Wednesday, November 28, 2012

CA - Court determines Orange County sex offender ordinance unlawful

Original Article

11/28/2012

The ordinance passed by Orange County which prohibits all registrants from entering public parks, beaches, harbors and other recreational areas is unlawful, according to a panel of three Superior Court judges. The unanimous decision was issued on November 15.

According to this decision (PDF), the county ordinance violates the constitution of the State of California because it preempts existing state law which prohibits registrants from entering public parks but only if the registrant is on parole and offended against a child who is less than 14 years old. That law is California Penal Code Section 3053.8 (scroll down).

This is a major victory for registrants, not only in Orange County, but throughout the state of California,” stated Janice Bellucci (Video, Video), California RSOL state organizer. “Registrants can now recreate in the parks, beaches, and harbors of Orange County without fear of being arrested or fined.”

This decision is the result of the dedication and hard work of attorneys within the Orange County Public Defender’s Office who have represented registrant [name withheld], who was arrested in an Orange County Park on May 5, 2011. According to attorney Scott Van Camp, [name withheld] was attending a mandatory company celebration of Cinco de Mayo at the time of his arrest.

The court’s decision has been referred to the next appellate level for possible review. That court could reject further consideration of this decision or accept the case for additional review. A decision by that court regarding further review of the November 15 decision is expected in December.

The November 15 decision is limited to the Orange County ordinance and does not apply to ordinances passed by cities within that county or any other county. However, additional challenges have been made to similar ordinances adopted by Orange County cities, including but not limited to Tustin, Fullerton, Costa Mesa, Seal Beach, and Huntington Beach.

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AUSTRALIA - Prisoners' GPS bracelets a security risk

Original Article

11/29/2012

By Andrew Clennell and Alicia Wood

The system of having prisoners released from jail with electronic tracking bracelets is in disarray after 174 devices - including 18 being worn by serious sex offenders - malfunctioned in the first nine months of this year alone.

Attorney-General Greg Smith was forced to reveal the debacle in parliament in answers to questions on notice, saying some of it was due to maintenance issues and in other instances offenders were damaging the electronic devices.

The admission came after accused murderer [name withheld] was freed from his device in May, this one installed by police, after his defence counsel told a court the device had not worked on several occasions.

There are 391 bracelets in place for those who have been sentenced to home detention, or who are on intensive correction orders.

Mr Smith told parliament: "I am advised that in the period 1 January 2012 to 30 September 2012 there were 174 maintenance events. That is, incidents in which monitoring devices required some level of maintenance intervention.."

"Eighteen of the 174 maintenance events that occurred between 1 January 2012 and 30 September 2012 related to monitoring devices that were being worn by serious sex offenders subject to extended supervision orders."

Asked to guarantee there would be no further malfunctions, Mr Smith said: "It is not possible to provide such a guarantee as the electronic ankle bracelet, like any piece of electronic equipment, requires regular maintenance."

News of the failing bracelets came as the state government and Mr Smith confirmed a softening of bail laws yesterday, with the presumption against bail to be removed for all offences including murder, manslaughter, rape, armed robbery and kidnapping.

All presumptions for and against bail will be scrapped in favour of a "risk assessment" that will test whether a person is likely to offend, be a risk to the community, and whether they are likely to front up to court or interfere with witnesses.


JAMAICA - House tables regulations for Sex Offenders Registry

Original Article

11/28/2012

By Jerome Reynolds

The House of Representatives has tabled the long-awaited regulation for the establishment of a sex offenders' registry.

The absence of the regulation had made aspects of the Sexual Offences Act ineffective for the four years it has been on the books.

Attorney General Patrick Atkinson told the parliament yesterday that the tabling of the documents is to fill that gap in the system.

Atkinson informed that the registrar will, among other things, take into account the sex offender’s name, address, alias, photograph, date of birth and places frequented.

The register will also include the offence for which the offender was convicted and the age of their victim.

The regulations also require that employees at the registrar keep all information confidential and make it an offence to disclose the material.

Atkinson said the regulations will dictate to whom information from the registry can be shared.

He said the Commissioner of the Corrections will be responsible for the operation and management of the registry and the maintenance of the register.

According to the attorney general, the Commissioner has already identified the location and central registration centre for the registry.


MT - Political uses of sex offender list not uncommon

Original Article

It's not just politicians who exploit sex offenders, children and fear for their own gain. The media, organizations and people selling products have done this for as long as politics has been around.

11/28/2012

By ANDY HUDAK

As chairman of the Montana Sex Offender Treatment Association’s legislative committee, the last three legislative sessions have created experiences that I could have never predicted. Personally, I backed into successfully evaluating and treating sex offenders in the early 1980s and co-founded our state organization in 1986.

Besides the personal satisfaction that our members get from upholding community safety when necessary for the high-risk sex offender, there is also the rewarding healing journey of the lower risk recovering sex offenders. There is also the huge personal frustration when politicians and political operatives attempt to manipulate people’s understandable mama grizzly bear response towards anyone that hurts our precious children for their own personal agendas.

This type of political self interest at the expense of the truth has been common for years now.

The public becomes unnecessarily frightened. Even more tragic — the generally unknown “good news” regarding my specialty fields’ accomplishments with sex offenders is buried. Knowledge of our continued progress in determining the risk (to reoffend) of a sex offender, as well as the implementation of successful specialized treatment with low reoffense rates (checked by polygraph), are just two casualties.

One of the most offensive examples of this cynical manipulation of the public occurs when politicians and their supporters play the sex offender card in order to win political races. Though both parties have been guilty of these tactics in our attorney general and governor races, the recent campaigns waged by the supporters/campaigns of Rick Hill and Tim Fox reached an all-time low.

The American Traditional Partnership provided a shocking specific example. These are the same folks that support the concept that corporations are people and money is speech when they went after Montana’s campaign financing limits law. They will also most likely be investigated for illegally coordinating with candidates.

While visiting a Web site, I saw a link for the sex offender registry with thumbnail pictures of several registered sex offenders. I noticed that one of the thumbnails was actually a picture of Bullock. The link that purportedly went to the registry deceptively took me to a negative campaign page where they distorted Bullock’s record by falsely implying that 25 percent of Montana’s sex offenders are currently missing, then, based on this distortion, outrageously asserted that Bullock had endangered Montana’s families.

The facts: As of Oct. 31, 2011, of 3,742 registered sexual offenders, there were 275 (7.4 percent) Montana sex offenders who were “not compliant.” A year later, on Nov. 1, 2012, that number was 92 (2.5 percent).

Now, common sense tells us that some would be normal administrative errors after a move, death, etc., so the actual number is inevitably even lower. So it looks like Bullock and Bucy did a great job cleaning the registry up with the help of local law enforcement and the registry folks.

Bullock and Bucy had helped craft legislation in our previous sessions that, though going a bit overboard, helped Montana’s state-of-the-art monitoring system to be more accurate than it would have if they caved completely to the federal attorney general’s and legislative suggestions. They did incredibly well within the context of this political fear “gotcha” environment.

Make no mistake — both political parties have historically engaged in the playing of the sex offender card including (ironically) both Bullock and Bucy. For future purposes, we are calling on Rick Hill, Tim Fox, Steve Bullock, Pam Bucy to call out their supporters’ (PACS) unethical spreading of misleading information that unnecessarily frightens Montanans if it reoccurs.

Montanans deserve accurate information regarding this and other emotional policy issues. Current administrative rules for the registry include some, especially for adolescents, that have a good chance of having the opposite impact from its intention — increasing noncompliance and even re-offenses.

Effective public policy is derailed when the unscrupulous employ this type of manipulation of our understandable fears, especially when displacing facts that are actually positive, no matter which party, organization or Machiavellian operatives.

Let’s continue to work together based on facts to both protect community safety and promote healing for those walking a path of accountable redemption.


AZ - Ruling OKs Arizona law on sex offender disclosures

Original Article

11/27/2012

By PAUL DAVENPORT

PHOENIX (AP) — An appeals court on Tuesday upheld an Arizona law that says home sellers can't be sued for failing to tell buyers that a sex offender lives nearby.

But the ruling from the Arizona Court of Appeals also said that lying about such an issue could constitute fraud.
- That is one reason not to ever check.

The case stems from a lawsuit filed by a couple who didn't know an offender lived next door to a Scottsdale home they bought for nearly $3.1 million in 2008.
- Aww, you should've checked before forking over the money.  This is your problem, not the real estate agents problem.

A three-judge panel's ruling said a Maricopa County Superior Court judge correctly dismissed most of the case because a 1995 Arizona law says sellers can't be sued for failing to disclose certain things, including that a sex offender lives nearby.

The law doesn't violate Arizona's state constitutional protection for the right to sue for damages because there was no right under pre-statehood legal doctrines requiring disclosures of property defects, the panel said.

But the ruling sent the case back to Superior Court to consider whether the sellers engaged in fraud.

It's up to a jury to decide whether statements by the sellers were false and whether the Lerners relied on them, the ruling said.

One of the panel's three judges dissented from that part of the ruling, saying that the fraud claim was also out of bounds because of the 1995 law.

The couple who sued, prominent personal-injury attorney Glen Lerner and his wife, said they should have been told about the offender living next door and that the sellers lied about why they wanted to move.

The Lerners' suit said the sellers falsely told them they wanted to move to be closer to friends when the actual motive for selling the home was the sex offender's proximity.


GA - Ex-White County deputy (Christopher Davis) gets 15-year sentence for child porn

Christopher Davis
Original Article

11/27/2012

By Emma Witman

A former White County deputy was sentenced Tuesday morning in Gainesville’s federal court to 15 years in federal prison and 15 years of supervised release for child pornography charges.

Christopher Davis, 34, has also been ordered to pay a $2,000 fine.

Within 72 hours of release, he must register as a sex offender and must also participate in a mental health program and psycho-sexual evaluation upon release.

The defendant violated the trust of a young girl and his community,” said U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates in a release. “That the defendant committed this offense while serving as a law enforcement officer makes this crime that much more atrocious.”

Davis pleaded guilty in September to sexual exploitation of children.

He was originally charged for both possession of child porn and producing child porn, but the charges for
possession were dropped as part of a plea deal.

Investigators from the Child Exploitation Investigations Group tracked Davis after arresting [name withheld] of Houston, Texas, on charges of possession of child pornography.

Davis’ ex-wife, Lisa Davis, who was [name withheld]’s girlfriend at the time, directed investigators to Davis as the producer of photos, found in [name withheld]’s possession, of a 7-year-old girl engaged in sexually explicit acts.

Investigators found that Davis had taken the pictures inside his Dahlonehga home.

At that time, and at the time of his arrest, Davis was employed as a deputy with the White County Sheriff’s Office, according to court reports.

[name withheld] has been sentenced in Texas to 10 years in federal prison for possession of child porn and faces further prosecution.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill E. Steinberg helped prosecute the Davis case.

The court imposed the 15-year sentence that we had requested. It’s appropriate considering the severity of the offense,” she said.

Davis’ attorney Tony Axam did not have a comment on the sentence.

The maximum sentence Davis faced was 30 years, supervised release for life and $250,000 fine.

United States District Court Judge William O’Kelley presided over the case.

O’Kelley said he considered Davis’ crimes lower on the spectrum in terms of severity within the child pornography statute, and expressed some ambivalence with the mandatory minimums established by the federal sentencing guidelines.

These cases are not all alike, and that’s one of the reasons I don’t like guidelines, mandatory minimums,” O’Kelley said.

But the judge did note that Davis’ possession of “graphic, violent pornography, including play-acting with children,” was disturbing.

Federal agents found thousands of digital images on Davis’ computer, court reports said.

The judge reminded Davis he has 14 days to appeal the sentence.

Steinberg noted that Davis’ plea agreement almost entirely waived his right to appeal, allowing only limited circumstances in which he could.

If they are sentenced above their guidelines range, he could appeal. But that wasn’t the case here,” Steinberg said.


CO - Former Boulder County deputy (Rick Ferguson) sentenced to 18 months in Internet child sex exploitation case

Rick Ferguson
Original Article

11/27/2012

By Pierrette J. Shields

BOULDER - A former Boulder County deputy wept as former co-workers cuffed him and led him out of the courtroom Tuesday morning after a Boulder District judge sentenced him to a short prison term and 20 years of intensively supervised sex offender probation on Internet child exploitation charges.

During the hearing, Rick Ferguson apologized to his former co-workers, family and community for his behavior, which included more than 900 sexually explicit online chats with people identified as girl as young as 11 years old. Boulder District Judge Thomas Mulvahill said more than 200 of those chats were conducted on Boulder County Sheriff's Office computers while Ferguson was on duty. Mulvahill said a prison term was a necessary component to the sentence.

"If you give me the benefit of the doubt I can change," Ferguson told the judge as he wept through some of his comments to the court before Mulvahill's decision.

Mulvahill said he believed Ferguson was sincere and is making genuine effort in treatment.

"Do I think Mr. Ferguson can be safe in the community? I do. I think he can be safe in the community if he is appropriately structured and contained," Mulvahill said.

Ferguson pleaded guilty in August to felony sexual exploitation of a child, felony obscenity and official misconduct. Seven other charges were dismissed under the deal. Mulvahill sentenced Ferguson to 18 months in prison, with credit for 65 days served, and 20 years of intensively supervised sex offender probation, including a requirement that he have no contact with anyone younger than 18 until his treatment team determines that it is safe.

Mulvahill said defense arguments that the charges against Ferguson were "a political decision to kick a cop while he is down" and that Ferguson has been punished more severely than others in his position because he was a police officer are unfounded.

"Law enforcement officers should be held to a higher standard," Mulvahill said, adding that the community must be able to trust law enforcement and that it was particularly aggravating for Ferguson's case that he conducted chats while working.

According to the sheriff's office, county information technology employees noticed unusual activity on the laptop in Ferguson's patrol car and uncovered the sexually explicit conversations. Further investigation revealed that the conversations were with people on the Internet who claimed to be young girls, according to reports. District attorney investigators and sheriff's investigators secured a search warrant for Ferguson's Lafayette home and seized his personal computers, which were also searched.

Mulvahill said that Ferguson's cooperation with investigators -- which included a confession -- his decision to seek treatment before conviction, progress he has made in treatment and his family's support were all mitigating circumstances. However, he said it was problematic that Ferguson had engaged in the behavior since the 1990s and did not seek help before he was caught.

Ferguson initially entered pleas of not guilty to the charges and was scheduled for a trial to begin Dec. 10. The plea spared him the trial and any lengthy prison time that could have come with multiple felony convictions.

Defense attorney Larry Mertes said Ferguson began struggling with a sexual addiction after he served as a detective on a case in the 1980s in which a murder victim had been dismembered and placed in a septic tank. Ferguson helped to retrieve the body parts, which he later learned belonged to a man who attended high school with him. Mertes said he suffered PTSD from the case and that therapy showed he treated the resulting numbness by seeking excitement in online sexual conquests.

Mertes said Ferguson decided to remain in the Broomfield County Jail for 65 days because he believed he needed to pay for his crimes and that he was "extremely proud" of Ferguson for working with investigations, accepting responsibility and seeking treatment.

Mulvahill said it was likely that Ferguson would spend "significantly less" time than 18 months in prison and that he must report immediately to probation upon his release.


NY - Sex offender registry not the way to protect children

Original Article

11/27/2012

I live with a good and decent man. He is a loving and caring person and he is my fiancé. He is also a registered sex offender.

I was therefore horrified and heartbroken to read the letter from Cathy DuBois, where she pleads with parents to check the registry so they can see where all the “monsters” live.

I have no doubt that her letter came from a place in her heart that cares deeply for the safety of our children. It is not surprising, considering that all registered sex offenders are frequently painted with the same broad brush of the worst serial pedophiles and child abductors. Those emotional and tragic stories obscure the fact that most registrants have nothing in common with these most heinous offenders.

Ms. Dubois’ letter is rooted in the mistaken belief that registrants will commit a new sex crime. She most likely doesn’t know that sex offenders have one of the lowest recidivism rates of all crimes other than murder – typically ranging from 3% to 10% depending on the study.

My fiancée is on the registry for a juvenile offense involving incest, the sub-set of offenders with the lowest recidivism rate of all. As a minor himself, he engaged in inappropriate sexual activity with his half-sister. Years from now, when we have the children we hope for, will they also have to endure the stigma, hatred and fear of reprisal we already feel every day (Video, Video, Video)? Letters like Ms. Dubois’ make me concerned for our future, and terrified for ourselves and the millions of other family members who have a loved one on the registry.

The media’s mischaracterizations of all people on the registry and subsequent public reactions are becoming dangerous hate speech with a growing number of tragic consequences.

In June, a vigilante in Washington killed two registered sex offenders and told police he was going to keep going until he was caught. Having slain people who have been cast as monsters, he thought of himself as a hero. He murdered Jerry Ray, the primary care giver to his elderly father and Gary Blanton, who left behind his wife and two young boys.

There are challenges to loving a registered sex offender, and I do my best to leave those challenges outside and feel safe and secure in the comfort of the home we just bought together. But at times I am jolted in the back of my mind when I wonder if a letter like Ms. DuBois’ will be the tipping point for a sick mind in our town… and bring a true monster to our door.

Sincerely,

Shana Rowan
Executive Director
USA FAIR, Inc.


MO - Park Hill Educators, Police Sharing Ideas about Protecting Kids

Original Article

11/27/2012

By Sean McDowell

KANSAS CITY - Almost 2,200 American kids are reported missing every day, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a non-profit group that tracks and assists with the rescue of abducted children.
- And out of those, how many are abducted by sex offenders, strangers and family members?  I am willing to bet most are by family members.  From the NCMEC web site, whom we don't trust much, most are abducted by family members.

In Platte County, educators and police are searching for new ways to protect kids from “stranger danger,” after a recent string of incidents in their community.
- They should be taught how to protect themselves, but "stranger danger" is not the norm, families are the usual suspects who abduct children, so what are you teaching them about that?

On Tuesday, administrators from the Park Hill School District met with local law enforcement members. A working lunch was used to share ideas about how educators and police can work together to keep children safe.

The Park Hill School District has seen four potential child abductions within the past year, including a near-abduction from November 12th, when a man grabbed a 13-year old girl at a Riverside bus stop and tried to drag her into the woods nearby.

A good Samaritan saw the whole thing, yelled at the man, and the would-be abductor ran away.
- So did anybody chase the man down?  Apparently not.  I am willing to bet he was not a known sex offender either, but we will never know now.

We’re hoping to come up with ideas,” said Nicole Kirby, Park Hill Schools spokesperson. “We’re looking for some proactive steps that we can use to make sure our kids are safer out there when they’re waiting at bus stops and out in the community.”
- I know this is not financially practical, or is it?  But since the sheeple are so freaked out about this, why not use their tax paying money to hire a guard to stand at each bus stop?  We have people monitoring kids for cross walks and stuff, so why not bus stops?

Dan Watts isn’t only a Kansas City Missouri Police officer – he’s also a father of two kids. His department deals firsthand with ‘stranger danger’ incidents, and he says working together will only help everyone involved.

The children are the reason we’re here,” Watts said. “Our goal today is to make sure we do all we can do, and brainstorm and see if we can come up with something we’re missing.”

Police say parents can play the biggest role in preventing child abductions, even while kids are away from home and attending school during the day. Teaching the little ones to remove themselves from threatening situations is the best start, according to Watts.

You can’t do enough to prevent this kind of stuff,” Watts added. “There are bad people out there who want to do bad things. We do all we can to address that.”