Thursday, October 17, 2013

AL - Former ACPD officer (Michael Ford) pleas guilty to sex crimes

Michael Ford
Michael Ford
Original Article


By Austin Nelson

Former Alexander City police officer Michael Ford pleaded guilty to a slough of felony charges ranging from incest to sexual abuse and sodomy on Tuesday.

Ford was arrested Feb. 1 of this year when allegations of sexual abuse first surfaced, after which he was immediately terminated by ACPD.

Ford, 49, pleaded guilty to one count of incest, one count of second-degree sexual abuse, three counts of second-degree sodomy and five counts of sexual abuse of a child less than 12, according to Assistant District Attorney Jeremy Duerr.

Ford also pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree theft of property and one count of tampering with evidence.

Ford’s attorney, Mark Allen Treadwell, offered a statement regarding the plea agreement.

Essentially, based upon the totality of all the facts and evidence, this was a best interest plea,” Treadwell said. “Based upon the severity of the allegations and all facts which the District Attorney relied upon in support of a conviction, we considered this plea to be not only in Mr. Ford’s best interest but also the concern and best interest of his family and the Alexander City Police Department.”

For the counts of second-degree sodomy and sexual abuse of a child, both Class B felonies, Ford could face two to 20 years per count.

On the one count of incest and second-degree theft of property, both classified as Class C felonies, the sentencing guidelines call for a minimum of a year and one day to a maximum of 10 years.

For the class A misdemeanors – tampering with evidence and second-degree sexual abuse – the maximum sentence is up to one year.

Duerr said the sentencing hearing has been set for Nov. 1.

It won’t be until this hearing, Duerr said, that Ford will know how his time will be served.

Sometimes the sentences can run concurrently – at the same time – which means you serve all of the time for the different counts at once,” Duerr said. “He could also be sentenced to consecutive terms, in which he would do the time for one charge, then do the next and so on.”

Treadwell said the situation is complicated due to Ford’s medical history, who has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from military service and also has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.

The difficulty with a case such as this presents this problematic issue: Where is the appropriate place for Mr. Ford, convicted of sexually related crimes, to serve a sentence and simultaneously received treatment for his mental and physical impairments? That place is certainly not on the streets but is also not in a jail cell,” Treadwell said. “It is our plan, based upon these best-interest pleas, that the judge would enter such (a) sentencing order which will provide a secure placement in a mental and medical facility which will provide the necessary treatment for Mr. Ford.”

ACPD Chief Willie Robinson said this case serves as a reminder that no one is above the law.

If you commit a crime, we will arrest you no matter who you are, whether you are a sworn officer or not,” Robinson said. “The law applies to everybody.”

WI - Town leaves lights on near sex offenders' homes

Man under a street light
Original Article


By Peter J. Devlin

Despite an effort to remove streetlights that no longer serve their original purpose, the Brussels Town Board Wednesday voted to not remove two from poles in the Kolberg area where a convicted repeat sex offender resumed residency two weeks ago.

Two men, who would not give their names for this story, said they were very concerned about the presence of the registered sex offender in their community because of the number of children who live in close proximity.

The unnamed sex offender was released from prison last month after completing a sentence on a conviction of having sexual contact with a child under the age of 13, Town Clerk JoAnn Neinas said.

Instead of taking streetlights out, we should light the place up,” said one man, who said he lives next door to the offender’s residence and has grandchildren who visit frequently.

The other anonymous speaker at the meeting said he lives directly across County D from the offender’s residence and has younger children.

Town Chairman Joe Wautier said that although the town adopted an ordinance in 2008 requiring convicted sex offenders to locate substantial distances from any place where children gather, the town can’t enforce the law in the current instance.

The ordinance would prohibit any offender from establishing residency within 2,500 feet of a park or other places where children gather, including places of worship. Emmanuals Lutheran Church is located near the offender’s residence.

But because the offender listed his current address with the State of Wisconsin in 1999, “he’s grandfathered in,” Wautier said. “We got the letter from the town’s attorney saying we can’t do anything as a town.”

The offender “told the parole officer he’s looking for a different place,” the town chairman said, “but when I drove through there, I see they’re fixing the place up.”

The two neighbors claimed the property was owned by a relative, disputing the offender had actually lived at the address before his recent release.

No, not living there,” Neinas said. “Registered with the Department of Corrections. Registered as a sex offender.”

In addition to voting to leave the two streetlights in place in Kolberg, the board also voted to leave in place another light near another registered offender’s residence.

The board did vote to remove 11 other lights that are situated at locations where long-closed taverns and stores were once located.

Supervisor Joel Daoust estimated the town would save more than $2,600 each year while retaining 34 lights, each costing about $20 per month.

UK - Fake teen (Shane Peake) jailed for false rape claim

Shane Peake
Shane Peake
Original Article


By Morwenna Blake

A conman who fooled social services into thinking he was a vulnerable 17-year-old boy before stealing from his foster carers and “destroying” the life of a charity boss with a false allegation of rape, has been jailed for four and a half years.

Salisbury Crown Court heard on Friday that Shane Peake went to Wiltshire Council for help in June this year.

He told them his name was Steven Shaw and that he had been thrown out of his home in South Yorkshire after telling his family he was gay.

In reality he was a 26-year-old man intent on conning the good Samaritans trying to help him.

The authority placed him in temporary lodgings with carers and Salisbury-based charity Rainbow Rooms UK was asked to provide him with additional support.

Rainbow Rooms founder Will Clark, 43, spent several weeks trying to help the young man but he grew suspicious about Peake’s story and questioned what he had said about his background and situation.

Peake then went to the authorities and accused the older man of rape.

Mr Clark, who lives in Salisbury with his partner of 17 years and who has been running the award-winning charity supporting young gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people for six years, said his life then fell apart.

I was destroyed,” he said. “I was devastated and I couldn't believe what was being said about me.”

I went to pieces, mentally and physically.”

Although police told him within days that no evidence had been found to support the rape claim and no charges would be brought against him, Mr Clark faced an agonizing three-month wait for the case to come to court and the facts to be made public.

He was forced to close down the charity he had devoted years to building up and became so depressed he took an overdose and ended up in hospital.

The police investigation uncovered a number of aliases used by Peake and he was arrested. Peake admitted theft, burglary, fraud and perverting the course of justice and was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in jail.

DC Cat Isaac of Wiltshire Police said: “This case has had a massive impact on Will Clark. His life has been torn apart by Peake’s actions.”

We hope all those people who were deceived by Peake and have suffered as a consequence will be reassured by the sentence.”