Wednesday, December 7, 2011

If you repeat a lie often enough...

How true. That is a modified quote from Adolph Hitler.


CA - Debate Sparked Over Sex Offender Housing

Original Article

The residency laws being passed by legislature, is what is causing this clustering, which has been going on for a long time.  Repeal the residency restrictions, which don't protect anybody, and the problem goes away.  Offenders can then move elsewhere.

12/06/2011

By Olga Spilewsky and Craig Fiegener

San Bernardino officials consider ordinance to restrict the number of sex offenders living in one location

The San Bernardino City Council is trying to decide how to restrict the number of sex offenders living in one location. In one case, more than 20 registered offenders were discovered living in the same Budget Lodge motel near the Colton-San Bernardino city limits.

The Budget Lodge's management said it's a place where offenders can stay in compliance with the law.

"Everybody always said they feel more safe here and it's really quiet," said Budget Lodge front desk manager Kelly Thill.

Some motel customers stay a few days, while others stay a few weeks. And, if the guest has a record, the management will find out about it.

The Budget Lodge is not breaking any rules when it comes to housing sex offenders. The nearest school is about 2,000 feet away. It has recently been remodeled and it offers four different types of rooms. And, it is located in a remote area along the 215 Freeway.
- But leave it up to the vigilante media to turn something into mass hysteria.

If the city council decides to implement an ordinance to restrict so many registered sex offenders from living in the same motels, it would clash with state law. Currently, there are no rules on the number of people living in one location.

"They have to go somewhere," adds Thill. "It's away from schools and parks."

The city of San Bernardino is home to 600 sex offenders. The Megan's Law website shows several homes are being shared by registrants on release.


Scandals Reveal Sex Offender Laws' Limits

Original Article

12/06/2011

By Benjamin Radford

Sex crimes against children have been in the news recently, most prominently accusations against former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky and Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine.

Claims that the men abused boys for years made the news largely because they are affiliated with high-profile college athletics. But the accused men are very typical of most sex offenders in one important way: neither appears on any sex offender registry (required by legislation known as Megan's Law) because they are not convicted sex offenders.

The public widely believes that Megan's Laws protect children by alerting parents and teachers to those individuals most likely to abuse children, but the opposite is true. The fact is that the vast majority of people who physically and sexually abuse children are not convicted sex offenders and therefore are not covered under public notification laws.

There's simply no evidence that Megan's Laws work -- and considerable evidence that they don't.

A research study (PDF) for the Department of Justice by the New Jersey Department of Corrections titled "Megan's Law: Assessing the Practical and Monetary Effect" concluded, "Despite widespread community support for these laws, there is virtually no evidence to support their effectiveness in reducing either new first-time sex offenses (through protective measures or general deterrence) or sex re-offenses (through protective measures and specific deterrence)."

The first section of the two-part study examined sex offenses in each of New Jersey's counties, and the state as a whole over the course of 21 years; it also studied data on 550 sex offenders released between 1990 and 2000.

The study concluded that "Megan's Law has no effect on community tenure (i.e., time to first re-arrest); Megan's Law has no effect on the type of sexual re-offense or first time sexual offense; and that Megan'’s Law has no effect on reducing the number of victims involved in sexual offenses."

Indeed, as Michael Buncher, deputy public defender in the state Office of the Public Defender in charge of the Special Hearings Unit noted:

Megan's Law struck out on every important area related to protecting the community from sexual offenders. Not only is there no evidence that it reduces sexual re-offenses, Megan's Law fails to positively impact sex offender re-arrest rates, fails to change the type of re-offenses or first time offenses that occur and fails to reduce the number of victims involved in sexual offenses. As the state agency charged with representing those required to register under Megan's Law, the Public Defender agrees completely with the study's findings and with its ultimate conclusion that "given the lack of demonstrable effect of Megan's Law on sexual offenses, the growing costs may not be justifiable."

This study is not alone; so far all the research has consistently shown that Megan's Laws have little or no effect; they don't protect children. Even worse, they're expensive: the study found that implementing the notification laws cost taxpayers in each county about a half a million dollars to start, and approximately $4 million annually.

The panic over sex offenders distracts the public from a far greater threat to children: parental abuse and neglect. The vast majority of crimes against children are committed not by released sex offenders, but instead by the victim's own family, church clergy, and family friends.

It's not that some released sex offenders don't strike again -- a minority do, just like all other criminals -- but instead that if you use Megan's Laws as a guide to who's likely to abuse children, statistically you will be wrong most of the time.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, "based on what we know about those who harm children, the danger to children is greater from someone they or their family knows than from a stranger."

If lawmakers and the public are serious about wanting to protect children, they should not be misled by "stranger danger" myths and instead focus on the much larger threat inside the home.

Related:


CA - City OKs Stricter Park Sex Offender Ban

Original Article

12/07/2011

By Sarah de Crescenzo

On a 4-0 vote, Lake Forest's City Council tentatively approves a measure to ban registered sex offenders from city parks. It's tougher than the county law that inspired it.

A proposal to ban registered sex offenders from Lake Forest city parks, modeled after a county law passed in April, could end up being the most stringent in Orange County.

After hearing from 16 emotional public speakers—some pleading for passage of the law, others begging the council to nix it—Lake Forest officials voted 4-0 Tuesday to approve the measure, with a clause that makes it stricter than the original county ban.
- Yes, we know of a couple people who were there, and they let them speak, but basically just ignored what they had to say.  Don't want to look "soft" on sex offenders.

The county law, which has spurred a number of Orange County cities to pass laws that mirror it, makes it a misdemeanor for a registered sex offender to be in a county-run area where children gather, such as a park or beach. However, written permission from the Sheriff's Department can override that.

Lake Forest's ban, which would cover the city's 27 parks, grants no exceptions.

A line of speakers shared personal experiences in a bid to sway the council vote. (Councilman Mark Tettemer was absent due to illness.)

Local parents said they would feel safer knowing registered sex offenders were not allowed in parks.

These parks are places for our kids to be kids and part of what makes Lake Forest such an attractive place to raise kids,” said Erin Hoskinson, a mother of three. "This ordinance is about preserving Lake Forest as a family city.”

But attorney Janice Bellucci, state organizer with Reform State Offender Laws, asserted that the park ban is not the best way to protect children.

Most sexual assaults on children are conducted by family members or friends, she said. Only 1.2 percent of such assaults take place in parks, she asserted.

The ordinance is also “overly broad,” which makes its open to challenges in court, Bellucci said.

She requested a 180-day review period before a council vote.

Others offered more personal stories.

Elise Lindsey told the council that her father's expunged conviction for a sex offense 30 years ago should make officials think twice about passing the ban.

Other than being listed as a registered sex offender, "my dad is just like you," Lindsey said. If the ban passes, "I would not be able to enjoy time with my father at the park or enjoy my future child’s birthday party at the park," she said. “[The] protection of children is paramount—as is the protection of our civic rights," she said.

Also opposing the ban was a registered sex offender who said the law would unfairly lump all sex offenses into one category.

"I didn’t have sex with anyone. I didn’t try to have sex with anyone," [name withheld] said. Yet, "my life has been utterly destroyed in the last four years."

(According to Megan's Law records, [name withheld] was convicted of possessing child pornography.)

Soon after [name withheld]'s testimony, Orange County District Attorney Chief of Staff Susan Schroeder said [name withheld]'s statements had "no credibility" because his claim of not engaging in illegal sex was false.
- Possessing child porn is not having sex?  So what this lady claims is bogus, IMO.

Schroeder said she had "seen [name withheld]'s file," and asserted that photographs found on his computer showed him having sex with children.
- So did she know he was coming to the meeting ahead of time?  How could she?  So it's apparent she made this up, unless we are not being told something.  If what she says is not true, and this were me, and I had the money, I'd take her to court for defamation.

[name withheld] angrily denied her assertion immediately.

The outburst was followed by Mayor Peter Herzog asking Schroeder to limit her comments to generalities, rather than singling out audience members.

Earlier, Kelly Hagins, a local advocate for the ban, urged the council to "prioritize" the community's children. “I’m sorry someone can’t go to a park, but my son’s future, his health and safety are more important than that,” she said.

Under the proposal approved Tuesday, registered sex offenders would be prohibited from entering parks owned, leased, operated or maintained by the city.

The proposal was first brought up in October by Councilman Scott Voigts (Facebook, Email).

In November, the City Council responded to pleas from the District Attorney's Office and local parents and fast-tracked a proposal modeled after the county's ban for discussion.

It will return for final approval Dec. 20. If OK'ed at that meeting, it would take effect 30 days later.


NJ - Mayor (Chris Myers) Resigns After Being Accused of Having Sex With Male Escort

Chris Myers
Original Article

12/06/2011

By Christopher Santarelli

(The Blaze/AP) The town’s married mayor, accused on a website two months ago of having sex with a prostitute at a California hotel, resigned Monday.

The anonymous allegation against Republican Chris Myers, a father of two, included a photo of a man who appeared to be him in his underwear.

The person making the allegation claimed to be a prostitute. He said Myers contacted him through a male escort website and they met at a Newport Beach, Calif., hotel. He complained Myers paid him $500 but didn’t fulfill promises of a car and other gifts. He said on the website that the broken promise was the reason he was taking his story public.

The website was taken down soon after becoming public.

Myers, in an interview with a reporter for the Courier-Post newspaper in October, refused to comment on the allegations but didn’t deny them. At a November township council meeting, Myers denied the claims, calling the Internet “a murky, anonymous place.”

His resignation letter submitted to town officials Monday did not mention the scandal.

My work commitments will not allow me to devote the time that is needed in the months ahead,” Myers wrote.

Some other council members have complained that the allegations against Myers have gotten in the way of the business of the town of 23,000 residents about 20 miles east of Philadelphia. Myers missed one township council meeting and postponed another after the allegations surfaced.

Myers won the GOP nomination for a congressional seat in 2008 but lost the general election. He has been suspended as a vice president at technology manufacturer Lockheed Martin Corp.


They Are Not All Monsters

Original Article

11/16/2011

While many are still reeling from the recent painful Penn State scandal, I fervently hope that this will be a tremendous learning lesson for our society. As a treatment professional of sex offenders as well as victims, I would like to address some dynamics of perpetrators and witnesses that the public in general is perhaps unaware of.

What do child molesters look like? Your grandfather, your brother, your aunt, your employee, and yes, brilliant college football coaches. No one is all good or all bad; and sex offenders are no exception. They may be extremely talented, intelligent, successful, good-looking, blessed with beautiful families and “normal” sexual outlets. They cover all walks of life: early 20’s through 70’s, all ethnicities, races, religions, IQ levels, education, sexual orientations, and all socioeconomic strata. They don’t all look like “perverts.” There is no typical profile.

In psychology, there is a basic belief that “What is beautiful is good.” Therefore, if someone who is beautiful (or does beautiful things) does something bad, it creates cognitive dissonance, a confused state of being that can block comprehension and appropriate action. It is fairly easy for us to believe that an unattractive, low-achiever could commit sex crimes against children, and we then vilify the “pervert,” even after he/she admits it works to control it.

Many child molesters and pedophiles actually hate themselves for what they consider uncontrollable urges and would get help if they knew where to turn. Sadly, the global belief is that they cannot be helped, and most reoffend. Fortunately, this is completely false. With treatment, the recidivism rate is between 5%-13%, much lower than for non-sex crimes (US Dept of Justice; Bureau of Statistics). While there is no cure for an attraction to children, it can be managed much like substance addictions. Again, therapy and support are crucial to success.

Adults fail to intervene and report abuse for a variety of reasons, one of the most salient being denial or minimization of the offense. This is enabling, and enablers are more culpable than offenders, who can be “crippled” by their disorder. Enablers do not want the offense to be a reality, and keenly hope that it will just “go away,” particularly if it involves a celebrity or someone we really admire. The American culture all but deifies sports figures. We want heroes, and athletes and coaches bespeak health, fitness, confidence, winning, and an all- American wholesomeness that blinds some of us to their blemishes or weaknesses. While not excusing their response to the recent accusations at Penn State, Joe Paterno, Mike McQueary, Spanier, et al, I believe, were caught in this immobilizing, enabling position. While it appears that they put football before the wellbeing of children, potentially what was occurring was their inability to comprehend the severity of the crime and respond appropriately. Their actions may have been completely different and appropriate if the perpetrator were a stranger and not part of the success machine of Penn State Football.

Let us all use this tragedy as an opportunity to learn proper protocol for reporting abuse, even when an abuser attempts to exploit his/her position. Sexual abuse affects us all. This is a public health issue that can be resolved when the media and public move beyond sensationalism. Let’s offer help not only to the victims, but also to the abusers, for the best way to help victims is to help abusers. Let’s focus on accountability, responsibility, solutions, and management vs. blame, demonizing, and retribution.


VA - Sex-offender registry reviewed

Original Article

12/07/2011

By Frank Green

The Virginia State Crime Commission was told Tuesday that Virginia's sex-offender registry may be in compliance with federal law and not require any changes.

The commission staff said that in Virginia, when a juvenile is convicted of certain sex crimes, it is up to the judge to determine whether the juvenile will be required to register on the Virginia sex-offender registry.

Federal officials earlier indicated that Virginia's failure to automatically register juveniles judged convicted of violent sexual offenses was in conflict with the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (Videos).

Any state found not to be in substantial compliance with SORNA could forfeit 10 percent of a federal law enforcement grant — about $600,000 in Virginia's case.
- And it will cost most than this to comply!

But G. Stewart Petoe, director of legal affairs for the commission, reported Tuesday that authorities are still reviewing the situation and might ultimately determine that Virginia is in compliance.

In other matters Tuesday, the commission did not act on a proposal to increase from 80 mph to 90 mph the speed limit for reckless driving and whether to penalize failure to obey traffic lights as reckless driving.

Nor did it act on proposals to implement a system to track the purchase of certain over-the-counter cold medications as a means of curbing illegal methamphetamine production or to implementing animal-abuser and domestic-abuser registries in the state.

Commission inaction does not sink proposed legislation, but endorsement of a bill or proposal by the commission carries great weight in the General Assembly.