Tuesday, March 17, 2009

DC - Obama picks Hoosier for first judicial appointment

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03/17/2009

By Maureen Groppe - Gannett Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama's first appellate court nominee is Hoosier David Hamilton, a federal district judge for 14 years who is backed by Indiana's Democratic and Republican senators.

Obama nominated Hamilton Tuesday to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, the last stop before the Supreme Court for cases from Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.
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"Judge Hamilton has a long and impressive record of service and a history of handing down fair and judicious decisions," Obama said. "He will be a thoughtful and distinguished addition to the Seventh Circuit."

Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law, said Obama's choice of Hamilton signals that he intends to have a bipartisan selection process.

But the conservative Judicial Confirmation Network complained that Hamilton has a "pretty clear leftist political record."

Hamilton said through a court spokeswoman that he cannot comment on the nomination while it is pending before the Senate.

Hamilton received the American Bar Association's top rating of "well qualified," a reversal from 1994 when the ABA said he was not qualified to be a U.S. district judge for the Southern District of Indiana.

The ABA said then that Hamilton -- who had been nominated to that post by President Bill Clinton -- lacked sufficient trial experience and years practicing at the bar.

Before he joined the federal court, Hamilton was a partner in the Indianapolis-based firm of Barnes & Thornburg, and he served from 1989-1991 as counsel to then-Gov. Evan Bayh.

Hamilton was confirmed by the Senate in 1994 and was named chief judge of the Southern District in January 2008.

"He is someone who takes his job very seriously. He works extremely hard," said Charles Geyh, a professor at Indiana University Maurer School of Law who specializes in state and federal courts. "He's impressed me as engaged by ideas, engaged by good judicial administration, and so is someone I feel very comfortable saying has the demeanor and temperament and skills to be an excellent judge."

Hamilton, a Yale Law School graduate and former Fulbright Scholar, has issued a few controversial decisions.

He declared unconstitutional last year part of an Indiana sex offender law that would have required convicted sex offenders who have served their sentences to consent to having their computer use monitored by authorities.

Hamilton ruled in 2005 that prayers said at the start of Indiana state House sessions must not mention Jesus Christ or advance any religion. The Seventh Circuit reversed the decision last year, saying the group of Indiana taxpayers who challenged the practice did not have sufficient standing as they had not proved they were directly affected by the House prayers.

Hamilton also rejected part of a state law that would have required women to get information in person about the risks of abortion and about other pregnancy-related options at least 18 hours before having an abortion. And he ordered a convicted murderer freed from prison in 2000 after DNA evidence exonerated the man.

"We need to read his decisions carefully to make definitive pronouncements, but it's clear that at least some of his work on the bench demonstrates his willingness to embrace judicial activism," said Wendy Long, legal counsel to the conservative Judicial Confirmation Network.

Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, a Republican, was consulted by the White House on the nomination and said he "enthusiastically" supports Hamilton.

Bayh, Indiana's Democratic senator, said he was proud to work with Lugar in recommending Hamilton to Obama.

"President Obama is right that Democrats and Republicans can work together to put highly qualified jurists on the federal bench," Bayh said. "Judge Hamilton is an exceptional jurist who has demonstrated the highest ethical standards and a firm commitment to applying our country's laws fairly."

Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Democrat who heads the Senate Judiciary Committee, praised Obama for consulting both Bayh and Lugar.

"The president is doing his part to remove these matters from partisan politics, and that's a healthy change for the nation and for all three branches of government," said Leahy, who frequently battled the Bush administration on its nominations.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold Hamilton's confirmation hearing. His nomination must be approved by the full Senate, which is controlled by Democrats, but Republicans have threatened to filibuster Obama's judicial nominations unless they are backed by the GOP senator from the nominee's home state, as Lugar backs Hamilton.

"We hope your administration will consult with us as it considers possible nominations to the federal courts from our states," Senate Republicans wrote Obama earlier this month

Fifteen of the 179 appellate judgeships are open to nominations, according to Tobias, the law professor. He said elevating sitting district judges to the appellate bench is a common practice that makes confirmation easier because those nominees have been confirmed before and have a record of judicial service.

If he's confirmed, Hamilton would move from the rough-and-tumble arena of trial court into the more contemplative, isolated atmosphere of appellate court, Geyh said.

"It requires more thought and reflection," he said. "What makes a good district judge does not automatically make a good circuit judge, but everything I've seen leads me to believe that he'll do a terrific job."

The president of People for The American Way, a liberal advocacy group, called Hamilton an ideal choice.

"Throughout his career, he has demonstrated a willingness to put principle ahead of politics and bring an open mind to every case," Kathryn Kolbert said. "Judge Hamilton has shown a deep commitment to the rule of law and core constitutional principles of liberty, equality, and justice for all Americans."

Hamilton grew up in southern Indiana. He graduated from Haverford College in 1979 and from Yale Law School in 1983. He has served as a member of the Indiana State Recount Commission and as chairman of the Indiana State Ethics Committee.

He is the nephew of former Indiana Democratic Rep. Lee Hamilton, who supported Obama in last year's presidential campaign.


GA - Our Opinion on SB 157: Fix registry

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03/18/2009

By Maureen Downey, for the editorial board

Once legislators realized how passionately voters revile “sex offenders,” they began to search for those offenders everywhere — even where they don’t exist — to make sure they are punished and stay punished.

As a result, an increasing number of criminals on the state’s sex-offender registry never committed a sex crime. State law makes anyone convicted of kidnapping or false imprisonment of a minor a sex offender. So if someone robs a Dairy Queen and detains a 16-year-old employee, that criminal is forever a sex offender.

Inclusion on the sex-offender registry is a life sentence; those on it cannot live near schools, churches, swimming pools, school bus stops, day care centers, parks, rec centers or skating rinks; or work near schools, churches or day care centers.

Recognizing their mistake, legislators are trying to amend the law to remove non-sex crimes from those requiring registration.

While helpful, that doesn’t go far enough. Under current law, a 17-year-old who had sex with a willing 15-year-old classmate could be put on the registry for life as a child abuser. The General Assembly should limit the registry to truly dangerous offenders, such as rapists and child molesters.
- Well, not all those labeled a child molester are dangerous.  Just because someone is labeled as such, doesn't mean they had sex with a child!  Look up the legal definition!

Across the state, police officers waste time and money confirming the whereabouts of “offenders” who pose little threat to anybody. If the registry listed only serious offenders, it would become a more useful tool to law enforcement.

Senate Bill 157, sponsored by Sen. Seth Harp, does make many sensible changes. It recognizes that ailing offenders in nursing homes and hospices can be removed from the registry since they pose no threat. It also creates a system hereby homeless offenders can register and stay within the law. That’s important, because by denying offenders the right to live in so many places, the law itself creates homelessness.

In the past few years, Georgia’s sex-offender registry has faced a series of major court challenges. The state has lost every challenge, which isn’t surprising considering the law grew out of political opportunism, not thoughtful research. It’s time to fix this law once and for all. Harp’s bill is a fine beginning, but it needs to go further.


FL - Homeless sexual predators sleeping in Lakeland field

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03/17/2009

Lakeland - Every night around 10 p.m. the caravan of SUV's and cars start pulling into a grassy field near Interstate 4 in an industrial area of North Lakeland. Some people sleep in their cars others sleep in the tents they've erected in the area.

They're all sexual predators who say they just can't find adequate housing anywhere else. Due to their probation requirements they must stay someplace between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
- Are they actually sexual predators or just sex offenders?  The two terms do not mean the same thing!

A probation officer from the Lakeland probation and parole office drops in to make sure that they are there.

One person sleeping in the field is a 21 year old sexual predator who was recently released from prison after serving a five year sentence for sexual battery and lewd and lascivious molestation.
- Sounds like he is a sex offender to me, and not a predator.  This reporter needs to look up what these mean, they do not mean the same thing!  But predator scares people, and gets them more viewers and ratings.

His parents take turns spending the night out in the field with him because he is not allowed to stay at their home with them. His grandmother is upset about it saying animals are treated better than they are "Dogs get treated better."

State officials say they know about the problem and say throughout Florida there are about 60 homeless sexual offenders who are in the same situation.

We'll have more on this story tonight at 11p.m. but in the meanwhile leave a comment and tell us what you think.


UK - Checks to help parents stop paedophiles


OH - Sexting: Flirting with Felony


MO - Mo. court rules date of conviction, not offense, decides who must sign state sex offender list

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03/17/2009

By CHRIS BLANK - Associated Press Writer

The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday clarified which sex offenders must be included in the state registry and upheld the four-year prison sentence of a Hannibal man who didn't properly notify police after moving several times.

JEFFERSON CITY -The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday clarified which sex offenders must be included in the state registry and upheld the four-year prison sentence of a Hannibal man who didn't properly notify police after moving several times.

Starting in 1995, sex offenders have been required to have their names included in a state database. But the state high court has ruled that those whose only offense happened before 1995 cannot be forced to register because the continuous registration requirement did not exist when the sex offense occurred.

_____, 48, pleaded guilty in 1995 to sodomizing a 5-year-old girl in April 1994. He was released from prison in 2001 and moved to Hannibal after registering as a sex offender. But _____ moved from a basement to another home and then to his car without notifying the Marion County Sheriff's Department within 10 days. He was sentenced to four years in prison in 2007.

_____'s attorney, public defender Irene Karns, argued that _____ shouldn't have been required to register as a sex offender because he had no way of knowing that such registration would have been required when the sodomy occurred in 1994.

Karns said _____ had been properly registering but was unaware of the 10-day requirement. _____ ran into legal trouble when renewing his sex offender registration in August 2007, after he told police that he had moved twice — once more than a month earlier and a second time about two weeks before he reregistered.

Attempts to reach Karns for comment Tuesday were unsuccessful.

The state Supreme Court in a 7-0 opinion ruled the sex offender registration requirements applied to _____ because the trigger is the conviction and not the date of the actual offense.

That clarified previous rulings on the sex offender registry, which had created some confusion over whether the focus should be on the date of the guilty plea or conviction or on the date of the offense.

Judge William Ray Price, writing for the court, noted that the sex offender registration requirement had been in place for several months when _____ pleaded guilty.

"So long as the plea or conviction occurs after the effective date of the statute, as in this case, the registration requirements are not retrospective in operation, regardless of the date the underlying offense was committed," Price wrote.

Even though the whole court agreed _____ is required to follow the sex offender registration requirements, two judges raised concerns about imprisoning those who voluntarily register but don't do so properly.

Judge Richard Teitelman said Missouri might be creating an incentive for sex offenders to ignore the registration requirements by sending people to prison for not doing so properly.

"If the purpose of the registration requirements is to permit the authorities and the public to stay apprised of an offenders' residence, then it may prove unwise to impose harsh punishments on those offenders, like Mr. _____, who undertake good faith but technically erroneous efforts at compliance," wrote Teitelman, who was joined by Judge Michael Wolff.

_____ currently is serving his sentence at the South Central Correctional Center in Licking.


WA - SEX OFFENDER AWARENESS PRESENTATION IN LAKE CUSHMAN SATURDAY

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03/17/2009

By Dedrick Allan

The Mason County Sheriff's Office is hosting a Registered Sex Offender Public Awareness Presentation Saturday from 1 PM to 3 PM at the Mason County Fire District #18 Fire Station, located at 240 N. Standstill Drive in Lake Cushman. This presentation will provide the public information on how the Mason County Sheriff's Office operates their sex offender registration program within Mason County. Information will also be shared about a new level 3 registered sex offender that has just moved into the Lake Cushman area community, how the dangers of vigilante acts could disband any registration program in the State, and how neighborhoods can better safe-guard children. After the presentation, a short time will be provided for questions and answers. Again, that's a sex offender awareness presentation in Lake Cushman Saturday.


In the Zone: Sex Offenders and the Ten-Percent Solutions

View the SSRN article here
Archived Documents

02/26/2009

Asmara Tekle-Johnson
Thurgood Marshall School of Law

Iowa Law Review, Vol. 94, No. 2, 2009

Abstract:
At first glance, sex-offender residency restrictions appear plausible because they ostensibly place a convicted sex offender's residence out of reach of children. However, these regimes address less than ten percent of the very real problem of child sex abuse, as family members and acquaintances of children commit more than ninety percent of this abuse. On the other hand, many schemes effectively banish almost 100% of convicted sex offenders to society's literal and social margins, condemning many low-risk offenders to a lifetime of isolation while breeding optimal conditions for high-risk offenders to reoffend. The practical implications of this policy choice, therefore, are dangerous and real, lulling the public into a false sense of security.

This Article challenges prevailing judicial orthodoxy that many sex-offender residency restrictions are constitutional under the Ex Post Facto Clause. The Article applies the analytical framework of Smith v. Doe, the U.S. Supreme Court's most recent case involving sex-offender legislation. It also forges a new way of thinking about these regimes as land-use policies that "negatively" zone individuals out of the urban cores. The Article proposes an innovative "positive" zoning scheme, the Sex-Offender Containment Zone, which zones high-risk convicted sex offenders back into the city in a manner that is effective, humane, and constitutional.


Americans Reality Check - Constitution? Lets talk about it!

Hosted by: RealityUSA

Title: Constitution? Lets talk about it

Time: 03/04/2009 09:30 PM EST

Episode Notes: *****EPISODE NOTE**** I tried numerous times to upload a Edited version of this show. #1 reason was due to audio drops in the show and #2 was cause at one point the show got off topic and it had nothing to do with the topic of the show concerning the constitution. Talkshoe servers were down when I was trying to upload edited version. Sorry about any inconvenience. We will be discussing the Laws that are being passed around the USA where the laws are more for personal reasons or political gains and clearly shows how the politicians are clearly squashing the Constitution. I understand that during the Bush years it was said that it was nothing but a GD piece of paper. Hmmm wonder why they would want to ignore the Constitution? Please join us where I have Avendora and Triedbyconscience that will be talking about the constitution and where the laws fall under what should be considered Unconstitutional. This will be a GREAT round-table discussion night for all to be able to chime in on how they feel.


CA - Some say Escondido police union's flier crosses the line

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Sometime the truth hurts!  Gangs are violent, and yet we do not have a gang registry!  And I agree that this is a little extreme.  If they wanted more money, they do not need to scare the hell out of people making it appear MS-13 is in the neighborhood, which they probably are, since many are in California!  And by associating sex offenders to gang members, that is way overboard, IMO!

03/16/2009

By Angela Lau (Contact) Union-Tribune Staff Writer

ESCONDIDO – Some residents and politicians say a flier sent by the city's police officers' union crosses the line, peddling fear and deepening racial wounds in its effort to win a labor battle.

About 17,000 Escondido residents woke up over the weekend to a full-color four-page flier in their mailboxes with five heavily tattooed gang members flashing gang signs on the cover.

Above and below them a message in large type says: “On the streets, gang members now outnumber Escondido police officers by almost 6 to 1 ... Why isn't the City Council putting your safety first?

Inside, the flier contends that violent crime and theft is “sharply on the rise,” threatening levels “not seen in a decade” and cites the number of gang members, “gang associates,” sex offenders and parolees in the city. It says the base pay of the city's 158 police officers is the second lowest in the county, and that officers are leaving for other departments.

It asks residents to attend Wednesday afternoon's council meeting to “tell your council members and city manager exactly how you feel about their putting your community at risk.”

The meeting is a council hearing to break an impasse in labor negotiations between the police officers' union and the city. The council can impose the city's offer or side with the union. The city wants the union to agree to a suspension of city contribution to 401(k) plans, a suspension of automatic pay raises and pay increases for additional training, all of which the union rejects, as part of citywide budget-cutting.

One problem that critics have with the flier is that the gang members on the cover are not from Escondido. The same picture appears on various Web sites, one of which describes those in the picture as Los Angeles gang members from El Salvador (i.e. MS-13).

It was purchased by the union's Orange County-based public relations firm, said Mike Guerrero, president of the Escondido Police Officers Association. “We didn't use local gang members for a reason – I do not want to embolden local gang members,” Guerrero said.
- So they embolden MS-13, which is one of the most violent gangs in the world!

City officials say the flier is deceptive and inflammatory.

The appearance they left is that they are willing to scare residents so they will side on behalf of the police for the money,” Councilwoman Olga Diaz said.
- Well what else is new?  The government always uses fear to promote their ideas!

“The tactics they used raised an element of race baiting. They have intertwined the issue of race into a discussion that should only have included money.”

Guerrero defended the statistics in the flier, saying they were collected from the police department, parole agencies and Megan's Law sex offender registries.
- So tell me, WHAT THE HELL DOES SEX OFFENDERS HAVE TO DO WITH MS-13?

But some are contradicted by other statistics. The FBI's annual crime report released in January, for example, said violent crime in Escondido dropped 24.5 percent in the first six months of 2008 and and property crime decreased 4 percent.

Police Chief Jim Maher declined to comment Monday, saying he will answer questions after labor negotiations are over. City Manager Clay Phillips disputed some of the information in the flier.

“The crime statistics are inaccurate. Some of the comparisons with salaries are not accurate,” he said. “I haven't gone through it line by line. I can't give it that kind of recognition.”

Mayor Lori Holt Pfeiler also said in this year's state of the city speech that Escondido's crime rate dropped 30 percent last year.

It's fear-mongering,” Councilman Dick Daniels said. “This city continues to be safely policed.
- Fear-mongering has been the tool to scare people into reacting, so people get what they want, for a very long time now!  Remember what FDR said?  "The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself!"

“I'm not totally surprised, but disappointed. I wonder where that central casting (gang members) came from.”

In addition, the city did not eliminate 12 officers' positions, Daniels said. The positions were frozen to cope with the widening budget deficit.

The police union contends the city should use $19 million reserved for a proposed Marriott Hotel that has been abandoned, and more money in various funds, that could be used to maintain police pay and benefits. City officials have said that all that money has been committed to other uses.

The labor dispute arose from Escondido's budget deficit. Last fall, the city projected a $7.4 million shortfall in its $82 million general fund budget, and made service and employee benefit cuts early this year to narrow the gap to $1.7 million.

But sales tax revenue, the mainstay of the city's income, has continued to decline, and the gap has widened to $3.8 million.

Throughout the budget cut discussions, the city negotiated with its seven labor unions to reduce benefits and salaries. Six have accepted the terms, either voluntarily, or under threat of layoffs, or were forced by a council vote to do so. The police officers association is the last in line.

Bill Flores, a member of El Grupo, a Latino advocacy group, said he found the gang picture on the Internet. In a new release, El Grupo denounced the police union.

The flier is replete with fear-mongering, falsehoods, innuendo and misinterpretations,” the statement said, and demanded an apology.

Guerrero said Latino gang members were used because the city's gangs are predominantly Latino.

“It seems Mr. Flores is continuing his effort to cause a racial issue that does not exist,” he said. “When crime continues to rise (in bad economic times), to cut public safety while sitting on a pile of money is not the best choice.”


CT - Governor Jodi Rell, making it impossible for RSO's to keep or get a job, and providing more information for vigilantes

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Anything to make herself look better to the public, all the while disregarding the US and state constitutions, and her oath of office to uphold these documents.  Anything for more votes and to look better to the public, right Jodi?

03/16/2009

By Governor Rell's Office

Changes to Sex Offender Registry Include More Frequent Reporting, New ID Requirements

Governor M. Jodi Rell (Email) today announced that her office has submitted testimony to the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee in support of her bill to improve Connecticut’s sex offender registry and to expand the reporting requirements of sex offenders, including the frequency of reporting and the types of information reported.

HB 6384, An Act Concerning the Registration of Sexual Offenders, which makes the state’s sex offender registry conform to the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection Act, provides greater public protection by making significant improvements to the sex offender registry and by placing the toughest notification requirement in the country on registered sex offenders entering the state. Out-of-state registrants would be required to provide prior written notice to Connecticut authorities 48 hours before entering the state.

“Public safety is the most important responsibility of government and we must be especially vigilant on behalf of our youngest and most vulnerable citizens,” Governor Rell said. “These changes will increase the frequency of reporting and expand the amount of information available on sex offenders to include their employers and information about vehicles that offenders drive."
- So therefore, the RSO will loose their jobs, because an employer is not going to want their business address on the sex offender registry, and by providing information on their vehicles the offender drives, makes it more likely they will be a target of vigilante violence, and maybe their significant other, or children, will be harmed as well!

“The more the public knows, the better protected they will be,” the Governor said. “With these changes, the information available about registered sex offenders in Connecticut will be comprehensive and the host of new reporting requirements we are imposing on them will help law enforcement officials keep close tabs on their activities.”
- Just more sound byte BS!  How is making them report more often going to prevent another crime?  It's nothing but harassment!  And by providing vehicle information, if it's on the public registry, then that just opens up the entire family to vigilante violence.

The bill also includes revisions to the registry that will make the sex offender registry a three-tiered, “offense-based” system with new requirements and additional information about offenders. The three tiers are based on the seriousness of the offense, with Tier 1 offenses requiring 15-year registration, Tier 2 offenses requiring 25-year registration and Tier 3 offenses requiring lifetime registration.
- Like usual, instead of using common sense and thinking about all this, she follows the crowd.  It's going to cost more to comply with the AWA than it would to not.  I wonder if everyone else jumped off a cliff, would she?  I am willing to bet she would!

Under the restructured system, registrants will be required to report in person to law enforcement registry personnel between one and four times per year, depending on their tier designation. In addition, they face additional reporting requirements including the name and address of their employer, the license plate number and description of their vehicle, the name of their probation or parole officer and their telephone or cell phone numbers.
- Wow, we sure do like violating people's rights, don't we!  This is an invasion of privacy!

They will be required to have a Connecticut driver’s license or non-driver identification card. They will also have to provide copies of their birth certificate, travel and immigration documents and any professional licenses.

Under this bill, registration will also apply to individuals who had previously eluded registration as a result of a release into the community that predated statutory requirements. Such individuals that have been convicted or found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect of a sex offense and reenter the criminal justice system for any crime would be required to register.
- So therefore they are passing ex post facto laws, adding to a persons punishment and violating double jeopardy, and all without due process of law.

The law expands the list of educational institutions that if registrants worked in or attended, such registrants must report to the registry. The expansion captures many of those locations where children are found outside of school.


GA - Police officer arrested - Nashville lawman charged with one count of solicitation of sodomy

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03/16/2009

By Malynda Fulton

NASHVILLE - Agents with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation recently arrested and charged a law enforcement officer with one count of solicitation of sodomy, according to reports.

James Edwin Watson, 27, was arrested on Friday, March 13, according to a statement from the GBI’s Douglas office.

The Nashville Police Department officer was not on duty at the time of his arrest.

The charge stems from a complaint received by the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office.

Alapaha Judicial Circuit District Attorney Cathy Helms requested the GBI conduct an investigation into the matter.

GBI Special Agent in Charge Russell Mansfield said that the investigation is ongoing. No other information could be obtained at press time.

According to the Official Code of Georgia Section 16-6-15, a person commits the offense of solicitation of sodomy when he or she solicits another to perform an act of sodomy, which includes any sexual act involving the sexual organs of one person and the mouth or anus of another. Solicitation of sodomy is punished as a misdemeanor unless it involves a person under 17 years old. Conviction of felony solicitation of sodomy can result in a fine of up to $5,000 and/or imprisonment up to five years.


PA - Ex-cop sentenced in IN teen sex case

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03/01/2009

ALTOONA (AP) - A former Altoona, Penn., police officer has been sentenced to 18 months to 4 years in prison for having sex with a 16-year-old Indiana girl he met online.

Fifty-year-old Herrick Johnson asked for probation and said he wouldn't contact the girl anymore. Police say they met through a site promoting law enforcement careers.

Johnson pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child and corruption of minors in December.

The Dyer, Ind., girl has a history of mental illness and family problems. Her father says she's obsessed with Johnson and plans to move to Altoona and have children with him when she turns 18.

An Indiana judge ordered Johnson to stay away from the girl, but her father says he repeatedly sent her text messages.