Monday, July 28, 2008

NC - Governor signs 'Jessica's Law' for sex offenders

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Video available at the site and below.


GASTONIA - North Carolina tonight has one of the toughest, if not the toughest law on the books to deal with child sexual predators.

- Again, these laws are for all sex offenders and all sex offenders are not child sexual predators.

Gov. Mike Easley (Contact) signed the new law named for little Jessica Lunsford in Gastonia. Jessica Lunsford was born and went to school in Gaston County until her family moved to Florida, where she was raped and murdered by a known sexual offender named John Couey in March of 2005.

- And you will notice they said "known sexual offender" and the registry and laws still did not protect Jessica.  John Couey begged and begged and begged for treatment and never got it, if he would have, Jessica would still be here today.  But, nobody wants to admit they made a mistake, and this Governor is just jumping on the bandwagon to exploit sex offenders for personal gain, votes, etc.  Mandatory sentences is not going to solve anything, except overflow the already overflowing prison system, watch and see!

The new law sets a mandatory sentence of 25 years in prison for convicted child sex offenders.

Mark Lunsford, Jessica’s father, attended the packed bill-signing at the Gastonia City Hall.

This is when the tables turn. Instead of them stalking us, our children, we stalk them," Lunsford said.

- Shut the hell up Mark!  You were out of the house at some skanks house that night instead of taking care of Jessica like a REAL father would do. I wish someone one look into the child porn you had on your machine, and put you in prison where you belong, and also put Joshua in prison as well for fondling a young girl.  By the way, stalking is a crime!  So now, instead of someone taking a plea deal, they will fight it out in court, and the children will be made to get up and take the stand, or, the offender may decide to kill the child, since they will be going to prison for 25 years anyway.  You are so blinded by your HATE, you cannot see the facts.

Many people in Gaston County held vigils and passed out fliers when Jessica vanished. Mark Lunsford, who now lives in Florida, told WCNC reporter Rad Berky that Gaston County would always feel like home to him. Lunsford’s sister Susan said when things happen, the city always comes together.

“This is the reason why I live here,” she told Berky.

Easley said the most important aspect of the new law is the requirement that convicted predators would now have to wear tracking devices.

“It is important that we know where they are,” said the governor.

- Even if you know where they are, it will not prevent another child from being killed or harmed.  You are a total idiot if you truly believe that will deter someone who is intent on harming a child.  GPS cost a ton of money for monitoring, etc.  More tax payer dollars down the drain.

Maybe they should read this article, which shows CHILD PORN was on Mark Lunsfords machine when Jessica went missing. It seems everyone is trying to bury that, but, I won't let it be buried.

Video with annotations

UT - Woman sentenced for attempted sex abuse of teen

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PROVO — A woman who prosecutors say manipulated her 16-year-old proctor son for sexual favors will serve 180 days in jail.

Jennifer Gonzales, 32, was arrested in March after her husband came home to find Gonzales and the proctor son in the basement together, partially clothed with candles and massage oil.

Richard Gonzales chased the boy out with an unloaded handgun and threatened his wife. He recently pleaded no-contest to using or displaying a dangerous weapon in a fight.

Jennifer Gonzales pleaded guilty in June to two charges of attempted forcible sex abuse for allowing her proctor son to massage her buttocks and breasts, and was sentenced Monday.

"The court is concerned about a couple of things," 4th District Court Judge Samuel McVey said. "The 15-year age difference or thereabouts... (and her) position of responsibility here. She was entrusted not only by the state of Utah, but by society in general to provide appropriate supervision to this minor. Obviously that did not happen."

A proctor parent is someone who takes temporary care of teens in state custody.

The victim had been in a youth detention center and was placed with the Gonzales family for support.

"He was ... angry, hurting, all alone, he needed someone to love him, care for him," the victim's grandmother tearfully said Monday afternoon. "Instead of being the parent for him, you took the time to work on him so you could satisfy your own sexual urges. We trusted you. We asked you to care for him like a mother, not like a lover."

The grandmother, whom the Deseret News does not name because it would identify the victim of sexual assault, asked Judge Samuel McVey to give Jennifer Gonzales enough time in jail so she can truly consider her actions and get the sex-offender treatment she needs.

"You crossed that line," the grandmother said. "He will never be the same because of what happened to him in your home."

Defense attorney Mike Esplin asked if Jennifer Gonzales could participate in the GPS-ankle-monitoring system, as she has been working two jobs and trying to keep "her financial head above water."

Richard Gonzales filed for divorce after the charges were filed.

Along with 180 days in jail, Jennifer Gonzales was sentenced to 36 months of probation and ordered to have no unsupervised contact with children under the age of 18, plus complete sex-offender treatment.

Prosecutor Mariane O'Bryant said she was most concerned about Gonzales' position of trust and that the victim was an especially vulnerable teen.

"This individual, as well as many of our teenage victims, thought he was involved, thought he was being romantic," O'Bryant said. "He did not disclose to everyone until it became clear there was no relationship. I think he was trying to protect her because he loved her."

O'Bryant said she believes the consequences would have been similar had it been a male arrested, especially if he had accepted responsibility like Jennifer Gonzales did, and had a lack of criminal history, also like Gonzales.


GA - New front opens in battle over sex offender law

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ATLANTA -- Ongoing litigation over the state's stringent restrictions on sex offenders recently opened up a new wrinkle in the controversial law.

At what point does a registered sex offender actually own a home?

In filings this week in federal court, Harlem resident Wendy Whitaker, the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking to defeat the restrictions, is asking a judge to issue an preliminary injunction prohibiting the Columbia County Sheriff's Office from kicking her out of a home she moved to in February.

Whitaker has already moved twice due to the restrictions, and dreads the thought of having to do so again.

"Now I'm ready to pack a bag at a moment's notice," she said. "I'm just hoping and praying that it is going to be all right. I'm tired of moving."

Whitaker, 28, pleaded guilty to sodomy after having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old classmate when she was 17. She was sentenced to probation and required to register as a sex offender.

In January 2006, she and her husband purchased the home, not knowing it was within 1,000 feet of a church with a day care center, a fact that forced her to move.

The couple moved across the border to South Carolina until the Georgia Supreme Court struck down the restrictions late last year.

A revised law that took effect this month remedied that issue by exempting offenders who owned their home as of July 1, 2006, from the restrictions.

But Whitaker's name was not added to the deed until 2007. A sheriff investigator called her last week and told her she would have to move within 48 hours or face arrest. Offenders convicted of violating the restrictions can be sentenced to upward of 10 years in prison.

Both Whitaker and Columbia County Sheriff Clay Whittle -- along with 158 other sheriffs -- have agreed to hold off on enforcing the restrictions until the judge decides whether they are unconstitutional.

"They just want instructions," said Augusta attorney David Hudson, who represents the sheriffs. "And until they get some instructions in Ms. Whitaker's case, they are not going to enforce it against her until the court rules one way or the other."

Attorneys for the state are asking the judge to ignore that request, saying sex offenders have a propensity to reoffend, and that Whitaker should press the issue in state court rather than federal court.

Sarah Geraghty, Whitaker's attorney, said exactly what constitutes homeownership under the law is one issue in the case.

"But the broader issue is whether the Legislature can pass a law retroactively evicting Wendy from her home," Geraghty said.

In November, the state's highest court ruled that forcing offenders who already owned a home to move was unconstitutional because it amounted to unlawful taking of property.

To fix that, lawmakers added the exemption for offenders if they established property ownership.

Whitaker said she and her husband pay the mortgage on their home through a joint bank account, which she says gives her ownership rights.

Moreover, Geraghty contends that restrictions should be more nuanced, with different requirements for serious offenders and those like Whitaker, who participated in consensual sex.

"The concern is that Georgia's registry is bloated with people who don't need to be there," she said.

Proponents of the restrictions say they prevent offenders from reoffending by barring them from living, working or volunteering within 1,000 feet of schools, churches and other places children gather.

Opponents say there is no proof the restrictions protect anyone, and that they actually increase the chances of a new offense because they keep offenders from reintegrating into society.

The restrictions have come under various challenges this year. A Jefferson store owner whose business was close to a building that doubled as a church asked a judge to exempt him from the restrictions because he did not work the same time the church was in session. He later withdrew the request.

A group of sex offenders is also challenging the restriction that keeps them from volunteering at church, saying it criminalizes their practice of religion.

Offenders can apply to be removed from the registry 10 years after they complete their sentence, including probation. But they must gain approval from a judge, who considers their criminal record.

ID - Caldwell Officer Indicted

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Caldwell - A Caldwell Police Department sergeant has been indicted for sexual battery with a minor.

Dennis Schat was not on duty when the alleged incident with a 17 year old occurred.

Because of a possible conflict of interest, the Canyon County Prosecutor's Office turned the investigation over to Ada County.

Schat was arrested Thursday and his bond was set at $100,000. He has also been issued a no contact order with the victim or any minor.

SMART Office Hosts 2nd Annual Training Conference On Sex Offender Management and Accountability

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WASHINGTON - On July 30, 2008 through August 1, 2008, the Department of Justice will host its 2008 National Symposium on Sex Offender Management and Accountability in Baltimore, Md. This annual national training conference is hosted by the Department's Office of Justice Programs (OJP), Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking (SMART). One thousand of the nation's lawmakers, sex offender registry officials, policy advisors, law enforcement, parole and probation officers, prosecutors, and frontline professionals, who monitor, register, track and manage sex offenders are expected to attend.

WHO: Opening Ceremony Speakers

Kevin J. O'Connor, Associate Attorney General, Department of Justice

Jeffrey L. Sedgwick, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OJP

Laura L. Rogers, Director, SMART Office

Joe Garcia, President, National Congress of American Indians

Closing Ceremony Speakers

John Clark, Director, United States Marshals Service

Rod Rosenstein, U.S. Attorney, District of Maryland

Laura L. Rogers, Director, SMART Office

Ed Smart, Child Safety Advocate and President of Surviving Parents Coalition

WHAT: 2008 National Symposium on Sex Offender Management and Accountability

WHEN: Opening Ceremony: July 30, 2008 8:45 a.m. - 10:00 A.M. EDT

Closing Ceremony: August 1, 2008 Noon - 1:00 P.M. EDT

WHERE: Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel

101 West Fayette Street, Baltimore, Md. 21201

The SMART Office was created by the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. Since its creation, the SMART Office has provided training and assistance to establish minimum standards for sex offender registration and notification throughout the United States. To support these efforts the SMART Office has provided more than $15.8 million in grants to state, local and tribal governments. In addition, the SMART Office has hosted a number of consultations throughout the country to assist jurisdictions in their efforts to make these changes quickly and effectively.

NOTE: ALL MEDIA MUST PRESENT GOVERNMENT-ISSUED PHOTO ID (such as driver's license) as well as VALID MEDIA CREDENTIALS. Cameras must be pre-set by 30 minutes prior to opening or closing ceremony. All press inquiries regarding logistics should be directed to Sarah Matz at (202) 307-0703. Additional information can be found at

SOURCE U.S. Department of Justice

Copyright (C) 2008 PR Newswire. All rights reserved

CT - State Fails To Secure Beds For Sex Offenders

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DOC Was Supposed To Have 24 Beds By July 1

SOUTHBURY - Nine months since the uproar over a convicted serial rapist being moved to a quiet Southbury neighborhood, the state continues to lack options for housing sex offenders.

The Department of Correction and Judicial Branch were supposed to have 24 beds available in a secured setting by July 1. But they've been unable to meet that deadline, set by the General Assembly and the governor.

"It has proven to be difficult," Brian Garnett, a DOC spokesman, told the Waterbury Republican-American in Sunday's edition.

There were no responses this spring to a state request for a consultant to develop a statewide system of treatment and housing for sex offenders.

Rep. Michael Lawlor, D-East Haven, co-chairman of the legislature's Judiciary Committee, said Gov. M. Jodi Rell could use her authority to site a facility on state property immediately. He said the Republican governor's office is deliberately overlooking an obvious and easy solution to the problem.

"Either you want to do this or you don't. If you want to do it, you could do it on state property tomorrow - period," Lawlor said. Garnett said corrections and judicial officials are considering both private and public land as they try to site the sex offender housing. A crime bill passed in January sets aside $2.5 million for beds.

Rell said she prefers to pursue the private option, hoping to recruit nonprofit agencies to provide housing and programs to sex offenders.

"It isn't something that I think right now that the state should be administering. I would much rather try to contract with someone who can provide this," she said, dismissing Lawlor's claim that it would be easy to locate such a secured facility on state property.

Nine months ago, convicted serial rapist David Pollitt was released from prison after serving nearly 25 years. He moved into his sister's home in Southbury because his only other option was a homeless shelter, probation officials said.

Neighbors staged protests, pleading with state officials to locate Pollitt elsewhere. Rell and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal also unsuccessfully went to court to stop the move. Probation officials argued that it made sense to place Pollitt with family members, under a strict form of probation.

SC - Gov. Easley to sign penalty bill for sex offenders

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GASTONIA - North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley (Contact) is scheduled to sign into law a measure which sets minimum prison sentences for some child sex offenders.

Easley will approve the legislation, known as Jessica's Law, Monday in Gastonia. The plan is named after former Gaston County resident Jessica Lunsford, a 9-year-old girl who was kidnapped, raped and buried alive by a convicted sex offender in Florida in 2005.

The governor will be joined by Jessica's father, Mark Lunsford, who asked North Carolina lawmakers to approve the legislation last year.

Jessica's Law requires adult offenders who commit certain sex crimes against children under the age of 13 to be sent to prison for at least 25 years. Offenders who are released would be electronically monitored for life.

AK - Offender won't have to register

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ALASKA SUPREME COURT: Convict argued law should not be applied retroactively.

An anonymous man who has been fighting Alaska's sex offender registration law since the mid-1990's when it was first enacted has finally won.

He doesn't have to register, but most others still do.

Known variously in federal and state lawsuits as James Rowe and John Doe, the unnamed man is a child molester who had been convicted, sentenced, done all his prison time and most of his probation by 1994 when Gov. Wally Hickel signed the registry into law. It was retroactive to 1984.

The law requires all convicted sex offenders to provide Alaska State Troopers with a current address and other identifying information, including updates from one to four times a year -- some for the rest of their lives. The information, along with the convict's record and physical description, are made accessible to the public, including online.

Doe-Rowe filed suit with others in federal court in Anchorage the day after Hickel signed the law. He argued it was unconstitutional on several grounds, including that it was unreasonable search and seizure, and that it violated his right to privacy.

But his main argument was that the law was not in effect when he committed his crimes, that it was punishment applied to him retroactively. In general, retroactive laws are called "ex post facto" and are barred by both the U.S. and the Alaska constitutions.

It took years, but the case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where Doe-Rowe lost.

Alaska and other states with similar laws argued that they were not punishment, but merely regulations used to keep track of sex offenders for the protection of the public.

Each federal court that ruled on the case reversed the ruling of the previous court, an indication of how contentious the issue is. In the end, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the states, concluding the registration requirement was not an "ex post facto" punishment.

So Doe-Rowe started over. In 2005 he filed suit in state court, arguing that the Alaska Constitution offers stronger protection of individual liberties than the federal constitution.

Doe-Rowe lost in Anchorage Superior Court and appealed to the Alaska Supreme Court.

In a 52-page split decision issued Friday, the court voted 2-1 that forced public registration is punishment as well as regulation, and cannot be added retroactively to the sentence of someone who committed their crime before the law existed. Two justices did not participate in the case and Chief Justice Dana Fabe disagreed with the conclusion.

Justices Warren Matthews and Robert Estaugh particularly faulted the sweeping effect of the law, noting that it applies equally to all people convicted of a sex offense, regardless of the severity of the crime, the success of their rehabilitation, or their continuing danger to the public.

Ex-offenders lose jobs and housing because of the registry, the justices noted. There is no way to petition to be allowed to stop registering, or to limit registration information to legitimate law enforcement purposes.

Even someone who becomes physically incapacitated and therefore incapable of committing another offense must keep signing up, they said.

Although the aims of the registration law are "undeniably legitimate and important," Estaugh wrote, "Alaska's statute is excessive in relation to the state's interest in public safety."

In her dissent, Fabe said her colleagues did not offer convincing reasons for coming to a different conclusion than the U.S. Supreme Court.

Friday's decision relieves Doe-Rowe of the obligation to register, but the law remains in effect for those convicted of covered crimes committed after August 1994, when the law took effect.

IA - Iowa Case Raises Question: Is Stripping an Art?

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Just like art and beauty, it's in the eye of the beholder.


Future of Iowa nude dancing clubs hangs on answer to question: Is stripping an art?

Iowa doesn't have any all-nude strip clubs — but it does have performing arts centers where women dance naked.

However, the loophole in the state's public indecent exposure law that allows nude dancing at "art centers" is under attack in the small community of Hamburg, a town of 1,200 just across the Missouri River from Nebraska.

The case pending before a Fremont County judge effects only one business in Hamburg, but if he agrees with the prosecutor, it could eventually threaten the legal standing of nude dancing clubs across the state.

District Judge Timothy O'Grady heard arguments in a one-day trial on July 17 and took the case under advisement.

It all began on July 21, 2007, when a 17-year-old niece of Sheriff Steven MacDonald climbed up on stage at Shotgun Geniez in Hamburg and stripped off her clothing. Owner Clarence Judy was charged with violating Iowa's public indecent exposure law.

- I thought all strippers had to be 18 and older?  If that is true, then yeah, they broke a law.

Judy responded that the law doesn't apply to a "theater, concert hall, art center, museum, or similar establishments" devoted to the arts or theatrical performances.

"Dance has been considered one of the arts, as is sculpture, painting and anything else like that. What Clarence has is a club where people can come and perform," said his lawyer, Michael Murphy.

- Well, I personally do not think it's art.  If they label this as performing arts, then just about anything can be called art.

Murphy noted that the club has a gallery selling collectible posters and other art, and it provides patrons with sketch pads.

Nonsense, said Fremont County Attorney Margaret Johnson, an underage girl danced naked at the club, and that's illegal.

- Like I said above, if they are required to be 18, then year, it's illegal.  If they allow a 17 year old to do this, then what is next?  A 16, 15, 14, 13 year old?

"Are you saying that minors can't be protected? Can a group of 12-year-olds come down and go in and dance nude and it's OK? I don't think that's what the Legislature had in mind when it made those additional provisions," Johnson said.

- That is why when they make laws, they need to clarify everything, so it doesn't leave people guessing.

Johnson said the intent of the law is to allow movies in a theater where there's brief nudity or for an art gallery displaying paintings of nudes.

Murphy said Judy bans anyone under 18 from entering the five-year-old business. The problem, he said, was "a group of girls snuck in a 17-year-old."

- Oh come on.  Did the bouncer at the door check the girls ID?  She either had a fake ID, or someone did not do their job!

"While she was there, she felt like dancing so she got up and danced on the stage and then she took her clothes off. Trouble with that is she's the sheriff's niece," he said.

Johnson denied that the teen's relation to the sheriff was connected to the charges filed against Judy.

Her parents were absolutely appalled with the situation," Johnson said.

The sheriff declined to comment. There was no comment from his niece, whose name wasn't given.

As part of his defense during trial, Murphy cited a 1998 ruling that found nude dancing is a form of art. In that case, the owner of the Southern Comfort Free Threatre for the Performing Arts in Davenport was charged under the public indecent exposure law for allowing nude dancing. A judge found owner not guilty.

The current case deals only with Judy and Shotgun Geniez, but there could be an appeal if either side loses.

Johnson said that would take it to the Iowa Court of Appeals and perhaps the Iowa Supreme Court. That would make it a statewide case that could affect dozens of other clubs in the state.

GA - Missing DeKalb Sisters Found; Girls Use MySpace To Fake Abduction


STONE MOUNTAIN -- Authorities in DeKalb County found two missing sisters who disappeared from their father's Stone Mountain apartment complex Saturday.

Authorities said Denesha Steib, 14, and 6-year-old Savannah Henderson were found safe Sunday just before 6 p.m. at a friend's house.

Family members said the girls sent messages through MySpace, a popular social networking website, saying they had been abducted and held against their will.

Family members said the story was a lie.

The two girls disappeared Saturday from their father's apartment on Stone Mills Way after being told by an older sibling that they could not leave the apartment.

Authorities said Steib took her younger sister and left the Stone Mountain location around 10:00 a.m.

Detectives actively canvassed the neighborhood. The children have been taken to police headquarters for questioning.