Monday, February 18, 2008

More Info on Cyberstalking

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Cyberstalking can be defined as threatening behavior or unwanted advances directed at another using the Internet and other forms of online and computer communications.


Cyberstalking is a relatively new phenomenon. With the decreasing expense and thereby increased availability of computers and online services, more individuals are purchasing computers and "logging onto" the Internet, making another form of communication vulnerable to abuse by stalkers.

Cyberstalkers target their victims through chat rooms, message boards, discussion forums, and e-mail. Cyberstalking takes many forms such as: threatening or obscene e-mail; spamming (in which a stalker sends a victim a multitude of junk e-mail); live chat harassment or flaming (online verbal abuse); leaving improper messages on message boards or in guest books; sending electronic viruses; sending unsolicited e-mail; tracing another person's computer and Internet activity, and electronic identity theft.

Similar to stalking off-line, online stalking can be a terrifying experience for victims, placing them at risk of psychological trauma, and possible physical harm. Many cyberstalking situations do evolve into off-line stalking, and a victim may experience abusive and excessive phone calls, vandalism, threatening or obscene mail, trespassing, and physical assault.

Cyberstalking and the Law

With personal information becoming readily available to an increasing number of people through the Internet and other advanced technology, state legislators are addressing the problem of stalkers who harass and threaten their victims over the World Wide Web. Stalking laws and other statutes criminalizing harassment behavior currently in effect in many states may already address this issue by making it a crime to communicate by any means with the intent to harass or alarm the victim.

States have begun to address the use of computer equipment for stalking purposes by including provisions prohibiting such activity in both harassment and anti-stalking legislation (Riveira, 1,2). A handful of states, such as Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire and New York have specifically including prohibitions against harassing electronic, computer or e-mail communications in their harassment legislation. Alaska, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and more recently, California, have incorporated electronically communicated statements as conduct constituting stalking in their anti-stalking laws. A few states have both stalking and harassment statutes that criminalize threatening and unwanted electronic communications. Other states have laws other than harassment or anti-stalking statutes that prohibit misuse of computer communications and e-mail, while others have passed laws containing broad language that can be interpreted to include cyberstalking behaviors (Gregorie).

> Recent federal law has addressed cyberstalking as well. The Violence Against Women Act, passed in 2000, made cyberstalking a part of the federal interstate stalking statute. Other federal legislation that addresses cyberstalking has been introduced recently, but no such measures have yet been enacted. Consequently, there remains a lack of legislation at the federal level to specifically address cyberstalking, leaving the majority of legislative prohibitions against cyberstalking at the state level (

If you are a Victim of Cyberstalking

  • Victims who are under the age of 18 should tell their parents or another adult they trust about any harassments and/or threats.
  • Experts suggest that in cases where the offender is known, victims should send the stalker a clear written warning. Specifically, victims should communicate that the contact is unwanted, and ask the perpetrator to cease sending communications of any kind. Victims should do this only once. Then, no matter the response, victims should under no circumstances ever communicate with the stalker again. Victims should save copies of this communication in both electronic and hard copy form.
  • If the harassment continues, the victim may wish to file a complaint with the stalker's Internet service provider, as well as with their own service provider. Many Internet service providers offer tools that filter or block communications from specific individuals.
  • As soon as individuals suspect they are victims of online harassment or cyberstalking, they should start collecting all evidence and document all contact made by the stalker. Save all e-mail, postings, or other communications in both electronic and hard-copy form. If possible, save all of the header information from e-mails and newsgroup postings. Record the dates and times of any contact with the stalker.
  • Victims may also want to start a log of each communication explaining the situation in more detail. Victims may want to document how the harassment is affecting their lives and what steps they have taken to stop the harassment.
  • Victims may want to file a report with local law enforcement or contact their local prosecutor's office to see what charges, if any, can be pursued. Victims should save copies of police reports and record all contact with law enforcement officials and the prosecutor's office.
  • Victims who are being continually harassed may want to consider changing their e-mail address, Internet service provider, a home phone number, and should examine the possibility of using encryption software or privacy protection programs. Any local computer store can offer a variety of protective software, options and suggestions. Victims may also want to learn how to use the filtering capabilities of email programs to block e-mails from certain addresses.
  • Furthermore, victims should contact online directory listings such as,, and to request removal from their directory.
  • Finally, under no circumstances should victims agree to meet with the perpetrator face to face to "work it out," or "talk." No contact should ever be made with the stalker. Meeting a stalker in person can be very dangerous.

Potential Effects of Cyberstalking

Just because cyberstalking does not include physical contact with the perpetrator does not mean it is not as threatening or frightening as any other type of crime. Victims of cyberstalking often experience psychological trauma, as well as physical and emotional reactions as a result of their victimization. Some of these effects may include:

  • changes in sleeping and eating patterns
  • nightmares
  • hypervigilance
  • anxiety
  • helplessness
  • fear for safety
  • shock and disbelief

Victims experiencing these reactions and many others might consider seeking out support from friends, family and victim service professionals in order to cope with the trauma resulting from cyberstalking. In order to locate local victim service professionals that may be able to offer assistance, safety suggestions, and information and referrals, please contact the Helpline of the National Center for Victims of Crime at 1-800-FYI-CALL, 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, Eastern Standard Time.

Read more about cyberstalking via the Stalking Resource Center.

For more information, please contact:

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
3100 5th Avenue., Suite B
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 298-3396

Resources on the World Wide Web:

Your local prosecutor's office, law enforcement, or state Attorney General's office. Check in the Blue Pages of your local phone book under the appropriate section heading of either "Local Government," "County Government," or "State Government."


Copyright © 2003 by the National Center for Victims of Crime. This information may be freely distributed, provided that it is distributed free of charge, in its entirety and includes this copyright notice.

FL - Teen lovers ran away, now man must pay for crime

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Another childs life ruined, due to these INSANE laws! Click here to see TONS of other kids lives being ruined by these laws, which were suppose to protect children, guess not... So how many of the "HOLIER THAN THOU" politicians had sex at an early age? If we went back 100 years, who would be thrown in prison now because them or their parents were young when they had sex and married? THIS IS JUST PURE STUPIDITY!!


She was 15, he was 18, so their relationship was illegal

The two teens ran away together four years ago. But for the man, their relationship was a crime.

She was 15, he was 18.

On Monday, 22-year-old Oscar Rojas of Miami pleaded no contest to lewd lascivious battery and failure to appear in court for a felony and Collier County Circuit Judge Fred Hardt adjudicated him guilty of both.

Hardt then sentenced him to four years in a state prison, followed by eight years of sex-offender probation, meaning Rojas will have to wear an ankle monitor to track his whereabouts and adhere to other restrictions, including a ban on Internet use and curfews.

He was given credit for 412 days he already served in the county jail, from his arrest on July 13, 2005, to Aug. 18, 2005, when he posted $10,000 bond, and then from Feb. 12, 2007, until now. And on the failure to appear charge, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in a state prison, he was sentenced to time served in jail.

The plea agreement considered the girl’s wishes, along with Rojas’ medical conditions — Lupus, kidney problems and arthritis, which require him to take several medications.

Rojas had faced up to 15 years in a state prison on the second-degree felony, but the victim and her father agreed to the plea agreement, asking that Rojas spend a little more time behind bars. His score added up to 11 years, prompting the judge to question the plea bargain.

Assistant State Attorney Steve Maresca told him the teens’ relationship was consensual.

“They ran away together,” he said, adding, “The victim is now a college student and wants to go on with her life.”

Assistant Public Defender Shawn Nagle added: “This is his first adult charge and this gives him the opportunity to show he’s changed his ways.”

Rojas, who has an 11th-grade education, does have a juvenile history, which is not available.

The relationship occurred in 2004, when they ran away, Maresca said. Rojas was located and arrested on July 13, 2005, but posted bond.

On Aug. 15, 2005, when Circuit Judge Cynthia Ellis granted a bond reduction to $10,000, records show, she ordered him to remain in Miami-Dade County with his mother and to continue taking his medication. She also barred him from contacting his girlfriend and ordered him to attend soundings, hearings to determine the status of the case.

Records show soundings were continued several times until a trial was set for Nov. 21, 2006. Rojas didn’t show up and his bond was revoked. It took almost 2½ years to find him.

The victim’s family was not in court. But four members of Rojas’ family sat in the front row and held him in a group hug, with his two sisters kissing him goodbye, before he was taken away.

Rojas won’t be required to register as a sex offender. That’s because a new statute enacted in July, called the “Romeo and Juliet Law” after Shakespeare’s tragic teenage lovers, attempts to correct overly harsh penalties and prison terms imposed over the years.
- Not being on the registry is good, but this whole article is a load of crap, IMO.

The laws also went into effect last year in Connecticut, Indiana and Texas.

Although underage sex is still a crime here, judges can remove the sex-offender designation in certain cases.

The victim must be between 14 and 17, a willing participant, and can be no more than four years younger than the offender. And the offense must be the only sex crime on the defendant’s record. The law also allows past defendants to remove the sex offender designation.

SC - Coming Up Tuesday At The Statehouse

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Again, notice today is Monday, tomorrow is Tuesday, so they do not give people much of a notice so they can prepare and speak out for or against it. This should be illegal, IMO.


  • The full Senate is expected to debate a bill to put new limits on payday lenders, including how much money they can lend and limiting borrowers to only one outstanding loan at a time.
  • The full House could pass a bill to make some of the state’s top officials appointed by future governors instead of being elected by the voters. The adjutant general, agriculture commissioner, secretary of state and superintendent of education would become appointed positions. (WTF? These people are suppose to be voted in BY THE PEOPLE, not the gestapo or corrupt government!!!!)
  • The House Ways and Means committee will start writing next year’s state budget. It has already asked state agencies for spending cuts because of a tight budget year.
  • A House subcommittee will continue its debate on a bill to limit where sex offenders can live. The bill would make it illegal for a convicted sex offender to live within 1,000 feet of a school, daycare center, children's recreational center, playground, park or bus stop. (So what bill is this? Would be nice if you let the people know that!!)
  • And a Senate subcommittee will be talking about a new plan to provide health care for South Carolinians who don’t have health insurance.

WV - Van Crashes Killing One Man In Belmont County

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Not sure about this, but it sounds like suicide to me.


Police have confirmed 44 year old Charles Lewis was killed.

POWHATAN - A Belmont County man is dead tonight after his van crashes into a tree.

The Belmont County Sheriff's department has confirmed that 44- year-old Charles Lewis of Jacobsburg was the man driving that van near the intersection of State Route 148 and County Road Five between Powhatan and Armstrong Mills.

Police have confirmed that Lewis was a registered sex offender in Ohio.

Police also say the detectives were on the way to Lewis's house after they say he wrote an alleged confession involving two young children allegedly being sexually abused.

The kids were five and seven years old.

That's when police say they got the call on the fatal crash.

Police continue to investigate.

Gaither Vocal Band Let freedom Ring - from the Whitehouse

Deep within the heart has always known that there was freedom
Somehow breathed into the very soul alive
The prisoner, the powerless, the saved have always known it
There's something that keeps reaching for the sky

Even life begins because a baby fights for freedom
And songs we love to sing have freedom's theme
Some have walked through fire and flood to find a place of freedom
And some faced hell itself for freedom's dream

Let freedom ring wherever minds know what it means to be in chains
Let freedom ring wherever hearts know pain
Let freedom echo through the lonely streets where prisons have no key
We can be free and we can sing --- let freedom ring

God built freedom into every fiber of creation
And He meant for us to all be free and whole
When my Lord bought freedom with the blood of His redemption
His cross stamped pardon on my very soul

I'll sing it out with every breath, I'll let the whole world hear it
This hallelujah anthem of the free
That iron bars and heavy chains can never hold us captive
The Son has made us free and free indeed

Let freedom ring down through the ages from a hill called Calvary
Let freedom ring wherever hearts know pain
Let freedom echo through the lonely streets where prisons have no key
You can be free and you can sing let freedom ring
Let freedom echo through the lonely streets where prisons have no key
You can be free and you can sing let freedom ring
You can be free and you can sing --- let freedom ring --- let freedom ring

Police Using Young Decoys To Catch Pedophiles

Now they are using live bait and putting this ladies life in danger, and also this shows that the police do NOT need vigilante groups like Perverted-Justice, they can do the job themselves, although I do not agree with putting a persons live in danger like this is apparently doing.

OH - Richland County Sheriff Steve Sheldon Seeks Re-Election

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Yep, he's up for re-election, so out come the sex offender and children issues, which the sheeple suck up without seeing the BS.


Richland County Sheriff Steve Sheldon is running unopposed in seeking re-election and believes his accomplishments the past four years is proof of his commitment to improving the county and keeping residents safe. Sheldon says the new jail will give judges more latitude to keep criminals off the streets and reduce crime.

Sheldon was the guest speaker Monday at the Richland County Republican Club's Luncheon at the Kobacker Room. Sheldon discussed the goals his office accomplished during his tenure in office and says he looks forward to another four years of new initiatives which includes the opening of the new jail in May.

Sheldon says the new jail will house 270 prisoners. Sheldon says the new jail will give judges more latitude to keep criminals off the streets and reduce crime. Sheldon says the City of Mansfield will rent 80 beds a day from the jail which will help fund the jail project.

Sheldon says other initiatives he plans to work on include enhancing courthouse security and maintaining the E-Sorn sex offender website. He says Richland County currently has more 500 sex offenders in the database.

Some of Sheldon's successes include the development of the jail alternative program, re-establishment of the k-9 Unit, replacing old cruisers, obtaining a new emergency response vehicle at a fraction of the cost and establishing collaborations between other law enforcement agencies such as the DEA, ATF and the FBI.

CO - Primavera backs sexual offender classification law

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DENVER - On Monday, the House voted to help make sure sex offenders are appropriately assessed so they do not commit further violent crimes once they are released from prison. House Bill 1247, sponsored by State Representative Dianne Primavera (Email) (D-Broomfield), would require that the court handing down a violent sexual offender's sentence also determine whether that offender is a sexually violent predator.

"This bill ensures that sexually violent predators are assessed at the right place at the right time by someone with the right skill level," said Rep. Primavera. "It will help guarantee offenders get the proper treatment so they don't fall through the cracks and offend again once they are released."

The bill would direct a sentencing court to administer a sexually violent predator assessment so offenders receives appropriate treatment and are less likely to reoffend once they are released. As it stands, if a sentencing court fails to administer a determination, the obligation falls to the offender's parole board. This creates additional work for parole boards and increases the likelihood that offenders will be incorrectly assessed.

The bill passed with an initial voice vote and awaits final approval by the House before moving to the Senate for further consideration.

IL - Study rejects Internet sex predator stereotype

View the article here | Also see this study and video series


CHICAGO (Reuters) - The typical online sexual predator is not someone posing as a teen to lure unsuspecting victims into face-to-face meetings that result in violent rapes, U.S. researchers said on Monday.

Rather, they tend to be adults who make their intentions of a sexual encounter quite plain to vulnerable young teens who often believe they are in love with the predator, they said.

And contrary to the concerns of parents and state attorneys general, they found social networking sites such as Facebook or MySpace do not appear to expose teens to greater risks.

"A lot of the characterizations that you see in Internet safety information suggests that sex offenders are targeting very young children and using violence and deception against their victims," said Janis Wolak of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.

"Especially since social networking sites became popular, people are suggesting that these offenders are using information to stalk and abduct their victims," said Wolak, whose study appears in the journal American Psychologist.

"We are not seeing those types of cases," Wolak said in a telephone interview.

Instead, she said most cases arise from risky online interactions such as talking online about sex to strangers.

"The great majority of cases we have seen involved young teenagers, mostly 13-, 14-, 15-year-old girls who are targeted by adults on the Internet who are straightforward about being interested in sex," she said.

The study was based on telephone interviews with 3,000 Internet users between the ages of 10 and 17 done in 2000 and again in 2005. The researchers also conducted more than 600 interviews with federal, state and local law enforcement officials in the United States.

They also combed through data from similar studies.

They found Internet offenders pretended to be teenagers in only 5 percent of the crimes studied. They also found nearly 75 percent of victims who met their offenders in person did so on more than one occasion.

Wolak said Internet predators use instant messages, e-mail and chat rooms to meet and develop intimate relationships with their victims. "From the perspective of the victim, these are romances," she said.

Wolak said teens who engaged in risky online behaviors -- having buddy lists that included strangers, discussing sex online with strangers, being rude online -- were much more likely to be targeted.

"One of the big factors we found is that offenders target kids who are willing to talk to them online. Most kids are not," Wolak said.

U.S. state attorneys general have been working with privately held Facebook and NewsCorp's MySpace to protect users from registered sex offenders.

But Wolak said it is important for parents and children to have a clear picture of who these predators are.

"If everybody is looking for violent predators lurking in the bushes, kids who are involved in these relationships aren't going to be seeing what is happening to them as a crime," she said.

FL - Bill To Help Child Porn Victims Is On Tallahassee's Agenda

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TAMPA - Florida lawmakers and state Attorney General Bill McCollum (Email) will discuss legislation Tuesday morning designed to help child pornography victims.

The bill would grant victims rights in court proceedings and a civil remedy to file suit against people who continue to abuse and exploit them, attorney general's office spokeswoman Sandi Copes wrote today in an e-mail to the Tribune.

The Adam Walsh Act created a law allowing victims the same rights federally, but there is no similar law in any state, she wrote.

The Florida bill helps victims in other ways as well, Copes wrote.

"It also allows the Attorney General's Office to pursue these cases on behalf of the victims upon their request," she wrote. "Currently, because this crime is often referred to as a 'victimless' crime, victims of child pornography are unable to seek any remedy for the possession and distribution of images of their sexual molestation which are used in child pornography.

"Florida's legislation would also improve technology allowing victims to be notified and kept informed about pending cases."

Sen. Paula Dockery (Email), R-Lakeland, and Rep. David Rivera (Contact), R-Miami, filed the bill this year. Along with McCollum, they will speak about the child pornography bill in Tallahassee on Tuesday. The director of the attorney general's CyberCrime Unit and a special agent with the state Department of Law Enforcement also will speak.

Reporter Josh Poltilove can be reached at or (813) 259-7691.

The New McCarthyism - Grain of Salt

View the article here | McCarthyism (Wikipedia)

BRAVO!!! Great article, exposes the TRUTH!!


There's something that bothers me about NBC Dateline's "To Catch a Predator," a journalistic sting operation where volunteers pose as 12- or 13-year-olds in online chat rooms, baiting sexual predators into graphic sexual conversations and eventually getting the men (they are always men) arrested on national TV when they come to the decoy's house looking for sex.

Certainly, as host Chris Hansen frequently notes, the program does a major social good by identifying potential sexual predators and getting them off the street. And it is difficult to summon sympathy for a man (and they are always men) looking to have sex with a 12-year-old. But it seems to me that there are major questions of ethics that cannot simply be waved off with "the ends justify the means."

For starters, the decoys themselves are usually the leaders in the conversation: the first to bring up the subject of sex and later the ones who invite the men over to their house to have sex. The nature of statutory rape, of course, is a unique one insofar as it is illegal even when all parties involved "consent," but the law was originally designed with the understanding that adults have the ability to sway a child's mind in an unfair way, to take advantage of their intellectual naiveté and pressure them into sex. Or alternatively, that the child understands so little of what is going on that it is literally impossible for them to actually consent to sex and all its implications.

Neither of those situations seems to apply here. Let's not confuse the predators with child rapist. From the predator's point-of-view, he isn't chatting with an innocent child who doesn't understand what is going on, he's chatting with a child who seems to have astoundingly graphic sexual knowledge, willingly and eagerly engaging in lewd chats to the point of coyly inviting and begging the adults over to have sex. There is a serious difference between raping a child, manipulating him or her into having sex and giving into to your pedophilic sexual desires when confronted with a child almost demanding you fulfill your deepest sexual fantasy.

All three of those situations are still illegal, of course, and it very well should be. The adult always bears the responsibility to recognize the horrifying situation and take a step back. But sometimes the sting operations involve men who, as Chris Hansen admits, arrive at the house having engaged in chats that are inappropriate but perhaps not necessarily illegal. Hansen insists that such men are "usually" not shown on TV - usually? Dateline's power of public humiliation is a punishment greater than anything the criminal justice system would have ever meted out. And besides, should the decision to do so rest with a television program, one whose primary purpose is ratings and advertising revenue?

What I find most distasteful is that Dateline is exploiting these people's very deepest, most primal sexual urges in enticing them to commit this crime. Imagine a spin-off show, "To Catch an Adulterer," that featured women baiting, pleading, begging husbands to cheat on their wives with them, and then arresting them, humiliating them on national TV. Adultery is a serious crime, but surely not even the most upstanding of men - not even Chris Hansen - could withstand such temptation. In this case, the producers of the show deliberately set up false criminal situations to take advantage of men whose inborn pedophilic sexual desires have been suppressed their entire life. Our sexual urges are already the most uniquely difficult of our desires to cope with, and undoubtedly exponentially more so when one knows they are illegal and morally wrong. The temptation that these predators succumb to is a temptation you and I could never encounter and probably could never resist either. Many of them watch "To Catch a Predator," and when Hansen confronts them, they break down, saying they knew it was going to happen all along - but they just couldn't help themselves.

Don't think I am excusing them for their actions. Sexual abuse can destroy a child's life, and I'm perfectly fine with the laws in place that publicly expose child molesters, branding them with scarlet letters, if only for their deterrent effects. But some of the episodes show men who arrive at the door and are stricken by one last nagging of conscience, as they finally muster up the willpower to suppress their sexual desire for the good of the child. They try to leave, but lo and behold, the child pleads and convinces them to come into the house, where they are immediately arrested.

Or consider Louis Conradt, a Texas district attorney who, midway through the sexual chatting, had a change of heart and broke off contact with the decoy completely, no longer responding to increasingly desperate pleadings by the decoy. Undeterred, Dateline called the local police department, demanded a search warrant and hid on Conradt's property with a SWAT team until the warrant was delivered. When they broke into the house, cameras at the ready, Conradt committed suicide.

I'm not suggesting what Conradt did, or what any of the men did, wasn't disgusting or repugnant. But the self-righteousness with which Dateline cloaks itself bothers me. No one chooses to become a pedophile. We cannot control where our sexual desires are oriented. And while part of being civilized means learning to cope with our inappropriate desires, it seems vicious and cruel to take advantage of those primal urges, to entice another person into committing a crime they may never have otherwise committed, to get them to destroy their own life, just to boost your Nielsen ratings.

Ed Fu is a Rutgers College junior majoring in computer science. He welcomes feedback at His column "Grain of Salt" runs on alternate Mondays.

The Nuclear Option: How Men's Constitutional Rights Are Obliterated in Family Courts

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by Jake Morphonios

There is a very simple trick, used all too frequently in family courts, that will almost always ensure the immediate elimination of a man's constitutional rights. Read more to find out if it can happen to you.

In acrimonious divorce and child custody disputes emotions are tense and tempers flare. Buoyed by litigious attorneys, each side engages in strategic maneuvers to gain the greatest legal advantage. Sometimes a parent, fearing a loss of control or custody over a child, crosses the ethically acceptable bounds of legal warfare. An unfortunate but all too frequently used tactic by mothers is to accuse the father of sexually molesting their child. The mere accusation is sufficient to strip the father of all his custody rights and launch a criminal investigation. Even when no evidence is found to substantiate the allegation, family law courts typically "err on the side of caution" and award full custody to the mother. While national statistics reveal that the majority of all child sex abuse reports are legitimate, when such claims are made by a mother in the context of custody litigation, an estimated 77% of allegations are determined to be unfounded (Tong, 2002). A false child sex abuse allegation made during child custody litigation is a destructive legal stratagem.

Throughout the world, child sexual abuse is considered the ultimate crime. Not even murder generates the kind of raw emotional reaction that results from the sexual abuse of a child. Society acknowledges the innocence of children and responds to child abusers with extreme prejudice. The power of the accusation alone is often enough for public opinion to impeach the character of the alleged child abuser and guarantee legal victory for the mother. According to Jeffery M. Leving (1997), a leading father’ rights attorney, "the use of false sexual abuse allegations to win custody suits has become almost a standard tactic among disturbed mothers and unethical divorce lawyers" (pg 148). The accused may spend years rebuilding his reputation from the monumental damage caused by the accusation.

To investigate the effect of a false child abuse accusation, a child custody survey was conducted; the group was evenly divided between males and females. A scenario was presented in which a divorcing couple was contesting custody of the children. It was stated that both parents were fit and proper. The question posed regarded what custody arrangement would be in the best interests of the child. An overwhelming 94% of respondents indicated that joint legal and physical custody, shared between parents, would be in the child’s best interest, with 78% of respondents indicating that a 50/50 time sharing agreement was appropriate. Another scenario was presented. In the second scenario the father has been accused by the mother of sexually molesting their child. The Department of Social Services and the police conducted an investigation and concluded that there is insufficient evidence to determine whether or not the father committed sexual abuse. The question of custody is again asked. As a result of the unsubstantiated accusation against the father, 79% of the same respondents stated that sole legal and physical custody should be granted to the mother. Only 15% of respondents felt that the father should be permitted a minimum of 50% visitation with the children. In the final survey question regarding the respondent’s personal opinion of child molesters, 42% stated that they should be "locked away for life" and 48% responded that they should "burn in hell". Why do so many mothers file false sexual abuse allegations during custody cases? They work. False accusers in this type of case rarely face prosecution.

The judicial system, likewise, responds to alleged child abusers swiftly and aggressively. Unfortunately for many falsely accused fathers, truth and justice are often niceties which are frequently ignored. Leving (1997) writes, "Based on well-meaning ‘better safe than sorry’ policy, abuse investigators often accept an abuse charge as fact and consider the accused abuser guilty until proven otherwise" (pg 150). This is a significant problem. The US Constitution guarantees that accused persons are to be treated as innocent until proven guilty. In this type of case, however, constitutional safeguards are abandoned. The burden of proof falls upon the accused to prove a negative, or, to conclusively show that an alleged event never occurred. This reversal of constitutional jurisprudence sets a dangerous precedent and ensures the conviction of many innocent men. The destructive power of a false child abuse allegation has been termed "the nuclear option" by law professionals (Tong, 1997). Once this nuclear bomb is dropped, all hope of civil reconciliation is lost. The custody battle escalates into a bitter war.

The prevalence of false accusations is a matter of debate. Disagreement over the proper ratio of false abuse statistics may range anywhere from 20% to 80%.It can be extremely difficult to correctly track the ration of true to false accusations because of the problem in identifying the intent of the accuser. In some instances a mother genuinely believes abuse has occurred. In other instances the mother may not be sure and simply doesn’t know what to do other than to file an allegation of abuse. However, when one considers all factors, including the number of retracted allegations, recantations and the preponderance of cases proven to be dishonest, a fair estimate settled upon by many studies is an average of 77% (Brennan & Brennan, 1994).

False reports of sexual abuse against children are often first reported to Child Protective Services (CPS) or some other governmental social service agency. A safety assessment is conducted by a CPS or social worker (Ney, 1995). During this brief assessment standard questions are asked of the mother regarding the alleged event. At the end of the assessment, even if no proof of wrongdoing is presented, procedure requires the social worker to recommend that full custody be given to the mother as a safety precaution until a full investigation is concluded. This assessment is included in an official complaint and presented to a district court judge. The judge will typically grant an Emergency Ex-Parte Order giving the mother temporary sole custody of the children and restrain the father from having any contact with his children, even when no additional evidence beyond the mother’s word exists. A hearing date is set and the legal battle begins.

The mother gains immediate advantages over the father. First, by giving the mother full custody of the children the court is setting a precedent that will be hard for the father to overcome. Most family court judges believe in maintaining the status quo, and subsequently order the children to continue residing with the mother rather than changing the children’s residence to that of the father (Hardwick, 2004). A second advantage for the mother is that the children are unable to communicate with their father and a process of alienation begins. The more time that passes without contact, the greater the alienation. During this period of alienation, a child may be coached by the mother to support the allegation against the father.

After the Emergency Ex-Parte Order has been granted, an investigation of the allegation begins. As part of the investigation, the child is examined by a medical doctor for physical signs of sexual abuse. It is rare that evidence is discovered. The child is also seen by social workers who use items such as anatomically correct dolls to try to encourage the child to talk about what happened. Even when the child states that nothing happened, the investigation continues. After a series of interrogations, which often serve to reinforce the false story in the child’s mind, the child may eventually say something or play with the dolls in such a way as to cause the social worker to suspect abuse (Tong, 1992). As part of this ongoing investigation by both CPS and local law enforcement, the reputation of the father is constructively destroyed by the investigation. Family relationships become strained. Employers tire of granting time off work to accommodate the father’s frequent court hearings. Social relationships are damaged, often never to be repaired.

The very process of being investigated causes many men to give up and grant the mother everything she wants from him. Sadly, many fathers are so traumatized by the horror of the process that they commit suicide (Seidenberg, 1997). False abuse expert, Dean Tong (2002), says of the emotional state of the accused:

Sleep is forever elusive, night-terror becomes common-place and depression is a constant companion. Rarely is there any support to be found within the community and rarely is there any sympathy for the falsely-accused. Throughout it all, you must bear the title "abuser," until you prove otherwise, if you can. Disorientation, denial, shock, confusion, anxiety, and disbelief are constant. Lack of concentration is a chronic problem, exceeded only by the frustration of being denied the right to see your children. (pg 25)

Immediately, the father finds himself in a maze of confusing litigation. He spends thousands of dollars to retain an attorney. Police often request the father to take lie detector tests. Even though he submits to and often passes several polygraph tests, it does him little good as the tests are not admissible in court. A single attorney is rarely sufficient to provide an appropriate defense in this type of case. Thousands of dollars must be spent to retain psychologists and other expert witnesses in the fields of sexual abuse. In an attempt to prove their innocence, many fathers submit to invasive psycho-sexual testing, such as the penile polygraph. In this particular test sensors are placed around the penis and variety of video images are displayed to the father, such as children playing in water or little girls in bathing suits. The subtlest of sexual responses while looking at images of children will condemn the father. The cost of testing, attorneys, expert witnesses and other legal fees in this type of case often exceeds $50,000. The father sometimes has to mortgage his home and sell his assets to afford a sufficient defense. Naturally, little money is leftover at the end to use in a custody case.

In most court districts throughout the United States, judges run for office as any other politician. If a judge takes, or fails to take, an action that leads to the abuse of a child by an alleged child abuser, his political career may be over. Political expediency is a strong, yet unspoken, factor in emotionally charged cases such with child sexual abuse (Seidenberg, 1997). When a father has been falsely accused of molesting his child, even when no evidence substantiates the claim, he often loses custody of his children because the court decides to "play it safe". The father may not go to jail, but the temporary order preventing his access to his children is frequently made permanent. By no fault of his own, the father has lost his children, all because a mother chose to fight dirty in court. For the unfortunate father who loses his criminal case, he is locked away. Sentencing for child molesters is typically longer than sentencing for murder (Seidenberg, 1997). Men convicted of child molestation are constant targets of prison abuse by fellow inmates. Fathers, unjustly incarcerated, become bitter and less productive members of society.

The father is not the only victim in a false child sex abuse allegation. Children are also victimized. Not only does the child have to submit to numerous interrogations and invasive tests to determine if abuse occurred, but needless therapy is often prescribed. The child, knowing at first that nothing happened, is subjected to counseling that reinforces the story that abuse has occurred. In time, many children grow to believe and accept that their fathers molested them. The emotional trauma is life-long. This phenomenon has become so common that psychologists have given names to the syndromes that result from false abuse claims, including Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) and Sexual Abuse in Divorce (SAID).The allegation is, in itself, a form of child abuse (Wexler, 1990). The loss of self-esteem, the destruction of the father-child relationship, the mental and emotional damage and premature sexualizing of the child are all very real results of a false abuse accusation. Children who grow up believing they were sexually abused often develop deviant sexual interests and proclivities. No child should be treated so heinously by parents embroiled in a legal chess game.

A false child sexual abuse allegation, while usually ensuring the legal victory for the mother, is destructive to all parties involved. Child molestation is a terrible crime and false accusations play on the natural prejudices of society to the extent that victory can almost be guaranteed for the accuser. The loss of fathers in the lives of their children has many negative consequences for society as a whole. Laws need to be passed that protect the rights of the accused as in any other type of trial. Penalties for false accusers must be created and imposed. Social workers, judges, and others involved in the investigation of this type of allegation must be taught the syndromes that affect children when a false abuse claim is made. Sexual abuse claims made in the middle of custody proceedings must be viewed with some skepticism. Judges must be made aware of the usefulness of certain scientific tests, not currently admissible in court, which may help to vindicate the accused. Finally, an emphasis on more stable families will lead to fewer divorces, and, therefore, fewer false abuse claims. Until these, and other, reforms take place, innocent children will continue to be used as pawns in a senseless game of legal strategy.


Brennan, Carleen, & Brennan, Michael (1994).Custody for Fathers: A practical guide through the combat zone of a brutal custody battle.Costa Mesa, CA: Brennan Publishing.

Hardwick, Charlotte (2004). Win Your Child Custody War.New York, NY: Pale Horse Publishing.

Leving, Jefferey M. (1997).Fathers’ Rights: Hard hitting and fair advice for every father involved in a custody dispute.New York, NY: Basic Books.

Ney, Tara (1995).True and False Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse: Assessment & case management.New York, NY: Brunner/Mazel, Inc.

Seidenberg, Robert (1997).The Father’s Emergency Guide to Divorce-Custody Battle: A Tour through the Predatory World of Judges, Lawyers, Psychologists & Social Workers, in the Subculture of Divorce. Takoma Park, MD: JES Books.

Tong, Dean (1992).Don’t Blame Me, Daddy: False accusations of child sexual abuse. Norfolk, VA: Hampton Roads Publishing Co.

Tong, Dean (2002).Elusive Innocence: Survival guide for the falsely accused. Lafayette, LA: Huntington House Publishers.

Wexler, Richard (1990).Wounded Innocents: The real victims of the war against child abuse. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.

Jake Morphonios is a civil rights advocate and North Carolina State Coordinator for Fathers 4 Justice - US. The political opinions of Mr. Morphonios do not represent those of Fathers 4 Justice. Neither Mr. Morphonios nor F4J-US provide legal advice or assistance with individual cases. Fathers seeking support or information, or other parties interested in becoming involved in the father's rights movement may contact Mr. Morphonios at:

CA - Long Beach neighborhood fights to move sex offenders

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Local: Halfway house on First Street has become the epicenter of the debate.

LONG BEACH - After Alamitos Beach residents voiced concerns last week about a halfway house for registered sex offenders in their neighborhood, the City Council on Tuesday will consider creating stricter residency requirements for the ex-convicts.

The proposal by Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal (Contact) of the 2nd District, where the halfway house at 1149 E. First St. is located, would augment state laws by restricting how close offenders can live to day-care facilities and how many of them can live in one residential complex in Long Beach. The council meets at 5 p.m. at City Hall, 333 W. Ocean Blvd.

At last week's council meeting, residents and building owners in the neighborhood demanded city officials take action to reduce the number of sex offenders living in the halfway house or move them out entirely.

According to the Megan's Law Web site on Friday, the 12-unit apartment complex is home to 14 registered sex offenders. Their pictures are posted on the site, along with a brief description of their crimes, which range from kidnapping and rape by force to lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14.

Nash Stefanovic, the property manager of the halfway house, said only 12 sex offenders reside there.

Lowenthal said the neighborhood is living under an "oppressive condition" of fear because of the halfway house.

"I believe there's an immediate problem here and it has to be addressed," she said.

But Stefanovic said the sex offenders have done their time and deserve a chance to reintegrate into society.

"Those people are being discriminated (against) for no reason," Stefanovic said. "They did their time in jail. They served for everything that they did."

Reintegration already comes with certain limitations, however.

Under state law, sex offenders may not live closer than 2,000 feet from K-12 schools or parks, while "high-risk" offenders are prohibited from living closer than 2,500 feet. Registered sex offenders on parole also aren't allowed to live together in a single-family dwelling unless they are legally related by blood, marriage, or adoption.

The law doesn't restrict offenders from living near day-care facilities or living in separate units in a multi-family complex.

Lowenthal proposes restricting offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a licensed child-care facility, or within 2,500 feet for high-risk offenders, according to a memorandum from her office. She also suggests the possibility of limiting the number of sex offenders that can reside at a multi-family residential building "if determined to be appropriate."

The council will vote on whether to have the city attorney draft the ordinance.

Cristyl Meyers, deputy city attorney, said she hasn't yet determined whether the proposed ordinance could legally apply to registered sex offenders already living in Long Beach or would only affect future sex offender residents.

Lowenthal said she wants the new law to force sex offenders such as those at the halfway house to relocate.
- Where the hell do you expect them to live? They are off probation/parole and have done everything required of them by the "contract" which they signed when they plead guilty or took a plea! Leave them alone... They have just as much right to live there as anybody else. These sex offender laws are wrong...

"I'm hoping that this will have an immediate effect regardless of what point in time residency took effect," Lowenthal said.

The halfway house is about 450 feet from two child-care facilities and a few blocks from Franklin Middle School in a densely populated neighborhood.

Earlier this month, a 13-year-old female Franklin student was pulled into an alley near the school and assaulted by a male suspect who is still at large.

Stefanovic said his tenants aren't a threat.
- He will lose tons of money if they are forced to move, but, how long have they lived there? And how many have reoffended? None!! So what is the problem?

Seventy percent of the sex offenders have jobs, and parole officers visit the halfway house every day, he said. The tenants have to sign in and out when they arrive or leave, and there is a 10 p.m. curfew, Stefanovic said.

John Sparling, who lives next door to the halfway house, said he and other neighbors mainly are opposed to the high concentration of sex offenders in one place.

"The only way that we're all going to be satisfied is if the building ceases to have more than one or two registered sex offenders," Sparling said.

CA - Juvenile prison system needs reform, lawyers say

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Advocates urge a judge to appoint a receiver to take over a system they say remains broken despite long-standing promises to fix it.

SACRAMENTO -- Three years after state officials promised to fix California's troubled juvenile prisons, advocates for incarcerated youths are urging a judge to appoint a receiver to take over a system they say remains tragically broken.

The plea came in a filing last week from lawyers who had settled with the state after suing to transform institutions they said treated children as hardened criminals without regard for their welfare. They contend that the state's Division of Juvenile Justice has missed dozens of court-ordered deadlines for change dating to 2005, making "a mockery of compliance" in six areas: education, safety, medical care, mental health, disabilities and sex-offender treatment.

Sara Norman, a lawyer with the nonprofit Prison Law Office, said in a filing before Superior Court Judge Jon S. Tigar in Alameda County that the state bureaucracy was incapable of reform. She compared the situation with the one faced by U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson, who in 2006 appointed a receiver to oversee medical care for adult prisoners.

The juvenile justice division's "failures are pervasive, severe and chronic," the brief says. "They impact the lives of youth throughout the system in every area of court-ordered reform.

"Youth on suicide watch are isolated and deprived of programming and human contact. Youth in restricted programs spend 20 hours or more a day in their filthy, dimly lit cells, released only for one hour of school a day or to exercise in a cage."

Bernie Warner, California's chief deputy secretary for juvenile justice, said the state faced a difficult challenge. Officials have identified thousands of changes that must be made, and although many are delayed, he said, the state was slowly moving forward.

Warner said he did not know whether the state would formally oppose the request for a receiver. Officials have until next month to respond in court.

"I think we're going to represent that we have the capacity . . . to implement reform," he said. "I believe we're making significant progress."

His agency, known until 2005 as the California Youth Authority, has custody of about 2,300 juvenile wards in eight facilities. Two of those are scheduled to close this summer because of a population decline in a system that had more than four times as many wards in the mid-1990s as it does today.

In Farrell vs. Tilton, the case launched by the Prison Law Office, the attorneys highlighted what they described as the degrading treatment of youths and poor conditions in the facilities, as uncovered by a team of outside experts the state authorized to investigate the juvenile prisons. In January 2005, the state agreed to implement remedial plans in the six areas and transform the system from a punitive to a rehabilitative one.

The lawyers who sued the state said those plans have barely been put in place because of the agency's dysfunction in issuing contracts, hiring personnel, developing policies and managing data. Their contentions are based on monitoring by experts and a special master appointed in the case.

But Warner said that the same experts have praised the agency's achievements and that more time was needed because the Legislature has authorized only two years of new funding, amounting to $100 million annually. The state has hired teachers and medical and mental health staff, he said, but more staff is needed. He said that the agency has 22 staff training programs in place and that many areas -- safety and education, for example -- are better than they used to be.

But the plaintiffs' court filing documented a long list of problems:

  • Students do not attend classes the required four hours a day; they often are removed from classrooms for misbehaving, for work assignments or for counseling. At one prison school, 347 classes were canceled between August and October last year because there were not enough substitute teachers.
  • Little has been done on a required program to treat sex offenders, because of staff dissension and unclear lines of authority between youth correctional counselors and psychologists. Case notes for the same youths are kept in different places. The contract for an outside expert hired to help with a curriculum was not renewed for a year, and his bills were not paid on time, leading to delays.
  • A plan to accommodate youths with disabilities suffered from a lack of leadership and funding. Staffers never received disability sensitivity training, and working groups that were to integrate programs for the disabled with other services were never convened. In two facilities, accessible visiting areas for the disabled were supposed to be in place in 2006, but were not.
  • Healthcare staffers said they had no information on their own budgets, a situation Warner said has been fixed. Funds for healthcare were used to pay correctional officers overtime, and printers were taken away because they were "too nice for medical," according to one report. Tension between correctional and medical personnel was inhibiting access to treatment.
  • Juvenile division authorities still don't adequately separate dangerous youths from vulnerable ones, and disciplined youths are locked in "deplorable" housing units, dark and covered in graffiti, 20 hours a day, the filing says.
  • The state has not yet established an adequate mental health treatment program and lacks enough beds for that purpose in Northern California. Monitors found that one ward, with a history of psychosis, was taken off his medication with no follow-up; when he was treated for paranoia two months later, his records did not indicate when he had last seen a psychiatrist.

TX - New federal sex offender law too harsh for some Texas officials

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Normally get-tough Texas lawmakers are among scores of state officials and victim's advocates blasting a new federal law they say is unfairly harsh on some of the youngest sex offenders.

Criticism of a national sex offender Web site that would require juveniles as young as 14 to register is mounting as states face a July 2009 deadline to enact provisions of the bill signed by President Bush.

States that do not comply risk losing millions of dollars in criminal justice funding, but the law's no-exceptions scope for some young offenders is giving many Texas officials pause.

"We think our laws are strong enough," said Sen. Florence Shapiro (Contact), a Plano Republican and a leading advocate of sex offender registration laws in Texas.

Under the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, states must participate in a national sex offender registry. Critics say the registry puts juveniles who engage in consensual sex with children younger than 13 in the same category as armed rapists and pedophiles.
- It is not just children but all sex offenders are in this same category, and they are all treated as if they killed some child.

The Justice Department is expected to issue final guidelines of the law this spring.
Juveniles are included in Texas' sex offender registry, but the state gives judges broad discretion in deciding which ones are placed there. Judges would lose that discretion under the federal act.

"There are an awful lot of sexual assault cases, and then there are kids who engage in sex at an early age," said Bill Hawkins, chief of the juvenile division of the Harris County District Attorney's Office. "The Adam Walsh Act wants to put them all together."

The problem, according to critics of the law, is that the registry doesn't factor the risk level of the offender. Juvenile sex offenders are said to be more capable of rehabilitation, and studies have shown than less than 10 percent of juveniles who commit sex offenses re-offend as adults.
- All people can be rehabilitated, IF YOU GIVE THEM THE CHANCE!!!!!!!

More than 47,000 people are listed on the state's sex offender registry. Of those, 275 are younger than 18 and 3,853 are registered based on offenses they committed as juveniles, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

State Rep. Jim McReynolds (Contact), D-Lufkin, initially championed the Adam Walsh Act. But he now believes the law makes little financial sense for Texas, arguing it would cost local communities more to enact the stringent requirements than what the state would earn through compliance.

"It's a financial loser ... an unfunded mandate," he said.

LA - Lake Charles police officer booked on rape, other sex charges

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LAKE CHARLES (AP) — A Lake Charles police officer has been arrested on rape and other sex charges, authorities said.

A woman — whose name has not been released — told detectives that Christopher Holbrooks, 41, made unwanted advances toward her and forced her to have sex with him in his home Jan. 29, said Sgt. Mark Kraus.

Holbrooks, who has worked in the patrol division since 2002, was booked Thursday with one count of simple rape and two counts of sexual battery. On Friday, he was fired, Kraus said.

Kraus said these types of arrests hurt the public image of law officers.

"We have nearly 200 police officers that work very hard at doing the right thing for our community," he said. "When something like this happens, it not only affects our department, but the entire law enforcement community as well."

Holbrooks was booked into the Calcasieu Correctional Center. Bond was set at $50,000 for the rape charge and $25,000 for each count of sexual battery.

NH - Ex-bailiff's trial set in sex assault

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Retired court officer, 75, faces 10-20 years in prison if found guilty of alleged crime against boy, 11

NASHUA – A former court officer will stand trial this week accused of sexually assaulting a boy on a city park bench two years ago.

Roger Cote, 75, has been free on $25,000 bail while awaiting trial on felony sexual assault charges in Hillsborough County Superior Court.

His trial is set to start Tuesday, according to court records and one of the lawyers involved in the case.

Cote faces two counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault, each punishable by up to 10 to 20 years in prison, and a lesser felony assault charge.

Cote's case is unusual in that he is accused of assaulting an 11-year-old boy whom he just met in the park next to Holman Stadium on Sept. 2, 2005.

The vast majority of sexual abuse against children takes place indoors, out of sight of others, and is committed by someone who knows the victim, usually a relative, family friend or person in a position of trust.

Cote and the boy were both walking dogs in the park. Police said Cote struck up a conversation with the boy and then sexually assaulted him while sitting on a park bench.

Police credited a sharp-eyed streets department employee, Roger Lavoie, with spotting the situation and calling police. Police came quickly and found both Cote and the boy still in the area.

Police said Cote frequented parks around the city, but though they urged people to report any other suspicious encounters, they got no other complaints or reports of inappropriate conduct.

Cote made some incriminating statements after police brought him to the station for questioning, but Judge David Sullivan ruled his initial comments couldn't be used as evidence, because police had not warned him of his rights.

Cote later asked to speak with a detective again, however, hours after his arrest, and made further admissions after being advised of his rights to remain silent and consult a lawyer. That interview will be allowed in his trial, Sullivan ruled in September.

Cote testified he lied about the abuse, thinking he would be released if he told the detective "what he wanted to hear," Sullivan wrote.

"The court does not find this testimony at all credible," Sullivan wrote, noting that Cote is a retired sheriff's deputy and bailiff and "very familiar with the criminal process."

Cote's arrest and a subsequent DNA search also were legal, because police had probable cause based on statements from the boy and Lavoie, Sullivan said.

IN - Public Defender Arrested; Driver Hits Officer During Sex Sting

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INDIANAPOLIS -- A Marion County public defender was among two men arrested Sunday during child sex stings in which the other arrestee struck an undercover officer with his car, authorities said.

Police said Ryan Snyder (pictured), 29, was arrested at a 7-Eleven convenience store at Southport Road and McFarland Boulevard, on Indianapolis' south side, after he went there to meet who he thought was a 14-year-old girl for sex, police said.

Snyder is listed as public defender on a county government Web site, 6News' Tanya Spencer reported.

AZ - Ruling widens right to jury trial

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Justices say even those facing minor charges with sex link entitled to broader consideration

PHOENIX — People accused of offenses that might be sexually motivated, even minor ones, are entitled to a jury trial, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The justices acknowledged that those accused of offenses that are punishable by no more than six months in jail generally have their guilt or innocence determined solely by a judge.

They said that is based on the conclusion that lawmakers do not consider the offense serious enough to mandate a punishment of consequence.

But in a unanimous decision, they said Monsignor Dale Fushek is entitled to have a jury decide whether he molested teens while he was the pastor of St. Timothy Catholic Community in Mesa.

That's because state law would allow a trial judge to order Fushek to register as a sex offender if convicted. And that, the high court concluded, shows the Legislature believes the offenses, while misdemeanors, are "serious crimes."

Fushek is charged with five counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, one count of assault and one charging him with indecent exposure.

A justice of the peace concluded he was entitled to a jury trial solely on the indecent exposure count but not the other charges. Fushek, who wants a jury trial on all the charges, appealed.

Maricopa County prosecutors acknowledged the possibility that Fushek could be required to register if they allege — and the court believes — the other offenses were sexually motivated. They argued, though, that is irrelevant, saying that registration is not a "punishment."
- And that is a load of crap! Why don't you live with being registered and all the banishment issues that come along with it, then tell me it's not punishment. It's easy to say that when you are not having to live by the laws the idiotic politicians are passing.

But Justice Andrew Hurwitz, writing for the high court, said the nature of having to register as a sex offender is so serious as to entitle someone to exercise the constitutional right to have guilt or innocence determined by a jury.

"Once imposed, sex offender registration is a lifelong obligation," Hurwitz said.

Offenders also must provide police with all names they use, mailing and physical addresses, fingerprints, photographs, any e-mail addresses or chat room names, and the Web sites where those names are used. Annual updates are required, even if there have been no changes.

They also have to notify local law enforcement within 72 hours of any change of address, with a potential 2 1/2-year prison term for failing to keep information current.

And Hurwitz noted that, depending on the person's "risk assessment," neighbors and others may be notified and the person's picture put on a Web site.

That list of requirements, Hurwitz said, "reflects a legislative view that those who commit offenses with sexual motivation have engaged in more than simple petty crimes."

Thursday's ruling sends the case back to the justice court for trial.