Friday, June 6, 2008

MN - State plots out preventing sexual violence

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Organizers hope to involve people from every gender, every ethnic and every socio-economic group in saving thousands from assault.

Patricia W. Francisco told her story Friday of a man with a knife sexually assaulting her in her own home in 1981 to a group of survivors, sexual abuse advocates, and officials from city, county and state agencies.

"Prevention is the single most beautiful word you could say to me," she said.

Prevention was the name of the game at the conference in West St. Paul, where teams were formed to begin working out details of a five-year plan to prevent sexual violence and exploitation in Minnesota.

The state Health Department is leading the effort, which will include work on education, research, policy and legislation. According to a report released last summer, the cost of sexual violence in Minnesota in 2005 was $8 billion, including such things as medical and mental health care, victims services, lost work and criminal justice costs.

Sixty-one thousand Minnesotans reported being assaulted that year. Eighty percent were female, 29 percent were younger than 18, the report said. One in six women and 1 in 33 men will be assaulted in their lifetime, the department said.

"I once heard someone say that sexual violence in our country is like loading a 747 with women every day and crashing it into the ocean," Francisco said Friday.

"I'm sure we would send out boats to care for the survivors. But if this happened week after week, month after month, year after year ... I think we would do more.

"We might do something like what you are here to do today," Francisco said.

Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough spoke at the conference Friday, and the steps he has already taken to prevent sexual violence were lauded as a model for the initiative.

McDonough said he introduced a County Board resolution, which passed in March, "that the prevention of sexual violence is really critical for us to be involved in, not only as an employer of 3,000 people but also in terms of the people in the community we come in contact with in a multitude of ways every day."

As part of that resolution, the board directed the county manager to make an assessment of sexual violence prevention in all county departments. The manager will then report back to the board with a plan to coordinate and expand on those efforts, McDonough said.

'Imagine a world ... '

Patty Wetterling, sexual violence prevention program director for the Health Department, asked the conference participants to "imagine a world without sexual violence and help us to make it happen."

She said the project, dubbed "The Promise for Primary Prevention" began as a federal directive from the Centers for Disease Control, which provided the funding.

It began to take shape at a retreat last August, and Friday's conference was where it really begins, she said.

Organizers hope to involve men and women and people from every ethnic and socio-economic group in the development and implementation of the plan.

Francisco, the author of "Telling: A Memoir of Rape and Recovery," is an assistant professor of graduate liberal studies at Hamline University in St. Paul. While the Star Tribune generally does not name sexual assault victims, Francisco asked to be named.

She was a few months shy of her 30th birthday on Aug. 14, 1981, when a man broke into her apartment near Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis.

"He had a knife," she said. "I thought he would kill me. Something told me to talk -- to let him know who it was he would be killing.

"Though he stayed for hours, I survived," she said. "Physically, at least." But there was great loss as well, she said.

"I lost my nerve. I lost my sense of safety and peace in my own house, in my own skin. I lost faith that there was a place for me in this world. I lost the ability to look my little boy in the eye and tell him I would never let him down.

"If we really mean to do this, it will be done," she told the group. "Prevention is the most direct path to physical, emotional and spiritual health for you and for those you are charged to protect."

For more information on the project or to become involved in one of the action teams, contact or call 651-201-5400.

Pat Pheifer • 651-298-1551

NE - Police send letters to sex offenders

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One Fremont man will be forced to move if a proposed new ordinance restricting how close to schools and licensed child care facilities certain sex offenders can live is passed.

Another three live within the 500-foot limit, but moved in before the July 1, 2006, cutoff date and will be allowed to remain in their homes.

Letters from the Fremont Police Department were mailed Thursday to all

11 Level 3 sex offenders living within the city informing them of the proposed ordinance and the effect it might have on them.

Level 3 sex offenders are those determined to be at a high risk to re-offend. They must register any new address within five business days of the move with the sheriff.

Lt. Jeff Elliott said 10 of the 11 Level 3 sex offenders residing in the city would be considered sexual predators by the ordinance.

The ordinance prohibits sex offenders deemed to be sexual predators from living within 500 feet of schools or child care facilities. A sexual predator is defined by the ordinance as “an individual who is required to register under the Sex Offender Registration Act, who has been classified as Level 3 because of a high risk of recidivism as determined by the Nebraska State Patrol - and who has victimized a person 18 years of age or younger.”

Please see Ordinance, A2

The 500-foot measurement starts at the outer property line of the residence to the outer property line of the school or child care facility.

“We want these individuals to be aware this ordinance may become law,” Elliott said. “We want to give them an opportunity to comply if it passes. Technically, once the law passes, they are in violation.”

He said contacting and making an offender in violation move will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. The crime is an arrestable misdemeanor offense and carries a penalty of up to a $1,000 fine and/or up to 90 days in jail if convicted.

Currently, there are 61 licensed child care centers in Fremont plus all of the public and private schools in town.

There must be three readings at city council meetings before council members would vote on it. There has been one reading so far and the next reading will take place at the June 10 regular Fremont City Council meeting. The final reading and a council vote on the ordinance is planned for June 24.

If passed, the ordinance would be retroactive to July 1, 2006. The only exceptions would be if the sex offender was in a correctional or treatment facility run by the state or political subdivision or child care facility was established after the sex offender moved into the neighborhood.

“We are hoping anyone presently in an area of violation will comply prior to any actions being taken,” Elliott said. “We’re using several methods, including government agencies, to determine the distance.”

If any of the three sexual predators who are currently grandfathered in to their current residences were to move within city limits, they, too, would have to abide by the ordinance if passed. So would any new sexual predators who might move into the city limits.

“We suggest contacting our office prior to selecting a new residence so we can assist in determining if the new residence is in violation,” Elliott said.

IA - Iowa AG: Two Police Officers Charged With Sexual Abuse

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DES MOINES -- Two Creston police officers were charged Friday with sexual abuse in the second degree.

Police Chief James Christensen, 40, and Assist. Police Chief John Sickels, 38, turned themselves in for arrest Friday afternoon at Iowa State Patrol Post No. 1 in Des Moines, after Judge Arthur Gamble issued arrest warrants.

According to Division of Criminal Investigation investigator's affidavit, the alleged victim was a female bartender working at the Crestmoor Golf Club in Creston on April 18.

She told the investigator that Sickels raped her behind the bar while Christensen "held her hand, stroked her hair and 'shushed' her."

Court documents show the incident happened at about 2 a.m. when Christensen, Sickels and the bartender were the only people left in the bar.

Documents show that during an interview with DCI agents on May 6, both men first denied the story, but as the interview continued both made additional admissions.

Sickles admitted that he had touched, kissed and had consensual sex with the employee, court documents show.

Christensen was also interviewed on May 6 by DCI investigators. Court documents show that "Christensen admitted that he had witnessed Sickels having sexual intercourse with the employee, admitted that during the act, the victim had expressed that she was not consenting to the act."
- And he did nothing!!!!

If convicted, both men face the possibility of up to 25 years behind bars. Their bails have been set at $25,000 each.

The Division of Criminal Investigation launched the investigation in May. The agency said that investigators were looking into allegations of sexual misconduct involving the Creston Police Department. The men's identities were not released at that time.

In May, Creston Police Department officials would not say if the two men would remain on duty while the investigation was conducted, but residents said they had seen at least one of the men still on the job.

The Iowa Attorney General’s Office is serving in the role of prosecutor in the case at the request of the Union County Attorney.

NE - Convicted Nebraska sex offender pardoned

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LINCOLN (AP) - A Nebraska man has been pardoned after a woman who accused him of sexual assault asked for relief from the Board of Pardons.

The board agreed Thursday to pardon 33-year-old Dallas Webb. He was convicted of first-degree sexual assault in Cuming County in 1998.

Webb was 20 and had sex with a 15-year-old who told him she was 17. She got pregnant.

It was considered statutory rape. Webb was sentenced to probation.

He now has primary custody of their son, is married and has two other children.

Webb's wife and the victim worried that Webb could be publicly listed as a sex offender if laws were changed. He was registered as a low-level offender. Those names aren't currently made public.

Now pardoned, he won't have to register.

Discovering grace in a sex offender

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I have a friend whom I shall call Bill. Bill is interesting for a number of reasons. Life doesn't work particularly well for Bill in many ways.

He is always just out of a crisis, or just heading into one. His money management skills are magnificent in their absence. His teeth are stained brown from nicotine, his clothes equally stained from the meals of the past month or two. His moustache, beard and hair grow in all directions until someone agrees to trim them for free.

Bill is a released offender. He has committed crimes of sexual violence against children. While those acts undoubtedly are connected to his own victimization as a young boy, he makes no attempt to shift blame to others. Since a group committed to befriend Bill some 10 years ago, there have been no further victims.

Some years ago, a few of us decided to offer Bill a chance to get out of town, something which finances don't allow him. At the time, he was still on probation, so arrangements needed to be made with the right officials.

The denomination that I am part of has a volunteer program to rebuild damaged property after a disaster. Mennonite Disaster Service had an operation in the southern foothills of Alberta, based in Granum, work that involved rebuilding fences destroyed by fire for local ranchers. We phoned, were assured that the work wouldn't involve contact with children, and we set off with Bill.

The team was housed in a church. We arrived in the middle of the night, found mattresses, made our beds. In the morning we met the team over breakfast. The foreman, a retired Christian contractor, began to describe the conditions and the work while we ate, and to suggest possible combinations of teams. Bill sat beside him at the table, and I noticed that he suddenly had a cigarette in his mouth.

Now, Bill would never have lit up inside that church, but this was an indication that he was needing his nicotine, and that placing his smoke in his mouth simply prevented him from losing it in his scrambled eggs or morning coffee. Bill is that co-ordinated.

At that point, the foreman turned, and noticed Bill there beside him with his cigarette. He immediately launched into an angry and passionate lecture about MDS being a non-smoking organization, a lecture that went on and on in front of the entire team. It ended with the strong words, "and if you do have to smoke, you will walk so far away that no one can connect you to the MDS team!"

I watched Bill becoming angrier and angrier at this unwarranted attack. I waited for him to explode, something that I had witnessed before, an uncontrolled explosion of language and rage that levels everything in its path. He didn't. He sat quietly, jaw clenched, face white, then said only, "Ed, can we go out?"

As we walked, the rage did come out. He spoke of his anger at the unfair attack. He said all of the things that he had wanted to say as he was being publicly humiliated. He talked of other times, other attacks, other humiliations, and of how this felt very much the same.

I suggested to Bill that it would be appropriate for him to say those things to that foreman. In fact, it would be important, an empowering experience for Bill, a learning experience for the other. I offered to arrange a conversation where that could happen.

And Bill said, "No. No because it would bring embarrassment on you. These are your people. I can live with it, I've done that before. But I don't want to cause any trouble for you."

Here, in the foothills of southern Alberta, in the person of someone despised and rejected, ridiculed and humiliated, I was experiencing something that could only be described as awe.

On that trail, blue with cigarette smoke, a hurting spirit rose above its wounded state and offered back something that was holy.

Olfert is a local resident and part-time pastor

IA - Attempted Enticement is Not Enticement

Courtesy of G R L Law Blog


"We doubt any of the Cedar Falls police officers were 'enticed away' from their offices to the Wal-Mart store because of Hansen's blandishments." Justice Streit, Iowa Supreme Court, State of Iowa vs. Eric Hansen:

In the recently issued opinion, the Iowa Supreme Court used common sense today in holding that the criminal offense of enticing away a minor actually requires that a minor be enticed away. Mr. Hansen through e-mails and telephone calls arranged what he believed to be a sexual rendezvous with what he believed to be a 15 year old girl. It turned out that the 15 year old girl was a Cedar Falls police officer and Mr. Hansen was promptly arrested upon his arrival at the predetermined meeting spot at Wal-Mart. The trial court found Mr. Hansen guilty of actually enticing away a minor but the Supreme Court held that because no minor was actually enticed away. Thus, Mr. Hansen was only guilty of attempted enticement.

It seems logical and basic common sense but the Iowa Attorney General's Office attempted to argue that even if someone was not enticed away the crime of enticing away a minor could be committed. According to the Iowa Supreme Court, if we were to accept the State's argument there would be no conceivable offense of attempted enticement. However, the State claimed that even under their proposed definition of enticement, the crime of attempted enticement could be committed in situations where for example a defendant tried to make contact with a minor with the intent to commit the illegal act but was unsuccessful in reaching the minor. The Supreme Court all but scoffed at this argument when it stated: Presumably, the State is referring to circumstances where a defendant called a minor and got a busy signal or a defendant's email to a minor was blocked by filters. We do not believe this is the type of conduct the State meant to outlaw when it created the attempted enticement statute. The Court concluded that a defendant is guilty of enticement if the child goes with or goes to meet the defendant and guilty of attempted enticement if the child declines the offer or does not meet the defendant

The lessons learned from this case are simple: 1) don't attempt to entice away minors; and 2) if you are foolish enough to actually be attempting to entice a police officer posing as a minor, you are only guilty of attempted enticing a minor which is an aggravated misdemeanor as opposed to enticing away a minor which is a Class C or D felony depending upon the intended act. Either one lands you on the sex offender registry if the solicited act is sexual in nature, and good luck residing anywhere in Iowa with a sex offense involving a minor.

U.S. Prison Population Hits All-Time High: 2.3 Million Incarcerated

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DOJ Report Reveals Record Numbers in Prisons Last Year, With Huge Economic Impacts

The Justice Department has released a new report showing the nation's prison and jail population reached a record 2.3 million people last year.

The report notes that in the 10 largest states, prison populations increased "during 2006 at more than three times (3.2 percent) the average annual rate of growth (0.9 percent) from 2000 through 2005."

The new report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that in the first half of 2007 the growth rate slowed, but prison admissions growth outpaced the number of prison releases. The report provides a breakdown, noting "of the 2.3 million inmates in custody, 2.1 million were men and 208,300 were women. Black males represented the largest percentage (35.4 percent) of inmates held in custody, followed by white males (32.9 percent) and Hispanic males (17.9 percent)."

The United States leads the industrialized world in incarceration. In fact, the U.S. rate of incarceration (762 per 100,000) is five to eight times that of other highly developed countries, according to The Sentencing Project, a criminal justice think tank.

Some of the key factors for the record imprisonment rate include:

Race: Black males continue to be incarcerated at an extraordinary rate. Black males make up 35.4 percent of the jail and prison population — even though they make up less than 10 percent of the overall U.S population. Four percent of U.S. black males were in jail or prison last year, compared to 1.7 percent of Hispanic males and .7 percent of white males. In other words, black males were locked up at almost six times the rate of their white counterparts.

Immigration: Is it an emerging crime trend or is this the result of more local police and federal targeting of illegal immigrants? Non-U.S. citizens accounted for nearly 8 percent of the jail population at midyear 2007, the new Justice Department report noted. "From mid-year 2000 through midyear 2007, Hispanic men (120,000) represented the largest increase to the custody population," it said.

Locking up these prisoners comes with huge economic costs. The Sentencing Project estimates that cost to be $60 billion per year for federal, state and local prison systems.

Many states, facing budget crises, are struggling to pay for their corrections systems. As a result, many state programs are being slashed, with some states looking to release certain convicts early.

No fewer than eight states have recently contemplated releasing prisoners early. Others are planning to push some categories of newly convicted criminals into rehabilitation programs. Kentucky, California, Rhode Island, New Jersey, South Carolina and Vermont are among the states wrestling with these issues.

"The unrivaled growth of the United States' incarcerated population over 30 years casts a great burden on this nation," said Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project. "The country's $60 billion prison budget results in less money for education, health care and child services. Communities need the resources to prevent crime by investing in youth and families."

In California and Kentucky alone, measures under consideration would allow for the release of tens of thousands of prisoners — the anticipated savings is $450 million dollars. Letting prisoners out — even ones convicted for nonviolent crimes — is politically risky business and most officials are loathe to do so. Why do it? Some states don't have a choice. California was facing a $16 billion deficit; Kentucky was facing a deficit of more than a $1 billion.

In Michigan, it costs $2 billion to run the corrections system. An increasing number of state leaders say they really can't afford to pay that kind of money.

"Our efforts to grow Michigan's economy and keep our state competitive are threatened by the rising costs in the Department of Corrections," Gov. Jennifer Granholm recently told The Detroit News. "We spend more on prisons than we do on higher education, and that has got to change."

According the News, the Michigan Corrections Department already devours 20 cents of every tax dollar in the state's general fund and employs nearly one in every three state government workers, compared with 9 percent of the work force 25 years ago.

SC - Eight teens expelled for sex

WA - Des Moines house full of sex offenders puts neighbors on edge

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DES MOINES -- Local residents were outraged after learning four high-risk sex offenders were living in a single home in their neighborhood.

The home is the largest concentration of rapists and child molesters the city has ever seen.

On Wednesday, more than 80 residents showed up at the police department to learn about the dangers of living near sex offenders. Residents are also concerned that more offenders may move in.

Frustration flew from neighbors trying to understand how three career rapists and a child molester could be allowed to move in together.

"My question is how many sex offenders can move into that location when they are just renting to individual people?" said neighbor Lisa Schubert-Cannon.

Police say the four men have served their time, and therefore their hands are tied.

"We as a police department don't have any say over where an offender can or cannot live," said Cmdr. John O'Leary.

Pastor Bob Faulk invited the sex offenders to live at the home operated by his church, House of Mercy. He refused to comment.

City officials said they're working with the church and are hoping to reach a solution.

"They did not come to the city ahead of time. They did not say 'this is what we want to do.' There are some issues with regard to the house that we are looking at," said Asst. Chief Attorney Susan Mahoney.

Police said they need neighbors to help keep an eye on the men so they do not harm anyone else. Residents, meanwhile, have doubts about whether the pastor's church will be a good neighbor.

"I'm sure that they are doing this from the goodness of their heart. I don't necessarily agree with it," said area business owner Michelle Fawcett.

A fifth sex offender also used to live at the home, but he has since moved to Tukwila.

NH - House scales down DNA sample bill

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CONCORD – The House of Representatives forced Attorney General Kelly Ayotte (Contact) and legislative leaders Wednesday to scale back the number of convicted criminals who would be required to supply DNA samples.

In a surprise, the House voted down a compromise (HB 1640) bill that dramatically expanded those crimes carrying the DNA mandate.

The 165-154 vote sent legislative leaders scrambling to cobble together and then get lawmakers late Wednesday night to approve a scaled down bill.

State officials acknowledged the samples would be turned over to a nationwide criminal database.

The DNA issue is one of several contained in this bill that included the rewrite of the state's Sex Offender Registry law and a new provision to permit state officials to suspend the driver's license of someone who does not register.

Rep. Neal Kurk (Email), R-Weare, mocked the original list of offenses that carried the DNA requirement. The list included shoplifting of merchandise worth more than $500, carrying a concealed weapon without a permit and damaging public cemetery property.

"Some of them are pretty trivial, some are pretty serious but all of them deserve our individual attention," Kurk said.

Rep. Cynthia Dokmo (Email), R-Amherst, tried to rescue the compromise as is."Do you want to gamble with the citizens in your community and have them not know where their most dangerous citizens live?" Dokmo asked rhetorically.

"Do you want to gamble with the safety of your children?"

Rep. John Tholl (Email), R-Whitefield, had gone further warning that a vote against the compromise would kill the entire cause.

"If you vote this down, this bill is dead," Tholl said.

Moments after the setback, however, House and Senate negotiators began meeting to rewrite the compromise and reduce the number of criminal offenses covered under the DNA mandate.

Hours later, they approved the compromise with a much smaller list.

More than 40 states in the nation take DNA from all those convicted of felonies.

State and county prosecutors told lawmakers expanding the DNA database could help with unsolved crimes here and assist authorities in other states.

The approved bill also would permit a defendant's experts to view in advance the sexually explicit material to be used at trial if it's in a secured location and as long as any expert signs a non-disclosure agreement.

Some local police and prosecutors complained to lawmakers that these restrictions still led to evidence getting loose in other states.

The compromise keeps off the public list the location of a sex offender's place of work.

Senators argued this would make it harder for sex offenders after serving prison time to keep a steady job.

This information will remain on the private registry available to law enforcement.

Under the bill, state authorities can suspend the license or motor vehicle registration of any sex offender who fails to register within 30 days. The only proviso is the state has to give these offenders 15 days notice in writing before they take this action.

Kevin Landrigan can be reached at 224-8804 or

GA - Area challenge to sex offender law dropped - Store owner pulls lawsuit

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This is NOT good! Wonder why the case was dropped?


The Jefferson convenience store owner who sued to exempt himself from the Georgia law restricting where sex offenders live and work has dropped his case.

Narinder Chahal, who lives in Lawrenceville, filed suit against the Jackson County Sheriff's Office and the state Department of Corrections on May 20 in hopes of overturning the part of Georgia's Sex Offender Registry statute that bans sex offenders from working within 1,000 feet of a church. Chahal withdrew the suit last Friday, according to court documents filed in Fulton County Superior Court.

A man who answered the phone at Chahal's residence in Lawrenceville said the family had no comment about the reasons Chahal decided to drop the suit.

Chahal, who purchased the Chicken King convenience store and deli in April, has been prevented from working at the Lee Street shop because it is located across the street from Jefferson's First Christian Church.

In his lawsuit, Chahal said that the restriction regarding churches should not apply to him because Chicken King is closed Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings, when the church typically is most used. Preventing him from running the shop violated his constitutional right to own property because he was unable to make the shop profitable without working there himself, Chahal claimed.

Chahal's attorney David Wolfe, who teaches litigation at Georgia State University School of Law, did not return several telephone calls Thursday.

Gov. Sonny Perdue signed a revamped version of Georgia's sex offender statute May 13 to fix parts of the law that the state Supreme Court had deemed unconstitutional.

The new bill grandfathers in offenders who lived or worked within 1,000 feet of a school, church, day-care center or other places children gather prior to July 1, 2006.

Is It Legal Porn or Illegal Porn?

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I just looked at an exposé from reporter Debbie Nathan, who attended a research convention of The Academy of Forensic Sciences to discover what the geeks at the FBI have learned about the relationship, and potential, between "real" and "computer-generated" pornographic images.

The police's particular interest, in this case, is child abuse. Sexualized images of real children are illegal, but computer-generated images are not prosecuted in the U.S., as yet, because they don't show actual kids.

This debate has gotten hotter, because it's now difficult to tell what's real — computer-editing programs are facile enough to turn anyone, theoretically, into an amateur touch-up artist.

Many questions also arise from the Feds' investigations. Do virtual pictures attract people with ill intent or actions toward children? Or is this a bizarre, if preferable, method of harm reduction?

About the author: Susie Bright is the host of the weekly podcast, "In Bed With Susie Bright." For a free month's subscription, click here. The audio version of Susie's analysis can be found here.

Debbie Nathan is perhaps best known for her book, Satan's Silence: Ritual Abuse and the Making of a Modern American Witch Hunt about some of the widely covered sex panic cases that rocked the U.S. in the '80s and '90s, such as the McMartin preschool case in California. Here's what she wrote after returning from the forensic scientists' conference.