Sunday, October 6, 2013

AL - Prosecutor: Former officer (Lanice Clifton Bonds) had sex with student at school

Lanice Clifton Bonds
Lanice Clifton Bonds
Original Article


By Matt Elofson

Prosecutors argued against a bail reduction for a former Dothan police officer charged with having sex with a student, calling it the first such offense to actually happen at a local school.

Houston County District Attorney Doug Valeska argued against a bail reduction for 37-year-old Lanice Bonds. Dothan police arrested Bonds last month, and charged him with school employee or official having sex with a student. Valeska said the offense happened in Bonds’ office inside the school. He also said the victim was a 17-year-old girl.

Bonds had served as the school resource officer at Dothan High School for at least five years prior to his recent termination from the Dothan Police Department.

This is the first time we've made a case where the sexual act took place in a school,” Valeska said. “He confessed to having sex with a student at Dothan High School.”

Attorney Cada Carter, who represented Bonds, asked the court to reduce his client’s $250,000 bail.

Carter said his client has never been in trouble before. He also said his client was not a flight risk, and has family in the area.

He’s married and has a small child in the area. His wife works at Fort Rucker at a very respectful job. His father is a police chief in the area,” Carter said. “He’s not any kind of menace to society.”

Valeska called reducing the bail for Bonds would be like giving him a reward.

Houston County District Court Judge Benjamin Lewis said he’d take the request for a bail reduction under advisement, and likely issue a ruling within a few days.

Valeska also showed a video of a tape recorded interview between Bonds and a Dothan police detective, which he said included the confession.

During the interview, for the first several minutes of questioning Bonds denied ever having sex with the female student. Bonds also said it started out with some flirtations and then some gestures were made.

The police detective who interviewed Bonds told him the victim had reported she was forcibly raped and intimidated because he was a police officer.

It was consensual all the way through, no force at all,” Bonds said during the interview. “She could’ve left at any time. The door was right there. I’m behind the desk the whole time.”

During the interview Bonds questioned the detective how there could’ve been force involved with teachers in their class rooms on either side of him. The interview also talked about the use of a condom.

Then it appeared after continued questioning by the detective Bonds confessed to having intercourse twice with the student.

The detective told Bonds during the interview his story matched the victim except she claimed they had sex for five minutes.

Carter told the court he’s not sure his client “really confessed” based on the video interview with police. He said the offense could still be a misdemeanor crime.

Carter questioned why the prosecution chose to show the video interview for bail reduction hearing.

If convicted of the class B felony crime Bonds faces two to 20 years in prison.

WV - Mayor defends broad Hurricane sex-offender constraints

Residency "Buffer" ZonesOriginal Article


By Lydia Nuzum

HURRICANE - A 2012 Hurricane city ordinance prohibiting registered sex offenders from being within 500 feet of designated "child safety zones" is still in place, despite questions about whether part of it would have to be repealed for violating constitutional rights.

"There were absolutely no changes made. We feel it is within our right, and the citizens are 100 percent behind it," said Hurricane Mayor Scott Edwards.

The ordinance bars those convicted of sex crimes from entering a number of places in the city, including parks, playgrounds, schools, public pools, skate parks, movie theaters and bowling alleys. Parts of it, including barring sex offenders from public libraries, might infringe on offenders' rights, according to Sarah Rogers, staff attorney for the West Virginia American Civil Liberties Union.

"They could definitely face a civil lawsuit or challenge," Rogers said.

The ordinance also bans sex offenders from entering "recreational areas," which include conservation areas, jogging trails, hiking trails, bicycle trails, recreation centers, water parks, swimming pools, soccer fields, baseball fields and football fields. It also includes "child day-care centers," which it defines as "a day-care center or home which provides regular care to any number of children."

"I think the ACLU is concerned about this ordinance because it's so unclear," Rogers said. "People and their families may be unsure of how to comply. The ordinance's definition of 'child-care facility,' for example, could be any home."

According to Rogers, the ex post facto clause (Wikipedia) of the U.S. Constitution prohibits governing bodies from enacting laws that punish people "after the fact" -- meaning beyond what their conviction and sentence has required.

"For example, someone who may have served his sentence for an act could go for many years as a productive citizen, and 30 or 40 years later, suddenly they have to abide by these restrictions," Rogers said. "Many courts have found these laws violate the Eighth Amendment prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment (Wikipedia)."

The ordinance also might infringe on Fifth Amendment rights, Rogers said. The double-jeopardy clause (Wikipedia) of the Fifth Amendment states, ". . . nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb."

According to news reports, the first person to be cited under the Hurricane ordinance was given a ticket last week for entering Hurricane City Park.

Edwards said the ordinance was designed to protect children as broadly as possible, and said he introduced the city law after hearing that sex offenders had been watching kids at local parks and pools.

"School grounds and public parks are the two big ones where kids would gather," he said. "The reason, of course, is that we had a sex offender continually hanging around Valley Park, at the Wave Pool, watching little kids with binoculars."

According to Edwards, the ordinance applies to all registered sex offenders in Hurricane, regardless of whether they have children of their own or were convicted of crimes that did not involve minors. The ordinance, however, defines a sex offender as "an individual who has been convicted of or placed on deferred adjudication for a sexual offense involving a person under eighteen (18) years of age for which the individual is required to register as a sex offender under West Virginia Code."

"It's legal in other states, as well," Edwards said. "Other states have very similar ordinances logged. I would actually hope that our Legislature would consider making this a state law."

Twenty-seven registered sex offenders live in Hurricane, and three more are employed in Hurricane but are not residents of Putnam County, according to the West Virginia State Police website. Of the 27 offenders registered in the city, all but one were charged with crimes involving a person under age 18.

Another issue that could be created by an ordinance like this is that it has the potential to create "a false sense of security," Rogers said.

"It could take sex offenders from supportive environments, where there is a likelihood they might rehabilitate, and put them in a place where they don't have any support," she said. "We understand that there are dangerous predators, and we don't want them roaming around, but we're not sure this does anything to target people who are actually dangerous."

"These crimes are generally not crimes of proximity, but crimes of relationship."

MI - Former officer (Troy Pope) sentenced in sex case

Troy Pope
Troy Pope
Original Article


By Trace Christenson

After a week’s delay, a former Calhoun County Corrections officer was sentenced to spend at least two years in prison.

Circuit Court Judge James Kingsley on Friday sentenced Troy Pope, 26, of Battle Creek, to a prison term of two to 15 years.

Last week the judge said he would not agree to a sentence agreement of a minimum of 15 months. Pope and his attorney, J. Thomas Schaeffer agreed to that during negotiations with prosecutors on a plea in a criminal sexual conduct case.

In August, Pope pleaded no contest to criminal sexual conduct in the third degree after investigators said he paid for sex with a 15-year-old boy on May 11, 2012.

As part of the agreement other charges in that case and sexual assault charges involving another man and a woman were dismissed.

But last week Kingsley told Pope he would not agree to the 15 month sentence and allowed him a week to consider withdrawing his plea and going to trial.

In court Friday, Schaeffer told the judge the original sentence agreement should stand after noting that Kingsley was aware of terms of the plea agreement.

It makes eminent sense that the agreement that all parties were aware of be followed,” Schaeffer said.

But Kingsley said before reading a pre-sentence report a week ago, he was not aware of details of the cases, including statements from the other alleged victims, and decided two years was the proper minimum sentence.

Schaeffer argued that while other charges were filed against Pope, his client admitted to one crime with the boy and it was two days before the young man’s 16th birthday.

This is my client’s first offense,” Schaeffer said. “He is engaging in a legal but not accepted form of activity. The difficulty was in this case it was for the person two days before the age of consent and he represented he was of age and no indication otherwise and as a result, technically that is why we entered the plea. The other allegations we didn’t agree happened.”

Schaeffer told the judge that after conferring with his client, they were accepting the change in sentence.

Pope told the judge he didn’t have anything to say.

Prosecutor David Gilbert told the judge Pope was charged in a similar case in 2001 and that Pope had been cavalier about the present cases.

Everything I have seen him he has been smiling or laughing about something in this case,” Glbert said.

And early in the hearing, when Kingsley referred to the other two victims, Pope seemed to laugh.

Its not funny Mr. Pope,” Kingsley said, “from what I have read.”

Pope was working as a corrections officer when the allegations first surfaced in January. He was placed on leave and a few days later resigned.

Officials said safety precautions will be made during his prison term because he might be targeted by other inmates.

Pope also must register on Michigan’s sex offender registry.