Tuesday, January 8, 2013
A temporary restraining order (TRO) was filed today in federal district court requesting that enforcement of a sex offender ordinance in the City of Lancaster be halted.
“The Lancaster ordinance denies the civil rights of more than 100,000 individuals and families in California,” stated Janice Bellucci (Video), President of California Reform Sex Offender Laws (RSOL). “It prohibits people who made a mistake, but who have paid their debt to society from entering public places such as parks, schools and the library as well as private places such as movie theaters, arcades and the bowling alley. This prohibition adversely affects registrants’ family members as well.”
The City of Lancaster unanimously passed an ordinance on September 11, 2012, that prohibits all registered sex offenders (“registrants”) from entering some public and private places as well as from residing in the same home, apartment and hotel with limited exceptions. The ordinance also prohibits registrants from entering public shelters even in the case of an emergency such as an earthquake.
“The California Reform Sex Offender Laws organization testified before the City Council of Lancaster during the two meetings at which this ordinance was discussed,” stated Bellucci. “We told the City Council members at those meetings that the ordinance violates both the state and federal constitutions, however, they chose not to heed our warnings.”
California RSOL filed a lawsuit in federal district court on December 18, 2012, challenging the Lancaster ordinance. A similar ordinance adopted by Orange County was declared to violate the state constitution because it is preempted by state law according to a three-judge panel in Superior Court. That decision is currently on appeal, however, the Orange County Sheriff has publicly announced that it will not enforce the county ordinance.
By Neal Colgrass
(Newser) – The US justice system is punishing child-porn consumers in an unusual way — for crimes they may one day commit (Video), writes Rachel Aviv in The New Yorker. Using sex crime laws that first arose in the 1980s, officials have discarded First Amendment protections for child porn users, and now keep prisoners locked away if they seem unable to refrain from sexual violence or child molestation. But that hinges on unreliable psychological tests that can leave inmates rotting in cells or treatment centers for much of their lives. In 2007, for example, about 4,500 sex offenders had been civilly committed, and just over 10% had been let go.
The New Yorker follows the plight of a man named John, who at age 31 started downloading child pornography and rendezvoused with an underage girl with the intention of having sex. John insists he's never had sex with a minor, but his 53-month sentence has dragged on for several more years because of negative psychological evaluations. He ended up in a treatment center called Butner, where patients are known to exaggerate their sex crimes to avoid being sent back to prison—where sex criminals are generally treated like dirt. John refuses to invent crimes he's never committed, and can't believe his thoughts are enough to keep him locked away. "There is definitely something wrong with me," he admits. "But it's not the thing they're locking me up for." Click for the full article.
By Kelly Davis
Today, more than two years after declining to rule on a law restricting where paroled sex offenders can live, the California Supreme Court agreed to again hear the case.
Passed by voters in November 2006, Jessica's Law includes a provision that bars parolees who've committed a sexual offense from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park. A challenge over the residency restriction's constitutionality and to whom the Jessica's Law applies made its way up to the Supreme Court in 2010. The court declined to rule on the residency restriction portion of the law, instead asking local courts to conduct evidentiary hearings.
Those hearings took place in San Diego in January 2011, where an attorney argued that the restrictions were vague and overly broad and left offenders with few housing options. A crime analyst for the D.A.'s office, for instance, testified that less than a quarter of all residential parcels in San Diego County are in compliant areas, while only 2.9 percent of multi-family parcels—apartments, mobile-home parks—comply with the law. As a result of the lack of affordable housing options, homelessness among sex offenders statewide skyrocketed—by 5,700 percent between 2007 and August 2011.
In February 2011, Superior Court Judge Michael Wellington ruled that the residency restrictions were indeed unconstitutional; the state appealed. Last September, an appeals court sided with Wellington (PDF), noting that the blanket application of residency restrictions "constitutes arbitrary and oppressive official action" and "imposes a substantially more burdensome infringement on constitutional rights than is necessary to protect children from sex crimes." As it was before Jessica's Law, the court's ruling said, there's nothing preventing parole officers from applying a residency restriction as an individual condition of parole.
In late October, the state Attorney General's office appealed that ruling, kicking the case up to the Supreme Court.
Welcome to the crowd Ms. Pirro. You've been pushing for online ex-sex offender registries, which put the ex-sex offenders, their families and children's lives in danger, so if an unconstitutional online shaming hit-list is okay for one group, it should be done for all citizens of the USSA!
On her Saturday program on Fox News Channel, host Jeanine Pirro tore into the New York-based paper, The Journal News, which recently outed her and many other local residents as gun owners. Pirro said that the paper's actions have made them look weak and scared. The fact that they have had to hire armed guards for their protection after publishing the map is striking hypocrisy.
- Not really, they are just saying that people have a right to know where gun owners live, not that they are against legal guns, from what I recall reading.
"The firestorm began when The Journal News identified gun owners in a pedophile-like, interactive map," Pirro said. "The battered woman, hiding from her abuser, whose address has been protected by the courts. The police officer, whose family is now in jeopardy. The witness, who testified against the bad guy who is in jail and, for years, has been stewing about that witness."
"When the heat is turned up, and we want answers and we want to know why, you -- The Journal News -- can't talk," Pirro asked pointedly. "Was it your leftist, liberal, anti-gun agenda? Did you even think about the consequences? Was it all about money?"
"Will you step up if something happens to us," Pirro asked. "You know you've made us vulnerable."
- And will you step up when someone on the online hit-list, sex offender registry, is murdered (As in this case!) because "you wanted to know?" I doubt it, so it appears to us, many in the public who have now been outed, and who wanted the sex offender registry, are the hypocrites, but that is our opinion. If you "have a right" to know the ex-sex offenders who live around you, then we "have a right" to know who owns a gun around us, and we should also be able to know all the other criminals around us as well.
She read a portion of a statement released by The Journal News' president explaining the rationale behind publishing the map of gun owner's homes. Pirro found their explanation to be insufficient.
"Now that you're under the microscope, you look like a deer in headlights," Pirro said, speaking directly to The Journal News' staff. "You're looking pretty weak right now. And my sources tell me you're scared. You're disconnecting your phones. You're hiding behind people with guns, after criticizing those of us who legally own them."
Pirro closed by saying that, while she knew the names and addresses of many of The Journal News staffers, she would not divulge this information to her audience because it could put people in jeopardy.
- Yes, and so does the sex offender registry!
So what about the families of ex-sex offenders Ms. Pirro?
A sympathetic company is looking for a new employee, and is posting here first! If you are an out-of-work registrant who likes working outside and is handy with tools, this could be the job for you.
Employee will work on empty homes, with little to no interaction with other people. Applicants must be able to work independently, have a moderate to high level of computer skills, be very organized, trustworthy, and reliable. Most work will be relatively unskilled, and semi-skilled work can be trained.
Applicants must have their own internet connection, reliable truck, supply their own tools, and insurance.
This position will be paid by the job and applicants should expect months-long periods of light and heavy workloads.
This position will be a work-from-home location. Applicants from all over Nebraska are sought, but current preference is in western Nebraska (Alliance and North Platte).
After training begins, work will flow as quickly as a week after hiring, but could be closer to a month.
Interested applicants please contact Eric at (402) 905-8160 for more information.
By DYLAN WOOLF HARRIS
ELKO - Despite facing the possibility of life in prison, Aaron Hughes pleaded guilty Monday to incest and will avoid a public trial and additional charges.
The 40-year-old former Elko police captain matter-of-factly admitted in court to having sex with a female relative.
“I entered into an act of fornication with a relative,” Hughes told District Judge Nancy Porter.
Hughes was arrested on a warrant in 2008 after Sheriff’s deputies confiscated a sexually explicit video involving Hughes and a 17-year-old female relative downloaded from a computer. He was charged with using a minor in the production of pornography and incest.
The pornography charge was dismissed in 2009 by the late District Judge Andrew Puccinelli because, Hughes’ prior defense counsel argued, the legal definition of “minor” at times applies to people younger than the age of 16. The Nevada Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that for pornography-related crimes, “minor” applied to anyone under the age of 18, however, and sent the case back to district court.
Per the plea agreement, District Attorney Mark Torvinen agreed to drop the pornography charge Monday morning. For the purpose of a future appeal, the defense stipulated in the agreement it reserved the right to argue against Porter’s decision not to suppress pieces of evidence.
The judge will have few options when sentencing Hughes on March 25. By statute, defendants guilty of incest are to be sentenced to life in prison with parole eligibility after two years. However, Hughes will under go a pycho-sexual evaluation and if he’s deemed to be low risk for repeating the offense, he could be given probation instead of prison time.
He will also be required to have lifetime supervision and register as a sex offender.
In August 2008, Hughes was arrested on a charge of grand larceny after being accused of trying to steal ATVs and equipment from the Jerritt Canyon mine site. The larceny charge is a separate case on which no action is scheduled at this time.
Before Hughes changed his plea, District Judge Nancy Porter ruled, Monday, on whether a number of emails the DA had submitted for evidence would be suppressed. A few of the emails were admitted, Porter said. The judge also said in court she hadn’t made a decision prior to the change of plea whether all of the video would be admitted to evidence or only portions of it.
Hughes is released on bail. Porter said the defendant had attended all hearings and she didn’t believe a revocation of bail was necessary.
He began working for the Elko Police Department in 1995 and attained the rank of captain before resigning in September 2008.
By Alex Goldsmith
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - If you want to see if a registered sex offender is living in your neighborhood, all you have to do is go onto the state's sex offender registry.
But accomplishing the same goal on the world-wide Facebook neighborhood isn't so easy.
"There have been numerous instances throughout the country where convicted sex offenders have lured children into very unsafe situations using social media," said state Rep. Nate Gentry (R - Albuquerque).
Gentry's solution... a proposed state law that would make it a misdemeanor any of the New Mexico's registered sex offenders from using social networking, chat or instant messaging services where minors are allowed to register on the site.
That would include sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
The proposal is not without its opponents. Brenda Jones, executive director of Reform Sex Offender Laws, says Gentry's bill is overly broad and believes it violates the First Amendment.
"It doesn't take any consideration into account of whether the persons involved actually pose any type of risk," Jones said in a phone interview with News 13. "A lot of the people on the registry now didn't even commit a crime that involved a minor."
"These people have a propensity towards offenses of a sexual nature so we want to make sure we do all we can to protect our children," Gentry responded.
Similar laws in other states have had mixed results when challenged in court. The ACLU has helped litigate legal battles in Nebraska, Indiana and Louisiana.
In Nebraska and Louisiana, judges threw out all or part of sex offender social networking bans because the laws were overly broad or overly restricted First Amendment rights. Louisiana lawmakers later passed another law requiring sex offenders to publicly identify themselves as such on social networking sites.
However in Indiana, a federal judge ruled last June that the state's interests in protecting children was enough to allow the state to regulate which websites sex offenders can use.
Five killers carried out the 'extraordinarily callous, violent and brutal' murder of a teenager after the sister of one wrongly claimed he had raped her, a court heard today.
[victim name withheld], 18, was punched and kicked to death by the gang, who planned to slice off his fingers and pull out his teeth so the body could not be identified.
The victim, who was 5ft 7ins tall and weight just seven stone, had the misfortune to move into a council house when Alice Hall, who made the false allegation, was there, the Old Bailey heard.
Even though the case had been dropped, Hall claimed again that she had been attacked by [victim name withheld] the court was told.
Her sister Emma Hall, 21, and four friends killed Mr [victim name withheld] by 'punching and kicking and stamping on his head many times,' said prosecutor Simon Denison.
The victim was taken to a stream where he was killed on the bank. His body was covered with a mattress. The gang planned to return to mutilate the body.
Mr Denison added: "His murder was quite extraordinarily callous and violent and brutal."
The gang also burnt their clothes and mopped up bloodstains from the house.
But Emma Hall had called the police and told them about the plan to return to the body and officers were waiting for the gang.
Mr Denison said two years before Alice Hall had made a complaint to the police about the victim.
"She initially claimed that he had raped her.'
"But when what she was saying was examined more closely by the police it was clear that she was not in fact saying he had raped her and no further action was taken."
The gang are said to have attacked Mr [victim name withheld] at the bungalow in Crow Lane, Romford, Essex.
The injured victim was then driven to a patch of land in nearby Woodford Green where the assault continued.
His body was discovered close to playing fields in Broadmead Road, near the Orchard Estate.
Hall, along with James Danby, 27, Tony O'Toole, 29 and Jovan Roberts, 28, deny murder and causing grievous bodily harm with intent.
Hall, Danby and O'Toole, along with Billy Duggan, 21, and Khalid Hassan, 20, deny perverting the course of justice
The trial continues.
As lawsuits prompt OC cities to reconsider bans on sex offenders in parks, Westminster officials decided to drop charges against a sex offender who challenged the law.
Westminster became the latest Orange County city to distance itself from a law banning sex offenders from city or county parks.
A number of cities including Mission Viejo, Seal Beach, Fountain Valley, Los Alamitos and Laguna Niguel have similar bans, all of which could face challenges in court. An attorney who represents a sex offender in the Westminster case represents several offenders challenging similar bans around the county as an infringement on civil liberty. Many of the bans could depend on a pending appeals court decision about a Fountain Valley case.
The threat of a lawsuit prompted Lake Forest City Council to reverse its ban, and cities such as Seal Beach are reviewing their bans. And on Thursday Westminster city attorneys dismissed a misdemeanor case against a man accused of violating Westminster's ordinance prohibiting sex offenders from its parks, a law overturned by a panel of Orange County Superior Court judges and whose constitutionality is being considered by the Fourth District Court of Appeal.
[name withheld] was accused of violating Westminster's ordinance on Oct. 11. His attorney, Scott Van Camp of the Orange County Public Defender's Office, filed a motion to throw out the case, but the Westminster City Attorney's Office dismissed the charges before that motion could be considered.
Van Camp represents multiple defendants presenting constitutional challenges to ordinances banning registered sex offenders from parks in more than a dozen Orange County cities as well as unincorporated areas.
All the ordinances will hinge on how the appellate court rules on the misdemeanor case against [name withheld]. [name withheld] s misdemeanor conviction for violating the county's ordinance was dismissed in November by a panel of Orange County Superior Court judges, who asked the higher court to consider the ruling in December.
It could take another six months for the appellate court to rule, Van Camp said. The appellate court's ruling would establish legal precedence.
The three-court panel of Orange County Superior Court judges overturned the [name withheld] conviction because they concluded that state law preempts the city ordinances. If the state has a law regarding a specific crime cities are not allowed to pass ordinances that expand on them or are variations on them unless the state law permits that.
State laws ban parolees for some serious sex offenses involving victims younger than 14 from entering parks, Van Camp said.
The judges who overruled [name withheld] s conviction noted sex offenders would have a difficult time navigating a ``patchwork'' of ordinances throughout Orange County.
[name withheld] is a registered sex offender with Costa Mesa because of his misdemeanor conviction for sexual battery on June 23, 2010, according to prosecutors. [name withheld] went to Mile Square Regional Park in Fountain Valley on May 5, 2011, during a Cinco de Mayo celebration. He was convicted of violating the county's ordinance on Nov. 14, 2011.