Monday, April 23, 2012

OK - Former deputy Brandon Balthrop accused of sexually assaulting women on the job and two teens

Brandon Balthrop
Original Article


DUNCAN - There is new information on the trial of former Stephens County Deputy Brandon Balthrop, who's accused of sexually assaulting women on the job and two teenagers he pulled over.

Today, an OSBI agent testified he didn't make any recordings of the interviews he did with several other people who had also been pulled over on routine traffic stops by Balthrop.

Defense attorney Jim Kee kept OSBI Agent Robert Williams on the stand for nearly 4 hours today, trying to poke holes in his credibility and his procedures, and kept hammering on the fact that Williams didn't record any of the statements from others who'd been pulled over by Brandon Balthrop.

Williams was also asked detailed questions from the defense attorney about the possibility of women keeping drugs or weapons in their undergarments.

Williams said while he had never personally seen it, he had heard of it being done before, meaning the possibility of Balthrop doing such an act wasn't exactly out of the question.

Duncan Police Officer Robert Lyn also testified today. He was asked about the role of the police dispatcher, who was on duty during the alleged assaults.

Lyn told the jury that the dispatcher was eventually fired because she did not keep the call logs properly. Lyn said that meant the times the calls came in and locations could have been mistaken, which also meant they were unreliable, when it came to trying to use them as evidence.

Williams also said while he was being questioned that his overall goal of the investigation was to bring out the truth. Balthrop remained calm during today's testimony, and didn't show much emotion.

The trial is expected to wrap up tomorrow.

ID - Mom Challenges Idaho Rape Law

Original Article


The courts have branded him a rapist. But [name withheld]' mother claims her son is the victim of a heavy-handed legal system that fails to address the realities of sexual activity among young people. What's more, said 60-year-old [mother name withheld] of Sandpoint, the law allows promiscuous underage girls, like the 14-year-old Lewis claims seduced her son, to continue their sexual exploits with impunity. “Number one, I don't think he should be a registered sex offender,” [mother name withheld] said. “And I don't think it should be rape by my definition. He had (consensual) sex with someone underage. But I think of rape as forcible, or a violent thing, or coercion.” Her definition, however, is not consistent with Idaho law, said Latah County Prosecutor William Thompson Jr. (who said … “it's … simply against the law, and it's simply wrong, for an adult man to be having sex with a young girl.” [name withheld], who was 19 when arrested on two counts of rape and other sexual charges, admitted to one count of rape as the result of a plea agreement/, Lewiston Tribune. More here (PDF).

GA - Biased Sheriff appointed to the Sex Offender Registration Review Board (SORRB)

Sheriff Jud Smith
Original Article


Gov. Nathan Deal has appointed Barrow County sheriff Jud Smith to the State of Georgia Sexual Offender Registration Review Board, according to a sheriff's office press release. The announcement was made April 20 by Gov. Deal’s office.
- From the comments about those on the board, it seems to me like the deck is stacked against the offender, but hey, what else did you expect?  Also, by looking at the law that created this board, it is suppose to have three professional who have treated sexual offenders, but I only see one (Gary D. Holstad), and that person is from ATSA, another biased organization, from what I've seen in the past.

The SORRB Board consists of five Regional Boards with three members in each region with a total of 15 members throughout the state all appointed by the Governor. It reviews and determines the likelihood a sexual offender will engage in another crime against a victim who is a minor or another dangerous sexual offense. The board will also determine if certain sex offenders are considered a Level One Offender, Level Two Offender, or a Sexual Predator.
- So when are they going to get around to doing this?  The registry and board have been in operation for many years now, and still, to this date, nobody looking at the registry can tell who is Tier 1, 2 or 3, so what are they doing exactly?

The board’s assessments will be used by criminal justice professionals throughout the state. All offenders identified by the board as sexual predators will be required to be placed on electronic monitoring should he or she be released to the custody of parole or probation.

In a statement, Sheriff Smith said: “the protection of our community’s children and victims of these crimes has been the centerpiece of my administration. It is the primary reason I wanted to serve as Sheriff. I have spent the last 3½ years vigorously pursuing those who would do harm to our children and these victims. I feel this appointment is just another tool in our arsenal to use against those dangerous predators who prey upon innocent children. I will never relent in my pursuit of sexual predators.”
- This statement alone, IMO, is one reason he should NOT be on the board, he's biased from the start.

Look in my face and tell me

Who doesn't love the sex offender registry?

Video Glossary: Ex Post Facto

OH - Sex offender law may be on life support

Original Article


By Ishton W. Morton

According to a report in the Dayton Daily News more than eight in every 10 of the 139 adult registered sex offenders in Greene County live within a mile of a school or day care.

Predicated on court rulings and loopholes in Ohio’s sex offender law many of Ohio's sex-offenders are now able to legally live near schools or day care facilities.

Several of those living within 1,000 feet of such facilities do so legally because they committed an offense before a law change or because they owned their house before committing a sex crime.

The recent the Ohio Supreme Court ruling which rendered multiple parts of the statute to be unconstitutional has hampered or in many cases prevented enforcement from enforcing the law.

The Ohio’s sex offender law passage which came about back in 2008 to comply with the federal Adam Walsh Act may be on life support.

According to Justice Paul E. Pfeifer who wrote the majority opinion for the court and cited a growing national consensus in other states against imposing automatic lifetime registration requirements against juvenile sex offenders.

Pfeifer continued to say; “the legal analyses of cruel and unusual punishment often examine whether the punishment is disproportionate to the crime and not whether a particular punishment is barbaric.”

However, in a 5 to 2 opinion, the court said; “The punishment violates the Ohio and United States constitutions because it is cruel and unusual, and because it violates a defendant’s right to due process. Juvenile courts could still impose registration requirements in light of the ruling, but not under provisions of the 2008 law.”

OH - Mayor (Michael Shane Shuster) charged with 30 sex crimes including raping a 10-year-old female family member NINE times

Michael Shane Shuster
Original Article


A southeastern Ohio village mayor suspected of repeatedly raping a 10-year-old girl and 30 other sex crimes has pleaded not guilty and is being held on bond of $1 million.

Stockport Mayor Michael Shane Shuster is charged with 10 counts each of rape, sexual battery and gross sexual imposition. He pleaded not guilty in a Morgan County court on Wednesday.

Prosecutor Mark Howdyshell says the charges are linked to 10 incidents of alleged sexual contact that began when the girl, a family member, was 10 or 11 and continued for five years. She is now 16.

The victim allegedly confided in a friend, who told a school official who reported the attacks to children's services, according to

'We just don't want things like this happening to our children,' Howdyshell said.

Shuster, who faces a possible life sentence if convicted, remains in the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail outside Nelsonville.

Rolf Baumgartel, the 38-year-old's attorney, said he thought the bond should be lower because Shuster, who was elected in November last year, was not a flight risk, according to the Athens Messenger.

'I just think it's unfortunate that the bond is set as high as it is,' Baumgartel told the Marietta Times.

'All that does is make it difficult for him to defend himself. We disagree with the state's contention that he is a flight risk. He is a lifetime member of Morgan County.'

'I don't think anybody can argue that this guy is a danger or a menace to the community,' he added.
- Wow, and this coming from the mans attorney?  If this were my attorney and I heard this, he'd then be fired because clearly his mind is already made up and he is not defending his client, unless I am misunderstanding something?

A trial date for the case has been set for May 24 with a second day scheduled on May 25.

An interim mayor has been put in place to serve the village of roughly 500 people, which is about 70 miles southeast of Columbus.

Cruel And Unusual - A Test Case

Original Article


By George F. Will

In the summer of 1787, just 94 years after the Salem witch trials, as paragons of the Enlightenment such as James Madison, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin deliberated in the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, a mob pelted and otherwise tormented to death a woman accused of being a witch. Prosecution of alleged witches, writes historian Edmund Morgan, had ceased in the colonies long before the English statute criminalizing witchcraft was repealed in 1736. Some popular sentiment, however, lagged.

Today, 221 years after the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution, the Supreme Court is again pondering the Eighth Amendment’s proscription of “cruel and unusual punishments.” The case illustrates the complexity of construing some constitutional language in changing contexts of social science and brain science.

"E" Miller, whose five suicide attempts surely had something to do with the serious domestic abuse he suffered, was complicit in a brutal murder and in 2006 was sentenced to life in an Alabama prison without the possibility of parole. "K" Jackson was involved in a video store robbery during which an accomplice fatally shot the store clerk. In 2003, Jackson was sentenced to life in an Arkansas prison without the possibility of parole. Miller and Jackson were 14 when they committed their crimes. Both were tried as adults before judges who had no discretion to impose any other sentence. Such mandatory sentences preclude judges weighing a consideration of Eighth Amendment jurisprudence — proportionality.

Before its June 26 recess, the Supreme Court will decide whether sentencing children to die in prison is cruel. It certainly is unusual: Although 2,300 current prisoners have been sentenced to life without parole for crimes committed as juveniles (age 17 or younger), just 79 prisoners in 18 states are serving sentences of life without parole for crimes committed when they were 13 or 14.

The court must consider not only what is society’s sense of cruelty but also how that sense should be shaped by what some new technologies reveal about adolescent brain biology. Shakespeare’s shepherd in “The Winter’s Tale” did not need to see brain scans to wish that “there were no age between ten and three-and-twenty, or that youth would sleep out the rest; for there is nothing in the between but getting wenches with child, wronging the ancientry, stealing, fighting.”

And with age-related laws restricting the right to drink, drive, marry, serve on juries, etc., all American states have long acknowledged adolescents’ developmental shortcomings. Neuroscience, however, now helps explain why aspects of adolescents’ brains make young people susceptible to impulsive behavior and to failing to anticipate and understand the consequences of it.

Without opening the floodgates to “excuse abuse,” the Supreme Court has accommodated what science teaches. In 2005, the court proscribed imposing the death penalty on someone who committed a murder as a juvenile, arguing that “the susceptibility of juveniles to immature and irresponsible behavior” can diminish the reprehensible nature of their crimes. In 2010, the court proscribed sentences of life without parole for juveniles convicted of a crime other than homicide, arguing that such sentences improperly deny juvenile offenders “a chance to demonstrate growth and maturity.”

In both cases, the sentences were judged cruel and unusual because they were disproportional to actual culpability. Increasingly, the criminal justice system acknowledges the importance of scientific findings about adolescents’ entangled neurological, physiological and psychological developments. Such findings condition how we read some constitutional language.

In 1958, the court said: The [Eighth] Amendment must draw its meaning from the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.” Justice Antonin Scalia has warned: “A society that adopts a bill of rights is skeptical that ‘evolving standards of decency’ always ‘mark progress,’ and that societies always ‘mature,’ as opposed to rot.” But even the originalist” Scalia, although disposed to construe the Constitution’s terms as they were understood when ratified, would today proscribe some late-18th-century punishments, such as public lashing and branding.

Denying juveniles even a chance for parole defeats the penal objective of rehabilitation. It deprives prisoners of the incentive to reform themselves. Some prisons withhold education, counseling and other rehabilitation programs from prisoners ineligible for parole. Denying these to adolescents in a period of life crucial to social and psychological growth stunts what the court in 2005 called the prisoner’s “potential to attain a mature understanding of his own humanity.” Which seems, in a word — actually, three words — “cruel and unusual.”