Friday, July 2, 2010
By TED SULLIVAN
JANESVILLE — A former Rock County deputy accused of sexually assaulting a teen at a Halloween party will spend 30 days in jail after changing his plea in the case.
Steven L. Stenulson, 39, of 1934 Liberty Lane, Janesville, pleaded no contest Monday to misdemeanor fourth-degree sexual assault and misdemeanor obstructing an officer.
- Misdemeanor? Come on! The average Joe would be charged with felonies and in prison for many years for the exact same thing. It really pays to be a cop!
Judge James Daley sentenced Stenulson to 30 days in the Rock County Jail with work-release privileges and three years probation. He ordered Stenulson to complete sex offender treatment and alcohol or drug treatment if necessary. Stenulson also can’t contact the victim.
Stenulson changed his plea as part of a plea agreement. He had been charged with felony third-degree sexual assault.
Stenulson was arrested Monday, Nov. 2, after the teen told police she awoke from a nap at a Halloween party in Milton and found the off-duty deputy assaulting her, according to the criminal complaint. The two know each other.
The woman testified at the preliminary hearing that Stenulson flirted with her several times at the party, which included underage drinking.
She said Stenulson slapped her on the bottom.
She said she was drinking beer and vomited in the bathroom before going upstairs to sleep.
- So, how old is this teen? Did he supply the alcohol? If so, that is a crime as well.
The woman said she awoke to find Stenulson lying on a mattress with her, touching her “inappropriately.”
Stenulson resigned from the sheriff’s office in the midst of the allegations.
The Dane County District Attorney’s Office prosecuted the case because Stenulson is a former Rock County employee.
Video Link (Listen)
Friday, July 2, 2010 - Dozens of sex offenders were arrested after a two-week roundup conducted by a joint county-federal task force, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart announced Friday. The initiative began the day after National Children's Day on June 13th.
For two weeks the Cook County Sheriff's Office partnered with the U.S. Marshals Great Lakes Fugitive Task Force and the Cook County Probation Department on "Operation Children's Day" to target compliant and non-compliant sex offenders, including fugitives.
The first phase of the roundup took place during the week of June 13th and targeted the 79 registered sex offenders in unincorporated Cook County - ensuring they were adhering to all terms of probation, including computer access and proximity to children. This compliance initiative was in addition to the yearly check of sex offenders required under state law.
The second phase of the operation took place during the week of June 20 and involved tracking down 80 non-compliant sex offenders living in suburban Cook County, including some who had warrants out for their arrest.
Of those 80:
- Police located and arrested ten on 17 different warrants
- 20 were recently deported by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
- 9 were arrested for non-compliance with the sex offender registry and/or failing to register as a sex offender at their residence
- 4 who had not received previous notification instructions were notified they had 3 days to register as a sex offender.
- Among those arrested was one of Cook County's Most Wanted: [name withheld], who was tracked down in Louisiana and arrested with the help of officials in that state. [name withheld] had violated terms of her probation after her conviction for molesting a mentally handicapped relative left with an STD after the assault.
- Also during the operation, officers arrested drug fugitive [name withheld] in Tinley Park after a five-hour standoff last Monday. [name withheld] wasn't a sex offender, but a tip led to his presence in an area CCSO police and U.S. Marshals were canvassing. [name withheld] is now in custody on drug and gun charges.
With summer vacation here, the sheriff's office recognizes the importance of cracking down on sex offenders to help ensure the public safety.
"We're going to continue to be vigilant about keeping an eye on those who pose a danger to our children," Dart said. "But I would encourage parents to also do their due diligence and check the state registry to identify sex offenders who might be living in their neighborhoods."
- Once again, this was an operation to pick up people violating the law, and not all sex offenders have harmed children, like the above alludes to. Just the usual disinformation. You will also notice at the beginning, they cut out the sound after "He may be some type of.....," I wonder what they said? I can only guess.
Original Article (Listen)
By Meghan Casserly
The Forbes.com community argues all sides of this controversial list.
Last week Forbes Opinions columnist Lenore Skenazy pushed buttons with her incendiary column "Shred Your Sex Offender Map." It is well worth reading, not that everyone agrees with her premise: The registry is useless and hurts more than it helps.
No need to go into what it means to be a sex offender: a person who commits a sex crime. If only, laments Skenazy. What it really means shifts from one legal jurisdiction to another (sex with a prostitute will get you on the list in five states while it's urinating in public in 13 states). And is there a difference between a Mary Kay Letourneau, convicted of raping her 12-year-old student, and someone who was caught in a victimless FBI sting on Craigslist? Besides two years in prison for the former and six years for the latter, nothing as far as the registry and its fear factor are concerned.
She also points to all the wasted police time and attention in tracking the list. And what about the thought of your own child winding up a registered sex offender for dating the wrong high school freshman, for chrissake?
To date the column has 87 comments and an active discussion on ForbesWoman's Facebook page. Here, a highlight reel of some the most concise and spirited statements from the community.
LastTrain, a commenter on Forbes.com wrote: "The registry is filled with low- and no-risk offenders--people falsely accused, people lied to by someone underage, people who have been framed, even older teens who have offered a younger teen a ride in their car. There are also many legitimate sex offenders who are dangerous, repeat offenders."
But how is a concerned community member to know the difference when they're scanning the registry? LastTrain continued: "You will see an offender and a crime listed for them. You think you can tell the difference between someone who is a violent offender and someone who was a 19-year-old who had consensual sex with his girlfriend who happened to be three years younger? If so, you must possess some special powers. Both offenses can be listed as 'Aggravated Sexual Assault with Force.'"
The story of just such a charge came from rsolfighters, who shared how her husband of 14 years was charged for a sex offense at age 18 when he slept with a coed one year his junior at a college party.
A guilty plea and community service led to being grandfathered into Adam's Law, a 2006 child safety act named for Adam Walsh, and Megan's Law, which requires airing sex offenders' laundry lists of dirty deeds to the public for life. "Because of the restriction laws, we can't choose to live or accept jobs where we want to," she said. "The police have to check up on him every month to make sure he is living where he is [registered]. It's a waste of their time."
Nearly a third of the comments on Forbes.com told of their own stories of those of friends or family members who were placed on the registry for various reasons. In most instances teens were placed on the registry for dating girls just months younger, and their lives "are ruined."
By and large, though, commenters (often parents of young children) were unforgiving of sex offenders and appalled that Skenazy would think otherwise.
"Thank goodness for the Sex Offenders Registry," said ErnieB. "Not only is it helpful it is a right of every citizen to know if a sexual deviate is living in close proximity to their family. If you believe you have been wrongly singled out, then you should fight to get the registry changed. But don't take away my right to know about perverts because part of the registry may need to be modified."
Diana Dietzschold Bourgeois on Facebook wrote: "I think everyone should know if there are sex offenders living in their neighborhood so we can protect our children. Seems like the people that did not break the law should have the rights…not the criminals."
"Oh yes," said Audrey Magee on Facebook. "I want to know! I have two children and I check the registry list for my neighborhood once a month and will do it until the day I die!"
Gail Marie Beliveau had little sympathy: "My understanding is that a sex offender cannot be 'cured.' If they are let out, the fact that they 'served their time' means nothing."
Going one step further, Nokuthula Banda said, "I think sex offenders should be locked away for good. Anyone who forces themselves on little kids, or anyone for that matter, does not deserve to be free."
Motherof5 used to feel the same way--until she did more research. "There are five sex offenders living in my ZIP code. We looked into all of them. None of them are what I would see as a risk. Yet all of them are having all of their rights taken away: they can't get a job, they can't visit their kids in school. As a mother, I want to protect my children. But to punish these people like this, when they don't pose a risk, is so wrong that I feel a great deal of empathy for these 'sex offenders.' You know the system is wrong when you now feel empathy for 'sex offenders.'"
Fascismbegone agrees: "Sex offender laws obviously need reform so that we focus on the truly dangerous only. The original intent of Megan's Law was to do just this, but greedy politicians expanded laws beyond belief for their own benefit…We need reform."
But how? Pitbull 2010 said, "I think the Dugard case [referring to Jaycee Dugard, who was found after going missing 18 years] illustrates in a graphic way that the registry experiment is a dismal failure. We need to reform the laws and take them back to their original purpose, which was to be a tool for law enforcement only, and only repeat or violent offenders should be required to sign it. "
"What we should focus on is creating filters," agreed Allison 2010, "ways to separate the dangerous, risky criminals from the pack."
By Eric Russell
BANGOR — State legislators passed a law last year that allows municipalities to adopt reasonable residency restrictions for registered sex offenders. Bangor resident Angela Hoy was amazed to learn recently — after a sex offender moved into her neighborhood — that her city didn’t already have restrictions in place.
Hoy recently asked a lawyer to draft a proposed ordinance that would restrict sex offenders in Bangor from living within 750 feet of a park, school or any other place where children are the primary users. Her proposal mirrors the exact limit that was spelled out by LD 385 last year.
Members of the Bangor City Council’s government operations committee are expected to discuss Hoy’s proposal at a meeting on July 13, but officials said the matter is much more complicated than simply imposing restrictions.
“It would be problematic in a number of ways,” said Dennis Marble, executive director of the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter. His facility on Main Street houses sex offenders from time to time and sits directly across the street from Davenport Park. “We’ve always tried to be thoughtful of who we accept, but my concern is that local unilateral actions have unintended consequences.”
Denise Lord, associate commissioner of the Maine Department of Corrections, said there are no data that suggest enforcing residency restrictions on sex offenders is successful.
“The research is clear that restrictions don’t improve public safety,” she said. “In fact, areas that have imposed restrictions have had negative impacts … like pushing offenders underground.” Hoy lives near a park off Newbury Street in Bangor and discovered recently that a sex offender lived in an apartment overlooking the park. As the mother of a 3-year-old, an 8-year-old and a teenager, she was alarmed.
“We thought it was illegal for sex offenders to live near parks, schools, and other places where children congregate,” she said. “I'm sure other parents in Bangor naively believe that as well.” Hoy’s proposal would permit offenders to live in their current residences if they happen to fall within the 750-foot barrier. There are currently 209 registered sex offenders living in Bangor, according to the state’s online sex offender registry.
There is no statewide law regarding where sex offenders can live, although some offenders can have restrictions as part of their conditions of release. Until LD 385 passed, municipalities were free to impose virtually any restrictions they wanted. Some did, although several others were rejected by courts for being too restrictive, including a 2,500-foot ordinance in Westbrook that was struck down.
The 750-foot limit that was agreed upon was a compromise from the state’s initial proposal that sought to prevent municipalities from adopting any restrictions.
“We were concerned about the growing number of inconsistent ordinances,” Lord said. “Each town was getting a little more restrictive than the next, so we thought a standardized statewide [criterion] was a good compromise.”
Kate Dufour with the Maine Municipal Association, which worked to ensure the compromise, agreed. “The initial proposal was a complete preemption of local authority,” she said. “It was [the state] saying we know best. This is an important issue for municipalities, and we did give up some home rule authority.”
Dufour emphasized that she understands that sex offenders have rights and shouldn’t be driven underground where they cannot access resources they need. Hoy said she was concerned about the high number of sex offenders living in Bangor, but officials said service centers always have more offenders because of the rental housing stock, jobs, transportation and other services such as counseling.
Shawn Yardley, Bangor’s director of health and community services, predicted that the residency restriction debate will be interesting among city councilors, but he didn’t offer a strong recommendation.
“The devil would be in the details,” said Yardley, who worked for the state Department of Health and Human Services for 17 years. “Certainly, I would want to look at categories of sex offenders, rather than to put them all on the same level. It should be a thoughtful process of balancing rights and making them workable, but it’s a tough one.”
Yardley said one could draw concentric 750-foot circles around Bangor’s parks, schools and other areas where children congregate and it probably wouldn’t leave many housing options.
City Council Chairman Richard Stone said he hasn’t thought that much about restrictions on sex offenders but would go into the discussion with an open mind. Hoy has a more personal investment in the issue. She has two immediate family members who were molested as children and said that is why she feels so strongly about protecting children.
“We are determined to fight this and to force the Bangor City Council to pass an ordinance restricting residency of sex offenders in Bangor,” she said. Lord said she understands the concerns of parents like Hoy but also said those concerns don’t always match up with reality.
“Despite what people think, recidivism rates [for sex offenders] are low and when they do reoffend, the victim is known to the perpetrator,” she said. “So if the public wants to take precautions, family members can and should do that. But it’s much easier to manage when you know where offenders are, rather than forcing them underground, which is what happens when restrictions are imposed.”
Marble agreed and pointed to the very public case in Florida recently where dozens of sex offenders were forced to live under a bridge because they had nowhere else to go.
“The cycle we’re in right now is one of fear and anger, and we’re looking for people to blame,” he said. “They are an easy target.”