Friday, January 29, 2010
DEKALB COUNTY - A DeKalb county police officer has been arrested on charges he raped a prostitute and offered to release another woman if she exposed herself to the officer, police said.
Jeremy Reynolds has been charged with rape, aggravated sodomy and sexual assault against a person in custody. The officer has also been charged with two counts of violation of oath of office.
- If a cop can be charged with violation of their oath of office, why can't we charged the politicians and state legislature for the same, for passing unconstitutional laws, when they took an oath to defend the constitution?
Sources tells Channel 2 Action News reporter Mark Winne that the officer was taken into custody after he reported to work on Friday.
SAUL GONZALEZ, correspondent: With a buffet table topped with potluck dishes and guests catching up and sharing stories, this holiday gathering at Fresno, California’s Mennonite Community Church looks like a traditional church social. Traditional, that is, until you learn that many of the guests here tonight, like Robert Wilson, are convicted rapists and child molesters, all out of prison and on parole.
ROBERT WILSON: I had a lewd, lascivious act with a minor under the age of 14. It was my daughter. When we get together like this, yeah, it’s a good thing. Nobody else out there on the streets are gong to accept us and let us come into their private parties and stuff because of who we are.
GONZALEZ: This gathering is the work of a faith-based program called Circles of Support and Accountability or COSA. It wants to create a new model for how society deals with sex offenders by offering the offenders help and friendship.
(speaking to Rev. Clare Ann Ruth-Heffelbower): You are working with men who society thinks of as the worst of the worst of the worst?
REV. CLARE ANN RUTH-HEFFELBOWER: Yes, it’s true, and even the worst of the worst of the worst are human beings, and they can change.
GONZALEZ: Clare Ann Ruth-Heffelbower, an ordained Mennonite pastor, is the founder of Fresno’s COSA program.
HEFFELBOWER: We believe it is possible for people to change. We’ve seen people change, and we believe that and, coming from a faith perspective, that people created in God’s image have that good in them that can be there if they are given an opportunity to let that develop.
(at COSA meeting): “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…”
GONZALEZ: First started by Canadian churches in the mid 1990s, COSA’s work with sex offenders centers on small discussion circles that meet weekly. In the circles, four to six volunteers from the community are matched with one sex offender, called a core member. In this circle the offender is named John.
JOHN: And I screwed up and I made some bad choices because I became careless and I became complacent, and that is something that anybody that’s in my situation cannot do.
GONZALEZ: The circles are intended to get recently paroled sex offenders to take responsibility for the crimes they’ve committed and provide them material and moral support as they attempt to reenter the community.
JOHN: I can talk about anything, anything. I told them things about me that I wouldn’t tell my closest friend. I don’t want to get into debates. That’s not being helpful for the core member.
GONZALEZ: John, who didn’t want his face shown or last name used, molested half a dozen children, including his own daughter. He says after decades of his making excuses, COSA has forced him to confront the ugliness of his crimes.
JOHN: I was the one who caused the harm. It wasn’t their fault. It was easy to pick up on children that were feeling abandoned, neglected, and unhappy.
GONZALEZ: You targeted the vulnerable?
JOHN: Yeah. I targeted the vulnerable. It was easy.
GONZALEZ: Most of the sex offenders in COSA, who all volunteer for the program, say while serving time they received little or no counseling.
BEN: They might call them correctional facilities and rehabs. There’s no correcting, there’s no rehabbing going on.
GONZALEZ: You didn’t get any help?
BEN: There’s no help going on in there.
GONZALEZ: This man, who we’ll call Ben, is a former teacher convicted of multiple child molestation charges. He says too many sex offenders come out of prison with the same urges they had going in.
BEN: They know if they are going to offend again. They know it. They can fool themselves and maybe think they don’t need any kind of support group. But they really need it.
GONZALEZ: There are more than 700,000 registered sex offenders in the United States, with more than 100,000 of them living in California. In California, like other states, paroled offenders are required to wear GPS ankle bracelets. Offenders must also follow strict residency restrictions, preventing them from living within 2,000 feet of schools and parks. Unable to find apartments that don’t violate the residency restrictions, many men have wound up on the streets, creating entire tent cities of sex offenders. Parole agent Andy Mounts and his partner showed us one encampment. They introduced us to Michael, a paroled rapist.
(speaking to Michael and Andy Mounts): In this homeless encampment, what percentage of the people living here are sex offenders?
MOUNTS: Michael what do you think?
MICHAEL: I would say almost all of them.
MOUNTS: One or two are not. If you see 50 tents, Michael, what—47 or 48 sex offenders?
GONZALEZ: Is it good for the public, and please don’t take offense, Michael, that people like him are out here instead of in an apartment or a home or in a more stable living situation?
MOUNTS: I can’t tell you that it is.
GONZALEZ: You can’t tell me that it is.
MOUNTS: That it’s good.
GONZALEZ: It’s this reality that COSA says it’s trying to remedy.
HEFFELBOWER: As long as we keep pushing sex offenders to the edge of the community, we’re putting them at the risk of re-offending. An offender who has positive, pro-social relationships is less likely to re-offend than someone who doesn’t have those relationships in place. That’s seems to me like a, duh, everyone should know that. But that’s what COSA is about, to fill in the social gap.
GONZALEZ: And it appears to work. A recent study of COSA in Canada showed a sharp decline in recidivism rates among sex offenders involved in the program. The COSA volunteers who help the sex offenders are often motivated by a combination of religious faith and a wish to protect their families and communities. Some COSA volunteers have also had a very personal experience with sexual abuse—as victims.
ALICIA HINTON: I really want these men to know that they are accountable to me personally for not creating another victim.
GONZALEZ: Until it became too emotionally taxing for her, Alicia Hinton, a victim of childhood sexual abuse, was a COSA volunteer. Although she stills sits on COSA’s board and believes strongly in its work, Hinton thinks some of COSA’s sex offenders still haven’t confronted their crimes and guilt.
HINTON: It was difficult for them to face me every week, and they didn’t want to talk about it with me.
GONZALEZ: They make excuses?
HINTON: They make excuses. They make lots and lots of excuses. It’s always somebody else’s fault, and it disgusts me. It disgusts me.
GONZALEZ: As paroled sex offenders return to communities and neighborhoods, one question often dominates. Can people who have committed such heinous crime be rehabilitated to a point where they won’t harm others ever again? Unfortunately, it’s a question with no easy answer. For Heffelbower and many others who work with sex offenders, there’s no such thing as a complete “cure.”
HEFFELBOWER: It’s like an alcoholic. An alcoholic can be in recovery, but they can’t forget that they are an alcoholic.
GONZALEZ: Meaning the impulses?
HEFFELBOWER: Meaning the impulses may be there, but you learn how to manage them and keep them from acting on it.
GONZALEZ: COSA’s offenders acknowledge their struggles.
(speaking to Ben): You do have thoughts that still make you uncomfortable?
GONZALEZ: For younger men, for?
BEN: Yeah, yeah, yeah, and i don’t like that. I haven’t approached them. But unfortunately I guess I’m working out kinks, whatever happened in my past.
GONZALEZ: In spite of her own ambivalence working with sex offenders, Hinton believes more programs like COSA must be created.
HINTON: There is no other option. There isn’t…if we are going to decide that somebody else, our government, is taking care of these men, and it’s not, we are fools. We are putting our children at risk.
JOHN: People trust me, that’s good, and they can trust me for honesty.
COSA VOLUNTEER: How has that helped you?
JOHN: I think a lot of it has to do with making feel stronger inside, more confident inside.
GONZALEZ: John says he understands the fear and loathing surrounding men like him, but believes through COSA he’ll continue his struggle toward some measure of redemption.
JOHN: I don’t want to die in prison. That’s no place for an old man. That’s no place for anybody if they have any sense at all…I want to be a good man, and a good man is someone that is accomplishing something worthwhile in life.
GONZALEZ: And who doesn’t hurt others?
JOHN: And who doesn’t hurt others.
GONZALEZ: But whether John and other sex offenders can ever be fully accepted beyond these circles is a different question.
By Anita Burke
A Shady Cove man has been charged with attempted murder after he allegedly beat an acquaintance in the head with a crowbar Monday evening.
On Thursday afternoon, a Jackson County grand jury indicted Julian Martin Tallman, 43, of the 400 block of Sarma Drive in Shady Cove, on charges of attempted murder, second-degree assault, first-degree burglary and menacing.
He remained in the Jackson County Jail, where he was lodged after Monday's attack. Bail is set at $250,000, Jackson County Circuit Court records show.
The assault was reported shortly after 5 p.m. Monday when the 54-year-old Trail man who was beaten ran out of a Trail home calling for help, said Jackson County Sheriff's Department Lt. Rich Fogarty.
Deputies and Shady Cove police responded to a home in the 23600 block of Highway 62 in Trail and found the victim with numerous cuts and bruises on his head and legs, as well as injuries to his hands and arms from trying to protect himself, Fogarty said.
The man told investigators that he was visiting the Trail home after he and a group of friends had been evicted from another residence in Trail. Tallman had been helping the friends remove things from the home.
The victim didn't want anyone else to touch his possessions, and apparently the two men had clashed earlier in the day, Fogarty said.
Investigators said the two possibly had other disagreements in the past, too.
The victim said he was sitting in a recliner when Tallman burst into the home. Tallman, who was carrying a crowbar, declared that he was going to kill the man.
He hit the victim, who was still sitting in the chair, in the head multiple times, Fogarty said.
The victim, who told police he never even got out of the recliner, grabbed the swinging crowbar. Then Tallman punched him in the head, the victim recounted.
The victim told police that he thought he was hit 30 or 40 times before he realized that each move brought a fresh onslaught of blows. He finally "played dead" to stop the attack, police reported from his statements.
Tallman left the house. Then the victim ran out in search of help, prompting the call to authorities.
The victim was taken to Rogue Valley Medical Center, where he was treated and released, hospital officials said. He is now staying with friends, investigators said.
Officers found Tallman at his Sarma Drive home and arrested him Monday night on charges of first- and second-degree assault, menacing and two counts of first-degree burglary.
Tallman has been convicted of assault, burglary and criminal mischief in the past and the court has ordered drug and alcohol treatment. His criminal record in Jackson County dates back to at least 1988.
The victim, a registered sex offender, also has a lengthy list of criminal, civil and small claims cases in court records.
By Heath Urie
Ordinance would lessen penalties for streaking and taking part in Naked Bike Ride
For the first time, it might soon be illegal for women in Boulder to go topless in public.
A public-nudity law being considered by the Boulder City Council on Tuesday night would expand the definition of being naked to include exposing the female nipple, and it would make it a municipal offense to be naked in public places or view.
Since the 1980s, Boulder's only local ordinance banning public nudity has been specific to Coot Lake, an area which was known in the 1970s and 1980s as a place to swim and sunbathe in the nude. That ordinance didn't include toplessness.
After years of debate about how to deal with people who streak as a prank or participate in events like the annual World Naked Bike Ride and the Halloween night Naked Pumpkin Run, Boulder is now seeking to expand the ban on public nudity to the entire city, while also expanding its definition of nudity.
The "Public Nudity Prohibited" ordinance would apply to anyone older than 10 who exposes any portion of his or her private parts, including the areola of a female breast.
Tickets would carry a fine of up to $1,000 or up to 90 days in jail.
The rules would not apply to people who enjoy going au naturale inside their own homes -- so long as it's not obvious to passers-by -- or sunbathers in backyards. Women who are breastfeeding in public would also be exempt, along with people in dressing rooms, shower rooms, bathrooms or other enclosed areas where nudity is permitted.
Officials say the change is needed to give police more options when it comes to ticketing or arresting those who go naked.
"Public displays of nudity at events and in crowds have the tendency to create a crowd mentality that can lead to other law-enforcement problems," a city memo about the ordinance reads. "If left unchecked, these issues will often lead to other disorder-type crimes, as the crowd believes that disorder is the norm, especially in circumstances where alcohol is consumed."
Now, officers have only state laws to fall back on, and a conviction under the more serious indecent exposure law can result in mandatory registration as a sex offender.
"Certainly, there are some circumstances that we don't think rise to that level," said Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner.
Beckner, who helped write the proposed ordinance, said that having a local law for lesser crimes would "help us deal with the issue when we have to deal with it."
He said he doesn't think there are many legitimate reasons to be naked in public places, including during the World Naked Bike Ride, in which some participants protest the nation's dependence on foreign oil.
"I just don't buy the argument that being naked is political speech," Beckner said.
Judd Golden, chairman of the Boulder County chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (Email), disagreed and said that the law would go too far.
"They are deciding that anyone who is in a state of undress must be committing a crime," Golden said.
He said people who are naked for some sort of sexual purpose, such as exposing themselves to children, are committing a crime that's already covered under state laws. Other people, like streakers who run across sports fields, people who ride bicycles naked or run nude on Halloween, should be arrested or ticketed based on their behavior -- not because of a lack of clothing, Golden said.
"Let's look at the actual conduct and decide if there is a public interest in criminalizing that or not," Golden said. "This non-sexual prankster stuff shouldn't be against the law."
City Councilman Ken Wilson said the ACLU shouldn't have a problem with the ordinance, since the city is seeking to reduce the possible penalties for streakers and naked protesters.
"I don't see why they would focus on this," Wilson said. "It really just makes public nudity a lesser offense."
He said he expects the ordinance to easily gain approval by the council, which likely won't discuss the item during Tuesday's first reading. The ordinance would have to pass a second reading later on, which would include a public hearing.
"I think it's a good tool that the police can use," Wilson said. "It's a lot less severe ticket and offense than a state indecent exposure" arrest.
Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett also supports the measure.
Garnett has already proposed legislation that would make streaking, public urination and other "Pumpkin Run-type behavior" in Colorado a petty offense rather than a class 1 misdemeanor that forces people to register as sex offenders.
If the Legislature passes Garnett's proposal to remove the acts from the state's indecent exposure law and enforce them under its public indecency law, most naked runners and bike riders would face a fine instead.
Garnett said a local ordinance would help give police officers something more appropriate to ticket under.
He quipped that he is "not aware of a pervasive problem of toplessness in Boulder."
By Dan Noyes
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The number of convicted sex offenders living on the streets is soaring across the state, according to new figures released to the ABC7 I-Team. It is an unintended consequence of Jessica's Law (Prop 83), passed overwhelmingly by voters a few years ago.
The California Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling next week whether Jessica's Law is so broad and intrusive, that it violates the constitutional rights of convicted sex offenders. But, even more important, the measure meant to protect children could actually be putting us all at risk.
In the city and county of San Francisco, the state's website lists 167 convicted sex offenders as transient or homeless.
"We are actually walking time bombs out here because we are suffering from sleep deprivation," said a paroled sex offender who wished to remain anonymous.
Some of them choose to be homeless, but the 45 sex offenders released from prison to San Francisco after Jessica's Law took effect, are forced to serve their three-year parole living on the streets.
"You're telling them to go out there and live out there and you don't know what he could be conspiring to do," he said. "He sees your movements all day long, he's watching."
Under Jessica's Law, a paroled sex offender can't take up residence within 2,000 feet of a school or park. Checking the map at the parole office in San Francisco, that leaves very few places for sex offenders to live.
The I-Team spoke with San Francisco parole supervisor Armel Farnsworth.
Noyes: The high rent district, the parking lot of the ball park?
Noyes: The toxic waste dump at Hunter's Point?
Noyes: Or out on the golf course?
Farnsworth: The golf course at the Olympic Country Club, yes.
"People should know that what they voted for and what they're getting are total opposites," said a paroled sex offender who showed us his parole paperwork that says "he must maintain a transient status" and "cannot stay at any shelter bed or residential housing" because of Jessica's Law.
He says the measure is not doing what voters expected -- it is not keeping sex offenders away from parks or schools.
Asked if there any restrictions against him as a transient going to a park or going to within 2000 feet of a school, he said, "No, there isn't. You can in fact go from park to park all day long, spending two hours in each of them."
The state's Sex Offender Management Board says the housing restrictions under Jessica's Law are not supported by research. The board gave the I-Team an advanced copy of its new report to the Legislature that says, "There is almost no correlation between sex offenders living near restricted areas" such as schools and parks "and where they commit their offenses."
The report also concludes it is not strangers who pose the biggest threat -- "far more Californians will be sexually victimized in their own homes by acquaintances or family members."
"The state is better served when you figure out where sex offenders should live, not where they shouldn't," said Suzanne Brown-McBride, executive director of the Sex Offender Management Board.
Brown-McBride tells the I-Team no one expected the number of homeless sex offenders to increase so dramatically under Jessica's Law. "The rates honestly have skyrocketed. We went from several hundred offenders being transient in the state of California to now well over 5,000."
That poses a serious challenge for the parole agents who have to keep track of sex offenders.
"We would prefer they weren't transient, so it's easier to supervise an individual that has stable housing," said West Bay District parole administrator Matthew Goughnour.
San Francisco's parole agents have had to give up on home visits for paroled sex offenders and rely on GPS tracking. But it is expensive. The State Department of Corrections spent $65 million on GPS last year, but stopped paying for short-term housing for sex offenders, stopped paying for community-based treatment, and stopped much of the re-entry counseling for sex offenders.
- And this money could've been better spent on housing offenders or getting them treatment, if needed.
"A sex offender who is successful is one who doesn't reoffend, and if we're doing things to undermine their possibility of being in the community without reoffense, then we're making a mistake," said Brown-McBride.
The author of Jessica's Law, State Sen. George Runner (Contact), says he is open to communities loosening the restriction against sex offenders living within 2,000 feet of a park or school.
- Oh, now he's showing the hypocrite he is. Before he was pushing for stricter laws and GPS, but all of a sudden, he's okay with relaxing laws?
"If the city of San Francisco felt like 500 feet was a better number, we certainly don't have any issue with that," said Runner. "Our issue has been pretty simple, we just don't think that a person who has molested a child should live across the street from a school."
The California Supreme Court could do away with the residency restriction altogether. The key issues: the law also applies to parolees who have not committed crimes against children, and it sometimes applies to those who committed sex crimes long ago.
We spoke to a man who served time for rape in the 1980s; he was paroled last year after a stolen property conviction, yet Jessica's Law kicked in.
"Upon my release from the state prison, I was informed that I could not maintain any family relationships with my wife, my brother, my niece and nephews and I could not reside in any dwelling," he said.
"It makes them feel they have no future," said registered sex offender Jake Goldenflame who is now an author and advocate pushing for additional counseling for parolees. He also runs a website offering advice for convicted sex offenders about following the law.
- I am getting sick and tired of Jake Goldenflame, he speaks for himself and himself alone!
Noyes: In your opinion, is the public safer because of Jessica's Law?
Goldenflame: No, no, the public and its children are in greater danger. And I think that it's virtually a miracle something hasn't happened yet.
Noyes: Do these restrictions make a parolee for a sex offense more likely to reoffend, do you think?
Goldenflame: Absolutely, because the offenders are constantly under stress, they're not in treatment, and they're constantly roaming through the city.
In addition to the housing restrictions and GPS, Jessica's Law also brought tougher sentencing guidelines and longer prison terms for sex offenders. We'll have more on this story when the California Supreme Court issues its ruling next week.
By Maura Dolan
Treating sex predators differently from other violent offenders may violate equal protection guarantees, the California Supreme Court says.
The California Supreme Court ruled 5 to 2 Thursday that a 2006 ballot initiative that permitted the state to lock up sexually violent predators indefinitely may violate constitutional guarantees of equal protection.
The ruling, written by Justice Carlos R. Moreno, did not strike down the measure, Proposition 83, also known as "Jessica's Law."
Instead, the court said a fact-finding hearing must be held to determine whether valid reasons exist for treating sex predators differently from others subject to civil confinement, such as mentally disordered offenders.
Proposition 83 increased penalties for repeat sex offenders, prohibited them from living near schools and parks, and changed the law to permit their indefinite confinement to mental institutions, instead of two years with the possibility of extensions.
_____, a convicted child molester, challenged his confinement on several constitutional grounds, but the court found that only his equal protection argument had merit.
The majority said the state must provide "some justification" for creating greater obstacles for sex predators to win their freedom than for severely mentally disordered offenders who commit crimes but serve their terms in mental institutions.
Sexual predators must be shown to "bear a substantially greater risk to society, and that therefore imposing on them a greater burden before they can be released from commitment is needed to protect society," Moreno wrote.
The majority said the state can provide its justifications in a hearing before a trial judge.
Justice Ming W. Chin, joined by Justice Marvin R. Baxter, dissented.
"Whether sexually violent predators present a distinct danger warranting unique remedies is for society to determine, not a trial judge," Chin wrote.