Wednesday, February 12, 2014

IN - Frigid temperatures leave ex-offenders out in the cold

Homeless out in the cold weather
Original Article

02/12/2014

By David MacAnally

MUNCIE - There's controversy in Muncie over where convicted sex offenders should be allowed to live and the issue is becoming more heated because of the bitter cold.

Mark called the city's Jackson Street bridge home after his release from prison, where he served time for a sex offense involving a minor.

When temperatures turn dangerously cold, Mark and four to eight other child sex offenders came to Christian Ministry Shelter, until the director got the news they must all leave.

"I was shocked, because it was something that we haven't been questioned about before," said shelter director Becki Clock.

Bridges become shelters partly because many defenders cannot find a place to stay. Especially in cases involving sex against minors, with laws barring them from being 1,000 feet from things like schools, libraries and parks.

Near the Muncie shelter there is a library, which is closed for repairs, and a small park by the fire station. It has no playground equipment.

"They really got frightened. They had a lot of agitation," Clock said.

"Where am I gonna go?" Mark said.

"My faith compels me to do something," said Rev. Steve Graves (Email) of Fountain Square Methodist Church (Facebook).

Graves and others convinced the state to let the men stay during the cold crisis, but after that they must leave. For neighbors, it's a tough issue.

"I would be concerned about that, too," said one man. "But they deserve a chance, too, they've done their time."

"I'm kind of torn between the good and the bad of it all," said another Muncie resident.

"They ought to have a place to stay," said a third man. "But I don't agree with sex offenders."

The pastor and others will now try to come up with a long-term housing solution for sex offenders. He knows lawmakers are just trying to protect the public, but "to say that there is no place for them to go to lay their head, it's not right."

Ex-offender Mark, who says he won't offend again, says "we're denied a place to live."

See Also:

13 WTHR Indianapolis


NH - False rape claim gets woman (Cassandra Nickerson) deffered year in jail

Cassandra Nickerson
Cassandra Nickerson
Original Article

02/12/2014

By Elizabeth Dinan

PORTSMOUTH - A Somersworth woman received a deferred jail sentence on Tuesday when she admitted to falsely claiming she was raped by a specifically named man.

Cassandra Nickerson, 25, of 16C First St., pleaded guilty in the Portsmouth Circuit Court to a misdemeanor charge of making a false report to law enforcement. Her plea was part of a negotiated agreement with police prosecutors who dismissed a companion charge of unsworn falsification.

According to a police affidavit, Nickerson told investigating detective Rochelle Jones that a named man pushed her onto a bed in a Gosling Road motel, removed her clothing, then raped her. She alleged the rape occurred Feb. 23, 2013, and made the false report at the local hospital, police said.

During a subsequent interview, Nickerson told the detective she “made up” the story because she was “embarrassed” by her consensual sexual conduct with the man she accused of rape, the affidavit states.

Nickerson was given a 12-month jail sentence, which is deferred for a year providing she remains of good behavior and continues counseling. After the year, Nickerson is required to petition the court to suspend the jail time for an additional year.

She was also convicted for a charge of breaching bail conditions and given an identical sentence of one year in jail, first deferred, then suspended. That conviction was due to Nickerson’s guilty plea to a charge of theft in Newington, while under bail conditions mandating she remain arrest-free.


UK - Brother of Hull sex offender beaten after 'being mistaken for jailed paedophile'

Leigh Hemingway
Leigh Hemingway
Original Article

Once again and innocent person is attacked due to the online (hit-list) registry. This is exactly why the registry should be taken offline and used by police only.

02/12/2014

The brother of a convicted serial sex offender claims he was beaten by four men in his own home after being mistaken for his jailed sibling.

Leigh Hemingway, 32, claims he was called a “paedophile” and beaten over the head with a guitar and punched by four men who had burst into his flat unannounced.

His brother is currently serving four years behind bars for filming up a schoolgirl’s skirt in 2012 after a string of other sex-related offences, including exposing himself to a nine-year-old girl at a city leisure centre in 2007.

Mr Hemingway said: “I just feel like I am being tarred with the same brush as him.”

I have no convictions for anything like that but just because I have a Hemingway name, I am living in fear.”

On Friday, Mr Hemingway was about to leave his flat when he claims four men burst into his flat unannounced and refused to leave despite his pleas.

Then, they allegedly said: “Aren’t you that paedophile?” before smashing a guitar over his head and repeatedly punching him in the face. His mobile phone and £20 were also stolen.

Mr Hemingway, who had lived at the hostel for a year after months of living on the street following arguments with his parents, said: “You expect something like that from a horror movie but it was really happening. I have had nightmares ever since.”

There was blood all over the room, the living room and the kitchen. It was like a murder scene.”

My head just went black and felt dead inside. One minute I was watching Father Ted, the next I was being smacked.”

Mr Hemingway was knocked unconscious and taken to Hull Royal Infirmary, where his head was stitched up.

He is likely to be scarred for life.

The police were called and he told them of his ordeal.

Police have arrested and charged a man in connection to the incident.

He has appeared at Hull Magistrates’ Court charged with grievous bodily harm with intent, affray and theft.

Now, Mr Hemingway is too scared to return to the hostel for fear of being attacked again.

He has also been branded a grass by friends of the men because he went to the police.

He said: “I have been called a paedophile before and I have brayed people for saying it.”

I feel like I am a vulnerable person just because of who my brother is and now, I am even more vulnerable.”

I just want some help.”

Since _____ was convicted, Leigh has had nothing to do with his brother.


OR - Sex offender registry to see changes

Morning paper and coffee
Original Article

02/11/2014

By Chris Holmstrom

PORTLAND (KOIN) - When a convicted sex offender is ready for parole, the state makes a risk assessment to determine if he’s likely to once again commit a sexual crime.

_____, who served his sentence for sexually abusing four children at a 24-Hour Fitness in Hillsboro, was released from parole and is unsupervised because officials determined he was not a predatory risk.

The father of one of his victim’s — who became an advocate for sexual abuse victims in 2005 — is not happy.

He’s not going to be watched, he’s not going to be supervised,” the father said. “The community does not need to be notified because he’s not rated as a predator, which I believe is false.”

Certain sex offenders are rated as predatory or non-predatory,” he said. “I’d love to see and have that become a much stricter ratings assessment.”

Changes are coming to the way Oregon classifies sex offenders.

Last summer, Oregon lawmakers passed a bill that mandates all sex offenders be classified by their risk level in society. It also establishes rules for community notification. Now, only the predatory offenders are on the state’s public sex offender website.

Starting on December 1, 2016 the state will be on a three-tier sex offender registry, similar to Washington.

All sex offenders will be given a risk assessment, which will rate whether they are level 1, 2 or 3. Currently, the state only publishes public information for offenders that are considered predatory — only about 2.5% of them.

The new law will put the more at-risk offenders on the public site, but not the low level ones. It will even give people on level 1 and 2 a chance to be reclassified and possibly off the list completely.


OK - Oklahoma Senate bill makes it harder for sex offenders to hide past

Morning paper and coffee
Original Article

02/11/2014

By Jay Dillon and Phil Cross

OKLAHOMA CITY - Sex offenders are using a loophole to help get around the state's registry requirements and some Oklahoma lawmakers say it is putting the public at risk. Now there's a plan to close the loopholes and make the state's sex offender registry more reliable for the people of Oklahoma.

One proposal from Senator Kyle Loveless (R-Oklahoma City) would make it illegal for registered sex offenders to change their name. "There was a gentleman in Lawton who had changed his name like 20 years ago and then again recently and he had worked for the Lawton public schools as a school bus driver," Loveless told Fox 25, "If he had kept his original name he wouldn't have been employed because they would have caught him in the first place."

Loveless says some districts rely on searching by names or dates of birth when they do their own background checks and having multiple names makes it more difficult to find a person's past. "Here's a gentleman who purposefully tried to go around the system and this way that would prevent them from doing so."

On the other side of the fifth floor, Senator David Holt, (R-Bethany) has his own proposal to strengthen the sex offender registry. His idea came from one of his voters who kept a close eye on the sex offender registry and discovered pictures of offenders were outdated.

"The current law only requires taking a photo the very first time," Holt said, "After that is says may take another photo and may turns into never."

Holt's proposal would require offenders to have a new picture taken every time they check in with local law enforcement. He told Fox 25, it is now much easier to take and upload photos than it was two decades ago when the law was passed. "Common sense makes sense, I think it would have been done in the beginning if they had been thinking ahead."

"The legislature keeps fixing problems that don't exist," said defense attorney David Slane, "They keep piling on law after law after law and the fear is that once you get so many laws in place you're just going to run these people underground and they're not going to register and you're not going to be able to find them."

Slane represents many sex offenders and has successfully won cases pulling a large number of offenders off the registry. He says both proposals are concerning and could violate the rights of people who have served their prison time. "People have been targeted as the victims of violence and murder because they were on the registry and there may be a good reason why a person would need to change their name."

Both senators say their proposals are not final and could be amended to address the concerns of law enforcement, but neither believes their bills would have a negative impact on sex offenders. Instead they say they are most concerned with improving public safety. Both bills passed a Senate committee and are headed to the Senate floor.

See Also:


TX - Dallas man says he was wrongly included in sex offender database

Lawsuit
Original Article

02/11/2014

By TANYA EISERER

DALLAS - _____ says the City of Dallas wrongfully made him register as a sex offender for 13 years.

Now he wants the city to pay up.

"I just feel like I deserve to be recompensed for what's done happen in all this," said _____, 43. "I just feel like it's wrong."

_____ filed a $3 million federal lawsuit early last month, saying police violated his civil rights by refusing to recognize that he did not have a legal obligation to register. He filed the lawsuit after the city ultimately agreed that he did not have to register as a sex offender.

In _____' case, a judge set aside his conviction for sexual assault in 2000. But the City of Dallas long contended that he had to register as a sex offender.

City officials did not respond to a request for comment.

"A lawsuit over this is extremely rare, and success is probably even more rare," said Scott Smith, an Austin attorney with extensive expertise in the state’s sex registration laws.

That _____ was successful in his effort deeply concerns Courtney Underwood, a rape victim’s advocate. She believes that state laws needs to be revised so _____ and those like him would be required to register.

"[It's] the entire reason for having the sex offender registry and required reporting; and having that last over a long period of time; so that even once someone finishes probation or once they finish their jail time, then there's still a way for the community to track them," Underwood said.

_____’ legal problems began in 1995 when he said he picked up a 15-year-old teenager from a bus stop and had sex with her. He was soon arrested.

In 1996, _____ pleaded guilty to sexual assault.

A judge ordered that he serve five years' probation. As part of the deal, he agreed to register as a sex offender for 10 years upon completion of his probation.

_____ went into sex offender treatment and "accepted full responsibility for his sex crime," his therapist wrote in 1999. "Mr. _____ has been an active participant in-group and gives constructive feedback to the other members. His performance has been excellent."

At the time of _____' sentencing, state law let judges set aside convictions in cases like his.

That is no longer permitted under state law. In 1999, legislators amended the statute to preclude judges from setting aside convictions in cases for "a defendant convicted of an offense for which on conviction registration as a sex offender is required."

But since he was sentenced under pre-1999 laws, the judge was able to set aside _____' conviction in 2000.

_____ said he repeatedly showed his court paperwork to Dallas officials, telling them that he was not required to register.

A detective told him that "that he didn’t care what a judge said; I was his for life,” _____ said. “I was going to have to register."

_____ started studying the law. He earned several bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Texas at Arlington and the University of Texas at Dallas. He wanted to go into social work, but hasn’t been able to find a steady work.

He thinks it’s because he was having to register.

"It’s going to make anybody say, 'He’s convicted. He’s a rapist,'" _____ said.

Smith said he represented two clients in the last year who were in a similar situation as _____ in that they were being forced to register even though they were not legally obligated to do so. He succeeded in getting the Texas Department of Public Safety to remove them from the registry.

I am sure that I have not just happened to find the only two cases here that that has ever happened,” he said.

But Smith said the _____ case points to another longstanding problem.

"The idea of the sex offender registry is to provide a helpful list to the public and law enforcement of people who are high-risk," Smith said. "The problem is that registration requires those people and many, many people who are very low-risk."

_____ filed a lawsuit against the city in 2010. He contended that he was not legally obligated to register.

In court filings, the city cited court rulings that sex offender registration is not punishment; can be extended; and can be made retroactive. The city argued that imposing a lifetime registration on _____ was legal.
- It IS punishment, that is obvious, and anything that is extended and retroactive is an unconstitutional ex post facto law and violates the contracts clause of the US Constitution!

Attorney General Greg Abbott intervened in the case, filing a brief in support of Dallas’ position.

The case wound its way through the courts for several years.

In December 2013, _____ won when the city agreed that he was right and settled with him.

"It is further ordered, adjudged and decreed that _____ has no duty or obligation arising from his former conviction … to register as a sex offender,” the final order stated.

These days, _____ works odd jobs and drives trucks. He lives with his common-law wife and twin nine-year-old girls.

_____ agrees that there’s a need for sex offender registration laws, but believes he has simply been done wrong and that's why he's filed his latest lawsuit.

"I've never hid the fact that I've had my offense to nobody who knows me, and I’ve never made no complaint and crying about it," he said. "It's just the fact that I don’t have a conviction and I haven’t had a conviction for 13 years, and I just think that’s fundamentally unfair."

See Also:


NY - Town boards of Newstead, West Seneca hear concerns about sex offenders at group homes

Group Home
Original Article

This is pure hysteria! Ex-offenders get old as well and they need a place to stay when they cannot take care of themselves.

02/10/2014

By Janice Habuda

Two town boards – Newstead and West Seneca – addressed concerns Monday night about newly opened group homes where registered sex offenders are among the residents.

In West Seneca, town officials said Monday night at least seven convicted sex offenders who had been living in the Monroe Developmental Center in suburban Rochester have turned up in group homes in a West Seneca neighborhood.

It is extremely concerning to me,” Town Supervisor Sheila M. Meegan said at Monday’s West Seneca Town Board meeting.

The predators are from Monroe County and they brought them here; they did it at night,” said Meegan, who noted that she’s been in contact with State Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan, R-Elma, about the lack of notification to public officials and the fact the men are being housed in unsecured facilities.

I immediately reached out to the senator and he agrees 100 percent,” Meegan said.

According to public records, the men are living at two addresses on Leydecker Road, on the former site of the West Seneca Developmental Center, which closed in 2011.

Classified as moderate- or high-risk offenders, four of the men were convicted of sexual crimes involving children younger than 10 years old. Six were convicted of crimes in Niagara, Erie or Chautauqua counties; the seventh was convicted in Monroe County.

The men were placed in the homes after the state closed the Monroe facility at the end of December, as part of a statewide effort to save money and de-institutionalize those with severe developmental disabilities.

In Newstead, a large crowd of residents living near two homes run by People Inc. attended the town board meeting.

Mark Outten, who lives across from the home on Rapids Road, asked board members why they never gave the public notice of the homes when People Inc. first let the board know that they were looking at two sites in Newstead in May 2013.

Supervisor David Cummings apologized and took responsibility for the board not notifying the public, but said that they did not have the information they have now.

We went with the information we had at that point in time,” he said. “We went with the mentality of what we had dealt with in the past and shame on us for that. We can’t change the past, but we can move forward and make as many corrections to what’s there as we can legally going forward.”

Councilwoman Marybeth Whiting, who serves with Councilman Justin Rooney on the committee set up to look into the two recently opened group homes, said it was important to deal with reality when trying to figure out a solution to the issues surrounding the homes.

We really, really want to deal with facts,” she said. “Not what you’ve heard, and not what you’re thinking, but facts…Really try to focus on facts.”
- Really?  Then you will know that sex offenders have one of the lowest recidivism rates of all other ex-criminals and that most who sexually abuse someone, it's someone in their own family, not some stranger!

The committee was set to meet with officials from People Inc. and the state on Wednesday.

Rhonda I. Frederick, chief operating officer of People Inc. and Kevin Penberthy, a deputy director from the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, were scheduled to meet with the group at 6 p.m. at Newstead Town Hall.

A meeting with the community is planned at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 19 with Frederick and a director from the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities. That meeting is slated to be held in the new Cultural Center, located in the basement of the Newstead Public Library, 33 Main St. in the Village of Akron.

The committee met Monday night before the Town Board meeting, and developed a list of questions for Frederick and Penberthy, said Newstead resident Kevin Borth, who is one of six residents serving on the committee.

We’re trying to figure out who’s responsible for what,” he said. “Who’s responsible for the sex offender in there? Who does oversight?

The committee is trying to get as much information as possible from the people who make decisions regarding the group homes on Rapids Road and Buckwheat Road, Borth said.

Knowledge is power on this,” he said.


VA - A 'First Of Its Kind Conference' About Sexual Assault On Campus

NPR LogoOriginal Article

02/11/2014

By Sandy Hausman

Nearly three years after the federal government issued guidelines for dealing with sexual misconduct on campus, administrators are meeting at the University of Virginia to discuss problems and progress. As Sandy Hausman of member station WVTF reports, leaders in higher education say they're struggling to understand and manage sexual assaults in the age of "hooking up."

Transcript


ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: Educators from around the country have spent the last two days talking about sexual misconduct on college campuses. The conference that wrapped up today at the University of Virginia was billed as a first of its kind. It comes nearly three years after the government issued legal guidelines for universities to deal with such misconduct.

As Sandy Hausman of member station WVTF reports, attendees learned how to better support victims.

SANDY HAUSMAN, BYLINE: She didn't know what to expect, but the 250 spaces for college presidents, administrators, and student leaders quickly filled, and the school started a waiting list.

TERESA SULLIVAN: I think this is a genuine problem. It's not something that we can sweep under the rug. I don't think we should even try. And it seemed to me that every university was struggling on its own to try and figure out how to handle this problem. If we at least share ideas with each other, we've got a better chance of coming up with a good solution.

HAUSMAN: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 percent of women report being sexually assaulted during college. Last month, President Obama set up a task force to protect college students and demanded a report in 90 days. He sent a message of support to the conference and asked the U.S. Department of Education's Catherine Lhamon to spell out government concerns.

CATHERINE LHAMON: We know that too many universities are still discouraging survivors from filing complaints. They are still delaying investigations for months or longer. They are still retaliating against students for speaking out about their assaults.

HAUSMAN: Princeton Vice Provost Michele Minter says pressure is also coming from students.

MICHELE MINTER: They've had bad, bad experiences. Victims have not been taken seriously, and I think they're finally just tired of it. Social media has made it much easier for them to connect and build networks, so I think that's really been a big part of why it's suddenly accelerating fast.

HAUSMAN: And, of course, parents are weighing in. The conference offered sessions on training students to intervene when they see trouble coming. There were talks about alcohol, drugs and their impact on sexual behavior, a crash course on what's known as sex without strings or hooking up, and an opportunity for students to advise administrators. UCLA student Savannah Badalich scolded those who implied drinking is the central problem.

SAVANNAH BADALICH: The conference seems to be really focused on student party culture, which is like hook-up culture, drinking, drug use. And I do think it's helpful to talk about these things, but I don't like talking about these things as causes or having major roles, since the only cause of sexual assault is an assaulter. So not victim blaming or even slut shaming, we really need to make sure we talk about the fact that someone is assaulting. That's the cause of assault.

HAUSMAN: But alcohol is one reason universities get involved in what might be a crime. Former New York prosecutor Linda Fairstein told the group district attorneys often walk away from sexual assaults on campus.

LINDA FAIRSTEIN: Many of these cases would not survive in the criminal justice system, especially if both parties have been using alcohol to the extent that they don't have a clear memory of what happened the night before.

HAUSMAN: Conference participants also described successful prevention programs, from an online course the University of Montana requires for students and staff to a Valentine's Day program planned at Georgetown entitled Cupcakes and Consent. They agreed to keep talking and scheduled a follow-up conference at Dartmouth in July. For NPR News, I'm Sandy Hausman in Charlottesville, Virginia.


RI - Probation officer (Gerald Silva) convicted on child porn charges

To protect and serve?
Original Article

02/11/2014

By Chris Raia

PROVIDENCE (WPRI) - A Rhode Island state probation officer assigned to the sex offender unit was convicted on Monday of being a sex offender, U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha announced on Tuesday.

Gerald Silva, 59, of Coventry, was arrested back in 2012 in connection with a massive investigation into Toronto-based production company Azov Films. The investigation, known as Operation Spade and led by members of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Toronto Police Service, revealed that Silva was one of more than 10,000 customers who had purchased online videos from Azov Films.

At least 348 of the company’s customers – including Silva – were charged with purchasing child pornography from the website, according to Toronto Police.

Silva was convicted of completing 22 orders through Azov Film’s website, spending a total of $1,589 on 75 different videos, each of which depicted child pornography. The videos, police say, were shipped to Silva’s Coventry residence while he was employed as a probation officer. “Dozens of videos” were seized from Silva’s home during an authorized police search in 2012.

During his trial, Silva claimed he had ordered and collected the videos as part of an ongoing professional project, but a jury returned a guilty verdict after less than an hour of deliberations.

Silva was charged and convicted on six counts of receiving child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. Each count of receiving child pornography is punishable by a minimum of 5 years in federal prison and up to lifetime supervised release. Possession of child pornography is punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison.

Silva is scheduled to be sentenced on May 16.

Another Rhode Islander, 60-year-old Warwick resident _____, was also charged in connection with Operation Spade. _____, a longtime high school teacher, pleaded guilty to one count of possessing child pornography in August 2013. He was sentenced to 18 months in a halfway house.

Operation Spade was a three-year global investigation that led to the rescue of 386 children and 348 arrests, according to the Toronto Police website. Arrested suspects included six law enforcement officials, nine religious leaders, 40 school teachers, three foster parents, 32 children volunteers and nine health professionals.

Azov Films was shut down in 2011, and its owner was arrested.