Saturday, January 29, 2011

MI - Detroit shooter was under investigation for a sex crime

Original Article


Detroit - [name withheld] the gunman who was shot and killed after walking into a Detroit police station and wounding four officers was under investigation for holding a 13-year-old as a sex slave.

In a report on Digital Journal [name withheld] walked into Detroit's 6th Precinct and opened fire on officers in the station.

A video of the shooting can be seen in this report on Digital Journal. Warning the video is disturbing.

A 13-year-old runaway was allegedly kidnapped and taken to a house in Detroit and kept as a sex slave. She was kept chained to a toilet. The girl was allowed to talk to her mother but did not know where she was.

The girl said she was in a car with friends at 2 a.m.when they got in an argument and the girl was put out of the car. The girl's mother said [name withheld] forced her into his car and took her to a house and repeatedly raped her.

About ten days later the girl managed to escape. The girl clad only in a bra and underpants ran down the street screaming for someone to help her. reports the girl's mother said, "A man saw her running down the street and let her call me. Thank God for that man. God bless him."

The girl escaped just a few hours before the shooting at the police station.

The girl's mother said speaking of [name withheld], "He said, 'If anyone finds out I did this, I'll go to jail for the rest of my life, so I'm keeping you here as my slave.'"

The woman also said, "He told my daughter he would rather die than go to prison. Maybe that's why he pulled a shotgun on those officers — after she got away from that house, he knew the police were going to come looking for him. I think he wanted to die."

The names of the girl and her mother are being withheld to protect the girl's identity. reports during a raid of the home where the girl had been held there were items that led the police to believe there could have been other victims.

Someone set the house on fire around 3:30 Tuesday morning, January 25. Because of the intensity of the fire almost everything in the house was destroyed.

Firefighters told they had no clue the home belonged to [name withheld] until they watched the news.

OH - Marblehead officer (Phillip Howell) quits amid accusations of sexually assaulting a 19 year old female

Original Article


By Melissa Topey

A Marblehead police officer has resigned after being accused of providing alcohol to a 19-year-old woman and sexually assaulting her in a motel room.

Phillip Howell, 42, of Port Clinton, sent his resignation letter (PDF) to police chief Greg Fultz on Monday. He did not state a reason for the decision.

Howell was placed on unpaid administrative suspension earlier this month after the woman accused him. The teenager told Perkins police she agreed to go to dinner with Howell and then later went to the Super 8 motel in the township where the two drank some beer.

She told police Howell pulled her onto the bed and touched her sexually despite her repeatedly telling him "no." She left the room and went to the Perkins Police Department to report the incident.

"I will be ending my tenure with the Marblehead Police Department on today's date, January 24, 2011. It's been an honor to have served the community," Howell wrote in the six-sentence letter to chief Fultz.

Howell has pleaded not guilty and his next court appearance is scheduled for March. He is charged with providing alcohol to an underage person.

His attorney, Terrence Rudes, said Howell wants to tell his side of the story.

"I understand it's not unusual for Erie County to have defense witnesses testify (before) the grand jury," Rudes said.

Howell has not been charged with any sex crime.

"It is still under investigation. We are waiting for evidence to be processes," said Perkins police Det. Lt. Al Matthews.

The resignation leaves Marblehead with a two-man department.

"We're trying to fix that promptly," said Fultz.

The department is looking at possibly hiring a part-time officer who also works for Danbury Township.

TX - San Antonio ban of sex offenders doesn't address real problems

Original Article


Bigger isn't necessarily better when it comes to distancing places where children congregate from the living quarters of a registered sex offender. Last week, the tiny hamlet of San Antonio in east Pasco banned sex offenders from living in the town even though there is no proof such strident residency rules prevent attacks or decrease recidivism. Certainly, no one wants a registered sex offender living nearby, but by adopting standards beyond current state law, San Antonio essentially wants to dump the potential of a future problem on their neighbors in unincorporated Pasco County.

The San Antonio ordinance, which will be enforced by the Pasco Sheriff's Office since it is under contract to provide 40 hours of weekly patrols inside the municipal limits, bans registered sex offenders from living within 1,500 feet of school bus stops, schools, day care centers and parks. State law does not include school bus stops and sets the buffers at 1,000 feet.

Town leaders, however, are naive if they believe children are any safer today than they were before the ordinance passed.

People likely to molest children will not be deterred by a NIMBY ordinance declaring a school bus stop off limits. Most sex offenders do not troll for children. A U.S. Justice Department study found that 90 percent of the sexual assaults of children younger than 12 involved an assailant known to the victim. Most cases involved the offender's own child or that of a family member or friend and took place inside the family home. Private space is more dangerous to a child's well-being than a public place that invites a visual deterrence.

The San Antonio ordinance also mirrors problems in rules adopted elsewhere. It does not differentiate between a violent predatory pedophile and someone who may have been prosecuted for a consensual act. More importantly, the law can prohibit offenders from living with family members who otherwise could provide support and aid in rehabilitation.

Barriers aren't the answer, particularly in a town with only one registered offender. Seven more offenders live nearby but are not covered by the ordinance since they are outside the city limits.

Keeping tabs on offenders, identifying those at high risk of repeat behavior and providing them treatment is much more effective than simply rolling up the welcome mat and hoping a potential problem moves elsewhere.

NC - Sex offenders fight ban on joining social networks

Original Article



RALEIGH - Registered sex offenders aren't allowed at schools, churches, shopping malls or other places where children may gather in the real world. But what about Facebook and other spots in the virtual world?

Two local lawyers say it's unconstitutional to bar registered sex offenders from such social networking sites, and they're seeking to overturn a North Carolina law passed by the state legislature three years ago.

In North Carolina last year, 75 offenders were charged under the law, which targets social networks such as MySpace and Facebook that allow minors as members. Eight men were charged by the Durham, N.C., police and sheriff's department last summer after an investigation determined that the men were maintaining accounts on the sites.

Two of those men - [name withheld], 34, and [name withheld], 29 - are now challenging the Information Age statute.

"The regulation does not just keep a registered sex offender from engaging in obscene speech with a minor," wrote [name withheld]'s lawyer, Glenn Gerding of Chapel Hill, N.C., in a motion filed late last month. "It prohibits any and all speech, however innocent, even if it's a religious conversation between the offender and his priest, or a discussion of family matters between the offender and his mother."
- Also, more and more politicians and news media are using social networking, so it also limits their ability to contact those who are suppose to represent them, politicians.

[name withheld]'s lawyer, Lynn Norton-Ramirez, argues that the law keeps her client from communicating with friends and promoting his business on Facebook.

But North Carolina Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, who sponsored the law as a state senator, says there are other ways registered sex offenders can communicate.

"We do have the mail," he said. "We do have telephone."
- Correct, and those same means, if an offender wanted to, could be used to contact kids as well.

Dalton said the Internet restriction is no different from a sex offender being prohibited from running a food vending cart on a school campus.

"When you are deemed to be a sexual predator, sometimes you do not have all the full rights of every citizen out there," Dalton said. "It's got a good public purpose. We don't need sex offenders engaging with minors."
- Once again, a person using the terms sex offender and predator as if they mean the same, or as if all sex offenders are child molesting, pedophile predators.  They are not.  If an offender used a social network to commit their crime, then it's understandable to not allow them to use it, but if they did not, then it's a violation of their rights.

But online communication is not the same as physical proximity, said Rebecca Jeschke, a spokeswoman for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based organization committed to Internet freedom.

"Speech is very well-protected under the Constitution," she said. "It's definitely a problem to say certain classes of people can't talk on the Internet."

The Electronic Frontier Foundation supports educating children about Internet safety while letting sites such as Facebook make their own rules, instead of the government imposing laws.

[name withheld]'s underlying sex offenses were two counts of taking indecent liberties with a child. He pleaded guilty to those after initially being charged with more serious crimes.

After serving his sentence, [name withheld] worked as a computer software developer, but Gerding said the law has kept his client from integrating his company's product with Facebook and MySpace.

"Mr. [name withheld] was unable to perform those work-related assignments," the attorney wrote. "(He) was ultimately fired from his job in part because of the restrictions and in part because of the charge in this case."

Gerding said the law is so broad that it prevents registered sex offenders such as [name withheld] from accessing websites such as Google or, because these sites allow a user to create a profile and to share information and photos with other members.

"That could include sharing a recipe on, exchanging information about heart disease on, or speculating about the University of North Carolina Tar Heels sports teams on (sports website)," Gerding said. " and would be off-limits to a registered sex offender. He could not view inspirational videos, submit a prayer request, read a devotional or learn about the Bible."

But Dalton said he doubts the criminal justice system would try to enforce the law beyond clear-cut social-networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace.

"I believe that these cases show that the statute is doing exactly what it was intended to do," he said. "That will ultimately be up to a court of law."

Dalton said that if evidence shows an offender had no bad intent in accessing a site, a judge could consider that in meting out punishment. Still, Dalton said, that doesn't mean the law is unconstitutional.

Durham Assistant District Attorney Mark McCullough hasn't filed any response to the motions and declined to comment on the cases while they're still pending. A spokeswoman said state Attorney General Roy Cooper backs the law but can't comment on individual cases.

The Durham County Superior Court is scheduled to hear the motions in mid-February.


Chapel Hill defense lawyer Glenn Gerding previously challenged a North Carolina law that called for a 300-foot buffer between registered sex offenders and any place where children might gather. Gerding said the law effectively banished registered sex offenders from churches or even public streets near child-care centers.

In December 2009, Orange-Chatham Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour ruled the law unconstitutional.

But the law still stands outside Orange and Chatham counties in North Carolina, because the prosecution didn't appeal and it never went to a higher court.

Gerding had brought that case after his client, [name withheld], was charged with a crime for attending church.

Baddour acknowledged the state's compelling interest in protecting children, but he said, "there are less drastic means for achieving the same purpose."

Though he won that case, Gerding had been hoping to take it to the N.C. Court of Appeals so that a ruling like [name withheld]'s would apply to cases all over the state.

"It's great for my client," Gerding said, but it does not bind a Superior Court judge in any other district.

MD - Sen. Introduces Bill Requiring Driver's License Identification of Sex Offenders

Original Article


By Holy Nunn

Legislation would require that driver's licenses display a code identifying sex offenders to law enforcement

ANNAPOLIS - State Sen. Richard F. Colburn wants to make sure police officers in Maryland know what they're dealing with when they stop a sex offender on the road, especially if that sex offender has a child in the car.

Colburn, R-Dorchester, has introduced legislation this year that would require that driver's licenses display a code identifying sex offenders to law enforcement.

"I believe that if we're serious about cracking down on sex offenders, we need to give our police officers this tool," Colburn said.

Colburn introduced a similar measure last year during a flurry of legislative activity on sex offenders in response to the December 2009 rape and murder of 11-year-old Sarah Foxwell in Wicomico County. A registered sex offender has been charged with the crime.

The 2010 legislation passed the Senate but died in conference committee due to concerns that the amendment had not been properly vetted and that it could lead to violation of offenders' rights.

The American Civil Liberties Union has been among those opposed to such legislation, calling any mark on an identification card "a scarlet letter" and an unnecessary measure.

David Walsh-Little, a public defender and member of Maryland's Sex Offender Advisory Board, said the mark would have the effect of "marginalizing people who need treatment in a society that needs education about sex offenses."

Colburn said the code, placed on a sex offender's driver's license by the Motor Vehicle Administration, could only be read by law enforcement. And that might be enough to convince other legislators to support the bill.
- So, do they have some magic gizmo to allow them to read it?  Or are you assuming all others are ignorant and cannot read?

"If Sen. Colburn brings it back to the Judicial Proceedings Committee, and it's in a code that's only discernible to police officers, it has my support," said Sen. James Brochin, D-Baltimore County, and a member of that committee. "Because I think that's a win-win."
- And the registry should be moved offline and used by police only.  The public has proven over and over, they cannot handle the information without resulting in vigilantism.

Colburn is unsure of how exactly the bill would be implemented, but Wicomico County Sherriff Mike Lewis, who led the search for Sarah Foxwell and worked with Colburn on the legislation, said there are a couple of ways it could be marked on the license -- either in the bar code or with a small, lettered caution code, similar to the marking for drivers with corrective lenses.
- So, a small lettered code can be read by anyone else.  And as time goes on, eventually people will know what that means.

Lewis said that such marks would give his officers an additional level of awareness when pulling over sex offenders.

"I have every right, actually I have a duty, to ask that sex offender additional questions if he has a child in the car," Lewis said. Investigators believe that Sarah Foxwell was driven throughout Wicomico County the night of her disappearance.

Similar legislation has been considered in Connecticut and California. A few states, including Delaware, Louisiana and Tennessee, already have laws for marking the driver's licenses of sex offenders.
- So just because others do what is wrong, doesn't mean everyone else should join the band wagon.

Other legislation has been introduced to crack down on sex offenders, including a bill toughening the punishment for indecent exposure involving minors and a bill to criminalize attempted sexual offense in the third degree.


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