Tuesday, May 11, 2010

GA - Teacher acquitted in molestation trial

Original Article
Tons of good comments here
Day Care Sex Abuse Hysteria

05/11/2010

A former Georgia kindergarten teacher was acquitted Tuesday on charges she molested three young girls.

The Catoosa County Superior Court jury found _____, 37, not guilty on each of 22 charges of child molestation, aggravated sexual battery and aggravated child molestation. _____ wept after the verdict as supporters cheered loudly outside the courtroom.

"The amazing ordeal with the corruption that caught up these little girls and this wonderful woman has begun to end with a verdict from 12 people honest and true," said _____'s attorney, Demosthenes Lorandos, in a phone call with The Associated Press.

He said he and _____'s other attorneys have contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. attorney's office about what he called the "fraudulent" behavior of Judge Brian House and the Catoosa County district attorney's office during the case.

Questions have been raised about the fairness of a trial in front of House, who helped represent _____'s ex-husband in the couple's divorce in the 1990s. Defense attorneys filed a motion seeking the judge's recusal, but he refused to step down.

Prosecutor Chris Arnt also raised eyebrows when he posted on his Facebook page in January that _____'s defense lawyers "are really insane or just trying to jack up her defense bill," according to news reports.

Arnt and other officials from the district attorney's office did not immediately return a call for comment after Tuesday's verdict. House declined comment because he said he had "no idea" what Lorandos was talking about.

House also declined to comment on why he had refused to step down from the trial.

Since her arrest in May 2008, _____ has been fired from her job at Chickamauga Elementary School, lost custody of her daughter, lost her Georgia home and moved with her husband to Soddy-Daisy, Tenn., about 30 miles north of where she was on trial in Ringgold.

The trial divided the rural north Georgia community and drew national media attention, with people from across the country following the proceedings online via Twitter and Facebook. Both Chickamauga, where _____ lived when she was arrested, and neighboring Ringgold have populations of about 3,000.

_____'s supporters called the trial a witch hunt, while the friends and families of the accusers said they believed their children were molested by the teacher. _____'s attorneys argued the children falsely believe they were molested because of constant suggestions by their parents and social workers.


CA - Haidl, accomplices take case to state Supreme Court

Original Article

05/10/2010

By Joseph Serna

Defense has argued in the past that the three were not given a fair trial because of shield law.

After losing in the local Court of Appeal, _____ and his two accomplices, who were convicted of sexually assaulting a teenage girl in _____’s Newport Beach home, are taking their case to the state Supreme Court.

_____’s attorney, Dennis Fischer, petitioned the court last week to hear arguments on why his client should have his conviction overturned and not have to register as a sex offender for life.

Fischer said that the chances of the Supreme Court agreeing to hear the petition are “next to none.”

_____’s convicted accomplices, _____, 25, and _____, 25, filed petitions with the court, too, Fischer said.

All three men were convicted in 2005 of sexually assaulting a teenage girl in the basement of the house belonging to _____’s dad. _____, 24, is the son of former Orange County Assistant Sheriff Don _____. While the girl apparently was passed out drunk, the men made a videotape of penetrating her vagina with several objects including a pool cue, Snapple bottle and a lighted cigarette.

For the Supreme Court, Fischer will narrow the arguments he presented to the Court of Appeal. He argued that the judge did not give his client a fair trial in electing to withhold evidence that the victim in the case had participated in similar sexual activity not long before the assault. The woman’s sexual history was protected under California’s Rape Shield law.

He also argues that _____ should not have to register as a sex offender. The men were juveniles during the crime but were tried as adults.

The jury dismissed the assault with a deadly weapon charge the men faced. Without that charge, they would have been tried as juveniles and wouldn’t be required to register, he said.

Prosecutors say the men’s attempts to clear their records is exactly why they should be registered as sex offenders.

Men who are convicted of preying on women who are too intoxicated to say ‘no’ are sexual predators. The public has the right to know who they are, where the live, and what they did,” said Orange County district attorney’s office Chief of Staff Susan Schroeder. “Again, they want to be treated different than other similarly situated defendants. This is one of the reasons why they are dangerous.”

_____, _____ and _____ lost their case in the Court of Appeal in March. This is their last chance to appeal their case on the state level.

The state Supreme Court has 60 days to decide if it wants to hear the case.


How Your Son Could End Up on the Sex Offender List

Original Article

05/11/2010

By Lenore Skenazy

Let's say your son turns 18. He gets a job at the local carnival, running the ride where the kids lie face down and spin around till they shriek with delight (or puke). Before each ride he has to buckle the kids in so they don't fly out. But then -- tragedy strikes.

Oh, don't worry. Nobody goes flying. They're buckled just fine. But one girl does tell her mother, "He touched my bottom!"

The mom alerts the police.

The police come over and ask, "Is that true?" Your son replies, "Maybe. I have to lock the bar around their waists and between their legs. They squirm. It could have happened."

The next day the police take him in for questioning. They ask him the same thing, this time with the videotape running. He gives them the same answer.

It is considered his confession. He is convicted of "Indecent Assault and Battery on a Child." He goes to jail for nine months. He is put on the Sex Offender Registry -- for life.

Meantime, a few years later, your younger son is now 18. He's at the urinal in the school bathroom during a weekend service project. A girl too young to read bursts in and he yells, "Out out out! Get out!" She starts crying and leaves. Her mom is concerned. The police are called. Was he in the men's room with a girl?

Well, yes. Since everyone agrees the girl was not touched, he is convicted of "Visual Sexual Aggression Against a Child" -- the crime of having a child see his genitals. He does six months in jail. He's placed on the Sex Offender Registry for the next 10 years.

Let us remember this when we look up our local sex offender maps and see two convicts: One who ostensibly exposes himself to children and one who ostensibly assaults them.

We consult those maps because, as parents, we are hardwired to worry about our children. We worry about them getting hurt by strangers. But few of us worry about them getting hurt by strange laws that can put a young man behind bars for touching a child, even accidentally, on the bottom, in public, with everyone's clothes on. Or for having a child, even accidentally, glimpse his private parts.

I spoke to the actual mom of these two young men. She's a fishing net-maker in Maine and she put it pretty succinctly: "We're all just one accusation away from the sex offender registry."


NJ - Detective (James N. Haspel) snared in Web sting, accused of exposing himself to girl via webcam

Original Article

05/11/2010

A Madison police officer has been charged with exposing himself via webcam to an undercover detective he believed was a 13-year-old girl and using a computer at police headquarters to communicate with the person he thought was the girl.

Detective James N. Haspel, 49, of Chatham, was arrested by state police on his way to work Tuesday and charged with second-degree official misconduct, attempting to endanger the welfare of a child, and attempting to transmit obscene materials to a person under 16 years old.

Haspel has been employed by the Madison Borough Police Department for 25 years.

The complaint in the case alleges that between December 2009 and May 2010, Haspel, on more than one occasion, transmitted webcam videos of himself with his genitals exposed to a person he believed to be a 13-year-old girl. In fact, the person was an undercover detective.

Haspel is charged with official misconduct because he allegedly sent such videos from a hotel in Columbus, Ohio, where he was attending a training conference for the police department, and because he allegedly communicated with the "girl" while on duty at police headquarters using a computer supplied by the borough for official police business.

"This police officer took an oath to uphold the law and protect people," Attorney General Paula Dow said. "We charge that he betrayed that oath in a shocking manner by exposing himself to someone he believed to be a young girl."

The second-degree official misconduct charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison, including a mandatory minimum period of five years of parole ineligibility. If convicted of the attempted child endangerment charge, the defendant would be subject to registration as a sex offender under Megan's Law.

Haspel was lodged in the Hunterdon County Jail. Superior Court Judge Pedro J. Jimenez Jr. in Mercer County signed the warrant and set bail at $75,000.


OH - Sex Offenders Using Hotels As Home Address

Original Article

See the video at the link above.

05/11/2010

Before you head out on your next business trip or vacation with your family, pay careful attention to where you're spending the night. There's a disturbing trend across the country... convicted sex offenders living in hotels and motels.
- Has the media ever considered why offenders are going to hotels/motels? The very laws being passed is what is causing this. The laws force them from their original home and to live in clusters in the state, since those areas are legal. Reform the laws and the problem goes a way.

As Local 12's Rich Jaffe found out, there's no requirement hotels tell you if you're sleeping next door to a sex offender.

After a long day on the road, a good night's sleep at a well known hotel could be pretty alluring, but what we found could make renting that room alarming. Registered sex offenders, rapists, pornographers or child molesters could be staying in the room right next door to you and your family.
- Nothing like the usual media fear-mongering. If you ever want to sell a story and get ratings, attach "sex offender" to the title.

Karen DiSanto, Concerned Traveler: "I would want to know if I was staying somewhere and there was a rapist and I didn't have no control about it."
- So what about a murderer, gang member, drug dealer, DUI offender or any other criminal who may be next door?

Joey DiSanto, Concerned Traveler: "It really makes me uncomfortable, say I was to leave the room, just leave Karen there alone to get ice or drinks or something, I would feel uncomfortable about that."
- Then don't do that!

Across the country, and right here in the Tri-State, sex offenders are legally using hotels and motels as residences when they register with law enforcement. They are people like _____, a top level sex offender, a convicted burglar and rapist. Until recently, when he was arrested on new charges, the Ohio Attorney General's sex offender website showed this Extended Stay America in Sharonville was home base for _____.

Wes Bledsoe, A Perfect Cause: "I think the threat is, obviously, towards children and women traveling by themselves as the most likely and primary victims."

Wes Bledsoe's organization, A Perfect Cause, tracks sex offenders in nursing homes. He's located nearly one thousand registered sex offenders around the country who are listing hotels as their place of residence, and that's just a small portion of the startling reality. When a registered sex offender moves into a regular neighborhood, generally, the adjoining property owners are notified that he's living there. But when a sex offender moves into a hotel, like this one, there's no real notification requirement. While law enforcement may notify hotel management, you can bet no one's going to tell the other residents in that hotel.

"The guest should be able to make an informed decision if they want to stay in a place where there's a registered sex offender residing. It's imperative to notify innkeepers, so they're aware this individual is a registered sex offender."

According to the Kentucky sex offender registry, this Stay Lodge along I-75 in Florence is home to 11 convicted sex offenders. While she didn't want to appear on camera, the manager says that number's wrong... it's really more like half a dozen, but they don't cause her any problems and she says they're entitled to a certain amount of privacy like anyone else... other people, however, disagree.

Richard K. Jones, Butler County Sheriff: "The law should be changed and anybody who checks into that hotel should be told...on their sign... kiosk....whatever... it should say sexual predators live here."

Searching local registry websites, we easily found nearly 60 sex offenders living in hotels around the Cincinnati area. Recently, U.S. Marshals, probation and parole officers along with sheriff's deputies and police scoured Butler County, checking up on nearly five hundred registered sex offenders, including at least 9 that we discovered living in hotels.

"It's a system that needs to be tweaked and this with the hotels is devastating and dangerous."

So, this story begs the question... what can you do to make sure your next hotel stay is safe? You can run a hotel's zip code or address through the state's sex offender registry or sheriff's website. But not all states have accurate or user friendly websites. So, you should ask the hotel if there are any sex offenders staying there.
- You can lock your doors when you leave and enter, and don't leave your kids alone. You know, common sense!


AL - ReFORM Alabama's Sex Offender Laws!

Click the image to visit the site


NY - Tracking & treating sex offenders

Original Article

05/10/2010

By Sarah Wallace

WESTCHESTER COUNTY - Eyewitness News shares an extraordinary look at sex offenders and their lies, truth and treatment.

Eyewitness News spent several weeks with Westchester County's probation department sex offender unit.

Our investigative unit watched how they track and treat sex offenders to keep them from claiming more victims.

The fact is, Westchester could be anywhere, USA, but bottom line, they are not the devil you thought you knew.

"I still feel like this monster," said one man in group therapy.

They share their secrets with those who share their sickness.

"I abused a 12-year-old girl I met on the internet, I didn't realize at the time I was destroying a life," said another man.

This is group therapy for sex offenders.

"My offense was against a child of 7 to 10-years-old and I groomed her over a period of three years," described a sex offender.

On any given night at the Westchester County Courthouse, doctors, architects, teachers and track workers, young and old, purge their souls.

"You know how society looks at you, you mentioned it, that people think you're the scum of the earth. But how do you see yourselves?" Eyewitness News asked.

"Sometimes, I feel that way, scum of the earth, like, I don't belong here anymore," said a sex offender.

"I'm very ashamed. It's a very shameful thing that we did," said another.

They're part of the probation department's sex offender program, 183 men and 3 women, intensely supervised by officers in the community rather than going to prison.

"There are sick people out there and unfortunately we don't have a system that says lock them up and throw away the key," said Veronica Glueck, a Westchester probation officer.
- Unfortunately?  This is a good thing! But, most probation/parole and police see everyone as scum!

The biggest myth about sex offenders is the stranger danger, that there are perverts lurking in the bushes ready to snatch children at random.

The reality is that, the majority, up to 90% know their victims.

"We have rapists, child molesters," said Wanda Baskerville, the Westchester County Probation Supervisor.

Eyewitness News asked, "Why aren't they in prison?"

"They should be in prison. They are not in prison for a number of reasons, usually because a victim doesn't want to be further traumatized," explained Baskerville.

So, the reality is that sex offenders often get their charges pleaded down in court, and no jail time.
- This is a flat out lie!

Rory Bellantoni is a former Judge in Westchester's sex offender court.

"You know the fear is, if as a judge, you know they come to you and they ask you, is this plea acceptable, and you say no, and you're gaveling the case and you know, Johnny rapist is there but the victim doesn't show up and Johnny rapist walks," said Bellantoni, "You say to yourself, what did I do?"

But, In Westchester, even if defendants do plead guilty to a non-sex offense, based on the original charge, they can still be referred to the probation department's sex offender unit for supervision. That supervision can last up to 10 years.

"The guys we're supervising are your next door neighbors and you have to watch your child at all times," said Jerry Kiely, a Westchester probation officer.

Unannounced Field visits are critical.

"You're going to find them on their best behavior when they're on your turf but you're going to find them in their world when you're doing home visits. You try to figure out their secrets. You want to catch them doing stuff when they don't expect it," said Kiely.

"We're not curing these guys, that's not what's going on. Our premise is that their behavior is a learned behavior that can be controlled, but not cured," explained Lou Conte, the Assistant Probation Commissioner in Westchester County.

The goal is to force sex offenders to stop living their lie, and mandatory polygraphs are the ultimate truth serum.
- Polygraphs are junk science, and are not admissible in court.

"There's a lot of denial at the beginning," admitted one sex offender.

"That changes everything. It causes you to be honest," said another.

What's uncovered in polygraphs cannot be used in court, but it is critical intelligence for treatment, which is also mandatory.

"When people say, therapy doesn't work. There's no helping these guys," said Eyewitness News.

"That's absolutely a fallacy. Absolutely, a fallacy," responded a sex offender.

"The thing is that we do change, with therapy, at least I know I've changed," said another offender.

Westchester's program is working, in the past five years, only two men have been re-arrested for new sex offenses.

Eyewitness News asked, "What do you think would happen if there weren't this program?"

"There would probably be more victims, yes, for sure," answered a sex offender.


MN - Council passes sex offender ordinance

Original Article

05/10/2010

By Brandon Stahl

The ordinance effectively bans offenders from living in the majority of the affordable housing areas in the city, with exceptions to allow offenders already living within those areas and offenders living with family or in a home owned by the Minnesota Department of Corrections.

The Duluth City Council unanimously passed an ordinance Monday night to ban Level 3 sex offenders living within 2,000 feet from any school, playground or day care.
- They say Level 3, but I am willing to bet the actual law applies to all sex offenders, regardless of level.

The ordinance effectively bans offenders from living in the majority of the affordable housing areas in the city, with exceptions to allow offenders already living within those areas and offenders living with family or in a home owned by the Minnesota Department of Corrections.

WHAT THEY SAID: One speaker cited studies suggesting that similar ordinances passed in other states might increase offender recidivism and make communities less safe by making the offenders harder to track.

But Councilor Kerry Gauthier, one of the authors of the ordinance, said one of the studies cited was “inconclusive” and said the ordinance will “protect the citizens of Duluth” because the offenders “don’t rehabilitate, they re-offend.”
- Was it really inconclusive, or just did not portray the offenders as "monsters" like you wanted?

Councilor Sharla Gardner cited information from police Chief Gordon Ramsay that four of the nine Level 3 offenders living in Duluth didn’t come from the community.

The intent of the ordinance is to mitigate the issue of people being placed in our community that are not from our community and help police keep track of them and to keep our community safe,” Gardner said. “And I do believe this will keep our community safe.”

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT: The ordinance takes effect in about a month.


ARC RADIO - Reforming the Prison System


ARC Talk Radio
Wednesday, May 12, 2010 (8 p.m. EST)
Call in: (724) 444-7444
Code: 29521#

Join in here

Please join us this coming Wednesday May 12 as we welcome Ken Holloway to our program. Mr. Holloway works for the State of Oklahoma Department of Corrections as the Deputy Director over Treatment and Rehabilitation Services, and has 23 years experience working with the DOC in a variety of positions.

Recently, Mr. Holloway spoke at a Prison Re-entry Initiative Conference regarding those incarcerated in the Oklahoma Prison System and how the DOC works towards prevention, treatment and rehabilitation to allow those incarcerated to re-enter into society as productive members of their communities. However, with recent budget cuts many states, including Oklahoma, are cutting treatment programs which is alarming as statistics show treatment works towards prevention of recidivating and returning to prison on technical violations.

As we see our local prison’s grow in numbers all across this country, not just Oklahoma, we must find ways to seek prevention and solutions, as we currently are estimated to have 2.3 million prisoners incarcerated here in the United States.

Join us as we discuss not just Oklahoma rehabilitation issues but topics like residency restrictions for registered sex offenders, prison medical care, GPS monitoring and prevention measures politicians should take to lower our prison numbers as well as issues surrounding registered sex offenders and the collateral damage to their families.

ARC Hosts,

Kevin and Mary
www.arctalkradio.com


IA - Propensity and the Sex Offender

Original Article

05/06/2010

By SHG

Over at VC, Eugene Volokh posts about the Iowa Supreme Court's decision in State v. Cox, in which the court held that the use of propensity evidence, permitted by Iowa Code § 701.11, violated due process.

The policy against admissibility of general propensity evidence stems from ‘a fundamental sense that no one should be convicted of a crime based on his or her previous misdeeds.’ ‘A concomitant of the presumption of innocence is that a defendant must be tried for what he did, not for who he is.’ This concept is ‘fundamental to American jurisprudence.’

Of all the various forms of evidence, propensity is among the most insidious. It taints the defendant, labels him an inherently bad person, and compels a jury to believe that he deserves conviction regardless of whether he committed the particular crime for which he's on trial. It's a pure appeal to prejudice.

Eugene notes of the Iowa decision:

In this, the court departed from the view of federal courts and most state courts, and adhered to the minority view, which until then apparently was followed only by the Missouri Supreme Court.

This statement requires some clarification, as it gives a very misleading impression. While true of the use of prior bad acts for sex offenders (see FRE 414 and 415), it is not the general rule. In New York, the rule is Molineux, and Larry Cunningham offers a good explanation (via Judge Barry Kamins) at his modestly named New York Criminal Law and Procedure Blog .