Thursday, July 7, 2011
By Nicole Nicolas
At Wednesday's City Services Committee meeting, members discussed establishing an ordinance to create a larger distance between schools and sex offenders. They will continue to discuss this issue at their Aug. 2 meeting.
A city committee on Wednesday began to tackle an issue of deep concern to Batavia parents and their neighbors.
The City Services Committee discussed adopting a stricter policy to keep sex offenders further away from schools than mandated by the state of Illinois. A parent of Batavia led the city to look into adopting a stricter policy. For more about this family's concerns, click here.
The city can create an ordinance tougher than the Illinois sex offender statute, said City Attorney Kevin Drendel at the meeting. The Illinois sex offender statute requires an offender to live 500 ft. or more away from schools.
To develop an ordinance, the city needs to examine where the sex offenders live in the city in relation to the schools rather than developing some arbitrary standard, Drendel said on Wednesday.
Alderman Victor Dietz urged the committee to be cautious in developing this ordinance.
“I’m very anxious that we not adopt our own vigilante (rules), that we not attempt to pile on corporal punishment on top of communications already rendered by the courts of the state,” Dietz said.
Drendel agreed with Dietz. The city must be careful not to overstep their boundaries by forcing sex offender property owners to move off their land after the creation of a stricter ordinance. But the city may be able to force sex offenders who are just occupying or leasing the land off the property if they developed an ordinance requiring them to be further away from schools, Drendel said.
Lengthening the distance between schools and sex offenders isn’t the only way to prevent harming children. Dietz pointed out the city’s best defense is the Batavia Police Department, which keeps tabs on every sex offender in town.
The committee will further discuss this issue at their next meeting Aug. 2 when Batavia Police Chief Gary Schira is available, City Administrator Bill McGrath said.
By KAUSTUV BASU
VIERA — In what some legal authorities are calling a rare and unusual move, a Brevard County judge on Thursday acquitted a Palm Bay man who was found guilty of a sex charge by jurors last week.
[name withheld], 51, was charged with lewd and lascivious molestation in connection with an alleged incident in March 2008. He was accused of having sexual contact with a 7-year-old girl over whom he had custodial authority. The girl, who is now 10, recanted her allegations during the trial and said she lied. But the case proceeded and [name withheld] was found guilty of the charge.
Defense attorney Jonathan Bull asked Senior Judge Lawrence Johnston for a judgment of acquittal twice during the trial. Those motions were denied, but he set a hearing when the defense again asked for an acquittal after the guilty verdict.
Johnston's decision Thursday was surprising: Bull and prosecuting attorney Julia Lynch said they never had a similar situation in their legal careers.
The judge said he erred in denying the motions for judgment of acquittal before.
"Nearly 30 years ago, the undersigned took an oath of office to follow the law. Making difficult or unpopular decisions is not excepted from this oath," he said in his ruling.
He rushed out of the courtroom soon after, even as Lynch said she wanted to address the court.
"This is a jury verdict," said Lynch, who was visibly upset. "There was pressure on her (the alleged victim) to change her testimony."
Lynch said the state would ask for a rehearing.
Jennifer Zedalis, law professor at the University of Florida in Gainesville, said such judgments are rarely granted after a verdict.
"This (judgment of acquittal) most commonly happens after the state has been surprised at a trial and at the close of the state's case," she said. "If you have forensics, DNA or a confession, then you could still survive a JOA (judgment of acquittal)."
Bull said there was little evidence to corroborate the girl's previous statement.
"My client had this charge hanging over him for the last three years," Bull said. "Judge Johnston had the courage to follow the law. My client was finally vindicated in court."
Bull acknowledged the [name withheld] case was far from over.
"We won the first battle," he said. "But we have a long, protracted war ahead."
KEENE - Keene police said a woman pleaded guilty in Keene District Court on Wednesday to making a false report to law enforcement.
Police said Kerry Touzin, 38, made a false report of rape on May 27. Police said Touzin claimed that she had met a man from Massachusetts on a website called Plenty of Fish and arranged to meet him for a date. Authorities said Touzin reported that when she got into the man’s vehicle, he drove her to a dead-end street in Keene where he sexually assaulted her.
Keene detectives said they developed an online persona of a middle-aged woman, made contact with the man Touzin accused of sexual assault and arranged to meet him in Walpole on June 8. Police said when the man arrived at the meeting place, he was taken into custody without incident and charged with aggravated felonious sexual assault.
While the man was in custody, police said he cooperated with detectives and an investigation revealed that he did not engage in any illegal acts. Police said further evidence revealed that Touzin made a false report to police and she was arrested on June 16.
After pleading guilty in court on Wednesday, Touzin was sentenced to 360 days in the Cheshire County House of Corrections.
CLEVELAND (WOIO) - Big changes are coming to your Facebook page and it has some people concerned about safety.
For days we have been hearing about Facebook making a major announcement.
We now know it's a new partnership with popular free video chat application, SKYPE.
With 750-million active Facebook users, you had to see this coming.
Already one of the most popular features on the social network giant is live chatting but for now it's only text.
A partnership just announced with SKYPE and Facebook is about to change that.
Here's how it's reportedly going to work. On your chat box there will be a video button. If one of your friends wants to video chat it will come in like a phone call. You can answer it, or deny it. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he wants it to be as simple as two clicks and your live video chatting.
Considering Facebook's age requirement is just 13 it's understandable for parents to be worried.
"It might in some way worry me because you can't monitor what the conversation might be, what images might show up on the other side of that," said Patty Brown.
It's still unclear how Facebook will run the video chat. Will you have to sign up? Give consent? Or if there will be a new age requirement? All of this will give parents yet another chore of checking on their kids web activity.
"But if he's chatting then I'm not going to know what he's doing, who he's chatting with," said Tonya Schroeder.
There is a positive way to look at all of this, at least if your child thinks they're chatting with a 13 year-old friend they can see that friend and that it's not some creepy 50-year-old sex offender.