Wednesday, April 7, 2010

NC - New Duke Policy Renders Students Unwitting Rapists; Removes Protections for Those Accused of Sexual Misconduct

Original Article

This has got to be a joke or something. If not, I see the sex offender registry getting a lot larger in the near future.


DURHAM - Duke University has instituted a new "sexual misconduct" policy that can render a student guilty of non-consensual sex simply because he or she is considered "powerful" on campus. The policy claims that "perceived power differentials may create an unintentional atmosphere of coercion." Duke's new policy transforms students of both sexes into unwitting rapists simply because of the "atmosphere" or because one or more students are "intoxicated," no matter the degree. The policy also establishes unfair rules for judging sexual misconduct accusations. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is challenging the policy.

"Duke's new sexual misconduct policy could have been written by Mike Nifong," said FIRE Vice President Robert Shibley. "Members of the men's basketball team could be punished for consensual sexual activity simply because they are 'perceived' as more powerful than other students after winning the national championship. Students who engage in sexual behavior after a few beers could be found guilty of sexual misconduct towards each other. This is not just illogical and impractical, but insane. Given its experience during the lacrosse team rape hoax, Duke, of all schools, should know better than to institute such unjust rules about sexual misconduct."

The new policy was introduced at the beginning of the school year with fanfare from the Duke Women's Center—the same center that apologized for excluding pro-life students from event space in a case FIRE won last month. Women's Center Director Ada Gregory was quoted in Duke's student newspaper The Chronicle justifying the new policy, saying, "The higher [the] IQ, the more manipulative they are, the more cunning they are ... imagine the sex offenders we have here at Duke—cream of the crop." (In a follow-up letter to The Chronicle, Gregory claimed that the quote was inaccurate and did not reflect her views, but stood by her analysis that campuses like Duke are likely to harbor smarter sex offenders who are better able to outwit investigators.)

Duke's vastly overbroad definition of non-consensual sex puts nearly every student at risk of being found guilty of sexual misconduct. Students are said to be able to unintentionally coerce others into sexual activity through "perceived power differentials," which could include otherwise unremarkable and consensual liaisons between a varsity athlete and an average student, a senior and a freshman, or a student government member and a non-member.

Further, students are said to be unable to consent to sexual behavior when "intoxicated," regardless of their level of intoxication. Duke has turned mutually consensual sexual conduct, which might merely be poorly considered, into a punishable act. Adding to the confusion, if both parties are intoxicated at all, both are guilty of sexual misconduct, since neither can officially give consent. North Carolina law does not support this definition of consent.

"Of course, there is no way that everyone who was intoxicated during sexual activity, let alone 'perceived' as more powerful, is going to be charged with sexual misconduct," said Adam Kissel, Director of FIRE's Individual Rights Defense Program. "Add to that the provision about an unintentional atmosphere of coercion, and anyone can see that Duke's policy is impossible to rationalize or to fairly and equitably enforce. As a result, this policy effectively trivializes real sexual misconduct, which is a gravely serious crime."

The new policy even makes reporting of so-called sexual misconduct mandatory for any Duke employee who becomes aware of it, regardless of the wishes of the alleged victim.

Furthermore, Duke has made fair enforcement of the sexual misconduct policy even more difficult by establishing different procedures and even a different "jury" to judge sexual misconduct complaints. For instance, sexual misconduct charges are judged by two faculty or staff members and only one student, but all other offenses are judged by a panel of three students and two faculty or staff members. Duke fails to explain why a jury with a majority of one's peers is necessary for charges like assault or theft but not sexual misconduct.

Other problems in the sexual misconduct policy, detailed in FIRE's letter to Duke President Richard Brodhead of March 4, include giving the complainant more rights than the accused, requiring the results of a hearing to be kept secret in perpetuity even if one is found not guilty or is falsely accused, and allowing anonymous and third-party reporting so that the student may never be able to face his or her accuser.

FIRE wrote, "As a private university, Duke is not obliged to agree with the authors of the Bill of Rights about the value of the right to face one's accuser. Nevertheless, Duke ignores their wisdom at the peril of its own students and reputation." Duke has declined to respond to FIRE's letter in writing.

"More than any other school in the nation," Shibley said, "Duke should be aware that its students deserve the best possible rules and procedures for ensuring that rape and sexual misconduct charges are judged fairly. Sexual misconduct is a serious offense. Duke students deserve a policy under which true offenders will be punished but the innocent have nothing to fear."

FIRE is a nonprofit educational foundation that unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals from across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of individual rights, due process, freedom of expression, academic freedom, and rights of conscience at our nation's colleges and universities. FIRE's efforts to preserve liberty on campuses across America can be viewed at

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

WI - Sex Education Could Mean Charges for Teachers

Original Article


MADISON - A Wisconsin prosecutor is warning sex education teachers they could face charges if they follow a new state law that allows them to instruct students about proper contraceptive use.

A letter sent to five school districts by Juneau County District Attorney Scott Southworth said the instruction could amount to contributing to the delinquency of a minor if teachers know students are sexually active. He said the districts should drop sex education until the law is repealed.

Southworth also argued that teaching contraceptive use encourages sexual behavior among children, which equates to sexual assault because minors can't legally have sex in Wisconsin.
- But they are and do have sex, so is this idiot DA going to arrest all the kids having sex?

"Depending on the specific facts of a case ... this encouragement and advocacy could lead to criminal charges," Southworth, a Republican, wrote to districts in his county.

The law's chief author, state Rep. Tamara Grigsby (Email), D-Milwaukee, dismissed the March 24 letter as a scare tactic.

"It's beyond ridiculous," Grigsby said Tuesday. "It's irresponsible to portray this act in the way he is."

Southworth said in a Tuesday e-mail to The Associated Press that he "merely provided a legal opinion to my school districts about the impact of the new mandate."

"It was the Legislature that acted irresponsibly," he wrote.

Wisconsin school districts aren't required to teach sex education. But the new law, which took effect March 11, lays out requirements for those that do, including teaching the benefits of abstinence, criminal penalties for having underage sex and the benefits and proper use of contraceptives.

Supporters, including groups representing nurses, health departments and the state teacher's union, maintain the law will help reduce teen pregnancies. Conservative opponents counter schools should focus on abstinence.

Southworth's letter said law would convert sex education classes "into a radical program that sexualizes our children as early as kindergarten. This, in turn, will lead to more child sexual assaults."

Southworth complained that language prohibiting biased instruction makes it impossible to teach that sexual promiscuity is wrong. He also said a clause allowing volunteer health care providers to teach sex education could open the door to Planned Parenthood employees marketing sexually oriented products to students.

Planned Parenthood doesn't go into schools unless a school asks, said Chris Taylor, public policy director for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. Taylor said the law is designed to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancies.

"The real issue here is you have a district attorney who says teachers will be prosecuted," she said.

Southworth's letter is "a friendly warning," said Matt Sande, legislative director of Pro-Life Wisconsin, which registered to lobby against the law.

"He's simply doing his duty as district attorney," Sande said.

New Lisbon Superintendent Tom Andres said his district, which was among those that received Southworth's letter, is seeking legal advice about the law. While the school board will make the ultimate decision, Andres said he believes his schools should teach according to the law if parents approve.

"We're in a moral dilemma," Andres said. "We know our kids need correct, right information. We have to know what that is and teach it in such a manner that doesn't promote sexual assault or bullying."

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

10 Rules for Dealing with Police

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

TN - Should teens be on sex registry?

Original Article


Adding young offenders does more harm than good

Our View

Except for taking a life, sexual assault of a child is the most heinous of crimes and rightly provokes the greatest degree of outrage and punishment from society.

But how should offenders be dealt with when they, too, are children?

A bill working its way through the Tennessee General Assembly would put the names and addresses of those ages 14-18 who commit violent sex crimes in a public, online registry. And while the primary goal of this bill — helping parents keep their kids safe from predators — is understandable, there is reason to believe the unintended consequences would outweigh the good it could do.

The juvenile sex registry that would be established under House Bill 2789 would function in a way similar to adult sex-offender registries, except that the offender could ask a judge to remove them from the registry within a year of their 19th birthday and every five years after that. If they committed no other sex crime, their name would come off the registry after 25 years.

Never mind that Tennessee law already allows juvenile judges to hand over violent teen sex offenders to adult courts and the adult sex-offender registry. The proposed juvenile registry would effectively put youthful offenders on a par with adult counterparts. This, despite the fact that the same good reasons for separate justice systems for adults and juveniles who commit other types of crimes apply here, as well.

Adolescents' judgment skills are not fully developed; if they were, there would not be laws prohibiting them from driving, drinking alcohol or buying tobacco. They are still under the supervision of others, whether their parents or other adults. Until they are individuals completely under their own recognizance, the impact of identifying them as a criminal to the public would be excessive.

There is a reason that the records of juveniles who commit other crimes are kept sealed or expunged if they commit no other offenses by the time they reach adulthood — because the potential for turning their lives around is much greater than if they had committed the offenses as adults. And that potential is jeopardized when a juvenile is branded for all to see.

A registry would end a teen's chance to become a productive part of society, because society would feel compelled to shun them even if they are taking the right steps, such as getting treatment for their behavior.

National statistics indicate that only about 6 percent of underage sex offenders who undergo treatment re-offend, compared to 35 to 50 percent of adult sex offenders. Mental health experts say this is because most youths who commit sex crimes do it for a different reason than adults: They were acting out against abuse they had themselves suffered at the hands of adults.
- 35 to 50 percent for adult offenders, really? The many studies I have here, show the adult recidivism rate is from 3.5% to around 12%.

Since juvenile courts in Tennessee already do a good job of getting teen sex offenders into treatment programs, a registry will do nothing to help them recover — not that it is intended to. According to bill co-sponsor Rep. Debra Maggart (Email), "If you have raped a child, you don't deserve another chance.''
- Just wait until her son or daughter is caught in the trap, then see how she feels about it!

History does not back up that attitude. While no civilized person condones rape, a society fails if it turns an offender into a pariah while hoping the problem goes away. This registry would put a target on these teens and their families. We should not fan the flames of retribution.
- The same goes for adult offenders.  Treatment works for them as well, in most cases, and the same punishment applies to them.

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

VT - Woman gets prison sentence for not stopping sex assault

Original Article


BURLINGTON  - Calling it an unspeakable offense, a Vermont judge on Tuesday sentenced a sexual assault victim’s mother to serve 2 to 10 years in prison for failing to protect the girl but said the plea agreement did not reflect the seriousness of the crime.

"What is most striking to me is that every living creature on this planet that cares for its young would give his or her life to protect its young. It’s instinctive, and for some reason that instinct was absent in you. This was simply horrendous," Vermont District Court Judge Michael Kupersmith told the 34-year-old Williston woman, who was convicted of being an accessory to a sexual assault.

The Associated Press does not identify sexual assault victims without their consent and is withholding the woman’s name because naming her would effectively identify her daughter. The girl, who’s now 14, was in court for the sentencing.

The woman pleaded to being an accessory to sexual assault because she allowed _____, now 39, access to her child knowing that he was molesting her, prosecutor Susan Hardin said.

"From 2003 to 2005, the defendant allowed _____ into their home, not only into their home, but into their child’s bed," Hardin said.

The girl’s aunt spoke before the sentencing, telling the woman tearfully that she has caused irreparable damage to the girl, who will likely have to attend therapy for the rest of her life.

The girl "said that one thing she will never ever forget is the look on your face when you walked in and saw her being abused. She said it was a mixed look of both shock and like you were thinking, whatever. And she said she remembers you turning around and walking out of the room, leaving your 8-year-old little girl there to suffer," she said.

_____, of Williston, is still in prison for sexually assaulting the girl between 2001 and 2005. The case drew national attention after _____ was originally sentenced to a minimum of 60 days in jail, which the judge said was necessary so he could get sex offender treatment that he would not be eligible for in prison. But after public outcry and change that allowed him to get treatment in prison, a judge sentenced him to serve 3 to 10 years.

The woman’s lawyer, William Norful, called the case "a compilation of tragedy," saying the woman suffers from post traumatic stress disorder.

Sobbing, she told the court she was sorry for what she had done.

"I wish I could have been the one to protect her the way she should have been protected but my past made it hard for me to do it," she said.

But Kupersmith didn’t believe her explanation.

"I do not buy the argument that because you may have been abused ... that somehow excuses or justifies your offense," he said. "I’ve seen many people who were abused as children who turned out to exemplary parents."

Chittenden County State’s Attorney T.J. Donovan said the charge was unusual.

"I think this sentence is going to send a message in the state of Vermont that those who are entrusted to care for their kids and other young people that when they turn a blind eye or a cold shoulder to the abuse that this young victim went through we’re going to hold them accountable."

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

KS - New Kan. law to require more sex offenders to register with the state for life

Original Article


TOPEKA - Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson (Contact) has signed legislation expanding the list of crimes that land people on the sex offender registry for life.

Parkinson signed the bill Tuesday. The new law takes effect July 1.

Kansas already requires lifetime sex offender registration for people convicted of committing such as rape, sodomy and sexual exploitation of a child.

Under the new law, people convicted of attempting, conspiring or soliciting those and other sex crimes will also have to register for life.

Parkinson said the new law will make communities safer.

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