Wednesday, June 24, 2009

ME - New state law trumps local sex offender rules

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06/24/2009

By Ann Fisher - Reporter – The Reporter

WATERBORO - A new state law that establishes boundaries for convicted sex offenders overturns stricter ordinances in Lyman and Waterboro, infuriating local officials.

In the municipalities that choose to enact the new law, which will take effect in September, registered sex offenders will be prohibited from residing within 750 feet of a school or any municipally owned building generally used by children. Waterboro and Lyman both have local ordinances that prohibit registered sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of a school.

The bill signed by Gov. John Baldacci (Contact) this month gives towns and cities the option of enacting local ordinances to prohibit sex offenders from living within 750 feet of a school or other public property primarily used by children. The law is not mandatory and does not automatically apply to every municipality. However, it will supersede and town or city ordinances that are more restrictive, and municipalities will not be allowed to keep or enforce ordinances that are more restrictive.

Sen. Jon Courtney (Contact), R-Sanford, whose district includes Waterboro and Lyman, said he was “outraged that the state would pre-empt our local ordinances. The state has had multiple opportunities to address this issue before and hasn’t. In the face of the state’s failure to act, many towns and cities have enacted their own ordinances. Lyman and Waterboro are prime examples. Now, the state wants to step in and impose from on high a maximum safe zone of 750 feet? This is a matter for local people … to decide – and many of them have.”

The catalyst for the law was pressure from the federal government for uniform categories of sex offender laws at the state level, according to Rep. Joe Wagner (Contact), D-Lyman. Maine has a waiver that gives the state until July 2011 to hammer out those categories, and he fully expects the issue of restrictive boundaries to be revisited when the categories are debated by legislators during the next session. Wagner said he hopes legislators look at urban and rural areas separately and “they can be adjusted accordingly.”

As originally written, the bill, called An Act To Ensure a Uniform Comprehensive State Policy Regarding Residency Restrictions for Sex Offenders, sponsored by Sen. Anne Haskell (Email), D-Portland, proposed no restrictions on where sex offenders could live. The bill that was eventually passed, Haskell said, was a compromise among the Maine Municipal Association, the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the Department of Corrections.

We’re not really thrilled with the way it came out,” said Dennis Abbott, chairman of the Waterboro Board of Selectmen. “We’re looking at how we’re opting in to the new law.”

Former Waterboro Selectman Evan Grover, who was in the forefront of the effort to enact Waterboro's strict ordinance, said, "I'm very disappointed with any compromise or effort to reduce the boundaries we set and approved with Waterboro voters. Waterboro voters were very clear with their vote on this issue and 'home rule' should definitely apply with this ordinance. We need to be less concerned with the rights of sex offenders and more concerned with the rights of our children and other law-abiding residents."
- You need to be concerned with the rights of all human beings!

Legislators in favor of the original law not to allow boundaries say statistics show that restricting where sex offenders live does not make children safer, but does the opposite.

They have a tendency to drive offenders underground,” Haskell said about residency restrictions. “Then you don’t know where they are, which is a more dangerous situation.”

In addition to driving sex offenders off the radar, Haskell said, strict ordinances create a false sense of security.

Sen. Stan Gerzofsky (Contact), D-Brunswick, chairman of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, said he’s attended forums around the country on the subject and heard experts give the same testimony over and over again about the ineffectiveness of residency restrictions on sex offenders.

It doesn’t give you what you want,” he said. “The argument for having restrictions is purely emotional.”

Gerzofsky said no matter where sex offenders live, they always have the option of driving to another town and parking in front of a school where no one knows who they are. When residents and parents are aware of who they are and where they live, there’s more pressure for them to stay in line, he said.

I’d put them all downtown across the street from the police station,” Gerzofsky said. “The more people you have staring at you, the more likely you are to behave.”

Unfortunately, when researching, 2,500 feet was the trip wire for court challenges in Pennsylvania and New Jersey,” said Wagner, who was part of a working group formed to reach the compromise by the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.

Because the large distance means there would be so many overlapping concentric circles around offenders in urban areas like Portland, the fear, said Wagner, is that offenders would not register or move to rural areas.

Twenty-five hundred feet is a little bit short of a half mile,” said Wagner. “The working group said 1,000 feet is better than three footballs fields away. At this point it’s a victory in terms of getting the state to achieve the municipalities’ ability to adopt" compared to the original bill.

Abbott also said there is a big difference when dealing with urban and rural communities when essentially cordoning off an area to make it off limits.

Seven-hundred and fifty feet barely gets you to Old Alfred Road,” he said, referring to the road that is a short distance from both the Waterboro Elementary School and the Massabesic Middle School. Both schools sit on land flanked by Old Alfred Road on one side and Sokokis Trail (Route 5) on the other. Because of the land area on both schools' grounds, there are not many houses within a 750-foot area, but there are beyond that boundary.

Massabesic High School on West Road is surrounded by even fewer houses. The town’s stringent sex offender ordinance was sparked in 2006 by the unannounced presence on West Road of a registered sex offender, _____, who has since died. Residents were up in arms when they learned _____ lived within 1,000 feet of the schools. His victim, whom _____ had beaten, raped and left for dead in 1990, lived in the next town.

"With the new boundries in place, _____ could have lived in the same house without issue," said Grover. "Unacceptable."

According to Wagner, the new parameters would only apply to felony offenders whose victims are under the age of 14.

In a letter released before the amendment passed, the Waterboro Board of Selectmen said, “Our community officials were not notified or consulted when placing a potentially dangerous offender next to our district school. The victim was never warned that the man who had committed such heinous crimes against her would be living just minutes from her home just one town away. We were concerned for the safety of our residents and implemented an emergency ordinance to prevent a similar situation in the future.”

In the letter, the Waterboro board said, “Residents of Waterboro enacted a sex offender ordinance with well over 90 percent of our voters approving the measure. Our residents were very aware of what they voted for and were concerned for the safety of our children when the Department of Corrections placed an offender within sight of a district school.”

Courtney didn’t mince words about the situation: “Once again, Augusta is flouting local control.”

Said Grover, "Our lawmakers should be working on reducing the tax burden and leave decisions such as constitutionality of an ordinance up to the court system."


"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)


FL - Baker Co. Cracks Down On Sex Offenders

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06/24/2009

BAKER COUNTY - One northeast Florida county is cracking down on where sex offenders can live.

A state law already keeps them away from places where children gather.

Now, Baker County has created a wider "buffer zone" after some residents got concerned about a sex offender in their neighborhood.

When it comes to sex offenders, they usually have to live at least 1,000 feet away from places where children tend to gather, like bus stops, playgrounds and schools.

But in Baker County, that 1,000-foot stay-out zone has been extended to 2,500 feet.

In fact, County Manager Joe Cone said commissioners wanted to do something even more drastic.

"The board discussed at length the possibility of eliminating them completely," Cone said. "That a sexual predator couldn't live in Baker County. But obviously they discovered that is unconstitutional."

Cone said commissioners unanimously voted in the new ordinance earlier this month.

He said they did it because they were contacted by a resident concerned about a recently released sex offender moving near his young victim and her bus stop.

Cone said the new changes only apply to the county, not any of the cities, and there are some exceptions for short-time residents.

There is a provision of timelines. If the residence was temporary, less than 14 days, it can be permitted.

"I think it should be further," Baker County resident Leon Martin said of the extension. "If you're a real sex offender, and you've been in prison for it, I don't think you should be around kids at all."

"Those kids are innocent," resident Ruby Belford said. "They're innocent kids, and they don't need sex offenders staying so close to them."

One important item of note: the measure only applies to sex offenders moving to Baker County. If you're a sex offender already living there, you're grandfathered in, and you don't have to move.


"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)


OR - Woman given 30 days in jail for sex crime with teenage boy during Seaside visit

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06/24/2009

By JOE GAMM

Her family watched as the 54-year-old Beaverton woman who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor third-degree sex abuse in a Clatsop County Courtroom last week was sentenced Tuesday.

_____ occasionally looked back at her family as Clatsop County Circuit Court Judge Philip Nelson sentenced her to 30 days in jail and two years of probation. She will be required to register as a sex offender, be given credit for time served and will be allowed to use alternative sanctions - like wearing an electronic ankle monitor or working on a work crew - for the remainder of her sentence. She was assessed more than $500 in fines and fees, and ordered to pay $5,000 as a compensatory fine for the victim. _____ was ordered to have no contact with the victim.

Clatsop County Senior Deputy District Attorney Dawn Buzzard said _____ had sex with a 15-year-old boy while visiting Seaside during Spring Break 2008.
- And she gets a "misdemeanor?"  If a male did the same, it would be a felony, and they would be in jail/prison for a lot longer time.  Once again, double standards prevail!

"This woman did not only take the trust of others from me, she took my sense of safety," said the victim, who with his father participated in the sentencing hearing by telephone.

Buzzard said _____ gave the boy's girlfriend sleeping pills so she wouldn't be aware of what she intended to do, then she had sex with the boy. _____ contended that she only kissed the victim passionately to satisfy her sexual feelings. She said she'd made a mistake and had only comforted the victim in her bed, Buzzard said.

During the hearing, the victim said he was only a 15-year-old boy. He was so scared he locked himself in a bathroom and called his father, but he was too scared to tell him what had happened.

Before leaving Seaside, _____ suggested the three cut their hands and made a "blood pact" not to tell anyone what had happened - although all the while, the boy's girlfriend was unaware of what the pact was about.

Buzzard said that afterward _____ threatened suicide and her husband made a 9-1-1 call and said she had a knife.

_____ was originally charged with two counts each of first-degree rape, first-degree sodomy, third-degree rape, third-degree sodomy and unlawfully delivering prescription medications to a minor.

"I think she needs a lot of help," Buzzard said.

_____ was also charged with sex crimes concerning the same boy in Washington County. Authorities there agreed to drop charges when prosecutors in Clatsop County reached their agreement with the defense.

_____'s voice broke as she apologized to the boy and his family. She said she made poor decisions.

"They were the wrong decisions," she said. "I will never be able to tell anybody how sorry I am - but I am."


"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)


Out of the Shadows, Part 3: Confronting sex crimes in our community

View the article here

Click here to view all parts of this series.

06/24/2009

By Russ Plummer

Team work: Compliance officers keep close tabs on local offenders

Even sex offenders need a place to call home.

Nichole Hall, Wisconsin Department of Corrections sex offender registry specialist for Fond du Lac and Winnebago counties, defines sex offenders’ successful reintegration into society in just three words: “No more victims.”

One linchpin of efforts to accomplish this goal is the Fond du Lac Police Department’s Sex Offender Compliance Team (SOCT), which was designed to maintain the balance between the offender’s constitutional rights and the safety of citizens.

About a year ago, police Officer Corby Gross — former DOC supervisor of high-risk sex offenders in Kenosha and Fond du Lac — proposed to Fond du Lac Police Department Chief Tony Barthuly that a team should be formed to monitor sex offenders living in the city.

Barthuly, taking note of his slogan of “an informed community is a safer community,” gave his approval to the unit.

This isn’t a team for show. This is a team for compliance,” Barthuly said.

There’s nothing more precious than our children,” he added. “Those kids are so vulnerable. One of these offenders could change that kid’s life, ruin it from something that is a great thing to something that they have scars to carry for the rest of their life.”

Gross said he saw two needs: to check that offenders are giving the state correct information and to help with registered sex offenders on probation and parole.

The Compliance Team consists of three supervisors and nine officers. Gross said part of his job is handling paperwork and legal issues related to monitoring sex offenders. Supervisors work on scheduling to pull officers off patrol to perform the duties.

The team begins a round of checks every six months and will be at large events looking for high-risk sex offenders and informing the public about what the team does.

We’re going to do Fond du Lac Fondue Fest and some of the larger soccer tournaments,” Gross said. “We’ve also looked at other sporting tournaments. Anything that involves kids (Barthuly) is really adamant about getting us involved.”

Hall supplies the Police Department with a list of registered sex offenders within Fond du Lac. Team members visit the state registry Web site to check addresses and then go to the homes to assure compliance, said Gross.

We go out to that address, knock on the door and make contact with them. We don’t stop until we make contact with them,” Gross said. “If we have to check four or five times, we will. Every time a member stops they leave a business card."

We are being as proactive as we can without impeding on constitutional rights,” he added.

Gross said a team member also will do a report on a sex offender living in a different county who works in Fond du Lac.

No restrictions

Fond du Lac does not have ordinances restricting where a sex offender can live, but limits are in place regarding attending events where children may be present, Barthuly said.

It’s best that (the public) knows where the registered sex offenders live in the community so if they are up to anything or are doing anything strange, people can call either Probation and Parole or the Police Department to let us know what is going on.”

Barthuly said City Manager Tom Herre and the Fond du Lac City Council support the current system.

Studies show restricting registered sex offenders from living close to parks, schools and other locations does not work because it pushes them out of the city to the point where they go underground or return to the city and live in the dark, Gross said.

A sex offender has what is called an offense cycle. … They need to be thrown out of that offense cycle,” Gross said. “If they don’t have contact with law enforcement or therapy to throw them out of the cycle, that’s when we find they re-offend. The first step is making contact with them, making the community aware. We feel that knowledge is the best defense against recidivism in the city of Fond du Lac.”
- Not all sex offenders have a "offense cycle," as you suggest.  Many probably do, but lumping them all into one group is not right.

Hall said Wisconsin municipalities can limit where registered sex offenders live. She opposes the living restrictions because it gives parents a false sense of safety.

She said 80 to 90 percent of sexual assaults are never reported, meaning parents and citizens should always operate with caution.

She added that many people don’t understand the offender can come back to the same community to go to school, work or visit their family or friends.

If sex offenders begin supplying false addresses when pushed out of communities, law enforcement would then have inaccurate information if there were a report of an assault or abduction, Hall added.

Hall said victim advocacy groups that oppose residency restrictions include: the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault, the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence and the Jacob Wetterling Foundation.

She added that registry restrictions can ultimately give sex offenders the secrecy they thrive on.

(Residency restrictions) are based on the ‘stranger danger’ myth that children are most at risk from a stranger and being abducted when the reality is that over 90 percent of offenders know their victims and have some sort of relationship with them,” Hall said.


"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)


No State in Compliance with Adam Walsh Act as July Deadline

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06/21/2009

By Jolynne M Hudnell

Controversial Sex Offender Law Makes Challenges for States

Over-generalization within each Tier and not evaluating each individual's risk of re-offending have created this drastic change in numbers. For example, "Sexual Battery" is a Tier III offense. In the Ohio Revised Code, 2907.03-Sexual Battery comprises 12 different types of acts, some specifically involving children, some not necessarily so. As in the case of _____, mentioned above, she was most likely guilty of violating Section 2907.03 (A)(11) "(A) No person shall engage in sexual conduct with another, not the spouse of the offender, when any of the following apply: (11) The other person is confined in a detention facility, and the offender is an employee of that detention facility." But ORC 2907.03 also includes sexual offenses against a child by a parent or guardian (A)(5). No bearing is placed on consensual versus non-consensual sexual acts.

The National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV) also has concerns about the Adam Walsh Act. Their stance is that "... over-inclusive public notification can actually be harmful to public safety by diluting the ability to identify the most dangerous offenders and by disrupting the stability of low-risk offenders in ways that may increase their risk of re-offense. Therefore, NAESV believes that internet disclosure and community notification should be limited to those offenders who pose the highest risk of re-offense."

What Can Be Done

The government approved the Adam Walsh Act and put laws into place quickly, without evaluating the consequences. Yes, we need protection for our children against sexual offenders, especially those of a predatory nature. The Adam Walsh Act is a start, but should be modified to control the appropriate offenders and reduce some of the increased, unnecessary burdens it created. Some things for lawmakers to consider when recreating the Adam Walsh Act include:
  • Add more Tiers to the present three Tier system to account for lower level sex offenders and those who pose less risk to society, and to have the grouping of offenses within each tier more similar
  • Differentiate between sex offenders with adult victims and with child victims
  • If a person has completed their punishment for a sex-related offense and commits a new offense, consideration must be given to the likelihood of them committing another sexual offense before giving them a second punishment for a crime they already paid for
  • Juvenile aspects should be reworked to avoid possible permanent trauma to non-violent low-risk teenage sex offenders
  • Each individual's circumstance should be evaluated and the risk of re-offending taken into account before classification into a Tier
  • On previously sentenced cases (still completing their sentences), plea bargains should be examined so as not to nullify the validity of the contract.


"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)


NC - Accused molester shot by girl's mother

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06/24/2009

By Stephanie S. Beecher

LUMBERTON — A 43-year-old Lumberton man who was shot following accusations that he molested a 7-year-old relative has been charged with the sexual offense.

_____, was apparently shot by the alleged victim’s mother, according to a sheriff’s report. The woman has not been charged with a crime. The Robesonian has elected not to identify her in order to protect her child’s identity.

_____, who was arrested Tuesday evening, is charged with first-degree sexual offense. He was taken to the Robeson County jail and placed under a $120,000 bond.

Lt. Kathy Torre of the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office Juvenile Division said investigators served a warrant for _____’s arrest shortly after his release from Southeastern Regional Medical Center, where he was treated for his injuries.

According to a sheriff’s report, _____ was with relatives in Pembroke on Friday night when a female relative asked him to stay with her daughter so that she could run an errand. According to a sheriff’s report, the woman received a phone call from her daughter, who said she had awakened and found _____ molesting her.

The report said the 7-year-old girl managed to lock _____ out of the house and waited for her mother to return. The woman told deputies that when she returned she confronted _____ and shot him.

A second sheriff’s report said that _____ reported being shot at about 3:10 a.m. Saturday. _____ told deputies that he was walking on Union Chapel Road when he “heard shots being fired” and “felt pain” in his arm and side. He also told deputies that he did not know who was responsible for the gunfire. He was then taken to the hospital.

Deputies began putting the pieces together when the 7-year-old girl was also taken to Southeastern Regional Medical Center and admitted as a victim of sexual assault.

The initial sheriff’s report said _____ denies molesting the girl. _____ also faces charges of failure to pay child support.


"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)


Out of the Shadows: Confronting sex crimes in our community

View Part 1 here
View Part 2 here

Click here to view all parts of this series.  Both part 1 and 2 are below.


Out of the Shadows, Part 1: Confronting sex crimes in our community

By Russell Plummer

06/22/2009

Local experts dedicated to strengthening child sex assault survivors

Bringing justice to perpetrators of child sexual assault is a process that can be filled with revelations, tears, torn families, in-depth investigation and prosecution.

Bringing justice to perpetrators of child sexual assault is a process that can be filled with revelations, tears, torn families, in-depth investigation and prosecution.

It is also a process that may never begin due to shame and confusion.

The stigma confronted by victims complicates the mission of those in Fond du Lac County who confront such crimes.

About 80 to 90 percent of all sexual assaults are never reported, said Nichole Hall, Wisconsin Department of Corrections sex offender registration specialist.

The statistic means the caseload handled by Devra Ayala — the Fond du Lac County assistant district attorney specializing in sexual assault and domestic abuse cases — and her colleagues may be only a small sampling of the child sexual assaults occurring in the community.

When children do articulate what has happened, they are using words they are taught are taboo and must recall violations that are private, Ayala said.

In any case where a child is able to come forward and have the strength to face their assaulter and say, ‘That person did this to me,’ I am always impressed how strong they are,” Ayala said.

Victims who have yet to step forward are often “groomed” to not share the “secret” or are shameful of assaults, said Lt. Bill Flood, head of the Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s Department’s detective bureau. He added some perpetrators groom the victim’s family members to build trust.

With shame comes silence and sometimes that silence can carry on for years, even decades, before it is disclosed,” Flood said. “A lot of times it will be disclosed through some kind of counseling session or to a close friend under a set of circumstances. There’s the problem that family friends or family members perpetrate many sexual assaults. There’s a great deal of confusion that can go on in the mind of a young person.”

No more shame

Angel Gilbertson, client advocate and volunteer coordinator at Assist Survivors Treatment Outreach Prevention Inc. (ASTOP), has dedicated herself to assisting children through the court process and helping them with “lawyer language.” Through the organization — an outreach center for sexual assault survivors and affected family members — she lends her ear to victims who choose to disclose information or have a need to talk with someone.

Even though she and others involved would prefer not “revictimizing” the child because some must relive that trauma and retell their story in court, it is a step needed to hold the offender accountable, said Gilbertson.

I cannot brag or speak highly enough for the individuals that do come forward because they are very brave souls to tell their story and to share the shameful secret that the perpetrator had,” Gilbertson said. “It’s not the (victim’s) shameful secret to carry.”

Gilbertson also thinks of the children who never step forward.

For me, (unreported cases are) disappointing. It’s heartbreaking because we know all this sexual violence is going on in our community,” Gilbertson said. “For every one report we get of sexual assault, there are at least 10 that go unreported. That’s a lot of children that are not able to access services to get the appropriate help that they need.”

One in five boys will be sexually assaulted by the age of 18, said Gilbertson. Those boys are more likely to never report due in part to a majority of sex offenders being men.
- See this article about the "1 in 5" number.

For males, they have that ego piece where they feel that if they’ve been assaulted, they should have been able to fight them off, so they feel bad about that,” Gilbertson relayed. “Another thing that they question: ‘Are people going to think that I’m gay?’”

Gilbertson holds presentations in the community and in the behavioral health unit at St. Agnes Hospital, where participating men can speak with boys in attendance.

Family issues

Gilbertson said she has seen family members who are supportive when a child steps forward. However, she also acknowledges cases in which the first person to whom the child disclosed the victimization did not believe the claims.

I’ve seen (a case) go to court and the child has taken the stand and testified against a stepfather and the mom sat on the stepfather’s side the entire time throughout the court case, even upon the stepfather taking the plea agreement,” Gilbertson said.

Ayala said she must place the family dynamic at a lower priority than making sure children are not continually harmed, especially in a home where they should feel safe.

When someone comes forward and says, ‘This person has (sexually assaulted) me,’ and they have a story that is plausible and believable, legally and ethically I have to go forward on it,” Ayala said. “I can’t be concerned that parent X is going to be mad at me for accusing parent Y. That’s not something I can worry about. I have to worry about if the child is being harmed by someone within the home. I have to make sure that person is held accountable. My first priority is to make sure justice is done.”

Flood said his detectives approach sexual assault cases with as much sensitivity and discretion as possible. Law enforcement knows the emotional changes parents can go through, but officers are obligated to investigate possible crimes.

All we can do is be as informative as we possibly can, as up front as we can and we really need to preach restraint on the part of the parents whose loved one may have been victimized,” Flood said. “Let us do our job. Let us take care of things.”

Flood noted Victim Sensitive Interview Protocol interviews, which take place at the Fond du Lac Police Department, are key to interviewing children typically under the age of 12. The interviews are videotaped in an effort to keep the child from testifying in front of the alleged perpetrator.

Police interviewers communicate with investigators and members of Fond du Lac County Department of Social Services through an earpiece and are not involved with the case further to keep the interviewers buffered from other aspects of the investigation, said Flood.

Gilbertson said that people should not question if a sexual assault happened or not, especially with a child.

I suggest contacting your local law enforcement and having them conduct the proper interview,” Gilbertson said. “You could literally be saving a child’s life.”



Out of the Shadows, Part 2: Confronting sex crimes in our community

By Russell Plummer

06/23/2009

Recovery: 'One layer at a time'

It took sexual abuse survivor Charlene Bille about 50 years to start loving life.

The pain the Fond du Lac woman endured between the ages of 2 and 12 festered within her for years. It has taken the 60-year-old decades to heal to the point she is at today: assisting law enforcement with how to approach a victim and openly discussing abuse with those who know her story.

"My first incident (in 1951) is not my first memory. It's my last memory," Bille said. "I had memories of being sexually abused when I was older first. I would have flashbacks of things happening to me when I was older. Through therapy and as I got stronger, the abuse when I was 2 was my last memory. (Experts) tell me that if I had the memory of when I was 2 first, it would have destroyed me because I had to get strong and learn to deal with these memories before I had that memory."

Linda Selk-Yerges, director of Assist Survivors Treatment Outreach Prevention Inc. (ASTOP), said Bille, like many survivors, "peeled back the onion" in an effort to recover.

"You keep taking it one layer at a time. You keep peeling back until you get to the core, until you get to the beginnings (of the assault)," Selk-Yerges said.

Bille said one reaction to the abuse she had as a child was the need to see everything going on around her. At Christmas time, she would sit in a corner to assure no one would sneak up from behind. As an adult, she would choose spots in restaurants that would give her the best view to avoid surprises.

Other manifestations of trauma were immediately more self-destructive.

"I started self-abusing when I was 6. That's my first memory of cutting myself," Bille said. "I would find glass or whatever and cut myself on my legs. As I grew older, I would cut with razorblades. I had a pattern of self-abusing. I would overeat. My first memory of overeating was with semi-sweet chocolate. … I realized as I got heavier, boys ain't going to like you. I would overeat and then I would take really hot baths. I would put in the plug and let the hot water run. I would sit in there an hour, hour and a half, two hours. When that didn't work, I would cut."

She noted that on some trips to the hospital she had 200 or 300 cuts on her body. To her, cutting was not an attempt at suicide, it was a means to relieve her pain.

"Cutting was not blood. I did not see blood. It was black ooze because there was so much crap inside," Bille said. "At the age of 6 on, I just cut wherever."

Bille never told anyone about the self-abusing. She started to seek help after depression set in when she was 30.

A pivotal moment happened when she and a friend, who had been reading about sexual assault, met for coffee.

"She asked, 'Charlene, have you been sexually abused?' I said, 'I'm dead, in my head.' She reached across the table and touched my hand," Bille said. "If she could touch me when I'm the dirtiest, filthiest person in the world, it can't be all that bad. We sat and talked and she said I should call my counselor."

Road to recovery

Bille sought help at a variety of places and was met with skeptics or naysayers. She said once she found ASTOP and a doctor who believed her, the healing process began.

Selk-Yerges agreed with Bille that survivors stop growing emotionally at the age when abuse starts. Even though Bille was a grown woman holding a job, ASTOP counselors had to nurture her.

"The first contact I had with ASTOP I was suicidal. I had cut really bad that day," said Bille, who noted she did attempt suicide three times in her life by other means than cutting. "It had to be by the grace of God that day I picked up that phone and called the crisis line. I don't know who answered that phone, but they said they had a group that night and I should come."

"The ASTOP girls would hold me sometimes and let me cry," she added.

During assaults as a child, she said she would mentally take herself out of the situation, like she was watching it happen. Through therapy, Bille integrated back into the situation. She felt the pain of the assaults, but was on her way to healing.

"I listened to a tape one time and in that tape it said, 'You have to admit to what you lost.' … I lost my innocence. I lost my childhood. I lost what was mine to give to somebody someday that I'd choose to give it to," Bille said. "That was all taken away from me. I remember thinking that when I was 10, I was 80. I never thought I was a child."

Moving on

Bille encourages those who survive sexual assaults to report the abuse and get help. She never reported her assaulters because of threats to her well-being.

"I never confronted anybody and that was my choice. In my head and my heart I forgave myself because that worked for me," she said. "I have a relationship with God, so that is how I dealt with it."

"I just knew within me there was something more. There had to be something more. I got this picture of, 'I am free!' I was so knotted up, like a plate of spaghetti. It was like I had to take one string of spaghetti at a time and just unravel it. That was what my insides were like."

Reporting abuse

Bille said she would go to school with bruises on her body wishing the teacher would say something. As an adult, she took a stand and reported abuse after changing the diaper of an 18-month-old girl at a Salvation Army daycare in the 1980s.

"If you (the parents) think there is anything going on with your child, make a call," Bille said. "It doesn't even have to be a child. If there is anything with any of your family members that you think is not right, check it out."

Through her recovery, Bille can be the voice for those yet to rebuild. Selk-Yerges said Bille is the proof needed for victims and those who have the opportunity to report crimes.

"What Charlene does is give hope to survivors of sexual abuse and that is huge," Selk-Yerges said. "(ASTOP members) see the healing and wonderful blossoming of survivors, but for the story to come from a person who's gone through it, to walk through it, she is the one who gives hope that it is better out there. The abuse becomes an event that happened in your life. It no longer has power over you."

Bille added, "I was a mouse, just quiet. I'm not a mouse anymore. I'm enjoying life. If people can see that in me and hear my story and know why, I think that's important to see that there can be life. … Life is fun. That's what I would like victims to see. They can get beyond (sexual abuse) and enjoy life."


"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)


DC - States could lose money over prison rapes

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This is good news. But, I wonder if it applies to sex offenders being raped? Can their sue the state for not protecting them? I sure hope so.

06/23/2009

By JENNIFER C. KERR

WASHINGTON – New measures aimed at reducing prison rapes are in the works — and states that fail to take steps to protect their inmates could see their federal money cut.

The new standards were proposed Tuesday by the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, a bipartisan panel that spent five years studying the issue. It's estimated that about 60,000 inmates are sexually abused each year.

With more than 7.3 million people behind bars or on parole and probation in the U.S., the report said jails and prisons should take a series of steps to eliminate sexual abuse of inmates. Those steps include the adoption of zero tolerance policies, better staff training and improved screening to identify prisoners vulnerable to abuse.

"Individuals who are incarcerated have basic human rights," said U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, chairman of the commission. "Just because they've committed a crime and they're incarcerated does not mean that their human dignity can be abused."
- Tell that to the ex-sex offenders forced to live under bridges across the country!

The proposed standards are being sent to Attorney General Eric Holder, who has a year to write national standards. States will be notified of the finalized standards and then must adopt them or risk losing 5 percent of any federal prison grant money.

Some of the report's key findings:
  • Inmates who are short, young, gay, or female were more likely to be victimized than other inmates.
  • Even when inmates are willing to report abuse, their accounts are not always taken seriously and reported to appropriate officials.

In a 2007 study, the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that more than 60,000 inmates are sexually abused every year. The study found that 4.5 percent of those surveyed reported being sexually abused in the previous 12 months.

That study also said more prisoners reported abuse by staff than by other prisoners: 2.9 percent to about 2 percent, respectively.

The commission's report recommended that prison authorities adopt more internal monitoring, such as video cameras, as well as external oversight by review boards.

Justice Department spokesman Matt Miller said the report "is an important next step in our efforts to prevent, detect, and respond to sexual abuse in correction and detention facilities in the United States."

James Gondles Jr., executive director of the American Correctional Association, said he's optimistic that "we can get something that's workable." But Gondles said he's concerned that county jails, which have fewer resources than prisons, may not have the money to implement some proposals, such as adding staff for mental health treatment of abuse victims.

At the commission's news conference Tuesday, Hope Hernandez told a crowded room of her ordeal in a Washington D.C. jail in the late 90s when the then-23-year old was awaiting trial on drug charges.

After begging for a shower for two weeks, Hernandez said a corrections officer showed up one night with a towel and shampoo to take her for a shower. She said he led her to the shower, where he raped her.

"Rape must never be part of the penalty, " said Hernandez, a mother of two who later earned a master's degree in social work.

His punishment, she said, was a seven-day suspension with pay before being returned to duty.






"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)


NM - AG unsure on possible appeal to sex offender ruling

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06/24/2009

By Elizabeth Piazza

FARMINGTON — The attorney general's office is unsure if it will appeal a recent Court of Appeals ruling that excuses sex offenders living within the boundaries of tribal lands from registering on the state's sex offender registry.

There are 246 registered sex offenders in San Juan County, ranking second among the state's 33 counties, according to statistics from the Department of Public Safety.

Of those registered individuals, more than 50 have addresses listed on the Navajo Nation.

But according to the recent decision, those 50 may not need to register on the state's registry.

"I think the best I can tell you is that we are assessing our options right now, about whether or not we agree with the ruling and what we are going to do about it," said Phil Sisneros, spokesman for the attorney general's office.

The unanimous ruling earlier this month involved three Navajos who were arrested outside the reservation in San Juan County and charged with failing to register as sex offenders under a state law, Sisneros said.

_____, _____ and _____ were convicted previously under federal law of sex offenses against minors. Each man lived on tribal land and did not work or attend school off the reservation.

The court said New Mexico lacked the jurisdiction to enforce its sex offender registration laws on lands within "Indian country."

The attorney general's office has 20 days to ask for the state Supreme Court to review the lower court's decision, Sisneros said.

The men were arrested before 2006 when the Navajo Nation implemented a requirement for convicted sex offenders who live, work or attend school on the reservation to register with tribal police.

Repeated calls to the Navajo Nation police went unanswered Tuesday.

The ruling has some advocates concerned.

"We have a significant amount of sex offenders here," said Clifford Jack, educator and group facilitator for the Shiprock Home for Women and Children.

It's important that offenders register for the safety of the victims and the safety of the children in the community, said Zorina Sanisya, program educator at Ajooba Four Corners Sexual Assault Services.

Sanisya said advocates are trying to get together but there is no decision about whether any action will be taken.

The 20-day review period ends Friday.

"It's still under discussion as to what the best course of action will be," Sisneros said


"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)


RI - Lawmakers discuss sex offender bill

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06/24/2009

By Julie Browers

New bill would keep offenders away from schools

PROVIDENCE (WPRI) - A new bill is discussed at the State House aimed at keeping children safe. The new legislation would tighten rules for convicted sex offenders, keeping them away from playgrounds and schools. Lawmakers sponsoring the bill say the measure has to do with sex offenders moving near a park in Cranston.

The house committee on Judiciary talked about one bill that would prohibit a person convicted of first or second degree child molestation from entering a school, playground or daycare center. Representative Nick Mattiello of Cranston is sponsoring the bill because of sex offenders recently housed at Harrington Hall which is close to a park in Cranston.

Mattiello says, "This is a population that has done dangerous things to children and they shouldn't be in one of those areas."
- Not all sex offenders have harmed children!

But other lawmakers have concerns about the legislation because it could infringe on a sex offenders right to vote in a school. The House Committee on Judiciary will vote on the new bill Thursday.




"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)


FL - SOSEN - JTC "Bridge Of Tyranny" (New Video)

S.O.S.E.N. Documentary | More Julia Tuttle Videos
YouTube Video Link | YouTube Channel




"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)


OH - BREAKING NEWS: Haylee found

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This is great news. And as usual Nancy Disgrace and other media outfits, ran with it, assuming the sex offender had kidnapped the child and possibly did something to the mother. Well, didn't happen.  And this is what happens, when people freak out.  I have not been following all this, but it appears to me that a mother, father/boy friend, and the child went on vacation, that is all.  If this man was the evil demon the media and public portray sex offenders as, then both of them might be dead.

06/23/2009

By MARK CAUDILL

MANSFIELD — Haylee Donathan is safe.

The 4-year-old girl Crestline girl has been the subject of a nationwide manhunt since her mother went off with a convicted sex offender who escaped from a Mansfield halfway house.

U.S. Marshal Peter Elliott said the three were found Tuesday at a Christian retreat center in San Diego. Haylee is with Child Protection Services in San Diego County. _____, 27, and _____, 24, are in San Diego County Jail.

We received tips that led to the arrest,” Elliott said. “The vehicle was in the parking lot.”

The three were in a distinctive two-tone black and green Chevrolet pickup. _____, who has previous convictions for two counts of sexual battery involving 7- and 9-year-old victims, was arrested on two probation violations. _____ was arrested for complicity to escape.

Elliott credited the public for providing tips and the teamwork of various law enforcement agencies for the happy resolution.

The girl is safe,” Elliott said. “It is a good day.”

Further details were not available at press time.








"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)