Just watch it to the end, it will make sense, I promise.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
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Would a man get this kind of sweet deal? I don't think so.
A Brownsboro woman accused of having sex with a minor has entered the North Alabama Sexual Offenders Treatment diversion program.
If Lisa Banholzer, 43, completes the program, two felony statutory rape charge against her will be dropped, said Assistant District Attorney Leann White. Banholzer, the wife of former Madison County High School baseball coach Mike Banholzer, is accused of having sex with a minor boy who was between 12 and 16 years old.
A Madison County grand jury indicted Banholzer on two Class B felony rape charges in June.
She surrendered to a district attorney's investigator at the Madison County Courthouse and was booked into the Madison County jail. She was released on bonds totaling $5,000.
If convicted on the second-degree rape charges, Banholzer could be sentenced to up to 20 years on each one.
Unless she fails to complete the sex offender treatment regimen, there will never be a trial, White said. Banholzer was allowed to enter the program with the consent of the victim and her own willingness, she said.
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Video available at the site. I see law suits in Arizona's future! This will just open up sex offenders to harassment, vigilantes like PJ and who knows what else.
Computers are the perfect place for pedophiles to hang out looking for kids. The pedophiles know that, parents know it and cops know it.
So, 3 On Your Side has been exploring a new state law that is supposed to protect your children when they surf the Net.
The law takes effect in less than two months, but will it work?
"A lot of it has to start from home, right?" Yolanda Kinnerup said. "As a parent, I have to be aware of what my kids are doing on their computer."
Kinnerup says she worries when her kids are on the computer and she has reason to worry because Kinnerup just recently gave her two daughters permission to create their own e-mail accounts.
But Kinnerup does have rules.
"The No. 1 rule is don't give out personal information," Taylor Kinnerup said.
"We don't let them be on the computer when we're not around," Yolanda Kinnerup said.
"I just know she's trying to keep us safe," Tina Kinnerup.
But is Yolanda Kinnerup doing enough to keep her kids safe?
She feels confident.
"There are people who aren't nice and do things that they shouldn't be doing," Kinnerup said. "If they got something from somebody like this, they need to let us know."
To help Kinnerup and other Arizona parents protect children online, state Rep. Bob Robson (Email) sponsored a bill that actually becomes law in January.
It will require convicted sex offenders to cough up all their personal computer information like all of their e-mail addresses and other accounts like MySpace pages they might have. That information is then provided to the public.
"With the Internet, in today's environment, now people can prey on innocent children," Robson said.
What this means is that parents like Kinnerup will be able to check out suspicious e-mails or MySpace messages that their kids receive by plugging the information into the Arizona Department of Public Safety's Web site.
DPS is in charge of keeping tabs on sex offenders.
If an e-mail address, for example, comes back to a convicted sex offender, Kinnerup will know.
Robson says his bill sends a message to predators.
"They're going to recognize that the state of Arizona is not fooling around when it comes to sexual predators using the Internet," Robson said.
Patty Morris is with the DPS Sex Offender Compliance unit and says there are almost $15,000 convicted sex offenders in Arizona.
She believes requiring those offenders to reveal all of their computer accounts will give everyone an extra layer of protection while online.
"Parents will be more aware," Morris said. "Maybe they'll start watching who their children are communication with."
But e-mail accounts are very easy to set up these days and that gives Kinnerup a lot of doubt that the law will really work like it's supposed to.
"How do they know?" Kinnerup said. "We set up an e-mail account in five minutes! How do we know if these guys are giving their e-mail addresses?
But, Robson says the penalties are pretty stiff.
If police discover a sex offender has an e-mail account that is not registered with them, that offender goes to prison for four years.
"We show them by not being honest, you're going to go back to prison," Robson said.
"The more people that use it, the more we're going to get these guys off our streets," Morris said.
For Kinnerup, she hopes the new law will work. After all, there is nothing more important than protecting her daughters.
"That would be my worst fear, for them getting into a situation that you would find on the news," Kinnerup said.
Again, the new law takes effect in January.
DPS says they've already had 50 percent of sex offenders register their computer information with them.
If you search someone's e-mail address and get a hit, you won't be able to see who that sex offender is, but DPS says they'll be notified electronically.
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Abuse charges at Oprah Winfrey's school have thrown a spotlight on South Africa's ghastly epidemic of child rape. Behind the statistics.
Oprah Winfrey described it as "one of the most devastating experiences" of her life. Just hours earlier a female employee at the television magnate's exclusive school in South Africa had appeared in court, charged with 13 counts of assaulting and sexually abusing students at Winfrey's $40 million Leadership Academy for Girls. According to a report in a local newspaper, the staffer had allegedly fondled one of the students and thrown a girl against a wall after grabbing her by the throat. Fuller details of the charges against the dormitory matron, Tiny Virginia Makopo, are unlikely to emerge before she appears in court again next month. For now, the 27-year-old is out on $460 bail after pleading not guilty last Monday. A tearful Winfrey, for her part, has apologized to the parents of the students and praised the South African police for their swift action. "I am grateful for [police] compassion and sensitivity to the girls during this difficult time," she said in a statement.
Inside South Africa that praise for a rapid police response may perhaps be the most remarkable aspect of this sad case. In a country plagued by violent crime, alleged sexual offenders are rarely brought to court swiftly—if at all. In spite of having one of the world's highest incidences of child rape—including several horrific incidents of attacks on infants—South Africa has a conviction rate of only 5 to 6 percent of all reported sex cases. And those numbers tell only part of the story. Organizations working in the field estimate that the 98,000 rape and sexual abuse charges reported to police between April 2006 and March 2007 reflect as little as 10 percent of the real figure.
Amnesty International estimated that some 302,000 girls under 18 were raped in 2005 and '06, and much sex abuse takes place in schools. A major survey of children by the Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention (CJCP) in Cape Town, published last year, revealed that 41 percent of children under 18 years had fallen victim to crime in the preceding 12 months, says Patrick Burton, director of research. "Some 4.2 percent of 4,000 children reported being sexually assaulted in the previous 12 months—a proportion that we believe vastly underestimates the problem." The CJCP research indicates that children who have experienced crime have a statistically high chance of themselves turning to crime or antisocial behavior. "We have also picked up a worrying trend toward young people increasingly committing a range of violent crimes, including rape, against other young people. The number of young offenders being arrested has grown in the past decade," says Burton.
Winfrey's handling of the Academy problem could not be more different from the "typical" South African child sex abuse case, which is shrouded in secrecy and shame and is often dealt with reluctantly and ineptly. Rarely, too, do police act as fast as they did in this case, in which they were assisted by Winfrey's team of investigators and counselors. "One of the reasons why sexual abuse has become a pandemic in South Africa is because it is not dealt with openly and effectively," says Joan van Niekerk, a child abuse expert and director of the group Childline. "In the case of sexual abuse, many parents perceive that reporting a case to the police will lead to a lengthy ordeal that is as damaging to their child as the abuse itself." The result is that sexual offenders are frequently free to act with impunity, fueling—as with all forms of violent crime—a vicious cycle of abuse in which the youthful victim is prone to become a perpetrator later in life.
The Winfrey school case has also underscored another disturbing trend: the growing number of women accused of abuse. While the overwhelming majority of sexual offences against girls are still committed by men or boys, van Niekerk says her organization has encountered "an increasing number of female offenders in the last decade, perhaps because of the sexually freer environment that girls and women are experiencing and the portrayal of women as sex objects. Most also come from extremely difficult, disorganized circumstances in which affection, love and relationships are deeply rooted in sexual behavior."
Why is the situation so bad in South Africa? Experts in the field point to a range of factors. One often-cited suggestion is that those who rape children are buying into the myth that sex with a virgin can cure HIV/AIDS, leading to the spate of ghastly attacks on babies and toddlers. Some 5 million South Africans are infected with the virus, and an estimated 5,000 patients die from it weekly. Those deaths have orphaned millions of children, leaving them to grow up in precarious circumstances and without family structure or members to guide and protect them.
But belief in this canard is hardly the main reason. "There is no single cause [of abuse]," says Edith Kriel, a social worker at the Child Trauma Centre in Cape Town. "Rather, there are layers of factors that place children at enormous risk." One is cultural, with parents reluctant to talk about sex and often not believing children when they talk about a sexual encounter with an adult, she says. Another is the social structure of families, in which adults have unassailable authority, and the breakdown of families: most children grow up in poor single-parent families with no male role model and an often-absent working mother. "Poverty has an enormous impact in various ways, such as the stress it places on families, and it also makes them vulnerable to taking payment in return for accepting abusive behavior," Kriel says. Dysfunctional schools create environments in which abuse can easily occur and not be dealt with when it does—especially as teachers are often the culprits. Other analysts point to media representations of sexuality, a culture of violence seeded during the apartheid years, and the apparent inability of the government, including the education and justice systems, to deal with cases of abuse.
Ironically, the global spotlight on the case at the Winfrey school may have some positive side effects. Winfrey, herself molested and raped as a child, is being praised for her empathetic and emphatic response to events. At her Chicago press conference this week, she said she had promised to buy cell phones for all the girls affected by the scandal and had given them her personal number so that they could call her at any time. "Oprah Winfrey is a role model in South Africa," says van Niekerk. "When she says that sexual abuse is unacceptable, people listen. When she acts to stamp it out, people realize that we can do something about abuse."
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What kind of mother gives their son a stripper for their 16th birthday? This stripper should've turned around and went home when she saw it was a school. I hope the mom and stripper are charged with something.
A teenage schoolboy was pulled around his classroom on a lead and spanked by a stripper after a birthday surprise blunder.
The pupil's mum had ordered an agency to give her son a "surprise" on his 16th birthday - and the teacher had even agreed to film the prank.
But it all went wrong when the unnamed company sent a stripper dressed as a policewoman instead of a "gorillagram" - in what it called a booking error.
One witness told reporters: "She asked the lad to stand up, which he did, and told him he had been a very naughty boy because he hadn't been doing his homework.
"Then she put on some Britney Spears music and got out a collar and lead from her bag and told him to put them on."
After walking the boy round the classroom and spanking him with a whip - the action turned even more blue.
"She took off some clothes until she was down to her bra and pants, pulled out some cream, put it on her buttocks and told him to rub it in," the source said.
It was at that point the shocked teacher - who had not been told what the surprise was - called an end to the show.
A spokeswoman for the local education authority, Nottinghamshire County Council, said they were investigating how the incident happened.
She confirmed nobody had been suspended from Nottingham's Arnold Hill School and Technology College and the police were not involved.
The spokeswoman said: "We and the school are investigating into the situation."
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Recent national news stories have focused on a 17-year-old male from Georgia who was convicted of having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl during a New Year's Eve party in 2003.
The 17-year-old boy was sent to prison for a mandatory 10-year sentence under Georgia law. But the Georgia Supreme Court ruled the punishment "cruel and unusual" and ordered the teen's release from prison--after he had served nearly three years behind bars--and the law in Georgia has since been watered down to eliminate the mandatory sentence and reduce the classification of the offense from a felony to a misdemeanor.
However, many other states still criminalize sex between consenting teens, including Illinois, and inclusion on a sex offender registry can mean that a teen convicted of nonviolent contact with someone a year or two younger might face the same public stigma as a dangerous sexual predator for 10 years or even their lifetime.
Also, some advocates are critical of sex education curriculum that teach only the "birds and the bees" and contain no information concerning what laws may govern teen sexual activity. So, what are the laws regarding teen sex in Illinois and are the laws regarding teen sexual conduct covered in local curriculum?
Of course, under Illinois law, any kind of forced or non-consensual sex is criminalized with harsh penalties, but even consensual sex between teens is criminalized under a misdemeanor statute in the state.
According to 720 Illinois Complied Statutes chapter 5/12-15, "The accused commits criminal sexual abuse if the accused was under 17 years of age and commits an act of sexual penetration or sexual conduct with a victim who was at least nine years of age but under 17 years of age when the act was committed." Also, "the accused commits criminal sexual abuse if he or she commits an act of sexual penetration of sexual conduct with a victim who was at least 13 years of age but under 17 years of age and the accused was less than five years older than the victim." (If the offender is more than five years older than the victim, the penalties are enhanced.)
Illinois law defines sexual conduct as "intentional or knowing touching or fondling by the victim or the accused, either directly or through clothing, of the sex organs, anus or breast of the victim or the accused, or any part of the body of a child under 13 years of age, or any transfer of or transmission of semen by the accused upon any part of the clothed or unclothed body of the victim, for the purpose of sexual gratification or arousal of the victim or the accused."
Sexual penetration is defined under the law in this way: "Any contact, however slight, between the sex organs or anus of one person by an object, the sex organ, mouth or anus of another person, or any intrusion, however slight, of any part of the body or one person or of any animal or object into the sex organ or anus of another person, including but not limited to cunnilingus, fellatio or anal penetration. Evidence of emission of semen is not required to prove sexual penetration."
Criminal sexual abuse, under this section of the law, is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail.
So what does all that mean, in plain English? For instance, if Johnny and Susie, aged 16 and 15, respectively, engage in what some may call "heavy petting," they are subject to prosecution under the law. Kissing on the face or lips, holding hands and touching on areas other than those considered "sexual areas" are permitted. But get to "second base," and teens may be breaking the law under Illinois statutes. Once teens reach 17 years of age, they can be booked into an adult jail. Otherwise, they could face prosecution in juvenile court and detention in a juvenile facility.
Eric Dixon, the sex education instructor at Carmi-White County High School, said there is no state requirement that the laws regarding teen sex be addressed in his classes and there is no specific chapter of instruction on the topic. However, he said, the laws regarding teen sex is a topic he discussed with the students.
He said he does not address the specific statutes, but he does invite discussion about the possibility of being prosecuted.
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Three religious leaders debate the morality of teen sexual-consent laws
As a teenager, I was more afraid of my father than I was of God and state. In fact, I once made my high-school boyfriend jump off the second-story balcony when my dad, arriving home early from work, nearly caught us in the act. (Thank goodness for my skater boyfriend’s resilient landing skills.)
It never occurred to me that, beyond Dad’s disapproval, I could also be punishable by law. This was my thought when I read about the recent release of Genarlow Wilson, who at 17 years old was sentenced under Georgia law to 10 years in prison for having oral sex with a 15-year-old. Though the law has since been watered down, and the Georgia Supreme Court declared Wilson’s sentence “cruel and unusual punishment,” an unsettling haziness remains around teen sex: Where’s the line between consensual and criminal?
Last week’s featured guests, Fremont Presbyterian Church’s Pastor Donald H. Baird, Bishop Cory Jasperson of the Nong Shala Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Pastor Susan Hamilton of Parkside Community Church-United Church of Christ, offered a timely discussion on how they would deal with an underage son caught red-handed in the very situation I feared most.
Recently I came home from work to find my 16-year-old son in bed with his female classmate. Initially I was shocked; overall I’m worried. How should I proceed with this? How do I best approach this situation with my son? And do I say anything to her parents?
“I have an 18-year-old son,” Hamilton began. “These days it’s very difficult to be a late teen in American culture. There’s such a bombardment of a different set of values than what we hold in faith communities.”
Hamilton hasn’t had this experience (“thanks be to God”), but she prescribed “the big C word”—communication—for how she would approach such a crisis with her own son, to determine whether his behavior was “strictly experimentation, or acting out.”
As to whether she would tell the girl’s parents, “If I had a relationship with her parents, then yes, I would.”
Baird, who has three grown children, presented a similar set of explanations were he faced with a sexually precocious teen: “Either I failed to communicate with my son for 16 years, or my son is in open rebellion.”
Here Hamilton threw an unexpected twist into to the Land of Complications: Under California law, a person under the age of 18 who has sex with another minor can be found guilty of a misdemeanor. And as clergy members, they also hold the responsibility of mandated reporters, which means they are required to report any instance or suspicion of abuse.
“I say 'Phooey to the law,’” said Baird. “I want to know what’s gonna help. Sometimes the law can help, and sometimes the law can hurt even worse.”
Baird has seen firsthand how following the letter of the law can ruin a life. When a man came to him confessing that he had committed an act that “would fall under the category of molestation,” Baird did the responsible thing: He called the police.
“Now his name and picture are on the Internet. His career has been ruined. ... I don’t know that I’d ever do that again. I honestly believe that when he left my office, he really was repentant. But the police were not sensitive to the situation. I don’t think any good came out of it.”
Jasperson’s four children are all under the age of 10, but in his view, “By the time [kids are] 16, the preparation for making these kinds of decisions should have started 15-and-a-half years earlier.” He continued, “I really strongly believe that if you teach children the correct principles, they’ll govern themselves and make the right decision most of the time. I also believe you can change behavior more by teaching principles than you ever will by teaching behavior.”
For these reasons, the [Latter-day Saints] Church distributes a booklet when kids turn 12 that lays out standards of sexuality, morality and chastity.
“There’s a line from the musical Camelot,” Jasperson said, “when King Arthur tells Guinevere, 'Don’t let your passions destroy your future.’ ... I think there’s absolutely no substitute for making sure that you marry the right person at the right time in the right place.”
“The challenge we face,” Hamilton intervened, “is if we don’t report, and this girl ends up being pregnant, and she tells the story that the pastor was there. As a mandated reporter we’re liable up the wazoo.
“I would be hard-pressed to turn in my own son and a girl for this kind of act,” she concluded. “I probably would not.”
Jasperson was less dubious. Though his position as chief of staff to Assemblywoman Sally Lieber puts him up close and personal with the sad truth that “Politics generally tramples all the policy,” he nevertheless insisted on doing what the law requires.
“Assuming it was something that was required, I would absolutely do what was required by the law,” he repeated faithfully.
Baird, however, claimed he answers to a higher law. “My primary role,” he said emphatically, “is to serve Jesus Christ. All other covenants are second to that. That includes my covenant to my country, and to the laws.”
“I don’t necessarily disagree,” Jasperson responded. “But a major tenet of the LDS religion is that governments are ordained by God. We believe in sustaining, honoring and obeying the law.”
The Presbyterian Church, by contrast, “does not see the government, and the laws of the government, as ordained by God,” explained Baird. “We recognize there are governments in this world that are evil, and they should be resisted.”
“We recognize that, as well,” Jasperson conceded. “But we also believe that regardless of what government you’re living under, you need to uphold the law.”
Baird offered a classic example of civil vs. moral obedience: “Do you turn in your neighbor who’s a Jew, which the law requires, knowing they’ll be taken off to a concentration camp and killed, or do you disobey the law and protect them?”
“We’re in the context of our government here,” Jasperson replied, visibly losing steam. “And that’s where we’re at; we’d follow the law.”
Hamilton saw another option: discussing with her son, the girl, and the girl’s parents her position as a mandated reporter, and the consequences that could result from turning them in. “A 'scare ’em straight’ type of technique,” she said. “It could be a sobering conversation to have.”
I shuddered, remembering the thump of my first love’s feet hitting the concrete. Scare ’em straight? I might have been scared straight into a nunnery.
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A Fairfax County Sheriff's Deputy has resigned after he was caught up in an online child porn sting.
Forty-four-year-old Master Deputy Sheriff Robert A. Romero Jr. was arrested and charged with possession and receipt of child pornography. The FBI says an undercover agent caught Romero in an online sting and investigators discovered more than 1000 images of child pornography and 100 videos on his computer.
Neighbors were understandably shocked by the allegations.
"He would always wave and say 'Hi.' He coached, I guess the football team, for the youth league and would talk to me about recruiting my (six-year-old) son to join it."
Romero, a 19-year veteran of the Sheriff's Department, abruptly resigned Thursday. He appeared in U.S. District Court in Alexandria Thursday afternoon.
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It sure pays to be rich, famous or some celebrity of some kind. Probation?
OKLAHOMA CITY - A Northeast Texas jury has recommended probation for an Oklahoma State linebacker who pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault of a 12-year-old girl.
The recommendation by the Bowie County jury means Chris Collins Jr. of Texarkana likely won't have to serve any prison time -- as long as he meets the requirements of the probation.
State District Judge Leon F. Pesek Jr. set formal sentencing for December Tenth in New Boston, Texas. Today, Pesek ordered Collins to undergo a psychological exam as part of a pre-sentence investigation.
Bowie County Assistant District Attorney Kristian Young says Pesek will determine the length of Collins' probation, which could be as long as 10 years. Pesek also must decide if Collins will have to register as a sex offender.
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Cynthia Flores will be behind bars for two to ten years.
CLARKSBURG -- She pleaded guilty to having sex with a 15-year-old boy - now Cynthia Flores, 25, will spend two to ten years in prison for third degree sexual assault.
Flores originally faced 50 counts.
She had sex with the boy between July and November 2006.
The judge also sentenced her to five years of supervised release once she gets out of prison and she must register as a sex offender for the rest of her life.
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Workers performing fire hydrants checks this morning in Northville Township found the badly charred and decapitated male body.
The man was identified as Daniel Gene-Vincent Sorensen, 26, of River Rouge, formerly of Westland, a registered sex offender on the Michigan Public Sex Offender Registry.
Sorensen was convicted of fourth degree criminal sexual conduct involving a victim between 13-17, according to the registry.
Personnel from the township’s water and sewer department found Sorensen’s remains at 9:32 a.m. at the end of a cul-de-sac in Hidden Ridge, an undeveloped subdivision west of Ridge Road and south of Seven Mile Road, according to Director of Public Safety John Werth.
The three men found the body lying on the side of the road.
Even though search dogs were brought to the site, the head of the body has not been found.
Township police were assisted by the Michigan State Police, whose mobile crime trailer was at the scene, Plymouth Township Police and Wayne Police.
After canvassing the area, talking to nearby residents, police believe the body was burned at the site sometime between 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
Witnesses noticed something burning in the area during that time.
Police think the murder took place elsewhere, with the body being brought to the township location.
Police believe the murderer decapitated and burned the victim in an attempt to conceal Sorensen’s identity.
“His hands were actually burnt, but we were able to get one fingerprint,” Werth said.
Police matched the man’s fingerprints in the state police database within three hours after the body was found.
Werth added that police learned from talking to residents in the area that fires are evidently started in the undeveloped area all the time, but no one calls the police or the fire department.
Second body found
This was the second body found dumped in Northville Township in less than four months.
A passing motorist who stopped to look at the ducks found a woman’s partially-clothed body in a retention pond by Country Club Condominiums about 3:40 p.m. on Aug. 7.
Police were able to identify the body within hours as 44-year-old Cheryl Lynn Boeskool of Garden City. Thomas Joseph Roe, 62, also of Garden City, who allegedly tried to help the mentally-challenged Boeskool at one time, was charged with first degree murder in her death on Aug. 10 in 35th District Court.
Roe, who pleaded not guilty on the murder charge, is currently in jail, awaiting trial.
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Emotional testimony, calls from citizens have panel wanting further study
Sulphur Springs City Council members held back on final approval of an ordinance restricting the places registered sex offenders can live and visit during the regular monthly meeting Tuesday night.
The decision to postpone the decision for further study came after some emotional testimony and several calls to council members regarding the ordinance.
The measure, which received initial approval on its first reading in October, would prohibit registered sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school, daycare facility, park or playground. It would also prohibit sex offenders from entering or remaining near public parks.
But one woman pointed out that not all registered offenders are sexual predators, but the ordinance treats them all the same.
"There are some really sick people in this town," she said. "But there are also some good guys who made some mistakes when they were younger."
She used her husband as an example. He was convicted at age 18 of having sex with a 15-year-old girl. He has completed his sentence, but must still register as a sex offender. She said they have lived at the same address for 12 years and there have been no other incidents.
Sulphur Springs attorney Phil Smith also spoke against the ordinance, becoming emotional at one point as he spoke of one man in particular. Smith said the man did make a mistake at one point impregnating a 14-year-old girl. Smith said he had a letter sent to him in September describing the man as "the best husband in the world." The letter was from the victim — she's now married to the man, and they have three children.
The letter also stated, Smith said, that for the first time in the history of Hopkins County, District Judge Robert Newsom had lifted all restrictions that had been imposed against the man due to his conviction, such as going to parks or taking his kids to school.
"Yet your ordinance would try to trap him to where he could never take his children to go to school, never go see his kids play baseball," Smith said.
"He's not a predator — he's one of the best fathers I know," Smith said, his voice choking with emotion. "And you are about to ruin his life."
The attorney also said he doubts the law is constitutional, "and you'll probably be sued by me if you enact this law," adding that it wasn't a threat, just that he believed it was a bad ordinance.
Councilman Garry Jordan immediately suggested the council set aside the decision on the ordinance.
"I've had some calls myself on the same issue," he said.
"I agree," said Councilman Clay Walker.
"I don't want us to do something now that we will regret later," Jordan added.
Council member Gary Spraggins said he, too, had fielded calls about the issue, and supported postponing the vote.
He also told Police Chief Jim Bayuk that "we want you to know that we support you guys," but felt the board needed more time to review the ordinance. Bayuk suggested some type of ordinance after one of the officers that oversees sex offender registration in the city suggested they needed a law allowing police to write citations on sex offenders who go into or loiter within 300 feet of a public park.
Smith also said his remarks were not meant to indicate that people should not support the police.
"I hate sex offender predators," he said. "There should be tough laws against sex offenders, and there are tough laws."
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Hey, how about painting our houses (or apartments) green, making us wear green clothes, dye our hair Green, etc. Might as well go all the way, right??
A Summit County Sheriff's deputy testified yesterday in Columbus in favor of putting fluorescent green license plates on vehicles driven by sexual offenders. He was joined by the family of a 14-year-old Wooster girl who was murdered by a sexual offender who lived near her.
But three statewide law enforcement agencies testified against Senate Bill 56 (PDF).
Gongwer's News Service reported that the Buckeye State Sheriffs' Association, Sheriff A.J. Rodenberg of Clermont County and representatives of the state associations of prosecutors and police chiefs opposed the bill.
Rodenberg said the plate could brand innocent family members who also might drive the car.
John Gilchrist, speaking for the chiefs, said vandalism is already occurring at sexual offenders' homes. (Their addresses are listed on many law enforcement Web sites.) He said the negative consequences of the bill outweigh the positives.
John Murphy, of the prosecuting attorneys association, had concerns about vigilantism. And, he said a sexual offender isn't likely to use a vehicle with a special plate while committing another offense, so the plates would have little if any effect on prevention.
The exception came when Summit County Sheriff's Detective John Rood spoke, saying the plates would alert people when a sexual predator is lurking near a school, playground or anywhere children congregate.
Rood was joined by Mark Jackson, whose daughter Kristen was abducted from the Wayne County fair, raped and dismembered. Jackson said the plates would help spare other families the horror his has endured.
Christina Haley, a classmate of Kristen Jackson, said that if the neighbor who killed her had driven a car with a green license plate she would have known not to get near him.
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The Ohio state legislature is considering a bill that would require sex offenders to display a bright neon-green license plate on their cars, according to Fox news. The legislators who proposed the bill argue that cars are “weapons” used by sex offenders to lure children, and therefore ought to be marked. According to the report, at least one friend of a recent girl who was killed after being lured into the car of a paroled sex offender, agreed: “If this sex offender had green license plates Kristen would have known to stay away and not to get in his car.”
That has got to be one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard. I can just imagine the parents now: “It’s ok to get into strangers cars, just make sure to check their license plates first!” If the kid doesn’t know enough not to get into the car in the first place, then she’s not going to know enough to check the license plates. Besides, it’s really not that hard to borrow or steal a vehicle, or even (heaven forbid) change your license plate, if you are intent on committing a crime on that day.
Moreover, the vast majority of sexual assaults and murders are committed by close friends and family members, or other people who have legitimate access to the kids. If you are worried about someone sexually assaulting or attacking your little girl, you should be more afraid of your spouse, your boyfriend, your brother, your nanny, your teachers, and your neighbors, than you should be of random sex offenders patrolling the streets looking for victims.
On the other hand, these laws do massive damage to society. Many (if not most) sex offenders, like other criminals, are trying to build new lives after getting out of prison; these kinds of steps make them targets of harassment, violence, and discrimination, making it harder for them to reintegrate back into society. (Ohio police and law enforcement associations are against the law for that reason, according to the report.) And I guarantee you that we’ll do a much better job of lowering recidivism rates by reintegrating sex offenders back into society than by making them all pariahs.
Furthermore, keep in mind that most sex offenders, like most criminals, are people who committed a stupid and reprehensible thing when they were young. They were young adults who made sexual advances towards a teenage minor or an unconscious drunk girl at a party. These are serious crimes, and they deserved to be punished–but they are a long way off from kidnapping a ten year old off a playground and brutally raping and murdering her. The latter crime is extremely rare–but if you see that license plate on a minivan parked outside a youth girls soccer game, that kind of horrific crime is what you’ll be thinking about when you call the police or confront the driver. Even if the driver “earned” that license plate twenty years earlier because he was a senior jock in high school who had sex with a freshmen cheerleader, and they now have a child playing in that game.
These kinds of laws do zero good and a lot of harm, and they ought to be opposed by anyone who is really serious about preventing future crimes.
The Lanterman-Petris-Short Act, often abbreviated LPS, (Cal. Welf & Inst. Code, sec. 5000 et seq.) concerns the involuntary civil commitment in the State of California. The act set the precedent for modern mental health commitment procedures in the United States. The Act went into full effect on July 1, 1972. It cited seven articles of intent:
- To provide prompt evaluation and treatment of persons with serious mental disorders or impaired by chronic alcoholism;
- To guarantee and protect public safety;
- To provide individualized treatment, supervision, and placement services by a conservatorship program for gravely disabled persons;
- To encourage the full use of all existing agencies, professional personnel and public funds to accomplish these objectives and to prevent duplication of services and unnecessary expenditures;
- To protect mentally disordered persons and developmentally disabled persons from criminal acts.
The Act in effect ended all hospital commitments by the judiciary system, except in the case of criminal sentencing (e.g. convicted sexual offenders) and those who were "gravely disabled" defined as unable to obtain food, clothing, or housing [Conservatorship of Susan T., 8 Cal. 4th 1005 (1994)]. It did not, however, impede the right of voluntary commitments. It expanded the evaluative power of psychiatrists and created provisions and criteria for holds.
- California Mental Health Services Act
- Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Act
- 5150 (Involuntary psychiatric hold)
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by: Brian Leubitz
Tue Nov 06, 2007 at 14:55:04 PM PST
I will admit that I'm occasionally a bit of a policy wonk. Not always, but you know, I have a degree in the whole "policy field" and I sometimes like to talk policy (or write as the case may be). One policy that I know reeks of fear-based politics with little to show in return: Jessica's Law. Sure, it won easily, and even Phil Angelides endorsed it. Really, only a very select few spoke out against it. Fear is a bad poliy basis, and there seemed to be little reason for this law other than FEAR. Sen. Jackie Speier's bill had already passed and provided most of the protections of Prop 83. And the provisions that it lacked were just plain bad policy.
But, at this point, the law is on the books. There's still some question about its constitutionality, with the latest court wranglings seeing the law enforced on 850 sex offenders. But, as the AP points out, many have found a loophole: the "transient exemption." AKA being homeless. If a sex offender is homeless, well it's hard to prohibit them from living under a bridge. And as I pointed out in the past, the 2000-foot rule (away from schools, parks, etc.) will keep people away from services they need, and from basically all metropolitan areas. So, you want to live in San Francisco? Sorry, but you're always within 2000 feet of one of those places, so, go try Yreka.
So, into this fray steps SD-03 candidate Joe Alioto-Veronese. He's raising a resolution at today's Police Commission hearing for stronger enforcement of Jessica's Law. He apparently doesn't want to charge all offenders with crimes, he just wants to know where these people are. The problem is that once you know where they are, the city/state is obliged to remove them from their location if it violates the law. Sure, we could just be lax on the enforcement part, I suppose, but that seems a strange study in contrasts. Furthermore, the resolution wants to a) find all these homeless people and demands that they respond or b) face jail time for parole violation if they don't respond.
This, at best, puts a bit of lipstick on a pig. It doesn't substantively address any of the problems that were recently raised, and it punishes the homeless. Mr. Alioto-Veronese recognizes the deficiencies of Jessica's Law, but when I asked him whether he supports the 2000-foot rule, all I got was that he supports "protecting our children from sexuasl predators."
UPDATE: One more thing. I should point out this map (PDF) from the California Senate. Take a look at San Francisco. Or LA, too. What do you see? The only places that offenders would be allowed to live in SF would be primarily minority areas concentrated in the Southeast of the City. Just one more reason why this law was wrong in the first place, and is still wrong.
Resolution over the flip.
WA - U.S. House Takes Historic Step by Passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act - Vote Marks Major Step in Achieving Equality for All
View the article here
Except if you are a sex offender!
In an historic step toward equality, the U.S. House of Representatives successfully passed today the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA. The vote, 235 to 184, marks the first time ever that either chamber of Congress has passed employment protections based on sexual orientation.
"Today, we witnessed the making of civil rights history in the U.S. House of Representatives by the passing of ENDA," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "This vote by Congress is an important step at ensuring that millions of gay and lesbian Americans will never again have to go to work in fear of losing their jobs because of who they are."
In 31 states, it is currently legal to fire someone based on their sexual orientation. In 39 states, it is legal to fire a person for being transgender.
The Human Rights Campaign helped introduce ENDA 13 years ago to prevent workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. This year, for the first time, HRC and allies on the Hill included gender identity in the bill to also protect transgender workers. One month ago, House leadership made it clear that Congress did not have the votes to pass HR 2015, which prevents discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This week, House Rules Committee reported out Congressman Frank's HR 3685, a bill that protects only sexual orientation, to the floor.
While HRC was disappointed that HR 3685 did not include protections for transgender Americans, it believes the successful passage of Congressman Frank's bill is a step forward for all Americans, and that it paves the way for additional progress to outlaw workplace discrimination based on gender identity.
"Our fight for equality will not be won overnight," said Solmonese. "It will be won one step at a time, and we will not give up until we reach the finish line. This is a critical piece of legislation and a major step toward the finish line for all Americans."
Throughout history, Congress has often taken an incremental approach toward equality for other civil rights and business regulatory legislation. For example, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was introduced in five consecutive congresses for eight years and was vetoed twice by former President Bush before it was finally signed into law on February 5, 1993, by President Clinton. Each time the FMLA was introduced, Members built upon the protection from the previous year's legislative action.
Additionally, each piece of civil rights legislation passed by Congress -- in 1957, 1960, 1963, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975 and 1990 -- continued the legislative path of the expansion of essential civil rights protections in law.
On Tuesday, the Human Rights Campaign joined the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR); the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), among other organizations in the civil rights community, in support of the bill that would make it illegal for employers to discriminate on sexual orientation. The letter was signed by 10 national civil rights and worker protection organizations representing millions of Americans.
A copy of the letter is available on HRC's blog, HRC Back Story:
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
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I know this is not SO related, but just showing what a hypocrite this man is. If he was truly a man of God, he would see the sex offender laws for what they are, unconstitutional, cruel & unusual punishment and do nothing to protect anybody, kids or adults. I think God would be laughing at you sir.... He prays when it's convenient for him. You are a HYPOCRITE, IMO!
Leader will host prayer service to ask for relief from Southeast drought
ATLANTA - What to do when the rain won’t come? If you’re Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, you pray.
The governor will host a prayer service next week to ask for relief from the drought gripping the Southeast.
“The only solution is rain, and the only place we get that is from a higher power,” Perdue spokesman Bert Brantley said on Wednesday.
Perdue’s office has sent out invitations to leaders from several faiths for the service, set for Tuesday.
Perdue has several times mentioned the need for prayer — along with water conservation — as the state’s drought crisis has worsened. Over the summer, he participated in day of prayer for agriculture at a gathering of the Georgia Farm Bureau in Macon, Ga.
Perdue, a Baptist, has enjoyed strong support from Georgia’s Christian conservatives.
The Southeast has been suffering from an intense drought in recent months that has threatened supplies of drinking water. Georgia has been locked in a battle with Alabama and Florida over how much water should be sent downstream from the state’s dwindling reservoirs.
Governors from the three states reached a temporary agreement after meeting with Bush administration officials in Washington.
The prayer service will be held outside the state Capitol on Tuesday. Unless, of course, it rains.
“Then we’ll move it inside, thankfully,” Brantley said.
View the article here | Comments
CINCINNATI - One state appeals court has ruled that part of the Ohio law barring convicted sex offenders from living near schools is unconstitutional; another state appeals court has upheld the law.
The Ohio Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday to resolve the conflict.
The question is whether a law that prohibits sexually oriented offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school can be enforced against a person who owned such a home before the law was passed, and whose offense occurred before the law was passed.
The Supreme Court is reviewing the case of Gerry Porter, who bought and began living in a house in the Cincinnati suburb of Cheviot in 1991. He was convicted of misdemeanor sexual imposition in 1995, and of sexual battery in 1999.
Cincinnati lawyer David Singleton, the executive director of the Ohio Justice & Policy Center, says the case hinges on the issue of property rights. He acknowledges that Porter's case may not be one that evokes sympathy from a majority of citizens.
"The Constitution did not ask how popular Mr. Porter is, it asks are his vested property rights being impaired?" Singleton said. "That's the question. Because you know what, if you can do this to Mr. Porter, if you can tell him he doesn't have a right to live in his own home, then you don't have a right to live in your own home and I don't have a right to live in my own home."
In 2003, the Ohio Legislature enacted the 1,000-foot rule, and in 2005 amended it to allow officials in counties, townships and municipalities to pursue eviction proceedings against sex offenders.
Officials determined that the back corner of Porter's lot was 983 feet from St. Jude Elementary School and ordered him to move out. Singleton argued that the state cannot enforce the law retroactivity, but a Hamilton County Common Pleas Court ruled against Porter and that ruling was upheld by the 1st District Court of Appeals.
The appeals court reasoned that even though Porter was forced to stop living in his home, the move did not divest him of his substantive property right because it allowed him to maintain ownership of the house, which he could rent to someone else.
However, the appeals court noted that its decision conflicted with one from the nearby 2nd District Court of Appeals, which found the residency restriction was unconstitutional.
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"If this sex offender had green license plates Kristen would have
known to stay away and not to get in his car," said friend Christina
If she didn't already know not to get into a car of a stranger, then what would green plates do? This woman, Christina, has got to be dumber than a box of rocks.
COLUMBUS -- A bill to force sex offenders to use green license plates on their car brings high emotion and strong views to the Ohio Senate Judiciary Committee. The proposed bill is called Kristen's Law, named for 14 year old Kristen Jackson, a Wayne county girl lured to her death from the county fair by a neighbor.
The rape, murder and dismemberment of Kristen Jackson in 2002 by a paroled sex offender helped change Ohio law requiring notification of residents living near sex offenders and an online registration of sexual offenders whereabouts.
Now, family and friends of Kristen Jackson are pushing for green plates legislation as another way to warn potential victims when sexual offenders lurk. "If this sex offender had green license plates Kristen would have known to stay away and not to get in his car," said friend Christina Haley.
Ohio prosecutors, sheriff's and police chiefs, through their associations, oppose the Kristen's Law proposal. "If we thought for one second this would help even one victim we would support this bill," said John Murphy, Executive Director of the Ohio Prosecutors Association. "But sexual offenders are not stupid, they are not going to drive to the scene of a sex crime they have planned with a bright green license plate," Murphy said.
Police and sheriff's say offenders on the Ohio Sexual Offenders Registration Network, (SORN) are often victims of vandalism and harassment. Ohio law enforcement fears green plates will bring road rage and create traffic hazards.
State Rep. Mike DeBose (Email), D-12th District, House sponsor of the green plates bill, said, "it won't prevent every crime, it's just a tool in the tool box, but cars are a weapon used by sexual predators, they don't come to the bus stop and try and take kids in a sack," DeBose said.
Mark Jackson, Kristen's dad told lawmakers they should decide the dueling testimony with one question, "if it happened to you instead of me, how would you vote,?" Jackson asked.
View the article here
A former Coachella Valley news anchor who was arrested last year in a sting aimed at pedophiles reached a plea deal Wednesday with the Riverside County District Attorney's Office.
Jim Philbrick, 45, pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor charge each of trying to distribute harmful matter to a minor -- which was reduced from a felony -- and soliciting a lewd act in a public place.
Prosecutors agreed to drop the most serious charges -- two felony counts of attempted lewd acts on a child younger than 14 and a felony count of attempting to distribute harmful matter to a minor.
Philbrick could get up to nine months in jail but will likely receive probation, according to defense attorney John Patrick Dolan, who said his client would not have to register as a sex offender.
Sentencing is set for Dec. 21.
Philbrick left the courtroom smiling and stopped to speak to reporters.
"Ultimately, I was hoping all four charges would be dismissed, but I think this is quite a victory," he said. "We turned four felonies into two misdemeanors."
Philbrick added he would always maintain that he was an "adult talking to another adult in an adult chat room."
Ingrid Wyatt, a spokeswoman for the Riverside County District Attorney's Office, said the prosecution agreed to the plea deal in part because of Philbrick's "lack of a prior criminal record."
"The two crimes Philbrick pleaded guilty to describe the illicit conduct he engaged in -- sending harmful matter over the Internet to a person he believed a minor -- and soliciting that person to engage in lewd conduct in a public place," she said.
Philbrick's attorney and Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Beerman spent most of the morning and afternoon in chambers with Judge John J. Ryan, hammering out the plea deal.
The agreement -- which was reached in the midst of a preliminary hearing to determine if there was enough evidence to order Philbrick to stand trial -- was a "victory" for his client, Dolan said.
He called it the result of "good-faith bargaining on behalf of the district attorney's office and a hard-working judge willing to put in the time and effort to explore the legal issues that needed to be considered."
A computer forensics expert testified Tuesday that he found explicit images and sexually oriented messages in a search of a desktop computer belonging Philbrick, who formerly worked as an anchor for two area television stations.
Tom Gstrein, an investigator with the District Attorney's Office, testified that out of several hundred images he recovered, two were images of genitalia.
According to the prosecution, a search of the computer's hard drive showed evidence of note-swapping in which Philbrick was explicit about sex with a decoy from the group Perverted Justice, which sets up stings aimed at catching pedophiles.
Video of several of the group's operations have been broadcast on "Dateline NBC."
Gstrein testified that he searched specifically for messages between Philbrick, who used the moniker "Jimster7," and the decoy posing as a 13-year-old boy, who went by "LB Ninja92."
Defense co-counsel Laura Nugent asked Gstrein if any of the messages made reference to the age of either.
In one message, Philbrick mentioned "as you get older" to the decoy, but he did not find anything else referring to age, Gstrein testified.
Philbrick, who previously worked for NBC affiliate KMIR-TV and CBS affiliate KPSP-TV, was arrested in March 2006 during a sting that Perverted Justice conducted with Palm Springs police.
Philbrick admitted visiting a chat room for gay adults, but maintained that he believed any cyber-contact with a minor was "role-playing."
The Perverted Justice decoy was Sean O'Connor, a 25-year-old Florida man, according to investigators.
After swapping notes with O'Connor for three days, Philbrick allegedly agreed to meet the "boy" at the Palm Springs Tennis Center on East Baristo Road, where a young police employee waited.
As investigators watched, Philbrick drove by in his Lexus, but kept going after spotting the police department decoy.
Police arrested him about 20 minutes later during a traffic stop shown on the Fox television show "COPS."
Dolan said today that Philbrick would likely sue the network for allegedly repeatedly airing the arrest footage without obtaining his written consent.
View the article here
Xavier Von Erck, the sweaty-palmed founder of online vigilante group Perverted Justice, pulls down a cool $120,000 per year by pretending to be a little girl, according to documents he filed with the IRS seeking tax-exempt status for the organization.
He also expects to be paid a total of nearly $2 million by NBC through next year in "consulting fees" for Perverted Justice's role in setting up stings of functionally retarded creeps for Dateline's "To Catch a Predator" series, despite the fact that NBC has told him the show may get canceled.
The information comes from the Perverted Justice Foundation's application for tax-exempt status, which was approved by the IRS last month—just in time to make donations in Mom and Dad's name for Christmas!—and then promptly made public.
(Radar has written about Von Erck previously, notably here. That link will take you to an archived version of the article—we were forced to take the story off our servers in the face of repeated denial-of-service hack attacks from, um, somebody.)
According to the application, NBC paid Perverted Justice $802,520 last year for the seven stings it conducted, roughly $115,000 per sting, including the November operation in Murphy, Texas, that resulted in the suicide of a local prosecutor who'd been caught in a sexually suggestive IM chat with a Perverted Justice decoy—NBC News cameras were waiting outside his home as he shot himself in the head with a pistol. Neither NBC nor Perverted Justice have ever confirmed precisely how much money the group earns from the Dateline collaboration, but previous reports pegged it at $100,000 per episode.
Perverted Justice's three staff employees—Von Erck, who is president; Dennis Kerr, aka "Frag," who is chief financial officer; and Alison Shea, aka "Del Harvey," who is secretary—each earn $120,000 per year. According to a salary survey [pdf] by Nonprofit Times, the average executive director of a nonprofit pulled down less than $100,000 per year in 2005. Just under half of Perverted Justice's income last year went to covering those three salaries.
Perverted Justice expected to earn another $450,000 from NBC in 2007 and $600,000 in 2008, but it's unclear how much of that will actually be paid. So far this year, the group appears to have conducted four stings: one in New Jersey that aired earlier this year and three in Kentucky that have yet to air and are expected to be combined into one episode. But according to a letter the foundation wrote to the IRS in July seeking an expedited review of the application, "NBC has expressed uncertainty as to whether it will continue to air" the Predator segments. If that happens, Perverted Justice would be left in a lurch—the group's fundraising target of $350,000 for next year wouldn't even cover Von Erck, Kerr, and Shea's salaries.
NBC declined to comment.
Aside from the NBC cash-cow, Perverted Justice had more than $300,000 in the bank last year and hopes to raise an additional $600,000 in grants and contributions by the end of 2008 from donors like Wal-Mart and Microsoft. It reported no charitable income in 2006, though, and as of July 2007, according to the application, no donors had stepped forward. Aside from stinging perverts, the group plans to educate parents and children about online dangers, and to develop do-it-yourself software kits to help cops track predators online and parents to monitor and control their kids' online activities.
E-mailed for a response, Von Erck wrote: "Thanks for contacting us for comment, John. Unfortunately, you're not a legitimate reporter, you're just a rather scummy fellow who writes for a tabloid rag. Other than being told that you're a scummy hack who resembles a stalker more than a journalist, we don't have any comment for you on this issue or any other issue as you've already been told in the past. We wish you the best with your low-rent reporting gig...."
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WHEELING — A federal investigation into child pornography prompted Immigration and Customs Enforcement to raid the Bethlehem home of a local doctor a day before his suspected suicide.
U.S. Attorney Sharon Potter on Wednesday said the Nov. 1 raid on the Wolfe Estates residence of Dr. Brian P. Murphy was part of an investigation into the receipt, possession and possible distribution of child pornography. Potter said ICE is working with the U.S. Department of Justice in the multi-state investigation.
Murphy 42, was found dead Friday in his home by a West Virginia State Police trooper, according to State Police Sgt. Scott Adams. The sergeant said Murphy was never considered a missing person, but a trooper went to the Wolfe Estates residence following calls from the man’s family.
Adams said the investigation into the death of the cardiac anesthesiologist is complete. Foul play is not suspected, but suicide is, he noted.
Adams said Murphy was not home when federal authorities and West Virginia State Police entered the residence. According to the sergeant, law enforcement contacted Murphy at his place of employment and told him of the search warrant.
Adams said Murphy arrived as the home was being searched. He said the raid began at about 7:30 a.m. and authorities collected evidence until about 11:30 a.m.
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DOVER - A retired police officer who now works as an administrator for the city of Wilmington has been suspended without pay after being arrested by federal agents on child pornography charges.
John Manning, health and safety program manager in Wilmington's personnel department, was arrested October 25th at his city office.
Agents found pornographic images on two computers seized at Manning's home. According to the affidavit, Manning did not deny that he owned the computers or possessed the images found on them. But he blamed spam and said another man had access to his computers too.
Manning is being held in custody in Salem County, New Jersey, pending a bail hearing on Friday.
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BELLINGHAM — Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo has ordered 47 inmates removed from a privately run minimum security jail after allegations of sexual contact between a jailer and inmate.
Elfo is suggesting that the county not renew its $500,000 yearly contract with Security Specialists Plus to house inmates after the arrest of Tammra J. Baechler, 35, of Everson.
An investigation by Elfo’s office alleges that Baechler had consensual sexual contact with a 38-year-old Ferndale woman who was serving time at SSP’s Baker Creek Place facility on a domestic violence-related crime. Elfo said the contact lasted for two weeks beginning Oct. 23 and consisted of kissing, fondling body parts and passing notes of a sexual nature.
Baechler, who had been working for SSP since August, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of custodial misconduct and booked into Whatcom County Jail.
Elfo said the alleged sexual contact was the “latest in a series of events” that have raised questions about allowing SSP employees or any other private contractor to supervise county inmates.
“I can’t in good conscience allow inmates to be under (SSP) supervision,” Elfo said.
The county has paid SSP to house approximately 50 minimum security prisoners for the last 14 years. The company’s yearly contract is up for renewal in December, Elfo said.
SSP owner Greg Rustand said he had not heard of the allegations and was disappointed by Elfo’s reprimand. Rustand pointed out that a male county jail employee was charged with custodial sexual misconduct in March for allegedly fondling a female inmate.
“If you go to any business, they’re going to have employee problems,” Rustand said. “For them to go ahead and say, ‘Gee whiz, they’re a private company, they’re bad’ … I’m shocked.”
Rustand said his company has saved county taxpayers millions of dollars over the years, since it can house inmates much cheaper than the county can.
This is not the first time SSP has come under scrutiny for employee misconduct.
In March 2006, an SSP employee admitted to stealing money from an inmate’s personal locker. In August 2006, an SSP guard pleaded guilty to smuggling tobacco and marijuana into the facility for inmates.
After those incidents, SSP conducted an internal investigation. Among the recommendations was better screening of applicants for guard positions. Rustand said his company has done everything possible to screen new employees, including extensive background checks and requiring employees to be licensed security personnel through the state.
Elfo said Wednesday’s arrest was the final straw against SSP, whose employees are not subject to the same level of pre-employment scrutiny as county jailers. State law allows the county to do a polygraph test on potential employees, while private contractors cannot.
SSP also lost its $378,000 annual animal control contract with the county this year after Elfo’s office seized 41 llamas from a field on Olson Road in Ferndale. Neighbors told officials they had been calling SSP for years about animal neglect on the property.
Rustand questioned whether the county’s response to the jail allegations stemmed from the llama incident and individuals playing politics.
“(After the llama incident) we heard through the grapevines that it was about getting rid of the Rustands,” he said. “Since then it’s been somebody’s goal to go ahead and do that.”
Elfo said the county has several options for housing inmates taken out of the private facility. Since a majority of SSP inmates are jailed for misdemeanors or minor felony convictions and require the lowest level of supervision, many will be moved to similar work release programs in the county-run interim jail.
Booking inmates into the main jail, using electronic home monitoring or asking courts to release inmates who have served more than two-thirds of their sentence with good behavior are also options, Elfo said.
County Executive Pete Kremen said the allegations concerned him.
“I certainly take very seriously the recommendations from the sheriff and I highly respect his opinion,” Kremen said. “I certainly will work with him on the issue.”
Kremen said the county may consider purchasing or renting SSP’s facility if they do not renew the contract.
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BEREA — A former part-time Wakeman police officer was sentenced Wednesday to serve either five days in jail or 50 hours of community service for having sex in a park bathroom.
Dan Deusenberry, 35, of Strongsville, pleaded no contest to two counts of public indecency in October after admitting to rangers in July that he had had sex with at least two men and masturbated at Strongsville’s Mill Stream Reservation four times in March, June and July, a Cleveland Metroparks report said.
A third count of public indecency was dismissed, according to court records.
Witnesses said they saw him wearing red G-string underwear and sticking his head out of bathroom stalls while performing the sex acts, the report said.
Deusenberry was placed on unpaid administrative leave from the Wakeman police department after admitting to the charges in July and resigned from his position sometime last week, according to Wakeman police Chief Tim Hunker.
Deusenberry will have to pay more than $800 in fines and court costs and is subject to three years’ probation following the completion of jail time or community service.
Berea Municipal Court Judge Mark Comstock told Deusenberry to stay away from the Metroparks during his probation.
Deusenberry, who had been with the Wakeman police for about seven years, declined to comment after the sentencing.
A volunteer assistant coach with Strongsville Youth Football, Deusenberry was suspended from that position, but not because of his legal issues, according to football Commissioner Mark Hopkins.
Instead, Deusenberry failed to comply with league rules by refusing to have a background check done, he said.