Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Juvy sex offender crying out

Video Description:
No where to turn, at wits end with life, crying out for help before it may be too late.


Video Description:
I was charged at 15. I am now 30. my whole life ive been punished for a mistake I made when I was 15. it will never end till I die. so I am ready to die. besides, for to be absent from the body is to be present with the lord....at least I hope.


PA - Overloaded, underfunded

Overloaded
Original Article

02/25/2014

In 1994, _____ strangled, sexually assaulted and repeatedly slammed a Montgomery County woman's head into a wall. He served 30 months in jail for his violent crime and was classified as a high-risk sex offender. As such, _____ was required, once released from prison, to regularly report his whereabouts to the state's sex offender registry, a requirement of Megan's Law.

It's good to know that between 96 and 97 percent of Megan's Law offenders comply with its requirements, as reported in our Sunday story. The flip side is that about 3.5 percent don't. That means of the current 15,802 offenders who are entered in the registry, 556 have fallen off the radar screen. In other words, nobody knows where they are. At least nobody in law enforcement.

This list includes _____.

What's worrisome is that more than a year lapsed before state officials asked local police in Tinicum, where _____ last reported residing, to verify that the violent ex-offender still lived there.

This gap between disappearance and detection speaks to flaws in a system that nonetheless is pretty effective. A 97 percent success rate is an A-plus by most anybody's measurement. Still, the system will have failed — utterly and tragically — anybody who might become a victim of one of those fugitive 556.

If you take time to dissect our comprehensive report, one thing is clear: The system is overloaded and undermanned. Indeed, a recent federal study suggests the expansion of offenses requiring registration under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) has grown the list of offenders beyond current capacity to track all who require tracking.

We're not legal experts, but we question why people convicted of "interfering with custody of a child" or "invasion of privacy" or several other offenses falling under the Tier 1 category of the law would require tracking as sex offenders. It's why Montgomery County state Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-12, who introduced the Megan's Law legislation in the Senate, voted against the SORNA expansion.

"Part of the problem is continuing to add people to the list. As a result," Greenleaf said, "we have created a bureaucracy that is not sustainable, and we're not supplying enough money."

Bucks County state Sen. Tommy Tomlinson, R-6, who introduced Megan's Law legislation in the state House when he was a member there, is less sure about causality but is certain lawmakers need to figure out how to fix the flaws, whatever they are. And he said he plans to start by requesting a report from state police on how the registry is working and how to improve it.

"These people need to be monitored all the time," he said. No argument there. Doubtless, getting the system to function at a 100 percent success rate is a very tough challenge. Failing to do so, however, merely invites tragedy.
- A vast majority of those on the registry DO NOT need 24/7 monitoring as you suggest!


RI - Study: 1 out 5 local middle school students are sexting

Sexting
Original Article

We are so sick and tired of hearing this made up "1 in 5" number on almost everything. Anytime a study comes out, it seems, this magical number is used.

02/25/2014

By Melissa Randall

Tatiana Lopez, 13, and her friend Janae Smith, 12, open up about sexting. With their parents permission we had an honest conversation about what's happening in the hallways of their Providence middle school, yes, middle school.

"It's not what we would hear on TV or what ever– it's real. That's actually happening to people our age," said Lopez.

The alarming trend of sending a sexually implicit message or image of oneself to another person is now trickling down from teens to tweens. Lopez and Smith have never sent or received a sext message themselves, but say some of their friends have.

"People always think we are too young for everything," said Lopez.

"It was shocking– that someone our age would send a picture that inappropriate," said Smith.

Dr. Christopher Houck, a clinical psychologist at Rhode Island Hospital, has been studying the behaviors of *at risk 7th graders in Rhode Island. The data shows that one out of five students who participated have sexted.

"The relationship was that those who had sexted were five times more likely to report having engaged in some kind of sexual activity," said Dr. Houck.

But it doesn't end there. With the click of a button those private photos can be shared. Tatiana and Janae witnessed the reputation of a young friend be ruined by sexting.

"They told her she wasn't worth living any more– she was disgusting for sending the pictures," said Smith.

They say the girl talked about suicide but with time was able to overcome it.

Sexting is illegal in Rhode Island for anyone under the age of 18. Those found guilty face penalties ranging from counseling to having to register as a sex offender.

"If you receive a sex message and you forward it on to someone else whether you are an adult or a minor you could be charged under child pornography laws," said Peter Kilmartin, Rhode Island's Attorney General.

Rhode Island has seen several sexting cases involving teens go through the courts. There were two in 2012 and five in 2013.

In Bristol County Mass. nearly forty high school and middle school students have been investigated for sexting since 2010.

So what is the answer? How do parents protect their kids in a world of smart phones and instant communication? For the Lopez family of Pawtucket it all starts at the kitchen table.
- Um, don't give your child a cell phone with all the bells and whistles!

"I hope that the gateway is there for me to actually have that conversation– because we are talking all the time," said Tatia Lopez. "And so far, thank god, it's working!"

The younger Lopez and Smith say there is pressure from their peers to sext, but the girls have decided sending a picture is not worth the risk.

"I'd be like scared for my life," said Lopez. "It's really serious."

Experts say it is important for parents to start discussing the topic with their children and to let them know the importance of family values.

*The findings of the sexting study were based on youth with behavioral and/or emotional problems. They may not apply to all middle school kids.


CT - Trumbull Cop (William Ruscoe) Accused of Sex Assault of Police Explorers Member

William Ruscoe
William Ruscoe
Original Article

02/25/2014

State police have arrested a 20-year veteran of the Trumbull police department who is accused of sexual assaulting one member of the police department's explorer program and sharing inappropriate texts with another.

Trumbull police said William Ruscoe, 44, has been suspended from duty and there is an internal investigation to determine if he violated any department policies or regulations.

Ruscoe served as an advisor to the explorer program, which works with youth interested in possible law enforcement careers, for several years, according to a statement from Trumbull Police Chief Thomas Kiely.

The application for the arrest warrant says one victim is now 17 and he is accused of sharing inappropriate texts with her.

The other victim is now 18-year-old.

The investigation into Ruscoe started on Oct. 14, 2013, when a suspicious incident was reported at a high school in Tolland County.

The 17-year-old girl told police that she joined the police explorers program in 2011, when she was 14. Months later, her drill instructor, identified as Ruscoe, started sending inappropriate and flirty messages, the girl told police.

Then it escalated to Ruscoe asking the teen to send him photos of herself.

In all, the teen said she sent Ruscoe about 50 photos of herself, exposed and Ruscoe sent her inappropriate photos of himself.

During a cadet camp at the University of Hartford last year, the teen said she noticed Ruscoe paying attention to two Trumbull girls and told him that people were talking about him flirting with one of the teens in an effort to get him to stop flirting, police documents state.

After meeting with the teen, police searched her phone for the messages.

In January, police obtained a search warrant for Ruscoe's phone and met with him at the police station to retreive it.

Ruscoe handed over his phone but said he did not want to provide the password or provide a written statement, according to the warrant application.

Ruscoe's attorney also told police that his client did not want to be interviewed.

On Sunday, troopers met with the second victim, who told police that she was "very intimidated" because of Ruscoe's position and she did not want him to get in trouble.

She told investigators she joined the explorers program in December 2012 and Ruscoe started sending her inappropriate messages in 2013. when she was 17.

She told police that she did communicate with Ruscoe but only after he was very persistent.

In the texts, Ruscoe wrote that he loved the girl and the texts progressively became more graphic and sexual in nature, according to police paperwork.

She told police that Ruscoe begged the her to send him photos of her and she eventually did, according to police. She also provided police with information about three inappropriate incidents that occured in June.

Ruscoe took the teen to a beach in Stratford and gave her a silver bracelet with a heart-shaped charm that said "Made With Love," according to police.

On another night in June, Ruscoe picked her up early in the morning after a "band gig."

He was drunk, she told police, became aggressive in a sexual manner and kissed her, but she tried to push him away.

At the end of the month, Ruscoe took the teen to a Trumbull home he had moved out of.

Once they were inside, he placed a gun on the counter and and was looking at her "in a threatening way that made her very uncomfortable," the warrant says.

The girl told police that things became sexual and she kept telling him to stop. He also restrained her hands behind her back with handcuffs while in bed, police said.

The girl told police she recalled one conversation in which Ruscoe said that if he ever got caught, he would go to jail and that he would kill himself if he went to jail.

She said this was intimidating and she did not want anything to happen to him because of anything he did.

The girl told police that Ruscoe had asked the teen to change his name in her phone to "Jack" because she liked the movie Titanic and told her he could get in trouble because of her age.

Toward the end of January, Ruscoe reached out to the 18-year-old and told her that police had come to take his phone because "an older friend that was a girl he used to help out was going through a rough time and she dropped his name," court documents said.

Ruscoe told her he was nervous that police would contact her because her number was in his phone and advised her not to say anything because she is 18 and is not required, the teen told police.

Ruscoe was charged with second-degree sexual assault, third-degree sexual assault, fourth-degree sexual assault and tampering with a witness.

Police released a statement about Ruscoe's arrest.

"I am deeply troubled and concerned by the nature of the charges that have been presented. We will make every effort to ensure that the integrity of the department and its officers is preserved as this case is investigated, and that the case is handles in a fair and timely manner," a statement from Kiely says.

Ruscoe was arrested on Thursday and bond was set at $50,000.

He posted bond and is due back in court on March 5.


AK - Former head of Fairbanks troopers (Warren Tanner) charged with sex abuse of minor

To serve and protect?
Original Article

02/23/2014

By Weston Morrow

FAIRBANKS - The former commander of the Alaska State Trooper detachment based in Fairbanks was arrested Friday on charges of sexually abusing a minor over a period of several years.

Former Capt. Warren Tanner, 75, was arrested Friday afternoon in North Pole by troopers and U.S. Marshals. He was arraigned on six counts of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor on Saturday and is being held without bail at Fairbanks Correctional Center.

The charges indicate the alleged abuse started as far back as 2003 and occurred as recently as 2011.

Tanner served as commander of the D Detachment for two years until his retirement in 1999. D Detachment is based in Fairbanks and covers the unorganized area from Healy to Tok to Barrow. Tanner also served as the provost marshal at Fort Wainwright before joining the troopers and as trooper statewide search and rescue coordinator.

The Child Crimes unit of the Alaska Bureau of Investigation received reports Thursday afternoon that an adult male had been sexually abusing a 14-year-old North Pole girl over several years. Troopers and members of the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force arrested Tanner the next day.

Trooper spokesperson Tim Despain said the use of U.S. Marshal's Service isn't standard procedure but that they were asked to assist in serving the warrant because they were already in town on other business.

A preliminary hearing for the case has been scheduled for the first week of March.


WA - Problems plague GPS tracking of offenders

GPS Tracking
Original Article

02/24/2014

By CHRIS INGALLS

A Pierce County man had no trouble disabling the GPS tracking device that was bound to his ankle, even though it is supposed to send off an alert to law enforcement if it’s tampered with.

I got sick of this little bugger on my leg, it was beating my ankle into a bloody pulp,” said the 25 year old who asked to be called “Red.”

I’m not a tagged animal," he added.

Instead of jail time, Red was placed on electronic home monitoring, and a GPS bracelet fixed to his ankle, by the City of Fife police department. He said no one seemed to recognize his home detention “jail break,” even as he met with KING 5 in a city park more than a week after he removed the device.

Something just clicked in my head that I realized like, 'Why am I playing this game?'” Red said when he realized that the GPS device wasn’t working – or that jailers in Fife simply weren’t paying attention.

Red is not a hardcore criminal. He said his history includes drug- and alcohol-related crimes and theft charges.

However, the state of Washington also uses GPS tracking devices to keep a short leash on of some of the Department of Corrections' most dangerous ex-cons. Most of them are level three sex offenders, who are required to wear a GPS bracelet for at least 30 days after they leave prison.

A KING 5 investigation found that the DOC’s GPS system sends a stream of false alerts to community corrections officers and is prone to blind spots. It’s also manufactured by the same GPS company that was dumped last year by the State of California, reportedly for faulty and unreliable service.

It’s an additional tool that we’re able to use,” said Mac Pevey, who runs the program for the DOC.

He said GPS helps community corrections officers do the difficult job of keeping ex-cons in line when they’re getting their first taste of freedom after a prison term.

I think the system works really well,” said Pevey. “We’ve seen a lot of adherence to the program. We’ve gained a lot of compliance from offenders. It’s increased accountability for offenders.”

GPS software is supposed to allow a community corrections officer, more commonly known as a parole officer, to see where an offender is and whether the GPS signal is strong. It also sends email reports if there’s a problem.

But a high-profile case from last December shows some flaws in the system.

Sex offender _____ cut off four GPS bracelets in the months before he stole the Victoria Clipper from the Seattle waterfront, according to DOC records examined by KING 5. _____’s saga played almost like a comedy when it was reported that he’d removed his GPS bracelet and stole the ferry boat because he wanted to sail to Canada.

But there aren't many laughs in _____’s backstory. His mother said _____ was using methamphetamine and carrying a big knife while on GPS monitoring.

He sleeps here on the floor and he had a machete under his pillow, so I was getting concerned,” _____ said in her West Seattle apartment.

DOC records show _____ cut off at least four GPS bracelets. Other times he simply allowed his GPS battery die. Often, a few days would elapse before the DOC realized that _____ was un-tethered.

Somehow, we need to ensure we know about the lost or removed GPS units,” DOC Northwest Region Administration James Harms complained in a December 23 email after the Clipper theft.

We’re following up on that. I’m not sure where that’s at. I know that’s a continuing investigation,” said Pevey about _____’s successes at defeating his GPS device.

_____ was arrested for a disturbing incident after allowing his GPS battery to die. Three months before the Clipper theft, he was stopped by Seattle police officers near Boren and Union streets on Capitol Hill. _____ fit the description of a man who accosted a woman at a crosswalk. The man grabbed her arm and said he’d just gotten out of prison. He said he’d been “following her” and “stated that he hadn't had sex in a while,” according to DOC and police reports. The woman broke free and called police.

Seattle police say _____ was never criminally charged in that incident, but the DOC did send him to jail for 20 days for failing to keep his GPS charged.

DOC records show that community corrections officers receive thousands of alerts each month from GPS devices reporting that offenders are in inappropriate areas, are not at home when they are supposed to be or that there is not a strong signal coming from their device. Records show that homeless level 3 sex offender _____ had 293 alerts in August of 2013. The number jumped to 372 alerts the following month.

KING 5 asked DOC how its parole officers could possibly investigate so many alerts.

A lot of (_____) alerts were because he was charging his device at Barnes and Noble, a place he was prohibited from being, but he had to charge his device too," said Pevey. “So part of that is having the follow-up conversation and saying ‘where were you and what were you doing?’

_____, who served a lengthy prison sentence for molesting eight children, is no longer on DOC supervision and no longer wearing a GPS bracelet, but he is wanted for failing to register as a sex offender.

Last year the Los Angeles Times reported on a confidential report by the California Department of Corrections that detailed flaws in the GPS tracking of thousands of California ex-cons. The report that said the public was in “imminent danger” because of faulty GPS devices that criminals could easily tamper with. California cut its ties with manufacturer 3M and switched to another company.

The same 3M device is used by the Washington State Department of Corrections through a program run by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs.

3M and the product that we've been using, we found, has had great results,” said DOC’s Pevey.

It’s unclear what type of device the Fife city jail placed on Red’s ankle. After his interview with KING 5, he turned himself in to jailers. The Fife Municipal court, which runs the GPS program for several cities, says it did receive alerts about some problems with Red’s device.

Judge Kevin Ringus said calls were made to Red’s residence to check up on him, but they were never able to get him on the phone -- even though he was supposed to be on home detention.

Ringus said it appears that Red’s device was working most of the time until he was released from monitoring on February 5. (He was interviewed on camera by KING 5 on Feb. 6, and KING 5 saw Red's GPS monitor removed from his ankle a week earlier.)

[H]e had completed his monitoring without incident as we could still track his movements,” Ringus said in an email to KING 5.

Red said he never charged the device and could take it off his ankle at will.


TX - A teacher, sexting and the right to free speech

Sexting
Original Article

02/25/2014

By MITCH MITCHELL

He was 30 and she was 13 — a teacher and his student — but their relationship went far beyond the classroom, authorities say.

In six days in October 2012, they sent 688 text messages to each other, and the conversation became sexual, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

The messages — known as “sexting” — included descriptions of sexual preferences and fantasies and discussions of dreams about each other, the affidavit says.

_____, now 31, who was a junior high school teacher in the Everman district, was eventually arrested on a charge of online solicitation of a minor, which was later changed to improper relationship between an educator and student.

But this month, based on a recent appeals court ruling dealing with a similar case in Harris County, Tarrant County prosecutors dismissed his case.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled in October that a 2005 statute, which made sexually explicit online communication between an adult and minor illegal, violates the First Amendment right to free speech. The court examined the case of _____, who was arrested in 2010 after being accused of sending sexually explicit text messages to a student he met while working as a choir director in a school district outside Houston.

It’s OK for adults to talk dirty to children,” said Mark Bennett, the Houston attorney who defended _____.

Bennett had argued that the statute is too broad because “simple profanity or vulgarity — not rising to the level of obscenity — is constitutionally protected speech.”

Lawyers for the state contended that without the law “perverts will be free to bombard our children with salacious emails and text messages.”

The court’s opinion said sexual expression that is indecent but not obscene is protected by the First Amendment, and includes sexually explicit literature such as 50 Shades of Grey and Lady Chatterley’s Lover, as well as Miley Cyrus’ “twerking” during the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards.

Jurisprudence experts say the ruling, depending on the appellate process, could throw other cases into a legal black hole and could force state legislators to rewrite the law.

Bennett said that in the meantime, prosecutors should contact those convicted under the 2005 statute and tell them they have an avenue for redress, Bennett said.

I believe they have a duty to go back and set things right,” Bennett said.

Tarrant County prosecutors dismissed their case against _____ on Feb. 10.

The recent opinion by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has certainly caused us to re-examine a handful of cases and, where appropriate, seek to re-indict them under … online solicitation of a minor,” said Melody McDonald, spokeswoman for the Tarrant County district attorney’s office. “In this particular case, however, the facts didn’t fit that statute and that wasn’t an option.”

Attempts to contact _____ were unsuccessful. His attorney, Jim Shaw, said the statute is clearly unconstitutional.

It’s like having a 16-year-old talking to a 20-year-old and although 16-year-olds aren’t naive I guess state lawmakers figured they need protection,” Shaw said.

Used ‘bad judgment’

The student, identified in court documents by the pseudonym Mary Swan, had two classes with _____ at Baxter Junior High, which is located in Fort Worth and is governed by the Everman school district.

After school officials found that _____ had been sending the text messages to the student, they called the enforcement authorities and contacted her mother.

The mother contacted Fort Worth police, who interviewed the student. The student told police that she had exchanged phone numbers and began texting with _____ on Oct. 2, 2012. The messages became sexual, she said, and she told detectives that he had asked her not to tell anyone about their conversations, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

The text messages included “talking about if either of them walked around naked in their homes, keeping the relationship secret until the victim graduates, dreams that each of them had about each other, virginity and showing restraint while they are in the classroom,” the affidavit says.

Photographs were exchanged, including one of the student wearing a bra with no shirt.

In November 2012, police interviewed _____, who said that he had used “bad judgment” in sending the messages and that he knew she was a minor. He said he had not touched the student or met with her alone, according to the affidavit.

He was arrested Jan. 18, 2013, on a charge of online solicitation of a minor and was booked into jail on the improper relationship charge May 20. He was released on bail after three days, according to court records.

Still has teaching certificate

_____, who began working in the Everman district in August 2007, left the district Nov. 30, 2012. District officials declined to discuss the reasons for _____’ departure or the district’s response to the criminal investigation of his behavior.

_____’ teacher certification remains valid until July 2017 for teaching secondary history and social studies classes. But _____’ certification is under review by the State Board of Education’s Professional Discipline Unit, according to Texas Education Agency records.

There are instances when a teacher is under a criminal investigation and we suspend our investigation until the criminal investigation plays out,” a TEA spokeswoman said. “There also have been instances where a person might be exonerated in a criminal investigation but his certificate becomes invalid because of something that comes out during a school district investigation.”

A legislative matter?

Though the case against _____ has been dismissed, a motion for rehearing _____’s case is pending at the appeals court level.

Because the appellate jurists voted 9-0 to overturn the statute, Bennett, who defended _____, said he doubts that the petition for a rehearing will be successful.

If the Court of Criminal Appeals denies the petition, the state could petition the U.S. Supreme Court.

Alan Curry, chief of the appellate division for the Harris County district attorney’s office, said his staff is awaiting a decision on the petition before deciding on the next step.

He said the best option may be for state lawmakers to rewrite the law so that it satisfies the courts, “but that’s way down the road,” Curry said.

State Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, said the 2005 statute was originally proposed to keep children from being groomed by sexual predators. If the courts continue to block the law, lawmakers may have to sit down with the attorney general and come up with acceptable language, Zedler said.

The purpose of the First Amendment was to allow political dissent, not to allow adults to be vulgar with minors,” Zedler said.

‘Vague or ambiguous’

Shaw, _____’ attorney, said it would not matter whether an adult sent 2,000 sexually explicit text messages to a minor or just one, unless the adult is trying to get the minor to do something illegal, such as a meeting for sex, or is texting something obscene or pornographic; nonetheless, the state cannot get a conviction using the 2005 statute.

This is not the first time lawmakers in Austin have written a law that did not pass constitutional muster.

A lot of times these statues are vague or ambiguous,” Shaw said. “A lot of times they fail to say what’s illegal.”

Chad Ruback, an appellate attorney who worked at the Fort Worth office of the Court of Criminal Appeals, said the court’s message is directed to state lawmakers, saying they need to rewrite the law so that it achieves its stated purpose of protecting minors against sexting.

Our courts have ruled that limits on free speech are permissible but those limits need to be reasonable,” Ruback said. “I know lawmakers are disappointed in this opinion but they would be better off drafting new legislation that is more narrowly tailored and more likely to pass constitutional scrutiny.”


FL - Pasco County eighth grader faces child porn charge

Juvenile sex offenders
Original Article (Video available)

02/19/2014

By Chris Trenkmann

14-year-old posted nude photos on Facebook

NEW PORT RICHEY - A Pasco County eighth grader faces a felony child pornography charge after deputies say he posted nude pictures of a 13-year-old girl on Facebook.

Deputies said the 14-year old boy had been exchanging pictures on the app Kik but became angry when the girl stopped sending explicit photos.

"I can't imagine how horrified that mother was to look on Facebook and see a picture of her daughter masturbating," said Det. William Lindsey.

The girl, meanwhile, told investigators she never expected to see those photos made public.

"She's devastated," Lindsey said. "This was a guy she thought she was in a relationship with and that she had no idea that this was going to take place."

Detectives said the boy posted the photos to Facebook after she refused to send him more nude photos.

ABC Action News spoke with the suspect's mother, who said this was a case of two kids arguing and that it shouldn't have escalated into adult felony charges. She also said the girl is partly to blame for sending the nude photos in the first place.

Pasco County Sheriff's Chris Nocco said this is an example of why parents need to be careful when allowing their kids to have portable devices like tablets and cellphones. In this case, Kik doesn't require a phone line for members to text each other photos and videos. And because Kik is a foreign-owned website, it can be difficult to track or investigate criminal activity like child porn.

Deputies said parents need to pay close attention to these apps and monitor what their kids are sending and receiving because predators often use them as a place to contact minors.

"They find them. They send them sexually explicit photos. They solicit children for photographs," Lindsey said. "It becomes a problem because parents don't even realize what they're children are seeing."