers Mark and took an unusually long pull on the mellow bourbon before finally speaking.
“Rails,” I said. “Are you out of your mind?”
He looked at me and I noticed a hint of something strange come into his eyes - like maybe he was uncertain of me. No - now that I picture it - it was more like an uncertainty of us; of our years of friendship and the perception we had long ago settled in our minds was us.
“Look,” he finally said. “Ever since my son turned fifteen, I have been petrified that he may get himself into something that could ruin his life. You don’t have kids, so maybe you don’t understand. But things are different today than they were when we were his age.”
He paused for a moment, taking a sip from his scotch. I guess in that moment we both rekindled a memory or two from many years ago - when we were his son’s age. Then he went on. “When he turned thirteen, he started to seriously take notice of girls. Going to pizza parties, hanging out with his buddies and flirting. You know?”
I nodded that I knew.
“Well, things are different today,” he said. “If one parent, or one cop, or one stranger happened to come upon my kid with some girl and maybe found one button too many undone, my kid could go to prison - wind up having to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. His life could be over...”
He paused, staring deep into the bar. He had a look on his face that only men can conjure, when they sense that something bad might happen to their family.
“I know I can’t stop my son from falling in love,” he whispered, talking quietly into the swirls of wood grain within the bar. “I just figured that if I can eliminate his curiosity - just sate that youthful lust - then maybe that might be enough to slow him down and let him think - if and when he finds himself alone with some girl that’s just as curious and lustful as boys are his age.”
I thought about what he said, and I thought about the fear that I was hearing in his voice. I though about when I was fifteen. And I thought about all the advertisements I had seen in magazines and on billboards of teenage girls.
I thought about MTV and music videos and teen pop stars and the Internet and how kids were suppose to be smarter and more mature today because of all these things clamoring and crashing around them.
We live in a more tolerant society today - don’t we? We have school counselors and child psychologists and child advocates and a million authors selling books about raising kids. Certainly we have come a long, long way
since my own youth, when sex was learned from whispers, magazines and the occasional dirty playing card - haven’t we? The idea that some kid’s life would be ruined simply by what we used to call “heavy petting” is simply preposterous.
“I think you’re overreacting,” I finally said.
“Oh, do you?” he said, looking up and locking eyes with my own. “Well, you’re the hotshot journalist! You’re the one that’s suppose to know what is going on in the streets,” he spouted - a tone to his voice that I had never heard in all the years of our friendship. “Why don’t you open your eyes and see what’s going on?”
And so I did. That very night and in the days that followed I researched everything I could get my hands on pertaining to kids and what it’s like to be a kid today. And in the end, I discovered that my friend was right.
For reasons that I still do not fully understand, America has declared war on male children. It is true that little boys have, and are being arrested, imprisoned and placed on sex crime registries for nothing more than touching girls of their own age group.
Little boys are being tried as adults and placed in penitentiaries alongside dangerous felons. I found boys of ages 13 years and up listed on sex crime registries, their crimes listed as things like “sexual battery”, “sexual contact”, and “voluntary statutory rape”.
In the research I did, and the sex crime registries I viewed, I never once found a little girl listed. The reason for this I learned, is because in the vast majority of cases the girl is never prosecuted. She is returned to her parents. It is the boy, and only the boy, who is arrested, charged, tried and punished.
If I were to start listing all the male children I found who have been charged with sex crimes, I could fill this entire magazine. I found everything from a four-year old boy, charged with inappropriate sexual contact when he rested his head on his pre-kindergarten teacher’s chest, to seventeen year old boys who are serving decades long sentences for having sex with willing young women their own age. Again, in nearly every one of these cases, it is just the boy who is punished. The girl, even if she initiates the encounter, is not charged.
Voluntary sexual contact does not matter. If a boy is caught or accused, he will be arrested, charged, convicted and sent to prison. And if a boy is found not guilty, or the case is dismissed, the boy is still often punished. Some, whose cases were dismissed, have still been taken from their families and made to attend special classes for sexual predators.
In some states, when a boy of say, fifteen, is charged with a sex crime, he cannot be returned to his home if he has sisters or brothers. Child sex criminals cannot live with or near other children. Because of this, bail is often refused and the child is forced to remain in detention until his court date. In some states, fifteen-year-olds accused of sex crimes are automatically charged as adults. So their wait for trial is done in a county jail with adult offenders.
In many states, after serving his punishment, the child cannot return to a house that has children or is situated adjacent to homes with children - nor can he return to a home that is near a school or church. These children must be placed in foster homes - if such can be found. These boys can never return to school. They must be home schooled or wait until they are old enough to obtain a GED.
This problem of released sex criminals has led to some shocking acts. For example, a judge in Miami required ten released sex offenders to sleep under a highway overpass every night, between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. The men had to take turns sleeping because rats coming from a nearby canal would gnaw on them otherwise. The city simply could not find any other place to house these men. Even though they were free, they will never be free.
Some children accused or convicted of sex crimes simply go homeless. They vanish into cities or just wander off and disappear. Suicide is common.
I could go on and tell you more about what I found out during my research. But I honestly don’t think you would believe me. So I am just going to tell you that if you give a damn at all, you can verify everything I have written here and find out a lot more that will make you angry and make you cry. Just like it made me angry and made me cry.
I called Rails and apologized for doubting him that day in the bar at the golf course. We talked for a long time about what was going on in America. We both cried over the phone. We both became angry too, but mostly at ourselves. We realized during our conversation that what is happening to male children in this country today is, for the most part, our own fault. You see, there is no greater mandate conveyed to man by any god of any religion than the mandate that we care for our children. And we both recognized that in our pursuit of building careers and taking care of our own, we have lost sight of what is our greatest responsibility. We have forsaken our sons.
Rails and I made a vow that night on the telephone. I am not talking about a promise here. I mean we took a solemn and sacred vow before God and at peril of our immortal souls that we would, from that moment on, do whatever we could to stop this madness that is destroying boys and young men in our country. We are now, together, a part of the fight to end this war against America’s sons.
We aren’t alone in that fight. There are many good men and women who stand with us. And we don’t have any illusions about how hard it will be either. There are powerful groups mounted to oppose us. But we both know that if there is to be an America, we must win this fight.
As our conversation drew to a close, I asked Rails what he planned to do about his own son, now that his Nevada plan had fallen apart.
“I already told my wife that my son and I were going away together on a fishing trip,” he said.
“Oh?” I responded. “Where are you thinking of going?”
“Costa Rica,” he replied.
“Good idea,” I said. “I hear there is some beautiful fishing in Cost Rica.”
Editor’s Note: In mid-September, soon after this story was filed for publication, the international watchdog agency, Human Rights Watch, released findings from a 2-year study the organization conducted into sex crime laws in the United States. Their report calls for the removal of children from sex crime registries as well as other reforms. (Here)