Tuesday, May 21, 2013

PA - Former Hero Officer (Richard DeCoatsworth) Accused of Rape Costs City Millions

Richard DeCoatsworth
Original Article

05/21/2013

By Vince Lattanzio, David Chang and Danielle Johnson

A source tells NBC10 the former officer forced the women to use drugs and perform oral sex on him at gunpoint

Former Philadelphia police officer Richard DeCoatsworth, once honored by President Barack Obama for his heroism, remains in jail on $60 million bail for allegedly raping two women -- forcing one into prostitution.

Now, NBC10 has learned the City of Philadelphia is spending more than $1.5 million defending itself against DeCoatsworth's checkered past on the force.

Law enforcement sources say DeCoatsworth had nine citizen complaints against him over his nearly five year stint with the department. The complains, sources say, included allegations of assault, abuse and misconduct.

Issues with the 27-year-old began to arise in 2005 when he was in the Philadelphia Police Academy. DeCoatsworth allegedly injured a Girard Avenue business owner during a fight. However, he was allowed to remain a recruit despite the allegations.

In 2007 as a rookie officer, DeCoatsworth was severely injured after being shot in the face. After being shot, he managed to chase down the suspect for several blocks before collapsing. He called in enough information by radio that police were able to track down and arrest the suspect later the same day.

His actions earned him an invitation from Vice President Joe Biden to attend President Obama’s first congressional address at the U.S. Capital in February 2009. The officer sat in the gallery with First Lady Michelle Obama during the speech. He was also honored by his peers as a 2008 Top Cop.

Soon after, though, he was involved in two more dramatic incidents.

In April 2009, police say DeCoatsworth was jumped and attacked by a man when he tried to disperse a crowd at the Logan section of the city. During the struggle, sources say DeCoatsworth’s gun went off and hit the suspect who took off running. Another officer responding to the scene shot the suspect dead, according to sources.

In September 2009, DeCoatsworth and another officer stopped a man on a motorcycle in the Kensington section of the city. While they were questioning him, a second man allegedly jumped on the motorcycle and drove at the officers. Police say DeCoatsworth shot at the suspect, who sped off. The suspect was found later at the hospital where his mother had taken him to be treated for a shotgun wound.

During the incident, local witnesses claimed the two suspects did nothing wrong and that DeCoatsworth and the other officer acted recklessly -- shooting while children were nearby.

In November 2011, Internal Affairs investigated an alleged scuffle between DeCoatsworth and another officer, according to Philly.com.

DeCoatsworth retired from the police force on disability back in December 2011.

In February of 2012, an arrest warrant was issued for DeCoatsworth after he allegedly threatened a woman in Port Richmond.

The most recent incident began two weeks ago after DeCoatsworth allegedly met a woman at a bar on North Front Street. Police say the former officer forced the woman into prostitution at a Days Inn hotel along Roosevelt Boulevard in the Lawncrest section of the city.

Then, between 2 a.m. Thursday and Friday evening, DeCoatsworth went to the woman’s home along North Howard Street in the Fishtown-Kensington area, according to a law enforcement source close to the investigation.

Once he arrived, DeCoatsworth allegedly forced that woman and a second woman, both in their 20s, to use drugs and perform oral sex on him at gunpoint. The alleged victims reported the assault Friday only after DeCoatsworth went home, according to police.

Police raided DeCoatsworth’s house on the 2700 block of Salmon Street in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia around 6:30 a.m. on Saturday.

He was arraigned and charged with rape, sexual assault, terroristic threats and other related offenses. Police also confiscated drugs and guns from the home, according to a source. No word yet on what kind of drugs were removed from the home.

According to court documents, bail was set at $25 million for each of the alleged victims. Another $10 million bail was set in a separate domestic violence case DeCoatsworth is now being charged with, according to investigators.

Police say he assaulted his live-in girlfriend on May 9. The $60 million bail is reportedly one of the highest set in Philadelphia history.

DeCoatsworth faces more than 32 crimes in all three cases. He is scheduled for another court appearance on June 17.

One of DeCoatsworth’s neighbors said she was relieved to hear about his arrest.

I am scared to be saying this now but I hope he stays where he is at, he has been a thorn in the side of this neighborhood for so long,” said the woman who did not want to be identified.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter's Office says of the nine complaints lodged against DeCoatsworth -- one resulted in a lawsuit. The suit alleged DeCoatsworth used aggressive behavior while on the job.

The city settled that suit for $1.5 million. However, officials say Philadelphia has accrued other legal costs related to DeCoatsworth.

Last year, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey told police he believed he failed DeCoatsworth by letting him go back to work with a stressful unit too soon after he was shot in the face.

"I think I screwed up on that," Ramsey told the Daily News. "I think I should have given him more time. He didn't want more time but I should have done that."

In light of his most recent arrest however, Ramsey had much harsher words for DeCoatsworth on Monday.

"He has to be held accountable," Ramsey said. "Just like anybody else. There should be no special consideration given simply because he once served as a police officer."

DeCoatsworth is being held on $60 million bail. A figure that is rarely seen in the U.S. criminal justice system.

Philadelphia District Attorney's Office spokeswoman Tasha Jamerson said prosecution did not request a high bail amount, rather that DeCoatsworth be held without bail.

Being held without bail is the highest bail situation you could face as a defendant in Philadelphia," Jamerson said, “At DeCoatsworth's arraignment on Saturday, we requested that he be held without bail, but the judge instead chose to impose bail at $60 million.”

Other high-profile cases, including federal trials held in Pennsylvania, have included large sums, but none are near what the 27-year-old is held on.

While many with similarly egregious crimes are held without bail, some are held on bonds that reach into the millions of dollars.

While DeCoatsworth is listed as being represented by a public defender, family members are currently helping him acquire an attorney.


CA - LAPD Officer (Miguel Schiappapietra) Accused of Lewd Acts with 2 Young Girls

Miguel Schiappapietra
Original Article

05/21/2013

By Kellan Connor

LOS ANGELES (KTLA) - An officer with the Los Angeles Police Department was expected to appear in court on Tuesday on charges of molesting two young girls.

Officer Miguel Schiappapietra, 28, was arrested on Saturday at his home in the 28000 block of Branch Road in Castaic.

He was booked on two counts of lewd acts with a child, according to Sgt. Brian Hudson, of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department’s Special Victims Bureau.

There were at least two victims involved, both under the age of 10, Hudson said.

Schiappapietra allegedly lured the two girls into his home, police said.

He reportedly moved into the neighborhood just five weeks ago and is a father of young children himself.

Schiappapietra is a six-year veteran of the force, and was stationed most recently at the LAPD’s Foothill Station.

He was being held on $100,000 bail.

The investigation was ongoing. Anyone with information about the case was asked to call the Sheriff’s Department’s Special Victims Unit (877) 710-5273.


MN - What to do with 700-plus sex offenders? Pressure builds for answer

Original Article

05/16/2013

By Susan Hegarty

Under court order to treat and release clients held in treatment program, DHS proposes biennial reviews and scattered-site placements.

Even sex offenders have constitutional rights.

Finished with their prison sentences, about 680 sex offenders have been civilly committed by the courts and placed in the Minnesota Sex Offender Program for an indeterminate period of time. A judge may have determined them to have a sexual psychopathic personality, be a sexually dangerous person or both.

Yet, under pressure from a federal court, Minnesota is faced with the challenge of releasing more people who were court-ordered to treatment at the MSOP facilities in Moose Lake or St. Peter. To date, only one individual has been granted a provisional release. Holding the rest of them indefinitely is unconstitutional, according to the court.

The people who are in this program nobody wants for their neighbor. But they have constitutional rights. That means we have to set up systems that are constitutional and actually work,” said Rep. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka).

The Sex Offender Civil Commitment Advisory Task Force studied the issue and the Department of Human Services began looking at modifying the way clients move through treatment, including alternatives to moving to the Moose Lake facility. Proposed changes are contained in SF1014 (PDF) sponsored by Sen. Kathy Sheran (DFL-Mankato), which the Senate passed 44-21 on Tuesday. It now awaits action in the House, where Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL-Rochester) is the sponsor.

The House Judiciary Finance and Policy Committee approved the companion bill, HF1139 (PDF), 5-3 on May 10 and referred it to the House Rules and Legislative Administration Committee.

Two options
The bill would authorize judges to commit offenders to one of two options: the MSOP facility or placement in a “Strict and Intensive Supervision and Treatment” program, or SIST. Each client’s placement and treatment progress, or lack of progress, would be reviewed every two years.

We’re talking about managing a population that’s already there and continuing to grow,” Liebling said. An estimated 50 newly released sex offenders could be court-ordered into the treatment program each year, according to the Department of Human Services.

The way to make sure that the treatment is effective is to have this independent group of examiners who review each patient’s progress at least every two years,” Liebling said.

Recognizing that newly released sex offenders may be diverted from entering MSOP, DHS has asked public and private treatment programs to submit information about whether they could provide ongoing treatment following release. The department received more than 20 responses, which could include day treatment, foster home settings, apartments and monitoring individuals by GPS with ankle bracelets. Some programs have prior experience treating sex offenders while other responders currently offer in-patient treatment services for other problems, such as alcohol and drug addictions. If legislators warm to the idea of scattered site treatment centers, the next step would be to request program proposals from the respondents.

Obviously there are lots of places where it wouldn’t be appropriate to put this kind of facility, but if we say there is no place, then we’re really in a pickle,” Liebling said.

But some committee members were reluctant to vote on the bill, saying it wasn’t “ready for prime time.”

I don’t want to be in a position of learning what this does after I vote on it,” said Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa).

Not willing to wait
But Abeler wasn’t willing to wait until the 2014 legislative session to act.

I don’t know how we as legislators, sworn to uphold the constitution, do nothing with the threat of (federal) action or otherwise. We have a job to do. Is this a scary bunch of people to deal with? Could one of these people re-offend? Absolutely. There are ways to set aside who is high risk and who is low risk. We’re not even doing that,” he said.

Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Vernon Center) predicted that cities and counties will pass ordinances prohibiting the location of the treatment centers in their communities. “Basically we’re going to have to shove this down their throat.”

His approach would be further upstream in the court system. He suggested creating a new class of criminal called a “predatory sex offender” which calls for a 60-year prison sentence.

That stops the flow to the sex offender program. With incarceration, you don’t run into the constitutional problem because you don’t have to treat them when they’re incarcerated,” Cornish said.

There is also the political consequence to consider. No member wants to be labeled soft on crime. “Is there political peril in this? Absolutely,” said Abeler.

For others, the cost of operating MSOP is the driving force behind their support. It costs the state about $120,000 a year for each person in treatment. Keeping them in prison is about one-third of the cost.

The trend that we’re on is unsustainable,” said Rep. Michael Paymar (DFL-St. Paul). He called the bill a “good first step. I think we have to give this a chance.”

Rep. Debra Hillstrom (DFL-Brooklyn Center), chair of the committee, puts her faith in the courts knowing when to commit someone into the program and when to discharge them back into society.

It is court in and court out. And all of the evaluations about what level of care, security and treatment is going to be determined through the courts, and I have a high amount of regard for the court and their ability to assess,” Hillstrom said.


TX - Sex offender list closer to stripping job details

Original Article

05/20/2013

AUSTIN - An online registry of convicted sex offenders in Texas would no longer include employer information under a bill inching closer to Gov. Rick Perry's desk.

The House on Monday night gave tentative approval to what advocates say would mark a minor but extraordinary softening of the state's sex offender laws.

More than 72,000 convicted sex offenders are registered in Texas. Supporters of the bill say keeping employer details on the public database intimidates companies from hiring offenders, thereby impeding their rehabilitation into society.

Businesses group leaders were among those backing the measure. They told lawmakers their bottom line suffers when the public discovers who's on the payroll.

The bill needs to clear a final, procedural House vote before being sent to Perry.


FL - Orlando sex offender ordinance passes unanimously

Original Article

05/20/2013

ORLANDO - City Council has unanimously passed a new ordinance to keep registered sex offenders even farther away from children.

Under the new ordinance, sex offenders living within the Orlando city limits may not live within 1,500 feet of a school, park, playground or daycare. The previous limit was 1,000 feet.

However, the ordinance only applies to sex offenders whose victims were under the age of 16.

Opponents of the law said they believe it will push more sex offenders into being homeless (Video, More videos).

"Then, they are just going to fall of the grid. Then we're not going to know where they're at," argued Julio Rodriguez with Offender Housing, a local real estate company specializing in finding housing for sex offenders. "Right now, by having all these people live in one area, it's easier for the Sheriff's Office, or probation and parole to come and check on them in one area where they're all living together."

"You can't totally prohibit these individuals from living in your city," said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. "So, we set what we thought was an appropriate boundary that could with stand any constitutional challenges."

Mayor Dyer said the city will re-evaluate the effectiveness of the ordinance within the next 12 months.

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Why Current Child Porn Laws Imprison the Wrong People

Original Article

05/20/2013

By Macie Melendez

Growing up, I was taught that prison was a place where people went when they did bad things. It was simple then: There were good people and there were bad people.

As I got older, the picture grew more complicated. I saw good people do bad things, and I saw bad people do good things. But recently, when one of the best people in my world did something that landed him in prison, my beliefs about the justice system and how it punishes American citizens were completely upended.

My friend was sentenced to five years in a federal prison for obtaining five pornographic images and one video that featured a minor. (This number is minuscule compared to the hundreds of thousands of images and videos that are collected by serious offenders.) He obtained these images through a peer-to-peer file sharing program. He was intentionally downloading porn, but he was not seeking out child porn. Once he knew the images and video file existed, he deleted them.

Unfortunately for him, there was a member of the FBI searching the Internet for child pornography offenders. That FBI agent was able to track his computer's IP address, find out who he was and where he lived. In that process, the FBI learned that he was a young man who held a full-time job, had earned a Master's degree and had never been convicted of a crime -- in fact, he had never been arrested for anything at all. In spite of those facts, the FBI felt it necessary to send about a dozen agents to his apartment, armed with guns and dressed like they were going into a war zone. They had a search warrant and used it to raid his apartment. When they didn't find anything, they left.

The FBI continued to monitor him while he went about his normal, crime-free life. After eight months of investigating, the FBI still found nothing more than that first unintentional download. Regardless, several FBI agents came back to his apartment, put him in handcuffs and took him to jail.

I now see that laws simply aren't black and white. Instead, they come with a lot of grey matter. Within that grey matter is emotion -- a powerful fuel that charges people to action. But emotion can be dangerous as it often clouds logic and critical thinking. For this reason, our laws dictate that courtrooms be presided over by emotionless judges; lawmakers, however, aren't given these same emotional restrictions.

Congress' repeated escalations of penalties for child pornography offenses are an example of emotion getting in the way of logic. What voter wouldn't support severe punishments for those supporting or distributing films with underage sex and nudity? Especially when they are explained as a means to catch the worst of the worst. But in reality, in practice, these laws have formed the basis of a modern-day witch-hunt that thrives on the vagaries of the Internet and too often captures individuals who make relatively simple errors online, rather than those who produce such material or directly abuse children.

In late February 2013, the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) released a report to Congress that examined the cases of offenders that have been sentenced under current federal sentencing guidelines for child pornography offenses. This report was conducted for a number of reasons, including the fact that "an increasing number of courts believe that penalties are overly severe for at least some non-production offenders" and that "there has been a growing disconnect between the existing sentencing scheme and the continuing evolution in the technology used by offenders."


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NY - Sex offenders challenge Suffolk law

Original Article

See the video at the link above. The videos below are from older articles.

05/20/2013

WOODBURY - Two registered sex offenders are challenging a Suffolk law that calls for closely watching the online activity of convicted offenders.

The Community Protection Act (PDF) allows Parents for Megan's Law to act for police by monitoring offenders' online activity.

According to Newsday, offenders say the law violates their civil rights.

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Glitch in widely used polygraph can skew results

Original Article

Polygraphs are junk science and why are they used to convict people when they are not admissible in courts?

05/20/2013

By Marisa Taylor

WASHINGTON - Police departments and federal agencies across the country are using a type of polygraph despite evidence of a technical problem that could label truthful people as liars or the guilty as innocent, McClatchy has found.

As a result, innocent people might have been labeled criminal suspects, faced greater scrutiny while on probation or lost out on jobs. Or, just as alarming, spies and criminals may have escaped detection.

The technical glitch produced errors in the computerized measurements of sweat in one of the most popular polygraphs, the LX4000. Although polygraphers first noticed the problem a decade ago, many government agencies hadn’t known about the risk of inaccurate measurements until McClatchy recently raised questions about it.

The manufacturer, Lafayette Instrument Co. Inc., described the phenomenon as “occasional” and “minor,” but it couldn’t say exactly how often it occurs. Even after one federal agency became concerned and stopped using the measurement and a veteran polygrapher at another witnessed it repeatedly change test results, the extent and the source of the problem weren’t independently studied nor openly debated. In the meantime, tens of thousands of Americans were polygraphed on the LX4000.

The controversy casts new doubt on the reliability and usefulness of polygraphs, which are popularly known as lie detectors and whose tests are banned for use as evidence by most U.S. courts. Scientists have long questioned whether polygraphers can accurately identify liars by interpreting measurements of blood pressure, sweat activity and respiration. But polygraphers themselves say they rely on the measurements to be accurate for their daily, high-stakes decisions about people’s lives.

We’re talking about using a procedure that has a very weak scientific foundation and making it worse,” said William Iacono, a University of Minnesota psychology professor who’s researched polygraph testing. “I already don’t have very much confidence in how government agencies conduct these tests. Now, they might as well be flipping a coin.”

Despite the scientific skepticism, intelligence and law enforcement agencies see polygraph as useful in obtaining confessions to wrongdoing that wouldn’t otherwise be uncovered. Fifteen federal agencies and many police departments across the country rely on polygraph testing to help make hiring or firing decisions. Sex offenders and other felons often undergo testing to comply with probation or court-ordered psychological treatment. Police detectives and prosecutors rule out criminal suspects who pass and scrutinize those who don’t.

In its ongoing series about polygraph use by government agencies, McClatchy found that such testing has flourished despite being banned for use by most private employers 25 years ago. For federal jobs alone, more than 70,000 people are polygraphed each year, and most can’t challenge the results in court or allege abusive tactics. While supporters say accuracy can be 85 to 95 percent, polygraphs aren’t required to meet any independent testing standards to verify the accuracy of their measurements, unlike medical or other computerized equipment.

The concerns about the LX4000 only add to the criticism.

If you buy all of the propositions that the physiological measurements are a reliable proxy for truth telling or deception, then the whole premise depends upon a machine that can precisely record those measurements,” said Gene Iredale, a San Diego attorney. “If you don’t have that, then you have a hope piled on a speculation, and on top of it all an error-filled system.”

In the absence of an independent assessment, polygraphers depend on the federal government, the manufacturer or one another to be notified of a problem with the technology. Many polygraphers, however, told McClatchy they didn’t know about the possibility of inaccurate measurements or that they could occur in other polygraphs that use the same technology.

If this was being debated, I would have liked to have known about it,” said Danny Fields, the supervisor of the Kansas City Missouri Police Department’s polygraph section, which used the LX4000 for years before replacing it with a newer Lafayette model. “I believe in polygraph 100 percent, but I want to make sure it’s working like it’s supposed to be working.”


CO - Angry Mob Pelts Man Thought to Be Sex Attacker

Original Article

05/20/2013

By STEVEN K. PAULSON

Residents angry that police had not warned them about sex assaults of children took matters into their own hands, chasing down a man they thought was the attacker, pelting him with rocks and leaving him with a bloody face in Colorado, authorities said Monday.

Pueblo police later released the man because of lack of evidence, The Pueblo Chieftain reported.

Neighborhood residents were looking for a man suspected of two separate sexual acts when they got word that a man matching the description had been spotted, said Alex Pacheco, one of the pursuers.

The group confronted the man and he ran.

Pursuers surrounded him and punched him in the face, police Capt. Tom Rummel said. Arriving officers shoved the man into a police car and whisked him to the station for questioning. He was not seriously injured.

"The primary officer on the scene said get him out of here," Rummel said.
- So tell me, why didn't the police arrest the people who attacked him?  Why is Alex Pacheco and the others not in jail?  They are basically telling the mob that it's okay to harm others you think might be responsible.  They are basically condoning vigilante violence, in our opinion.

Pacheco told the newspaper that residents were canvassing the area looking for the man who committed the sex crimes during the past few months.

One incident involved the sexual assault of a girl in her home. In the other, authorities said a man with the same description exposed himself to another child.

Police said the mob grew to about a half-dozen people as residents learned of the chase and joined in.

"We went through the right channels in contacting the police but there hasn't been much response," Pacheco said. "We can't wait around any longer without doing something. These are children that this man is after and we can't let any more children get hurt by him."

Rummel said police had notified the media and posted warnings on social media about the attacks, but authorities are not required by law to notify residents because no one had been arrested.

Rummel said police only had a vague description of the suspect because he wore a bandanna over his face.

The 54-year-old man accosted by the mob did not want to file charges against his pursuers, the chief said.

"He said folks were reacting to a bad situation and he told the officer, 'I don't want to go that route,'" Rummel said. "He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time."

The name of the man was not released because no charges were filed. He agreed to give investigators a DNA sample so he could be ruled out as a suspect.

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