Friday, March 2, 2012
BOISE (AP) -- Senate lawmakers are trying to give young men convicted under an older definition of statutory rape an opportunity to clear their name from the sex offender registry.
The Judiciary and Rules Committee advanced a bill Wednesday that applies to young men who were convicted of statutory rape before 2010.
In 2010, the Legislature cleared statutory rape charges in cases of consensual sex when a man is within three years in age of his 16 or 17-year-old partner. Previously no girl under 18 could legally give consent.
Sen. Les Bock of Garden City says many offenders convicted under the old law might not be found guilty under the new definition.
His bill would give those offenders a chance to petition a judge to lift their sex offender label.
By Antonio Lujan
WOODS CROSS - Sex offenders were going to get Twitter introductions when they moved to Woods Cross until police were flooded with angry calls.
Woods Cross P.D. sent its first tweet this week, saying "New to the area" with a link to the sex offender registry.
Most people know a child is every parent's prized possession. They do whatever they can to keep them safe. An online sex offender registry is a good place to start to find out who lives nearby. “People probably want to know if that individual is in the neighborhood,” said Jason Hess, who has children of his own.
Every time an offender moved in, officers planned on posting their profile on the department's twitter page. “I think it would be handy for people that are more tech savvy than me,” commented Tracey Peterson, another parent.
Now, the police department is scraping the plan, because of community backlash- accusing them of causing people to live in fear.
For some parents, the plan was a way to protect their children. “My daughter goes to school right here and she walks this busy street. She expressed to me the other day her concern about wanting to get home more quickly,” said Hess.
- Police use Twitter to announce sex offender arrival (See Video)
- Woods Cross Police on Facebook
- Woods Cross Police on Twitter
Charlie will be on the sex offender registry for life, must wear a GPS around his neck, and cannot live around any kids. His life is basically over!
|Charlie the pug|
By Chas Sisk
Pimps would join child molesters and rapists on Tennessee’s sexual offender registries under a bill moving through the state legislature.
The House of Representatives voted 89-0 to pass House Bill 2853, which makes people convicted of promoting prostitution add their names to the sex offender lists. First offenders would see their names on the list for 10 years; second offenders would be there for life.
Despite the unanimous vote, the bill drew quite a bit of discussion, as lawmakers questioned exactly what is meant by “promoting” prostitution. State Rep. Debra Maggart, R-Hendersonville, insisted it would be applied only to pimps, but legislators asked whether it might also be used on prostitutes who “self-promote” (via an online ad, maybe) or people who run escort services.
- It should, IMO.
State Rep. Antonio Parkinson, D-Memphis, offered the oddly specific example of a dance troop manager who has a showgirl who prostitutes herself.
State Rep. Mike Kernell, D-Memphis, also offered a philosophical objection against the bill, which describes pimping as a violent crime.
“I have a problem listing it when it’s not violent with thing that are violent,” he said.
“I think the public has a right to know who they are,” Maggart replied.
Supporters argued that the law will stop exploitation of women. State Rep. Jim Gotto, R-Hermitage, complained it ought to be extended to johns who solicit prostitutes.
- I concur.
The issue goes over to the Senate, where it is yet to be heard in committee.
Listen to the Florida Action Committee TalkShoe show below, and visit the ALEC Exposed site. Also, if you listen to the audio, they say that the politicians agree with us, but not enough of us are speaking out. You hear that? This is why we need to speak out! If we sit and do nothing, then more and more laws will be passed. You can use the links on the left to contact your legislature, senators, mayors, governors, etc. DO IT NOW!
|Click the image to read the entire article|
By Paul Krueger, Lindsay Hood and Lauren Steussy
Prosecutors could not prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt
A judge dismissed a case against San Diego's "Street Czar" after he was charged with molesting a child under the age of 14.
Prosecutors claimed that Mario Sierra, 47, forced the female victim put her hand on his penis. The girl was younger than 14 when the alleged crime happened, about seven years ago.
However on Thursday, a judge dismissed charges against Sierra after a hearing in which the District Attorney's office made a motion to dismiss those charges, according to Steve Walker, spokesman with the DA's office.
Last month, a mistrial was declared after the jury was split over whether Sierra committed the crime. Two jurors were undecided.
Sierra was recently appointed to Director of Transportation and Storm Water for the city of San Diego. Earlier this month, the city consolidated its street operations into one department.
The site says a memo from the city's Chief Operating Officer, Jay Goldstone, says Sierra has been placed on unpaid administrative leave.
SCOTLAND - Mother (Willamina Stewart) and boy (Paul Noble) admit killing a man they thought was pedophile who had no criminal record
A mother and a high school student have pleaded guilty to killing a man they wrongly believed was a pedophile, STV Local in Scotland reported.
Willamina Stewart and Paul Noble, then 15, attacked [name withheld], 57, at a park in Aberdeen, Scotland, after he asked if he could jump on her trampoline with her children. They repeatedly punched him, stamped on his head and thrashed him with a bicycle.
[name withheld], who was placed in a nursing home following the 2010 attack, died nine months later from his injuries.
Stewart, a 37-year-old mother of three, also was accused of having shown [name withheld] malice before the attack on account of rumors that he was a pedophile.
A police constable told the court in Aberdeen that he ran a background check on [name withheld] and that he had a clean record, the BBC reported.
Stewart’s boyfriend, Paul Yates, and her brother, Hector Stewart, admitted participating in the assault.
Noble, now 17, is studying for his high school exit exams.
The four will be sentenced later this month, the BBC reported.
View HB-620 (PDF)
By Melinda Deslatte
BATON ROUGE (WTW) — Gov. Bobby Jindal is again attempting to ban certain sex offenders from Facebook and other social networking sites, backing legislation Thursday that would rewrite a state law that later was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge.
Jindal said the prohibition is among anti-crime bills he is pushing in the legislative session that begins March 12.
A federal judge threw out a law passed last year that made it a crime for anyone convicted of a sex offense against a minor or of video voyeurism to use networking websites, chat rooms and peer-to-peer networks. The judge said the law was too broad and would effectively ban those sex offenders from the Internet.
The state will appeal that ruling, Jindal said, arguing the law was designed to keep sex offenders from preying on children in online forums. Meanwhile, Rep. Ledricka Thierry, D-Opelousas, is sponsoring a measure to more narrowly define what sites are banned in the hopes that proposal could stand up to a court challenge.
"We cannot let a court fight keep us from protecting our children," the governor said.
- That's just it, it protects nobody. You folks seem to think that anyone with the "sex offender" label is a child molesting, pedophile predator, which is not true. And just because someone is on a social network, doesn't mean they are "looking for someone to molest," and it violates their freedom of speech, and others, like the judge said the last time, and surely he will knock this one down as well?
The existing law was overturned earlier this month in a Baton Rouge-based federal court, after the ACLU of Louisiana filed a lawsuit on behalf of two sex offenders identified as John Doe and James Doe.
The organization said the terms used in the law barred the sex offenders from browsing any website that allows users to create profiles about themselves or that has chat rooms, instant messaging and e-mail — sweeping in everything from news websites to job search sites.
Thierry's bill would rewrite the ban to keep sex offenders from websites whose primary purpose is "facilitating social interaction with other users of the website and which allows users to create web pages or profiles about themselves that are available to the public or other users."
- What? That, again, is just about anything these days. A forum, like SOSEN, would be off limits, and even a person cannot create their own web site? Come on, surely the judge will throw this out as well?
The proposal spells out that news websites, e-mail pages and online shopping sites aren't included in the ban.
"We're not giving up. We are going to pass this legislation again this session. And we feel it is going to be upheld," said Thierry, sponsor of the law that was ruled unconstitutional.
Conviction of the crime of unlawful use or access of social media carried a prison sentence of up to 10 years. A second conviction required a prison sentence of at least five years and up to 20 years. The new proposal would carry the same sentences.
Other proposals pushed by Jindal would:
- Prohibit sex offenders from living within three miles of their victims or knowingly going within 300 feet of their victims without their consent.
- Require sex offenders moving from other states to register in Louisiana for the same time period as required in their home states, if that state requires a longer registration period.
- Increase penalties for crimes associated with street gangs, like inciting or participating in a riot, aggravated criminal damage to property and looting.
- Require a life sentence for human traffickers if the offender has a prior sex offense conviction, increase penalties for commercial sex exploitation of children, enable electronic monitoring of someone convicted of human trafficking and extend the time in which someone could be prosecuted for human trafficking and sexually exploiting children.
By Chuck Lindell
See Also: In the Matter of MPA, 10-0859
Charged with molesting two young cousins, [name withheld] was summoned to a psychologist's office to measure his sexual attraction to children.
The test given required the 16-year-old to click through images of swimsuit-clad people of various ages while the computer secretly measured how long he viewed each photo. The results, according to the prosecution-hired psychologist who administered the test, showed [name withheld] to be a pedophile who was a "high risk" to strike again.
Bell County prosecutors hammered the finding during [name withheld]'s 1999 trial, urging jurors to choose prison over probation to protect children from a teen "diagnosed as a pedophile by an expert." The jury responded with a 20-year sentence.
Now 29, [name withheld] still has 7½ years left on his sentence.
In the years since [name withheld]'s trial, however, both of his accusers have recanted, saying they lied about being sexually assaulted at the urging of their mother, who was embroiled in a bitter custody battle.
Troubling details about the psychological test also have emerged, prompting [name withheld]'s lawyers to begin a two-part appeal designed to gain his freedom based on innocence or, at the very least, grant [name withheld] a new sentencing trial that excludes a psychological test that defense lawyers deride as junk science.
The Texas Supreme Court is weighing both requests, which are opposed by prosecutors.
Though interest in [name withheld]'s case tends to focus on his claim of innocence, his attack on the psychological test could influence future attempts to challenge allegedly bad science in the courtroom — a continuing problem that the nation's appellate courts have struggled with for decades.
The test, defense lawyers say, had an unacceptably high 35 percent error rate that was not disclosed to [name withheld]'s judge and jury. It was never intended to be used to identify pedophiles, they claim, and a university study found that its results were little better "than chance" when trying to distinguish pedophiles from non-pedophiles.
In addition, the psychologist who examined [name withheld] inflated the test's effectiveness and scientific support when he testified at [name withheld]'s trial, leading to a reprimand from a state regulatory agency four years later, court records show.
Issues with the test seemed to resonate with many of the Supreme Court's nine justices during oral arguments in January.
Justice Nathan Hecht dismissed the test as "bordering on hokum" and less likely to yield valid results than lie-detector tests, which are not admissible in criminal court proceedings.
Justice David Medina noted that a 65 percent accuracy rate would have earned the test an F in a school setting. "To incarcerate somebody for one day, you use a standard that's not even A-plus?" Medina asked lawyers for Bell County. "That seems wrong on its face."
Lawyer John Gauntt Jr. with the Bell County attorney's office acknowledged that a 35 percent error rate was "not a suitable standard" for use in court. He also acknowledged that the prosecution's expert, Georgetown psychologist Fred Willoughby, provided false testimony about the test's effectiveness in the [name withheld] case.
Even so, Gauntt told the court, the 20-year sentence should not be overturned because [name withheld] cannot prove he was harmed by Willoughby's testimony — a necessary step toward earning a new sentencing trial.
Jurors were more likely swayed by the victims' testimony of abuse than by Willoughby's opinion, Gauntt argued, noting that the jury declined to choose the maximum 40-year sentence. A district judge in Bell County who reviewed [name withheld]'s appeal came to the same conclusion when he denied [name withheld]'s request for a new trial in 2008, Gauntt added.
A skeptical Justice Eva Guzman called that a "tough" argument to accept, given that jurors chose a significant prison term after prosecutors emphasized the expert's diagnosis of pedophilia.
In the late 1990s, [name withheld] and his year-older brother [brother name withheld] lived a block away from their younger cousins in Harker Heights, and the two families frequently mingled for holidays, birthdays and other gatherings.
Everything changed in 1997 when [name withheld] and [brother name withheld]'s aunt by marriage, [aunt name withheld], filed for divorce and later took her children — [child name withheld], 7, and [child name withheld], 5 — to Florida, where she changed their names in an effort to hide, only to be discovered within four months. The day after discovery, she filed a report with Child Protective Services claiming that her children had been sexually abused in Texas, court records show.
The pattern was repeated in Iowa, where [aunt name withheld] next took the children and managed to stay hidden for almost a year — filing sex abuse complaints there after her husband tracked his children down, court records show.
[name withheld] was an eighth-grader who dreamed of a football career when his uncle [uncle name withheld] pulled him aside to ask about the allegations that he and [brother name withheld], on separate occasions, had forced their cousins to have sex.
"I said: 'What are you talking about? Come on, [uncle name withheld], how long have you known me?'" [name withheld] recalled during an interview from the state prison in Dilley, about 70 miles southwest of San Antonio. "There's no way. They're like my little brother and my little sister."
Investigators in Bell County, however, got a break when [name withheld]'s older brother, [brother name withheld], signed two confessions admitting he assaulted [aunt name withheld]. He was sentenced to seven years in prison, serving 5½.
Today, [brother name withheld] says he confessed in a misguided attempt to spare his brother from the accusations. If anything, however, he made matters worse for [name withheld], who went to trial in 1999.
On the witness stand, Austin didn't testify about any acts committed by [name withheld], prompting the judge to drop an assault charge naming the boy as victim. But after hearing tales of abuse from [aunt name withheld], jurors returned guilty verdicts on the two remaining charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child.
The third day of [name withheld]'s trial was devoted to his punishment.
Willoughby, the first prosecution witness, described administering the Abel Assessment, a test to measure sexual attraction that was named for its Georgia developer, research scientist and psychiatry professor Gene Abel.
The two-part test included a questionnaire that, once graded, showed [name withheld]'s responses to be "socially desirable." However, Willoughby testified, he discounted the results because it was easy to choose acceptable responses to such questions as: "Do you have intense sexual fantasies about children?"
More important, Willoughby testified, was [name withheld]'s performance on the "objective" portion of the test — the time spent viewing dozens of photos showing people of different ages as they stood or sat before a neutral background.
From prison, [name withheld] recalled the images "getting weirder and weirder" as people standing alone gave way to photos of a woman holding a rope, an older man with a younger girl and someone tied up in a chair.
"I'm sitting there, and I'm more appalled than anything," [name withheld] said. "I didn't study these pictures and all that. I flipped through them."
At [name withheld]'s trial, Willoughby testified that he sent the boy's viewing data to Abel's for-profit company in Georgia for analysis. The results that came back, he said, showed [name withheld] had "significant sexual interest" in 8- to 10-year-old girls and in boys who were 2 to 4 and 8 to 10 years old.
Based on the test results and the guilty verdict, Willoughby said, he classified [name withheld] as a pedophile.
The psychologist also testified that he believed the boy was a continuing danger to children. Although he didn't tell jurors how he came to that conclusion, in a report Willoughby said [name withheld]'s "strong denial" of the charges presented a higher risk that he would engage in the same behavior again, court records show. (On appeal, defense lawyers complain about the "circular reasoning" that made proclaiming innocence a legal liability for [name withheld].)
Three months before Willoughby testified, however, Brigham Young University researchers published a report raising serious questions about the assessment's scientific underpinnings.
The study found error rates of up to 48 percent when the test tried to differentiate between adolescent child molesters and non-molesters. The study also noted a 42 percent false-positive rate when non-molesters were tested.
- We should get all the "experts," judges, lawyers, police, etc to take this test, and I'm willing to bet, based on this "experts" tests, they will all also be labeled pedophiles, if he doesn't know who he's testing, and probably a vast majority of the public would as well.
The BYU study prompted Abel to publish a response arguing that his test was never meant to diagnose pedophilia or identify pedophiles — which was how Willoughby used it — but instead is a tool to guide the treatment of sex offenders.
In the years since [name withheld]'s trial, a number of Texas courts have disallowed testimony based on the Abel Assessment, ruling that the test is unreliable and that its results cannot be independently verified because Abel's for-profit company does not reveal its methodology for proprietary reasons.
"In hindsight," Bell County lawyer Gauntt told the Supreme Court, "I don't know of anybody using this assessment (in court) anymore."
Defense lawyers are confident that if given a new sentencing trial, [name withheld] would receive a sentence of less than the 12½ years he has served in prison, essentially freeing him.
- If he didn't do it, why should he get any time in prison? He should get compensation for the time he's spent in prison and ruining his reputation, IMO.
But during arguments before the Supreme Court, defense lawyer Dustin Howell said that without a finding of innocence, [name withheld] would have to register as a sex offender for 10 years, limiting his employment and housing options "for a crime he did not commit."
[child name withheld] first recanted her accusations in 2001, about 11 months after courts returned her to her father's home. A district judge who handled the ensuing appeal, however, found her change of heart to be unpersuasive, ruling that she was apparently subject to manipulation from her mother on her trial testimony and from her father on the recantation.
[child name withheld] added his voice to [child name withheld]'s on the current appeal, with both testifying in 2007 that they lied on the stand at the urging of their mother, who said she would be sent to prison if they did not.
"I was just thinking, well, this isn't really true, but I shouldn't question my mother, you know, because she is my mother and she's got wisdom," [child name withheld] testified.
But as with the earlier appeal, District Judge Gordon Adams of Bell County ruled that the recantations were not credible, citing [brother name withheld]'s confessions, the testimony of all witnesses and "other evidence."
Appeals courts typically defer to lower courts on such fact questions — acknowledging that trial judges are in a far better position to weigh the credibility of witnesses who appear before them. But Adams' lack of specificity about his doubts prompted several Supreme Court justices to express frustration and wonder aloud how much deference his opinion is due.
Justice Phil Johnson sounded a note of caution, however, expressing discomfort with "substituting our judgment for the trial judge" by ruling he "got it wrong."
As Johnson's statement indicates, if the Supreme Court were to rule in [name withheld]'s favor, it would be more likely to order a new sentencing trial than to declare him innocent against the wishes of a lower-court judge.
[name withheld] said he is trying not to get his hopes up as the Supreme Court deliberates his fate. "What scares me is that I've been through several courts, and it always came to get me in the end," he said.
If freed, he hopes to get a business degree and perhaps build a career in the stock and bond market, but he tempers those hopes as well, noting that having to register as a sex offender would restrict him "from every little aspect of trying to improve myself. I'm sure colleges wouldn't accept me."
[name withheld], who transferred from a juvenile lockup to the adult prison system as he neared his 21st birthday, said he bears no ill will toward [child name withheld], who he said has apologized by letter. "I don't even blame her," he said. "I think she's a victim in this whole ordeal, just like me and my brother."
"This whole thing has really torn my family apart," he said, noting that his parents lost a restaurant business and sold their home to pay legal fees. His mother, [mother name withheld], died last year of cancer, and the strain of the abuse allegations drove a wedge between his father and uncle, [name withheld] said.
"I'm hoping everything's all right so I can get out and bring this family back together, some way, somehow," he said.
[name withheld]'s case is before the Supreme Court because juvenile cases are considered civil court matters. The case is styled "In the Matter of MPA, 10-0859" because defendant names are confidential in juvenile court.
The following video is about homophobia, but it's still relevant to sex offender issues. If many in the general public took the same tests those labeled "sex offenders" had to take, most would be labeled "sex offenders" as well.