Saturday, February 4, 2012

IL - CLTV broadcasts pic of wrong man as sexual assault suspect

Original Article

02/02/2012

CHICAGO (WLS) - A Chicago area television news station broadcasted the wrong picture of a man with the same name in connection with a sexual assault of a boy last year, a defamation lawsuit filed Wednesday claims.

[name withheld] claims a picture of his face was shown, Feb. 5, 2011, on Chicagoland Television News, Inc. (CLTV) with a caption stating the he was a suspect in the sexual assault of a boy on or near CTA property, according to a suit filed in Cook County Circuit Court.

The [name withheld] involved in the sexual assault was an independent contractor for a company providing security for the CTA and not the plaintiff, the suit said.

The suit claims that [name withheld] was never a suspect, person of interest, witness, or otherwise involved in the sexual assault.

The broadcast was shown to a wide audience of television viewers in the Chicagoland area, including [name withheld]’s mother and friends of the family, the suit said.

The suit claims CLTV improperly fact-checked the story and failed to ensure the story was true and accurate, including the identity of the crime’s alleged perpetrator.

Due to the station’s negligent conduct, [name withheld]’s reputation in the community and that of his family was injured, the suit said. He suffered severe emotional distress including fear and intimidation from community members. [name withheld] also changed homes twice to protect the physical and emotional well-being of his family.

The suit also claims that [name withheld]’s attorney told CLTV that there was a possibility for a defamation suit and the station removed and destroyed the defamatory statements from its online archives and broadcast news programs.

The four-count suit claims defamation, false light invasion of privacy and negligent spoliation of evidence. It seeks unspecified damages.

A spokesperson for CLTV was unavailable for comment Wednesday evening.


TN - ABC 24 Reporter Mistakenly Listed as Possible Sex Offender

Original Article

Wouldn't this be profiling? Like all those who come from the Middle East, flagged as possible terrorists? Same thing, IMO. If you live around an ex-sex offender, you may be a possible sex offender. Maybe when enough people get searched or stopped for being a "suspect," then things will change. And what a waste of time, all those false positives!

02/03/2012

By Joy Lambert

MEMPHIS (abc24.com) - An ABC 24 reporter and an entire Memphis apartment complex is flagged as possible sex offenders, all because of one North Carolina man.

Tennessee residents can trace sex offenders through the TBI website; just put in an address and see if there are any close by. However, Memphis police know if there are any close by simply by scanning license plates. But if you live in an apartment complex, or if you share the same street name as an offender, police officers could think you're an offender too.

ABC 24's Joy Lambert was shocked when she found out her car registration was flagged as a possible sex offender. The License Plate Reader system manager for the Memphis Police Department, John Harvey, said the sex offender is a man named [name withheld] from North Carolina. He's the reason Lambert, and her entire apartment complex, are red flagged. Harvey said, "It has to do with the possibility that a sex offender lives in a certain address or within an address. Since you live in apartments, the program is designed to look for matches on the street number and street name." [name withheld]'s last reported address has the same street name and numbers as Lambert's complex.

That's how all the matches come up with MPD's license plate reader and matches happen all the time. Warrants, felons, even gang members pop up the same way, helping police to identify a threat or a criminal. But innocent people, if they have similar addresses, are flagged as well.

If an officer saw the "possible sex offender" flag, Harvey said, "Typically they wouldn't do anything if you were just out in the public, unless you were in a school zone, or near a park or something where sex offenders are not supposed to be. Then if they were to do something they would click on the alert and it would tell them who that sex offender is." He told Lambert, "In your case that sex offender was a male; they wouldn't do anything most likely." However, if a male from the same complex was caught near a school, "They would probably stop and check them," Harvey said.

MPD said license plate readers work the way they want them too, which means if your address is flagged it will stay that way. "There's really nothing you can do," Harvey said, "because the officers need to know there's a possible sex offender there."

MPD stresses to its officers, when a flag comes up they are just possibilities - they still have to go through police protocol to determine a threat or violation. Police have made thousands of arrests because of the license plate readers. Even though it makes flagged citizens uncomfortable, MPD said the system is keeping Memphis safer.


CO - Opinion: Let he without sin cast the first stone

Original Article

02/03/2012

By Brittany Madigan

Imagine living in a community that’s supportive, proactive and safe. The real community isn’t the streets or buildings it’s built on, but the satisfactory relationships between the people belonging to the society. Members within it are successful when making strategic implementations, whether it’s trying to achieve goals with public input or notifying the citizens of issues arising in the community. One might find Craig, Colorado a perfect fit for themselves, feeling comfortable enough to reside in this small town.

Say you consider yourself a “good Samaritan,” unselfishly helping anyone in need of assistance, always making correct decisions because you know it’s the right thing to do. Now flip the scenario, you’re the antagonist. You’ve made some unforgivable choices that have harmed other people and, consequently, your future. Would a “good Samaritan” stop to help you, or just let you become the latest notch at the bottom of the totem pole?

As for the community in Craig, the name [name withheld] is particularly familiar, his face being branded in the back of hundreds of minds. [name withheld] gained an extreme amount of publicity for his conviction of sexual assault in 2009 and similar crimes in California in the 1980’s. [name withheld] was paroled in late November and now resides in Moffat County.

At first, when I thought about the new addition to Craig, I felt it was necessary that people take precautionary steps towards their safety. After hearing multiple repugnant comments, I was disappointed in our community. It makes me wonder if we have forgotten what the American justice system is all about.

A person has the right to freely start over after paying a certain debt, not to be hounded and ostracized for the rest of his life. Take [name withheld] for example, he committed his crimes and paid his dues, including jail time in Colorado and twenty-five years of a fifty year sentence in California.

I’m not sitting here denying that there are people in this world who do wrongful things, but the stigma attached to sex offenders - branding them as threats to society is almost prejudice. I understand the feelings of fear when coming face to face with a person who has been labeled with the high intent to re-offend. Fear is natural and substantial, but it can be curved.

Looking at our lifestyles now, this was an awakening that should teach us how to become more aware of our boundaries and our surrounding environment. Take this opportunity and be thankful for the advanced warning of safety the government accommodates within a township.

The Jacob Wetterling Act of 1994 requires sexual offenders to notify law enforcement of their residence in a community. Due to the Jacob Wetterling Act, Craig acquired the advantage of a community meeting and being notified of [name withheld], but it doesn’t mean we can become our own vigilantes just because we’re afraid someone is going to walk around a corner and do something offensive.

Let these experiences teach us a lesson, we should step off our soapbox and realize Craig isn’t the only place this happens and ask ourselves: If one of us were to be released back into society, how would we expect to be treated?


RI - Call to end appeals for sex offenders

Original Article

02/03/2012

By Tim White

PROVIDENCE (WPRI) - The Rhode Island Attorney General’s office will once again throw their support behind legislation that would eliminate the ability for sex offenders to appeal their classification level.

Special Assistant Attorney General Joee Lindbeck said lawmakers need to get Rhode Island up to speed with the federal Adam Walsh Act, which requires a state to classify sex offenders based on the crime they commit.

When a defendant is sentenced of the crime they were convicted of they would know that day what their tier level would be,” Lindbeck said. “If it was first degree child molestation, it would be a tier three, if it was video voyeurism, it would be a tier one.”

Right now, sex offenders are given a classification by the Sex Offender Board of Review, an eight-member panel that uses a formula to determine the persons’ likelihood they will reoffend. Offenders deemed a "level III" are at a high risk to reoffend, "level II" a moderate risk and "level I" a low risk. The classifications also determine whether or not the public is notified of their existence. "Level III" and "level II" sex offenders on the state's website and local police departments notify neighbors if one is residing in the area.

Rhode Island law allows offenders to appeal their classifications to the courts.

A Target 12 investigation revealed Magistrate Judge Patrick Burke – who hears the sex offender classification appeals in superior court – has overturned 58 percent of classifications given to offenders in the last year.

Lindbeck said while the Attorney General’s office respects the role of the judiciary, she feels the numbers reflect a need to change the system altogether.

I think that is why we are fighting so hard for legislation to be passed,” Lindbeck said. “Our community has the right to know who is living around them.”
- What gives them that right?  If that were true, then they'd also know about the murderers, gang members, drug dealers, DUI offenders and other criminals around them, but they don't, so your comment is pointless, IMO.

The Adam Walsh Act, also known as the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, is a federal law designed to set uniform requirements for states to track sex offenders and regulate how the public is notified about their existence.

Past legislation written to put the state in line with the Adam Walsh Act has failed on Smith Hill. States that have not complied with the federal law have lost out on federal funding in the past few years.

Carolyn Atwell-Davis, Director of Legislative Affairs with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said the act is important in creating a “seamless nationwide registry.”

There needs to be consistency in how these offenders are classified,” Atwell-Davis said. “For uniformity we support using the offense-based system that is in the Adam Walsh act."
- Why is this even needed?  Why don't we place other criminals into tiers and on an online registry?

Locally, regular critics include the Rhode Island ACLU, which has testified at legislative hearings that stricter reporting requirements required by the act would give the public a false sense of security.

State Sen. Michael McCaffrey, D-Warwick, is chairman of the judiciary committee, which has held hearings on Adam Walsh bills in the past.

He declined to say whether or not he would support any new legislation that gets Rhode Island in-line with the federal law.

But he said the Rhode Island Attorney General’s office should be appealing more of Burke’s decisions if they take issue with his rulings.

You never know until you do it,” McCaffrey said. “If they feel the decisions are wrong, you would think that office would appeal them.”
- Come on, this is like saying "If I murder this person, will I get caught?"  You never know until you try it!

A Target 12 review of records shows the attorney general’s office has not appealed any sex offender classification downgrades in the last year.

Lindbeck said that’s because the legal hurdle to overturn the magistrate’s decision is just too high. She said the way the law is written, the judge makes their decision using intuition and discretion.

A reasonable basis for appeal would be a factual error by the court,” Lindbeck said. “If the court is to use discretion, that leaves us no available avenue to appeal.”