Friday, February 21, 2014

NY - Retired state police investigator (Randolph B. Stark) convicted of sex abuse

Randolph B. Stark
Randolph B. Stark
Original Article

02/20/2014

By D.W. Nutt

A retired New York State Police investigator who once served on a sex abuse task force was convicted of first-degree sexual abuse Wednesday in Tompkins County Court.

Randolph B. Stark, 61, was on trial for subjecting a woman to non-consensual sexual conduct while she was physically helpless on May 31 in the Town of Ulysses.

The decision was announced in a news release Thursday by the district attorney’s office.

Stark was arrested on June 1 and was charged with first- and third-degree sexual abuse.

According to court papers, late on the night of May 31, Stark touched a woman on her upper thigh and buttock area, under the waistband of her shorts, while she was asleep. Stark’s defense team argued for dismissal of the case, saying, in part, that no physical harm resulted from the touching and that Stark was drunk to the point of “blacking out,” thus unable to form the intent to commit a crime.

In denying the defense’s motion for dismissal on Nov. 5, Judge John Rowley wrote, “Defendant’s lack of a criminal record and prior public service pale in comparison to the potential harm to the alleged victim and the community if a retired police investigator’s sexual abuse charges were to be dismissed because there was no ‘physical harm as a result of the touching’ and because defendant was allegedly intoxicated at the time of the crime.’”

The judge also cited the impact on the public’s confidence if the case were dismissed.

Defendant seeks dismissal precisely because he enjoyed a position of responsibility and power within the criminal justice system. The failure to treat him like any other accused person would be devastating to public confidence,” Rowley wrote.

Stark, who pleaded not guilty to the charges, was described in documents from the defense as a lifelong resident of the area who served in the U.S. Navy before joining the New York State Police. During his tenure with the state police, Stark worked undercover for five years. In 1987, he was promoted to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation as an investigator. In 1989, he received three commendations and two unit commendations. While serving in the Major Crimes Division from 1994 to 1997, he was named Investigator of the Year.

Stark served on the Sex Abuse Task Force from 1997 until 2000, along with current District Attorney Gwen Wilkinson. In 2000, Stark was promoted to senior investigator and was moved to the Community Narcotics Enforcement Team drug task force. Stark retired in 2003 and has since worked security for a number of area businesses.

The case went to trial in January and was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Wendy Franklin. Stark waived his right to a jury trial. He was represented by Ithaca attorney John A. Stevens. The New York State Police conducted the investigation.

Rowley dismissed a lesser charge of sexual abuse in the third degree.

Stark is scheduled to be sentenced April 9. He faces up to seven years in prison and will be required to register as a sex offender.

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UK - Father tells of ordeal after woman (Sharlene James) falsely accused him of Brighton rape

Sharlene James
Sharlene James
Original Article

02/21/2014

By Anna Roberts

A woman who falsely accused an innocent man of dragging her into gardens and raping her has been jailed for two years.

The innocent man Sharlene James alleged attacked her was arrested on suspicion of rape.

He was held at a police station in Sussex for more than 14 hours where he was stripped naked and subjected to intimate medical examinations and grueling questions.

As police on the ground cordoned off a huge area of Kemp Town, Brighton, he wept as officers asked him why he raped the woman.

At the same time James had claimed she was raped, police were already investigating a series of similar attacks in the Kemp Town area.

Police yesterday said her lies prompted fears a “serial attacker was at large”.

But the couple only shared a taxi and did not kiss - let alone have sex.

Yesterday - more than two years after the original 'rape' was alleged - James, now 26, of Parham Close, Brighton, was convicted of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

She had claimed at Lewes Crown Court yesterday she had suffered temporary amnesia and forgot what had happened during the early hours of November 9, 2011, when she claimed she was dragged into a bush in New Steine Gardens by a man she had just met and subjected to a violent attack.

She named the man as her attacker, despite the pair - who had only met briefly - sharing a short taxi ride and engaging only in brief conversation.

The man, who has children, said he had been at a nightclub in Brighton with friends on the night of Tuesday, November 8, 2011, when he bumped into James who he had never met before.

They got chatting and he, her friend and his friend shared a taxi to Kemp Town. They passed the gardens where she alleged the rape occurred, but nothing happened.

Recounting the story exclusively to The Argus yesterday, he said: “I just thought it was a normal night, nothing untoward.”

We were just chatting and having a laugh.”

We did not have sex, or kiss, nothing happened.”

Two days later the man, now 29 and living in Brighton, was out when his girlfriend's father called him and said the police wanted to talk to him.

He said: “My father-in-law, that is what I call him, said, 'the police have been looking for you'.

I laughed it off at first. I could not think why they wanted me.”

They had asked for me by my first name, but that was all.”

I thought that was weird. I phoned up the police and they said they needed to speak to me urgently.”

They said, 'It's a case of rape'.

I felt cold all over. I knew I needed a solicitor.”

I went in and they arrested me on suspicion of rape.”

I was so scared. I was thinking, 'I haven't done anything'.

I was stripped naked and they did medicals on me. They did swaps on me.”

The questioning was grueling and intense.”

It felt unreal. I was so upset and angry.”

I was in the station for 14-and-a-half hours and then my girlfriend told me I couldn't go home.”

My girlfriend initially believed it. She didn't think another woman would make it up.”

He said since then his girlfriend had come to terms with the fact he was not lying. But he has not told her about the ongoing case to prosecute James for her false claim.

He added: “I kept it from my loved ones - I did not want them to have to live through it again.”

Sharlene's story was ludicrous - she said she had amnesia.”

But she tried to wreck my life.”

I would not wish it on my worst enemy.”

He explained the case against him was dropped within a week after CCTV evidence proved he was not in the area at the time of the alleged attack.

But it has still had an impact,” he said. “The mental impact has been ridiculous.”

If I had been found guilty I would have been looking at ten years.”

She has got two. It is good that she is jailed but it should have been for longer. It should have at least been four.”

Women are raped and they are raped violently. Lying about it makes a mockery of genuine rape victims.”

He said the false allegation has also cost him about £800 in lost work and staying in hotels while the case was being investigated.

Detective Chief Inspector Carwyn Hughes said: “Police were already investigating a number of incidents in the Kemp Town area when this allegation was made.”

As in all cases we took this report very seriously and were quick to respond.”

On launching an extensive investigation we quickly concluded that this offence did not take place and aside from raising unnecessary anxiety and alarm, many hours were wasted that could have been put to better use investigating genuine reports of crime.”

I would like to stress that this will not affect in any way our response to reports of sexual offences and I would urge anyone who is a victim to contact us, even if the incident happened a while ago.”

We will take your report seriously and it will be dealt with sensitively and confidentially.”

Call us on 101 or email 101@sussex.pnn.police.uk.”


CA - Registered Sex Offender, is Unlikely "Star" of Constitutional Challenges

Park Bench
Original Article

02/20/2014

By Matt Coker

When _____ was ordered to register as a sex offender with the Costa Mesa Police Department at his sentencing for a 2010 misdemeanor sexual battery conviction, the Santa Ana resident could not have foreseen his future in shaping California law.

The latest ripple came Wednesday when the Orange County District Attorney's office filed a petition in hopes the state Supreme Court will uphold ordinances banning sex offenders from municipal parks and recreational facilities.

OC District Attorney Called "Foolish" to Take Pervs-in-Parks Ban Case to Supreme Court

"The people of the state of California respectfully petition this court to grant review of an important issue affecting every city and county in California," Deputy District Attorney Brian Fitzpatrick wrote in his petition to the state Supremes. "Cities and counties need to know whether they can act to protect children within their communities from the approximately 75,000 sex offenders living in the state."

The state's high court can either reject the petition, letting appellate court rulings stand that have found pervs-in-parks bans unconstitutional, or set up another round of appeals before the justices.

Scott VanCamp, an attorney with the Orange County Public Defender's Office, argued the case based on _____'s conviction for violating the county ordinance that was before the appellate court.

"I expected this would happen, but I'm hopeful the California Supreme Court will not take the case because I think the opinion from the appellate court is very well reasoned and very clear and easy to understand," VanCamp told City News Service.

Pervs-and-parks fever swept through Orange County after Supervisor Shawn Nelson and District Attorney Tony Rackauckas crafted the original county ordinance that was adopted in April 2011. The pair, Sheriff Sandra Hutchens and other law enforcement representatives then went city to city in Orange County to lobby for local versions of the law.

More than a dozen OC cities passed similar ordinances, which require registered sex offenders to stay out of local parks and recreational areas unless they get permission first from the law enforcement agency that patrols that municipality. In the case of Hutchens' agency, such permission has been difficult to obtain. Irvine and Fountain Valley, anticipating the legal challenges ahead, only applied their ordinances to registered sex offenders who had been convicted of preying on children.

If caught in these so-called Child Safety Zones without permission, the sex offender risked a fine or jail time. That's what happened to _____ on May 5, 2011, when he attended what he claimed to be a "mandatory" company Cinco de Mayo party at Mile Square Regional Park, a county facility in Fountain Valley.

_____ was later sentenced to 100 days in jail and five years of probation for violating the county ordinance, but a panel of Superior Court judges sought a review from the state's 4th District Court of Appeals. The appellate court overturned the _____ conviction on grounds the county law is unconstitutional because the state already has laws on the books dealing with registered sex offenders.

A panel of justices from the same court also overturned Irvine's ordinance on the same grounds. _____, the plaintiff in that case, had been arrested by Irvine police officers who'd been tipped he would be visiting a local tennis court.

The district attorney's office took the position at the time of the appellate decisions that they only applied to _____ and _____. But the public defender's office maintained the rulings had struck down as unconstitutional all such bans in the state.

An official with the DA's office previously told the Weekly that court challenges were anticipated when the county ordinance was enacted and that the DA was prepared to make a case before the state's highest court. District Attorney Tony Rackauckas can make that call without the permission of the county Board of Supervisors, although three members have indicated they would prefer to let the appellate rulings stand than spend more money to fight them.

That was the same rationale Lake Forest cited when it repealed its ordinance last year, agreeing that defending the law would cut too deeply into the city treasury.

Fitzpatrick's writ to the high court was filed a day after the Costa Mesa City Council unanimously repealed its ordinance due to the appellate rulings. The city has also been named in a civil lawsuit filed by a sex offender known in court papers as "John Doe."

"If the appellate court says it's unconstitutional and you can't do it, then we don't want to do it," Costa Mesa Mayor Jim Righeimer explained to City News Service. "If they appeal and win, we can always come back to it, but we don't want that thing hanging out there if it's unconstitutional. We like the protections, but if it's constitutional and it's not cleared up, we don't want it on our books."


NC - Former Swain officer (David Peterson) charged with statutory rape of a 15-year-old

David Peterson
David Peterson
Original Article

02/20/2014

By Julie Ball

BRYSON CITY - A former high school teacher and school resource officer in Swain County is facing a statutory rape charge in Macon County.

David Peterson, 32, of Bryson City, is charged with felony statutory rape, according to Lt. Steve Stewart, jail administrator for Macon County.

A warrant alleges Peterson had sex with a 15-year-old. The incident allegedly occurred earlier this month in Macon County.

Peterson had been working as a school resource officer at East Elementary in Swain County, according to Swain County Sheriff Curtis Cochran.

He had only been on the job about three weeks, Cochran said. He was dismissed from his job.

He was a former teacher. He came highly recommended by the school system,” the sheriff said.

Swain County school officials could not be reached Thursday afternoon.

The State Bureau of Investigation continues to investigate.

We called them immediately, and the District Attorney’s office also requested an investigation,” Cochran said.

Peterson is scheduled for a March 6 court date.

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