Saturday, March 29, 2014

IA - Sex Offenders No More? Iowa Reconsiders Tough Law on HIV Exposure

Leslie Flaggs
Leslie Flaggs
Original Article

03/29/2014

By MIRANDA LEITSINGER

In 2006, a few years after Leslie Flaggs learned she had contracted HIV, she made a new friend at her church in Sioux City, Iowa. As her relationship with the man turned from Bible study to intimacy, Flaggs said, she revealed to him that she had the disease.

But the man went to police in May 2007 and said she hadn’t disclosed her HIV status until after they’d slept together. Flaggs says that because she feared the man – who was convicted of domestic abuse-assault for hitting her two weeks before he filed his complaint, according to court documents – she didn’t challenge his story to police.

Flaggs agreed to a plea bargain rather than face the alternative: up to a quarter century in prison as mandated by a state law targeting criminal exposure to HIV. She received a 25-year suspended sentence, four years of probation and a decade on the sex offender registry. Prosecutors at the time said her accuser did not acquire HIV; the law applies whether or not victims are infected. NBC News could not reach him recently for comment.

For Flaggs, 53, living with the disease and being on the sex offender registry has been so hard that she has contemplated suicide. “This has taken my life," she said. "I feel like I’m in prison.”

But things may soon change for people living with HIV in Iowa: Lawmakers are debating whether to repeal the state law on criminal exposure and replace it with one that would impose more moderate sentences and would better reflect current medical understanding of how the disease is transmitted. If the legislation is approved, Iowa would be one of the first states to revise its decades-old statute that imposes criminal sentences for HIV exposure. HIV/AIDS advocates have long been fighting for such changes to the more than 30 state laws nationwide (PDF), but they’ve often met resistance.

We’ve got to get this done this year,” said Tami Haught, of an Iowa nonprofit, Community HIV/Hepatitis Advocates of Iowa Network (Facebook). She last month watched another Iowan receive a sentence similar to Flaggs’, and yet another state resident recently challenged his conviction for not disclosing his status to a partner even though he used a condom. “We can’t open up any other Iowan to this kind of prosecution when it is so unjust.”


AUSTRALIA - Support programs challenge community hatred

It's madness
"It's Madness"
Original Article

This reporter posted the following question under the image on the article: "Is redemption possible for paedophiles?" Well of course it's possible! Not everybody who sexually abuses a child is a pedophile, by definition. Reporters need to stop misusing the terms "sex offender," and "pedophile" as if they mean the same thing, they do not.

03/29/2014

By Daniella Miletic

Barbara pulls a thick stack of handwritten notes from a cloth bag, places them on the table and starts talking in a voice that never rises above the softly conversational. On a warm Melbourne morning in a city cafe, she smiles comfortably but glances discreetly around, not wanting to be overheard. There are few topics, she says, that are more volatile than the one she is here to talk about.

She grips a small clump of her hair, saying it was fear that drained the pigment from these strands the day her husband told her his secret. The day she decided to leave. ''It caused instant menopause. I decided I was going to go,'' she says, and then stops. ''I love him. It's bloody hard.''

Even when pressed, she offers little more detail of that day, of that time, of the crime her husband revealed to her. ''The fact is, I knew he was in a bad place and I suppose my head didn't want to let the suspicions through. But once I knew, I told him what we had to do, and that was to hand himself in.''

Barbara convinced her husband to confess and he went to jail. She chose to stand by him because of her love and her religious faith, she says. If anything else had been wrong with him, if he were schizophrenic, an alcoholic, she knows she would have tried to help him. ''People might hate these men, but God doesn't,'' she says. ''And one of the reasons Jesus got nailed on the cross was for mixing with the wrong kind of people. Back then it was prostitutes and lepers.''

Today, it is paedophiles.

But Barbara believes in redemption. When she was growing up, her father worked in prison reform, helping criminals, mainly men, restart their lives outside prison. Often, he would take them into the family home. ''They would live with us until they got work. They were my friends,'' says Barbara. ''We wouldn't talk about their crimes, most criminals don't want to talk about that, but we often talked about their lives when their lives were good. Their memories.''

Since her husband's release several years ago, Barbara has dedicated her own life to his rehabilitation, learning about paedophilia and its treatments and watching him to make sure he never does anything like it again. She read about a Canadian program that aims to prevent child abuse by creating a friendship group around sex offenders. She felt there were similarities to Alcoholics Anonymous and believed it might work for her husband. Besides, no other treatment program was on offer except a Salvation Army course for drug addiction, which he also took on, because his was an addiction of a kind.

She has been unofficially mimicking the program since he was released, with just her and a counsellor as his support group. For years she has also been campaigning, pleading - with police, politicians, church groups - for help to start a group to make the treatment available for all child sex offenders in Australia once they get out of jail.

Barbara says she had not prepared herself for the hatred, sometimes the violence, she would encounter. ''I am trying to make sense of the monster theory, the rock spider thing,'' she writes in a diary entry almost a decade old. ''I have discovered a wall of suspicion, and an overwhelming resistance to viewing sexual offending as anything but the worse kind of intentional evil …"

''The resistance is so great, that anyone who bears any other kind of message is viewed as naive at best, and plain evil at worst … The experts in this area stay very quiet for they also shrink from the hysterical reactions. Consequently most people do not doubt the monster model, and seem to prefer to believe that either these people are untreatable or that they don't deserve to be treated.''

This is why a treatment program like Circles of Support and Accountability, she says, one that carries the motto ''No More Victims'', can't seem to get off the ground here. ''It's madness,'' she says, shaking her head.


OH - Attorney Brad Koffel Gets Client’s Mandatory Sexual Registration Reversed

Off the list
Original Article

03/28/2014

Columbus (PRWEB) - The Koffel Law Firm's Brad Koffel and Cleveland lawyer Russell Bensing successfully achieved a reversal of their client's mandatory sexual registration in a case heard by an Ohio appeals court (State v. Moore, 2014 Ohio 1123 - Ohio: Court of Appeals, 2nd Appellate Dist. 2014).

According to court documents, Koffel's client appealed his classification as a Tier II sex offender on the grounds that "the trial court erred in classifying him without a hearing, and without factual findings by a jury beyond those admitted by him."

In order for the Tier II sex offender classification to stand, factual findings outside the elements of Ohio's "Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a Minor" statute were required unless the defendant admitted them or waived his right to a jury with respect to those findings.

The defendant-appellant pled "no contest" to the charge against him, which could have fulfilled the "findings necessary for a Tier II classification" requirement, but the appeals court found that because the defendant-appellant's plea of no contest was "other than knowing and intelligent," the trial court was wrong to accept it. Therefore, the appeals court reversed the judgment.

About the Attorney:
Attorney Bradley P. Koffel founded The Koffel Law Firm in Columbus, Ohio. He has been included in the list of Best Lawyers in America® since 2008, and voted to the list of Ohio Super Lawyers® and Rising Stars℠ since 2005. Aside from legal honors and recognition, what sets Mr. Koffel apart is the way he strives to get to know his clients on a personal level to achieve the best results. To learn more, visit http://www.columbuscriminaldefensefirm.com.


CA - LA Deputies Demanded Sex From Female Trainees: Lawsuit

To protect and serve?
Original Article

03/29/2014

By Jason Kandel, Jonathan Lloyd and Gordon Tokumatsu

A group of tattooed male deputies with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department who called themselves the "Banditos" allegedly sexually harassed female trainees and demanded sexual favors as part of initiation, according to a report by NBC News.

_____, who was assigned to the East Los Angeles Sheriff’s station in Boyle Heights beginning in 2011, is seeking unspecified damages.

She alleges sexual harassment, hazing and retaliation that included being run off the road by another deputy, being slammed into a wall while she held a loaded shotgun, and having a dead rat placed under her car after she reported objectionable behavior, according to the lawsuit.

_____'s attorney Gregory Smith said the deputies involved were part of a gang.

"I see sheriff's deputies that are sworn to protect us acting like the people they're supposed to be putting in jail," Smith said, showing some of the "Banditos" T-shirts emblazoned with skeletons and one reading, "Wanted Dead or Alive."

_____ alleges she was shown photos of other female deputies performing sexual favors for male deputies. She said she was nearly driven off the road by a Banditos member. She also said she was bumped up against a station house wall.

She alleged someone dropped a dead rat near her car.

Ultimately, she said, she was given a less-desirable department job after she complained.

Interim Sheriff John Scott said the deputies involved were disciplined after an investigation was launched three years ago when the allegations first surfaced. He added, though, that a new investigation would be launched.

The legal challenge comes more than a month after a grand jury indicted two deputies on civil rights charges for allegedly striking a restrained inmate in jail.

The deputies allegedly covered up their actions by preparing false police reports, according to federal prosecutors.

The allegations are part of a larger investigation into the use of illegal force by LA County deputies in jails. The investigation resulted in civil rights and corruption charge again 18 current and former members of the department.

Sheriff Lee Baca has elected not to seek a fifth term.


GA - The "sex offender" money making scheme continues to grow!

Money
Original Article

03/29/2014

In 1994 the Jacob Wetterling Act established the first national sex offender registry law, and Indiana’s “Zachary’s Law” placed their state registry online.

In 1996 “Megan’s Law” was passed at the federal level, forcing states to maintain publicly accessible registries and allowing all levels of community notification.

In 1997 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld civil commitment in Kansas v. Hendricks, and a year later, Delaware passed the first law requiring registrants to carry a special ID card
.
In 2005 strict mandatory minimum laws were created with the Jessica Lunsford Act followed by the Adam Walsh Act in 2006. (1)

These laws are the result of horrific acts of violence often resulting in murder and with actual or assumed sexual motivation against youth. They were driven in equal parts by grieving parents wanting justice, politicians who, for reasons both altruistic and self-serving, were willing to take up the cause, and a media fired by the sensationalism inherent in the issue.

The cases that drove the laws are rare anomalies; with instant telecommunications and every story being repeated beyond counting, the impression is easily given and received that these heinous incidents happen every day. They don’t. They represent the tiniest fraction of all sexual offenses, but the transition is easily made in the public’s mind: sex offender = violent, predatory pedophile and potential murderer.

And an industry was born—a multi-million if not billion dollar industry—containing but not limited to these branches; the only order attempted is alphabetical.


NH - Bill would ban limits on sex offender residency - Court rules them unconstitutional, but politicians don't want to look "soft" on crime!

Unconstitutional
Original Article

03/29/2014

By LYNNE TUOHY

CONCORD (AP) - New Hampshire lawmakers are considering whether to bar municipalities from restricting where the state's more than 2,500 registered sex offenders can live in light of court rulings that found the restrictions are unconstitutional.

The House passed the proposed ban by a vote of 231-97 in February. The bill now moves to the Republican-controlled Senate, where it faces an uphill battle.

The New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union successfully challenged sex offender residency restrictions first in Dover, then in Franklin.

In the most recent ruling in 2012, a Merrimack County Superior Court judge said Franklin officials failed to show that barring sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of a school, day care or playground protects children. A judge in 2009 struck down Dover's ordinance on similar grounds.

"Many individuals in law enforcement have said the restrictions have the opposite effect," said Devon Chaffee, executive director of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union. "They discourage sex offenders from registering and make it more difficult for law enforcement to keep track of them. It drives them underground."

Tilton, Sanbornton, Northfield and Boscawen still have residency restrictions, Chaffee said.

"That's why this is really a state issue," Chaffee said. "When one town adopts these restrictions, it can push these individuals out of that city or town."

There were 2,566 registered sex offenders living in New Hampshire in December 2013, according to data compiled by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. State law requires sex offenders to register with the police department of the town in which they reside but puts no restrictions on where they can live, leaving that to local governments.

_____, 32, of Nashua, was convicted in 2010 of felonious sexual assault for having sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 25. He maintains the sex was consensual. Since his conviction, he has found it difficult to find housing.

"I had that one mistake," _____ said Friday. "It's not like I'm stalking little 3-year-olds. Trying to survive afterward has become harder than the original charge."

His sister offered to let him live in her home in Hudson, then discovered police had hand-delivered letters to her neighbors detailing _____' criminal conviction. His sister told him he could no longer live there because she feared her children would be bullied, he said.
- Even the public knows the online registry and notifications put lives in danger!

Hudson police say they have no residency restrictions but confirm their practice is to deliver notices to residents when a sex offender moves into a neighborhood.

"Each city has its own strict rules," _____ said. "It's like they set you up to fail."

Half the states have laws restricting where sex offenders can live. California's statute was recently found unconstitutional by an appeals court, and a higher court is likely to decide the question. In some places, tight regulations have made it nearly impossible for sex offenders to find a place to live. In 2007 in Miami, more than 100 sex offenders created a camp under a bridge because of strict limits on where they could live.

In the New Hampshire town of Franklin, Town Manager Elizabeth Dragon said its ordinance was amended to remove the residency restrictions after the court ruling. But she opposes a state law, saying other municipalities should have the opportunity to pursue a state Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of the restrictions. Franklin withdrew its appeal of the lower court ruling.

"Something that works for one community may not work for another," she said.

Dragon also stressed that the court rulings could change if research links residency restrictions to public safety.

Tilton Police Chief Robert Cormier said his department is not actively enforcing the town's residency restrictions in light of the court rulings.

"The main focus here is really stringent registration and monitoring," Cormier said. "That's the biggest piece for us."

Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, a Wolfeboro Republican, predicts the bill won't pass the Senate.
- Yeah, they don't want to look "soft" on criminals, especially "sex offenders!"

"The Senate is going to want to protect kids and other people sexual predators could attack," Bradley said. "I think getting rid of any kind of residency restrictions — like in proximity of schools and day care centers — will be a very hard sell for senators, even in the face of a couple of court rulings."

Rep. Carol McGuire, a Merrimack Republican, said she co-sponsored the bill because she doesn't think residency restrictions are effective.

"Since other towns were trying to do the same thing, it seemed the sensible thing to do, to head them off at the pass," McGuire said.

Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan hasn't decided whether to sign the bill if it passes the Senate. Most Republicans in the House voted against the ban.

"The governor will listen to the views of law enforcement, local communities, advocates, victims and all stakeholders as the measure is considered by the Senate," Hassan spokesman Marc Goldberg said.


WA - Judge admits releasing sex offender info could cause irreparable harm

Donna Zink
Donna Zink
Original Article

03/29/2014

By Tyler Richardson

Benton County Superior Court Judge Bruce Spanner is expected to sign orders April 18 officially preventing Benton County from releasing any low-level sex offender information to Donna Zink.

This will cover every Level 1 sex offender,” said Ryan Lukson, deputy county prosecutor. “Ms. Zink has already appealed. Her appeal will be effective the (day after April 18).”

Spanner ruled in January that the personal information of more than 400 Level 1 sex offenders is confidential and Zink has no “legitimate interest” in it.

Zink requested the information last summer to create a digital database so people could know if sex offenders are living in their neighborhoods, she said.

The information -- which includes offenders’ names, addresses, pictures and other details -- could cause offenders irreparable harm if it’s released, Spanner wrote in his decision.
- At least he admits the truth which also affects level 2 & 3 offenders as well as their families and children!

At a hearing Friday, Spanner shot down arguments from Shelley Williams, assistant attorney general, who represents the Washington State Patrol.

Williams argued that sex offenders’ registration information is public record and that the criminal justice system needs to be as transparent as possible.

She wanted an injunction -- which prevents state police from releasing sex offender information from its statewide database to Zink -- dismissed.

But Spanner stuck by his earlier ruling, citing case law, particularly State v. Ward, which states the information is confidential.

Intellectually, I always go back to the same place and that is State v. Ward,” Spanner said at the hearing.

The case is expected to be decided in higher courts. Zink, who represents herself, has requested sex offender information from multiple agencies in at least three counties across the state.

Franklin County released low-level sex offender information to Zink after her initial request.

There are several injunctions in place in Benton, King and Yakima counties preventing multiple agencies and county officials from releasing sex offender information to Zink.

The Washington American Civil Liberties Union has fought to get injunctions in place in King County.

Zink has also requested more than 80,000 emails from Benton County officials that contain sex offender information. An injunction is place preventing the release of emails that contain sex offender information.

The county was releasing emails in installments to Zink that didn’t contain sex offender information. Zink has since put her request on hold because county officials told her it would take more than a decade to meet.

We asked her to consider amending the request,” Lukson said. “Given our current pace, we would not complete it until 2032.”