Saturday, March 29, 2008

MO - Man sues to be kept off sex offender registry

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03/29/2008

Lawsuit argues that pre-1995 conviction shouldn't count.

A registered sex offender is moving to the area, and he doesn't want you to know who he is.

A man using the pseudonym "John Doe" filed suit against Webster County Sheriff Ron Worsham, the county's prosecutor and the superintendent of the Missouri Highway Patrol this week, hoping a 30th Circuit Court judge will rule he doesn't have to register as a sex offender in Missouri.

The plaintiff contends being forced to register would leave him "disadvantaged and harmed."

More important, he argues that since he was convicted of a sex offense before Missouri established its sex offender registry in 1995, he shouldn't have to register. The Missouri Supreme Court has agreed with that notion in the past.

"The suit that we have filed merely seeks clarification of the statute," said attorney Jason Umbarger, who filed the petition. "It's not an attempt to avoid the statute. He doesn't know what he's supposed to do."

According to the suit, "John Doe" pleaded guilty in Georgia in 1993 to two counts of child molestation.

He served three years in prison for the offense and completed seven years of probation, the suit says. He is required to register as a sex offender in Georgia.

The man has now secured employment in Missouri and is in the process of moving to Webster County, Umbarger said.

But "John Doe" doesn't want his face, address and past crimes to crop up on Web sites that list Missouri's sex offenders. So the suit asks a judge to determine whether the man must register.

It argues that forcing him to do so would amount to retroactive punishment, since the registry went into effect on Jan. 1, 1995, more than a year after his conviction.

"Fifteen years ago, he did some really stupid stuff," Umbarger said. "He's been trying to live it down ever since."

The Missouri sex offender registry law -- known in most states as a "Megan's Law" --says those who were convicted of a qualified sex offense in another state as far back as 1979 must register if they move to Missouri.

But a 2006 Missouri Supreme Court decision disagreed.

In that case, justices found "Missouri's Megan's Law cannot be enforced against offenders who, prior to its January 1, 1995 effective date, pleaded guilty to or were found guilty of crimes included in the registration law."

The opinion did not differentiate between those who committed a sex crime in Missouri and those convicted in other states. That ambiguity is a primary reason for "John Doe's" suit, Umbarger said.

As a result of the Supreme Court ruling, the sex offender registry maintained by the Missouri Highway Patrol no longer lists the addresses of 4,364 people whose most recent sex-offense conviction occurred before 1995.

But there's pressure to upend the court's ruling. Earlier this week, state senators endorsed a constitutional amendment that would allow retroactive enforcement of the sex offender registry.

If passed by both the Senate and House, that measure could appear on the November statewide ballot.

The Supreme Court's ruling is only part of Umbarger's argument.

The attorney also contends that Missouri's Megan's Law does not adequately separate offenders who might still be dangerous from those who are not.

"Many offenders required ... to register are not dangerous to others and have not been found to be dangerous sex offenders," the suit says. "Plaintiff is not dangerous to anyone."

And requiring "John Doe" to register would infringe on the man's rights to due process, the suit says.

Prior to filing in Webster County, Umbarger planned to plead his client's case in Greene County. He filed a similar suit against Greene County Sheriff Jack Merritt and the state of Missouri earlier this month.

But because "John Doe" has since decided not to move to Greene County, Umbarger said he will move to have the case dismissed.

Merritt, who had heard of the Greene County suit but not seen a copy, called it commendable that the plaintiff had sought to legally dodge the registry rather than simply fail to report his presence to authorities.

"If he is a mandated registrant here, I would expect him to comply," Merritt said. "My suggestion for him would be to find a state where the statutes might conform to what he wants."

The sheriff said there's no concrete system whereby his office is alerted of sex offenders moving into the area. Some jurisdictions will alert the department if they know an offender is moving into Greene County, he said.

"When you get down to it, they can move around a lot until you can't keep up with them that well," Merritt said. "I would never ever say that we have a complete registry."

If the sheriff's department does become aware of an offender coming into Greene County, deputies contact the offender.


FL - Ex-Naples attorney to serve probation for soliciting “child” over Internet

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Boy, Florida is saturated with perverted cops.

03/28/2008

A former Naples defense attorney was sentenced Friday to five years of sex-offender probation for attempting to sexually solicit a 14-year old girl over the Internet.

Palm Beach Circuit Judge Lucy Chernow Brown imposed the term on Steven Mark Siegel, 48. He was convicted of an attempted felony solicitation charge involving graphic sexual conversations and plans for the “child” — an undercover Boynton Beach detective — to visit him at a local hotel for a sexual encounter.

“We’re strongly opposed to probation due to the nature of the case,” said Sandi Copes, a spokeswoman for the State Attorney’s Office. “We believe strongly this man is a threat to children — and the jury obviously agreed with us. He was corresponding with law enforcement. It could just as well have been children.”

Under the strict conditions of sex-offender probation, Siegel, who lives in Hollywood, must wear an ankle monitor; register as a sex offender; submit a DNA sample for a database; enroll in a sex treatment program; adhere to a mandatory curfew; maintain a driving log; submit to annual polygraph examinations; and is prohibited from living or working near parks, schools, day care centers, and other areas where children congregate.

Brown sentenced Siegel after hearing arguments from Lisa Porter of the Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution, who pushed for a five-year state prison term, calling Siegel a danger to children and citing two other instances in which undercover detectives in Pennsylvania and Port St. Lucie caught Siegel soliciting young girls. Citing Siegel’s lack of a criminal record, defense attorney Steve Grogoza of Naples argued for probation.

Grogoza also argued a motion for a new trial, citing reasons that include the state failing to provide him with all chatroom conversations and e-mails from the investigator’s computer hard drive and only turning over a transcript.

The Florida Bar also investigated, prompting the Florida Supreme Court on March 24 to suspend Siegel’s license to practice law indefinitely. Siegel, who practiced criminal and civil law, had an office on Airport-Pulling Road, but sold his home at 1117 Milano Drive in April 2005, four months after his 2004 arrest, and opened a law office in Hollywood.

The sentencing ends a case that began with chatroom communications in 2003, prompting charges in two Florida counties and Pennsylvania investigation.

The investigation began in 2003, when a Boynton Beach Police detective met Siegel in an Internet chatroom, where Siegel began soliciting the child almost immediately and continued sexually graphic conversations for at least 10 months. Records showed 180 pages of recorded Internet conversations, with Siegel suggesting they perform sex acts on each other, and 15-year-old Amber, a school friend who also was fictitious.

“I want u to come stay with me,” he wrote. “ … I would tell u what to wear and what to do to me.”

Siegel encouraged the girl to run away to his home and they agreed several times to meet, but the plans always were canceled due to the detective’s schedule. Evidence also showed Siegel solicited an undercover officer posing as a Pennsylvania mother of a 12-year old girl in an AOL chatroom and asked the mother to arrange sex with the girl. In 2004, Siegel also was charged with soliciting a 14-year-old, an undercover detective.

Affidavits show Siegel wrote: “I’m very sensual, so I like lots of kissing and touching, maybe show her what I like between you and me then let her try ... but start slowly, maybe let her sleep in bed with us, take naked hot tubs, etc., as we get to know each other start with just using hands and watching.”

In another conversation, affidavits say Siegel admitted past sexual encounters with a 16-year-old girl. In recorded phone conversations, he and the girl’s mother set up a sexual encounter and he was arrested Dec. 23, 2004, in a Port St. Lucie restaurant, where he’d traveled from his Naples home on Milano Drive to meet the mother of the girl. Instead, records say, he met a deputy who had been working undercover as a mother in an AOL chatroom called “Daughter is Developing.” He was carrying perfume the mother requested and condoms were found in his car. Affidavits say he exclaimed, “My life is over. Are you guys state or federal?”

He waived his right to an attorney and gave a statement insistently denying he intended on following through: “He stated that having sexual relations with a child was only a ‘dark fantasy’ but he never intended on actually having such relations with the child.”


WI - PdC Corrections Officer Charged with Sexual Assault of Inmates

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Video is available at the site.

03/27/2008

An officer from the Prairie du Chien Correctional Institute is charged with sexual assault of inmates at the facility. 58-year-old James Trentin is charged with 22 felony counts of sexual assault and six counts of delivering articles to inmates.

According to the criminal complaint, Trentin brought in contraband for the inmates including chewing tobacco, candy bars, cologne and other items in exchange for sexual favors.

Prosecutors say the incidents started in July of 2007. Authorities were alerted to the incidents in mid-January and started an internal investigation.

They say Trentin also sent money orders to the inmates' prison accounts. Investigators say a handwriting expert confirmed it was Trentin's handwriting on the money orders.

The Warden at the Prairie du Chien Correctional Institution says allegations of sexual misconduct against an officer is not reflective of the entire correctional staff. John Kaquin says, "When allegations of this magnitude do surface, we routinely do take a look, a throrough look and determine what steps we can take to prevent such things in the future. And, we certainly are doing that."

Trentin has been put on leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation. He is scheduled to appear in court April 7. If convicted, Trentin faces up to 40 years in prison for each sexual assault charge.


NV - 'Streaker' sentenced to probation

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03/28/2008

A 21-year-old Minden man who exposed himself three times to cheerleaders at Douglas High School was sentenced Tuesday to probation and ordered to complete 80 hours of community service.

"I am terribly sorry for what I did. I know it was incredibly stupid," said Michael Robert King. "Nothing like this will ever happen again."

District Judge Dave Gamble suspended a one-year sentence in Douglas County Jail and placed King on two years probation.

King must register as a sex offender, but is not subject to community notification, according to his lawyer, Tod Young.

He must abstain from drugs and alcohol and has to stay away from any campus where there are kindergarten through high school-age students.

King may not have contact with minors except immediate family members without permission of his probation officer.

"People in our community should be free of this ridiculous behavior. If I feel any indication you're not treating this seriously, you'll go through that door for one year," Gamble said, pointing to the exit that leads to jail.

Gamble said he reviewed an evaluation of King and letters on his behalf.

King pleaded guilty to indecent exposure, gross misdemeanor.

According to the complaint, King ran naked in front of the cheerleaders, stood naked behind a female juvenile and followed two female juveniles while he was naked or only wearing underwear.

The incidents allegedly occurred last June and July.


CA - Former county auditor to prison for child porn

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Funny how the average citizen, the lack of a criminal history never comes into play, but some government worker is charged with a crime, and it then comes into play... I remember a case, last year some time, and in most child porn cases, they get a lot more than this. There was one man who got 10 years per image, and was sentences to something like 400 or 4000 years, I cannot remember which. And this man gets 16 months. But, the sex offender label is hell in itself. But I am sick of the justice for some and not justice for all, and double standards.

03/28/2008

The former San Mateo County auditor who downloaded 150,000 child porn images on his work computer and home equipment was sentenced Friday to 16 months in prison and must register as a sex offender.

Alex Kerr, 39, faced up to two years in prison after pleading no contest to one felony possession charge but Judge Cliff Cretan imposed the lesser term after noting the former county worker’s lack of criminal record.
- And the average citizen would've got 150,000 felony charges, one per image.

A pre-sentencing probation report also deemed Kerr unlikely to re-offend and said he appeared remorseful.
- That is good, but that usually occurs with a politicians, government worker, police, celebrity, etc, but the average citizen gets the book thrown at them.

Kerr’s defense attorney pushed for lenience, asking that his client receive local jail time or probation. Prosecutors countered that Kerr’s actions were not minor or limited to only a few images.

The FBI allegedly learned of Kerr’s vast collection while investigating a company that sends out child pornography and discovering downloads were sent to his San Mateo County computer. A forensic examination of Kerr’s county-issued computer initially reported turning up 4,000 images of young girls, many of which were deemed pornographic.

In December 2006, county authorities obtained a search warrant for Kerr’s home. On Kerr’s personal computer, investigators allegedly discovered 2,000 pieces of child pornography, including images, power points and videos depicting sexual acts between children and adults. The children involved range in age from toddlers to teenagers.

The counts of pornagraphic images was later found to be more than 150,000 and included videos of forcible intercourse with young girls, said Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

Kerr no longer worked for San Mateo County when his computers were searched. Kerr served as a senior internal auditor in the San Mateo County Controller’s office for two years, beginning in 2003 and ending Dec. 30, 2005.

Nearly a year later, authorities issued a $1.5 million arrest warrant and Kerr surrendered in October. He’s been in custody since. During that time, Kerr’s wife file for divorce, according to court records.

On Jan. 16, Kerr accepted a plea offer on a single count of felony child pornography possession in return for prosecutors dropping 14 other counts and seeking no more than two years in prison. If convicted by a jury, he faced about nine years in prison.

Interestingly, if Kerr had been convicted the previous year of the same charge he would have received the local jail time he sought. Until the passage of Jessica’s Law last year, the charges were misdemeanors.

Kerr must serve 50 percent of his sentence before being eligible for parole. He receives credit for approximately eight months time earned while incarcerated.


FL - Lunsford Won't Sue Sheriff

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03/28/2008

INVERNESS (AP) -- Jessica Lunsford's father says he won't sue the central Florida sheriff who led the investigation into the little girl's disappearance and slaying three years ago.

Mark Lunsford had notified Citrus County Sheriff Jeff Dawsy that he planned to sue him and his agency for bungling the investigation. The 9-year-old was snatched from her room, raped and buried alive by convicted sex offender John Couey.

Lunsford has criticized the sheriff's office for initially focusing on his family after Jessica disappeared and failing to search the nearby house where Couey took her.

But after meeting with Dawsy on Friday, Lunsford said he's decided not to sue after all. The two agreed to work together to enhance training for police dealing with cases of missing children.


MO - BILLS TARGET SEX OFFENDERS - Parks, daycares, public pools off limits

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03/28/2008

A collection of bills, all targeted at sexual offenders, would create buffer zones around certain properties and prohibit certain offenders from coaching or assisting with youth athletic teams.

Currently, sex offenders cannot live within 1000 feet of a school. House Bill 1397 mandates that certain offenders (those who's convictions relate to children) could not be physically present within 500 feet of any childcare facility.

In addition to schools and childcare facilities HB 1536 would prohibit the same offenders from being with in 500 feet of any public park with playground equipment or a public swimming pool.

While all who testified agreed with the bills motives of protecting children, the issue of forcing registered offender into 'clusters.' 'Clusters' refer to groups of offenders living closely due to difficulty finding homes far enough from schools, playgrounds, public pools, churches and other restricted locations.

"I'm not for sex offenders, let me be very clear, but I do believe we can go too far to the extreme to protect the children in our neighborhoods," said Rep. Jamilah Nasheed (Email) (D- St. Louis).

Sponsored by Rep. Gary Dusenberg (Email) (R - Blue Springs), HB 1397 would prohibit the presence of child-related sexual offenders with in 500 feet of a childcare facility when 'persons under the age of 18 are present in the building.' Offenders would be allowed in the 500-foot radius only if their child is at the facility.

"This is a pretty simple bill," Dusenberg said. "The current law on the books mainly applies to schools."

Dusenberg said this bill was prompted by an event in his hometown of Blue Springs when a registered offender, Ted Mason, purchased property that turned out to be too close to a home daycare service. Mason was sentenced to five years probation after a felony indecent exposure in front of a child eight years ago. Since the bills introduction he has discussed the issue with his neighbor and she believes he is not being treated fairly.

"I spoke to her at the QuickTrip up the street, that I will no longer be able to go to if this law passes," he said.

Mason, who went through a community-based treatment program says he is a changed man and now wants to be part of the solution.

"I don't disagree with the intent of the bill, I want to protect kids, I have a 13 year old," Mason said, "I believe in the list, and I'm on it. The intent of this bill is honorable, but it is somewhat misguided,"

In the months since moving in next to the daycare service Mason said he has established and maintained a good relationship with the Blue Springs police department, but dealing with the media attention has been challenging.

"Does the daycare operator call me and tell me I can come home?" he said. "You've just put my life in the daycare owners' hands." If passed, those who violated 1397 would be guilty of a class A misdemeanor.

Both sponsored by Rep. Will Kraus (Email) (R-Raytown) HB 1560 and 1536 would make public playgrounds and swimming pools off limits to registered offenders as well as barring them from coaching or assisting in youth sports.

Currently HB 1536 lists "any public park with playground equipment or a public swimming pool" as a way to limit the number of parks that would be off limits.

"We want this legislation to pass, that's why we put playground equipment in the bill," Kraus said.

Currently Senate Bill 758 would bar offenders from State parks with out the permission of the superintendent.

Kraus said he got the idea for the bills from a fellow parent at his sons soccer game who said her child was coached by a registered sex offender and that he does not believe this legislation is going to far.

"To the question of where does it stop for the offenders, my question is where does it stop for the child," he said.
- You did not answer the question?

In the current text, those who violate 1536 or 1560 would be guilty of a class D misdemeanor, a repeat offense would be a class D felony.

Similarly to 1397 Mason said he agrees with the bill's intention but believes the implementation is flawed.

"I don't care that much about parks, I'm getting old and it hurts but last weekend at my church, we all got together," he said. "We had hot dogs, gave out Easter eggs, sang gospel music with our priest, with the word of God. I could never go back, because there's playground equipment."

However, the discussion over this year's large collection of bills aimed at protecting children from sexual offenders has raised the issue of the way sexual offenders are classified in Missouri. Currently anyone may go onto the Missouri State Higway Patrol Web site to see a list of offenders living in their area. Many of this year's bills do not contain specific languages about offenders currently on parole, those who commited non violent offenses or who were convicted on technicalities.

"You're telling me that someone who went on a porn site and clicked on a picture of a child is the same thing as raping that child. That's very flawed," Nasheed said.

Kraus said he would not be opposed to incorportating some sort of rating system for offenders based on the severity of their offenses.

"Don't put me in the same box as John Couey who kidnapped Jessica Lunsford, raped her for three days, killed her and buried her is his backyard. That's not me," Mason said.

With the number of new laws to restricting the movement of sexual offenders 'clustering' has also become a serious concern.

"Even here in Missouri, there was a story about how people who ended up on the sexual offender registry who all ended up in one apartment building because of where they could go," said John Coffman, Missouri lobbyist for the ACLU.


MD - Veteran Charged With Sexual Abuse Of Relative

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03/29/2008

BALTIMORE (WJZ) ― A former police officer faces a list of abuse charges after a teenage family member accused him of inappropriately touching her.

Dennis Edwards reports, the officer is an 11 year veteran who's suspended without pay, but neighbors say they don't believe the charges against him.

The allegations involve Officer Troy Gee and a 13-year-old relative staying with him in his northeast Baltimore home.

In charging documents, the girl accuses Gee of lifting her shirt and fondling her breasts then throwing her over his shoulders and taking her to the basement where he allegedly fondled her again.

"The police department was notified of a possible sex offense committed by a police officer here. It was referred to the sex offense unit and in the end decided to proceed with charges," said Sterling Clifford.

There are also allegations Gee wouldn't allow the girl to leave the basement and that he downloaded pictures of her to his computer.

The 32-year-old Gee is charged with 7 counts of sexual child abuse, third degree sex offense, fourth degree sex offense and second degree assault.

Still neighbors say the accusation don't sound like the person they know.

Neighbors describe Gee as a caring parent who is good with children. They also raise questions about the relative who came up from Virginia to spend her spring break with Gee's family.

"He's falsely accused because he's so gentle with the children. LIke I say, I personally would trust him with my daughter, and she's 11," said neighbor Geraldine Eades.

If convicted, Gee faces jail time. If exonerated, he's facing possible disciplinary action or reinstatement.

(© MMVIII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)


MO - Former Officer Pleads Guilty Of Trying To Lure Girl Into Sex

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03/28/2008

A former Missouri police officer faces sentencing in July after admitting that he used the Internet to try and persuade an underage Illinois girl to have sex with him.

Brian Michael Green of O'Fallon, Mo., pleaded guilty Friday in federal court in East St. Louis, Ill., to one felony count. Green is 34.

Authorities say the incident happened last July. Green was formerly an officer in Wright City, about 45 miles west of St. Louis. The minor was a resident of southern Illinois.

Green will face a minimum term of 10 years in prison. As part of a plea deal, federal prosecutors say Green agrees that his sentence should be increased because he abused his position as a police officer, and for targeting a vulnerable victim.


MD - Baltimore police dropping sex abuse case against sergeant

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03/28/2008

BALTIMORE - The Baltimore Police Department plans to drop administrative sex offense charges against a veteran sergeant.

In a letter signed Wednesday, department Trial Board Counsel JoAnn Branche wrote that the board will dismiss several charges filed against Sgt. Robert Smith sometime before his Aug. 27 hearing.

Prosecutors, police investigators and witnesses — including the alleged victim — all have maintained that Smith was not present during the alleged 2005 rape at a police station.

However, Branche wrote that Smith still faces administrative charges of failing to properly submit confiscated drugs to evidence control.

Smith’s attorney, Clarke Ahlers, who has said all of the charges were retribution for the sergeant refusing to drop a civil suit against the department, called the amended charges “malicious.”

“It’s disgraceful to continue to seek his termination, when even the charges only alleged a minor administrative violation,” Ahlers said. “When and where is the apology?”

Baltimore police spokesman Sterling Clifford declined to comment on the case.

Smith is suing the city for $1.5 million in a defamation suit allowed to proceed to trial by Maryland’s highest court. The lawsuit accuses the department of defaming Smith, supervisor of the disbanded Southwest Flex Squad, after a search warrant was leaked to the media accusing Smith of violating drug laws in 2005.

No drugs were found on Smith or any of his property, though some drugs were found in the office, according to the state’s highest court. Smith denies any involvement in the misplaced evidence.

On Feb. 20, Karen Hornig, the Police Department’s chief legal counsel, wrote a letter to Ahlers saying the department wanted to see Smith, who is on administrative duty, “return to the streets” in exchange for the sergeant dropping his suit.

After Smith refused, the department charged him administratively Feb. 27 with helping former Officer Jemini Jones sexually assault a woman. Jones was already acquitted of the rape charge in Baltimore City Circuit Court after his attorney successfully argued there was no physical evidence to support the woman’s claim.

Testimony from the trial and an official duty roster show Smith was on vacation during the alleged incident.

In a response letter sent to police Thursday, Ahlers wrote it was “completely inappropriate” for the department to continue to try to fire Smith.

“I am appalled that after two years of investigation, the department would accuse a police sergeant with no evidence, dismiss those falsely brought charges, and attempt to amend [trivial] charges to fit a new theory of the case,” Ahlers wrote.


PA - Ex-officer pleads guilty in another sex attack


LEBANON - A former police officer who often performed as a children's clown and who is serving a prison term for molesting two 4-year-old girls has pleaded guilty to assaulting a 14-year-old North Londonderry Twp. girl in November.

Michael Fernsler, 34, of Annville, was charged with attempted rape, aggravated indecent assault, kidnapping and related offenses.

District Attorney Dave Arnold said the plea agreement Tuesday ensures a minimum sentence of 12 years.

Arnold said he will "strongly argue" during sentencing in May to make the sentence consecutive to the 26 to 52 years Fernsler is serving in the other case.

Police reports in November said the 14-year-old girl had just left a school bus when she was accosted by a masked man.

He bound her hands, covered her eyes and mouth with duct tape, and took her at knifepoint into the woods, police said.

Police said the girl recognized Fernsler, who sexually assaulted her.

She managed to remove the duct tape from her mouth, screamed, fought him, escaped and called police, who found Fernsler near the site of the attack.

Fernsler had pleaded guilty in August to molesting two girls in Swatara Twp., Dauphin County, but was free on bail at the time of the North Londonderry attack, waiting to be sentenced.

Fernsler's second arrest led to calls to close a loophole in the Megan's Law sexual offender statute that requires judges to delay sentencing 90 days while defendants are evaluated for classification as sexually violent predators.

Fernsler was a police officer for Shippensburg University when he was arrested in the first assault case.

He also worked as a North Londonderry Twp. police officer between 2003 and 2005.

He had appeared as "Chuckles the Clown" in churches and day care centers on behalf of the North Londonderry police department.

MONICA VON DOBENECK: 832-2090 or mdobeneck@patriot-news.com


NY - LEGISLATURE: Lawmakers look into pedophile-free safety zones

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This reporter clearly doesn't know the difference between a sex offender and pedophile. There is a big difference. And these legislatures are very ignorant. The FACTS show that what they are saying is a load of BS!

03/28/2008

Bipartisan plan aims to curtail repeat offenses by sex offenders

By Mark Scheer/scheerm@gnnewspaper.com

Niagara County lawmakers are considering a bipartisan plan that would make it a crime for registered sex offenders to linger within 1,000 feet of a school, park, child care facility or other public and private location frequented by children.

If approved, the so-called “Niagara County Pedophile-Free Child Safety Zone Act” would allow convicted sex offenders found in violation of the “Safety Zone” standards to be charged with Class B misdemeanors, punishable by fines of up to $500 and imprisonment of up to three months in jail. Under the proposed law, repeat offenders could be hit with class A misdemeanors that carry fines of up to $1,000 and sentences of up to one year in jail.

“We are trying to limit the opportunities for children to be victimized,” said one of the bill’s co-sponsor’s, Legislator Paul Wojtaszek (Email), R-North Tonawanda.

The bill, which is being co-sponsored by Legislators Jason Cafarella (Email), D-Niagara Falls, and John Ceretto (Email), R- Lewiston, notes that there exists a “heightened potential” for repeat offenses against minors when convicted sex offenders “reside, have employment or frequent” areas where children are likely to congregate.

Under the proposed law, registered sex offenders would be forbidden from living, working or loitering within 1,000 feet of areas and facilities that would provide them with “easy access to potential victims.”

The restriction would be lifted in instances where convicted sex offenders have completed sentencing and are no longer required to register under the state’s Sex Offender Registration Act.

“It’s not overkill,” Wojtaszek said. “We’re trying to show that we are being proactive, but we’re also trying to be reasonable.”

The measure is expected to be presented for review by the Legislature on Tuesday at which time a request could be made to set a public hearing date on the proposal.


CA - Rights of alleged library loiterer violated, claim many

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So you better think twice before you speak to any child, or this may happen to you!

03/28/2008

A maelstrom of outrage over Folsom man Victor Emmer’s arrest has swept through the Folsom and El Dorado County communities.

Even the American Civil Liberties Union has weighed in on the issue.

The 49-year-old Emmer was arrested at his house March 13 on suspicion of loitering where children gather after a woman’s citizen’s arrest warrant alleged Emmer had spoken to her two children at three different children’s-themed events.

Emmer has no prior offenses and is currently free on $100,000 bail.

Many community members see him being the true victim.

Emmer’s story was posted on the Telegraph’s website shortly after the arrest and has since received more than 22,000 visits from web users.

User comments, by and large, believe Emmer was wronged.

One comment reads, “The notion that you can jail people just for talking, even to children, seems very much in tension with the First Amendment.”

Another asks, “Since when is it a crime to speak to children?”

One expletive-laden e-mail sent to the Telegraph said, “Just because some dumb ignorant (woman) is creeped out by some guy talking to her kids… doesn’t mean (Emmer) is guilty of committing any crime.”

Even websites like the Los Angeles-based reason.com and Seattle’s newsvine.com have picked the story up.

“I can understand the police talking with the guy, or even asking him to stay away from the woman's kids,” wrote Radley Balko, the reason.com staff member who originally posted the story. “But arresting him? Since when is it a crime to talk to children? The guy isn't a sex offender, has no criminal record and was under no order not to speak to children.”

Still, the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department maintains everything was done by the book.

“The fact is, the sheriff’s office responds for service,” said sheriff’s Sgt. Bryan Golmitz. “(The victim) articulated a series of events to us to make us believe a crime was committed. We believe there was a crime and it was valid. We’re taking all the steps to make sure the community stays safe.”

The ACLU, however, thinks those steps included a dose of overkill.

“Assuming he was not doing any harassing or anything sexual, this seems to be an enormous overreaction and violation of (Emmer’s) constitutional rights,” said Michael Risher, staff attorney for ACLU of Northern California. “Simply hanging around, twiddling your thumbs is not a crime.”

Risher stressed he was only familiar with the facts presented in the original article, but questioned the validity of the arrest and hinted at a double standard.

“The problem with these loitering statutes is they are often used to pick on unpopular groups and people,” he said. “And it wouldn’t surprise me if it were his sex or age or appearance (that led to his arrest). If this were an elderly, very conservatively dressed woman talking to those children, I don’t think she would have been tossed in jail with a $100,000 bail.”

Golmitz, though, believes the judge agreed to increase Emmer’s bail because of “the deputies’ understanding of the victim’s complaint and the possibility of (Emmer’s) behavior continuing and endangering children in the area.”

One thing is certain, though – Golmitz, Risher and many web users agree Emmer’s actions were out of the ordinary.

“For the purposes of a children’s time event, (Emmer’s actions) don’t fit with his age bracket,” said Golmitz.

“Certainly, if I were in that situation with a child, I might leave or ask (Emmer) to stop talking to my child,” Risher said. “I don’t know if I can fault the parent for being uncomfortable.”

Victor Emmer could not be reached for comment Friday.