Friday, March 9, 2012
Yet another cop busted for a sex crime in Florida.
By CHRIS GRAHAM and JAY STAPLETON
DAYTONA BEACH -- A former Volusia County Beach Patrol officer will be sent to a state prison after pleading no contest to charges of having sex with an underage lifeguard and a teenager, according to a three-page plea agreement filed Thursday.
Robert Tameris, also known to his peers as "Beautiful Bobby," entered a plea of no contest to two charges of unlawful sexual activity with a minor, according to the documents. The plea marks another chapter in a scandal that rocked the Beach Patrol, leading to the firings of three employees and a lawsuit against the county.
The 46-year-old Tameris will be adjudicated guilty and spend 18 months in state prison, to be followed by four years of strict sex offender probation, the agreement shows. In the document, Tameris said he "maintains my innocence," and is pleading to the charges in his "best interest."
Tameris, who has been out on $20,000 bail, will be designated a sex offender once his sentence is completed. If Tameris violates the terms of his probation, he could also spend more time in prison.
Tameris' attorney, Mike Lambert, said there is an agreement between the state and defense not to discuss the plea agreement in the media.
"I will honor that," he said, declining further comment.
But State Attorney R.J. Larizza said in a news release that Tameris' pending sentence will make the community a "safer and better place."
"Sometimes the pursuit of justice is an arduous and painful journey, as it was in this case," he said.
Tameris answered the door at his Port Orange home on Thursday but declined comment.
For Tameris it culminates a nearly three-year firestorm after allegations surfaced in 2009 that he was among three men who had sex with former lifeguard [victim name withheld], who was a minor at the time.
The county launched an internal investigation after [victim name withheld] alleged she had sex with Beach Patrol officers Tameris, the then 36-year-old Jecoa Simmons and 31-year-old lifeguard Chris Duarte.
Simmons, a captain who was fired after the allegations arose, was sentenced to four years' probation last week for telling a young woman to lie to investigators about sexual activity within the agency. Duarte was never prosecuted.
Affidavits filed with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement alleged [victim name withheld] had sex with each of the men at various times in 2008.
The affidavits show Tameris and the former lifeguard exchanged more than 1,700 text messages during an undetermined amount of time and more than 1,100 texts with the two other men.
Tameris was not initially charged due to a lack of sufficient evidence. Simmons and Duarte were never charged with any sex crime.
But after [victim name withheld]'s claims surfaced, a teenager told investigators she had a sexual relationship with Tameris after she met him while sunbathing. She said the pair had sex 20 to 25 times between September 2007 and May 2008 at Tameris' home when she was 16 and 17.
[victim name withheld] later filed a federal lawsuit against the county for condoning a "culture of sexual abuse and depravity" and demanded more than $2 million in damages. The lawsuit has since been dismissed and she could be on the hook for nearly $300,000 the county spent defending itself in federal court.
A similar suit is pending in state court.
County officials did not return a message left Thursday and [victim name withheld]'s attorney Brett Hartley declined comment.
The criminal case against Tameris dragged along with numerous delays after he was arrested in 2009. The case was expected to go to trial next week, and would have taken five days. If convicted at trial of both counts, Tameris faced a minimum sentence of 11 1/2 years in prison.
Tameris had recently argued that the case should be dismissed on a number of legal grounds, but his motions were denied by Circuit Judge Joseph Will.
The judge had agreed to suppress some evidence, including phone records and text messages. But he denied other efforts by the defense to weaken the state's case, which was largely based on the credibility of witnesses.
Under Florida law, it is a felony for a person 24 and older to have sex with a person who is 16 or 17, regardless of whether the sex was consensual.
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By Courtney Trenwith
The public will have access to the details of serious sex offenders after bi-partisan support saw the government's proposed register pass its last legislative hurdle.
The register is expected to be operational by July after it was approved by State Parliament's upper house this afternoon.
It will have three tiers according to an offenders' history.
The most serious category - dangerous sexual offenders who have gone underground - will have their photographs and details such as date of birth, physical description, name, and known aliases published with full public access.
Tier two would make the public aware of repeat or highly dangerous sex offenders in their area by making photographs available of those living in their postcode and adjoining postcodes.
Offenders will receive 21 days' notice that their image and location will be made available on the website, and can lodge an objection with the police commissioner.
Tier three will allow guardians to request information about a specific person who has access to their child at least three days per year.
Applicants must provide their full details, the identity of the person of interest and the level of contact that person has with the child.
Attorney General Christian Porter said the register provided families with greater protection against known sex offenders living in their communities.
"The passage of this legislation today is a clear win for the people of WA and the rights of parents to be able to access information that may protect their children from sex offenders in their community," he said.
The Labor Party agreed to support the bill out of fear it would be branded weak on sex offenders but said it fell short of offering adequate protection for children.
Following passage of the Sex Offender Register Bill through parliament's lower house in December, opposition police spokeswoman Margaret Quirk said Labor still had numerous reservations about the register, most notably that it would send WA sex offenders interstate, while those who committed offences elsewhere would not be subject to the same scrutiny.
"[There's] strong suggestion that other states will no longer share information of offenders moving interstate with us, so potentially you could have sex offenders moving [without knowing]," Ms Quirk said.
Opposition spokesman on legal affairs John Quigley claimed the register would have minimal effect because it would only apply to 2 per cent of the state's 2500 sex offenders.
He emphasised that Labor viewed the register as only one step in an incremental development of laws to protect children.
Police Minister Rob Johnson has said safeguards, such as records of people accessing the website and strict penalties if information is misused, would be in place to ensure the register was used appropriately.
|Michael Shane Shuster|
By Kevin Pierson
After just two months on the job, recently elected Stockport Mayor Michael Shane Shuster is out of office, at least for now, facing criminal charges.
Shuster, 38, was arrested by the Morgan County Sheriff's Office Wednesday on two felony counts of rape involving a 16-year-old female relative and transported to the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail in Nelsonville.
Morgan County Prosecutor Mark Howdyshell said he couldn't provide many details of the case.
"I really am not prepared to comment on the case right now. This is still being put together, and it involves a minor," he said.
Morgan County Sheriff Tom Jenkins said in a release that allegations of a rape of a juvenile were brought to his office by Morgan County Children's Services on Monday.
"An investigation began and on Wednesday, March 7, 2012, charges of rape were filed," Jenkins said in the release.
Following his arrest on Wednesday, Shuster, who was elected in the November 2011 general election, appeared before Judge Michael Lowe for a bond hearing.
Shuster's bond was set at $1 million and he was transported to the jail to await a preliminary hearing, which has been scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday before Lowe.
"This is a sensitive case and we're trying to move slowly with it," Howdyshell said.
Along with his position as mayor, Shuster is also a prominent businessman in the Stockport community. His family owns several businesses, including a car wash.
Details of the case are being kept quiet to limit tainting of a possible jury pool, as well as to protect the identity of the victim, Howdyshell said.
- Unlike when the accused is not a government official, when all details are released and taints the jury and media before the case is even tried in court.
"This is a small town, small community, and I don't want to do anything to cause people in the public to be unduly influenced until this thing proceeds into the judicial system," Howdyshell said.
Howdyshell said he intends to release additional information on the case as it becomes available.
"Right now I'm just trying to get ready for the preliminary hearing on Monday. We'll see how it goes, then I'll have lots of work to do to get it ready for grand jury," Howdyshell said.
Calls to the Village of Stockport and village council members were not returned Thursday.
No council members could be contacted to determine who is acting mayor for the village at this time while Shuster remains in custody at the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail.
By CAROLE BRAND
Former Kinston police chief Harold Frost pleaded guilty in court late Thursday evening to two counts of sexual abuse to a child under 12 years of age.
According to court reports, Circuit Judge Jeff Kelley sentenced Frost to 20 years in prison on each count with Frost to serve sentences concurrently.
Frost was arrested on charges of sodomy and two counts of sex abuse in July 2007 and entered a guilty plea in 2008, but in 2010, he requested a new hearing alleging he had ineffective counsel.
In the final scheduling conference Monday, Judge Kelley gave Frost the option of pleading guilty, but Frost’s attorney Charles Fleming said his client wanted a trial. Kelley had set jury selection for yesterday, but Frost pled guilty before the start of the trial which was scheduled for Monday.
By Rikki King
EVERETT - An Everett police officer was fired in February after he allegedly had a sexual relationship with a teenage girl.
Investigators believe former officer Brian Nelson, 40, met the teen through the school resource officer program, according to the termination letter obtained by The Herald through public records laws.
Nelson, a 12-year veteran of the department, has denied any misconduct and is appealing his termination.
Nelson and his then-wife were both school resource officers for Everett police. The girl, then 16, was a student at the school where Nelson's wife worked.
His wife apparently was mentoring the teen, who began spending time at the couple's home.
The girl told investigators she was 16 when she and Nelson first had sex, according to the documents. She said the two repeatedly engaged in sexual activity between November 2010 and April 2011.
At the end of August, the teen told a teacher about the relationship. The teacher notified Child Protective Services, in accordance with state law.
According to police documents, the teen told the officer's wife about the allegations in June. The woman confronted Nelson, but did not report the alleged relationship to her supervisors at the police department, records show.
Everett police Sgt. Robert Goetz on Thursday said he was not permitted to say if the woman has been disciplined. She has been assigned to other duties and is no longer working in the school resource officer program, he said.
A criminal investigation was conducted by Snohomish County sheriff's detectives. Prosecutors reviewed the case but declined to file charges. In general, the legal age for consensual sex in Washington is 16.
Everett police also conducted an internal investigation.
Nelson admitted to being alone with the girl on multiple nights but denied any sexual contact, according to the documents. Nelson and his wife no longer are a couple.
In the termination letter, Police Chief Kathy Atwood wrote that Nelson's conduct was disheartening and a violation of his duty as a police officer to protect the teen from harm.
The decision to fire Nelson was based on the teen's "credible sworn statement" and "compelling circumstantial evidence supporting (the girl's) allegations," the chief wrote.
- So much for innocent until proven guilty, now all it takes is a "credible sworn statement," and your life is ruined, not a conviction.
"Your conduct is unbecoming an Everett officer and fails to meet the high standards of integrity, trust, public trust, and professionalism incumbent upon us all," Atwood wrote.
By Lyssandra Sears
A recent study has shown that while sexual assaults on younger children are most often committed by family members, adolescents are more often abused by their peers.
The study, conducted jointly by the Universities of Zurich and Cambridge, revealed that nearly eight percent of girls and four percent of boys aged between 15 and 17 years had been forced into sex or fondling, newspaper Tribune de Genève reported.
The percentages were significantly greater for peer-aged abuse than for abuse by a family member, with two per cent of girls and less than one per cent of boys reporting abuse within the family context, wrote newspaper Tages Anzeiger.
Approximately 42 percent of juvenile victims reported that the abuse had taken place either with a current or former romantic partner.
Most often, the perpetrators attended either the same school or disco.
The study found that “the vast majority of rape cases were committed by a person of similar age, with whom the victim was in a love relationship or at least knew well,” study co-author, Manual Eisner from the University of Cambridge, told newspaper Tages Anzeiger.
Both boys and girls reported equally that the perpetrators had been considered a good friend. Most of the perpetrators were recorded as being male.
In Switzerland, 6,700 pupils were surveyed to reveal that one in every five girls and one in every ten boys reported bodily sexual abuse, defined as kissing or caressing of intimate body parts, attempted or completed penetration by body parts or objects in the vagina, mouth or anus.
Sexual harassment of a non-tactile nature was also shown to be prevalent, with cyber-bullying becoming increasingly common. Approximately 40 per cent of girls and 20 per cent of boys recorded having been subject to verbal or written sexual harassment, exposure to pornographic material and such like.
Some perpetrators even posted pictures of their victims’ intimate parts on the internet.
“This behaviour has massive negative consequences for the reputation of the young person,” Eisner said.
But only some five percent of victims filed any report with the police.
“The victims suffer enormously,” Pasqualina Perrig-Chiello, professor of developmental psychology at the University of Bern and a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee for the study, told Tages Anzeiger.
Perrig-Chielloi reported that in most cases, shame, fear of retribution or the sense that the abuse was the victim’s own fault, prevented individuals from speaking out.
She is glad to have gathered the data.
"We knew already that there are many sufferers. Now we finally have it in black and white,” she said.
By Liz Klimas
[name withheld] from Hull in the United Kingdom hasn’t seen his daughter alone for the last four months. His access to her was restricted after accidentally downloading child pornography, which he then reported to the the authorities, according to the BBC.
BBC reports that [name withheld], 43, hasn’t been charged with anything nor has he been arrested for the pornography that was found on his laptop after he was trying to download music. After what he claims was an accidental download, [name withheld] said that he decided to report the incident, which led to social services coming to his home and requesting that he not have “unsupervised access with his own or other children.”
Here’s what [name withheld] had to say about his restricted access to his own daughter:
“It makes you feel as though you shouldn’t have reported it in the first place.”
He added it would have been “a lot easier” to just throw the machine in the bin.
Mr [name withheld] said the restrictions on seeing his daughter had come to a head after his wife had returned to work.
When his wife works late, as regularly happens, Mr [name withheld]’s daughter goes to his mother-in-law’s home.
He goes round to see his daughter and them comes home on his own.
He said the experience was “very stressful for the family”.
[name withheld]’s laptop was confiscated and is undergoing investigation.