View the article here
Clay (WSYR-TV) - NewsChannel 9 broke news out of the town of Clay Thursday that a Cicero-North Syracuse High School has been charged with distributing nude pictures of female students.
The charges stem from cell phone pictures that about a dozen high school girls, age 11 to 14, took of themselves. They sent the naked pictures to their boyfriends and that's when police say the criminal activity happened.
District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick says the only person charged is 17-year-old Michael Wixson, an honor roll student at C-NS High School.
Thursday, he was arraigned in town of Clay court on charges of endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor, and disseminating indecent materials, a felony. His lawyer told us that Wixson is a "good kid".
Wixson is the one who elevated this from immature, unhealthy behavior of sharing inappropriate pictures, to criminal activity when the pictures were distributed to a minor.
The DA says this all began 2-3 years ago, when the girls took nude pictures of themselves and sent the photos to their boyfriends at the time.
After those relationships ended, the boys put the pictures onto a disc, according to the DA. The discs were being sold at school, but the sale was stopped by school officials. The photos also ended up on an “offensive website” titled “Girls Gone Wild at C-NS,” which has been taken down.
The investigation began, leading State Police to Wixson and his computer to find the original images. He is charged because the crime was in distributing the pictures to a 15-year-old girl in July. It happened at 7775 New Hope East Road in Liverpool.
The DA says pictures have made it to the web and flickr.com, a photo sharing site, and they are still investigating how they made it online from the discs or a computer.
Fitzpatrick says this case is getting prosecuted because of the number of kids involved.
He says some parents of the young female victims didn't want to take this investigation seriously.
“Some of them were furious. A good percentage of them were, ‘stuff happens, what are you going to do?’ and don't want to cooperate and don't want to be interviewed, which, to me, is mind-boggling.”
What's also disturbing for the investigators is how a dozen girls, some as young as 11, could so easily snap salacious pictures and feel comfortable messaging them to teenage boys.
“When you take that picture and you think you sent it to someone, you could have sent it to most of the civilized world.”
The internet has taken this inappropriate sharing of homemade porn to the next, criminal level. Now, whomever put the pictures on the internet could face charges for publishing without the girls' consent.
“How would you like to be in your 20s, 30s and have someone say ‘oh geez I saw you on the web.’ It's disgusting. It’s not only boorish, ungentlemanly behavior, it's criminal.”
Resource Officer, Guidance Counselors Watch Behavior
Before anything ever ended up online, a large group of students, all under 18, were sharing pictures the young girls, ages 11 to 14, took of themselves. Even though it seems wrong, the taking and sharing of the photos is legal, because the girls consented and because all those involved were underage.
The first actual crime happened when the District Attorney says one of the students involved became a legal adult and sent the pictures to an underage girl. What people in the schools are struggling with now is making it clear to students that, what they think is silly behavior, can be permanently damaging and criminal.
“I think the parents should realize that this kind of behavior is not as shocking to the kids as it is to them,” says Resource Officer Scott Smith. He is one of two officers who keeps track of whats happening in the halls of the high school.
Smith watched as C-NS students reacted to, first, a naked picture CD, and now a felony charge for sharing those pictures. Smith says he was shocked by kids thinking neither was a big deal. “They weren't phased by it; some were a little more concerned than others but overall it wasn't the reaction I expected from a group of girls just learning that they were on it.”
However, there are still repercussions in the hallways from this case. “Even girls that weren't involved in the pictures, like friends of girls that were, or are feuding with some girls; I mean, it hasn't died,” says the resource officer.
Often conflicts in the school begin with something digital: a text message, an IM, a message on MySpace, or other social networking sites. However, when the kids meet with a resource officer, they even realize that their behavior online is inappropriate. “They will say vulgar things to each other on a text or an IM, that if you got them face to face some of them would be embarrassed to say what they wrote,” says Smith.
Students are still learning how to manage their online lives and sexual lives on top of other high school issues. It’s a topic adults in all schools have been dealing with in the past few years. “I think it's our job to help them to see what a big deal it is; and understand the repercussions of allowing these things to happen,” says Theresa Masse, a Guidance Counselor at Liverpool High School.
While schools are handling the emotional impact of what happens online, counselors say that parents should learn these technologies themselves, so they can help monitor behavior online.
Internet Privacy, Security Concerns
The principal at Cicero-North Syracuse says he became aware of the investigation a year and a half ago, when the disc with the nude photos started circulating around the junior high school.
Students were suspended at that time. The police probe continued as the pictures made it to the internet. This whole issue of cyber safety and security has become very high profile at C-NS.
Kids take and send pictures with cell phones all the time. Never guessing where they might end up.
Assistant DA Gary Dawson heads the special victims unit. Last week, ironically, he brought a powerful PowerPoint presentation to C-NS.
“When you put something out there on the internet, you may think that it's just there for your friends. But it's out there forever. For anyone who wants to get to it,” he told students.
Whether its webcam or cell phone, girls sending pictures of themselves to boyfriends can be a very bad idea.
Dawson said, “They split up, guess who gets those pictures? And if it's a bad break up, guess what happens to the pictures?
“If you're posting your picture online, if it's ok with you that a 50-year-old guy in Michigan is cutting and pasting your picture and getting off, that's what can happen.”
The high schoolers sat speechless as they watched a video vignette showing the consequences of a careless posting.
Jim Froio is the principal at C-NS. “The message here is clear. That kids who experiment with the internet must be careful, and it must be something that parents are aware of. Even kids who do things on YouTube for fun, is the license plate showing in the movie that you made? All of those things that we never had to think about. Now, we have to think about it, because there are people out there who will take advantage of those things.”
Froio says if kids need to know if they make a mistake on the internet, with a private posting, that mistake can stay with them for the rest of their lives.
Parents, Students React To Pictures
Thursday night, we spoke with people in and around the C-NS community who were shocked to hear what investigators are uncovering.
Sam Fanizzi remembers the DVD circulating at C-NS. Some of his friends were in the pictures.
“They were pretty mad about it, yeah, but after that we didn't hear too much more.”
Now we're hearing a lot. After some of those pictures were allegedly posted on the web and also emailed to a 15-year-old girl, the district attorney stepped in.
Greg Shelton, who has an 11-year-old daughter said, “I would want to know why she did it in the first place so I could counsel her but I would be devastated if I saw her nude on the internet I wouldn't know what to think, it would really be shocking.”
He says parents should use what's come out of this investigation as a lesson, to take a more proactive approach.
“I think you should be talking with kids, know what they're into or friends they've got so you can try to keep something like that from happening.”
But Sam Fanizzi says he's not sure students will stop. “I don't think as many kids take it as a lesson that should, ‘cuz people are still gonna think it's not gonna happen to me or whatever.”
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
View the article here
View the article here
Sex offenders are not a popular bunch, which is why, as a society, we do little for them. But turning our backs on them doesn't make them go away. That may put society in even greater danger.
Privately, we fear and disdain them. Publicly, we denounce them. We develop sex-offender registries to track their movements. Such registries are designed to give the public a measure of peace of mind. Occasionally, however, they fuel public protests against the presence of convicted offenders in our neighborhoods.
Shunning convicted sex offenders, however, doesn't address the question of what we need to do about them when those who have served their sentences are, inevitably, released from prison. So far, other than offering a few dozen beds to a select few, Connecticut does very little.
Most days, several dozen offenders who have done their time can be found living in homeless shelters in Hartford, New Haven and New Britain because there's no room for them in treatment programs. David Pollitt was among the lucky ones: The serial rapist had family to go to after serving his sentence, though neighbors in Southington loudly objected.
Ransome Lee Moody has no such luck. The three-time convicted rapist has finished his prison term but is still so dangerous, officials say, that no facility will take him permanently.
Some state lawmakers are hoping to solve such dilemmas. They've come up with a proposal to create 200 secure beds for sex offenders who are on probation or parole. Services would range from intensive inpatient treatment in a restricted setting to transitional housing (in which offenders would be able to find jobs) to more permanent housing in the community (complete with counseling and other supports).
At $10 million, the price tag for such a program is substantial. But as state Rep. Michael Lawlor, D-East Haven, points out, there's no responsible alternative. "We can either have no facilities and sex offenders going wherever they want, or appropriate facilities," he told The Courant. "It comes down to either no supervision or good supervision."
As Mr. Lawlor's calculation starkly illustrates, doing nothing has its costs as well.
View the article here
Please remove these tasers from the cops. Many people are dying because of their lust to taser someone. How can shocking someone, who may have a weak heart, not be torture? How many people must die at the hand of cops with tasers before these are removed from them?
A truck driver died Monday after being shot once with a Taser by Walton County deputies.
Police confronted Leroy Patterson Jr. about 5:30 a.m. — 30 minutes after a woman accused him of raping her inside a tractor-trailer where he apparently resided.
Walton County Sheriff Joe Chapman said when deputies arrived at the scene Patterson, 41, refused to open the doors to his truck.
After letting them inside, Patterson reversed course, Chapman said, shoving the officers outside of the vehicle.
He proceeded to discard evidence, including some sheets, the sheriff said.
After seeing him reach under his seat, the deputies warned Patterson he would be Tasered unless he presented his hands.
"They even put the red dot from the Taser on him, but he did not cooperate," said Chapman, who insisted standard procedures were followed.
After deploying two "barbs" from the Taser, the suspect became violent, pulling them out of his skin, the sheriff said. A scuffle ensued, and a deputy was shot once by his own Taser. Patterson finally was subdued and handcuffed.
While still at the scene, the suspect began breathing erratically and seemed to be having a seizure, Chapman said. He was pronounced dead at the Walton County Hospital about an hour after the confrontation with deputies.
Chapman said Patterson was on probation in Gwinnett County for a narcotics charge, among other previous offenses.
The deputy who discharged the Taser, a veteran of more than 20 years, was placed on paid leave pending a review by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, as is routine in such cases, Chapman said.
"It's unfortunate," the sheriff said. "It was a bad situation turned worse by the actions of the suspect."
An autopsy is scheduled Tuesday.
View the article here
A West Georgia man was released from state prison Monday night, nearly 30 years after being sentenced to life for a rape that recent testing shows he didn't commit.
John White, 48, of Manchester was convicted in Meriwether County of rape, aggravated assault, burglary and robbery for an August, 1979 attack of an elderly woman in her home.
Hairs from the crime scene were matched to White during the investigation by microscopic analysis. But recent DNA testing has proven that they do not belong to White, according to the Georgia Innocence Project, a non-profit organization started in 2002 that uses DNA testing to free those wrongly convicted of crimes.
The Meriwether County court sentenced White to life in prison. He was paroled in 1990, but arrested again in 1993 for drug possession and served two and a half years. He was arrested again in 1997 for robbery and sentenced to seven years, and his parole was revoked. He remained in prison on the original 1979 life sentence until Monday.
In 2004, the Georgia Innocence Project sent letters to all Georgia prisoners convicted of rape, and White responded, proclaiming his innocence. The organization has been investigating White's case since October, 2004, and earlier this year learned that hairs from the crime scene that were admitted at trial were still in the possession of the Meriwether County Clerk's office.
After negotiations with the Coweta Circuit District Attorney's office, a consent order for DNA testing was signed last month, and the evidence was sent to the GBI Crime Lab.
The GBI completed its tests and released the results last Thursday. The next day, Innocence Project representatives went to Macon State Prison to inform White of his impending release.
Also on Friday, the GBI confirmed a "cold hit" on the Combined DNA Index System, revealing that the hairs belonged to another man. That suspect is now under investigation, according to the Innocence Project.
View the article here
A policy to control the access of sex offenders to West Fargo School District school properties and vehicles got its first reading with the School Board Monday.
The policy addresses parents and nonparents who are sex offenders, and students considered sex offenders, including those with disabilities. It mirrors state law, board President Duane Hanson said.
The sex offender policy allows a parent to transport the child to school, attend conferences or individual education plan meetings, and other events decided case-by-case by the superintendent.
Nonparent sex offenders can vote and attend open meetings. Again, the superintendent would determine any other allowable situation.
The board also received an update on options studied by a kindergarten building advisory group.
Hanson said the board will decide Jan. 14 on an option to build kindergarten space to handle full-day classes.
Among the options most favored by the advisory group in a poll were building a new kindergarten center capable of teaching 300 students at a site away from the current center, or building an addition at the West Fargo Kindergarten Center, but not attached to the Lodoen Center next door.
Other options call for an addition to the kindergarten center attached to the Lodoen Center, a kindergarten wing at Aurora Elementary or a new 600-student super-kindergarten center.
Business Manager Mark Lamer said the district would have almost $6 million available to pay for construction without requiring a referendum. Most of the options are estimated to cost $4.5 million to $6 million, but a super- kindergarten center could cost $9 million to $10 million, figures from architects YHR Partners of Moorhead show.
View the article here
Aldermanic committee will discuss proposed ordinance at meeting Thursday.
NASHUA – The city's police chief doesn't believe restricting registered sex offenders from residing within 1,000 feet of schools, day-care centers and parks is an effective way to protect kids.
"I'm not so sure it will be as effective as we would like it to be," Nashua Police Chief Donald Conley said Monday.
The aldermen's personnel/ administrative affairs committee will discuss the proposed ordinance to create a 1,000-foot buffer zone at its meeting Thursday.
Alderman-at-Large Jim Tollner, who chairs the committee, said the public will be allowed to comment before the committee votes on whether to recommend the ordinance to the full board of aldermen.
Conley said either he or a representative will attend the meeting to suggest the ordinance might be off the mark.
The police chief said he applauds the framers of the ordinance for caring about children.
"I applaud it from a statement perspective, of saying, 'Hey, we love our kids. We want to protect our kids,'" Conley said.
But he's not sure if the ordinance is an effective way to protect children, he said.
Conley said there are 140 registered sex offenders in the city, 95 of whom committed acts against minors.
A "grandfather clause" in the ordinance means sex offenders already living within the buffer zone wouldn't have to move, Conley noted.
"It doesn't apply to them. You've lost your target audience right from the start," he said.
Conley has other concerns about the proposed legislation.
For example, the ordinance restricts registered sex offenders from living 1,000 feet from a school, park or day care. But someone who lives 1,100 feet away is OK, Conley said.
Also, fines are imposed for violations – $500 for a first offense, $1,000 for a second offense.
While that's substantial, Conley doesn't think it's strong enough.
"It's a civil infraction. I'm not sure if the penalty will really deter someone," he said.
"The majority of acts are perpetrated by someone the family already knows," Conley said.
Plus, the buffer zone doesn't cover all areas where a child might be in danger, such as at shopping malls, he said.
"There are more kids at the malls today than there are at public parks, from what I understand," Conley said.
Schools are safe, Conley said, adding that he would worry more about a child walking home from school than a child at school.
At a committee meeting last week, three people spoke about the proposed ordinance. A snowstorm that Monday may have kept attendance down.
Tollner said he has received dozens of e-mails about the proposed legislation, which he sponsored. Three more aldermen signed on as co-sponsors.
About nine out of 10 e-mails support creating the buffer zone, Tollner said.
He said he brought the legislation forward a couple of years ago at the urging of constituents.
"There have been legitimate concerns raised by people in our community that feel this is too restrictive and would provide another avenue toward homelessness," Tollner said in an e-mail.
However, other communities in the state impose tighter restrictions on sex offenders, he said. He noted there is a "grandfather" provision for sex offenders who currently live in what would become a restricted area.
"People in our community feel that you cannot do enough to protect our children," Tollner wrote in the e-mail.
However, one alderman has questioned whether such a "feel-good" ordinance will be effective and might instead do more harm than good.
Alderman-at-Large Fred Teeboom said he has talked with professionals in law enforcement and social services who caution against creating such buffer zones. He said Manchester police spoke against a similar law proposed there.
Teeboom cited a Minnesota study that found sex crimes wouldn't have been prevented by a residency restriction. He also suggested such restrictions might prove to be unconstitutional.
He said he's upset about a message circulating that characterizes citizens not in favor of the buffer zone legislation as "advocates for the child molesters" and "advocates for the pedophiles."
Tollner said having a debate on the merits of the ordinance is important for the community.
"A significant part of our role as legislators is to work to ensure that all views are brought to the committee level and given analysis and an opportunity for debate. This is the proper forum for such debate," Tollner said.
"If we have accomplished nothing, we have started a dialogue that brings important issues to the forefront and moving in a direction that helps our children – which, of course, is our responsibility as members of this community, as parents, as neighbors, as people," he said.
Hope this gets you in the mood... Please! Remember who CHRISTmas is REALLY about, and pray for everyone, we all need the Lord Christ deeply!
Come All Ye Faithful, O Holy Night
Little Drummer Boy
I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas
O Holy Night
What Child Is This
View the article here
Again with the word "punish!"
Less than a year ago the Texas House of Representatives adopted Jessica's Law.
The law is named for Jessica Lunsford, a young Florida girl who was sexually assaulted and murdered back in 2005. The legislation is designed to punish sex offenders who prey on children and track them after their release.
- No, it's to punish all sex offenders, not just those who prey on children. Get your facts straight.
Now, a Hutto man has been indicted on charges that fall under the new law.
Alfredo Enriquez, 35, from Hutto is the first to be held to a new standard in Texas.
"Jessica's Law really identifies the worst of the worst in terms of sexual molesters," Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley said.
Bradley wouldn't comment on Enriquez' ongoing case, but he did help draft the state's version of Jessica's Law, which went into effect September 1, 2007.
"It just so happened the first case we indicted was here in Williamson County," Bradley said.
Under the new law a perpetrator who commits continued sexual abuse over a span of more than 30 days will face harsher punishment -- anywhere from 25 years to the death penalty.
That's something Patty Connor with the Williamson County Hope Alliance hopes will break the cycle of violence.
- Does the death penalty prevent murderers from murdering? Then how will this?
"Hardly ever is there one perpetration. If they've perpetrated once, they're going to do it again. It's incredibly important to get them off the streets," Connor said.
- You apparently haven't read up on the recidivism statistics that say otherwise.
For now, Enriquez is off the streets. He's behind bars at the Williamson County jail for allegedly molesting his 12-year-old daughter numerous times over an eight-month span.
Enriquez is being held on a $500,000 bond. His court date has not yet been set.
"This case really in terms of legal significance is not a big deal," Enriquez' attorney, Bristol Myers, said.
Myers said his client is innocent and hopefully won't be the first Texan convicted under the new law. DA Bradley hopes otherwise.
- What?? If he's innocent, then why will he be convicted?
"These are horrible horrible descriptions of crimes that are left to be prosecuted under Jessica's Law. These cases, if proven in front of a jury, will deserve the punishment they will receive," Bradley said.
Texas joins 44 other states that are working on enacting a version of Jessica's Law, making it potentially a capital offense to mess with the innocence of a child.
If convicted, Jessica's Law prohibits violators from being released on parole.