Wednesday, October 5, 2011

IN - Gibson County attorney (William Wallace III) sentenced in child porn case

William Wallace III
Original Article

10/05/2011

By Mark Wilson

PRINCETON - Attorney and former candidate for Gibson County prosecutor William Wallace III was sentenced Tuesday on felony charges of obstructing justice and possessing child pornography.

Indiana law does not require Wallace register as sex offender, special prosecutor Jonathan Parkhurst said.

Wallace pleaded guilty to the charges last month. Parkhurst agreed to drop misdemeanor charges of patronizing a prostitute and false informing, and to convert the felony convictions to misdemeanors if he successfully finishes his sentence.

Gibson Superior Court Judge Earl Penrod accepted the plea agreement Tuesday despite some reluctance about converting the charges to misdemeanors.

He sentenced Wallace to 18 months on each count, to be served at the same time. The sentence includes 90 days of electronic home detention with GPS monitoring, and the rest to be served on probation. Wallace could have received up to three years in prison. He will also do 50 hours of community service, pay a $250 fine and seek evaluation and treatment for sexual or Internet pornography addiction. Probation officials will monitor his Internet use, which is restricted to work purposes, including computers and mobile devices.

Penrod agreed to allow Wallace to leave Princeton to travel to church on Sunday and attend his church praise band practices on Saturdays after he completes the home detention portion of his sentence.

He chastised Wallace on Friday, noting that the obstruction of justice charge was especially troubling given Wallace's position as an attorney. Had the agreement called for jail time, Penrod said, he would have readily accepted it.

"In effect, it victimizes all of us. It just occurs to me how incredibly unfortunate this is, to have someone breach that trust," he said. "Anyone looking at this would say this is just unsatisfactory."

However, he noted that law is not based on public perception and that the sentence must balance with Wallace's constitutional rights.
- Well, if you are a well known lawyer, police, politician, then they say this, but if you are the average citizen, they throw the book at you.

"The system works, because no one is above the law," Penrod said.

A fifth charge, voyeurism, a class D felony, is pending. It is the charge most closely associated with the circumstances that began the investigation in March 2010. The Indiana Court of Appeals has agreed to review whether the investigation's facts support the charge and Wallace agreed to plead guilty if the court rules in favor of the prosecutor.

Wallace, 58, was indicted in June 2010 shortly after a former client of Wallace claimed the attorney videotaped sexual encounters she had with him without her knowledge. She said he suggested that he would forgive legal fees she owed him in exchange for sex. The woman reported that she only learned about the recordings after Wallace allegedly showed them to her boyfriend.

During an April 19, 2010, search of Wallace's house in Princeton, he tried to flee from the house to his garage with various DVDs and an external computer hard drive in his pants. A search of Wallace's computers uncovered child pornography. Police also found recordings of Wallace and the woman having sex.

Wallace's attorney, Scott Danks, said in court Tuesday that police found a single image of an underage female engaged in a sexual act and that there was no evidence Wallace knew it was on his computer or had viewed it.

He also said he believed Wallace's obstruction of justice was a panicked response to the sudden search of his home.

"I firmly believe this is a knee jerk reaction by Mr. Wallace. This isn't a situation where Mr. Wallace had hours or days or weeks or months to scheme to try to hide evidence."

Speaking in court Friday, the victim in the voyeurism charge, questioned why Wallace would be allowed to have the convictions converted to misdemeanors and not have to register as sex offender.

"It seems as thought he is not really being punished," she said. "Wallace has shown no remorse for things he has done and has made no apology."

Parkhurst and Danks noted that the agreement was not unusual for a first time felon.

"Thus far he always has been a productive member of the community. He has absolutely no criminal history whatsoever," Danks said.

Parkhurst said the Indiana Supreme Court's Disciplinary Commission has been notified of the charges and will be informed of the convictions and sentence. It will determine what affect the convictions will have on his license to practice law in the state.


ID - 12-year-old kid charged as an adult?

Video Description:
15-year-old [name withheld] learned he'll be in custody for at least the next 10 years.

In August, [name withheld] pleaded guilty to the 2007 attempted murder of a 5-year-old girl in Nampa.

[name withheld] was just 12 when the crime happened, but despite that, he was charged as an adult. He's believed to be the youngest defendant ever to be charged as an adult in Idaho.

In a plea deal, he admitted to attempted murder and battery. That allowed him to avoid a trial, and the possibility of having to register as a sex offender.

"There are several things we think about," said John Bujak, Canyon County prosecutor. "First and foremost (it's the) protection of society."

In Idaho, some crimes involving children 14 and up are automatically prosecuted in the adult system including murder, rape, and robbery. But prosecutors had a choice to make when it came to [name withheld].

"I don't think anytime you're dealing with criminal justice you can have any bright line rules," Bujak said. "Sometimes the legislature will give us bright line rules, but when discretion is involved, I think you have to look at each individual case."

[mother name withheld], [name withheld]'s mother, isn't making excuses for her son's crime.

"Whatever he said he did was terrible. I've got a little girl myself, and that was a friend of mine also," says [name withheld]. "It hurts, it hurts really bad."

But [mother name withheld] doesn't think anyone should pay an adult price for a crime committed at the age of 12. "I still think a child's a child," she says, "but that's not our say."

Dr. Tom Young, with the Warm Springs Counseling Center believes trying kids as adults opens up other philosophical arguments. "To me personally, if I can believe that I can treat him as an adult at age 12, I've got to start looking at a set of laws that don't let people be adults for certain things until they're 18, for certain other things 16, other things 21," says Young.

Young says looking at the factors that led up to a child's actions might be more valuable to society than punishment.

[mother name withheld] does not believe her son was sexually abused himself. "[name withheld] was experimenting with certain things," his mother says, "but as far as anything sexual, no, not at all."

Bujak says the decision to prosecute a 12-year-old as an adult was difficult, but called the safety of society the overriding factor. He also believes [name withheld] will have a chance of rehabilitation spending the first part of his sentence in juvenile detention.

"Here's a situation where we have a young man who's proven to be a danger to the community," says Bujack, "but there's also going to be some focus on rehabilitation and a chance to see if he can be reintegrated into society with continued supervision after he becomes an adult."

At his sentencing, the teen addressed the family of his victim, and apologized. "I really am sorry for what I did to your daughter. I really tried to do the counseling," said [name withheld]. "People make mistakes. I just hope I don't make another mistake. I don't know what else to say."

[mother name withheld] said she has encouraged her son to make amends for his crime. "I just asked him to ask God for forgiveness and also go deep within himself, and from the bottom of his heart apologize when the time is right for him," she says. "I can't force him to do that."

[name withheld]'s punishment includes a blended sentence, which was part of the plea deal. The blended sentence means [name withheld] will be in juvenile custody until he's 21. At that time, he could be placed on probation, or a judge could order him to serve out the rest of his sentence in adult prison.

Our Comment Left On The Video:
How can someone be charged as an adult, when they are not an adult? This is like charging a person with murder when they didn't murder someone.


MO - Sex offenders within mile of baby's home

Video Description:
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol Sex Offender Registry, 16 offenders live within one mile of 3610 N. Lister where an infant was reported missing Tuesday.

Our Comment Left On The Video:
It's a known fact that most kids are not kidnapped and sexually abused by KNOWN sex offenders, but UNKNOWN people who are NOT YET sex offenders, and they are usually family members or someone close to the family, someone the victim knows. Most kidnappings usually are by the mother or father, not a sex offender. So why didn't you report those facts? Your story is only about unsubstantiated fear.


Video Description: (UPDATED VIDEO)
KMBC's Bev Chapman has more on what investigators found at the home of Jeremy Irwin and Deborah Bradley during an extensive search on Wednesday.


MA - Sex offender ban bylaw draws fire

Original Article

10/05/2011

By GEORGE W. RHODES

ATTLEBORO - A plan to ban sex offenders from pools, parks, playgrounds and other places that children are likely to frequent ran into opposition at a city council hearing Tuesday night, sparking fire from one councilor.

Paul Heroux of Union Street, a consultant who analyzes prison programs to combat recidivism and other issues, told councilors that sex offenders have a low rate of recidivism, and if they do reoffend are not likely to "jump out of the stacks" at a library.

Heroux said the proposed law is "fear mongering," and unlikely to be effective.

Children are more likely to be abused by someone they know or someone with whom they have struck up a relationship online, he said.

The focus should be on teaching kids to recognize dangers, especially "good touch" and "bad touch" situations, he said. "This ordinance will create a false sense of security," he added. If approved, the law would keep Level 3 and Level 2 sex offenders - the ones the state considers most likely to reoffend - out of areas where kids congregate, with some exceptions.

Heroux said the city potentially is exposing itself to expensive civil liberty lawsuits.

Council Vice President Walter Thibodeau lashed out at Heroux, accusing him of "talking in circles" and using fear, himself, as a tool.

According to Heroux, statistics show if the law saves one child from a predator it will be purely by chance. Thibodeau said it's a chance worth taking.

"If it's only one kid who is saved, and it's my kid, you bet your a** I'm going to be glad this ordinance was passed," he said.

Laurie Brasil of Richardson Avenue, a mother of three, said the responsibility of protecting her children belongs to her, and the ordinance would improperly restrict civil rights of those who have served their time. "I appreciate the committee's effort to protect my children, but that's my job as their mother," she said.

The matter will be voted at a later date.


AZ - Supreme Court considers sex offender’s appeal over legal representation

Original Article

I don't get it, I thought everyone had the right to effective legal counsel?

10/04/2011

By Max Levy

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court was asked Tuesday to consider whether an Arizona sex offender has a right to effective counsel, not only at trial but in subsequent challenges of his conviction as well.

[name withheld] argued (PDF) that he was not able to raise the claim of ineffective counsel in his post-conviction review – because the counsel he claimed was ineffective had botched the review filing.

But the attorney for the Arizona Department of Corrections said (PDF) the state provided adequate legal assistance to [name withheld], though no law required it to do so. He told the justices that requiring “effective counsel” for convicts in [name withheld]’s situation would open up an “infinite continuum of litigation” from criminals appealing their convictions with state funds.

Ineffective assistance of counsel cases are “easy to raise and difficult to litigate,” said Kent Cattani, chief counsel of criminal appeals for the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.

Twenty–four states supported Arizona’s case on the basis that providing counsel in the appeals process is a state choice. They argued in a friend–of–the–court brief (PDF) that a ruling in [name withheld]’s favor would “undermine the finality of state convictions” by guaranteeing an attorney for criminals in post–conviction proceedings.

The U.S. Justice Department agreed and argued (PDF) in support of Arizona.

States are permitted to draw different lines,” Jeffrey B. Wall, assistant to the solicitor general, told the justices.

Wall said that a ruling for [name withheld] would result in significantly more appeals of original convictions. In its brief, the Justice Department said, “prisoners would have an overwhelming incentive to argue … counsel had been ineffective” if the justices agreed with [name withheld].

[name withheld]’s attorney, Robert Bartels, agreed that a line needs to be drawn to prevent cyclical appeals. But he said that line needs to be drawn at least one step further, so that convicted criminals like [name withheld] have effective counsel when they go to claim that their previous attorney was ineffective.

It is an absurd catch–22 to suggest that a defendant effectively defaults his … right to effective assistance of first post-conviction counsel … by failing to raise and litigate such claims without the assistance of counsel,” Bartels wrote in a court brief.

In 2002, [name withheld] was charged with sexual conduct with his then 11–year-old stepdaughter. The state’s case was based largely on expert testimony and DNA evidence.

Bartels wrote that [name withheld]’s trial attorney failed to research “readily available and persuasive expert testimony” that would have challenged the state’s expert. That lawyer also failed to present evidence weakening the DNA claims, Bartels wrote.

[name withheld] was convicted on two counts of sexual conduct with a person under the age of 15 and sentenced to consecutive terms of 35 years to life in prison.

Another state–provided attorney was assigned to [name withheld]’s appeal. She began paperwork for post-conviction relief – the first chance for [name withheld] to claim his trial counsel was ineffective – but then filed a statement saying she could find no cause for such action.

Those filings were made without consulting [name withheld]. Though he only speaks Spanish, she sent him a letter in English notifying him that he had 45 days to submit a petition on his own for post–conviction relief.

The 45 days passed without action by [name withheld]. When he filed with new counsel in 2004, the Arizona court ruled that the appellate lawyer’s actions, right or wrong, invalidated [name withheld]’s petition and that his arguments for her ineffectiveness were not sufficient to make an exception.

Through multiple appeals, [name withheld]’s legal team has argued that his state-provided lawyer failed to effectively serve him in both the trial and appeal process, squandering his opportunity to petition for better representation in the process.

The Supreme Court justices Tuesday questioned both sides about a “limiting principle,” the point at which the state should stop providing legal assistance to convicted criminals.

You have to draw the line some place and the court has already drawn (it),” Justice Samuel Alito said. “Where the line stands now, it’s drawn at a different place” than where [name withheld] proposed.


MA - Appeals Court Overturns Sex Offender Registration Requirement

Original Article

10/05/2011

The Massachusetts Court of Appeals recently ruled that the Sex Offender Registry Board may not require an individual to register as a Level 2 sex offender based solely on a conviction of possessing child pornography. Learn more about the classification of sex offenders in Massachusetts.

In a recent ruling by the Massachusetts Court of Appeals, the Commonwealth's Sex Offender Registry Board may not require an individual to register as a Level 2 sex offender based solely on a conviction of possessing child pornography.

Massachusetts has three levels of sex offenders, which are based on a person's individual risk of reoffending and the perceived danger to the public. Level 1 offenders have a low risk of committing future crimes and pose a minimal public safety risk. The list of Level 1 offenders is not available to the general public. However, law enforcement agencies, parole and probation departments and mental health agencies shall have access to this information.

When the Board determines that offenders pose moderate or high risks of reoffending, there is a substantial public safety risk that justifies publicizing the names of such offenders.

According to a Boston Herald report, the case involved a man who pleaded guilty in 2004 after ordering elicit photos of minors from a Miami-based pornography ring. The Board classified the man as a sex offender, but the Court found the board failed to show a causal link between child pornography possession and the likelihood of reoffending necessary for public registration.

The lawyer for the man praised the ruling, for he argued that the Board must do more than just point to a conviction before deciding someone is a sex offender.

In the meantime, Governor Deval Patrick has introduced a bill to define child pornography as a "sex offense involving a child" so that those convicted of possessing child pornography in Massachusetts can be classified as sex offenders.



The preceding is not intended to be legal advice. If you have been charged or under investigation for a crime that could result in sex offender registration, consult an experienced Massachusetts criminal defense attorney.

Article provided by LoConto, Burke & Madaio, P.C.

Visit us at www.lbmlawoffice.com/CM/Custom/TOCCriminalDefenseLaw.asp


TX - Deputy (Eddie Nichols), wife (Sharon Nichols) arrested for sexual indecency with a child

Eddie and Sharon Nichols
Original Article

10/04/2011

By Abby Broyles

Update:
MARSHALL (KYTX) - CBS 19 has learned from police reports that two children, ages 11 and 14, have alleged sexual abuse at the hands of Eddie and Sharon Nichols. Police say they don't know how long the abuse has been going on, but the incident that precipitated the police report happened on September 16 at the family's home.

Eddie Nichols was also a pastor at Harvest Christian Church in Marshall.



MARSHALL (KYTX) - A Harrison County Sheriff's deputy and his wife are facing felony charges of sexual indecency with a child. CBS 19's Abby Broyles has details on the investigation from the Harrison County courthouse.

The allegations came to light after police say a female student went to a school counselor at Texas State Technical College and reported the alleged incident. Police say she told the counselor what had happened, and campus police notified the sheriff's department.

A community is in shock after a former deputy sheriff and his wife are accused of a sex crime with an underage girl.

Jim Eckurt has lived in Harrison county for more than 40 years.

"We've known of Mr. Nichols for years and his family," Eckhurt says, "it was a surprise to everyone."

Friday night, police arrested 49-year old former deputy sheriff Huey Edwards Nichols, Jr. and his wife, 33-year old Sharon Renee Nichols. "Eddie" Nichols is charged with two counts of indecency with a child by contact. Renee Nichols is charged with one count of the same charge.

The district attorney says the allegations surfaced last Thursday.

"The Texas Rangers were contacted and they conducted an investigation into the allegations, assisted by this office and the Texas department of family and protective services," District Attorney Coke Solomon said.

Their investigation led to the arrests of the Nichols Friday night, and the sheriff's office fired deputy Nichols.

"This underscores law enforcement's determination and dedication to police ourselves as quickly and objectively as we would any other case," Sheriff Tom McCool said.

Now, as the investigation unfolds, people like Eckhurt hope justice will be served.

"They're human beings just like anybody else," he said.

Police are not releasing the name or age of the victim, or where the alleged incident happened. The Texas Rangers and the Harrison County Sheriff's Department say their investigations are ongoing.

Sharon Nichols is out of jail on a $100,000 bond. Eddie Nichols remained in the Harrison County Jail Monday on a $200,000 bond.


AZ - No charges for ex-Glendale officer (Christopher Balmaceda) accused of 'sexting'

Christopher Balmaceda
Original Article

10/04/2011

By Lisa Halverstadt

A former Glendale police officer accused of sending sexually explicit text messages to teenage girls and sexually abusing one of them will not be prosecuted.

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office decided not to pursue a case against Christopher Balmaceda, who had worked off-duty at Mountain Ridge High School, despite a recommendation from police that he be charged with one count of sexual abuse and four counts of luring a minor for sexual exploitation.

"We determined there was no reasonable likelihood of conviction in this case," said Jerry Cobb, a spokesman for the County Attorney's Office.

He said prosecutors were concerned about the 17-year-old girl who said she was sexually abused. The teen said she aimed to report the officer's wrongdoing.

The teen told Glendale detectives that "her plan was to get enough information to tell someone what Christopher was doing," according to the police report.

Those statements made it difficult for prosecutors to prove a lack of consent to sexual abuse and explicit text messages, Cobb said.

The spokesman said prosecutors also believed they didn't have proper evidence to charge the former officer with luring, as a cellphone provider couldn't provide the text of messages, only the number of messages between Balmaceda and students.

Sgt. Brent Coombs, a Glendale police spokesman, said detectives communicated with prosecutors early in the investigation and submitted what they believed to be a "very thorough investigation."

"We felt there were identifiable criminal acts," Coombs said.

Glendale police launched an internal probe of Balmaceda in late January after a parent whose daughter attended Mountain Ridge said the teen's friends had received suggestive messages from Balmaceda.

Students told investigators that Balmaceda, who worked at their school twice a month, had sent about 3,600 text messages to five female students from September 2010 through January, according to an internal investigation.

Police began a criminal investigation after a 17-year-old said Balmaceda had kissed and touched her in January after she met him at an abandoned Bashas' store in Glendale while he was on duty.

Investigators confronted the officer.

"Balmaceda admitted to me that from September 2010 through January 2011 he sent numerous sexually explicit text messages to four female Mountain Ridge High School students for the purpose of gratifying a sexual desire," a Glendale sergeant wrote in an internal review.

According to the report, he also admitted to the encounter with the 17-year-old.

Balmaceda, a 25-year-old married father, submitted a resignation letter two days after the interview in April.

He did not speak to detectives investigating potential criminal violations, saying the police union advised him against speaking without an attorney present.

Balmaceda said he would not comment on the allegations or the latest decision.

Two former sex-crimes prosecutors raised questions about Maricopa County attorneys' decision not to charge the former officer.

The presence of multiple victims and Balmaceda's status as a police officer made this an important case to pursue, said Robin Sax, who spent 15 years as a sex-crimes prosecutor in Los Angeles.

"The touching plus the texts is way beyond what you would need for some charge," Sax said. "We hold people who take care of our children to a higher level."
- Not really.  The many articles I've seen, over the years, is the total opposite.

Robert J. Campos, a Phoenix defense attorney who spent five years in Maricopa County's sex-crimes unit, said he was concerned by the officer's communications with at least four victims.

"This is a grooming process," Campos said.

Still, he acknowledged that prosecutors may have hesitated if the victim didn't seem credible.

"When you talk to somebody who's been a victim, you're either going to immediately believe them or you're going to be unsure," Campos said. "If at a gut level, I believed, I took it to trial and I always won those cases."

Arizona laws ensure teachers, clergy, jail workers and behavioral health professionals accused of sexual abuse face steeper penalties.

Police officers should also be mentioned in such statutes, Campos said.

"We need teachers and priests and psychologists and police officers who are in a position of trust to take that seriously," Campos said. "They can take advantage of vulnerability."


UK - Woman (Charlene Kielty) admits false rape claim against bus driver

Original Article

10/04/2011

A young woman who lied to police about being raped has been warned she faces jail.

A woman who falsely claimed that she was raped by a bus driver in the back of his coach faces jailed.

Charlene Kielty told police officers she had been dragged into the back of a bus parked at Cromdale in Strathspey and attacked by a man who she named as "Chris from Inverness".

It was more than a year later when the 23-year-old admitted that the allegation had been a lie.

Kielty, of Union Street, Inverness, admitted making the false allegation at Inverness Sheriff Court today.

The court heard that she told the lie to three police officers on various occasions between August and December last year, at Raigmore Hospital, the Corbett Centre and Burnett Road police station, all Inverness.

She claimed she had been attacked on August 19, 2009 and as a result of the lie a man was questioned by police.

The case was deferred for background reports until November 1. Kielty was warned that she faces jail when she returns to court to be sentenced.


AR - Conway woman (Jessica Cherry) arrested for filing false rape report

Jessica Cherry
Original Article

09/30/2011

CONWAY - A Conway woman is charged with filing a false police report after telling police she was raped by an acquaintance.

Police say the report was filed on Tuesday by 28-year-old Jessica Cherry. In it, she tells police she was taking a shortcut home near 701 1st street when someone she was familiar with asked to pay her for sex. According to Cherry, when she refused she was raped.

Police say that Cherry changed her story several times in subsequent days. They interviewed the alleged rapist, and he told police that Cherry offered to have sex with him in exchange for crack.

On Friday, according to police, Cherry admitted she had sex with him in exchange for drugs, but was in pain afterward. Police say Cherry told them “he did me wrong” and she reported the rape as a way to get back at him.

She is currently is jail, being held without bond and a parole hold.