Tuesday, January 14, 2014

FL - More Bills Cracking Down On Sex Predators Clear First Legislative Hurdles

Morning coffee and newspaper
Original Article

01/14/2014

By SASCHA CORDNER



Florida lawmakers advanced several bills Tuesday aimed at cracking down on the state’s sexual offenders. They’re part of a bipartisan package of legislation looking to address weaknesses in the Sexually Violent Predator Program.

Sexually violent predators are normally supposed to undergo an evaluation and could be recommended for what’s called civil commitment, where the offender is detained for treatment. But some were avoiding that process and committing new crimes, as in the murder of eight-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle, who was killed by a repeat offender.

So, Sebring Republican Senator Denise Grimsley’s bill expands the criteria for civil commitment and the list of people who are normally involved in the evaluation process to include state attorneys and law enforcement officers.

Gail Colletta
Gail Colletta
Still, Gail Colletta with Florida Action Committee says the bill could be taken a step further.

When somebody comes out of civil commitment, they’re given a bus ticket, $100, and they’re on their way, if they have no probation left, we really don’t have any legal stand to monitor them. They should go on to some kind of step-down unit. Many of them have been incarcerated for a very long time, and don’t know how to integrate back into society. We need to put them in a step-down unit, where we can help them transition effectively, and have a concentrated area for law enforcement to see who we should be effectively watching,” said Colletta.

Meanwhile, well-known lobbyist Ron Book, representing a group called Lauren’s Kids, says the bill is a good one, especially since the matter hits close to home. His daughter, sexual abuse victims advocate Lauren Book, was abused by her nanny when she was a child.
- Yeah, Ron makes a ton of money playing the "for the children" card, so does his daughter.

Ron Book
Ron Book
These bills make it clearer for future directors and future staffs at the department to make sure that we are not letting people get out that shouldn’t get out. We need to keep them away from our children. I know! Been there, done that, I know too well,” said Book.

He also applauded the efforts of the panel’s chair, Hollywood Democratic Senator Eleanor Sobel, for a separate bill mandating that sex predator evaluators receive proper training. The bill also specifies offenders deemed sexual predators by at least two members of an evaluation team must undergo civil commitment. It passed unanimously. And, lawmakers also unanimously approved a similar proposal over in the House Healthy Families Subcommittee Tuesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, two other bills—part of the bipartisan package—passed a Senate committee Monday looking to toughen penalties for sex offenders and deal with the statute of limitations for sex offenses.

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VA - Virginia anti-sodomy bill could punish consenting teens

Thomas Garrett Jr
Thomas Garrett Jr
Original Article

01/14/2014

By Courtney Stein Vargas

A Virginia bill backed by a Republican lawmaker that aims to reinstate a controversial anti-sodomy law could have the unintended consequence of criminalizing oral sex among consenting teens.

The bill, introduced by state Sen. Thomas Garrett Jr., would amend and revive a former law which was struck down following a 2013 federal court ruling.

The revised version would state that any person who engages in oral or anal sex with someone under 18 years old is guilty of a felony, punishable by one to five years.

Though the bill is aimed at adult predators, critics warn it could also punish consenting teenagers. The ACLU of Virginia told FoxNews.com: “[b]ottom line, we oppose SB 14 (PDF) as introduced.” The ACLU said Garrett is planning to amend it.
- Why do you need this law when they already have laws about sexual activity with underage children, except to put his name to it to look "tough" on crime?

In response to critics, Garrett says he’s only trying to protect minors from adult sex predators. His office issued a statement on Friday saying: "This legislation states that no act currently defined under Virginia Code §18.2-361 is a crime unless committed by an adult with a minor. These are the only purposes of SB14. This clarification will prevent the possible release of upwards of 100 convicted child predators from Virginia prisons."

Notably, Garrett isn't the first to attempt to legislate teen sex.

In many states, the legality of two minors engaging in sexual intercourse is based on their age difference.

For example, in Texas, sexual contact with someone under 17 is illegal if the other person is three or more years older. Last week, in Florida, state Sen. Rob Bradley introduced a bill that would make it a felony for a person younger than 18 to have sex with someone 12-17 years old (though teens over 16 could be in the clear, based on a separate provision).

Likewise, it appears Garrett’s bill would outlaw sexual acts among consenting teens.

Virginia has been tweaking these laws ever since a 2003 Supreme Court ruling finding anti-sodomy laws unconstitutional. Virginia subsequently amended its Crime Against Nature law, making it a felony to carnally know “any male or female person by the anus or by or with the mouth.”

In March 2013, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, though, struck down Virginia's law.

Virginia's current law states a person 18 or younger who has genital, oral or anal sex with a 13- or 14-year-old who is less than three years the person's junior is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $250. Under Garrett's bill, oral or anal sex in such cases would be a felony punishable by one to five years.

Garrett’s bill might actually stop short of achieving his purported goal. Though his bill would toughen the penalty for an adult who has oral or anal sex with a 15-17 year-old, bringing the crime from a misdemeanor to a felony, it would seem to cut in half the current penalty for adults who have oral or anal sex with 13- and 14-year-olds.

Currently, Virginia's law says a person who is 18 or older who has genital, oral or anal sex with a minor who is 13 or 14 is guilty of a felony, punishable by two to 10 years. Under Garrett's bill, a person, regardless of their age, who has oral or anal sex with a person under 18 years old is guilty of a felony, punishable by one to five years.

Since releasing the statement, Garrett’s office has filed amendments to the bill, which will be heard in the Courts of Justice committee meeting on Wednesday.


WA - Former judge (John P. Junke Sr.) plans to represent himself in child porn case

Judge Gavel
Original Article

01/14/2014

By Terry McConn

WALLA WALLA - Although no longer licensed to practice law in this state, a former attorney who was a local District Court Judge in the 1990s will represent himself in the child pornography case against him.

John P. Junke Sr., 70, appeared Monday afternoon in Superior Court, where Judge Scott Wolfram heard of Junke’s decision, formally informed him of the charges, read him his constitutional rights and established standard conditions of his continued release.

As is usual with cases such as this, Junke will not be jailed pending resolution of the charges unless he violates any of the conditions.

They include requirements he continue living at his present address, not leave the county and not violate any criminal laws.

Junke will enter a plea later at his arraignment, but that has yet to be scheduled because a visiting judge needs to be appointed to preside.

At the end of Monday’s brief hearing, Wolfram recused himself from further involvement because he and Junke were in the same class at law school, moved to Walla Walla the same year, and used to socialize and attend the same church.

If Junke pleads not guilty at his arraignment, a trial will be set to begin within 90 days.

Accused of possessing Internet child pornography on personal computer devices late last summer, Junke was charged Dec. 26 with two counts of first-degree and four counts of second-degree possession of depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

The child pornography allegedly was discovered after Junke took his computer tower to an area shop for repair on Sept. 9.

A technician notified officials, Walla Walla police obtained a search warrant for Junke’s residence Sept. 13 and, with Junke’s cooperation, also located a laptop computer and an external storage hard drive.

Later examination of the confiscated devices revealed 35 images of child pornography, including two that each depict a preteen girl having sexual relations with a male, according to officials.

Junke reportedly admitted to police he knowingly possessed the images, explaining his long battle with viewing pornography had spiraled out of control.

Junke faces a standard-range prison term of about 6½ to 8½ years if convicted as charged. But were a judge to opt for a sentencing alternative, Junke could be ordered to serve up to a year in the County Jail and successfully complete sex-offender treatment.

He now is undergoing counseling relating to the alleged offenses, officials said.

An ordained minister as well as an attorney, Junke came to Walla Walla to join a law firm in 1979. He served as the elected Walla Walla County District Court judge from 1991 through 1994 when he was defeated for re-election. He then started a private practice.

In 2006, he voluntarily resigned from the Washington State Bar Association in lieu of disbarment after having an unethical, yearlong romantic relationship with a woman client starting in March 2004.

Junke had been director of ticket sales and service for the Walla Walla Sweets baseball team until he was fired from that job because of the child-pornography investigation.

He also was a substitute motor route delivery contractor for the Union-Bulletin for three days in December before the newspaper cut ties with him upon learning that criminal charges had been filed.


KS - Former Kingman Officer (Dustin D. Morris) Arrested On Child Sex Charges

Dustin D. Morris
Dustin D. Morris
Original Article

01/09/2014

By Nick Viviani

KINGMAN (KAKE) - A former Kansas police officer has been arrested on child pornography charges.

Kingman County Sheriff Randy Hill says Dustin D. Morris, 41, of Kingman, was arrested on Tuesday. He faces charges of Soliciting Sexual Exploitation of a Child, Possessing Visual Depiction of a Child under 18 years of age and Distributing Visual Depiction of a Child under 18 years of age.

Hill says the arrest follows a month-long joint investigation with the Kingman County Sheriff's Office, Wichita Police Department, and Ford County Sheriff's Office. The case will be turned over to the Kingman County Attorney.

Kingman City Manager Frank Soukup confirms Morris worked as a Kingman police officer from May 2005 to April 2012. Soukup says Morris resigned to take a job in the private sector.


GA - Loganville Police Arrest US Border Patrol Agent Suspected of Child Molestation

US Border Patrol
Original Article

01/12/2014

By Sarah Bakhtiari

The Loganville Police Department gave a brief update at Thursday's (Jan. 9) city council meeting on how the tag readers on its patrol cars have helped with some significant arrests.

On Tuesday (Jan. 7), authorities pulled over a vehicle with a Texas plate after a tag reader alert said the owner had an outstanding warrant.

"[The officer] initiated a traffic stop [and] was able to confirm out of Del Rio, Texas, that the person driving the vehicle was wanted for indecent acts with a child," said Assistant Police Chief Dick Lowry, adding that the charge was equivalent to child molestation in Georgia.

The suspect, who was taken into custody, also was a U.S. border patrol agent.

In another incident that same night, Loganville Police also received a hit on a possible stolen vehicle out of Brookhaven. The officer tried to initiate a traffic stop, but the female driver didn't comply. They had a short chase until she got out of the vehicle while it was still moving, and she ran off into the woods.

"It ended up being a little too cold to be in the woods hiding from the police on Tuesday night, so she came out and surrendered," said Lowry.

The vehicle also turned out to be involved in an armed robbery and car jacking in Brookhaven, and authorities suspect that the woman arrested was involved in those incidents.

If it wasn't for the tag readers, those vehicles would have driven right through Loganville without a traffic stop.

"The system had worked in doing what it's supposed to be doing," concluded Lowry.

Loganville City Councilman Rey Martinez, who's also the chairman of the Public Safety committee, will be providing a 90-day implementation report of the tag readers for the February council meeting.


WI - City Committee Considers Social Media For Sex Offender Notification

Social networks
Original Article

01/13/2014

By Patrick Nelson

Green Bay - Amid concern over how residents are notified about sex offenders potentially moving into their neighborhoods, Green Bay's protection and welfare committee now considers a new option, social media.

This past summer _____, a convicted sex offender, planned to move into an east Green Bay neighborhood. The people who work and live there say they had no idea, until it was reported in the media. Alderman Jerry Wiezbieskie says that has to change.

"Neighbors didn't know about it, neighborhood associations didn't know about it and nobody had an idea of what was going on," said Wiezbiskie.

Wiezbieskie asked the Protection and Welfare Committee to develop a way to better notify residents about where sex offenders are looking to live. The aldermen discussed using email, or having community police officers deliver notices. In the end, the committee voted to use the police department's social media pages.

"There's no perfect way to contact the entire neighborhood, it is just, I feel the most cost effective at this point," said Green Bay Alderman Jesse Brunette. "My motion was for a six month trial period, so I'm fully aware that it's not a perfect policy, but at least we get the conversation started."

As city leaders try to put this new notification process in place, the city's legal department says they're concerned that the city may run into some trouble with the state.

"The state laws have a notification system already in place and so if the city wants to pass a notification law it can not conflict with what the state has created and I think this conflicts with the state's law, so it will be preempted by state law," said Green Bay Assistant City Attorney Kail Decker.

The city's police and legal departments will draft the new notification policy. Then, it will have to be voted through at committee and city council before it can go into effect.


NJ - Bramnick Bill Strengthening Megan’s Law Approved by Assembly

Jon Bramnick
Jon Bramnick
Original Article

01/13/2014

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick that strengthens certain provisions of “Megan’s Law,” which requires the registration of sex offenders and notification to the community of their whereabouts, was approved by the General Assembly today.

The bill, S-2636/A-3886, upgrades the penalty for a sexual assault committed against a person who is physically or intellectually incapacitated to aggravated sexual assault, increasing the charge from a third degree crime to one of the second degree. It also requires the offender to register under Megan’s Law.

Sexual predators will now pay a more severe penalty for committing this heinous act,” said Bramnick, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “We must always protect our most vulnerable citizens. Those who violate Megan’s Law will pay a steep price to keep them from harming anyone else.”

Bramnick’s bill also increases the penalty when a sex offender fails to notify law enforcement of a change in address or they have access to the Internet from a fourth degree crime to a third degree offense.

Additionally, the bill also imposes a requirement on the State Parole Board to improve the board’s supervision and monitoring of sex offenders. A monthly penalty of $30 would be imposed on every person convicted of a sex offense to fund these initiatives. Monies deposited into the “Sex Offender Fund” are to be used for operational expenses incurred by the board in this effort.
- Forcing someone to pay a fee or go to jail is basically extortion, which is a crime!


AL - ACLU, sheriff’s office settle lawsuit on sex offender residence checks

Come back with a warrant
Original Article

Remember folks, if you are not on parole / probation, then all the police need to do is verify you live there. They cannot come in without a warrant and you should not answer any questions except verify you live there!

01/13/2014

By John Davidson

The American Civil Liberties Union and Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin have reached a settlement in a lawsuit over the sheriff department’s policy of unannounced residence checks of sex offenders.

The ACLU settled with the sheriff’s office on Friday. Under the terms of the settlement, deputies will conduct all in-person residence verifications outside a registered sex offender’s home.

The lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, alleged that the sheriff’s office was searching the plaintiffs’ home without consent during the checks.

Entrekin said the policy change began about one month ago.

My office agreed to this settlement only because of our continued ability to confirm the sex offender’s place of residence by in-person verification,” he said. “As always, my office continues to have the authority and responsibility to follow up with the convicted sex offender, in the event my office has reason to believe that the sex offender has moved or provided false information.”

The ACLU filed the suit on behalf of a family known only as James, John and Jane Doe. It said James Doe, son of John and Jane, is an Etowah County resident who is required to register as a sex offender and is required to appear quarterly at the sheriff’s office.

According to the suit, James Doe was convicted Aug. 17, 2011, on three counts of first-degree sexual abuse and one count of first-degree sodomy. He was committed to the Alabama Department of Youth Services’ Sexual Offender Program on that day, and was in a court-mandated treatment program at Mount Meigs Juvenile Detention Center until Nov. 28 of that year, when he successfully completed it.

James Doe was characterized on Feb. 9, 2012, as a “low-risk” sex offender. The Etowah County Circuit Court sided with the Department of Youth Services and ruled him low-risk over objections by the state. The suit said under the Alabama Sex Offender Registration and Community Notification Act, Doe is only required to check in quarterly.

The officers had absolutely no authority for these traumatic invasions of their privacy,” ACLU attorney Brandon Buskey said. “Our plaintiffs’ home had been searched numerous times. The registrant has always complied with the state law, and there has never been any reason to believe otherwise. Through this settlement, we have placed important limits on the sheriff’s office’s power in Etowah County that we hope to see throughout the state.”

The settlement also requires the sheriff’s office to make additional changes for sex offenders who, like James Doe, were convicted of their offenses as juveniles, are no longer on probation or parole and whom the state has deemed to be low-risk.

For these sex offenders, the sheriff’s office will be limited to quarterly phone verifications after an initial in-person interview. Deputies may conduct subsequent in-person verifications at the home only if they cannot reach them over the course of three months, or if there is reason to believe the sex offender is not complying with state law.

To protect sex offenders’ privacy, deputies conducting such in-person verifications must be wearing civilian clothing and using an unmarked car.
- They need to do this in all states!

The settlement is a significant improvement over the old way — demanding entry into a family’s house and threatening arrest if they don’t comply,” Susan Watson, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama, said.

Entrekin said this policy change only affects a very small group of individuals. His attorney, Donald Rhea, said he and Entrekin could not comment further because of sensitive privacy issues involved with the victims and the sex offender in this case.