Friday, January 18, 2008

CA - The Real Point of Sex Offender Residency Restrictions

Countesy of "Austin Criminal Defense Lawyer" blog


It’s refreshing when an elected politician speaks the truth, especially when they don’t mean to.

There was a segment on McNeil Lehrer this evening titled “Housing Sex Offenders,” which chronicled the very real problems with various versions of Jessica’s Law that have sprung up around the country.

The name “Jessica’s Law” started in Florida, based on the name of a victim, but is now the de facto name given by the media to various and sundry laws dealing with sex offenders.

The report focused on California sex offender residency restrictions. California’s fairly new law prohibits registered sex offenders from living within 2000 feet of parks, playgrounds, schools, etc. Sounds like a great idea but problems in this regard have been well documented.

PBS showed a map of Los Angeles with all the prohibited living places in red. At first, it’s easy to tell that literally almost every place in Los Angeles is covered; and then the announcer let’s us know that the places that are ‘OK’ are almost all business and commercial.

The point of this is not to make folks’ hearts bleed for sex offenders. But let’s acknowledge what the real point of these laws is. Or better yet, let’s hear from San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis (Wikipedia), who when asked by the reporter the perfunctory ‘where are they supposed to go?’ replied:

The real intent of Jessica’s Law is to put people that violate children and others in prison and keep them there.

Bravo! We’ve convicted and sentenced the offender, but he’s served his time and now we want to put him back before he reoffends. The constitution prohibits us from going back and adding time to his sentence, so…

Let’s make it literally impossible for him to live anywhere legally. Then we charge him with that violation, and the problem is solved.

For anyone out there that reads this, and is nodding their head, “Yes, that makes perfect sense”… I’m not sure any amount of logic or reason will convince them of the underlying fundamental unfairness of such a system.

On an off note, for the few of you have inquired as to whether I have retired from blogging, apparently the answer is ‘No, it was just a vacation (from blogging only) and I’m back’.

TN - Ex-trooper gets probation over porn-actress traffic stop

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Of course he does. Did you expect anything other than a slap on the wrist? He should lose his job (I guess former means he did?), be in jail for a while, pay a fine, probation and on the sex offender registry like everyone else. I'm sure all his buddies are giving him high-fives and laughing it up at this time.


LEBANON — A former state trooper accused of overlooking a possible drug charge in exchange for a sexual favor was sentenced to four years of probation under a deal reached in court Thursday.

James "Randy" Moss will serve no jail time under the terms of his plea. If he completes his probation with no problems, he will be able to have the case dismissed and his criminal record expunged, his attorney said.

Moss became the subject of a state investigation last summer after a Wilson County traffic stop involving Knoxville resident Justis Ellen Richert, who performs in adult films using the name Barbie Cummings. He stopped Richert for speeding and reportedly found illegal pills in her pink Honda. He was accused of throwing the pills away after Richert performed a sex act on him.

The tryst became public after Richert wrote explicitly about it on an Internet blog and posted photos from the encounter online.

Moss resigned from the THP in May, before the Wilson County district attorney's office asked the TBI to investigate his other traffic stops. Officials said other women came forward with complaints about Moss' sexual advances.

In all, he was charged with 10 counts of official misconduct, tampering with or destruction of evidence and official oppression for two separate incidents. All but two of those charges were dismissed under the terms of his plea.

Jack Lowery Sr., Moss' lawyer, said that while neither he nor his client was particularly pleased with the terms of the deal reached Thursday, the ex-trooper took the plea "to avoid any more hardship on his family." Lowery said Moss is married and has one child.

"It's been a painful experience for him," Lowery said.

NY - North Adams Officer Charged in Sexual Assault

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A North Adams Police officer was arraigned Friday in Northern Berkshire District Court on a sexual assault charge.

44-year-old James Foley of North Adams is charged with one count of Indecent Assault and Battery on a child under the age of 14. Foley pleaded not guilty and was released on his own recognizance on the condition he have no contact with the alleged victim.
- How many other non-cops do you know of, who are released without having to pay any bail money? None!

The District Attorney's office says the incident is alleged to have occurred in North Adams in March of 2007, but wasn't reported until September. The girl was a family friend of Foley's.
- As usual, not a stranger...

Foley's attorney, William Rota, says his client is devastated by the charge and that he has cooperated fully with the DA's office and provided witnesses for his defense. Rota says his client's explanation and cooperation will prove Foley's innocence.

The incident did not occur when Foley was on duty.

Foley is due back in court on February 12th.

WA - Border guard denies getting sex to let prostitute smuggle pot

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If this is how the borders are ran on the Mexico side, we are so screwed!


A former border guard in Blaine has denied letting a Canadian prostitute bring drugs over the border in exchange for sex.

Desmone Bastian told a federal jury in Seattle Friday that he never failed to perform his duty or turned a blind eye. He said that if Sandra Maas was bringing marijuana or other drugs through the Peace Arch border crossing, he didn't know about it.

Bastian faces five charges, including receiving a bribe and conspiracy to import more than 2,000 pounds of marijuana.

Earlier this week, Maas testified that Bastian knew what she was doing. She says she dressed in skimpy clothing and flirted with him at the border.
- Excuses, excuses!

The former border guard broke down in tears as he described paying Maas for sex, but he said he never saw her bring drugs through.

TX - Former police officer guilty of kidnapping

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GALVESTON — A former Galveston police officer faces the possibility of up to life in prison after a jury convicted him Thursday of abducting a woman while on duty.

Slightly more than 24 hours after they started deliberating, the 212th State District Court jury convicted Kenneth Deshun Woods, 28, of aggravated kidnapping. Because Woods has no criminal background, he faces anything from probation to life in prison.

Seated behind the defense table, members of Woods’ family cried and held each other as visiting Judge Susan Baker polled jurors individually.

In May 2006, Woods had sex with a Dickinson woman while he was on duty and in uniform as a patrol officer. The woman called 911 immediately afterward to report that an officer had ordered her into his car, driven her to a remote area of beach and made her have sex with him.

During the trial, prosecutors Susan Martin, Trevor Fanning and Benjamin Shabot used DNA evidence to show the woman was kept in the back of Woods’ patrol car, where prisoners sit. There, the woman could not open the doors or roll down the window, and that imprisonment was the basis of the kidnapping charge.

Woods had admitted exercising poor judgment in having a sexual encounter while on duty, but he claimed it was consensual.

During the trial’s punishment phase, which began about 15 minutes after the guilty verdict Thursday afternoon, the woman told jurors that Woods’ attack had transformed her life, with sleepless nights and days of fear and paranoia.

“I don’t go out,” she said. “I hate that I have to shut myself in the house all the time or constantly look behind my back to make sure he’s not there.”

The other change was in her reaction to law enforcement.

“I don’t look at police officers like I used to,” she told jurors.

Police Chief Kenneth Mack said Woods’ crime hurt more than just the victim’s perception of police officers.

Testifying Thursday afternoon, Mack said “nothing positive” came of Woods’ actions.

“It further erodes any confidence the public has in us,” said Mack, who has publicly and repeatedly talked about the importance of police officers being accountable to the public for their actions since taking office four years ago.

Although the case involved a claim of sexual assault, prosecutors did not seek such a charge. Had they done so, any such conviction would have resulted in a sentence that would have run concurrently with the kidnapping sentence.

Jurors also heard Thursday from a Texas City man who said Woods threatened him with a shotgun in June in an unrelated encounter.

That claim led to a Texas City police probe that ended with Woods facing a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

The Texas City case is still pending, as is a sexual-assault case that came from the claims of a former isle prostitute who claimed Woods raped her on East Beach in early May 2006.

Each of the latter two charges carries a possible prison term of two to 20 years, as well as a fine of up to $10,000.

TX - Exonerated Rapist Reflects On His Ordeal

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In my opinion they need to do an investigation like this throughout the entire country. I am willing to bet there is thousands if not more people in prison who through DNA would be proved to be innocent. Every day we see people who have had their lives RUINED by BS evidence against them or not evidence. So much for innocent until proven guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt! The state and people who convicted this person, excluding the jury (if any) should be held accountable, and should reimburse these people for the life they have lost. But we know that won't happen. This is why I'd be more than happy to give my DNA, so it can be used if I am ever accused of something I did not do. And if everyone was made to give their DNA, we'd not have innocent people in prison right now.


DALLAS -- (AP) Three times during his nearly 27 years in prison, Charles Chatman went before a parole board and refused to admit he was a rapist. His steadfastness was vindicated Thursday, when a judge released him because of new DNA evidence showing he indeed wasn't.

The release of Chatman, 47, added to Dallas County's nationally unmatched number of wrongfully convicted inmates.

"Every time I'd go to parole, they'd want a description of the crime or my version of the crime," Chatman said. "I don't have a version of the crime. I never committed the crime. I never will admit to doing this crime that I know I didn't do."

District Judge John Creuzot, whom defense lawyers credited with shepherding Chatman's case for exoneration through the legal system, recommended that Texas' Court of Criminal Appeals find Chatman not guilty. With several relatives dabbing at their eyes with tissues and cheering, Chatman was released.

"I really can't tell you how I feel," said his aunt, Ethel Bradley. "But I can tell you it is a different feeling than I have had in a long time, just to be holding his own hand."

Before the crime is officially cleared from Chatman's record, the appeals court must accept the recommendation or the governor must grant a pardon. Either step is considered a formality after Creuzot's ruling.

Chatman became the 15th inmate from Dallas County since 2001 to be freed by DNA testing. He served more time than any of the other inmates, four of whom were in court Thursday to show their support.

Dallas has freed more inmates after DNA testing than any other county nationwide, said Natalie Roetzel of the Innocence Project of Texas. Texas leads the country in prisoners freed by DNA testing, releasing at least 30 wrongfully convicted inmates since 2001, according to the Innocence Project.

One of the biggest reasons for the large number of exonerations is the crime lab used by Dallas County, which accounts for about half the state's DNA cases. Unlike many jurisdictions, the lab used by police and prosecutors retains biological evidence, meaning DNA testing is a viable option for decades-old crimes.

District Attorney Craig Watkins also attributes the exonerations to a past culture of overly aggressive prosecutors seeking convictions at any cost. Watkins has started a program in which law students, supervised by the Innocence Project of Texas, are reviewing about 450 cases in which convicts have requested DNA testing to prove their innocence.

"It is time we stop kidding ourselves in believing that what happened in Dallas is somehow unique," said Jeff Blackburn, the founder of the Innocence Project of Texas. "What happened in Dallas is common. This is Texas."

The hearing attracted a standing-room-only crowd that included Watkins, who was greeted warmly by two wrongly convicted Dallas men who have since won their freedom. Also there was state Rep. Terri Hodge, a member of the criminal jurisprudence committee, who promised unspecified reforms when the Legislature convenes in 2009.

Chatman was 20 when the victim, a young woman in her 20s, picked him from a lineup. Chatman said he lived five houses down from the victim for 13 years but never knew her.

She identified him in court as the attacker, and serology tests showed that the type of blood found at the crime scene matched that of Chatman _ along with 40 percent of other black males.

Chatman said he was working at the time of the assault, an alibi supported by his sister, who was also his employer. Nevertheless, Chatman was convicted of aggravated sexual assault in 1981 and sentenced to 99 years in prison.

Chatman said he believes his race led to his arrest and conviction. The jury, he said, had one black member.

"I was convicted because a black man committed a crime against a white woman," Chatman said. "And I was available."

Chatman said he wants to work with the Innocence Project o Texas to support other people exonerated or wrongly convicted.

"I believe that there are hundreds, and I know of two or three personally that very well could be sitting in this seat if they had the support and they had the backing that I have," Chatman said. "My No. 1 interest is trying to help people who have been in the situation I am in."

OH - Property seizure may grow - Bill would apply to sex crimes

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A Northern Kentucky legislator has filed a bill that would allow police and prosecutors to recoup funds from the sale of forfeited property in sex offender crimes involving children.

The agencies would be able to sell property seized during the investigations and keep the profits, as they do with property from drug crimes.

Police and prosecutors say that would allow them to conduct more investigations, provide more training and buy more equipment.

Rep. Arnold Simpson (Email), D-Covington, sponsored the bill, which is under consideration by the House Judiciary Committee.

Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, plans to file a similar bill in the Senate.

He said legislators should do "anything we can do to crack down on these malicious individuals that prey on children."

Officials hope the bill would deter pedophiles by hitting them in the pocketbook.
- So tell me, does it "deter" drug dealers from still dealing drugs? Nope! This is just your way of exploiting a group of people for your gain.

Items used to commit the crime - including computers and vehicles - would be subject to the new law and could bring in large sums for law enforcement.
- Yeah, seize their home, then when they get out of prison, they won't have a place to stay, which is already a growing problem. Anything to exploit someone for cash and prizes!

"It really makes all the sense in the world - it's increasing the penalties on sex offenders without increasing the cost to taxpayers," said Kenton Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders.

Now, forfeiture proceeds go into the state's general fund, "where it can be used to pay for roads, parks, anything," Sanders said.

Directing those funds back to the police departments and prosecutors would help offset the cost of such investigations and training.
- Oh I'm sure it will flow into some pockets as well. Just look at how happy cops get when they make a major drug bust? They know they will get a cut! I feel more corruption, as if it's not rampant already, coming down the pipe!

Sanders uses drug forfeiture proceeds - about $15,000 annually - to send his assistant prosecutors to training. He hopes to do the same with the sex crime forfeiture funds.
- Why not ALL crimes?

A forfeited vehicle worth $10,000, for example, would net $8,500 for police and $1,500 for prosecutors.

"And $1,500 is enough for me to send a prosecutor to training for a week," Sanders said.

Covington Police Lt. Col. Spike Jones said the funds also would allow police "to recoup some of the expenses of these investigations," which are expensive and time-intensive.

Many departments, including Covington, don't earmark funds in their budgets for sex crime investigations; they fund them as needed.

The cost and time involved varies depending on the nature of the investigation.

But many child sex crimes involve computers, and Jones said computer forensic training is pricey.

Police could also provide more training and buy more computers and surveillance equipment with the funds, he said.

The law would apply to a wide range of sex crimes involving children, including rape, incest, indecent exposure and child pornography.

Proceeds from the sale of the forfeited property would be allocated 85 percent to the law enforcement agency that seized the property, and 15 percent to prosecutors via the Office of the Attorney General or the Prosecutors Advisory Council.

Police and prosecutors would draft guidelines for the use of the funds and file annual statements with the state auditor.

CA - Convicted Sex Offender Remains In Prison Until New Home Found

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Look, the man had a prison sentence, not prison sentence plus two weeks. Let the man out. You should've been looking for a place for him well in advance, not now. More prison on top of prison, this is wrong.


MONTEREY -- A convicted sex offender from Spreckels, Calif., will have to wait a few more weeks before learning if he will be set free.

The state is trying to find a home for James Lamb but has run into complications, Action News reported.
- This is what you get for passing draconian laws which make it impossible to live ANYWHERE!!

State officials said Lamb's new home has to be in Monterey County, and although the company hired to find that home thought it had found one that meets state guidelines, a court on Thursday refused to allow lamb's release to move forward.

The judge who denied the request also ordered that the exact location proposed for Lamb's release remain secret until his next hearing in mid-March.

OK - Slam the brakes on this bill

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I think the same questions this person brings up in this article should also be asked of the SO laws. Notice he mentions it's different for drunk drivers and sex offenders. NO IT'S NOT! This is very ironic, when it's about sex offenders they are all for it, but when it hits home they scream and shout it's wrong. If it's wrong for you, it's wrong for sex offenders as well. See, I told you, one day your rights will be extinguished!


A bill filed by Rep. Scott Inman (Email), D-Del City, would require that previous DUI or DWI convictions be noted on driver's licenses. The press release announcing this measure cited statistics on alcohol-related fatalities and quoted Mr. Inman's denunciation of drunken drivers at length, but failed to explain how adding more information to the driver's license would help.

"This is a measure that I believe will help reduce the number of alcohol-related deaths by providing information to the drinking establishments that this person has a history of drinking and driving," Mr. Inman said in the release. "Hopefully, the establishment will stop serving the customer after a few drinks."

Has Mr. Inman ever been in a bar? They only card you to make sure you're over 21. A regular customer, one who's in the bar often enough to be a familiar face, isn't going to get carded, having already established proof of age. The drinking establishment isn't going to see that information unless our drinker switches his custom to a new bar and is under the age of 35.

And why wait until someone has a DUI or DWI conviction before taking steps to prevent that person from driving drunk? Why foist all the responsibility off on the bars? It's up to all of us, whenever we drink or serve alcohol, to make sure nobody staggers off to their car.

There's a public safety reason behind tagging a sex offender's driver's license so a stranger asking for ID -- say, a convenience store clerk -- can be on guard.
- What? It's no different. How often have you had to show your ID when going into a store? You say it's ok for sex offenders, but not drunk drivers. Hypocrite!! The same questions you are here apply to sex offender issues as well.

But who, asking for ID, needs to know about an old DUI? A police officer making a traffic stop -- who already has quick access to that information. If you've ever received a traffic ticket, you know the drill. The officer takes your license, calls it in and the dispatcher radios back with your driving record.

No, the point of this bill is the old high school threat, "This is going to go down on your permanent record." It's designed to embarrass the offender every time he writes a check, boards an airplane, buys a pack of cigarettes... And it's designed to make Mr. Inman look good.
- Amen! Same thing with sex offender marks on their license and the registry. You see, it's funny how when it deals with sex offenders people are all for it, yet when it hits home, they bitch and moan.

So why stop with DUIs? Why not speeders, who also cause fatal accidents, along with folks who run red lights or text message on their cell phones while driving? Put everyone's past sins on there.
- This sounds so very familiar with everything I've said about sex offender laws and issues. Why sex offenders only? Why not murderers, drug dealers/users, drunk drivers, thieves, gang members, etc?

We hope our legislators will vote against this turkey if it gets to the floor. We're not asking them to be soft on drunken drivers, we're asking them to be hard on people who want to waste the taxpayers' money on self-serving, grandiose posturing.
- And we are not asking them to be soft on sex offenders, but to apply these BS laws to the true dangerous offenders like predators and pedophiles, not everyone. Not all sex offenders are dangerous.

OH - New sex offender laws create questions

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Unintended consequences can be the downfall of many a policy. Sometimes, though, the intended consequences aren't all that great either.
- I am tired of hearing "unintended consequences!" If they would've thought logically and rationally about the laws before them before passing them, they would've seen these "unintended consequences!"

This month, the state began requiring sex offenders to comply with a new law that puts them into one of three tiers, requires longer reporting times for offenders and adds to the list those whose names and residences are made public.

The state move comes as a result of a federal requirement to standardize and toughen penalties for sexual offenses nationwide. These sorts of crimes are terrible and making it worse for the perpetrators is understandable. But in its attempt to do so, the state and feds may have gone, if not too far, in the wrong direction.

The most troubling aspect of these changes is their retroactive nature. Some of the offenders meeting their reporting obligations were about to see those requirements end, according to the law. Now they might see their reporting times increase in number and length. Some will have to report for the rest of their lives.

Sexual offenders register so sheriffs' offices can assure they do not live near restricted areas, such as schools. It's also so the public can be notified of their whereabouts. But the new law expands the number of offenders who have to register, adding those found guilty of what was considered a lesser offense.

It's not like sheriffs could easily keep track of everyone under the old law, let alone this one. Meanwhile, since offenders can appeal their new requirements, courts could be inundated; Licking County Common Pleas judges Thomas Marcelain and Jon Spahr have placed a stay on answering individual challenges.

Many predict it will be just a matter of time before the Ohio Supreme Court has to weigh in.

These crimes are horrible. But it must be asked: At what point do these laws become exaggerations? When do they do less to punish the guilty and protect the innocent and instead become a false sense of security and examples of exasperation? Are they helpful to us or simply serve as a bullet item on a politician's campaign mailing, enabling the claim to "be doing something" about crime.

Why just sexual offenses? Should we not know where drug dealers live after prison? What about those who commit home break-ins and terrorize, or worse, family members? Released killers?

Unless we are prepared to lock these offenders up for life -- and perhaps we are -- our American sense of justice must balance crime and punishment. If not, it becomes neither American, nor justice.

Protect children from sexual violence: Don't adopt the Adam Walsh Act

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As state legislatures begin their 2008 sessions, lawmakers will need to decide whether to comply with the federal Adam Walsh Act on sex offenders or lose federal money for law enforcement. The choice for states is to dramatically increase their registration and community notification requirements for convicted sex offenders by 2009 or lose significant federal law enforcement grant money.

It doesn't seem like a difficult choice. Who wouldn't want to support laws targeting convicted sex offenders and be paid for it? Yet legislatures from Arizona to Illinois to Rhode Island are leaning against implementing the law. Because once you get past the painful emotions and look hard at the problem of child sexual abuse, it turns out that sex offender registration and community notification laws might not actually prevent sexual violence.

Sex offender laws are based on two popular myths about child abuse: that children have most to fear from strangers, and that sex offenders will repeat their crimes. In fact, more than 90 percent of child sexual abuse is committed by someone the child knows. And authoritative studies show that three out of four sex offenders do not reoffend within 15 years of release from prison. In fact, 87 percent of sex crimes are committed by people with no previous sex offense convictions.

The Adam Walsh Act doesn't tackle the real dangers to children, and contains disturbing provisions. It requires states to register and identify online children age 14 and older who commit sex offenses. Many states treat child sex offenders differently than adults, exempting them from community notification. They understand that child sex offenders respond well to treatment and have an excellent chance of rehabilitation - and that crimes they committed as children should not haunt the rest of their lives. Thus the Illinois legislature, knowing it was acting in conflict with the Adam Walsh Act, recently overrode the governor's veto of a law exempting child offenders from online registration.

In the past, federal law required only that states register sexually violent offenders for 15 years. The new act requires states to register virtually anyone convicted of a sex offense. This would force some states to significantly expand their registries. While it may seem a good idea to place all convicted sex offenders on a registry, law enforcement officials and child safety advocates say that expanding the registry to include all offenders reduces its usefulness in helping law enforcement to identify and monitor individuals considered a real risk to the community.

The Adam Walsh Act also extends from 15 years to 25 years or life the time someone is on a registry and subject to community notification, without the possibility of petitioning to be removed. If Congress had consulted experts on sexual violence, it would have found that the longer a convicted sex offender lives offense-free in the community, the less likely he is to re-offend, which is why experts often advocate giving convicted sex offenders an opportunity to be released from registry requirements upon a showing of rehabilitation.

Implementing the changes required by the act will cost states a lot of money. At a legislative hearing in Arizona, witnesses testified that the state would lose between $700,000 and $800,000 in federal law enforcement grants if it didn't comply with the law - but that it would cost millions of dollars to expand the state's sex offender laws to comply with the Adam Walsh Act.

And there are other costs to implementing the act. Subjecting convicted sex offenders to community notification for the rest of their lives may do great harm - both to the individuals and to community safety. Offenders included on online sex offender registries endure shattered privacy, social ostracism, diminished employment and housing opportunities, harassment and even vigilante violence. Their families suffer as well.

Unnecessarily expansive community notification laws may drive more offenders underground, away from supportive services like treatment, and away from the supervision and monitoring of law enforcement. Harsh enduring consequences also provide little incentive for former offenders to live without re-offending: as one registrant told Human Rights Watch, "No one believes I can change, so why even try?"

Every child has the right to live free from violence and sexual abuse. Promoting public safety by holding offenders accountable and by instituting effective crime prevention measures is a core governmental obligation. But states can address the real problem of sexual violence by refusing to adopt the Adam Walsh Act - and then limiting their registration and community notification laws to individuals identified as posing a real risk to the community.
- I want to change one thing above, change "child" to "human". We all have these rights, not just children!

SARAH TOFTE is a U.S. researcher for Human Rights Watch and the author of No Easy Answers: Sex Offender Laws in the U.S. Readers may write to her at HRW, 350 Fifth Avenue, 34th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10118-3299; Web site:

NJ - Hunterdon County sheriff's officer takes plea-deal in sex case

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Two weeks before he was to stand trial on charges of sexually assaulting his ex-girlfriend while she was unconscious, a Hunterdon County sheriff's officer today pleaded guilty to a lesser offense.

Jeremiah Hupka, 30, of High Bridge, pleaded guilty to fourth-degree sexual contact and, under a deal with the state, he is banned from working in law enforcement.

Hupka originally was charged with first-degree aggravated sexual assault and second-degree sexual assault involving the Jan. 14, 2006, incident. The woman was 19 when she was attacked at her apartment in Frenchtown, after a night of drinking, authorities said.

Hupka, who also worked as a part-time police officer in Frenchtown, was off duty at the time. The pair previously dated but were still friends in 2006. Police said Hupka fathered a baby during the incident.

He could have faced up to 20 years in prison on the first-degree charge, and up to 10 years in prison on the second-degree count. Now, he faces up to two years' probation. The trial was scheduled to start Jan. 28.
- Is this all? No sex offender registry or sexual deviancy treatment? What a major slap on the wrist for raping someone!

According to court papers, Hupka and another man dropped by the victim's apartment in the early morning hours. She had been drinking vodka with a female friend before they arrived. Court papers said she also drank a little with Hupka and the other man, but then felt tired and dizzy. The only thing she could remember was awaking the next morning alone.

Hupka resigned from Frenchtown police after the allegations surfaced, Gelber said. He was suspended without pay from his job as a sheriff's officer. He first joined the sheriff's office in 2003 and received several letters of commendation while there.

Alongside defense attorney Darren Gelber, Hupka appeared before Superior Court Judge Edward Coleman in Somerville, where the case was transferred to avoid a conflict. Hunterdon County Assistant Prosecutor Brian Shevlin represented the state.

CA - Flesh-eating bug strikes San Francisco's gay community

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A lethal strain of the MRSA superbug that can develop into a flesh-eating form of pneumonia has struck San Francisco's gay population.

The Castro district of the city, which has a higher gay population than anywhere else in the US, has been hardest hit, according to a study, but the infection has also been found in gay men in Boston, New York and Los Angeles.

Scientists say the incidence of the deadly infection is 13 times higher among homosexual men than in heterosexual people in San Francisco, and is resistant to most antibiotics. The bug causes boils and abscesses and can lead to necrotising pneumonia, which eats away the lungs, and necrotising fasciitis, which destroys the flesh.

In the Castro district, one in 588 people is carrying the bug compared to a rate of one in 3,800 in the general city population.

The researchers have stopped short of describing it as a sexually transmitted disease. The infections are found where skin to skin contact occurs, including sexual activity.

The potent strain of MRSA, known as USA300, was first identified in the US in 2001 and is now the commonest form of the infection transmitted in the gay community. It is also prevalent among children, people involved in contact sports, prisoners and others who have vigorous physical contact. It spread to the UK in 2002 but has not been linked here with the gay community.

A spokesperson for the Health Protection Agency said there had been only three cases identified in gay men, two of which were linked and the third was possibly linked.

"It is skin to skin contact, not sexual orientation, that is crucial for it to be passed on," said the spokesperson. "Heterosexuals can get it, too. Anyone involved in contact sports, such as wrestlers, can get it."

Public health specialists have been alarmed by the spread of the strain through the US and into Western Europe because it affects previously healthy people living in the community, unlike hospital-acquired MRSA that targets the sick and vulnerable.

The strain produces a potent toxin, Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL), that kills white blood cells, damaging the body's immune system. Doctors fear it could cause mayhem if it spreads into hospitals.

The San Francisco study is published in Annals of Internal Medicine. Binh An Diep, of the San Francisco General Hospital, who led the research, said: "These multi-drug resistant infections often affect gay men at body sites in which skin to skin contact occurs during sexual activities.

"But because the bacteria can be spread by more casual contact, we are also very concerned about a potential spread of this strain into the general population."

He said the best way to avoid transmission was probably to wash thoroughly with soap and water, especially after sex.

One in five infected patients in the US required hospital treatment. The new strains appear to attach themselves to damaged skin and airways more easily than hospital MRSA and the multiply at a faster rate.

Easily spread, drug resistant

* The new superbug is a form of USA 300, a strain of MRSA that is spreadto healthy individuals through skin contact.

* It causes boils and abscesses in places where contact has occured.

* It is resistant to treatment with six antibiotics.