Wednesday, September 24, 2008

VA - Judgment House - A Tour of Trouble

View the article here

Fear, the great motivator! Yet more people using fear to make a quick buck. Why not do this for free? Video is available at the site.

09/19/2008

It's like a tour of trouble. Heritage Baptist Church in Lynchburg is opening its "Judgment House" for the next two weekends. It's a walk-through drama and this year, the theme is online predators. The church has partnered with the Southern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force to act out the dangers of what your child could find online. They are expecting more than 3,000 people to come through. Tickets are $3.00 each. All funds will go to the cost of the props. For reservations, call 434-237-3392.


AUSTRALIA - Is this stalking law the most ridiculous ever?

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09/25/2008

A 15-YEAR-OLD girl who was stalked by a stranger had her identity revealed by police who were forced to hand it over to the pervert when he was granted bail.

The teenager told friends she feared for her life in the incident on Tuesday, which is one of a staggering spate of attempted child abductions around Sydney in recent weeks.

The young woman's alleged attacker, a 27-year-old man from Greystanes, had no idea who she was. But within hours of his arrest at Rooty Hill, in Sydney's west, he was free on police bail and had her name handed to him on a charge sheet. Now, only a bail condition ordering the man to stay away from the distressed girl is protecting her.

Police said their hands were tied as they were following laws designed to speed the passage of criminals through court.

Victims groups say the extraordinary system is making thousands of victims of random crimes vulnerable to their attackers as they wait for their case to come up in court.

Police too slow to act on abductions

Howard Brown from the Victims of Crime Assistance League said: "I know exactly how she would feel, she would be wanting to dig herself into a hole where she feels completely safe, now she is going to be scared for her life." Carol Ronken from Bravehearts said: "That is putting that child so at risk, I am appalled, it is horrific."

Man charged with stalking girl

The revelation came as an 11-year-old girl was targeted in another abduction attempt yesterday. The girl said she was grabbed by the wrist by a man who tried to drag her into a van in Miranda at 9.10am.

With more than 13 incidents since August 6, the Department of Education has finally decided to write to every school parent today warning of "stranger danger".

Boy hides from lurking stalker

A police source said it was normal practice to hand over charge sheets to accused criminals on bail: "We are obliged to supply as many documents at the time of charging as we can. It is practice from the Attorney-General's office, trying to streamline the system because whenever anyone appears in court they always ask for a further adjournment." But the Attorney-General's office denied it was the result of changes this year to how and when briefs of evidence are served.

The girl was shaken yesterday and a friend said she feared for her safety during the 15 minute ordeal in which she was followed and asked to get into the stalker's car twice.

Masked man tries to take girl, 9

"She was freaked out by it. She thought she was going to die. The man called out 'Hey you're hot, do you want a ride'. She said no but he kept following her" the friend said.

The girl was initially approached in Chandler St, Rooty Hill, just after midday, but called triple-0 after she saw the man stop several times along her route home.

The man then pulled over again on busy Francis Rd and police found him shortly after in a nearby street.

Her mother was relieved her daughter was OK, saying: "I'm just happy that she's safe and that the police reacted so quickly."

Police also appealed for help with a number of attempted abductions in the past few days.


FL - Sheriff seeks tighter rein on homeless sex offenders

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As it says in the bible, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth, and the truth is, these laws are creating these problems, by forcing people out of cities, counties, losing their homes, jobs, families and the state is forcing people to live under bridges. So the state and the laws are the problem. How is this going to help the problem? You will just make it faster for you to violate them, and put them back in jail or prison where your ultimate goal is anyway. Isn't that right?

09/25/2008

BROOKSVILLE - Only a month after being released from prison, convicted sexual predator John Scoggins was told to come to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office to provide an update on his living arrangements.

"I am still transient, have no permanent address," Scoggins wrote on a sworn statement dated Aug. 12.

That was a lie, according to the Sheriff's Office. Scoggins was actually staying with an ex-girlfriend at her home south of Brooksville and near the Hernando County Airport, deputies said.

But the case highlighted the problems local law enforcement agencies have keeping track of homeless convicted sex offenders and predators.

Sheriff Richard Nugent and his staff have responded with a proposal that would require convicted sex offenders without a specific address to report monthly to the Sheriff's Office. They made their pitch Wednesday at a meeting of the Florida Sheriff's Association legislative committee in Orlando.

"This is a huge loophole ... some folks are figuring out how to run under the radar," Nugent said. "We want to tie it up and make (the law) a little tighter."
- TIghter how?  By making them report sooner?  If you are homeless, you are homeless!

Under current state law, convicted sex offenders must report to the Sheriff's Office in their respective counties twice a year and sexual predators are required to check in four times a year. If they are homeless or without a specific address, offenders and predators are allowed to provide general locations — such as an intersection of two streets.

Hernando's plan was modeled after a similar law in Washington state, which orders offenders to report weekly to their county Sheriff's Office. Nugent suggested monthly reports for Florida, allowing for the budget constraints of smaller departments.

"It may be a burden," Nugent said. "But it's not a burden that we should shirk."

Nugent said the proposal would go to the full Sheriff's Association, which would then consider the plan and potentially submit it during the state's legislative session next year.

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Hernando has about 275 registered sex offenders and predators. Of those found on the database, only Scoggins listed himself as "transient."

Detective Tommy Breedlove, who started researching the proposal about a year ago, said it's unclear what the scope of the problem is in Hernando but that Scoggins' case heightened their concerns about the issue.

"It raised a lot of red flags for us," Breedlove said. "If we're supposed to know where people live and they provide us with false information, it doesn't make our jobs any easier and it doesn't make our communities any safer."
- If you fixed the laws, then they could have a home, and you and everyone else would know exactly where they lived, no wouldn't you?

Some agencies across the country have created special units and come up with specific policies to register homeless sex offenders, including the police departments in Seattle, Dallas and Palm Bay. But in Georgia, for instance, sex offenders can be arrested for being homeless.

"Homeless sex offenders are a challenge to local law enforcement," said Alissa Huntoon, a project manager for the International Association of Chiefs of Police, based in Alexandria, Va. "It's difficult to monitor somebody if they're homeless."
- Exactly!  So how do you propose to fix the problem?  I propose you eliminate the residency restrictions and put the laws back to how they were, when they were working!

Meanwhile, Scoggins has been behind bars in the Hernando County Jail since Aug. 14. He faces charges of failure to register as a sexual predator and possession of amphetamine, methamphetamine and paraphernalia.
- Ok, the drugs are a whole different issue.

Scoggins, 51, has pleaded not guilty on all charges.


SD - West Gets 5 Years Probation For Statutory Rape

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I am so sick and tired of the BS double standards.  There is one set of laws for men, then another set for women, police, celebrities, public officials.  How is this a fair and just system?  It isn't!

09/24/2008

A 28-year old Sioux Falls woman will have to register as a sex offender after having sex with a 14-year old boy last summer.

Marchelle West pleaded guilty in July to having sex with the 14 year old. Wednesday in court she said it was the worst mistake of her life. West will now have to live with that mistake for the rest of her life after a judge said she has to register as a sex offender and be under supervised probation for five years.

28-year old Marchelle West admits that last summer when she was 27 she had sex with a 14 year old boy. It's a rare case for the Minnehaha County court system.

Hope Okerlund Matchan of the Minnehaha County State's Attorney's office says, "We've only had in my 11 years at the state's attorney's office we've had a few cases but they are very unusual."

Wednesday Judge Brad Zell said West's sexual relationship with the 14 year old was unique too. Zell pointed out West doesn't show signs of being a sexual predator but was in between relationships last summer when she had sex with the 14 year old and was going through an, "emotionally weakened," time in her life. And that's why he sentenced her to five years supervised probation.
- Oh wow!  Screw the injustice system.  If a man did this same thing, he would be in prison.  Yes, 5 years probation and registry is hell, but where is the equal justice?  Who hasn't gone through an "emotionally weakened" time in their life?

Okerlund Matchan says, "I am not surprised by the sentence, and five years on probation is a lengthy time on probation and so that will be good for this defendant. This will hopefully help her get some things in her life straightened around."

And while the case of an older woman having sex with an underage boy is a unique case in Minnehaha County, statutory rape is not rare. It just often times goes unreported.

Okerlund Matchan says, "We treat them with a tremendous amount of respect in our office, we try to respond to their needs and their questions and the questions of their family. So, please, please, absolutely if you think you have been a victim of what is referred to as statutory rape, whether you're male or female, please come forward. It's a crime."

Judge Brad Zell said in court today that while some may see a five year probation sentence as light, registering as a sex offender is a life sentence for West.
- Yeah, it is a light sentence, if you ask me.  My crime was less than she did, and I have been dealing with these laws for almost 20 years now.  And yeah, he knows the registry is punishment, it's in his own words, so therefore, the laws should be, in a just world, unconstitutional, because it's punishment after the fact for a majority of the sex offenders on the registry.


MI - Court: Man involved with sheep not a sex offender

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Sick!  So does he have to stay 1000 feet a way from sheep now?

09/24/2008

LANSING - The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled that a Battle Creek man who pleaded no contest to sodomizing a sheep does not have to register as a sex offender after his release from prison.

Jeffrey Haynes, 45, is serving 2 1/2 to 20 years for sodomy, a "crime against nature" under state law. Haynes was sentenced in 2006 after police said he had sex with a sheep at a Bedford Township farm in 2005.

The animal's owner caught him on the property and the sheep was found injured. A DNA sample taken from the animal matched Haynes' genetic material.

A no contest plea is not an admission of guilt but is treated as such for sentencing purposes.

In a 3-0 opinion released Wednesday, the appeals court said the state sex offender registry is intended to track people who have committed crimes against humans, not animals.

Judges Jane Markey, William Whitbeck and Elizabeth Gleicher vacated a Calhoun County judge's order that Haynes register as a sex offender upon his release. They said "courts may not read or include provisions into a statute that the Legislature did not."

Calhoun County Prosecutor John Hallacy, who wanted Haynes on the sex offender list, called the ruling "well thought out" and said he would not appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court. But he said state lawmakers should change the law.

"The Legislature is going to have to take a look at this and determine whether or not this type of deviant behavior is one they want covered by the registry," Hallacy said. "It was an oversight originally by the Legislature."

Rep. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, has twice introduced legislation to specify sodomy of an animal for inclusion in sex offender registration requirements. But the bills have gone nowhere. Jones has said his measures were a response to the incident involving Haynes.

Haynes has prior convictions for burglary, home invasion and uttering and publishing, which is similar to counterfeiting. A message seeking comment was left Wednesday with Haynes' attorney in Detroit.


FL - School district to move bus stop across from sex offender's home

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Another parent not wanting to be a parent!

09/24/2008

Tarpon Springs - Keeping kids safe getting on and off the school bus can be a challenge for a school district. Trying to keep the stops away from one of the 1,400 sex offenders and predators in Pinellas County makes it an even tougher task.

One Tampa Bay's 10 viewer researched her child's bus stop and found a sex offender living across the street from the stop on Castleworks Lane. She e-mailed 10 News asking for help.

We found a couple of parents waiting for the school bus to arrive after school to pick up their kids, instead of letting them walk home.

One mom named Susan says she wants the school district to move the bus stop. "I didn't have any problems. I don't want to wait until there is a problem. There may not be a problem but I'm not willing to take that chance," says the mother of two.
- So why don't you start being a responsible parent, and do like the others above.  Go to the bus stop to pick up your child.  You are the type of person who wants everyone else to do your job for you!  Also, you said you didn't have a problem...  Until when?  When you found out the sex offender lived there?  How long was here there before you freaked out?

When grandmother Carmelina Flores learned a sexual offender lives a few houses away from her 3-year-old grandson, she grew concerned. "Not happy, not happy at all. I believe people [who] do stuff like this shouldn't be in a neighborhood with a whole bunch of children. This neighborhood is full of children," says Flores.
- So is just about all other neighborhoods as well.

The registered sex offender is 51-year-old Lewis Navarro. He was convicted of lewd and lascivious acts in 1994. He's since been released without any conditions as to where he can live, but he must register.
- In other words Grandma, if you don't like it, move!  He is legally allowed to live there.

A parent found Navarro by going to the FDLE website and doing an offender search by address. We did the same, except extended it to a neighborhood search, and found 19 sexual offenders and one predator within a two mile radius of the same bus stop.

"Anything involving safety and security of students certainly takes a high priority," says Pinellas School District Spokesperson Andrea Zahn.

Pinellas school district officials say even though the law does not keep this offender from living near a bus stop, the location is outside the district's guidelines and will be moved. "Our district practice has been to, when possible, not to locate a bus stop in front of, adjacent to, or in direct line of sight of an offender's resident," says Zahn.
- So ok, you move the bus stop a mile down the road.  Now the child has longer to walk!  You people are idiots!!!

Pinellas school officials receive local and state law enforcement updates on offenders moving into the area. The information is used to set bus stops prior to the beginning of a new school year and during the school year as offenders move in and out of the area. Zahn says the district sometimes needs extra help.

"We may not always be aware of everything so we appreciate parents bringing it to our attention."

The school district will move the bus stop on Tuesday, September 30th.

Tampa Bay's 10 News did contact Navarro but he declined to make any public comments on the matter.

Isabel Mascarenas, Tampa Bay's 10 News


FL - Police: Juvenile Justice Worker Sent Nude Pics To Teen

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Since when do teens or anybody in detention get cell phones with texting capability?

09/24/2008

GULFPORT - An employee with the Department of Juvenile Justice was arrested today on charges he text-messaged obscene and nude pictures of himself to a 14-year-old girl who had been in a juvenile detention center, according to Gulfport police.

Parris Woods, 27, was expected to be booked into the Pinellas County Jail, said Lt. Robert Vincent of the Gulfport Police Department. The exact charges were not available.

A campus police officer at Boca Ciega High School began an investigation after the 14-year-old, who attends the school, told him about the text messages, Vincent said. The text messages were from a man who claimed to be an employee at the juvenile detention center where the girl had been held in an unrelated matter, Vincent said.

The sender asked to meet the 14-year-old girl to engage in sexual activity, Vincent said. A man, identified by authorities as Woods, a corporal with the Department of Juvenile Justice, was taken into custody today after he showed up for the rendezvous, Vincent said.


IN - Appeals court upholds sex offender ban

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09/24/2008

By Bruce C. Smith

Plainfield has won the latest round in the long-running lawsuit filed by a convicted sex offender who was banned from the town’s parks.

The Indiana Court of Appeals today released a 20-page ruling that upholds the town’s 2002 ordinance prohibiting persons on the state registry of sex offenders from going into Plainfield parks and recreation facilities.

While the ban on sex offenders in the parks does have a punitive aspect, the court said it is not unconstitutional, as the plaintiff, identified only as John Doe, tried to claim in his suit.
- Punishment after the fact, is unconstitutional, and this judge admits it's punitive, thus proving they do not care if they violate the constitution, which is not worth the paper it's written on!

The appeals court said Plainfield did not violate the portion of the Indiana Constitution that guarantees rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to everyone.

Plainfield Town Manager Rich Carlucci said today that the purpose of the ban on registered sex offenders in the parks is to keep them away from children playing in the park.
- Who cares about the fact that 90% or more of all sexual crimes occur in the victims own home?  Telling people where they can and cannot go, especially if they are paying taxes on it, is unconstitutional.

The appeals court decision upholds a ruling in March this year by Hendricks Superior Court Judge Robert W. Freese, who had granted summary judgment for Plainfield and upheld the town’s ordinance.

Doe, a Marion County resident, was represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana in filing the suit challenging Plainfield’s ban on sex offenders in the parks.
- So do these organizations bust out the facts?  I doubt it, or they would see the punitive nature of these laws.  It's easy to say that, if you are not living with the laws, which are additional punishment, and this judge said it was.

According to the Court of Appeals, Doe was a convicted sex offender. He also has acquired joint legal custody of his minor son, according to the court.
- So you see the idiotic reasoning behind all this?  He cannot go to parks where children are, but he has custody of his kids.  So I guess they want to protect children, so they say, but not his kids.

Doe and his son visited Plainfield parks and recreation areas in 2004 and 2005, according to the court.

In June 2005, a Plainfield policeman recognized Doe in the Recreation Center and Splash Island. He told Doe of the town ordinance banning anyone on the state’s online registry of convicted sex offenders from being in the parks.

Doe sued Plainfield in November 2005, which began nearly three years of twists and turns in the legal case.

In one key step, Doe won a controversial court ruling to keep his identity secret in the legal proceeding even though he is listed publicly on the state registry of sex offenders.

Call Star reporter Bruce C. Smith at (317) 444-2803.


MI - MICHIGAN - 200th Internet Predator Arrested

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Many of these politicians are saying there are 50,000 online predators a year. So if that is the fact, which I doubt it is, then Perverted-Justice is not doing a very good job, now are they? And out of these 200, how many have been convicted? Also, this is since 2003, so over an 5 year term, they have arrested only 200 people out of 250,000 (5 * 50,000)! Not a very good track record if you ask me!

09/23/2008

LANSING - Attorney General Mike Cox (Contact) today announced that his office has reached a new benchmark and arrested 200 Internet predators since 2003. Upon taking office, Cox restructured the criminal division and made child protection a priority of his administration.

"Every day, child predators troll the Internet seeking to exploit our children," said Cox. "Today's record breaking achievement is a reminder that my office and law enforcement across the state continues to track down child predators in order to remove them before they can hurt a child."

Cox reached the 200th mark with the arrest of James Scott Rogers, 44, of Linden. Rogers is charged with using the Internet to commit child sexual abusive activity.

On August 25, Rogers was arrested after attempting to meet with who he thought was the minor he communicated with on the Internet. Rogers was communicating with an undercover volunteer from the citizens' (vigilante predator) group Perverted Justice posing as a 14-year old girl. Rogers was also charged with 2 felonies for sending sexually explicit photos to the person he believed was a 14-year old girl.

Rogers was arraigned on August 26, 2008, at 34th District Court in Romulus, before Judge Tina Brooks Green. He is charged with:

  • One count of child sexually abusive activity, a 20 year felony;
  • One count of using the Internet to communicate with another to commit child sexually abusive activity, a 20 year felony;
  • One count of using the Internet to disseminate sexually explicit matter to a minor, a 4 year felony; and,
  • One count of using the Internet to distribute child sexually abusive material to a minor, a 10 year felony.

Judge Green set Rogers' bond at $50,000 cash, the defendant is scheduled to be back in court on October 1, 2008. Upon examination of Rogers' computer, child pornography was discovered; more charges are possible, pending further investigation.

Because of the seriousness of the problem of Internet predators, Cox created an education curriculum that his Department teaches in schools throughout Michigan called the Child Safety Initiative (Michigan CSI). The initiative is broken into four classes, targeting grades, K-1, 2-3, 4-6, and a community seminar aimed at educating teachers, parents and community leaders. The program has received national praise and reached more than 214,000 students in the 2007-08 school year, and began its second season last week.

For more information on how to protect your child from Internet predators visit www.michigan.gov/csi.

Parents are encouraged to check their children's "buddy lists" for the screen name Rogers used including "niceguy4u810." If they believe their child had contact with Rogers, parents should contact the Attorney General''''s office at (313) 456-0180.
- So why don't reporters and law enforcement tell people how to do the above?

A criminal charge is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
- Yeah right!  I think you have that backwards!

By the Office of the Michigan Attorney General


TX - Former police officer indicted in sex case

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09/24/2008

A former Sunrise Beach officer is expected to plea not guilty Thursday to five counts of online solicitation of a minor.

Eddie Shell, defendent Paul LaFayette Kirksey’s attorney, said that they will appear at the arraignment hearing to enter the plea and file other motions.

“We’ll file a motion for discovery and see what evidence the state has,” Shell said.

If Kirksey is convicted of the second-degree felonies, each count could carry a prison term of 20 years.
- So that is 100 years.  How much you want to bet he will get off?

For the full story see the Llano County Journal


NH - AIDS group suing Gilsum, NH, officials

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09/24/2008

KEENE (AP) - A Keene (New Hampshire) AIDS services agency says it's suing Gilsum town officials, accusing them of illegally restricting who's allowed to live at a group home run by the agency.

AIDS Services for the Monadnock Region alleges that the officials overstepped their authority and violated the state Constitution regarding the Cleve Jones Wellness House, a residential center for people living with AIDS, HIV or chronic illness, or recovering from drug or alcohol addiction.

In 2006 the agency was granted a variance of a town ordinance that allowed it to open the house, but the town's planning and zoning boards added nearly 30 conditions to that approval.

Earlier this year, Gilsum officials filed a lawsuit against the agency alleging its officials had violated several of the conditions, including allowing a convicted sex offender to live at the house for several months. The agency said the conviction did not appear in a criminal background check.
- You are suppose to be psychic!


Smile!

This is what sorry looks like.


This is what tired looks like.


This is what bad spelling looks like.


This is what intimacy looks like.


This is what courage looks like.


This is what 'good grief!!' looks like.


This is what your tax dollars look like.


This is what 'I can wait' looks like.


This is what a blonde's car looks like.


This is what cool looks like.


This is what a helping hand looks like.


This is what an angel looks like.


This is what a bad mood looks like.


It doesn't matter how many people you send this to.

Just remember, if it made you smile, your friends will smile too!

A clean house is the sign of a broken computer!


OH - Sex Offenders Near School Under Construction

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Yet more BS! The sex offenders were there first. Why is the school being built near sex offenders? They say that parents would be wondering if it's a safe place to send their kids to. Well, the people building the place should've thought about that before opening the place, and they should be the ones moving! And another idiotic politician saying "there are laws on the books, that we should enforce, to make sure this can't happen!" Yeah, when the people came along to ask for the building permit, you should've denied it! But of course, making sex offenders move, gets you more brownie points, and it is an election year!

09/24/2008

CINCINNATI -- When the new $62-million School for the Creative and Performing Arts opens in Over-the-Rhine next year, it will have 1,300 students from across the city.

It could also have as many as 19 sex offenders living nearby.

"Well, it's outrageous. It concerns me and I'm sure it concerns most parents," Cincinnati City Councilman Jeff Berding said.

Ten of them live within a quarter-mile of the school, while nine more told authorities that they live across the street at the Drop Inn Center, a homeless shelter.

"There are laws on the books that we should enforce to make sure this can't happen," Berding said.

But the law in question won't allow it. That's because the 19 men committed their crimes before passage of the current law that bans them from coming within 1,000 feet of schools.

That means those 19 sex offenders are exempt from the law, and unless they commit another crime, cannot be forced to move.

Meanwhile, the Drop Inn Center's executive director said that the nine men who said they live at the center don't live there.

"We do not house sex offenders at all. It's against the law," Pat Clifford said.

Clifford admitted that his workers only check IDs on people who stay at the center, not those who simply come by for meals during the day, but pointed out that there's no way to know where a sex offender might be at any given moment.

"Does a sex offender go to the public library downtown? Can you say, yes or no, whether a sex offender has been in a public library? You don't know. You can't prove yes or you can't prove no. Is a sex offender in Washington Park right now? I can't prove it. It's a public place," he said.

Previous studies have shown that despite laws requiring offenders to register their address, the address given can easily be wrong. Some have even registered parking lots near the Ohio River as their home.

Cincinnati Public Schools said they work closely with Cincinnati and Hamilton County to ensure the safety and security of school children.


MO - Prosecutors: MySpace Suicide Suspect Told Hairdresser, Others of 'Prank'

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So, we've seen in other articles, where non sex offenders who kidnap or commit a crimes against or in the presence of children, like this article, can land you on the sex offender registry... So, I think this lady needs to be put on the sex offender registry, then she can see what shame and harassment is all about. Besides, we want to "protect the children," right? This lady, IMO, is a predator. Not a sexual predator, but a predator by definition! This should also be involuntary man-slaughter, IMO.  What do you think?

09/24/2008

By SCOTT MICHELS

Lori Drew Planned to Taunt 13-Year-Old Neighbor, Prosecutors Claim

Lori Drew, the woman accused of orchestrating an online hoax that allegedly led to the suicide of her teenage neighbor, planned to lure the girl to the mall and taunt her, prosecutors claim in court papers filed this week.

Drew also allegedly told several people, including her hairdresser, that she and others were posing as a 16-year-old boy named Josh Evans on MySpace and using the online account to communicate with 13-year-old Megan Meier, prosecutors say.

Federal prosecutors claim that Drew, her daughter and her daughter's friend, Ashley Grills, pretended to be Josh Evans and first befriended and then taunted Meier, who lived down the street from the Drews in Dardenne Prairie, Mo. Meier hanged herself in her bedroom closet in 2006, shortly after Grills, posing as "Josh," allegedly told her online that the world would be a better place without her.
- I wonder if anything was ever said in a sexual manner?  If so, what she did, is exactly what PJ and other due, so she committed a sexual crime of online solicitation of a minor.  I've not seen any transcripts, and doubt we ever will, but I wonder!

Drew has been charged with conspiracy and unauthorized access to a protected computer with the intent to get information to cause emotional distress, a felony. Drew has denied being involved in the hoax and pleaded not guilty. Her lawyer declined to comment.
- Hmm, wonder if people could use the same defense against Perverted-Justice, AbsoluteZeroUnited and others?  Why not?  It's the same thing they have done to many people!

Drew is scheduled to go on trial next month. Her daughter and other alleged conspirators have not been charged.
- Why not?  If they were part of the harassment, they should be charged as well!

In the court papers, prosecutors allege that Drew encouraged her daughter and her daughter's friend, Ashley Grills, to flirt with Meier using the Josh Evans MySpace account.
- So if these people, pretending to be Josh, flirted with a 13 year old, if anything sexual was said, that is a sex crime, and should be dealt with accordingly, IMO.

When it became clear that Meier was attracted to Josh, Drew allegedly proposed that they lure Meier to the mall, where they would reveal the hoax and taunt her with information from her MySpace page, the court papers say.

Drew also allegedly told several people, including her hairdresser and a business associate, that she was playing a joke on Meier and "denied any untoward purpose and dismissed concerns over her 'prank,'" prosecutors claim.

After Meier killed herself, Drew and her husband allegedly told others to delete the MySpace account. She also allegedly told another neighborhood girl, who had also pretended to be Josh and told Meier that Josh no longer wanted to be her friend, to "keep her mouth shut" and "stay off MySpace," the court papers claim.

The case, first revealed by a local newspaper, quickly captured the public imagination and sparked new discussion about so-called cyber bullying. Once Drew's name was made public, she and her family were harassed and received death threats.

Local and federal prosecutors in Missouri declined to charge Drew, saying no laws had been broken. A grand jury in Los Angeles, where MySpace's servers are based, indicted Drew in May.

Drew's lawyers have moved to dismiss the charges, arguing that the federal computer fraud statute does not apply to alleged cyber-bullying and that the charges are unconstitutionally vague.

Drew knew the Meiers and lived down the street from them in Missouri for years. "This adult woman allegedly used the Internet to target a young teenage girl, with horrendous ramifications," said U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O'Brien in a written statement when Drew was indicted.
- And that my friends, is a predator, and they said they also flirted with her, so if it was sexual, it is also a sexual crime!

At the time, Drew's family said in a statement released by their attorney, H. Dean Steward, "We are deeply saddened to hear of return of federal charges against Lori Drew ... The US Attorney's Office in Los Angeles has taken a tragic case and added to that tragedy by their unfounded indictment."

"We look forward to the truth coming out in court. After the truth is presented, we are confident that Lori will be cleared of all charges," the statement said.
- I hate to say it, but the way the legal system is, you are probably right.  She and all involved, should be in prison for a while.  They killed someone, not intentionally, but if they would not have done what they did, she would still be here today.

Six weeks after Megan's death, her mother, Tina Meier, said she learned from a neighbor that Drew was responsible for the fake MySpace page.

The extent of Drew's involvement in the hoax has been in dispute. According to a 2006 police report, Drew told police she and Ashley Grills created the fake profile so Drew could try to monitor what Megan might say online about Drew's daughter.
- So, they wanted to monitor her, why?  To see if she says something bad about her daughter?  And the whole time they were "monitoring," they were the ones saying the bad things and causing her distress.

Drew has since denied creating and monitoring the profile, saying she only learned of the cruel messages that were being sent to Meier after the 13-year-old took her own life. In an interview with the FBI, Drew admitted to knowing about the hoax but denied any involvement, court papers say.
- So why didn't anybody confiscate her computer?  There would be traces of her tracks on her computer to prove if she is telling the truth, or lying.  And she even states she knew about the hoax, and did nothing to stop it!

Megan, who suffered from low self-esteem and battled depression since third grade, was elated when she got an e-mail on MySpace from a cute boy named "Josh," her parents said.

"Megan was a goofy girl. Megan just giggled a lot," her mother said in an earlier interview with ABC News. "She was the class clown. She just found things very humorous that maybe other people didn't find funny. She would laugh hysterically."

Her giggling and laughter masked a sadness so severe that Megan would cut her arms and had said she wanted to commit suicide, according to her mother.

"Seventh grade is when Megan had a really, really tough year," Meier said. "That was the year that Megan was really truly trying to fit in, and she just couldn't figure it out. You know and it's a tough year for a lot of children."

Ashley Grills, 19, claimed in an interview earlier this year with "Good Morning America" that Lori Drew was involved in creating the account and wrote some of the messages to Meier.

"We were just combining ideas about how we can figure out what Megan was saying about Lori's daughter," Grills told ABC News' Deborah Roberts. "It was all three of us — me and Lori and her daughter."


WI - Wisconsin sex offender wants more time to sell house

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They seem to think sex offenders are rolling on money, or something. Some people live day to day and do not have any other money.

09/24/2008

FRANKLIN — A registered sex offender ordered out of his home in Franklin is expected in court Thursday to ask for more time to move because the faltering real estate market has kept him from selling his house.

The city sued to force Steven Hanke to move, saying his purchase of a house in Franklin violated an ordinance restricting where sex offenders could live. In August, a court ordered Hanke to move by Sept. 22.

Hanke's lawyer filed a request for more time last week in Milwaukee County Circuit Court. Hanke's real estate agent says he hasn't been able to sell the house even though it's listed at $5,000 less than Hanke paid.

Hanke could be fined for failing to meet the moving deadline.


CA - It's Time to Put the Handcuffs on Police Departments

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09/24/2008

By Terry L. Mitchell

Every time I watch a TV show like NBC´s To Catch a Predator, I get so mad that I swear steam probably emanates from my ears. Why is it that four or more screaming cops, with guns drawn, have to shove an unresisting, nonviolent, terrified (and sometimes crying) suspect to the ground and put handcuffs on him? In a physical confrontation, most of these offenders would be no match for any one of the officers – even a female. They could be just as easily apprehended by one officer with a simple, "Come with me." This use of handcuffs and all the roughhouse tactics no doubt result in some of those guys enduring Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for many years afterward.

I can appreciate the need for police officers to err on the side of caution and protect themselves as much as reasonably possible. They have a very dangerous job and I understand that. But the use of strong-arm tactics on obviously submissive suspects seems excessive to me. A private citizen would not be allowed such disproportionate use of force. For example, if someone much smaller than I slapped me in the face, I could not legally respond by pointing a loaded gun at him and getting three of my friends to help me force him to the ground. Of course, such action would almost certainly guarantee my safety during the confrontation and would virtually ensure that I come out victorious. However, a court of law would very likely find that response unlawfully extreme, not to mention cowardly.

Don´t get me wrong, my beef is not with individual cops. My problem is with the policies and procedures their departments dictate that they follow. The rules should be changed to prohibit this kind of activity by police departments, even if it requires a constitutional amendment. Cops should not be required, directed, or allowed to handcuff, draw their guns on, or otherwise roughly handle someone unless that person meets one or more of the following criteria: He or she (1) has been convicted of a violent crime in the past, (2) has been known to use violence in the past, (3) has been convicted of weapons violations in the past, (4) is currently suspected of a violence crime, (5) is currently suspected of a weapons violation, (5) is acting in a belligerent manner, (6) has produced a weapon or reasonably appears to be reaching for or carrying one, or (7) is attempting to actively and physically resist.

Some people will now undoubtedly conclude that I´m one of those liberals who is tough on police and soft on suspects? But that´s not the case at all. Many suspects are fearless, menacing, and/or intimidating. Those are the kinds of people that are the real threat to the police. They should always be approached with the greatest of caution. And when doing so, I believe police are justified in using whatever means they feel are necessary to emerge unharmed.


CA - Former Officer Accused Of Fixing Ticket For Sex

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09/24/2008

OCEANSIDE -- A recently retired California Highway Patrol officer is under investigation Wednesday, accused of fixing a ticket in exchange for sex with a woman at an Oceanside hotel.

Two affidavits in support of search warrants filed with San Diego Superior Court in Vista allege that Abram Carabajal met Shirin Zarrindej, of Encino, at the GuestHouse Inn & Suites on North Coast Highway shortly after her speeding ticket was dismissed in court, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Carabajal wrote the ticket March 12.

When the woman contested the ticket, he signed a subpoena to appear in court, according to the newspaper.

On June 30, Carabajal reserved a room with an early check-in time at the Oceanside hotel for the next day, the newspaper reported.

In court the next day, Carabajal told a judge he did not get a subpoena, and the ticket was dismissed.

Later that day, Zarrindej paid for the room with her credit card and was seen walking arm-in-arm with the officer into the room, the Union-Tribune reported.

Carabajal, 51, retired in July after more than 26 years with the CHP.

He told the newspaper on Monday that he knew nothing of the investigation.

"I think there's nothing to it," Carabajal told the Union-Tribune.

Zarrindej told police, who came to the hotel after Carabajal left, that she knew he was married and had children, but she was in love with him, according to the Union-Tribune, which was unable to reach her for comment.

A CHP spokesman declined to comment, citing personnel issues.


FL - Teen Accused Of Molesting 3-Year-Old Girl

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09/22/2008

14-Year-Old Arrested, Released To His Parents

JACKSONVILLE BEACH -- A 14-year-old boy was arrested Saturday after Jacksonville Beach police say he was caught in a bathroom molesting a 3-year-old girl.

Police said the boy, along with the Kingsland, Ga., family he has lived with for the past six months, came to Jacksonville Beach to visit the girl's grandmother.

During the visit, the grandmother found the teenager and the girl in a bathroom inside her house. He admitted to the grandmother and to detectives who interviewed him that he digitally penetrated the girl while in the bathroom. It was not known if he had attempted sexual intercourse as well.

The boy was arrested and charged with sexual battery and transported to jail. He was then released to the custody of his biological parents, who also live in Kingsland.

Detectives were investigating other allegations involving the victim's sisters.


NY - A sex offender strikes again

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And more proof that the sex offender laws do nothing to prevent sexual crimes, but just "feel good" laws to punish and shame people!  At least this is one reporter who TELLS THE TRUTH!

09/24/2008

Canandaigua - Richard Aikey was convicted in 1995 of sexually abusing three boys, ages 7, 10, and 11, whom he was charged with baby-sitting. He was released from prison in 2001, and wound up on the state’s sex offender registry. His photo and personal details — everything from his weight and height to his street address to the kind of car he drives (a white Cavalier) — is posted on the Internet for the world to see.

But it didn’t stop him from striking again.

Aikey was convicted in Ontario County Court last week of repeatedly molesting a young girl he knew from January 2005 to February 2008. In one instance, the girl’s younger sister saw the abuse. Both girls were called to testify in what must have been a scary experience.

The recidivism rate among convicted sex offenders is low, studies have shown. That makes Aikey’s case rare.

But as with many sex offenders, he knew his victims, back in 1995, and more recently. Justice Department data show that nine out of 10 child victims are abused by someone they know, often a friend or relative.

Rarely is a kid snatched off a curb and molested in a dark alley. A more likely scenario is that it happens in their own home or some other place where they are supposed to be safe.

This is what takes the steam out of laws targeting sex-offenders, particularly those that set limits on where they can live. More than half of all U.S. states impose some residency restrictions on convicted sex offenders, but statistics have shown no reduction in sexual offenses as a result.

New York does not impose such restrictions statewide, but many individual communities, including the city of Canandaigua, do.

The trouble with residency restrictions is that they undermine sex offender registries by driving underground the very people who are supposed to be watched.

As for the registry itself, take it for what it is: information. Surely, many folks with little kids would be swayed about relocating to a particular apartment complex if they learned from the registry that its tenants included a few sex offenders. And it may be comforting to know, if you are a parent, where the worst offenders live.

But just how useful the registry has been may never be known. There are no statistics to show how many times, if ever, a registry listing has thwarted molestation.

“We know that most abusers know the victims — in that case, does the registry provide what we’re looking for in society?” said Assistant Ontario County District Attorney Jim Ritts, who prosecuted Aikey. “We might have more information than we’ve ever had, but by the same token, is that enough?”

Clearly not in the case of Richard Aikey.


PA - Sex offender law coming to town

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09/24/2008

By ANNIE TASKER - Bucks County Courier Times

Several municipalities near Warrington have passed laws restricting where registered sex offenders can live.

In hopes of not becoming a hot spot for predators with no where else to call home, Warrington supervisors voted Tuesday to advertise a residency restriction ordinance of its own.
- Never ending shuffle game.  If all states and/or counties do this, then where are any offenders going to live?

The township is considering a law that would ban registered sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of places where children are known to congregate. According to a draft of the ordinance, that includes schools, parks, movie theaters, arcades, skate parks, athletic fields and day-care facilities.
- Hell, why don't you just make it 2,500 feet from anything?  Might as well!  50 miles would not prevent anyone intent on committing another crime.  Plus, are they magically safe if they live 2,501 feet a way from these places?

Hatboro, Horsham, Doylestown Township, Quakertown, Dublin and Hilltown are among the nearby municipalities with similar restrictions already in place.

The township has been considering such a law for the past few years, but wanted to wait and see if other municipalities with similar ordinances were challenged in court, said Supervisor Michael Lamond. Since township solicitor Michael Clarke has said no challenges were filed in Pennsylvania, the draft is being introduced now as a preventive measure against registered offenders eyeing the suburbs for a new hometown.
- Come on people!  If you live in Pennsylvania, take them to court!  You see above, nobody is challenging the laws, so they will continue to pass more and more laws, if you do not stand up for your rights!

“If we don't do anything, this is where (sexual predators) are going to come,” Lamond said.
- Of course they will, that is common sense.  But if every state and county does this, where do you expect them to live?

If passed, the ordinance would not have an impact on registered offenders already living in the township; nor would it have any bearing on where they can work or visit. Once the law is enacted, those who violate it will be notified that they have 60 days to move. Penalties include a maximum $1,000 fine, a prison term of no more than 90 days or a maximum 90-day community service sentence.

The township zoning officer has been asked to draw up a map showing the locations remaining for registered sex offenders once the 2,500-foot radius around places children gather is ruled out.
- I'd love to see the map once it's completed as well.  I am willing to bet there will be about 5% or less where offenders can live.

“I'd hate to see that all the sex offenders are restricted to two-thirds of my street,” said Supervisor Glenn McKay, who earlier had called the proposed law a “feel-good ordinance that's not going to accomplish much.”

According to the Pennsylvania Megan's Law Web site, five registered sex offenders live in Warrington and seven work there. Of those people, one resident and one Warrington-based employee have records that are considered out of date since they haven't been updated in the past year.

Annie Tasker can be reached at 215-345-3187 or atasker@phillyBurbs.com.


OH - Predator law should not cast too wide of a net

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Again with the word "punishment!"  SEX means SEX, not SEX = KIDNAPPING!

09/24/2008

The law was meant to protect children and punish sexual predators. But in some cases it does neither and adds insult to injury by harming some who committed no sexual crime.

More than 10 years ago, Danny Seals turned a meeting to sign divorce papers at a salon in Mount Vernon into a four-hour standoff with police after he brandished a handgun. Two employees and two children were present. The children were released shortly after he took out the gun; the employees soon followed and called 911.

Seals surrendered, pled guilty to and was convicted of one count of kidnapping and four counts of abduction. He went to jail.

He was released from prison in 1999 but labeled a sex offender. There was no sexual assault in the standoff. But at the time, someone found guilty of an abduction involving a victim younger than 18 was classified as a sexual offender.
- Why?  If sex was not involved, how can you label them a sex offender?  This is like labeling someone a murderer for selling drugs!

He was placed on the Ohio Sex Offender Registry. He is in the Licking County jail today facing felony charges for living at an unregistered address, a violation of those on the registry. He could face up to 16 years in jail.
- So failure to register is more punishment than the actual crime itself!  Insane!

Being on the registry, which is available to the public, has meant jobs come and go as employers find Seals' name. He said his car has been vandalized with the words "molester" and "predator." His stepchildren have faced taunts and friends have been tough to come by.

It's estimated that about 400 people who don't represent the kinds of criminals the registry is meant to track are on the Ohio list.

"I don't think anybody's served by having the state distribute what is essentially misleading information," noted Assistant Ohio Public Defender Jay Macke.
- And by doing this, it's pure punishment!

It doesn't even end with the felony charges he faces. Seals has acknowledged his mistake in the standoff, served his time and now just wants to "disappear" and get on with his life.

Good luck. His registration term ends in 2009 but he might be classified a Tier II offender and face reporting to authorities -- and the public -- for another 15 years.

Perhaps the best case for change is what would happen today. In a similar incident, to hold a classification hearing, prosecutors would need to prove the kidnapping or abduction was sexually motivated.

Punishing someone for a crime not committed is in no way justice, just as political claims of protecting children rings somewhat hollow if innocent people are harmed. The intent of the law was well-meaning, but lawmakers must make the results right.


CT - Conn. lining up housing for sex offenders

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09/24/2008

Hartford (AP) -- Connecticut officials say they're setting up housing for newly released sex offenders and hope to have it ready in a few weeks.

The problem of the state's lack of housing for sex offenders was exposed last year when convicted serial rapist David Pollitt was released from prison and moved into his sister's home in Southbury.
- So now, instead of letting them live with family, where they have support, they are going to waste more tax payer dollars to build housing for sex offenders.  WTF?  Why not remove the residency restrictions, then you'd not have to do this. Granted, this is good though!

The Pollitt situation upset the community and prompted Gov. M. Jodi Rell (Email) and state lawmakers to approve $2.5 million for housing and counseling for 24 sex offenders in secure settings.
- Basically prison outside of prison!

The state Correction Department and Judicial Branch want that housing and treatment in place by Nov. 1. Officials are reviewing three offers from private, nonprofit groups to provide the housing and services. They're not saying yet where the programs would be located.
- And watch, as soon as they are created, the lynch mob will come out of the woodwork!


VT - Sex offender held because he doesn't have a residence

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Since when did being homeless become a crime?

09/24/2008

BENNINGTON — A sex offender set to be released from prison on Sept. 20 was charged with a violation of probation in Bennington District Court on Tuesday because he does not have a residence.

Richard Cavagnaro, 59, denied a violation of his probation and was ordered held without bail pending a court hearing.

Bennington County State's Attorney Erica Marthage said Cavagnaro is required to find a residence before his release.
- And if you have no friends or access to the outside, how in the hell are you to do this?

"One of the special sex offender conditions is that he have a place to live," Marthage said. "I think the frustration is that no place has been proposed."

Public Defender Frederick Bragdon said Cavagnaro was not intentionally flaunting the probation system, saying his client simply was unable to find a residence.

"Inability is not willfulness," Bragdon said.

Bragdon said his client had been incarcerated for a year, and that he did not have family or other connections upon which he could rely.

Judge John Wesley said he had to "stretch" to find probable cause in the case, and indicated his concern about the matter.

"(Cavagnaro) is conceivably being set up to fail by having no place to stay," Wesley said. "This is going to require significant social work on the part of the Department of Corrections that work, this split sentence could turn into an indefinite prison term."

According to an affidavit by Probation Officer David Jankowski, Cavagnaro was given a 18 month- to 5-year sentence, all suspended except for one year, in September 2007 on three counts of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child.

Jankowski said Cavagnaro served his one-year minimum, and had been scheduled to be released on Sept. 20, but said Cavagnaro was unable to find a residence in the community.

Jankowski said in the affidavit that supervision of a homeless sex offender is not an ideal situation, and that there is the potential for a community risk issue.

Cavagnaro had originally been charged in December 2006 with inappropriately touching two young girls.


VT - Sex Offender Must Leave Burlington

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The last paragraph says he is not on the registry, nor is required to be, so apparently he is not a "high-risk" like the first paragraph says.  This is nothing more than FORCED EXILE from a county, and more unconstitutional BS!

09/23/2008

It appears a high-risk child molester will have to move out of his hometown of Burlington. The county prosecutor says there is no place within the city that satisfies the judge's order for Dustin Moore to live at least 1,000-feet away from schools and day cares.

It all started two weeks ago when police issued a public warning when sex offender Dustin Moore was released from custody and rejoined his family in their North Avenue home across the street from the Flynn Elementary School.

The next day, Moore was charged with improperly touching a girl six months ago.

He pleaded innocent and Judge Ben Joseph released him pending trial with orders not to live within 1,000 feet of a school or day care.

Moore found a new home with an uncle in another part of the city.

But Tuesday he was back in court again looking for a new residence, because the uncle's residence is too close to a day care.

And it turns out finding a legal residence in Burlington for Moore is impossible.

"I pointed out to the judge that in the city of Burlington, with that order in place-- a sex offender, if you will, is not to reside within 1,000 feet of a school or a day care facility-- basically knocks out the entire city of Burlington," said T.J. Donovan, Chittenden County Prosecutor.

Donovan said authorities are now trying to help Moore find a home somewhere else in the county that complies with the judge's order.

The discovery that no residence is more than 1,000 feet from a school or day care comes as the City Council happens to be considering an ordinance that would require sex offenders to reside 1,000 feet from schools and city parks.
- If this is true, then this would basically banish ALL sex offenders from this city, and that is unconstitutional!

Paul Decelles, R-Burlington City Council, is a sponsor of the 1,000-foot proposal that he now acknowledges may be difficult to implement.

"Basically you know we understand that this isn't a silver bullet. We're looking for something that would aid Mr. Donovan's office and aid the police department here to keep the neighborhoods safe," Decelles said.

The City Council is only beginning to consider fashioning a 1,000-foot ordinance.

As for Moore, Tuesday afternoon the police alerted neighbors near his uncle's home that Moore is living there.

And the judge scheduled another hearing next week hoping to learn that Moore has relocated outside Burlington.

If Moore moves to another community, authorities probably will not tell people in that town exactly where Moore is living. Remember, he is not even on the sex offender registry, and if he obeys the court order and stays more than 1,000 feet from a school or day care, then he is presumed to be entitled to live in privacy.


NJ - Questions arise over sex offender housing

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09/23/2008

New Jersey lawmakers are looking to restrict where sex offenders can live once they re-enter communities, but questions remain over unintended consequences of these limitations and whether municipalities should have final say on these ordinances.

The Assembly Judiciary Committee Monday reviewed a host of bills, all proposing to prohibit sex offenders registered under Megan's Law from living near schools, parks, day care centers, playgrounds and other places where children are present in numbers.

Differences exist over how this may be carried out. Some lawmakers want a statewide restriction in all municipalities, while others say the state should let each community decide what kind of rules they want, if any at all. The bills also vary on the size of the restricted zones — from 500 feet up to 2,500 feet — and whether distinctions should be made between low-risk offenders and high-risk ones in the restrictions.

No votes were held on the proposals.

"I think it's a home rule choice," said Assemblywoman Marcia Karrow (Contact), R-Hunterdon, saying blanket statewide law would severely impact housing available in the densely populated state.

"If you start to say you cannot have somebody within a couple thousand feet, you're basically saying nobody can be in the entire town," she said.

But Assemblyman Brian Rumpf (Contact), R-Ocean, who prefers a statewide regulation, said it is more important to treat all communities in the same fashion.

"I do believe it's incumbent upon us to establish a uniform and consistent law," said Rumpf.

The state Office of the Public Defender raised several serious concerns with allowing such restrictions to take effect, especially a statewide law with a larger restriction zone. Michael Buncher, a deputy public defender, said the limitations would destabilize sex offenders looking to assimilate back into society and actually put communities at a bigger risk.

"Employment and stable housing promotes rehabilitation. The lack of that increases an individual's risk of recidivism," said Buncher.

Nearly 30 states have similar legislation restricting location of sex offender residencies. But Buncher said unintended consequences have popped up in these states as a result, such as making urban areas uninhabitable because of large zone restrictions and many sex offenders becoming homeless or nomadic because they cannot find permanent housing.

A state appellate court in July struck down ordinances in Cherry Hill and Galloway Township that restricted sex offenders' housing, saying it usurped statewide law and that the state's Megan's Law did not intend for such restrictions to be in place.

That ruling "put the ball in the Legislature's court" to take action, said committee chairwoman Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein (Contact), D-Mercer. She indicated a preference for allowing municipalities to decide on local restrictions, adding some compromise is being sought on a final bill.

"People clearly want to have assurance and control in some way," Greenstein said. "I believe we have to do something."

Greenstein said the final bill may include provisions differentiating between low and high risk offenders and will not evict sex offenders from their current homes should new child-abundant establishments be built.

Michael Rispoli: mrispol@gannett.com


TX - Mayor in Texas charged with more sex offenses

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09/23/2008

POTEET - The mayor of a South Texas town who is already required to register as a sex offender has been indicted on three new charges related to indecency with a child.

An Atascosa County grand jury Monday indicted Mayor Lino Donato on one count each of aggravated sexual assault, indecency with a child by contact, and attempted indecency with a child by contact, all felony offenses, according to the district clerk's office.

Donato was being held at the Atascosa County Jail on a $200,000 bond Tuesday evening, jail officials said. The San Antonio Express-News reported the story on its Web site Tuesday.

Donato pleaded guilty in October to indecency counts involving two girls but is now appealing. The plea cut short a trial on accusations that he exposed himself to two girls and improperly touched one of them.

He is required to stay more than 1,000 feet from places where children congregate. That means he must also stay out of city hall because it within 200 feet of the Atascosa Boxing Club and Youth Center, City Attorney Frank Garza has said previously.

Donato's term expires in May 2009. He has said previously that he would not resign as head of Poteet, a town of about 3,500 residents located 30 miles south of San Antonio.


Crime Registries Under Fire

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09/23/2008

Adam Walsh Act mandates sex offender lists, but some say it’s unconstitutional

Their names are sadly familiar: Jacob Wetterling, Megan Kanka, Jessica Luns­ford, Adam Walsh.

They were children who fell victim to pred­­ators, and over the years their names have been given to a succession of statutes requiring convicted sex offenders to register in their home states.

The laws incrementally strengthened those requirements, beginning in 1994 when Congress passed the Jacob Wetterling Act, which promoted the adoption of state registration. In 1996, Megan’s Law conditioned federal funding for state law enforcement on the creation of such programs.

Two years ago, Congress passed the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, named for the son of John Walsh, whose advocacy for victims’ rights and crime prevention helped lead to the formation of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. In July 1981, 6-year-old Adam was abducted from a Hollywood, Fla., mall. Two weeks later his remains were discovered in a canal more than 100 miles from his home. No one was ever tried for the crime.

Included in the Walsh Act is the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, which establishes a national sex offender registry and creates three clas­sifications of sex offenders. The most serious group is required to register within three days after moving to a new state or face up to 10 years’ imprisonment. The law also makes it mandatory for states to maintain an online registry accessible to the public.

1990s CASES LOOM LARGE

Most federal courts—spurning critics who contend that Congress exceeded its authority by encroaching on state and local control—have upheld SORNA.

But at least two courts this year have sided with the critics and invalidated some or all of the registry law. In both rulings, the courts referred back to a line of U.S. Supreme Court cases from the 1990s that limited the federal government’s reach into state law.

Meanwhile, a third federal court temporarily halted the new law until it had a chance to hear arguments on the issue.

More is at stake than just the sex offender registries, observers say. Americans have become accustomed to national crime registries, and courts could throw them into doubt.

Not surprisingly, given our increasing sense of informational entitlement and disdain for criminal offenders, we are seeing registration and notification laws spread to other subgroups, such as domestic abusers,” says Florida State University law professor Wayne A. Logan, author of the forthcoming book Knowledge as Power: A History of Criminal Registration Laws in America.

Also up for grabs is the future of the U.S. Supreme Court’s line of federalism cases, a darling of the court under former Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. The court trimmed back its press for state rights toward the end of Rehnquist’s tenure—he died in 2005. However, under his successor, John G. Roberts Jr., the court could get its chance to renew those federalism issues, this time with high-profile sex offender registration and notification laws.

“The issue will go to the U.S. Supreme Court, par­ticularly with the composition of the court changing in recent years,” with the addition of Roberts and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., says John L. Badalamenti, appellate attorney for the federal public defender’s office in Tampa, Fla.

Both the decided cases hinge on federalism. In United States v. Powers, issued in April, U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell in Tampa acknowledged that Con­gress passed the law to further a “commendable goal—to protect the public from sex offenders.” How­ever, he said, “a worthy cause is not enough to transform a state concern (sex offender registration) into a federal crime.” The government has appealed to the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The case involves Robert Powers, who has an IQ of 68 and a second-grade reading ability, according to the opinion. In 1995, he was convicted in South Carolina of sex crimes, and was required to register there as a sex offender. He moved to Florida in 2007 and was arrested after he failed to register in that state.

PARTIAL INVALIDATION

In the second decided case, United States v. Waybright, issued in June, a federal court in Montana invalidated only part of the law requiring all sex offenders to register, even if they don’t travel to another state. Ber­nard Waybright was convicted of misdemeanor sexual abuse in West Virginia and was later indicted for failing to register in that state. Both sides have appealed to the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Both cases recalled two of the Supreme Court’s major federalism cases that struck down federal criminal laws: a 1995 case, United States v. Lopez, which invalidated the 1990 Gun-Free Schools Zone Act; and United States v. Morrison, a 2000 ruling that struck down a provision in the 1994 Violence Against Women Act. In both, the court ruled that there must be a substantial connection to interstate commerce for the law to be constitutional, and that Congress lacked the authority under the commerce clause to regulate issues of state or local control.

“The mere fact that the individual has, at some point, traveled in interstate commerce does not establish that ... subsequent failure to register substantially affects interstate commerce,” Presnell wrote in Powers.

“The biggest problem with the Adam Walsh Act is there seems to be a tiny nexus to interstate commerce in that it merely requires that the person who had been previously convicted of a sex offense just travel to another state,” says Badalamenti.

“If that person travels to another state and fails to register within three days, he or she is facing up to 10 years in federal prison,” Badalamenti adds. “I think the nexus to interstate commerce is so minimal that you wonder how it is going to pass constitutional muster.”

Meanwhile, in July a federal court in Nevada barred that state’s version of SORNA from going into effect until constitutional challenges there are resolved. Ac­cording to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, arguments were scheduled for the end of August.

Backers of the law stress the inconsistency among state laws in the post-release follow-up of convicted sex offenders, says Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. “The act recognizes that many convicted sex offenders engage in interstate travel and present a high degree of risk and danger to children.”

Allen calls Powers “an outlier and an aberration” and says he hopes it will be reversed by the 11th Circuit. “There have been at least five federal district court decisions in which the courts have held the Adam Walsh Act constitutional,” he says.

Indeed, other opinions this year turned away commerce clause challenges to the Walsh Act and SORNA. A federal district court in Indiana ruled in United States v. Akers that “SORNA focuses on sex offenders who travel between states and does not purport to reach offenders who remain within a single state, thus pro­viding the jurisdictional basis and interstate nexus essential to bring SORNA within congressional authority. ... SORNA relates to the travel of sex offenders across state lines and so is a proper exercise of congressional authority under the commerce clause.”

REGISTRATION CHALLENGES GROWING

In May, a federal district court in Rhode Island came to a similar conclusion in United States v. Ditomasso, writing that SORNA “prevents sex offenders from being lost in the cracks between state regulations, a matter which is beyond the power of any one state to comprehensively address.”

Says Florida State’s Logan, “From the 1930s until the mid-1990s, we saw few constitutional challenges to registration laws. Starting in the 1990s, however, as registration laws grew in number and were augmented for the first time by community notification, the challenges deluged courts.”

But the Walsh Act is the most far-reaching and may present the perfect opportunity for the Supreme Court to sink its teeth into such laws, Logan says.

The act “represents a ze­nith in federal demands on states with re­spect to registration and community notification,” he says. “Among other things, the law significantly expands the scope of registration eligibility and requires, for the first time, use of in-person verification and a conviction-based registration classification scheme. The states are expected to make major changes to their regimes, at significant trouble and cost.”

Badalamenti says, “I do not understand Congress’ intent on regulating a purely state issue. When Mr. Pow­ers came into Florida, he, at most, committed a Florida crime in failing to register, and the decision to prosecute him should rest entirely with the Florida state government. But it shouldn’t be a federal crime.”

And when it to gets the Supreme Court, as Badala­menti predicts, “I really do see the court revisiting the federalism issue as it did in Lopez and Morrison.”