Friday, August 16, 2013

VT - Lawmakers grapple with high-risk sex offender case

Corrections Oversight Committee
Corrections Oversight Committee
Original Article

08/12/2013

By Alicia Freese

With a Vermont sex offender making international news, lawmakers are revisiting the release procedures for high-risk people coming out of the correctional system.

At a Corrections Oversight Committee meeting on Monday, there was pervasive dismay among lawmakers over the public’s reaction to the release of [name withheld], a convicted sex offender who finished his maximum sentence at the end of July. One lawmaker lamented the “vigilantism” among community members; another pointed to the “feeding frenzy” among the media.

The sequence of events, documented by outlets as distant as Britain’s Daily Mail, began when the Vermont Department of Corrections (DOC) notified the town of Springfield that [name withheld], convicted in 2001 of aggravated sexual assault of a 13-year-old boy, had completed his sentence and would be returning to the town to live with his parents. The DOC identified [name withheld] as being at high risk of reoffending, and specified that blue-eyed, blond-haired boys of 12 or 13 could be possible targets. Panic erupted in Springfield, and after [name withheld]’s elderly parents were threatened, that housing offer was withdrawn. After a failed attempt to relocate to California, [name withheld] has settled in Hyde Park.

Lawmakers honed in on the DOC’s system for notifying people about the release of potentially dangerous offenders.

Rep. Alice Emmons, a Democrat from Springfield, had an up-close view of that town’s reaction. She told DOC Commissioner Andy Pallito that the precise sketch of the most probable victims that the department provided helped fuel the uproar.

I think what really got the folks was the target population,” she said.

The “blond hair, blue-eyed” description did strike a chord, Pallito agreed, and he said the department will “re-evaluate whether or not having potential victim information makes sense.”

Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington, who chairs the judiciary committee, identified a different problem.

The department could have quelled some concern, Sears suggested, by simply telling the public why it had deemed [name withheld] high risk in the first place.

We report that the offender is high risk but we don’t report what the high risk is based on,” Sears said. He also assured Pallito, “I helped write the laws for the notifications, so I’m not against this.”

Pallito said his department will make an effort to educate the public about what warrants a “high-risk” designation, but the HIPPAA Privacy Rule will prevent it from offering many of the particulars. Pallito expressed skepticism that spelling out the meaning of label would have much of an effect. “I think it will offer better information but I don’t know that it will lead to a better outcome.”

Sen. Diane Snelling, R-Chittenden, described the Legislature’s task as identifying “What steps do we take to prevent that inclination to be a vigilante?

Corrections Oversight Committee
Corrections Oversight Committee

I don’t know that we can overcome vigilantism in certain people,” Rep. Martha Heath, D-Westford, responded, “but I think continued education goes a long way. If there’s any type of void, people will fill it with their own assumptions.”
- So they know vigilantism is a problem but are doing nothing about it?  How about take the registry offline to be used by police only?  That would help!

Some lawmakers were more reticent to explore legislative antidotes to such uproars.

Rep. Suzy Wizowaty, D-Burlington, is not a member of the Corrections Oversight Committee, but she serves on the House Judiciary Committee and was there Monday to listen to the proceedings.

Wizowaty was adamant that a legislative response is not in order. “First, there is a great problem with trying to develop policy in reaction to specific events. Second, it is crucial that people realize that once someone has committed a crime and has served his or her time, the terms of our law and our legal system generally should be that he’s done. People deserve a second chance,” she said.

Said Heath, “We may be wasting our time because this may be so individual of a case, that it’s never going to happen again.”

The two Judiciary Committee chairs, Sears and his counterpart in the House, Democrat Rep. Bill Lippert, said they’ll revisit the state’s laws surrounding sex offenses to look for ways to prevent what happened with [name withheld].

I think we have an obligation to continue to look at the policies, procedures and the laws,” Sears said. “I’m not calling off anything. We’ll look at everything.”

But Sears said he thinks the appropriate fix may already be in place. In 2009, the Legislature passed legislation that made a host of changes in state law addressing sex offenders and the sex offender registry system. That came in response to another high-profile sex offense case — the alleged murder and sexual assault of Brooke Bennett by her uncle, [name withheld].

One of those reforms makes “indeterminate sentencing” the default for certain types of sex offenders. That allows the DOC to continue to monitor offenders indefinitely after their release.

[name withheld] must comply with the state’s sex offender registry, but he’s free from DOC supervision, and that absence of oversight was a chief concern among community members.

Had [name withheld] been sentenced after 2009, “it would be a whole different ball game,” Sears said.

Pallito, for his part, left the meeting feeling at a loss. “I don’t think we came out of here with any kind of guidance. … I don’t know at this point if there’s something better we can do. I don’t have a quick fix for it.”

See Also:


UK - Sharston woman (Beverley Brandreth) jailed for false rape claims

Beverley Brandreth
Beverley Brandreth
Original Article

12/03/2012

A woman who twice falsely cried rape against an ex-boyfriend has been jailed for 20 months.

Beverley Brandreth, 20, first lied that he had raped her in February 2010 when she said she was pregnant and it caused her to lose her baby.

That allegation fell apart when it was discovered she was not pregnant at the time but prosecutors advised that no charge be brought against her.

Last November she made a second claim to police that he had dragged her into woods where she was beaten unconscious and raped, and he threatened to kill her if she reported the matter.

Her lies were unmasked again when the victim later proved he was in a DVD store with his new girlfriend when Brandreth claimed he attacked her.

The man she accused was arrested on both occasions and spent a total of 30 hours in custody, Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court heard.

He remained on bail for more than two months over the latest alleged offence before Brandreth, of Altrincham Road, Sharston, was arrested herself in January.

The defendant made no comment and only admitted not telling the truth when she entered a guilty plea in August to attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Sentencing her, Judge Bernard Lever said that "mercifully" the accused man had been able to prove his innocence but he told Brandreth she "did not know that at the time you made this outrageous allegation against him".


TN - Feds: Tennessee Cop (Herbert Eugene Miller) Used Patrol Car Computer To Surf For Kiddie Porn While On Duty

Herbert Eugene Miller
Herbert Eugene Miller
Original Article

08/16/2013

A Tennessee law enforcement officer is facing child pornography charges after investigators discovered the man was using the computer in his police cruiser to search for lewd pictures of young girls.

According to a criminal complaint filed yesterday in U. S. District Court, a Greeneville Police Department officer discovered that the search history of the web browser for the computer in the patrol car he was assigned had been used to search for illicit images.

A forensic review of the computer hard drive turned up “image searches utilizing key words ‘fifth grade girls,’ ‘naked middle school girls,’ ‘young puffy nipples,’ and ‘hot high school girls naked’” revealing “thousands of pornographic images” on the computer’s hard drive and--of those--“eighty images of child pornography.”

Investigators were able to link the searches to Herbert Eugene Miller, an auxiliary officer with the Greeneville Police Department, who was assigned the patrol car on July 27 at the time the browser searches took place. According to FBI Agent Bianca Pearson, Miller, 44, worked an overnight shift--taking a break from his web surfing for a half hour when the part-time cop, along with two other officers in separate cars, responded to a call that had come into dispatch at 1:40 AM.

Miller, pictured in the above mug shot, was charged with two felony counts of receiving and possessing of child pornography. He was arrested yesterday and appeared before a magistrate judge who ordered him held in custody pending a federal court hearing Wednesday in Greeneville, a town 70 miles east of Knoxville.


FL - Retired Orange County corrections officer (Robert Slavin) arrested in Daytona on attempt to seduce child charge

To protect and serve... NOT!
Original Article

And yet another police officer from Florida who has, or is accused of, a sex crime. The list is growing.

08/15/2013

By Lyda Longa

DAYTONA BEACH - A veteran officer with Orange County Corrections was jailed this week when Daytona Beach investigators charged him with attempting to seduce a 14-year-old girl.

Robert Slavin, a Port Orange resident who worked with Orange County’s Department of Corrections from 1984 to 2001 and achieved the rank of major, photographed himself from the waist down with his laptop computer as he touched himself, the arrest report shows. The 67-year-old also chatted with an individual whom he thought was a 13-year-old girl and described in detail what he would do to the teen once they met in person, the report states.

In reality, Slavin, who could not be reached for comment, was chatting with two detectives — one from Virginia and one from Daytona Beach.

When the Virginia investigator — Rodney Brisentine of the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office — realized Slavin lived in Florida, he contacted the ICE-Brevard-Volusia Child Exploitation Team on June 25 and Daytona Beach detective Timothy Ehrenkaufer took over the investigation.

Brisentine had posed as a 13-year-old girl and chatted with Slavin from January to June, the report shows. When Slavin chatted with Brisentine — thinking it was the 13-year-old named “Lindsey” — he told her he wanted to have sex with her, the report shows.

Slavin also photographed himself with his laptop camera with the belief that Lindsey was watching him, the report shows. Instead he was being watched by Brisentine.

As they continued their chats, Brisentine informed Slavin that Lindsey would be having her 14th birthday in June. She also told the suspect that she would be visiting Florida, the report states.

When Ehrenkaufer took over the chats, Slavin — who used the name “Robbs148” — made a date with Lindsey so that the pair could have sex, the report shows. He told the teenager that he would pick her up on Clyde Morris Boulevard, a short drive from his residence on Swordfern Court in Port Orange, the report states.

When he showed up on Tuesday afternoon, however, he was greeted by Ehrenkaufer.

The investigator said Slavin’s arrest prompted the suspect’s wife to file a missing person’s report because Slavin didn’t come home that day.

He was sitting in our wagon because we had arrested him,” Ehrenkaufer said.

When interviewed by Ehrenkaufer, Slavin confessed to his actions, the report states.

Slavin was charged with use of a computer to seduce/solicit/lure a child, travel to seduce/solicit/lure a child and transmission of harmful images to a minor. He was released from the Volusia County Branch Jail on Wednesday on $20,000 bail, court records show.


OK - Police officer (Barry Antwine) under fire for past child sexual abuse allegations

Barry Antwine
Barry Antwine
Original Article

08/15/2013

By Erin Conrad

ARDMORE - Ardmore police officer, Corporal Barry Antwine has been with the Police Department since 2004. For the past 4 years he has worked as the resource officer for Ardmore Public schools and that assignment is up in the air, pending an investigation.

City manager J.D. Spohn says, acting Police Chief Kevin Norris has recommended that Antwine should be removed from the position of school resource officer pending further investigation.

According to court documents obtained by KTEN, Antwine entered into a plea deal in 1997 after he admitted to lewd molestation and second degree rape. Antwine was accused of inappropriately touching a 14-year old girl in a sexual manner in a classroom when he was a senior at Wagner High school. Documents say, Antwine was 18 years old at the time. He was given deferred prosecution, according to a plea deal.

Ardmore parents reactions are mixed. "I'm shocked to hear that." says one Ardmore mom. Another mother says, "I don't think it's a problem, I don't have a problem with it".

Antwine recently sued the city claiming racial discrimination after not being promoted to sergeant. That lawsuit is currently still pending.


Standing up to Private Prisons

We are the prison nation!
Prison is a business, no doubt about it, and it's pretty much like the Nazi Concentration camps, except without the mass killings. They make everything a crime so they can put more people behind bars so they get paid, and we are willing to bet, many in politics have a share in the prison business as well. This country runs on prisons, without them, we'd be more broke. They have to pay their debts somehow, so they lock us up!

Video Description:
Private prisons undermine our democracy and destroy our communities by lobbying to keep immigrants and people of color locked away. Enlace and its allies are fighting back through a campaign to divest from the private prison industry.

Private prison companies like CCA and GEO Group profit when more people go to jail. Their business model depends on the success of their lobbying efforts, which result in laws that criminalize marginalized communities in order to keep people in jail. Over the past decade, immigrant detention has made millions of dollars for the private prison industry at the cost of hundreds of thousands of immigrant lives. Enlace and its allies are standing up to private prisons and calling for divestment from an industry that profits from racism and human misery. (More Info)


LA - Council moves forward with raising (extortion) fees for convicted sex offenders

Extortion
Original Article

08/14/2013

By Marilyn Monroe

SULPHUR - Initial registration and renewal fees for convicted sex offenders in the City of Sulphur are heading for an increase. The Council agreed Monday, Aug. 12, to introduce an ordinance allowing the change.

Currently, any convicted sex offender who moves into the city pays a $60 fee for their initial registration. That same amount is charged for the annual renewals of those already living in Sulphur. If passed, the new ordinance, according to Councilman Stuart Moss, would make the initial registration $600 and the annual renewal fee $200.

Sulphur resident Randy Hebert spoke out against the increase.

"I don't understand why we are raising the fee on this. We spend so much money on say domestic abuse and other offenses that tie up our patrols' time; why are we increasing the fees for this one group of criminals," Hebert inquired.

Moss stated that with the Sulphur Police Department moving toward their own monitoring program for sex offenders, there will be added costs to the department for such items as training, equipment, and overtime hours worked, among other expenses. In his opinion, the offender should bear the burden of the extra cost for compliance checks, not the taxpayer.

"I'm trying to make sure they are doing what needs to be done. Our officers are supposed to be out there checking on them, and we don't have that in place," said Moss. "We need to do this. We need to be proactive."

SPD chief Lewis Coats offered his support for the increase in fees.

"I don't think the registered sex offender needs to pay our salary, but I do think they should supplement my budget for the payment of overtime [and other expenses] for my officers to go out there and do spot compliance checks," said the chief.
- So do you also charge people for calling 911 which requires you to get off your butt?  Or gang bangers, prostitutes, drug dealers, etc?  It's extortion plain and simple!

He also emphasized that it was time to change his department's approach to sex offender compliance issues. The SPD has long relied on the Sheriff's Office to do spot checks on offenders.

"At this point now, it is reactive. We only respond whenever we receive a phone call on something such as a sex offender not living at a particular address. We are changing that to a proactive approach where the officer will arrive at the person's house at an unspecified date or time, making sure that they live there and making sure that they meet all the requirements that their tier sets forth."

He continued, saying, "I don't want to be the chief that says, 'Well I could have done that.' I want to be the chief that says, 'I've done all I can, and the citizens of Sulphur are as safe as they possibly could be.' I would prefer to be safe than sorry."

A public hearing will be held on the matter at the Council's Sept. 9 meeting.


LA - NOPD officer (Desmond Pratt) indicted on three counts of incesteous sex crimes against children

Desmond Pratt
Desmond Pratt
Original Article

08/15/2013

By Naomi Martin

A state grand jury indicted NOPD officer Desmond Pratt on Thursday, charging him with counts of aggravated incest, sexual battery and carnal knowledge of a juvenile. All three of the accusers were underage girls.

Pratt, 42, a former homicide detective, has been suspended without pay since April 17, when internal investigators arrested him on counts of forcible rape. He was most recently working in the NOPD's 6th District which patrols Central City and the Garden District.

"Mr. Pratt denies all allegations as he prepares for trial," said his attorney, Robert Jenkins.

The grand jury charged that Pratt committed aggravated incest of a juvenile between April 15 and 16.

Pratt was also charged with committing a sexual battery of a then-15-year-old girl between August 1, 2001 and December 30, 2001. The girl, a New Orleans public school student, reported on Dec. 4, 2001, that Pratt had "sexually violated" her, said NOPD spokeswoman Remi Braden.

At the time, child abuse detectives and internal investigators determined the case to be inconclusive, Braden said. After the April allegations, Special Victims Unit Sgt. Arnold Williams and Public Integrity Bureau Sgt. Darryl Watson reopened the case, gathering information that led to the grand jury's indictment, Braden said.

Pratt was additionally charged with one count of carnal knowledge of a juvenile. That accuser was 13 years old at the time she says the assault occurred, between Aug. 17, 1997 and Aug. 16, 1998.

After Pratt's arrest was reported, that accuser, who now lives in Texas, called the NOPD to report that Pratt had also abused her when she was a student at a public school that was not the same as the other accuser's, Braden said. The investigators traveled to Texas to interview the woman, Braden said.

Pratt's bond was set at $300,000 for the aggravated incest count, and $100,000 for the other two counts, for a total of $500,000, records show.

When he was arrested in April Pratt was released after posting a $50,000 bond on the condition that he would wear a monitoring device and avoid contact with the accuser.

Pratt started with the department in 1997 and was at one point a member of the Community Public Housing Force. As a homicide detective, he was deeply involved in the investigation into two murders tied to alleged Uptown drug kingpin Telly Hankton.

Pratt had requested protection for Hasan "Hockie" Williams after Williams, within hours of the crime, identified Hankton as the man who shot Jessie "TuTu" Reed on Terpsichore Street in June 2009. But Williams was shot shortly after attending Reed's funeral, with the same gun used to dispatch Reed.

Prosecutors said Hankton -- who had already been arrested in Reed's killing -- ordered the hit on Williams from the Orleans Parish jail.

Pratt also featured prominently in another high-profile murder case, that of 16-year-old Roderick Gordon, who was gunned down in the 1500 block of Conti Street in 2009.

In total, five men were accused of being involved in the shooting, although only one, 22-year-old Travis Burke, has been convicted. A few months ago, Burke got news that an unknown witness resurfaced and told the district attorney that Burke and his friend Jamal Clay, also charged with the crime and currently awaiting trial, were not the killers.

That witness claimed he saw three men, not five, shoot Gordon, and that none of them was either Burke nor Clay.

The witness claimed he had told Pratt what he'd seen six months after the killing, more than a year before Burke's trial, but was never called to testify at Burke's trial and that his defense attorney never even knew he existed.


TX - Texas deputy accused of raping mother in front of her children resigns

To protect and serve... NOT!
Original Article

08/15/2013

By Eric W. Dolan

A deputy in Texas accused of raping a woman in front of her children has resigned, according to KHOU 11 News.

Lisa Rodriguez of of East Harris County told local media outlets earlier this week that the deputy came to her home to question her about harassing phone calls. During the questioning, the deputy allegedly sexually assaulted her in her own home. (Note: Raw Story does not usually publish the name of sex crime victims, but Rodriguez said she wanted her name and story to be public.)

He hurt me,” Rodriguez told KHOU 11 News on Tuesday. “He took something from me without even asking. That’s what hurt the most and my children were in the same house I was.”

Rodriguez said the deputy, who has not been named, told her they should talk in a bedroom upstairs. She said the deputy then grabbed her hands and put them on his crotch. Rodriguez said the deputy told her if she resisted he would take her to jail.

Rodriguez reported the incident, and the deputy resigned on Wednesday.

Rather than face answering questions from investigators with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Internal Affairs Division relating to allegations of sexual misconduct made on Tuesday by a citizen, an HCSO employee has resigned,” the Sheriff’s Office told KHOU 11 News.

Despite his resignation, the incident is still under investigation.


AUSTRALIA - Christopher Leigh Wells jailed for bashing known ex-sex offender with a brick

Road rage with a tire iron
Original Article

Why wasn't he also charged with attempted murder?

08/16/2013

By PATRICK BILLINGS

A 25-YEAR-OLD Launceston man who bashed a known sex offender with a brick to the head has been jailed for five years.

Christopher Leigh Wells appeared in Launceston's Supreme Court yesterday and pleaded guilty to the attack, aggravated robbery and arson.

About 2.30am on New Year's Day, Wells and three other men approached a man collecting cigarette butts in Civic Square.

After demanding a cigarette the men took the victim in to a laneway near Henty House.

The man was pulled to the ground and held down as Wells collected a brick.

"You are a paedophile son of a b****," Wells said before bringing the brick down on his head.

The man pleaded with Wells to stop but was hit over the head several more times.

At some point one of the males with Wells pleaded with him to stop.

"[Wells said] I want to kill him, please let me hit him again to the head," Justice Stephen Estcourt said yesterday. One of the attackers saw the police and the men ran off.

The victim made his way to the Launceston General Hospital where 15 staples were applied to a head wound. About two weeks before, the same victim was bashed and robbed by Wells and a man known only as Peter.

Justice Estcourt said the man had been turned away from City Mission and was told by Wells and Peter that a nearby church had beds.

As they walked past Princes Square Wells told the man to "smell the flowers" in a garden.

As he did so Wells pushed him to the ground and punched his face before Peter began kicking his face.

Both then rifled through his pockets, stealing $75 in cash and $25 worth of tobacco.

The man suffered a fractured arm.

The court heard he now suffers continuing pains in the head, blurred vision, a worsened speech impediment, nightmares and a fearfulness that someone will hurt him in the streets.

On February 11, Wells caused up to $218,000 damage to the Oldaker Street Christian Centre in Devonport by setting it alight.

The court heard he has a mild intellectual disability and psychological issues but did not have a mental illness "as defined by the criminal code".

"He is a deeply troubled man. He has no education but is literate with an IQ of 70," Justice Estcourt said.

"The charges other than the arson were committed against a known sex offender and I take into account the defendant's suffering of ... abuse as a child."

"That of course is not a justification for the commission of those crimes."

He said Wells received a suspended sentence for robbery in June 2012 and was sentenced to prison in Victoria in October 2010.

Justice Estcourt ordered Wells serve three years non parole.


CA - How to teach your kids to live in fear and not trust anybody?

Child living in fear
Original Article

A lot of this is good advice and parents should teach their kids, but this article sounds like it would scare kids more than make them feel safe.

At one point in time we had kids all over the place playing and enjoying life, now they are always inside, afraid to do anything on their own anymore. It's sad and pathetic.


08/15/2013

By LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT

The new school year is here, and the adjustment to returning to school may take a few weeks. Returning to school can be fun and exciting, with every day bringing new experiences, but it can also be difficult for some children.

Kids today are faced with far more than learning new material. Interacting with teachers and other students, bullying, peer pressure and school violence are just a few of the challenges children face. You can help prepare your children for the experiences they will face at school each day and help create a safer school environment.

Read the following tips for advice on how to protect your children, and how to teach them to protect themselves.

Getting to School:
  • Give yourself plenty of time as you and your children adjust to the new school schedule.
  • Map out a safe way for your children to walk to school or to the bus stop.
  • Work with other parents in the neighborhood to ensure that children in the neighborhood are supervised closely to and from school.
  • Work with your neighbors and your child on identifying “safe houses” in the neighborhood; homes where your child is familiar and can ask for help if need be.
  • Point out places they should avoid such as vacant lots, alleyways, and construction areas.
  • Encourage your children to use the “buddy system”.
  • Teach your children to never speak to strangers or go anywhere with a stranger, and let them know its okay to report if a stranger tries to approach them. (You should also teach them what a "stranger" is)
  • Teach your children to always be aware of their surroundings. Be aware of slow moving vehicles or parked vehicles that appear to be occupied. Choose a different route or walk on the opposite side of the street.
  • Children need to pay attention to traffic signals and use crosswalks with a crossing guard if available.

Bus Safety:
  • Make sure your children arrive at least five minutes early for the bus.
  • Make sure your children know to stand on the sidewalk while waiting for the bus.
  • Teach your children to make sure the bus driver can see them before walking in front of the bus, and to never walk behind a bus.
  • Be aware that bullying often happens on the bus. Ask your children about their bus rides, who they sit with, and what goes on in the bus. Encourage them to report any bullying behavior.

After School:
  • Have your children check in with an adult as soon as they get home.
  • Show them how to properly lock all doors and windows.
  • Make sure they know to never open a door to a stranger. (And what is a "stranger?")
  • Establish a set of rules; who can come over, when homework must be done, and any chores they must do before you get home.
  • Find a trusted neighbor who will allow your children to come over in case of an emergency.
  • Establish strict rules regarding Internet usage.

At School:
  • Teach your children to resolve problems without fighting.
  • Encourage your children to report bullying behavior, either as a victim or a witness.
  • Ask school officials about the safety and emergency plans for the school, all schools are required to have one.

Bullying:
  • Listen to children and encourage them to talk about their day.
  • Take all complaints about bullying seriously, if you don’t your child may not tell you next time.
  • Watch for symptoms such as withdrawal, a drop in grades, or new friends.
  • Notify the school immediately if you think your child is being bullied.
  • Praise your children when they are kind to others.
  • Teach children self- protection skills; how to walk and talk confidently, stay alert to their surroundings, and to stand up for themselves verbally.
  • IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING” – Parents and children alike should be aware of their surroundings. If you or your child becomes aware of something or someone suspicious near the school, report it to law enforcement. We want to know.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children offers the following safety tips for parents to discuss with their youngsters.