Tuesday, December 8, 2009
By Dana Jay
Illinois is one of forty-nine states yet to decide if they'll comply with a federal sex offender law set to take effect in 2010.
If lawmakers don't adopt changes outlined in the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 the state risks losing millions of dollars in federal grants.
- It will cost even more to implement the laws.
If they do, a costly project lies ahead.
The Walsh Act creates a national sex offender registry. It also makes punishments for failing to register more severe. The hope is that the act will also make it tougher for sex offenders to cross state lines and disappear.
In Illinois lawmakers will have to approve some changes and the Illinois State Police will help implement them.
Illinois State Police Sex Offender Registration Unit supervisor Tracie Newton says that will be a task.
"Our tech people are telling us we need every minute that you can give us because there's going to be a lot of behind the scenes technology changes that are going to take place," Newton said.
She points out other difficulties as well.
The federal law requires sex offenders convicted as far back as 1955 be added to this registry.
- I don't recall ever seeing this in the law, which is here.
"Back in the 1950s, 60s, 70s...that stuff was all on paper files. People are going to have a real difficult time calling the circuit clerks’ offices saying, ‘I need case information from 1955 case,’” Newton said.
The law also requires that sex offenders as young as 14 be added to the website. According to Newton, that could violate an Illinois juvenile court act.
Additionally, changes in the way sex offenders are classified could lead to lawsuits. In Ohio, the only state to adopt the act, the supreme court heard lawsuits from more than 26,000 sex offenders faced with new penalties after they’d served their time.
The concerns go on, but a lot of it comes down to money.
Some states estimate it could cost millions to make the changes.
If they don't adopt the Walsh Act, they could lose millions in grant money for law enforcement.
A spokesman says the Illinois Attorney General's office (Contact) is examining the issue, but they're not ready to comment on whether or not they will be introducing legislation in the upcoming session.
The deadline to comply is July 2010, but that could be pushed back.
Advocates worry that delays put public safety at risk.
Registered Sex Offenders Banned From City Parks
JEFFERSONVILLE - The Jeffersonville City Council unanimously approved a new sex offender ordinance Monday night.
The city had to change a law that banned sex offenders from entering city parks after it was ruled unconstitutional by the state court of appeals.
The previous ordinance banned all past and present sex offenders from parks, however they were allowed to apply for an exemption if they had a good reason.
The new ban now allows offenders that are no longer required to register with the sex offender registry to visit any city park, however those who are on the registry must stay out.
By MARK LAWTON
A lecture about sexual predators on the Internet at the Leyden Township senior center on Nov. 30 attracted only five attendees: the lecturer, two township employees keeping an eye on the building, a reporter and a single audience member.
Daryl Bernard, a sergeant with the Cook County Sheriff's Police based in Maywood, gamely spoke for close to an hour in the mostly empty building about adults who try to lure children over the Internet.
Bernard has worked in the Sheriff's Child Exploitation Unit, where police portray themselves online as children and try to lure sexual predators. Since the unit started in 1997 it has made more than 250 Internet-related arrests.
Among those has been a computer specialist for the U.S. Senate and executives from Fortune 500 companies. As computer prices have decreased, more lower income people have been arrested.
Since 2005, however, the volume of cases has decreased.
"Kids are becoming smarter and adults (parents) are getting more educated," Bernard said.
Internet predators use several techniques, with the ultimate goal of meeting an underage child, Bernard said. They attempt to desensitize sexual activity by showing pornography to kids and saying that's OK.
They leverage a child's trust of authority figures and most often target at risk children. "At risk" in this situation means children who are too trusting, not being supervised and often -- though not always -- have low self-esteem.
When parents think their kids are at risk, their first thought is to unplug the computer.
"That's a little bit unrealistic," Bernard said. "The kids will just go elsewhere. Better to have them use a computer in your home."
Bernard suggests parents put the computer in a common area of the home and learn acronyms for common terms used while communicating online. POS, for example, means Parent (looking) Over Shoulder.
Have children show you their social networking Web sites or add you as a "friend" to their social networking Web sites so you can see postings and comments by others.
Set boundaries for children. Establish a schedule for use, make it clear they should never meet anyone in person that they met online, don't give out person information -- phone number, instant messaging name or e-mail address -- except to people they know.
Most important Bernard says, keep the lines of communication open.
"Let them know they can talk to us," he said.
By Curtis Krueger
A former officer at the Pinellas Juvenile Detention Center has been sentenced to eight years in prison for sending unsolicited nude pictures of himself to a 14-year-old girl who had been an inmate at the center.
Parris Woods, 28, who was a state employee, sent messages and photos via cell phone, and attempted to meet the girl away from the JDC for sexual purposes.
After his prison sentence, Woods must serve two years' house arrest and five years' sex offender probation.
- Why not on it for life, like most other people in the state of Florida?
By Donna MacAllister
Two men had to have medical examinations and lengthy interviews
A Moray woman who falsely accused two men of raping her was ordered to do 200 hours of community service yesterday.
- That is all? These men could have been ruined for life!
Leoni Campbell admitted making the allegations in 2006 when she appeared at Elgin Sheriff Court.
Campbell claimed she had been raped by a 20-year-old man on July 12 and by a 22-year-old man on August 2.
Her address was given in court papers as c/o Public Defence Solicitors Office, 17 Queensgate, Inverness.
Fiscal depute Shona Duncan told the court that Campbell’s allegations had meant the men were subjected to medical examinations and lengthy police interviews.
Charges had not been brought in either case, she said.
Campbell’s agent, Diane MacFarlane, said her client had not known either man personally. She had identified one of them by flicking through previous school yearbooks.
She said 20-year-old Campbell, who was 16 when she made the false rape allegations, had matured considerably since giving birth four months ago.
She did not know why Campbell had made the allegations but suggested that her motive may have been to get the attention of a man, with whom she later struck up a relationship.
Campbell initially reported the false rape allegations to this man. He informed her mother, who in turn contacted police.
Ms MacFarlane said psychological assessments suggested Campbell had slight learning difficulties.
She added: “She presents herself as a very pleasant young woman but a young woman who is rather simple in how she proceeds in matters and thinks of things.”
Sheriff Noel McPartlin said accusations of the nature involved were very often punished by a custodial sentence.
He said: “Even if the first approach to the police did not come from yourself you confirmed those accusations and caused inquiry to be made and innocent people be placed under suspicion."
“For offences such as that the courts would very often impose a sentence of imprisonment but you have never been in trouble before.”
He added: “As an alternative to a prison sentence I propose to order you to carry out 200 hours of community service.”
A CHEATING wife made up a rape claim to hide an affair – leading to two innocent men being arrested and £3,800 wasted on the police investigation.
Helen Dalby sent a text to her husband to say she had been followed home by a stranger and raped in a bedroom – because she felt guilty about having sex with her lover that day.
She had been having a three-month-long affair with him after meeting through a telephone dating service – and he was later arrested during the police investigation.
Dalby, 35, of St Michael's Road, Grimsby, has been given a 10-month suspended prison sentence – with a single condition that she lives for six months in her own home – for admitting perverting the course of justice between August 14 and 22 by making a false rape claim.
Grimsby Crown Court was told she claimed to police that she had been followed, pushed into her house by a stranger and raped in a bedroom.
The investigation led to hours of wasted police time, costing more than £3,800.
Dalby, the court was told, had shown little regard for the lives of the men who wrongly came under suspicion – and that they could have faced a "nightmare".
Judge David Tremberg told her: "Your lies diverted a massive amount of precious police time and resources from proper duty."
Two innocent men had been "locked up and detained for many hours" during the investigation, he continued.
"They no doubt will have wondered what might have happened to them if this nightmare did not go away," he added.
Judge Tremberg said behaviour such as Dalby's risked weakening the cases of genuine rape victims who came forward – and could possibly lead to potentially dangerous offenders being acquitted.
The prosecution pointed out that in other, similar cases, prison sentences of two years or 18 months had been imposed.
But Judge Tremberg claimed this case was "exceptional" because, unlike the cases of other women who had been jailed, Dalby did not act out of "spite or malice".
Elgin court told of huge investigation
A PREGNANT teenager’s mother said today she was mystified over why her daughter falsely claimed she had been raped at knifepoint.
Moray College student Lucinda Hicks, of 23 Kingsmills, Elgin, told officers she had been raped by an unidentified man on a pathway near Grampian Road, Elgin, on April 9.
Elgin Sheriff Court heard the false allegations resulted in Grampian Police devoting almost 800 police officer hours to the inquiry and questioning more than 300 people.
Hicks, 17, who is due to give birth early in January, admitted making false representations and causing the police to devote time and services, at the public expense, to an investigation which she knew to be false.
Fiscal depute Ann-Maria Colquhoun said Hicks was found in a distressed state by a restaurant employee. She told the court: “She asked what was wrong and the accused told her she had been raped. She also noted that the accused had cuts to the right side of her face and her lip was bleeding.”
- So the accused was another female?
Ms Colquhoun added after the investigation was launched, Hicks’s story was found to be inconsistent.
“She eventually admitted, during a lengthy interview, that she had lied,” she said.
Defence solicitor Alison Ross said Hicks was believed to have been suffering from depression at the time.
Hicks’s mother Ella said her daughter had suffered a miscarriage and her grandmother had died shortly before the incident.
She said she was “petrified” at the prospect of a custodial sentence.
Sentence was deferred for background reports until December 14.
LOUISVILLE - The woman accused of trying to extort money from Louisville basketball coach _____ was charged Wednesday with retaliating against the coach by falsely claiming he raped her.
A federal grand jury in Louisville brought four new criminal charges against Karen Cunagin Sypher, including retaliation against a witness.
The FBI, Louisville police and prosecutors have said there was no basis for her rape allegations. She said the coach raped her in a criminal complaint filed after she was indicted in May on charges of trying to extort money from _____.
The grand jury also added two intent to extort charges and a second charge of lying to the FBI.
The sordid case became public in April when _____ said he had told the FBI that someone had tried to extort money from him. Weeks later came the first indictment against Sypher.
Sypher has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of trying to extort money from _____ and lying to the FBI. She is accused of demanding college tuition for her children, her house to be paid off and $10 million.
The coach subsequently told police that he had a consensual sexual encounter with Sypher in 2003.
A call to Sypher's attorney, James Earhart, was not immediately returned on Wednesday. Sports information director Kenny Klein referred questions to _____'s attorney, Steve Pence. Pence did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
The new indictment adds allegations that Sypher had someone call _____ on March 6 as part of an extortion plot. The indictment also alleges that Sypher had a threat mailed to _____ on March 22.
The original indictment alleged that Sypher prompted threatening calls to on Feb. 26 and 28. The new indictment repeats that allegation.
The retaliation charge stems from a report Sypher filed with Louisville police in June. The indictment says Sypher made the charge knowing it would be harmful to _____.
The new lying to the FBI charge centers on statements attributed to Sypher that her relationship with a subject of the extortion probe was "strictly business." The grand jury charged that Sypher had an "intimate personal relationship" with the person.
Sypher's longtime friend, Lester Goetzinger, agreed to testify against her. In exchange, prosecutors agreed to clear his record of charges against him.
Prosecutors said Goetzinger left three voice mail messages on _____'s cell phone between Feb. 26 and Feb. 28 at Sypher's request. Goetzinger's attorney, John Berry of Louisville, has said Sypher traded sexual favors in exchange for the calls.
By COLIN MOYNIHAN
A woman who in 2005 falsely accused a man of rape, leading to his wrongful conviction and imprisonment, pleaded guilty on Monday to two counts of perjury.
The woman, Biurny Gonzalez, 27, acknowledged in State Supreme Court in Manhattan that she had falsely testified under oath before a grand jury and during a trial when she asserted that the man, _____, had sexually assaulted her.
Mr. _____, 32, an interior contractor, was convicted of rape in 2006 and began serving a 20-year sentence. But this past spring, Ms. Gonzalez recanted, first confessing to a priest that she had lied, then telling prosecutors.
“You know that the testimony you gave was false?” Justice Charles H. Solomon asked her. “_____ did not have sexual interactions with you by forcible compulsion?”
“Yes,” Ms. Gonzalez answered.
The seeds of her false story were sown about 5 a.m. on Sept. 18, 2005, when Mr. _____ approached Ms. Gonzalez — who then went by the name of her husband at the time, Peguero — and her friends outside a restaurant in Inwood.
Court papers filed by Mr. _____ said that after he invited Ms. Gonzalez to an after-hours party, he got into a parked car, where she was sitting with a friend, and they drove off.
Mr. _____ and Ms. Gonzalez later went to a parking garage and transferred to a friend’s van to continue to the party.
They turned back after Ms. Peguero got a barrage of cellphone calls from friends, court papers say. The attendant at the garage testified at the rape trial that some of Ms. Peguero’s friends showed up and got in her car with her, “yelling and hitting each other.” The fight was so fierce that one of the women kicked and broke a window in a car, according to court papers.
The next day, Ms. Peguero accused Mr. _____ of threatening her with a knife and assaulting her. The court papers said she invented the rape to cover for the fight.
Last year, a DNA test showed that bite marks on Ms. Peguero’s arm and shoulder the morning she reported the rape could not have been made by Mr. _____ — the genetic material lacked a Y chromosome, meaning that it could not have come from a man.
Mr. _____ was released from prison in September. He is waiting for a judge to void his indictment and conviction, which could happen as early as this week.
Ms. Gonzalez was scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 9 and faced 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison, though Justice Solomon has the authority to impose a lesser sentence. He warned Ms. Gonzalez, who lives in Union City, N.J., with her husband and two children, that although she is a legal resident of the United States, her guilty plea could result in deportation to the Dominican Republic, where she was born.
A religious reawakening prompted Ms. Gonzalez to admit her misdeeds to a priest at St. Anthony’s parish in Union City, her lawyer, Paul F. Callan, said.
“It was very wrong what she did in the first place,” he said. “But in the end she found her way to do the right thing, the courageous thing, the just thing.”
On Monday, Ms. Gonzalez declined to discuss the case as she left the courthouse clutching the arm of her husband, Julio Mejia.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” she said. “No, not at all.”
Just two more people, IMO, following the bandwagon, and trying to make a name for themselves. How does placing juveniles on a public accessible registry protect anybody?
State Rep. Debra Maggart (Email) (R-Hendersonville) and Senator Diane Black (Email) (R-Gallatin) said they will push for passage of legislation in January to place violent juvenile offenders on Tennessee’s Sex Offender Registry as required under the federal Adam Walsh Act.
The legislators introduced legislation today to place offenders between the ages of 14 and 18 years of age on the Registry.
“We are trying to protect children who are victims of this crime,” said Rep. Maggart. “The safety of children overrides concerns regarding information being available about the juvenile who must register as a result of being convicted of this violent crime. We are talking about rape, aggravated rape, aggravated sexual battery, rape of a child and aggravated rape of a child. These are serious adult crimes committed by a juvenile that most commonly occur with very young victims who must be protected.”
The adoption of this legislation would put Tennessee into compliance with the requirements for juveniles to be placed on state’s Sex Offender Registries under the Adam Walsh Act which was scheduled to go into effect in 2009, it was stated.
Tennessee was awarded over $50 million in Byrne Grant funding last year, 10 percent of which could be in jeopardy unless the state adheres to these requirements. However, in June U.S. Attorney General Anthony Holder signed a one-year agreement to extend the deadline for states to comply with the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, it was stated. Only Ohio has complied with the law thus far.
“Although the risk of repeating the crime is not quite as high as adult sex offenders, it still presents enough of a threat to require placing these offenders on the Registry. We would like to believe that juveniles could not commit these types of horrible crimes. However, the fact remains that they do and children must be protected.”
“When there is this threat to the community, parents should have the right to know that the perpetrator has this history of sexual violence against children,” added Rep. Maggart. “Whether or not the perpetrator is 17 or 24 years old, child sexual offenders can be dangerous to children in the community and should be placed on the Registry as required by the Walsh Act. Hopefully, we will pass this legislation in the 2010 legislative session.”
RIVERSIDE - A former Riverside cop accused of sexually assaulting three women testified today that he never used any force during his encounters with the alleged victims, but acknowledged that some of the revelations about him had not been "favorable."
Robert A. Forman, 39, is charged with two counts of forced oral copulation and one count of felony sexual battery. He is free on $50,000 bail.
The 11-year law enforcement veteran, who was terminated from the police force shortly after his arrest in October 2008, began testifying in his own defense last Wednesday. During his last hours on the stand this morning,
Forman's attorney, Mark Johnson, asked the defendant whether he had been completely truthful, to which he replied, "Absolutely."
"You've said some things about yourself that aren't favorable, would you agree?" asked Johnson.
"Yes," Forman said.
The former police officer testified last week that he had consensual sex with a woman while he was in uniform but not on duty.
However, the woman, identified as Kathryn, testified she performed oral sex on Forman because she felt that was the only way to avoid being arrested.
Kathryn testified the alleged April 18, 2008, encounter occurred a few hours after Forman and other officers searched her residence following a domestic disturbance complaint.
According to trial testimony, the officers discovered drug paraphernalia, including bags of methamphetamine and used syringes, as well as evidence of check fraud.
The woman's boyfriend, a parolee, was arrested, along with her house guest, and Kathryn testified that she, too, feared being booked for violating her probation, but Forman assured her she would not be taken into custody "as long as you cooperate."
She alleged that the defendant, still in uniform, returned to her apartment after his shift, led her into her bedroom, dropped his pants and told her to copulate with him, which she did.
A sometime prostitute and drug user identified as Tessa testified that in February 2008 Forman gave her a ride to a bus station near Chicago and University avenues, and at the end of the encounter, told her he liked her, then thrust his hand down her pants and kissed her.
The woman said she was frightened and hurriedly got out of the car after giving the defendant her phone number.
Forman testified that Tessa had wanted to report being raped, but during their 30-minute conversation, the woman repeatedly drifted "off track" and failed to provide details about her alleged assailant.
Forman said he was not convinced she had been victimized and gave her a ride to the bus station as a courtesy.
Phone records show the defendant placed several calls to Tessa in the two months following their one and only meeting. Forman initially testified he was calling to get more information about the alleged rape.
Riverside County Deputy District Attorney Elan Zekster asked the former officer to explain why he was making calls on days he was not working or had called in sick.
"I don't know why I called her. I just know I called her," Forman said.
A prostitute and admitted cocaine addict, Nadia, testified earlier that in March 2008, Forman detained her near downtown Riverside, where she had been looking to buy drugs.
Nadia said Forman did not handcuff her, but put her in the back of his patrol unit and gave her a bag of meth. He then drove to a secluded area, parked his vehicle and walked around to the back, allegedly instructing Nadia to "give me some head," according to her testimony.
The witness is currently serving time for robbery. According to Forman, his interaction with Nadia was limited to gathering information on drug suppliers. He acknowledged giving her a ride on the night she alleges he assaulted her, but said they went to a motel where Nadia pointed out the room where a drug dealer was staying.
Forman said he gave the woman $10 for the information, and they parted company.
"During your contact with Kathryn, Nadia or Tessa, were you required to exhibit the use of force?" asked Johnson.
"No," Forman said.