Monday, August 19, 2013

FL - Lake Worth Man Could Lose House Thanks to Sex Offender Residency Restrictions

Ex-sex offender could lose his home due to draconian laws
Original Article


By Kyle Swenson

"I really don't feel like I live the life of a typical sex offender," [name withheld] said on a recent evening on the back patio of his house in Lake Worth.

With his small frame crumbled in a deck chain, the 31-year-old hispanic guy puffs on an electronic cigarette while his 3-year-old son wobbles about the lawn. Upbeat and chatty, he's outlining his big plans for the backyard. "And you see over there," he says gesturing beyond a greenhouse to the tall cement wall blocking the lot from the train tracks. "We're going to put some couches right there and have a movie projector against the wall."

In truth, [name withheld] doesn't whether he'll be at his dream house in two weeks. When he was 18, [name withheld] had consensual sex with a girl he met at the beach. She had told him she was 17, but was actually 15. He was arrested and charged with lewd or lascivious battery. Eventually, [name withheld] accepted a withhold of adjudication, a legal option that technically left him without a felonious record but included three years of probation. Tagged to that stint was placement on the sex offender registry.

"If I was any other criminal my sentence would be done," [name withheld] says. "Say you're a prospective employer, and you're looking at my background, this doesn't come up at all on a background check. But if you do a Google search of my name, you'll see me on the registry."

It got worse. A 2007 Florida law allowed offenders in statutory cases like [name withheld]'s - known as Romeos - to petition off the registry. [name withheld] met all the criteria, except to save money he went for a pyscho-sexual evaluation from a different therapist than the one chosen by the court. A judge denied his request. According to the law, a Romeo only has one shot at escape.

Despite the label, [name withheld] has been able make a good living working small-time finance jobs, enough to move his family recently into the large Lake Worth ranch home. But after [name withheld] filed his new address for the registry, the phone call came from local police: his new home was 1,500 feet from a bus stop, a violation of Lake Worth's ordinance.

"I don't even know where the bus stop is," he says.

This week, check back with New Times for a longer, comprehensive look at the sex offender registry -- its effectiveness, its controversial logic, and the people fighting to both reform and keep the registry in place.

IN - Derek Walton, Franklin County Sheriff's reserve deputy, charged with child exploitation

Derek Walton
Derek Walton
Original Article


By Brian Mains

LIBERTY - A Franklin County Sheriff’s Office reserve deputy faces child exploitation charges after a federal investigation.

Joseph H. Hogsett, a United States Attorney, unsealed the criminal complaint Monday against Derek Walton, 31, of Liberty.

Walton’s arrest was the result of an Operation Community Watch investigation into email accounts dating back to 2011 that allegedly sent images and video of child pornography, according to Hogsett. Some of those emails, Hogsett stated, were sent from an account accessed from the Franklin County Security Center.

These cases are always difficult, both as a prosecutor and as a parent,” Hogsett said. “They are even more troubling when the allegations involve a law enforcement official who was entrusted with protecting Hoosier communities. This is what Operation Community Watch was designed to do, however – hold accountable those who endanger our children, no matter who they are.”

A search warrant executed at Walton’s home on Aug. 16 as a result of the email investigation also revealed a thumb drive and video camera with images of a minor girl in Walton’s possession, Hogsett stated. In addition, materials also revealed Walton may have been involved in a white supremacist group. The investigation is ongoing.

Walton worked with the Franklin County Sheriff’s office since 2004, according to the criminal complaint. He also formerly served with the Richmond and Laurel police departments.

Hogsett stated an initial AOL account linked to Walton was disconnected in 2011. A second account traced to Walton was found while federal agents were investigating a sexual offender who exchanged emails with him.

Walton faces decades in federal prison if convicted, Senior Litigation Counsel Steven D. DeBrota and Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary A Myers stated.

LA - Prison Guard (Angelo Vickers) Repeatedly Raped 14-Year-Old Girl In Juvenile Detention, Facility Claims She Asked For It

To protect and serve... NOT!
Original Article



An ongoing civil suit seeking damages against a prison guard and the Terrebonne Parish juvenile detention facility in Louisiana where he worked has sunk to a new low. Attorneys defending the Parish and facility are actually making the argument that a 14-year-old girl is responsible for being repeatedly raped by the prison guard in question.

ThinkProgress reports that the emotionally traumatized now 20-year-old woman is suing the facility and the Parish for not protecting her from former guard Angelo Vickers, who is now serving a seven-year sentence for molestation.

In an effort to shield the Parish and facility from liability in the case, lawyers are employing an outrageous argument. They claim the then 14-year-old girl wanted to be raped repeatedly by her 40-year-old prison guard/rapist.

Needless to say, child advocates and victims advocates are outraged that an attorney representing the local government would make such a claim, even though Louisiana law clearly states that anyone under the age of 17 cannot consent to sex. This ‘blaming the victim’ strategy resulted in child advocate and attorney, Carolyn McNabb, to fire off a letter to attorney Alexander Crighton, asking him to strike the accusation from the court record and drop the defense tactic entirely.

“To say that a 14-year-old mentally and emotionally distressed girl with a history of having been abused and neglected as a child should be found at fault for consenting to be raped by a male guard while in confinement at the hands of my local government, which is charged with the responsibility of keeping her safe, not only sets the cause of children’s advocacy back a hundred years, but I believe the parish government commits ‘documentary’ sexual assault against the child by taking this position in a public record,” McNabb wrote.

According to ThinkProgress, the detention center has a sordid history of enabling prison guards to prey upon their young and defenseless victims.

The Terrebonne juvenile prison was exposed by a Department of Justice investigation in 2010 for arbitrarily putting children in isolation cells and leaving guards unsupervised. Several staffers were fired and even indicted for exchanging candy, fruit, time on the telephone, and other favors in return for sex with the underage inmates.

Unfortunately, blaming and punishing rape victims for their own assaults is running rampant in our society. For years, Republicans in and out of Congress have attempted to redefine rape to make it harder for victims to come forward. In their minds, a rape is a forced act that leaves physical evidence such as bruising, tearing, scratches, etc., but that is not always the case. Rapists often use weapons and intimidation in order to force their victims to submit to the assault. Afraid for their lives, many victims will choose not to fight back so as to survive the assault. Many women are also violated after being drugged or having too much to drink, making it easier for a rapist to violate the victim without leaving physical marks. In short, it is wrong to assume that it’s only rape when there is physical evidence of force.

Some in the GOP are also under the notion that women can’t get pregnant through rape, and therefore dismiss victims who seek abortions. The fact is, rape victims have higher pregnancy rates than other women.

Clearly, a 14-year-old girl in isolation would be an easy target for a predator and she would be terrified of retribution from her attacker if she were to resist, especially if her attacker is a guard. The facility is absolutely responsible for the safety of minors placed under their watch. It is totally unacceptable to blame the victim for the crime committed by the rapist and such a tactic is despicable to use in a court of law or anywhere else for that matter.

For too long, a war has been waged against the victims of rape and the only ones who benefit from such a war are the rapists themselves. Blaming the victim is a shameful exercise that gives rapists the ability to escape justice and resume targeting other women. Such a tactic serves to make rape more difficult to prove and will absolutely cause many women to decide against reporting their assaults to avoid being blamed for something that is not their fault.

See Also:

VA - Hampton woman (Elizabeth Paige Coast) to be sentenced today for lying about sexual assault

Elizabeth Paige Coast
Elizabeth Paige Coast
Original Article



HAMPTON - A Hampton woman who invented a sexual assault that sent an innocent man to prison is set to be sentenced today, clearing the way for the Virginia Court of Appeals to consider clearing his name.

Elizabeth Paige Coast, 23, falsely accused [name withheld] of sexually assaulting her in 2000 when she was 10 years old. She pleaded guilty in May to perjury and faces up to 10 years in prison when sentenced in Hampton Circuit Court this afternoon.

However, the special prosecutor in the case, Richard K. Newman, the Hopewell commonwealth's attorney, said at the time Coast pleaded guilty it appeared state sentencing guidelines would not call for any prison time.

Coast was charged with perjury last year after admitting to authorities that she made up the story that [name withheld] had sexually assaulted her when he lived in Hampton and that she lied on the witness stand at his June 23, 2008, trial.

[name withheld], 14 at the time of the alleged assault and 26 now, has asked the Virginia Court of Appeals for a writ of actual innocence.

A conviction supports the contention her trial testimony was a lie and her recantation the truth. The Virginia Attorney General's Office and [name withheld]'s lawyers asked the court of appeals to delay considering the petition until the perjury charge was resolved.

[name withheld] was released from prison on a conditional pardon from Gov. Bob McDonnell pending the outcome of his petition for a writ of actual innocence.

Coast told authorities she made up the story because said she felt trapped when her parents caught her searching the Internet for sex stories. She said she believed her parents would not be angry with her if she said the reason she looked things up was because she had been molested.

The lies got out of control and in 2008, [name withheld], a childhood acquaintance of Coast's who moved from Hampton shortly after the crime supposedly occurred, was convicted of sexually assaulting her. Coast was 18 at the time she testified at [name withheld]'s trial.

[name withheld] was living in Florida and had no criminal record when he was charged. He testified in his own defense and denied assaulting her. It was a matter of her word against his, and the judge found him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
- This shows that if anyone ever accuses you of a sex crime, your life is over!  No evidence is needed, just one persons word.

[name withheld]'s family declined to comment on today's pending sentencing.

See Also:

NY - Daughter: I lied and sent my dad to prison for rape

Kelly Family
Kelly Family
Original Article


By Dan Slepian

Chaneya Kelly is on a mission: she wants the world to know about a horrible lie she says she told almost 16 years ago – a lie that cost a man his freedom.

I'm 24 years old and I made this mistake when I was nine years old,” Chaneya told NBC News, “but it's never too late to try and right your wrong. “

Chaneya says that in 1997, she falsely accused a man of raping her. That man – who has always maintained his innocence -- is Daryl Kelly, Chaneya’s father.

All I think is, ‘One day the truth will set me free,’” said Kelly, from Green Haven Correctional Facility in upstate New York. “All I have to do is hold on.”

In October 1997, Daryl Kelly was living with his wife, Charade, and their five children in Newburgh, N.Y., 90 miles north of New York City. Chaneya, their oldest child, was two months shy of her ninth birthday.

At the time, Daryl -- a Navy veteran who owned a local electronics repair shop -- says he was trying to kick a drug habit to take care of his kids. But Charade was at rock bottom, even turning to prostitution to feed her addiction.

Chaneya remembers being downstairs with her father one morning before school when she had to use the bathroom. When she was done, she went upstairs, and that’s when Chaneya says her mother asked her a question that came out of the blue.

She repeatedly asked me, has my dad touched me,” recalled Chaneya. “I was like, ‘What do you mean, did he touch me?’ And she was like, ‘Did he touch you in your no-no spot?’ And I would repeatedly say no.

Chaneya says the more she denied any abuse, the more irate her mother became – and even threatened her with a belt. According to Chaneya, her mother said, “If you don’t tell me the answer that I want to hear, I’m going to beat you.” To avoid a beating, says Chaneya, she told her mother that her father molested her even though it wasn't true.

On the morning of October 29, 1997 Newburgh police took Kelly downtown for questioning. They found some of his answers suspicious.

For example, when they asked him why his semen and fingerprints were found on his daughter, Daryl scrambled for an explanation. According to a police report, he said, “My wife is doing drugs and alcohol. Maybe she’s setting me up.’

He didn’t know until later that no semen or fingerprints had been found.

In fact, there was no definitive forensic evidence that Chaneya had been raped. While a doctor's report did conclude that there was "possible sexual abuse" because of some redness, Chaneya’s hymen was intact even though she claimed her father had penetrated her.

But with both Chaneya and her mom telling police the same story, it was enough for police. Daryl Kelly was charged with multiple counts of rape and sodomy.
- And this is where the problem is!  Instead of doing a full investigation (their job), they simply believed two people who claimed the rape occurred, and this is why so many innocent people are in prison.

Kelly -- who had never before been convicted of a felony -- refused a plea deal that would have made him eligible for parole in six years, and within a year he faced a jury. Based on Chaneya’s graphic testimony, it took them just hours to find her father guilty, and he was sentenced to 20 to 40 years and barred from having any contact with his children.

After her father’s conviction, authorities removed Chaneya from her mother's custody, citing Charade’s drug abuse, and she was sent to live with her grandmother, Pat Thomas, a Pentecostal minister. It was there – six months after her father’s conviction -- that Chaneya told her grandmother that she was never raped, and that the story had been born out of fear of her mother.

Grandmother Pat took Chaneya to Daryl’s appellate attorney, who videotaped her recantation, in which she says she learned words like “penis” and “vagina” from the prosecution team, and the mechanics of sex from pornography stashed under her parents’ bed. On the tape, she looks uncomfortable, mumbling short, hesitant answers like, “No,” and “I think so.”

Her mother, Charade, also submitted an affidavit to the court, swearing she threatened to beat Chaneya unless she said her father raped her.

The prosecutor argued that the recantation looked coerced, and the same judge who oversaw his original trial a year earlier agreed. He refused to vacate Kelly's conviction.

As the years went by, Daryl began studying the law in prison, and began the long slog of filing appeals -- all of which have been denied.

Meanwhile, Chaneya never gave up on her father. When she was 15, she convinced the courts to allow her to once again have contact with him – and that’s when she went to visit him in prison.

The first thing my dad did was that he hugged me and he told me that he loved me and … that he doesn’t blame me for anything,” Chaneya recalled. “It was priceless to me.”

Today, Chaneya’s mom Charade says she’s been drug-free for many years. In a recent interview with NBC News, Charade confirmed that she threatened her daughter with a beating, and said she can’t remember why she was so determined to make Chaneya say she had been molested. She blames the incident on a drug binge. “I [had been] gone for three days. And I was really deep in the grip of my addiction.” When asked why she would threaten her daughter if she didn’t lie, Charade said, “I have no idea, I really don’t.”

From behind prison walls, Daryl Kelly has written to anyone who will listen to his story. Last year, one of those letters landed on the desk of Thomas Schellhammer, the head of the newly formed Conviction Review Bureau at the N.Y. Attorney General's office. Schellhammer contacted Orange County District Attorney Frank Phillips, the county’s elected chief prosecutor for almost 30 years, who was in charge when Daryl Kelly stood trial.

In an interview with NBC News, Phillips strongly defended the integrity of the original prosecution, saying he trained his prosecutors “that truth is the most important thing,” and stressing that a jury had found Kelly guilty.

The system says he’s not innocent, that the credibility of Chaneya was tested, that the issues surrounding her testimony back in 1998 were addressed,” said Phillips.

Phillips also said it was “not unique” for the victim of a crime like rape or molestation to want to protect the abuser by withdrawing an accusation. “It’s part of a dynamic that we deal with. Whether it’s sex crimes or crimes of domestic violence, that is not unusual.”

After hearing from Schellhammer, Phillips recused himself from reexamining the Kelly case and referred it to a committee of the state association of county district attorneys for review. Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick is currently leading a re-investigation; his office told NBC News it declined comment while the review is underway. Detective Thomas Mancinelli, who led the original police investigation in Newburgh, also declined to comment on the case.

Is it possible that Chaneya is simply repressing a horrible memory, that her father really did rape her, and she feels guilty about putting him behind bars?

She says no, that she’d have no problem with her father remaining in prison if he were guilty. “I wouldn’t be here having this conversation. “

As for Daryl, he says he won’t truly be free until he’s vindicated. “This fight will never end,” he said. “I will continue to fight for this. This is my reputation. This is my decree. This is the truth. It's not just for me. It's for my daughter as well.”

Broken On All Sides: Race, Mass Incarceration & New Visions for Criminal Justice in the U.S.