Friday, August 8, 2008

NC - Ex-cop pleads guilty in cell phone obscenity case

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08/08/2008

SHELBY - A former award-winning police officer accused in May 2007 of sending obscene photos to two teenagers pleaded guilty Friday.

However, state law prevented the Cleveland County Superior Court judge from sentencing David Wayne Coburn to active prison time.

"He got a short, split sentence," said Cleveland County District Attorney Rick Shaffer. "Because the crime is a Class I felony, he can't by law get prison time."

Crimes are rated from Class A to Class I by the N.C. Legislature's sentencing grid. Each class defines the range and nature of possible sentences, Shaffer said.

"For a Class I - such as possession of cocaine, forgery and uttering, obscenity - with no prior history, there's no prison time," he said.

Coburn, a former officer with the Kings Mountain Police Department, admitted sending cell phone pictures of his genitalia to a 15-year-old Kings Mountain High School student and to an 18-year-old girl.

Hired July 6, 2004, he had been a DARE officer at Kings Mountain Middle School and a School Resource Officer at Kings Mountain High School. He was honored as 2005 School Resource Officer of the Year for Region C law enforcement, which includes Cleveland, Rutherford, McDowell and Polk counties.

One victim's mother was an ex-girlfriend of the defendant, Lari said, "and that's how he had access to the girl's cell phone number."

The mother, who The Star chose not to identify to protect the girl's identity, reacted Friday after the court decision, saying she wished jail time could have been part of the sentence.

"Where's the justice," she asked. "My daughter was 15 at the time."

Because Coburn served as a school resource officer, Lari said, investigators "looked very hard to see if there were any other incidents and turned up nothing."

At the time of his arrest on the obscenity charges, Coburn had lost his job about two weeks earlier after a DUI arrest by the N.C. Highway Patrol in Alamance County.

Assistant District Attorney Beth Lari said Coburn received two consecutive 6-to-8-month sentences, suspended, and is on probation. He must undergo a sex offender evaluation, have no contact with either of the victims and adhere to other standard probation conditions.

Jail records show he spent four days in detention before posting bond.

Lari said Coburn pleaded "guilty as charged; there was no plea bargain or deal" and appeared "very humble" in court.

"I know it's terrifying when you're the parent of the 15-year-old, but he was punished for what did happen, not what could have happened."


TX - Embattled Poteet Mayor Wants To Stay In Office

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08/08/2008

SAN ANTONIO -- The mayor of this South Texas town remains defiant after his registration as a sex offender prompted city and county officials to call for his dismissal.

Rene Pena, the district attorney of Atascosa County, has asked a judge to remove Lino Donato from office claiming the mayor's sex offender registration has hindered his performance.

Donato pleaded guilty in October 2007 to charges of indecency with a child. Since that time, Donato has been unable to attend City Council meetings because Poteet's city hall is within 1,000 feet of where children can assemble.

Donato said the criticism is unfounded and his status has not affected his job.

"I got telephones, I got my city administrator. I got department heads. I know what's going on from here," Donato said. "The city is in better shape than it's ever been."

Donato said he's aware of Pena's petition and has heard rumors of a pending vote by the City Council to remove him from office, but he said he has no intention of stepping down.

"I'm doing my job," he said. "I've got 10 more months to go, and God willing, I'm going to serve my 10 months."

Fred Catala, currently serving as the city's mayor pro tem, said the majority of the City Council wants Donato out and could possibly vote to remove the mayor in September.


NC - Edwards Admits Sexual Affair; Lied as Presidential Candidate

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Politics = lies = deceit = hypocrisy = greed = corruption = ...

08/08/2008

In an ABC NEWS NIGHTLINE Interview, Edwards Reveals He Cheated, But Didn't Father Child

John Edwards repeatedly lied during his Presidential campaign about an extramarital affair with a novice filmmaker, the former Senator admitted to ABC News today. 

In an interview for broadcast tonight on Nightline, Edwards told ABC News correspondent Bob Woodruff he did have an affair with 44-year old Rielle Hunter, but said that he loved only his wife, Elizabeth.

"Two years ago I made a very serious mistake," Edwards said, blaming the prominence of being a vice presidential candidate. "All of which fed a self-focus, an egotism, a narcissism that leads you to believe that you can do whatever you want," he said.
- From the bible - 2 Timothy 3:1-9.  Read it, then think about how people are today.

{3:1} This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

{3:2} For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

{3:3} Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

{3:4} Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

{3:5} Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

{3:6} For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,

{3:7} Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

{3:8} Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.

{3:9} But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all [men,] as theirs also was.


Edwards also denied he was the father of Hunter's baby girl, Frances Quinn, although the one-time Democratic Presidential candidate said he has not taken a paternity test. He said he would be happy to take one.

Edwards said he knew he was not the father based on timing of the baby's birth on February 27, 2008.

A former campaign aide, Andrew Young, has said that he, not Edwards, was the father of the child.

According to friends of Hunter, Edwards met her at a New York city bar in 2006. His political action committee later paid her $114,000 to produce campaign website documentaries despite her lack of experience.

Edwards said the affair began during the campaign after she was hired. Hunter traveled with Edwards around the country and to Africa.

Edwards said he told his wife, Elizabeth, and others in his family about the affair in 2006.

"She was mad, she was angry, I think furious would be a good way to describe it," Edwards said.

Edwards made a point of telling Woodruff that his wife's cancer was in remission when he began the affair with Hunter. Elizabeth Edwards has since been diagnosed with an incurable form of the disease.

When the National Enquirer first reported the alleged Edwards-Hunter affair last October 11, Edwards, his campaign staff and Hunter vociferously denounced the report.

"The story is false, it's completely untrue, it's ridiculous," Edwards told reporters then.

He repeated his denials just two weeks ago.

Edwards today admitted the National Enquirer was correct when it reported he had visited Hunter at the Beverly Hills Hilton last month.

"I wanted to keep this mistake I had made two years previously private," Edwards said.

The former Senator said his wife had not known about the meeting.


IN - Ind. lawyer enters sexual battery plea

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08/08/2008

New Albany attorney Anthony Wallingford pleaded guilty this morning to sexual battery involving a 16-year-old girl and faces the almost certain loss of his right to practice law, at least temporarily, in addition to a short jail term.

Wallingford admitted to Harrison Superior Court Judge Roger Davis that he attacked the girl in her bedroom at her home in Elizabeth on April 14, 2007.

He was charged with criminal deviate conduct, a Class B felony, and with the Class D felony of sexual battery. But under a plea bargain, Special Prosecutor David Powell agreed to drop the criminal deviate conduct in exchange for the admission of sexual battery.

Davis took acceptance of the plea under advisement and set sentencing for Sept. 24.

The deal calls for Wallingford to spend no more than 120 days in the Harrison County Jail, but allows Davis to require additional time on home incarceration.

Conviction on the sexual battery charge also requires Wallingford to register as a sex offender for a 10-year period.

Indiana Rules of Court require that the felony conviction of any attorney be reported to the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission, which then is required to verify the information and request that the Supreme Court suspend the attorney from the practice pending further disciplinary action.

The attorney then has 15 days to file a response to the request for suspension before the Supreme Court takes action.

Charles Kidd, a staff attorney for the disciplinary commission, said yesterday that the Supreme Court typically grants the suspension. That is followed by a formal grievance procedure where the commission investigates the case and forwards its findings and recommendation to the Supreme Court, which then decides whether any penalty -- ranging from a reprimand to permanent disbarment -- should be imposed.


MA - Sex offender hears guilty verdicts, slashes own throat

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08/08/2008

SPRINGFIELD - A defendant in Superior Court pulled a sharp object from his pocket and slashed his own throat this morning as a court clerk was informing him he had been found guilty of sexually assaulting a child.

Donald R. Gibson, 39, of Springfield cut himself just as he was found guilty on two counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14.

Courtroom security knocked him to the ground and disarmed him, said First Assistant District Attorney James C. Orenstein. Gibson's' wounds did not appear to be life-threatening, Orenstein said.

He said, "It's a very rare event and was extremely unsettling to the victim's family, in the courtroom at the time, as well as the jury that witnessed it."

Richard McCarthy, spokesman for the Hampden County Sheriff's Department, said the sharp object was part of a battery casing and was about the size of a quarter.

The slashing occurred just after Gibson was found guilty of the first two counts. The verdict in a third count, not guilty, was read after he was subdued.

The trial began Wednesday. The sheriff's department had brought Gibson to the courthouse each morning from Hampden County House of Corrections, where he had been serving an unrelated sentence.

Judge Bertha Josephson ordered Gibbon's bail revoked and set sentencing for Aug. 21.

Gibson was charged with three separate acts on the same victim, and 11-year-old child, Orenstein said.

Gibson's last know address was on Sumner Avenue.

In December 2003, Gibson, then 34, was arrested on a warrant and charged with statutory rape and forcible rape of a child.

McCarthy said the piece of battery casing was less than one-inch square. "Although it's square, it's similar in size to a quarter," McCarthy said.

Officials were attempting to determine how Gibson was able to obtain the makeshift weapon and get it into the courtroom.

McCarthy said Gibson went through normal screening processes at the jail before leaving for the courthouse. These include sitting in a metal-detection scanning chair and being tested with another scanner that checks the head and mouth.

Video confirms that Gibson underwent both scanning procedures, McCarthy said.

It's possible, McCarthy said, that the weapon's size and composition, perhaps of some type of alloy, enabled Gibson to evade detection.

"We have been testing it a bit and we don't have any definitive answers right now," McCarthy said.

Gibson has been in the jail since Jan. 5, 2006, McCarthy said.

McCarthy, citing medical privacy law, declined to say whether Gibson had been on any kind of suicide watch.

McCarthy said it's not unheard of at the jail for a battery casing to be fashioned into a weapon.

"In the past, just about anything with any kind of metal or alloy has, at one point, been fashioned into a potential weapon," McCarthy said.


OR - Former attorney gets five years for online enticement

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08/08/2008

A former Washington County lawyer will spend more than five years in federal prison for using a computer to transfer obscene material to someone he believed was under 16.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mosman sentenced Jason Thomas Fehlman, 37, of Tualatin, to five years and three months Monday.

Fehlman was in Washington County Jail for violating parole on public indecency charges when he was indicted on the federal charges last September. He resigned from the Oregon State Bar in April, after pleading guilty.

The case was investigated by the FBI's Innocent Images Task Force with the aid of the Hillsboro Police Department Det. Cheryl Banks.

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse.

The project directs resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as identify and rescue victims.


LA - New Orleans officer charged with rape

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08/08/2008

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A New Orleans police officer has been charged with rape by the Orleans Parish district attorney's office.

Thirty-eight-year-old Carlos Peralta was charged with forcible rape in connection with an assault in March 2007.

Peralta has worked for the New Orleans Police Department since 1996.

This is the second time Peralta has been charged in connection with the incident.
- I thought you could not be charged with the same crime twice?  That is what it says in the constitution!

In December, the district attorney's office filed a bill of information charging Peralta with second-degree battery in the same assault, which Assistant District Attorney Robert White said was part of a plea deal that the woman had consented to.

But last month, Peralta declined to plead guilty to the battery charge, prompting White to file the forcible rape charge, a far more serious charge that carries a sentence of up to 40 years.


UT - Expanded Offender Registry Too Broad?

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Why don't you just create a CRIMINAL REGISTRY and put all criminals on it?

08/07/2008

By Linda Thomson Deseret News

Some members of the Utah Sentencing Commission on Wednesday expressed surprise and dismay at changes in Utah's sex offender registry that expanded it to include other crimes that have no sexual element.

But the state legislator who sponsored the bill creating the revisions later said including certain violent or terrifying crimes is the right thing to do.

The commission learned of the new aspects of the registry during a presentation by Jim Ingle, the unit administrator who handles the registry for the Utah Department of Corrections.

The Web site has been renamed the "Sex and Kidnap Offender Registry," and from now on will include individuals convicted of kidnapping, aggravated kidnapping, voyeurism and unlawful detention.

Kidnappings by parents (natural, biological, adoptive and noncustodial) are not included.

Utah Court of Appeals Judge Gregory Orme was the most outspoken of several commission members who wondered aloud why such crimes as unlawful detention would merit putting someone on a public Web site for sex offenders.

Orme raised the hypothetical example of a farmer who suspects a teenager is stealing from him and locks the teen in a barn until the sheriff arrives. Later, it turns out that the teen's brother is the actual culprit and the farmer pleads guilty to unlawful detention.

Will this farmer now have his picture and address listed next to convicted rapists and child molesters?

Rep. Paul Ray (Email), R-Clearfield, who was not at the meeting, said he thinks the commission does not fully understand the legislation he sponsored to make the revisions.

"I do think it's appropriate to have kidnapping on this Web site," Ray said. "They may not like it, but anybody that kidnaps is obviously not a safe person. ... To me, a normal person isn't going to do that. You have to have a violent streak to be able to do that."

Ray also believes those convicted of aggravated kidnapping and voyeurism belong on the registry, but he did say he wants to investigate further any concerns about the unlawful detention provision.

As far as the hypothetical farmer, Ray asked, "Would the district attorney prosecute that farmer? I wouldn't."

Ray noted that his bill was written as a team effort including representatives from the Department of Corrections, the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, the Utah Attorney General's Office, prosecutors and members of the judiciary.

"I do think I want to look into the unlawful detention to make sure we have that down. The prosecutors were ones who wanted to add that," Ray said.

However, Ray is pleased with the addition of the other crimes because he believes it furthers public safety.

Other changes in the law require considerably more information from a convicted person, although only limited material will go on the public Web site.

Among the new requirement provisions: Internet information (detailing addresses and passwords for sites the individual frequents except for personal finance or work matters), primary and secondary addresses, a copy of one's passport, a copy of INS paperwork, any volunteer organizations the person assists, DNA information, all phone numbers and professional licenses.

Those on the registry also must provide their Social Security numbers (which will not be made public), and list the license and VINs for of all cars the person uses regularly, even if the convicted individual does not own the car.

Ingle also cited another new provision that is aimed at helping police -- listing employer information.

Police ran into difficulties seeking out registered sex offenders as they searched a South Salt Lake neighborhood for 7-year-old Hser Ner Moo in March because offenders at that time did not have to list where they work.

The girl was found raped, strangled and beaten to death. A 20- year-old man is charged with aggravated murder and child kidnapping in connection with the case.

There also is another court case involving the registry revisions in federal court. A Weber County man is challenging a narrow aspect of the registry changes in federal court, saying it violates his constitutional rights to have to provide computer passwords.
- I agree.  User names are one thing, but passwords is a whole new issue.  I'd not give my password either.  Doing so, someone could easily use it to set someone up and land them back in jail or prison for something they did not do.

The man, identified in court documents as "John Doe," was convicted of carnal knowledge and sodomy on a minor in a military court in 2005 and served time in a military prison. He contends that he was never under the jurisdiction of the Utah Department of Corrections but was required to register as a sex offender here.

The federal lawsuit is still pending.

Rep. Jim Bird (Email), R-West Jordan, who created the bill that addressed only the Internet aspects of the registry, said he believes the state is on firm legal ground here.

"We've run this thing through the Attorney General's Office and several other lawyers," he said.

The passwords will never be made public, but these will be available to law enforcement.
- Still doesn't matter, if I lived in this state, you'd not get my password, period.

"The idea is very simple: If one of your daughters came up missing and the last known person (to have communicated with her) was contacted on MySpace or Facebook, wouldn't you want to know who that individual was?" Bird said. "We just need to know that information for criminal investigation purposes."
- Sure!  Who wouldn't?  But violating someones privacy, just to make you feel better, is wrong.  That is why you would then provide these sites with a warrant and get the necessary info, having to give out passwords ahead of time, is an invasion of privacy.


(c) 2008 Deseret News (Salt Lake City). Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.


UK - Sex charge teacher took his own life

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08/07/2008

A TEACHER accused of sex offences took his own life by throwing himself off high cliffs, an inquest heard.

The body of Cambridge graduate Adrian Wolfson, 35, was found on the shoreline near Botallack in the far west of Cornwall on February 27 this year.

The inquest heard that five days earlier Mr Wolfson had pleaded not guilty to two counts of sexual activity in the presence of a child.

A page has been set up on social networking website Facebook in memory of Mr Wolfson. More than 200 friends and former pupils have paid tribute to an "inspirational" teacher.

The inquest at Truro City Hall yesterday heard that Mr Wolfson had been a teacher for 12 years at Deansfield Primary School in Eltham, South London.

Police were called to Thamesmead Leisure Centre on February 20 following reports that a man had performed a sex act on himself in front of children.

The inquest heard that Mr Wolfson booked himself in at the Porthminster Hotel in St Ives on February 23.

Staff at the hotel became concerned on February 26 after four empty packets of painkillers were found in Mr Wolfson's room by a chambermaid. Mr Wolfson had booked himself in to the Wellington Hotel in St Just on February 26 and was last seen eating breakfast there on the morning of February 27.

Later that morning his body was found at the bottom of cliffs near Zawn Cove by the police helicopter.

The inquest was told that a letter found in Mr Wolfson's rucksack was addressed to "the person who finds me". The letter said that he had left a fingerprint on his spectacles to confirm his identity. He wrote: "This is the last place I have chosen to feel the wind in my face."

None of Mr Wolfson's family were present at yesterday's hearing. A statement from his father, Stanley Wolfson, said: "He was distraught and said he had been treated very badly by the people who arrested him and locked him up. When he left he gave me a big hug and told me he loved me, which he had only done once before when his mother had recently died. He had a massive circle of friends, he had had many letters of support and it is clear he took his own life."

Suzanne Ellis, a close friend, said she received a suicide note from Mr Wolfson dated February 24 and postmarked February 25. When asked by Cornwall coroner, Dr Emma Carlyon, if there were any triggers to Mr Wolfson's actions, Ms Ellis said: "He strongly denied the charges of indecent exposure in court and pleaded not guilty. There was press coverage which was difficult for him and his family. Allegations like this would destroy him and his family."

Dr Carlyon said the cause of death was multiple injuries caused by a cliff fall and said that he took his own life.

Immediately after the hearing Ms Ellis gave a statement to the WMN which described Mr Wolfson as a caring brother and son, a wonderful friend and an inspirational teacher.

She said: "One single, unfounded allegation was enough to blow apart everything he loved and had worked so hard for in his community.

"To be guilty by accusation is a perversion of justice. Adrian's resulting death is a tragedy for him and all those who loved him so much. It is also an indictment on our society and justice system."


CA - Redlands man suspected of being molester takes his own life as police arrive

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08/07/2008

A 74-year-old Redlands man who committed suicide Wednesday evening was identified today as a convicted child molester who failed to appear for his sentencing last week.

Redlands police had gone to the hotel room to serve an arrest warrant for Walter Ward Davis charging him with failing to appear in San Bernardino County Superior Court on July 30, police spokesman Carl Baker said.

"Before the officer even had a chance to knock on the door, he heard a shot and the sound of a body hitting the floor," Baker said.

A revolver was found beneath the man's body shortly after the 5:50 p.m. shooting at the Sunrise Motel in the 1400 block of West Redlands Boulevard. He was pronounced dead at the scene and the coroner's office later identified the man as Davis.

Davis pleaded guilty July 2 to felony charges of sexual abuse of a child under the age of 14, according to court records. He was arrested in October 2007 after allegations of abuse that was reported to have occurred in 2005, Deputy District Attorney Jane Templeton said. The victim was a family member who was reportedly abused at least three times over a period of three months, she said.

Based on Davis' plea agreement, he would not have received any jail time beyond the year in custody he had already served while awaiting trail, Templeton said. The sentencing called for five years of felony probation.

Because he failed to show up for the sentencing, Davis faced up to 16 years in prison, Templeton said.

Deputy Public Defender Eric Teti, who represented Davis, said he last saw his client in court in July and did not know why he failed to appear for sentencing. Teti said Davis had seemed pleased with the plea agreement because it required no further jail time.

Imran Ghori - ighori@PE.com