Saturday, June 29, 2013
By ASHLEE MULLANY
GPS devices that are supposed to track our worst child-sex predators lose their signal inside big buildings - including shopping centres.
The State Government has admitted the devices, which were recently fitted to 18 offenders, have "building mass limitations".
"They work like mobile phones so there may be black spots," a Corrective Services spokesman said.
"Some shopping centres may be affected."
This is despite a shopping centre being the scene of one of the state's most shocking child-sex crimes when Sofia Rodriguez-Urrutia-Shu, 8, was raped and killed inside a centre toilet in Canning Vale.
The Sunday Times can reveal the technology is so limited that one of the 18 offenders fitted with them contacted the newspaper this week to say he constantly "goes off the grid".
The dangerous sex offender claimed he was phoned several times last week because authorities could not pick up his location.
He said the device had blacked out in underground carparks, shopping centres, regional areas and even in his own home.
He sent a picture showing his signal had been lost inside a shopping centre.
The offender said he was speaking out because he believed the devices were ineffective and no deterrent.
"I've cleaned up my act and I've done enough jail time to know I don't want to go back," he said. "But they're lying to the general public when they say these things work. It's a joke." A Corrective Services spokesman said the department carried out tests on the devices before they were rolled out and found "some places had better coverage than others".
"It's another tool in our arsenal for monitoring dangerous sex offenders," he said.
The Barnett Government has previously said the GPS tracking devices would be a vital tool to monitor sex offenders.
But in April, The Sunday Times revealed the company awarded the $750,000 contract to provide the ankle bracelets had been dumped in California for producing devices "inundated with defects".
The Corrective Services spokesman said they were working to "address issues" with the new bracelets.
"When an alert is received that there is no GPS signal an automated message is sent to the offender to go outside to enable the system to re-establish GPS connection," he said.
CA - 'Hardcore' child porn found on ex-Peninsula probation official's (Stuart Forrest) computers, feds say
By Joshua Melvin
Police found seven "hardcore" pictures of young boys having sex among 400 suspected images of child pornography -- and a desktop computer missing its hard drive -- when they searched the top San Mateo County probation officer's home and office in December, a federal report says.
Investigators say they found some of the images on a work laptop computer Stuart Forrest was carrying out of his San Mateo home on Dec. 20, hours after he was first interviewed at his office by San Jose police detectives and just before the search, according to a U.S. Postal Inspection Service report obtained by this newspaper.
The report provides the first detailed account of the secretive federal investigation, which resulted in state prosecutors charging Forrest with two felony counts of child pornography possession in February. He retired after 35 years working for the county, 11 days after the search. He is out on bail ahead of his July 15 trial date in San Mateo County Superior Court and has vowed to fight the charges.
According to the report, when the evidence was presented to Assistant U.S. Attorney Owen P. Martikan on Jan. 7, he declined to pursue a case against Forest because "it was under their current prosecution guidelines."
The state Attorney General's office, which is prosecuting Forrest, has declined to make any comment since filing the charges. Under the charges Forrest faces a maximum of three years eight months behind bars if convicted.
Forrest's attorney Jaime Leanos said the relatively few charges and the lack of interest by federal prosecutors puts the case in proper perspective. Prosecutors can file a criminal charge for each child porn image.
"Given the number of inappropriate images they consider 'child pornography,' it's very telling that there are only two charges," said Leanos. "And given his position in law enforcement he has a legitimate reason to possess them as part of his job."
Leanos said his client had the images, found on a work laptop and a thumb drive at his office, as part of an effort to teach probation officers to identify child porn. Law enforcement agents are protected from prosecution if they have child porn as part for training or an investigation.
By Steve Krafft
PEORIA - An Arizona State Senator is now under investigation for allegations of sexual abuse.
The investigation into Rick Murphy, a Republican from Peoria, launched about a week ago.
The 41-year-old Senator and his wife have seven foster children. One of them, a teen, accuses him of sex abuse going back six years.
The teen also self-reported.
He admitted to police he touched his sister in a sexual way.
- Bad mistake! He should not say anything without a lawyer!
When we knocked on the door of Senator Murphy's Peoria home Friday morning, nobody answered.
We walked across the street and asked Melissa Davies: What do you make of Peoria police saying "We have two active investigations involving Mr. Murphy having to do with allegations of molestation."
- That's media vigilantism for you! They go across the street and stir up hysteria and hearsay. The man hasn't been convicted yet!
She replied, "Wow that is crazy, I cannot imagine that at all. I am speechless on that. I cannot see that at all."
Melissa says the Murphys are friendly, quiet, the kids are well-mannered.
We turned to leave and heard the Murphys' door open and close. We walked up...and saw this note:
"We have no comment at this time. It is our daughter's birthday please respect our privacy."
Senator Murphy is a member of Christ's Church of the Valley and has served as a volunteer camp counselor, youth coach and student bible study leader.
Senator Murphy's office is on the third floor of the State Senate building at the State Capitol. He was not there on Friday, nor were any other members of the State Senate Republican or Democratic leadership.
There was no comment from Child Protective Services about the case.
Senator Murphy has not been arrested or charged.
- Not arrested? If the average citizen was accused of a sex crime they would be arrested and in jail waiting for bond.
Just another useless law. Something a politician can put his name on to look "tough" on ex-sex offenders. It's already a crime to report an invalid address on the registry, so this is not needed, in our opinion.
Sex offenders are supposed to register on a statewide database after conviction. The law says you have a right to know if an offender is living next door.
However, lawmakers said they found a loophole in the system. If a sex offender were to put down a false address in the registry, they could have gotten away with it, that is, until now. A bill pushed by Senator Ted O'Brien now makes it a felony to lie on the database.
- Depends on what you mean by "getting away with it." It's already a crime to report an invalid address, but I believe it's a misdemeanor, and by making it a felony, do you really think that is going to make a difference? We don't!
The bill was inspired by a case that happened right here in Rochester. When a renewal notice was sent to the home of a convicted child rapist. Police were immediately alerted when the notice came back in the mail. The sex offender did not live where he said he did at the time, but prosecutors couldn't file serious charges. That may change soon.
With more than 35,000 sex offenders throughout New York State, this registry couldn't be more crucial.
Senator O'Brien says, "It provides an opportunity to notify a community that there's a potentially dangerous person in their midst."
- If that is the case, then what about all the other dangerous people? Like murderers, gang members, DUI offenders, thieves, etc? Where is the notification about them moving into our neighborhoods?
So when he found out about a loophole in the system, he says, it didn't make any sense.
"If somebody doesn't provide accurate information," says Senator O'Brien. "Then the goal of having the community know that there is a potentially risky situation here is defeated."
He says if sex offenders were to put down a false address in the registry, it could have easily gone undetected. But how is that even possible?
- Really? Don't police do verification checks? If so, then it wouldn't go undetected, now would it.
The senator says, "One of the unfortunate realities is that there is a high volume now of sex offenders."
- That is because you are putting people on the public list who are not a real threat to the public, and those who are real threats to the public should've been sentenced to a longer time in prison, or not released until they get treatment and are shown to not be a threat anymore.
Senator O'Brien created a bill that would discourage offenders from lying. He considers that bill a success.
"We were able to get it through the committee structure and on to the state senate floor for a complete vote. It passed unanimously, so I'm really encouraged about that."
He says its all in the name of safety and your right to know who's living next door.
- Well, only sex offenders, not all the other crazy criminals who also live next door!
"Parents of children and young children want to know," says Senator O'Brien. "The law says they are entitled to know and they should know."
The next step, the bill will go on to the state assembly for a vote. Since the the senate voted on this unanimously, Senator O'Brien feels very strongly that it will go into law by next year.
By ROSEMARIE MILSOM
IT is not a job that many of us seek.
Newcastle sexologist Vanessa Thompson treats about 15 convicted sex offenders; some are to be sentenced; others have served jail time.
"I do it because I choose to do it," said Thompson, an associate member of the Australia and New Zealand Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abuse. "I'm really pro-victim and the reason I do what I do is because if I can stop one person from re-offending, that can stop there being more victims."
Thompson uses the Custody-Based Intensive Treatment Outreach program - also known as CORE - for offenders who have a low to moderate risk of re-offending.
(The program is one of a suite of programs used by Corrective Services NSW. Violent sex offenders have different treatment programs).
CORE addresses four key areas: acceptance of responsibility, examining victim issues, identifying offence pathways, and developing a self-management plan.
Thompson gets why society recoils when sex offences make the headlines, but believes that rather than expecting the perpetrators to be permanently locked up - other than a minority who can't be rehabilitated - focus has to shift to treatment.
"People get released into the community anyway, and I think we'd all feel a lot safer, we'd be a lot safer, if they received treatment," she said. "I think that it's not just people in custody [who should receive treatment]; if you've got yourself to the point where you've been charged, then you should have to do a program."
- Just because someone has been convicted and charged doesn't mean they committed the crime.
Currently a sex offender must have a sentence length that allows him - the overwhelming majority of sex offenders are men - to start and complete treatment. Higher risk/needs offenders must have a sentence length of at least 12 months to be eligible for Custody-Based Intensive Treatment (CUBIT), which involves three sessions a week for six to 12 months.
Participation in all custodial sex offender programs is voluntary.
By Mark Kernes
WASHINGTON - Child pornography, of course, is against the law, but that hasn't prevented millions of people from posting such material on the internet, nor millions more from downloading it to their computers, and the American legal system is chock full of people being prosecuted for both acts, since even possession of child porn is against the law.
But the law—specifically, 18 U.S.C. §2259—also requires those convicted of posting and/or downloading such material "to pay the victim (through the appropriate court mechanism) the full amount of the victim’s losses as determined by the court," with such losses to include any medical services (including mental and physical therapy) required by the victim, any transportation, temporary housing or child care expenses incurred; any lost income due to the victim's appearance in child porn; any attorney fees and costs incurred by the victim; and "any other losses suffered by the victim as a proximate result of the offense."
It is this statute that will form the basis for the arguments in Doyle Paroline v. United States (PDF), which the U.S. Supreme Court has just accepted for consideration for the high court's 2013-'14 term.
Notably, there's nothing voluntary about the "restitution" required under §2259; the judge in the case is required to issue such an order, and that judge is also not allowed to take into account whether the defendant is broke, nor whether the victim has received any other compensation for his/her child-porn-related injuries.
But the question then arises, what is meant by "the full amount of the victim’s losses"? After all, it's the rare (possibily non-existent) case where an image (or video) of child porn is created and only the particular defendant on trial for child porn has possessed it. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children keeps databases that are filled with multiple images of particular children, which images have been supplied to it by law enforcement, by groups like ASACP, by concerned citizens who happen to stumble across it on the Web, and by its own researches.
So the question then becomes, since thousands if not millions of copies of the same child porn image have been found on multiple defendants' computers, should any one defendant who has an image of a particular child's sexual abuse be required to pay for all of the expenses incurred by that victim, or should some attempt be made to parse those reimbursements among the many child porn possessors who've been found to have that same image?
It's a question that has split the federal circuits widely, and within the past year, appeals panels in the Tenth Circuit (U.S. v. Benoit) and the Ninth (In re: Amy and Vicky, child pornography victims) have rejected applying the "full amount" clause to the defendants before them, based on the fact that the victims could not prove that the child-porn-possessing defendant was in any proximate way the cause of the victim's harm. In the "Amy" and "Vicky" case, the Ninth Circuit panel remanded the case to the trial court to "conduct such further proceedings as may be appropriate to determine an amount of restitution to be paid to Amy and Vicky."
However, in Benoit, which also involves victim "Vicky" (who has sought restitution from several child-porn defendants), the court took a more conservative view.
"Courts have struggled with articulating a precise standard of proximate cause in the restitution context under §2259," the Tenth Circuit panel wrote. "Although this court has not specified the nature of the proximate cause requirement in §2259, several other circuits have determined that the government must show the victim's losses were proximately caused by the particular defendant in question and that a showing of causation more generally is insufficient. In deciding 'whether a victim’s loss attributable to a defendant under the restitution statute is limited to losses proximately caused by the defendant,' the Fourth Circuit recently held 'that nothing in the text or structure of the restitution statute affirmatively indicates that Congress intended to negate the ordinary requirement of proximate causation for an award of compensatory damages... Rather, the statute's language, which defines a victim as one "harmed as a result of a commission" of a defendant’s acts, invokes the well-recognized principle that a defendant is liable only for harm that he proximately caused.'
"Similarly," it continued, "the Eleventh Circuit held that 'for proximate cause to exist, there must be a causal connection between the actions of the end-user and the harm suffered by the victim ... any other result would undermine the express wording of §2259.'"
Which brings us to the Fifth Circuit's Paroline case, where "Amy," whose uncle filmed his sexual abuse of the child and posted the videos on the internet (and whose images have figured into over 3,200 child porn cases since 1998), is seeking estimated future damages for the treatment and expenses allowed under §2259 of almost $3.4 million—and who has already collected restitution in at least 174 child porn cases across the U.S. and received awards, according to Courthouse News, ranging from $100 to $3,543,471!
But a federal judge in Texas ruled that "Amy," now 19, was not entitled to any restitution, having found that "the government failed to prove that Paroline's possession of images depicting Amy's sexual abuse 'proximately caused the injuries' for which Amy sought restitution." The Fifth Circuit panel reversed that ruling, finding that "Amy" was entitled to $3.4 million from Paroline for the two images of her that were found in the 280 child porn images on his computer.
It is this split between the Circuits, between no restitution being awarded in some cases to $3.4 million in the Paroline case, that caused the Supreme Court to accept certiorari in this case, which will be heard sometime this Fall.
|Catherine Kieu Becker|
SANTA ANA (AP) - A California woman who cut off her husband's penis and threw it in a garbage disposal has been sentenced to life in prison with possibility of parole.
The Orange County district attorney's office says Catherine Kieu was sentenced Friday for a July 2011 attack that mutilated her estranged spouse. Kieu, who's 50, can seek parole in seven years.
The Garden Grove woman was convicted of torture and aggravated mayhem.
Prosecutors said Kieu drugged her husband's tofu with sleeping pills and screamed "You deserve it!" before attacking him with a 10-inch kitchen knife.
Her lawyer argued that she had mental health problems stemming from childhood molestation and sexual abuse by her husband.
In an impact statement during sentencing, the victim said he's been deprived of part of his life and identity.
- (07/13/2011) Wife (Catherine Kieu Becker) Chops Off Husband's Penis, Throws in Garbage Disposal
- (07/20/2011) Sharon Osbourne of "THE TALK" thinks cutting off a man's penis is funny?
By KEITH WHITCOMB JR.
BENNINGTON - The rate at which those convicted of sex crimes against children go on to commit other crimes after being convicted is 20 percent, according to a report released Wednesday by the Vermont Center for Justice Research. Slightly over 1 percent, however, commit a new sex crime.
The report, titled "Sexual Crimes Against Children: A Study of Offender Recidivism" was completed in January, said Max Schlueter, director of the Vermont Center for Justice Research, which is managed by the Norwich Studies and Analysis Institute, a non-profit based in Northfield.
The study defined a recidivist as a person who was re-convicted of any crime in Vermont Superior Court Criminal Division, which included probation violations and motor vehicle offenses. A person also had to no longer be incarcerated for the sex offense.
"It is encouraging that the overall recidivism rate was 20 percent. This finding is consistent with our prior finding that 24 percent of defendants who sexually assault adults recidivate," reads the report’s conclusion.
The number was deemed "encouraging" because the recidivism for other violent offenses is higher. Domestic assault, for example, has a recidivism rate of 53 percent, according to the report. Of the 160 defendants examined by the report, only two committed sex crime a second time.
The report looked at those convicted in Vermont of a child sex crime between 2004 and 2009. The group consisted of 223 people, but 160 were found eligible to recidivate by the study’s definition.
All were men. The median age of the group was 38 years old. The report had race and ethnicity data for 70 percent of the group, and of that 94 percent were white, 3.5 percent were African American, while other ethnic backgrounds counted for 1.8 percent.
According to the report, of the offenders looked at, the most common underlying offense was lewd and lascivious conduct with a child, with 74.4 percent. The second most common, at 9 percent, was aggravated sex assault on a victim under 10 years old. The most common type of recidivist crime was failing to comply with the sex offender registry.
First-time offenders had the lowest recidivism rate, 13 percent, while recidivist sex offenders were the most likely to reoffend, at 28 percent.
In the report is a table showing the percentage of child sex crimes disposed of in each county between 2004 and 2009. According to it, the total number of criminal cases disposed in Bennington County was 677. Of them, 3.9 percent were child sex cases.
Chittenden County had the largest number of disposed cases, with 5,034. Child sex convictions accounted for 0.95 percent of them.