Tuesday, November 27, 2007

GA - Residency Restrictions Not Enforceable

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SWEET!!!!!

11/27/2007

Hello friends,

We write with an update about the Mann case. Here is some information for your consideration:

(1) The Office of the Attorney General has confirmed that, as a result of the Mann case, the residency restrictions in Ga Code Ann § 42-1-15(a) are not enforceable against anyone on the registry. This ruling applies to all residency restrictions, those enacted in 2002 as well as by HB 1059 in 2006. It is possible, however, that the State will ask the Supreme Court to reconsider the Mann decision in the next few days. We will keep you posted on any developments.

(2) We’ve received reports that some law enforcement officials are nevertheless still enforcing the residency restriction law. This may be because they have not yet received word about the effect of the Mann decision. It may take some time for this information to filter down through the chain of command. In the meantime, it is very important for people on the registry to comply with the direction of law enforcement officers.

(3) We have not seen the end of residency restrictions in Georgia . It is likely that the legislature will pass new residency restrictions in the coming session. We hope that this time, the Legislature will listen to the experts and to law enforcement before passing a law. Most everyone agrees that there are some people on the registry who should not live near schools or child care centers. But we hope the Legislature has learned that a one-size-fits- all law – a law that treats everyone the same – is not the solution. Nor is it right or legal to turn people on the registry into nomads by continually evicting them from their homes. We will keep you posted on any legislative developments.

(4) The prohibition against employment at or within 1,000 feet of a church, school, or child care center is still in place. Unless/until it is reversed by the courts or changed by the legislature, people on the registry must comply with this provision.

(5) Below we have included an editorial and an article on the Mann decision from today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

As always, we will do our best to pass along additional information to you as we learn it.

All the best,

Sarah, Sara, Lisa, James, Gerry, Shareef and Mica

Mica Doctoroff
Southern Center for Human Rights
83 Poplar St.
Atlanta , GA 30303
mdoctoroff@schr.org
www.schr.org



OUR OPINIONS: Common sense lives
State Supreme Court decision opens the door to more rational sex offender residency rules

By Maureen Downey
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 11/27/07

Jeffery York, 23, of Polk County can come out of the woods, where he's been sleeping in a camper without electricity.

In Perry, Ruby Anderson, 78, can stay in her home to care for her 82-year-old husband, Daniel, in the advanced throes of Alzheimer's disease.

York and Anderson are among 15,000 people on Georgia 's bloated sex offender registry. Until last week, all 15,000 were subject to unsparing and unreasonable residency restrictions that banned them from living within 1,000 feet of day care centers, schools, churches and other places where children congregate. Violators faced a minimum 10-year prison sentence.

On Wednesday, the Georgia Supreme Court declared those residency rules unconstitutional, unanimously returning sanity to an area of law where emotion and pandering had overtaken common sense.

The case before the court involved Anthony Mann, Clayton County resident and convicted sex offender, who researched neighborhoods before he and his wife bought a house that complied with registry restrictions. But after a day care center opened nearby, Mann was ordered to move. He went to court instead and won.

According to the court, the state law was unconstitutional because it violated Fifth Amendment guarantees of property rights. As justices pointed out, offenders could do everything right to find a suitable home, only to find themselves breaking the law because a new church locates across the street or a school bus route changes.

The law was not limited to sex offenders coming onto the registry but applied retroactively to those already listed, evicting some people from homes they had dwelled in lawfully for years. It created a nightmare for families of sick or disabled offenders such as Daniel Anderson because the law included no exemption for age or infirmity or for offenders living in nursing homes, hospice or personal-care facilities.

While many Georgians may applaud efforts to rid the state of sex offenders, they'd probably be surprised to discover the low-risk offenses that land people on the registry and subject them to the residency limits. York , for example, was 17 when he was arrested for engaging in consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old. His high school behavior did not make him a dangerous predator for life; it made him a stupid teenager.

But as a result of the Legislature' s overreaching, Georgia 's sex-offender registry became a registry without reason, condemning York and others to the same harsh living restrictions as dangerous pedophiles. The Supreme Court's ruling has restored reason.

States do have an obligation to protect children, but sex-offender registries are more window dressing than effective prevention. Most molesters don't stalk bus stops or playgrounds; 80 percent to 90 percent of sex crimes against children are committed by a relative or family acquaintance.

—- Maureen Downey, for the editorial board (mdowney@ajc.com)



Officials: Residency ruling applies to all sex offenders
State attornery general's office says Supreme Court's decision to strike down restrictions covers everyone.

By BILL RANKIN
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 11/26/07

The state attorney general's office Monday said it believes the residency restrictions for all of the state's registered sex offenders are no longer valid in light of last week's ruling by the state Supreme Court.

In a unanimous decision, the court struck down the law prohibiting registered sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of day care centers, schools, churches or other places children congregate. Because it deprives some offenders of their property rights, the law is unconstitutional, the court found.

Because the law addressed a challenge raised by a Clayton County homeowner who was told he had to move when a day care center was built within 1,000 feet of his house, some lawyers who examined the ruling questioned whether it applied to all 15,000 registered offenders — including those who rent or live in places for free.

The state attorney general's office believes that it does and will soon send out a letter stating its position, spokesman Russ Willard said. "Our office is currently advising our clients how to proceed now that the Georgia Supreme Court has struck down the sex offender residency restrictions," he said.

Georgia sheriffs are eager for guidance.

DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown said his office believes the ruling applies to all sex offenders, regardless of residential status.

But Jefferson County Sheriff Charles Hutchins said he believes the law applies only to people with established residences.

If a sex offender was already living in a Jefferson County home and then a child care center is built nearby, the offender will not be asked to move, Lt. Robert Chalker said. "But if someone wants to move into a place within 1,000 feet of a church or a school, we would not allow that."

David Hudson, an Augusta lawyer who represents sheriffs in a class-action lawsuit brought against the sex-offender law in U.S. District Court in Atlanta , said he understands why there is some confusion about the court's ruling. But he believes the entire residency restriction provision was struck down.

Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs) said legislators will fix the residency requirement so it can be enforced. "It was the appropriate approach to be taken by the court if they were going to strike it down," Willard said. "We can address it this coming session."

Sarah Geraghty, a lawyer with the Southern Center for Human Rights, said some predatory sex offenders should not live near schools. But the law was used to evict hospice-care patients from nursing homes and forced people who engaged in consensual sex when they were teenagers to move from place to place, she said.

"We need to impose residency restrictions on certain offenders, but a one-size-fits- all law isn't the answer," Geraghty said.

Brown, the DeKalb sheriff, also has problems with the law. He said that when the Legislature reconvenes in January, he hopes lawmakers will pay more attention to law enforcement.

"It's not like we're soft on this issue, but we don't believe it should be so restrictive that it will force people underground into hiding as opposed to registering," Brown said. "We want to know where they are."


GA - Quotes from HB-1059 sponsor, Jerry Keen

See other articles related to Mr. Keen here

He has clearly lost touch with reality, IMO! Click his picture to email him, if you'd like.

"We don't want these types of people staying in our state"

- What type of people Jerry? Not all people are pedophiles or child molesters like you seem to think. I know, you are just trying to look good to the sheeple of Georgia.

"We knew there were going to be some people affected by this law, that it was going to create some inconvenience"

- And?

"This is a one-time inconvenience. We believe it's worth that to make sure that this law works as it was designed. And I don't apologize for that."

- It's not a one time inconvenience, it's over and over and over. Every time a new church, school, day care or other facility opens, the offender is forced to move. It should also be a law that these places cannot open within 1000 feet of a sex offender, so it's fair. But I think your true intention is clear, from these quotes. If our injustice system runs the way you are wanting it to run, we are all in a lot of trouble.

"I am confident that it will stand the scrutiny of judicial review at the highest level,"

- Well, you were wrong. If you would've paid attention to the United States and Georgia constitutions, you would've saw this. But your true intention was to push them out of the state so you did not have to deal with them, thus pushing your problem off to someone else.

"I am confident that the court's final decision will vindicate the Legislature' s efforts to protect our children"

- Nothing about these laws protect children. I'd love to hear how you think they do! You just make one sentence sound bites to "look good!" Where are your facts and statistics?

"We ought to give it time to work"

- These laws have been on the books for awhile, they are not working. You just want more time to force people out of the state, now don't you?

"I hope we can fix this. I'm waiting on a call from the attorney general. I would hope the state would appeal this - quickly - if for no other reason than getting it to the U.S. Supreme Court,"

- You should've put more thought into creating the bill. I wish you and all who signed this bill were FORCED to sit down and take a test about what is all in the bill. I am willing to bet you'd all fail the test. And you said it's the publics will. Well, I've asked many people who vote, and nobody voted for this bill or even heard of it. So is this your will or the publics? You are a member of the Christian Coalition for Gods sake! I believe you are a hypocrite, personally.

"We cannot appeal the ruling because the Supreme Court wrote it in such a way that they say (the law) violates the Georgia Constitution, "

- Good, glad someone is working FOR THE CONSTITUTION!!!

"We want those people running away from Georgia. Given the toughest laws here, we think a lot of people could move to another state. If it becomes too onerous and too inconvenient, they just may want to live somewhere else. And I don't care where, just as long as it is not in Georgia . Candidly, Senators, they will in many cases have to move to another state."

- You cannot force someone out of the state, that is unconstitutional, and you need to go back and restudy the constitution, sir! Are you going to reimburse everyone for having to sell their homes?

"Legislators were not concerned if the law [HB1059] would turn sex offenders into nomads and force them out of Georgia ."

- So you show your true intentions here. And you call yourself a Christian? What Bible have you been reading? Or have you?

"We want people running away from Georgia. Given the toughest laws here, we think a lot of people could move to another state. If it becomes too onerous and too inconvenient, they just may want to live somewhere else. And I don't care where, as long as it's not in Georgia."

- Toughest doesn't always mean the best, especially when it violates the Constitution of the United States and Georgia, which you took an oath to defend, which was apparently a lie! And you are shifting the issue off to other states, or trying to, instead of trying to resolve the problem.

"As long as I’m Majority Leader, I never want to see Georgia have the problems we’ve seen in places like Florida where sex offenders slip through the cracks and continue to molest children. We are drafting legislation that will be a zero tolerance policy for sex offenders. You may know that these are some of our most hardened criminals. They are sick and have a lifetime problem that usually is incurable. For that reason, we will require lifetime monitoring with ankle bracelets, strengthen sentencing and increase the penalties so they cannot get near schools or other places where children congregate. This legislation will probably make Georgia one of the toughest in the nation on sex offenders. No sex offender is ever going to want to live here. I’d be mighty happy to see that happen."

- Well, how do you expect to accomplish this magical feat?  You can pass 1 million laws, and children will still be harmed.  No amount of laws will prevent someone intent on committing another crime from doing so.  You are just grandstanding, period!  And you are assuming all sex offenders are child molesters, which is a flat out lie, and no, not all are sick and have lifetime problems, that is just very ignorant of you to even say that.  I guess you are some sex offender expert?  Are you call yourself a Christian?  Well, what God do you actually worship?  Not God Almighty and Jesus Christ, that is obvious!

SPOKEN LIKE A TRUE HYPOCRITE!

WHO ALSO HAPPENS TO BE A PART OF THE GEORGIA CHRISTIAN COALITION!


TX - Report: Prosecutor who killed himself when TV news crew came to door kept child porn

View the article here | Corrupted-Justice

11/27/2007

DALLAS (AP) — Authorities found child pornography among the possessions of a prosecutor who fatally shot himself last year when police arrived at his home as part a sting arranged by "Dateline NBC: To Catch A Predator," according to a state report.

When they knocked on the door of his home last November, police planned to arrest Louis "Bill" Conradt Jr., 57, on a warrant accusing him of soliciting sex from a minor. They said Conradt, the former Kaufman County district attorney, had online sexual chats with an adult posing as a 13-year-old boy.

Conradt was targeted in a sting arranged by "Dateline" and the activist group Perverted Justice, whose staff pose as boys and girls online and arranged to meet men.

The state investigation into Conradt's death found evidence of the online graphic chats, according to a Texas Department of Public Safety report released to The Dallas Morning News.

Three laptops, a cell phone and several computer disks found in the home also "all contained pornographic material (and) some included child pornography," according to the state's investigation.

Conradt's sister, Patricia Conradt, has sued NBC Universal Inc. for $105 million, accusing it of taking over police duties and then failing to protect her brother. She said NBC was "concerned more with its own profits than with pedophilia."

NBC Universal has said it will defend itself vigorously and believes the lawsuit has no merit. Its motion to dismiss the case is pending.

Buck Wood, Patricia Conradt's husband, said Monday that investigators told him the suspect photos may not be child pornography.

"There was some pornography on there with persons that you could not ascertain whether they were underage or not," said Wood, an attorney who is advising his wife in the civil suit.

"It's certainly something that you couldn't prosecute on, and I would assume (Conradt) wouldn't have thought it was child pornography."

Wood said the alleged pornography would have no effect on the lawsuit against NBC.


And here is some quotes from Corrupted Justice about how Perverted Justice feels about suicide, to show who they REALLY are. Corrupted Justice has a lot of ex-PJ staff who are against what PJ is doing. The original intent was good, now it's turned into a vigilante hate squad, from what other people are saying, and them coming after me, for nothing, only proves that. This is about another man who committed suicide after being "outed!"

Quote:
# Other Resolutions - Hardchuck1 - Anaheim, California
File originally posted on 10/5/2006 8:25 PM PST [Link to File]

Other Resolution Report made 10/5/2006 8:40 PM PST

Hardchuck1 [4:28 P.M.]: that is kool i want to hug u cuddle u in my arms caress ur body work my tongue all over it lick ur xxx work my tongue around ur xxxx and xxxxx and i want to xxxxxxxx

There is one way, just one way, to beat Perverted-Justice.com evidence and escape conviction. That is to die.

That was what Charles Harding chose after being arrested during our Dateline 3: Riverside sting operation.

Harding, who was dabbling in molestation and child pornography for decades, faced the rest of his life in jail. Rather than live in prison, Harding chose to stop taking his medications in order to induce his own death. He was successful in his gambit prior to his trial date even coming close.

Harding's death left us with a question: He wasn't acquitted, he wasn't convicted... what shall we do?

We've created this Other Resolutions area


to bring the Harding case to light and have a transparent record regarding our Riverside operation. To not post it would have made people assume that he beat the charges... which he did, by dying.

We as an organization are not particularly opposed to Mr. Harding's decision, it certainly saves the state money, saves our time and saves society from having to suffer a person like Charles Harding in their midst.

Goodbye "hardchuck", it wasn't nice knowing you.


Notes from the Contributor, Jay Alternative

Charles Harding remains in my mind one of the more disturbed pedophiles I have encountered during my contributing with Perverted Justice.

For long time PJ followers, such a statement from me might come as a shock. I have always wished for rehabilitation and encouragement for such individuals to seek professional help. Knowing Hardings involvement in child pornography exchange rings, and materials found in his apartment dating over 35 years old, makes his self induced suicide justified. This man was to cowardly to engage in relationships with adults. He was equally as cowardly to face the punishments for his crimes. Since this deranged individual will never face our justice system, we will not know the depth to how far he spread his perversion for young boys.

Harding died while in custody of the Riverside County Jail. He chose to discontinue taking prescribed medications which caused organs to fail resulting in his death.

If there truly is a hell Mr. Harding, I hope you are in the lowest rings of it.


MI - Teen Breaks Up on 'Dr. Phil' With Arab Man She Met on MySpace

View the article here

Idiot! She could've got herself killed. You should NOT meet anyone in person you meet online, unless it's with several friends, or a parent. This is bad news!

11/27/2007

Michigan Woman Was Intercepted By U.S. Authorities in Jordan in 2006

A teenager who flew secretly to the Middle East last year to be with a man she met on MySpace has gone on television to end the relationship.

Katherine Lester developed an online romance with Abdullah Jinzawi in 2005, but kept the relationship secret until she disappeared in June 2006 from her mother's home in Gilford, 80 miles north of Detroit.

Lester, then 16, was intercepted in Amman, Jordan, by U.S. authorities as she was heading to Tel Aviv to meet her Palestinian boyfriend, then 20.

"This is really hard for me to tell you, but I'm not going to be with you anymore," 18-year-old Lester said Monday on the syndicated "Dr. Phil" show as Jinzawi watched via satellite from the West Bank town of Jericho where he lives.

After Monday's breakup, Jinzawi left the room, then returned a few minutes later, wanting to know why she was ending the relationship and accusing her family of brainwashing her.

Her mother, Shawn Lester, told Jinzawi: "I'm so glad you're not in front of my face right now because they'd have to take me to jail. You're never going to touch her again."

After being intercepted, Lester was sent back to Michigan, where the Tuscola County prosecutor's office filed a runaway juvenile petition against her in family court. The petition was withdrawn under a deal with Lester and her parents.


TX - Mayor's petition forces issue on sex-offender law

View the article here

11/27/2007

MANSFIELD -- Mayor Barton Scott turned in a petition Monday that could force the city to adopt a sex-offender ordinance.

The petition contains 1,250 signatures, Scott said. If at least 950 are verified by the city secretary as the signatures of registered city voters, the City Council would have to either pass Scott's proposed ordinance or let voters decide in a May referendum, city spokeswoman Belinda Willis said.

The petition will be presented at the Dec. 10 council meeting, Willis said. Scott said he and his volunteers have checked the signatures against a registered voter list and predicted that at least 1,050 will be verified.

The council has rejected Scott's request for an ordinance three times, prompting him to initiate a petition drive last month. Scott said the fact that many other area cites have adopted sex-offender regulations makes it all the more important.

"Mansfield is a community of young families and small children, and we do not need to put out the welcome mat to sex offenders and child predators from other parts of North Texas," Scott said.

Critics said an ordinance would not protect children, pointing out that the vast majority of child molestations are committed by family members and family friends.

Scott's proposed ordinance would be much stricter than the one the council has rejected. It would forbid offenders convicted of sex crimes against children under age 14 from living within 2,000 feet of churches, playgrounds, schools, arcades, school bus stops and other places where children commonly gather.

Scott said the limits would allow registered sex offenders to live only in the most remote, undeveloped areas of the city. Offenders also could not visit any site listed as a place where children gather, and they could not loiter within 300 feet of those sites. The ordinance also would require that would-be neighbors be notified when an offender moves in nearby.

Opponents call the residency limits excessive and vulnerable to legal challenges. Councilman Darryl Haynes said he is concerned about the cost of lawsuits, especially amid current concerns about the city's ballooning legal expenses.

"I think now that we have a petition, we need to hire a constitutional professor or judge or someone who can look at it and advise us -- is this constitutional or challengeable, and what should we do?" Haynes said.

The council did not discuss the petition at Monday's regular meeting. Scott was elected in May on a platform that included creating a sex-offender ordinance.


GA - EDITORIAL: REGISTRY WITHOUT REASON: OUR OPINION: Low-risk, old on list: Reserve restrictions for the most dangerous

View the article here | Part 1 Of This Series

11/04/2007

SECOND OF A TWO-PART SERIES

Nobody would nominate Janet Allison for mother of the year. Her 15-year-old daughter ran wild and brought home a parade of older teenage boys, one of whom eventually got her pregnant. In a statement to social workers and police, the girl said her mother was aware of her sexual activity and did not intervene. Allison even allowed the 17-year-old boy who impregnated her daughter to move into their home.

But for those mistakes, Allison, 46, wasn't judged an unfit parent. Instead, White County Superior Court pronounced her a sex offender after she pled guilty in 2002 to being a party to the crimes of statutory rape and child molestation. She received 15 years probation and ordered to undergo sex-offender therapy.

Charges were dropped against the 17-year-old, who later married Allison's daughter. The couple has since separated and their son just turned 7; he has never met his grandmother.

"The only way I have seen any of my grandchildren are in pictures," she says. "I was afraid to have contact with them."

Allison is now one of the 14,572 people on the Georgia sex-offender registry, which prevents her from living or working near places where children are likely to congregate, including churches and schools.

"I could understand if they had charged me with having an unruly house," she says now. "But I didn't think I was a sex offender. I accept some of the responsibility for what happened. I should have paid more attention. But none of the boys who had sex with my daughter are on the registry. I am the only one."

As the state heaps more restrictions on the lives of sex offenders, the repercussions are being felt by even low-risk offenders such as Allison. The married mother of five has had to move twice to comply with registry restrictions and can't return to her restaurant job after the Legislature added limits on places of employment last year.

"I can't go back to work because there is a church across the street," Allison says. "The job is there waiting for me, but I just can't go to it."

Georgia's sex-offender registry has become a registry without reason, subjecting Allison and other low-level offenders to the same restrictions as dangerous pedophiles. Even for the truly dangerous, registry restrictions are ineffective in preventing the high-profile sex crimes against children that so alarm the public. Telling offenders that they can't work across the street from a school won't stop them from traveling outside their restricted areas to find victims.

The hard truth is that most child molesters don't have to leave home to victimize children; 80 to 90 percent of sex crimes against children are committed by a relative or family acquaintance.

"It makes no sense to make it so hard for offenders to find a place to live or work that they end up in a camper in the woods, unemployed and disconnected from treatment providers or anyone else who can keep an eye on them," says Lisa Kung, director of the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights. "People have lost their relationships and their children, and many of the people with more serious convictions have now moved to areas where treatment and support are not available."

The Southern Center for Human Rights filed a class-action suit in U.S. District Court last year challenging the residency and employment restrictions of the state's sex-offender law. Among its complaints: The registry grants no exemption for age or infirmity.

Convicted of statutory rape in 1997, Daniel Anderson is now an 82-year-old advanced Alzheimer's patient who lives with his wife of 62 years in Perry. He no longer recognizes his family and requires 24-hour care.

Anderson is past being a threat. Yet he was ordered to leave his home because it is within 1,000 feet of a church.

While the state may feel Anderson deserves further deprivation for his crime, the order to leave his home punishes his 78-year-old wife, who must find another place for the aging couple to live. A temporary court order has delayed their eviction.

"There's no place for people like Daniel Anderson if he's thrown out of his home," says Southern Center attorney Sarah Geraghty. "The only solution is going to be the county jail, where taxpayers will have to pay thousands of dollars in health care costs for him."

Georgia lawmakers admitted that their ultimate goal in piling on restrictions was to run sex offenders out of Georgia. The problem is that some offenders can't run. Or walk. The Southern Center has identified at least 56 people on the Georgia sex-offender registry in nursing homes, hospice or personal-care facilities.

While previous Georgia law barred sex offenders from living or loitering within 1,000 feet of schools, day care centers, parks, rec centers or skating rinks, last year lawmakers added churches, swimming pools and school bus stops to the list. (A court order has temporarily suspended the provision regarding school bus stops.) The new law also outlawed sex offenders from holding jobs near schools, day care centers or churches.

Statewide, deputies fanned out with eviction notices based on the new law. A 100-year-old man was ordered from his home because of a nearby church. Some elderly offenders don't even grasp what is happening to them, putting the onus on nursing home administrators and families to find alternative housing for these sick and dying people.

"Their advanced age and their disabilities make it impossible for them to find other places to live," says Geraghty.

In expanding the restrictions on where sex offenders can live and work, the General Assembly inadvertently undermined the ability of law enforcement to keep tabs on offenders. Because the law declares so many places off limits, sheriffs fear that sex offenders will stop registering and go underground rather than comply with rigid rules that force them to give up their homes, their jobs and their communities.

"The law is now written so that no one can live in the metro Atlanta area, especially the school bus stop provision," says DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown. "You can't take a man who was born and raised in the Bankhead Court area of Atlanta, lived there all his life and never been anywhere outside the city and think he is going to move to Turner County, Georgia, to comply with the sex offender registry."

Brown says the law should grant law enforcement officers more discretion in deciding who poses a public safety threat. "If you have a guy in a nursing home, we should be in the position to make the call on whether he needs to move. We should be able to apply common sense."

Of course, common sense has never been the Legislature's strength, particularly on this issue. Common sense would lead you to wonder why, under Georgia law, neighbors are alerted when a Janet Allison or Daniel Anderson relocates to the neighborhood, but they're not informed when someone released from jail for murder or identify theft moves into the house next door.

Common sense would also lead you to ask why more than 14,000 people are listed on Georgia sex offender registry, while the state has identified just 38 of those people as predators at risk for committing future violent acts.

Clearly, the state should do all it can within legal bounds to either keep those predators behind bars or safeguard the community from them. But there is a world of difference between them and Janet Allison; common sense says that the Legislature and the law need to recognize that distinction.

—- Maureen Downey, for the editorial board (mdowney@ajc.com)


CT - City to educate parents about online predators

View the article here

11/27/2007

School officials to hold workshop Thursday

DANBURY -- Children spend more and more time on the Internet -- not just at school, but at home and with friends -- so school officials want parents to know how to keep their children safe online.

That's the purpose of a workshop Thursday in Danbury. While the district has held such programs in schools before, this one is open to the public. It will run from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at Broadview Middle School.

"This is quite an eye-opener for parents," said Barbara Myers-Letson, the technology leader for the city's middle schools. "Part of it will be explaining how we protect the kids in school, and then School Resource Officer Bob DiNardo will talk about ways (parents) can protect the kids at home."

So many young people use social networking sites like MySpace that parents need to know what information children should not share, she added.

It's also important that parents and children have their facts right, said Janis Wolak, an associate professor at the Crimes against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire. "We found a lot of misinformation."

Most cases in which sexual predators are involved with minors on the Internet have teenage victims, not younger children, she said. Most of the offenders are candid about being adults and being interested in teens. Less than 5 percent of sexual predator incidents involve violence.

But Wolak acknowledged one of the few cases of violence happened in Danbury, when Christina Long, a student at St. Peter's School, was killed in May 2002 in the parking lot of the Danbury Fair mall by Saul dos Reis, a 24-year-old Greenwich man she met on the Internet.

"I want parents to emphasize what seduction is -- that (it) is kids willingly going with much older adults," she said. "We found one of every seven 10- to 17-year-olds have received some sort of unwanted sexual solicitation."

That statistic includes solicitations from other kids and most are mild incidents. The incidents involving adults are most often with someone the children know, an adult in their life or a neighbor or relative.

"I want parents to keep the crimes in perspective. Adolescent girls are victimized at a much higher rate than adults, but the majority (of perpetrators) are people they know," Wolak said.

Parents should teach their children that if they are online with someone and the conversation becomes sexual, it must be reported.

"They should know that when people start talking about sexual matters, alarm bells should go off," she said. "A lot of kids are not vulnerable, but there are other kids who are."

No matter what precautions and filters are in place at home, children can use the Internet in many different places, so they really must understand the guidelines.

Schools have strict guidelines for students' use of the Internet that are based on federal, state and local school district polices, Myers-Letson said.

Public schools that belong to the Connecticut Education Network receive prescreened Internet service, though local school personnel still monitor sites in case inappropriate ones gets through the filter. Local school districts also can block sites.

Parents must sign an "Acceptable Use" policy to allow their children to work online at school, and they can sign other forms to limit postings about the child on the school Web site.

"We want to get parents to understand what their kids are doing online," Myers-Letson said. "One part of that is understanding how predators target children, how they get into their confidence so the children let their guards down."

Contact Eileen FitzGerald at eileenf@newstimes.com or at (203) 731-3333.

Tips to keep kids safe on the Internet

Talk to child about sexual victimization and potential online danger.

Spend time with your children online. Learn their online destinations.

Keep the computer in a common room with the screen visible to another member of the household.

Use parental controls provided by your Internet service provider or blocking software.

Electronic chat rooms are places for children to make new friends and discuss topics of interest but are prowled by sex offenders.

Always maintain access to a child's online account and randomly check e-mail.

Instruct children to never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they met online.

Teach children to never upload pictures of themselves on the Internet or respond to messages or bulletin board postings.


CA - Viability of sex-offender law in doubt

View the article here | PDF Map

11/27/2007

The lifetime GPS monitoring ordered by Prop. 83 may be too costly and complex to ever fully implement.

SACRAMENTO - Law enforcement leaders who pushed for a ballot initiative requiring sex offenders in California to be tracked by satellite for life are now saying that the sweeping surveillance program voters endorsed is not feasible and is unlikely to be fully implemented for years, if ever.

Under the measure, approved overwhelmingly a year ago, sex offenders must be strapped with global positioning system devices that can record their whereabouts even after they finish parole and leave the criminal justice system.

Despite their qualms, law enforcement groups contend that the benefits of Proposition 83, popularly known as Jessica's Law, outweigh its problems, and they insist that many of the flaws can be fixed. But in interviews and testimony to a state board, they have cited complications with almost every aspect of the provision requiring lifetime monitoring.

The difficulties include the impracticality of tracking sex offenders who no longer must report to parole or probation officers, the lack of any penalty for those who refuse to cooperate with monitoring and the question of whether such widespread tracking is effective in protecting the public.

The biggest issue, however, is that the law does not specify which agency or government should monitor felony sex offenders -- and shoulder hundreds of millions of dollars a year in related costs.

Only a small percentage of the 65,000 sex offenders thought to be living in communities throughout the state are subject to the law, but the numbers are expected to grow by thousands every year as more offenders are released from prison.

As a result, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state law enforcement leaders, who were allied in backing the measure, are engaged in a standoff over who should bear its financial burden.

"I don't know of any agency that has the resources to track and monitor . . . in real time," said Vacaville Police Chief Richard Word, president of the California Police Chiefs Assn. "You'll need an air traffic controller to track these folks."

Word and other law enforcement leaders said the global positioning system satellite technology probably would never be used for full-time electronic surveillance of sex offenders as the law suggests. They said GPS is more effective for acting on tips about potential crimes or investigating incidents that have already occurred than for blanket monitoring that reveals a location as a blip on a map but not what the subject is doing there.

The state's new Sex Offender Management Board, which began meeting during the summer, is taking testimony from local officials and others for a report due in January on how the law works in practice and what changes might need to be made.

"We've heard significant concerns with how monitoring would be implemented and how it would be paid for," Suzanne Brown-McBride, the board's chairwoman, said in an interview.

Sensitive issue

Criticizing the law is a sensitive matter because 70% of voters endorsed Proposition 83, an indication of strong public sentiment in favor of harsh treatment for sex offenders. Schwarzenegger, former state Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer and law enforcement groups throughout the state supported the measure, and public officials have been reluctant to acknowledge its faults.

Tom Tobin, a psychologist who works with sex offenders and sits on the state board, said the law's defects are like the fabled emperor's new clothes: Everyone is afraid to state the obvious.

"We are in the jungle -- totally uncharted territory, legally and every other way," Tobin said at a recent board meeting.

Though they have not yet published their findings, some members of the state board already appear disenchanted with the law.

Janet Gaard, an assistant state attorney general, told colleagues that Proposition 83 appeared to be "a flawed law," and that its former supporters could still correct the public's misunderstanding of it if they were to mount a new campaign.

"We have the ability to persuade the public and say, 'Maybe we made a mistake,' " Gaard said.

The state corrections department is the only California agency enforcing the GPS requirement, with an intensive and expensive caseload of 20 sex offenders for each parole agent.

Even so, corrections officials have not been able to get their program fully up and running yet. They say that of the roughly 3,000 offenders who are supposed to be monitored, about 2,000 are wearing the devices, and the number of eligible is rising quickly: State officials say 500 to 700 more sex offenders leave prison each month and become subject to the law.

Corrections analysts estimate that it costs the state up to $33 a day in equipment and labor to monitor a sex offender by GPS, and it would take nearly $90 million a year just to track the 9,000 now on parole if all were subject to Proposition 83.

Once offenders are discharged from parole, the state will no longer monitor them electronically, Corrections Secretary James Tilton said last month, because his department lacks jurisdiction at that point. The agency also is overextended, with an overcrowded prison system under review by the federal courts.

Nick Warner, a lobbyist and spokesman for the California State Sheriffs' Assn., said the state's refusal to monitor sex offenders after parole "passes the buck to local law enforcement, who are not equipped to handle them." He said the state was "setting up communities to fail" and predicted that the matter would end up in court.

Schwarzenegger, who faces a $10-billion state budget gap next year, said through spokesman Bill Maile that he would wait for the sex offender board to address the question of who should fund lifetime GPS tracking before taking a position on the issue.

Maile said the governor would coordinate with local officials to make "whatever fixes are necessary to carry out the will of the voters."

State Sen. George Runner (R-Lancaster), one of the law's authors, has said he intended for the state to pay the tab. Runner, a frequent critic of government spending, tucked a clause into the end of an unrelated initiative he proposed this month that would require the state to reimburse local governments for all GPS monitoring, including for sex offenders. That measure is not in circulation yet.

Apart from the funding question is the issue of how to track sex offenders for life.

Not equipped for the job

At the sex offender board's recent meeting, Chief Carey Sullivan of the Woodland Police Department testified that local police and sheriff's deputies are not trained to monitor criminals the way parole agents or probation officers do.

Sullivan, speaking on behalf of state police chiefs, said the problem with enforcing lifetime GPS tracking is that the law provides no sanctions if offenders cut the units from their ankles or refuse to keep them charged after leaving parole.

If a sex offender travels from one city to another, or outside the state -- as they are free to do once dismissed from parole -- it would be "tremendously difficult" for local authorities to continue to track them where they have no jurisdiction, he said.

Overall, Sullivan said, GPS is "just one tool in a very large tool bag" and does not enable police to exert complete control over sex offenders.

"I think that is an extremely misleading perception that people have," he said. "We would have been far better off with lifetime parole or probation than . . . with lifetime GPS."

In an informal survey by the Chief Probation Officers of California presented by Jerry Powers, head of probation in Stanislaus County and a member of the sex offender board, only five of 37 agencies that responded reported using GPS at all, and in very low numbers. Orange County reported that it had only 15 devices, and Stanislaus reported 10.

Powers said some would like to use GPS for other offenders, such as gang members.

Powers told his colleagues that it would be "ludicrous" to think that local agencies would voluntarily monitor all sex offenders by satellite.

"It would bankrupt any of our systems very quickly," he said.


CO - Former Evans cops files sexual harassment lawsuit

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11/27/2007

A former Evans police officer alleges other employees of the department sexually harassed her, including focusing on her body parts with an infrared camera, during her eight years on the force.

In a lawsuit she filed recently in U.S. District Court, Anjanette L. Quinn names the Evans Police Department, former interim chief Leo Carillo, former police Lt. Gary Kessler and Lt. Mike Parkos as defendants in the case. Quinn is asking for a jury trial.

She began working at the Evans department in 1999 and was terminated early this year.

Quinn said she was constantly harassed by some officers and superiors at the department and the interim chief didn't act to stop the behavior, according to her complaint.

Evans police said they couldn't comment on the case.

Quinn maintains in her lawsuit that she was sexually harassed and discriminated against because she was a female police officer.

Among the charges listed in the lawsuit:

* She was told continuously that to be trusted in the department, she and other female employees had to accept sexually explicit conduct, including sexual talk and computer messages.

* She applied for a sergeant's position in 2006 but was told by an administrator that the department was "not ready for a female sergeant."

* Some command staff members and other officers asked her to watch pornographic videos on their department computers.

* She said she was asked by a command staff member to engage in oral sex with him, and he also "repeatedly asked her what her favorite sexual positions, sexual toys were ..."

* Quinn stated in the lawsuit that an Evans police sergeant aimed an infrared camera at her and said he was able to see her breasts and vaginal area.

Quinn said that in November 2006, she received a letter of reprimand, but when she objected to the letter as retaliatory because of her complaints of sexual harassment, the letter was withdrawn.

Last February, Quinn was placed on administrative leave from the department for improper computer usage. She was terminated in April for what Quinn stated was an investigation intentionally slanted against her.

"Other employees of the EPD have routinely engaged in the same conduct and were ... never investigated or were minimally disciplined," the complaint states.

Quinn also said that since she left the department, she hasn't been able to find another job.

Lt. Kessler resigned from the department earlier this year because of an accusation that he taped a discussion between a defendant and his attorney. Carillo left the department after new Chief Rick Brandt took the job. Parkos is still a lieutenant in the department.

When asked for comment, Parkos said he couldn't comment and said questions should be directed to Brandt.

Brandt said that because it's civil litigation, a personnel matter, and allegedly occurred prior to his arrival at the department, he couldn't comment on the case.

Kessler was not available for comment.

Quinn's attorney, Elizabeth Lamb Kearney of Berthoud did not return calls Monday.


WA - Former Tacoma cop, girlfriend plead guilty to child rape

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11/26/2007

A retired Tacoma police officer and his girlfriend face what could amount to life sentences after pleading guilty to child-sex crimes. Pierce County Superior Court Judge Bryan Chushcoff accepted the pleas of Lee William Giles Jr. and Maureen Elizabeth Wear on Monday.

Giles, 63, and Wear, 47, each pleaded guilty to one count each of first-degree child rape, second-degree child rape, first-degree child molestation and third-degree assault.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys will recommend sentences of just more than 19 years in prison for both defendants.

But the terms of confinement will be left open-ended. That means Giles and Wear can’t be released from prison until they serve the 19 years and a state review board then decides they are no longer a threat to society, deputy prosecutor John Sheeran said.

Chushcoff will sentence Giles on Jan. 4. Wear’s sentencing was set for Dec. 28.

Sheeran said he was willing to make a deal with the pair to guarantee a conviction and spare the victims the trauma of going through a public trial.

Giles had been charged with 26 crimes, Wear with 17.

“There would have been a lot of graphic evidence introduced had the case gone to trial,” he said. “The victims’ families are supportive of this resolution.”

The investigation began after a male relative of Wear’s told authorities he’d been abused by the couple for years.

Detectives searched the retired police officer’s home on North Proctor Street and seized videotapes that showed Giles and Wear sexually abusing the boy and two girls related to Giles, according to court records. The victims ranged in age from 3 to 16, the records state.

The crimes were particularly shocking because Giles was for years the face of the police department, reaching out to the community on radio, television and through the schools.

Among other duties during his 30-year career, Giles was assigned to the “Harvey, the Talking Motorcyle” program, a police program in elementary schools aimed at making officers less scary.

In court Monday, a haggard-looking Giles – who wore his long, white hair in a ponytail – answered Chushcoff’s questions in a quiet voice and replied, “Guilty, sir,” four times when the judge asked him how he intended to plead to the reduced charges.

He then was led back to the Pierce County Jail, where he’s been since his arrest.

Giles’ attorney, Michael Schwartz, said after court that his client took the deal to “not only put this behind him but put it behind the members of his family as well.

Wear’s attorney, Bret Purtzer, said his client likewise took the deal to “get out of this disaster” and give herself a chance to one day walk out of prison.


CA - Registered sex offender victim of fatal stabbing

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More proof the public cannot handle the registry in a civilized manner, due to the hysteria.

11/26/2007

LAKEPORT -- The victim of a homicide last Tuesday morning had served time behind bars for sex offenses he committed prior to 2001, the Lake County Sheriff's Department (LCSD) confirmed. He also was committed to a maximum-security hospital reserved for patients who are categorized as sexually violent predators, mentally ill, not guilty by reason of insanity or incompetent to stand trial.

The murder of Michael A. Dodele, 67, took place in his residence at Lakeport's Western Hills Mobile Home Park on Lakeshore Boulevard. Dodele, who also went by the alias Michael Salta, was dead when deputies arrived shortly after 10 a.m.

"Dodele was a registered sex offender but his status as such has no impact on the manner in which we conduct the investigation," Lake County Sheriff Rodney Mitchell said Monday.

Dodele was convicted by Sonoma County Superior Court on Nov. 29, 2001 for rape by force and oral copulation with a person under 14. He was listed as a registered sex offender on the office of the Attorney General's Megan's Law Web site. Dodele was in compliance with his registration and was listed at the Lakeshore residence where he was found dead.

The only suspect, Ivan Garcia Oliver, 29, was booked on suspicion of murder and parole violation. Oliver had previously been convicted of assault with a deadly weapon in San Diego County. No other arrests were made. "We do not anticipate that our investigation will reveal any others (suspects)," Mitchell said.

Witnesses reported hearing the victim and suspect arguing before Oliver was seen leaving Dodele's residence that morning with blood on his hands and clothing. Deputies arrived at Oliver's residence and immediately detained him. At that time, Oliver made several incriminating comments, essentially admitting to attacking Dodele, LCSD said.

Oliver was taken to Sutter Lakeside Hospital and treated for a minor cut on his hand before being booked at LCSD's jail, where he is currently being held.

A knife believed to be the murder weapon was recovered at the scene, according to reports from the Press Democrat. An autopsy set for today will determine the cause of death.

The investigation is ongoing. Mitchell estimates more than 200 staff hours were spent investigating the case. "I am satisfied with the progress of the investigation and proud of the way that my staff has handled this case. I am confident that we will submit a solid case to the district attorney for prosecution," Mitchell said.


NE - Some Sex Offenders Not Listed On Registry

So they are 13 months behind on appeals. So if you are a sex offender, appeal it, and you can stay where you are until the appeal is over with... Overload the court system, then maybe they'll get the picture!


IA - Evidence mounts: Sex-offender residency laws flawed

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11/26/2007

Law enforcement officials nationwide say current rules don't prevent crime

So, just how many sex offenders end up without a place to legally call home? USA TODAY explored exactly that in an investigative report published last week. Not every state allows sex offenders to register themselves as homeless. Wisconsin law, for example, says one must put down an address.

But in more than three dozen states, offenders list places like, "in the woods behind Wal-Mart" or "under a bridge" as their permanent address. In Iowa, only a handful register as homeless. Hundreds more fail to register at all. But homelessness in particular is a concern to law enforcement. A sex offender without a stable home environment is more likely to reoffend. And few lifestyles are more unstable than that of a homeless person.

In Illinois, 110 convicted sex offenders list their address as homeless. In California, 2,622 are transient. At least 26 states have sex offender residency requirements like Iowa's. None of the law enforcement officials interviewed by USA Today found the laws to be effective in preventing sex crimes. The laws, in general, don't keep predators away from kids. The rules apply to where sex offenders sleep at night, not where they go during the day.

The report adds further evidence to what local and state law enforcement officials have been saying for years: Prohibiting where sex offenders can go would be more effective than drastically limiting where they can live.

As the unfortunate, protracted contract dispute between The Finley Hospital and its unionized nurses drags on in its second year, it's refreshing to note that not all labor negotiations are like that.

For example, A.Y. McDonald Mfg. Co. and its workers represented by several unions reached a five-year contract - seven months before the current contract is due to expire. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 1238, and the Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics & Allied Workers International Union Local 263B represents about 225 employees. The contract includes a general wage increase in each of the five years, a one-time lump sum payment and continues a cost-of-living provision. The contract also provides for improvements in the health and welfare area, life insurance, holidays and pension provisions.

Kudos to A.Y. McDonald and its union representatives for hammering out a contract so efficiently. It's a pleasant reminder that labor and management can work together for the betterment of a company. We'll hold out hope that Finley and the nurses of Service Employees International Union Local 199 will somehow work out their differences.

Seems the city had to do a little rewriting to make the ban on strip clubs in Dubuque stick.

You can't, apparently, just say no to strip clubs. Strip clubs have rights, too. The Supreme Court said so. What you can do, the city legal team believes, is amend the ordinance from a complete ban on all new adult-entertainment establishments to a ban on only those 2,000 feet from an existing one. That would keep Dubuque's newest adult establishment from proliferating into, well, shall we say, a sort of "strip mall."

While we're at it, why stop there? We seem to like 2,000-foot bans. Let's make it like the sex offender residency requirement. No strip bars within 2,000 feet of a school or day care center. That, we know, would pretty much diminish the possibility of a strip club boom. As we've learned from the quandary of sex offenders, that law leaves few places offenders (or strip clubs) can legally call home.

Editorials reflect the consensus of the Telegraph Herald Editorial Board: Jim Normandin (publisher), Brian Cooper, Ken Brown, Monty Gilles, Amy Gilligan and Sharon Welborn.


GA - Judge, DA Agree to Deal in Teen Sex Case

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11/27/2007

Man whose case resembled Genarlow Wilson's allowed out after four years in prison; state high court had upheld 10-year sentence

Like Genarlow Wilson, Joshua Widner received a mandatory 10-year sentence for nonforcible sexual activity with a fellow teenager.

Like Wilson, Widner argued through his lawyer at the Supreme Court of Georgia that his sentence was unconstitutionally cruel and unusual.

Widner last year lost in a unanimous decision from the high court, while Wilson last month prevailed in a 4-3 ruling. One key difference between the cases, the court's majority said, was that Widner was about 4 1/2 years older than the 14-year-old girl involved in his case, while Wilson was about two years older than the 15-year-old girl in his case.

But on Monday, a Henry County, Ga., judge signed off on a plea deal that will allow Widner out of prison within days, less than five years into his sentence.

Given that the high court seemed to go out of its way to show how Widner could not benefit from Wilson's case, Henry County District Attorney Tommy K. Floyd was under no legal pressure caused by the Wilson decision.

"I don't want to get into that," Floyd said when asked in a brief telephone interview Monday about the effect of the Wilson ruling on his decision.

"We thought it was the right thing to do is really all I can tell you, as did the victim and the victim's mother," said Floyd, who sat perched in the jury box during Monday's calendar call.

But it seems unlikely that the timing was coincidental.

"This decision by the state occurred about a month ago," Assistant District Attorney Blair D. Mahaffey told Henry County Superior Court Judge Arch W. McGarity at Monday's hearing. "Mr. Floyd and I began talking about things that had been going on in this case and other cases around the state."

One of Widner's attorneys, J. Scott Key, said Mahaffey approached him the Monday after the Supreme Court issued its decision in favor of Wilson. "He just felt bad about what had happened," Key said after Monday's hearing.

"They approached me," Key said of prosecutors. "I wish I could say I ran in there and strong-armed them."

Key filed an extraordinary motion for a new trial. McGarity granted the motion earlier this month, permitting Widner to enter a new plea. On Monday, Widner pleaded guilty to child molestation and statutory rape -- charges that while serious, do not carry the mandatory 10-year minimum attached to the aggravated child molestation conviction. For the new charges, he received a sentence of 10 years to serve four, with credit for time served. He's to have no contact with the young woman involved in his case or her family.

The deal taken by Widner isn't much better than prosecutors offered Wilson, as Wilson's case received national attention this past summer, with civil rights groups calling for his release.

Wilson's lawyer, B.J. Bernstein of Atlanta, said Monday that prosecutors continued to offer Wilson a deal in which he would have served five years in jail. Widner has been incarcerated for about 4 1/2 years, since March 2003, according to Key.

Widner still will need to register as a sex offender, McGarity explained to him. That was a primary complaint by Wilson's supporters about his sentence.

Asked about the sex offender registry, Widner's lawyers said they didn't think they should look a gift horse in the mouth.

And while McGarity conducted the standard plea colloquy with Widner on Monday, explaining the rights that Widner was giving up by pleading guilty, he told Widner "they'd have to psychologically evaluate" the young man if he changed his mind about agreeing to the deal.

McGarity said in court Monday that Widner's was the first extraordinary motion for a new trial that he's ever granted in his 12-year career on the bench -- and that he had indicated previously he would grant it if the victim agreed.

"I feel like somebody needs to step in," McGarity said from the bench.

According to the 2006 Supreme Court decision upholding his convictions and sentence, Widner was 18 when he convinced a 14-year-old girl "to agree to have sex with him and another male friend at the same time" in December 2002. Widner engaged in acts of both oral sex and sexual intercourse with the girl, according to that opinion.

Key said last year that Widner and the girl had met at a bar or restaurant in Griffin. The girl snuck out of her house and met Widner at his home on the night of the incident, Key said then. Both Widner and the young woman refused to identify to authorities the other man involved, according to Key.

Floyd said last year that the girl's mother had previously spoken with Widner about leaving her daughter alone -- a conversation Key said his client denied ever occurred -- and was the one who called police to report Widner. The DA's office never made a plea offer before trial, Floyd said Monday.

Another of Widner's lawyers, Mercer University Law assistant professor Sarah L. Gerwig-Moore, said the young woman's parents were "driving the train" in the case. The young girl said all along that she had lied to Widner about her age and didn't want him in jail, said Gerwig-Moore.

But a jury convicted him, and he found no relief at the Georgia Supreme Court. In June 2006, the court issued a unanimous decision shooting down his appeal.

Justice Harold D. Melton's opinion characterized Widner's cruel and unusual punishment argument as asking for "special treatment." It acknowledged that within days a new statute would become the law -- making a person convicted of aggravated child molestation based upon an act of sodomy guilty of only a misdemeanor when the victim is at least 13 but less than 16 years of age and the convicted person is 18 years of age or younger and no more than four years older than the victim. But, wrote Melton, because this revision wouldn't go into effect until after Widner was sentenced, it couldn't help him.

When Bernstein came before the Supreme Court to argue Wilson's case in July, she attempted to draw distinctions between the underlying facts in the Widner and Wilson cases while admitting her "ideal" outcome would be if the court overruled its decision in Widner.

Wilson's case stemmed from a New Year's Eve party in a motel room in December 2003, when Wilson was 17. A jury acquitted Wilson of charges that he raped a 17-year-old girl but convicted him of aggravated child molestation based on what the Supreme Court's majority called "consensual" oral sex with a 15-year-old girl.

In its opinion upholding a habeas court's decision that Wilson's 10-year sentence was cruel and unusual punishment, the court didn't back away from its decision in the Widner case. Instead, it distinguished it, noting that while Widner was 18 1/2 years old at the time of the incident in question, the young lady involved had turned 14 only five days before, making the 2006 amendment to the child molestation law inapplicable to Widner's case.

Gerwig-Moore said that she was happy for Wilson, but she clearly was dismayed by how the court treated her client's case in its opinion. She said she has no idea where the court got Widner's date of birth, which she said was available in neither the record in his case nor on the Department of Corrections' Web site.

In contrast with Widner's case, which has gotten minimal media attention, Wilson's case was high profile, with Wilson getting support from politicians and editorial boards. Key said his approach to the Widner case has been to make a good argument, write a good brief and trust the legal system to work, but given Bernstein's success with her client's high-profile case, he'll reconsider how he approaches certain cases.

For his part, Widner is expected to go live with his grandparents in Hampton. Among the handful of family and friends in the courtroom Monday was Widner's grandmother, Betty Norton.

She said she has followed Wilson's case and is "proud for him" and his family. Norton said she's seen some fairness in following her grandson's case -- and some unfairness, too, noting that her grandson will need to register as a sex offender.

But Monday was clearly a happy day for Widner's lawyers and family, who exchanged hugs and handshakes after the hearing. "I have a God that's very powerful," said Norton, "and he does answer prayers."