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By Fraendy Clervaud
Augusta -- The two students were caught in the act here, behind the football stadium, on a school surveillance camera. Richmond County investigators say both were involved in some type of sexual activity. The boy, who is seventeen, was arrested and charged with misdemeanor child molestation. The girl, who is fourteen, was charged with indecent behavior.
Ashley Wright, Augusta Chief Assistant District Attorney: "Normally in Georgia, for a person to be able to consent to any sexual activity they have to be at least sixteen years old."
Ashley Wright is Augusta's Chief Assistant District Attorney. She says Georgia law used to make it a felony to have sex with anyone under sixteen.
Wright: "Sexual experimentation has gotten to the point where you have several people with multiple partners, at a young age, and the legislature has drawn these laws to protect these people."
But, Georgia lawmakers eventually changed that law because they realized some people were involved in relationships. So, they threw in what is called the "Romeo" clause.
Wright: "In a 'Romeo' clause case, you look at the ages of the victim and the ages of the defendant, and you find if there's a window of no more than four years."
Last year, a similar case from Atlanta, involving an honor student, Genarlow Wilson, generated national attention after he was jailed. Wright says because of a "Romeo" clause, someone found between the four-year gap could face a misdemeanor child molestation charge.
Wright: "Child molestation is defined as an immoral act that is done to a child, or in the presence of a child, for the purpose of arousing the sexual desire of the actor, or the child."
Wright says parents need to also educate their children about sex and consquences.
Under Georgia law, someone can be charged with either child molestation, statutory rape, or aggravated sodomy if they break the "Romeo" clause.
Monday, March 3, 2008
GA - Georgia Sex Law "Romeo" Clause - A clause in Georgia's sex law comes to light after two teens are caught performing sex acts at Westside High
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And yet another perverted cop added to the ever growing list of bad cops.
A federal jury has convicted a former Fresno County sheriff's sergeant of possessing child pornography.
The jury returned the verdict Friday against 42-year-old Ronald Vaughn Jr., a former sex crimes detective. The Fresno man was convicted of two counts of possessing and attempting to possess child pornography and one count of receiving and attempting to receive child pornography.
Vaughn was arrested in 2005 after investigators found pornographic Internet images and video files involving children as young as 4 years old on a computer at the photography studio he founded after leaving law enforcement.
He faces a maximum sentence of 40 years, a $750,000 fine and lifetime supervised release.
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PANAMA CITY - A worried mother wrote to Bay County Commissioner Mike Thomas, concerned about the sexual offender and predator ordinance proposed for unincorporated areas of the county.
Though the state requires sexual offenders and predators to live at least 1,000 feet away from places where children gather, all eight Bay County municipalities have increased the specified distance to 2,500 feet within the last couple of years. County officials are considering the same.
In the Feb. 26 letter, the mother recounts how her 20-year-old son had a sexual relationship with his 15-year-old girlfriend, whom he met at church, and subsequently spent eight years behind bars.
On Feb. 1, Justin Geiger was released into society. Finding himself effectively zoned out of local municipalities, he now lives in an RV in the unincorporated area of Bay County.
“I will never be able to live a normal life,” Gieger said. “It’s like a joke on me; you’re free, but you’re not really free.”
But Gieger doesn’t consider himself a “sexual deviant.” Such cases have given Thomas pause as he considers Bay County’s proposed ordinance.
“The more I dig into this and the more I find out about this, I’m more undecided about changing things,” Thomas said. “It’s a lot more complicated than it looked when it was first handed to me.”
The commissioner said he fears someone caught urinating in public or “mooning” someone, or “kids that have done crazy things” might be unfairly labeled as an “offender” and be subject to such ordinances.
“They’re not a danger to the community,” Thomas said. “I’m not comfortable penalizing people who aren’t a danger to anybody.”
The County Commission is considering the local ordinance upon a request from Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen, who made the request last year of all local governing bodies.
“He feels ordinances like this work best when they’re uniform,” said Ruth Sasser, spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Office.
Lynn Haven adopted such an ordinance last year. City Manager John Lynch said at the time that offenders could be pushed into the city because of 2,500-feet-ordinances in surrounding municipalities.
“We’re not a haven for sexual predators,” Lynch said.
State Attorney’s Office spokesman Joe Grammer said local sexual offender ordinances have become fashionable lately. There are not many people, he said, willing to carry the banner against such regulations.
“It makes you look like you’re being tough on those guys,” Grammer said.
Whether such laws actually reduce the number of sexually related crimes is unclear. A 2003 Minnesota Department of Corrections study found that offenders tend to travel outside their area of residence to ensure anonymity. The same study concluded the toughened ordinances might further isolate offenders and move them farther from employment and treatment options.
Two years later, a survey of 135 sexual offenders in Florida found that residential restrictions serve to increase triggers for reoffending.
Sasser said McKiethen did not refer to any studies when making his recommendations. “He based his request simply on common sense.”
Panama City Beach was the last local municipality to adopt a local ordinance in September. There was a rush to ensure the measure cast as wide a net as possible.
“All you have to do is add a playground and, presto, you’re protected by the ordinance,” City Planner Mel Leonard said prior to its passing.
Panama City Beach City Manager Richard Jackson said he is not sure what effect the new ordinance has had. He estimates it wound up encompassing about half the Beach.
“We haven’t had any problems,” he said. “What it has accomplished, I couldn’t tell you that.”
‘Romeo and Juliet’ law
Echoing Thomas, Grammer said one possible problem lies in the varying degrees of sexual offenders. A recent state law passed last summer attempts to differentiate: the so-called “Romeo and Juliet” law provides protection for younger adults engaged in sexual acts with a slightly younger, underage partner.
“Everybody that is on the sexual offender list is not your typical dirty child molester,” Grammer said. “The 18-year-old boy with the 15-year-old girlfriend might should be handled differently than the 40-year-old mama’s boyfriend fondling the 12-year-old daughter.”
But the Romeo and Juliet law does not help Gieger; there is a four-year age difference stipulation. He is branded a “sexual offender.”
“It makes me look like something I’m not. I’m totally stigmatized,” he said, adding that he hopes one day to live a normal life. “I want to be somebody’s father, somebody’s husband. I want to be an upstanding citizen.”
The Bay County Commission meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday at Panama City City Hall. The sexual predator and offender ordinance requires two reads by the commission before passage.
Sexual predator vs. sex offender
What’s the difference between a sexual offender and a sexual predator?
A sexual predator:
- Has been convicted of a serious sexual crime against a minor or an adult. The crime usually is one involving violence.
- Has received a “sexual predator” designation by a court.
A sex offender:
- Has been convicted of any listed sex offense.
- Has been released from prison or probation on or after Oct. 1, 1997.
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Dozens of people protested outside the Coalinga State Hospital on Sunday. They say many people inside the hospital are being held indefinitely, even though they have served their time in prison. Most of those being held are sexually violent predators.
The protesters say many of those inside may spend the rest of their lives in the hospital, often against their will.
But state officials say many of those being held under civil detainment are refusing treatment that would help them become members of society again.
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LOS ANGELES (AP) ― A former Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy caught in a child-sex sting has pleaded no contest to using the Internet to meet a minor for lewd purposes.
Joseph Carlos, 31, entered the plea Friday and is expected to receive a 90-day jail sentence, minus 30 days already served. He could have faced four years in prison.
Prosecutors said Carlos, a seven-year veteran deputy from Carson, showed up at a Hawthorne gas station last year to have sex with a 13-year-old girl he met online. The girl was actually a police detective in a sting operation.
In addition to jail time, Carlos must undergo counseling and will register as a sex offender.
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A decorated Newark police detective has been charged with eight counts of sexual assault in attacks on a West Orange girl over a four-year period, authorities said today.
Detective Vernon Parker, a Newark officer for about 11 years who currently is part of the department's gang unit, was arrested after turning himself over to internal affairs investigators late Friday, authorities said.
Parker also was charged with four counts of endangering the welfare of a child, said Paul Loriquet, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office.
Loriquet said the victim, now 17, alerted her school about the sexual assault on Friday and school officials contacted the state Division of Youth and Family Services. DYFS officials then contacted police, he said.
"We believe the victim was between the ages of 12 and 16 during the time of the alleged actions," Loriquet said. He said the victim alleged the attacks took place between 2002 and 2006 in Newark and West Orange.
Parker denies the charges, said Walter Melvin, a vice president in the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 12. He said Parker quickly surrendered to internal affairs to avoid the appearance he was running from the law.
Parker, who lives in Hillside, was being held in the Essex County Jail in lieu of $300,000 bond, Loriquet said.
Fellow officers were stunned by the arrest and were raising money today to win Parker's release from jail, Melvin said. He said Parker is a married father of three children.
- Got to protect the "Good Ole' Boys!"
Parker had been involved in making hundreds of felony arrests, said Melvin, who worked with the detective. In 2006, Parker also had received a medal for excellent police duty from former Newark Mayor Sharpe James.
Detective Todd McClendon, a spokesman for the Newark police, said Parker turned over his shield and service weapon just before his arrest.