Monday, March 19, 2012

CO - Video shows ex-cop (Joshua Carrier) touching kids

Joshua Carrier
Original Article

03/19/2012

By LANCE BENZEL

A jury on Monday watched footage of former Colorado Springs police officer Joshua Carrier examining several boys in his school office – some of whom he touched on the genitals.

The nature of the exams – whether routine or exploitative – goes to the heart of shocking allegations against the decorated former officer.

Carrier, 31, faces the potential of life in prison on allegations he fondled 22 children during the 2010-2011 school year at Horace Mann Middle School in Colorado Springs. Defense attorneys say the exams were part of Carrier's responsibility as a volunteer wrestling coach to weigh each wrestler before a competition and to make sure none had communicable skin diseases, such as ringworm.

Prosecutors on Tuesday attacked that notion by playing taped audio calls in which Carrier reacts in shock when asked if he touched genitals.

"Never," Carrier said in a phone call taped by police.

Although students routinely strip for wrestling exams, school policies bar physical touching, authorities say.

The videos were assembled from more than 42,000 deleted images recovered from Carrier's private laptop and strung together with video software. Police seized the computer and other suspicious material after receiving a tip from another agency that Carrier had in the past subscribed to child porn websites.

Police say they identified six boys who were made to strip. Detectives never learned the identities of some other children in the videos, because their faces aren't visible, Colorado Springs police detective Susan Lembergs testified.

Several of the unidentified boys also had their genitals fondled, she said.

Defense attorneys Christopher Decker and Joshua Tolini questioned police about the thoroughness of their investigation – asking why, for example, detectives didn't confront one of the boys who told police that Carrier touched his "junk" when the video shows no such physical contact with the child.

Carrier clearly looks into a camera embedded in his laptop during the exams. He also appears to be typing, though Lembergs said police never learned what – leading Decker to suggest it was a wrestling team spreadsheet.

The jury also heard a series of taped phone calls between Carrier and Nicholas Graham, then a security officer at Mann.

In the calls, police listened in as Graham attempts to get details from Carrier about the exams – and instead gets a mix of reassurances and angry denials.

"You're gonna have people coming out of the woodwork right now, just because of what's going on," said Carrier, claiming to Graham that he had parents' permission to do the skin-checks and weigh-ins.

Carrier called the students' claims part of a "witch hunt".

The students' allegations of being sexually abused by Carrier emerged one day after police announced his May 11 arrest on suspicion of possessing child pornography.

"The bottom line is, when I'm found not-guilty of this, I'm not going to be able to work in Colorado Springs," he said on tape.

When Graham called back a day later, Graham was crying – or pretending to. Graham's tears faded fast as he again pushed for details, this time more aggressively. Carrier quickly referred him to his attorney.

Graham worked with Carrier at the then-officer's side businesses, including a commercial haunted house in the Pikes Peak region and a DJing business, Lembergs said. After Carrier's arrest, Graham was transferred to a new school

Police witnesses also testified about DVDs and images found among Carrier's belongings, including known child pornography.

The defense questioned detectives over whether Carrier or another computer user might have been redirected to an illicit website while surfing legal pornography. They also suggested police wrongly labeled some of the DVDs as illegal – asking police about an advisory on one so-called nudist video that claimed the images were innocent and offered this proviso: "Nude is not lewd."

The video showed girls ages 10 to 14 in a nude beauty pageant, police said.

Police detective Adam Romine drew several laughs from the jury while reacting skeptically to the defense's questions.

Romine noted that "Puberty Education for Boys and Girls" depicted children having sex.

"It involves juveniles," he said. "To me, that's kind of a red flag."

Even if Carrier mistakenly came into possession of child pornography, he had a legal duty as an officer to report the material to his chain-of-command, police say.

Carrier is a former school-resource officer who volunteered nearly 1,000 hours of his own time after being switched back to patrol.

He resigned in June as police were in the process of having him fired.

Testimony is expected to continue at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.


NY - Bill to strengthen sex offender law passes Assembly

Original Article

03/19/2012

ALBANY - Legislation aimed to strengthen the state’s sex offender parole procedure by requiring that all records of parole interviews for sexual predators are recorded and transmitted to the Office of Mental Health for review to examine any potential need for civil commitment has been passed by the state Assembly, the office of Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, D-Utica, said.

The bill was introduced in response to the November 2011 assault and murder of a Utica woman by [name withheld], a recently paroled serial rapist.
- All criminals, good and bad, will eventually be let out, and simply because of this one man, now all ex-offenders will be punished for his crime!

During his parole release interview, [name withheld] was quoted as saying, “Society is safer with me in prison. I can sit here and tell you people I’m not going to do it, I’m not going to do it, but it’s not going to make a bit of difference.” However, those comments were never passed on to OMH, the agency that refers parolees to the Attorney General for civil commitment if they are deemed dangerous to themselves or others. Currently, there is no such law in place that strengthens records of parole interview procedures.
- Under HIPAA, isn't patient information suppose to be confidential?


NY - PEOPLE v. EDWARDS

Original Article

Excerpt:
Memorandum: On appeal from an order determining that he is a level three risk pursuant to the Sex Offender Registration Act (Correction Law § 168 et seq.), defendant contends that County Court erred in assessing 30 points against him under risk factor 5, for the age of the victim, and 20 points against him under risk factor 6, for the physical helplessness of the victim. We reject those contentions. Although defendant pleaded guilty to a count of the indictment alleging that he raped his stepdaughter when she was 13 years old, it is well settled that, in assessing a defendant's risk level, the court is not limited to the crime to which the defendant pleaded guilty (see People v Scott, 71 A.D.3d 1417, 1417-1418, lv denied 14 N.Y.3d 714; People v Hubel, 70 A.D.3d 1492, 1493). The court may also consider "reliable hearsay," including the case summary prepared by the Board of Examiners of Sex Offenders (People v Hucks, 72 A.D.3d 1608, 1609, lv denied 15 N.Y.3d 706; see People v Cunning . .


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OH - STATE v. CALDWELL

Original Article

Excerpt:
In February 1996, Andre Caldwell was convicted of third-degree felony corruption of a minor and sentenced to prison. In July 2009, he was convicted for violating the address-verification requirement under the then-current sex offender registration and notification law, Ohio's Adam Walsh Act (AWA). In July 2010, Caldwell filed, pro se, a "Motion to Vacate and Set Aside the Judgment," targeting the failure-to-verify conviction, based on State v. Bodyke, 126 Ohio St.3d 266, 2010-Ohio-2424, 933 N.E.2d 753, in which the Ohio Supreme Court severed the AWA's reclassification provisions after concluding that they are unconstitutional. On the state's motion, the trial court dismissed Caldwell's "Motion to Vacate * * *" as an untimely petition for postconviction relief under R.C. 2953.21. Caldwell timely appealed the dismissal.


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IL - Illinois Legislators Debate Costly Expansion of Sex Offender Registry

Original Article

03/19/2012

Chester - The Illinois Senate is set to debate the merits and costs of SB3359 (PDF) this week in Springfield. This bill, introduced by State Senator William Haine (D), attempts to bring Illinois into compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Act which was passed in 2006. Since then, only 16 states of been deemed in “substantial compliance” with the Act, leaving Illinois among the majority of states which have failed or refused to comply. Since its passage in 2006, the Adam Walsh Act has come under fire as an unfunded mandate that requires states to expend unprecedented resources in order to meet the stringent requirements set forth by the federal government. Failure to comply results in a 10% reduction in states’ Byrne Grant allotment, which translates into a loss of about $1.5 million annually for Illinois. At the same time, the Justice Policy Institute estimated that the initial cost for Illinois to comply with the Adam Walsh Act would be over $20 million. In addition, the Illinois Department of Corrections has stated that the costs of compliance would be “substantial as more sex offender registration violations occur.”

The controversy surrounding the Adam Walsh Act has prompted several states to publicly defy the federal government, opting to accept the reduction in the Byrne Grant money instead of spending many times that amount in order to comply. A Criminal Justice committee commissioned by the Texas State Senate concluded in their report that “based on the research, the testimony provided during the hearing, it is clear registries do not provide the public safety” and then recommended that Texas not comply with the Adam Walsh Act. The Senate agreed and Texas joined several other states, including California and New York, in rejecting the federal government’s mandate.

Illinois must also consider the difficulty faced by those states that have attempted to enact their own version of SB3359. The state of Ohio recently announced that it has spent millions of dollars in its attempt to become compliant with the Adam Walsh Act, but also spent many millions more defending over 7,000 lawsuits filed against the legislation. Last year, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the Ohio law went far beyond the intent of the original sex offender registration laws and clearly crossed the line between community safety and punishment. The Court ruled that the Ohio law was unconstitutional and could not be applied retroactively.

Unlike previous bills aimed at further restricting registered sex offenders, SB3359 failed to sail unopposed through the Senate’s Committee on Criminal Law. Opposing testimony was provided by a representative from Illinois Voices for Reform, Inc., a non-profit group established to promote reasonable legislation based on empirical research. Illinois Voices testified about the negative collateral consequences of sex offender legislation and argued that complying with the Adam Walsh Act would do nothing to increase community safety, but that it would place a tremendous financial burden on the state of Illinois at a time when it is already facing huge budget deficits. Several members of the committee itself questioned the need for the legislation, arguing that the costs would far exceed the money lost from the Byrne Grant, and publicly stating that this legislation goes “too far.” Despite the objections, the committee voted to advance the bill to the full Senate, stating the need to get the bill out of committee.

While every politician fears being perceived as “soft on crime,” members of the Illinois Senate will need to carefully weigh the costs and benefits of SB3359, considering over a decade worth of research that clearly demonstrates the ineffectiveness of restrictive sex offender legislation. The Senate must decide if it wants to spend millions of dollars to promote legislation that will essentially accomplish nothing more than bringing Illinois into compliance with a federal mandate that has already been soundly rejected by other states, many of which have a reputation for being “tough on crime.”

Illinois Voices for Reform, Inc. is a not for profit organization dedicated to the belief that education and empirical research should guide legislative efforts to protect society and reduce sexual assaults. More information about Illinois Voices can be found by visiting their website at www.ilvoices.com or by sending an email to info@ilvoices.com.


PA - Penndale Middle School parents hear presentation on warning signs for sex offenders

Rick Parsons
Original Article

03/19/2012

By Linda Stein

Rick Parsons worries more about the sex offenders who haven’t been caught than those registered under Megan’s Law.

Parsons, the deputy chief of probation for Montgomery County, spoke to parents March 14 at Penndale Middle School about keeping children safe from sex offenders. With a sexual assault occurring every 45 seconds and only 16 percent reported, Parsons said that parents have good reason to be concerned.

Sex offenders are not “a scary guy in a trench coat,” Parsons said. “They’re neighbors, teachers, mothers, people we know.” Sex offenders are all races, ages and social economic classes, as well. Most have no prior criminal history.
- Most of the time, it's the victims own family.

One thing I think is so important,” Parsons said. “I have three daughters. We have to have honest discussions with our own kids, age-appropriate discussions.” Tell your child you will always believe them, he said.

The good news is that only about 24 percent of sex offenders re-offend, he said. In Montgomery County, only 3.5 percent commit another sex crime.
- It seems this person is contradicting himself.  In one statement he says 24%, then he says 3.5%, when the more accurate is the 3.5% based on many studies, which we have linked here.

Nick Honyara, supervisor of the Montgomery County Probation Sex Offender Unit, said the goal of his department is to reduce recidivism. To that end, the community should not harass registered sex offenders. Like everyone else they need a place to live and work. If they are driven underground, sex offenders become harder to track, he said.

Most children who are sexually assaulted knew their assailant, he said. The same is true for adults. Some of the red flags include “grooming,” Honyara said. Sex offenders use gifts, money and secrets to build trust with potential victims. And a webcam on a computer in a child’s bedroom is an invitation for a stranger to contact them, he said.

One sex offender would offer to babysit for single parents with a lot of children, he said. Another would seek out women who were drunk at parties.

Lansdale police Sgt. Alex Kromdyk told the parents to keep “an open line of communication with their children” and pay attention to their feelings and thoughts. He also advised to warn them not to keep secrets, be open about the issue, teach them the correct names for body parts, warn them that adults are not always right and teach children to observe their surroundings.



WI - Jury said Menasha man entrapped in Perverted Justice sting

Original Article

If you want to read more about Perverted-Justice tactics, check out Corrupted-Justice.com.  And by the police working with this vigilante group, it's like the police working with the hacker group Anonymous, they are condoning vigilantism, when they could do this themselves.

03/19/2012

By Jessie Van Berkel

APPLETON — For four days, Appleton police officers monitored the bust house on E. Fremont Street.

Behind the scenes, volunteers for the Perverted Justice Foundation Inc. — made famous by Dateline NBC's "To Catch a Predator" — posed as children, chatting online with Wisconsinites.

The volunteers, who initiated the 2010 sex sting, gave police profiles of 72 people they thought likely to turn up and have sexual contact with a minor. Four showed.

Their cases went to court — the last wrapped up March 12 — but one man's jury trial punched a hole in Perverted Justice's claim, still maintained on its website, "Hundreds upon hundreds of convictions... zero successful entrapment defenses. Zero."

Entrapment occurs when police lure people into committing a crime they otherwise wouldn't have done.

"Anyone who knows the law will never make the entrapment argument towards these crimes, because people who know the law understand that these people are predisposed to commit these crimes. It's why they hit us up to begin with," says the Perverted Justice website.

[name withheld], 29, of Menasha, was not predisposed to having sexual contact with a child, his attorney, Kevin Musolf, maintained in arguing his client was entrapped. The jury agreed.

Jurors found [name withheld] not guilty of a felony charge of using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime.

"(Sexual contact) was something they put in his head," Musolf said.

[name withheld], 29, was depressed, with anxiety and self-esteem issues, Musolf said.

Denise Moss — who was posing as 15-year-old "Cami" — told him he was nice, cute and had a nice smile. When the two discussed meeting, Moss baited him by asking: "what's on your mind; what if we get bored; what should I wear?," Musolf said.

"She keeps throwing the hook out to him and eventually he bit," Musolf said. "What they did to this particular person is just that they took it too far. … I think in this case they were just frustrated that out of 72 people, only four showed up."

Protocol followed

Perverted Justice tries to prevent entrapment claims by never messaging anyone first.

"Rather we sit, wait, and allow them to knock upon our online 'door,'" its website states.

Moss followed protocol but the jury assumed she was "out to catch people," said Outagamie County Assistant Dist. Atty. Andrew Maier, who prosecuted all four cases.

"([name withheld]) just made a very sympathetic defendant. At the end of the day, he got up there and looked very neat and very mild … and they bought it," Moss said. "In my eyes, and in the eyes of the prosecution … he had to drive to the house, he had to get dressed, get his keys, drive down the road — there were many places he could have turned around. It wasn't like I was saying, 'Come here, come here, you can do it.' That's not entrapment; that's just not entrapment."

Moss, 39, who lives near Olympia, Wash., has volunteered for Perverted Justice for about six years. She joined the organization to protect her kids and others. Although she's not paid for her work, she says it's her full-time job.

"It's all for the greater good. … At the end of the day we make a difference, and you can't get any better than that," Moss said.

Despite the [name withheld] outcome, Moss said the sting turned out pretty well and had a good impact on the Fox Valley.

She remains adamant that she didn't coerce [name withheld]' actions and the defense was not successful.

"She's wrong," said Neenah attorney Robert Bellin, who represented another man charged in the sting. "It goes to show. Look at what they say on their website to what the actual practices are — I think you'll find a lot of contrasts there."

[name withheld] was the only man caught in the sting who pleaded not guilty. The others — two from the Fox Valley, one from Racine — pleaded no contest to their charges, including [name withheld], who Bellin represented.

[name withheld] was sentenced last Monday to three months in jail with work release privileges and five years of probation with a stayed jail sentence of nine months. If he errs during his jail time or probation he'll return to jail for nine more months.

[name withheld], 27, of Kimberly, was convicted of felony possession of child pornography and resisting or obstructing an officer. The two other men — [name withheld], 28, of Racine, and [name withheld], 23, of Neenah — were each convicted of child enticement-sexual contact.

[name withheld]'s wife is pregnant and he didn't want to risk a jury trial — but if had, he would have won, Bellin said.

Costs for police

The [name withheld] trial didn't diminish the reputation of Perverted Justice, Maier said, but it did expose pitfalls in the large stings.

The organization has become a victim of its own success, he said, adding that jurors think cases will be like an episode of "To Catch a Predator" — but the crimes are rarely that simple.

Instead, cases are logistically complicated by the distance between the two people chatting online, Maier said.

Moss, based in Washington, might not be familiar with the state laws of Wisconsin, he said.

"Sometimes they're stretched too far with volunteers who are three time zones away from a person here," Maier said.

Before the October 2010 sting, Appleton police worked with Perverted Justice on individual cases. A volunteer from the organization chatted with people and if she determined someone was a potential sex offender, she called police and asked how to proceed, Maier said.

"Now they're doing whatever they want and police are sitting in the background waiting for results," Musolf said.

The goal of Perverted Justice is good, but decoys need to be better trained and police need to be more involved, he said.
- The police need to be doing this, it's their job, not some outside vigilante group!

Bellin has handled similar cases outside of Outagamie County where the stings were run by police detectives, not Perverted Justice.

"The cases handled by detectives seemed to do a better job at identifying potential offenders instead of trapping someone who may just be curious or stupid," Bellin said.

Soon, the Fox Valley might have resources to run its own online stings, Maier said. When Perverted Justice began nearly a decade ago, it was taking on computer crime that most police jurisdictions didn't have the ability to tackle.

The organization allows police to be proactive in hunting for sex offenders without being a financial burden on an agency, Moss said.
- Um, they are not "sex offenders" until they are convicted!

"If we chat for 40 hours and there's an arrest, there's 40 hours the police weren't billed for," she said.

Nonetheless, stings cost local law enforcement.

The 2010 sting lasted from a Thursday to Sunday. At any given time, there were four to seven officers working the case, Appleton police Capt. Todd Freeman said. Because police didn't know how many people would show up at the bust house, officers were constantly on patrol.

Appleton formed a task force of 12 officers and two supervisors for the Perverted Justice sting, and a total of about 20 police worked on it, Freeman said.

While most of the monitoring was done during officers' normal shifts, it did require some overtime and the department spent $6,450 in overtime pay on the investigation, he said.

The department likely would not run another large-scale bust with the foundation but would continue to work with Perverted Justice on smaller-scale investigations, he said.

There was a lot of discussion about whether all the time and manpower was worth catching four people, Sgt. Chad Allaback said.

"But, you know, it's four that — had this been an actual contact with a child — would have committed significant felonies and significant sexual assaults," he said.
- That is your assumption!

The sting also raised awareness of online predators in the Fox Valley, Allaback said.

"For better or worse, Perverted Justice has developed a reputation of being a little vigilante at times and a little over-aggressive," Maier said. "I think that they do fairly difficult work and step in the places where law enforcement can't — or just haven't — stepped yet."


WI - Church offers service especially for convicted sex offenders

Original Article

03/18/2012

By DOUG ERICKSON

On the website for First Congregational United Church of Christ in Madison, photos glide by of parishioners holding sentence fragments that together read, “No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.”

A glib statement? No, this church really seems to mean it.

In late February, First Congregational’s long-standing prison ministry project began biweekly, Thursday night worship services for adults only. No children are present at the service or in the church building.

The services could appeal to anyone seeking an unusually quiet worship experience, but they are designed especially for convicted sex offenders who cannot be where children are present, said the Rev. Jerry Hancock, director of the prison ministry project.

Although many churches have elaborate and appropriate protocols to ensure child safety, such as installing windows on all classroom doors and making sure a child is never alone with an adult, these measures often aren’t enough to satisfy strict probation and parole restrictions, Hancock said.

That raises a number of issues for these men — and they are almost always men — but also for the churches,” Hancock said.

The idea for the service came from a call he got about a year ago from a probation officer asking if there were any worship services that didn’t include children.

Jim Gerndt, a Madison psychologist, said the adults-only aspect eliminates an environment that could be problematic for the recovering sex offender.

For someone who is actively provoked by sexual stimuli, such as being around male or female minors, part of their rehabilitation is to alter their sexual arousal patterns and to completely avoid stimuli or to limit exposure to it,” he said.

Even if these offenders aren’t high risks for re-offending, eliminating potential triggers “means they don’t have to go through the conflict inside themselves or with their parole supervisors,” Gerndt said.

First Congregational initially didn’t widely publicize the services because of concerns the idea could draw protesters. Instead, it spread the word through other churches and organizations such as Madison Area Urban Ministry.

At the first service Feb. 23, no one in the target audience showed up, although other people attended to be supportive. The church is expanding its outreach efforts.

Hancock stresses it isn’t a “sex-offender service.” Its intent is broader.

It’s not designed to be therapeutic,” he said. “It’s not a support group. We are using the same text, the same order of worship and the same sermon topic that was used the previous Sunday.”

The church is committed to the idea on a trial basis through May. The services are every other Thursday at 7 p.m. at the church, 1609 University Ave. The next one is Thursday.

We truly want to be a church where everyone is welcome,” said Susan Heneman, a parishioner involved in the project. “We have to live this out, not just say it on paper.”


NC - Sexual predators rarely committed under Justice program

Original Article

03/18/2012

By Brad Heath

BUTNER – Inside the sprawling federal prison here is a place the government reserves for the worst of the worst — sexual predators too dangerous to be set free.

Six years ago, the federal government set out to indefinitely detain some of the nation's most dangerous sex offenders, keeping them locked up even after their prison sentences had ended.

But despite years of effort, the government has so far won court approval for detaining just 15 men.

Far more often, men the U.S.Justice Department branded as "sexually dangerous" predators, remained imprisoned here for years without a mandatory court hearing before the government was forced to let them go, a USA TODAY investigation has found. The Justice Department has either lost or dropped its cases against 61 of the 136 men it sought to detain. Some were imprisoned for more than four years without a trial before they were freed.

Dozens of others are still waiting for their day in court. They remain in a prison unit where authorities and former detainees said explicit drawings of children are commonplace, but where few of the men have received any treatment for the disorders that put them there.

Despite that, neither the Justice Department nor other watchdog agencies have offered any public assessment of how well the federal civil commitment law works.

For this investigation, USA TODAY reviewed all 136 cases that have been brought to court, drawing on thousands of pages of legal filings and dozens of interviews with attorneys, psychologists and former detainees.

The outcomes documented by that review have raised questions about a system meant to control men too seriously ill to control themselves. A federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., has already called delays in bringing the men to trial "troubling," and suggested that they could raise concerns about the detainees' constitutional right to due process. And Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., one of the law's key supporters, said "there will be somebody who will have to answer" for them.

"We need to be very, very careful in a free society about a system in which a group of people can make statements that result in someone being deprived of their liberty for a future crime," said Fred Berlin, the director of the Sexual Behaviors Consultation Unit at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. "If it's going to be done, it has to be done in a just and fair manner."

Many of the men the government sought to detain have been found guilty of molesting children or brutal sexual assaults. One killed a woman. U.S. Bureau of Prisons psychologists certified that the men also suffer from mental abnormalities making them "sexually dangerous," a determination that keeps them locked up while their cases are reviewed. By law, a federal judge must ultimately decide whether the government can prove the inmate is too dangerous to be released.

But in case after case, those determinations have come into question. In at least two cases, the government could not prove the men had committed crimes serious enough to justify committing them. Others had not been found guilty of a "hands-on" sex offense in decades. Some psychological assessments failed to fully account for men's ages, a key factor when assessing risk.

A spokesman for the Bureau of Prisons, Chris Burke, said officials certify inmates as dangerous after "careful assessments by mental health professionals."

Anthony Jimenez, a psychologist who ran the commitment system for the Bureau of Prisons in 2007 and 2008, said officials had little time to prepare when Congress instructed them to start sifting out the most dangerous offenders as part of a broader crackdown on sex crimes. Some prison psychologists they turned to had no experience doing those types of reviews, he said.

"It was rushed, and initially, I believe, quality probably suffered," he said.