Saturday, September 17, 2011

When Teens Become Registered Sex Offenders–For Life

Original Article

09/09/2011

By Laurie Junkins

Few of us would argue against having adults involved in the sexual exploitation of children face the harshest punishments in society. Those who participate in and perpetuate child pornography, as well as those who use children for their own sexual gratification, are among the dregs of society, which is why child pornography and sex offender laws have become so draconian in the last few decades.

But, what happens when teens—probably the age group with the least amount of sense and good judgment, while also being among the most sexually curious—get caught up in laws designed to destroy the lives of true sexual predators?
- Well, politicians say the laws were not meant to do this, but we all know that is their true intention.

The sex offender registry, which was enacted by Congress in 1996, has a major flaw in that it does not allow judges to distinguish between teens being horny and stupid and the dangerous sexual predators and pedophiles it was actually meant for.

Sexting

Technology has advanced in the past 10 years at a speed never before seen in human history. Who could have imagined smart phones and all they are capable of doing? Teens have jumped on technology with their unique combination of narcissism, burgeoning sex drive, and lack of good sense, resulting in sexting. Though lawmakers in several states are working on new legislation that separates immature teen behavior from actual pornographers, at this point, teens are still getting slapped with permanent sex offender status for texting naked photos of themselves or others.

Consensual teen sex

It’s a fact that teenagers have sex with each other. They always have, and always will, and it’s most often consensual. Each state has its own minimum age for consensual sex, usually somewhere between 13 and 16. Some states also set a minimum age difference between partners. What this means is that, in most states, if a 17-year-old boy has a sexual relationship with his 15- or 16-year-old girlfriend, he runs the risk of being publicly labeled a sex offender for life. As U.S. Human Rights Watch senior advisor Jamie Fellner put it, “Registration as a sex offender is just completely inappropriate there, does nothing to promote public safety, but ruins lives.”

One man was convicted of statutory rape when, at age 16, he had consensual sex with his 14-year-old girlfriend, to whom he is now married. He’s a registered sex offender for life, essentially for the “crime” of having premarital sex with his future wife.

The consequences of becoming a registered sex offender

Being a registered sex offender comes with severe restrictions and penalties that negatively affect every aspect of life. In order to warn people about the kinds of predators who kidnap, rape, and murder children, registered sex offenders are publicly listed by name and address—though only vaguely by crime, so there’s no way to know if they are a real predator or were just a stupid teenager.

Not only do these kids end up publicly labeled forever, but they are restricted from living in certain areas due to enforced geographical buffers around places where children spend time, such as schools, parks, and day care centers. Adults who are registered cannot legally take their own children to the school bus stop or little league games. The registry also severely limits employment options and can make it extremely difficult to find a job.

Where is the line?

Currently, tens of thousands of juveniles are listed as sex offenders, though not all states keep records on how many of their registered sex offenders are under 18. Some of these juveniles are true sexual predators and belong on the registry, but most are there for sexting, streaking, or having sex with their boyfriends or girlfriends—not necessarily smart behavior, but probably not criminal behavior.

While the sex offender registry is a positive thing for keeping kids safe from true predators (I disagree, it doesn't actually protect kids from someone who is dangerous and intent on committing a sexual crime), legislation needs to close up the loopholes that cause teens engaging in normal, fairly common behavior to be punished severely for the rest of their lives. Until it does, teens need to be acutely aware of how their behavior may affect their future—once it was a matter of avoiding STDs and unplanned pregnancy, but now the stakes are even higher.


The Missing 100,000 Sex Offender Myth: Are we today chasing Political ghosts?

Click the image to view the article


NM - Former officer (Stephen Hensley) sentenced for child porn

Stephen Hensley
Original Article

09/16/2011

LAS CRUCES - A former corrections officer was sentenced Thursday in federal court in Albuquerque to 97 months in prison for child pornography possession, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Former Quay County Detention Facility officer Stephen Hensley, 42, of Tucumari, will also serve 20 years of supervised release, pay $1,000 in restitution to one of the victims of the photographs and be required to register as a sex offender.

New Mexico State Police initiated an investigation into Hensley in January 2010 after his computer was flagged for offering child pornography images online. On July 1, 2010, state police executed a search warrant and seized his computer and Hensley admitted in an interview with police that he used the Limewire program to download hundreds of images and videos.

Eighty images featuring 31 children and 31 videos featuring 22 children had already been identified by authorities, who said the children have been "rescued."

In December, a federal grand jury indicted Hensley on two counts of receiving child pornography and two counts of possession of child pornography. On April 25, Hensley pleaded guilty to one count of receiving child pornography.

The case, prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Charlyn E. Rees, was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse. The case also was brought as part of the 61-agency New Mexico Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which aims to locate, track, and capture Internet child sexual predators and Internet child pornographers in New Mexico.

Anyone with information relating to suspected child predators and suspected child abuse is encouraged to contact federal or local law enforcement.

One of the shortest video clips I've ever seen!

Video Link


CANADA - Homicide victim (stabbed in the neck) a convicted sex offender

Original Article
See this excellent article

09/16/2011

By Stacey Escott

Hamilton’s most recent homicide victim, [name withheld], was a convicted child molester.
- As if they are trying to justify this cold-blooded murder?

Court documents obtained by The Spectator show [name withheld] pleaded guilty to sex-related offences in 1993 involving three victims, whose identities are protected under a publication ban. He was sentenced to seven years in a penitentiary.

The abuse took place during two time periods. The first was in the mid-1970s. The second occurred over several years, ending in the early 1990s.

[name withheld], 82, was found dead in his bed at his Stirton Street home with a knife in his neck on the evening of Sept. 7. His son [name withheld] and concerned friends had come to check on him and found his body.

Police said he was last seen by several people around noon the day before.

Neighbours have remembered [name withheld], a former pastor, as a deeply religious man whom one neighbour said was like everybody’s grandfather.

Hamilton police say they are confident the murder was not random, but would not comment on whether his death was connected to his past. Staff Sergeant Steve Hrab, of the homicide unit, said there is some sort of relationship between [name withheld] and his killer.

This individual wasn’t a stranger to the deceased,” Hrab said.

When asked if police are looking at someone in the neighbourhood, he said: “That’s a possibility, but it’s not conclusive to just that.”

Hrab described Stirton Street, in the central lower city near Sanford Avenue North and Wilson Street, as a close-knit neighbourhood. [name withheld] was known to most of his neighbours and they knew it was unusual that he had not been seen for more than a day.

One of the victims [name withheld] was convicted of molesting spoke to The Spectator.

She stoically recalled details of the abuse, which began more than 20 years ago when she was nine years old. The woman, now 30, read about the homicide in the newspaper and wondered if it was the same [name withheld].

She hadn’t seen or spoken to [name withheld] since he was sent to prison. No one told her he lived about a 10-minute drive away. News of his death brought back memories.

I started thinking, ‘Well maybe somebody from before that he did something to had come back to get revenge.’ Or maybe he did it to someone’s kid,” she said.

The woman said the abuse started about a month after she met [name withheld]. She said he would cover her mouth so she couldn’t scream and threaten her by saying he would send her away and she would never see her family again. She never told anyone what happened, not even her mother.

I was scared to tell anyone, he put the fear in me,” she said. “I just remember being in shock, I don’t remember ever having emotion. After this happened, I just had to deal with it.”

The woman broke down when she talked about how [name withheld] changed her life — she was always afraid of men and new people until she got older.

I never had boyfriends growing up, I felt like I never had a normal childhood because of that.”

A few years into the abuse, she was confronted by a woman who said [name withheld] raped her. At first she denied anything had been done to her, but when she found out she wasn’t the only victim, she broke her silence and told her family. [name withheld] was charged with five offences in 1993. He eventually pleaded guilty to three of those charges.

She never saw him again.

Following his death, neighbours — who say they knew little about [name withheld] — were deeply saddened. They described him as a wonderful man whom everyone looked after. He spent holidays with the folks across the street, and others helped him with meals and chores. They said [name withheld] was always alone and some recalled him living on Stirton for 10 to 15 years.

[name withheld] had seven children and several grandchildren. He once worked at Menasco Aerospace in Oakville as an engineer. Before he went to prison, he was a pastor at a local church.

Some of [name withheld]’s family members declined to speak to The Spectator. They held a funeral service for him Friday morning.
- Can you blame them?

Police set up a command van in the neighbourhood on Thursday hoping to interview about 30 people they had not yet spoken to. Hrab said they did reach some of them, but would not say whether police learned any new details about the case.

I don’t want the people responsible to know what we are thinking,” Hrab said.


MI - SORA — Finally A Win?

Original Article

09/13/2011

By Mark A. Satawa

Finally, a win in a sex offender case in the Michigan Supreme Court. On June 30, a unanimous Michigan Supreme Court said a trial court could not order a defendant to register as a sex offender more than 20 months after the court had originally sentenced him. In People v. Lee (PDF), a judge of the Allegan Circuit Court decided not to require registration but retained jurisdiction for a future hearing. Then, twenty months later, a different judge took over the case, conducted a hearing, and granted the prosecutor’s motion to require the defendant to register under the Sex Offender Registration Act (MCL 28.722, et seq.)* The Court of Appeals affirmed this decision, but the Supreme Court reversed, holding the trial court “failed to satisfy” SORA’s “multiple requirements.”

In January 2006, the defendant, Kent Allen Lee, pleaded nolo contendere to third-degree child abuse. MCL 750.136b(5). At Lee’s March 2006 sentencing, Judge Harry A. Beach relied on a police report as the factual basis for Lee’s plea. The prosecution attempted to introduce additional evidence but the defense objected. Judge Beach noted that while Lee’s crime was “a rather abusive assault,” it was not a “sex act,” and thus registration under SORA was unwarranted. Nevertheless, Judge Beach retained jurisdiction over the case while issuing a sentence that did not require registration.

In December 2007, the Circuit Court held a new hearing on the prosecution’s motion to require SORA registration. Judge Beach had retired by this time and Judge William A. Baillargeon took over the case. Judge Baillargeon heard additional testimony and concluded that SORA registration was now justified because Lee’s act — which involved touching the victim’s genitals in what Lee described as a “disciplinary” measure — was “certainly something that would be envisioned by [SORA] and I think by itself would constitute the registration that the People seek.”

Justice Michael F. Cavanaugh (PDF), writing for a unanimous Supreme Court, reversed Judge Baillargeon’s decision. Justice Cavanaugh explained that the trial court made four procedural errors in mandating Lee’s registration. First, SORA requires a defendant to register “before sentencing,” not 20 months later. MCL 28.724(5). Second, because of that delay, Lee’s probation officer and the family division of the Circuit Court could not comply with SORA’s requirement to give Lee the registration form after his conviction. Third, SORA clearly states that a court “shall not impose sentence” until determining a defendant’s registration is forwarded to the state police. MCL 28.726. Finally, since Lee’s crime — third-degree child abuse — was not a “specific listed offense” under SORA, the trial court was required to, but did not, include in its sentence a determination that the offense fell under a “catchall” provision that applies to any “sexual offense” against a minor. MCL 769.1(13).

Ultimately, Justice Cavanaugh noted, “there is no support in SORA for permitting a post-sentencing hearing to make a determination regarding registration.” To the contrary, everything the trial court did violated SORA. Consequently, Justice Cavanaugh said, “the sentence imposed [in 2006] … may have been invalid.” The prosecution could have attempted to correct the invalidity by filing a timely motion, which is six months under MCR 6.429(B)(3) (PDF), not 20 months.

Finally, Justice Cavanaugh said Judge Baillargeon and the previous trial judge, Judge Beach, contradicted one another as to whether Lee’s offense fell within SORA’s “catchall” provision. Cavanaugh said that while “Judge Beach erroneously permitted the prosecution to bring additional evidence at a post-sentencing hearing,” he ultimately found the evidence supporting the plea — the original police report — did not justify invoking the catchall provision. Judge Baillargeon later concluded just the opposite. Justice Cavanaugh said that Weaver v. People (1876) required Judge Baillargeon to afford “substantial deference” to Judge Beach’s findings, as he was the judge who accepted the plea.

* SORA was amended effective July 1, but the Supreme Court said that since “the trial court decided relevant issues” before then, it would analyze the case under the law as it was then in effect.

Mark A. Satawa practices in the area of criminal defense, specializing in sex crimes. He is a member of the board of directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (www.NACDL.org), and is a frequent continuing legal education speaker on sex offenses, most recently at the Institute for Continuing Legal Education seminar on Proven Defense Strategies for Challenging Criminal Sexual Conduct Cases.