Thursday, December 17, 2009

CA - Sex, hot online search topic for children: Norton

Original Article


SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – Sex was a hot online search topic for children in 2009, according to findings released by Internet security specialty firm Norton.

While the top three search terms for Internet users under the age of 18 were YouTube, Google, and Facebook, the words "porn" and "sex" took the next two positions, based on data from Symantec-owned Norton.

"These terms should raise a red flag to parents if they haven't had 'The Talk' with their children about content that may not be appropriate for kids," Symantec said in a release.

Boys' top 25 searches centered on social networking, games, shopping, and "adult terms," according to Norton.

Girls were also interested in online social networking websites, but their top 25 searches leaned more toward music, movies, celebrities, and television shows.

The findings were derived from 14.6 million searches conducted between February 2 and December 4 by users of a free OnlineFamily.Norton service that parents can use to filter or monitor their children's Internet use.

"When it comes to online threats, parents need to be concerned about more than just their child running into inappropriate content," said Norton Internet safety advocate Marian Merritt.

"What makes OnlineFamily.Norton unique is that it gives parents insight into kids' online activities and what interests them most so that parents can ensure they have a discussion with them about topics they're curious about, as well as protect them from cyberthreats."

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NE - Attorney general says sex offender law will stand up to challenge

Original Article
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Well, when you have people in office, who took an oath to uphold the constitution, and apparently lied and are not doing, then the system is corrupt, as it is in most states these days, so what do you expect?


OMAHA (AP) - Attorney General Jon Bruning (Contact) says he's not threatened by a lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of recent revisions to the state's sex offender registry law.

Bruning says the concepts included in the changes passed by lawmakers earlier this year have withstood challenges in other states, including in federal courts.

He says the law is constitutional and will succeed in protecting Nebraska's children.
- No it's not, and no it won't.  Retroactive laws are a violation of the constitutions ex post facto laws, and the laws will protect nobody, nor prevent any crime.  Watch and see.

More than two dozen Nebraska residents sued the state, its county attorneys, sheriffs and Bruning on Wednesday asking that the revised law not be allowed to take effect Jan. 1. An Omaha attorney representing the group says the new law will impose retroactive  criminal punishment and amounts to double jeopardy and cruel and unusual punishment . He also says it violates the right to due process, free speech and permits unreasonable search and seizures.

OH - Two sex offender cases to be reviewed

Original Article


Mansfield - The Ohio Supreme Court accepted two Richland County sex offender reclassification cases for review Wednesday.

_____ and _____ are challenging their classifications by the Ohio attorney general, under the Adam Walsh Act.

Richland County Assistant Prosecutor Kirsten Pscholka-Gartner said the cases are among a series of local sex offender reclassification challenges likely to be accepted for review by the state court.

Similar appeals across Ohio are before the court, pending its eventual decision in State v. Bodyke, a Huron County reclassification case the court heard this year.

Richland County Common Pleas Judges James DeWeese and James Henson issued rulings in a series of sex offender classification challenges filed here in 2008. Both judges ruled that Senate Bill 10, also known as the Adam Walsh Act, violated the state constitution's prohibition against applying laws retroactively.

The Fifth District Court of Appeals later reversed those decisions, saying the local judges erred.

AUSTRALIA - Internet filter will not stop child porn peddlers

Original Article



Senator Stephen Conroy's (Contact) consultation paper on mandating the filtering of internet sites by Australian internet service providers suggests that our nation could soon have the most restrictive internet regime in the Western world.

The incorporation of international lists of overseas-hosted child sexual abuse material would be sufficient to align mandatory Australian practices with the voluntary practices of most liberal democracies. Indeed, the implication is that it might total the sum of all other jurisdictions' voluntary filter lists. However, the commitment to add other content that is only prohibited in Australia will mean that the scope of the content to be captured will be much more extensively drawn than in equivalent nations. There appears to be a commitment to elevate the Refused Classification category to form the backbone of the new "RC content list". This will include material that deals with "sexual violence, detailed instruction in crime, violence or drug use and/or material that advocates the doing of a terrorist act", as well as other aspects of the RC regime, far beyond the relatively restricted prohibitions of "child sexual abuse imagery [and] bestiality".

As UNSW's Professor Catharine Lumby, QUT's Professor John Hartley and myself have made clear in Untangling the Net: The Scope of Content Caught by Mandatory Internet Filtering, the Refused Classification list has evolved over many years to include a range of materials that require substantial reconsideration. For example, does it make sense to have practices that are legal between consenting adults (such as some non-violent fetish activities) that are refused classification when depicted?

One of the options considered in the consultation paper includes the possibility of a content owner seeking a ruling by the Classification Board or (in an appeal against such a ruling) the Classification Review Board. However, there is no commitment to allow publication of the contents of the RC content list, and the Senator's reaction to the 2009 Wikileaks leaking of the near-current list of ACMA's blacklist websites indicates that such a public level of accountability is not canvassed.

A significant concern is that in mandating a regulatory regime at odds with most of the Western world Australia will identify itself with, and give tacit encouragement to, a range of undemocratic political regimes dubbed "enemies of the internet" by Reporters Without Borders (RWB). The list of a dozen or so countries includes Burma, China, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam. Indeed, in even considering the embracing of such a mandatory regime, RWB have placed Australia on a watch list as being "under surveillance" – company the nation keeps with Bahrain, Eritrea, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, the Open Net Initiative (ONI), an outcome of collaboration between Harvard, Toronto, Cambridge and Oxford universities already has concerns about Australia's internet freedoms and may well judge the country as selectively filtering across social and political domains if a mandatory regime is introduced on the basis of the Refused Classification guidelines. In the ONI classification scheme this may ally Australia with Azerbaijan, Jordan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Thailand, which selectively filter on political grounds; and Ethiopia, Singapore, South Korea, Syria, Uzbekistan and Vietnam, which selectively filter on social grounds.

Australian research has consistently indicated that a majority of parents choose to negotiate with their children around their access to the internet; and do this in a nuanced and responsive way dependent upon the child's age, internet experience and gender. They trust their children's judgment to some extent and use the conversations as ways of communicating valuable information about rights, responsibilities and consequences. They also talk with their children about any content that is troubling to them, including everyday concerns such as bullying and online harassment, which will not be touched at all by these deliberations. Given the average Australian family's approach to regulating internet access in domestic contexts, it is likely that the typical citizen will be less than impressed with a government decision that dictates a range of prohibitions in excess of those enacted in equivalent democracies.

It is ironic that at the very point where Australia seeks recognition as a world leader in its vision for a National Broadband Network it may also gain censure as legitimating a range of repressive policies pursued by some of the globe's least accountable governments. Further, given that the filter will categorise and block websites, but not other ways of communicating digitally, the highly illegal and abhorrent activities of those who peddle images of child sexual abuse are likely to continue with little additional inconvenience.

NC - Judge rules NC sex offender law unconstitutional

Original Article
See the court case here (PDF)


PITTSBORO - A North Carolina law that limits sex offenders' ability to worship unconstitutional, a judge ruled Thursday.

Two parts of a North Carolina general statute aimed at protecting children from child molesters are unconstitutionally vague and overbroad, Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour said Thursday. He said the statutes infringe on the constitutionally protected right to worship.

The decision comes after authorities arrested registered sex offender _____ in March for attending a Baptist church outside of Raleigh because the church provided on-premise childcare. Baddour dismissed the charges.

The statute says offenders must stay 300 feet away from any area intended for the use, care of or supervision of minors and any place where minors gather for regularly scheduled events.

Baddour said the laws "infringe upon protected rights ... to practice religion, which are fundamental rights protected by the First Amendment."

He added that it is impossible for a sex offender, law enforcement officer or citizen to determine which areas fall under the category of a place where minors gather for regularly scheduled events. He ruled the law too vague to follow.

Baddour pointed to less drastic measures the state could take to protect children from offenders, including an exception already in the statute that allows offenders to be on school property for a specific purpose.

"I'm very happy for these individuals and the congregations that supported them that they will be able to attend church on Christmas," said Katy Parker, legal director for ACLU North Carolina, which filed an amicus brief in the case.

Parker said the decision comes at a time when sex offender legislation is under fire across the country.

"For a good while, the courts were upholding any restrictions against sex offenders no matter how drastic and you're starting to see the courts realize that some of these laws have gone way overboard," Parker said. She added many laws restricting sex offenders are unenforceable and can punish offenders for trying to rehabilitate themselves.

NE - Lawsuit challenging Neb. sex offender law

Original Article


OMAHA (AP) - A federal lawsuit is challenging the constitutionality of Nebraska's sex offender registry law.

The lawsuit filed by nearly two dozen unnamed eastern Nebraska residents says the recently revised Nebraska Sex Offender Registration Act infringes on rights guaranteed by the state and federal constitutions.

Among other things, the revised law expands the list of crimes that require offenders to register as sex offenders. Lawmakers said they wanted to remove the guesswork for courts.

The lawsuit says the revamped law imposes retroactive criminal punishment, twice punishes a single offense and amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

The state, its county attorneys and sheriffs, the State Patrol and Attorney General John Bruning (Contact) are named as defendants.

FL - Man exonerated after 35 years behind bars

Original Article



BARTOW – _____ used a cell phone for the first time Thursday, calling his elderly mother to tell her he had been freed after 35 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit.

Mobile devices didn't exist in 1974, the year he was sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping a 9-year-old boy and raping him in a nearby field.

Neither did the sophisticated DNA testing that officials more recently used to determine he could not have been the rapist.

"Nothing can replace the years _____ has lost," said Seth Miller, a lawyer for the Florida Innocence Project, which helped _____ win freedom. "Today is a day of renewal."

_____ spent more time in prison than any of the 246 inmates previously exonerated by DNA evidence nationwide, according to the project. The longest-serving before him was James Lee Woodard of Dallas, who was released last year after spending more than 27 years in prison for a murder he did not commit.

As _____ walked out of the Polk County courthouse Thursday, wearing a black T-shirt that said "not guilty," he spoke of his deep faith and said he does not harbor any anger.

"No, I'm not angry," he said. "Because I've got God."

The 54-year-old said he looks forward to eating fried turkey and drinking Dr Pepper. He said he also hopes to go back to school.

Friends and family surrounded him as he left the courthouse after Judge James Yancey ordered him freed. His 77-year-old mother, who is in poor health, preferred to wait for him at home. With a broad smile, he said he looks forward to spending time with her and the rest of his family.

"That's the most important thing in my life right now, besides God," he said.

Earlier, the courtroom erupted in applause after Yancey ruled.

"Mr. _____, I'm now signing the order," Yancey said. "You're a free man. Congratulations."

Thursday's hearing was delayed 40 minutes because prosecutors were on the phone with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. DNA tests were expedited at the department's lab and ultimately proved _____ innocent. Prosecutors filed a motion to vacate the conviction and the sentence.

"He's just not connected to this particular incident," State Attorney Jerry Hill told the judge.

Attorneys from the Innocence Project of Florida got involved in _____'s case earlier this year after he had filed several previous petitions asking for DNA testing, all of which were thrown out.

A judge finally ordered the tests and the results from a respected private lab in Cincinnati came in last week, setting the wheels in motion for Thursday's hearing. The Innocence Project had called for _____'s release by Christmas.

He was convicted largely on the strength of the victim's eyewitness identification, though testing available at the time did not definitively link him to the crime. The boy said his attacker had bushy sideburns and a mustache. The boy's uncle, a former assistant principal at a high school, said it sounded like _____, a former student.

The boy picked _____ out of a photo lineup, although there are lingering questions about whether detectives steered him.

The jury rejected _____'s story that he was home watching TV with his twin sister when the crime was committed, an alibi she repeated at a news conference last week. He was 19 when he was sentenced.

Ed Threadgill, who prosecuted the case originally, said he didn't recall all the specifics, but the conviction seemed right at the time.

"I wish we had had that evidence back when we were prosecuting cases. I'm ecstatic the man has been released," said Threadgill, now a 77-year-old retired appeals court judge. "The whole system is set up to keep that from happening. It failed."
- So when are we going to fix the injustice system, so this doesn't happen again?  I doubt it will, because prison is a business, and makes millions, if not billions of dollars.

Eric Ferrero, spokesman for the Innocence Project, said a DNA profile can be extracted from decades-old evidence if it has been preserved properly. That means sealed in a bag and stored in a climate-controlled place, which is how most evidence is handled as a matter of routine.

The project has a bigger problem with lost or destroyed evidence than getting usable DNA profiles from existing evidence, he said.

Florida last year passed a law that automatically grants former inmates found innocent $50,000 for each year they spent in prison. No legislative approval is needed. That means _____ is entitled to $1.75 million.

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VA - Waynesboro woman charged in false rape report

Original Article

So when are we going to have a registry of false rape accusers?


By Brad Zinn

WAYNESBORO — The Waynesboro Police Department announced this morning that a woman has been charged with making a bogus rape report.

Wendy M. Earney, 36, of Waynesboro is charged with knowingly making a false police report. Police said Earney reported Dec. 8 that she was raped during a break-in at her home located between Lyndhurst Road and the Waynesboro Country Club.

Last week, Waynesboro police Sgt. Kelly Walker said the rape was listed as unfounded after a number of inconsistencies in Earney’s story were uncovered.

Earney was arrested Wednesday on the misdemeanor charge. She is free on a personal recognizance bond.

High School Sex Offenders - Allen Hunt Show


Here we go again. Another case of a 17-year old registered for life as a sex offender because he had consensual sex with his 15-year old girlfriend. I am not an advocate for teens having sex, but this is ridiculous. These people should not be in the same category of violent child rapists. But they are.

FL - Editorial: Sex offender laws flawed

Original Article


While two county judges have stricken the least defensible parts of Lee County’s sex-offender registration ordinance as too broad, the bigger issues with this kind of law remain.

We need a rational discussion of those issues. Our laws get more draconian because it’s politically popular to marginalize and punish sex offenders — often for good reason. Yes, we must be tough, but let’s be reasonable.

If sex offenders are so dangerous that they have to be registered, their addresses made public and their movements heavily restricted for life after their release from prison, why should they even be released to live among the public?

Life imprisonment might do less to undermine a key principle of justice, that once you’ve paid the price for your crime, you should be able to get on with your life, even encouraged and helped to do so if you are willing. With sex offenders, we hold their crime to be so heinous and incurable that we try to keep them in a kind of quasi-imprisonment through registration and restrictions on their movement.

Some communities, however, have so restricted residency that sex offenders become homeless or go underground, according to Sen. Dave Aronberg (Email), D-Greenacres.

Aronberg commended the Lee County ordinance because, while it is overly broad, it seeks to control movement and monitor sex offenders 24 hours a day. Aronberg, who is running for state attorney general, said he is co-sponsoring legislation to employ Lee’s approach — with the right execution — statewide.
- My question is, why do you need to monitor all sex offenders 24/7?  If they are so dangerous, which we know a vast majority are not, why are you letting them out of prison in the first place?

Lee County has taken the approach that should be a model for the rest of the state,” he said. “The state has put its head in the sand on this issue. It’s a ticking time bomb.”

However, the Lee judges rightly ruled that portions of the county ordinance were too broad and vague, banning registered sex offenders from coming within 300 feet of not only such places as schools, day cares, video arcades, bus stops, public pools, playgrounds, certain restaurants, zoos, skate parks and beaches, but “any other similar type places where children congregate.”

Even the specific parts of the law would be hard for a sex offender to obey.

We agree that sex-offender laws need updating. At the very least, let’s be sure a less dangerous offender — say an 18-year-old who had consensual sex with a 16-year-old girlfriend — is not included along with the those who pose a real threat to children.
- Hey Aronberg, I'd love to hear your "proposal!"

OR - Sex Offender Beaten by Police, demands $300,000, gets $500 dollars instead

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IL - Want to get elected? Then take "Exploiting Children 101!"

As usual, politicians or wanna be politicians, exploiting children and people's fears to get elected. Is there some class out there called "Fear Mongering 101" that we need to be aware of? So is this lady aware of the tons of other laws out there, which aren't working either, like Jessica's Law or the Adam Walsh Act? Guess not, she needs to get elected! What about prevention and education? Instead, they wait until a crime occurs, then punish!

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MI - Ex-con faces year in jail for living in location police approved

Original Article


By Daniel Tencer

A man who was convicted of sexual assault for having sex with this 15-year-old girlfriend when he was 17 faces a year in jail for living too close to a school -- even though he says police told him the location was acceptable.

By many people's standards, _____ shouldn't even be on a sex offenders' registry for having sex with his girlfriend, two years his junior, when they were teenagers. But because the age of consent in Michigan is 16 and there is no exemption for teenagers who are close in age, _____ was convicted and placed on the sex offenders' registry for 10 years.

A report at states that _____ was stopped by a police officer while the now-23-year-old man was shooting hoops in his mother's front yard, where he lives. The officer measured the distance from _____'s home to a school across the street, and found it to be 326 feet -- less than the 1,000-foot distance that sex offenders are required to keep from schools in Michigan.

But _____ told that the police force where he lives, Pittsfield Township, had earlier told him that the location of his home was acceptable.

_____ told the trooper Pittsfield Township police told him “it shouldn’t be a problem” to live near the school. He had registered with Pittsfield police 27 days earlier using his family's Dalton Avenue address.

The trooper aimed a laser gun at the school building and determined _____ was living 326 feet away, the report said, breaking the law.

_____, 23, is charged with a school safety zone residency violation, a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. He was arraigned Dec. 4 and is scheduled to return to court Friday.

_____ says he was initially convicted of fourth-degree sexual assault -- the least serious sex crime on Michigan's books -- because his girlfriend's mother got upset at him and called the police.

For some political activists in the state, _____'s case is a perfect example of what has gone wrong with Michigan's attempts to monitor dangerous sex offenders. A group called Coalition for a Useful Registry is pushing the state to overhaul its sex offender registry, noting that Michigan has the highest rate of registry inclusion of any state in the US. The Michigan Messenger reports:

Coalition members are united in the view that Michigan has too many people on the sex offender registry who, they argue, aren’t a threat to anyone and don’t merit the stigma of extended punishment on the registry.

With over 45,100 names and faces on the registry of convicted sex offenders –- and even some whose records are conviction-free –- Michigan holds the eyebrow-raising distinction of having the highest ratio of its citizens on a state sex offender registry.

According to an analysis earlier this year by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, for every 100,000 Michiganders, 472 are on the registry. That’s more than California (319), Florida (281), New York (148) or Illinois (158) – or any state.

We’re trying to put a face on this,” said Lynn D’Orio, a defense attorney and member of the advisory board. “That’s why the coalition exists.”

In a sign of how broad the Michigan sex offender registry is, the Michigan Messenger noted this week that two members of the state legislature have relatives on the list.

Writing at the Daily Dish blog, Conor Friedersdorf suggests that overly broad sex offender registries could actually backfire by diluting their significance.

"You'd think that even folks whose only concern is stopping sexual predators would see that putting men like _____ on [sex offender registries] undermines their usefulness, both by spending finite criminal justice resources on people who don't present a threat to anyone, and by sending a far weaker signal than we'd have if predator lists were restricted to actual child molesters and rapists," he writes.

Members of the Coalition for a Useful Registry now point to some "victories" in their battle to reform state law. Last month, in what the Muskegon Chronicle described as a "precedent-setting decision," an appeals court removed a man from the sex offender registry, calling his inclusion "cruel and unusual punishment."

The man in question, _____, was convicted of having sex with his then-14-year-old girlfriend when he was 18 years old. _____ has since married the girl.

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