Friday, January 16, 2009

TX - Collin County DA John Roach Receives 2008 Lone Star Prosecutor Award

View the article here

01/16/2009

Collin County DA John Roach Receives 2008 Lone Star Prosecutor Award

MCKINNEY -- Texas prosecutors named Collin County Criminal District Attorney John Roach the Lone Star Prosecutor of the Year for his courage and discretion in prosecuting — or choosing not to prosecute — several cases in 2008.

The award, announced in Austin earlier this week, is given on behalf of the Texas District and County Attorneys Association (TDCAA).

The TDCAA recognized Mr. Roach for steadfastly refusing to take on cases contaminated by a network television news investigation called, “To Catch a Predator.” The cases linked to the TV show were mired in controversy because the investigations were conducted under the supervision of television producers, not law enforcement, and would not have held up in court.
“John Roach showed the true backbone of a Texas prosecutor in standing up to a national television network and this show by refusing to prosecute cases tainted by an entertainment-driven ‘investigation,’” said Barry Macha, Criminal District Attorney in Wichita County and TDCAA President.

Mr. Roach was also cited for agreeing to prosecute another elected prosecutor, Ray Sumrow, for abuse of office, resulting in a 15-year prison term; and dismissing charges against the man convicted of murdering young Ashlee Estelle after doubt was cast on the evidence used to convict him.

“The public may not have liked that decision,” Macha noted, “But Roach followed the law in this case. That is his job as the elected prosecutor, to be sure that justice is done. It is this type of work that exemplifies the best in Texas prosecution.”

Mr. Roach said that recognition by his fellow Texas prosecutors as Lone Star Prosecutor of the Year is a great honor, “and doubly so because of our shared dedication to truth, justice, and the rule of law.”

Each year the Board of Directors of the Texas District and County Attorneys Association names a Lone Star Prosecutor who demonstrates professionalism and dedication to the highest standards of prosecution. The award is traditionally presented at the prosecutors’ annual conference every September, but the September 2008 conference in Galveston was rescheduled for January 2009 because of Hurricane Ike’s landfall.


Court ponders: Do schools have right to strip search kids?

View the article here
U.S. Supreme Court will hear strip-search appeal

I think strip searching a child for something like aspirin, is wrong! This is what zero tolerance does!

01/16/2009

The Supreme Court has decided to take on that question. The justices accepted on Friday a case involving a 13-year-old Arizona girl suspected of hiding Ibuprofen pills in her underwear.

Arguments in the case will be heard in April, CNN reported. A federal appeals court had ruled that the search was illegal, but the school system decided to appeal the case to the Supreme Court. The girl’s school has a zero-tolerance policy on all drugs, prescription or otherwise, unless a student has prior written permission.

In 2003, Savana Redding was an eighth-grade honor student at Safford Middle School near Tucson, Ariz. The incident began when the vice principal found prescription-strength pain reliever pills in another girl’s possession. The student said that Savana had given the Ibuprofen to her.

Savana, who had never been in trouble before, denied the allegations. Her bookbag was searched and then, with two female employees watching, she was ordered to strip down to her underwear. Her bra was pulled out, and her panties were shaken. No drugs were found. She and her family sued the school district with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, saying the search had violated her 4th Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure.

In ruling in favor of Savana, the federals appeal court wrote that “common sense informs us that directing a 13-year-old girl to remove her clothes, partially revealing her breasts and pelvic area for allegedly possessing ibuprofen … was excessively intrusive.”

The school district argues that it has the right to conduct student searches and shouldn’t have to wait until parents are notified. Its reasoning: Such responses are “often needed to protect the very safety of students, particularly from the threats posed by drugs and weapons.”


VT - Protecting Vermont's Victims

View the article here

So if a person cannot question the person who is accusing them of something, then why even have a court system?

01/16/2009

By Brian Joyce

Burlington - A key part of the sex crime bill that passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee Friday aims to protect young victims from pretrial interrogation and pretrial depositions. And that part of the bill is triggering some controversy.

For at least 40 years, crime suspects, their attorneys, and prosecutors have had the right to question all potential witnesses before trial under oath, including the alleged crime victims.
- 40 years?  Surely it's been around a lot longer than that!

But the proposed new sex offender bill will eliminate that automatic right for suspected child molesters because the confrontation sometimes traumatizes young victims a second time. That was the case for an earlier victim of Michael Jacques.

"The two people in the room that were scaring the life out of me, which was Michael Jacques and his lawyer," said Lisa.

Lisa was sexually assaulted by Michael Jacques when she was 13 years old-- 21 years ago. She says she was traumatized by Jacques and his lawyer when she was subjected to pretrial interrogation with Jacques sitting in the same room. She did so poorly in the deposition that the prosecutor was forced to give Jacques a deferred sentence and he never went to jail for that crime.

"You know I remember crying and I was so scared because Michael was staring at me because the defense attorney wouldn't stop," she said.

Lisa's testimony helped convince lawmakers to propose eliminating automatic pretrial depositions of sex crime victims under age 16.

"Unfortunately we do have attorneys who will essentially, for lack of a better term, beat up a witness during a deposition. That makes it more likely that that victim will not go forward in trial," said Chittenden County Prosecutor T.J. Donovan. "We do have very experienced, very good attorneys, defense attorneys, who treat victims with kindness, respect, with dignity during those depositions as well."
- Hell, you should be treating all sides this way!

"I've never found it advantageous to try and be difficult with a child witness," lawyer Mark Kaplan said. "It just doesn't make any sense. What you really want to know is what will that witness say if they go to trial."

Kaplan has represented dozens of child molesters over the last 30 years. He says he rarely ever deposes a child victim and he never abuses them during the interrogation, but completely barring depositions in child sex cases altogether would be unfair and unwise.
- And out of those 30 he has represented, how many cases has he won?

"I think it resolves 90 to 95 percent of these cases because both sides have an equal opportunity to explore the other side's case, you know, take the depositions and do the discovery," Kaplan said. "Almost every case resolves. It's the unusual case that goes to trial."

Vermont for now is one of only a handful of states that permits defense lawyers to depose child sex crime victims. The proposed change would not eliminate depositions, but would give prosecutors the option of blocking them.

Chittenden County Prosecutor T.J. Donovan said he still strongly supports depositions in MOST criminal cases.

The proposed change is unlikely to run into any constitutional challenges. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled there is no constitutional right to pretrial depositions because crime suspects get to face their accusers and question them at trial.
- What?  Why not?  It's unconstitutional!  Read the constitution, which states:

Amendment VI
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.


CA - State board suggests the convenience of sex offenders outweighs the will of voters and safety of children

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This man, IMO, is an a__hole!  He even picketed outside the home of a sex offender, see the second article below the horizontal line.  He will NEVER listen to what anybody else says, who does not agree with his viewpoint, that is obvious!


01/14/2009

By Senator George Runner - State Capitol

My Wednesday morning began earlier than usual with a sunrise call from Los Angeles radio station KFI requesting to discuss a report released by California's Sex Offender Management Board, a state commission that monitors and analyzes sex offender laws in California.

Apparently SOMB's latest report suggests that California should overturn a provision of Prop 83: Jessica's Law that restricts paroled sex offenders from living 2,000 feet from schools, parks and other places where children gather.

I had already discussed the report with members of the SOMB and the Los Angeles Times the day previous so I was not caught off guard by the KFI reporter. Matter of fact, I prepared myself for one of those days where I would receive emails and calls from Californians understandably upset by yet another news story condemning Jessica's Law.

I told the KFI reporter what I told everyone else: I am disappointed by the report's recommendations, which has suggested in a vague manner that the Legislature and Governor toss the will of the voters aside in favor of the rights of sex offenders - some of whom may have been inconvenienced by the 2,000-foot living restriction.
- Well, when you do not read the OVERWHELMING amount of studies out there, which shows these restrictions are not and will not work.  You are just grandstanding, boasting and your head is going to explode from the huge ego!  Why don't you listen to experts for once in your life?  These laws are making offenders homeless, which could potentially put everyone in danger.  Stop the grandstanding!

The report flatly fails to show actual evidence that supports the board's idea that sex offender residency laws in California should be abandoned.
- And you fail to show actual evidence where they actually work!  So why don't you show us how they are working?  It's easy to blame others, so put your money where your mouth is.  Where is your facts?

The report also fails to address the fact that California's Jessica's Law includes Global Positioning Satellite monitoring of sex offenders in conjunction with housing restrictions. Many of the states that have adopted a Jessica's Law do not include GPS monitoring. With all due respect to those other states, GPS monitoring is an essential partner to living restriction. Without GPS monitoring, many sex offenders have the opportunity to go underground.
- With or without GPS, the same applies.  If someone is so dangerous, why are they out of prison?  Also, if a criminal is intent on committing another crime, or cutting of the GPS and vanishing, how is that protecting anybody?  You do not have a clue, do you?  GPS is a waste of tax payer money, and your state is already in a financial crisis, from what the Governor has said, and this is helping that crisis, but you won't mention that, will you?

So facts are this: Every sex offender paroled in California since 2006 is now wearing GPS and monitored by the State Corrections and Rehabilitation Department. Each of these sex offenders are restricted from living closer than 2,000 feet from schools and parks.
- And yes, this proves how you are wasting a ton of money.  Not all those you currently have on GPS, need it, yet you are assuming all are dangerous and need 24/7 monitoring.  What a waste of money!  Also, how many sex crimes, can you tell me, have occurred at a school or park?  90% or more of all sex crimes, occur in the victims own home, family or close friends, not in a park or school!

There is no evidence that sex offenders are facing impossible challenges; just difficulties.
- Why don't you live in their shoes for awhile, then tell me that.  And where is your evidence that they are not?  There is TONS of evidence, by your own state, and many other organizations, but you don't want to hear about it.  Why?  I wonder, do you have any investments in GPS or something?

This is no reason to throw out a sound law approved by the voters.
- Sound law?  How is it sound?

I believe voters now - as they did in 2006 when they overwhelmingly passed Jessica's Law - oppose child molesters living across the street from schools.
- Because politicians and the media, continue to ratchet up the fear mongering and lies!  And also, these laws are about sex offenders, and not all sex offenders are child molesters, which you apparently believe, from that last statement.



View the article here

And here is the article, where vigilante Senator George Runner, picketed outside the home of a sex offender, thus helping the fear and hysteria!  You should be upholding your "oath of office," instead of out picketing, which is not your job!  But, anything to look good to the sheeple though!

11/16/2000

Sex offender information available

While youth organizations like American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) and some churches in the area check employees and volunteers against the Megan’s Law computerized system for identifying serious and high risk sex offenders on a regular basis, individuals may not be aware that this system is also available for private use.

Megan’s Law is named after 7-year-old Megan Kanka, a New Jersey girl who was raped and killed by a known child molester who had moved across the street from the family without their knowledge.

The Kanka’s sought to have all communities warned about sex offenders in every area.

A result of the California Child Protective Act of 1994, sponsored by Dan Lundgren, who was California’s Attorney General at the time, parents and organizations now have access to information about every registered sex offender in their vicinity.

According to the law, sex offenders are required to register at local sheriff departments each year between five days before and five days after their birthday.

The database offers a basic description of the offender, including nationality, height, weight and any identifiable marks like scars, tattoos or body oddities. It also lists specific offenses and any aliases along with a picture for most, but not all, offenders.

The State Department of Justice (DOJ) sends updated CD-ROMS monthly to sheriff’s stations throughout California.

For residents of Lancaster, this proved to be a helpful tool to identify a high-risk sex offender who had moved into their community.

A newspaper has reported that state Assemblyman George Runner and city officials in Lancaster including Mayor Frank Roberts and Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford have picketed outside an apartment where _____, 41, a registered sex offender, has moved in with relatives.

_____ was released from Atascadero State Prison on Sept. 18 after serving 22 years for rape and burglary. More than a dozen residents have demanded the eviction of _____ and passed out fliers alerting passersby that he had moved there.
- He is out of prison, and has to live somewhere!

Becky Ritchie, records supervisor for the East County Division of the Ventura County Sheriff’s department, said that information available to the general public doesn’t include the specific address of the registered sex offender, only the ZIP Code, but added that law enforcement personnel do have more specific and complete information.

Cmdr. Keith Parks at the Thousand Oaks Police Department believes that this is a great tool for organizations and the general public. He added that while it hasn’t happened yet, if a high-risk sex offender would move into the area, there are provisions for distributing public notices.

––Debbie Sporich


DC - Obama's "Citizen's Briefing Book."

Courtesy of eAdvocate

01/15/2009

Obama's Transition Team has started what they call the "Citizen's Briefing Book."

Here is how they explain it:

Share your ideas on any issue facing the new administration, then rate or comment on other ideas. The best rated ideas will be gathered into a Citizen's Briefing Book to be delivered to President Obama after he is sworn in.

My Review of Existing Issues:
Today, I began looking at what is already out there as to Sex Offender Concerns and Issues, what I found is not what the Transition Team is looking for. There seems to be a main theme among those folks who support reform for sex offender concerns, and that is, that the Adam Walsh Act violates the ex post facto clause, without clarification.

Let me say this, that the Adam Walsh Act (AWA) -on its face- does not violate any constitutional provision whatsoever, it is quite clear folks do not understand constitutional provisions and how they may be violated. If it were in violation -on its face- then courts would have overturned it entirely. That has not happened.

All laws when enacted are prospective, meaning they apply to folks convicted as of the date the law became effective, and thereafter. Immediately that tells us that AWA is not ex post facto on its face; this is not some subtle point it is something folks need to understand.

Now, when a new law (AWA) is applied to folks convicted BEFORE the date of enactment, then it MAY be a ex post facto violation. One more thing is needed, the law MUST FURTHER PUNISH according to what courts have declared to be punishment; courts -so far- have not declared AWA provisions further punishment. Therefore, despite all personal beliefs, mine included, AWA is not an ex post facto law, legally speaking.

This is the main case on ex post facto laws:
CALDER v. BULL 8-1-1798 Question:
This is the source of all ex post facto cases: The court holding a law is a ex post facto violation if any of the following have occurred:

1st. Every law that makes an action , done before the passing of the law, and which was innocent when done, criminal; and punishes such action.

2nd. Every law that aggravates a crime, or makes it greater than it was, when committed.

3rd. Every law that changes the punishment, and inflicts a greater punishment, than the law annexed to the crime, when committed.

4th. Every law that alters the legal rules of evidence, and receives less, or different, testimony, than the law required at the time of the commission of the offence, in order to convict the offender.

AWA or SORNA, that is the question:
In addition, supporters have missed a very important fact, that the Adam Walsh Act has many Titles, only one of them pertains to registration, SORNA is the name they have given that PORTION of AWA affecting registration issues. While many folks, in commentary, refer to AWA and actually mean SORNA portion, here in the Citizens Briefing Book EVERYONE MUST BE CLEAR in explaining what their objection pertains to.

The reason for clarity is, AWA has many good portions (i.e.;. child pornography for one) and anyone in Congress seeing a claim that "AWA is unconstitutional" will ignore such claims knowing it to not be true. So folks lose an opportunity to get their point across because they were not clear.

How many stories are currently told:
OK, after reviewing everything I could find, I can count on one hand the number of stories that have value towards sex offender concerns. Here is why I say this, folks are complaining -whining so to speak- about laws being bad and repeating those claims time and time again. Very few tell stories that show how SORNA harms people in their daily lives, those stories are issues, real issues. Something Obama can grab onto and make changes in laws to accommodate and relieve the harm.

What should folks focus on:
Now, if folks remember, at Halloween Obama was walking with one of his girls in the park, and reporters began to harass them, Obama asked them to stop. That is a story and at that time I pointed it out to folks to remember this when discussing RSO issues. That is the kind of issue this Transition Team is looking for to present to Obama. FAMILY HARASSMENT, Obama is sensitive to that, hence the story of him and his girl in the park.

Further, when Obama was elected President-Elect, who did he bring on the stage with him? His FAMILY, again he is sensitive to FAMILY ISSUES. In addition, when his Grandmother died, where did he go? FAMILY ISSUES. I've pointed these out in my blog from time to time. REMEMBER "FAMILY" tell stories that involve family and how they are being harmed, harassed, etc. These are real issues not screaming that laws are ex post facto, that my friends is a waste of time.

KEEP FOCUSED!

The bad guys, the haters:
Next, I also noticed that there were folks who hated the fact that RSOs or their family members were, as they put it, complaining. And some even called folks names. Then I see a few supporters, spending time arguing with these folks. This is a MAJOR mistake, allow folks to have their opinions, just ignore them. If you do not ignore them, then those who review issues (Transition Team) will not want to help those who are arguing and bypass good issues.

The bad folks who call names, allow them their opinion and name calling, and I promise you, the transition team will ignore them and focus on the RSO issues if they spend their time simply getting issues in for consideration. Remember what the Transition Team said "The best rated ideas will be gathered into a Citizen's Briefing Book to be delivered to President Obama after he is sworn in."

The best rated:
THE BEST RATED, which means more of your time must be spent on getting RSOs, family members, and supporters to vote in order to get issues "BEST RATED" so DO NOT WASTE time, get the message out to others, work together with other supporters, set aside any differences, teamwork even if you don't like someone on the team.

So remember, stories: My father and I went walking in the park today and someone noticed me from seeing my picture on the registry, as that person walked by, they spit at me but caught my father in his face. That folks is a story, and notice, no mention of AWA violating the ex post facto law.

Remember, stories showing who is harmed and how! Stay focused, stories is what the transition team will bring together and present to Obama.

Good luck to everyone:
eAdvocate

CLICK to goto the Citizens Briefing Book

NOTE: Megan's law became a law by her Mom telling her story. Jessica's law became a law because her story was told. Every law that is named after a victim became a law by telling the victim's story. TELL STORIES of harm to FAMILY members...


Deconstructing Reaction to Net Safety Task Force Report

View the article here

01/16/2009

By John Morris

Now that the dust is settling on the release of the Final Report of the Internet Safety Technical Task Force, I want to highlight a few important points that have been raised this week. The Task Force was formed through an agreement between MySpace and 49 state Attorneys General to look at technology that might be used to protect kids in social networking environments. The AGs were clearly looking for a technological “silver bullet” to address what they and the popular media have portrayed as huge risks for kids on social networks; they didn’t get it.

The Task Force – run by the Berkman Center at Harvard Law School – reached a set of conclusions that undercut the common myths underlying the AGs assumptions. In simple terms, the Task Force concluded that:

  • the risks to kids online are much less, and different, than popular perception holds, and
  • there are no technologies that can or should be mandated or imposed to “solve” the risks that kids do face online (like teen-on-teen cyberbullying).

No one denies that being online carries some risk for kids (and adults, too). But a strong conclusion of the Task Force is that education is a critical way to address the risk, and that there are not technological silver bullets that governments should mandate.

Here are a few additional points about the final report, the reactions to it and beyond, that are worth highlighting:

Some AGs claim the report used old, out-dated data to show only a minimal risk to kids in social networking environments. That assertion is simply not true, as a full reading of the lengthy Research Advisory Board (PDF) report will show. The Task Force relied on the best data available, and the best researchers. The Research Advisory Board had all of the leading academic researchers who study online risk to kids involved in developing the research report, and their conclusions are that risks online are much more subtle and of a different nature than the popular media suggests.

The AGs should “show me the data” if they continue to believe that there is a massive risk to minors in social networking contexts; they must come forward with concrete, testable data to make their case. Right now, all the AGs can offer are anecdotal assertions that kids can get in trouble online. The Task Force certainly agrees that some kids do in fact get in trouble online, but the report shows that those same kids are probably in trouble offline, too. Anecdotally, it appears that most online predator cases involve chat rooms, not social networks, and equally critically, most of those cases involve sting operations where a predator connects with a law enforcement official posing as a minor looking for sex online. The anecdotal evidence, taken together, does not suggest that the average minor using one of the leading social networks is in fact at any greater risk online than offline.

The media overlooked a key point in the study, namely that the Task Force looked closely at 40 different technologies that were submitted to it, and concluded that none of the technologies were appropriate to be required for use by social networks. The Task Force created a Technical Advisory Board to review the 40 submissions, and I served as an “Observer” on the TAB and was the only Task Force member to closely review and submit written comments (PDF) on each of the technologies proposed. So I can report from first hand review that although some of the technologies are useful in some contexts, none is appropriate for legislatures to mandate.

The TAB reviewed some excellent “user empowerment” technologies that allow parents and caregivers to monitor, guide and even limit kids’ use of social networking sites. Other submissions offer forensic technologies that might be very useful for law enforcement. But many of the technologies proposed some form of “age verification,” which the TAB correctly concluded was not a workable, effective solution for social networking sites that are intended for a global audience that includes both minors and adults. AV technology may well be useful to create, for example, a U.S.-focused adults-only site, or for use in financial transactions like online liquor sales. But for the leading social networking sites – which are global in reach and which welcome both adults and minors – AV technology would not help. Moreover, AV technologies cannot easily verify the ages of minors, and most of the technologies would create privacy and other problems that would outweigh any benefits they might have. Finally, many of the technologies would create serious First Amendment and constitutional problems if they were to be required by law to be used.

Task Force member Aristotle’s attack on MySpace for supposed “destruction” of information about Registered Sex Offender activities is grossly inappropriate and off base. First, this is a prime example of “no good deed goes unpunished” – MySpace voluntarily decided to remove known RSOs from its site, and then it ends up being a primary target of attack based on these RSOs. Second, until a law enforcement official determines that one or more of the RSOs removed from MySpace in fact was engaging in criminal or threatening conduct, it would be inappropriate for MySpace to disclose information about those individuals in the absence of a subpoena. Third, were MySpace to do what Aristotle advocates, then MySpace would violate its own privacy policy, and thereby subject itself to significant risk of legal liability for that breach. At bottom, MySpace has made it very clear that it cooperates with the AGs and law enforcement subpoenas relating to these RSOs. If Aristotle thinks that not enough is happening about these RSOs, then it should be urging law enforcement to open more investigations of possible criminal conduct. But to suggest, as Aristotle does, that MySpace should turn itself it the prosecutor, judge, and jury about these RSOs is in my view inappropriate. That should be up to law enforcement, not a private company.

Everyone should just step back, take a breath and realize that there is risk in life, and neither parents nor governments can eliminate all risk for kids. Whether we as parents like it or not, social networks are now part of the American social fabric for young people. Our focus should be on educating kids about the risks online, not – as some legislators have suggested – trying to prevent kids from going online or using social networks. I noted a recent study (DOC) that the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention discussed that shows that every year there are more than 50,000 serious snowboarding accidents in the U.S., and a majority of the victims are young people. But I think most people would think it absurd for state legislatures or AGs to advocate that ski resorts should deny service to minors, or use age verification technology to figure out who is a minor. Snowboarding – just like social networking – is an activity that parents let their kids do even though there is some modest level of risk. A core conclusion of the Task Force is that the risk online is not in fact significantly different or greater than the risk offline. We should all work together to minimize risk both online and offline, but our society does not (and should not) try to eliminate all risk to kids (or we should start with prohibiting minors from being in cars, because as the CDC says, “Motor vehicle injuries are the greatest public health problem facing children today”). Tens of millions of American kids have hundreds of millions of online interactions every day, and the vast majority of those interactions are safe and healthy. We absolutely need to address and reduce risk online, but we should not destroy social networking to eliminate all risk.

Unintended Consequences

A final note is that we must be careful of unintended consequences. A New York Times editorial in late December described how laws across the country regulating where Registered Sex Offenders can live – and prohibiting RSOs from living near schools and daycare centers – have had the unintended consequences of reducing the ability of the state to monitor RSOs (because many RSOs have been forced into a homeless life), and reducing the ability of RSOs to live a structured, non-criminal lifestyle. The Times editorial summed up the situation:

The problem with residency restrictions is that they fulfill an emotional need but not a rational one. It’s in everyone’s interest for registered sex offenders to lead stable lives, near the watchful eyes of family and law enforcement and regular psychiatric treatment. Exile by zoning threatens to create just the opposite phenomenon — a subpopulation of unhinged nomads off their meds with no fixed address and no one keeping tabs on them. This may satisfy many a town’s thirst for retributive justice, but as a sensible law enforcement policy designed to make children safer, it smacks of thoughtlessness and failure.

I fear that our society is about to make a similar mistake with social networks. If we impose laws that inhibit minors from using social networks, we will drive them away from the current leading social networks (which are very concerned about child safety) to overseas websites (which have far less concern about the safety of our kids). If there is one takeaway that policymakers should get from the Task Force report, it is that public policy in this area should be made based on real data about real risk, not media hype, and on a concrete understanding of the technological, privacy, free speech, and other implications of any proposed policy (or technology) solution.

See CDT’s press release and statement for more of our formal take on the final report. The news media has well covered the report, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Computerworld. And a number of other Task Force members have posted thoughtful blog posts on the report, including Adam Thierer, Anne Collier, and Larry Magid.


PA - Teens charged with child porn for 'sex-ting'

Yes, these are serious charges, but goes to show you how well intentioned laws, that are not thought out very much, can backfire. And I wish people would stop spreading the bogus "1 in 5" and "50,0000" bogus statistics, which are just numbers pulled from thin air, because they "sound good!"


AGE OF CONSENT CHART FOR THE U.S. - 2009

View the article here
World Age of Consent

The following chart lists the unrestricted age of consent for each of the states. This means that at that age an individual can have sex with whomever they wish as long as that person is consenting and they are the same age or older. To have sex with someone under the age of consent is a strict liability crime (in most states) known as statutory rape. It is often referred to by other names such as sexual assault, sexual misconduct with a child, etc. In addition to the age of consent, the chart also indicates whether or not there is an age-gap provision for that state. Many states have age-gap provisions that legalize teen sexuality as long as they are within a certain age range. Other states have "affirmative defense" clauses. In all states, dating, hugging, holding hands and kissing are not illegal. In some states, fondling, groping through the clothes or other such things known as "3rd base" is illegal. If you are looking for further information or discussion forums on the subject, please visit Moral Outrage.

Click an image to visit the site


* Note: Some states make an age gap less of a crime but still a crime; where this is the case we have also listed 'No'.

** Note: In the absence of an affirmative or negative, we have presumed the answer to be no. Also, some states only allow mistake of age above a certain age.


FL - Judge dismisses spring break smut suit

View the article here

The age of consent in Florida is 18, so why was this 17 year old in these contests in the first place? And why isn't the people who allowed her to do this, not being charged?

01/15/2009

By BILL RANKIN - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

When Julie Amanda Tilton went to Daytona Beach during spring break, she competed in a number of risque contests at a local motel before hundreds of observers, some taking photos.

The Florida woman eventually filed a federal lawsuit after learning that footage of the contests had been posted on the Internet.

But on Thursday, the federal appeals court in Atlanta ruled against Tilton, effectively ending her suit seeking damages from the hotel, the owner of a video company and others.

Tilton, at the time a 17-year-old high school student, went to the Desert Inn Resort Motel in April 2001 after hearing about the contests. She competed in two wet T-shirt contests, a “banana sucking contest” and a “sexual positions contest.”

The owner of a video production company also heard an advertisement about the wet T-shirt contest. He went to the event, took photos and posted those, along with some video footage of the event, on his Web site.
- So if the age of consent is 18 in Florida, wouldn't this be considered taking and posting child porn?

Tilton’s lawsuit claimed Deslin Hotels, which owns the Desert Inn, had induced her to engage in “sexually explicit conduct” and created an atmosphere it knew would draw others to take pictures of it.

Judge Bill Pryor, writing for a unanimous three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, said Tilton’s suit failed because she could not produce actual proof she engaged in such conduct.

Under the law, Pryor wrote, “sexually explicit conduct” involves intercourse, other specific sexual acts or lascivious exposure of the pubic area.

Tilton’s conduct did not create the impression of an actual sex act and her pubic area was covered, Pryor wrote. As for the resort creating an environment conducive to photos being taken of sexually explicit conduct, her suit fails on that ground as well because she produced no evidence of it, Pryor wrote.

Tilton also sued Chad Ciani, owner of the video production company, on grounds he put photos of her on his Web site when she was a minor. But Tilton could not prove that Ciani, who removed the photos after Tilton lodged a protest, knew she was a minor when he took the pictures, Pryor wrote.


WA - Ken Schram: Why not chip babies too?

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Video is available at the site above.

01/15/2009

By Ken Schram

SEATTLE -- What are we willing to do to ourselves?

State lawmakers are looking at a law to allow surgically implanted tracking chips in sex offenders so that we know where they are at all times.

Conjuring up images of sexually abused women and children, I suspect the idea will be met with a "hell yeah" attitude from a whole lot of people.

Not from me.

It's not that I have any sympathy for the sexual predators among us. It's the opposition I have to surrendering more of our civil rights under the guise of government using technology to protect us.

Playing off the general revulsion of sex offenders, legislators will push the idea of how this can prevent crime.

But what does this set the stage for?

Why not chip all convicted felons?

And for safety sake, why not chip newborns as a way to deal with possible child abductions?

We could chip people who have a history of mental illness, along with people who shoplift.

The scenarios are endless.

And the consequences are frightening.

State lawmakers, while promising us an extra measure of safety, are on the verge of opening a technological Pandora's Box.

Before we let them, we'd damn well better ask: What are we willing to do to ourselves.


IL - 15-year-old sentenced in sex assault of 6-year-old

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01/16/2009

By Mary Schenk

URBANA – A Rantoul teen who admitted raping a developmentally delayed child will spend at least the next eight years in prison.

_____, 15, of North Mahoning Avenue, will also have to register for life as a sex offender.

He pleaded guilty Friday before Champaign County Judge Tom Difanis to aggravated criminal sexual assault, admitting he committed a sex act on July 22 at his home with a friend of his sister who had come to play with her. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Assistant States Attorney Lindsey Clark said the 6-year-old girl is developmentally delayed and borderline autistic. After returning home from _____'s house, she complained of pain to her parents. They found blood in her underwear, and Clark said a sex assault nurse examined her and found "significant" injury to the child.

Because of the seriousness of the crime, _____'s case was automatically transferred to adult court.

- A child is not considered an adult, until they are 18, so why is this being done in an adult court, when he is NOT and adult?

Lindsey Clark – no relation to the defendant – said _____ will go to juvenile prison until he is 18, then likely will be transferred to an adult prison. He must serve 85 percent of the sentence.

Lindsey Clark said _____ had a previous juvenile adjudication for battery in 2007.


UK - Boy George Gets 15 Months

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01/16/2009

By TMZ Staff

Boy George just has been sentenced to 15 months behind bars for chaining up a male escort in his London apartment.

A British judge handed down the sentence this morning following BG's conviction of falsely imprisoning Audun Carlsen, a Norwegian escort whom he had met on the Internet. The judge called Boy's bondage -- in which he handcuffed Carlsen to a wall hook in Boy's flat -- "premeditated," "callous" and "degrading".

In the last four years, George has been convicted of drug charges and being a "nuisance" to cops.

See Also


Sorry, Chris Hansen. Internet Predators Not Biggest Online Threat To Teens.

View the article here
More studies here
Deconstructing Reaction to Net Safety Task Force Report

01/16/2009

By Michael J. Mooney

The new study by Harvard's Internet Safety Technical Task Force doesn't come straight out and say that Chris Hansen (right) -- MSNBC's moral equivalent to Nancy Grace -- is completely full of s--t, but it does say that America's children are not nearly as at risk from the so-called internet predators as Hansen might have you think.

You may remember when To Catch a Predator came to Florida two years ago, busting a West Palm Beach man in their internet sting.

You're going to have a hard time finding people willing to defend the men caught here, but this study says what most intelligent people have been saying since the first time they saw this horrible (yet incredibly compelling) television program: If NBC, their subcontractors Perverted Justice, or the police forces working these stings had any interest in protecting actual young people, they'd be surfing the web for real teenagers doing risky things (like chatting with predatory adults) and notifying each child's parents.

A summary of the study after the jump.

Most of the law enforcement research on Internet exploitation used for the study predated the rise of social networks. Most of the cases involved post-pubescent males who knew they were meeting an adult for the purposes of sex. Not included in the dialogue of online safety is the increase in minors reporting sexual solicitation by other minors, something being reported with increasing frequency.

Bullying and harassment are the most frequent threats kids face online.

The Internet does increase the availability of harmful or sexual material, but it doesn't necessarily increase the likelihood that a minor will see it. Those most likely to see it are the ones looking for it in the first place.

Minors aren't equally at risk online. Kids who are most at risk are engaging in risky behaviors and have problems at home. Family dynamics and psychosocial makeup are better predictors for exposure to harmful elements than, say, whether they use Facebook or MySpace.

Overall, the researchers say this is just the beginning. Too little is known about the actual risks and the role minors themselves play in contributing to a dangerous Internet environment.

Or, you know, if you believe Chris Hansen, just never allow any child to touch a keyboard, ever.


NC - Leland is latest to ban sex offenders from parks

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01/15/2009

By Ana Ribeiro - Staff Writer

Leland - If caught at a town park, sex offenders may be slapped with a hefty fine.

At its Thursday meeting, the Leland Town Council unanimously passed an ordinance banning registered sex offenders from the town’s public parks. The ordinance states that anyone who breaks it will be subject to a fine of at least $500 per offense and/or 30 days in jail.

That’s 10 times more than the $50 fine registered sex offenders breaking the same prohibition in New Hanover County would face besides the possibility, there also, of 30 days in jail.

“We want to absolutely, positively eliminate sex offenders from our parks,” Leland Mayor Walter Futch said. “We don’t want them hanging around, and the $500 fine should change their minds.”

Leland has two parks, one at Town Hall and the other on Appleton Way at Mill Creek, Futch said.

The mayor said he’s not aware of a problem with sex offenders at the town’s parks, but said he thinks it may have been a problem at Brunswick County parks in the past.

Leland joins a growing trend of making parks off limits to sex offenders, partially fueled by a N.C. Supreme Court decision that upheld a similar ban in Woodfin last year.

Along with New Hanover and now Leland, Pender County also has banned sex offenders from its parks. So has the city of Wilmington.

As for Brunswick County, it’s relying on a state law banning sex offenders from places where children congregate, county attorney Huey Marshall has said. Named the Jessica Lunsford Act for N.C., it passed the General Assembly and was signed by the governor last year.

Jessica Lunsford, whose case has inspired the strengthening of sex-offender laws, was a 9-year-old raped and killed by a sex offender in her Florida neighborhood in 2005, after she moved there from North Carolina.

“Whereas, the town of Leland park system is a public space wherein sexual predators may attempt to find victims... This ordinance is adopted in the interest of public health, safety and general welfare of the inhabitants of the town,” Leland’s document says.

Locally, there are 183 registered sex offenders in New Hanover County, 139 in Brunswick and 75 in Pender, according to the N.C. Offender Registry.

The registry also shows there are 53 registered sex offenders within a five-mile radius of Leland. Within the same radius of Wilmington, whose population is substantially larger than Leland’s, that number is 74.

The Leland ordinance says that “each and every entry into a park, regardless of the time period involved, shall constitute a separate offense under this ordinance” for registered sex offenders.

It directs the town manager to see to it that the regulation is posted at the main entrance to each of the town’s parks within a month.

Contact Ana Ribeiro at 343-2327 - ana.ribeiro@starnewsonline.com


FL - Lawsuit Claims Sexual Harassment At Jail

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How come it seems like a majority of the sexual related news, comes from Florida? Sounds to me like the entire government down there is corrupt!

01/16/2009

By KYLE MARTIN - Hernando Today

BROOKSVILLE - A sexual harassment suit has been filed against the county jail by a former corrections officer who claims she received a "constant barrage" of lewd comments from her superiors.

The suit filed Tuesday holds the company that runs the jail, Corrections Corporation of America, partially responsible for allegedly not responding to her complaints.

CCA's inaction led to a "discriminatorily abusive working environment," the lawsuit says.

A spokesman for the Nashville, Tenn.-based company wouldn't comment on pending litigation, as per policy. Warden Russell Washburn said the same Thursday.

The former officer, Stephanie Maggard, is also filing a claim against CCA under the Florida Civil Rights Act. She alleges CCA knew about previous complaints against the officers involved, but did nothing to stop it or protect her from the "danger."

The suit asks for unspecified compensation on a variety of grounds, including back pay, punitive damages and re-instatement to her job.

The lawyer who filed the suit, Ryan Barack, said Thursday his client was employed at the jail from 1998 through 2004, then returned in 2006 for a year.

The lawsuit alleges other female officers complained prior to Maggard, but Barack wouldn't elaborate on how long that occurred before Maggard's arrival.

"There's a history of problems at that facility," he said.

The suit alleges the abuse began even as Maggard completed her orientation at the jail on Spring Hill Drive. An officer at the jail who is not named as a defendant told his co-workers from the outset that he intended to pursue Maggard "romantically," the lawsuit states.

The abuse continued from there, the lawsuit says, to include following her into the women's restroom and offering her gifts in exchange for sex.

When Maggard complained to her supervisor, Capt. Adam Nigro, a defendant in the lawsuit, Nigro reportedly dismissed the claims. Instead, he threatened Maggard would work the night shift and receive assignments in the worst part of the jail if she complained, according to the lawsuit.

The officer who initiated the abuse eventually left his job at the jail, but, the lawsuit says Nigro picked up where he left off. The complaints against him include making crude sexual remarks and touching Maggard against her will.

At one point, the lawsuit says, an uninvolved officer warned Nigro that he was going "to get slapped with a sexual harassment lawsuit for this conduct."


KY - Sex Offender House Getting National Attention

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Just more of the same media vigilantism!

01/15/2009

By Andy Cunningham

We brought you a controversial story this week about a house being set up in Lexington that would be home to convicted sex offenders and allow them to get back on their feet.
- So now, instead of helping them get back on their feet, they are helping to prevent that, thus putting more peoples lives in danger!

Many people have spoken out against the home including a national organization that says its concerned for the people who live nearby and is trying to stop the home from opening.

The organization is Snap, the Survivor's Network of those Abused by Priests. The group says the move is, "a reckless, deceitful move by a discredited institution that we fear will put other children at risk."

The institution the group is referring to is the Catholic Action Center, which is sponsoring the home where it plans to move sex offenders into as early as this weekend.

The co-founder of the center, Ginny Ramsey, says none of the men is a repeat offender and each has served their time.

The men will be monitored by a live-in supervisor who will track their progress.

The Catholic Action Center will be holding an informational meeting this Saturday for residents who live near the home on Detroit Avenue.

They hope to answer any questions people might have and provide a better understanding of who will be moving into their neighborhood.