Thursday, November 13, 2008

FL - GPD: 1 cop bought sex, 1 used position for sex

View the article here

More perverted cops in Florida.

11/13/2008

By Lise Fisher - Staff writer

2:07 p.m.

The Gainesville Police Department announced the results of internal investigations that concluded two former GPD officers took part in "immoral conduct" involving sex.

The results were announced at a press conference Thursday afternoon. The internal affairs investigations found that:

  • Cpl. Bill Billings reportedly had sex for money with several women while in uniform and inside a marked GPD unit.
  • Officer David Reveille reportedly used his official position as a law enforcement officer to obtain sexual favors from a woman.

Both officers have since left the department or been terminated.

11:43 a.m.

The Gainesville Police Department planned to release information Thursday afternoon regarding completed internal investigations involving two former police officers.

A source at the department indicated the investigations involved alleged 'immoral conduct' by officers Bill Billings and David Reveille.

Both have since left the department or been terminated. Additional information was not immediately released.

A press conference was scheduled at the law enforcement agency for 2 p.m. Thursday.


TN - Crimes by air marshals raise questions about hiring

View the article here

11/13/2008

By Michael Grabell, ProPublica (for USA Today)

Shawn Nguyen bragged that he could sneak anything past airport security using his top-secret clearance as a federal air marshal. And for months, he smuggled cocaine and drug money onto flights across the country, boasting to an FBI informant that he was "the man with the golden badge."

Michael McGowan used his position as an air marshal to lure a young boy to his hotel room, where he showed him child porn, took pictures of him naked and sexually abused him.

And when Brian "Cooter" Phelps wanted his ex-wife to disappear, he called a fellow air marshal and tried to hire a hit man nicknamed "the Crucifixer."

Since 9/11, more than three dozen federal air marshals have been charged with crimes, and hundreds more have been accused of misconduct, an investigation by ProPublica, a non-profit journalism organization, has found. Cases range from drunken driving and domestic violence to aiding a human-trafficking ring and trying to smuggle explosives from Afghanistan.

The Federal Air Marshal Service presents the image of an elite undercover force charged with making split-second decisions that could mean the difference between stopping a terrorist and shooting an innocent passenger.

But an examination of police reports, court records, government reports, memos and e-mails shows that 18 air marshals have been charged with felonies, including at least three who were hired despite prior criminal records or being fired from law enforcement jobs. A fourth air marshal was hired while under FBI investigation. Another stayed on the job despite alarming a flight attendant with his behavior.

This spring, after U.S. embassies, airlines and foreign police agencies complained about air marshal misconduct overseas, the agency director dispatched supervisors on international missions.

From 33 to 3,000

Before 9/11, the Air Marshal Service was a nearly forgotten force of 33 agents with a $4.4 million annual budget. Now housed in the Transportation Security Administration, the agency has a $786 million budget and an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 air marshals, although the official number is classified.

Only a fraction of them have been charged with crimes, and some degree of misconduct occurs at all law enforcement agencies. But for air marshals, the stakes are uniquely high. Their beat is a confined cabin with hundreds of passengers in firing range. There are no calls for backup at 30,000 feet, putting a premium on sound judgment and swift action.

Since 9/11, air marshals have taken bribes, committed bank fraud, hired an escort while on layover and doctored hotel receipts to pad expenses, records show. They've been found sleeping on planes and lost the travel documents of U.S. diplomats while on a whiskey-tasting trip in Scotland.

The Air Marshal Service says it has the highest firearms qualification standard among federal law enforcement agencies. Yet police and court records show some marshals have used their weapons imprudently:

In 2003, a New York air marshal pulled his gun in a dispute over a parking space. Another failed to turn over his ammunition on an international trip, as required by diplomatic agreements, and was detained by Israeli airport security in 2004. That same year, a Las Vegas air marshal "discharged" his gun in a hotel room, penetrating a wall and shattering a mirror. In April, a Phoenix air marshal fired his during a fight outside a bar.

Still another left his handgun in the plane's lavatory in 2001, according to court papers. He realized it was missing only after a teenager found it.

Robert Bray, director of the Air Marshal Service, says the misconduct cases don't represent the exemplary work done by the vast majority of air marshals.

"We can reassure the public that these dedicated professionals go out there every day and put their lives on the line to make sure that everyone is safe," Bray says. "I don't want them to be tarred by ... a few allegations from a few years ago."

Bray and other officials declined to discuss specific cases, citing privacy laws.

Under government policies, air marshals found guilty of felonies were fired or forced to resign. But 10 air marshals convicted of misdemeanors, mostly drunken driving, were allowed to keep their jobs. And even after notice that background checks were poor, the agency failed to root out air marshals with troubled pasts before they committed felonies.

Current and former air marshals say the misconduct cases show that the agency continues to struggle with policing its own ranks, a problem that surfaced in its post-9/11 buildup. Since then, the service has had three leaders, been moved four times to different parent agencies and been blasted by Congress for, among other things, failing to cover enough flights and enforcing a dress code that many air marshals felt blew their cover.

Don Strange, the former special agent in charge of the Atlanta office and a finalist to lead the agency in 2006, says turmoil and low morale have led good air marshals to quit and made it harder for managers to maintain the highest standards.

"It starts with the urgency (to hire and train recruits) in a ridiculous amount of time," he says. "Things start to spin out of control."

Recruiting rush

Under heavy congressional pressure, the government rushed to hire thousands of air marshals after 9/11. Partly motivated by enduring images of planes hitting the World Trade Center, the Pentagon aflame and a charred Pennsylvania field, 200,000 applied. With limited spots, the Air Marshal Service had an acceptance rate of about one in 40 - four times as tough as Harvard's.

"We're getting the cream of the crop," then-TSA spokesman David Steigman told reporters. "The people who are going into the air marshal program are the best of the best."

But that wasn't necessarily the case.

Shortly after joining the agency, three air marshals were indicted in corruption investigations at their former police departments. One, Louis Pirani, had been hired in early 2002, despite being under FBI investigation for months on suspicion of skimming profits from drug couriers as a sheriff's deputy in Arkansas. He eventually was convicted and went to prison for lying to investigators.

Just two weeks after joining the air marshals in April 2002, Shawn Nguyen filed for bankruptcy, claiming $200,000 in debts. Three years later, the former narcotics officer began carrying cash and cocaine past airport security for a man he knew as a drug trafficker, but who'd already turned to the FBI.

"I don't care what's in the [expletive] package, you know what I mean? Just tell me how much it is and what I'm getting in money," Nguyen told the informant in a recorded conversation recounted in court records. "I'm the man with the golden badge." Nguyen was sentenced to seven years in prison.

Before becoming an air marshal, Brian Phelps had worked at five small police departments in Alabama, but none for more than a year. He was fired from the job he held longest for losing his temper and acting "irrationally" before thinking things through, prosecutors said. He quit another job in lieu of being fired for misconduct while on duty, says Mayor Paula Phillips of Douglas, Ala.

In 2005, Phelps, known as "Cooter" among fellow air marshals, told a colleague that he wanted to see his wife's picture on a milk carton, court transcripts say. He asked the air marshal, who'd worked in Chicago's housing projects, whether he knew of anyone who could help.

The colleague said he did: The Crucifixer. The colleague told the Air Marshal Service, and after numerous contacts with FBI agents posing as hit men, Phelps was arrested and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Another air marshal, David Kellerman, was arrested on felony charges for dealing in stolen property in 1983 and for carrying a concealed weapon in 1990. Although judgment was withheld in both cases, Kellerman was sentenced each time to probation, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement records.

In September, Kellerman - a Green Beret and Purple Heart recipient - was sentenced to 27 months in prison after being caught hiding a cache of weapons that included AK-47s and a grenade launcher stolen while he was on leave for a military tour in Afghanistan. Kellerman told investigators he was bringing back training aids for his job as an air marshal firearms instructor.

Background checks

Because air marshals receive top-secret security clearances, background checks are supposed to include criminal history searches going back 10 years, credit reports and interviews with relatives, neighbors and employers. Checks are conducted by the federal Office of Personnel Management, a separate agency, which forwards results to the Air Marshal Service.

Kellerman's charges predated the 10-year check period. But in Phelps' case, three officials - Justice Ashley, former assistant police chief in Guntersville, Ala.; Chad Long, the current Douglas police chief, and Phillips - say they couldn't recall the air marshals contacting anyone to make a background check. It's unclear whether Pirani's FBI scrutiny and Nguyen's bankruptcy were missed or disregarded.

A 2004 report by the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general also flagged gaps in the background checks. The report cited 504 applicants who were recommended for hire and awaiting offers, noting that nearly a third had potentially disqualifying problems, including past arrests, bankruptcies or disciplinary problems.

"Many (air marshals) were granted access to classified information after displaying questionable judgment, irresponsibility and emotionally unstable behavior," the report said.

This summer, after a Houston TV station reported that three air marshals had been charged with drunken driving, including one with a prior DWI conviction, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, grilled TSA Administrator Kip Hawley at a congressional hearing.

In a subsequent letter to Poe, Hawley said that 28 air marshals had been hired with misdemeanors on their records, and nine more kept their jobs after a drunken-driving conviction.

TSA policies state that employees who drive drunk "demonstrate a disregard for TSA's mission" and raise questions about their ability to deal with security threats. Yet the policy allows drunken driving to be punished with a letter of reprimand, one of the lowest penalties.

By comparison, the FBI mandates at least a 30-day suspension without pay for drunken driving. Although other federal police agencies generally allow for flexibility in discipline, many big-city departments, such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, mandate a suspension or loss of pay for a first offense.

"It's more serious than a letter saying, 'Don't do it again, try to do better,' " Poe said in an interview. "I don't think a person should have a criminal record and keep their job with the Air Marshal Service - including a DWI."

The flying public agrees. In a national survey for ProPublica conducted by Harris Interactive, 86% of those who'd taken a commercial flight in the past year said it was unacceptable for someone convicted of driving under the influence to become an air marshal.

No office compiles uniform statistics on arrests of federal law officers, making it difficult to compare agencies. The 2004 inspector general's report found 753 documented cases of misconduct by air marshals over 20 months, with offenses from sleeping on duty to flunking drug tests.

After the report, the agency said it tightened its background procedures. When misconduct occurred, the agency said, it had acted "swiftly and decisively," terminating 101 air marshals over two years and taking resignations from 32 others.

But problems continued - Kellerman, Phelps and Nguyen all committed their crimes after the 2004 report. The service declined to say what's been done since to check for cases that fell through the cracks.

Hiring standards erode

Over the years, the service has loosened some hiring practices:

-- In 2002, the agency decided that recruits no longer had to pass a rigorous firearms test requiring them to prove speed and accuracy in close quarters similar to an airplane. The test is still used in training but is no longer a hiring qualification.

-- In late 2005, the agency began hiring TSA screeners, new college grads and others with no law enforcement experience. The change departed from practice during the 9/11 ramp-up, when air marshals almost uniformly were chosen from law enforcement, such as the Border Patrol, federal Bureau of Prisons and police and sheriff's departments.

-- Two years ago, officials suspended a requirement that air marshals pass a written psychological test and an interview with a psychologist or psychiatrist. Bray, the director, says the changes did not lower hiring standards and that it's unfair to suggest a TSA screener or a recent college grad could not be up to par after training.

The Air Marshal Service still has the highest standard for shooting accuracy among federal police agencies, he says.

In the ProPublica survey, 87% said air marshals should be required to pass a psychological stress test, and 77% said they should have prior experience in law enforcement.

Two cases show why psychological testing might be valuable.

Orlando air marshal Marcus Rogozinski was on a mission from New York to Dallas in 2006 when he walked to the galley and showed a flight attendant a book with some pictures of blue crystals, his supervisor, Richard Lozada, wrote in an e-mail introduced at a competency hearing

If she had good thoughts, Rogozinski told her, the water could be turned clear, Lozada recounted. But if she had bad thoughts, it would turn murky.

When Rogozinski went to the lavatory, the alarmed flight attendant walked back to his partner, Paul Steward.

"I can't believe he is able to carry a gun!" she said, according to an account written by Steward.

In 2007, another flight attendant complained that Rogozinski "was talking about all kinds of crazy stuff like outer space," according to a memo from air marshal David Cameron.

"No (air marshal) should have to pay more attention to their partner than to the passengers," Cameron wrote. Afterward, Rogozinski failed a psych exam and was put on leave.

In June, Rogozinski was convicted of bank fraud for trying to cash a $10.9 million check from a woman he said he believed was Cambodian royalty. The money, he told prosecutors, was partial settlement for a "personal lawsuit" after he was scratched by the woman's cat.

Then there's the case of Michael McGowan, who joined the air marshals after 9/11. Before he was sentenced to a sex-offenders unit in 2006, his lawyer pleaded with a judge for help for his client. "He is taking the position 'I have a serious problem, I'm sick,' " said attorney Joel Weiss, according to a court transcript.

McGowan had been caught two years earlier trying to buy pornography of children as young as 7 over the Internet. Investigators discovered he'd been molesting a Texas boy since 2002 and had enticed the boy by saying he was staying at a nearby hotel on air marshal business.

Even after his conviction, court records show, McGowan called the boy from prison and engaged him in sexual conversations.

'Impact on our reputation'

Earlier this year, a rash of complaints about air marshal misconduct on overseas missions set off new alarms.

The agency would not provide details of the incidents. But ProPublica obtained an April 15 internal memo from Dana Brown, then director of the Air Marshal Service, warning the rank and file that the behavior threatened to create diplomatic problems for the agency on international routes, "some of the most important we fly."

"In foreign countries, some have behaved in a manner that may jeopardize our ability to continue to operate effectively," Brown wrote. "The negative impact on our reputation and that of the American government has the potential to cause significant harm."

To put a stop to it, Brown ordered "Quality Assurance Teams" of supervisors to monitor air marshals on international missions and act as liaisons with host countries.

"These are highly trained federal air marshals with guns on planes. If they need chaperones, then we're all in serious trouble," says P. Jeffrey Black, a Las Vegas air marshal who in the past has testified before Congress about agency policies.

Bray says the agency was not able to substantiate the allegations of overseas misconduct and that Brown was simply being proactive.

Black says the job shouldn't be entry-level. New hires need the experience and judgment learned from making decisions on the street, he says.

Poe, a former judge and prosecutor who sits on the House aviation subcommittee, says the unique nature of the job demands the highest recruiting standards. He says he wants to address the issue of air marshal misconduct further when the new Congress is seated next year.

Air marshals "all have to be of high quality, not most of them," Poe says. "We can't take a chance that they will make a mistake."

Six of Cincinnati air marshal David Slaughter's colleagues wrote character references for him after his arrest in 2006, according to court records.

"A man of impeccable character," wrote one. "An outstanding employee." "Polite," wrote another. "His character around the office is one of example." "Dave's demeanor and professionalism reflect favorably on the field office as well as the agency as a whole."

Slaughter was convicted of abducting a female escort during a July 2006 layover in the Washington, D.C., area.

In an interview, he said he hired the escort because he was having marital problems and wanted a woman's perspective. As they talked about how to spend their time, he went into the bedroom of his hotel suite and returned with his gun and handcuffs. The woman tried to flee, but he prevented her from leaving and unplugged the phone, prosecutors said.

The two struggled, and when the woman got the door open, Slaughter pinned her to the ground, held her in a chokehold and handcuffed her, according to prosecutors and the woman, Cherith Zorbas.

Despite his colleagues' support, Slaughter lost his job and got 15 days in jail. Zorbas called the outcome "horrific" and said the public should be scared.

"He's the only one on an airplane with a freakin' weapon," she said, "and he's supposed to have it to be protecting us."

Contributing: Jamie Wilson of ProPublica


CA - Sex Offender Speaks After Attacking News Crew

This was pure media vigilantism, and it seems others think the same thing, by reviewing the comments at the articles in the original post, here.


GA - Harlem woman challenges Georgia sex offender law

View the article here

See the latest news, at the second article below.

11/12/2008

Reporter: Kelsey Barlow - Kelsey.Barlow@wrdw.com

AUGUSTA - Thursday a Harlem woman is scheduled to be in court to challenge Georgia's sex offender law in US District Court.

Wendy Whitaker is a registered sex offender for having consensual sex when she was 17 with another 15 year old student.

She is now 29 and was forced from her home that her husband bought in 2006 because it is too close to a child care center.

The new sex offender law makes an exception to offenders who bought their homes before July 1 2006, but Wendy's name wasn't added to the deed until 2007.






11/13/2008

HARLEM - A registered sex offender from Columbia County is being forced to move from her home.

On Thursday, a judge ruled that Wendy Whitaker violates Georgia law by living too close to a day care.

Whitaker had to register as a sex offender because she performed a sex act on a 15 year-old when she was 17.

Georgia's law prohibits sex offenders from living within one thousand feet of churches or day cares. The law applies to all sex offenders who bought homes after 2006.

Whitaker has lived in the Harlem home she shares with her husband for a few years, but her name wasn't added to the deed until 2007.

Her attorney says they plan to appeal the decision, but Whitaker may have to move as early as Monday.


NY - Sex offender law under consideration in Tully

View the article here

Video available at the site above.

11/13/2008

The Town of Tully wants to restrict where registered sex offenders can live and work and is in the process of drafting a new law to get it done.

A public meeting was held on the issue Wednesday night at Tully Town Hall. The law would create a 400 foot radius around child safety zones, such as schools and day cares.
- So where was the notice before this meeting, about the meeting?  This is the first I've heard of it, and it's now Thursday, the day after.

According to the state's online database, there is currently only one registered offender living in the Tully zip code, but Town officials say it's about being proactive rather than reactive.

"So there might be one right now, but there were more and they come and go, that type of thing. In addition, to that we've had a couple of situations arise of the past couple years, where if something like this had been in effect, it could have been enforced and we could have prevented a situation from happening," said Steven Primo, Tully Town Attorney.

A second public meeting will be held January 14th.


GA - Sex offender law faces ‘religious freedom’ challenge

View the article here

11/13/2008

By BILL RANKIN - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A federal judge will hear arguments today that the state’s sex-offender registry law makes it a crime for offenders to volunteer at places of worship.

U.S. District Court Judge Clarence Cooper will consider a request by lawyers representing offenders to issue an injunction that prohibits the state from enforcing the “volunteer” provision of the law.

“Certain people on the sex offender registry should not work with children in a church setting or elsewhere,” said Sarah Geraghty, a lawyer with the Southern Center for Human Rights. “But criminalizing the practice of religion for all 16,000 people on the registry will do more harm than good.”

Because of the law’s restrictions, Geraghty said, “the state of Georgia is driving people on the registry from the faith communities and depriving them of the rehabilitative influence of the church.”

The law, one of the strictest in the nation, states that no registered sex offender “shall be employed by or volunteer at” any church.

In court motions, state attorneys contend there is no evidence of any threat to core religious freedoms or any attempt to drive people from religion or worship. The law’s main goal, the state said, is to protect children from registered sex offenders who attempt to work at day care centers, schools or churches.

The sex offenders’ lawyers cite “hypotheticals that are not likely to take place,” the Attorney General’s Office said. “There is no evidence that anyone plans to arrest any person for taking part in a worship service, giving a scripture reading, providing a dish for pot luck, passing a collection plate or decorating a Christmas tree.”

The law was passed to protect the most innocent of victims, Georgia’s children, the state said. The state attorneys added that “there is indisputable evidence that convicted sex offenders have a propensity to re-offend.”
- Well sir(s), you are full of crap as well, and I hope the SCHR shows you proof that what you are saying is BS!!  Here is MANY studies you can read, on your time off, if you care to know the facts!

The Legislature added the “volunteer” provision to prevent sex offenders from circumventing the law by working for free at places where children go for day care, athletics, education and worship, the state said.

But in court filings this week, Southern Center lawyers cited an example of a Glynn County man who was charged in September for violating the offender law because he played the piano at a Brunswick church. He went to trial earlier this month and was acquitted.

Court filings also cite examples of other sex offenders who were told by prosecutors or their probation or parole officers not to engage in volunteer work at their churches.


IN - Molesting plea can't be altered

View the article here

What the hell?  This person, apparently INNOCENT, still must register for LIFE for something the MOTHER lied about to get CUSTODY of her child!  Now if that is not INJUSTICE, then what is?  This is pathetic!

11/13/2008

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Supreme Court on Wednesday found that a Kosciusko County man cannot challenge his guilty plea to child molesting based on newly discovered evidence.

It was the first time the state’s high court ruled on this particular legal issue.

Defendants have long had the right to use the post-conviction relief process to introduce newly discovered evidence and argue their guilt. But the avenue has been used only by those convicted at trial, not those who voluntarily admit their guilt.

Shawn Norris, 22, pleaded guilty to child molesting after a woman informed police in 2004 that he had fondled her daughter. The girl was living in the same home as Norris at the time of the allegations. He received and served a two-year prison term. He is out on parole but must comply with Indiana’s sex offender registry requirements, which includes lifetime notification.

Norris is mildly mentally retarded, and his lawyers argued he believed he had molested the girl based on what the girl’s mother told him. Then in 2006, the girl’s mother signed an affidavit recanting the allegations, saying they are “wholly and completely false.” She said she initiated the case against Norris to regain custody of her children.

The Supreme Court justices heard oral arguments on the case in September.

Though this defendant now claims that new evidence would require that his conviction be vacated, we cannot harmonize this new position taken by the defendant with the fact that he originally admitted to committing the crime by his guilty plea,” Wednesday’s decision said. “It is inconsistent to allow defendants who pleaded guilty to use post-conviction proceedings to later revisit the integrity of their plea in light of alleged new evidence seeking to show that they were in fact not guilty.
- I cannot believe this is even being said!!!!

“Both his confession and his new claims cannot be true.”

Two justices wrote their own opinion, concurring with the result of the majority opinion in the Norris case but differing on the overall legal question.

Justices Theodore Boehm and Robert Rucker said they don’t think Norris presented sufficient evidence to overcome the guilty plea, partly because the victim did not officially recant in a sworn affidavit.

But they disagreed with not allowing people who have pleaded guilty to use the post-conviction relief process if new evidence arises.

They acknowledged that innocent people in Indiana might plead guilty – often to get the benefit of a lesser prison sentence when it appears they would be convicted of a harsher crime.
- And this happens all the time!

Any system of justice must allow for correction of injustice based on clear and convincing evidence of innocence, even if the defendant can be said to have contributed to his own plight by pleading guilty,” the concurring opinion said.


VA - Ex-cop facing $1M lawsuit in sex-assault case

View the article here

11/13/2008

By Peter Dujardin - 247-4749

NEWPORT NEWS - When retired Newport News police officer Randolph D. Smith pleaded guilty last year to sexually assaulting two juveniles, he was able to stay out of prison.

Under the terms of his plea agreement with the Newport News Commonwealth's Attorney's Office — signed off on by a judge — Smith had his entire 45-year prison term suspended.

But the former cop, now 61 and living in Hampton, has been hit with a $1 million civil lawsuit by one of the boys — now men — he acknowledged assaulting.

"I wasn't completely happy with how things turned out," said Jesse Jones, now 27. "For some reason I felt I got the bad part of the deal," said of what he called Smith's light punishment.

Jones asserted that Smith assaulted him nearly every weekend for a two-year stretch beginning when he was 13. The Daily Press' policy is typically not to name victims of sexual assault, but Jones said he wanted to be identified, in part to help others.

Before the plea agreement last year, Jones, his mother and the other victim were consulted to determine if they would agree with the terms of the deal, including that Smith would not go to prison. They said they could live with it, with Jones telling the Daily Press that hearing Smith utter the word "guilty," was what he wanted most.

"No amount of jail time will get back the years that I stayed up late every night," Jones said a year ago. "Everyone knows, his fellow officers know," Jones said of the abuse he suffered from the cop. "The fact that it's out there is what I'm happy about."
- So has this person got counseling?  I believe the officer would have to pay for all of it.  So I guess money is going to solve the problem?

Since then, however, Jones said he began to believe Smith's sentence was too easy.

"I read about cases where people get a lot more time for way less serious crimes," Jones said. "Molesting a child, I think, it's way up there as far as crimes go ... I think he got off lightly."

Jones, now a student at Thomas Nelson Community College, said Smith often appears in his dreams. "It's scary how real they seem," he said.

He filed suit, he said, to make sure he "did everything he could do" in the case.

In the lawsuit, filed in Newport News Circuit Court, Jones said his sleeping patterns, relationships, career and educational goals, and mental and physical health suffered from Smith's assaults.

"As an adult and as a police officer, Smith owed a legal duty to Jones to refrain from touching him inappropriately and putting Jones in fear and apprehension," said the suit, filed by attorney Frank F. Rennie IV, of Richmond. "Smith breached this duty."

The suit said Smith sometimes took Jones with him while working, and "fondled Jones on several occasions while ... in the line of duty."

Through his attorney, Robert W. Lawrence, Smith declined to comment about the case.

"We understand and can appreciate the nature of the lawsuit," Lawrence said, adding that a formal response would come later.

There were several reasons for the plea deal, Lawrence said, including that so much time had elapsed between the incidents and the criminal case. He said he was surprised that Jones was now unhappy with the outcome, given that prosecutors who handled the case "went to great lengths to satisfy the family."

"She met with the families prior to any agreement being made," Lawrence said of the prosecutor. "Unless the family agreed to it, they wouldn't have done it."

Under the arrangement, Smith, who retired from the police force in 1995, pleaded guilty to six counts of indecent liberties — three involving Jones and three involving the other boy. Circuit Court Judge Timothy S. Fisher signed off on the agreement, which also required Smith to register as a sex offender, be under supervised probation for two years, maintain good behavior for 15 years, and stay away from juvenile males.

Though now a convicted felon, Smith continues to draw a pension from the city of Newport News. But Lawrence said Smith has little savings, owes more on his home than it's worth, has severe diabetes and no insurance coverage for a judgment. "Whether it's $100,000 or $2 million, he doesn't have the resources to pay for it," Lawrence said.

Jones said that he and Smith met in 1994, when Jones was 12. Smith needed someone to help him out with his drag racing, and another police officer thought Jones — an avid racing fan — would be an ideal candidate, Jones said. They traveled to racing events every weekend. While Smith raced his 1964 Chevy Nova, Jones would help out .

Jones said he began arriving at Smith's house on Friday nights, and spent nearly every weekend at the officer's house.

Smith listed the boy, whose father wasn't part of his life, as a dependent on his tax return. Smith also introduced Jones to ice hockey, paid for all his equipment, and took him to Disney World, Jones said.

Jones said he would sleep with the officer in his bed. They'd watch movies, play video games and eat snacks. That was followed by fondling, which Jones said took place "pretty much every weekend" during a roughly two-year stretch when Jones was between the ages of 13 and 15. "It was pretty much the same routine every weekend," Jones said. Jones didn't tell anyone about the abuse until he told a girlfriend when he was 23.


CA - Sex Offender Who Attacked News10 Crew: "How Would You Act?"

Other Articles About This Issue

11/13/2008

MODESTO - Less than a day after attacking a News10 crew and other reporters outside his relatives' Oakdale home, convicted sex offender Darren Kawamoto talked to News10 about what set him off.

"They came up under the cover of darkness. They didn't pull up in the driveway or nothing. They just creeped up to the door," Kawamoto said during the interview with News10's Tim Daly inside the Modesto County Jail. "I opened the door. They didn't have no lights on or nothing. They were just all in suits and ties."

With the porch light on and camera lights running, Kawamoto attacked News10 reporter Cornell Barnard and photojournalist Damien Espinoza along with another television news crew Tuesday night when they went to his family's house to ask him questions.
- So why did you feel like it was your job, to go ask him questions?  Why didn't you ask the police to do this?  It's none of your business what he thinks, and you were on private property!  With the amount of harassment registered sex offenders get, I don't blame him for snapping, but, the way he did it was wrong!  This is just MEDIA VIGILANTISM, plain and simple!

"That's my family. That's my niece, my mom, my dad. I'm trying to do everything I can to protect their identity, to protect their reputation," Kawamoto said.

Kawamoto, 44, was convicted in 1991 on two counts of sexual assault with force and was sentenced to 25 years behind bars. He was released on parole in 2004 after 13 years, eight months in prison.
- Ok, so he did his time, so what gives the VIGILANTE MEDIA the right to harass him, and his family?

Police held a community meeting in Oakdale Tuesday night to answer questions about Kawamoto, who recently moved back to the Oakdale area after finishing his parole last August.

At one point during the altercation, Kawamoto pulled out what appeared to be a box cutter and yelled threats as he slashed the air and tried to come after the news crews. He was restrained by a relative.

Kawamoto was charged with a felony of making violent threats and remained in custody Wednesday on $50,000 bail. With his two prior convictions, any new felony conviction would be his third strike.
- So why isn't the media organization being charged with harassment, trespassing and possibly other charges?

Kawamoto said it was threatening behavior by others in Oakdale since he arrived in town that made him so quick to make threats himself.
- You see, he has been constantly harassed by people, and anybody, when harassed over and over, eventually will have had enough, and lash out, just like he did.  Even an animal trapped in a corner would do the same thing.  If the media would not have shown up, but did the wise thing, and contacted the police, then none of this would have occurred, now would it?  Oh, but they need that DRAMATIC story!  And I guess they got it, now it's all over the Internet!

"I just want to turn around and snap. Here I am, after three weeks of this, three weeks of threats, crank calls and everything...How would you act?," Kawamoto said.

Kawamoto said he wouldn't react the same way again and would handle a similar situation more calmly. However, though facing a third strike conviction that could mean life imprisonment, Kawamoto said he could live with how he reacted.
- I hope they let him off.  The media caused this who situation, by harassing the man, and getting on private property in the middle of the night.  I guess you solved the publics issue, and got your BIG story!  Sick bastards!

"I guess if I end up having to go back to prison, at least, in some small way, in my mind, I can probably convince myself (that) at least it wasn't for something stupid. At least, in my mind, I was protecting my family," Kawamoto said.

Former prosecutor Bill Portanova said under California laws of the early 1990s, it is not unusual that Kawamoto only served 14 years of his 25 year sentence for his sexual attacks.

"Back in 1991, if somebody got sentenced to prison, they only had to serve half of their time," Portanova said.

The rule then allowed inmates to earn one day time off for every day of good behavior. "Prison officials will tell you this is good idea," Portanova said. "It gives them something to work with to try and keep all these convicts in line. So if they behaved themselves, they got out sooner."

Kawamoto received the same benefit in 1983 when convicted of first-degree burglary. With a sentence of seven years, he was released after serving just half the time.

Those sentencing laws have now changed, however. People convicted of felonies in California now must actually serve 85 percent of the sentence handed down. If those laws had been in effect in 1991, Kawamoto would still have several years left to serve in prison.

"For violent sexual offenses or for really violent predatory offenses generally, the longer you warehouse these people, the better," said Portanova. "There's no rehabilitation for violent sexual predators. As a general rule, they should really be locked away for as long as possible, as your videotape shed some light on."
- This is total BS!  Anyone, if they want to change, can change, and many do.  This is just more BS fear-mongering, and lies.  Studies show the recidivism rates of sexual offenders is 5.3% or less.  The video tape, IMO, did not shed light on anything, except what lengths the media will go to, to get that BIG story!

Between his 2004 release from prison and his parole, Kawamoto had also gone in and out of prison at least three times on various parole violations, according to state records.

"What happens with a lot of these guys that are really unfixable is they just keep getting bounced in and out on their parole violations until they get caught doing something big again," said Portanova. "Now, under the sentencing laws today, somebody with this kind of record gets caught on something serious and they're gone for life."



Second Story - When News10 Becomes Part of the Story

Reporters trying to justify their actions!

Source: Click Here

Last night, a News10 crew was confronted by a registered sex offender. The confrontation was videotaped, and so has received a good deal of attention today. Many of the comments online, and a few phone calls I have received, blame us for what happened.
- And rightly so!  If the vigilante mob squad media would've had police investigate this, then this would not have occurred, now would it?

News10, you brought this on yourself. This is what happens when you just won't go away when it is obvious you are not wanted.
I want to set the record straight. We went to Oakdale last night to cover a community meeting being held to discuss concerns about a sex offender living in their community who had registered as homeless, and therefore without an address. The community expressed their concerns to our cameras. Our next step was to talk to the person in question, to get his side of the story. We found an address where we had heard he was staying. Another news crew was there as well. Together, we went to the front door. As is our standard in these cases, the reporter knocked on the door with the camera 10 feet behind him.
- Ok, the man was registered as homeless, nothing wrong with that.  So then, you decide to become vigilantes, instead of having the police ask the man the questions, so yeah, you are to blame for this, IMO.

But the media was in his face like paparazzi.
Again, our camera was 10 feet behind the reporter. A resident of the home opened the door, and our reporter asked if Darren Kawamoto was there. Darren came to the door, saw the crews, and slammed the door. Had it ended there, the crews would have left. As you can see in the video, seconds later, Kawamoto reopened the door and confronted our crews.
- Yeah, yeah.  I agree, what he did was stupid, but what right did you have going to his front door, on private property, and harassing them?  Answer me that question?

I looked at the video three times....Where does the crew back off? I see them moving toward the man, not away.
The crew backs off slowly, and walking backward, for their own safety. You never turn your back on someone who is coming at you. The News10 crew was pinned against a vehicle, and so could not move. The video that you see, and that some call "paparazzi" was of Mr. Kawamoto forcing our photographer up against a vehicle. They were unable to get off the property until a relative pulled him back.

It appears that News 10 justifies news reporting by invading the privacy of Kawamoto. He is entitled to his privacy.

He is absolutely entitled to his privacy. Again, he could have shut the door and left it at that.
- And you could've stay off private property, and had the police do this!

It is never our intention to harass any individual, no matter their past. Our job is to get both sides of a story, which is what we were trying to do. News10 has never been involved in "gotcha" journalism. Believe me, we would much rather never have been a part of this story than have our crew threatened in this manner.
- Bullshit!  You needed a story, so just showing up is harassment.  Both sides of the story?  What a joke!  This is all one sided, your side!  And if you don't want to be a part of a story, then stay a way, let the police do the job.

As for our rights, which many people have questioned, we have every legal right to approach someone's door. Once they ask us to leave the property, we comply.
- Um, approaching someones door, which is on private property?  I don't think so.  Why did you just not call the man up and get his opinion on the phone?

Just two weeks ago, the Roseville community was concerned about a sex offender moving into their neighborhood. We approached the story in the exact same fashion. But it was a very different story. The man declined to speak, and we went away. The next day, he allowed us to videotape a radio interview he had agreed to. The public had a very different perception based on that response.
- So here, this shows, you have a record of visiting sex offenders, and harassing them!

Today, we gave Darren Kawamoto another chance to give his side of the story. He agreed to a jailhouse interview, which you will see on News10 at 5. The facts as he portrays them in the interview differ from what you see on the videotape. Ultimately it is up to authorities to determine his future.

As for News10, I feel comfortable that our ethics remain intact.






WA - Woman pleads to lesser charge after sex with teen

View the article here

Wow, a MAJOR slap on the wrist. I know people who did a lot less than she did, and got a lot more, of course they were men as well. This is just absurd! Sexual prejudice in action folks!  Reverse the roles, a male and a young female, and the book would've been thrown at the man.

11/12/2008

By JACOB JONES - The Daily World

A 25-year-old Westport woman was sentenced to three weeks in jail and community service for having sex with a 15-year-old boy during problems with her marriage.

Sarah M. Credeur received credit for 21 days spent in jail and was ordered to serve 30 days of community service Monday after pleading guilty to communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.

“You’re not going back to jail,” Judge David Edwards told her, but he ordered her to pay several fines and suspended 314 days of jail time.

Credeur was originally arrested on July 27 on suspicion of third-degree child rape after admitting to a short sexual relationship with the teenage neighbor. The charge was later amended to the lesser communicating charge.

Deputy prosecutor Katie Svoboda said the crime still came with significant consequences. Credeur must undergo a sexual deviancy evaluation and register as a sex offender.

Credeur told the court Monday she had been struggling with her marriage and had not been thinking clearly throughout her relationship with the teenager.

“I was not in my right mind at the time,” she said. “My husband and I were having some problems.”

Court records also include a letter from Credeur acknowledging the sexual relationship and explaining some of the difficulties with her marriage. She said the teenager had presented himself as older, but still a teenager.

“We were good friends and by the way he acts and the way his mom treats him, nobody would have ever guessed his age,” she wrote.

Credeur told the court she had been able to attend counseling and get her life back together since her arrest.

“Your actions in this case have not resulted in a separation?” Edwards asked.

She said she is back with her husband and children.

Edwards said she had spent enough time in jail, but she was also ordered to pay for any counseling the teenage boy might need following this situation.


Advice for avoiding sex offender status: Don't be stupid

View the article here

Spread this brochure around, give it out to anyone you know.  All children, and adults, should be educated!  Also, if you don't mind, mention this blog as well.

11/12/2008

A prosecutor friend of mine recently commented that when he was young, he and his compadres knew that sex with an underage teen carried serious consequences or "16 could get you 20."

Apparently not all young adults are aware of that, so a young sex offender and his mother have compiled an "educational brochure" about what happens when someone has sex with a partner too young to consent.

I don't know both sides of the story--and there are always two sides--but the brochure offers some good advice: Don't be Stupid.

Here's the brochure: Educate All Youth Brochure.pdf <--- Download, print and hand this out to everyone!


NJ - West Amwell to repeal sex offender law

View the article here

11/12/2008

By Linda Seida, Staff Writer

WEST AMWELL — The Township Committee will hold a public hearing Dec. 10 to repeal its sex offender ordinance that restricts where those convicted may live and also bans them from Halloween activities.

The repeal is necessary because of a recent court decision, according to Deputy Mayor Ron Shapella.

Last summer, a three-judge panel of the New Jersey Superior Court Appellate Division struck down similar ordinances in two communities, Galloway in Atlantic County and Cherry Hill in Camden County.

”The court ruled Megan’s Law supercedes any local ordinance,” Mr. Shapella said.

The state’s Megan’s Law, which went into effect in 1994, contains provisions for notifying residents when a convicted sex offender has moved in to their neighborhood. But unlike local ordinances, including West Amwell’s, Megan’s Law does not restrict where convicted offenders may live after they have served their sentences.

Because of the ruling, township officials thought it best to get their ordinance off the books, Mr. Shapella said.

In 2006, the Township Committee unanimously passed an ordinance governing where convicted sex offenders may live. The ordinance also placed restrictions on offenders’ activities on Halloween.

West Amwell’s ordinance says offenders may not live within 2,500 feet of any park, playground or day-care center. The 2,500-foot restriction is similar to those enacted by Cherry Hill and Galloway.

West Amwell’s ordinance also prohibits a convicted offender from mingling with any child, even his own, on Halloween. The ordinance also requires convicted offenders to be indoors at their residence by 6 p.m. Halloween and bars them from answering their doors to trick-or-treaters.

The ordinance also prohibits a convicted offender from attending any parties where children are present for the entire 24 hours of Halloween.

New Jersey State Police maintain a registry of convicted sex offenders, but none is listed in West Amwell.

However, the registry does not list all convicted sex offenders. Those who are considered to have the least risk of recidivism are not included.