Saturday, October 20, 2012

MA - Town of Ayer fights back in sex-offender bylaw challenge

Original Article


By Lisa Redmond

BOSTON -- The town of Ayer has fired back after a Level 3 sex offender and his wife filed a federal lawsuit challenging Ayer's new sex-offender bylaw, which limits where sex offenders can live.

In court documents filed Oct. 11 in U.S. District Court, attorney Leonard Kesten, who represents the town, filed court documents in opposition to [name withheld] and [wife name withheld]'s request for a preliminary injunction and asked the judge to deny the [name withheld]' preliminary injunction.

The injunction, if approved, would put the town's sex-offender-residency bylaw, enacted Oct. 24, 2011, on hold until a judge decides whether to strike it down as unconstitutional.

A hearing on the preliminary injunction was scheduled in U.S. District Court, but the hearing was canceled. No new date has been given.

On Sept. 5, [name withheld] filed a lawsuit in Middlesex Superior Court against Ayer and Ayer Police Chief William Murray. [name withheld], 39, a convicted Level 3 sex offender, and his wife [wife name withheld], are living in the basement of Ashley's parents' Harvard home.

[name withheld] was arrested by Ayer police on May 15 for allegedly residing at 6 Whitcomb Ave., in violation of the state's SORB law.

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Halloween Laws Scapegoat Sex Offenders

Original Article

This lady confuses me. One minute she is saying the laws are insane, the next she is all for them, but, we agree with what she says below.  Click the "DianeDimond" link above for all the articles about her.


By Diane Dimond

Here we go again. Law enforcement officers nationwide are about to stage their annual pre-Halloween effort to make sure everyone listed on the local Sex Offenders Registry knows – imagine this being said in a spooky voice with a scary laugh at the end – They Are Being Watched!

This annual charade is also supposed to help the community feel safer. I’m here to tell you it is nonsense.

The intimidation campaign is a silly diversion of manpower and a waste of your tax dollars. Police and the politicians who are in search of tough-on-crime votes will tell you otherwise, but don’t believe the myth that Halloween is the night child sexual predators wait all year for.

The facts tell a different story.

Those on the registry – convicts who have done their time and are trying hard to blend back into the population – will likely get a personal visit from officers. Depending on the state in which they live, they may be told that they must stay home on Halloween night, that they must keep their lights off and not answer the door. Many will be required to display a sign that reads something like: “No Candy at This Residence.”

There could be other restrictions, too: No holiday decorations outside the home; no dressing up in costume; no attending holiday parties, haunted houses, hay rides or any other Halloween activity where children gather.

Now, let’s look at the facts.

Over the last several decades there has not been one reported instance that I can find of a convicted sex offender molesting a child on Halloween night. Shall I repeat that? Despite all the hysteria, I couldn’t find evidence of even one case. Further, a huge majority of these convicts never re-offend.

The only Halloween tragedy my research turned up was back in 1973 in Milwaukee, where a 9-year-old girl, trick-or-treating by herself, went to the home of a stranger named Gerald Turner. Turner, a man with no criminal record, raped and killed the child. Using today’s guidelines Turner wouldn’t even warrant a visit, since he was not a known molester.

Fact: Our sex registry system is foolish. It lumps in everyone who ever mooned or streaked or urinated in public with hard-core career pedophiles. A registrant may have been a teenager caught with a girlfriend in the back seat; the victim of a vindictive ex-wife who made abuse allegations; or a man who, legitimately, believed his partner was older than 18.

PA - Presentation to Focus on Understanding Sex Offender Behavior

Original Article


By Sara LaJeunesse

UNIVERSITY PARK – Kristen Eisenbraun Houser, vice president of communications and development for the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, will present a talk at 6 p.m. Oct. 25, in the Bennett Pierce Living Center, 110 Henderson Building. The presentation, which is free and open to the public, is titled “Protecting Our Communities: Understanding Offender Behavior.” A reception with refreshments will follow the presentation.

In her talk, Houser, who is an alumnus of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, will discuss the latest research on people who commit sexual offenses and will challenge some of the ideas commonly held in communities regarding sexual offenders. The lecture is the first in a new series that is supported by the de Lissovoy Program Support Endowment for the Protection of Children in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, and the Human Development and Family Studies Undergraduate Student Organization.

People who commit sex offenses invoke incredible fear among communities and are often used as political hot-topics, particularly when children are victims,” Houser said. “The words ‘pedophile’ and ‘predator’ often are used haphazardly and incorrectly to describe anyone who sexually abuses children. By better understanding the people who commit sex offenses we can learn how to prevent and intervene in sexual abuse cases and ultimately enhance community safety.”

The Pesky Persistence of Labels

Original Article


By Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D.

Just because a label has been lifted doesn't make it disappear.

"We inhabit a world in which we tend to put labels on each other and expect that we will then march through life wearing them like permanent sandwich boards." - Nick Webb

The tendency to classify and categorize objects is a deeply ingrained aspect of human nature. In many cases, this is a good thing. Without this ability, we'd quickly get overwhelmed in every new encounter. Nevertheless, this fundamental skill can also be extremely damaging, especially when it comes to categorizing people. As Ronit Baras puts it, we can all too easily get "trapped by labels". For instance, when when we place labels on children in school, such as "gifted" or "learning disabled", this fundamentally affects how others perceive those individuals, which of course can cause all sorts of self-fulfiling prophecies. Most troubling, these labels can follow these children throughout their lives, long after the label has been lifted.

A new study by Francesco Foroni and Myron Rothbart (PDF) furthers our understanding of the effect of labels on perception and judgement. They presented participants with drawings of a variety of female body types ordered along a continuum ranging from very thin to very heavy.

First, they asked all participants to judge the degree of similiarity between pairs. They used these results as baseline information. Then they randomly assigned participants to either make the same judgement as before, or make the judgement with three labels interposed on the continuum in three equal intervals: "anorexic", "normal", and "obese".

Finally, in a third phase, they lifted the labels and had all participants make the same judgement they did in the first phase with just the bare continuum. Just before this third phase, the researchers told one group of participants who had seen the labels in phase two that

"[t]here is recent evidence from the Bulletin of American Nutritionists [...], that the most important information is represented by each silhouette's actual score on the BRI continuum rather than a silhouette's placement within a category. [...] Any medical treatment would be based solely on a person's individual BRI score, and would never be based on their category membership [...]"

After the experiment, all of the participants were interviewed. Everyone said they believed that the labels came from expert nutritionists, they accepted the challenge to the labeling system, and no one showed any signs that they guessed the point of the experiment. So what did they find?

CA - Judge asked to temporarily block Simi's Halloween sex offender law

Original Article


By Mike Harris

A federal judge was asked Friday to temporarily block enforcement of Simi Valley's new Halloween sex offender law. The judge could rule as early as next week.

The motion for a temporary restraining order was filed with U.S. District Court Judge Percy Anderson in Los Angeles by attorney Janice Bellucci (Video), who last month filed a federal lawsuit that argued the law is unconstitutional. Bellucci contends the law violates the First and 14th Amendments of the Constitution because it "suppresses and unduly chills protected speech and expression."

Bellucci, president of the board of a group called California Reform Sex Offender Laws, filed the suit on behalf of five registered sex offenders, three of their spouses and two of their children, all Simi Valley residents

"Even though we said in the lawsuit that we were going to seek injunctive relief, we had to file a separate motion to do that," she said. She is seeking to temporarily block enforcement of the law while the lawsuit, which seeks to permanently block enforcement, is litigated.

Bellucci said the judge will rule on her request without input from the city, as early as next week.