Wednesday, March 19, 2014
MD - Howard County Police have charged a Baltimore police officer (Charles William Hagee) with sex offenses against a teenage girl
Howard County Police have charged a Baltimore police officer with sex offenses against a teenage girl.
Charles William Hagee was arrested this morning at Baltimore police headquarters and will be charged with third- and fourth-degree sexual offense and sexual solicitation of a minor.
Howard County Police received a tip regarding the prostitution of a 14-year-old girl in Columbia. Detectives believe Hagee contacted the girl through a phone number posted to an online prostitution advertisement.
Police believe the two exchanged text messages before meeting at his home and engaging in sexual activity on three separate occasions between January and May, 2013.
The Baltimore Police Department has confirmed Hagee, a 19-year veteran assigned to the Special Enforcement Section, has been suspended without pay.
The investigation is ongoing. Police encourage anyone who may have been a victim, or has additional information about Hagee, to come forward and contact police at 410-313-2630.
Education is the key to helping put a dent in sexual abuse. Glad this judge is doing this. We should teach this in schools.
The Hon. Scott J. Crichton, First La. District Court, talks to students about the dangers, legality and liabilities of online misbehavior.
ME - Former Maine State Police chief (Andrew E. Demers) admitted sexual abuse of a child under 12-years-old and attempted suicide
|Andrew E. Demers|
By Beth Brogan
NEW GLOUCESTER - Andrew E. Demers, a former chief of the Maine State Police, admitted to detectives that he had unlawful sexual contact with a young member of his family, according to Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce.
Joyce on Tuesday declined to discuss specifics of the alleged admission by Demers, 73, who was arrested Monday and charged with unlawful sexual contact with a person younger than 12 years old, a Class B felony. He was released on $5,000 cash bail.
Demers also attempted suicide before the investigation began about a week ago, for which he was hospitalized, Joyce said.
Detectives from the sheriff’s office, acting on a tip from a former employee of Demers’ at the Maine State Police, investigated reports of “an ongoing unlawful sexual contact situation,” Joyce said Monday.
Demers served 26 years with the Maine State Police and held the position of chief from 1987 to 1993, when he retired.
In 2003, Demers was the most decorated officer in state police history and was named a “Legendary Trooper,” the Sun Journal reported at the time
If convicted, Demers could serve up to 10 years in prison and face a maximum fine of $20,000.
Joyce said he is not aware of any past allegations of this nature against Demers.
The investigation into the allegations against Demers is closed, Joyce said Tuesday. Findings have been sent to the Cumberland County district attorney’s office.
Cumberland County District Attorney Stephanie Anderson will be the prosecutor for the Demers case, spokeswoman Tamara Getchell said Tuesday.
An initial appearance for Demers in Cumberland County Superior Court has not yet been set.
FL - Local law enforcement refuses to turn over records on secret sex stings, despite questionable practices
By Noah Pransky
PINELLAS COUNTY - Despite findings by 10 Investigates that officers and deputies may not have followed federal guidelines in trying to lure sexual predators during a recent sting, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office tells 10 News no discipline or action is expected.
The agency is also refusing to cooperate with 10 Investigates' public records requests for emails pertaining to the sting. The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office (PCSO) rejected a request for emails that did not pertain to open cases.
But PCSO said every email exchange from its four-day operation -- including from men who showed no interest in sex with underage children -- remained an open investigation, with arrests or prosecutions imminent. An agency spokesperson said there were no plans to close the cases anytime soon.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Polk Co. Sheriff's Office, and Clearwater Police Department also refused to provide requested chat logs pertaining to cases that resulted in no arrest or charges.
The January sting, dubbed "Operation: Home Alone," resulted in 35 arrests. But guidelines for the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force instruct undercover officers to "allow the investigative target to set the tone, pace, and subject matter of the online conversation." An alleged email chain (PDF) obtained by 10 Investigates indicates law enforcement may be willing to push past boundaries to get "targets" to talk about sex with children.
Local defense attorneys tell 10 Investigates that "there's no question [law enforcement] blurs the lines." But the state attorney's office in Pinellas County failed to return multiple requests for comment.
And while the Pinellas Co. Sheriff's Office, Pasco County Sheriff's Office, Clearwater Police Department, and FDLE all maintain every communication between officers and civilians is part of an open investigation, a spokesperson for the St. Petersburg Police Department contradicted the claim saying, "it's not uncommon to engage in a large number of conversations with a number of individuals, most of which never rises to the level of criminal conduct. Consequently, copies of those conversations (are not saved)."
Several agencies have told 10 Investigates their cases remain open because the agencies may again pursue some of the men who responded to their "casual encounters" ads, but ultimately were not arrested in the January sting.
A similar sting, conducted by the Manatee Co. Sheriff's Office (MCSO) called "Operation Green Shepherd III," resulted in similar refusals to turn over records.
An attorney for the MCSO told 10 Investigates that emails from individuals who responded to the "adult encounter"-type ads, even if they did not show interest in sex with minors, were exempt from public record laws because they were still considered part of "active" cases.
The attorney said the cases were still considered "active" investigations because "MCSO has a reasonable good faith anticipation of securing an arrest or prosecution in the foreseeable future. In those cases where an arrest was made, prosecution is pending."
10 Investigates will continue to fight for access to public records.
|Bobby Joe Chandler|
By ROBIN FITZGERALD
GULFPORT - A Harrison County deputy who once served as deputy warden at the county jail has been accused of sexual battery.
Bobby Joe Chandler, 64, of Gulfport, was arrested Saturday on a charge that alleges sexual involvement with a girl who is a juvenile.
Sheriff Melvin Brisolara confirmed the arrest Monday.
"He was terminated today," Brisolara said.
Chandler was booked at the Hancock County jail and held on a $100,000 bond.
Booking him at a neighboring jail is standard procedure to ensure his safety, the sheriff said.
Chandler had been promoted to deputy warden at the Harrison County jail Feb. 1, 2008.
Brisolara said Chandler served in that capacity less than a year and was named maintenance manager of buildings used by the sheriff's office, including the jail and work center.
"He didn't work in the enforcement part," Brisolara said, "but under the state Constitution, he was still considered a deputy."
The attorney general's office is investigating the case.
By Nick Banaszak
FAYETTEVILLE (WHNT) - A push for tougher sex offender notification laws in Tennessee came one step closer to reality Tuesday, part of an ongoing effort that originated in Lincoln County several months ago.
A committee in the Tennessee Legislature approved HB 1860 (Video), a bill that would allow municipal and county governments to mail written notices and post flyers in communities that convicted sex offenders move to.
Tennessee lists all of its registered sex offenders on a state website, the only legal method of notification the Volunteer State currently has. But Lincoln County Sheriff Murray Blackwelder said residents who don’t know about the site, or those who don’t have internet access, are vulnerable to potential danger. Blackwelder said issues with the current system came to a head at a community meeting in a rural part of the county last year.
“They [residents] were concerned because they weren’t notified that sex offenders were living in their communities,” said Blackwelder. “When we discussed the TBI website, it became evident that a lot of these people did not have access to the TBI website nor access to the internet.”
Sheriff Blackwelder decided to contact state legislators about the dilemma, a brainstorming session that gave birth to the Tennessee Community Notification Act. Blackwelder said it guarantees awareness for parents, and is cost-effective.
“This gives parents the knowledge of who is in their community,” said Blackwelder. “It doesn’t cost taxpayers a dime…In this bill there is an additional 50 dollar fee assessed to the sex offender. That 50 dollars will be earmarked for community notification.”
Alabama and several other neighboring states already have similar laws in place. Lincoln County officials said it’s one reason why several sex offenders have recently moved north of the state line.
Both bodies of the Tennessee Legislature are expected to formally vote on HB 1860 in the next few weeks.
By Saul Saenz
ORANGE CITY - A Volusia County Corrections officer is behind bars, charged with downloading child pornography.
Thirty-two-year-old Mark Pronost did not give himself up right away when Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents went to his home.
That's where an FDLE task force tracked a person downloading child pornography.
Officers had a hard time trying to question him after knocking on his door.
"After the initial contact, he barricaded himself in the room." said FDLE agent Tom Rodriguez.
Pronost's neighbors saw the dozens of law enforcement officers, including helicopters flying over their homes, and were alerted about the standoff.
"The police knocked on the door this morning and just told us either all of us get out or stay in," said Todd James, a homeowner.
After two hours of negotiations, Pronost surrendered peacefully.
Rodriguez said Pronost's children -- ages, 1, 4 and 7 years old -- were inside the house at the time.
Pronost was charged with two counts of possession of child pornography.
Detectives confiscated his computer to see if Pronost downloaded additional child porn.
Rodriguez said they found images of children around 7 years old, the same age as Pronost’s oldest child.
"Ah, it's crazy that it could be just across the street from you, I guess," said James.
A spokesman for the Florida Department of Children and Families said his agency is investigation. The children underwent a medical examination to make sure they are fine.
The children’s mother has custody.
Even though Pronost was arrested in Volusia, he was not transferred to the county jail. Instead, Rodriguez said he was transferred to another facility because Pronost had direct contact with inmates.
They are among the most prolific killers of Florida children, but they don’t carry a gun or a knife. The danger they carry is small enough to fit inside a pill bottle, a bong or a syringe.
Drugs are the cause of scores of child deaths every year in Florida.
The youngest casualties of Florida’s drug culture include Evan Longanecker, almost 2 months old when he was smothered by his drug-abusing mother, who passed out while breastfeeding him; 7-month-old Ella Moon Martin, whose mom stashed her pot in the baby’s diaper bag; and Logan Suber, a 2-month-old who died in a barn surrounded by his mother’s drugs and paraphernalia.
“Drugs are what drive the child-welfare system,” said Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jeri B. Cohen, a veteran who oversees the county’s drug program for unfit parents. She has called the state’s programs for combating parental drug addiction “inherently flawed and tremendously dangerous.”
They are inherently flawed, she said, because the system is, for the most part, voluntary. Parents can “just say no” — to testing, to treatment, to acknowledging their demons.
By Hanna Rosin
In a recent New York Times profile, Danah Boyd was described by one of her colleagues at NYU as our first anthropologist “who comes from the tribe she’s studying,” meaning that the 36-year-old researcher is a digital native who grew up immersed in the same online culture as the teenagers she now studies. “Danah Boyd often dresses like her youthful subjects,” reads the caption on a photo of her wearing a fuzzy animal beanie and striped knee-highs, suggesting that Boyd is an emissary from a new and unexplored terrain. But what’s most surprising about this lucid excerpt from Boyd’s new book, It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, is how little the dynamics between teenagers and their parents seem to have changed, and also how much online life resembles dynamics in the real world.
In 2007, as she was reporting the book, Boyd traveled to a suburb in Texas and met Sabrina, the 14-year-old daughter of military parents. Eventually their conversation turned to Sabrina’s fears about going online, the subject of Boyd’s research:
She liked to read messages in online communities, but she did not post messages or talk to anyone in online forums because “any person could be a forty-year-old man waiting to come and rape me or something. I’m really meticulous about that, because I’ve heard basically my whole life, don’t talk to people you don’t know online, ’cause they’ll come kill you.” Sabrina has never personally known any victims of such crimes, but she told me that she had seen episodes of Law and Order in which terrible things happened to people who talked to strangers online.
Sabrina is an extreme example of what Boyd finds everywhere—teenagers, but mostly their parents, gripped by fears of sexual predators and pedophiles lurking on the Internet. These are fears that are difficult to back up with any crime statistics but which nonetheless govern parental rules about Internet use. How to explain these fears, if they have no basis in reality? The explanation comes from much deeper shifts in parenting culture, which have affected not only kids’ Internet use but the entire way their lives are structured these days. Sabrina can’t roam freely online, but she can’t roam freely anywhere. Boyd notices immediately when she arrives in the Texas suburb that there are no teenagers in any of the public spaces—the parks, the malls, or the playgrounds. Although Sabrina’s parents have served in war zones, they perceive their own suburb as a grave danger to their daughter and don’t really let her go anywhere alone.
The norms of American parenting have changed dramatically in one generation. As I describe in an Atlantic story that will be published later this week, actions that used to be considered paranoid in the 1970s—walking third-graders to schools, holding your child in your lap going down a slide—have now become markers of responsible parenting. Just as parents are terrified of online predators, they routinely tell their children not to talk to strangers, even though a child has about as little a chance of being abducted by strangers today as he or she did in the 1970s. Boyd quotes geographer Gill Valentine's research on “moral panics,” specifically the stranger danger that took hold of us in the 1980s. As a result of that panic, Boyd points out, public spaces—meaning playgrounds but also the Internet—became demonized as places where kids could get hurt and face all kinds of sexual danger.
The most interesting thing Boyd does in her excerpt is narrow down exactly who is at risk of sexual abuse, and it’s not your average protected suburbanite. Most kids know what they’re doing. Alarmists often quote a study from the Crimes Against Children Research Center claiming 1 in 5 children has been sexually solicited online. But that study also found only 4 percent of solicitations came from people known to be older than 25 and that in 75 percent of the incidents reported, the teenagers said they were not upset or afraid. The kids vulnerable to predators are the same ones who are vulnerable in the real world: the ones who get drawn in, who participate all too willingly because they are neglected, or come from abusive homes, or are drug addicts, or starved in some way for adult attention. But because they are not the perfect victims, we don’t pay enough attention and instead scramble to build a fortress around the Sabrinas of the world. And in the case of the truly vulnerable kids, as Boyd writes, “fear is not the solution. Empathy is.”