Monday, January 13, 2014

MA - Peabody Cop Fred Wojick Cleared of Charges in Sexual Molestation Case

Fred Wojick
Fred Wojick
Original Article

01/13/2014

By John Castelluccio

Peabody police officer Fred Wojick was cleared of charges Monday morning in a sexual molestation case involving a young female family member.

The Salem News reports a jury in Lawrence Superior Court found Wojick, 49, was not guilty after hours of deliberation both Friday and Monday. Wojick, a Peabody native, is a veteran officer and didn't have a prior criminal record.

He was charged with nine counts of indecent assault and battery on a minor and two counts of disseminating pornography. Prosecutors said the alleged abuse spanned six years, starting when the girl was just 11.

The teenage victim took the stand before jurors last week, offering great detail of alleged sexual behavior and comments toward her by Wojick as well as having her watch adult pornography with him. Her mother also testified she was aware of the situation, but never filed a complaint, fearing retribution.

Wojick did take the stand as well, saying the teen fabricated the entire story, likely as an act of revenge over a boyfriend he did not approve of and because he didn't intervene when the boyfriend was arrested for drunken driving.

The Salem News reported that Wojick's attorney Thomas Drechsler also introduced evidence -- social media activity -- by the victim that he argued was inconsistent with the behavior and attitude of someone traumatized by the alleged abuse. Prosecutors argued, however, that evidence was open to interpretation.

The trial lasted just over a week in Lawrence Superior Court. The allegations were first brought to the attention of authorities in November 2012.

Wojick has been suspended from duty for the duration of the case.


CA - D.A. will take sex-offenders fight to state Supreme Court

Tony Rackauckas
Tony Rackauckas
Original Article

01/13/2014

By CLAUDIA KOERNER

SANTA ANA - The Orange County District Attorney’s Office plans to go to the California Supreme Court to defend local ordinances that ban registered sex offenders from city parks without police permission.

A state appeals court on Monday struck down an Irvine law that barred registered sex offenders from city parks without written permission from police, a ruling that will become legal precedent. On Friday, the court also struck down a similar Orange County law.

About a dozen other Orange County cities have passed similar ordinances banning sex offenders from parks after a 2011 letter from District Attorney Tony Rackauckas on the issue. Rackauckas helped craft Orange County’s law with county Supervisor Shawn Nelson.

Protecting children from dangerous sex offenders is an ongoing war, and we believe that it’s one of the most important jobs we have at the D.A.’s (office),” said Susan Kang Schroeder, Rackauckas’ chief of staff.

She said the district attorney plans to seek a hearing with the California Supreme Court. The District Attorney’s Office had anticipated the local laws would end up going through the courts, she added.

Some of the best minds of the District Attorney’s Office helped draft this law, and we still believe we’re right on the law,” she said.

COUNTY ORDINANCE SPAWNED OTHERS

The Orange County ordinance, which became a model for local cities, made it a misdemeanor for any registered sex offender to enter a county park, beach or other recreational area without permission from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. Those convicted would face six months in jail or a $500 fine.

In Monday’s ruling, a panel of judges said state laws regulating sex offenders pre-empt any local ordinances. State law has long overseen sex-offender registration, the opinion said, which also superseded any written permission from local police.

Citing previous cases, the court said local ordinances may not undermine areas “fully occupied by state law” – where state legislators had already created a comprehensive set of regulations. In such areas, it is implied that state law should overtake local regulations.

State law already regulates where sex offenders may live and also identifies certain sex offenders who must be monitored by law-enforcement officials via GPS. Offenders whose victims were younger than 14 may only enter parks where children gather with permission from their parole agent. Other regulations deal with certain types of sex offenders and day care, schools and jobs involving children.

When looked at together, the laws create a comprehensive system regulating sex offenders’ daily lives, the court said. No outright ban on sex offenders in parks is included in state law, an omission which “manifests a legislative determination that such a ban is not warranted,” the court said. Any local laws in a field regulated in such detail by state law undermines the decisions of the Legislature, the court said.

IRVINE CASE

In the Irvine case, _____ was taken into custody in 2012 after he went to Citrus Glen Park to play tennis. The Orange County Probation Department had received information that the 51-year-old Garden Grove resident, who was convicted of child annoyance in 1996 and was on probation for indecent exposure, often visited the park. He was the first person arrested on suspicion of violating the ordinance in Irvine. At the time of his arrest, four other people had been arrested in connection with the bans in other parts of Orange County.

About 90 percent of child victims of sexual offenses know their offender, almost half of whom are family members, according to the state attorney general. Even with those statistics, it’s important to protect children from strangers, Schroeder said. In some cases, sex offenders go to parks to watch children, she said, and they could use that as an opportunity to get to know children.

We think it’s best for the sex offenders and the children to keep them out of parks,” she said.

See Also:

ReasonTV Video:


Putting the Cart Before the Horse: The Forensic Application of the SRA-FV

Original Article

01/12/2014

By Karen Franklin

As the developers of actuarial instruments such as the Static-99R acknowledge that their original norms inflated the risk of re-offense for sex offenders, a brand-new method is cropping up to preserve those inflated risk estimates in sexually violent predator civil commitment trials. The method introduces a new instrument, the “SRA-FV,” in order to bootstrap special “high-risk” norms on the Static-99R. Curious about the scientific support for this novel approach, I asked forensic psychologist and statistics expert Brian Abbott to weigh in.

Guest post by Brian Abbott, PhD*

NEWS FLASH: Results from the first peer-reviewed study about the Structured Risk Assessment: Forensic Version (“SRA-FV”), published in Sexual Abuse: Journal of Research and Treatment (“SAJRT”), demonstrate the instrument is not all that it’s cracked up to be.

For the past three years, the SRA-FV developer has promoted the instrument for clinical and forensic use despite the absence of peer-reviewed, published research supporting it validity, reliability, and generalizability. Accordingly, some clinicians who have attended SRA-FV trainings around the country routinely apply the SRA-FV in sexually violent predator risk assessments and testify about its results in court as if the instrument has been proven to measure what it intends to assess, has known error rates, retains validity when applied to other groups of sexual offenders, and produces trustworthy results.

Illustrating this rush to acceptance most starkly, within just three months of its informal release (February 2011) and with an absence of any peer-reviewed research, the state of California incredibly decided to adopt the SRA-FV as its statewide mandated dynamic risk measure for assessing sexual offenders in the criminal justice system. This decision was rescinded in September 2013, with the SRA-FV replaced with a similar instrument, the Stable-2007.