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If enacted, Clarksburg would be the first in the state to create a newer, stricter ordinance.
CLARKSBURG- -- Three years ago, Michelle Riggs' young daughter was viciously beaten by a man that forced his way into her home and assaulted her.
He was later arrested, but the incident is never far from her mind. Soon after the assault, Riggs joined the Child Abduction Prevention Program, or CAPP.
With the desire to protect other children, the idea of stricter offender laws came to the forefront, she said.
Riggs and fellow CAPP member, John Walker, began researching other state's laws.
The results showed that nearly 400 municipalities in 21 states across the U.S. did not allow convicted sex offenders to live or work within or up to 2,000 feet of a school, playground or the victim.
West Virginia's state law is currently only 1,000 feet.
CAPP members approached the Clarksburg city council with a proposal: Create a new ordinance that would raise the boundary from 1,000 to 2,000 feet and cover all offenders, even those done with parole.
Council woman Margaret Bailey says her fellow councilmembers seemed to respond positively to the inquiry. However, a new ordinance will have to go through the governmental process first.
Right now the city attorney is looking into the feasibility of creating such an ordinance. The Clarksburg city council is expected to discuss the proposal further at a meeting in November.
Monday, October 22, 2007
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WINDHAM -- There is a new sex offender treatment program at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham. It's an intensive two year program that doesn't stop when an inmate is released from jail.
It's called the "Rule" program. It was developed by the Center for Psychotherapy and Counseling in Massachusetts. Tim App, a former deputy warden in Massachusetts, says C.P.C. now has treatment programs in six states.
App says the statistics show that the treatment model being used, called the "containment approach," has a recidivism rate of less than two percent. The overall re-conviction rate nationwide for sex crimes is about 15%.
MCC Program Director Dr. Barbara Schwartz says the motto of the Rule program is "no more victims." Schwartz says offenders learn to take responsibility for their crimes, to develop empathy for their victims and also learn tools to deal with stress and rejection, which are common triggers for reoffending.
Dr. Joe Fitzpatrick, the clinical director for the Maine Department of Corrections, says eventually the men in the treatment program at the Maine Correctional Center will be released and they have to go somewhere. Fitzpatrick says if sex offenders are supervised and "managed" in the community ,the risk to public safety decreases. But if they are "run underground," public safety is at risk. He says it's important for the Department of Corrections to continue its statewide education efforts in helping communities deal with this emotional issue.
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LANSING - Some state lawmakers want changes to Michigan's sex offender registry.
A House Republican proposal would make the registry retroactive to include some offenders who were convicted of crimes before 1995. That's when the law creating a registry took effect.
Republican lawmaker David Law of Oakland County's Commerce Township is behind the plan. He says people convicted of first- and second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a victim under 13 should be on the registry no matter when the offense happened.
Law says those offenders are a relatively high risk to repeat their crimes.
- Where did you hear these lies? Go to the Bureau of Justice and educate yourself. Sex offenders are LESS LIKELY to commit another sex crime. Here is some more stats for you.
Another Republican bill would ban convicted sex offenders out on parole from handing out candy to children on Halloween.
- And how many children have been harmed from a sex offender or anyone for that matter on Halloween? None!
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MASON CITY — State Rep. Bill Schickel, R-Mason City, said Monday he is drafting legislation in which state law will be modeled after Mason City’s new sex offender ordinance.
The city ordinance, passed last week, bans high-risk offenders from city-owned sports complexes, parks, playgrounds, skate parks, tennis courts, aquatic center and grounds, school bus stops and the MacNider Campgrounds.
Lower risk offenders are banned from school bus stops, the aquatic center and the campgrounds.
Current state law, passed in 2002, restricts convicted sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools or child care centers.
Schickel held a press conference Monday with his wife, Candi, a lawyer who helped draft the ordinance and Mason City Mayor Roger Bang.
Bill Schickel said the state law hasn’t worked. In fact, he said, law enforcement officers have told him it has caused more problems than it has solved.
He said Mason City’s ordinance restricts where sex offenders go rather than where they live.
“I hope the (city) ordinance will help demonstrate to the Legislature that Mason City’s approach is stronger and more effective than the current state law,” said Schickel.
The ordinance was drafted by a citizens committee after a year of research and was approved by the City Council on a 5-1 vote.
Councilman Max Weaver voted against it, saying it would lose in court if it was challenged.
Candi Schickel said she is confident the law is constitutional.
“It is a rational approach based on what the risk is, which is something courts look at,” she said.
City Attorney Tom Meyer worked with the citizens committee throughout the process and had them “tweak it” several times to make sure it was sound, she said.
Changing the state law has been endorsed by many organizations including the Iowa County Attorneys Association, Iowa State Sheriff’s and Deputies Association, Iowa Department of Corrections, Iowa State Association of Counties and Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault, she added.
Bang, who has consistently backed “exclusionary zones” over residency restrictions, said he is confident the city ordinance is a good one.
“I wanted a law that protects the most vulnerable among us and one that protects everyone’s constitutional rights, including the sex offender’s. This one does that,” he said.
“I think the public, through their elected officials, have spoken and I think they have been reasonable.”
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Once again, not all sex offenders are pedophiles or child molesters. But a rather good story, and shows, even the most notorious person CAN be helped, if you try.
TORONTO - In the dank office of a downtown church, a page sealed in plastic and stuck on the wall reads: "Every human being is worth more than the worst thing they do."
It is a hopeful message that goes beyond mere platitude in this context. It is the driving philosophy and was the inspiration for Circles of Support, an organization that began in 1994 when notorious child molester Charlie Taylor was due to be released from prison into the Hamilton area.
The Circles of Support philosophy runs counter to everything society thinks about child molesters -- that they are repeat offenders, unable to be reformed, deviant -- to surround them with support rather than shun them. In fact, those who support the program see it as the most common-sense response to the problem.
Consider the Taylor case: With the community railing against having such a loathsome offender in its midst, and prison officials with no other option for someone who had served every day of his sentence, a Mennonite church accepted the infamous sex offender into their congregation, agreeing to meet with him regularly.
They called themselves Charlie's Angels, and until his death, acted much the way a family or friends would have -- had any of those remained when he was released.
When Taylor died in 2005, perhaps one of his only accomplishments was that, after prison, he lived for 11 years without committing a new sexual offense.
Dr. Robin Wilson, a clinical psychologist who has treated up to 7,000 sex offenders and is a long-time consultant with Circles of Support, applauds Taylor's reformation.
"That's pretty remarkable given that when he was released from prison the risk rating that he was given [by Canada's National Parole Board] was 100% chance of re-offending in seven years. He beat the odds by four years."
The group's research indicates that of the sexual offenders who have taken part in the program, there has been a 70% reduction in sexual offense recidivism.
In a survey of 24 offenders who sought and committed to the group's support, two-thirds said that alone they would have had difficulty with relationships and would have returned to crime.
Ninety per cent of the respondents said they would have had problems readjusting to the community.
When child molester Wray Budreo died last month, his funeral service was attended by about 35 people, all of them contacts made through Circles of Support. Convicted of 20 sex crimes between 1963 and 1988, he was one of the first offenders embraced by the program when he was released from prison in 1994, amid a public clamour that included noose-waving demonstrators and screaming headlines. He inspired the program to keep going because he never sexually reoffended.
"This is a very simple concept. All we have to do is think of ourselves. We do well in life because we have people who care about us," said Dr. Wilson, who now runs a Florida prison for violent sexual predators.
"If you're a long-term sex offender and everyone in the community hates your guts and nobody wants to look at you, never mind spend any time with you, who's there to point you in the right direction when you make bad decisions?"
- This is what I've said before. You treat them badly, they will probably reoffend. When you have no hope, or nothing to look forward to, then what do you expect?
The Circles of Support program, which has grown enough to become partly funded by the Correctional Service of Canada, relies on a relationship approach that surrounds an offender, or core member, with a circle of volunteers, and an outer circle of professionals.
It is the inner circle that drives the program, which is administered by a Mennonite group here in Toronto. They are ordinary citizens who, in the language of the organization, agree to walk with those cast out by society, meeting with offenders on a daily basis.
There are to be no secrets between the core member and the volunteers, and there are strict guidelines about confidentiality versus keeping secrets, and about empowering the offender versus creating a dependency.
"The one thing about offenders that has probably struck me the most is just how exactly similar they are to the rest of us; that there is no tattoo in the middle of their forehead; there is no glaring difference between them and us that we can readily see," said Dr. Wilson.
"That dirty old man with the long greasy hair and dirty fingers in the park with bags of candy and a trench coat -- he doesn't exist. Your average sex offender looks a lot like me; your average sex offender looks a lot like [the Prime Minister;] your average sex offender looks a lot like the next parent of a victim.
An understanding of child molesters goes a considerable distance to helping the problem be contained, he said.
"If we hide our heads in the sand and try and legislate them into non-existence, we're fooling ourselves ... They're part of our community, and the only way that we're going to get our heads around this is if we treat [the problem] as if it's a community issue."
Circles of Support and Accountability (COSA) are intended to assist sexual offenders released at the end of their sentence. Their risk of re-offending is considered so great that they cannot be safely supervised in the community. Many are high-profile cases with no social support. - Offenders must sign a "covenant" to live offence-free and notify COSA immediately if they have difficulty doing so. The non-legally binding document allows volunteers to receive confidential information from therapists and other professionals. - COSA members are primarily faith-based community volunteers who "walk daily in friendship" with offenders also help them with everything from basic banking, using public transit and doing laundry to getting counselling and applying for dental care and car insurance. - After an initial series of meetings in the community, volunteers are encouraged to have the offender over to their home, but only if the entire group decides that the visits do not pose a risk to the core member and to the community. - If notes are subpoenaed for a court appearance, volunteers are encouraged to "record only defensible facts and avoid opinion when writing notes." - COSA will break confidentiality with an offender -- a key reason for its success -- if a child is at risk or a law or a condition on a court order has been violated or is about to be violated. - COSA members are advised never to contact victims. Instead, offenders who wish to do so are to be "strongly encouraged" and re-directed to the accredited Victim Offender Reconciliation Program.
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A year after allegations of sexual misconduct were directed at an Athens Police Department career-shadowing program, it continues onward with a few changes.
APD’s Explorers program, a service that gives those aged 14 to 21 a more thorough view of law enforcement, was put under investigation following an anonymous letter sent last October.
The letter alleged that former officer Brian Lushbaugh had forced himself on the writer and threatened to have her expelled from the program if she did not comply. He later told special prosecutor Rocky Coss that he had sex with two female Explorers during the three-year period in question from late 1998 until late 2001, Coss said.
In the 12 months since the initial investigation, the program is under new leadership and has instituted additional safeguards. The changes include requiring Explorers to undergo the city’s sexual harassment training program, several more officers taking on advising roles in the program and placing a limit on the number of ride-along hours allowed per week with a single officer, Capt. Tom Pyle said.
Only the sexual harassment awareness program was a direct result of Lushbaugh’s conduct with female Explorers, and new leadership in any program often results in a different set of procedures, adviser Lt. Ralph Harvey said.
Lushbaugh’s actions were investigated by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation and led to his resignation in March. He left APD after paying a $1,500 fine and pleading guilty to two counts of dereliction of duty for engaging in sexual relations with two legal-aged girls while on duty, a second-degree misdemeanor, according to Athens Municipal Court documents.
Officer Megan Dowler, a former Hocking College student and Explorers program alumna who was asked to become an adviser for the program, said she felt the additional advisers makes for a more open environment.
“I just think at that age it would be easier for a girl to talk to another girl,” she said.
The Explorers program is comparable to an unpaid internship, as its members receive a thorough view of police officer duties while assisting the understaffed department — which is authorized to have 28 officers but has 20 on duty — with various tasks, program adviser Officer Adam Claar said.
Members must pay $7 a year to the Boy Scouts of America in addition to uniform fees, and APD is charged $20 a year to stay chartered, he said.
There are currently about seven individuals who regularly attend monthly meetings for the program, most of whom are Hocking College students who join for a year or two. The number often fluctuates, but few, if any, had quit as a result of the Lushbaugh incident, Claar said.
Though city employees must undergo a sexual harassment training course before they begin working, unpaid Explorers had been excused from doing so because it was incorrectly believed they had received such training from the Boy Scouts of America, said Beverly Henderson, city personnel director and conductor of the sexual harassment training.
The meeting focuses on explanation of the law and enforces that the city neither tolerates such behavior nor expects the victim to stay quiet on the matter, she said.
Lushbaugh himself had received sexual harassment training, titled “From Sex to Religion: Putting a Halt to Harassment in the Workplace” as well as his signed confirmation that he received the “City of Athens Policy on Sexual Harassment” and a fact sheet for employees on preventing sexual harassment, according to his personnel file.
- Guess he didn't learn much!
“I can’t say a training course is going to stop anyone from doing something,” Harvey said.
Ultimately, the program was not discontinued because such a decision would be an excessive reaction to an otherwise good program, said Chief Richard Mayer, adding that it has been in place at least since his arrival in 1988.
“You take care of the problem and move on,” Mayer said.
Lushbaugh was unable to be reached for comment for this story.
While both the Ohio University Police Department and Athens County Sheriff’s Office offer ride-along programs to those interested as well, neither has a similar training system for aspiring officers.
“There was an Athens Police Department and Explorers program before Brian Lushbaugh and there will be after him,” Harvey said.
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SPOKANE - A 9-year-veteran of the Spokane Police Department has been placed on administrative leave after being accused of rape last week.
The WSP was asked to investigate because it was originally unclear whether the officer was with the Spokane Police Department or Spokane County Sheriff's Department.
The officer, who's identity has not been released due to the ongoing WSP investigation, will remain on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
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Any people believe what a cop says at face value? Bunch of hypocrites!
Claims of 'zero tolerance' for sexual misconduct by state troopers on duty are contradicted by records
Since a string of sexual misconduct cases involving troopers became public last month, State Highway Patrol Commander Fletcher Clay (pictured) has been adamant that he has zero tolerance for those fooling around on duty. Those caught under his command, he said, get fired.
But when a trooper on duty exposed himself to a woman in his patrol car and allowed her to show her breasts to him on a second occasion, Clay supported a three-day suspension. In another case, when two friends of a woman said they saw a trooper having sex with her on the hood of his patrol car, the result was a one-day suspension for neglect of duty.
These two cases emerged during Clay's testimony in March in the now-infamous case of a trooper who admitted having sex in a patrol car and an office. The three cases are among more than 20 instances of sexual misconduct on the force in the past decade, according to interviews with patrol officials and records filed with two administrative agencies.
The sexual romps have damaged the patrol's reputation and have led some to question whether the 1,800-member force lacks adequate standards and direction. John Midgette, executive director of the N.C. Police Benevolent Association, said that other law enforcement agencies do not exhibit this level of sexual misconduct.
"These cases are rare," he said. "Most officers don't involve themselves in this type of conduct."
He blamed the patrol's history of arbitrary, inconsistent discipline and its lack of clear standards as to what will be tolerated.
Bryan Beatty, secretary of the N.C. Department of Crime Control and Public Safety, which oversees the patrol, said it has had a history of "lower standards" for troopers' conduct. But Beatty said he and Clay have been trying to change that, only to come up against judicial decisions that would force them to abide by disciplinary precedents they want to abandon.
He disputed that the force has a larger-than-normal share of sexual misconduct cases. He said that plenty of background checks for applicants from other agencies have turned up sexual misconduct.
"The patrol does not hire people with those kinds of problems," Beatty said.
The sexual misconduct cases and other recent incidents of troopers' misbehavior have sparked what patrol officials say is the force's most comprehensive review ever. Ordered by Gov. Mike Easley, the review is supposed to examine hiring and screening policies for troopers, as well as their supervision. Patrol officials hope to complete it within six months.
On Friday, Easley's communications director, Sherri Johnson, offered a short statement on the latest developments, similar to previous comments: "The Governor believes that troopers who disgrace the good reputation of the Patrol ought to be fired. Period. The Governor is not going to put up with it -- and neither will the Secretary or the Colonel."
Clay declined to comment on the cases or his testimony. Lt. Everett Clendenin, a patrol spokesman, said Clay would stand by his previous statements that on-duty sex by troopers is a firing offense under his command. Clay has repeatedly said that he has taken a tough stance on such activity.
"Since becoming patrol commander in July 2004 I have made it crystal clear that these types of behaviors are unacceptable and will not be tolerated," Clay said in a letter published in The News & Observer on Sept. 25. "Troopers know that if they engage in this type of behavior their jobs will be in jeopardy."
Beatty defended Clay's leadership. He also said that the trooper who exposed himself, Gregg Ford, should have been fired.
"When I found out about it, I wished there was a way we could fire him today," Beatty said. "If our lawyers tell us there is a way we can do it legally, we would."
Clay's testimony reflects the administrative uncertainty about how to respond to sexual misconduct by patrol officers. The actions might appear immoral, but they are rarely illegal.
A News & Observer review of the information available on the cases shows discrepancies as to how troopers have been disciplined. Some were fired or resigned; others were suspended, demoted or had their pay docked. Some of those who left have joined other law enforcement departments.
State law does not prohibit police departments from keeping officers who have been involved in sexual affairs either on or off the job. Nor does it prevent them from accepting officers fired from other departments on those grounds.
There is a misdemeanor charge of "willfully failing to discharge duties" on the books, which speaks to officials who knowingly neglect to perform their jobs. But courts have determined that criminal charges can't be filed unless the neglect leads to public harm.
Once an officer leaves a department, it's up to the state Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission to decide whether the officer can keep his or her law enforcement certification. The commission can cite lack of good moral character and other misconduct allegations in denying certification.
The state's personnel law often shrouds these cases. The law prevents state and local agencies from disclosing most matters involving their employees. Often, these cases do not become public unless they are brought to administrative and judicial courts. State agencies can make exceptions when their integrity is called into question, but so far Beatty has declined to release personnel files.
A firing undone
Clay was on the stand in March, defending his predecessor's decision to fire Trooper Monty Steven Poarch, an 18-year veteran of the patrol who lost his job in 2003. Poarch admitted having an extramarital affair in the patrol car and an office, but he denied it took place while he was on duty.
Last month, State Administrative Law Judge Melissa Owens Lassiter found that Poarch's misbehavior would normally be grounds for dismissal. But after reviewing other cases of troopers who had been allowed to remain on the force for similar or worse conduct, she found that Poarch should be reinstated with back pay because he was the victim of disparate treatment.
The state has appealed the decision to the State Personnel Commission, which is scheduled to hear the case Dec. 13.
Lassiter's decision did not cite any cases that took place during Clay's tenure.
But Clay was in charge when Ford, 40, who became a trooper in 1998, admitted exposing himself to a woman while on duty. He was charged with unbecoming conduct, a policy violation. According to Clay's testimony, Ford admitted the exposure but said he did not have sex with the woman, and that is what prevented him from losing his job.
"He admitted, as you read here, to exposing [himself], but then said that's as far as he went," Clay said. "He got scared. He was in her driveway. He was afraid he'd get fired, and so hopefully our philosophy cut this off and prevented him from going over the line."
Beatty said he did not learn about Ford's misconduct until shortly before the Poarch hearing. Beatty said that Clay told him he supported Ford's suspension because the courts would likely overturn a dismissal.
Ford could not be reached for comment. He works out of a station in Reidsville.
The other case involved Trooper Clint Patterson, 29, who joined the force in 2001. Beatty said that patrol officials did not accept the eyewitness testimony of two people who said they watched through a rifle scope as Patterson had sex with their friend over the hood of his patrol car. Clay discounted a letter that the woman he had sex with, a former girlfriend, gave to the patrol in Patterson's handwriting in which he admitted cheating on an exam during patrol school.
"He said he didn't cheat," Clay testified. "We couldn't substantiate any cheating."
Patterson could not be reached for comment. He works out of a station in Taylorsville.
Michael McGuinness, Poarch's attorney, cited those cases and a third involving an officer who refused to end an off-duty affair as examples of a decade-long practice of unequal treatment that extends into Clay's tenure. Compounding the problem, McGuinness said, is a set of "ill-defined" policies governing trooper misconduct.
Clay testified that when he took over, he sought to get tough on troopers who were involved in sexual affairs on duty. But instead of issuing new policy directives, Clay began to apply his philosophy to those cases.
In looking at Clay's testimony regarding Ford, Midgette questioned whether there was a philosophy at all. Clay testified that there was sexual activity, but not sex.
"It tells me he's gone to the Bill Clinton school of thought," said Midgette, of the N.C. Police Benevolent Association. He was referring to the former president, who denied having sexual relations with a White House intern after she had performed oral sex on him.
Beatty said he did not find Clay's decision hypocritical. He charged that Midgette and McGuinness are the hypocrites for defending the bad officers that the patrol and other agencies are trying to rid themselves of.
"They want someone in there who would weaken the patrol, in my opinion," Beatty said, "because they know this particular commander is taking very clear and precise action against the people whom they would represent."