Thursday, November 15, 2007

MO - Boy, 15, gets 60 years for StL County sex attack of girl, 6

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Yep, I looked around, and sure enough, he's black.

11/15/2007

CLAYTON -- A judge sentenced to 60 years in prison this morning a teenager who had pleaded guilty of kidnapping, beating and sexually assaulting a neighbor in Spanish Lake on Nov. 11, 2005, when he was 13 and she was 6.

St. Louis County Circuit Judge Melvyn W. Wiesman imposed the sentence on Sherman Burnett Jr., now 15 and the youngest inmate ever housed in the county jail.

In imposing the lengthy sentence -- Burnett will be ineligible for parole until the year 2058, when he is 66 -- Wiesman rejected confining Burnett in a juvenile offender program in Montgomery City, Mo., where Burnett could have gotten a chance at probation at the age of 21.


Testimony this morning disclosed that Burnett had blamed, in part, the 6-year-old for his own misfortune and had denied any sexual assaults in a recent interview with a state employee, even though he had pleaded guilty on Aug. 10 of sodomy and attempted rape, along with child kidnapping and assault.

Brent Buerck is a senior program administrator for the Missouri Division of Youth Services. He testified that he interviewed Burnett to see if the teen would be eligible for a dual jurisdiction juvenile program of his agency and the Department of Corrections.

Under questioning by prosecutor Rob Livergood, Buerck said he was told by Burnett that the incident was caused because the victim had thrown a rock at him, and Burnett had denied he tried to rape her. Buerck confirmed that there was no evidence in any of the records or police reports he saw to substantiate Burnett's new claims or to rebut the victim's statements about the attack on Nov. 11, 2005.

Buerck said, however, that it was not unusual for a teenager to minimize his crimes, and Burnett had qualified for the program. Buerck added under Livergood's questioning that Burnett had told him: ``he beat her up severely so she wouldn't remember anything.''

Under the juvenile offender program sought by defense attorney Nellie Ribaudo, Burnett would get counseling, sex offender treatment and education that he couldn't get in prison. He would have hearings when he turned 17 to see if he should continue in the program and again at 21. In that hearing, Buerck said, a judge would decide if Burnett was eligible for probation or would be turned over to the prison system for the balance of his sentence.

Wiesman rejected juvenile custody, saying Burnett was an inappropriate candidate ``in light of the severity of the assault and what appears to be a threat to the community.''

The judge then sentenced Burnett to 20 years in prison each on counts of child kidnapping and assault; and 10 years each on charges of sodomy and atttempted rape. The sentences are to be served consecutively and Burnett will be ineligible for parole until he serves 85 percent or 51 years.

Burnett showed no emotion when Wiesman pronounced sentence. Seven members of his family appeared stunned. Also in court this morning were the victim and her mother. They made no oral statement.

From her hospital bed at St. Louis Children's Hospital two days after the assault, the victim picked out Burnett from a school yearbook picture. She had half an ear torn off, a lascerated liver, a skull fracture and bruises from the top of her head to her thighs.

She told police she couldn't walk after the attack. She crawled through a hole in a fence near railroad tracks but could go no further and, as night descended in woods near her house, she tried to cover herself with leaves. A police officer found her the next morning after a massive neighborhood search.


OH - Woman Busted After Delivering Teen's Child

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11/15/2007

A woman in Brown County, Ohio, faces possible jail time after a sheriff's investigation revealed that she had a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old that resulted in the birth of a child last March.

Crystal Smith, now 30, confessed to Brown County sheriff's officers that she had a sexual encounter in June 2006 with the teen, Chief Deputy John Schadle told ABC News.

A social services case worker triggered the investigation after contacting the sheriff's office with information about the relationship. The sheriff's office investigated and ultimately Smith admitted to the affair with the local teen.

In March 2007, Smith gave birth to twins, Schadle said, one of whom died at birth.

"She's already admitted and my understanding is the juvenile admitted," Schadle said.

Smith was arrested Nov. 9 and charged with unlawful conduct with a minor, a third-degree felony in Ohio. If convicted, she could face up to five years in prison. She was released Nov. 11 after posting a $5,000 bond and will be back in court Nov. 26.

The woman, who has been married to the same man for 12 years, according to Schadle, has between four and six children, he said, none of whom were fathered by her husband.

DNA testing is under way to determine for sure that the child was fathered by the teen victim.

The phone at Smith's mobile home has been disconnected, but the woman's neighbors told ABC News' Ohio affiliate WCPO that they were not surprised by the charges against the woman. Many said that they frequently saw male teenagers hanging around Smith's mobile home and that over the summer, social service workers removed all of her children from the home.

"We've seen a little more of this kind of thing nationally," Schadle said, citing a similar story that captured national attention over the last two weeks, which involved 25-year-old teacher Kelsey Peterson and her former middle school student.

The two allegedly were in a consensual relationship and fled from Nebraska to Mexico, where they were ultimately detained by Mexican authorities.


AZ - Man Amassed Child Porn Daily Since '68

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11/15/2007

MESA -- A Mesa man arrested after police found tens of thousands of sexually explicit images of children in a locked closet told authorities they had hit the "mother lode," according to court documents.

Donald Claus, 56, appeared at a detention hearing on Thursday after FBI agents arrested him late last week.

Agents said the sexually explicit pictures were found in catalogs and books, and on disks and CDs.

According to an affidavit, Claus told authorities the acquisition of downloaded child porn was a hobby that kept him from molesting children.

Claus told the FBI he'd been collecting pornographic books and magazines since 1968 and saving child porn pictures since the 1980s.

Police had been tracking Claus since July 2006 when they began investigating a child porn Internet forum in the Netherlands.

Officers said they shared information with the FBI in tracking down the man.


MI - Gag Order Issued In 'Thrill Kill' Investigation

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11/15/2007

A gag order has been issued in the investigation against two teenage boys accused of “thrill killing” a 26-year-old River Rouge man.

Suspect Jean Pierre Orlewicz’s attorney filed the gag order after Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said Orlewicz, 17, and Alexander James Letkemann, 18, had carefully planned the slaying and beheading of Daniel Sorensen for no other reason than the “thrill” of it.

Both boys are at the Wayne County Jail after being charged with two counts of murder and one count of mutilation of a corpse.

Worthy said in a news conference Monday that neither money nor drugs appeared to be the motive when Orlewicz allegedly lured Sorensen, 26, to Orlewicz's grandfather's home on Nov. 7 "for the purpose of killing him" in a “gruesome” manner.

Orlewicz's attorney said her comments and other media terminology may affect the jury pool.

Honorable Michael Gerou of the 35th District Court agreed. He said, "Subpoenaed witnesses, clerks and officials in attendance to the court be forbidden from disclosing to agents and employees of the media, including newspapers, magazines, television stations, radio stations and internet-based media organizations information regarding the subject matter of this case."

The two were arraigned Monday at the 34th District Court in Romulus and a "not guilty" plea has been entered on their behalf. A preliminary exam date of Nov. 19 has been set.

Police said Orlewicz lured Sorensen to his grandfather’s home and allegedly attacked him from behind, cutting his throat with a kitchen knife. Sorensen was killed by "multiple stab wounds to the back." Orlewicz then allegedly beheaded Sorensen's body with a hacksaw and burned the body with a blowtorch in an attempt to conceal his fingerprints.

The body was wrapped in a tarp that had been laid out in the garage ahead of time, authorities said. Orlewicz then placed the head into a Rubbermaid container, according to police.

According to testimony at the arraignment, Orlewicz had trouble lifting the body into his pickup truck. So he asked Letkemann, a graduate of Livonia Public Schools, to come over and help him.

The body was then brought to Hidden Ridge Drive in Northville Township and his head dumped into the Rouge River near the Detroit/Dearborn border.

Canton police confirmed earlier reports that Sorensen was a registered sex offender, but police and Worthy emphasized that investigators have found no connection between the victim's sex offender status and the killing.

Worthy said her office is looking at other "persons of interest" in the case.

The suspects face charges of first-degree homicide and felony murder, both of which carry life sentences; and mutilation of a body, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.


CA - Inmate Death/Riot, Stabbings in California

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11/14/2007

Civil Detainee's Death Comes Amid Allegations That Coalinga State Hospital Falls Dangerously Short In Medical Care

Coalinga State Hospital, California's two year old $388 million facility for confining sex offenders after serving their entire prison sentence, is coming under renewed fire in the wake of Thursday's death of patient Frank Valado, age 45.

Valado collapsed while playing basketball with other Civil Detainees in the institution's gynmasium Thursday evening. Patients witnessing the incident said that Staff response to Valado's collapse was completely inadequate and that, effectively, he received little or no treatment after being stricken.

They reported that an officer present in the gymnasium refused to radio in an alarm, despite their requests that he do so, but instead simply left the room. A Patient got the attention of another officer by pounding on a gymnasium window looking out onto the main courtyard. That officer then radioed the alarm that brought other staff to the scene.

One Patient began performing CPR on Valado and others present confirm that Valado partially regained consciousness. Then, a number of staff entered the gym, including two women, at least one of whom, Kathy Bryant, is a Registered Nurse. Officers ordered Michael Cheeks, who had been administering assistance to Valado, to halt his efforts and, along with the other men in the gym, to get up against the wall.

Bryant was then heard to say "I'm not putting my mouth on that man's mouth!" an apparent reference to her unwillingness to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on Valado.

Patients also report that the other (unidentified) woman at the scene was searching for an oxygen tank and mask but which she was unable to locate.

A crash cart was brought into the room but it was discovered that it did not include a defibrillator. Patients later stated that they knew that there was a defibrillator on the other side of an always locked door to the gym but staff made no attempt to retrieve it or any other. Throughout this, Valado remained unassisted on the floor.

The other patients were then ordered to leave the gym and a gurney was brought in and Valado was taken to the Medical unit. However, no doctors were on duty at the time so staff then called a doctor to drive to the facility. However, before the doctor arrived at C.S.H., Frank Valado died.

The "Watch Commander" reportedly ordered all police staff to remain for the next shift, even if it were their third continuous shift on duty. The Administration is said to have been seriously concerned for the possibility of Patient anger and unrest due to the poor response by the hospital in Valado's death.

Mike St. Martin, a Detainee Spokesperson who has actively sought to bring attention to what he sees as grossly negligent standards of medical care, said he was "unsurprised" by the lack of appropriate medical response by C.S.H. Staff, stating that, since the beginning, the Institution had demonstrated an utter disregard for the well-being of Patients in the facility. "The only thing about this place that says "hospital" is the sign out in front. But that sign also says 'No emergency services available'. Well, they got that part right! We refer to this place as a 'hosprison', since that is its primary function, to act as a prison, while pretending to be a hospital.

The medical department here is a ticking time bomb with irresponsible delays, incorrect treatment, poor training, and medical care grossly deficient for an aging population. One can only hope that more people don't have to die before sweeping changes can be made".

"I wrote to Attorney General Jerry Brown in April of this year detailing the terrible medical conditions here and, to date, I have not received a response from him or his staff".

Since Executive Director Norm Kramer assumed authority in September, Dr. Peter Bresler has stepped down as Chief Physician and Surgeon while remaining as a staff physician. Patients bitterly complained of their treatment by Bresler, with one saying he had been told by Bresler that treatment for his seriously distended hernia would be considered "cosmetic" and thus not surgery that he would approve. It has been alleged that he was fired from a previous job as a result of "dropping a baby".

Deficient medical care and rubber stamped clinical assessments were amongst some of the chief complaints leading to the still ongoing strike by Civil Detainees, now in its third month.


Controversial Web Site Claims to 'Out' Would-Be Child Molesters

View the article here | Another Article | And Another

Old I know, but wanted to archive it here.

01/10/2005

Protecting Kids or Perverting Justice?

A controversial Web site is raising questions about where the line between justice and vigilantism is drawn.

The people who run Perverted-Justice.com (Wikipedia) say their goal is to "out" child predators whose anonymity allows them to lurk in the shadows of the Internet. But critics say the group -- whose members insist on anonymity themselves -- is nothing more than an Internet lynch mob that operates in the same kinds of shadows they claim to illuminate.

Members of the group pose as teenage boys and girls in general-interest chat rooms and wait for adult chatters to engage them in conversation. If the conversation heads in a sexual direction, the Perverted-Justice team kicks into action to snare what they think is a would-be pedophile. (The site says its volunteers do not operate in adult-themed chat rooms, which are designed for sexual chat and are generally restricted to those over 18.)

The first step is to get the chatter to send a photograph and divulge his name and telephone number, to establish his real-life identity. The volunteers say the chatters who approach them are almost always men.

Next, a "phone verifier" with what the site claims is an "underage-sounding" voice calls the subject by phone and has a brief conversation to verify the number's accuracy.

Then Perverted-Justice's information machine goes to work. Using the chatter's name and phone number, the site's volunteers scour the Internet, tracking down every bit of personal information they can find on the individual. Then they post the information on the site.

Within days or even hours of the chat, the target finds himself inundated with instant messages and phone calls from members of the site. In many cases his family, friends, neighbors, employer and others also get calls to let them know what the site's members believe he has done.

Vigilantism

The group's founder, who goes by the pseudonym Xavier Von Erck, says people need to know about would-be child molesters in their family and community -- regardless of any embarrassment the target may suffer.

"These people need to be watched," Von Erck said in a telephone interview with ABCNEWS.com. "Even if we can't watch them, we try to make sure everyone who's around them knows what they did so that those people can watch them."

But critics argue that embarrassing alleged would-be child molesters doesn't do anything to deal with the problem.

"I think that, at the very least it's a gross invasion of privacy and I really don't believe that it does any good," said Julie Posey, an internationally recognized cybercrime fighter.

Posey, whose life and work were made famous when she became the subject of a TV movie for the Lifetime channel, believes the site's tactics only make online predators savvier.

"What it does is embarrass them for the moment," she said, "but then they'll go and get a different screen name and know to check things out a little more thoroughly next time.

"I personally believe it's a bunch of vigilantes," said Posey.

Von Erck dismisses any accusations of vigilantism, claiming that Perverted-Justice's goal is to help fill the gaps left open by undermanned and under-budgeted law enforcement. The Web site says it does not support violence against or harassment of its targets.
- Yeah right. They say this hoping you will be gullible and believe it. Yet they have harassed me and many others just for having this blog and speaking out. I call that harassment and a blatant lie! Check out the videos at the end of this article to see who Xavier Von Erck really is, and also check out Corrupted-Justice. You can also check out this article, which is a background check on him, which apparently some ticked off person did on him after they were harassing the person.

"A vigilante in my mind conjures up images of someone obstructing the law, where we want to be a plug-in for the law," said Von Erck. "I prefer the term 'watchdog group.'"

Von Erck says he and the site's members conceal their real identities because they're afraid of retribution from the people they've targeted. ABCNEWS.com agreed to withhold his real name to protect his privacy.
- And they ask why offenders hide behind aliases! Because of the same reasons you idiots, because vigilantes like you harass people, call up their businesses, homes, neighbors, etc to "out" them and harass them.

Who's Accountable?

Because Perverted-Justice volunteers work under condition of anonymity, critics say it's hard to know who to hold responsible when and if a mistake is made.

"There's no way to hold them accountable if they do go over the line," said Scott Morrow, media liaison for Corrupted-Justice.com, an anti-Perverted-Justice organization.

"When you're running an organization or running a group of people with the potential to do as much damage to people's lives as this group does," he said, "I think there also has to be some accountability."

In addition to publishing its targets' names on the Web site, Perverted-Justice publicizes its activity with what it calls "group media busts."

In these "busts," the site teams up with a local television station and lures chatters to a house with what the site's volunteers say is a promise of an underage sexual encounter. When and if the target arrives, he's met by a reporter with a television camera, and soon finds his face on the evening news.

Television stations participating in the stings have come under fire from critics who say the busts tarnish the reputations of people who have been convicted of no crime. They say that because of the nature of the accusations -- even if they are ultimately proved baseless -- the individuals' reputations are often ruined. Critics also say that exposing would-be child molesters is the job of professional law enforcement officers, not a group of amateurs.

But Von Erck dismisses assertions that anyone associated with his site is even capable of making a mistake or perpetrating a fraud.

"We have layers of redundancy and technology that allow us to not make those mistakes," he said.

At least one recently publicized case suggests Perverted-Justice is not always accurate.

Earlier this year The Associated Press reported that a Milwaukee bank teller was shocked when she received a threatening phone call from a man who said her number was posted on Perverted-Justice.com as belonging to a suspected child predator. The woman said she had never been online or even owned a computer, and was forced to change her telephone number.

Von Erck says the number had previously belonged to the individual the site was targeting but that when he moved it was reissued to the unsuspecting teller. He said the site had since changed its policy to ensure the same thing did not happen again, and now automatically removes telephone numbers that have been posted for more than two months.

The Mysterious Mr. Von Erck

Von Erck says he and a friend started the site in July 2002 after witnessing what he called "sickening" behavior in chat rooms for residents of Portland, Ore., where he lives.

"I was chatting in the Portland rooms for about two years," he said. When someone appearing to be a minor would enter the chat room, Von Erck said, adult men would immediately approach that chatter. "It was like throwing blood in the water around a bunch of sharks," he said.

A self-proclaimed libertarian and professional wrestling aficionado, Von Erck runs several Web sites where he talks about his hobbies and interests. One of the sites says he is planning to make a bid for the U.S. presidency in 2016.

Working With The Law

Von Erck claims his group involves law enforcement whenever possible.

He says that when a member completes a chat and the telephone number is verified, the group often reaches out to local law enforcement.

"If we find someone [in law enforcement] then we give that information to them and they work it," he said.

But the Web site contradicts Von Erck's claim, suggesting the group expects police to make the first move and contact Perverted-Justice -- not the other way around. (Von Erck subsequently told ABCNEWS.com the policy posted on the site is out of date.)

"The fact is that they don't go to the police, the police have to come to them," said Jeff Woloson, a former Perverted-Justice volunteer who spoke to ABCNEWS.com

Of the 580 "busts" listed on the site -- each with the target's name and personal information -- five have contributed to a criminal conviction, the site says. Court records confirm the convictions.

In one case in Fayetteville, Ark., prosecutor John Theet says Perverted-Justice's chat logs were instrumental in convicting a man on one of two counts of computer child pornography.

"We used their chats because that was our case," said Theet.

However, Theet admits it's possible that Perverted-Justice chat logs wouldn't hold up in future cases. "There's potential for that in anything as far as maybe an entrapment defense or something," he said. "But not in this case."

Mark Rasch, a former U.S. attorney who has prosecuted numerous cybercrime cases, questions how useful Perverted-Justice's chat logs would be in court.

"What do you do if someone who they claim to have had the conversation with says 'I didn't type that'?" Rasch asked. "How do you prove it?"

For the Thrill of It

While the group's critics do not question the volunteers' desire to protect children, they express concern that they get carried away by the thrill of the hunt.

Woloson, who was an active member of Perverted-Justice for several months, agrees. He says the feeling of power he had when harassing the group's targets was intoxicating, and he thinks many of the other members were motivated by the same thrills.

Woloson does question the volunteers' basic motivation. He believes the site's members are not motivated by a desire to protect kids, but instead by the "kick" they get from going after the targets. He fears that the "kick" makes them reckless and clouds their judgment.

During his time as a Perverted-Justice volunteer, Woloson says he helped seek out information on targeted individuals and then used that information to harass them.

A geriatric and hospice nurse now living in the Netherlands, Woloson said he came across the site while browsing the Internet.

"I really didn't have any kind of moral outrage at first," he said. "It just caught my fancy. It seemed interesting, it seemed amusing."

But Woloson says the thrill went sour for him when a chatter he was harassing threatened to commit suicide. Woloson says he expressed concern on the site's forums, hoping to open up a discussion with some of his fellow Perverted-Justice volunteers.

"They laughed," he said. "They said that if he did kill himself that would be OK, but that he was probably just trying to worm his way out of it and it meant that they should intensify the harassment against him."

Shocked and frustrated by the other volunteers' response, Woloson said he tried to continue the discussion by asking the others to "lay off" the man.

But after that, he said, Von Erck banned him from posting messages on the forums and blocked him from visiting the site from his computer.

Von Erck told ABCNEWS.com Woloson was banned for defending some of the site's targets, and denied that he was ever a Perverted-Justice volunteer. Archives of the site's discussion boards, however, contain postings by Woloson referring to his activity for the site.

'They Want to Lie'

With Perverted-Justice hoping to open up shop in Canada, England and Australia, the controversy is unlikely to go away anytime soon.

At least one of the group's targets -- a man caught in a media bust in the Kansas City area -- is planning to file a lawsuit against Perverted-Justice and the station that participated in the bust, KCTV. The man's lawyer, Miriam Rittmaster, says her client believed the chat was a joke set up by his fraternity brothers.

"He didn't do anything wrong," she said. "I've spoken with several police officers and prosecutors and they all said absolutely not, he hasn't broken any laws."

KCTV's news director, Regent Ducas, says he is unaware of any lawsuits, and that although to his knowledge no arrests were made as a result of the story, the station stands by its reporting.

Rittmaster says she has been in contact with lawyers for other Perverted-Justice targets who are considering filing lawsuits.

But Von Erck dismisses the prospect of lawsuits, saying the men are just lying to save their hides.

"A lot of these guys, they don't want to admit the truth. They have jobs. They have lives. They want to lie," he said. "They're criminals."

NOTE: Notice in the first video, he's all cool, until the camera gets on him, then he gets all cocky and shows the true jerk he is. He's an attention whore, it seems to me.


KIDS Act of 2007 passed on 11/14/2007

View the article here
Article about this law
McCain Article
Other Bills Related to Sex Offenders

They dropped the provision requiring that RSOs register e-mail addresses, etc.

KIDS Act of 2007 (Engrossed as Agreed to or Passed by House)

HR 719 EH

110th CONGRESS
1st Session

H. R. 719


AN ACT

To authorize additional appropriations for supervision of Internet access by sex offenders convicted under Federal law, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the `Keeping the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators Act of 2007' or the `KIDS Act of 2007'.

SEC. 2. ADDITIONAL AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS FOR SUPERVISION OF INTERNET ACCESS BY SEX OFFENDERS CONVICTED UNDER FEDERAL LAW.

    In addition to any other sums authorized to be appropriated for the purposes of supervising persons on probation and pretrial release in connection with convictions for Federal offenses, there are authorized to be appropriated $5,000,000 for each fiscal years 2008 through 2013 for any or all of the following purposes:
      (1) To evaluate computer internet filtering, monitoring and other programs and devices that are designed to filter access to certain web sites, permit monitoring of the use by persons under supervision of internet, and related purposes.
      (2) To purchase those programs and devices determined through that evaluation to be the best for those purposes.
      (3) To train probation officers in the use of those programs and devices.
      (4) To train probation officers in the supervision of sex offenders.
      (5) To hire probation officers and other personnel as required to supervise convicted sex offenders effectively.

SEC. 3. DISCRETIONARY CONDITION OF PROBATION AND SUPERVISED RELEASE FOR SEX OFFENDERS.

    (a) Probation- Section 3563(b) of title 18, United States Code, is amended--
      (1) in paragraph (22), by striking `or';
      (2) by striking the period at the end of paragraph (23) and inserting `; or' and
      (3) by inserting after paragraph (23) the following:
      `(24) if required to register under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act--
        `(A) obtain access to the Internet only from computers approved by the probation officer;
        `(B) consent and fully cooperate with periodic examinations of the computers by the probation officer, including the retrieval and copying of all data from those computers and removal of the computer equipment for a reasonable period of time for the purpose of conducting a more thorough inspection;
        `(C) consent and fully cooperate with the installation on the computers any hardware or software filtering systems designated by the probation officer that restrict the defendant's access to classes of web sites designated by the officer as to which, under the circumstances of the offense, access should be restricted;
        `(D) consent and fully cooperate with the installation on the computers of monitoring systems or hardware that permit the probation officer to monitor the defendant's computer use to assure compliance with the law, conditions of probation, and to protect public safety; and
        `(E) take no steps to disable or evade the filtering or monitoring programs or devices.'.
    (b) Supervised Release- Section 3583(d) of title 18, United States Code, is amended by striking `any condition set forth as a discretionary condition of probation in section 3563(b)(1) through (b)(10) and (b)(12) through (b)(20)' and inserting `a condition set forth in section 3563(b), other than that described in paragraph (11) of that section'.

SEC. 4. DIRECTION TO SENTENCING COMMISSION.

    The United States Sentencing Commission, pursuant to its authority under section 994 of title 28, United States Code, and in accordance with this section, shall review and, if appropriate amend the Federal sentencing guidelines (including its policy statements) applicable to persons convicted of sex offenses involving children in circumstances where the offense is committed or facilitated by the use of the Internet, and--
      (1) a misrepresentation is made over the Internet as to the age of the offender; or
      (2) there is a failure of the offender to reveal the offender's status as a sex offender.

SEC. 5. MODIFICATION OF MINIMUM STANDARDS REQUIRED FOR ELECTRONIC MONITORING UNITS USED IN SEXUAL OFFENDER MONITORING PILOT PROGRAM.

    (a) In General- Subparagraph (C) of section 621(a)(1) of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (42 U.S.C. 16981(a)(1)) is amended to read as follows:
        `(C) MINIMUM STANDARDS- The electronic monitoring units used in the pilot program shall at a minimum--
          `(i) provide a tracking device for each offender that contains a central processing unit with global positioning system; and
          `(ii) permit continuous monitoring of offenders 24 hours a day.'.
    (b) Effective Date- The amendment made by subsection (a) shall apply to grants provided on or after the date of the enactment of this Act.

SEC. 6. FINANCIAL FACILITATION OF ACCESS TO CHILD PORNOGRAPHY.

    (a) Offense- Chapter 95 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:

`Sec. 1960A. Financial facilitation of access to child pornography

    `Whoever knowingly conducts, or attempts or conspires to conduct, a financial transaction (as defined in section 1956(c)) in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, knowing that such transaction will facilitate access to, or possession of, child pornography (as defined in Section 2256) shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.'.
    (b) Amendment to Table of Sections- The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 95 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new item:
      `1960A. Financial facilitation of access to child pornography .'.

SEC. 7. CHANGE IN DEFINITION OF MONETARY INSTRUMENTS FOR MONEY LAUNDERING AND OTHER OFFENSES.

    Section 1956(c)(5) of title 18, United States Code, is amended--
      (1) by striking `or' at the end of clause (i); and
      (2) by inserting `, (iii) electronic or digital currencies, and the corresponding monetary value of any associated account, or (iv) stored value cards or similar devices' after `delivery'.
Passed the House of Representatives November 14, 2007.

Attest:

Clerk.

110th CONGRESS
1st Session

H. R. 719

AN ACT

To authorize additional appropriations for supervision of Internet access by sex offenders convicted under Federal law, and for other purposes.


NM - Council changes sex offender rule

View the article here

11/15/2007

FARMINGTON — In a nod to American Civil Liberties Union concerns, the Farmington City Council revised an ordinance to prevent sex offenders from living near schools Tuesday.

"There is a delicate balance," Councilor Jason Sandel said, between protecting children and not being too restrictive. "The intention is to ensure that within 1,000 feet of our schools, no sex offender can live."

The 12 sex offenders living near Farmington schools no longer will be forced to move. There are more offenders near schools than any other city in New Mexico.

"Looking very specifically at the lawsuit between the ALCU and the city of Albuquerque, the provision is unconstitutional," City Councilor Jason Sandel said.

Sandel proposed the ordinance, and introduced seven revisions. They were approved unanimously by the council Tuesday.

Sandel said the new focus is on preventing offenders from moving into homes near schools, likening it to an alcoholic living near a bar.

Another revision stipulated a person convicted of kidnapping or imprisonment will not be considered a sex offender if they are a parent and no sex crime is involved.

Those crimes are often the result of ugly custody battles, Sandel said, echoing ACLU Staff Attorney George Bach's statements in an interview with The Daily Times. Bach had harsh words for the ordinance when it was approved in October, saying it was too broad and actually could increase the possibility an offender could commit another crime by alienating them.

The Council also removed two other prohibited locations: school bus stops and bus routes. Those routes change often, Sandel said, making the requirement difficult to understand and enforce.

The ordinance would prohibit offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a public or private elementary or secondary school, playgrounds or day care facilities.

It also stipulates they can't live within 1,000 feet of a city property where children younger than 17 live, a requirement that also could be too harsh, Councilor George Sharpe said.

"As many city parks as we have, it becomes extremely restrictive," he said.

Under the proposed ordinance, living near schools is punishable by a fine of up to $500 or imprisonment of up to 90 days or both.

The ordinance doesn't apply if the offenders has been exempted by a court, had their conviction appealed or pardoned, are in a jail near a school, or if the offender is under 18 and living with a parent.


VA - Sex registry conviction is appealed

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11/15/2007

John Edward Sawn III, a sex offender from New York who failed to tell authorities his new address when he moved to Virginia, was sentenced Tuesday in Lynchburg to 30 months in federal prison.

Sawn was among the first sex offenders rounded up in a multi-agency effort headed by the U.S. Marshals Service office in Roanoke. He was captured by game wardens who found him fishing on private property.

Sawn pleaded guilty in August to violating the Adam Walsh Act, which requires sex offenders listed on state registries to register again if they move to a new state. His plea was conditional, however, and preserved his right to challenge the act with an appeal.

His appeal to the U.S. 4th Circuit Court was filed Tuesday.

Representing Sawn earlier this year, Larry Shelton, who leads the federal public defender's office for the Western District of Virginia, argued that the Adam Walsh Act improperly extended federal authority, imposed an unconstitutional retroactive punishment and shouldn't even apply to Sawn because his January move to Virginia occurred before there were full guidelines for applying the act.

The latter argument resulted in the dismissal of at least one Adam Walsh Act case in the 4th Circuit, though not in the Western District of Virginia.

Sawn was listed on New York's sex offender registry after being convicted of sexually attacking a woman in 1999. He was released from prison in June 2006.


MA - Sex offender ordinance heading to full board

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11/15/2007

CHICOPEE - Proposed sex offender and tag sale ordinances moved a step closer to reality this week after receiving approval from the Board of Aldermen's Ordinance Committee.

On Tuesday, the committee unanimously approved the sex offender ordinance and approved the tag sale ordinance by a vote of 3-1. The sex offender ordinance will go to the full Board of Aldermen on Tuesday for a first reading and return to committee for a final review. The tag sale ordinance will move to the full board on Tuesday for a final vote.

"I think the full board wants to do everything it can to protect children," said At-large Alderman James K. Tillotson, chairman of the Ordinance Committee, yesterday. "The only issue we were debating was the distance."

Under the proposed ordinance approved by the committee, Level 3 sex offenders would be prohibited from living within 500 feet of a school, park, passive recreational area and licensed daycare center. The committee also looked at distances of 1,000 and 1,500 feet, but determined those distances would exclude sex offenders from living in the city.

Level 3 sex offenders are the ones who are most likely to re-offend. There are currently 26 Level 3 sex offenders living in Chicopee.

"I think it's our obligation," said At-large Alderman Shane D. Brooks, the vice chairman of the Ordinance Committee. "We're providing a safeguard to the community."

The ordinance was based on one adopted by Springfield in July.

In a letter to the committee, Police Chief John R. Ferraro Jr. asked that the ordinance be tabled. The chief said his department does regular checks on Level 3 sex offenders and knows exactly where they are living now. The chief also said he is concerned the distance restriction will create a homeless population of sex offenders.

"I think we're doing more than that ordinance," Ferraro said yesterday. "We're on the cutting edge of this."

The committee also reviewed proposed legislation that received a Statehouse hearing on Tuesday. The legislation proposes tougher sentencing guidelines and would create zones where sex offenders would not be allowed to live.

"We'll keep an eye on that to see how that progresses," Tillotson said.

The tag sale ordinance would limit residents to three tag sales per year, require the purchase of a $5 permit for each tag sale and fine violators $50. The hours and duration of tag sales would be limited to no more than 72 hours during the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"It's unfortunate we have to craft an ordinance that's targeted at so few," Brooks said. "We're trying to send a clear message to people that you can't run a business out of your home."

Tillotson voted against the tag sale ordinance.

"I felt it was too restrictive," Tillotson said. "We have about eight or nine people who are abusing it and we're creating a problem for thousands who have one a year and don't abuse it."

If the full board approves it on Tuesday, the tag sale ordinance would go into effect on March 31, 2008.


UT - Lack of funding is reported for sex-offender program

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11/15/2007

An annual report to the Utah Legislature says the state's sex-offender treatment program significantly reduces recidivism but is hampered by funding limitations.

Sex offenders represent almost 28 percent of Utah's prison population, at 1,808 inmates as of Oct. 15. An average of 139 inmates are participating in the 18-month-long treatment program at any given time, according to the report. Participation by inmates is voluntary and carries a lot of weight with the Board of Pardons and Parole when it sets parole dates for inmates.

The report says the overall return rate for sex-offender treatment completers in Utah is less than half of the overall return rate for non-completers.

On the other hand, the report says, the last infusion of new money into the program dates to 1996. Participation in the program has remained flat instead of growing with the increasing size of the prison system's sex offender population because of the flat funding.


MI - Woman says cop made her 'sex slave'

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11/15/2007

A Detroit woman has filed a federal lawsuit against a former Detroit police sergeant recently sent to prison for on-the-job sexual misconduct, alleging he treated her as a "sex slave" for several weeks this year.

Roosevelt Tidwell, 39, was sentenced this month by Wayne Circuit Judge Michael Hathaway to between six years, nine months and 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of third-degree sexual conduct.

Three men and a woman testified at a preliminary examination that Tidwell forced them to perform sex acts and they feared jail if they did not comply.

On Tuesday, a woman sued Tidwell in U.S. District Court in Detroit, alleging Tidwell forced her to perform oral sex in January after he approached her and her boyfriend in a parked car, and sent her boyfriend home.

"On at least eight separate occasions over the next several weeks, through the third week in April Tidwell harassed and treated plaintiff as a sex slave by either calling plaintiff or parking outside plaintiff's house demanding sexual favors upon threat of arrest," the woman alleges.

The woman "unwillingly submitted to his authority," the complaint alleges.

Tidwell shared with others confidential information about the woman from Detroit police files and used the information to threaten and intimidate her, the woman alleges.

Larry Polk, a lawyer for Tidwell, could not be reached for comment.

The woman, who is represented by Royal Oak attorney James Lawrence, also names the city of Detroit and Chief Ella Bully-Cummings as defendants in the lawsuit.

She is alleging sexual assault, violation of her civil rights, improper hiring and training by the Police Department, and violation of U.S. Justice Department court orders affecting the police department.

The Detroit News is not naming the woman because it is the newspaper's policy not to identify alleged victims of sexual assault.


KY - Retired police officer indicted on child pornography charges

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11/14/2007

LOUISVILLE -- It's a disturbing case against a retired Louisville police officer: according to the U.S. Attorneys office, 77-year-old Roy Matthew Derry had more than 400 images of child porn on his computer. As WAVE 3 Investigator Mark Schnyder reports, the way he caught is the interesting part of the story.

The former officer apparently took his computer to Radio Shack for repairs. That's when technicians there discovered child porn videos and photos and called police.

In many cases, we're told the children appearing in the images on Derry's computer appeared to be under 10 years old.

After a career catching the bad guys, a grand jury indictment alleges Derry is himself the bad guy.

"There were 10 videos of child pornography, plus over 400 separate images of child pornography," said U.S. Attorney David Huber of the Western District of Kentucky.

According to the federal indictment, from November of 2002 to April of 2005 Derry was downloading child porn on his computer. He's not accused of distributing it or having a role in creating it, but a guilty verdict or guilty plea could put him in prison for at least five years.

"These children have already been victimized and their photographs and images and videos have already probably gone around the world 20, 30, 40 times," Huber said.

Huber wants to make it clear these aren't just shots of kids with no clothes on, as bad as that is. He's talking about photos and videos of 4- to 14-year-olds having sexual contact with adult men.

Huber says there is no profile for people who collect child porn. He says his office has indicted people from all walks of life and the fact a retired cop is the latest to be indicted doesn't surprise him.

Derry's trial is set for January 14th.

He retired from the Louisville Police Department in April of 1975.


The sex offenders among us

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11/15/2007

Why do we treat them the same way?

Since 1984, Paul has molested or raped at least four girls between the ages of 7 and 14, crimes for which he served nearly 10 years in prison. Sitting in a Willy Street coffee shop, Paul, 40, explains that he is no longer attracted to prepubescent females and will therefore not re-offend after his probation ends in four years.

"I always told myself that if they feel good they will like it, and they'll say nothing," says Paul, who asked that his last name not be used. "I realized that I was living a lie. Sex offending is a waste of time. I'm going to die victim-free."

But since he was last released from prison in 2001, Paul has had his probation revoked several times. Following a series of failed polygraphs, he admitted to twice masturbating in his parked car, had unapproved contact with minor females, and confessed to state agents that at least three girls, all of whom attended his church, had found their way into his masturbatory fantasies.

Still, Paul is adamant that he's reformed. "Sometimes you see a young girl and you think, 'How in the hell could you ever do something like that?'" he relates. "I thought that it was normal. I know now it's not normal."

Paul is one of more than 19,000 registered sex offenders in Wisconsin. As such, he's subject to an ongoing barrage of legislation aimed at restricting his whereabouts, social life and job opportunities. Most of the legislation passed over the last 15 years covers a broad spectrum of sex crimes, with more prescriptive laws targeting repeat offenders like Paul.

Earlier this year, Gov. Jim Doyle signed off on Wisconsin's version of Jessica's Law, which imposes a 25-year minimum sentence on those convicted of child sex crimes. The Legislature this session passed, and Doyle signed, a law requiring lifetime GPS tracking for certain types of sex offenders, even though once an offender's probation ends, the Department of Corrections has no legal authority to restrict his or her movements.

More punitively, legislation requiring sex offenders to adorn their cars with green license plates that identify them as such was part of the budget bill passed by the GOP-controlled Assembly. It was ultimately removed from the bill but has already been introduced as stand-alone legislation.

This ever-changing matrix of rules and regulations governing sex offenders has created a very expensive, labor-intensive, technologically sophisticated and increasingly complicated apparatus intended to keep communities safe from sexual predation. But critics, citing emerging research, are calling into question the efficacy of many states' sex-offender-monitoring programs.

A Human Rights Watch report released in September calls for narrowing the scope and duration of sex-offender registration and eliminating online registries and residency restrictions. A meta-analysis of more than 400 studies, presented to the Legislature this session, indicates that just 10% to 15% of registered sex offenders are at high risk of re-offending. Most of the others, the study suggests, are victims of knee-jerk politics.

"We're wasting resources on 85% to 90% of the people and neglecting to deal with the population we really do need to deal with," says state Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison). "We've shot-gunned sex offenders bad, because there's a strong public distaste for them, but we use that term so loosely, even when there's a very low chance that a person is a problem offender."

A constant state of tension

All sex offenders, on being released from prison, are issued a standard set of 40 rules. Besides expected prohibitions against contact with minors, consuming alcohol and using the Internet, restrictions are placed on their dress (no jeans with holes, for example) and their sex lives. Consensual adult sex must be pre-approved by an offender's agent, who must screen and conduct a background check on any potential partner.

Agents often add to this list of restrictions based on an offender's criminal history. "I have about three pages of rules and regulations that I have to follow," says Paul, who can't lawfully leave his apartment without a state-approved chaperone, except to go to work and therapy. (His brother served as chaperone for the interview at the coffee shop.) "I walk out the door in the morning and I break my rules, that's how intense they are."

Clearly, Paul is among the "problem percent" of offenders. In April 1984, when he was 17, Paul got an 11-year-old female drunk and had sexual intercourse with her. Paul had sex with the girl again on Oct. 4, 1986. Thirteen days later, he molested a 12-year-old female. He was sentenced in 1987 to seven years' probation.

In May 1991, Paul's probation was revoked after he molested his wife's 7-year-old daughter; he was sentenced to five years in prison. Paroled in December 1992, Paul was back in custody six months later after assaulting a 12-year-old girl, whose reaction, claims Paul, had a curative affect.

"My last victim, she was 12 years old and she was -- this is very hard for me, okay? -- I fondled her breast and asked her if she liked it," he explains. "She looked me dead in the eyes, and her eyes welled up with tears and she said, 'No.' I get flashbacks of her with tears in her eyes."

Today, with truth-in-sentencing laws, it is exceptionally rare for sex offenders to be released early, removing their incentive for getting treatment in prison. When their mandatory release date nears, steps are taken to plug them into the state's monitoring system. Many, like Paul, go to halfway homes until they find employment and a place to live. These are two very difficult challenges, because sex offenders, unlike other criminals, have few legal protections against job and housing discrimination.

The state also restricts where they can and cannot work.

"It takes them a long time to secure employment," says Melissa Roberts, a sex-offender specialist with the Department of Corrections. "Some sex offenders have used their employment as a way of finding victims. So we have to look at that very carefully."

At halfway houses like ATTIC Correctional Services on Odana Road, sex offenders are taught basic job-seeking skills, like interviewing strategies and filling out applications. They are also debriefed on the restrictions they'll live under and harassments they'll likely encounter once they re-enter society.

"Their eyes kind of glaze over at that point," says Terry Marshall, ATTIC's director of correctional services. "The case managers prepare them that once you're out of your cocoon here, this is the reality of what you face. It's a constant sense of tension."

Paul's sex-offending history was terrible enough that police held a community notification meeting prior to his move into a downtown Madison neighborhood. He blames the meeting and his presence on the registry for ongoing taunts and harassments.

"I've been shot with BB guns, I've had apples thrown at me, which left welts," says Paul. "I've been called 'baby raper' walking past people's houses."

Once he was refused service at his neighborhood hair salon, which had his notification poster hanging in its window. He's also endured on-the-job harassment, including finding his desk littered with trash.

"I'd hear the baby-raper thing, the silent treatment," recalls Paul of his first post-prison job. "You don't get trained properly because the people training you hate your guts, they'd have meetings behind your back. It was very challenging for me each time they'd do a massive hiring. The old people got used to me, but the new people would start it over."

'I never did anything wrong'

On the other end of the spectrum is Steven Howell, a twice-convicted child sex offender. Howell says people he meets, coworkers included, are mainly befuddled as to why he's on the registry.

"There's a lot of guys in my situation, guys my age who've had sex with a girl her age," he says. "For the most part, people don't understand why I'm in trouble."

According to court documents, when he was 18 years old and a senior at DeForest High School, Howell had sexual relations with a 14-year-old freshman girl. When she became pregnant, her doctor alerted authorities. Spared criminal charges, Howell was placed in a deferred prosecution program, which required him to write a letter of apology and attend therapy.

Shortly after, Howell began dating a 15-year-old. Six months into that relationship, the girl's stepmother reported him to police and he was charged with second-degree sexual assault of a child (the most common sex crime among Wisconsin's sexual-offender registrants). He was sentenced to four months in jail, followed by five years of probation. Despite this, Howell continued seeing the girl, which eventually landed him in prison for 18 months and on the sex-offender registry for a lifetime.

"I was young and didn't think it was that big of a deal," says Howell, now 22. "I thought the only people who got into trouble for that type of stuff were the ones who were raping little girls or 70-year-old guys with little boys. So I had no clue how serious it was."

Howell, until recently, was living in downtown Madison, under harsher restrictions than Paul. Aside from work and therapy, he was allowed just eight hours out of his apartment each week, to grocery shop, do laundry and other chores. Like most offenders, he needed permission from his agent to use a computer, even to do his banking online while at work.

Malls, festivals or anywhere young girls might be are off-limits. To go to a movie, Howell must have a state-approved chaperone. He has no friends, is lonely, depressed and longs for female companionship. But the restrictions he lives under will be in place at least until 2012, when his probation ends.

"I definitely don't understand it," says Howell. "They're worried that I might start talking to some chick who's 14. They make it sound like I raped a child. I never did anything violent or wrong to her, other than that I had to leave her because of going to prison. I'm just as much of a victim as she is."

Pocan, who has voted against several pieces of sex-predator legislation, including the recent lifetime GPS tracking, believes the state should revisit the more sweeping legislation it's enacted over the last 15 years.

"If someone is not really a threat to society, and we know they're really not a threat to society, we're taking their life and screwing it up," says Pocan. "There's the politics of it and then there's the science of it, and the politics of it is off the chart right now. If you want to be tough on crime, you're tough on sex predators. You use sex predators to mean everybody, because you don't differentiate, because there is no intellectual thought put into what you're saying."

The price tag for keeping close watch on sex offenders in Wisconsin runs in the tens of millions of dollars. Just maintaining the registry cost nearly $1.3 million last year. The new lifetime GPS tracking requirement, in its original language, would've cost nearly $25 million. But by scaling back the number of sex crimes it covered, lawmakers brought the tab down to $5 million.

"If you want to put it on that problem 15% [of the sex-offender population], I'm fine with that, because we should know where they are at all times," says Pocan. "But to put it on [everyone else] doesn't make sense."

Despite its expense, the GPS law, which takes effect in January, may yield few public safety gains.

"The power of GPS is for us to say you can't be here," says the DOC's Roberts. "When they have no criminal sentence left, we have no authority to create exclusionary zones. So we will have a pool of people out there who have GPS equipment on them, with no conditions on where they can and cannot go."

Protecting communities

On July 19, about 100 east-side Madison residents descended on La Follette High School for a meeting called by police. Its purpose was to inform them that convicted kidnapper and rapist Lindon Knutson was moving to their neighborhood the following week.

Knutson, now 59, is believed to have raped at least 10 women since the late 1960s. His prison time stemmed from the kidnapping and rapes of three adult females. Though he was released under the most intensive monitoring available, police determined he posed enough of a threat to alert residents.

"As you can expect, those are difficult meetings," says Madison Police Capt. Tom Snyder. "It may be a sort of cliché to say that no one wants a sex offender living in their backyard, but it's the truth. It's a real balance. You have to balance the public's right to know with the need for successful reintegration."

Knutson declined Isthmus' requests for an interview.

There are three levels of notification, the lowest being police notification only. Level Two cases, like Howell, require a targeted notification to places like schools and day care centers. Level Three, for offenders like Paul and Knutson, is a full-blown community notification. This is done, says Snyder, only "a handful" of times each year.

Many residents would like to see community alerts for all offenders moving into neighborhoods, but Snyder says doing so would eventually stop people from paying attention, since many offenders pose little to no risk. Some say the effectiveness of the state's online sexual-offender registry is similarly diluted because the vast majority of registrants aren't apt to re-offend.

"When people know the registry is that broad, we weaken the value of it," says Pocan, drawing a distinction between sex predators and sex offenders. "The problem is that it's extremely expensive to taxpayers. Secondly, if someone made a mistake at 18, they pay for it for the rest of their life, even when it's not the level of mistake that people think it is."

But Stacie Rumenap, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Stop Child Sex Predators, which pushed Jessica's Law nationally, calls online registries a critical component to keeping communities safe.

"You may have a neighbor who you think is the best neighbor in the world, and come to find out that person is a registered sex offender," says Rumenap. "These are people we trust. When you can't identify who is a sexual predator, I think the community responds, and they demand that something be done about the issue of child sexual predation."

Making a list

Over the last 15 years, a series of laws named after missing and exploited children have been enacted nationwide. The Jacob Wetterling Act created sex offender registries. Megan's Law put in place the community notification component. And the Adam Walsh Act built a DNA-based national sex-offender registry, set mandatory minimum sentences and increased the penalties for child sex trafficking and prostitution.

These laws were the policy response to a series of horrendous crimes in which children were abducted, sexually assaulted and, in most cases, murdered. When these crimes occurred, there was no central way to find these children or zero in on who might have assaulted them. Most sex offenders weren't monitored, and electronic monitoring technology wasn't available.

"Now families are able to go online and actually see where a sex predator is living," says Rumenap. "All of these pieces of the puzzle are important to keeping the community safe."

Last year, President Bush signed into law a bill proposed by U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin), requiring states to provide uniform information on their registries. The bill also establishes a national sex offender registry, increasing penalties for noncompliance.

Since 1994, convicted sex offenders have been required by federal law to register with the state. In Wisconsin, sex offenders pay $60 annually to maintain the state's registry, which contains their addresses, a current picture, a listing of the sex crimes they've been convicted of, supervision status, and whether they're considered compliant, among other identifiers. The goal is to strip offenders of their anonymity within a community.

Statutory language drives the number of years an offender must register. Five types of felonies require lifetime registration, while 24 others require 15 years. Time on the registry begins after criminal sentence ends. In Wisconsin, two-thirds of offenders are lifetime registrants.

An offender has 10 days to report any changes in the required information. Failure to do so can lead to a complaint being filed and felony arrest warrant issued.

Despite such rules, offenders often fall through the cracks. Of the approximately 600,000 registered sex offenders nationwide, 100,000 are "lost," or noncompliant. Wisconsin's 19,000 registered sex offenders include more than 1,000 whose whereabouts are unknown.

Wisconsin's sex-offender compliance rate is much higher than the national average, thanks in part to the Sex Offender Apprehension and Felony Enforcement (SAFE) initiative put forth by Gov. Jim Doyle. The initiative, launched in the fall of 2005, created a SAFE Team of five former law enforcement officers who work 20 hours a week zeroing in on noncompliant offenders.

"The likelihood that someone will re-offend when there's some kind of monitoring going on are greatly diminished," says SAFE Team manager Rich Cowan, a former Madison police officer and assistant chief. "I think the need to register certainly has a positive impact on reducing the recidivism among offenders."

Since it began, the SAFE Team has tracked down more than 1,700 noncompliant offenders to places as far away as South Africa. Each week, Cowan receives a list of offenders who are noncompliant -- those who've absconded from supervision. The SAFE Team, which has no arrest authority, focuses primarily on offenders who pose the greatest public safety risk. Currently, it has roughly 200 open cases.

"The theory is that we'll get it down to next to nothing," says Cowan. "I don't think we'll ever have total compliance, because people just don't work that way."

Changing the future

Life as a sex offender is not only shameful, it's expensive. With monthly administrative fees, rent on electronic or GPS tracking equipment, restitution, mandatory polygraphs at $370 a pop, and offender registration fees, an offender's tab can reach several thousand dollars each year.

Even after an offender's financial penance ends, the costs in lost opportunities continue. "Does my future off of probation seem bright or bleak? C'mon!" says Paul. "What's reality? I walk down the street and somebody notices me, they can call the cops. That's reality. What kind of future do I got? I make $6.50 an hour."

ATTIC's Marshall, however, has little sympathy. "Many of these guys have gone back to prison multiple times, and many have multiple sex offenses," he says. "These are the guys who've burned all of their bridges in the community. Working with this population is not good for the digestion."

Marshall says that, because 25% of all inmates have a sex offense on record, there are too few beds in places like ATTIC to facilitate the re-entry of every offender. "You have to make sure you have enough resources to adequately supervise these people," he says. "They have to be released by law from prison, and we have to make sure they have a place to go."

For sex offenders living in Dane County, finding a place to live recently became even more difficult. On Oct. 4, the County Board, on a 20-12 vote, passed an ordinance that allows landlords to refuse tenancy to sex offenders.

Pocan says that, when it comes to sex offenders, lawmakers are preoccupied more with generating press releases than crafting practical solutions. He hopes the emerging research will get lawmakers thinking of cheaper but more efficient ways to manage the sex-offender population.

"One of the things we can do is have them come in more regularly for lie detector tests, and do some of the things that we know help keep them from re-offending," he says. "But until we really understand that population, we have to do the things that we can do to keep the public safe."

Howell would like to go to college, but says his agent won't allow it. And, until he identifies his ex-girlfriends as victims, his harsher restrictions will remain. He'll neither escape nor outlive his status as a child sex predator.

"I really can't be angry because it's already happened and done," he says. "I can't have any regrets because I was in love with the girl and I'm not going to regret love. All I can do is change the future."

That's easier said than done. Three days before a scheduled polygraph on Aug. 16, Howell confessed to his agent that he violated 17 of his 47 rules, including "the big three" -- unapproved sex (with two adults), contact with his victim (she came to visit him at his apartment) and consuming alcohol.

At a re-confinement hearing last week, the DOC recommended that Howell serve almost two years in prison. Dane County Judge Daniel Moeser sentenced him to 18 months.


CT - Norwalk head detective accused of sexual misconduct

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11/15/2007

NORWALK — Norwalk's police chief has confirmed that the head of the police department's detective bureau is under investigation for alleged sexual misconduct with a minor.

Chief Harry Rilling said Sunday Lt. Thomas Cummings is not on active duty while the complaint from a 15-year-old boy from Weston is investigated by state prosecutors.

"He will not be back on duty or in his capacity as a police officer until this is cleared up one way or another," Rilling said Sunday. "We have been fully cooperating with the State's Attorney's Office from the beginning to ensure there is a thorough and complete investigation."

Rilling said an outside agency was sought to conduct the investigation into the allegations made by the boy.

"I asked that the State's Attorney's Office (in Stamford) handle it," Rilling said. "We want to avoid any sense of impropriety. We want a fair and complete investigation done."

The 46-year-old Cummings, a 24-year veteran, has not been charged with any crime.

Police searched Cummings' Norwalk home more than a week ago, where the alleged incident occurred. Police seized his personal computer.

The chief said the alleged incident took place while Cummings was off duty and there is no evidence suggesting Cummings used his influence as an officer to lure the young boy into his home.

"This is a difficult time for the Norwalk Police Department and we ask the public to continue to have faith in their officers," Rilling said. "This is not a reflection of the entire department. We take something like this very seriously."

There was no phone listing for Lt. Cummings available Monday morning.