Thursday, May 10, 2012
Yet another blaring example of why the registry should be taken offline and used by police only! By leaving the registry online, the police, media and politicians are basically allowing human beings to be harassed, assaulted and/or murdered by vigilantes, and if you think this is not a real problem, I beg to differ. Homelessness is also a big problem with these draconian and unconstitutional laws.
This is the twenty-fifth in a series of articles on Auburn-area homeless people, written by local attorney, author, and Sierra College Instructor, Bob Litchfield.
A week or two after I first interviewed [name withheld #1] and [name withheld #2], the two homeless registered sex offenders described in article number fourteen in this series, I ran into the two men again. This time, they were in a small room that was crowed with fear and desperation. Something has changed since the last time I saw them. Something big.
Three local homeless camps where “290" registered sex offenders camped have been attacked by a group of vigilante thugs.
Two of the 290 homeless people have been attacked and beaten. Tents have been trashed. Personal property has been taken, or destroyed. People were sprayed in the face with Raid and insect repellant, and were warned to get out of town.
One 290 homeless man named [name withheld #3] was badly beaten. His wife was with him at the time. When she jumped on the back of one of the attackers and tried to pull the attacker off of her husband, one of the attackers punched her in the face, and broke her nose.
[name withheld #1] and [name withheld #2] are both homeless “290" registered sex offenders. If you want to read what I wrote about them earlier, it is in article number fourteen in this series. That article is entitled, “Torturing Auburn’s Homeless Registered Sex Offenders - A Great Idea?”
Things were bad enough for [name withheld #1] and [name withheld #2] back when I wrote that first article. Now, things are worse.
[name withheld #1] is the taller, white man, and [name withheld #2] is the small, black man who walks with a cane because he has two stints in his leg from having peripheral artery disease.
With vigilantes attacking and beating local homeless registered sex offenders, [name withheld #1] and [name withheld #2] are both really afraid. Mostly, they are worried about [name withheld #2].
They have been allowed the temporary use of a small room. As I come into the room, [name withheld #1] is seated in front of a low coffee table, making phone calls on his cell phone. He is trying to find someone... anyone, who can provide [name withheld #2] with some shelter. [name withheld #1] may be the only real friend that [name withheld #2] has, and [name withheld #1] is worried for [name withheld #2]’s safety.
There is only one place in all of Placer County that will rent a place to live to a registered sex offender. The cost is $500 per person per month.
Neither [name withheld #1] nor [name withheld #2] have any money, nor any hope of obtaining employment, as registered sex offenders. As a condition of their probation, they are not allowed to leave this area, and they are required to wear GPS satellite ankle monitors.
[name withheld #1], who is the white man, has been a Mormon all his life, and has been attending the local Mormon Church. When he explains his dangerous predicament to the people at his church, the church puts up the $500 a month that [name withheld #1] needs to get off the street before the vigilante thugs can find him.
You say whatever else you want about the Mormon Church, but they take care of their own.
So, the white man finds shelter.
But the small, black man cannot find any shelter here in Auburn.
[name withheld #2]’s situation is made worse by the fact that his peripheral artery disease makes it hard for him to walk. He cannot hike the two or three miles between the things he needs in town every day (like a re-charge of the battery in his ankle monitor) and the best-hidden homeless campsites, which are located far out of town.
So, [name withheld #1] is making phone calls, trying to find some shelter for [name withheld #2].
But there is no shelter to be found.
While [name withheld #1] makes phone calls, [name withheld #2] and I sit and talk.
[name withheld #2] is truly scared. He is also frustrated, and a bit angry. He says to me, “If those vigilantes come to get me, I’m going to do what ever I have to do to stay alive.”
Looking at his small size, and his limp and his cane, it sounds like a pretty empty threat. But it makes me worry for him even more. If he tries to defend himself, he’ll probably just provoke a more severe beating.
[name withheld #2] eventually tells me about the bad things that he has done that resulted in his criminal convictions. I cannot be absolutely certain, but I am inclined to believe that [name withheld #2] told me the truth about what he has done.
The things that [name withheld #2] did were bad. There is no question about that.
But as I sit and think about it, it does not seem to me that the things that [name withheld #2] did are anywhere near as bad as the things that were done by the rich, white lawyer I knew in Oregon who went to jail for having sex with his fourteen-year-old daughter.
When that rich, white lawyer got out of jail, I don’t believe that he went onto any registered sex offender list.
In fact, the Oregon State Bar reinstated that lawyer’s license to practice law. The Oregon State Bar said that this lawyer’s acts of moral turpitude were not the kind of acts of moral turpitude that might adversely impact the interests his clients.
That was the day that I lost faith in the ability of lawyers and judges to police their own ranks.
I think about it some more. It does not appear to me that the bad things that [name withheld #2] did are any worse than the bad things done by one former foothills District Attorney, or possibly even by one former judge. I never saw that District Attorney or that judge get placed on a list that condemned them to social and economic death for the rest of their lives. But then again, both of them were powerful, financially-successful, white men.
I find myself wishing that I had the time and the resources available to count all of the 63,000 people on California’s registered sex offender list, to see how many of them are successful white people who could afford to hire good private lawyers, and how many of them are poor blacks and hispanics who were told by some over-worked and marginally-competent public defender to “take the deal” without even the benefit of a jury trial.
And of course, I find myself getting a little angry.
As [name withheld #2] talks to me, he often looks me straight in the eye. It is an engaging thing about him. [name withheld #2] has deep, soulful eyes.
Today, his eyes also show his fear, and his sense of helplessness.
I remember a story I read about an interview with Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa was standing between the cots at her medical treatment facility for the poorest of the poor, rescued from the streets of Calcutta. She was explaining to the interviewer that when the impoverished sick people were brought in off of the streets, they were usually filthy dirty, and often covered with sores... sometimes even sores draining with puss.
Mother Teresa said that the first thing that her Sisters do is give the new patients a bath and clean them up.
Then she said, “Of course, when the person is so covered with draining sores and smells so bad that the Sisters just can’t stand it, then I do it myself.”
At that point, Mother Teresa gestured with her hand toward some of the patients who were lying on cots nearby and said, “I have to do it. Because after all, I never know for sure which one of these poor, sick people might be Jesus, in one of his distressing disguises.”
I look into [name withheld #2]’s deep, soulful eyes. He is a black, homeless, registered sex offender... the most unwanted of all the unwanted. As I continue to look into his eyes, I find myself wondering whether or not [name withheld #2] might be Jesus, in one of his distressing disguises.
I spend the next week making phone calls and sending emails, trying to find some kind of shelter for [name withheld #2]. I talk to friends, to service clubs, to the Pastors of Churches. I talk to the leaders of National Advocacy Groups who are attempting to reform the sex offender registration laws. (These people contacted me after they read the first article that I wrote about [name withheld #1] and [name withheld #2].)
None of them have any shelter for [name withheld #2].
The churches have all kinds of programs to help the homeless. Some even have wonderful half-way houses for drug addicts.
But as soon as I mention the words “registered sex offender,” even the churches quickly turn [name withheld #2] away.
“We have children nearby,” they say.
They don’t have to say anything more than that. I understand.
But [name withheld #2]’s life is still in danger.
For [name withheld #2], there is no room at the Inn.
I consider the possibility of paying for [name withheld #2]’s shelter out of my own pocket. But that won’t work. On a small-town lawyer’s income, the most that I could hope to buy for [name withheld #2] would be one month of shelter, and after that, he’d be back out on the street.
After about a week, I give up trying. I surrender to the fact that without God’s help, I’m not going to be able to make this happen.
If [name withheld #2] is, in fact, Jesus in one of his distressing disguises, then I have let Him down.
But then again, so have you.
WICHITA - A former Wichita police officer serving probation for sex crimes is in trouble with the law again.
Joseph McGill, 28, was arrested in Hutchinson Tuesday and booked into the Sedgwick County Jail on charges of aggravated indecent liberties with a child and aggravated sexual battery.
Wichita police say they're still working on the case to determine if there was more than one victim.
McGill is currently being held on a $600,000 bond.
UPDATE: Former Wichita officer to stand trial on new sex charges
WICHITA – A former police officer convicted of sex charges against women faces new charges involving sex crimes with baby girls.
In January, Joseph McGill, 28, pleaded guilty to sexual battery while on duty as a Wichita police officer. He was given three years probation.
On Thursday, he was back in a Sedgwick County courtroom where he learned he will face trial on two sex charges involving one-year-old and three-month-old girls.
The hearing involved some very graphic and disturbing testimony from McGill's wife. She said that last month, after a therapy session, McGill wanted to talk to her.
"He then informed me that whatever he had done, I would hate him forever and I would not want to see him or be with him and he would be moving out," said his wife.
She says McGill told her that in December of last year, as well as in 2005, he had sexually abused two very young girls.
After the alleged confession, McGill's wife says she kicked her husband out of the house.
A judge ruled her testimony was enough to hold McGill over for trial. Jury selection will start on July 30.
Watch the video at the link above.
BREVARD COUNTY - A former Cocoa police officer who was accused of having sex with a 15-year-old boy was in court Thursday morning, trying to get her bond reduced, WFTV leaned.
Investigators said Alysia Flynn was arrested in March on more than 90 charges, including unlawful sex with a minor.
Prosecutors filed charges after a second teenager came forward also claiming to have had sex with 32-year-old Flynn.
Flynn was being held in the Brevard County jail on a $1.4 million bail.
Flynn didn't address any of the allegations made against her in court on Thursday and spoke briefly. before the judge saying there was no way she could come up with the money to bond out of jail.
She told the judge she had three children, and WFTV learned that at least one of her children attends the high school with the first victim.
Flynn was accused of befriending Viera High School teenagers, throwing parties at her house and arranging sex with the teens through text messages.
The assistant state attorney fought having the bond lowered, saying she posed a danger to the community, particularly to teenage children.
The parents of one victim told the judge they feared if Flynn was able to get out of jail she would find some way through text or email to get a hold of their son.
The father of one teen addressed the judge.
"The oldest boy was being constantly contacted from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.," said the father.
He said he found out about the relationship and tried to stop it, telling Flynn to "stay away from our child."
But, the judge agreed to reduce her bond to $83,000, but with several conditions, including a curfew and prohibiting her from going to Viera High School.
"Ms. Flynn, I cannot stress to you enough that any way possible known to the technology of man today, you cannot contact this victim," said Judge Morgan Reinman.
Prosecutors asked that Flynn be given a GPS monitoring device, but the judge didn't think it would be effective in the case.
Flynn's husband and parents were also in court for the hearing and testified on her behalf.
By LAURA WISELEY
MARCUS HOOK - Borough council has reluctantly voted to repeal an ordinance it enacted last year that restricted the locations in which convicted sex offenders could live.
Passed during Monday night’s borough business meeting, the new ordinance repeals an ordinance that council unanimously approved last May. The old ordinance made it illegal for convicted sex offenders to live within 1,000 feet of a school, day care center, recreation facility or park, and granted borough police the ability to enforce the law, which would impose financial penalties and/or prison sentences on anyone violating it.
The repeal comes on the heels of a recent state Supreme Court ruling that such laws are unconstitutional.
“It’s bad government to keep an unconstitutional law on the books,” borough solicitor Mark Much said. “No council member up here wants to repeal this ordinance, but we’re about to enter into another chapter in Marcus Hook, and financially, it does not make sense to expose ourselves to litigation that we cannot win.”
Much added that the state will continue to enforce Megan’s Law, which requires that law enforcement authorities make information about the whereabouts of convicted sex offenders available to the public, and to actively pursue sex crimes throughout Pennsylvania.
“There are protections out there,” he said. “However, the Supreme Court has spoken and my recommendation is to rescind the ordinance. If that changes, I would recommend that we re-enact last year’s ordinance (right away).”
Council voted 5-1 to rescind, with the lone dissenting vote coming from councilman Joseph Flynn, who had championed last year’s ordinance.
“I do believe that ordinance protected our children, and I believe we have to keep it on the books,” he said.
By Ken Kolker
Request denied to take him off Sex Offender list
GRAND RAPIDS (WOOD) - He was a poster child for what was wrong with Michigan's sex offender registry -- a teen on the list for a one-night stand with an under-age girl.
Then, the state passed sweeping reforms to the sex offender list, and it appeared [name withheld]'s name would be erased, and his life would change.
A year later, Target 8 found his life has changed -- for the worse.
Not only is [name withheld] still on Michigan's public sex offender registry, but he now is listed as a Tier 3 offender -- the worst of the worst.
"He looks like a dangerous predator because he's on the list, and he's on this very high tier," said Barb Lester, a crime-prevention organizer in Grand Rapids who opposes the list. "That would give you the impression that this man is dangerous to the general public."
[name withheld], now 30, said he is "baffled."
"I was astonished that it changed to a Tier 3," he said. "I was like, 'This can't be right. I haven't done anything since then; I haven't gotten into any trouble.' It just makes no sense to me."
And, instead of being on the list for another 10 years under the old law, he's now on it for life.
"You always get those glances, like, oh my God, he's a Tier 3. Stay away from him."
[name withheld] says it all started with a one-afternoon stand with a girl he'd just met and who got pregnant.
"I was 17; she was 15," he said.
Records show she claimed he "somewhat forced her" to have sex at her parents' home, and that he claimed it was consensual. But nobody had to prove force. She was too young to legally consent. It got him 2 years probation.
Before the sex offender law changed, the victim's stepfather told Target 8 [name withheld] didn't belong on the list. Even the judge back then called it unfair.
"Almost to the point of being cruel and unusual, cruel and unusual punishment," Kent County Circuit Judge Paul Sullivan said at the time.
So what went wrong?
While the law says that "new" Romeo-Juliet cases will no longer make the list, it requires existing Romeos to petition a judge to get their names removed.
Raquel Olivo, an attorney at Legal Aid of Western Michigan, has helped three or four men off the list locally, but couldn't help [name withheld].
"It isn't an automatic right," she said.
They have to show they were less than 4 years older than the victim, and that the victim was between 13 and 16 -- no problem with this case.
Then, they need to prove the sex was consensual -- and often that means reaching out to the victim. The burden is on the offender.
"That is the problem that he's facing is finding that evidence to show there was a consensual relationship, that there was no force or coercion at the time," Olivo said.
Since the new law passed, the sex offender registry has shrunk by about 8,000 names, but it's likely only a small number were Romeo-Juliet cases. The state doesn't keep track that way.
Last August, the judge denied [name withheld]'s request.
"When I got out of the courtroom, I actually started crying, because I had my hopes up too high," [name withheld] said.
He says he's tried to reach his victim, who is now in her late 20s.
"I sent her a message on Facebook. I found her on Facebook, and didn't get any response back."
When Target 8 reached her on Facebook for last year's story, she told us she didn't want to get involved. She didn't respond to our recent Facebook post.
"She's moved on; she don't care," [name withheld] said. "Sucks for me, but what can you do?"
As for [name withheld], he was recently forced to move from a friend's house, because it's too close to a school. He's now living with his parents.
He says the list has kept him out of the military, cost him jobs, and kept him out of his kids' schools.
"No matter where I go, no matter what I do, I have to register," he said.
By M. Alex Johnson
Viewing child pornography online isn't a crime, the New York Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday in the case of a college professor whose work computer was found to have stored more than a hundred illegal images in its Web cache.
The court dismissed one of the two counts of promoting a sexual performance of a child and one of the dozens of counts of possession of child pornography on which [name withheld] was convicted. The court upheld the other counts against [name withheld], an assistant professor of public administration at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
[name withheld] — who said at his sentencing that he "abhorred" child pornography and argued that someone else at Marist must have placed the images on his computer — was sentenced to one to three years in state prison in August 2009.
The decision rests on whether accessing and viewing something on the Internet is the same as possessing it, and whether possessing it means you had to procure it. In essence, the court said no to the first question and yes to the second.
"Merely viewing Web images of child pornography does not, absent other proof, constitute either possession or procurement within the meaning of our Penal Law," Senior Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick wrote for a majority of four of the six judges.
"Rather, some affirmative act is required (printing, saving, downloading, etc.) to show that defendant in fact exercised dominion and control over the images that were on his screen," Ciparick wrote. "To hold otherwise, would extend the reach of (state law) to conduct — viewing — that our Legislature has not deemed criminal."
In other words, "the purposeful viewing of child pornography on the internet is now legal in New York," Judge Victoria A. Graffeo wrote in one of two concurring opinions that agreed with the result but not with the majority's reasoning.
[name withheld]'s attorney, Nathan Z. Dershowitz, told msnbc.com that he hadn't yet had a chance to talk to his client, so he couldn't discuss what they would do next. But he agreed with Graffeo that the ruling means that "in New York, there is no crime" in simply viewing child pornography.
All of the judges agreed that child pornography is an abomination, but they disagreed whether it was necessary to "criminalize all use of child pornography to the maximum extent possible," as Ciparick wrote in the majority opinion. The majority said that was up to the Legislature, not the courts, to decide.
The technical details revolve around copies of deleted files that remained in the cache of [name withheld]'s Web browser, which were the basis of the two counts that were dismissed. They were discovered, along with other materials, during a virus scan that [name withheld] had requested because his computer was running slowly.
To demonstrate possession of the images in the cache, "the defendant's conduct must exceed mere viewing," Ciparick wrote, adding that "the mere existence of an image automatically stored in a cache" isn't enough.
Furthermore, the prosecution failed to prove that [name withheld] even knew his Web browser had a cache in the first place, writing, "A defendant cannot knowingly acquire or possess that which he or she does not know exists."
Dershowitz said the "real problem here is that legislation is not keeping up with technology," arguing that federal courts also haven't fully addressed the legal standing of images stored only in a browser cache.
The federal statute outlawing possession of child pornography — 18 USC 2252A — doesn't mention browser caches. The few cases that have examined the issue at the federal level — notably a 2002 federal appeals case involving a Utah man and a 2006 federal appeals case involving a visitor to Las Vegas — generally conclude that cached images alone can establish possession if the defendant knows about the browser's caching function.
Both courts noted that it was hypothetically possible for the defendants to be innocent if they were ignorant of the cache function.
"Those statutes are probably not quite as incomprehensible, but they are anything but clear," Dershowitz said.
[name withheld]'s convictions on the other counts rested on other evidence, including a folder on his machine that stored about 13,000 saved images of girls whom investigators estimated to be 8 or 9 years old and four messages to an unidentified third party discussing a research project into the regulation of child pornography.
"I don't even think I can mail the disk to you, or anyone else, without committing a separate crime. So I'll probably just go ahead and wipe them," one of the messages said.