Friday, August 2, 2013

OH - Sex-offender legislation is proposed

Politics as usual!
Original Article

08/01/2013

Changes being discussed for current Marion law

By Michelle Rotuno-Johnson

MARION - City council’s legislation, codes and regulations committee has been discussing a proposed change to Marion’s sex-offender laws that is similar to laws several other cities have.

Josh Daniels, D-at large, is proposing legislation to keep offenders of all types away from places children might congregate.

Currently, sex offenders cannot live within 1,000 feet of schools or daycares. The proposed legislation would prohibit sex offenders from living 1,500 feet from schools, daycares, the YMCA or YWCA, the Boys and Girls Club, libraries, city-operated recreational facilities, and other “parks and areas known for the congregation of children.”
- So whether it's 1,000 or 1,500 feet, what difference does it make?  How far someone lives from any of these places has no bearing on if they will re-offend.  Most sexual abuse happens by family or close friends, not strangers at parks, libraries, etc.  It's just another way for this up-and-coming politician to attach his name to something, and what better way to do that than to go after ex-sex offenders?

It also would prohibit offenders from entering public parks or other recreation facilities.

The city of Lyndhurst has a similar law on its books: registered offenders are not allowed to enter parks, playgrounds or recreational facilities unless they are there to attend a public meeting or vote at their assigned polling location. They also may not “enter or remain” at a school bus stop where school children are present. The Lyndhurst code includes recreational facilities as places where sex offenders cannot loiter.

In Canal Winchester, sex offenders cannot live within 1,500 feet of “any public or private school premise, licensed daycare facility, pre-school, private or public park or playground, library, or public swimming pool located within the Village.” The Village Solicitor has a cause of action for injunctive relief against the person (eviction). Lorain has a very similar ordinance in its books.

Cincinnati keeps the prohibited distance of 1,000 feet, but dictates sex offenders also cannot live near YMCA or YWCA facilities, Boys and Girls Clubs or any public recreational center or swimming pool owned or operated by the city or its boards or commissions.

Several Ohio cities have stricter regulations.

The law that prohibits sex offenders from living 1,000 feet from a school took effect July 31, 2003. Offenders who are juveniles do not have residency restrictions.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office keeps track of sex offenders once they get out of jail. Deputy Larry Yoder is in charge of registry, and said he and other deputies check in on the offenders several times a year to make sure they live at the address they gave the sheriff’s office.

If a sex offender moves too close to a school, Yoder said, he will find out when he enters the person’s address into the office database. He and Sheriff Tim Bailey said it can take weeks, or months, to get through all the civil paperwork when evicting someone.

Yoder said offenders who just got out of prison are most likely to move into a restricted area, as they may not be familiar with the laws.

I tell them they need to move,” he said. “I give them a period of time.”

In the city, Law Director Mark Russel also is involved in the eviction process.

Offenders who completed their sentence before 1997 do not have to register, Yoder said. Offenders convicted from 1997-2007 are classified under legislation called Megan’s Law, which divides sex offenders into three tiers: sexually oriented offender, habitual sex offender and sexual predator.

The tiers decide how long a sex offender must register with the sheriff’s office in his or her county:
  • Sexually-oriented offender: Registration once a year for 10 years;
  • Habitual sex offender: Registration once a year for 20 years;
  • Sexual Predator: Registration every three months for life. In 2008, the Adam Walsh Act went into effect. From Jan. 1, 2008 forward, sex offenders were divided into tiers with more aggressive reporting requirements:
  • Tier One: Registration once a year for 15 years (10 years for juveniles);
  • Tier Two: Registration twice a year for 25 years (20 years for juveniles);
  • Tier Three: Registration every three months for life (this includes juveniles).

According to the Ohio State Bar Association, Tier Three offenders are considered the most serious. They include those who have been convicted for offenses such as rape, sexual battery, murder with sexual motivation, etc.

Tier Two offenders include those who have been convicted of offenses such as gross sexual imposition with a victim younger than 13 years old, pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor, and unlawful sexual conduct with a minor when the offender is four or more years older than the victim.

Tier One offenders include those who have been convicted of offenses such as sexual imposition, voyeurism, and pandering obscenity.

Yoder said once an offender reaches the end of his or her registration, as ordered by the court, they no longer have to register as a sex offender.

He said schools, colleges and daycares are notified if a sex offender moves in or changes addresses anywhere in the county. Other businesses and homes are only notified if a Tier Three sex offender moves within 1,000 feet of that address.

He said he has tabs on all registered offenders in the county but one, who he believes moved out of state.

Bailey said it’s important to keep tabs on the offenders in the county.
- When most of them do not re-offend, despite the media lies, why is it important exactly?

The legislations, codes and regulations committee will discuss the proposed legislation on Monday. The proposed legislation would be severable, meaning if one section is deemed unconstitutional, the others would still be enforcable.

Daniels said he drew up the legislation after he found out he had two sex offenders in his neighborhood, close to a school. He said one had been there for more than a year. Both have since been evicted.
- So they were there more than a year?  So did they commit any new crimes, or did you just freak out due to societies biasness, and raise the hysteria to force them to move?


GA - Cobb County man sues district attorney and others for wrongful prosecution

News paper and coffee
Original Article

08/01/2013

By Jeff Chirico

COBB COUNTY (CBS ATLANTA) - [name withheld], of Cobb County, filed a lawsuit Thursday against the Cobb County District Attorney's Office and other agencies for wrongful prosecution, stemming from his arrest and 2011 conviction for violating requirements of Georgia's sex offender registry.

An exclusive CBS Atlanta investigation found [name withheld] was not supposed to be on the registry. After the investigation, then-Cobb County District Attorney Patrick Head later dropped the charges in 2012 after [name withheld] was granted a new trial.

[name withheld] said he was almost prohibited from filing the lawsuit because two Cobb County State Court judges had denied his application for a pauper's affidavit which would have waived the $300 filing fee. [name withheld] claimed he was indigent because he lives off his Social Security payments of $695 a month.

After CBS Atlanta investigative reporter Jeff Chirico called Judge Kathryn Tanksley to ask why the affidavit was denied, Tanksley changed her mind and granted [name withheld] a pauper's affidavit.



NJ - Acquitted of sexual assault, Bridgewater man says 'nightmare' is over

Wrongly Accused
Original Article

08/01/2013

By Bill Wichert

SOMERVILLE - For [name withheld], a self-described “nightmare” has come to an end.

The 20-year-old Bridgewater resident was acquitted today of sexually assaulting a woman during a house party in Manville in October 2011. Before the six-day trial, [name withheld] had spent nearly a year in jail before being released on bail in May.

In an interview following the verdict, [name withheld] described the overall experience as a “nightmare” and said he had “put my trust in God.”

When you’ve got a good life, a good family, good friends (and) you end up being falsely accused of something, it’s – it’s hard and you’ve got to deal with it, and I did just that,” [name withheld] said. “It was hard dealing with it, but I’m a confident person and I’m a strong believer in faith and that’s pretty much what got me through this whole thing.”

The Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office declined to comment on the verdict.

In closing statements on Wednesday, Assistant Prosecutor Tim Van Hise argued that the alleged victim was telling the truth about the sexual assault. The 20-year-old woman is not “capable of spinning a yarn…constructing a house of cards that’s gonna get past a bunch of adults,” Van Hise said.

But [name withheld]'s attorney, James Wronko, told jurors the woman was lying, and pointed out how a nurse found no signs of forced penetration on the woman. The defense claimed that [name withheld] and the woman, who were both 18 at the time, engaged in consensual sexual relations.

Her story just wasn’t believable,” Wronko said today in an interview.

[name withheld], a former Hillsborough resident, said he plans “to go back to school and move on with my life.”

At the time of his arrest, [name withheld] had just finished his first semester at Raritan Valley Community College in Branchburg, where he was studying criminal justice. [name withheld] said he was learning about the same legal system that he would soon experience first-hand.

This is all too real right now,” [name withheld] said. “To be now in that seat where you’re facing judgment….it was a little shocking and overwhelming.”


WI - Former Wisconsin Rapids police lieutenant (Steve D. Lowe) arrested on suspicion of child enticement told authorities he needs help

Steve D. Lowe
Steve D. Lowe
Original Article

08/01/2013

By Karen Madden

A former Wisconsin Rapids police lieutenant who was arrested this week is accused of impersonating a teenage girl online in an attempt to get underage boys to send him nude pictures of themselves, according to court documents.

On Thursday, a judge set a $20,000 cash bond for Steve D. Lowe, 41, who resigned after his Wednesday arrest on potential charges of child enticement, use of a computer to facilitate a child sex crime and child exploitation, authorities said.

Wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, handcuffs and shackles, Lowe made his bond appearance in person Thursday in Wood County Branch 2. Sauk County Judge Patrick Taggart and Sauk County Assistant District Attorney Linda A. Hoffman both appeared by telephone.

The possible charges carry significant penalties, Hoffman said, in arguing for a high cash bond. She also cited Lowe’s position with the Police Department.

If Lowe is found guilty of the three potential charges, he faces a maximum of 77½ years in prison, according to court documents.

While in court, Lowe said he resigned his position with the Wisconsin Rapids Police Department, he wasn’t hiding, he voluntarily talked to authorities, and he has ties to Wisconsin Rapids.

I understand I have to go though the court system,” Lowe said.

On Thursday afternoon, Wisconsin Rapids Police Chief Kurt Heuer issued a news release confirming Lowe had resigned.

Taggart ordered the $20,000 cash bond, which included conditions that Lowe have no unsupervised contact with anyone under the age of 18.

Lowe told the judge he understood why the condition was put on the bail.

According to court documents in the case, Lowe pretended to be a 15-year-old girl named Abby. He told authorities he began using the online profile about a year ago.

Lowe used photographs of a young-looking girl he found online as his profile picture. He then sought out conversations with people claiming to be teenage boys, asking them to send naked pictures of themselves, according to the court document.

A special agent with the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation, got a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about an online conversation between two supposedly underage children, one boy and one girl. The agent tracked the boy’s computer to the United Kingdom and the “girl’s” computer to Wisconsin Rapids.

In the conversation, the girl asked the boy to send nude pictures of himself and to be sure to put one or both of his arms above his head to show his armpits, according to the court documents.

Lowe admitted he gets sexual gratification from images of teenage boys and specifically images that involve their armpits, according to the court document.

As part of the investigation, the agent determined the girl was actually Lowe, according to the court document. The Division of Criminal Investigation served a search warrant on Lowe’s residence Wednesday afternoon. During the time authorities were at the house, a special agent had several phone conversations with Lowe.

When the special agent asked Lowe about the security of his Internet, the former lieutenant said the agent didn’t need to concern himself with the neighbors, according to the court documents. Lowe said he was responsible for anything related to the investigation and items discovered on the computers inside his residence.

During one of the phone conversations with the agent, Lowe said he needs help, according to the court documents.

Heuer said he could not comment on the case.


MD - Jury convicts Rockland woman (Octavia Faustini) of making false rape report

Rape cardOriginal Article

08/01/2013

By Stephen Betts

ROCKLAND - A Knox County jury convicted a 30-year-old Rockland woman Thursday of making a false report to police about being sexually assaulted by a former boyfriend.

Octavia Faustini was convicted of two criminal charges — filing a false report and unsworn falsification.

Justice Jeffrey Hjelm said that sentencing likely would be held during the last week of August. Both offenses are Class D crimes, punishable by a maximum of 364 days in jail.

Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Baroody said he has not yet come up with a recommendation for a sentence.

The jury deliberated for two hours Thursday afternoon in Knox County Superior Court.

Faustini testified Thursday morning that she had been raped by her boyfriend on the evening of Sept. 30. She said this occurred at her room at the Brunswick Rooms in Rockland after she had told the man she wanted to end their relationship.

The BDN is not naming the former boyfriend because he has not been charged with a crime in connection with this case.

Under cross-examination by Baroody, Faustini said that she knew her former boyfriend was a convicted sex offender. According to police records, the man was convicted of gross sexual assault in 2001 in Waldo County and for unlawful sexual contact in 2009 in Knox County.

On the stand, Faustini also acknowledged she had sent her former boyfriend a text message before the alleged assault occurred in which she warned him to stay away from her or she would get him in trouble with the Rockland police. She also agreed she had sent him text messages after the alleged assault that made no mention of it.

Defense attorney Joseph Steinberger told the jurors in his closing statements Thursday afternoon that Faustini had been consistent in her interviews with Rockland police that the sexual assault had occurred.

Steinberger also criticized the prosecution for introducing text messages that Faustini had sent to the former boyfriend after the assault occurred. He said it is common for women in abusive relationships to be confused and stay in contact with their abuser.

The defense attorney also criticized the Police Department’s investigation, pointing out it took officers nearly two weeks to interview the suspect and that they never talked to a woman to whom Faustini first reported the sexual assault.

Baroody said, however, in his closing arguments that the evidence was clear that Faustini had filed a false report.

Just because she never said the words ‘I made this up’ doesn’t mean it wasn’t made up,” the prosecutor said.

He cited the inconsistencies in her statements, such as when she first said that the sex began as consensual and then in a later interview said it was forced from the beginning. And Baroody pointed out that in the first interview she said she screamed in her boyfriend’s ear for him to stop but in the second one said she did not scream.

Steinberger pointed out that his client had no education beyond the sixth or seventh grade and has a mental health caseworker.

His client also was holding a teddy bear at the beginning of the trial Thursday, but the prosecutor asked the judge to prevent Faustini from doing so in the presence of the jury. Steinberger argued that she had held it during the interviews with police and that her caseworker recommended it be allowed.

Hjelm ruled, however, that it was not appropriate for her to hold the stuffed animal while the jurors were in the courtroom.

After the verdict was announced, Faustini wept openly.


AL - Anniston Police speaking out on dangers of sexting following teen girl photo case

Sexting
Original Article

07/26/2013

By William Thornton

ANNISTON - Anniston Police officials are speaking out about the dangers of "sexting" as they investigate a case involving a girl sending a nude photo of herself in text messages to friends.

Sgt. Chris Sparks said police learned about the case after the mother of a "very young teenage girl" reported the incident on Tuesday.

Police believe a teenage girl sent a nude photo of herself to friends sometime in May or June. Those friends, in turn, sent the photo to others.

"It's still being downloaded," Sparks said. "There's no telling how many people have seen it now."

Police are still investigating the case. Sparks said parents and children need to be aware of the ramifications of sexting. Besides potential embarrassment, the photo may "follow" them as they look for a job, he said. Parents should be interested in what their children are doing with their phones, understanding that "privacy ends as soon as you hit send."

"Once you send that image, you're disseminating child pornography, and that's a class A felony, the same as some violent offenses," he said. "If a person was convicted, they would have to register as a sex offender."