Saturday, August 7, 2010

OH - In turnabout, Ohio ex-con gets data on neighbors

Original Article

08/07/2010

By JULIE CARR SMYTH

COLUMBUS - Neighbors routinely get a picture and a name when a sex offender moves next door. In a turnabout, an Ohio sex offender has received private information about his neighbors, including their Social Security numbers.

The material was shown to The Associated Press by convicted rapist [name withheld], who was mistakenly given the information by a prosecutor. The data also contain the names, addresses and birth dates of nine of [name withheld]'s one-time neighbors on Columbus' east side.

There was no indication [name withheld] misused anything in the files. [name withheld], 80, says he came forward because he recognizes the irony of it falling into the hands of someone like him.

"Someone with a criminal mind could really use that information the wrong way," he said.

The case also offers a view into a massive and controversial database designed to track criminals with the help of a raft of background information, including data on people whose only connection to a criminal is a similar address.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien took responsibility for the error, which he believes to be isolated.

[name withheld]'s former neighbors, meanwhile, are wondering why the government has data about them at all.
- Where have these people been?  The government has been collecting data on citizens for a very long time, even before September 11th.

"They don't need to be running my personal information," said [name withheld], 47, who still lives on the street where [name withheld] once worked as a live-in church groundskeeper. "I'm not a sex offender. I've done nothing wrong here."

Neighbor information is useful to police when serving warrants, making family connections and finding fugitives, said Shannon Crowther, who heads technology services for the Franklin County Sheriff's Office.

The information was released to [name withheld] last summer, as prosecutors were grappling with more than 7,000 lawsuits that sex offenders had filed against Ohio's first-in-the-nation implementation of the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. The offenders' challenges contend the federal law's stricter classifications and longer reporting periods can't be applied retroactively.

[name withheld] spent 23 years behind bars for raping a woman in 1976. He went back for six months in 2005 for failing to report an address change to the state sex offender registry.

A voluminous litigator who acted as his own attorney, [name withheld] said he has an otherwise clean record. He waited almost a year to reveal what he had for fear it would jeopardize his ability to get off the registry. His obligation to stay on the registry expired in July.

O'Brien said [name withheld] had zealously sought records held in his county sex offender file. After [name withheld] threatened to take the issue to federal court, an assistant prosecutor turned over the documents.

"They feared he'd say, 'See, you're still hiding stuff,' so they released everything in the file, lock, stock and barrel, and didn't properly review it," O'Brien said. "They gave him things they shouldn't have."

According to the documents, the data on [name withheld]'s neighbors was part of a background check on him run through Matrix, the Multi-State Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange. [name withheld] also received a copy of another confidential report created by Central Ohio Crime Stoppers, which contained no neighbor information.
- And this system was designed by Hank Asher, who also has a criminal record.

Matrix drew the ire of privacy advocates after the U.S. Department of Justice adopted it shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Dubbed the largest database on the planet, it merges private and public data sources — including criminal histories, driver's license information, sex offender listings and real estate records — and sells the information to government agencies, private investigators and debt collectors, among others.

"Even if government organizations were collecting this data for legitimate purposes, we don't know what some of these documents are being used for," said James Hardiman, legal director for the Ohio branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, which led protests of Matrix. "There is this humongous database being kept of all kinds of information and the public has no idea it's being collected."

The federal government terminated funding to Matrix in 2005 amid privacy concerns, but two states — Ohio and Florida — continue to use the service, now known as dFACTS, without the interstate sharing.

Seisint Systems Inc., the Boca Raton, Fla.-based company that created Matrix, was purchased by LexisNexis in 2004. LexisNexis did not return a call seeking comment.

Social Security numbers are part of a state criminal database that feeds dFACTS, said Kim Kowalski, a spokeswoman for Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray.

Kristen Anderson, director of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's case analysis division, defended the value of such information but said it is generally sanitized before release.

"From a law enforcement perspective, it's great that in this country there is so much information available about people," she said. "From a personal standpoint, there's just an awful lot out there about all of us, and with a little bit of digging you can get it, use it, post it online."
- The reason this personal information is out there, is because the government doesn't seal the information, or protect it from those who want to get to it.  The government is putting this info out there.

Some former neighbors said the Matrix report [name withheld] received was inaccurate or outdated.

[name withheld]'s mother-in-law, [name withheld], said it listed an arrest for her daughter that would have had to occur when her daughter was 4.

[name withheld] said she hadn't lived on the street for two years.

"I mean me and my husband, we've never bothered anybody," [name withheld] said. "So that's kind of weird, kind of scary."


CA - Mob mentality dramatized in gripping musical

Original Article

08/04/2010

By F. SCOTT KARLAN

Have you ever stumbled into the wrong place at the wrong time only to find yourself falsely accused of unlawful behavior? Perhaps all fingers pointed your way but in fact you could not have been more innocent. During the ordeal you may have felt lonely, helpless, humiliated or even frightened. And it was all you could do to seek exoneration.

Although painful in reality, such unfortunate events, if creatively dramatized for the stage, can work as an important, emotionally-stirring artistic analysis of human behavior out of control.

"Parade," a full-length musical based on the horrifying true story of a town turned upside down by the murder of a teenage girl, will be presented two more times Sunday at the Old Town Temecula Community Theater.

Presented by Fine Arts Network and Actors Contemporary Theatre, "Parade" will be presented as a dramatic concert, similar in style to the troupe's production of "Sweeney Todd" last fall.

With music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown ("The Last 5 Years," "A New Brain," "Songs For a New World"), "Parade" depicts events surrounding the 1913 trial of Leo Frank (Video) (portrayed by Joseph Arreola), a Jewish pencil factory manager, accused and convicted of raping and murdering a thirteen-year-old employee, Mary Phagan (Kayla Parker).

Supporting Frank without hesitation is his wife, Lucille (Erika Czach), who plays a key role in her husband's commuted sentence.

Following the unpopular post-trial events, a selected group of merchants and influential figures from the community of Marietta, Georgia, fueled by anger, paranoia and cultural and religious pressures, take it upon themselves to violently express their dissatisfaction with court ruling.

"The music in "Parade" is not typical Jason Robert Brown," said director Paul Kehler. "His familiar pop overtones are toned down for this show, which is a period piece."

Kehler mentioned that within the music the fiddle and specific percussion elements work to create time, place and a regional flavor. Jason Robert Brown's choices suggest his quest with this project to explore new musical territory.

"Sometimes I forget it's him," Kehler said.

Although basically the entire script is performed, some adjustments to the text were necessary as well as reduction in realistic, detailed scenery, which, in this case, welcomes gifted performers to create, with body and voice, the world of the play.

"We've devoted a great deal of time adapting the show for this type of concert-style performance," Kehler said. "And it's not always easy to get the support for such an endeavor. So we've assembled a cast of hard-working, fast-learning performers who have committed to a short but intense rehearsal process: 12 sessions in two weeks."

Kehler is popular in the area not just for his directing accomplishments. In fact, he has appeared in some of the most impressive productions in recent memory, including "Rent" and "Sweeney Todd." And he has come to appreciate a short practice schedule rather than one that's drawn out over a period of months, the latter causing an increased likelihood of harmful absenteeism.

"Considering the impacted nature of the process," Kehler said. "I'm hoping for fresh, energized performances as opposed to a burned out feel that can result from too much rehearsal."

"I think I tend to flourish better in a shorter, faster process like this. It's tiring, but refreshing just the same."

Clearly, Kehler has always been comfortable with his current cast.

"I couldn't be happier with their musical skills and creative characterizations," he said. "The show has become exactly what I had envisioned."

Independence on the part of the cast is especially appreciated by the director, for he's concerned with other crucial issues.

"I just have to focus on the overall flow of the show and all the technical elements involved," he said.

Kehler expressed his desire to present to audiences some of the community's best talent in a top-quality production of "Parade," a complicated show that may not often appear in the local area.

Due to mature subject matter, the show may not be considered suitable for children. Parental discretion is advised.

Parade:

2 and 6 p.m. Aug. 8
Old Town Temecula Community Theater, 42051 Main St., Temecula
$16-$22
866-653-8696
temeculatheater.org


AFRICA - Teenager arrested over false rape claim

Original Article

08/06/2010

By Pertunia Ratsatsi

The teenager laid a charge of rape last month and alleged that she was walking in the street in Esangweni Section when she was attacked.

Police say she said she was approached by her boyfriend who ordered her to come with him to his house and she refused.

"She said the boyfriend threatened to kill her and she screamed for help before he threatened with her knife he was carrying," said police spokesperson constable Tebogo Sesing.

"She then walked with him to his place where he locked the door and raped her. After raping her he poured cold water over her body."

"He then released her and threatened to kill her if she reported the matter but she came straight to the police station and laid a charge of rape."

The 20-year-old man was later arrested and detained at the Thembisa police station.

"Police interviewed the complainant for the second time and she confessed that her mother forced her to open the case and that she was still dating the accused," said Sesing.

The young man was yesterday released and the girl was arrested. She is expected to appear in the Thembisa magistrate court soon.
- So why isn't the MOTHER being arrested as well?

"We will not tolerate people reporting false cases," said Thembisa station commander Brigadier Msesenyane Manganyi.

"It is a waste of time and resources. Anyone who will be found to be doing that will be brought to book. We appeal to the community to work with us to fight against crime."


UK - Foulridge woman (Elizabeth Wilkinson) made up rape story

Original Article

People who are falsely accused of rape, need to fight back, and sue the people making the false allegations. It could have ruined their lives.

08/02/2010

By Jon Livesey

This is the woman who lied to police by telling them she had been ‘violently raped.

Elizabeth Wilkinson, 21, of Skipton Old Road, Foulridge, pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice after claiming she had been sexually attacked by a man at his house in Colne last September.

As a result of her allegation a 23-year-old man from Colne, was arrested and interviewed at Burnley station as police launched an investigation into what they described as an ‘horrific attack’.

But she later admitted lying to her friends and officers about the circumstances surrounding the alleged rape and was charged with perverting the course of justice last December.

The defendant admitted making a false rape allegation against the man between September 28 and October 29 last year.

Wilkinson was due to be sentenced at Burnley Crown Court on Friday, but the hearing has been adjourned until Friday September 10, pending further reports.

She was bailed unconditionally.

At an earlier hearing Judge Andrew Woolman told the defendant she could be given a custodial sentence.

Det Sgt Stephen Holgate of Pendle CID, said: "Offences of rape have a huge impact on the victims leaving emotional scars for years."

"Every effort is made to ensure victims of such crimes have confidence in the police with specially trained officers ensuring the best possible care is given while investigating the matter to the highest standards."

"This is a life-changing offence and is treated as such."

"In making this false allegation, Elizabeth Wilkinson has undermined the genuine victims of this horrific crime."

An innocent man lost his liberty and has suffered considerable emotional distress as a result of her lies."


PETITION - Protect the Future of Our Young People - Enact the Romeo and Juliet Law in California

Petition
Website

We, the undersigned believe California is ready to join other states in the union by enacting a "California Romeo and Juliet Law". This law would define and separate the consensual, intimate acts of our teens and young adults in the context of loving relationships, from those who have committed violent, coercive, and predatory crimes.

We believe in abolishing mandatory prison sentencing, as well as mandatory sex offender registration, and the wearing of GPS tracking devices for those convicted under the Romeo and Juliet Law. In addition, we believe in stiff sentencing laws and well-monitored sex offender registration for those who have committed violent, or predatory crimes, as well as any crime against children. However, grouping our young people in with pedophiles and rapists, subjecting them to prison, as well as the sex offender registry has not reduced teen sexual activity, nor the teen pregnancy rate.

Criminalizing our teens and young adults is not the answer. We believe in early education of California's Statutes regarding these issues and that they be integrated into the public school Sexual Education Program, so that our teens will be accurately informed about the State's stance on Underage Sex.

We believe in parental responsibility and accountability when it comes to the minors involved in these cases. To make a difference in the number of cases charged, we need a fair and just system across the board. When parent's are held accountable for their minor teen's sexual activity, we believe the incidence of cases will greatly decrease.

We believe that enacting the California Romeo and Juliet Law will positively affect not only California's overcrowded prisons, but the fiscal impact on California's budget. We believe that by re-defining our "Romeo and Juliet's" from dangerous sexual offenders, California law enforcement will have the opportunity to focus on those who are truly a danger to society.

Help us give our teens and young adults a chance again for their futures! Countless young lives lay in ruins due to these draconian laws. For one act of loving someone, should they have to pay for the rest of their lives?

We Thank You For Joining Us!

-California For Romeo and Juliet Law-

Awareness-Advocacy-Change