Wednesday, April 6, 2011

LA - Town of Welsh rethinking new sex offender fees

Original Article


By Lee Peck

WELSH (KPLC) - The Lake Charles ordinance raising fees for sex offenders (extortion) has prompted other municipalities in Southwest Louisiana to consider the same thing. But with Lake Charles now being sued over the new law -- many of those same towns are putting the breaks on their proposed law.

The new ordinance passed by Lake Charles City Council to raise the fee for sex offenders from $60 to $600 has some residents in Welsh worried the sex offenders will be moving their way.

"The sex offender registration program... The people were falling through the cracks and they weren't really following what they were supposed to be doing," said one resident.

"And that's a big concern. Because you don't know what kind of offenders are coming here. Like the lady said they could be right in your backyard and you have no idea," said Charles Drake, Welsh Town Alderman.

According to the Louisiana State Police Sex Offender Registry: Welsh currently has 10 registered sex offenders.

"This is not a one time offense... Some of them in a lifetime as many as 250 times. Maybe that's not the kind we have around here, but it is a concern for us," said one resident.
- What a crock!  Most sex offenders are one time offenders.  Those with this many offenses are rare, and are usually the true predators.

With a law suit now filed against the City of Lake Charles calling their ordinance unconstitutional, the Town of Welsh is carefully considering their next move.

MN - Mother of missing Jacob Wetterling speaks at fundraiser

Original Article



OWATONNA — The face of 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling is one still ingrained in the minds of those who watched the tragedy of his abduction unfold nearly 22 years ago in St. Joseph, Minn. Perhaps holding onto his memory — and the hope of his safe return — most of all is his mother, Patty Wetterling.

Now a public speaker and director of the Sexual Violence Prevention Program at the Minnesota Department of Health, the mother of four and grandmother of five has made it her mission to raise awareness and seek solutions to prevent sexual violence. Wetterling kicked off Child Abuse Prevention Month by key noting the Crisis Resource Center’s sole fundraiser, the ‘Healing the Hearts of our Children’ luncheon Tuesday afternoon.

I believe it’s the responsibility of every community to stand up and build a world that values its children and that really takes everybody — It’s the response of law enforcement, it’s the teachers, it’s the faith community, it’s the neighborhood coalitions. If every community did that we would have a safer state. We would know one another, there’d be more respect and I think we owe it to our children to do that,” Wetterling said. “Sexual violence is something that most people don’t want to think about ever. All of us wish we didn’t have to respond to these cases, that we could get ahead of it and yet the reality is there’s work to do.”

Wetterling spoke to a sold-out crowd at the Eagles Club fundraiser that also featured a silent auction and raffle tickets to fund the CRC’s mission.

I want to talk about hope. Look at this little baby up here in the front and I think ‘What are the dreams and hopes and aspirations every parent experiences when they first see their child? What is our wish for that child?’ That is what we have to be mindful of, that world we want to build,” Wetterling said to the room full of law enforcement officers, public officials attorney and the seven-week-old baby girl. “Ours has been a very public hope; Our hope for Jacob, our hope that we find him and find the man who took him and find our answers.”

When describing Jacob, Wetterling spoke of a young boy who adored his three siblings, had a knack for all things athletic and craved foods like guacamole and peanut butter. The boy was described as a leader at his school, one who won the school’s outstanding citizen award in fourth grade.

What a loss this entire state suffered from this potential of this one child. We must be mindful that every child has that much potential and build a world that supports that,” Wetterling said, her voice becoming unsteady as she recalled the son she lost.

She spoke of the April Fool’s day pranks Jacob loved to pull on her, the way he moved from being a soccer player to a hockey goalie and how he’d congratulate an opponent who managed to score against him.

One day I asked Jacob if it bothered him when someone scored a goal on him. He said ‘Not really. If it went in, that was a great shot. If I stopped it, that’s a great save.’” Wetterling recalled.

At the time of Jacob’s disappearance, Wetterling was working on renewing her teacher’s license.

I wanted to get back to teaching, and I knew nothing about sexual violence, abduction of children. I think most parents function in that space because it’s unfathomable. I think that makes it more difficult to solve because we can’t think like somebody who’d commit this crime,” she said.

Following Jacob’s horrific abduction, some days his mother could barely get out of bed. With the help of law enforcement and support from good friends and kind strangers across the state and country, she found the strength to keep on living.

The Wetterling family carried on.

We are still searching the whole world over and we still get leads. So much of my energy and strength came from the children who wrote to me,” Wetterling said.

Over the years there have been many false leads and people who claim to have seen Jacob in places all over the country, but none have turned up any more information to help lead the family to their missing eldest son.

AL - Local legislator wants pedophiles (sex offenders) castrated

Original Article


By Patrick McCreless

Rep. Steve Hurst wants to protect children from pedophiles (sex offenders) and sees castration of certain sex offenders as the way to do it, though at least one civil rights group disagrees with him.
- As usual, people think just because someone sexually abuses a child, that means they are a pedophile.  Well, if we are going by the definition and not emotions, then one would see, this is not always the case.

Hurst, a Republican from Talladega, has proposed a bill that would require convicted child molesters to be surgically castrated under certain conditions. Specifically, the bill states that anyone more than 21 years old convicted of certain sex offenses against a child 12 years old or younger must be surgically castrated before being released from the state Department of Corrections.

We need something to protect the children out here,” Hurst said. “They can’t protect themselves.”
- It's not the governments job to protect us, it's our responsibility, and parents need to be parents.

Olivia Turner, executive director of the Alabama chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a Tuesday email to The Star that while Hurst’s intentions are good, he is going too far with his bill.

Turner said the castration bill is based on a false premise that sexual assault is the product of an uncontrollable sex drive.

The reality is that sexual crimes are about violence, power and the humiliation of a survivor or victim, which is why a castrated sex offender can still be a serious danger,” Turner wrote. “The highest priority for members of the Legislature working to reduce repeat offenses by sex offenders should be an examination of the effectiveness and availability of psychological treatment for sex offenders in the custody of the Alabama Department of Corrections.”

Currently in Alabama, convicted pedophiles (sex offenders) released from prison must file with the sex offender registry in the county where they will live. They are not allowed to live near schools or churches. County sheriff’s offices are required to routinely check up on the sex offenders in their jurisdiction to ensure the offenders’ addresses still correspond to what is listed in the registry.

Along with surgery, there is also the option of chemical castration, in which a male is required to take routine injections of a chemical that suppresses the amount of testosterone he produces, thereby lowering his sexual urges, said Fred Berlin, founder of the Johns Hopkins University sexual disorder clinic.

Either method has been shown to suppress sexual urges among some pedophiles (sex offenders), Berlin said in contrast to ACLU’s view.

It can lower the intensity of their sexual desires,” Berlin said. “There is pretty good evidence that if you lower testosterone, you lower sex drive.”
- But again, stop ignoring the facts.  Not all sexual crimes are committed due to sexual desires, but control.

Chemical castration has been used in other states as a means to deter pedophiles (sex offenders) from molesting children.

Eight states currently permit chemical castration under certain circumstances, including Georgia, California, Florida, Louisiana, Montana, Oregon, Texas and Wisconsin.

Berlin noted that different chemicals can be used to suppress the sex drives in female pedophiles (sex offenders) as well.

It’s very unusual for pedophilia (sexual deviancy) to occur among women, but it does happen,” Berlin said. “There are testosterone-like hormones that are important in the sexual drive of women and there are drugs that can suppress that.”

Hurst, however, said he prefers surgical castration.

The chemical castration, that’s fine as long as they are taking the medication, but who is to say they will continue taking it,” Hurst said.

Berlin disagreed with Hurst.

There is really no reason to do surgical castration,” Berlin said. “The monthly chemical injections can be monitored … and one can completely reverse the surgical effects by taking testosterone.”

Berlin added that castration is not a guarantee a sex offender will not try to molest a child (sexually abuse someone) again, since it cannot suppress urges completely and because pedophilia (sexual deviancy) can be caused by biological or mental factors.
- Again, stop using terms as if all sex offenders are pedophiles, they are not.  And not all sex offenders molest children either.

There is some preliminary biological evidence for causes of pedophilia (sexual deviancy),” Berlin said. “And it does appear some boys who are sexually abused can be warped in their sexual development and can develop pedophilia (sexual deviancy).”

Berlin agreed with the ACLU that psychological treatment for pedophiles (sex offenders) was a viable option.

There are many treatments, such as group therapy that is similar to therapy for alcoholics,” Berlin said.

Even though Republicans now control the state Legislature, Hurst could not say if the bill would pass.

I think it will be the mood of the people, regardless of who is in control,” he said. “I’d like to pass something. If we can save one child … not to be mentally destroyed, that’s what I want to do.”

How The Madness Began

CA - Orange County bans sex offenders from some parks, beaches

Original Article

See Also: LN's Former Top Cop Applauds Sex-Offender Ban in Parks


By Victoria Kim and Sarah Peters

Offenders who visit any of dozens of public spaces without prior approval from county officials face jail or a fine. Critics say the law will be hard to enforce and seems politically motivated.

Orange County supervisors have approved a law significantly restricting the movements of registered sex offenders, banning them from entering some beaches, parks and harbor areas.

Under the rules, sex offenders who visit any of dozens of public spaces without prior approval from county officials face up to six months in jail or a $500 fine. The ban covers some of the region's top attractions including the Orange County Zoo, Irvine Regional Park, Newport Harbor and Dana Point Harbor.

The law, approved unanimously by the board Tuesday, is the latest in a controversial series of ordinances across the country aimed at limiting where sex offenders can live and visit. It was championed by Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas, who said the idea was to keep sex offenders away from children and families.

"We are setting up a safety zone by keeping parks and recreation zones safe from predators," Rackauckas said.
- Next they won't be able to go anywhere.

But critics immediately expressed skepticism about the law, saying it would be difficult to enforce and appeared politically motivated.

Franklin Zimring, a UC Berkeley law professor, said the law was overly broad and misdirected, because more than nine out of 10 sex crimes targeting children are committed not by strangers in a park, but by family members or acquaintances.

"It's trying to solve a problem nobody knows exists," he said, adding that laws imposing restrictions on sex offenders are snowballing because they are politically popular.

"Who's going to lose votes being against child molestation?" he said.

Orange County's ordinance appears to be the first legal move in California imposing across-the-board restrictions on where sex offenders can be. Los Angeles County in 2009 passed legislation banning registered sex offenders from "loitering" within 300 feet of "child safety zones," which include schools, public libraries and parks. Existing state law also prohibits sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of any school or park in California.
- And has anybody opened a dictionary to see what loitering means?  It means being somewhere without a purpose.  So visiting is okay, if it's with a purpose.

Illinois passed a law last year making it a misdemeanor for sex offenders to be in or within 500 feet of a public park, and a South Carolina lawmaker introduced similar legislation after a 17-year-old was raped and murdered by a convicted sex offender at a park on the other side of the country, in San Diego County.

At the board meeting Tuesday, some supervisors asked exactly how the new law would be enforced. Rackauckas and Orange County Sheriff's Capt. Adam Powell said only that it would be enforced on a "case by case" basis.

One supervisor, John M.W. Moorlach, also raised concerns about whether the ordinance would infringe on constitutional rights and end up forcing the county to spend more money defending the rules in court.

A bill in the California Legislature last year initially included a provision banning all sex offenders from parks where children regularly gather. But lawmakers ultimately limited the language to parolees whose victims had been under age 14. The change made the ban more enforceable because these parolees are required to wear GPS devices.

There have already been legal challenges elsewhere. In Jeffersonville, Ind., where a city ordinance banning sex offenders from parks was passed in 2007, a man convicted of sexual battery against a 13-year-old girl sued when he was not allowed to watch his son play Little League baseball because of the ban. The Court of Appeal there ruled that in his case, the ordinance was unconstitutional because he had been convicted and completed his registration as an offender before the law took effect.
- Again, being somewhere with a purpose, like watching a son/daughter play ball, is not loitering.

Jeffrey McBride, a 43-year-old Laguna Beach resident, spoke against the ordinance at the meeting, telling the supervisors the move would be unconstitutional.
- Of course it is, and it would seem the DA needs to go back to school and restudy the laws and the constitution.

IL - Proposed law could cause sex offender to lose house, family

Original Article


By Kristy Mergenthal

EAST MOLINE - [name withheld]'s a sex offender under Illinois law because at 17 less than five years separated him from his then 16-year-old pregnant fiance when they were having consensual sex. We met him last month, when a proposed bill could have taken him off that list. That bill was defeated now a new proposal goes against him.

Like any Dad, [name withheld] is there to help his son off the bus, but unlike most Dads [name withheld] has a real fear of losing his family.

"If law goes in to play, now we have to worry if churches or office buildings or anything of that nature are too close to my residence now" said [name withheld].

The law, which which was introduced in mid February states that no sex offender can knowingly live within 500 feet of a child counseling center. The [name withheld] concerned the Silvis Heights Baptist church which is a block and a half away could cause them to lose their home and each other.

"The law doesn't specify what could be called a child counseling center" said [name withheld], who went on to say, "It's basically for local municipalities to decide."

"It's uncertain what's really going to happen, we might have to split up our family and I really don't want to do that" said [name withheld]'s wife [name withheld].

Although small, their house is one of the few places [name withheld] can live as a sex offender. Away from schools and daycare's but with a yard for [name withheld] and [name withheld] to play in.

"It was a God send this place came available or who know where we'd be today" said [name withheld].

NE - Alleged Sexual Assault In Valley Police Chief's (Brett Smith) Home

Original Article


By Liz Dorland

Springfield - Investigators with the Sarpy County Sheriff's Department are looking into allegations of a sexual assault of a teenager in the home of Valley Police Chief Brett Smith.

Sarpy County Deputies busted a party held at Valley Police Chief Smith's Springfield home late Saturday. Investigators claim the weekend bash was thrown by his stepson, 23-year-old Andrew Tatreau-Sherwood. KMTV Action 3 News has learned deputies discovered bottles of booze and beer at Chief Smith's home. They ticketed Tatreau-Sherwood for buying alcohol and serving it to more than a dozen teenagers. Sarpy County Captain Monty Daganaar tells KMTV Action 3 News the underage drinkers left before officers arrived. Investigators did not discover any drugs during the party.

Captain Daganaar confirms investigators are also looking into a sexual assault of a teenager that may have taken place during the party. He is not willing to comment on if Tatreau-Sherwood is a potential suspect. Investigators say Chief Smith was not home at the time.

Rumors of the alleged sexual assault have many Springfield people worried. KMTV Action 3 News is protecting their names. One person says, "The town of Springfield is very small and to have something like this happen, you don't expect it but it's an eye opener."

KMTV Action 3 News Reporter Liz Dorland went to Smith's Springfield home to get his side and Tatreau-Sherwood's side of the story. No one was home.

This is the second incident in the past year possibly involving alcohol and someone connected to Valley Police Chief Smith. Just last year, one of his officers was accused of drinking and driving.

NE - Sheriffs wary on sex offender bill

Original Article


By Paul Hammel

LINCOLN — An effort to remove the names of some convicted sex offenders from a public website encountered complications Tuesday.

A panel of Nebraska state senators seemed to agree that many low-risk, minor offenders shouldn’t be on the state’s public registry, but there was disagreement over how to accomplish that. Law enforcement officials also raised concerns about the cost and difficulty involved to change the registry yet again.

Omaha Sen. Steve Lathrop said lawmakers want to avoid a situation in which someone drops off the public registry and then commits another sex crime.

The Legislature’s Judiciary Committee conducted a public hearing on two proposed amendments that would address problems that emerged after lawmakers changed the state’s sex offender registry in 2009.

Those changes required the display of names, addresses and photographs of all convicted sex offenders — even those with minor offenses and deemed at low risk of reoffending. The Nebraska State Patrol maintains the website.

Previous to 2009, only felony offenders deemed at highest risk of reoffending were publicly listed. Low-risk, minor offenders, called “Level 1” offenders, weren’t publicly disclosed, but they were required to report their address to local law enforcement officials.

The changes were adopted so the State of Nebraska could qualify for about $196,000 in federal funds from the Adam Walsh Act (PDF). Despite the changes to state law, Nebraska has not yet been deemed in compliance. Only four states have.

Senators and several people testifying Tuesday agreed that the 2009 law has unfairly punished old, Level 1 offenders. Many had nearly finished their probation, have not reoffended and have become productive citizens.

Now their names, addresses and photos will be placed on the public website for 15 years or more. Those testifying said that notoriety damages their ability to get and hold jobs and has caused them to be shunned and harassed by neighbors for offenses committed long ago.

The Judiciary Committee discussed three alternatives:
  • Return to the old law, which required the State Patrol to assess sex offenders and divide them into three categories, from the lowest risk to reoffend to the highest risk, and publicly disclose only those deemed most dangerous.
  • Adopt a hybrid system. Sex offenders convicted prior to Jan. 1, 2010 would be treated under the old law, meaning that 461 minor offenders would be taken off the public website. The 2009 law would pertain to new sex offenders.
  • Create an appeals panel to determine if those on the current registry should be removed.

Carole Denton, a Grand Island counselor who deals with sex offenders, said there are reliable, scientific means to assess whether an offender is at risk to reoffend.

She said repeat offenses are rare. A 2002 U.S. Department of Justice study found that only 5.3 percent of men who had committed rape or sexual assault had reoffended three years after being released from prison, Denton said.

That was disputed by Corey O’Brien of the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office, who said that other studies found the recidivism rate to be much higher.
- If you look at the majority of the studies, and not just one to fit your needs, they almost all say that recidivism is low.

He said his office preferred a “less subjective” system to rank the risk of reoffending based on the offense committed .

Scientific assessments sometimes come down to “gut feeling,” O’Brien said.

Deputy Lancaster County Attorney Bruce Prenda, speaking for the state county attorneys association, said the sex offender registry laws have been changed six times in the last seven years. Prosecutors want proper review of any new changes so unexpected problems don’t arise again, he said.

After Tuesday’s hearing, Lathrop said it appears there might not be enough time to adopt changes during the current legislative session.

Omaha Sen. Brad Ashford, the Judiciary Committee chairman, said he plans to talk to the State Patrol and Attorney General’s Office to see if something can be done this year.

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