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05/11/2008 MANCHESTER - News that a convicted child killer has moved into the city prompted the mayor to create a committee to study tightening restrictions on where sex offenders can live.
Douglas Simmons lived briefly in Derry in January, but moved back to Connecticut after the community rallied against him. Last week, he moved to Manchester and registered as a child offender.
Mayor Frank Guinta (Contact) says he thinks the city should take another look at preventing sex offenders from living near schools, libraries, parks or other places where children gather.
Simmons served 22 years in prison for killing a 6-year-old girl in Norwich, Conn. Authorities said he also admitted molesting the girl, but was not charged with that crime.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
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A video posted on YouTube.com is causing a lot of concern among Memphis City School parents.
Now were trying to find solutions.
The clip labeled, "Mitchell High School Memphis ... Rape Dat Ho," was posted last month. It was flagged as offensive then taken down, but not before News Channel 3 recorded the clip on tape.
The images are disturbing. They are graphic and hard to watch. It shows young men and women engaging in what one parent described as "sex with clothes on."
We knew the video would get a strong reaction. We aired the video Monday to expose the problem in order to stir constructive conversation, then offer solutions.
We sat down with four women from Girls Inc. in Uptown Memphis. The group's mission is to inspire young girls to be "strong, smart and bold."
"Where are the chaperones? Whose really watching? They feel so free to do this," Girls Inc. Outreach Coordinator Monique Clayton said after viewing the tape. She works with young women inside Memphis City Schools.
She says solving this problem starts with honesty. "Are you willing to accept and admit there may be a problem in your school? School systems may not be willing to accept that," she says.
"There needs to be a discussion had," said Netisha Burnett who also viewed the tape. "Maybe she doesn't know that it's not OK. Some of our youth don't know certain things are just not OK," she says referring to one of the girls in the tape who is seen participating in a dance simulating sex.
"It seems like girls would have more dignity than to do something like that," said 13-year-old Autum Taylor. She's been going to Girls Inc. for years. She says they've instilled a strong message. "The message to me is to respect your body."
Girls Inc. offers every school in the district a comprehensive course to empower young women at the beginning of the school year. Not all of the schools accept their invitation.
The women we talked with during the round-table discussion said they'd be willing to chaperone dances in the future to prevent what we saw on YouTube from happening again.
MCS Administration's Response:
We showed the YouTube video to a group of five administrators last week. They offered a response after viewing the tape.
"We've had an opportunity to look at the video and just want to make it very clear that behavior that we saw on the tape is very disturbing," said MCS spokesperson Staci Franklin. "However, in just what we've seen today we cannot clearly identify that those are our students and that it is one of our schools."
News Channel 3 received a written request for a copy of the tape, and we provided that copy to the administration Tuesday.
"With further investigation, if we are able to identify any student that participated in this, it totally violates our student code of conduct and they will be disciplined accordingly," said Franklin.
The Superintendent has now responded:
"To say that we are troubled by the video that aired on one of the local television stations last night would be an understatement. We are shocked and disappointed by the behavior of students shown in the video clip. These images demonstrate a serious issue that educators, parents and community stakeholders alike must focus on -- the need for a more productive partnership between schools and homes to ensure children understand how to act as responsible, mature young adults with a sense of self respect," wrote Superintendent Dan Ward in a statement sent to News Channel 3.
School Board Members Watch the Tape:
The point of showing the graphic video during our newscast was to stir conversation. We believe as many school board commissioners as possible should be involved in that discussion.
We brought the video to the school board meeting Monday. We wanted our elected officials to respond to the video after the meeting, but the administration's public relations department interfered.
A spokesperson told us it was an inappropriate time and place to show the video. What would be an appropriate place? A public relations representative contacted News Channel 3 Tuesday, telling us the board commissioners would be available at Memphis City Hall. Those commissioners were at city hall to listen to Mayor Willie Herenton's speech on the state of the schools.
We showed the tape to Commissioner Patrice Robinson in the city council chambers. "As a board, what we can do is say what goes on at these parties, there has to be some order. Maybe that's what we need to do is talk about that as a policy," she said.
That's the type of progress and discussion school parents tell us they're looking for. Board members and parents are asking the same questions we have; Where were the chaperones? Why was there a break-down in supervision?
We wanted to talk to parents to get their reaction to the tape after it aired Monday night. We ran into another hurdle when we approached them outside Mitchell High School Tuesday afternoon. An administrator with the school tried to silence the parents. "We're trying not to do any interviews with this right here," he told one mother who was about to talk with us about the video.
"I would like for you to please leave," he told our camera crew.
We didn't leave.
Parents wanted to give us their opinions on the dirty dancing, so we stuck around to listen.
"I hope they have supervision in there and that doesn't happen again," said one parent. "It was disgusting. It was disgraceful. Where are our young people headed? They're here to get an education not to be sexually explicit."
On Your Side Investigation Uncovers New Tape:
During our investigation into the first tape, we found another clip on YouTube called "Mitchell High Talent Show."
It starts off with a performance, but by the end several students are simulating sex on the same gym floor as the first tape.
There's a big difference on the second clip. You can see several administrators walking past the camera. Eventually students start pouring onto the gym floor in excitement over what they are seeing. At the end of the clip an adult ushers the crowd back to the bleachers.
MCS sent us the following statement after we sent a clip of the second video:
"Pop-culture, the Internet and mainstream media greatly influence the activity and behavior of today's youth. We trust that our partners in education -- parents, guardians and school families will continue to reinforce to children the appropriate way to conduct themselves before, during and after school hours." - Memphis City Schools
The statement did not answer any questions about how high school administrators responded to the behavior. We sent the following questions back to MCS:
- Why did it take so long for an administrator to address what was happening on the gym floor?
- Were the students reprimanded for the behavior they displayed at the end of the talent show?
- Does this demonstrate a pattern of tolerance toward this type of behavior?
An MCS spokesperson told us the people who could best answer those questions were already gone for the day by the time the administration received the clip. We're told those questions will now be forwarded to the appropriate people.
Local Pastor Calls for Action:
We aired the YouTube video in order to stir conversation that would hopefully result in concrete solutions. We've received plenty of responses. One of them came from Rev. Eric Pearman. He's the pastor at Abyssinian Missionary Baptist Church on Millbranch. He also has a Ph.D. in African American Studies.
Pearman wants to put together a series of community meetings to address the issue. "To have these kids talk out to us, let us listen to them. Why are you doing this? What are you seeking?", he says.
Pearman reacted to the report we aired Tuesday night that showed an administrator at Mitchell High School trying to silence parents as we went to talk to them about the tape.
"Not only was I deeply disturbed by the content of the video, but the disposition, action, and reaction of certain personnel within the Memphis Public School system," he says.
"It goes on all over the country, don't get me wrong, but it seems as if there's this tolerance or acceptance of this kind of negative behavior. We bury our heads in the sand. We don't want to address this issue head on. We have to address those issues head on."
Updated 5/08/2007 Mitchell High Principal Responds:
May 8, 2008
"I would first like to apologize to the Memphis community and to the Memphis City Schools family for the embarrassment these videos have caused. I take full responsibility for the inappropriate content in one of the acts in a talent show, and understand we should have taken immediate action and ended that performance.
While the matter of another video shown on a local station remains an open investigation, I want to make it clear that we take this incident very seriously. We are working with Memphis City Schools Security to determine if that footage was also taped at Mitchell High and whether students from our school were involved.
Today, I conveyed to our entire student body the message that every student and staff member should conduct themselves in an appropriate and responsible manner. We hold high expectations of our students at Mitchell
High and expect each member of our school family to be respectful of others and, most importantly, of themselves. I would like to assure the community that this sort of behavior is not a reflection of the majority of our students who follow the Student Code of Conduct and who come to school to learn. Our goal is to continue to provide the best possible learning environment and to develop all aspects of our students' lives."
Mitchell High School
STUDENTS SUSPENDED, NO WORD ON DISCIPLINE AGAINST ADMINISTRATORS:
Updated 5/09/2008 -- Memphis City Schools officials confirm several students have been arrested as a result of an internal investigation conducted after News Channel 3 uncovered two disturbing tapes on YouTube.com.
MCS now acknowledges what we've been telling you for days, that both tapes were taken inside Mitchell High School's gym.
An MCS spokesperson says students have been disciplined according to the code of conduct, but the public relations department didn't know how many students.
They also couldn't tell us whether administrators have been held accountable. In the first tape there is not an administrator in sight while at least seven students simulate sex acts on the gym floor. During the second tape, taken during a talent show, adults walk by while one of the acts turns inappropriate.
We're told Principal John Ware apologized to Mitchell's parents through the school system's parent-link phone system.
We're told by MCS that the investigation is over, and the case is closed. School Board Commissioner Kenneth Whalum, Jr. says the administration should provide more information to the public before they close the books on this case.
Stay with News Channel 3 as we continue to seek answers to the questions parents and community members are asking.
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No arrests have been made. What about the father and brother of the girl who killed this man? You can figure out who stabbed who later. Taking the law into your own hands is wrong, illegal and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Officials say the man was stabbed during a confrontation with the father and brother of the girl, 15, who said he had made sexual advances toward her.
A man was fatally stabbed Friday afternoon after he was confronted by the father and brother of a teenage girl who told them he had made sexual advances as she walked on a busy Bell Gardens street, authorities said today.
The stabbing took place about 3:43 p.m. in the 7700 block of Eastern Avenue near Clara Street shortly after the 15-year-old girl ran home and told her family she had just been accosted, Los Angeles County sheriff's officials said.
Shortly after, they said, the girl's father and brother went out in search of the man. They apparently located him quickly and a fight broke out. During the fight the man was stabbed, authorities said.
He was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
- And they took the law into their own hands and murdered a man, now they need to be in prison until they die.
Sheriff's Deputy Rick Castro said no arrests had been made. Investigators have not determined who stabbed the man, he said. Bell Gardens police officers initially responded to the scene, Castro said.
- This is just insane... If this was a man stabbing another man and it wasn't sexual in nature, they'd be in jail right now, waiting bond or a court date. Now we have possibly two killers roaming the streets.
The name of the man was not released pending notification of next of kin, county coroner's investigator Betsy Magdaleno said today.
It was unknown how the father and brother had identified the man as the one who allegedly accosted the teenager. Bell Gardens police declined to answer questions about the incident. A sheriff's deputy in the department's media relations office said she did not have more details to release.
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So why is a district attorney deciding on laws to be created? He is a lawyer, not a politician... Sounds like he needs to change professions to me.
Hickory considers ban to include public parks, rec centers
Hickory could become the second city in the four-county area to ban registered sex offenders from public parks and recreation centers.
The proposal, intended to discourage sex offenders from visiting public playgrounds and gyms, is a response to District Attorney Jay Gaither's call for such bans in the 25th Judicial District.
In January, Morganton became the first city in the district to adopt such a ban. Gaither sent a letter to local governments last November, encouraging them to ban sex offenders from public parks and recreation centers.
Hickory recreation officials recently discussed the concept with members of the city's Parks and Recreation Commission, who endorsed the proposal. At the commission's meeting Tuesday, it will consider a draft ordinance to recommend to Hickory City Council for final approval.
If adopted, the ban would apply to nonviolent offenders, as well as violent offenders.
- In other words, it affects all sex offenders..
Civil liberties advocates have opposed such measures in other areas, saying they violate offenders' rights. The American Civil Liberties Union contested a similar law last year in Woodfin, calling it too broad, but the N.C. Court of Appeals upheld a local court decision that the ban didn't violate offenders' fundamental rights. The ACLU has appealed the decision to the N.C. Supreme Court.
- We always hear the courts say the laws are constitutional, but on what grounds? Sounds like we have a bunch of people in this country that do not give a rats a$$ about someones rights anymore. They all also took an oath to uphold the Constitution, which they apparently lied about, so they should be fired for FRAUD!
Among the ideas local officials are discussing to enforce the Hickory proposal are the placement of signs outside parks and recreation centers informing sex offenders that they can't enter and letters sent about the ban to offenders who live in the Hickory region.
Mack McLeod, the city's parks and recreation director, said the ban would make public recreation facilities safer. He pointed out that the city started requiring criminal background checks on volunteer coaches several years ago and that the sex offender ban would add further protection.
- Yeah, parks would be 100% safe if nobody went to them as well. This is nothing but a placebo!
The city has 23 parks, six recreation centers and two senior citizen centers, all of which would fall under the ban.
Police Chief Tom Adkins said his department would rely on the public to notify it of any offenders seen in recreation areas. He said his department hasn't dealt with sexual predatory incidents in such facilities, but that a couple of years ago some adults were solicited for sex in city parks.
- It's because the "stranger danger" concept is a myth... 90% or more of all sexual crimes occur in the victims own home or close family. We hasn't went to parks for sex? Remember the old drive in days?
There are 190 people listed on the state's sex offender registry in Catawba County, 92 of those with Hickory addresses. There are 57 listed in Alexander County, 99 in Burke County and 124 in Caldwell County. The public can search the registry to check if any offenders live nearby.
Convicted sex offenders must register with the Sheriff's Office in their county of residence within 10 days of getting out of prison or immediately after conviction if not required to serve time for their crime.
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Again, guilty and must prove you are innocent, it's a catch-22 situation.
HELENA - For convicted sex offenders who deny they did anything wrong, completing the full treatment program at Montana State Prison is impossible - and, therefore, parole is out of the question.
That's because most sex offenders are required to complete the treatment before they can be considered for parole. And if you deny your crime, you can't complete the treatment.
“Those guys kind of get stuck,” says Blair Hopkins, clinical services administrator at the State Prison in Deer Lodge. “They need to be able to admit to some type of sexual inappropriate behavior. For someone who just flat-out denies everything, they really can't complete (the second phase).”
Hopkins and other counselors estimate that 15 percent to 25 percent of those convicted of sex offenses are “deniers,” who say they didn't commit the crime.
A small fraction of those might actually be innocent, counselors say.
But that makes no difference in how they're treated under the treatment program or parole rules, Hopkins says: “We have to assume that if they've been convicted of the offense, they've done it. If I said, ‘I believe you,' then I'll have 300 guys at my door saying that.”
Montana's prison system has a relatively high amount of sex offenders, which includes people convicted of rape, sexual assault, incest, prostitution, child molestation or indecent exposure.
Hopkins looked at 20 states in late 2006, and found that for most, 12 percent to 16 percent of their inmates are sex offenders.
In Montana, it's 25 percent, and one-third of the men incarcerated at the State Prison - 500 people - are sex offenders.
That means long waiting lists for treatment programs. About 250 sex offenders in prison are on the lists now, and the wait for Phase II treatment can be up to two years.
Each year, about 65 sex offenders leave prison without treatment, because they either refused it or their sentence expired before they could complete it.
Most sex-offender therapists in Montana say it makes more sense, and would be no less safe for the public, to send fewer sex offenders to prison and more directly to treatment outside the prison, while on probation.
“I thought it was too lenient when I started (28 years ago),” says veteran psychologist Michael Scolatti of Missoula, who has treated hundreds of sex offenders. “Now, we're enacting laws that don't allow us to show some discretion.”
Roger Dowty, another Missoula sex-offender therapist, says he also tries to find ways to treat even those who deny their crimes.
Recent studies have shown that “deniers” are no greater risk to re-offend than those who admit to their crimes, counselors say.
Statistics from the state Corrections Department show that those who don't get any treatment are a greater risk. A 2007 report by the state said only 2 percent of sex offenders who complete treatment return to prison for a new sex crime, while among those who don't complete treatment, the rate is 25 percent.
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It's all about the he said, she said BS!
Cody Marble appeared in Missoula County District Court last month on a parole violation.
Convicted of a jailhouse rape six years ago, Cody Marble has had to attend sex-offender counseling - but one of his counselors believes Marble may be innocent.
Another sex-offender therapist and psychologist who examined Marble after his 2002 conviction for raping a 13-year-old boy at the Missoula County Juvenile Detention Center says the same, and has made a sworn statement saying he thinks the crime never occurred.
A Detention Center officer who was in the cell area moments after the rape allegedly occurred says she, too, thinks it didn't happen - but was never asked that question at Marble's jury trial.
Marble himself insists on his innocence. But the 23-year-old Missoula man has failed at every attempt to overturn his conviction, and now faces a possible return to Montana State Prison for up to 15 years, for violating terms of his probation.
Is Marble's case that of an innocent man convicted on questionable evidence, in a system and society where accused sex offenders are seen as guilty until proven innocent?
The prosecutor for the case and an assistant attorney general who reviewed it say no, and that Marble's claims of a frame-up and ineffective defense counsel don't wash.
“I'm confident the jury made the right decision,” says Dorothy Brownlow, chief deputy attorney for Missoula County.
Brownlow says attorneys from both sides examined the case thoroughly, and that it's hard to see how a 13-year-old victim and four other juveniles who testified about the crime would have all told a similar lie.
Indeed, Marble is hardly a sympathetic figure, having been in and out of jails, juvenile programs and prison since age 14, repeatedly violating probation or parole rules by using marijuana and methamphetamine.
He also ignored defense counsel's advice to accept a deal on the rape charge, to plead guilty in exchange for a three-year deferred sentence, avoiding prison. Instead, he insisted on a trial, was convicted and received a 20-year sentence.
There's also no black-and-white evidence, such as DNA, that could exonerate him. In fact, there was no physical evidence at all of the rape.
A Missoula District Court jury convicted Marble in November 2002, mostly on the testimony of the alleged victim and other juvenile jail inmates. Marble says the other boys made up the crime to get back at him for perceived slights, or to attempt to get more favorable treatment in their own criminal cases.
“There's no one thing that I can say that will make you say, ‘I believe you,' ” Marble said in a recent interview from the Missoula County Detention Center. “You have to listen to the (counselors) who evaluated me. Look at my criminal past. Come talk to me, look at me.”
Several people who've examined Marble or with knowledge of the case say the crime doesn't add up. Their comments either couldn't be or weren't heard by the jury, and District Judge Douglas Harkin has ruled that the sworn statement filed last year by Missoula psychologist Michael Scolatti wouldn't have been allowed as evidence at trial.
The case began six years ago, a few days after Marble, then 17, was released from the Missoula County Juvenile Detention Center. He'd been in the center nearly five months, in a cell pod with seven other boys, waiting to see what penalty he would face for walking away in 2001 from a youth treatment program in Marion.
His father bailed him out of the center on March 12, 2002. Four days later, sheriff's deputies came to the Marbles' home and arrested Cody, saying boys from the cell pod had accused him of raping a 13-year-old inmate in the cell-pod shower area on March 10.
Marble turned down the plea bargain just before the scheduled trial in November. The jury convicted him after a three-day trial. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison, with 15 of those years suspended.
Scolatti, who's been examining and counseling sex offenders for nearly 28 years, evaluated Marble before he was sentenced.
As part of Marble's 2007 petition seeking to overturn his conviction, Scolatti provided a sworn statement saying he doubted anyone would commit such a crime in an open shower area, visible to everyone else in the cell pod and possibly in sight of guards.
“Such exposure would most commonly serve as a strong deterrent from the type of conduct for which (Marble) was convicted,” he wrote.
In a recent interview, Scolatti said he also watched a jail videotape of the cells when the crime allegedly occurred. The tape, which did not show the shower area, showed all eights juvenile inmates moving in and out of their cells, including Marble and his alleged victim.
“There wasn't any sort of anxiety or hyperactivity,” he said of Marble's demeanor. “It was so nonchalant. You'd have to be the biggest psychopath in the world to act like that or, you didn't do it.”
Scolatti said the Marble case is the only time in his 28-year career that he's submitted a sworn statement about someone's likely innocence in a sex-offender case.
Susan Latimer, a detention officer on duty that night and who did a “cell check” shortly after the rape allegedly occurred, also says she thinks the rape never occurred.
“If a sexual assault would have happened, there are cues you pick up on,” says Latimer, who previously worked with sexually abused children at a mental health center in Great Falls. “There was nothing. I never picked up anything sexual.”
In a recent interview, Latimer, who lives now in Darby, also told the Lee Newspapers State Bureau she was prepared to express those thoughts on the witness stand - but that nobody asked her.
Latimer was called as a prosecution witness, and testified that she felt “a little tension” in the cell block when she made her check, seeing Marble arguing with a fellow inmate.
Defense lawyer Kathleen Foley cross-examined Latimer for a few minutes, asked almost nothing about the cell check and didn't ask Latimer about her thoughts on the likelihood of the crime or Cody's character.
“Kathleen Foley had a great opportunity, and she releases me (as a witness), and I'm thinking, ‘My God, this kid is sunk,' ” Latimer said. “She didn't ask me much of anything that I can remember that would have supported Cody.”
Latimer said she would have testified that Marble was a respectful kid who was not aggressive and who didn't pick on other kids in the cell pod.
Foley declined to talk to the Lee Newspapers State Bureau about the case. Her law partner, veteran defense lawyer William Boggs of Missoula, says when Foley deposed Latimer three weeks before the trial, Latimer gave no indication she would be a friendly witness.
Latimer said several times during the deposition that she didn't know whether Marble was guilty or innocent and that she didn't have an opinion, Boggs pointed out.
“She was evasive and slippery and uncooperative during the entire deposition,” Boggs said. “As a defense lawyer, you see a witness like that, and you keep your distance like you would from a coiled snake.”
Latimer says now she felt the defense treated her like the enemy, when in fact she was trying to be objective about the case. During the deposition, she also said she hoped that Marble was innocent, but couldn't be sure what had happened that night at the jail.
Boggs said Foley worked hard on the case and that Marble ignored their advice to take the plea agreement rather than risk a trial where five people, including the alleged 13-year-old victim, were prepared to testify that Marble raped the boy.
The deal offered Marble a three-year deferred sentence, avoiding prison, if he pleaded guilty to rape. He also would have had to register as a sex offender and undergo sex-offender treatment.
Marble and Foley also dispute the circumstances of the plea-agreement rejection.
Foley said in court documents that Marble at first wanted to consider the plea deal, but that his father, Jerry Marble, nixed the idea, saying that “no son of his was going to plead to a faggot offense.” Jerry Marble says he recalls telling his son he shouldn't plead guilty if he was innocent.
Cody Marble says he never even considered the deal, and “literally flicked it back across the table at (Foley).”
“I did not commit a crime; I did not intend to plead guilty,” he said.
Marble also did not testify in his own defense at the trial. He says now he believes he should have, and that Foley advised him against it.
In her response to Marble's petition claiming ineffective counsel, Foley said she was concerned Marble would testify that neither he nor the alleged victim were even in the shower area, and that she “felt that would be wholly incredible to the jury.”
- What??? Sounds like another Mike NiFong to me.
Marble says he knew firsthand of previous attempts by juvenile inmates to make false accusations against inmates they didn't like, as a form of retribution, and believes he was set up by the other inmates.
Keith Williamson, a supervising officer at the Juvenile Detention Center, told other guards he had heard of and suspected a plot by inmates to falsely accuse Marble.
Under questioning by Foley at the trial, Latimer briefly mentioned Williamson's suspicions. But Williamson couldn't testify himself: He died of a heart attack in June 2002, months before the trial.
Foley attempted to ask Latimer more about Williamson's suspicions, but Judge Harkin ruled it was hearsay evidence and stopped the questioning.
- Well so is the he said, she said stuff, that is hearsay as well!!!!!
The five inmates who testified against Marble, including the 13-year-old boy who said he was raped, denied any conspiracy.
The alleged victim, now 19, is serving a 10-year prison term at Montana State Prison for rape. He pleaded guilty to having sex with an underage girl in 2005.
He did not respond to a written request from the Lee Newspapers State Bureau for an interview.
The juvenile inmate who initially reported the rape to authorities on March 16, six days after it allegedly happened, did not testify at the trial. He was released from jail in the summer of 2002 and disappeared.
The teenager initially told investigators he saw Marble raping the alleged victim in the shower area. But a videotape of the cells showed the accuser had been locked down in his cell during the entire time of the alleged rape, away from the area where the assault was said to occur. He later changed his story to say he'd heard about the rape, rather than saw it.
During the trial, Judge Harkin allowed Foley to put Brownlow, the prosecutor, on the witness stand and question her about how the teenager had initially lied.
Prosecutors also had no physical evidence that a rape occurred. A doctor who examined the 13-year-old accuser six days after the alleged rape found no scars or any signs of physical trauma in or around the boy's anus. He testified at trial that any damage could have healed by that time.
- After 6 days??? Why not immediately??? Boy they screwed this whole case up big time, IMO!
Brownlow says it's not unusual for a rape to be reported days after it happened or to be reported by someone other than the victim.
“I think the way it was reported adds to its credibility,” she said in a recent interview. “The victim was in jail together (with his assailant), so he felt that the repercussions for reporting it could have been really significant.”
- So why were they not separated like any other offender and victim?
The 13-year-old boy was released from jail the same day as Marble, on March 12. He said nothing about the rape until authorities interviewed him March 16, at a Missoula home for troubled children.
Marble began serving his prison sentence in 2003 and was released in June 2007, having served the five unsuspended years of his 20-year sentence. As a condition of release during his suspended sentence, Marble arranged for sex-offender treatment sessions with Missoula counselor Roger Dowty.
Dowty, who has the largest sex-offender treatment practice in western Montana, says 10 percent to 15 percent of sexual offenders deny their crime, and that he's treated many of them.
But with Marble, the denial strikes Dowty as genuine.
“If I were to place a bet, my bet would be that he's not guilty,” Dowty says. “I would place a large amount of money on that.”
Dowty says Marble could be a casualty of what Dowty calls “representative vigilante-ism,” his term for Montana's harsh public attitude toward sex offenders.
That attitude is reflected by a criminal-justice system that aggressively prosecutes accused sex offenders, sometimes regardless of whether the case is strong, and punishes them severely if they choose to go to trial and lose, he says.
“There's nothing worse than being labeled as a sex offender in America,” Dowty says. “The whole concept of being innocent until proven guilty is gone. Where you have something like that going on, where you cannot exercise the right to be innocent without just a huge penalty, that's a sign of a big problem.”
Marble worked as a maintenance man for a property management firm until October 2007, when he tested positive for methamphetamine use and was briefly detained. He was arrested again a few days later, when police entered a Missoula hotel room where they said they found Marble, another man, some methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.
Marble is awaiting sentencing for violating his probation for drug use, but is fighting the drug-possession charge.
As Marble sat in the Missoula County jail this winter and spring, waiting to appear in court on the probation violations, Judge Harkin twice ruled against the man's petition seeking to overturn his conviction. The petition accused Foley of “ineffective counsel” and prosecutors of various misconduct, but Harkin rejected Marble's arguments.
Marble has asked Harkin to reconsider the latest ruling.
While Marble was dissatisfied with his defense lawyers, he has much harsher words for prosecutors and law enforcement officers, whom he says made little attempt to scrutinize his accusers or find the truth of the case.
“They want a conviction whether you're guilty or not,” he says. “They will lie, cheat and steal to do it. I would have read through the (initial police) reports and, if they looked as absurd as they do, I wouldn't have filed charges.”
Brownlow obviously doesn't agree, saying the evidence against Marble was strong.
“I feel very strongly that (we) were careful to make sure we had as much information as we could, and that we had a good, solid case,” she said.
- Like what? Sounds to me like no evidence was present at all. These are just people who are afraid to step off their HIGH HORSE to admit they screwed up, that is what I think!
Marble and his father, Jerry, say they intend to keep fighting the case, although their legal options are narrow and they don't have an attorney. Cody Marble says he has some hope he can prevail, but isn't optimistic.
- Sounds like he needs to contact the Innocence Project to me.
“I trusted the system and was pretty naive,” Marble says. “I had no reason to think that the system would fail me.”
- And I'm sure a ton of people would say the same thing. I feel for this man!!!
View the article here
Court case calls Dover ordinance into question
The New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union recently dropped a civil suit alleging that the city of Dover had violated the rights of Richard Jennings, a convicted sex offender. Instead, an NHCLU lawyer will defend Jennings against charges alleging he violated a city ordinance that prohibits convicted sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of a school or daycare facility. The NHCLU disputes the constitutionality of the ordinance.
“It violates Mr. Jennings’ constitutional rights,” said Barbara Keshen, who will defend Jennings in Strafford County Superior Court. “The town exceeded its authority in enacting this ordinance.”
Proponents of the ordinance maintain that it’s a necessary measure to protect the city’s children.
Former City Councilor Matt Mayberry proposed the ordinance, which passed in 2005. “He had asked the chief of police at the time about ordinances like this to provide another tool to make the community safer,” said Dover Police Lt. David Terlemezian.
The ordinance unanimously passed the Council. “I wasn’t part of the original drafting, but my understanding is that a good amount of research went into it and the city is confident it’s legal and sound and will survive the challenge,” Terlemezian said.
The NHCLU disagrees. Keshen declined to elaborate on the points she will argue in court but will file a motion this week with more details.
Jennings, 41, is accused of violating the ordinance in November 2007 after he was charged with two felonies for failing to notify police that he had moved from Portsmouth to Dover. The ordinance violation was tacked on after police discovered that Jennings had relocated within 2,500 feet of the My School Kindergarten at 118 Locust St.
Jennings’ was originally convicted of felonious sexual assault on a minor in May 2000. Although Terlemezian did not have details of that case, he said, “it involved a teenage girl that was known to him.” Since the victim was a minor, Jennings is required to register as a sex offender for life.
The NHCLU decided to drop its civil suit after lawyers from the organization concluded that they would be able to get their case heard sooner if they switched to a defense strategy. “If Mr. Jennings wins, then the city will appeal. If the city wins, we will appeal. We thought that we could get it in front of the Supreme Court faster, rather than wait for civil court,” Keshen said.
Defending the rights of a convicted sex offender is a tough sell, but the NHCLU believes the ordinance is unconstitutional because it essentially bans Jennings from living in Dover. The restrictions imposed by the ordinance encompass virtually the entire downtown area, where most affordable housing is located.
“There is no question that the ordinance was put in place by people that believe that these kinds of residential zoning ordinances would protect their children,” Keshen said. “But there is no empirical data to support that. People have a mistaken belief that these ordinances do anything to protect children.”
Keshen said a number of organizations that deal with domestic and sexual abuse have found that restrictive zoning is ineffective. “The reality is that these ordinances don’t do a wit to protect children,” she said.
Keshen offered a number of more effective ways to protect children from convicted sex criminals. Strict supervision of offenders is one way to cut down on second offenses, she said. Some states have instituted systems that use GPS devices to track sex offenders. Quality treatment that is readily available to convicts is another way to combat repeat offenses. “As most professionals that work in this area will tell you, sex offenders are particularly amenable to treatment,” Keshen said.
The idea that convicted sex criminals still can’t be trusted around children even after serving their time and being released from prison could reflect poorly on the state’s correctional system. Although he doesn’t work in corrections, Terlemezian doesn’t believe the state system is at fault. “My speculation is that it’s rooted more in the human psyche,” he said, referring to the reasons people commit sexual offenses.
According to Terlemezian, this is not the first time the ordinance has been violated. Typically, if the police become aware of a sex criminal living within 2,500 feet of a school or daycare center, they give that person 30 days to relocate. If the offenders move, the summons never gets filed and they don’t get charged. But Jennings has refused to move. “He’s chosen not to plead guilty,” Terlemezian said.
If found guilty of the violation, Jennings would face a $500 fine. But, if he is not found guilty, the ordinance could ultimately be overturned.
“I don’t think it’s likely,” Terlemezian said.
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This still isn't going to deter someone who is intent on committing another crime. If they are dangerous enough to be on GPS, why are they out of prison? This is just prison outside of prison. Watch, I am willing to bet that even if this is passed, others will still cut it off. These are the idiots who are making life hell for all the other ex-offenders who are trying to get on with their lives.
It's now a felony for sex offenders to interfere with tracker signals
Madison - A new state law expands the definition of what it means for a sex offender to interfere with required tracking equipment, making it a felony to block or disrupt the signal from a global positioning system.
- So what happens when a building, mountain or tall tree blocks the signal? Are they going to be arrested for that?
But Roy D. Jackson did it the old-fashioned way.
Jackson cut off his GPS monitoring bracelet on March 6 and hasn't been apprehended, officials said. He had been convicted of first-degree sexual assault of a child.
"That would be very clearly a tamper," said Melissa Roberts, director of sex offender programs for the state Department of Corrections. She said Jackson was at his Milwaukee home when the bracelet was removed, which triggered an immediate notification of law enforcement.
Rep. Tony Staskunas (Email) (D-West Allis), who co-authored the new law with Sen. Jeff Plale (Email) (D-South Milwaukee), said that while the more traditional method of tampering had been used in the Jackson case, it was important for Wisconsin to stay a step ahead of technology. Devices exist to jam signals from GPS devices, and the law was intended to close that loophole, Staskunas said.
"There are people out there who are very adept at electronics . . . so rather than have a problem happen and react to it, we've been a little proactive on this one," Plale said.
Department of Corrections spokesman John Dipko said in a statement that once he is caught, Jackson will be prosecuted for tampering.
"Tampering with the device is a serious offense that carries serious consequences," Dipko said. "He not only violated his rules of supervision, but he committed another crime."
Certain sex offenders are subject to lifetime monitoring and equipped with a GPS device. The GPS tracking program started on Jan. 1, and 90 sex offenders are being tracked, according to the Corrections Department. State officials are on pace to meet projections of 99 on GPS tracking by the end of June, and expect 300 will be tracked by July 1, 2009, Roberts said.
- If they are this dangerous that they need GPS, then they should still be in prison and stop wasting tons on money on something that is not going to work for dangerous people who are not willing to obey the laws anyway.
Tampering with a GPS device itself, like Jackson is accused of, was already a felony. The new law, which took effect April 10, also prohibits blocking, diffusing or preventing the transmission of a signal from a GPS device.
Sandy Maher-Johnson, president of Citizens for a Safe Wisconsin, said she hopes the Jackson incident won't become a trend. She said the potential for someone to remove or interfere with GPS tracking devices is always a risk, but the benefits of constant monitoring outweigh that threat.
- So how did monitoring this person help? Where is he now? You see, it did nothing.
"These are the individuals who truly have earned the right to be back out in the community, and you're hoping that this is going to be another behavior-modification tool that helps them integrate back into society," she said.
- Who are you kidding? Does the death penalty deter murderers from murdering?
State lawmakers and observers said they're satisfied with the progress of the GPS tracking program.
- Why? Do they have stock in the GPS market? I bet many do... Quick easy way to get rich by exploiting sex offenders. I'd like to get a report of what GPS system they use, and then get a list of that companies stock report.
"We'll continue to monitor it, but we're just pleased that Corrections is moving along and appears to be moving along smoothly," said Rep. Scott Suder (Email) (R-Abbotsford), who helped create the program.
Rep. Mark Pocan (Email) (D-Madison), who worked with Suder to secure funding for the program during the budget process, said the state's priority should be to get people who need constant monitoring under surveillance.
- My question is, why do they need constant monitoring? If they are that dangerous, why are they out of prison? You really expect a criminal to obey this law? Many ex-offenders who are not a threat will, but someone who is dangerous is not. That is common sense, which we seem to have very little of these days.
"I don't care how many people they have, but do they have the right people under that supervision?" he said.
Maher-Johnson said the department is rolling out the program in an appropriate and logical way.
"The more people they get on, the better," she said. "This is such a complex issue and you have to do it in phases."
- Yeah, because you people get richer.
In Jackson's case, Suder said, there would be stiff penalties for cutting off the bracelet.
"We certainly can't prevent those attempts, but that person will be back in prison once they do find him," Suder said. Tampering with a device is a felony punishable by up to 3 1/2 years in prison, a $10,000 fine, or both, although the penalties increase by up to six additional years for repeat offenders.
- When they find them! But what will they do before you catch them? Who knows. I hope and pray nothing, but??? How do you expect someone who is broke to pay you $10,000?
Pocan said he didn't see that the potential to tamper with GPS devices created a unique problem.
- Because like usual, they do not plan ahead.
"The moment it happens, you have a little better idea of when they took off," he said.
- Ok, so how long before someone notices? Is someone sitting there 24/7 monitoring these people? Even if they were, they could be long gone before you find them, and who knows what might happen. So it's a waste of money, IMO.
Maher-Johnson said the state should consider creating an Amber Alert-style system if another sex offender were to tamper with a GPS device and not be apprehended. During an Amber Alert, information about abducted children is sent out to the public through highway message boards and broadcast alerts.
- Now this is a good idea.
Roberts said once law enforcement is notified, the matter becomes part of a criminal investigation and the release of that information is up to law enforcement officials.
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It's still harassment, IMO. See the other article above. Someone I know is working on a "Anti-Vigilante" bill to put before congress as well.
A 34-year-old Garfield County father of three, who was cited for disturbing the peace by the Garfield County Sheriff’s Department after confronting a convicted sex offender lurking outside the Battlement Mesa Activity Center, says he will now confront state lawmakers.
“It is every parent’s right to walk up to someone you feel is going to harm your child, and that is your right as a parent,” said Travis Metcalf. “I didn’t threaten him. All I said is, ‘I know who you are, and I know what you have done, and I am not going to let it happen.’ ”
After Metcalf’s story appeared last week in The Daily Sentinel and online at GJSentinel.com, it received numerous comments. Metcalf said he was struck by the community’s willingness to get involved and has called a pair of community meetings in a posting on GJSentinel.com.
“I want to get enough buzz out of this so I can take this in front of a state representative and change some laws,” he said. “I am going to try and get a petition together.”
In the online posting, he slated his meetings for 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Parachute Parks Recreation office, 101 S. Frontage Road, and at 9 a.m. May 29 at the Battlement Mesa Activity Center, 398 Arroyo Drive.
“If you had aggravated sexual assault charges on a child, there has got to be a mandatory stipulated distance when you go to the parks, schools or anything,” he said. “They can’t go to anywhere children frequent.”
He said he wants parents interested in changing state law to attend.
“I am just one person,” he said. “I need parents that can help me from all sides, because the system we have now is not working.”
A majority of the comments posted online at GJSentinel.com applauded Metcalf for his actions, but some criticized him for taking the law into his own hands. Metcalf said doing nothing is not an option, especially now.
“My wife spotted him driving right directly in front of my house (Friday),” he said. “She was pulling out of the driveway, and he drove right on down the county road, so now he knows where I live, but I’m not worried about it.”
Metcalf and a handful of his supporters spent part of Friday posting pictures of the sex offender he is alleged to have harassed, Timothy Alan Larsen, 62, of Battlement Mesa. He said no local business has stopped him from posting a flier.
“I’m trying to rally these parents,” he said.
E-mail Le Roy Standish at firstname.lastname@example.org.