Sunday, November 16, 2008

FL - Handling of Davie Police Officer's Criminal Sex Case Questioned: Did Davie Officer Get Special Treatment After Crime Reported?

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Another article here

11/16/2008

Strapping a gun to your side and coercing a woman to perform a sex act is usually called sexual battery. Doing it to an intoxicated woman while on duty and wearing your police uniform can lead to abuse-of-power charges and years behind bars.

But after a local officer was accused of doing just that, Davie police and prosecutors decided on a different charge: unlawful compensation.

Former Officer Jonathan D. Sanders, 30, elicited a "benefit not authorized by law, to wit: oral sex" from a Davie woman who feared she would be arrested if she did not comply, according to the charging documents. When detectives found out, they never interrogated Sanders and a supervisor allowed him to listen in on a call between officers and the man who reported the incident, records show.

Sanders, of Sunrise, pleaded no contest in May to unlawful compensation, spent 60 days in jail on a 90-day sentence and was not formally designated a felon. That's despite DNA evidence, witnesses who talked with the sobbing victim minutes after the encounter, and Sanders' initial claim that he unzipped his pants simply so he could urinate outside while on duty.

Now Davie is fighting a lawsuit by the victim, the police chief and town administrator aren't talking, and some elected officials are complaining they didn't even know about the incident or the lawsuit until contacted by the Sun Sentinel.

"The leaders of the town should know what's going on in town -- even if it's bad," Councilman Bryan Caletka said. "I expect better from the Davie Police Department."

Sanders, who gave up his law enforcement certification and was placed on probation for three years as part of the plea deal, could not be reached for comment despite five phone calls to his home. His attorney, Tony Livoti, said Sanders served with distinction.

"Officer Sanders was an outstanding police officer and a decorated [ Iraq] War veteran who made a terrible mistake and he's paying for it," Livoti said.
- Yeah, so have most of the 630,000 sex offenders in this country, but they are not getting a break!

The Sun Sentinel is not identifying the woman because of the sexual nature of the crime, but did review transcripts of her videotaped statement, court records and police reports. They provide this account:

The 32-year-old woman had been arguing with her boyfriend after midnight Sept. 3, 2007, near a Davie gas station. The couple went their separate ways when Sanders and two other officers arrived.

Minutes later, Sanders approached the woman in his marked cruiser and asked "if she needed anything." When she complained about not having money, he offered to give her some cash at a nearby McDonald's.

The woman arrived about 1 a.m. to find Sanders urinating behind a dumpster.
- A cop, urinating behind a dumpster.....  Why did he not go into McDonalds or somewhere else?

The woman, who admitted to being "quite tipsy," said Sanders told her "You don't want to be in any trouble, do you? I need you to do me a favor," and then exposed himself.

The woman said she felt she would be jailed if she refused his advances.

After the encounter, Sanders gave the woman $5 and threatened to arrest her if she told anyone what happened, she said.
- Hmm, money for a BJ?  Sounds like prostitution as well!

Thirty minutes later, he approached the woman again while she was walking along Southwest 39th Street and told her to meet him at the Bergeron Rodeo Arena. She said she worried he might arrest her if she didn't show up. At the arena, she said, he told her "I want some more" and unzipped his pants.

The woman said she felt she had no choice but to follow the officer's orders again.

"It seemed like it was either that or go to jail," she told detectives.

Records show detectives reacted immediately to the allegations. The victim was interviewed on videotape within hours and some of her clothing was sent to the Broward Sheriff's Office crime lab for processing of a semen sample. The next day, Sanders was put on administrative leave with pay.

But the files raise questions about whether police withheld information or gave Sanders special treatment. For example, the police report leaves blank Sanders' place of employment. Detectives did not attempt to elicit a confession or contradictory statements from him, a common law enforcement tactic. And, less than seven hours after the encounter, a police supervisor let Sanders listen in on a conference call with the victim's ex-husband, who reported the incident.

Davie Police Chief Patrick Lynn, who was not on the force at the time of the incident, declined to comment.

Police deleted the woman's name from all records because the crime is considered rape, Sgt. Kelly Drum said. Yet the police department and prosecutors charged Sanders with unlawful compensation, saying he exchanged sex for the "past, present, or future performance (or) non-performance" of his duty, according to the charging document.

Prosecutor Michael Horowitz acknowledged the woman had committed no crime and could not legally have been arrested, despite Sanders' threats.

He said his office agreed to the plea based on a review of all the evidence -- including the fact the victim had been drinking all day and taking the drug methadone to treat an addiction. The difficulty of proving sexual battery led to the felony plea and ensured Sanders would never again work as a police officer, he said.

"Listen, it's easy to point out this piece of evidence or that fact and say we could have done something different," Horowitz said. "But when you look at the strengths or weaknesses of the case, this was a plea offer that I felt was fair based on all the facts."

Sanders, who had less than three years on the force, continued to draw a paycheck on his $51,100 salary until he resigned in March. He reported to jail on May 23 and was released on July 21.

Jeffrey Waxman, the woman's attorney, filed a lawsuit in Broward Circuit Court seeking more than $15,000 in damages from the town.

The suit claims the woman suffered irreparable mental anguish after being falsely restrained, imprisoned, battered and subjected to unreasonable use of force by Sanders. The town claims the woman's actions were consensual.
- Doesn't matter if it was consensual, the officer was on duty, and taking advantage of a impaired woman!

Details of the incident surfaced two weeks ago when Davie police released documents six months after the Sun Sentinel requested all files on closed internal investigations. Under Florida law, the department was compelled to immediately release the documents or specify, in writing, its reason for withholding the information. Davie police did neither.

Drum said even though the internal affairs investigation concluded on March 18, he felt he couldn't acknowledge the file existed until the criminal case was resolved.

Davie Police Lt. Bill Coyne said the Sanders' case was an aberration.

"Not all cops are bad," Coyne said. "I'm sure every agency across the country has a bad apple."



MA - Hampden Superior Court judge says state is right to protect children who have consensual sex

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11/16/2008

By BUFFY SPENCER -bspencer@repub.com

SPRINGFIELD - The state has a right to protect children from an immature decision to engage in sex, a Hampden Superior Court judge ruled after a request that a statutory rape charge be dismissed in a case involving two teenagers.

The decision came after lawyers for defendant Raphael Rivera said his statutory rape charge should be dismissed because he had consensual sex with a girl aged 15 1/2 when he was 17. The statutory rape law prohibits sex with a person under 16.

Judge Peter A. Velis wrote in an Oct. 15 decision, "While this cutoff may not be perfect - some adolescents may be mature prior to 16 and others may be immature long after their 16th birthday has come and gone - this potential imperfection does not render it irrational."

Attorneys Linda J. and John M. Thompson argued in late July to Velis that Rivera, now 18, should not be prosecuted in a case they said alleges he had consensual sex with another teen a year ago at the home where he lives with his father. They said the law is unconstitutional and archaic.

Velis wrote in his decision, "Ultimately, there is a rational basis for concluding that children are not mature enough to have sex or consent to sex, providing for punishment of individuals that have sex with children, with or without the child's 'consent' in order to deter this behavior, and determining that a child under 16 cannot consent to sex."

The Thompsons also argued that a successful prosecution of Rivera would amount to cruel and unusual punishment.

Under the tests determining cruel and unusual punishment, said Linda Thompson, the possibility of life in prison and the certainty of being registered as a sex offender is "grossly disproportionate" for sexual activity between a 17-year-old high school senior and a classmate two years his junior.

Velis said that courts have said that the cruel and unusual punishment argument should be made after sentencing, and Rivera has not been tried or sentenced.

First Assistant District Attorney James C. Orenstein has said that prosecutors consider a number of factors in deciding when to prosecute an allegation of statutory rape.

Among these are the age discrepancy between parties; the wishes of the alleged victim or his or her parents; and whether the offender has any other criminal record of a pending case, particularly of a sexual nature.

Another factor is the presence - or absence - of aggravating factors, such as if the sexual act resulted in an unwanted medical condition, such as pregnancy.

Rivera has a trial date of Dec. 5.



NV - Budget cuts may be endangering our community- particularly children

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When the laws, come crumbling, crumbling, crumbling, crumbling, down.......

Scary tactics for get money?


11/11/2008

In light of budget cuts and hiring freezes, can parole officers keep our community safe? Certain members of our community may be in particular danger.

Parole and Probation Division of Northern Nevada says that with more than 13,000 Nevadans on parole or probation and fewer than 200 officers statewide on staff to supervise, each one carries a caseload of about 65 offenders.

According to the PPD, for each case, officers are responsible for: conducting drug tests, confirming employment, setting up interviews, conducting home visits and making sure offenders are compliant with all conditions attached to their freedom.

"There is no magic bullet," Department Chief Mark Woods said, Northern Nevada's Parole and Probation Division. "We are feeling the effects-we're not hiring and we will have to start adjusting how we supervise people, putting more resources toward the high-risk offenders."

Since they can't hire any more officers and they're seeing some leave for other agencies, they have to constantly do more with less.

For now, they say they are shifting resources over to supervising the most dangerous offenders while still keeping track of less violent ones.

Dwindling staff is not the only challenge Northern Nevada's parole officers are facing.

Right outside the door of their current office, school buses line up filled with students attending productions at the Pioneer Theater. One block south is the library and the children's museum, one block north is the river walk and beyond that, the ice-skating rink.

Dozens of sex offenders are required to report to the parole and probation building within sight of these places where children congregate.

"Our own internal guidelines say we should be at least 1,000 feet away from places where children meet," Sgt. Tiran said. "And when we first moved here in 2000, the Pioneer Center was here-but most of the other places weren't."

Sgt Tiran says they need to move but that creates another problem.

The lease on their current residence is up in July 2010 and with the state in financial meltdown, there is no money to buy or build a new place. Officers say they worry that their own lives and the well-being of children in the area are at stake.



Mandatory minimum sentencing, just overflows the already overflowing prison system

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11/16/2008

By Jonathan Saltzman

Sentencing changes urged to ease overcrowding in system

MILFORD - The number of inmates in Massachusetts prisons is projected to reach about 12,000 next year for the first time, prompting the head of the prison system to call for sentencing changes that ease overcrowding and to proceed with a controversial plan to double-bunk inmates at a maximum-security facility.

About two weeks short of his one-year anniversary as commissioner of the Department of Correction, Harold W. Clarke said last week that he hopes Governor Deval Patrick (Contact) reintroduces legislation to reform "mandatory minimum" sentences, which Clarke said have led to a surge in inmates, many with no history of violence.

"We've been really concerned with mandatory sentencing laws," Clarke, 57, said at the department's headquarters here. "We don't want people backed up in prison that are not posing a risk to the community at large."

On Nov. 3, the state's 18 prisons held 11,380 inmates, putting them at 44 percent above capacity, Clarke said. The number is projected to grow by 5 to 7 percent next year, which would put the population at between 11,949 and 12,176.

The prison population declined steadily from 10,990 in 1999 to 9,825 in 2005, but it has surged since then, according to department statistics. The totals include convicted offenders, people awaiting trial, and individuals committed involuntarily - even though they have finished their sentences - because they still pose a danger, such as some sex offenders.

With crime rates remaining relatively stable, Clarke said, the main reason for the surge is mandatory-minimum sentences passed by Massachusetts since the 1980s. Many of the laws were approved as part of a harsh nationwide crackdown on drug offenses, but a growing number of judges, defense lawyers, prison administrators, and advocates for prisoners say they often do more harm than good.

As of Sept. 22, about 1,917 inmates were serving a mandatory minimum sentence for a drug offense, said Diane Wiffin, a prison system spokeswoman. Those inmates are ineligible for parole and are forbidden from participating in work-release programs or halfway houses that could ease overcrowding.

Patrick filed legislation last year that would have let drug offenders serving mandatory minimum sentences participate in work-release programs, but the bill did not win passage. He has refiled it for the new legislative session. The Patrick administration is also scheduled to complete a master plan in December that will discuss construction projects that could relieve overcrowding, said a spokesman for the governor.

In the meantime, Clarke is moving forward with a plan to double-bunk some inmates at a maximum-security prison. As early as year's end, he said, he plans to move 400 inmates from maximum-security MCI-Cedar Junction at Walpole to Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley.

Each of the 400 inmates would share a cell with another prisoner at Souza-Baranowski, which has 1,028 inmates. Cedar Junction would become a medium-security prison that takes in new inmates until they are classified, a role currently played by MCI-Concord. And Old Colony Correctional Center, a medium- and minimum-security prison in Bridgewater, would mostly house inmates with diagnoses of mental illness.

The plan to put two inmates in a cell at the 10-year-old Souza-Baranowski has drawn fire from prisoner rights activists and the union that represents correction officers.

Leslie Walker, executive director of Massachusetts Correctional Legal Services, said that double-bunking at Souza-Baranowski - where prisoners spend scant time outside their cells - would probably lead to violence.

"You're taking two prisoners that the department has deemed of maximum-security dangerousness and you're locking them together in a cell for over 20 hours a day," she said. "I think it's a very risky measure that should be taken only in desperation."

Her comments reflect a rare agreement with Steve Kenneway, the president of the Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union. He told the Globe last month that putting two inmates in the same cell would provoke fights, stabbings, and killings.

"There are some inmates out there who are going to make a choice whether to accept a roommate or kill their roommate," he said. "That's not an exaggeration."

But Clarke, who headed the prison systems of Nebraska and then Washington State before Patrick appointed him last November, said prisoners already share cells or dorms in the state's 16 medium- and minimum-security prisons. He said many other states double-bunk prisoners, as does the federal Bureau of Prisons. And Souza-Baranowski cells were originally designed to house two inmates, he said.

"We don't have many options - one, releasing offenders, and two, building more capacity - and I'm not sure that either of those are now palatable," he said.

In another matter, Clarke and Walker said in separate interviews that they hoped a federal suit filed last year by the Disability Law Center against the Department of Correction over treatment of mentally ill inmates will be settled soon.

The center, a nonprofit advocacy group that provides legal help for the disabled, alleged in a March 2007 suit that hundreds of seriously mentally ill prisoners were held in cells 23 hours a day in inhumane conditions, leading to self-mutilation, the swallowing of razor blades, and at least seven suicides since November 2004. The group, which has been assisted by Walker's organization, urged the creation of special treatment units similar to those in at least six other states.

Clarke said last week that settlement talks have been under way for a year and that soon "we're hoping to be able to say, 'We don't have to go to court, we can avoid litigation,' which I'm certain will serve all parties best," he said.

Jonathan Saltzman can be reached at jsaltzman@globe.com.

© Copyright 2008 Globe Newspaper Company.



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11/15/2008

County struggles with jail crowding

Agencies plan to book and release minor offenders

By Mike Butts - mbutts@idahopress.com

CANYON COUNTY — Canyon County and local police have a plan to put fewer offenders in the county jail to alleviate crowding.

The county and Nampa and Caldwell police have written a proposal to book and release more people arrested by the cities’ police officers. The effort is intended to reduce the number of inmates in the county jail.

The reason: Canyon County faces a possible lawsuit from the ACLU and reduced insurance from the Idaho Counties Risk Management Program if it fails to take steps to reduce crowded conditions.

In the book-and-release plan, some minor offenders are arrested, charged and released. Sheriff Chris Smith said it’s hard to tell how much the step will reduce the jail’s population. But he said the highest numbers of bookings for the Canyon County jail are for driving without privileges — driving with a suspended license. And that’s one offense where city police could arrest and release some offenders.

The county’s main jail has about 425 inmates in a facility built for 250.

“The whole idea is to get our numbers down to whatever requests they (the ACLU of Idaho) are going to give us,” Smith said.

The book-and-release plan could be used with individuals for such offenses as speeding tickets and petty theft. It will not be used in cases of violent offenses, such as domestic violence or firearm offenses, Smith said.

“Anyone who’s a threat to the community is still going to have to go to jail and post bond,” Nampa Police Chief Bill Augsburger said. “There’s some people that just flat out need to go to jail, and we won’t change that.”

The county may also release more inmates with minor offenses like it did last week to cut the jail population. The 17 inmates were released last week on time served instead of waiting for possible longer sentences.

But County Commissioner Steve Rule does not want Canyon County to get a “soft on crime” reputation.

“I don’t think the general community wants us to put somebody out who could be a harm to us,” Rule said.

Other potential measures to alleviate jail overcrowding

  • Lower the cost for work release inmates from $20 to $12.50 a day. This could draw more qualifying inmates to the work release center. Commissioners are slated to consider the reduction this week.
  • More use of security ankle bracelets. Some offenders waiting for sentencing could be released from jail with tracking ankle bracelets. Their jail time wait for sentencing can be as much as 10 days.



CA - Sex Offender Attacks News Crews (CNN Headline News)

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This s--t just ticks me off. They are DEMONIZING this man, for being ticked off that they are harassing him and his family. They constantly say he threatened them with a box cutter, and other stories I've seen, it was NOT a box cutter. Yes, it was VERBAL ASSAULT, but not PHYSICAL ASSAULT! They should've just never showed up, and this would not be an issue, period! Click the DarrenKawamoto label above to view all related articles.



CO - State's economic decline creates roadblock for lawmakers pushing to pass Jessica's Law

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Scare tactics for get money?

11/15/2008

By MIKE SACCONE

Low revenue forecasts and the state’s economic decline could hamstring a push by Western Slope Republican politicians to institute tougher minimum sentences and more oversight of sex offenders.

Lawmakers on the Joint Budget Committee said legislation supported by incoming Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, and other Republican lawmakers to implement mandatory minimum sentences for child molesters from Jessica’s Law probably will command a steep price tag.

Sen.-elect Al White, R-Hayden, said the merits of implementing Jessica’s Law aside, the measure’s sponsors can expect a “hugely expensive” price tag to accompany their legislation.

White said any bill that increases mandatory prison sentences is sure to drive a multimillion-dollar price tag for the costs of building new prison beds as well as the ongoing expenses of housing and guarding inmates.

Under state law, anyone convicted of sexually assaulting a child could face anywhere from two years up to life in prison.

Under Jessica’s Law, someone convicted of sexually assaulting a child 16 years old or younger would have a mandatory minimum 25-year prison term, according to the Colorado Legislative Council.

Penry and Rep. Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, pushed during the 2007 legislative session to implement mandatory 15-year minimum sentences for sex offenders, but the bill failed to clear the House Judiciary Committee.

McNulty said the bill’s price tag of more than $13 million in its first year contributed to the bill’s defeat.

Rep. Jack Pommer, D-Boulder, said he likes the idea of cracking down on sex offenders, but the lawmakers behind bringing Jessica’s Law to Colorado need to figure out a way to fund their proposal.

“A lot of people have great ideas for spending money, but they don’t come up with ideas for what you cut,” said Pommer, who sits on the budget panel. “I hope if somebody is going to pitch this, they come and say, ‘This is what we want to cut.’ ”

He said lawmakers finding a funding stream is especially important with the economic downturn sapping the state’s tax revenue.

Colorado is one of eight states, including Wyoming, that have not implemented some form of Jessica’s Law.

Penry said if he and his colleagues encounter a fiscal stumbling block, they plan to push to implement Jessica’s Law, even if it takes more than one session.

“The fight to enact Jessica’s Law will be a marathon and not a sprint. … I don’t have any illusion that it will happen quickly or immediately,” Penry said. “It will probably be a multiyear fight to get it enacted, but it’s an issue we have to keep pushing because it’s the right thing to do.”

Penry said having public sentiment on the side of enacting tougher sanctions for sex offenders will help.

Rep.-elect Laura Bradford, R-Collbran, who made bringing Jessica’s Law to Colorado an issue during her campaign this year, said she plans to support the coalition in any way she can.



FL - Amber Alerts and Sexual Offender Registry Might Be Cut By F-D-L-E

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When the laws, come crumbling, crumbling, crumbling, crumbling, down.......

Scary tactics for get money?


11/14/2008

Reporter: Whitney Ray

Declining state revenues could cause Florida’s Department of Law Enforcement to ax programs that keep our kids safe.

Amber Alerts and sex offender warnings could be a thing of the past if the state’s financial woes continue.

When a child is missing the Florida Department of Law Enforcement springs into action.

But Amber Alerts could be a thing of the past in Florida. The program ended up on a list of things FDLE would get rid of if it was forced to cut its budget by 10 percent.

The sex offender registry, where 44,000 people signed up to be notified when a sex offender moves near by, is also on the cut list.

FDLE Spokeswoman Heather Smith says after two years of shrinking budgets, there are no safe places to make changes.

“We have already seen some cuts at FDLE and any additional cuts are going to be painful for us.”

Bethany Faison has three kids. She says parents rely on the FDLE programs to keep their kids safe from predators.

“I think it’s probably the worst think they could cut actually.”

If FDLE has to make the full 18 million dollars in cuts, Amber Alerts and the Sex Offender registry would have to go. Cuts less than 10% would keep them off the chopping block.

Statistics show that crime increases when the economy tanks. Florida’s Chief Financial Officer is warning lawmakers that if FDLE was hit too hard by budget cuts, public safety would be at risk.



NY - A Call for Reasoned Responses to Sex Offenses

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By Michael Jacobson

At Vera, we’re committed to promoting rational, effective, and humane sentencing policies. Consequently, we’ve frequently had to parry the influence of high-profile criminal cases that spur legislators to cast aside reason in pursuit of sweeping penalties. Today we are seeing this happen in laws affecting sex crimes. While no one should downplay the real threats posed by sexual offenders, many of these new measures are better at satisfying public sentiment than increasing safety, reducing recidivism, or serving the needs of victims.

Hardly a week goes by, it seems, without another account of one of these laws going awry—like one I read recently about five ex-offenders living together under a bridge because residential restrictions left them no other options. This is because many new laws—from registration with police to civil confinement—are premised on questionable assumptions.

For example, people commonly assume that all sex offenders are alike. In fact, though, the term “sex offender” can include both predatory stalkers and those caught urinating in public—as well as everything in between.

A second false assumption is that sex offenders present a high risk of re-offending. Studies show, however, that most convicted sex offenders do not commit another sex crime. It is wrong, therefore, to believe that every sex offender presents a severe risk to public safety.

People also commonly assume that sex offenders are impervious to treatment. While more work needs to be done in this area, studies show that treatment can be effective for some, although certainly not all, sex offenders. This, too, argues for a targeted response.

Finally, there is the so-called “Stranger-Danger” myth. The public may fear random sexual assaults, but statistics show these fears to be exaggerated. Most victimization studies show, for example, that the vast majority of sexual offenses against children are committed by someone the victim knows. This is an important distinction.

Laws premised on these errors are often ineffectual. And when they distract law enforcement from more pressing concerns, saddle parole and probation departments with inappropriate tasks (like measuring the exact distance between an offender’s home and a nearby school), increase public hysteria, or lead to vigilantism, they’re even worse than ineffectual.

Most troubling of all, some of these laws penalize victims. A person who has suffered a sexual assault from a family member may be stigmatized by having the offender—an uncle, say—identified publicly. Or, if the offender is a parent subject to residency rules, the victim may have to move. And if that parent is placed in civil confinement, the victim may lose an important source of family income—not to mention experience the additional trauma of feeling responsible for sending a parent away by “telling on him.”

What sex offender sanctions need, then, is what all sentencing requires: laws that are appropriately nuanced and targeted. Offenders whose criminal behavior is unresponsive to treatment may warrant civil constraint, for example—especially if they have a history of predation. But some other types of offenders should be eligible for release, treatment, and even anonymity. At the very least, before passing new policies lawmakers should ask, “What is in the best interest of the victims?”

As in every other form of crime, it is imperative that we find ways to protect victims and hold offenders accountable. But indiscriminate sex offender laws, crafted in response to tragic, high profile cases, are the wrong solution to a serious problem.



WI - Woman upset her address linked to sex offender

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11/16/2008

RACINE — Residents living in the 1600 block of North Main Street can rest assured there is no sex offender living at the home of Charles and Michelle Laycock, the couple says.

A story in Saturday’s Journal Times reported on disorderly conduct charges being filed Wednesday against Aron E. Laycock, 28, who allegedly handed an obscene message to a mail carrier who was doing her route on North Main on Oct. 4. In the criminal complaint, the mail carrier also alleges that Aron Laycock had been in the area before and appeared to be following and watching her.

Laycock is also facing pending unrelated charges for using a computer to send threatening or obscene messages and being a felon in possession of pepper spray. He has previous convictions for fourth-degree sexual assault, bail jumping and false imprisonment.

Michelle Laycock was upset to see the address listed for Aron in Saturday’s paper was that of her and her husband. While noting that Aron Laycock is her husband’s nephew and has visited their house, he has never resided at their address, she said.

She said she believes he lives elsewhere in Racine. The state Sex Offender Registry lists Aron Laycock’s current address as the Racine County Jail.

The last time Aron Laycock was at the Layocks’ residence on North Main was in September, Michelle said. At that time, Aron reportedly informed them that he had cut an ankle probation monitoring device from his leg. Michelle said at that point she and her husband asked Aron to leave their residence. He has not been back since, Michelle said.

She said that while they know some of their neighbors, they don’t know everyone in their neighborhood and fear that Charles, who Michelle said is a young-looking 40, might be confused for Aron.

Michelle said she made a call to Racine Police on Saturday and a records clerk there confirmed that the address listed with Aron’s arrest records was indeed 1620 N. Main St. Michelle said the clerk was as mystified as they were as to how that happened. Michelle said the clerk did correct Aron’s address in the police computer system. The police patrol supervisor on duty Saturday night said he was not able to confirm that.

According to Michelle, there are other inaccuracies in Saturday’s Journal Times report. Michelle said the mail carrier told her that the date printed for the obscene note incident is also incorrect and said that the note was never handed to her, but was posted on her postal vehicle.

Generally, stories in The Journal Times about criminal charges come from criminal complaints released to the media by the Racine County District Attorney’s office.



We need a change in approach to sex offenders

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11/16/2008

By RICHARD JOHNSON - Local Columnist

Most people seem to believe that sex offenders have a higher re-offending rate than any other category of criminal. A figure I hear tossed around a lot says that 95 percent of sex offenders will commit another sex crime if they get the chance.

If this is true, then it is evidence that most sex offenders — almost all of them — will continue to commit sex crimes. If this is true, then it means that most sex offenders can’t help their behavior. They will never change. They are beyond help.

If sex offenders really cannot and will not change, then society is justified in wanting to lock them up and throw away the keys. After sex offenders serve their time and get out of prison, it is right that they should be required to register on a database for the rest of their lives. Again, this sounds fine to me; at least, it would if that 95 percent re-offending rate was true.

It is not true. A study done by the U.S. Bureau of Justice in 1994 says so.

There were 9,691 male sex offenders released from prison in 1994, representing two-thirds of all sex offenders released from custody that year. This was not one of those studies where they interview 100 people and then stretch their conclusions to cover 100,000 people. This was an excellent study with a huge sample, whose conclusions can be trusted.

For those of you who might be interested and can read PDF files, I can e-mail you the entire 49-page study. Just e-mail me and ask for it. For those who may not have the time or inclination to wade through the whole thing, let me highlight a few of its conclusions.

First, only 5.3 percent, or 517 men, of released sex offenders tracked in the study were arrested again for another sex crime. Only 3.5 percent, representing two-thirds of those arrested, were convicted. While I absolutely agree that 3.5 percent is still 100 percent too many, it’s a whole lot smaller than that 95 percent figure so many of us throw around.

The 9,691 men in the study included 4,295 child molesters. Of these, 3.3 percent, or 141 men, were arrested again for another sex crime involving a child; again, hardly 95 percent. Half of the child molesters were 19 years of age or younger when they committed their crime. And 60 percent of their victims were children 13 years of age or younger.

The study goes on to show that released pedophiles with more than one arrest for molesting a child were three times as likely — 7.3 percent to 2.4 percent — to be arrested again for child molesting than those with only one prior arrest. This seems to indicate that the sooner pedophiles are caught, the less likely they are to re-offend.

Finally, sex offenders (including child molesters) were less likely to be re-arrested for any kind of crime after their release than non-sex offenders — 43 percent for sex offenders versus 68 percent for non-sex offenders.

OK, we’ve got some figures and statistics to look at here, but so what? How does this help us prevent sex crimes? How does this help us stop sex offenders from re-offending? How can we find a way to reduce the number of victims, especially children, who are being abused by some very sick people?

For starters, if we’re going to reduce sex crimes, then we ought to have good intelligence and gather the best information possible. We need to understand the true nature and actual scope of the problem. We need to deal with facts, so we can develop a plan of action based on those facts. The figures given in this study help us get there.

As long as most people believe that 95 percent of sex offenders will re-offend; as long as too many of us think that sex offenders cannot and will not change; as long as we lump all sex offenders into one category and fail to take the exact nature of each offense into consideration; as long as we let our emotional responses to a truly heinous crime drive our public policy (especially our anger and outrage); and as long as we think that putting every sex offender into a public database will solve our problem: We will not be ready to craft an effective response to this tough and emotional issue.

Almost every day, someone asks me, “What can we do about sex offenders?” That’s too short a question, and the answer is quite long — too long for one column.

For the moment, let me just say that something can be done. Change is in the air, and a change in our overall approach is needed. But before we can start discussing solutions, we’ve got to get the rest of the facts out on the table.

In the weeks ahead, I will do my best to bring facts to this public forum in the hope that our community can find a reasonable and effective way to deal with sex offenses, and the people who commit them.

In the meantime, please don’t shoot the messenger.



IN - We need a change in approach to sex offenders

View the article here

11/16/2008

By RICHARD JOHNSON - Local Columnist

Most people seem to believe that sex offenders have a higher re-offending rate than any other category of criminal. A figure I hear tossed around a lot says that 95 percent of sex offenders will commit another sex crime if they get the chance.

If this is true, then it is evidence that most sex offenders — almost all of them — will continue to commit sex crimes. If this is true, then it means that most sex offenders can’t help their behavior. They will never change. They are beyond help.

If sex offenders really cannot and will not change, then society is justified in wanting to lock them up and throw away the keys. After sex offenders serve their time and get out of prison, it is right that they should be required to register on a database for the rest of their lives. Again, this sounds fine to me; at least, it would if that 95 percent re-offending rate was true.

It is not true. A study done by the U.S. Bureau of Justice in 1994 says so.

There were 9,691 male sex offenders released from prison in 1994, representing two-thirds of all sex offenders released from custody that year. This was not one of those studies where they interview 100 people and then stretch their conclusions to cover 100,000 people. This was an excellent study with a huge sample, whose conclusions can be trusted.

For those of you who might be interested and can read PDF files, I can e-mail you the entire 49-page study. Just e-mail me and ask for it. For those who may not have the time or inclination to wade through the whole thing, let me highlight a few of its conclusions.

First, only 5.3 percent, or 517 men, of released sex offenders tracked in the study were arrested again for another sex crime. Only 3.5 percent, representing two-thirds of those arrested, were convicted. While I absolutely agree that 3.5 percent is still 100 percent too many, it’s a whole lot smaller than that 95 percent figure so many of us throw around.

The 9,691 men in the study included 4,295 child molesters. Of these, 3.3 percent, or 141 men, were arrested again for another sex crime involving a child; again, hardly 95 percent. Half of the child molesters were 19 years of age or younger when they committed their crime. And 60 percent of their victims were children 13 years of age or younger.

The study goes on to show that released pedophiles with more than one arrest for molesting a child were three times as likely — 7.3 percent to 2.4 percent — to be arrested again for child molesting than those with only one prior arrest. This seems to indicate that the sooner pedophiles are caught, the less likely they are to re-offend.

Finally, sex offenders (including child molesters) were less likely to be re-arrested for any kind of crime after their release than non-sex offenders — 43 percent for sex offenders versus 68 percent for non-sex offenders.

OK, we’ve got some figures and statistics to look at here, but so what? How does this help us prevent sex crimes? How does this help us stop sex offenders from re-offending? How can we find a way to reduce the number of victims, especially children, who are being abused by some very sick people?

For starters, if we’re going to reduce sex crimes, then we ought to have good intelligence and gather the best information possible. We need to understand the true nature and actual scope of the problem. We need to deal with facts, so we can develop a plan of action based on those facts. The figures given in this study help us get there.

As long as most people believe that 95 percent of sex offenders will re-offend; as long as too many of us think that sex offenders cannot and will not change; as long as we lump all sex offenders into one category and fail to take the exact nature of each offense into consideration; as long as we let our emotional responses to a truly heinous crime drive our public policy (especially our anger and outrage); and as long as we think that putting every sex offender into a public database will solve our problem: We will not be ready to craft an effective response to this tough and emotional issue.

Almost every day, someone asks me, “What can we do about sex offenders?” That’s too short a question, and the answer is quite long — too long for one column.

For the moment, let me just say that something can be done. Change is in the air, and a change in our overall approach is needed. But before we can start discussing solutions, we’ve got to get the rest of the facts out on the table.

In the weeks ahead, I will do my best to bring facts to this public forum in the hope that our community can find a reasonable and effective way to deal with sex offenses, and the people who commit them.

In the meantime, please don’t shoot the messenger.



IA - Accused UI professor dead in apparent suicide

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11/13/2008

IOWA CITY (AP) — A University of Iowa music professor named in a sexual harassment lawsuit is dead, apparently of suicide, Iowa police said today.

Sgt. Troy Kelsay confirmed the death of Mark Weiger, an Iowa professor since 1988.

Kelsay says police were called to Weiger’s home in Iowa City on Wednesday, where they found him dead in his car in his garage. An autopsy is pending.

A former Iowa student, Melissa Rose Walding Milligan, filed a sexual harassment suit against Weiger and the university last week.

In the lawsuit, Walding Milligan claimed that Weiger regularly made sexual remarks and harassed her while also having a sexual relationship with another student during the 2006-2007 school year.

The lawsuit states that the university has been aware of Weiger’s alleged behavior since 1993. It also states that when Walding Milligan filed a complaint against Weiger in June 2007, the university found he had violated the school’s sexual harassment policy and reached an informal resolution with the professor.

The university released a statement today offering its condolences to Weiger’s family, friends and colleagues.

The statement said Weiger came to the university in 1988 to teach oboe and chamber music. He received his degrees from the New England Conservatory of Music and the Juilliard School.

Weiger’s death comes three months after another University of Iowa professor accused of sexual misconduct committed suicide. Arthur Miller was accused of offering higher grades to female students in exchange for sexual favors.



OH - What threat?

View the article here

11/16/2008

WHAT was Waterville's young mayor thinking when he promoted an ordinance to protect villagers from a threat that does not exist now and is not likely to exist in the future? Perhaps it was just youthful exuberance; but maybe it was something more.

Earlier this year, Mayor Derek Merrin (Email), Ohio's youngest mayor when he was elected last year at the tender age of 21, proposed that the village ban sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of parks or day-care centers. This week, the village council voted 6-1 against the ordinance after hearing from an angry crowd of residents who opposed the measure. Mayor Merrin cast the only "yes" vote.

It's now a dead issue, and ought to remain so.

The mayor has said he sees protecting village residents as his most important job. Without the ordinance, he said, a sex offender could move next door to a playground, "reach over his fence, grab a child, and take that child into his house."

Villagers attending the council meeting didn't agree, but apparently that was because they were from parts of the village not covered by the ban rather than from any uneasiness over the mayor's intent. They were afraid that sex offenders would move into their neighborhoods, hurting their businesses, driving down home values, and placing their children in danger.

But what was being overlooked in all the hoopla was the fact that only one sex offender lives in Waterville, his crime was committed many years ago, and he has not offended since.

So where's the danger? Is Waterville in the path of a sex-offender migration of which we are unaware? Is the village being targeted on some offender Web site or predator chat room? Have sex offenders been seen scoping out neighborhoods, checking real estate listings for homes with fences suitable for lurking behind, or inquiring about the location of day-care centers? We doubt it.

We have no sympathy for people who sexually abuse children, and we believe that laws requiring offenders to register with local police and prohibiting them from living near where young people congregate are appropriate. But the danger in this case seems to be all in Mayor Merrin's mind, and his half-baked plan to counter a nonexistent threat makes us wonder if he harbors some strange agenda.

If so, he has gone too far. The mayor can no more legislate to keep sex offenders out of Waterville - his stated intention - than he could pass an ordinance prohibiting rapists, murderers, bank robbers, or others who have been convicted of crimes and paid their debt to society from moving to the village.

There are too many important issues facing villages such as Waterville for the mayor to waste time and resources pursuing non-issues for whatever personal reasons.



GA - Opinion Mixed on Harlem Sex Offender Being Forced to Move

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This just goes to show you, IMO, how hypocritical people are.  They claim to be believers in Jesus Christ, and believe in forgiveness, yet when it comes to a "sex offender," all those morals and values go out the door.  Why do we not have one registry, for all criminals, and make them all live with similar rules, regulations and retroactive punishment?  Let's make it go back 100 years in the past, and all criminals must now be on a public accessible registry, so everyone can see their complete criminal past.  And they must all live with similar residency restrictions.  This is just a witch hunt, mass hysteria, moral panic, and nothing more.  Nothing about any aspect of these laws, will prevent a crime.  If someone is intent on committing a crime, they will do so, regardless of the laws.

11/15/2008

By Katie Beasley - Katie.Beasley@wrdw.com

HARLEM - A Harlem sex offender has to move after a daycare moves too close to her home. Wendy Whitaker took her case -- to fight the state residency restrictions on sex offenders -- all the way to the U.S. federal court. On Thursday, she lost, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
- So why is she having to move, when she was apparently there before the daycare opened?  The daycare should have to move, because they did not check to see an ex-sex offender lived in the area.  To force someone to move like this, is just morally and ethically wrong, period!  Yes, she did a crime, and has paid for it, now she is being punished over and over and over again, just to make the public "feel better!"  We have all turned into animals.  De-evolution!  Why don't we just get rid of all laws and rules, and go back to the wild west days, and let everyone fend for themselves?  That is what we are becoming!

Support is mixed for registered sex offender Wendy Whitaker. Some disagree with the decision and some are happy she must go. Wendy was caught having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old classmate when she was 17. Twelve years later, she's still paying for the crime.

A.L. Wells lives next to registered sex offender, Wendy Whitaker. He agrees with the federal court decision that she must move from her Harlem home. "Whether it happened six months ago, or six years ago or sixty years ago, it's immaterial. It is not something that should have ever happened to start with," says neighbor A.L. Wells.
- Yeah, you are right, it should not have happened, but it did, and she has did her time.  How can you justify torturing someone over and over and over again like this?  So A.L. what have you done in the past we should be aware of?

"People don't understand, you know. They say, well you're a sex offender, you need to be kept track of. You know, look at what I did as compared to what I'm having to go through," Wendy told News 12 in an August interview.

Wendy pleaded guilty to sodomy in 1997 and served five years probation after having consensual oral sex with a classmate. The problem, Wendy was 17 -- the boy only 15.
- Two years difference?  Millions of teenages do the very same thing, so why isn't millions of people on the sex offender registry?  Because they have not been caught yet!  This is insane!  She is not a threat to anybody, IMO.

It's a crime she's still forced to pay for, as a federal court recently upheld a decision to make her move. The AJC reporting that decision came because the judge says there are plenty of legal places Wendy can live. "It's embarrassing. I mean, I know what I did was wrong, I made a mistake but I was seventeen," says Wendy.

Georgia law restricts registered sex offenders from living, working, or loitering within 1,000 feet of where children gather -- like the day care center a few blocks from Wendy's home.

"You almost can't find anywhere to live, here in Georgia. The only reason I'm in Georgia is because I have this house that I own," says Wendy.
- And if Georgia had their way, like the sick Jerry Keen mentioned, he'd be happy if all sex offenders were out of state.  Hell, Hitler thought the same with everyone he thought was not the "master race!"  So I guess we'll just become like Hitler, and start burning people at the stake?

Wendy does have plenty of local support. Several of you have posted here on our website. Here's one of them:

"There needs to be a distinction between those who committed sexual assaults that were consensual and the violent non-consensual acts. This women and the boy were both teenagers. The laws should be designed to prosecute predators and pedophiles and not consenting adolescences." - Anonymous.

But Wendy's neighbor disagrees. "You can not condone it because if you do, it send the wrong message, it's okay. It's not okay," says Wells.
- Nobody is condoning it!!!  She was punished and did her time, and now they are changing the rules and punishing her again for the same crime, which is in DIRECT VIOLATION OF THE CONSTITUTION!  That is the issue.  Stop punishing people over and over for something they've already done their time for.  Many people took a plea deal, signed A CONRACT, and now the STATE is TEARING UP THAT CONTRACT and repunishing people for the same crime, that is wrong, period.  I do not care who says it's CONSTITUTIONAL, it's NOT CONSTITUTION!  When you have an evil, corrupt government, anything is possible, that is obvious.  And yet the sheeple continue to sit back, and allow it to happen.  Well, when they come for you, don't go screaming it's unfair!!!!!

News 12 did try to speak with Wendy Whitaker to get her reaction to the recent decision. But she declined. On Monday, November 17th, the countdown to moving day begins. She'll have just 72 hours until she must be out.