Tuesday, October 23, 2007

MD - Ex Cop re-indicted on rape charges

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10/23/2007

SALISBURY — An ex-Salisbury patrolman accused of committing rape and burglary while on duty was indicted today for the second time by the Wicomico County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Tracy Ross Sparpaglione, 27, of Laurel, was first indicted by a grand jury in June, but charges were withdrawn Oct. 3 on the day of his trial when the State’s Attorney’s Office declared Nolle Pros.

The notice “not to proceed” formally dropped charges against Sparpaglione. The delay gave more time for the 19-year-old victim of the May 30 rape and burglary to heal, State’s Attorney Davis Ruark said at the time.


TN - TBI, Police Search For Violent Sex Offender Who Removed Tracker

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You see, GPS tracking does nothing for someone who is not willing to have it on them and may be intent on committing another crime, it just wastes tax payers money.

10/23/2007

CLARKSVILLE -- Police are looking for a listed sex offender from Clarksville who removed an electronic tracking device that monitored his whereabouts.

Twenty-one-year-old Robert Lee Anderson has been placed on the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's Top Ten Most Wanted list.

Anderson was on probation after pleading guilty to statutory rape and sexual battery in 2006.

As a condition of his probation he was required to wear an ankle detector that is tracked by Global Positioning System equipment.

Anderson was accused of raping a 15-year-old child in August. The next day, police found Anderson had removed the GPS unit.

He is listed as a violent sexual offender on the TBI's Sex Offender Registry.


IL - Alleged sex offender tries to castrate himself

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This is so sad when people who ARE having thoughts, cannot seek help, without being thrown in jail for having "thoughts!" Castration doesn't always work in the first place.

10/23/2007

SPRINGFIELD (GHNS) - An alleged sex offender who said he was feeling an urge to offend again took a fillet knife to his testicles in an attempt to castrate himself Sunday night.

The 59-year-old man, who lives in the 1600 block of Seven Pines Road, was bleeding profusely when police and paramedics arrived. However, he is expected to survive.

The man successfully removed one testicle and flushed it down the toilet, and the other testicle was severely injured.

He then called a friend for help. Authorities were called about 8:15 p.m. Sunday, and the man was rushed to the hospital.

The man told authorities he was feeling the urge to touch and hurt children. He was not trying to take his life, the man reportedly said, but was trying to stem the urge.

The man's alleged offense happened in 1984. He had been on a sex offender registry for some time, but no longer was required to register.


TX - No ordinance on sex offenders

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Maybe people are starting to see the insanity for what it is?

10/23/2007

MANSFIELD -- A twice-rejected proposal to limit where sex offenders can live in Mansfield received its third snub Monday night when the council voted 4-2 to end discussion on the issue.

Mayor Barton Scott, the proposal's staunchest proponent, hopes to keep it alive with a petition drive starting Saturday.
- This guy just won't quit! He apparently doesn't know most sex crimes occur in the victims home, so these banishment laws will not protect people.

Councilman Larry Broseh apologized for putting the issue back on the agenda, calling the move an attempt to undermine public support for Scott's petition drive.

Council members Broseh, Cory Hoffman, Mike Leyman and Darryl Haynes voted against further consideration of a sex offender ordinance.

Scott and Councilman Greg Kunasek voted to pursue an ordinance.

Six residents spoke on the issue before the vote; all urged the council to scrap the proposal.


NE - Wandering Boy Rescued By Registered Sex Offender

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You see folks, not all sex offenders are evil. If this person was, or was 99% of other sex offender, they would've not even risked it, and just let the kid possibly walk into the street and be killed. This took guts. What would've happened to this child if this man did not do something? I'm surprised he did, seeing he is a sex offender. In today's age, I'm surprised he did not just let the child go, and possible get killed. We all know how this could've turned out. I wonder if she even thanked the person for possibly saving her child's life?

10/23/2007

OMAHA -- A 3-year-old Lincoln boy wandered away from his home in the middle of the night and was rescued by a level 3 sex offender, capital city police said on Tuesday.

The boy's mother, who does not want to be identified, said the family was sleeping just before 3 a.m. Tuesday when her son old got out of the apartment wearing only a diaper. The temperature outside was 36 degrees.

"It was scary," the woman said. "It was, like, a worst nightmare that come true."

She said the boy wandered about a block from his home to the intersection of 48th and Leighton streets, where a passerby found him on a traffic island.

"The first passerby who first stopped and spotted the child is a level 3 registered sex offender," said Kacky Finnell of the Lincoln Police Department.

Police said the man was convicted in 1997 of sexually assaulting a 4-year-old he was baby-sitting. On Tuesday morning, he was driving home from work.

"As he got out of the vehicle and contacted the child, another car was also driving by with two people in that," Finnell said.

"Nothing happened to the child. The child is safe," Finnell said.

The boy's mother said she feels fortunate about the way the morning played out. She said she plans to get more secure locks. Until then, she said she will push a heavy chair in front of the door and remind her son not to wander off.
- Buy some locks! They are not expensive..

"I said, 'You can't go outside without Mommy and Daddy.' He said, 'I won't go out no more,'" she said.

The parents of the kid were both cited on suspicion of child neglect.

Lincoln police are not releasing the names of any of the people who found the boy.


OH - Sex offender harassed by neighbors

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You see, EVERYONE should report harassment if it occurs to them!

09/07/2007

SPRINGFIELD — In August, The Suburbanite first reported on Michael Harig, a registered sex offender living in Springfield Township. His neighbors, James Cody, 50, and Sharon Hall, 45, had placed large signs in their yard and along Massillon Road warning those passing by there was a sex offender living in the neighborhood.

Cody and his girlfriend, Hall, have since been arrested on charges of criminal trespass, violating a temporary protection order, resisting arrest, aggravated menacing and a noise nuisance violation.
- Good, maybe next time someone will think twice about posting these signs which are illegal in most states.

Harig stated that Cody had said he was going to enter Harig’s house whenever deemed necessary to check up on Harig.

Since that time in March, Cody has entered the property several times. He has threatened to kill Harig, his dogs and burn the house down, according to reports. Police also have videotape from Harig’s video camera of Cody breaking a tree branch threatening that was what he was going to do to his (Harig’s) neck.

Cody was arrested at his home on two warrants for aggravated menacing and one warrant for aggravated trespassing.

Harig stated that Hall entered his house without permission while an Akron Beacon Journal reporter and photographer were there interviewing him. Witnesses did verify that Hall had entered Harig’s home without knocking or receiving permission to enter, much less being invited. Police have also seen Cody entering Harig’s house without permission.

Cody has been playing loud music to ‘bother’ Harig. He had a boom box at the side of his garage pointed toward Harig’s house blasting music according to Denise Johnstonbaugh, sergeant with the Springfield Police Department. When the department received the complaint about the music, officer’s arriving to check on the complaint could hear the music two houses before getting to Harig’s. Cody also had an obscene sign in his yard about Harig.

When officers attempted to arrest Cody, he turned and walked away and tightened his arms to keep from being handcuffed. He was taken to the department and then transported to the Summit County Jail. Hall also was transported to the Summit County Jail.

Cody and Hall state that police have not done their job investigating an incident involving a 16-year-old boy visiting Harig’s home. However, the department says they have investigated and they found no crimes committed by Harig.


UT - Rolly: Sex offender list mired in red tape

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10/22/2007

By Paul Rolly - Tribune Columnist

You may have a convicted child rapist living next door and not even know it.

Not only is the entire top tier of the Corrections Department administration new to the job, the staffers running the statewide sex offender registry that tells the public where registered sex offenders live have practically no experience either.

The result, say a number of law enforcement officials who deal with sex offenders, is a delay of several months in updating addresses and other ID information on the more than 7,000 registered sex offenders in Utah.

"It appears that the wheels have come off the bus, so to speak, and I don't see that there are any near-future solutions to the problem. I think that if the general public knew what state the registry was in, they would be alarmed and upset," said one sex crimes investigator in a memo to his superior that was copied to me by concerned members of the law enforcement community. "The fact is that the public believes and expects that by searching their [ZIP] code for sex offenders they will have current information. I believe that this is fundamentally incorrect and it appears that there are many examples to show that the information is not up to date or correct," the memo said.

I talked to officers in eight law enforcement agencies about the problem. Five said there were problems with the registry; three had not encountered problems.

Deputy Corrections Director Robyn Williams says when the new administration came in, there was a backlog of 500 to 600 names to update, but after farming work out to the regional offices, the department is two weeks away from being completely current.

That claim is disputed by several law enforcement agents who supply the registry with information, as well as by former employees of the department. They say the problems began after the new administration changed the staff, moving out registry administrators with years of experience and replacing them with novices.

There used to be five full-time and five part-time staffers. But the part-timers were fired and the department has been slow to replace the full-timers, who either were transferred or quit. There are now five full-time registry employees, but two were hired just a couple of weeks ago.

In case of emergency: Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson was among a group of city officials invited to observe and participate in a mock emergency exercise at the Salt Lake City Public Safety Building recently.

The officials got to see how first-responders come together in an emergency situation and did mock exercises on what they would do in their own role as public officials.

But Anderson missed a little bit of the emergency training exercise. As he was traveling from one floor to another in the 49-year-old emergency services building, the elevator broke and he was trapped.

prolly@sltrib.com


FL - Hub lawyer accused in Fla. rape



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How many people do you know of, take a Bible into the court room? I find that ironic, and hypocritical.

10/23/2007

A high-profile attorney, already facing charges in Boston for allegedly sexually assaulting two teens, “force fed” drugs to an 18-year-old before raping her in a posh Miami Beach hotel, police say.

Gary Zerola was in Florida after sneaking out of state without permission of his probation officer last week to see the Patriots [team stats] play the Dolphins, officials charge.

The Lynn native, a former Suffolk and Essex prosecutor and one-time People magazine Most Eligible Bachelor is scheduled to go to trial here Nov. 28 on multiple counts of rape and supplying liquor to a minor stemming from two separate charges of rape and attempted rape of 19-year-old women in 2004 and 2006.

“This defendant has already had one bite at the apple in terms of keeping his nose clean. He just can’t do it,” said Assistant Middlesex District Attorney Suzanne Kontz, who is handling the local charges because of Zerola’s former ties to the Suffolk District Attorney’s Office.

Zerola met his alleged latest victim, a student at Florida International University, at a Miami Beach club Thursday night into Friday morning while with another woman, according to a Miami Beach police roport.

Although the legal drinking age in Florida is 21, the 18-year-old told police she and Zerola “had several alcoholic drinks,” then repaired to his room with his date at the ultra-swank Catalina Hotel. The trio were recorded by a security camera entering the hotel just after 3 a.m. Friday, police said.

The alleged victim claims Zerola’s date became enraged at her presence at the hotel and stormed out. At that point, she alleges, Zerola grabbed her by the face and stuffed pills down her throat. She told police she apparently passed out and when she awoke that afternoon, she was naked and bleeding in bed beside Zerola.

Zerola told police, “I never had sex with her,” but refused to submit to a DNA test, Kontz said.

Kontz said the teen was “force-fed” what was suspected to be ecstasy. On Zerola’s arrest report, Miami Beach police checked “Y (Yes)” for drugs and alcohol in his system.

Florida officials have 21 days to arraign Zerola on charges to include sexual battery. He was allowed to return to Boston after posting $1,000 cash bail.

Because of “the arrogance” he displayed in violating his probation, coupled with her concern “for the world closing in on him now,” Suffolk Superior Court Judge Carol S. Ball yesterday revoked Zerola’s $5,000 cash bail and ordered him jailed.

Zerola, 36, neither sought nor received permission to leave Massachusetts. He is permitted to travel only if it applies to his job. Zerola used a black Bible to shield his face from a Herald photographer yesterday.

Assigned at one point to the child-abuse unit, Zerola left that office in 2000 and now has his own private practice.

lsweet@bostonherald.com


NY - Trial begins for Saugerties cop accused of rape

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10/23/2007

KINGSTON - There were gasps from the packed Ulster County courtroom Monday when prospective jurors in the case against Tyrone Chrisjohn heard that the decorated village of Saugerties police officer stood charged with rape - and again, when they heard that one of the alleged victims was only 14 years old.

But most of the more than 50 county residents polled for jury selection said they wouldn't let the defendant's uniform or the charges against him interfere with their ability to fairly judge the evidence. By by day's end, attorneys had seated a jury of nine women and three men that will decide Chrisjohn's fate.

Chrisjohn, 35, is charged with two counts of rape, attempted sexual abuse, and attempted forcible touching, all felonies, and official misconduct, a misdemeanor.

Testimony in the trial is scheduled to begin today at 9 a.m.

Prosecutors said that in 2004, Chrisjohn victimized three teenagers - the youngest of whom was 14 - coercing two of the girls to have sex with him and trying to grope the third.

He was arrested on Feb. 22, 2006, after state police investigated allegations that he had engaged in sexual relations with two underage girls while on duty.

Chrisjohn, who was awarded the Meritorious Police Service award by the Ulster County Police Chiefs Association the same year the rapes were alleged to have occurred, denies the charges.

Because the allegations didn't surface until more than a year after the alleged incidents occurred, there is no forensic evidence to support the allegations of the young women, meaning the case will hinge primarily on who jurors find more believable: Chrisjohn, or the three women who claim to be his victims.
- Notice how when a cop is involved, they try their best to make the victims or alleged victims to look bad? I am not saying this person is guilty, I do not know the facts. But just making a point.

During jury selection before visiting Ulster County Court Judge Roger McDonough, attorneys tried to elicit from prospective jurors information that would offer insight into how the jurors would receive testimony in the case.

For Assistant District Attorney Kevin Harpp, the issue was whether the victims' ages, the length of time they waited before reporting the alleged incidents, and the fact that they'd had prior run-ins with the law would be factors in determining their credibility.
- See, they bring out the victims past. If this was not a cop, they would not be doing this.

He also questioned jurors about whether they believed two people could truthfully recount different versions of the same incident.

Defense lawyer E. Stewart Jones also focused on what is expected to be conflicting testimony by the alleged victims, asking jurors whether they believe that someone could make up allegations such as the ones his client is facing.

"This is about credibility," Jones told jurors. "You're going to be asked to make judgements on credibility."

He also questioned jurors about whether they would look differently on Chrisjohn because of the nature of the allegations and whether any of the potential jurors had ever had problems with the police.

Chrisjohn, a four-year police veteran, is also named in a federal civil rights suit filed in March by another woman, which seeks $1.25 million in damages from Chrisjohn and the village of Saugerties. The woman alleges Chrisjohn demanded sexual favors from her in exchange for fixing traffic tickets.

He was suspended from the police force following his arrest last year and his currently free on $25,000 bail.


OH - Wakeman police officer to be sentenced for public indency

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10/23/2007

WAKEMAN -- A reserve officer with the Wakeman Police Department will be sentenced in Bereau Municipal Court early next month for public indency, a charge that could end his relationship with the police department.

Daniel Deusenberry, 26, of Strongsville, pleaded no contest to two counts of public indecency on Sept. 26 for a March 15 offense, according to court records.

He is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 7 and has indicated he plans to resign from the police department, said Wakeman Village Solicitor Randal Strickler and court records.

Deusenberry, who is married and has children, was engaging in sexual activity in a Cleveland Metroparks bathroom with members of the same sex, Strickler confirmed. He was cited by the Metroparks police, according to court records.

The department hired Deusenberry as a reserve more than three years ago, said Strickler.

Police Chief Tim Hunker confirmed Deusenberry was placed on administrative leave, but refused comment on details of the matter.

''It's an unfortunate situation because he was a good officer. But the village has to do what it has to do to protect the integrity of the police department,'' said Strickler.

Deusenberry could not be reached for comment.


OR - Ex-deputy is charged with encouraging child sexual abuse

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10/23/2007

A Clatsop County sheriff's deputy resigned Monday morning and was charged in the afternoon with 30 counts of encouraging child sexual abuse.

Robert Gordon Smith, 37, of Hammond was released after posting $5,000 bail. His next appearance in Clatsop County Circuit Court is scheduled for Dec. 19.

Oregon State Police ask anyone with information to call Detective Matt Beeson at 503-325-5515, ext. 25.

Smith was a Clatsop County deputy for 11 years. He had been suspended since May, when he became the focus of a state police investigation stemming from a complaint of inappropriate contact with a high school student in 2002.

Clatsop County District Attorney Joshua Marquis said the charges against Smith deal solely with possession of child pornography.

"He is not charged with any conduct involving inappropriate behavior with anybody," Marquis said.

If convicted, Smith faces up to 10 years in prison on each count.
- So he could be in prison for 300 years!


WI - Racine officer faces charges for sexual activity with underage drinker in squad

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Office is on the far left!

10/22/2007

RACINE — A Racine police officer faces criminal charges for engaging in sexual activity in his squad with an underage drinker he saw urinate in public on July 3.

Officer Frank Williams, 37, of Racine, is charged with one count of misconduct in public office. He could face up to $10,000 in fines and 3 1/2 years imprisonment.

The charges come after the Racine County Sheriff’s Department investigated a complaint made by a 20-year-old woman, who said Williams touched her inappropriately in his squad car after he caught her urinating in public on July 3. She made the complaint to the Racine Police Department on July 4.

The woman also said that Williams allowed her friend to drive, even after she and her friend admitted the driver was intoxicated. Instead of preventing the driver from getting behind the wheel, he followed the car to their destination. It was during that drive that the sexual contact took place, the woman said.

DNA analysis found the woman’s genetic material on Williams’ squad microphone, according to court records.

Williams has been on administrative leave since July 4, the day the woman made the complaint. Chief Kurt Wahlen said Williams helped with the parade that morning, but that when he came in to work the fireworks, they sent him home. He is expected to resign soon.

Williams appeared before Judge Emily Mueller on Monday afternoon, where he had his initial appearance, waived his preliminary hearing and entered a no contest plea. Negotiations between Williams’ attorney and the District Attorney’s Office allowed them to move forward with the three-part proceeding.

Under the terms of the plea deal the state will argue facts and circumstances of the case, but will not make any sentencing recommendation. District Attorney Mike Nieskes also said they would not object to probation.

Mueller said she would not question the charging decision the D.A.’s office made, but noted the criminal complaint spoke to more than the misconduct charge.

“There is certainly conduct alleged that could form the basis for a more serious charge,” she said. “(The District Attorney) has enormous prosecutorial discretion.”

Nieskes said the decision on charging was made with the victim, who did not want to testify at trial. And while it is unusual to resolve a case prior to its first appearance in court, Nieskes said it is not unheard of, and in this case, it matched what the victim wanted.

The District Attorney’s Office kept the investigation in-house, rather than sending it to a special prosecutor, Nieskes said, because they did not have a daily working relationship with Williams.

Defense attorney D. Michael Guerin said while they contest that the sexual contact was non-consensual, they do not contest the facts of the misconduct charge.

“We agree the conduct he engaged in does constitute misconduct,” Guerin said. “(Williams) has a different version of where consent lies and what actions were performed.”

At the end of the proceeding, Nieskes stood up and addressed the court. He said that they would look on it as a positive thing if Williams were to promptly resign from the police department. Wahlen had prepared a resignation letter in advance, and Nieskes handed that to the defense.

After court, Wahlen said he has had no choice but to keep Williams on the department payroll throughout the investigation.

“He’s still on paid leave,” Wahlen said. “I cannot fire him. If I could, I would. He has a right to a termination hearing with the (Police and Fire Commission). You can’t let the internal investigation interfere with the D.A.’s investigation. We expect him to resign.”

With a resignation, Williams will be able to keep all of the retirement benefits he has earned; if Williams was fired, he would lose the city’s contribution to his retirement account.

No other outside complaints had been made against Williams, Wahlen said, though a fellow officer made a sexual harassment claim against him in November 2006. Williams was then informed and trained on department policies.

Wahlen said Williams’ poor choices left a number of victims.

“There’s the young lady he gave a ride to, Mr. Williams’ family, and the department,” he said. “There are people who do a lot of good here. Day in and day out there are heroes working in this department. We have to dig our way out of this hole. He was hired to guard the flock and instead he chose to become one of the wolves.”

Wahlen said Williams owes the Police Department and the community an apology.

“His actions had far-reaching consequences,” Wahlen said.

The woman has also filed a notice of claim with the city, seeking monetary damages based on Williams’ actions and “the failure of the city of Racine to properly monitor its police officers.”

Williams remains out of custody on a $10,000 signature bond. His sentencing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Dec. 4.


FL - Photos, Video Of Women Lead To Suspension Of City's Acting Chief Of Police

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Click the above link to view more photos.

10/23/2007

SANFORD -- The acting chief of police in Sanford has been suspended over lewd video and photos of women in public that some might consider indecent exposure.

Recently, video taken during a past Bike Weeks event near the Cabbage Patch bar in Volusia County surfaced and made its way to City Hall. The video shows women with bare breasts and buttocks and images so lewd they had to be censored, Local 6 reported.

Images show Deputy Chief Darrel Presley talking with women who are about to pose for his camera in a way some may consider indecent exposure.

"What were you asking these women to do, sir?" Local 6's Tony Pipitone asked. "And is it against the law to do that in public?"

Presley, who is acting police chief while his boss is on vacation, did not answer.

"If you walked out of here and you saw two women (posing) in public right now, would you arrest them or would you condone this?" Pipitone asked.

Presley did not answer.

Presley also did not comment on photos taken this year showing Presley in what Police Chief Brian Tooley admits is conduct unbecoming an officer.

Presley received a two-week suspension over the incident, costing him about $3,300 of his $85,000 salary, Pipitone reported.

Local 6 showed the video and photographs to Sanford Mayor Linda Kuhn.

"Is that who you want representing your city's police department as acting chief?" Pipitone asked.

"Well, currently, Daryl is the acting chief," Kuhn said. "He will be suspended and take that suspension upon the chief's return."

City Manager Sherman Yehl originally defended Tooley's discipline decision. But then, Local 6 informed Yehl that he had been misinformed by the police department about a critical fact, Pipitone said.

"What leads you to believe that the activity on that video is legal?" Pipitone asked.

"Well, it is my understanding that topless bars in Volusia County are not prohibited," Yehl said.

"It is not a topless bar," Pipitone said.

"What is it?" Yehl said.

"It's a regular bar that's not allowed to have topless women?" Pipitone said.

"Well, I was not aware of that," Yehl said.

Yehl said he will talk to the chief again after seeing the video. Only Yehl has the authority to fire the police chief.

The city manager said he received the video and photos anonymously last week and immediately asked Tooley to investigate the matter.

Tooley said his punishment was not harsher, in part, because the videotape was several years old.


TX - Sex offenders: Keep out

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But, what about all the unknown sex offenders who have not been caught yet? I'm sure there is some living among these people and they love the "false" sense of security. The registry is growing daily, which means, unknowns are being caught....

10/23/2007

LUBBOCK. - The ground near Holly Hunter's new home is so fresh that her leather shoes are caked with mud as she greets visitors outside her brick bungalow in Milwaukee Ridge, a brand-new subdivision at the edge of town.

Built on a former cotton farm, the planned community boasts a 15-acre community park, an open-air pavillion and a private pool. Yet Ms. Hunter was also attracted by what the community lacks as much as what it has to offer. Milwaukee Ridge is officially free of sex offenders -- residents are routinely subjected to background checks, and potential homeowners whose names appear in sex offender registries are turned away.

Ms. Hunter, a single mother raising a nine-year-old daughter, says the restriction brings a sense of comfort.

"Not having to live next to a sex offender, or a sex offender in front of you or a sex offender behind you, is a great privilege" says Ms. Hunter, a communications consultant.

"I can feel comfortable going next door and borrowing a cup of sugar from my neighbour knowing that they're not a sex offender."

The exclusionary policy, promoted by the developer as the first of its kind in the country, fits the politics of this small, conservative city, which boasts deep Christian roots and has turned out an impressive number of country musicians. But restrictions on where sex offenders can live are a growing trend throughout the United States. As parents become more aware of the offenders in their midst through state-run registries, a growing number of lawmakers and residents' associations are enacting laws to keep criminals out. Critics say such rules merely shift the problem to poorer neighbourhoods less equipped to tackle it and drive sex offenders underground because they refuse to comply.

More than 20 states have laws banning registered offenders on probation or parole from coming within certain distances of where children congregate -- pools, day-cares and schools among them. In some communities, the restrictions can mean the difference between living in an apartment or on the streets. In Florida, offenders who have hurt minors must stay at least 1,000 feet (305 metres) from anywhere children gather, but some communities have drawn the circle around children's zones even larger, restricting sex offenders from coming within 2,500 feet (762 metres), or nearly half a mile.

This year, such strict rules left five sex offenders in Miami living under a bridge, where their parole officers would routinely check on them. The men had been living next to a daycare and centre for sexually abused children, but the state said it could not find housing the men could afford in the community without violating the local ordinance.

In some cases, the rules are so restrictive that the offenders are allowed to go homeless, provided their parole officers know where to find them. The Department of Corrections also routinely checks on offenders living under benches and, in one bizarre case, under a specific tree.

"We also have situations where we have trailer parks that happen to be within a safe zone that just fill up with sex offenders," says Jo Ellyn Rackleff, a spokeswoman for Florida's Department of Corrections. "It is really a difficult problem. It's impossible, is what it is."

In Lubbock, the sex-offender-free community is a private initiative. Clayton Isom, vice-president of I & S Investments, says he came up with the idea while trying to help a cousin's family move to the city. Every time the couple thought they had found a home for themselves and their two young girls, they discovered through the registry that a sex offender lived within two blocks.

"A lot of young families out there are scared to death of sex offenders," says Mr. Isom, who founded the company with fraternity brothers after graduation.

"It seems like it's getting worse and worse. At least in America, there just seems to be more and more, and the level of gruesomeness seems to grow, too."

I & S spent six months researching whether it could legally offer a sex-offender-free community and developed Milwaukee Ridge in 2005. Residents must sign covenants authorizing background checks every 90 days. If the checks turn up a sex offender, the homeowner is fined US$1,000 a day until they leave the community. With homes in Milwaukee Ridge selling for US$100,000 to US$120,000, a quarter of their value can be tied up in fines within a month, leading to a foreclosure.

Critics argue the rules give Milwaukee Ridge's residents a false sense of security. Anyone can walk the community's sidewalks or drive its streets; the neighbourhood is not gated. And sex offenders could still live nearby. But Mr. Isom insists the plan has merit.

"We feel like we've done everything that a company in our business can possibly do to provide a sense of security and provide as much security for little kids as we can," he says.

The company has not yet faced a legal challenge to its policy. Representatives of the U.S. Housing Department have said the rules do not violate the Fair Housing Act because registered sex offenders are not a protected group. Mr. Isom says his company is willing to buy back the homes and might even help evictees rent apartments to ensure they leave the community quickly.

"We're discriminating to all get out -- no bones about that," Mr. Isom adds. "I honestly, sincerely believe it's doing a good thing for people and families."

The young developers have the backing of David Miller, the Mayor of Lubbock.

"I'd have to confess no expertise whatsoever in what kind of impact this effort will have. But I do know the impact that no effort will have, and that's no positive impact at all," Mr. Miller says.

But experts in sex-offender behaviour disagree. Dr. Jill Levenson, an assistant professor of human services and sociology at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., said such communities set a dangerous precedent that could do more harm than good.

"Every sex offender is somebody's neighbour," says Dr. Levenson, who has conducted studies on the effectiveness of these kinds of residence restrictions. "At best, you transplant the problem to another community, usually a poor or rural community that has less resources to protect their citizens and to fight crime."

It is a problem Mike Kemper, the father of a Florida sex offender, has personally experienced. His 32-year-old son, Erick, was assigned to live under a palm tree after his release from prison this year.

The younger Kemper was convicted in 2001 of lewd and lascivious molestation involving a child under the age of 12 and is now a registered sex offender. But his parents live across from a school in a community with residence restrictions, and his friends live near a church daycare. Mr. Kemper wound up under the tree in Fort Lauderdale because he could not find a residence that complied with state and local laws. The tree was decreed as where he must spend his night. Even when he was able to arrange a van to sleep in, the rules stipulated he must park it near his appointed tree.

The elder Mr. Kemper says his son simply had nowhere else to go --except back to prison. Mr. Kemper was reincarcerated for a parole violation in June.

"He wasn't under the tree when he was supposed to be," his father says. "He slept over at a friend's house and he overslept, I guess, or something. And he wasn't there." State records show he was released again in September.

Florida is just one example of a state where communities are striving to legislate. Georgia recently enacted a new sex-offender registry law that stipulates if offenders do not register an address, they can be sent back to prison for life. Homelessness is not an excuse. Between the new law and an existing 1,000-foot restriction, supporters expect to run offenders out of the state.

The restrictions are also creating communities with more than their fair share of sex offenders. Unable to find lodging, many are bunking together in motels and trailer parks where landlords are not concerned about their status. At one mobile-home park in St. Petersburg, nearly half of the 200 residents are reportedly sex offenders.

In some cases, when sex offenders cannot find housing that complies with local ordinances -- far enough away from children -- judges send them back to prison, says Ms. Rackleff, the spokeswoman for Florida's Department of Corrections.

"The public needs to keep in mind that these offenders are in the community -- they're in the grocery stores, they're on the buses, they're out there," she says. "Whether they're 1,000 or 1,001 feet [from children] in the residence where they're checked on -- is that really any more unsafe than not having a residence and going underground?"

Back in Lubbock, the plight of sex offenders is not Ms. Hunter's concern. What matters more, she says, is taking every possible step she can to keep her daughter safe. And for her, that included buying into a community that prides itself on being sex-offender free.

"My daughter is my everything. She's my life," says Ms. Hunter, who for personal reasons has now decided to move to South Dakota. "I would do anything for her. Being able to make this choice ... was a great decision for me."

mvallis@nationalpost.com


CT - Teens & Sex: Where Law, Hypocrisy Meet

View the article here

10/23/2007

A teenager is still in jail because he had consensual sex with his teenage girlfriend.

Eighteen days after his arrest in West Hartford, Keith Armstrong remains in the Hartford Correctional Center because nobody will post bail.

There's some justice for you. Our prisons are overcrowded but, sure, we've got room for a vulnerable kid.

Nearly three weeks ago, a judge set Armstrong's bail at an outrageous $60,000, which means you would have to come up with 10 percent - $6,000 - to get him out. Nobody, not friends or family, have come forward with the money.

Obviously, Armstrong's not an angel. But the Hartford lockup is a holding pen for whomever the police arrest, including violent criminals.

Before his arrest, Armstrong was on alternative probation for an incident in which police stopped him and a group of other young men and Armstrong was carrying a knife. More recently, he enrolled in a Jobs Corps program in Chicopee, Mass., to learn a trade. Now the 18-year-old, who was trying to get his life on track, bunks with drug dealers, sexual deviants and violent offenders in a high security jail.

Perhaps he's had a chance to get to know rapper 50 Cent's "employee," who was picked up on weapons and assault charges. Or some of the gentlemen from the "organized criminal enterprise" arrested recently on counterfeiting, drug, kidnapping and robbery charges.

Armstrong, of West Hartford, faces second-degree sexual assault charges because he was more than three years older than his 15-year-old girlfriend. More precisely, it was because he was three years and 15 days older. In most states, the law is a more reasonable four years.

"What's really disturbing with his being charged with sexual assault in the second degree, if a plea bargain is reached and if he does wind up pleading, it is highly probable that he would be registered as a sex offender," said Jeremy Donnelly, a Hartford lawyer who represented Matthew Glasser, the former Northwest Catholic High School teacher who admitted having a sexual relationship with one of his students and received a suspended sentence.

So an adult teacher who has sex with a teenager goes free. Meanwhile, in Hartford we hand out birth control to high school kids - and if a parent agrees, middle school students as well. And in Connecticut, a 15-year-old girl can get an abortion without her parents' consent.

But we'll send a boy to jail for having sex with his girlfriend - and keep him there with a jacked up bail.

Estranged from his family, Armstrong's biggest mistake could have been the fact that he was living with West Hartford Police Chief James Strillacci and his wife, Elizabeth, who had taken in the young man.

"This is overkill," Liz Strillacci said when I called to ask about Armstrong. "Keith is bearing the brunt of the fact that he lived in the chief's house.

"He's made some bad decisions. He was well on his way to getting his life in order," she told me, explaining about the Job Corps training program.

Strillacci said she doesn't have the $6,000 to get Armstrong out. "We have three children in college. We don't have six grand."

So the kid sits in Hartford.

"A lot of people really cared about him," said Margaret Hann, executive director of The Bridge in West Hartford, an agency that provides counseling to children and families. "He has made some choices that have got him into this position."

Sometimes, Hann told me, teenagers "end up in jail. The kid will say, `Well, this isn't good.' Sometimes they come back to our program and shape up."

Sometimes I'm sure this is true. But sometimes hypocritical laws ruin lives. Who do you think will pay for that?


ME - Time to stop demonizing sex offenders

View the article here | Demonization (Wikipedia)

10/23/2007

This is in response to two recent letters, one by John Benoit (Oct. 5) and the other by Ruth Fuller (Oct. 10).

I agree with Benoit that the criminal justice committee should wait for the John Doe lawsuit before considering changes to the sex offender registry.

I disagree, however, that the two judges who opined that the registry is additional punishment were gratuitous, they are right on target. Research says that residency restrictions and registries make no one safer, yet are punitive in many ways towards offenders.

Regarding Fuller, I would ask, who does she think these sex offenders are? It's time to stop demonizing and dehumanizing sex offenders. These are human beings that have made mistakes. People do many things, criminally and otherwise, that cause emotional scarring. Why is it just the sex offenders become pariahs?

We don't have state and federal constitutions to go by just when it feels good to do so. How many more men who've turned their lives around have to be murdered because a faulty law punishes them for life?

I don't know of a single law that protects sex offenders, and it's disturbing to hear people talked about like they are all the worst of the worst. Jessica's law and Megan's law are bad laws named after good kids whose worse fate was being murdered, not raped.

Police have the right to notify, we don't need flawed, unconstitutional laws. Please visit the U.S. Justice Department Web site. See for yourself.

Michael Johnson

Windham


WI - Mequon to consider sex-predator limits

View the article here

Not all darn sex offenders are pedophiles, molesters or predators. I wish you idiots in the media would learn what each term means. This person who wrote this is insinuating that all sex offenders are predators, due to the title, which is wrong, and more disinformation spreading.

10/22/2007

Mequon - The city tonight will begin considering an ordinance to restrict where sexual predators can live.
- I think you mean sex offenders!

The ordinance would be patterned after measures already adopted by Franklin and Germantown.

But Mequon City Attorney John DeStefanis, who also serves as the village attorney in Germantown, said that because such ordinances have not been tested in Wisconsin courts, "their ability to withstand constitutional challenge is not a given."

The measure will be discussed tonight during the 5:45 meeting of the Common Council's Public Safety Committee.