Sunday, August 17, 2014

FL - Officers bend rules to boost sex sting arrest totals

Sheriff Grady Judd
Sheriff Grady Judd
Original Article (Video available)

08/09/2014

By Noah Pransky

This is the first of a two-part series examining how law enforcement is blurring the lines on due process.

POLK COUNTY - In the decade since Chris Hansen and "To Catch a Predator" popularized Internet sex stings, more than 1,200 men in Florida alone have been arrested, accused of preying on underage teens and children for sex.

But as the stings put more and more men behind bars, detectives are working harder and harder to keep up their arrest numbers. And the tactics they're using to put alleged sexual offenders in jail are sweeping up large numbers of law-abiding men, too.

A yearlong investigation by 10 Investigates reveals many of the men whose mugshots have been paraded out by local sheriffs in made-for-TV press conferences were not seeking to meet children online. Instead, they were minding their own business, looking for other adults, when detectives started to groom and convince them to break the law.

While detectives used to post ads suggesting an underage teen or child was available for sex, they now routinely post more innocuous personal ads of adults on traditional dating sites. When men – many of them under 25 with no criminal history - respond, officers switch the bait and typically indicate their age is really 14 or 15 years old. However, sometimes the storyline isn't switched until the men, who were looking for legal love, already start falling for the undercover agent.

According to arrest affidavits inspected by 10 Investigates, law enforcement is also now routinely making first contact with men who have done nothing wrong, responding to their ads on dating sites like PlentyOfFish.com. After men start conversing with what they think are adults, officers change the age they claim to be, but try to convince the men to continue the conversation anyway.

Other examples include undercover officers showing interest in a man, then later introducing the idea of having sex with the undercover's "child." If the men indicate they weren't interested, they were still often arrested for just talking to the adult.

Critics of the stings, including a number of prominent Tampa Bay law enforcement leaders, tell 10 News the operations make for better press conferences than they do crime fighting. Many of the men who are arrested for sexual predator crimes see little jail time.

But Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, when asked about over-aggressive detectives, instead went on the offensive: "The concern (I have) is that you inflate your investigative reporting to make it glitzy."


IA - The people's voice is angry: Outcry over sex offender's release fires up social media — but when does the fire get out of control?

Hateful idiot
Original Article

08/08/2014

By Sarah Tisinger

MUSCATINE - When a 23-year-old Muscatine man convicted of lascivious acts with a child was released from prison after serving four years of a 15-year sentence, the People of Muscatine exploded.

The outrage began after a July 30 post that appeared on the People of Muscatine Facebook page began taking on a life of its own. The post by the page's administrator was asking about the release of _____ from prison. Howard was sentenced to prison in 2010 after being found guilty of sexually abusing his girlfriend's baby son.

It didn't take long before responses to the post included death threats, graphic descriptions of bodily mutilation, and even jokes about _____'s arrest. The anger wasn't directed entirely at _____. One post said that the child's mother should be "stomped." Another person, who posted a defense of _____, was the target of outrage: "I guess Jessica needs to have her baby molested by this [man] to feel different."

The original post, and others after it, generated several hundred comments, nearly 50,000 views, and attracted the attention of KWQC-TV, who reported on _____'s release under the headline, "Child sex offender released early from prison."

What got lost in the public's outcry was the fact that _____'s release wasn't really early. He was released exactly when the law allowed.


Saturday, August 9, 2014

AZ - Owner of websites loses case in federal district court

Original Article

Click the "Offendex" label above for all related articles.

Excerpt:
This newsflash from California RSOL Charles Rodrick, owner of a family of websites that publishes the names, photos and other personal information regarding registered citizens and sometimes members of their families, today lost a case filed against him.


Who's Lying, Who's Self-Justifying? Origins of the He Said/She Said Gap in Sexual Allegations

Video Description:
The Woody Allen sex scandal of 2013 triggered a national conversation on who to believe, with people lining up on each side as if they knew what really happened. Based on recent research on how people navigate the often tricky waters of sexual negotiation, Dr. Carol Tavris shows that it is entirely possible in some sexual assault cases neither side is lying, but instead both sides feel justified in their positions. This talk was considered one of the best ever given at The Amazing Meeting.


WI - Former sheriff's deputy (Jeffrey Hilgers) charged with sex assault, child porn

Jeffrey C. Hilgers
Jeffrey C. Hilgers
Original Article

08/07/2014

By Ed Treleven

A former Dane County sheriff’s deputy who allegedly began a sexual relationship with a woman while she was in a jail diversion program was charged Thursday with second-degree sexual assault.

Jeffrey C. Hilgers, 42, of Madison, who resigned in August 2013 from the Dane County Sheriff’s Office, was also charged with seven counts of possessing child pornography, which was allegedly discovered on his computer as investigators searched it for evidence related to his alleged relationship with the former inmate.

According to a criminal complaint filed Thursday, Hilgers began a relationship in April 2013 with a 42-year-old woman who was in the Pathfinders Jail Diversion Program .

According to the complaint, at the time that Hilgers and the woman first met, she was an inmate in the Dane County Jail and he was assigned to the housing units where she was incarcerated. But the relationship didn’t begin until later, when the woman was at home on the diversion program.

State law forbids sexual contact between correctional officers and inmates because of the supervisory role the officers have over the inmates. In recent years, several guards have been convicted of having sexual relationships with inmates at state prisons.

Guards or correctional staff who have sex with inmates can be charged with second-degree sexual assault.

Hilgers appeared in court Thursday and was released on a signature bond. His lawyer, Brian Hough, declined to comment .

According to the complaint:

The woman told Pathfinders program manager Fran Augustine in May 2013 that she was in a relationship with a sheriff’s deputy who knew she was in Pathfinders.

The woman met with investigators and said that there was nothing going on between her and Hilgers while she was in the jail, where she said she hardly talked to him. But they ran into each other in April 2013 at Capitol Centre Foods and began talking, then exchanged phone numbers and email addresses. They met for coffee that day.

During the interview with investigators, the woman also said, “I just am so afraid that he’s going to get in trouble here and it’s really unwarranted.”

In the weeks that followed, their relationship included sex, she said, but she said she never felt as though he used his position as a sheriff’s deputy to pressure her into sex.

Hilgers told another sheriff’s deputy about the relationship on May 30, 2013, and said that nothing had happened while the woman was in the jail. Hilgers told Deputy Gerald King that the woman was supposed to get off the jail diversion program around April 30, 2013, but her release date was extended.

King told investigators that Hilgers didn’t seem to realize the gravity of the situation until King told him that the woman was still an inmate.

Hilgers told investigators that when he learned that the woman’s release date had been extended, he decided he couldn’t wait any longer and began to see her.

As part of the investigation, investigators got a search warrant and seized two computers from his house, looking for evidence of communication between Hilgers and the woman. A search of the computers turned up eight images considered to be child pornography.

Hilgers is alleged to have possessed the child pornography in July 2011, prior to an April 2012 change in state law that made child porn possession punishable by a mandatory minimum three years in prison.

For crimes before the change in law, there was a mandatory minimum three-year prison sentence, but the old law allowed judges to impose a lesser sentence or place offenders on probation if they believe the sentence is “in the best interests of the community and the public will not be harmed.”