Thursday, August 13, 2009

FL - Miami Keeps Homefield Advantage in Sex Offender Lawsuit

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08/13/2009

By TODD WRIGHT

Sex offender lawsuit to stay in the city

Miami has won Round 1 against the state in a fight to remove registered sex offenders from under the Julia Tuttle bridge.

A judge has ruled that a Miami lawsuit over a sex offender camp under a bridge should stay in the city.

Circuit Court Judge Victoria Sigler ruled Thursday that the lawsuit should not be transferred to Tallahassee, as lawyers for the state of Florida had argued. The decision will be appealed.

The camp for offenders has grown over the past three years with offenders having a hard time finding affordable housing that doesn't violate Miami-Dade County laws about how close offenders can live to schools and parks. Miami officials say the camp is too close to a small island park accessible only by boat.

Lawyers did not argue a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, which has also been filed. Arguments on that motion were set for Aug. 20.


"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues, All Rights Reserved


CT - Greenwich becomes ground zero in debate over restrictions on sex offenders

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08/12/2009

By Neil Vigdor

Controversial proposal would define child safety zones

A proposed town ordinance making it illegal for registered sex offenders to loiter at schools, parks, playgrounds and beaches is a near lock to win approval today from the Board of Selectmen.

All three members of the board have told Greenwich Time that they support the ordinance, which has drawn criticism from civil liberties advocates and a town resident listed on the state's Sex Offender Registry.

"We're looking at the protection of a group of people who can, again, not protect themselves from those who have already demonstrated a behavior that may be harmful to children," First Selectman Peter Tesei said.

A Riverside man convicted of possessing child pornography, one of four town residents on the sex offender registry, is planning to speak against the ordinance during the board's 10 a.m. meeting at Town Hall.

"Some people say that we haven't paid our price until we're dead. Is that what the justice system is all about?" _____ said in an interview Wednesday with the newspaper.

_____, 38, argued that the proposed restrictions violate the constitutional rights of convicted sex offenders and make it difficult for them to re-assimilate into the community.

"Wow. Imagine this town passes this ordinance. What's left for a registered sex offender? The street?" asked _____, who was arrested in June 2000 after he was caught filming boys in the swimming pool at Greenwich High School.

During a search of _____' home, police said they found 2,500 pornographic images on his computer and videotapes of boys changing their clothes in locker rooms at YMCAs in New Canaan, Wilton and West Haven.

_____ completed five years of probation imposed by a judge, in which he was ordered to comply with more than 25 conditions.

Under the three-page ordinance, police would be authorized to request identification from suspected sex offenders who are present in child safety zones -- areas encompassing schools, parks, playgrounds and recreational facilities marked by signs.

If someone is listed on a sex offender registry, he or she would be issued a warning, requiring the individual to leave the premises. Those who refuse would be fined $100 for each violation of the ordinance.

Selectman Lin Lavery vowed to support the proposal, which must get final approval from the Representative Town Meeting for it to be adopted.

"I am prepared to fight for this ordinance," Lavery said. "I think if the restrictions are not overly broad, they are acceptable."

Selectman Peter Crumbine also endorsed the measure.

"As long as it's legal, I will support it," Crumbine said. "The most important thing is to protect our children."

This is the second version of the ordinance to come before the selectmen, who approved the first back in February. That version stalled in the RTM in June, however, because of concerns about its constitutionality and potential legal challenges from civil liberties groups.

The ordinance was reworked to make exceptions for registered sex offenders to enter child safety zones to vote, attend public meetings, drop off or pick up their children at school and meet with teachers to discuss their children's education.

It does not apply to public streets, highways or sidewalks beyond the boundaries of a child safety zone.

Andrew Schneider, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut (Email), said the ordinance is still problematic.

"It's still constitutionally flawed," Schneider said. "You're restricting the freedom of movement of individuals who have already paid their debt to society. It would be like if you were to tell shoplifters who've already been punished by the law that once they were free from jail or (paid) their penalty they could never go to a department store."

Schneider rejected the idea that sex offenders are more apt to repeat their offenses than other criminals.

"I think the recidivism argument is overblown," Schneider said. "If we as a society determine that sex offenders cannot be released as free individuals, then maybe what we need to consider is stiffer penalties in the first go-around and not stigmatize them and prevent them from living as free individuals once released."

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (Email), who was recently asked to review the ordinance by Lavery and lives in Greenwich, said the restrictions are not onerous and are not meant to punish sex offenders a second time.

"Obviously, a very commendable effort has been made to limit the restrictions to specifically defined and focused areas where children are likely to be," Blumenthal said. "And, of course, the initial remedy is a warning, which seems to be in its favor constitutionally."

Blumenthal, who successfully defended the constitutionality of the state's sex offender registry in a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court case, said that there is a higher rate of recidivism among such criminals.
- No there isn't.  Many studies show this, yet you are relying on bogus sound bites from others who spew lies.

"We won in the Supreme Court largely because the recidivism rate is so high," Blumenthal said. "Sex offenses are devastatingly catastrophic for a child victim in a way that perhaps is unique among offenses and also for women when they are victims of assault."
- You are full of s--t!

Blumenthal said he generally supports such ordinances, which are in place in a number of Connecticut municipalities.

"Well, there's no question that such ordinances restrict some physical activities of convicted sex offenders, and some of those restrictions would seem very reasonable if they help protect children from real dangers and are related to that goal of child protection," Blumenthal said.

Of the people listed on the registry, Blumenthal said, "They're not people whose names have been randomly chosen from a phone book or upon suspicion. They have been convicted of a crime -- a serious one."

_____ argued that there is a lack of evidence showing that such ordinances work, something he said he has tried to point out to the selectmen.

"I'm not just speaking for myself. I'm speaking for the almost 1 million sex offenders and their families," _____ said.


"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues, All Rights Reserved


NY - WOMAN 'FESSES UP TO RAPE LIE

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They always speak of victims rights, well, what about the victim in this case?  He is rotting in jail/prison, because a woman lied.  She should be taking his place in jail/prison.

08/13/2009

By BRAD HAMILTON and ANGELA MONTEFINISE

TELLS PRIEST SHE SENT INNOCENT MAN TO JAIL

She had a new husband, a baby on the way, and found religion in the Catholic Church.

But one sin haunted Biurny Peguero Gonzalez's new life: There was a man rotting away in prison, put there because she had falsely accused him of rape.

In March, Gonzalez, 26, went to her priest with a heavy heart. She confessed that she had not been attacked by _____ four years ago, despite telling her friends, nurses, cops, prosecutors -- and eventually a jury -- that he'd held her at knifepoint, bit her and raped her.

The priest, Rev. Zeljko Guberovic of St. Anthony's in Union City, NJ, counseled Gonzalez to talk to her lawyer. The attorney, Paul Callan, brought her to the Manhattan DA's Office, where she recanted her testimony.

For now, _____ remains in prison, having served four years of a 20-year sentence. His lawyer, Glenn Garber, asked yesterday that the conviction be vacated and his client released.

"This case is gutted," he said.

At trial, Gonzalez told jurors that she met _____ after a night of drinking "Blue Hawaiian" cocktails in September 2005.

She was in a car parked in front of a Dyckman Street restaurant in upper Manhattan when he picked her up. Some friends of hers were in the restaurant.

She invited him into her car, but _____ realized she was too drunk to drive, so they parked in a garage and caught a ride with his friends to a party.

When they learned the party had ended, _____ took her back to the garage. When he left, she told her friends -- who were still at the restaurant -- that she'd been raped.

In the morning, she went to Christ Hospital in Jersey City and showed nurses bite marks on her shoulder and arm, allegedly from _____. The nurses found no physical evidence that she had been raped.

No evidence other than the bite marks were presented at trial. _____ was convicted largely on the word of Gonzalez.
- So much for innocent until proven guilty.  Someone can just say you did something, and off you go to prison, and on the sex offender registry for life.  So be careful who you talk to, or you may be on the registry next.  And I thought they had to prove a case "beyond a shadow of a doubt?"  I guess not!

But Gonzalez now says she fabricated the rape story because her friends were so angry for leaving them without a ride that they began hitting her. A friend, Aurora Pujols, now says she likely bit and scratched her.

Last year, new scientific developments allowed investigators to retest the DNA from the bites. No "Y" chromosome was found, meaning the bites could not have come from a man.

Seven months ago, Biurny married Julio Gonzalez and underwent a religious conversion. She wants _____ to go free, but Callan said he won't allow her to testify without immunity.

"I don't want to see her baby born in prison," Callan said.
- Well, she has put a man in prison for 4 years so far, so she should serve 4 years in prison as well.

The DA's Office is considering charging her with perjury.


"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues, All Rights Reserved


FL - Judge to consider Miami's suit against state over sex offenders

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Video

08/13/2009

By DAVID OVALLE

A Miami-Dade judge on Thursday will consider whether to toss out the city of Miami's lawsuit against the state over a colony of sex offenders who live in squalor under the Julia Tuttle Causeway bridge.

In July, the city sued state officials, blaming them for "creating and maintaining" a sanitary nuisance that violates Miami's sexual offender ordinance, which bars offenders from living within 2,500 feet of a park or other place, such as a school or day-care facility, where children congregate.

The park in question: Picnic Island No. 4, an obscure island park in Biscayne Bay accessible only by boat.
- A island which kids do not congregate, hardly anybody goes to the island.

State agencies, including the Department of Transportation, want Judge Victoria Sigler to toss out the lawsuit because it should have been filed in Tallahassee, where DOT is headquartered.

The emergency hearing will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday.

The Tuttle encampment, which houses about 70 registered sex offenders who cannot find housing elsewhere, has become an international embarrassment for county and city leaders.

The Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust has been working on finding apartments that comply with the laws where the men could live.



If you look at the Julia Tuttle Causeway, and the island, you will see it's just over 2,000 feet away from one end of the bridge, and over 7,000 feet from another. Plus, it has one picnic table on it, and I wonder when they put it there. This is just insane. No kids congregate at the island in the middle of the bay, so declaring an island a park is just stupid, IMO.

Exhibit #1 - Click to enlarge (2,029 feet)

Exhibit #02 - Click to enlarge (7,058 feet)

Exhibit #03 - Click to enlarge (One picnic table)


"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues, All Rights Reserved


FL - Suspect accused of sex crimes found dead on Monday

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Read original story

08/11/2009

By Robby Douglas

A Homosassa man accused of sex crimes involving an 8-year-old Hernando County girl was found dead shortly after 9 a.m. on Monday in an apparent suicide.

The Citrus County Sheriff's Office confirmed today that the body of _____, 64, was found hanging from a tree in a wooded area of Homosassa across from the Green Acres subdivision.

Family members reported that _____ had been depressed since he was charged in the case, and had bonded out of the Citrus County jail, CCSO spokesperson Gail Tierney said. _____ was charged on Friday in connection with the case, and bond had been set at $39,000.

Citrus Daily had received an e-mail earlier today blaming the media and publicity as contributing to _____'s death.

The e-mail reads, verbatim:

"CONGRATULATIONS!! You post in Sunday's paper of the Homosassa man and sex crimes on an 8 year old has found him guilty and convicted before he even had a trial. MOREOVER, it has caused him to take his own life because he was INNOCENT!! This truly takes the cake!! Bad publicity, Bad press, that caused GRIEF for everone conserned!!"

It is believed the e-mail was sent by someone at least acquainted with the family. The name of the e-mailer is being withheld by Citrus Daily.


"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues, All Rights Reserved


FL - Florida faces sex offender dilemma

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08/13/2009

A community of convicted sex offenders living beneath a bridge in Miami has got so big it is now attracting international attention.

The "shanty town" is the only place in the city where they are not in close proximity to children and can thus stay within the law.

It has raised the difficult issue of how convicted sex offenders should be reintegrated into society and where they should live.

Andy Gallacher reports.

Video Link



"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues, All Rights Reserved


VT - Sex Offenders' Suit Reveals Error In Registry Law

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"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues, All Rights Reserved


Sex Offenses: Balancing Protections For All Children

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08/13/2009

By The Law Offices of David S. Shrager

"The harsh penalties adult sex offenders face are increasingly being applied to child offenders as well. This is wrong; laws designed to protect children should not be used against them."

Legislators don't win reelection by appearing to be weak on issues surrounding public safety. Accordingly, there is a subtle, almost constant pressure to increase the sanctions and penalties for notable crimes. This is particularly true in the case of sex offenses against minors.

Few lawmakers are willing to stand up in defense of those convicted of sex crimes, when constituents can so readily picture the most gruesome and horrific events leading to these convictions. As a result, sex offenders are regularly subject to severe penalties, followed by ongoing monitoring long after they any sentence has been completed.

However, the image of a sex offender that is emblazoned in the collective consciousness does not always match the reality. In some states, children as young as seven years old can be labeled sex offenders and listed on the sex offender registry. This is a disturbing trend in which the laws that are designed to protect children from harm are increasingly being used against children themselves.

This is absolutely the wrong approach to handling children accused of sex offenses.

The Laws Governing Juvenile Sex Offenders

For children accused of committing sex offenses, two systems govern the potential penalties and repercussions of inappropriate actions.

Misconduct by youthful offenders is often addressed by the juvenile justice system rather than the criminal justice system. For example, under the Juvenile Act in Pennsylvania, a child accused of a crime is subject to an adjudication of delinquency rather than a criminal conviction.

The law provides some exceptions to this rule. Certain severe acts are subject to more serious criminal penalties even when committed by a person under the age of 18. Most of the time though, the juvenile justice system seeks to educate and rehabilitate youthful offenders without creating a permanent criminal record that will haunt the child for years to come.

On the federal level, the registration of sex offenders is governed by the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. This Act increases federal criminal penalties for many crimes committed against children, increases penalties for crimes related to child pornography, and standardizes the minimum reporting requirements for sex offenders. The Act mandates the creation of a national sex offender registry and ensures that this registry will be placed on a publically accessible Web site.

For registration purposes, the Walsh Act incorporates a broad definition of the term "convicted." In addition to those truly convicted of sex crimes under the relevant criminal laws, this term includes those who are over the age of 14 and adjudicated of crimes comparable to or more severe than the federal crime of aggravated sexual assault. This broad definition has resulted in the public shaming of children, who would traditionally be protected and guided through the juvenile justice system.

The federal government is not mandating compliance with the Adam Walsh Act; states may choose not to adopt laws in compliance with the Adam Walsh Act. However, states that do not fully comply with the Act by July 2010 will lose part of their federal crime prevention grants.

The Problem with Treating Children As Adults

There are many problems with treating children as adults. Most importantly, penalties should acknowledge that the reasons for punishing a 40-year-old with a long history of sexual offenses are different that those for punishing a 14-year-old who once behaved inappropriately.

For adults, the sex offender registry serves multiple purposes. First, the serious penalties are intended to operate as a general deterrent; the idea is that the knowledge that committing a sex crime may result in life-long registry as a sex offender will help to prevent someone from committing a crime before it happens. Additionally, registration serves as a specific deterrent to prevent the individual sex offender from offending again; a person listed as an offender against children will likely have fewer opportunities to interact with children, which thereby protects the public.

For juveniles, the primary focus of the juvenile justice system is rehabilitation and education. The intent is to help children understand their actions and recognize that these actions are unacceptable. The sex offender registry cannot reasonably be considered a deterrent; a 14-year-old child cannot conceptualize lifetime mandatory registration, or even the 15 years of registration mandated by the lowest level offenses.

Furthermore, teenagers don't understand the practical implications of their actions, and serious criminal charges have not yet adapted to changing technologies and teen practices. Across the country, teenagers are being charged with possession of child pornography, as a result of the recent surge in "sexting." Teenagers are sending nude photographs of themselves to their friends or significant others; because the photographers and recipients are underage, this amounts to child pornography.

This is a significant problem and an issue that many states are currently attempting to address. While the laws are evolving, though, it is important to ensure that the laws designed to protect children do not inadvertently or unreasonably punish them.

When children are harmed, the obvious and immediate reaction is to increase the penalties in an attempt to prevent such events from happening again. When a child is responsible for the harm though, it is important to remember that two children must be protected. Laws affecting juveniles must be written to address their unique needs and to guide future decisions, not designed to punish and ultimately alienate them.


"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues, All Rights Reserved


CA - Homicide Victim A Registered Sex Offender

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08/12/2009

By Kimberly Cheng

_____, the victim of an apparent homicide in North Palm Springs, was a registered sex offender. _____, who was found dead in his back yard Monday, is registered on the California Megan's Law web site as a sex offender. He was convicted of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14.

_____, his son, says he was not a predator but said he had gotten involved with the young daughter of an ex back in the1980s.

The Riverside County Sheriff's department says there is no indication _____'s criminal past had anything to do with his death. Deputies have released few details beyond that. They are investigating the case as a homicide.

"He was beaten pretty bad," _____ said. _____ did not know what murder weapon was used. Deputies have not released that information.

_____'s family, who was visiting his ranch Wednesday, said he lived alone but often took in homeless people and drug abusers.

"He would see someone walking down the street, bring them in, get them job, get them work," said _____, _____'s son-in-law.

_____ said _____ had someone living on his ranch at the time of his death. That person, a contractor who had recently lost his job and home, had found his body. The contractor wasn't available for comment.

_____ said his father's home was ransacked and his car was found burned nearby. _____ said his father didn't have many valuables so it's hard to imagine why anyone would kill him.

"He buys a lot of yard sale stuff to build this place so it's not like he had cash or anything," _____ said.

_____ was found dead Monday afternoon in the back yard of his home at 64600 block of 16th Ave.




"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues, All Rights Reserved


NY - North Hudson considers sex offender ordinance

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08/12/2009

By Doug Stohlberg

The North Hudson Village Board discussed a potential sex offender ordinance Tuesday, Aug. 4, but took no action, instead referring the document back to the Public Safety Committee.

The North Hudson Village Board discussed a potential sex offender ordinance Tuesday, Aug. 4, but took no action, instead referring the document back to the Public Safety Committee.

The issue came up after the city of Hudson passed an ordinance earlier this summer.

The ordinance the village is considering is very similar to the Hudson ordinance, establishing residency restriction and restricted zones (parks, schools, churches, etc.). The North Hudson proposal would establish a limit of 200 feet in both cases. North Hudson Police Chief Mark Richert said five offenders currently live in North Hudson, but none would fall into the restriction zones being proposed.

He added, however, that courts have ruled it is illegal to essentially outlaw offenders from living anywhere in a municipality.

The board found out Tuesday night, however, that many state officials oppose sex-offender restriction laws. Wisconsin Sex Offender Registry Specialist Jody Voegeli, Eau Claire, said sex offender laws drive offenders under cover and make them harder to track.

Not all states like restrictions – many states have repealed them,” Voegeli said. The Wisconsin Department of Corrections is against them, as are many organizations established to protect victims of sex offenders.

Research shows 90 to 95 percent of children are offended by someone they know. Research shows that offender restrictions do not protect kids and might even put them at greater risk – where the offender lives does not matter, or help.”

Board Trustee Daryl Standafer said he didn’t understand the logic of  “200 feet.”

What makes that safer than, say, 300 feet or 100 feet?” Standafer asked.

Voegeli said that’s the point – residency restrictions won’t help.

Department of Corrections representative Mike O’Keefe, Hudson, said any offender still under supervision has restrictions imposed by the department. Once they are off probation, or supervision, however, the department does not monitor them – that’s when Voegeli and the people with the Sex Offender Registry Department begin their work.

Local ordinances, however, can impose restrictions – those are the restrictions that Voegeli claims will drive sex offenders under cover.

Some board members feel an ordinance is important because of the city of Hudson passing an ordinance. With restrictions in Hudson, the fear is that potential sex offenders would start their residency search in North Hudson.

Trustee Marc Zappa said it appears there is not a real problem in North Hudson and that the village is attempting to “mirror the Hudson situation.”

The board voted to refer the issue back to the Public Safety Committee for more discussion and fact-finding.


"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues, All Rights Reserved