Wednesday, September 17, 2008

MO - New rules added for sex offenders

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09/17/2008

As of Aug. 28, 2008, the State of Missouri is requiring sex offenders to register in person with the chief law enforcement official of the jurisdiction, within three days of conviction or plea. Previously, offenders had 10 days to register. (RSMo. 589.400)

Another new restriction for sex offenders involves Halloween. Sex offenders will be required to avoid all Halloween related contact with children, remain inside their residence between 5 and 10:30 p.m. unless there is just cause to leave, post a sign stating, "No candy or treats at this residence," and leave all outside residential lighting off during the evening hours. (RSMo. 589.426)

Registration forms require offenders to submit their e-mail addresses, as well as other internet identities, such as instant messaging, blog, text, chat, or other contact names. They must also register IP addresses and internet sites maintained by the individual, and websites on which the individual uploads or posts information. (RSMo. 589.426)


PA - Ex-deputy is guilty in sex-assault case

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09/17/2008

By JULIE SHAW - shawj@phillynews.com - 215-854-2592

After an hour-and-a-half of deliberations, a jury yesterday convicted a former sheriff's deputy of indecent sexual contact with a female inmate at the Criminal Justice Center two years ago.

When the forewoman announced the verdict on the one count of institutional sexual assault, defendant John Lopez, 49, bowed his head.

After the panel of eight women and four men left the Common Pleas courtroom, Lopez softly wept. Moments later, he declined comment to a reporter.

Lopez, who is not being held in custody, will be sentenced Nov. 19 by Senior Judge Charles B. Smith, of Chester County, who was asked to hear the Philadelphia case because it involved a former city law-enforcement officer. He faces a maximum of 3 to seven years in prison on the third-degree felony charge.

Lopez was working at the Criminal Justice Center in Center City when he made the sexual advances toward the inmate.

The victim, 22, testified yesterday that on Jan. 26, 2006, she had been brought to a holding cell between courtrooms 705 and 706 by a female sheriff's deputy. When that deputy left, Lopez was the only deputy in the holding area.

Lopez then told her that he knew she was there on her prostitution case, she said.

He had been assigned to courtroom 706 that day.

Lopez, smoking a cigarette, then told her to lift her shirt up, she said. She lifted her shirt midway, thinking the deputy was doing "a regular search" of her as an inmate, she testified.

The woman said Lopez then escorted her to another cell in the holding area. As she was sitting on a bench and he was standing before her, he shared his cigarette with her, she said.

Then, "he started rubbing me," she testified. "He was touching on my chest" over her clothing.

She was "scared" and gave him back his cigarette "thinking it would occupy his hands so he would stop rubbing me," she testified under questioning by Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Bretschneider.

Lopez took the cigarette, but this time put one hand underneath her clothing and began fondling her bare chest, she said.

Then Lopez "unzipped his pants" and asked her to perform oral sex on him, but the woman said she refused. In response, Lopez zipped his pants back up.

Lopez then went to use the phone in the holding area, and soon afterward, the female deputy who had brought her up to the seventh floor, returned and took her back down to a basement holding cell, the woman said.

The victim tesified that in the basement holding cell, she told other female prisoners what happened. Afterward, she reported the assault to authorities. Asked by the prosecutor if she had filed a civil lawsuit in the case or plans to, the woman said "no."

"I'm here for me, I'm here for me," she said as to why she was pursuing the criminal charge.

Marsha Floyd, a court officer who was working in Room 706, testified yesterday that the inmate did not have to be brought up to the seventh-floor holding area that day because her prostitution case had been postponed — a police officer was not available to testify.

Deputy Sheriff Officer Heather James testified yesterday that she had brought the inmate to the seventh-floor holding area about 12:15 p.m. after Lopez had called and told her "the courtroom was ready for her."

She said she returned to pick the inmate up about 15 or 20 minutes after Lopez again called.

Lopez chose not to take the stand yesterday. Character witnesses, including family members and friends, testified that he is a law-abiding citizen.

Lopez, an 11-year veteran of the Sheriff's Office, was arrested in April 2006 after an investigation. He was fired that June.


IL - Friends of Rep. Ron Wait respond to Tuite’s negative ad

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Politics as usual!  Deceive and attack your opponent to make them look worse than you are.  This is why I hate politics!  They are a bunch of children fighting for a prize.  This, IMO, is a crime by the government, and should NOT be allowed, period!  I wonder if PJ/AZU are writing these peoples campaign stories?

POLI = MANY, TICS = Blood sucking creatures

09/17/2008

ROCKFORD -State Rep. Ron Wait responded Tuesday to a Democratic campaign mailer accusing him of siding with sex offenders.

Wait, R-Belvidere, called the mailer, which went to homes in the 69th district, a misleading, negative attack.

They accuse me of not supporting legislation for victims of sex crimes, but the truth is I voted for the law that gave victims justice,” Wait said. “This is a deliberate attempt by (challenger Greg) Tuite and his Chicago bosses to deceive the voters.”
- It's called using the backs of sex offenders to get yourself voted into office, when you cannot do it any other way!

The mailer, paid for by the Democratic Party of Illinois, is printed on a yellow oversized postcard and features a Monopoly-like character in a prison jumpsuit. It reads “Ron Wait’s Get Out of Jail Free Card: This card may be kept by accused sex offenders until needed.”

The card rehashes Wait’s actions in May 2005, when he paid $500 to bail Joshua Munch, then 22, out of jail. Munch was accused of aggravated criminal sexual abuse against a 13-year-old girl.

“It shows poor judgment by an elected official to bail out an accused sex offender,” Tuite said. “An elected official should not put themselves in that position. When you’re voting on various laws, you shouldn’t be bailing accused criminals out of jail.”

Tuite said voters deserve to know about Wait’s decision to bail out Munch. Supporters of Wait said it was a dirty tactic.

I cannot believe that Mr. Tuite would allow that style of campaigning to occur here in northern Illinois,” said state Rep. Jim Sacia, R-Pecatonica, who spoke on Wait’s behalf at a news conference along with Boone County State’s Attorney Jim Hursh and Boone County Sheriff Duane Wirth.

Wait said he knew Munch’s family for years and received a call from them on the night Munch was arrested. They were out of town and asked for his help to bail out Munch.

Munch is serving a five-year prison sentence.

The mailer also says that Wait “sided with child molesters when he voted against giving children who were the victims of sex crimes more time to bring legal action against their abusers.”

Wait called it a distortion of his voting record.

In April 2003, the Belvidere representative voted against House Bill 2215, intended to extend the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse victims to present civil cases.

But he supported Senate Bill 1035 that extended the statute of limitations for both criminal prosecution and civil actions against child molesters.

Staff writer Kevin Haas can be reached at 815-544-3452 or khaas@rrstar.com.


VT - Forum: Sex laws need work

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09/17/2008

Vermonters who spoke before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday had varying opinions about minimum sentences for sex offenders, but everyone agreed that police and prosecutors need more tools to catch them.

More than a dozen residents from Rutland County and beyond testified before the committee that met at the Leahy Center to hear public views on the state's sex offender laws, which have been called into question in the wake of the kidnapping and killing of 12-year-old Brooke Bennett. Bennett's uncle, convicted sex offender Michael Jacques, has been charged with kidnapping his niece.
- But has not been convicted of sexually assaulting or killing the child either, which they do not report here.

"The issue of how Vermont deals with sex offenders is under fire from all quarters," Sen. Richard Sears, chairman of the Judiciary Committee said at the start of the meeting.

Soon after Bennett died, Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie started a signature drive to petition the Legislature to pass some form of Jessica's Law, which has set mandatory minimum sentences of up to 25 years in jail for convicted sex offenders in most other states.

But that proposal was more often criticized than not by speakers on Tuesday.

Ruthellen Weston, a 50-year-old Rutland resident who was sexually abused as a child, told the committee that mandatory minimum sentences wouldn't serve the victims of sexual offenses.

"That's an emotional response of vengeance that does nothing to help the victim," she said.

To the contrary, Weston said the high minimum sentences discouraged plea bargains, dragged victims into painful courtroom cross-examinations and, all too often, resulted in the eventual acquittal of the person charged.

"It's still embarrassing and humiliating tonight for me to talk about. What do you think a 5-year-old would feel like on the stand? I imagine it must feel like being raped all over again," she said.

Joan Eckley, a retired corrections employee who worked with sex offenders, criticized what she called a "severe overreaction" to the Bennett case which she predicted would lead to "ineffective knee-jerk" reactions that could potentially do more harm than good.

"I've heard offenders say it would make it more worth it to kill victims if 25-year minimums were imposed," she said.

Deputy Rutland State's Attorney Kevin Klamm, who for 22 years has specialized in crimes against children, said the state would be better off putting its money and resources into staffing child advocacy centers and special investigation units in each state county rather than imposing minimum sentences.

"Jessica's Law and minimum sentences has great emotional appeal but it doesn't kick in until a person is convicted," he said. "It would create more litigation and trials and reduce convictions. It would have a horrible impact on as much as 90 percent of my cases."

It would also expose victims to what he described as a torturous legal process.

"I tell my kids to leave the world of common sense behind because you're entering the world of the legal sense and it makes no sense," he said.

Klamm's boss, Rutland County State's Attorney James Mongeon, didn't say much about Jessica's Law other than to point out that mandatory minimums were meaningless if prosecutors can't obtain convictions.

"The evidence has to be there," he said. "The comparison I use is that if you want a heavy slate roof on your house, you need a solid foundation to hold it up."

To strengthen sex offense cases, Mongeon recommended changes to the rules of evidence that would make it easier and less painful for victims' testimony to be entered into court.

But while the majority of speakers said they opposed a Jessica's Law in Vermont, there were many speakers who supported mandatory minimums.

Anissa Delauri, a child-care provider who said she has worked with many victims of child sexual abuse, broke down in tears as she recounted the suicide of a teenage girl who had been abused as a child.
- So did that child get therapy for the abuse?

"I'm not saying the abuse was the cause, but the lack of self-esteem she suffered certainly played a role in her problems in life," she said. "The child abuse these kids endure changes them for life. They now have a life sentence for being a child."
- Abuse changes you for life, if you let it.  I chose to not let it.

James Link, an elementary school teacher from Sandgate, said residents in Bennington County were eager to sign Dubie's petition, which gathered more than 4,000 signatures there.

"I think we need to have the tools for the states attorneys' to do their jobs, but I assume Jessica's Law is working in the 40-something other states it's in. If the other states can do it, I assume it can work here," he said.
- But it's not working in other states either.  These are all just "knee-jerk" reactions to a horrific crime!

Julie Eaton, a mother of two from Rutland, said the people she has talked to in the community are infuriated by some of the sentences handed down by the courts in Vermont.

"I love living here, but it seems like the state of Vermont does not protect its children," she said.
- Oh give me a break.  Typical response from someone who doesn't want to even hear what anybody else has to say!  This is the same "pro-pedophile," "pro-sex offender" BS people like PJ and AZU say all the time, because they themselves do not want to hear all the facts, which they claim to know, and be experts at, when in fact, they are nothing but hate groups who love to terrorize people to make themselves feel better, and are also being sued for this very thing.

The only speaker on Tuesday who didn't have an opinion was perhaps the most entitled to one.

Sitting before the committee and speaking in a soft voice, Cassandra Gagnon, Brooke Bennett's mother, said her only hope was that the Legislature would change the laws in such a way that it would protect children.

"I have faith in whatever decision you make," she said.

That said, she added that if she had known more about Jacques' sex offender history, she would never have let her daughter near him.
- Oh come on.  He was a KNOWN SEX OFFENDER!  And from other articles I have read, which may or may not be true, but they said you knew he was a sex offender as well.

"My life is changed forever," she said. "Hopefully, the law will change to the benefit of the children … I believe sex offenders should be in the public eye as evil as they are."
- Of course your life has changed.  So is anyone else's who loses a loved one.  And not all sex offenders are "evil" like you seem to think.

Contact Brent Curtis at brent.curtis@rutlandherald.com.


VT - Officials against longer sentences

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09/17/2008

BENNINGTON — Testimony given at a public hearing regarding Vermont's sex offender laws, hosted by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, was decidedly against longer mandatory minimum sentences.

The hearing at the Vermont Veterans Home was the second of three held on Tuesday. The committee was tasked with holding meetings and public hearings following the death of Brooke Bennett in July, which sparked an intense, statewide debate over the state's sex offender laws.

Sen. Dick Sears, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said last week the committee is likely to pass legislation that gives prosecutors the option of seeking a longer sentence for certain "egregious" acts.

But witnesses offering testimony Tuesday were largely opposed to longer mandatory sentences.

Bennington Police Detective Lawrence Cole, who investigates sex crimes for the Bennington County Special Victims Unit, said lengthening sentences would negate much of the investigative work he does.

"No one more than me would like to see someone spend 25 years in prison for the things I investigate, but they've got to be convicted first," Cole said. "Mandatory minimums sounds great, but I'm afraid it's something that's going to leave a lot of guilty people walking the streets."

Cole said many young children victims are unable to make it through the deposition process, when they face questioning from defense lawyers.

Davia Plusch, a case manager with the Bennington County SVU, largely agreed, saying the state should be focusing more on preventative measures. She said the group is working with area daycare sites and pre-schools to teach the "Three R's" — resist, recognize and report.

However, the group, which all counties must have by next year according to state law, lacks the necessary funding to do the job.

"We need funding for prevention. We need funding for materials. We need funding for staff," Plusch said.

Funding for special victims units has been a heated political topic. The Democratic-led Legislature has accused the Douglas administration of dragging its feet on funding the units. Many of the county units have not yet been formed, Sears said.

"We really need to be building them, yesterday, actually, everywhere in the state," he said.

Bennington County Deputy State's Attorney Christina Rainville also pleaded with the committee to abandon the idea of 25-year minimum sentences.

"Mandatory minimums would take away the biggest tool I have, which is the plea bargain," she said. "I'm strongly opposed to mandatory minimums because that means we'll have to take these cases to trial. The end result is not going to make our community safer, but let more defendants go free."
- You see, they want the offender to take a plea bargain, that is their tool of the trade, and without that, many will be forced into a trial.  I'd not accept a plea bargain anyway, not with what I know today!  You will also notice, those who do not take a plea bargain, are more likely to go free, because the jury is less likely to convict, which they scare you into believing otherwise, and the people would have to testify against you.

Lester Goodermote, a county-level legislator in Rensselaer County, New York, was the only witness to ask the committee to seek longer sentences. He said New York residents living close to the state line were "very concerned" about Vermont's laws.

He touted New York's sentences for sex offenders and its civil confinement law, which allows the state to detain sex offenders even after completing prison sentences.

"The children of New York state and Vermont will be better off if ... these two states have comparable laws," Goodermote told the committee.

But Lori Vadikan, director of the Bennington County Child Advocacy Center, said New York has its own problems. She said the center has reported cases to New York authorities that never end up being investigated, whereas cases reported in Vermont almost always result in an arrest.

The committee will review the testimony heard at the public meetings held around the state and craft legislation next month that could go before the Legislature in a special session or when it reconvenes in January.

The 12-year-old Bennett, of Braintree, was reported missing on June 25. Her body was found on July 2, one week after she disappeared in Randolph. Bennett's uncle, Michael Jacques, 42, a convicted sex offender, has been charged with kidnapping Bennett, but so far has not been charged with sexually assaulting or killing her.

Many Vermonters, including Gov. James Douglas and Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie, have called for a Jessica's Law, which has as its centerpiece a 25-year-to-life mandatory minimum sentence.