Thursday, November 22, 2007

TX - Sex offender mayor can't go to City Hall, won't resign

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POTEET -- The mayor of a small Texas town isn't planning on resigning, even though he's a sex offender who can be arrested for going to City Hall.

Poteet, Texas Mayor Lino Donato pleaded guilty last month to indecency counts involving two girls. The move means he's a registered sex offender who's required to stay more than 1,000 feet from places where children gather.

A city attorney says the City Hall is "well within 200 feet" of two such sites.

Even if the mayor skips all city meetings until his term expires in 2009, he can't be forced out under city law.

Donato had planned to resign, but later changed his mind. A city councilman is calling on the mayor to step down saying, "It's not right for the citizens of Poteet."

OH - Two Cincinnati police officers admit having sex on duty

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CINCINNATI - A Cincinnati police officer says she had sex with another police officer while on duty.

Former police Officer Maria Rensing told police investigators that she and her married lover, Officer Kip Dunagan, carried on an affair in police cruisers and behind a park maintenance shed while they were supposed to be out on patrol.

Dunagan and Rensing covered District Two, which includes the city's east side. Dunagan and Rensing also sent each other private, openly sexual messages over police computers, Rensing said.

Twenty-7-year-old Rensing quit the department after her affair became public this summer. Dunagan, who claimed he never had sex with Rensing while on duty, received a written reprimand.

KY - Georgia Sex Offender Ruling Could Impact Kentucky Case

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LOUISVILLE -- Lawyers in Kentucky hope a ruling in another state will bode well for their fight against a law targeting sex offenders.

Wednesday, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled it's unconstitutional to ban sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of schools, parks and other places where children gather. Kentucky lawmakers passed a similar ban last year.

A lawyer representing sex offenders who feel the law is too harsh hopes the Kentucky Supreme Court will follow suit. Last summer, a Jefferson County judge ruled the law unfairly punished three sex offenders convicted before it went into effect.

The Kentucky Supreme Court could hear the case early next year.

SC - Aiken sex offender law may be challenged

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I feel the pendulum is swinging back the other way now.... :)


Aiken County Council members might reevaluate a provision of their proposed sex offender ordinance now that Georgia's top court has overturned its state law that bans offenders from living within 1,000 feet of schools, churches and other areas where children congregate.

Georgia state law provisions that ban sex offenders from loitering and working within 1,000 feet of those places still stand.

Aiken County modeled parts of its ordinance after Georgia's.

"It is apparent that there is no place in Georgia where a registered sex offender can live without being continually at risk of being rejected," the unanimous opinion read, written by presiding Justice Carol Hunstein.

In September, County Council tabled its sex offender ordinance until Jan. 1, 2008 to give area municipalities time to consider adopting it as well. County Sheriff Michael Hunt has said he would have problems enforcing the ordinance in only certain parts of Aiken County.

As it stands, the County's ordinance prohibits sex offenders from living, working or loitering within 1,000 feet of child care facilities, churches, schools, or parks.

"I'm not sure (what Georgia's actions mean for us)," said Councilwoman Kathy Rawls, who is co-sponsor of the ordinance. "Quite possibly it will effect what we will do."

Both she and another co-sponsor, Councilman Gary Bunker, say the ordinance stems from a concern for the children of Aiken County.

Bunker could not definitively say what Council might do in the wake of Georgia's decision since he had not yet read anything.

"(But) obviously we don't want to pass anything unconstitutional," he said.

However, he added that what the Georgia Supreme Court does certainly is not indicative of what the South Carolina Supreme Court would do.

During Council's debate on the ordinance, the question arose of whether sex offenders already living within the 1,000-foot parameter would have to move or whether they would be grandfathered in. Council is still weighing the options. "There is sensitivity on Council to doing the right thing," Bunker said.

Sex offenders in Georgia had not been grandfathered in.

Assistant County Attorney Lawrence Brown has said the ordinance would have to make such a clause very clear. Brown could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

"In this day and age, they (sex offenders) don't have to live near a school or playground to get to our children," Rawls said.

Hunt has estimated that there are between 95 and 100 people who would be in violation of the ordinance if Council passed it today.

Lexington County is also considering a similar ordinance that would not allow offenders from living or loitering within 2,500 feet of schools, churches, parks, playgrounds and other sites were children congregate. Cayce has preliminarily approved a similar plan.

GA - Sex Offender Law Overturned

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Link is now dead, see the video below for the audio.


Georgia's highest court has overturned a state law banning registered sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of areas where children gather. In its decision, the state supreme court reasoned that the 1,000 foot limit is so restrictive that it leaves no place in Georgia where a registered sex offender can live.

Here are some quick facts about the law:

- It went into effect in 2006.

- The law prohibited sex offenders from living, working or loitering within one-thousand feet of schools, churches and anywhere else children gather.

- It affected 11,000 registered sex offenders in Georgia.

The ban led some offenders to live in their cars or set up tents or trailers in the woods. Reverend Jim Lewis has worked with some registered sex offenders affected by the ban. He tells of one man’s struggle because of the ban, "Lost his employment, lost his living quarters, his whole life was devastated."

The news of the ban being lifted has shaken up parents and caretakers all across the Coastal Empire. We spoke to some parents today and the response was pretty much the same from everyone. The parents and grandparents we talked to today were surprised to learn about the ban being lifted. They were all upset, and concerned for their little ones.

Sarita Grant, Concerned Mother:
"I think it's really sad, I mean it just doesn't make any sense - just doesn't make sense. We're trying to protect our children and we're making it worse.”

Linda Williams, Concerned Grandmother:
“I don't think they should have lifted it, I think it should have stayed where it was because now it's that you know, a sex offender could be right at your back door and you'd not even know it.”

Dianne Jenkins, Concerned Grandmother:
“I don't agree with it - I don't think they should be free to roam around schools and where there's small children playing that they might, you know, they might do the same things with."

Reverend Jim Lewis works with the Old Savannah City Mission. He told us today that the mission has tried to help registered sex offenders, but because of the ban, they weren't able to. But, now that the ban is lifted, he hopes that the mission will be able to help offenders successfully make their way back into society. He says, "There are different levels of ministry at the mission - the emergency shelter - we don't do a background check. Uh, the ban obligated us to do background investigations and it was our decision to move in obedience to the law."

State lawmakers could take the issue up again when they reconvene in January. We'll be sure to continue to follow this story as it progresses and keep you updated on the issue.

We checked, and about twenty-two states have distance restrictions varying from 500 to 2,000 feet. But most impose the offender-free zones only around schools, and several apply only to child molesters, not all sex offenders.

We took a look at some surrounding states:

In Florida, offenders who've hurt minors can't live within one thousand feet of where kids gather.

In Alabama, offenders can't work or live within two-thousand feet of schools or child care facilities.

South Carolina does not restrict where sex offenders can live, but both South Carolina and Georgia have resources to help you keep track, so you know which offenders live in your neighborhood.

Video Link