Sunday, January 19, 2014

Dear Prudence: I want to kill myself so my family gets the insurance

Emily Yoffe
Emily Yoffe
Original Article

01/16/2014

By Emily Yoffe

Dear Prudence,

My husband is a loving man, a wonderful father, and a sex offender. Before you or your readers assume the worst, when he was 16 years old he had sex with his 13-year-old girlfriend. Despite his girlfriend’s pleas, her parents got angry, he was convicted, and now his life is now ruined. I knew all this when I met him and I thought I could make things better. It happened 17 years ago and was his only offense, yet it is destroying us on every level. He cannot find work. Anytime he gets a job, someone finds the sex offender registry, complains to management, and he is fired. We recently moved because our neighbors were threatening us and our children. Our children are mocked and rejected at school and our home has been vandalized. We have been married 10 years and I am no longer the strong woman I once was. I am tired of struggling to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table because he cannot find work. No lawyers will help us, no lawmakers, representatives or senators, ever respond to my pleas for help over the last seven years of writing to them monthly. My conclusion is a harsh one, but I see no other way to help my family. Secretly, I have purchased a life insurance package on myself. And once I have paid for the allotted time, I plan on wrecking my car in a way that could never be described as suicide. The money will provide my family with a decent life. I am tired of drying the tears of my children. If my sacrifice can make their lives more stable, it is a small price to pay. If you can see any other option for me, please tell me.

—Rendezvous With Death



Dear Rendezvous,

If your children are crying now, imagine what happens after their beloved mother dies, the insurance company investigates—and given the timing of the purchase of your policy and your accident, they will—and your death is declared a suicide. You will be leaving heartbroken, and broke, children haunted by their mother’s abandonment to the care of a father who cannot provide for them. Imagine you don’t die, but survive but in dire shape, leaving your family in an even more desperate situation. I understand the agony of the terrible and unfair ostracism you describe, but suicide will only compound the despair of the family you love. Please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline to get help for these dark thoughts. You’ll also find understanding and support regarding your family’s particular hardship by calling the hotline of Reform Sex Offender Laws. This organization makes the case that increasingly punitive and expansive sex-registration laws ruin the lives of people on the registry without improving the safety of the public. This New York Times article about youthful offenders illustrates this point.

I am going to take your account of the circumstances of your husband’s conviction at face value—that he himself was a minor having sex with a girl too young to give legal consent, but who was a willing participant. I spoke to Nina Ginsberg, a Virginia criminal defense attorney, and she says getting legal relief for your husband is indeed a daunting task. But she pointed out that given your husband was a juvenile at the time of the crime, some states might allow him to come off the registry 15 years after his conviction. Instead of writing fruitless letters to uninterested legislators, you need to be investigating this possibility. After you do your research, look at the appropriate state or local bar association for a criminal defense referral. Sometimes a short conversation is free; some bar associations have programs or referrals for reduced fee or pro bono legal services. You once thought love would solve all problems. Now you just as naively think money will. But imagine that you had married a man with an unblemished legal record who died when your children were young, leaving you as their sole support. I’m sure you would have risen to the occasion. The additional burdens caused by your husband’s status may seem insurmountable, but your children need the love of both their parents. Their father committed a regrettable act long ago. Don’t commit a more devastating one now.

—Prudie


FL - Is Intracoastal big enough barrier to sex offender?

Sex offender buffer zonesOriginal Article

01/19/2014

By Larry Barszewski

FORT LAUDERDALE - The city says a registered sex offender lives too close to Birch State Park, even though a child at the park would have to swim or kayak almost 400 feet across the Intracoastal Waterway to pass by his Coral Ridge home.

By foot or bike, the distance is closer to 1.5 miles.

_____, 51, is suing the city in federal court, saying he should not have to move out of the home he has lived in with his domestic partner for 18 years.

City officials say they are following the 2007 law that prohibits sexual offenders from living within 1,400 feet of a park, school or other spot where children are likely to gather. They say that distance is determined "as the crow flies."

"Looking at this case through a rational lens, the conclusion is inescapable that this ordinance should not apply to _____," said Brian Bieber, his attorney.

But it's common for sexual offender laws to take a straight-line approach when determining where an offender can and cannot live.

"It doesn't make a difference if a park, playground or school is inaccessible in a pragmatic way, if it's within the 1,400 feet, then it's off limits," said Jill Levenson, a Lynn University professor who has researched sex offender issues.

Distance requirements for sexual offenders have been controversial for years, as cities pass new restrictions and effectively zone offenders out of their communities, forcing many to live under bridges or crowd into limited areas.

The state's sexual offender registry shows more than 100 offenders – mostly transients – living within a quarter-mile of the Budget Inn in the 2700 block of North Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale. The registry currently lists six offenders living at the Inn, which had 24 there at one time in 2011.

Levenson said many of those offenders aren't homeless. Instead, they live elsewhere but sleep in the area because residency rules are tied to a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, she said.

A recent study she worked on shows all but one Broward government has imposed restrictions greater than the state's 1,000-foot minimum, as have 17 Palm Beach County governments. Many go further than Fort Lauderdale, imposing 2,500-foot distances between places where offenders live and children gather.


NC - Sheriff reacts to arrest of school officer (Daniel Lindsey) for having sex with a student

Daniel Lindsey
Daniel Lindsey
Original Article

01/18/2014

By Bill Moss

Investigators arrested a Balfour Education Center school resource officer on three felony charges of having sex with a 16-year-old student after the Sheriff's Department received allegations of inappropriate conduct, the Henderson County Sheriff's Department said in a news release.

Deputy Daniel Lindsey, 27, was arrested without incident shortly after midnight at his residence in Mountain Home. Lindsey was charged with three felony counts of Sex Offense With a Student. Arrest warrants charged that Lindsey had intercourse with a female who was a student at Balfour two times in October and once in December.

The Sheriff's Office learned of the allegations shortly after 5 p.m. on Friday.

Unfortunately, the preliminary investigation quickly revealed evidence supporting probable cause to obtain warrants for the arrest of Deputy Daniel Lindsey, a school resource officer at the Balfour Education," the sheriff said during a 13-minute news conference at the Law Enforcement Center.

Once we started with the investigation, things rolled around pretty quickly,” he said. “Once we saw certain evidence I felt like time was of the essence and we continued around the clock. Most of the officers finished about 6 o’clock this morning.”

McDonald, who has given news conferences infrequently, reacted quickly to the public relations side of the story in the context ot a sheriff's race that is starting to heat up and his own characterization of his administration as one of reform, professional standards and integrity. Even with personnel safeguards in place, he said, misconduct can occur.

At 12:45 a.m. I terminated Mr. Lindsey from the position of deputy sheriff and from employment by the Henderson County sheriff’s office,” he said.

Deputies arrested the fellow officer and transported him to the sheriff’s office, where they served him with three felony warrants.

Investigators are unaware of any contact the SRO had with any other Balfour students, he said. The sexual offense did not occur on the campus, he said.

Asked whether the sexual intercourse was consensual, McDonald said, “Yes, but in the situation where you have office or somebody in a custodial situation like that that has no bearing on the case. In fact that particular statute was put in place to help prevent situations like that — teacher-student, law enforcement officer, any custodial official.”

A native of Asheville, Lindsey had been with the department since 2008. He was also a DARE officer. McDonald said the sheriff's office will assign a deputy to work at Balfour school on Tuesday.

The investigation is continuing.

I do not doubt that there may be some other charges but I suspect those will relate to the same victim,” he said.

The sheriff said the department has safeguards in place for hiring officers.

We do extremely thorough checks. Not to pass the buck. This was an officer who had worked here before (McDonald became sheriff),” he said. “Had no reason that I’m aware of to doubt his competence to be a school resource officer. At this point in time all of our background checks yield about an 83 percent washout rate just hiring deputies in general. But certainly this is a very sensitive position — any law enforcement officer but particularly those that are for the welfare of students."

Deputies transported Lindsey to the Transylvania County jail, where he was booked under $45,000 bond. He bonded out Saturday morning, the sheriff said.

It keeps things above board as far as the community," he said when asked about jailing Lindsey in Brevard. "It also keeps us from putting other officers who have worked with this officer in a situation where they don’t really need to be in having to keep in custody somebody that worked with."

McDonald said he considered calling in the SBI but wanted to move quickly and decided against that. He stayed in contact with District Attorney Greg Newman about the situation, he said.

Certainly nothing’s foolproof,” he said when asked how the arrest squares with his focus on professional standards and tough background checks that reject 83 percent of job applicants. “As I said today most of the officers working for me were working here when I got here. However, I can tell you with great confidence, the integrity of this department certainly is intact,” he said. “We do a lot now as we hire. Certainly one of the hallmarks is our dedication to the oath of office, to integrity, to the badge and honor. Truly we’re all sickened by this. We work so hard and we’ll continue to work hard to keep the public’s trust. It’s in everything we do, it’s in our training.”

He said the department would review SRO standards to see if anything needs to change.

We’re going to go back and look at it,” he said. “We can ever go through something like this and say there’s nothing to be learned or changed. I feel good about the oversight we have with SROs but they are out there by themselves, at times. We do have supervision for them. We’ve got training. Obviously we’ve got policies.”

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