Thursday, April 16, 2009

Is Oprah teaching kids how to break the law, and have sex, when they cannot legally consent? You be the judge!

Click the image to visit the site, and watch the videos



GA - Babysitter Charged In 2-Year-Old Girl's Death

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Not SO related. So, do we need a child abuse registry? IMO, No! Because even if we had one, it would not have prevented this. But why do legislature not act in the typical knee-jerk reaction fashion? Apparently because they don't care about protecting kids as much as they lead you to believe, they just want to go with the flow and punish sex offenders, when many kids, like in this case, are abused by family, baby sitters, close friends, etc.

04/16/2009

GWINNETT COUNTY - Gwinnett County police said they have charged a 29-year-old babysitter with felony murder after a child died Wednesday of "unnatural" causes.

Police said they were called by hospital staff after the mother of a 2-year-old girl brought her daughter to the Gwinnett Medical Center with bruises and severe head trauma April 11. The child was life-flighted to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite in critical condition.

The mother told police she left her daughter in the care of a babysitter, 29-year-old _____ of Lawrenceville. The child’s mother said when she returned home, she noticed her child had difficulty breathing.

Police said after an interview with _____, sufficient probable cause was developed and they arrested _____ and charged him with felony cruelty to children.

The toddler died April 15 from her injuries. The medical examiners office ruled the child’s death unnatural. The official cause of death has not yet been released.

After the girl's death, _____ was charged with felony murder. He is being held in the Gwinnett County Detention Center.

Police said the investigation is ongoing.


IA - Some Concerned Over Sex Offender Law Changes

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04/16/2009

Some Say Law Is Unworkable

Some legislators say proposed changes to Iowa's sex abuse laws are in trouble because they were crafted secretly and unveiled just days before lawmakers hope to end the session.

House Minority Leader Kraig Paulsen says there should have been more openness about the plan, and Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley criticized a lack of public involvement.

Lawmakers from both parties have been crafting a measure revising the state's sex offender law. They're focusing attention on rules banning sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of parks, schools, libraries and other places where children gather.

Many prosecutors and law enforcement officials have argued that the residency ban is unworkable and doesn't protect children.


UT - 5th-graders who viewed porn could face charges

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So yeah, the kids should not have been looking at PORN, but, since when did looking at PORN, not child porn, become a criminal act?  Yes, they were underage, but kids will be kids!  Also, it sounds like the schools IT department isn't doing their job, and keeping filtering software updated.  Kind of reminds me of the Julie Amero incident.

04/15/2009

By Lisa Schencker - The Salt Lake Tribune

Two American Fork fifth-graders could face criminal charges for looking at pornography on a school computer, but some people are wondering how they were able to access the images in the first place.

Police were called last week after two 11-year-old boys at Forbes Elementary School pulled up images of sexual acts on a school computer and then showed the pictures to nine other students, said American Fork Police Sgt. Gregg Ludlow. The incident came to light when one child told a parent and another told the principal.

Ludlow called the images "pretty explicit" but declined to elaborate. He said the boys made multiple attempts on different days to access inappropriate material. Ultimately, they typed the word "lesbian" into a search engine and were able to pull up pictures not blocked by the school's Internet filter.

The school suspended the boys for two days. They could face charges in juvenile court of dealing in material harmful to a minor or lesser charges for viewing pornography at school, or be referred to the probation department instead of going to court, among other possibilities, said Chris Yannelli, deputy Utah County Attorney. If they are adjudicated in juvenile court, consequences range from community service to serving time in a juvenile detention facility, he said.
- Also, since when does someone have to report to probation, without going to court?

Rhonda Bromley, Alpine School District spokeswoman, said district officials decided to involve police based on the seriousness of the case.

"The bottom line is, because of the age it's obviously a sensitive thing, but what they did was inappropriate, and it was wrong, so as educators and a society hopefully we need to help them learn that," Bromley said. "It's a little disappointing to hear people say, "Boys will be boys.' ... I don't know what the magic age is when people can stop saying 'Well, boys will be boys.'"
- Oh come on!  Have we really lost touch with reality here?  It's called childhood curiosity!

Ludlow said the boys subjected the other children to something they might not otherwise have seen.
- So if a child is smoking a cigarette, are they going to have to go to court, jail, detention?

"Our main emphasis is not to hammer these kids," Ludlow said. "If we can get them into the juvenile justice system and make sure they're getting some counseling or other services, that's our end goal."

But some say it was the school's responsibility to make sure inappropriate material was blocked from classroom computers, and the students shouldn't face criminal charges. A woman who identified herself as the mother of one of the boys spoke to host Doug Wright during his morning radio show Tuesday on KSL. She said the boys should not have been able to access the images.

"My first reaction was, 'Why did you do something so stupid?' but then I'm like, 'How? How did you do this? How was this able to be accessed when I send you to school and there are supposed to be filtration systems?' " she said on the show. "We are so disturbed at how this could be accessible at school."
- So do you have filtration software on your home machine?

Bromley said the district uses a filtration system provided through the Utah Education Network (UEN). All schools must have Internet filters in order to get federal discounts on telecommunication services and Internet access. Jim Stewart, UEN director of technical services, said 38 of the state's 40 school districts use the filter provided through UEN, as do all the state's charter schools. The other two districts, Jordan and Salt Lake City, have their own filtering systems.
- So if you install it, and never update it, then it's pointless!

The state also requires schools to hand out forms for parents and students to sign each year agreeing to use the Internet appropriately.

Stewart said the filter works by blocking millions of Web sites that contain inappropriate material, everything from pornography to hate speech. Every day, the company that runs the filter adds thousands of new Web sites to the list of sites to be blocked.

Stewart said it can be a challenge to keep up with the constant creation of new pornographic Web sites.

"The pornography sites are constantly changing and adding urls, and filtering providers are constantly out there on a search for those," Stewart said. He said school districts can also block Web sites beyond those on the list. Bromley said Alpine has since taken steps to block the types of sites the boys accessed.
- And yes, it's always going to be a problem, but you do not send the kids to the police for something like this, and possibly give them a criminal record, thus ruining their lives.  Back in the old days, the kid would be suspended for a couple days, taken home, and the parents would spank and ground the kid.  Now it's, call the police, ruin their life!

She said the district is also looking into how to handle student Internet access when substitutes are assigned to classrooms. Normally, the boys' teacher would have been able to see all the students' screens on her computer, but a substitute who didn't have access to that system was teaching that day, Bromley said. She said the school has since rearranged the room so that the teacher's desk will face students' computer screens. She said the principal also decided to no longer allow classes to use the computer lab when they have substitute teachers.

"Obviously it's a concern how they were able to get around the filter and how they were able to access it at school," Bromley said. "You want to feel like you can send your kids to school and you want to feel confident something like that isn't going to happen."
- Well, you are kidding yourself, if you truly believe this!


PA - Perverse Outcome - County's proposed limits on sex-offender residency would make dozens of communities off-limits

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04/16/2009

By MELISSA MEINZER

Protecting kids from sex offenders is a noble goal, but the best way to go about doing so is unclear -- a county ordinance, a lawsuit and pending appeal later, it's still contentious.

Allegheny County passed an ordinance in 2007, in an effort to keep kids out of the grasp of sex offenders by limiting where the ex-cons can live. On March 20, U.S. District Judge Gary Lancaster ruled that the measure was unconstitutional. A few days later, Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato announced the county would appeal the decision.

"We believe it is important to appeal this ruling in order to provide an additional level of protection for children here in Allegheny County," Onorato said in a March 24 statement.

Under the state's "Megan's Law," sex offenders must register with the state police and have their photos, addresses and places of employment displayed on a publicly accessible Web site upon parole. Offenders must also obtain approval from the state Parole and Probation Board before moving. But the county's ordinance goes farther, prohibiting Megan's Law offenders from moving to certain areas at all. The ordinance prohibits offenders from living within 2,500 feet of any school, child-care facility, park or recreation facility, or any other "community center."

In other words, the ordinance bars them from living almost anywhere. As Lancaster's ruling noted, "The vast majority of Allegheny County falls within the restricted zone, with permissible areas generally confined to outlying, suburban communities such as Sewickley Heights, Bell Acres, South Fayette, Collier and West Deer."

The county had prepared a map showing the areas where sex offenders could and couldn't live. That map has since been made unavailable because the county agreed not to enforce the ordinance until the lawsuits were resolved, but a map compiled for City Paper by Pittsburgh Neighborhood and Community Information System suggests the scope of the problem.

The CP map isn't complete: It does not reflect the locations of "community centers," because the term is so vague. But in a county divided into 130 municipalities and 43 school districts, a lot of acreage is put off-limits just by factoring in schools and parks alone. As the map suggests, almost the entire city of Pittsburgh is off-limits. So are inner-ring suburbs like Wilkinsburg and Homestead.

The most prominent exceptions are the county's sprawling suburbs, where distances between schools and other community centers are largest.

Even there, housing is more limited than the map suggests. As Lancaster noted, the county restrictions do not take into account "the topography of the permissible areas, nor whether residential housing is permitted or available." For example, Findlay Township on the county's western border looks wide open. But much of the area is occupied by a landfill and the Pittsburgh International Airport.

Gary Klingman, Findlay's township manager, expresses some concern that the township could serve as a haven for sex offenders. But, he adds, "You would have to look at the zoning of the property." Much of the land is zoned for industrial and commercial use, not residential occupancy.

Many offenders would have a hard time affording to live in those communities anyway. According to the state-maintained "Megan's List," Sewickley Heights is home to only one offender. West Deer is home to two. By contrast, the list identifies 15 offenders currently residing in Homestead, 19 in Wilkinsburg -- two communities that would be almost entirely off-limits under the ban. (None of those offenders would be forced to move -- the ordinance clearly "grandfathers in" offenders who made their homes before it was enacted. Should they move, though, they would be subject to the restrictions.)

County Councilor Vince Gastgeb, who authored the ordinance, says maps may oversimplify the issue.

While Bethel Park, which the Republican calls home, is mostly off-limits to sex offenders, "My street is not residency-restricted. An offender could live on it."

Gastgeb says he crafted the ordinance in response to "an outcry from my district": Constituents in Mount Lebanon were concerned that a Megan's Law offender was living near a school, he says. Council unanimously approved the measure.

"It's very clear that we're listening to what our constituents want," Gastgeb says. State law is silent on where offenders can live, he says, and "probably the county is better suited to make that distinction."

"We're trying to do that," he adds, "but one judge is legislating from the bench."

There is considerable skepticism as to whether residency restrictions work. In an oft-cited 2007 study, the Minnesota Department of Corrections followed sex offenders after parole, and found that of the 224 sex crimes they subsequently committed, "not one ... would likely have been affected by residency restrictions."

And Allegheny County isn't the first community to ponder the headaches that restrictions bring. Dade County, in Florida, has a similar ordinance in place. As a result, a group of offenders garnered national headlines in 2007 when it turned out they'd been compelled to live underneath a bridge -- one of the few sheltered areas that wasn't prohibited. According to news accounts, probation officers visit the site regularly, but they concede that other offenders have been forced into homelessness in places where they aren't so easy to find.

So far, Allegheny County hasn't had to contend with such issues: It hasn't tried to enforce the rule at all. "After it was adopted, the ACLU brought suit pretty quickly," says Onorato spokesman Kevin Evanto. "We agreed not to enforce the ordinance pending their challenge."

But if Lancaster's ruling is reversed and the law is put into effect, some officials say it might do as much harm as good.

Lauren Taylor is executive director of the state Sexual Offenders Assessment Board, which decides how to handle sex offenders once they are released from prison. Residency restrictions can be "an impediment to finding and keeping regular employment," she says. And lack of access to transportation from remote areas means "it might be difficult" for sex offenders to get to therapists who provide treatment -- in some cases, state-mandated treatment.

"All the professionals agree an unstable sex offender is more dangerous than a monitored one living next door to you," says Taylor.

Such considerations were among the reasons the ACLU challenged the law on behalf of six sex offenders -- one of whom remained in prison after he was paroled because he couldn't find a place to live in Allegheny County.

"We argued [the ordinance] was flawed in multiple ways," says Sara Rose, staff attorney for the ACLU. (Full disclosure: Rose has also done legal work for City Paper's attempt to open the divorce case of Richard Mellon Scaife.) In addition to arguing that the law was unconstitutional, Rose says the law "makes it harder for the board of probation to do its job."

The law, she adds, "gives people a false sense of security. It prevents resources from being placed where they need to be. If you're living under a bridge, you don't have a lot to lose."

Indeed, Lancaster's ruling argues, "Rehabilitation and reintegration depend on the creation and maintenance of a stable environment and support system, close to family ties, employment and treatment options. ... When the state has decided that the offender is ready to return to his community, the County has placed a nearly insurmountable obstacle in the way of that return."

"We took all that into consideration, we felt at the end of the day it would be impossible to prove a negative," says Gastgeb. "It's like saying, 'Why put a stop sign at an intersection? An accident might not happen.'"


FL - Broward faces knotty issue of sex offenders

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04/16/2009

By FRED GRIMM

No one on the Broward County Commission defended the notion of a 2,500-foot rule that would essentially eliminate all feasible housing for registered sex offenders.

The commissioners heard a series of experts warn about the folly of a Draconian residency restriction that force sex offenders into homelessness. They were told that offenders forced into unstable living conditions become more difficult to supervise, more likely to abscond, more likely to re-offend.

Lori Butts, a lawyer and psychologist who runs a South Florida sex offender treatment program, warned that stable housing was necessary for their jobs, monitoring and treatment. Banishing them to live under bridges, she warned, would leave sex offenders with "nothing to live for. Nothing to lose."

No one, during the two-hour hearing on Tuesday, pretended that public safety would be much enhanced if sex offenders were banned from residing within 2,500 feet of a school, park, playground or school bus stop.

UGLY OUTCOME

And Broward sees the ugly conundrum Miami-Dade County has created for itself with the 2,500-foot radius -- 63 sex offenders forced to live in under the Julia Tuttle Causeway.

But none of the well-reasoned arguments addressed the peculiar dilemma facing the Broward Commission. Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties and most of Broward's municipalities already embraced the get-tough 2,500-ft. restriction. "I've heard a lot said about these laws being irrational and unconstitutional," Broward Commissioner John Rodstrom said. "Maybe I tend to agree with them. They are probably irrational and maybe unconstitutional."

"But the problem I have is that everyone else has enacted this law," Rodstrom said. The perverse effect has been to convert the few remaining slivers of unincorporated Broward into havens for registered sex offenders.

Juan Formoso, the president of Broadview Park, an unincorporated Broward neighborhood with about 6,000 residents, told the commission that the number of registered sex offenders living in his community has risen from 30 to 104 in three years.

"I believe [the 2,500-foot restriction] only gives people a false sense of security," Commissioner Kristin Jacobs said. "But it exists. And it constricts where sex offenders can live. It has concentrated them in our unincorporated areas."

TEMPORARY ANSWER

The commission, reluctantly, enacted its own 2,500-foot rule but only for 90 days, hoping that in the meantime a county task force can come up with a more rational solution. But it's doubtful that any one city or county commission -- however enlightened -- can fix this escalating mess unilaterally.

State Sen. Dave Aronberg (Email), the Fort Myers Democrat, might have the answer. He has authored a tough, rational bill creating "a single, consistent 1,500 foot residency restriction throughout Florida." It includes "child protection zones," prohibiting sex offenders from loitering 300 feet from schools, parks, libraries, bus stops.

Aronberg's office said his proposal, "backed by law enforcement, prosecutors and child safety advocates, ends the confusion caused by 129 different ordinances and will eliminate the homeless sex offender problem that endangers public safety."

Aronberg's bill would also give South Florida a way out of an embarrassing dilemma.


IN - 12-year-olds involved in sexting case

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04/15/2009

By Rob Youngblood

Boy could face pornography charges

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Police are investigating another case of sexual text messages being sent between children. This time, a 12-year-old Perry Township boy could be facing felony pornography charges.

The pornographic text message was sent from a boy at Perry Meridian Sixth Grade Academy to a 12-year-old girl at Center Grove Middle School North.

The dean at Center Grove called the principal at Perry Meridian after the photos were discovered on March 13. The male student admitted taking nude pictures of himself and sending them to the girl.

Whether the boy was aware of it or not, those pictures could mean jail time and more.

"It is a felony to transmit a sexually explicit picture of a minor to another minor. What they're doing is they're not thinking ahead about the consequences of their actions. They could technically be arrested for committing a felony and ultimately end up on a sex offender registry," said IMPD Sgt. Paul Thompson.

Police said the two students were texting each other during class, but the boy didn't actually take the pictures at school and there were no other inappropriate photos on his cell phone.

IMPD is still investigating the case. Prosecutors will decide whether or not to file charges against the boy. Perry Meridian is also deciding if the student should be kicked out of school.