Wednesday, February 27, 2008
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Legislators this session likely will be asked to amend the state’s sex offender registry law to give some kind of break to people who were convicted and sentenced as far back as 1982 and no longer appear to be a threat.
Those people, who were sentenced between January 1982 and June 1992, are required to register based on an amendment to Maine’s sex offender registry law passed in 2005 – meaning their name, address, photo and place of work are now being posted for everyone to see on the Internet.
A series of court challenges and testimony by those who say they have been hounded out of their work and homes because of their appearance on the list is causing the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee to have second thoughts about what it and the Legislature did three years ago.
Committee Chairman Sen. William Diamond (Email), D-Cumberland, is looking for suggestions on how to modify the register to limit public exposure for those who appear to be one-time offenders. He wants a bill to be considered by the Legislature this session.
“Any reasonable person could look at the people on that list now and say, ‘They shouldn’t be there.’ And there are those that should be there,” Diamond said. “Other than going through one at a time,” he asked fellow committee members for suggestions on how to differentiate between what he calls the “bad guys” and those unlikely to re-offend.
The 2005 change that expanded the sex offender registry was crafted, in large part, as a reaction to the release in 2004 of Joseph Tellier of Saco, who raped and left for dead a then 10-year-old girl in 1989. When he was released from prison, he did not have to register as a sex offender because Maine’s law then only went back to those sentenced as of July 1992.
Tellier died last August. A month later, the state Supreme Court ruled a case brought by a man identified only as John Doe, who claims his rights are being violated because the law didn’t exist when he committed his crime in the mid-1980s, has merit. That case is still pending and its outcome could determine whether Maine’s current sex offender registry is constitutional.
Doe’s claim that he was afraid of violence against him because his name appears on the statewide registry was bolstered by the Easter Sunday 2006 murders of two men on the state’s registry. The killer, who later committed suicide, apparently tracked them down using information on the state’s Web site.
An idea that is gaining acceptance on the committee is to create what House committee chairman Rep. Stan Gerzofsky (Email), D-Brunswick, has dubbed a “silent registry,” where some people caught up in the so-called 1982-1992 look-back would be on a registry only easily available to law enforcement officials.
Rep. Anne Haskell (Email), D-Portland, said she not only supports the silent registry, but also wonders if the committee shouldn’t go further. “I might even be open to simple repeal of the 10-year look-back,” she said.
Rep. Gary Plummer (Email), R-Windham, said he’s considered repeal himself, but worries about those, like Tellier, who clearly should be on a list.
“What would happen if we say repeal the look-back except for those people who have reoffended?” Plummer asked at a committee work session on the bill last week.
“I think it’s a cop-out to say we’re going to drop it all together,” said Rep. Joseph Tibbetts (Email), R-Columbia, a retired sheriff and member of the committee. “No way I could ever support repeal.”
Diamond said complete repeal would never make it through the Legislature, and some people should remain on the public list. “I don’t think anybody on the committee wants to take off the bad guys,” Diamond said. “The trick is how do you draw the line? How do you separate them and how do you do that legislatively?” Diamond asked.
There currently are 2,989 people registered on the state sex offender Web site. Of that group, about 1,050 were added as a result of extending the look-back period to 1982. All of those on the look-back are supposed to register for life because of the seriousness of their crimes.
That designation, however, does not capture all details of their offenses or their likelihood to re-offend, committee members believe. Some people, for example, may have pleaded to an offense as part of a brokered deal, not realizing they would be tagged for life.
The “silent” registry being considered by the committee would put those deemed unlikely to reoffend on a list available only to police, unless a request for information was made by the public. Among the criteria being considered by the committee for placing people on the unpublished list are those who never had to serve jail time for their crime or those who have had no new offenses. The state police estimate that 20 percent of those on the list as a result of the look-back period to 1982 have reoffended.
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And they are a non-profit organization! But making TONS of money from Dateline, so it sounds like the IRS needs to pay them a visit..
A New York judge has refused to throw out a $100 million lawsuit brought by the family of a man who committed suicide after police, accompanied by a camera crew from "Dateline NBC: To Catch a Predator," showed up at his house to arrest him.
The lawsuit, brought by the sister of former Kaufman County, Tex. Districy Attorney Louis "Bill" Contradt Jr., alleges that NBC and police acted with deliberate indifference to Contradt and that cops had a duty to protect him. She says, "Apparently unable to face the humiliation of the public spectacle that faced him, Conradt took his own life."
Cops say Conradt solicited sex from a decoy online posing as a 13-year-old boy as part of a sting operation conducted jointly by "Dateline NBC" and the internet watch dog group Perverted Justice.
Amanda Leith, a lawyer for NBC Universal, had no comment on the ruling. The company previously called the lawsuit "completely without merit."
Bruce Baron, the lawyer for Patricia Contradt, tells TMZ, "This decision sends a strong message to law enforcement officials throughout our country, that you may not subcontract your uniform, badge, and the oath you take."
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By Joan Oleck -- School Library Journal
If you think an "Internet sex offender" is a pedophile who poses as a youth to lure his victim, think again. And if you also think that social networking sites are a staple of such crimes, turn your attention to a new University of New Hampshire (UNH) study that debunks these stereotypes.
Instead, most online offenders are relatively young adults who seduce their victims into sexual relationships by taking the time to develop their victims' trust and confidence. The victims end up considering these online "relationships" as romantic or sexual adventures, says the study sponsored by UNH's Crimes against Children Research Center.
"Internet sex crimes involving adults and juveniles more often fit a model of statutory rape—adult offenders who meet, develop relationships with, and openly seduce underage teenagers—than a model of forcible sexual assault or pedophilic child molesting," the study says. "This is a serious problem, but one that requires approaches different from those in current prevention messages emphasizing parental control and the dangers of divulging personal information."
The findings, published in the February/March issue of the journal American Psychologist (PDF), are based on the revelations of some 3,000 Internet users, ages 10 to 17, who were interviewed by telephone in 2000 and 2005 as part of a federal grant to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Some 612 federal, state, and local law enforcement officials also were surveyed.
"Online Predators and Their Victims: Myths, Realities and Implications for Prevention" (PDF) offers conclusions that may be of particular interest to librarians. Despite the oft-cited concerns, adolescent use of MySpace, Facebook, and other social networking sites is not a major factor in how online predators operate, the UNH researchers say. Instead, online interactions such as talking online about sex to strangers increase vulnerability.
"Most Internet-initiated sex crimes involve adult men who are open about their interest in sex," says Janis Wolak, lead author of the study. "The offenders use instant messages, email, and chat rooms to meet and develop intimate relationships with their victims. In most of the cases, the victims are aware that they are talking online with adults."
Parents, educators, and other caring adults should direct their efforts toward helping teens appreciate the inappropriateness of romance with adults, Wolak says. Frank discussions of the dynamics of Internet-initiated sex crimes is key—especially considering that many of the victims have poor relationships with their parents.
Among the study's findings: Offenders pretended to be teenagers in only 5 percent of the crimes the researchers studied. Nearly 75 percent of victims who met offenders face-to-face did so more than once. Youth who engaged in four or more risky online behaviors—such as allowing strangers to join their buddy lists and discussing sex online with people they did not know--were much more likely to report receiving online sexual solicitations.
Further, boys who are gay or are questioning their sexuality may be more susceptible to Internet sex crimes than other populations, the researchers say. These boys were found to be victims in nearly one-quarter of criminal cases studied.
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Facility will house up to 300 deemed risk to public safety
By FRANK GREEN - TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
BURKEVILLE -- Officials formally opened the Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation yesterday, a $62 million facility to hold and treat dangerous sex offenders.
The maximum-security center will eventually hold as many as 300 sexually violent predators whose prison terms have ended but have been deemed by the courts in civil-commitment proceedings to be too big a risk to public safety to release.
Though campuslike, the complex, just off U.S. 360, is surrounded by fencing and razor wire. It is hoped its psychological-social treatment programs will greatly reduce the risk that the residents re-offend before -- and if -- they are eventually released.
- So why did they not get treatment inside prison? Now you are wasting tax payer dollars for something that costs more than prison, when they should have got treatment inside prison while they were serving their time. Now you are basically re-sentencing them back to prison for the same crime, which goes against double-jeapordy issues in the constitution.
About 60 resident offenders are expected to move in by the end of this week. They have been housed at a temporary facility near Petersburg for the past few years.
In remarks yesterday, Dr. James S. Reinhard, commissioner of the Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services, credited among others, Paul Martin Andrews, the victim of a sexual predator. Andrews campaigned to get the program funded.
He said Andrews acted out of concern for thousands of other sexual-assault victims and for potential future victims.
One current program resident, Linwood D. Smith II, in a Feb. 23 letter to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, said he hopes the gymnasium there can be named after Andrews.
"I believe wholeheartedly every time a resident steps inside that gym if [it is] named after him, a reminder of the need for change will be present," wrote Smith.
Smith added, "his story has helped other offenders such as myself understand the magnitude of our own selfish acts upon innocent people."
Construction is being completed in two stages. Phase one, opened yesterday, holds the first 100 beds. Construction of the second phase and final 200 beds, is expected to be completed by Sept.
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In the mid 1980s while living on Martha's Vineyard, I volunteered for a then-pilot program called the Child Assault Prevention Program. Its purpose was to empower and educate children against sexual assault and abuse from others through 1. making safe choices; 2. appropriate vs. inappropriate behavior; and 3. simple tactics to use during physical abduction.
We did this in the school system through age-specific programs tailored on three levels: preschool, K-5, and 6-12.
We used information, education, role playing and interactive situation stories, teaching safe behavior when approached by strangers and the difference between good and bad touching.
Here are some facts regarding sexual assault against children taken from the National CAPP Web site:
- Over 80 percent of abuse cases involve a parent or stepparent.
- Almost 50 percent of abused children are between the ages of 5-11.
- Offenders come from all occupations and socioeconomic groups.
- One-quarter of all girls are sexually assaulted before reaching the age of 18.
- Over 90 percent of abuse is by someone children know and trust.
- 50-80 percent of all sexual abuse goes unreported.
After reading these statistics, it should be clear that more abuse happens than gets reported, given the fact that over 80 percent of it is perpetrated by a family member and therefore tends to be hushed up. The fact that one in four children will experience some form of sexual abuse before the age of 18 should also stand out as a dire problem that begs our attention and a vigilant solution.
The recent assault on the young child at the downtown New Bedford public library has brought our community front and center with the fact that we need to take a proactive stand on educating our children and yes, parents too, on how to prevent this and how to empower our children when faced with a sexual predator. They need to be able to recognize the predator behavior, which is all about control and power and not about sex.
Sexual predators do not have a face; they are, and can be, anyone. That's why teaching kids the behavior to be aware of is very important. It also involves knowing the difference between good and bad touching and good and bad secrets. Perpetrator control is not the answer — empowering children is!
Why doesn't New Bedford have a CAPP program? I'm sure there would be many volunteers like myself willing to facilitate the classroom programs. If we as a community really want to tackle this problem, then we have to start with educating our children. We have to heighten our awareness as adults and accept that there are sexual predators always waiting to prey on the young and vulnerable, always waiting for us to let down our guard.
I can't tell you how rewarding it was after every classroom presentation to get feedback from the kids: "Thank you, I didn't know it wasn't OK for my Uncle Peter to touch me that way." Or, "My cousin Gary said it would be our little secret." "Thanks for showing me that special yell to use when I need help," and "I'm glad I know some things to do if someone tries to get me in their car and how I can get away."
Let's do something life-changing for our children and stop pretending it's not happening to them. It is. Let's be proactive and implement a CAPP program right here in New Bedford. Perhaps if enough interested people read this and take the time to look into the CAPP Web site and see how successful and helpful a tool it is for kids, then we could take a proposal to Mayor Lang for our own CAPP program.
Keeping children safe from sexual predators is not a cause that we have a choice about; it's our responsibility.
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Hey John, it's not just children being cyberbullied. Why don't you get ALL the facts. Talk with the folks over at Corrupted-Justice about how the vigilante group Perverted-Justice and all their geek squad members harass, threaten and in some cases stalk people who disagree with them...
by John Walsh
I’ve spoken out many times about the Internet’s “dark side” – about how sick predators use online technology to hunt their victims. But sex predators aren’t the only ones targeting our children online. Bullying has always been a problem for kids, but now some out-of-control youngsters do their menacing online. It’s called Cyberbullying. These bullies use social networking sites, cell phone text messages, instant messages and emails to hurt or embarrass other kids. They know how to make themselves anonymous in their attacks, so the targeted kids often don’t even know who’s hurting them.
According to the National Crime Prevention Council, 43% of teens have been victims of cyberbullying in the last year. Many of the bullies probably think it’s a joke. Believe me, there’s nothing funny about this. Kids have committed suicide over this kind of embarrassment.
- And so have adults!
So, how do we deal with this? Well, for one thing, parents need to get involved with what their kids are doing online. I can’t say this enough: as a parent, it’s your responsibility to know what your child is doing in cyberspace, and to keep your kids safe on the internet. Don’t count on your teen to come to you if they’ve been a victim. Most of the time, they won’t.
- And John, it's your job as a parent to not leave your child alone in a shopping mall to play video games while your wife goes off to buy a lamp, or Mark Lunsford goes off to his girl friends, late at night, and leaves the doors unlocked. Take some responsibility for your own actions, sir!!! I guess you are a hypocrite... Do as I say, not as I do...
- Put the computer in a high-traffic area of your home – never in your child’s bedroom where you can’t keep tabs on them.
- Make sure your teen knows never to give out any personal information online.
- Check out this video from Netsmartz.org for some good ideas about how to talk to your kids about cyberbullying.
- Download “Stop Cyberbullying Before it Starts” from the National Crime Prevention Council here (PDF).
You can use the growing problem of cyberbullying as an opportunity to sit down at the computer with your kids and get to know what they’re doing online. Taking a little time with your kid can go a long way to keeping them safe – and there’s nothing more important than that!
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Council Members Plan to Push for Registry
BY ERIC K. WARD
Columbia City Council at-large members Tameika Isaac Devine (Email) and Daniel Rickenmann (Contact) say they plan to push for a residency restriction on sex offenders.
The elected officials say they were prompted by a movement among surrounding local governments to limit where sex offenders can live. The idea is getting attention at the state level as well.
A similar measure in Georgia was overturned.
Locally, Lexington acted first when its Town Council unanimously passed an ordinance in January prohibiting sex offenders from moving to locations within 2,000 feet of schools, daycare centers and other places children congregate.
Then on Feb. 5 Cayce City Council adopted the same restriction, also without dissent.
Irmo Town Council appears to be following suit, voting 3-2 on Feb. 19 for a 2,500-foot off-limits zone. The measure requires two more affirmative votes by Irmo Town Council to pass. A second vote is scheduled for Tuesday, Town Administrator John Hanson says. If it passes second reading a third vote would occur March 18, Hanson says.
That makes three local governments on the bandwagon. And at the state level, S.C. Rep. Joan Brady (Email), R-Richland, is sponsoring legislation to impose a 1,000-foot barrier.
Now Columbia might be joining the movement.
“I’m definitely going to bring it up,” Devine says. With the other local jurisdictions passing residency restrictions, she says, “It leaves me concerned that all the sex offenders will move to Columbia.”
Rickenmann agrees. “We’ve been monitoring what’s been going on,” he says, adding that he and Devine have asked city attorney Ken Gaines to obtain information from Lexington and Cayce about their ordinances.
“I would be 100 percent supportive of looking at an ordinance and seeing how that best fits with the safety of our children,” Rickenmann says.
Devine and Rickenmann say the issue probably will come up on City Council’s agenda in a couple of months.
Contacted by email on an economic development trip to Japan, Mayor Bob Coble says he has not heard council members discuss the issue but will look into it. “I would be interested in pursuing [it] if there was evidence we needed to do something in Columbia,” Coble says.
Councilman Sam Davis says a few of his constituents have broached the subject with him. “I would want to hear from the people in the community first,” Davis says.
Such laws have run into trouble in at least one state.
In November, the Georgia Supreme Court threw out a 1,000-foot residency restriction on sex offenders that the state passed in 2006. “It is apparent that there is no place in Georgia where a registered sex offender can live without being continually at risk of being rejected,” the court said, according to The Associated Press.
JACKSONVILLE - In dueling news conferences about 150 miles apart Tuesday, the father of Jessica Marie "Jessie" Lunsford and the sheriff who investigated the girl's abduction and murder traded verbal jabs.
Mark Lunsford and his attorneys said lapses in judgment and mistakes by the Citrus County Sheriff's Office were swept under the rug after the trial of Jessie's killer. At a Jacksonville news conference, they cited specific allegations documented in investigative reports. Lunsford, in a letter sent Feb. 19 to the sheriff's office, had informed him of a plan to file a negligence lawsuit.
- What about the fact that Mark left his child to go be with a women late at night and did not come back until around 5:30 in the morning, and he left the doors unlocked? If he would've locked the doors and stayed home, Jessica would still be here. Also, what about the child porn he had on his machine when they checked it? It magically vanished as well.
Sheriff Jeff Dawsy declined to discuss specifics, instead giving blanket denials of wrongdoing. At a news conference in Inverness soon after Lunsford's, he said the allegations were baseless, absurd and nothing but sound bites easy to disprove.
Lunsford and his attorneys pointed out alleged missteps, including:
- If the sheriff's office had arrested John Evander Couey as an absconded sex offender, as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement requested weeks before Jessie's disappearance, the slaying could have been prevented. (And if the states gave him the treatment he begged and begged for, this would not have happened, not including the fact Mark left the doors unlocked all night long while he went over to his girl friends house, so you are partially to blame as well Mark!)
- After the 9-year-old girl's disappearance and before investigators found her body, sheriff's detectives knocked on Couey's mobile home door four times without asking to be admitted. Only after Couey buried the girl alive in a shallow grave under his window, after he fled to Georgia and after he was captured and described his actions did detectives perform an adequate search of his home. (You need a reason to enter someones home, and you must get a warrant... Ever heard of that? Apparently not! The police cannot just enter anybodies home anytime they feel like it, not yet anyway.)
- Detectives focused their attention on Jessie's grandfather as a suspect rather than on a search. (This is because 90% or more of all sexual crimes involving children are usually family. If you'd get the facts instead of the disinformation you continue to spread, you'd know that. That is why they investigated your father. Plus the fact that he has a previous criminal history himself, and they found child porn on your machine. So they are doing their job!)
A Suspicious Residence
Lunsford attorney Mark Gelman said detectives should have known that FDLE reports sent to Citrus County said Couey could be found at his sister's mobile home, across the street from the Lunsfords.
Gelman also referred to a law enforcement summary report that showed detectives visited Couey's home twice on the first day Jessie was missing. They searched the outside but did not ask to enter, Gelman said.
- Because you need a search warrant to enter someones home. You are a lawyer and should know this. Apparently you do not know what you are doing!
The next day, a boy in the neighborhood told detectives that a man in Couey's home was always staring at him and his little brother, according to Gelman and the report.
Detectives, therefore, returned twice. Once they spoke to Couey roommate Gene Secord and the second time to roommate Matthew Dietrich. Dietrich, they noted in their reports, was so nervous his hands shook.
- That is normal... Anytime you get pulled over by a cop, we've all seen the news of brutality, anybody is very nervous. Normal reaction!
Three days later, the detectives asked to search inside the home. They smelled a strong chemical, like a cleaning solution, but found nothing.
- So did they have a warrant? Or just ask and he said ok? I assume he said ok.
Dawsy maintains that Couey killed Jessie the night she was abducted. Had detectives entered the house on Feb. 24, 2005, she would not have been there, he said.
- Where are you getting this information from? From new info from Couey, he said himself he kept her for days and did not kill her that night.
Gelman, however, points out a medical examiner's report that says Jessie had no food in her stomach, meaning she had not eaten for at least 24 hours before her death. The Lunsfords, he said, fed Jessie dinner and a bedtime snack the night she disappeared.
- So this disproves the Sheriffs comment about she died that night. If they fed her, and she did not have food in her stomach, then the Sheriff is wrong.
'They Lied To Me'
Lunsford attorney Eric "Rick" Block said the detectives did not sufficiently search for Jessie because they thought they knew who abducted and possibly killed her: Archie Lunsford. Detectives told Mark Lunsford that Jessie's blood was found in his father's underpants and asked him to confront his father.
- So why are they asking Mark to confront his father? That is just cruel!! That is the police's job! So did they find blood in his underpants, or is that a lie?
"They lied to me," Lunsford said. "I went in there, broken-hearted, and spent the next three days angry at my father."
The sheriff, Lunsford said, has said publicly that he stands by his investigation and, if he had it to do over again, he would do everything the same way.
Lunsford said his main concern is that the sheriff's procedures change. "I've been about change since the beginning," he said. "If it was about money, I'd have sued in the beginning, and I'd have won. ... The only way I can get them to change their policy and procedures is to sue."
Dawsy said that change already has happened, citing his work with Lunsford and state legislators. He also pointed out that he attended Lunsford's charity motorcycle ride Saturday to raise money for child advocacy centers.
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Many Citrus County residents have condemned Mark Lunsford's new quest since news of his possible lawsuit against the Citrus County Sheriff's Office surfaced.
Lunsford said this disturbs him greatly.
He said he has spoken before the legislatures of dozens of states. So far, 34 have passed versions of the Jessica Lunsford Act, which strengthens punishments for sex offenders.
- Again with the word punishment. You see, everyone knows these sex offender laws are punishment (after the fact) and not just regulatory measures, so why can't the legislature passing these laws see that? What is their hidden agenda?
Speaking about Jessie is tough, he said. "But I'll break my own heart if it will save one child."
- Save one child, punish millions of others who do not deserve it. These laws will not prevent future sexual crimes against children! He is just blinded by his grief, anger, hate and greed, IMO.
Not long after his daughter's killer was captured, people would come up to him and tell him to keep up his fight. He said he feels that is what he is doing by considering a lawsuit. To hear them turn on him now is difficult.
"Yeah it hurts," he said. "And it hurts bad."
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People who send unwanted SPAM email should be prosecuted, IMO. I hate junk email and do not need my privates enlarged or my breasts. Same with junk mail in the old fashion mailbox, or unsolicited phone calls. I hate them all. It ruined this mans life, just for opening an email. That is why you should NEVER open an email from anybody you do not know, delete it, period...
MILFORD - No child pornography charges have been brought against former principal Joseph Pfeil - a year after the FBI visited Middle School East - but he says the ongoing investigation has "ruined" his life.
Federal agents confiscated three computers from his Middle School East office during last February's school vacation. Pfeil was immediately placed on administrative leave with pay. He retired July 1.
"It's just totally devastating," Pfeil said in an interview yesterday from his Rhode Island home. "My life has been ruined and the bottom line is that you just need to be careful on the Internet."
Pfeil says opening spam e-mails - that act alone - was "my downfall."
He agreed to a brief interview against the advice of his lawyer and for the first time since the probe began.
Tom Connell, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Rhode Island, which is handling the case, said no criminal charges have been brought yet against Pfeil. He declined to discuss any details of the case.
Pfeil is suspected of viewing or transmitting child pornography on a computer.
Pfeil denies any misconduct, especially with students.
"Nothing's ever happened, ever," the longtime educator said. "Never, never, never. My whole life was devoted to kids. Unfortunately, now I don't have any life."
No allegations have been brought against Pfeil in Milford, officials have said since last February.
"We've had no allegations whatsoever locally," Police Chief Thomas O'Loughlin said.
"Nothing, nothing. Absolutely nothing about him," School Committee Chairman William Besozzi said.
The Police Department only dealt with the case in a support role when the FBI came to town last year to investigate, O'Loughlin said.
Pfeil was principal at Middle School East for six years. Before that, he led Exeter-West Greenwich Junior High School in Rhode Island and taught for more than two decades in Mansfield.
Pfeil said he has been happily married for 36 years, has a son and daughter and is devastated about the end of his career.
"I'll never go back into teaching," he said.
A year after his abrupt departure, Milford school officials are recalling Pfeil as an education-minded man with a reputation as a nice guy.
"I didn't have any reason to think otherwise," said Craig Consigli, who replaced Pfeil as principal last February.
Superintendent Robert Tremblay said came on as superintendent after Pfeil left, but the former Memorial School principal served with him on the district's homelessness committee.
"He was passionate as a leader," Tremblay said. "He always struck me as a guy," Tremblay said, pausing to note the irony, "who was always sort-of about the law. He was really mindful of the rights of students."
Tremblay said it's surprisingly been "don't ask, don't tell" in the district about the serious pornography allegation against Pfeil, likely because people "didn't want to recognize it."
"There really was no pomp and circumstance, no fanfare," he said. "It blows my mind."
View the article here
You know something I'd like to see? A study done on the careers sex offenders had before being charged with a crime. From what I have been seeing, most are teachers, police, probation officers, jail guards or politicians. Is anybody else noticing this? Check out all the corruption here. Also, why don't someone in the media do this? So we know who is really committing these crimes...
ALLEGAN -- A Lowell police officer accused of molesting a teenage friend six years ago at an Allegan County campground has resigned from the force after pleading guilty to a lesser charge.
Brandon Clare Robinson, 30, was on unpaid administrative leave from the Lowell Police Department since May. He resigned Monday, police said.
He was charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct after the alleged 2002 molestation surfaced when the teen, now 18, told his sister.
Robinson pleaded guilty Friday to second-degree child abuse, a four-year felony.
Robinson, a full-time Lowell officer since 2005 who worked part time for more than two years before that, was accused of molesting a teen family friend at a trailer Robinson had at Sandy Pines resort near Hopkins.
- You see, it's NOT A STRANGER but someone the victim knows...
During a hearing in May, the teen testified he sometimes would spend the night at the trailer and said he was molested several times over months.
Robinson was not employed with Lowell then, but worked as a part-time Allegan County sheriff's deputy from April 2000 to May 2002.
He pleaded guilty to the child-abuse charge just days before his trial was to begin in Allegan County Circuit Court.
"He had to put his family first," said Robinson's attorney, Frank Stanley. "He has a young child at home. He wanted to think about what was in the best interest for his family."
- So if he is punished like every other citizen, then he will be punished like the rest for his whole life. But, he's a cop/ex-cop, so I'm sure he will be slapped on the wrist and told not to do that again...
Stanley said the trial may have come down to the teen's word against that of Robinson.
- In 90% or more of all the cases, that is all that is needed. No evidence or anything. In a court of law, they are suppose to find evidence to prove you are guilty, not take someones word on it. No more innocent until proven guilty, now if anybody is accused of a sex crime, you are screwed, so keep that in mind when you tick off your husband or wife....
"There was a pretty significant factual dispute about what happened," Stanley said. "This was the best compromise."
Lowell Police Chief Jim Valentine said Robinson came to the Police Department on Monday to submit his resignation. With a felony conviction pending, he knew he could no longer serve, Valentine said.
The allegations against Robinson, described as a capable and respected officer, are still baffling even today, he said.
"It was just a state of total shock and surprise to our entire staff," Valentine said. "He was an outstanding police officer."
The department is close-knit, with seven full-time officers, eight part-time officers and two clerks.
Robinson could receive jail time at his March 14 sentencing, but is not expected to receive prison, his attorney said.
E-mail John Tunison: email@example.com
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Sad indeed. So I guess from now on, working with children is a womens jobs? Looks like the "feminist" movement is paying off.
By Tamar Snyder
When Dan Brown began teaching fourth grade at Public School 85 in the Bronx as an NYC Teaching Fellow, he quickly realized he was one of the few male teachers at the school. The gender discrepancy worked to his advantage, he said. "As a rookie, I was given my own classroom, in part because there weren't any male teachers for that grade."
But his role came with an added responsibility not many female teachers face. "Only two kids out of the 26 had parents who were married," he said. "Most of these kids had no father figure at home. To come to school and have that male authority figure who was treating them respectfully made a huge difference."
Brown spent the better part of the year trying to connect with his students and serve as a role model. "I had to be an agent of good with them," he said. "Many of them lead exceptionally difficult lives. They've been abandoned. I'm not claiming I was any kind of savior, but I went to great lengths to prove they could trust me."
Brown recently published "The Great Expectations School: A Rookie Year in the New Blackboard Jungle" (Arcade Publishing, 2007), in which he recounts what he terms a "brutal" year as a Teaching Fellow. He's currently teaching at DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx and studying for a master's degree at Columbia University's Teachers College.
Although gender doesn't matter in most regards, "some kids, especially boys, connect more with male teachers," Brown said. Many of his students had never had a male teacher before. "It made a difference that I was a man," he said. "It was just a different kind of classroom environment, a different vibe. Some female teachers are maternal toward their students; I wasn't. I expected a lot from them."
Wanted: A few good men
It's not just New York City's P.S. 85 that's experiencing a shortage of male teachers. Male teachers are in the minority across the country. And although this isn't a new phenomenon, it's getting worse.
According to statistics recently released by the National Education Association (NEA), men made up just 24.4 percent of the total number of teachers in 2006. In fact, the number of male public school teachers in the U.S. has hit a record 40-year low. Arkansas, at 17.5 percent, and Mississippi, with 17.7 percent, have the lowest percentage of male teachers, while Kansas, at 33.3 percent, and Oregon, with 31.4 percent, boast the largest percentage of men leading the classroom.
Why the downward trend in male teaching? According to Bryan Nelson, founder of MenTeach, a nonprofit organization dedicated to recruiting male teachers, research suggests three key reasons for the shortage of male teachers: low status and pay, the perception that teaching is "women's work," and the fear of accusation of child abuse.
Many men once in the profession say they quit because of worries that innocuous contact with students could be misconstrued, reports the NEA.
"There's a lack of support for male teachers, a lack of respect, and a lack of being able to be involved in decision-making," said Reg Weaver, president of the NEA. "And I can't say it's getting better."
Low salary levels have also proved to be a deterrent, especially for those men who value being the breadwinners of the family. The average U.S. public school teacher salary for 2005-2006 was $49,026, according to the NEA. "There's a long-entrenched idea that males are supposed to make lots of money and be a big-time breadwinner," Brown said. "But teaching won't make anyone rich."
Historically, a majority of teachers have been male; that began to change in the 1880s, when women pushed for their own education and the opportunity to teach. In the 1930s, after the stock market crashed, a big surge of men returned to education, as they did after World War II, said Nelson. "In tough economic times, men looking for work returned to education," since there were always teaching jobs available, he said.
Of the men who currently choose to pursue a career in education, many are promoted to administrative positions, often more quickly than their female colleagues, said Steve Peha, president of Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc., an education consulting company. "Even if men start out in the classroom, they often don't stay there for long," said Peha.
And then there are gender stereotypes to contend with. "Particularly in the younger grades, women are seen as nurturers," said Brown. "Men, not so much."
Recruiting men into the classroom
What can be done to stem the tide and attract male teachers? Increase recruitment efforts, for starters, say experts. "We've seen efforts to recruit minorities into teaching," said Peha, "and efforts to recruit adults looking for alternative careers, but we've never seen a coordinated effort to recruit men."
To be effective, recruiting must begin while men are still in school, he says. "We won't see more male teachers if we don't see more young men pursuing teaching degrees," Peha said.
Focusing on quality
The key to solving the gender gap in education is to focus on recruiting quality teachers, regardless of sex, said Nelson of MenTeach.
But once quality is assured, it's important to focus on bringing in more males at the head of the classroom. "Children are no dummies," Nelson said. "What message do they get when they see no men in schools? The message they get is that education is not important to males."
For men thinking of heading into education, Nelson offered hard-won advice: Be persistent. Get practical experience first. Look for resources to help you get through school, and, when applying for a job, make sure you have thick skin.
"People will ask you inappropriate questions," he said, recalling a recent e-mail he received from an aspiring male teacher who was asked during a job interview, "Why would any healthy male want to work with kids?"
In such situations, Nelson suggests stressing the positive aspects of having a man in the classroom. "When kids see [a man] in front of them on a daily basis, it helps to contradict negative stereotypes," Nelson said.
But turning the tide and recruiting more male teachers won't be simple, said Weaver. "Everyone's talking about how important this is. But I don't want to see rhetoric, I want to see action," he said.
This is EXACTLY what happens when you teach your child how to tell when a stranger is hurting them. It saved this girls life. PARENT, TEACH YOUR CHILDREN "GOOD TOUCH" AND "BAD TOUCH" and also what to do in this situation and who to call.... This is a perfect example!
View the article here
02/27/2008 Majority who abuse children aren't strangers
Sheila Jones never imagined her husband, a seemingly perfect stepfather to her children, was capable of such evil.
That changed one night when her 14-year-old daughter confided to her that the only father she had known had been sneaking into her bedroom at night and molesting her for six years.
Jones called the police.
The result was a 10-year prison sentence for the stepfather and a new mission for Jones. (Her name has been changed for this article.) “We’ve got to find ways to protect our children,” she said.
- Like what? Nothing you do, no law you pass, will protect children or anybody 100% of the time, common sense tells you that, but most people these days have no common sense!
Jones is one of many supporters of a new bill proposed by state Rep. Joan Brady (Email), R-Richland, that would ban some sex offenders who have victimized children younger than 16 from living within 1,000 feet of schools, day- care centers, children’s recreational facilities, parks or playgrounds.
The bill would not require offenders who already live near one of those places to move, nor would they have to move if a school, for example, was built near their home. Also, the bill does not apply to minors convicted of engaging in sexual activity with other minors.
Brady said she filed the bill after a mother contacted her, worried about a sex offender living in an apartment complex near a popular athletics field in Columbia where children play soccer and other sports.
- One mother called, so she creates a law? Now that is a KNEE-JERK reaction! Without even thinking!! Expert after expert will tell these idiots these laws will not work, and the last 10 or so years proves that...
“You can conceivably have a sex offender looking out from his balcony, watching the children play,” Brady said.
- Yeah, so? As long as they don't commit a crime, what is the problem? I bet you've watched children play as well, so does that make you a sex offender?
The bill is being tweaked by a House subcommittee that meets today.
But some say restricting where sex offenders can live, while increasingly popular around the country, does little to protect children.
“We’re concerned about the fact that (these laws) are a distraction from the real issue and create a false sense of security,” said Sara Totonchi, public policy director of the Atlanta-based nonprofit Southern Center for Human Rights.
“Residency restrictions rely on the ‘stranger danger myth’ that children and parents have more to worry about from strangers lurking in bushes or strangers at the parks when more than 90 percent of these offenses are committed by someone the child knows,” she said.
That list includes school and church officials, friends, acquaintances and family members, like Jones’ ex-husband.
- So be afraid of your own husband, wife, mother, father, uncle, etc...
Instead, Totonchi’s organization encourages lawmakers to invest in public health campaigns that teach children and parents how to prevent and communicate about abuse.
“(My ex-husband) probably would have moved on to another victim once my daughter grew up, whether it was someone he knew well or not,” she said, noting he worked security jobs at roller-skating rinks and ballgames at local schools. “Many (offenders) victimize over and over. Who knows who they’ll go after next?”
- If you would teach your children at an early age what is a good touch and bad touch and teach them they can tell someone, then the person who touched them would be arrested the first time, instead of after many times. And no, many offenders do not offend over and over, you've been watching Fox news too often. Get the real facts, investigate it yourself. If you do not educate people, then you are only helping the offender victimize again. Why can't people understand this? They've been brainwashed by the media..
Some legal experts and law enforcement officials say residency restrictions might make communities more dangerous.
In Iowa, for example, the first state to pass restrictions on where sex offenders can live, law enforcement officials have raised concerns about the number of offenders who have gone underground, dropped out of treatment and are no longer registering their whereabouts with the state, the worst-case scenario for children’s safety.
“When we create limitations on where they live, we increase the chance of transience and homelessness,” said Joyce Cheeks, interim director of the American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina. “When they can’t find a job, a place to stay, when they can’t be near their family, when their lives become unstable, some data has shown they’re more likely to re-offend.”
- It's common sense!
Still, such laws increasingly are popular on both the state and local levels.
- Because they get millions of dollars in grant money, or so they think! So money is driving this, and so they can "look good" to the sheeple for laws that do nothing!
In recent months, the town of Lexington and the city of Cayce have adopted a 2,000-foot restriction on sex offenders. The town of Irmo is considering a similar ban.
Because those municipalities are small and include many gathering spots for children, the ordinances essentially bar new sex offenders from moving in at all.
Brady concedes residency restrictions are getting mixed reviews in other states. She adds there’s no substitute for close parental supervision.
“But any step we can take to help ensure our children’s safety is well worth the effort,” she said. “We’re talking about eliminating as much temptation — as much possibility of a crime occurring — as we can.”
- But the true predators do not care about what you are trying to do, they will commit another crime regardless of what you do.
Brady said the bill also makes sense because neighboring Georgia might adopt rigorous blanket restrictions on where offenders can live and work.
- And it has been in legal limbo for a long time now as well. Why can't you people see these laws do nothing to protect anybody? LISTEN TO THE EXPERTS!
The Georgia bill, which already has passed that state’s House, could require hundreds of offenders to move from their homes.
- Forced banishment! We all remember Adolph Hitler, right?
“We don’t want to become a welcome center for sex offenders,” Brady said.
- Who does? But these laws are inhumane, cruel and unusual punishment, period! We want to end sex crime as much as possible, but by pushing people onto the verge of society will not achieve the "goal" you are looking for, or are you even looking for a goal?
Reach Smith at (803) 771-8658.
View the article here
SAN DIEGO -- Registered sex offenders in San Diego would be prohibited from coming within 300 feet of facilities that serve children under an ordinance tentatively approved Tuesday by the City Council.
"The purpose of this ordinance is simple -- it's to protect children from sex offenders by restricting them from being within 300 feet of where children gather," said Councilman Jim Madaffer.
- So what was the purpose of Proposition 83?
The measure, approved unanimously by the City Council on first reading, would regulate sex offenders' proximity to any public or private schools, child care facility, video arcade, playground, park or amusement center.
The city's ordinance, which requires a second reading before it can take effect, is meant to complement Jessica's Law, which was approved by California voters in 2006 and prohibits paroled sex offenders from residing within 2,000 feet of schools and playgrounds.
The constitutionality of Jessica's Law is now being challenged.
- So this is being challenged and not out of court yet, and they are coming up with another illegal law? Talk about stubborn and ignorant!
According to Deputy City Attorney Mary Nuesca, the city's law could also face legal hurdles.
"In our view, there are some significant legal issues with this type of an ordinance," she told the council.
San Diego's law is modeled after an ordinance passed in National City in 2005 that makes it illegal for sex offenders to come within 300 feet of facilities that are used by children.
Nuesca testified that there has been a "four-fold" increase in the number of sex offenders who are registering as transients since the passage of Jessica's Law.
Councilwoman Toni Atkins expressed concern with the proliferation of homeless sex offenders and their location.
"I am concerned about not being able to track some of these people," Atkins said.
View the article here
This is just insane! Why don't we make just one federal law which is for all states, and be done with it. That way it's not confusing as hell for everyone when moving from place to place. Although I do not agree with these laws at all, but it seems like that would be a lot easier instead of allowing every county and/or state to make their own rules, complicating the whole issue.
Hopkinton – Hopkinton selectmen are considering a proposed ordinance that would prohibit certain convicted sex offenders from living near schools and other places where children gather.
Police Chief David Wheeler recently drafted the proposed ordinance and submitted it to the selectmen for their consideration. The board of selectmen on Monday decided to table their discussion of the proposal pending the outcome of a bill currently under consideration in the Legislature that would revise the state's sex offender registration laws.
"The town of Hopkinton, at this point, is taking a wait-and-see approach to it," Interim Town Administrator Robert Veloski said yesterday. "We're waiting to see what the state is doing."
A handful of other communities in New Hampshire have already enacted sex offender residence restrictions.
The ordinance proposed in Hopkinton would apply only to registered sex offenders who committed a crime against a person under the age of 16. Under the proposed ordinance, those offenders could not live within 2,500 feet of a school, childcare facility, playground, "park-oriented organization or any place where minors regularly congregate."
- Why don't you list out all the places instead of leaving everyone guessing. It's up to the law to be clear, so you and the police are not guessing. It's the same as when you break a law, the police have to tell you what law you broke, not leave you guessing.
The ordinance would not apply to any sex offenders who established residence in a restricted location prior to the passage of the ordinance. It also would not restrict offenders from being in close proximity to schools or other child-oriented places, only from living near them.
Violating the proposed ordinance would result in a fine of $500 for a first offense, $1,000 for a second offense and $2,500 for any subsequent offense.
At a selectmen's meeting earlier this month, the town attorney questioned the enforceability of the proposed ordinance, according to meeting minutes.
The issue of whether to regulate where child sex offenders can live rose to the surface in New Hampshire several weeks ago when a man convicted of raping and murdering a 6 year-old girl moved into a neighborhood near a school in Derry.
Proponents of sex offender residency ordinances believe restricting where child sex offenders can live offers protection to children and families in the community. Critics argue the ordinances could deter offenders from complying with registration laws, making them more difficult to track.
The proposed state legislation would establish a tier system for the classification of sex offenders, revise the information that must be reported and update penalties for failure to register.
View the article here
So I guess this will include the rest of the criminals. Murderers, drug dealers, DUI offenders, gang members, etc. Good, then we will see hell break loose in the court systems about draconian laws. Don't be shocked when you wind up on the Internet Violent Offender Registry just for making some mistake years ago... If and when this is passed, everyone will live in fear 24/7 then, watch and see. The world will be in chaos!!!!
Leah’s Law will receive a public hearing in Madison Wednesday. Danielle Kaeding reports from Superior Days in Madison.
The law is named for Leah Gustafson--killed two years ago by her next door neighbor Jason Borelli. Borelli had a history of violent crime before taking her life, and now Gustafson’s family is taking matters into their own hands. Leah’s mother Sharon Gustafson is pushing for a state registry of violent offenders similar to the registration of sex offenders. She says one state has already done that by attaching it to the sex offender registry. “We can look more fully into what that other state did as far as funding it. People that had to register had to pay a fee to register. We do have to address the issue of money because it’s become an issue for the whole state. We’re not going to just let them pass it off, and say, ‘Well, don’t have the money.’ We’re going to look real close in real detail and work it out.” Leah’s father Dick Gustafson says communities want to see more done to keep violent criminals from threatening their way of life. “None of us would be here if we didn’t’ have a lot of support from the community, so it’s not us. It’s hundreds maybe thousands of people that we’ve talked to that say, ‘This is a really good idea.’ We hear that over and over again.” Wisconsin Department of Corrections Deputy Secretary Amy Smith says their main goal is to keep communities safe. “We currently, although we don’t have Leah’s Law as of yet on the books, we do certainly have the sex offender registration law. The Department of Corrections does share information regularly on violent offenders with our partners in law enforcement and that is a very critical component of any public safety efforts--to make sure that that information is available.” Leah’s friend Alissa Wild says a violent offender registry is only the first step. “First Wisconsin. Second Minnesota. After that, we do plan on going national because we believe that every parent, every mother, father, sister, daughter, uncle, son…needs to be safe.”
View the article here
A proposed amendment to a city law would restrict living situations for more convicted sex offenders living in Auburn. The Auburn City Council will hear the first reading Thursday during its weekly meeting of an amendment to a law that regulates where a level-three offender is allowed to reside.
The current statute, which the council approved in February 2007, prohibits level-three offenders who have been convicted of crimes against minors from living or loitering within 500 feet of any day-care facility, school or park.
The amendment would make the law apply to all level-three offenders, not just those convicted of offenses against minors.
Level three is the highest at which a sex offender can be designated under the Sex Offender Registration Act.
Auburn Police Chief Gary Giannotta said that an officer informed him of the possibility of changing the current law before the APD brought it to the city's attention.
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An 18-year-old woman will testify today at the trial of a relative, a former Desert Hot Springs police officer accused of molesting her over a 10-year-period.
The former officer, 37, is being tried on 20 criminal counts, including aggravated sexual assault on a child, rape and lewd acts with a child, involving two alleged victims.
Prosecutors say the man, who is no longer on the force, molested the young female relative over a 10-year period, beginning when she was 7 years old, and another teen girl for several months in 2006 while she was a member of a police ride-along Explorers program that he ran.
If convicted of all the charges, the former officer, who was arrested in Marina del Rey on Sept. 26, 2006, faces life in prison, according to prosecutors.
In her opening statement last month, Deputy District Attorney Victoria Cameron told the jury the female relative became the man's "sex toy" over a decade of abuse.
The former officer started trying to insert his finger into the girl's vagina at age 7 and first had intercourse with her the next year, she said.
"He raped her, orally copulated her and penetrated her," she said. "This child had to endure unspeakable things."
When the girl resisted the man's advances or threatened to tell someone, he would tell her such a revelation would break up their family and he would be sent to jail.
From the outside, the family appeared normal, Cameron said, "but behind cosed doors, he committed one crime after another on this child."
The girl suffered psychological consequences and started cutting herself, Cameron told jurors.
Cameron also told the jury they would hear a taped phone conversation between the girl and the former officer in which she falsely tells him she is pregnant.
According to Cameron, the former officer told the girl, "There are two things in play here, you were on your period and I used a thing."
The man's defense attorney John Patrick Dolan told the jury in his opening statement that the girl made up the allegations against the man so she could be "emancipated" to live her life as a lesbian.
Dolan told jurors that the girl had "two different lives" and was secretly exploring lesbian relationships.
He also told them love letters from another girl were found in her possession and that the former officer knew about it and forbade her to continue to that lifestyle.
The victim originally told investigators she was molested repeatedly over a 10-year period beginning when she was 7, then recanted the claim, Dolan said.
But after talking to her mother, the girl told investigators the next day that the molestations had in fact occurred.
The defense attorney also told the jury that the former officer and his wife had a "rocky marriage," and the wife was a serial adulteress whom the man was looking to divorce.
The man's wife told him, "If you divorce me, I will ruin you," Dolan told the jury.
Dolan said the family had previously been investigated three times by Child Protective Services over abuse allegations and each time the charges were determined to be "unfounded."
The former officer founded and supervised the Explorers in Desert Hot Springs and also worked as a resource officer at Desert Hot Springs High School and Desert Springs Middle School.
He is being held at the Indio Jail in lieu of $2 million bail.