Thursday, February 13, 2014

KS - Former KBI deputy director (Kyle Smith) charged with sexual exploitation of a child

Kyle Smith
Kyle Smith
Original Article

How ironic. He is the one who has been going after ex-offenders in his state, now he is one, or may be.

02/13/2014

TOPEKA - A former Kansas Bureau of Investigation Deputy Director has been charged with one count of sexual exploitation of a child.

Kyle Smith, 57, was charged in Topeka’s Shawnee County where he also faces two counts of interference with law enforcement.

According to The Topeka Capital-Journal, Smith was released from the agency back in December 2013.
- Which they said it was a "personal matter" and wouldn't release any info.  Now we know why!

We’ll update the story as soon as new information becomes available.

See Also:


PA - Carbondale sued over Megan's Law ordinance

Justin Taylor
Justin Taylor
Original Article

02/13/2014

By TERRIE MORGAN-BESECKER

A former Carbondale man forced from his home because his son is registered under Megan's Law is suing the city and the mayor, alleging he was targeted for enforcement because he challenged the constitutionality of a city ordinance that limited where sex offenders could live.

_____ of Archbald claims his son, _____, was among 15 Megan's Law offenders living in Carbondale in 2012, but he was the only one singled out by Mayor Justin Taylor (Facebook) for enforcement of the ordinance, which precluded registered sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of a school, park or other areas where children might gather.

According to the lawsuit, _____ was convicted in 2009 of unlawful communication with a minor, which required him to register as a sex offender. _____ and _____ had lived in Carbondale without incident since 2010. In July 2012, Mr. Taylor contacted the _____' landlord and advised him that _____'s presence violated the city's ordinance and directed him to evict the men.
- So what is the Mayor doing the police' job for?

_____, who served as a magistrate judge in Wyoming County for 25 years before moving to the city, said he advised Mr. Taylor he believed a 2011 state Supreme Court decision in another case proved Carbondale's ordinance was unconstitutional. Mr. Taylor refused to acknowledge the case, saying "his" law took precedence, the suit states.

_____ continued to challenge the ordinance, meeting with Mr. Taylor roughly 12 times. The mayor refused to alter his stance, forcing the men to relocate in September 2012.

Upset he was forced out, _____ attended an Aug. 19 meeting of city council to urge council members to halt enforcement of the sex offender registration ordinance. After he spoke, Mr. Taylor "publicly and recklessly" stated _____ had an extensive criminal record, including burglary, forgery and receiving stolen property. The lawsuit states that information was false. Mr. Taylor later acknowledged the crimes he mentioned were committed by a different _____.
- That is defamation!

The lawsuit, filed by attorney Larry Moran of Scranton, claims Mr. Taylor and the city acted in a "capricious, unreasonable and discriminatory manner" in enforcing the ordinance, which was rescinded sometime after the _____ were forced to move. The lawsuit claims the actions against them were taken in retaliation for speaking out against the ordinance, which is a violation of their First Amendment right to free speech. The suit also seeks damages for violations of the _____' right to due process because they were given no opportunity to challenge the ordinance.

Efforts to reach Mr. Taylor were unsuccessful.

See Also:


CT - Sex Offenders at the Polls

Voting Booth
Original Article

02/13/2014

By Len Besthoff

They have every right to be there in Connecticut once they have served their sentences. But some voting districts have raised concerns.

A state elections panel is investigating an incident that raises questions about the fine line between personal rights and public safety. _____ says he was so intimidated this past fall, that the Norwalk man left his polling place without exercising his right to vote…all because of his criminal past. He spoke with NBC Troubleshooters’ Chief Investigative Reporter Len Besthoff.

I feel like they violated my rights, my voting rights.” You can sense the anger in _____’s voice as he describes what happened last September during a Democratic primary vote in Norwalk. “I felt intimidated. I felt like I was being stuck out, it was very humiliating, very embarrassing

_____ is a registered sex offender. He was released from prison a decade ago, after serving five years for a sexual assault conviction involving a woman he knew. He turned down an offer to have the case dropped and charges erased after 13 months. He chose to go to trial.. and lost.

_____ says since prison, he started his own business, works with troubled teens…and has actively voted, until last fall…that’s when he says he was turned away at his polling station, the Columbus Elementary School in Norwalk...which was holding classes that day. “They said I would have to leave the grounds of the school immediately. I asked them why. They didn’t want to answer it. They called an officer over who escorted me off the school property.”

The registrar’s office sent _____ back to the polls, telling him he had the right to vote.

_____: That’s when the officer shadowed me…it was shadowing, meaning real close. And it made anyone who was watching think that I was a danger to someone else. Besthoff: How close was he standing? _____: Real close. Besthoff: Like a foot? _____: Not even a foot. Less than that.”

_____ left Columbus Elementary without voting. “I was discouraged. I think that was the first time I hadn’t voted in the last 10 years”. So why did this happen to _____? Norwalk Democratic Registrar Stuart Wells asked police for printouts of all registered sex offenders in town that might be voting in the primary…and distributed them to poll moderators. “The schools had all expressed a considerable interest in increasing their security since Sandy Hook, for obvious reasons. We have…10 locations that are schools that we use for polling places.”

Problem was, no distinction was made between registered sex offenders like _____, whose conviction involved an adult, and others who may have had crimes involving children. “When we checked with his probation officer he said he had no restrictions on being near schools
- If the person committed a crime against an adult or child what does it matter?  Aren't people there while he votes?  What's the big deal?  This is nothing but pure hysteria!

The poll moderator and police have a different version of what happened with _____. Neither will comment. The case file is sealed while it remains under investigation. The bigger question, is how to deal in the future with registered sex offenders, who, unlike _____, do have offenses involving children, when the polling stations are at schools? And according to the Secretary of the State’s office, roughly one third of all Connecticut public schools are open on Election Day.

People convicted of crimes involving children often are forbidden from going near schools. The state says those convicts are often subject to lengthy terms of supervision after their sentences, and arrangements can be made to allow them to vote at a school that is open…but Stuart Wells isn’t so sure.

Besthoff: You don’t have a playbook for how to deal with this stuff! Wells: Correct, if there are, if they couldn’t go in the schools, and you don’t qualify for an absentee ballot, how’s the person supposed to exercise their constitutional right to vote? We’re concerned about that. We don’t want to impact the children, but we want everybody vote who’s entitled to do so, without getting arrested in the process.”
- Then stop holding voting in schools!

The state legislature is expected to deal with this issue…but not until next year. First a constitutional amendment must pass this fall allowing lawmakers to fine tune Connecticut’s election laws. In the meantime, Larry _____ just hopes his next vote at Columbus Elementary goes smoother.

There’s a lot of votes on the street. A lot of votes. But if they see what’s happening, that happened to me, then people aren’t gonna want to show up.”

There is a possibility this could be dealt with sooner rather than later, with at least a temporary fix. A state elections panel is expected to discuss the issue soon, and we will let you know what progress it makes.


TX - Former Longview officer (Leland Carver) arrested on child sex assault charge

Leland Carver
Leland Carver
Original Article

02/13/2014

By Sarah Thomas

A former Longview police officer was arrested Wednesday afternoon on charges he sexually assaulted a child in late December.

Leland Thomas Carver, 69, was booked into jail about 5:30 p.m. on a charge of aggravated sexual assault of a child, according to Gregg County Jail records.
His bond has been set at $50,000, jail records show.

Longview police spokeswoman Kristie Brian was unable to provide the specifics of Carver’s employment but confirmed he retired from the Longview Police Department more than 10 years ago.

According to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday in the Gregg County District Clerk’s Office, Carver assaulted the child while she spent time visiting him at his home.

The report, written by detective Audrey Wright, states the child was in the second grade when the abuse started.

Police said the child lives with her father in Louisiana.

A forensic interview was held Jan. 27 at the Gingerbread House in Shreveport and a video of the interview was sent to Wright, who reported the child described various sexual acts Carver made her perform.

The child told investigators she found inappropriate videos of herself on Carver’s cellphone, according to the report, and she waited to report the assault because Carver said she would be taken away from her family and “go to a place where they send kids who are bad” if anyone found out.


FL - Sexual predator bills package sails through House Appropriations

Bills just sailing through congress
Original Article

02/12/2014

By James Call

While state corrections officials prepared to execute the man found to have committed the notorious 1995 murder of 9-year-old Jimmy Ryce, the House Appropriation Committee passed a package of bills expanding the reach and increasing the punishment of the Jimmy Ryce Act. Under the 1998 law, sexual predators can be detained through civil commitment even after they have served their prison sentences.

The most far-reaching measure approved Wednesday was HB 7027 by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach. It would impose a mandatory minimum sentence of 50 years for those convicted of the rape or torture of children, the disabled and seniors.

There is a big price tag on this bill but I think that’s because it accurately reflects the values of this House and the values of the state to ensure that violent sexual predators are not among us in the community,” Gaetz said. A staff analysis fixed an annual cost of $41 million by 2020 if the proposal becomes law.

Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, wanted to exempt a defendant from a 50-year sentence if the defendant completed a treatment program. Rouson said he did not understand the “magic behind 50.”
- It's all about appearing "tough" on crime and to get ones name on a bill that punishes ex-offenders for their own agenda / reputation, nothing more in our opinion.  We believe Florida already has the Jessica Lunsford Act which is 25 to life for certain crimes.

If someone is 16 years old when they become a sexually violent offender and does 50 years and gets out at 66 years old how do we know that person won’t reoffend,” Rouson said. “If one has committed a crime of violent, reprehensible, unconscionable nature then we ought to look towards education, treatment and prevention at the same time that we’re talking about punishment. That’s all.”

Rouson withdrew his amendment after it was debated, noting Florida does have a problem with mandatory minimum sentences and that he preferred having the debate in commitee rather than on the House floor.

I will never balance the cost of incarceration against the emotional psychological cost of a young victim, ever,” said Rouson, a former prosecutor, who added that he does believe some people are wired wrong. “But the debate here is about what is the magic of 50? The debate here is about if there is opportunity for treatment, if there is opportunity for redemption then in a civilized society we do that.”

The measure cleared the committee with a unanimous vote. The other five bills approved by Appropriations dealt with provisions of the Jimmy Ryce Act. They are:
  • HB 7013 directs the Department of Children and Families to conduct a long-term study of the recidivism data of people released from the Civil Commitment Center;
  • HB 7017 would no longer allow confinement at the Civil Commitment Center to be considered time spent under community supervision. Many sexual offenders are sentenced to a prison term and a period of community supervision;
  • HB 7019 expands the Ryce Act to include state attorneys among officials authorized to refer people for involuntary civil commitment;
  • HB 7021 requires the multidisciplinary team that determines whether a sexual offender is released from custody to include psychiatrists with experience in treating people with mental abnormalities. Plus if one member of the three-person team disagrees with an evaluation then a second evaluation is required;
  • HB 7025 brings Florida law further in line with the federal Adam Walsh Act (named after a Florida victim of sexual child abuse and murder) by including misconduct with a developmentally disabled person, a patient and a forensic client. The proposal also requires convicted predators to provide their county sheriff and FDLE with any Internet identifier and information about vehicles and professional licenses.

The set of bills is being termed the House’s Protecting Florida’s Vulnerable Initiative. The next committee stop for HB 7021 is the Health and Human Services Committee. The other four bills are referred to the Judiciary Committee.


FL - Questions Linger Over Jimmy Ryce Act's Prevention Of Violence

Civil CommitmentOriginal Article

02/13/2014

By RICK STONE

Juan Carlos Chavez's inadvertent legacy to the people of Florida was a piece of legislation now known as the Jimmy Ryce Act, in honor of the nine-year-old boy Chavez raped and murdered in 1995. It was one of those crimes so heinous that it inspired action.

Under the Jimmy Ryce Act, the state waits at the prison gates to intercept sex offenders when they’re released. If experts determine the ex-convict is likely to commit a new violent sex crime, the experts can go to court and ask a jury to confine the offender in what's called a "civil commitment center" to be treated until considered safe for release.

"I think the community is a lot safer because of this," says Audrey Frank-Aponte, Miami-Dade County's chief sex crimes prosecutor. "The fact that these violent sex predators are not on the streets and are detained at the civil commitment center gives me great comfort, not only for my own circle and my own close friends and associates, but also the community."

But whether community safety has actually improved under the Jimmy Ryce Act has recently been disputed. A recent Sun-Sentinel newspaper investigation cast doubt on the state's ability to identify potential re-offenders. Over the last 14 years, it found, nearly 600 released sex offenders deemed harmless enough to skip the confinement and treatment were convicted of new rapes, child molestations and 14 murders.

The Florida Legislature is expected to tighten up the law this spring but questions remain about the treatment that occurs, supposedly to neutralize the violent sex predators there, inside the civil commitment center in the Desoto County town of Arcadia.

John Selden, an assistant public defender in the judicial circuit that surrounds Daytona Beach, works almost exclusively on Jimmy Ryce cases. He says the treatment his clients receive is a one-size-fits-all type that doesn't recognize the variety of sexual predation.

"The respondents in these groups fall into two groups, pedophiles or child molesters and rapists," Selden says. "Those are two rather distinct and different groups because they have different motivations and different reasons for what they do. But that same program is applied to both types of individuals."

For legal reasons, the quality of the treatment program at the civil commitment center is less important than the fact of its existence. Since locking up people again after they've already completed their prison sentences appears to violate the Constitution three different ways, it's important for Jimmy Ryce commitments to be construed as civil processes, like Florida's Baker Act, and not criminal, which would trigger due process issues as well as problems with the double jeopardy and ex post facto clauses.

How do you tell the difference between a civil commitment and an illegally extended prison sentence? Civil commitments have three main features: They do not punish. They isolate the individual to protect himself and the public, and -- importantly -- they provide treatment.

In a case called Hendricks vs Kansas, the U. S. Supreme Court reviewed a Kansas law almost identical to Florida's Jimmy Ryce Act. It found all of those elements and declared Jimmy Ryce-style commitments to be civil and, therefore, constitutional.

So is the treatment anything more than a thin veil over obvious constitutional flaws in the Jimmy Ryce Act? That's a hard question for Jill Levenson, who treats sex offenders and studies them at Lynn University, because she says there are harm reduction methods that work even on hard-wired, unchangeable personality traits like pedophilia. "Many individuals with the disorder of pedophilia can learn strategies for managing their behavior, controlling their thoughts and becoming more aware of the harm that is caused by sexual abuse," Levenson says.

Prosecutors agree that while sex offender treatment is legally necessary to make the Jimmy Ryce Act constitutional, it doesn't get at the root cause and it can't change child molesters and rapists into normal people anymore than normal people can be turned into predators.

"It's accepted in the world of criminology the sexual offenders are the least curable," said Miami-Dade- State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. "They haven’t really found a cure for these kinds of crimes."


NH - 4 women accused New London police chief (David Seastrand) of making sexual propositions. Attorney General says he did nothing wrong?

David Seastrand
David Seastrand
Original Article

See the video at the link above. The video below is a different report on the same issue.

02/12/2014

By Heather Hamel

NEW LONDON - New documents have been released regarding the former New London police chief, who resigned last year amid allegations that he tried to get a college student to take nude pictures in exchange for her charges being dropped.

Last march, a Colby Sawyer college student claimed former chief David Seastrand offered to drop underage drinking charges if he could take nude pictures of her.

Soon afterward, three other women came forward, saying Seastrand had made sexual propositions.

In transcripts released by the Attorney General's Office Wednesday, one of the women told them about an encounter in 2009, claiming, "He said he would pay my ticket, if I would try on some sexy outfits for him."

The woman agreed, and modeled them in front of Seastrand, in his uniform, at her apartment.

Another woman's accusations go farther. She told investigators he drove her in his police SUV to a hilltop, where he told her to take off her clothes.

"He did say, ‘I'm gonna take you. I'm gonna take you,’” the woman said. “He pushed me against the cruiser, and, next thing I heard, he's unzipping his pants."

But a close friend of that woman told investigators there was an ongoing affair with the chief.

A third woman said the chief told her about a photographer friend who could help her find a job.

Weeks later, Seastrand drove the woman in his police SUV to a remote location. The woman said Seastrand told her he would take the pictures, and, “said that if I let him, that he would give me the $200."

Jane Young, of the Attorney General's Office, said just because the chief was in uniform or his cruiser in any of these instances doesn't make it a crime.

As for the accusation from the woman he agreed to pay a ticket for, Young said the ticket was not for Seastrand's department, and there was no evidence that police money was used.

The Attorney General’s Office said they had to look at the facts and weigh whether trying to prosecute the case would be in everyone’s best interest.

They decided that forcing Seastrand to resign and give up his certification as a police officer was the best option.

See Also:


NY - Counties will submit sex offenders (on probation / parole) to polygraph test

Polygraph Test
Original Article

Herkimer and Oneida counties soon will subject sex offenders on probation to polygraph testing that officials say will enhance treatment and supervision of those individuals.

"Basically, it would entitle our department and our supervisors to hopefully address treatment concerns and show any red flags that we could address," said Herkimer County Probation Supervisor Garry Murphy.

New York state, he said, has recommended polygraph tests as part of probation or treatment. He said that in order for the department to continue to receive funding from the State Aid Plan and Block Grant — which funds individual programs within probation departments — polygraph tests must be administered.

"The state is really looking for a monitoring process, and this is another application for that," he said.

Herkimer County entered into an agreement with Northeast Polygraph Services in Ravena in accordance with the Sex Offender Registry Act and state legislation via a resolution passed by the county Legislature Jan. 29. Each test would cost $250, which would be paid by the offender unless he or she could prove they couldn't afford it. In those cases, the cost would fall back on the county's probation department.

Murphy said a representative from Northeast Polygraph would come to Herkimer County to administer the tests.

Though Murphy said plans have not been cemented about when Herkimer County would begin the testing, David Tomidy, director of Oneida County's Probation Department, said his office is expecting to begin them in March or April after putting the service up to bid.

Tomidy said the results of a polygraph test would not be used against a client in a court hearing.
- Yeah right!  People also have the fifth amendment, the right to remain silent, which they should exercise, in our opinion.

"A lot of people continue to deny their issues. This could put an end to that," he said. "This would be strictly for treatment and supervision."

Murphy estimates there are between 40 and 50 sex offenders on probation in Herkimer County. Oneida County's numbers are closer to 75 or 80, he said.

Herkimer County Sheriff Christopher Farber said the frequency and timing of the tests would depend on the severity of the offender's risk level. For example, Farber said a Level 3 offender – the highest level of risk – might undergo polygraph testing once a year.

"Obviously, the higher risk offenders we would scrutinize more," Murphy said.

Farber, however, is wary about the tests.

"I'm not sure how much faith I have in the polygraph," he said, "just because I heard of cases that people have tricked it."


KY - Former trooper (Jerry Clanton) calls relationship with 15-year-old female teen a moral mistake

Jerry Clanton
Jerry Clanton
Original Article

02/12/2014

By Valerie Chinn

LOUISVILLE (WDRB) - A moral mistake: that's what a former Kentucky State Trooper calls his relationship with a 15-year-old girl.

His alleged misdeeds include watching mixed martial arts fights on TV and sexual relations on duty. Former Kentucky State Trooper Jerry Clanton talks about his relationship with a 15-year-old girl that he says he thought was 18.

WDRB obtained a 175-page transcript of the Kentucky State Police Trial Board of Jerry Clanton. Last month, the board decided that he will not get his job back.

Clanton, who is married, says,"I made a moral mistake. And, I've gotten right with my family."

"I recognize that it is an embarrassment to the State Police. But I have not compromised myself in the fact that, in my mind, all I was doing was making a moral mistake."

He says, "I would never have gone over there. I would have never spoken to her, never texted her, never anything had I thought she was anything but 18."

On Jan. 3, at the trial board hearing, Capt. Matt Feltner, the KSP Commander of Legal Services, said, "You can't put a 15-year-old girl in a car, drive her up in the middle of nowhere and have sex with her. I mean that doesn't have to be written out somewhere to know it's completely wrong and outside the lines."

Clanton was 33-years-old at the time, and says he met the teen through former State Trooper Stratford Young. Clanton says he would use his police cruiser to shuttle Young to the teen's home, which is about a mile-and-a-half away from Young's house.

Clanton says, "I believe one or two times he was drinking prior. Another time, you know, he was obviously married and he had -- he told me to pick him up. And I don't know if he didn't want his wife to see him drive off or... I'm not sure."

Clanton says Young had a relationship with the teen first, but later he started a relationship with her.

He says they would watch UFC fights on TV at her house last summer while on duty. He outlines four encounters with the girl that include sexual relations while he was in uniform on the trunk of his police cruiser, off the side of a road.

Clanton says, "I didn't intend on having sex with her."

Clanton and Young had been with KSP since 2010 before they were fired in September.

A Brandenburg officer and a Breckinridge County Sheriff's deputy who have resigned are also believed to have had an inappropriate relationship with the same girl. Both have declined to comment.

Investigators say the teen is angry about what happened and says she wants people to go to jail. Her father tells WDRB he's very upset that nothing has been done in the case.

It would be up to a grand jury to decide if the four former officers face criminal charges.

Jefferson County Commonwealth's Attorney Thomas Wine has two of his prosecutors handling the case.

Clanton denied our request for an on-camera interview. Young could not be reached for comment.

No grand jury date has been set.


NY - Man haunted by sex offender with same name & birthdate

Wrongly accused of being a sex offender
Original Article

02/12/2014

By Lou Raguse

BUFFALO (WIVB) - Imagine not being able to land a job because you have the same name and birth date as a convicted sex offender. A Buffalo man is facing that very tough situation right now.

It is an indescribable frustration facing _____, a North Buffalo man with family to provide for, who says he’s not giving up until his name is cleared.

When your name is _____, you know you’re not the only one out there.

I told my mom I wanted to change it. She said no, I gave you that name,” _____ said.

Unfortunately for this _____, there is another man in Buffalo who shares the same name, the same date of birth, and just happens to be a registered sex offender.

There is no way I should be associated with this guy. We don’t look the same,” he said.

They don’t have the same middle name either. But that doesn't matter. Because _____ the sex offender is now haunting _____ the father of 5, who’s never been convicted of a serious crime.

Being wrongly accused of being a sex offender is the worst. It’s worse than being accused of being a felon,” _____ said.

_____ waited ten years to be accepted for rental assistance, but his acceptance was short lived. When Belmont Housing Resources pulled his criminal history and it said he was a sex offender, they denied him.

I needed this to be able to provide for my family. And it was taken away from me for something I didn’t do myself. I didn’t do that,” _____ said.

_____ printed off a copy of his criminal history report. And sure enough, that sex offender part is in there.

According to Erie county central police services, it is an unfortunate result of how these NCIC background checks work. They search by name and date of birth, and if no one asks a follow-up question, mistakes like this can happen.

That’s not good enough to _____, who feels like his identity has been stolen.

You guys made this mistake. Why can’t you guys fix it?” _____ said.

_____ says he hasn't been able to land a job for the last two years — even fast food jobs. Two years ago is when _____ was added to the sex offender registry by the Buffalo Police Department.

Belmont Housing Resources will keep his case open and work with him to get assistance.


AK - Nunn Cleared of Any Wrong Doing After Arrest for Sexual Abuse of a Minor

Wrongly accused of a sex crime
Original Article

02/12/2014

By DAVE BENDINGER

"It just kind of sucks," said Nunn, now 21, after being falsely accused of having sex with a 14-year-old girl two years ago.

How do you get your reputation back after being falsely accused of a sexual crime against a minor … that’s the question Kameron Nunn, 21, is asking himself, after prosecutors recently dismissed a second degree sexual abuse of a minor charge against him.

The case dates to May 2011, after the Office of Children’s Services reported to Dillingham Police an allegation that a 14-year-old girl had had sexual relations with an adult male. Nunn believes the girl gave police his name to cover for her boyfriend at the time. Two and a half years later he was arrested, long after he says the girl told authorities a different version of the story.


VA - Edgar Coker’s name to be taken off Va. sex offender list years after false accusation

Edgar Coker
Edgar Coker
Original Article

02/12/2014

By Susan Svrluga

A Stafford County judge has ordered a Virginia man’s name removed from the state’s sex offender registry and his conviction vacated after the court ruled that he received ineffective counsel from his attorney.

Edgar Coker Jr. was 15 in 2007 when his attorney, Denise Rafferty, advised him to plead guilty to raping a friend rather than risk being sentenced to years in an adult prison. Two months after he went into juvenile detention, the then-14-year-old girl recanted her accusation. Nonetheless, Coker spent 17 months in a juvenile prison and his name was added to the sex offender registry.

But it’s not easy to undo a conviction.

It took a team of half a dozen attorneys, dozens of law students, a pro bono law firm, a legal aid justice center and two clinics at U-Va. law school,” said Matthew Engle, director of the Innocence Project at the University of Virginia School of Law, which helped Coker.

And several private investigators,” added Deirdre Enright, the co-director of the clinic.

It took that team six years,” Engle said, “to undo what happened in 15 minutes in juvenile court.”

Circuit Court Judge Jane Marum Roush ruled that Coker’s court-appointed attorney failed to give him effective assistance because she had done “little or no investigation of the facts of the case” before advising him to plead guilty. Roush cited concerns about Rafferty’s work, including not finding the taped interview with a detective in which Coker said that the girl had invited him into her house and that the sex was consensual and not investigating the accuser’s reputation for honesty.

The court does not believe Ms. Rafferty’s testimony that [Coker] made a ‘full confession’ to her,” Roush wrote.

Rafferty did not return a call seeking comment. In a July hearing, she told the judge that the family had not cooperated with repeated requests for school records or people who would defend him.

Roush gave Stafford Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Olsen 60 days to decide whether to re-prosecute Coker. A staff member at Olsen’s office said he had no comment on the case. The assistant attorney general and Coker’s attorneys have 21 days to file an objection to the ruling. A request for comment to the attorney general’s office was not immediately returned Wednesday afternoon.

Enright said that Coker, 22 and living in Orange County, Va., has had trouble getting good jobs because his name is on the list and that his family moved repeatedly to avoid neighbors concerned that he might be a predator. After he was released from detention, he went to high school, where he was a track star. But when he returned to watch a football game after graduation, he was arrested because convicted sex offenders are not allowed on school grounds.

Michele Sousa, the mother of the girl who had accused Coker, said she was very happy “because there’s finally closure — this finally has come to an end.” When her daughter told her that she had lied, “I thought there was some sort of a way to just reverse everything, click the ‘undo’ button and — I didn’t expect to have to go through every court in Virginia and go on and on for years.”

When some of Coker’s attorneys reached him by phone to tell him about the judge’s ruling, he was relieved and pleased, Engle said. “This is all very overwhelming to him, and he is only just now beginning to understand . . . that he’s won, and the end is at least in sight.”


IL - Sex Offenders May Be Banned From Illinois County Fairs

State Fair
Original Article

Fear monger much? Come on, what's next? An ex-offender cannot attend a restaurant because kids may be there, or a grocery story?

02/12/2014

By Angie Sharp

A bill under consideration would ban registered sex offenders from going to county fairs.

There is a loophole in the current sex offender law that says you can’t work at the county fairs or you can’t be a vendor at the county fairs, but you can attend them,” Illinois State Representative Mike Smiddy told News 8′s Angie Sharp on Wednesday, February 12th, 2014.

State Rep. Smiddy heard about the loophole following the 2013 Whiteside County Fair. The State’s Attorney for Whiteside County called him and explained an instance where a Whiteside County Sheriff’s Deputy noticed a convicted sex offender around children at the fair. However, he wasn’t able to do anything, because it’s not against the law.

When a state’s attorney comes to you and says this is a real issue for our kids and our county, you want to kind of listen and do what you think is right and a change in this law is the right thing to do,” says State Rep. Smiddy.

If it stops one person, done deal,” says Bob Fox, Director of the Great Mississippi Valley Fair.

Fox says the law – if passed – could act as a deterrent for sex offenders who may want to go to an event that’s supposed to be focused on families.

Under my watch, I don’t want anything to happen to anybody,” he tells News 8′s Angie Sharp. “You always have to think out of the box because what’s out of the box happens here.”

Fox and his team found that out in 2011, when a registered sex offender dressed up as Cookie Monster and walked around the fair passing out flyers.

It was weird,” Fox says. “It was very strange.”

Police arrested the man for trying to work at the fair. Fox says it was a lesson learned.

Now we know what’s abnormal and what’s not. We really do.”

Fox says it is unrealistic to check every single person who walks through the front gate. Representative Smiddy agrees. However, both say if that loophole can become law, police will have more power and fairs can go back to being fun.

In Illinois, the law only applies to county fairs.

In Iowa, a law states that registered sex offenders are not allowed to work or be a vendor at any city, county, or state fair or carnival when open. Unless told by their Parole Officer, they can attend a fair. Iowa State Representative Phyllis Thede tells News 8′s Angie Sharp that it’s not something they’re considering changing in the 2014 legislative session.

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