Friday, March 14, 2008

OR - Disgusted Ore. senators craft new laws in wake of lewd Target attack

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More knee-jerk reactions to something, that is not going to prevent further crimes of this nature.

03/14/2008

SALEM – A lewd act committed at a Target store last weekend made two state senators so angry that they have crafted tougher laws in response to the incident.

“This disgusting and outrageous act warrants tougher criminal penalties,” said State Representative Linda Flores (R-Clackamas).

A 25-year old Gladstone man was arrested earlier this week after he allegedly ejaculated on a female shopper.

Flores and State Representative Scott Bruun (R-West Linn) joined forces to sponsor legislation for 2009 which will increase punishments.

“The crime committed at Target this week was cruel and malicious. Clearly, our current law against this type of act is wholly inadequate," Bruun said.

Background: Suspect turns himself in after lewd act

Authorities believe the suspect, Ricardo Faulk, somehow deposited the substance on a 31-year old mother while her 3-year old child was with her at the Target on SE Sunnyside Road in Clackamas on Saturday afternoon.

Investigators released surveillance video of the man leaving the store and he turned himself in on Tuesday. Faulk was booked in the Clackamas County Jail and released. He was charged with harassment, a Class B misdemeanor, which carries a maximum 6 month jail sentence and $2,500 fine.

Representatives Flores and Bruun asked Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts to assist them in elevating the penalties.

“Clearly the consequences of being charged with the crime of harassment doesn’t match the true gravity of this crime,” stated Roberts. “I believe it’s a serious enough matter warranting further discussion with the legislature, district attorneys and law enforcement.”

Other potential charges under present law include disorderly conduct and public indecency, however both are misdemeanors and do not require the suspect to register as a sex offender.

Flores and Bruun instructed the Legislative Counsel’s Office to draft a bill for the 2009 Session which would enhance the law to include possible felony charges for assault, sex abuse or public indecency.

“I think we should seriously consider a conviction for this type of behavior to require registration as a sex offender,” explained Flores, who is a member of the House Judiciary Committee.

"I look forward to working on legislation that will punish crimes such as this in an expeditious and severe manner,” Bruun added.

“This crime is appalling and will certainly have lasting effects on the victim,” said Sheriff Roberts. “Also, not to be overlooked are the potential physical consequences a person experiences from being exposed to the transference of bodily fluids. This is a serious crime.”

The Clackamas County Circuit court may order Faulk to be tested to see if he carries any infectious diseases. His next court appearance was scheduled for April 9th.


TX - Mansfield Neighborhood Weighs Sex Offender Law

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Video is available at the site. The news sounds more and more like a WITCH HUNT doesn't it?

03/14/2008

MANSFIELD (CBS 11 News) ― A neighborhood in Mansfield is divided over the past of one resident. He is a registered sex offender, and some nearby homeowners want the city to take another look at a controversial sex offender law that would force the man out.

Brett Bryant was convicted of raping an 11-year-old girl in the early 1990s and served 10 years in jail. He is now, under state law, allowed to live in the Mansfield neighborhood, but neighbors have banded together to let him know that he is not welcome.

When the father of an 11-year-old girl learned that a convicted sex offender had moved into a house down the street, he became furious. He not only went to the city to demand changes in the law, but he began to get the neighborhood organized against the man.

"When you have a neighborhood full of children, and then you have someone who has such a violent past in terms of aggravated sexual assault to children, I don't think that's a good mix," said resident Steve Kyle. "In fact, that's one of the questions that we have as a community, and that is, with somebody with that type of background, how can they just be put back into an environment where there's so many children?"

The neighborhood held a meeting near Bryant's home to plan a neighborhood watch. There was a reported verbal confrontation with Bryant.

While nobody welcomes his presence, not everyone in the neighborhood agrees with the tactics.

"I personally don't agree with having a meeting on your front lawn, two doors down from the gentleman, where he's living, to be on a witch hunt to get him out," said Carla Henson. "It all boils down to the parent protecting the child."

"If someone has an issue with him or her, then that's what should be concentrated on, and that's all," said Kim Graham. "You don't have to bring up the past. You don't bring up any other incidents. We're only dealing with this person in this situation, and that's the way it should be."

However, neighbor Joe Davis contends, "He's got rights, but we do too, and we can make it well-known that we don't want him here."

The last time that the Mansfield City Council looked at sex offender ordinances, the debate became heated and the mayor lost his job. Some do not want to go through that again, however, the issue could be brought up again later in the month.


SD - Protect South Dakotans from HIV: Don't pass SB 65

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02/06/2008

Why is SB65, the proposed HIV sex offender registry law, bad public health policy?

Published in Rapid City Journal

By Rebecca Schleifer and Sarah Tofte

In January, South Dakota's state Senate voted unanimously in favor of SB65, a bill mandating that people who intentionally expose others to HIV be registered as sex offenders. While the senators may have had noble intentions, SB65 is precisely the type of "quick fix" legislation that could actually impair efforts to fight HIV - while doing little to punish those who maliciously spread the disease. The House Judiciary Committee, currently considering the bill, should therefore reject it.

Given the recent increase in HIV infections in South Dakota, it's understandable that legislators would want to take forceful action to protect the public against HIV, but this bill won't do that. If South Dakota's legislature really wants to combat HIV, it should repeal the law criminalizing HIV exposure, and limit prosecutions to those cases where people acted with malicious intent to transmit HIV.

There is no evidence that criminalizing HIV exposure is effective in reducing HIV transmission. In fact, it may impede HIV prevention efforts. Criminalizing exposure may deter people from getting tested, since ignorance of HIV status is a defense under South Dakota law. This, in turn, deters people from getting tested, and if they don't know their HIV status, they can't take steps to obtain treatment, care, and support, and keep from infecting others. In addition, criminalizing HIV exposure may also may keep people from disclosing their HIV status to health care providers and other health professionals for fear it may be used against them in the criminal justice system.

Women account for 35 percent of HIV cases in South Dakota. Many women cannot refuse sex or insist on condom use and risk being beaten or abandoned if they reveal they are HIV-positive to their husbands or boyfriends. They may face punishment under SB65 even if they never transmit the virus, and may drop out of the public health system altogether as a result.

South Dakota already prosecutes those who expose others to HIV - with penalties of up to 15 years in jail. SB65 would extend this penalty to require registration as a sex offender. But, there is no evidence that sex offender registries actually prevent sex crimes. To make matters worse, our recent research on sex offender registries shows that they make it nearly impossible for registrants to safely re-integrate into the community. People included on sex offender registries endure shattered privacy, social ostracism, diminished employment and housing opportunities, harassment, and even vigilante violence. Their families suffer as well.

The HIV status of people registered under SB65 will be broadcast to all South Dakotans, and indeed, throughout the world. This means that these registrants will face the double stigma of being publicly branded as HIV-positive sex offenders. What better way to deter someone from getting tested for HIV in the first place?

There is a place for criminal justice approaches and a place for public health leadership. If legislators really want to protect South Dakotans from HIV, they should support policies to ensure that all South Dakotans have access to affordable, safe, and confidential HIV testing and treatment, and to complete, accurate information about HIV prevention. That would make South Dakota a real leader in the fight against HIV.

Rebecca Schleifer is an advocate with the HIV/AIDS and Human Rights Program and Sarah Tofte a researcher with the US Program at Human Rights Watch and author of "No Easy Answers: Sex Offender Laws in the US."


FL - Debra Lafave's attorney asks to end her house arrest

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03/14/2008

TAMPA -- The attorney for former teacher Debra Lafave has filed a motion to end the convicted sexual offender's house arrest.

The former Greco Middle School teacher pleaded guilty to having sex with a 14-year-old student and was sentenced in November 2005 to three years of house arrest and seven years of probation.

Lafave is allowed, as part of the plea agreement, to ask that the third year of house arrest to be converted to straight probation.

Lafave, 27, has completed almost 28 months of the house arrest to date.

A judge is scheduled to hear her request on April 8.


IN - Indiana Governor Signs Tarra’s Law

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And yet another law in a child's name. How many do we need? And why humanize laws?

03/14/2008

A bill named for a local teen who police said was killed by a convicted sex offender has been signed into law.

On Thursday, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (Contact) signed what is known as Tarra’s Law. The bill was written after the death of 16-year-old Tarra Pickett.

Investigators said Pickett was killed by convicted sex offender Leonard Dickey who was out of jail on bond when Pickett was killed.

The bill would give courts in Indiana the authority to raise bail in cases concerning sexually violent predators who are considered at high risk of relapsing into crime.


Bad news travels fast, and furiously - In this Internet age, warp speed to infamy for politicians in scandal

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03/14/2008

Sex scandals have been tainting American politicians and titillating the public for nearly as long as there have been American politicians and publics. In 1797, former Treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton confessed to a long affair with the married Maria Reynolds after a pamphleteer published the couple's love letters. The episode dented Hamilton's reputation at the time, but hasn't damaged his standing as a Founding Father.

What's changed since then -- indeed, what's changed in just the past decade or so -- is the ability of any politician to survive tawdry, indecent or even criminal behavior of a sexual nature.

What New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer discovered this week is also what a host of elected philanderers, fondlers, sexual harassers and call-girl clients have found out in recent years: News of unsavory doings travels so widely and so fast nowadays that the pressure on the accused can quickly become overwhelming. As a result, compared with the pre-Internet era, politicians are less likely than ever to survive a sex scandal with their careers intact.

The news about Spitzer came on "like an explosion, which clearly shows you the warp speed that information is capable of traveling in a wired world," says Tom Fiedler, a lecturer at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Such speed "forces [the accused] to make decisions more quickly. You can't sit back and reflect."

The career of Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) was vaporized almost from the instant his salacious instant messages to an underage congressional page were revealed in 2006. New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey (D) was out not long after his alleged affair with a male government employee came to light. In 2004, Rep. Ed Schrock (R-Va.) abruptly quit his reelection campaign just days after revelations that he had placed a personal ad with a phone service that arranges liaisons for gay men. Rep. Gary Condit (D-Calif.) didn't survive the primary after the Chandra Levy affair.

Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) said he would quit after news spread of his airport bathroom arrest last year, but he apparently changed his mind and remains in office.

Similarly, Bob Livingston's dreams of becoming speaker of the House imploded once news of his extramarital relations became public in 1998, amid the Clinton impeachment hearings. (Livingston's successor in Louisiana, then-Rep. David Vitter, was later linked to the D.C. Madam prostitution case; now a senator, Vitter remains in office.)

And Republican Jack Ryan might be the junior senator from Illinois today if it hadn't been for his peculiar tastes in entertainment; his ex-wife, actress Jeri Ryan, testified in divorce proceedings that her husband took her to sex clubs and asked her to have sex in front of other patrons. The story killed Ryan's election chances in 2004, paving the way to victory for a then-obscure state senator named Barack Obama.

Career mortality rate on rise
All those episodes occurred after the biggest sex scandal to hit since the emergence of the Internet: President Bill Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky, which besmirched his legacy, though he did finish his second term. Since Clinton's impeachment, the career mortality rate for politicians involved in a sex scandal has risen.

Scandal-tinged pols get deep-sixed faster than ever because of "the pace of the news moves so much faster," says Amy Fried of the University of Maine, who has studied political scandals. Cable news puts a story front and center for hours, and sometimes days, on end; Fried says she was receiving e-jokes about Spitzer via e-mail just hours after the story broke.

At the same time, the Internet connects people to news that they would never have known about just a few years ago, Fried points out. Before of the Internet, Fried says, few people might have noticed that an Obama adviser, Samantha Power, had called Hillary Clinton "a monster" in an interview with a Scottish newspaper. Now, they not only hear about it, they can read the interview with two clicks of a mouse.

Harvard's Fiedler was involved in one of the few pre-Clinton scandals that moved with lightning speed. In 1987, he was one of the two Miami Herald reporters who disclosed Sen. Gary Hart's relationship with Donna Rice. Within a week of the revelation, Hart quit the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

But contrast the near-instant disappearance of Spitzer with the more typical experiences of, say, Reps. Dan Crane (R-Ill.) and Gerry Studds (D-Mass.). Both men were censured by the House in 1983 for their respective affairs with congressional pages -- Crane with a 17-year-old girl, Studds with a 17-year-old boy.

Disclosure of a lesser transgression -- sending salacious e-mails to a page -- got Foley drummed out of Congress in a matter of days in 2006. But Crane survived, and Studds thrived. Crane apologized and managed to serve out his term, although he lost his bid for reelection in 1984. Studds, who admitted "a very serious error in judgment," continued to win reelection until his retirement from Congress in 1997.

Not all scandals created equal
Not all sexual scandals are created equal, of course. An informal list of some 50 scandals over the past 30 years involving sexual misconduct by high officials (a president, a Supreme Court nominee, members of Congress, governors, big-city mayors) includes a range of behaviors or suspected behaviors, such as having an extramarital affair, soliciting a prostitute, having sex with a minor, sexual harassment or fathering an illegitimate child. Of those, voters are most willing to forgive a philandering politician, says Frank Mankiewicz, who managed then-Sen. George McGovern's 1972 presidential campaign.

"An affair at least suggests romance, even if it's very hard on the [non-cheating] spouse," says Mankiewicz, who is vice chairman of Hill & Knowlton, a public-affairs firm. Which is why, he says, Rudy Giuliani's political career survived his very public affair with (now wife) Judith Nathan while he was mayor of New York, yet Spitzer's alleged involvement with a high-priced call girl will end his career.

An additional factor, Mankiewicz says, is the degree of hypocrisy involved. "People said if Eliot Spitzer had been Edwin Edwards [the scandal-plagued former governor of Louisiana], he would have survived. If you've always been a bit of rogue, people are willing to say, 'Oh, that's just him.' But Spitzer was a stickler for rectitude," a candidate who ran on his law-and-order record.

Fiedler reduces this to a formula, saying, "The sharper the divergence between an official's public image and his private reality, the faster his fall."

He also cites a comment ascribed to Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who overcame a controversy about his involvement with a gay prostitute in the late 1980s: "Everyone in public life is entitled to privacy but no one in public life is entitled to hypocrisy."


AU - The 'Lesbian Killers' Who Shocked Australia

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03/14/2008

Australian Judge Called Their Crime Horrifying, 'Dreadful'

Australia's infamous "lesbian killers" are destined to spend the next few decades behind bars.

Valerie Page Parashumti, 19, and Jessica Ellen Stasinowsky, 21, known in Australia as the "lesbian killers," have been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of 16-year-old Stacey Mitchell in December 2006.

The couple will not be allowed to apply for parole for another 20 to 30 years.

Parashumti and Stasinowsky pleaded guilty in November, and there is no indication that they will appeal the decision. The sentencing took place earlier this month at the court of Perth, in Western Australia.

"They could appeal the sentence," Val Buchanan, spokesperson with the Supreme Court of Perth, told ABC News, but "I have not heard that they have appealed the decision."

"Once you plead guilty, you get a life sentence," added Buchanan.

The case has hit the headlines in Australia and across the world because the murderers displayed exceptional violence and sadism.

Mitchell met the couple after she left her parents' home. She shared a house with Parashumti and Stasinowsky.

The court heard that Stasinowsky grew jealous of Mitchell.

Feeling that she had to prove that Mitchell meant nothing to her, Parashumti — who reportedly drank blood as part of a vampire cult — killed Mitchell.

The day the murder took place, the couple drank with Stacey and made her drink sleeping pills before attacking her in their kitchen.

Parashumti hit Mitchell with a concrete block. Stasinowsky then strangled Mitchell with a belt chain and beat her.

After Mitchell passed out 30 minutes later, the court heard that the couple became sexually aroused and kissed each other.

They filmed the murder scene on their mobile phone, while making fun of Mitchell.

Mitchell's parents alerted police that their daughter had gone missing.

Police found the teenager's body in a garbage bin at the couple's property.

"In Australia, everyone is quite disgusted with them," Todd Cardy, reporter with the Perth Sunday Times, told ABC News. "This has been a very big story."

The Supreme Court called the crime "horrific."

"Your crime is particularly horrifying and a shocking one," Justice Peter Blaxell with the Supreme Court said as he delivered the verdict, "not only because of the young ages of the victims and yourselves, but because of the casual way it was committed, and the lack of any substantial motive."

The court was also appalled by the couple's apparent lack of remorse.

"You have each had more than a year in custody to reflect upon the evilness of your crime, yet you still lack remorse and obviously place no value on the sanctity of human life," Blaxell said.

The judge also told the couple he was shocked by their acknowledging that they had been sexually excited by the murder.

"You also admit to kissing each other as Stacey Mitchell lay dead or dying, and you, Jessica Stasinowsky, have since expressed regret that the sexual passion at the time did not go further."

"It is dreadful to refer to these admissions, but they do reveal the enormity of the evil in what you did," he added.

Mitchell's parents have not talked to the press.

"They declined all interview requests," said Cardy.


CO - Another One: Top Federal Judge Linked to Prostitution Ring

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So when is Larry Flynt going to come out with the rest of that Madam call list?

03/14/2008

Officials: Edward Nottingham Was 'Implicated as a Customer' in an Investigation of the Denver Sugar/Denver Players

One of the country's top federal judges has been linked to an investigation of a Denver-based prostitution ring, according to federal officials.

Edward Nottingham, the chief federal judge in Denver, Colo., was "implicated as a customer" in an ongoing IRS and Denver police investigation of an alleged prostitution operation called Denver Sugar/Denver Players, according to officials.

The service advertised on the Internet as having "gorgeous adult Colorado companions."

According to a Denver television station, KUSA, Judge Nottingham's nickname among the prostitutes was "Naughty."

Several "professional athletes," lawyers and businessmen are also involved, officials said.

Unlike the prostitution investigation in New York that led to this week's resignation of New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, the Denver case has received little attention outside Colorado.

The chief judge of the 10th Federal Circuit Court, Robert Henry, is "taking under advisement a complaint about a judge's conduct," according to the Rocky Mountain News. The person who filed the complaint confirmed to the paper that the judge is Nottingham.

Judge Nottingham has remained on the bench since being publicly linked to the investigation last week. His office referred calls to his lawyer, Stephen Peters, who said Judge Nottingham "has no public comment at this time."

Based on the Web site of Denver Sugar/Denver Players, prostitution prices seem to be substantially lower than those in New York.

According to published reports, Judge Nottingham, appointed to the federal bench in 1989 by President George H.W. Bush, paid $300 to $400 for "all-inclusive" sex with prostitutes working for the Denver Sugar/Denver Players service.

New York Gov. Spitzer paid $4,300 for two hours with a prostitute named "Kristen," according to an FBI affidavit in which he was referred to as Client 9.

Judge Nottingham's conduct has been in question twice before. Last year, the Denver Post reported that FBI agents questioned his ex-wife "after she revealed he spent thousands of dollars at the Diamond Cabaret strip club and subscribed to an Internet dating site that contains pornography."

Judge Nottingham testified in the divorce proceedings he "had a lot to drink" he didn't remember what happened at the strip club, according to the paper.

In another case, a Denver disabled woman filed a complaint against Judge Nottingham after she said he parked illegally in a handicapped spot and then threatened her when she tried to get him to move his car.

Jeanne Elliott, a lawyer who was disabled after being shot by a client's husband, told ABCNews.com Judge Nottingham "waved his judge's badge and threatened to have me arrested by U.S. Marshals."

According to reports, Nottingham was ticketed by police, paid a $100 fine and in a statement said he regretted parking in the handicapped space in his haste to pick up a prescription but disagreed with Elliott's version of events.

Judge Nottingham presided over the high-profile insider-trading trial of Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio, which ended in Nacchio's conviction last year.


MN - Emily’s Law clears committee

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How many laws in a child's name do we need? Trying kids as adults is just wrong, IMO. If they can be tried as an adult at 13, then are you saying they are an adult? Can they drink beer? Can they smoke cigarettes? Can they drive a car? No... So they are NOT adults and they do not know what they are doing.

03/14/2008

For Travis and Lynn Johnson, June 17, 2006 was the worst day in their lives.

That’s the day their 2-year-old daughter, Emily, died after sustaining a severe head injury when she was assaulted by a 13-year-old at a Fergus Falls daycare.

Thursday was a much better day for the Johnsons, because they received a ray of hope that their daughter did not die in vain.

Emily’s Law cleared a House Public Safety Committee Thursday.

It’s a bill that will allow 13-year-olds like the one who assaulted Emily to be tried as an adult in the Minnesota court system.

“It was a good, positive day,” her mother, Lynn Johnson, said. “We still have a battle.”

Travis and Lynn Johnson, along with Dist. 10A Rep. Bud Nornes (Email) (R-Fergus Falls) and Dist. 11A Rep. Torrey Westrom (Email) (R-Elbow Lake) testified for passage of the law.

It was introduced last year to the Minnesota House and Senate, but did not pass.

“We told them Emily’s story,” Lynn said, “and the facts behind why it’s time for Minnesota to make this change.”

The day of Emily’s death, a 13-year-old, just a couple weeks shy of his birthday, killed her.

“Our day care provider’s son, who was just 19 days away from his 14th birthday, had gone into Emily’s room while she was napping, sexually assaulted her and violently threw her against a wall,” Lynn told the committee.
- So my question is, where does a 13 year old learn this? Why don't you check out the parents or close family members? I am willing to bet they are/were sexually abused or physically abused. The kid is lashing out and needs help, not prison...

If he had been 14, he might have been tried as an adult.

Emily’s Law would give prosecutors the option to charge a 13-year-old as an adult.
- So what's next? Charging a 3 year old as an adult if they accidentally harm someone? How long will it be before we have babies in prison?

Each crime would be looked at on a case-by-case basis. The law would pertain to more serious crimes, such as murder and sexual assault.

Emily’s Law would also keep the crime on an offender’s record longer; as the law reads now, once the juvenile turns 19 it is expunged from his or her record.

Technically, a convicted murderer or sexual predator could be teaching or providing daycare.

The bill was not without its detractors.

“Our biggest opposition came from the Minnesota County Attorney’s Association,” Nornes said. “They had four people testifying against it. In spite of that, the Johnsons won.”

One prosecutor testified that 13 is too young to charge someone with murder, and that the juvenile justice system is more effective for rehabilitating violent youths.

“You send a 13-year-old to prison, you’re going to get nothing when that kid comes out but a future criminal,” Washington County Attorney Doug Johnson said.

“Thirteen-year-olds,” said Travis during his testimony, “are able to go ahead and drive ATVs, 13-year-olds are able to drive snowmobiles, 11-year-olds are able to go ahead and carry firearms and hunt.”

In the end, the bill passed 12 to six.

“It was a good, bi-partisan vote,” Nornes said.

“It was nice to see the Democrats not walking the party line and seeing the bill for what it is,” Lynn said.

Emily’s law now goes to the House Public safety Finance Committee.

“I’m making a request immediately for a Friday hearing and hope it can happen,” Nornes said.

If it passes there, it goes to the House floor. If it passes on the floor, it will need a Senate companion bill.

“If it doesn’t get a companion, it can still pass, but it needs to attached to another bill. We did that last year and it got thrown out,” Nornes said.

“I introduced it in the Senate last year, so it’s still in play,” Dist. 10 Sen. Dan Skogen (DFL-Hewitt) said. “I just can’t get it heard in (the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Dist. 67 Sen. Mee Moua, DFL-St.Paul). I don’t know why. It’s in that committee and there it sits. I’m not going to give up.”


The RateMyCop Saga

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03/14/2008

So even as police departments across the country are setting up sex offender registries, drug offender registries, and posting the mugs and names of suspected johns online, they also took a great deal umbrage early this month when Gino Sesto set up a site called RateMyCop.com. The premise is simple: Sesto wrote to police departments across the country, and obtained a list of the names and badge numbers of their officers. He then posted the names online in a format broken down by state and city, and encouraged users to rate their experiences with individual officers. All of the information he posted was already open to the public. He didn't post the identities of any undercover officers.

Police groups went nuts, making the dubious argument that posting the publicly-available names and badge numbers of police officers on the Internet somehow jeopardized the safety of individual officers. Sesto said he had even planned on adding a feature that would allow individual officers to write responses to complaints made against them. But police groups persisted.

Jerry Dyer, president of the California Police Chiefs Association, told Wired the site could give citizens the opportunity to "unfairly malign" individual officers, and said he'd be asking the legislature to pass a law making sites like RateMyCop.com illegal.

Last week, it all got weirder. Hosting service GoDaddy mysteriously terminated Sesto's account, and pulled RateMyCop.com offline. GoDaddy has offered several explanations to Wired's ThreatLevel blog, but thus far, none of them have made much sense. Sesto gave up on GoDaddy, and next tried to get the site hosted at RackSpace. They turned him down. After initial accepting his down payment for hosting services, a RackSpace lawyer sent a letter to Sesto stating that, "We believe that the website to be found at www.ratemycop.com as described to our sales representative could create a risk to the health and safety of law enforcement officers."

The good news is, the site's back up, now, though it isn't clear who's hosting it.

Me, I think police departments should be required to post all citizen complaints against individual officers online in a searchable database. Individual officers, their union reps, or their departments could post responses or explanations to frivolous claims. Police officers are public servants. Not only that, they're public servants with the power to arrest, detain, and use lethal force. If certain officers are the subject of repeated complaints and aren't being properly investigated internally, the public ought to be informed of that. This culture of secrecy—and of intimidating anyone who dares question it—isn't healthy.


NY - New Sex Offender Law in Auburn

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03/13/2008

The city of Auburn joins Rome and Cicero in approving a law that forces the worst sex offenders to stay away from schools and playgrounds. Up until Thursday night, level three sex offenders only had limits on where they live in Auburn if their victims were children. Now the new law affects every level three sex offender.

They're the worse kind of sex offenders and they're a growing number in Auburn. The new law blocks level three offenders from living within 500 feet of a park or any other place where children might hang out. 19 year old Anthony Elliot says it's a great plan. Elliot says, "With a sex offender around you might never know where they might strike or where they might come next and people might be worried about their kids and stuff."

The Auburn city council voted unanimously to approve the new law. The old law said sex offenders whose victims were children could not live close to places populated with children, but it didn't include level three offenders who hurt adults. The police chief says parents were worried about that. Chief Gary Giannotta says, "They're concerned that the first offense may not have been a minor but the second one may and they're concerned about their children."

The new law is not retroactive, so anyone convicted of a sex offense before its passing will not be impacted. Still people around Auburn says it'll help lessen the threat against children because offenders now know they can't live near a school. The new law matches a similar state law. It'll go into effect 60 days after all the paperwork is approved.


CO - Law's eye on sex-offender digital trails

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03/14/2008

For three days each month, dozens of sex offenders parade into the Centennial probation office lugging their computers.

Have they traveled online to social sites like MySpace and Facebook trolling for victims? Have they been to XXXTeens or Match.com? Nickelodeon or Toys "R" Us? Have they chatted with other pedophiles or sexual offenders?

Most probation officers, more at home keeping criminals away from bars and other criminals, would have a hard time telling. So in Centennial, a forensic specialist comes in to go over the computers with the high-tech equivalent of a fine-toothed comb.

Between 70 percent and 80 percent of first-time sex offenders get probation, which means officers have their hands full watching for any trips they make to the dark side of the virtual world. And while sex offenders make up the majority of computer-related criminals on probation, there are also hackers, forgers, identity thieves and gang members who need to be watched.

Some counties have officers trained to monitor computers. Others have thrown up their hands over cyber tracking and rely on polygraph exams, given regularly to offenders, to catch online misdeeds.

"We have some offenders with way more computer expertise and knowledge than I have or most of my officers have," explained John Odenheimer, probation supervisor for the 18th Judicial District based in Centennial, which brings in the forensic specialist.

Taking computers away is rarely an option. Judges seldom allow probation officers to deny computer access. They can only place restrictions on computer use.

"It's obviously a big problem with the Internet being so ubiquitous," said Joe Russo, assistant director of the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center in Denver. "It's a concern that was unanticipated."

Russo's center has helped departments with training and research. And Boulder forensic computer consultant Jim Tanner has done much to improve monitoring by working with the center to develop a program that is distributed free to probation offices.

But the numbers are overwhelming. There are 2,604 sex offenders on probation now. Of those, 1,062 are considered "high risk," which means they (and their computers) must be monitored for the rest of their lives.

Even the probation office that is credited with doing the most with computer monitoring — the 20th Judicial District in Boulder County — keeps hitting new technological stumbling blocks.

Offenders can now make end runs around some monitoring programs by using cellphones, Blackberrys, iPods and video games to access the Internet. Programs are also available to wipe hard drives clean.

"We are going through gyrations to stay ahead," said Tanner, a con sultant with the Boulder department and developer of the Field Search program that is most widely used to scan probationers' computers in Colorado.

Digital trails a deterrent

In Boulder County, where offenders sit down with an officer as their computers are scanned, Chief Probation Officer Greg Brown said they are asked on the spot why they have gone to certain sites.

"When they see what we can pull up, most of them will stop doing what they are doing," Brown said. "It's a huge deterrent."

Colorado keeps no data on how many offenders on probation used computers to commit their initial crimes or whose probation is revoked because they continue illicit computer use.

Many violations are minor and warrant only warnings. But a case in Boulder showed monitoring can avert serious crime.

A man on probation for luring a minor through a social site and having sex with her wiped his hard drive clean and claimed it was inadvertent. Later monitoring showed he was on MySpace contacting underage girls and trying to set up meetings. He is now in prison for that violation.

Probation computer specialists say they are constantly working to tweak the monitoring to cover more data and devices. They are attempting to send trainers into rural areas and probation officials are developing a statewide policy on computer monitoring.

Meanwhile, probation officers concede that offenders are also at work on their own upgrades as they attempt to sneak undetected into the virtual netherworld of crime.

"They are always going to be a little bit ahead of us," Brown said. "We're not catching them all, but we're certainly increasing our probability."

Nancy Lofholm: 970-256-1957 or nlofholm@denverpost.com.


NV - It's easy to hate sex offenders

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03/14/2008

Editor,

I am a counselor who has worked with sex offenders every week for years. I have put in more hours than anyone I know in northern Nevada working to help prevent new sex crimes in our state, so it is with an informed opinion that I read Mr. Lindberg's February 22, 2008, comments on the topic.

I can tell you that both he and the irresponsible decision-maker who posted such a self-serving rant did nothing to serve the community's interests in publishing such thinly veiled vigilantism.

I, too, am a businessman in the community; I, too, am a father and a grandfather. I, too, am outraged by the same events that horrify all of us.

But never in my wildest dreams did I ever think as a man that it would be right to glorify my own darker self-indulgent revenge fantasies in a public display of self-righteousness. Such violent fantasies are viscerally satisfying, but represent a childish approach to public policy.

First of all, the vast majority of convicted sex offenders are hardly up to the standard of "predator." Face it, the word "predator" is overused.

Consider: a 17-year-old teenager who turns 18 after a year of having sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend is guilty now of Statutory Sexual Seduction and is required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

Consider: a pathetic drunk who, in his inebriated stupor, steals booze, gets in an altercation and then exposes himself to passersby is hardly worthy of the word "predator," yet he, too, will have to register for the rest of his life...as a sex offender.

Surely I am not the only one out there old enough to remember "Laugh In" and the actor in the trench coat who made us all laugh by exposing himself?

How have we been so easily manipulated to fear and hate what we once found pathetic or even humorous?

Many sex crimes are far more serious than these, but Nevada does an incredibly good job of incarcerating virtually forever those sex offenders who are not amenable to treatment or whose crimes are so horrific that we cannot abide their release.

Others who do not meet this level are released because their crime is hardly deserving of the death penalty--particularly at the hands of enraged family members wielding baseball bats as Mr. Lindberg suggests would be best.

Treatment does work. It's always sensational to seek out the naysayers and urban mythmakers who profess to know because the truth is far less titillating.

For the last six years the recidivism rate in our program has been hovering at 1%. That's a 99% success rate.

Just read about the next 100 sex crimes in our community (as easily found in the newspaper)--you'll find that over 95% were committed by first time offenders. It is not the previously convicted offender who poses the greatest risk, it's the unknown future offender.

By so stigmatizing sex offenders as Mr. Lindberg has done, we create vast public reservoirs of shame which contributes to our inability to even discuss sexual thoughts, feelings and behavior that might not be to Mr. Lindberg's liking.

If sex offenders are sick, an idea of Mr. Lindberg's that I agree with, then sex crimes are a public health problem. Like AIDS, cholera, smoking, and every other public health problem, our tools are information, education and rational thinking.

Getting mad and indulging in baseball bat fantasies is useless, self-defeating and counterproductive to community safety.

Like Mr. Lindberg. I am a conservative. I am a Republican, I own guns, I'm against abortion; but I do not see a problem with an overabundance of liberal judges as does Mr. Lindberg. Our judges in Nevada generally do a pretty good job--their knowledge of the offense and the law make it clear they are the ones to make the tough sentencing decisions.

What's really going on here though, if you stop and just think, is that we Americans have some sort of weird blind spot when it comes to sexual crimes.

Sure, as a parent, I'd like to know about the dangerous people in my neighborhood: but so long as we're outing sex offenders why wouldn't we list convicted drug abusers, meth manufacturers, those convicted of domestic violence, and why not all the drunks convicted of drinking in public and DUI?

Aren't all of these people dangerous to our children?

If we made such a list. of course. eventually we'd find it easier to list those good folk not on the other list...at least not yet.

It's easy to hate sex offenders. We've made it easy by using sex offender registries and public exposure to label them the way the Nazi's did the Jews with their yellow stars.

In this way, we've created the last class in society that it's politically fashionable to hate.

But since when has hate and fear ever informed public discourse?

When has hate and fear ever protected future victims from attack?

When has hate ever solved anything?

To jail the 300 men and women I've worked with over the last 10 years would have cost our state $90 million. Couldn't we do something better with that money?

Sex crimes are crimes of secrecy, and when the secret ends, the criminality generally ends with it.

We all need to be better informed about sex crimes and what is being done about them. To that end, I challenge the editors of this paper, and Mr. Lindberg himself, to sit in on a group therapy session of men previously convicted of sex crimes who are working to better themselves.

These men look forward to letting you see who they are and what they are doing--all they want is a chance to put their mistake behind them and build a life with their families.

Call me and I'll set it up.

P.S. You can leave the baseball bats at home, they're a very civilized crowd.

Sincerely,

Steven Ing


AU - Cop's 8742 child porn mistakes

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03/13/2008

A Queensland police officer caught with more than 8000 child porn images on his home computer has avoided spending any time in jail.

Thomas James Anthony Wilson, 25, pleaded guilty in Brisbane's District Court today to possessing the lewd material, including pictures of boys as young as 10 engaging in sex acts.

He was sentenced to 18 months' jail, but the term was wholly suspended after his lawyer successfully argued Wilson had downloaded the images by mistake.

The former policeman, who has since lost his job, was one of 1717 suspects identified as part of a 2003 child porn investigation by US Customs and FBI agents.

Police traced his credit card to a child porn website titled “Sunshine Boys”, where Wilson had paid a $35 access fee.

A March 28, 2006 raid on his Shorncliffe home on Brisbane’s northside uncovered a computer loaded with pornography.

In all, 8742 images were identified as depicting children aged between 10 and 18 posing nude, masturbating and engaging in sex acts.

Wilson's defence barrister Craig Eberhardt told the court his client had not purposefully sought out child abuse images when he downloaded pornography files from the internet.

He suggested Wilson may have viewed some of it as a way to deal with his own sexuality as a young man.

"(He is) not a pedophile, he does not have pedophilic tendencies," Mr Eberhardt said, citing medical evidence.

"His culpability comes from his failure to get rid of it once he knew it was there."

Judge Tony Rafter SC said a wholly suspended sentence was appropriate because Wilson posed no risk to children and was unlikely to reoffend.

But he said the actions of the disgraced policeman had nonetheless helped to feed an "evil and exploitative industry".

"You should have been accutely aware of the seriousness of the offence because you were a serving police officer at the time," Judge Rafter chastised.

"I accept that you did not actively seek child pornography and these images were accessed somewhat accidentally.

"I am also mindful that as a former police officer, a period of imprisonment would be harsher upon you."

Wilson left court supported by family.


FL - Prostitute Caught In Car With DeLand Sergeant Training In Jacksonville



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And yet another perverted cop from Florida.

03/13/2008

DELAND - A high-ranking DeLand police sergeant and a known prostitute from Jacksonville were caught in the sergeant's patrol car together. Now that sergeant is facing a demotion, but not an arrest.

The ironic thing is Sgt. Marc Gilotti works narcotics and vice for the DeLand Police Department and was attending a class in Jacksonville learning how to bust just the sort of person he was caught with. Gilotti is a veteran of the DeLand Police Department, but he's likely on his way back to basic patrol because of his decision to pick up Stacie Dolce.

"He parked in a parking space, turned his lights off for a few minutes. Then the officers came and approached the car and contacted him and the woman," explained Cmdr. Randall Henderson, DeLand Police Department.

An Internal Affairs report says Gilotti picked up Dolce at a convenience store where prostitutes and drug dealers hang out. His story was she looked distraught and needed a ride to her hotel.

The hotel was the Emerson Inn. Police are familiar with it. They call it Crack Central and make 20 to 30 arrests there a week. However, police didn't make any charges in Gilotti's case.

"There was no conduct observed by the police officers that could be considered illegal," Henderson said.

By rule, Gilotti should have notified his superiors of what happened, but he didn't. In fact, when the DeLand Police Department was notified of the incident, Gilotti said his plates were probably just run while he was at Wal-Mart, something he later admitted was a lie.

"I wouldn't say it puts a blight on the whole police department, but it certainly should let the whole community know that we do police our own," Henderson said.

Police said Gilotti wasn't fired because they had to look at the whole situation. Circumstantially, they said, it looks bad, but they can't prove it was anything more than he said it was, just a car ride for a woman who needed help.

DeLand's city manager still has to approve the demotion and that could take a couple of days.