Monday, December 17, 2007

AZ - Teens in Alleged Party Rape Face No Charges

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I bet Genarlow Wilson in Georgia would be ticked to hear this. He didn't even rape the girl, it was consensual, and he got 10 years, this kid rapes a girl and goes free. He's probably white as well, and I don't like turning things into a race issue, but...


Prosecutors will not file criminal charges against a high school football player accused of raping a drunken 16-year-old girl at a party, or against his friends, who allegedly photographed the attack.

The Pinal County Attorney's Office said evidence gathered by Florence police was not enough to meet the burden of proof required for trial.

The allegations stemmed from an Oct. 27 party following a Florence High School football game, at a remote spot outside the city known as "the flats." The area is a popular party spot for students.

The 17-year-old athlete was accused of raping the alleged victim after she passed out. Police said the boy claimed the sex was consensual.

Several of the boy's teammates were accused of standing by and photographing the alleged rape on their cell phones.

After sending the phones to the Department of Public Safety for analysis, police had said the teammates could face child porn charges if they were found to have taken and distributed the photos.

MT - Judge rejects teen’s request to be removed from offender registry

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This is just evil and draconian. His life is officially over before it even began! Check out all these other children being ruined for life by these laws which are "suppose" to protect children, here.


CONRAD — A judge rejected a request Monday by a 14-year-old convicted sex offender to have his name removed from the state’s registry.

A new law put in place earlier this year requires juvenile sex offenders to register with the state and be listed on the state’s Internet registry unless a judge determines otherwise. Montana is one of the first states to begin complying with a federal mandate requiring juvenile sex offenders to register.

On Monday, the 14-year-old’s parents, junior high school principal and treatment counselor all testified the teen posed no harm to the community and should not have to register with the state.

However, District Judge Laurie McKinnon ruled he must remain on the list.

“Where there is a possibility to re-offend, notification is best,” the judge said. “This court is not willing to accept the burden of possible future victims because of a notification breakdown.”

The teen’s family declined comment following the hearing. His attorney Nathan Hoines said he expects to appeal the case to the Montana Supreme Court but declined further comment.

During Monday’s hearing, witnesses testified the teen was, himself, a victim of a sex crime when he was young. The crime he committed when he was 12 involved his younger half brother.

The witnesses said the 14-year-old remains under constant supervision and receives honor roll grades. He also volunteers under supervision with local charities.

“This whole juvenile system is about rehabilitation, it is not about punishment,” his attorney told the judge.

Witnesses also told the judge that life has been difficult for the teen, who lives in Conrad — a community of about 2,500 people in northern Montana. His parents testified their son has been teased constantly by classmates.

“All this is doing is traumatizing him,” Hoines said, referring to the registry, which lists his name, age and address and also shows a photo.

Prosecutor Mary Ann Ries said the witnesses’ failed to deal with the core issue, which is protecting the community from sex offenders.

The judge agreed, saying the law requires notification.

“It’s very unfortunate that your adolescence has to take this course, very publicly,” she said.

FL - Kids, beware online predators

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Yeah, and a ton of them are cops, just check here.


"How do you want to die?" was the question. "Murder," read the reply.

That response, written by a young girl as part of her personal Internet profile, caught a law enforcement officer's attention.

With other identifying information, including her first and last name, school name and employer, listed on her social networking web page, "It took five minutes to find her," Pamela Bennett said.

Although locating a student based on their profile is "not something we typically do," Bennett said, the officer used the public record and the posted information to warn the girl about the potential danger to which she had made herself vulnerable.

A predator could have abducted her and "no one would have known who took her," Bennett said.

Bennett, victim advocate section chief for the state's Child Predator CyberCrime Unit, spoke Dec. 7 to students in Mitch Purvis' class at Fernandina Beach High School. The presentation, one of several made at the school, was part of Attorney General Bill McCollum's CyberSafety Initiative.

The initiative is designed to give students tools they can use to stay safe and protect their identities online.

The crime unit does not "police," or monitor, students based on the information they post. Instead, the Child Predator CyberCrime Unit investigates, identifies and prosecutes "online sexual predators and those that manufacture, distribute or possess images of child pornography."

The unit also educates "parents, teachers, advocates, law enforcement and children about safe practices for participating in the ever-expanding cyber community."

And, the CyberCrime Unit trains victim advocates who work in schools and in the community "to help children victimized by online sexual solicitation."

Most of the students in Purvis' sixth period computing for college and careers course raised a hand to acknowledge having a web page on a networking site. About half play games online.

Both activities usually have chat rooms, frequented by predators. "That's where they're going to be," Bennett said.

Bennett warned the students to avoid using their full real name, address, birth date or screen names that "make you appear too flirtatious."

In a promotional video, students heard the confessions of real student victims of online solicitation. Bennett also led the class in a game called "Pick the Perp," to give students a chance to identify actual online predators.

"You can't tell the difference between the good guys and the bad guys," she said during the activity. Of the perpetrators on screen, one used to be a detective, another a karate instructor and another a former sailor with the Navy.

For every online predator law enforcement officers apprehend, "there's plenty more of them out there," Bennett said, regularly committing unlawful acts before being caught.

"That's a really, really powerful message," Purvis said following the presentation. "Coming from me, it's just the teacher talking again."

Online predators who pursue students can "hook them in their own home," Purvis said. In stark contrast to the pre-Internet world, "These guys can become intimate without a picture," he said. "It's really scary."

"Be careful who you allow as your friend and make sure you know them," Bennett told students. "If you don't know the person, they may not be who you think they are.

"Things are not always what they seem," she said. For example, sexual predators lie about their age and are "always older" than they admit.

"If you remember nothing else

. . . assault, abduction and death. That's typically what happens," Ben-nett said about online encounters with sexual predators. "If you disappear, we have no way to find you."

Bennett cautioned students to avoid posting photos and providing details about themselves in online profiles.

"Think about what's online now and who in your future you want to see it," she said, noting that photos can be digitally altered, key words like "murder" searched, and opportunities lost as a result.

"Who else in your future will have access to your information?" she asked. "Colleges are now asking for your MySpace page."

"Once they're out there, we can't take them back."

"You don't have to answer every question," she said about profiles. Online profiles give predators information they can use to strike up a conversation with their target, establish a rapport, build trust and "groom" students for a future face-to-face meeting, she said.

The students most vulnerable to grooming are those who may be estranged from their family and in search of love, Bennett said.

"If it looks too good to be true, check it out," she said. "Trust your instincts."


For students:

~~ Keep personal information, including your real name, nicknames, birth date and home address out of your online profiles.

~~ Avoid posting photographs or any other information online that you would not want on the school bulletin board.

~~ Avoid provocative or flirtatious screen names.

~~ Know personally anyone you allow to be an online friend.

~~ Report the receipt of pornographic material or online solicitations to or call 800-the-lost.

For parents:

~~ Keep your home computer in a common area.

~~ Know your child's screen names and passwords.

~~ Monitor your child's online activity. Computer programs are available that allow parents to see where their child has been online.

~~ Know where your child goes and what he or she is doing. Although you may have controls in your own home, a child can go online at the library or at a friend's house.

NY - Former Cop Gets Four Years In Prison for Sexual Assault of Brooklyn Woman

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BROOKLYN – Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes Monday announced the sentencing of former police officer Fernanand Clerge to four years in prison for sexually assaulting a woman with his partner, Charles McGeean.

Clerge, 40, was convicted September 17, of Sexual Abuse in the First Degree, Attempted Criminal Sexual Act in the Third Degree and Two Counts of Official Misconduct.

On November 20, 2005, Clerge and McGeean, 39, stopped a woman’s car. McGeean sexually assaulted her in her car, and the officers followed her to her home in Bushwick. There, McGeean touched her buttocks and Clerge groped her breasts, kissed her and tried to force her to perform oral sex on him. He then masturbated in front of her.

Clerge’s DNA was identified in forensics samples found in the apartment and on the woman’s clothing. McGeean pleaded guilty to Official Misconduct and Sexual Abuse in the Third Degree on March 19, 2007. He was sentenced to three years probation.

The case was prosecuted by Kevin O’Donnell, unit chief in the Sex Crimes Bureau. Rhonnie Jaus is chief of the Sex Crimes Bureau.

OR - Oregon laws on Intimidation and telephonic harassment

View the article here | Courtesy of Corrupted Justice

Not my Comments:
Well looky what I found on Oregon laws regarding intimidation, telephone harassment and civil right violations against the many people PJ attacks. There it is. Intimidation IS against the law in Oregon! Xavier and a few other Orgeonites better pay attention.

166.155 Intimidation in the second degree. (1) A person commits the crime of intimidation in the second degree if the person:

(a) Tampers or interferes with property, having no right to do so nor reasonable ground to believe that the person has such right, with the intent to cause substantial inconvenience to another because of the person’s perception of the other’s race, color, religion, national origin or sexual orientation;

(b) Intentionally subjects another to offensive physical contact because of the person’s perception of the other’s race, color, religion, national origin or sexual orientation; or

(c) Intentionally, because of the person’s perception of race, color, religion, national origin or sexual orientation of another or of a member of the other’s family, subjects such other person to alarm by threatening:

(A) To inflict serious physical injury upon or to commit a felony affecting such other person, or a member of the person’s family; or

(B) To cause substantial damage to the property of the other person or of a member of the other person’s family.

(2) Intimidation in the second degree is a Class A misdemeanor.

(3) For purposes of this section:

(a) “Property” means any tangible personal property or real property.

(b) “Sexual orientation” means heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality. [1981 c.785 §1; 1983 c.521 §1; 1989 c.1029 §1]

166.165 Intimidation in the first degree. (1) Two or more persons acting together commit the crime of intimidation in the first degree, if the persons:

(a)(A) Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly cause physical injury to another person because of the actors’ perception of that person’s race, color, religion, national origin or sexual orientation; or

(B) With criminal negligence cause physical injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon because of the actors’ perception of that person’s race, color, religion, national origin or sexual orientation;

(b) Intentionally, because of the actors’ perception of another person’s race, color, religion, national origin or sexual orientation, place another person in fear of imminent serious physical injury; or

(c) Commit such acts as would constitute the crime of intimidation in the second degree, if undertaken by one person acting alone.

(2) Intimidation in the first degree is a Class C felony.

(3) “Sexual orientation” has the meaning given that term in ORS 166.155. [1981 c.785 §2; 1983 c.521 §2; 1989 c.1029 §2; 1993 c.332 §1; 1995 c.79 §53; 1997 c.249 §50]

Talking Dirty - Court's cases on sex and speech are fractured but thoughtful

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A little old, but figured I'd post it here for those who have not read it, and for archival purposes.


Sex has long been a problem for the Supreme Court. In cases involving John Cleland's "Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure" (aka Fanny Hill), D.H. Lawrence's "Lady Chatterly's Lover," and other similar materials, the Court has struggled to define "obscenity" and the limits of First Amendment protection for sexual expression. The task of drawing lines has always been daunting. As Justice Potter Stewart observed, such cases require the Court to "define what may be indefinable." His response, "I know it when I see it," suggests the frustration this effort engenders.

During the past term, three cases presented questions about the scope of First Amendment protections to be afforded sexual expression. The fractured opinions reveal the continuing fault lines in First Amendment jurisprudence -- and also reflect the Court's willingness to wrestle with questions of sexual expression.


Curiously, the case that seemed most controversial yielded the most clarity and consensus. Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition involved a challenge to the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996. The CPPA targeted "virtual" child pornography and simulations that appear to be, or are marketed as, sexual images of minors. The film "Lolita" and some renditions of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" could qualify as child pornography under the CPPA, and illustrate its overbreadth and potential application to non-obscene material entitled to First Amendment protection.

In New York v. Ferber (1982), the Court had upheld a ban on child pornography because of the compelling interest in protecting actual children from exploitation in creating such material. However, since no child is harmed and no crime is committed in producing virtual or simulated images, Ferber did not address the questions posed by the CPPA.

Recognizing this, the government in Free Speech Coalition claimed that virtual or simulated child pornography leads to sexual abuse of children because it "whets the appetite" of pedophiles who use it to lure children into sexual activity. The Court observed, however, that "many things innocent in themselves," such as candy, "may be used for immoral purposes, yet we would not expect those to be prohibited because they can be misused."

The key to the decision is the Court's reaffirmation of the "vital distinctions between words and deeds, between ideas and action." That is, the First Amendment protects the right to think bad thoughts, but not to act on them. Since the CPPA criminalized certain fictional images -- representations of the idea of child pornography -- the Court aptly observed that through the CPPA "the government seeks to control thought." The Court thus rejected the government's principal argument and concluded that "The harm does not necessarily follow from the speech, but depends upon some unquantified potential for subsequent criminal acts."

Although the subject matter of the case was controversial, the legal underpinnings for the decision were well-established. As the Court stated two years ago: "The Constitution exists precisely so that opinions and judgments, including esthetic and moral judgments about art and literature, can be formed, tested, and expressed. What the Constitution says is that these judgments are for the individual to make, not for the Government to decree, even with the mandate or approval of a majority." Free Speech Coalition reinforces these important principles.


The Free Speech Coalition themes of sexual expression and protection of children also appeared in Ashcroft v. American Civil Liberties Union, a challenge to the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), which was designed to screen online sexual materials from minors. But here there was little consensus. In Free Speech Coalition, Justice Anthony Kennedy's opinion spoke for five justices, and two other justices concurred at least in part. By contrast, in ACLU, five separate opinions resulted in agreement only on a remand.

COPA targets "communications for commercial purposes" on the Internet that are made "knowingly" and are "harmful to minors." "Harmful to minors" is similar to the community-standards obscenity test that the Court formulated in Miller v. California (1973), but modified for minors. So, in COPA, the term encompasses material that under contemporary community standards is designed to appeal to minors' prurient interests, describes sexual activity in a patently offensive manner for minors, and lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that reliance on "community standards" rendered the statute unconstitutional, since "the most puritan community" could effectively exercise a veto on online material. In the Supreme Court, only Justice John Paul Stevens embraced this conclusion.

The rest of the Court found this approach flawed, but was otherwise divided. Three justices did not find the statute inherently unconstitutional because of the community standards element, but concluded that other constitutional issues, such as vagueness, could make it invalid. Three expressed doubts about the use of community standards, but said that additional facts were required for a determination. The two remaining justices advocated use of a nationwide, rather than local, notion of community standards for purposes of regulating the Internet.

Significantly, a majority of the Court expressed reservations about the constitutionality of COPA. They also agreed on the need to explore a wider range of constitutional issues and to consider how to apply First Amendment principles developed in real space to cyberspace.


The Court also found itself divided in a case very much located in the physical world. In City of Los Angeles v. Alameda Books, the Court revisited zoning ordinances regulating adult entertainment.

Alameda Books involved a prohibition on multiple adult enterprises, in this case a bookstore and a video store, under a single roof. The ordinance was enacted in 1983 to close a loophole that prohibited adult entertainment stores from being located within 1,000 feet of each other.

The prior law was based on a 1977 study showing higher crime rates in areas with concentrations of adult establishments. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, writing for four members of the Court, held that the 1977 study was sufficient to justify the later prohibition on multiple establishments in the same building, while Justice David Souter, also writing for four members, disagreed. He reasoned that the ordinance would not reduce crime but only add to the expense of operating adult businesses. Casting the deciding vote, Justice Kennedy concurred in the result -- to reverse summary judgment -- but was concerned about the expansion of the secondary effects doctrine. He agreed with Justice Souter that additional fact finding was necessary to determine whether the ordinance was justifiable.

The scope of the secondary effects doctrine has been uncertain since the Court's splintered decision in City of Erie v. Pap's A.M. (2000), which upheld a prohibition on public nudity to counter a proliferation of live nude entertainment. In Pap's, Justices Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg attacked the plurality opinion as an unprecedented expansion of the secondary effects doctrine: "Until now, the 'secondary effects' of commercial enterprises featuring indecent entertainment have justified only the regulation of their location. For the first time, the Court has now held that such effects may justify the total suppression of protected speech. Indeed, the plurality opinion concludes that admittedly trivial advancements of a State's interests may provide the basis for censorship." Justice Souter, in partial agreement, expressed the view that "government must toe the mark more carefully" to justify infringing speech.

Given the alarms raised about the secondary effects doctrine in Pap's, the fact that a majority of the Court in Alameda Books expressed concerns about the doctrine has considerable significance. Justice Kennedy's opinion is particularly instructive: "A newspaper factory may cause pollution, and a billboard may obstruct a view. These secondary consequences are not always immune from regulations by zoning laws even though they are produced by speech . ... On the other hand, a city may not regulate the secondary effects of speech by suppressing the speech itself."


First Amendment cases tend to defy traditional "liberal" and "conservative" characterizations, and cases dealing with sexual expression are no exception.

This term's cases again demonstrate the complexity of the law in this area, and the changing circumstances it must address -- from global conversation on the Internet to the ability to create virtual images. Free Speech Coalition reveals the Court's willingness to undertake a principled analysis of highly volatile and politicized issues. And in Alameda Books, even the fractured opinions display a seriousness of purpose and sense of gravity indicative of a deep respect for the First Amendment.

This thoughtfulness will be a skill vital for the Court to maintain, as it inevitably will face in the near future even more perplexing questions about the meaning of the First Amendment.

Joan E. Bertin is executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship, in New York City.

NY - Sex Offender Residency Restrictions Tightened After Public Concern

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Children are the responsibility of the parents who conceived them, not the government or community. Also, since most sex crimes against children occur in the child's own home, how will this protect anybody? It may from predators, but a majority of sex offenders are NOT predators. This is just more grandstanding due to elections and to look like they are doing something.


Southampton - Children are the ultimate responsibility of the community since they often cannot protect themselves.

Demonstrating a clear commitment to that responsibility this week, the Southampton Town Board tightened up on residency restrictions for known sex offenders within its borders.

The new modification to a local law passed earlier this year restricts sex offenders from residing within 2,000 feet of local libraries and museums. The restriction will be incorporated into the Town’s program launched earlier this year when the town officials devised a point and click program available on the Town’s website which pinpoints residency locations of known sex offenders.

The program, introduced by outgoing Supervisor Patrick Heaney, was well received by the community and praised by school administrators and parents alike.

According to Town officials the new law is not intended to punish sex offenders but rather to protect children who are at a disadvantage of age, to protect themselves.

The 2,000-foot requirement was added after the initial law was adopted as a result of suggestions made to the Town Board by parents, teachers, school administrators and law enforcement officials.
- So what about all the experts who deal with sex offenders on a regular basis, and the civil/human rights groups? 90% or more of all sex crimes involving children are in the child's own home, so how is this going to protect children and NOT punish sex offenders?

Children frequently go to local libraries and museums unaccompanied by adults and congregate at these locations making them vulnerable to sex offenders who may also frequent these locations.
- Children frequently go everywhere!

The law specifically prohibits a known sex offender from residing within 2,000 feet of any library, children’s museum, or historical museum within the Town’s boarders.
- So I guess if they live 2001 feet away, they are magically safe? The darn buffer zone could be 50 or 100 miles, and if a predator or someone who was intent on committing another crime, would do so, regardless of some invisible barrier. This is only about where they reside (i.e. sleep), but during the day, they can go anywhere they want, as long as they are not "loitering!" More "feel good" laws which won't and aren't working.

The prohibition does not apply to known sex offenders who have previously established residences within these boundaries prior to the adoption of the law, but will prevent new residents who are known sex offenders from moving into an area.
- So then what is the point? PUNISHMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

TX - Texas Readies Police State Tech for Possible Hurricane Evacuees

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You see folks, I've been talking about this for awhile now. The police state (i.e. NWO) is coming, and your rights will be extinguished real soon, mark my words on this. The "mark of the beast" is coming, watch and see.


First we were told an encroaching police state will be required to save the precious children, now we are told it’s to save hurricane evacuees en masse, especially the “vulnerable,” that is to say the elderly, “disabled residents,” and of course more children.

“Texans seeking to escape the next hurricane or state emergency by evacuation bus will first be submitted to criminal background checks, the state’s emergency management director says,” reports the Houston Chronicle. “The idea, according to Jack Colley, is to keep sex offenders and others who may be wanted by police off the same buses used by the most vulnerable during an evacuation.”

How many sex offenders per million residents? Certainly the number must be infinitesimal. Of course, there will far more people behind in their child support payments or with unpaid parking tickets piled up, and a natural disaster provides the perfect excuse to ferret them out, never mind the overriding message sent to the poor beleaguered masses attempting to escape Mother Nature’s wrath — this here is a police state. If you want to get on the bus, be prepared to surrender any remaining vestige of liberty.

As Texas officials note, the process comes with “plenty of challenges” attached. “We’ll be able to do it,” admitted a confident Jack Colley. “We’re here to save lives,” that is after they submit to a little electronic humiliation of the sort cattle suffer, not that latter mind.

During hurricane Katrina, criminals of the sort Mr. Colley is worried about were left to flounder in a city jail as the water piled up around them, no doubt mostly drug addicts, property criminals, and others caught up in the “zero tolerance” (revenue producing) snare of the state. I’ll bet not a single sex offender was worried about drowning after the jailers evacuated for higher ground. After the hurricane, Human Rights Watch reported harrowing stories of dead prisoners floating in Templeman I, II, and III. That’ll teach ‘em to drink and drive.

Next time around, good old AT&T will be more than happy to help — for a handsome fee, of course.

Earlier this month, it was announced AT&T Inc. has contracted with the Texas Governor’s Division of Emergency Management to provide electronic wristbands for those residents wanting them, before they board an evacuation bus.

The wristbands would be scanned by emergency management officials and the person’s name would be added to a bus boarding log. That person’s name and their bus information would be sent wirelessly to the University of Texas Center for Space Research data center.

When the evacuee arrives at a designated shelter, the wristband would be scanned again to help state employees respond to inquiries from the public about the safety and location of evacuated family members.

The decision to wear a wristband is purely voluntary. But anyone who boards an evacuation bus will have to provide a name. There will be no requirement to show an identification card, such as a driver’s license, but officials may ask those boarding for an ID.

Colley confirmed that all of those names will be checked against existing sex offender registries and other criminal background databases. Colley said officials are not interested in evacuees’ past criminal convictions, only if they have outstanding warrants, are sex offenders or parolees.

Of course it will be “purely voluntary.” But what if the folks in line A with these handy-dandy little wristbands get preferential treatment over the folks in the non-wristband B line? People will naturally beg for a wristband and scanner as a deadly hurricane breathes down their necks.

Remember when Donald Kerr, principal deputy director of national intelligence, told his fellow citizens to forget about anonymity? Well, Kerr’s message is now a mantra.

“We’re all entitled to privacy, but we’re not entitled to anonymity,” Colley said.

Colley would not discuss how thorough the background checks will be. He said the state’s focus was keeping sex offenders and those with current warrants segregated from vulnerable residents.

“We’ll have procedures and we’re not going to advertise what they are,” he said.

Colley stressed no one will be left behind during an evacuation because they have a criminal history. But those with warrants or with a sex offense conviction will be evacuated separately.

Sort of the like “background checks” exercised at the local Gestapo zone, otherwise known as the metro airport? I’m not sure how many sex offenders and perverts are prevented from squeezing into ridiculously overpriced coach seats, but we know there is no shortage peace and antiwar activists singled out as threats to national security by the FBI.

“Since it’s a government record they’re checking you against, there is not the same invasion of privacy concerns that may come up in other contexts,” extolled prof Charles Rhodes, who teaches constitutional law at South Texas College of Law. “I think the need for it would outweigh any privacy concerns. This is a public safety issue.”

I guess not allowing peaceniks on airliners is a “public safety issue” that outweighs “any privacy concerns” as well, since you can never tell who travels with al-Qaeda (or who doesn’t think like the Bush neocons).

But never mind. A perfect storm is coming. Not the cyclonic sort, not exactly. But rather an economic one. Turn out the lights and water and allow the grocery stores to be stripped bare and after a few days people will be begging for their electronic wristbands just for a crust of bread and a glass of fluoridated water.

Come that day, it won’t be strictly sex offenders relegated to line B.

Anonymous on FOX11

A little old, but sounds like Perverted Justice and the other vigilantes I've came across, doesn't it? Especially the last video...

GA - Sex offender ruling revised - Attorney General says renters remain restricted

View the article here | Download MP3 Audio

So I want to hear what the Judge says, not the AG or police. What did the judge mean by the law which they felt was unconstitutional? Video available at the site. So in other words, the sex offender law only applies to poor people and rich people can stay in their homes.


By Stephen Gurr

When the Georgia Supreme Court changed one word this week in a recent ruling on residency restrictions for registered sex offenders, it meant that most won't be able to live wherever they want after all, officials say.

Meanwhile, a legal advocacy group maintains that the state attorney general's interpretation of the ruling makes a complex law even more confusing.

A Nov. 21 ruling by the high court was interpreted to mean that it had struck down the provisions that prohibit registered sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school, church, playground or other places where children congregate. The court cited individual property rights as a basis for the decision, saying the government was effectively taking a person's property by dictating where he or she could or could not live.

"We find that (the law) is unconstitutional because it permits the regulatory taking of appellant's property without just and adequate compensation," the court wrote.

On Thursday, the court issued a substitute opinion with the word "because" replaced by the phrase "to the extent that."

Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker's office interprets the ruling to mean that sex offenders who don't own their own homes are still bound by the old residency restrictions.

"After the attorney general moved to reconsider its (Nov. 21) decision, the Georgia Supreme Court subsequently narrowed its original ruling to now only apply to property owners who are registered sex offenders," said Russ Willard, a spokesman for Baker's office.

Hall County Sheriff Steve Cronic made a similar argument when the court's opinion was issued last month, saying sex offenders who rented their homes were not having their property taken if they were forced to move when a church or school was built next door.

Cronic believes the court's new ruling will likely restore the 1,000-foot rule to the residency restrictions, except for a handful of the county's 225 registered sex offenders who own their own homes. "Home ownership is low among the sex offenders in Hall County," Cronic said.

Cronic said his office is still waiting on official word from the attorney general and Georgia Sheriffs Association before resuming its enforcement of the 1,000-foot rule.

The Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights, however, says renters have rights, too.
"The courts have repeatedly held that renters have property rights that are protected," said Sara Totonchi, a spokesperson for the center. "The attorney general's interpretation of this ruling has made a difficult law 10 times more convoluted."

Totonchi noted that the attorney general's office as recently as Nov. 26 declared the restrictions unconstitutional in a letter to the state's 159 sheriffs. "To do a 180 like this really puts the sheriffs in an unrealistic and chaotic place in trying to enforce this law and do their jobs," she said.

"The sheriff will now be expected to determine whether people ... own their houses and whether they up on payments on them," Totonchi said.

Cronic, who was opposed to striking down the 1,000-foot rule, called the court's revised opinion "a step in the right direction." The sheriff said he believes the residency restrictions still need adjustment to stay within the boundaries of the Constitution, and hopes the Georgia General Assembly will address the matter in the coming session.

"I still think the legislature needs to go back and recraft a law that will withstand judicial review," Cronic said.

OH - Law alters sex crime penalties

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Sex offenders will be ranked without judges' say when Adam Walsh Act takes effect Jan. 1

Clyde Davenport was convicted of rape in September, but because he was 64 and had a limited criminal history, Lake County Common Pleas Judge Richard L. Collins Jr. designated him as a sexually oriented offender instead of a predator.

Collins, and other judges, base sex offense rankings on how serious the crime is and how likely the convict is to re-offend, but a new state law will change how sex offenders are ranked and what their penalties will be.

The Adam Walsh Act, named after the son of America's Most Wanted host John Walsh who was murdered by a rapist, will reclassify Davenport and many others as Tier III, the equivalent of a sexual predator under the new law, which takes effect Jan. 1. Consequently, Davenport will have to register where he lives and works with county deputies for the rest of his life instead of for 10 years after his release, which is what he would have to do under the previous law.

Furthermore, when his prison term ends, his neighbors will receive warnings, letting them know a Tier III offender lives nearby.

Offenders will now be classified from Tier I to Tier III - which coordinate with the previous rankings of sexually oriented offender, habitual offender and predator - based solely on the crime for which the person is convicted. Judges no longer will have any say in an offender's classification, and whether or not the person is likely to re-offend is immaterial.

"The key word was recidivism, and that's been completely removed from the equation," Collins said. "The whole focus of (sending notices to neighbors) has changed legislatively."

The repercussions of the Adam Walsh Act will be felt by the courts, deputies and, most of all, the sex criminals.

The criminals
Almost everyone convicted of a sex crime in Ohio in the last 10 years will be affected by the Adam Walsh Act.

Under current Ohio law, sexually oriented offenders have to register where they live and work with the county sheriff's office for 10 years, habitual offenders for 20 years and predators for life.

The Adam Walsh Act increases two of those periods: Tier I to 15 years and Tier II to 25 years, but Tier III is still for life.

As a result, if a person was convicted of voyeurism or sexual imposition and classified as a sex offender, they would have an additional five years tacked on.

If a person was convicted of a more serious charge like rape or sexual battery but only classified as an offender because the judge did not think they were likely to re-offend, the felon could go from having to register for 10 years to registering for life.

While some criminals will move to a higher tier, none will fall to a lesser tier, regardless of what they were convicted for.

"There's no way to get knocked down. There's only one way to go, and it's up," said Deputy Mike Perry, one of two Lake County deputies who registers sex criminals.

The new tiers mean many more people will be listed as Tier III. In Geauga, there currently are five people listed as sexual predators. After the first of the year, 12 people will be classified as Tier III, Geauga County Detective Chuck Negron said.

State Sen. Tim Grendell, R-Chester Township, joined the Senate in passing the bill unanimously. He said the bill was not creating more sexual predators or offenders - It just relabels them.

"We're not creating sexual offenders," he said. "They are the ones committing the crime."

Some of the offenders are taking offense with their new classification.

The Ohio Justice & Policy Center filed a lawsuit with the Ohio Supreme Court on the behalf of two of them. The plaintiffs, Tamara Welton and a Jane Doe, pleaded guilty to sexual battery and attempted battery, respectively, after they had consensual sex with prisoners while working in a correctional institution.

They were classified as offenders, but under the new act they will be listed as predators.

"Neither of these women are a danger to the community," said David Singleton, the executive director of the OJPC. "Labeling them as the 'worst of the worst' offenders dilutes the purpose of the registry and will subject them and their family to public hostility and ridicule."

Geauga County Common Pleas Judge Forrest Burt said he was concerned that classifying criminals based on offenses would miss the initial point of labeling.

"The goal of the statute used to be to identify people who were likely to recommit. Now, we are painting with a very broad brush," he said.

Grendell offered an opposing point of view.

"I have a very fundamental view of this. If you don't want the label, don't commit the crime," he said.

However, under the Adam Walsh Act, it is possible that a person who commits a nonsexual crime could be classified as a sexual predator. If someone is convicted of kidnapping a minor, besides the victim's parent, they will be listed as a predator. But not all kidnappings are sexually motivated.

According to the Ohio Revised Code, kidnapping is using force, threat or deception to remove someone from a place or to restrain someone of their liberty for several reasons. Only one of those reasons mentions sexual intent.

Furthermore, there already is a proviso in the act that makes anyone convicted of kidnapping a minor to engage in sexual activity a predator, so the broader specification is not necessary to punish sexually motivated kidnappings.

Grendell said it would be possible to revisit some specific stipulations in the act later.

"The question has always been, 'How do you protect the public?' There hasn't been an easy solution. Yes, some people get caught in the web, but we can't give up on dealing with this issue of how to protect the public from sexual criminals," he said.

Courts and deputies
Before the Adam Walsh Act, judges held hearings to decide a criminal's classification, usually in conjunction with sentencing. The act will save the county courts money by eliminating those hearings, Burt said, but it will cost sheriff's offices to monitor more offenders more often.

"One is always concerned about the cost of administering justice, but the overriding concern has to be public safety," Grendell said.

The funding to support the Adam Walsh Act still has not been finalized in Congress.

Consequently, local departments do not know how much federal support they will receive to enforce the act. But Ohio should be eligible for an additional amount for passing the act before July 27, Grendell said.

"It's going to increase our workload," said Negron, the sole deputy in charge of registering sex offenders in Geauga County, compared with Lake County's two deputies.

All three do more than registration. Negron also seeks grants for the office; and Perry and David Harvey perform background checks and oversee weapons permits.

"The sheriff is very supportive. If I need more help, I will get more help," Negron said.

"It's going to require a lot of notification, but after the initial phase, it becomes pretty much routine."

"It'll be a lot more work," Harvey said. When asked if he and Perry would be able to accommodate the heavier workload, he replied, "We don't have much of a choice."

The impact and interpretation of the Adam Walsh Act is still being assessed, and like most major changes to the law, it has its supporters and detractors. Its supporters say it offers more strenuous monitoring for sex criminals and eschews human judgment for a stricter classification process. Its opponents say it ignores criminal history and intent and incorrectly represents all who commit a certain crime as equally likely to re-offend.

More legal challenges to the new act are likely, and other lawsuits besides the OJPC's have been filed with the state supreme court. But the act has its proponents, like Negron, who called it "a good law that preserves the intent" of its predecessor.

For now, both parties are interested in seeing how the law changes the status quo for the courts, deputies and offenders come Jan. 1.

NJ - Megan's Law could get an overhaul

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Sex offenders beware: Megan's Law is up for review.

In January, a committee of legislators, law officers, defense attorneys and victims' advocates will discuss changes to Megan's Law, the system designed to alert police and the public to the whereabouts of sex offenders.

Tops on the agenda is the merit of New Jersey's tier system, in which sex offenders are designated by county prosecutors as having a low, moderate, or high risk to re-offend once they've completed their sentences. The system was under the spotlight in September, when paroled child molester Timothy Iberer was charged with trying to sexually assault a 5-year-old Pequannock girl in her bedroom. Iberer had not been posted in the online registry because he was deemed a low risk.

The tier designation determines whether the offender's name, address and photo will be published in the Megan's Law online registry maintained by the state police -- and whether local cops will have to go door-to-door notifying residents that a sex offender has moved into the neighborhood.

Sen. Joseph F. Vitale (Contact), D-Middlesex, head of the ad-hoc committee, said the tier system helps to identify sex offenders who are truly dangerous from those who are not. But he acknowledges that with 12,000 offenders on the Megan's Law roster, it's inevitable that some labeled low risk will commit more sex crimes.

"The tier system is definitely something we are going to be looking at," Vitale said. "I know if a sex offender were to move onto my block, I'd want to know whether he was Tier 1, 2 or 3. I'd want to know if he was truly dangerous. The tier system helps to do that. But it isn't foolproof."

Vitale also said the committee would consider creating a state board to handle Megan's Law cases, thus relieving the county prosecutors from having to assign tiers. That kind of system is used in the state of Colorado.

Nearly half of New Jersey's 12,000 sex offenders are Tier 1, and not subject to community notification or inclusion in the online registry. By law, their names and addresses are not publicly available and are known only to local police and the county prosecutor's office.

Some form of Megan's Law is on the books in all 50 states. But half the states -- including Pennsylvania and Connecticut -- don't use a tier system, and instead publish the names and addresses of nearly all sex offenders online. And some go even further: monitoring offenders wherever they go and publishing their new addresses. Louisiana publishes an ad in the local newspaper whenever a sex offender moves into town. Florida publishes the names of all its sex offenders and issues online notices if they move out of state.

Private watchdogs

New Jersey's tier system offers some privacy to its low-risk offenders. But in the electronic age, offenders are being put under private searchlights with citizen groups becoming more and more involved.

One such group, Family Watchdog, combines the online registries of all 50 states and, aided by Global Positioning System technology, its Web site can deliver a map pinpointing the home addresses of sex offenders in every ZIP code in the country.

Joe Del Russo, head of the Passaic County prosecutor's sex crimes unit, believes the tier system is antiquated in an electronic age.

"I think the names of all offenders should be online," he said. "Because in a sense, we'd just be making available information that is already contained in public records. And a lot of private groups are already doing that."

But others say Megan's Law already goes too far and oppose putting Tier 1 offenders online.

"If you do that, you will destroy lives," said Joseph Murphy, a Ringwood attorney who's handled many Megan's Law cases. "What if a guy who is considered of little or no risk comes out of jail and starts a family? Everyone in the community will know about him. Other families won't want to have anything to do with his family. You'll destroy a thousand more lives than you save."

In the Pequannock incident, Iberer, 27, of Bloomingdale, had served 3½ years in the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center in the Avenel section of Woodbridge for molesting his girlfriend's daughter. He had apparently been considered a low risk to re-offend when paroled in June 2006. As a result, he was tagged Tier 1, required under Megan's Law only to be listed with Bloomingdale police.

Morris County authorities believe Iberer, who delivered pizzas in Pequannock, had slipped into the girl's bedroom at least three times, telling the child he was her doctor. The girl's mother interrupted one visit early on Sept. 10, and the assailant fled out the bedroom window. With the fearful community under intense police watch, investigators used a palm print from the window to identify Iberer. He is now jailed without bail, awaiting prosecution on multiple charges.

The victim's grandfather has since written Governor Corzine (Contact), wanting to know what kind of treatment Iberer received at Avenel and what kind of parole supervision he received. The grandfather has asked that only his first name, Ed, be used to protect the victim's identity.

"Whatever these people did at Avenel, they didn't do it very well," he said. "What kind of evaluation did he get there? And did the Parole Board know that he was moving right across the street from a playground?"

As for the tier system, he argues there's too much emphasis on protecting the privacy of offenders -- "I don't think there should be a Tier system at all. If you can't certify that this man is cured, then don't let him out."

Supervision for life

Upon release, almost every Megan's Law offender is subject to a provision known as Community Supervision for Life, in which he is closely monitored by a parole officer for at least 15 years. The offender is not allowed to leave the state.

There's solid clinical evidence that most sex offenders do not repeat their crimes. A study by the U.S. Bureau of Justice tracked 9,691 released sex offenders and found only 5 percent committed another sex crime within three years. So if Iberer did what is alleged, he profiles as the rarest of offenders: a stalking pedophile. The vast majority of child molesters are incest offenders, and once caught, rarely repeat their crimes. And they almost never morph into the kind of monster Iberer is accused of being.

"The people who plan and abduct children, you can count them on one hand," said R. Karl Hanson, a Canadian government researcher considered a leading expert on sex offenders. "In most cases, the sex offender is somebody that your child knows. It's Uncle Jack, not some stranger. If you are concerned about protecting your children, protect them from the people you know."

Assigning a tier is done by the county prosecutor -- a process that the committee in January will scrutinize -- where the offender is to live following release. If the offender did time at Avenel, then psychiatrists will send the prosecutor reports to weigh.

The prosecutor uses a tool called a Registrant Risk Assessment Scale (RRAS), which operates like a scorecard, assigning points to an offender based on varied factors. They include the age of the victim, nature of the crime, number of offenses and whether the offender appears responsive to treatment.

The tier assignment may be challenged in state court. Such hearings are held in private, with only the offender, his attorney, the prosecutor and expert witnesses allowed to attend.

Although the RRAS is a standard used in all 21 counties, it doesn't seem to be applied evenly. A 2006 study by the state Administrative Office of the Courts examined 8,033 adjudicated Megan's Law cases. While offering no analysis, the numbers suggest some counties treat offenders more harshly than others.

For example, in Bergen County, only 33 percent of offenders were deemed low risk and Tier 1. But Morris County gave 71 percent of offenders that status.

"It could be that some sex offenders are getting better legal representation than others," Vitale said. "Maybe some guys are hiring lawyers for $1,000 an hour."


UT - Upping the penalty for child sex offenses

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SALT LAKE CITY -- State lawmakers say they have support for a law to lock up certain child sex offenders for at least a quarter of a century.

A news conference is scheduled Monday at the Capitol on the bill that would make attempted sexual assaults on a child a serious crime punishable by 15 years to life in prison. It would apply to attempted rape, attempted rape with use of an object or attempted sodomy.

Penalties for actual rape, object rape or sodomy of a child also would increase to 25 years to life from 15 years to life in prison, under the proposal by Rep. Carl Wimmer (Email), R-Herriman.

In Utah, anyone 13 or younger is considered a child.

Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman (Contact) is expected to speak in support of the proposal Monday along with House Speaker Greg Curtis (Email), R-Sandy. The bill is being modeled after Florida's Jessica Lunsford Act.

Jessica Lunsford was a 9-year-old Florida girl who was abducted, repeatedly raped and murdered in 2005 by a convicted pedophile who was a neighbor and worked as a mason's assistant during a building project at her school.

The act's primary purpose was to enact a mandatory sentence of 25 years to life for people convicted of certain sex crimes against young children and lifetime tracking by global positioning satellite after they are freed.

After her death, Mark Lunford, Jessica's father, went on a nationwide tour, including to Utah, seeking tougher penalties for those who abuse children.

Utah has been criticized in the past by national conservative pundits for its indeterminate sentencing policy, which can make criminal sentences seem shorter than they often end up being.

Utah law gives discretion to the state Board of Pardons and Parole to determine how much time a convict must serve, based on the severity of the crime, whether the convict accepts guilt and enters a rehabilitation program, and the inmate's risk of re-offending. The board also dictates the conditions of an offender's release. State law also requires convicted sex offenders to register with the state for 10 years following their release from prison.

Efforts to increase penalties and create mandatory minimum sentences in the past have been opposed by prosecutors.

Critics say longer mandatory sentences discourage suspects from pleading guilty and lead some to negotiate plea bargains for lesser crimes.

Wimmer said his proposal has addressed those concerns while keeping the state's sentencing structure intact. By creating a new category of crime for attempted rape, object rape or sodomy of a child, Wimmer said it would still allow prosecutors to make deals.

"That's been the missing ingredient," he said.

The Legislature is controlled by Republicans in the House and Senate. Wimmer said he's got the support of legislative leadership and expects multiple lawmakers to co-sponsor his bill when the Legislature convenes in January. Huntsman's support for the bill is also significant.

The governor usually doesn't weigh in on a bill in public until it passes in the House and Senate.

Wimmer, a police officer, made sex crimes against children one of his key issues during his first session in the Legislature earlier this year, sponsoring legislation that would have made some twice-convicted sex offenders eligible for the death penalty. That measure failed, but he was able to get increased penalties for certain sexual and kidnapping offenses.

Sen. Howard Stephenson (Contact), R-Draper, has agreed to sponsor Wimmer's bill in the Senate.

"We did get legislation passed last year that enhances penalties for these folks, but it doesn't complete the job. I see this as the completing of the job that we began," he said.

"I think that predators will think twice. I don't think it will end their activities, especially with some of them, but for those that may be a little more cognitive in the decision making, I really do believe that it will deter them, and more than that, it will keep them away from children for a longer time."

GA - Exoneration shows need for eyewitness ID reform

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The timing couldn't be worse for the dozens and dozens of local law-enforcement agencies across Georgia that don't have eyewitness identification standards in place. Last week, a Georgia man convicted in a 1979 rape - a conviction based in large part on an eyewitness identification - was released from jail after DNA evidence proved what he'd been saying all along: He didn't do it.

The DNA exoneration of John Jerome White, who spent 28 years in prison on the rape charge, comes just a few weeks before the Georgia General Assembly is set to convene for its 2008 session. One of the bills that will be up for consideration in the legislative session is a proposal from Rep. Stephanie Stuckey Benfield, D-Atlanta, calling for police line-ups - both photographic and live - to be conducted only by police officers who have completed training in eyewitness identification procedures. If the legislation is approved as currently written, the new standard would be put in place on July 1, 2011. The legislation sets a shorter time frame for law-enforcement agencies to have a specific eyewitness identification protocol in place, mandating that written standards be developed by Jan. 1, 2009.

The need for the legislation is obvious. Of the nearly 300 police agencies that responded to a Georgia Innocence Project survey regarding eyewitness identification, just 17 percent indicated they had a specific protocol for displaying mug shots or conducting physical line-ups of potential criminal suspects.

White's case provides a textbook example of the problems that can crop up in eyewitness identification. According to media reports on the DNA exoneration (in which the Georgia Innocence Project was involved), White was picked from a live police line-up by the rape victim. Coincidentally, the Oct. 4, 1979 line-up from which White was selected included the man whom DNA evidence now has linked with the rape, James Edward Parham.

In other words, in a line-up that included the man now implicated in the rape, the victim picked out an entirely different man. According to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution account from last week, a photograph of that long-ago line-up, while fuzzy, shows a slender White in the middle, with a stockier Parham standing to the far right. Parham simply happened to be in jail on that long-ago day, on unrelated charges, and was inserted into the line-up.

Certainly, it's possible the rape victim made what she thought was an accurate identification of her assailant, and that she would have made the same identification regardless of the circumstances in which the line-up was conducted. Still, it's hard to simply ignore the assertion from Aimee Maxwell, director of the Georgia Innocence Project, who told the Atlanta newspaper last week that "(s)omething in the way police officers investigated this case led the victim to identify the wrong man, even though the true perpetrator was in the line-up."

Despite the reasonable concerns expressed by advocates of legislatively mandated eyewitness identification protocols - concerns vividly illustrated in the White exoneration - there appears to be some reluctance in the state's law-enforcement community to Benfield's proposal.

Earlier this year, addressing a legislative subcommittee looking into the eyewitness identification issue, LaGrange Police Chief Lou Dekmar said development of eyewitness identification protocols, and training in those protocols, should be left up to individual police agencies and law-enforcement certification agencies. Backing up Dekmar's point locally, Oconee County Sheriff Scott Berry wrote in an October letter to this newspaper's editorial page that shoddy line-up procedures are quickly ferreted out as cases make their way through the court system, and therefore, determination of what constitutes an adequate and fair procedure should be the province of the judicial, rather than the legislative, branch of government.

In fairness, it must be noted that Dekmar and Berry both have valid points. But a legislative standard would have the benefit of ensuring the people of this state that all law-enforcement agencies - not just those where training is an integral part of the job, or those located in judicial circuits with top-quality judges and lawyers - are working to make eyewitness identification as problem-free as possible.

Published in the Athens Banner-Herald on 121707