Thursday, May 8, 2008

WI - Neighbors petition to have sex offender removed

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05/08/2008

Residents of a Chippewa Falls neighborhood have asked a judge to remove an accused sex offender from their neighborhood.

People who live in the area of the 400 block of Macomber Street presented a petition to Judge Roderick Cameron Tuesday asking that Justin A. Culbert, 19, be moved out of 416 Macomber St. and into some secure facility.

The residents did not get what they sought, as Culbert was released on a $2,000 signature bond, but with some severe restrictions on his movements. Culbert isn’t even allowed to leave his residence without adult supervision, according to Cameron’s order.

Culbert is accused of molesting a 9-year-old boy. According to the complaint, the boy said Culbert took him to a shed behind Culbert’s residence and had him pull his pants down. Culbert then had sexual contact with the boy.

Culbert is charged with first degree sexual assault of a child, child enticement and felony bail jumping, but also has a pending Eau Claire County case. Culbert has entered a plea of not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect to charges of repeated sexual assault of the same child; second degree sexual assault; and child sexploitation — videos, recordings, etc.

The mother of the Chippewa County victim indicated in a victim impact statement that the effect on her son has been severe.

“My son does not feel like he can go outside and play, or even in our home,” she wrote. “He’s scared of Justin coming over to hurt him because he told.”

Yet the mother also expressed concern for Culbert, whom she says needs help.

“After all this came out I went and talked to Justin and he admitted to me that he needs help. . . I do not hate him. My heart goes out to him. I want him to get help,“ she wrote.

Also on Tuesday, the victim’s family obtained a restraining order against Culbert, prohibiting him from contacting the child.

That is also a normal condition of bond in such a case, but Cameron imposed further restrictions.

Culbert is to have no contact with anyone under the age of 18, and must remain in the house unless he’s traveling with another person. He can leave the house only to go to the car, and must be with a responsible adult if he goes anywhere.

Presented to the court Tuesday was a petition reading: “This petition is being circulated for the purpose of having Justin Culbert, who resides at 416 Macomber, removed from our neighborhood and placed in a secure facility for the protection of our children and for his own well being.”

Culbert is to appear in court again on June 3 on the Chippewa County charges. A status conference on the Eau Claire County case is set for Monday. Culbert is represented by Eau Claire attorney Harry Hertel.


OK - No room for sex offenders to live in Geronimo

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Video is available at the site as well.

05/08/2008

Geronimo - A sex offender in Geronimo has been forced to move out of town because there is simply no room for a sex offender to reside. But, it's not just the opinion of concerned citizens. The town itself is so small geographically that it's hard to find a place offenders can live without violating state law. So, Carl Burton had to find a new place to live.

Burton was convicted of first-degree rape and forcible sodomy and must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. So, rightfully, when he was released from the custody of the Department of Corrections, he registered with the county. But, Burton neglected to register with the city of Geronimo, and the county dispatch was unaware that a home day care was located just around the corner from where he lived.

Learning Center teacher Julie Allen lives just across the street from the house Burton called home, but he only lived there for a few days. The town is just to small for sex offenders to live in, while obeying the law. "There no place here in Geronimo that a sex offender can live," says Police Chief Christina Daly. "There's two parks, two day cares, the school properties, you know, a whole city block."

Registered offenders are forbidden - by law - to reside within 2,000 feet of anywhere children gather, and Daly says that in a town of just under 1,000 citizens, everyone lives close to pretty much everything. Burton's grandmother says he was just trying to get on his feet and find his own place.

Chief Daly says the county should have contacted the city before allowing Burton to live there. "If probation and parole didn't call us, we would have never known he was here," she says. Burton's mother is not happy about the situation, and says that since Geronimo is such a small town, an exception should have been made. "I think the law should be changed," she says.

Burton now lives in Lawton, and his family says that he is allowed to visit them at their home in Geronimo overnight, but must return to Lawton the following day.


ME - Ex-House candidate arrested in sting

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04/30/2008

ORONO - In a sting similar to those seen on TV’s "To Catch a Predator" series on "Dateline," Orono police have charged a 44-year-old man with attempted gross sexual assault for soliciting what he believed was a 13-year-old boy.

Last week, a convicted sex offender from Lewiston was sentenced to prison in Penobscot County Superior Court for similar crimes.

An Orono Middle School student recently told School Resource Officer Andrew Whitehouse about a man who was making contact with him over the Internet on his MySpace account and asking for sex, Whitehouse said Tuesday.

The officer took over the student’s MySpace and AOL Instant Messenger accounts, and was contacted Friday by William Dana Reed, 44, of Mill Street.

The two talked on the computer for more than an hour using Instant Messenger, and the conversation contained some sexually explicit language, Whitehouse said.

"Obviously, he didn’t know it was me," Whitehouse said. "He thought it was this kid from the middle school."

Whitehouse made it clear that he was 13 years old, and Reed reportedly continued with the conversation, which had "a sexual tone," the officer said. "At one point he asked to meet with me."

After a few more messages, Reed explained his intentions for meeting and that gave police what they needed to arrange a meeting.

Reed agreed to meet that day. He thought he was to meet a middle school boy underneath the Main Street bridge and was waiting there when police arrived.

While talking with police, Reed admitted he frequently uses MySpace to look for children under age 18 to talk with, Whitehouse said.

Reed was arrested for attempted gross sexual assault, which is a Class B felony, and taken to Penobscot County Jail. His bail originally was set at $10,000, but when he appeared Monday at Penobscot County Superior Court, that amount was reduced by a judge to $1,000 unsecured bail with several conditions of release attached.

His only previous run-ins with police have been for traffic offenses, according to Penobscot County District Attorney Michael Roberts.

In last week’s case, Raymond Stearns, 38, pleaded guilty Friday to attempted gross sexual assault and four counts of solicitation of a minor on a computer, Roberts said Tuesday. He was sentenced to four years in prison on the solicitation charges and 10 years, all suspended, on the attempted gross sexual assault. He also was sentenced to six years of probation with many conditions.

Stearns was convicted in 1993 in Androscoggin Superior Court in Auburn for gross sexual assault on a child under age 14. Specifics about that crime and his sentence were not available Tuesday.

Bangor police arrested Stearns on Jan. 9 at the Greater Bangor Area Shelter. He told shelter staff he had quit his job in Lewiston to move to Bangor to live with a girl he’d met on the Internet, according to court documents.

The investigation into Stearns began in November after a person identified as a confidential informant told Bangor police that he had set up a profile on the Internet posing as an 11-year-old girl from Hermon. The informant told police individuals had taken a sexual interest in the profile he’d created.

The detectives took over the investigation that led them to Stearns.

Reed ran for a seat in the Maine House of Representatives in 2004 to represent District 19, but lost to Rep. Emily Cain, D-Orono.

He previously was the director and curator at the University of Maine’s Page Farm and Home Museum and now reportedly works at Wal-Mart in Bangor, according to information he gave law enforcement officials. It also was reported in a 2004 UM campus newspaper article that Reed operated Skeeter’s Redemption Center in Old Town.

After arresting Reed, police served a search warrant at his apartment and seized Reed’s laptop and desktop computer. Those will be examined and more charges may follow, Roberts said Tuesday.

Reed is scheduled to appear at Penobscot County Superior Court again on June 13. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in jail and no more than $20,000 in fines.

"The schools have been notified about his presence so they can do what they need to do protect their students," Whitehouse said.

Orono Superintendent Kelly Clenchy said the schools always have heightened security, including mandatory sign-in at the front desk for visitors and security cameras on the doors.

"We run a pretty tight ship," he said.

There also are presentations throughout the year, typically through the guidance department, about Internet awareness. The school’s emergency response team also holds monthly meetings to discuss pertinent security and safety issues.

"We’re very fortunate to have an officer on staff," Clenchy said.


TX - Wrongly convicted gather at Texas Capitol to share stories

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It's all about convictions and getting you in jail/prison so they can move on to their next victim. Justice is not a part of this injustice system. It's about fame, money and greed! This is why the government should get DNA from EVERYONE, regardless of their past. Getting DNA after some crime is too late.

05/08/2008

One by one, nine wrongly convicted men stood up on the floor of the Texas Senate on Thursday to explain how innocent men ended up in prison and how to prevent it from happening again.

"I'm here to tell you I lost everything. I am still hurting. I am still broken," said James Giles, who spent 10 years in prison for a rape he did not commit. "We can do better in the justice system. The system failed all of us."

A week after a man who spent 27 years in prison became the 18th Dallas County man since 2001 to have his conviction tossed aside after DNA testing, state officials and men who lost years of their lives behind bars met in the Capitol to discuss what they said was Texas' "disturbing number of wrongful convictions."

The event was billed as the nation's first "Summit on Wrongful Convictions." It brought together lawyers, police chiefs, judges and lawmakers, who sought to identify systemic problems that could be addressed through changes in law.

Since 2001, DNA testing has cleared 33 Texans who spent a combined 427 years in prison, according to The Justice Project, a Washington, D.C.-based group. Eyewitness misidentification was a factor in 27 of those cases, easily the most common link.
- And this is just Texas only. Who knows what is sweeping across this country?

State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, said he will sponsor a bill during next year's legislative session that would mandate police departments use specific procedures when presenting live lineups or photo arrays to eyewitnesses. Several of the men who were wrongly convicted talked about how an incorrect identification by an eyewitness was a key factor in their false convictions.

Perhaps the most notorious case of bad eyewitness ID came from James Waller, who was identified by a rape victim by his eyes and the sound of his voice. The rapist in that case was described as being 5-foot-8. Waller, who is 6-foot-4, spent 10 years in prison.

Among the more intriguing reforms mentioned was a crime lab oversight group that would have the same sort of authority health inspectors wield at restaurants. Judge Barbara Hervey of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals referred to the idea as a pet project of hers, adding that Texas would be the first state in the nation to enact such a plan.

Along the same lines was the idea of regional crime and DNA labs operated independently of police departments, a topic broached by Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt. That idea was also favored by state Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Cheryl Johnson, who acknowledged that crime labs run by police departments can present conflicts.

Reforms in Dallas County also drew praise. Under District Attorney Craig Watkins, Dallas has begun a program in which law students, supervised by the Innocence Project of Texas, are reviewing hundreds of requests by inmates for post-conviction DNA testing.

"It can be argued that Texas ... may have one of the worst criminal justice systems in this country," Watkins said. "We have to start where we have the most problems."

Jeff Blackburn, the chief counsel for the Innocence Project of Texas, also suggested overhauling how the courts deal with writs filed by inmates. Blackburn pointed out that James Woodard, who was released last week, was labeled an abuser of the system after filing six writs and two requests for DNA testing.

But the event's most powerful moments belonged to those who had been exonerated. Billy Smith talked about how he considered suicide once or twice a year during his 19-year prison stay for a rape he did not commit. Waller spoke of his wife, who was eight months pregnant, dying in a car accident on the way to one of his court hearings.

"I'm 52 years old and I have no kids," Waller said. "Texas took that away from me."

The applause was loudest when Giles tore up his sex offender registration card, something he had to carry for 15 years while he was on parole before getting exonerated. He ripped it up, he said, because he had a new card to carry: a voter registration card.

"You talk about being afraid, being scared, being locked up, going to jail," Giles said. "That's a nightmare that sometimes you never overcome."


GA - Marcus Dixon Prepares for 2008 NFL Draft, Looks to Escape Past

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04/24/2008

Marcus Dixon, a defensive end from Hampton University, is hoping to get selected in the 2008 NFL Draft on Saturday despite his troubled past.

While in high school, Dixon, then a student at Pepperell H.S. in Lindale, Georgia, had a controversial record of incidents.

Two alleged incidents got him suspended from school for a total of 10 days. In March of his sophomore year, Dixon exposed himself in a classroom, and a year later he allegedly touched a 14-year-old girl inappropriately after track practice. Neither situation was reported to the Floyd County police despite his suspension.

According to an ESPN report, the first incident was a "stupid prank", while the second incident was of Dixon and the girl "making out".

In Feb. 2003, Dixon committed to Vanderbilt to play college football, but four days later, he had sex with Kristie Brown, a white 15-year-old virgin, in a classroom trailer. Brown said that her father could not find out about the interaction, because her father "would kill both of them".

Kristie said she was raped, while Dixon maintained that the sex was consensual. Two days later, Dixon was arrested on rape charges.

The jury said they believed the sex was consensual and found Dixon guilty of statutory rape, a misdemeanor, and aggravated child molestation. After facing a minimum of 10 years in prison, the Georgia Supreme Court overturned his conviction after he served 15 months in prison.

Hampton University offered him an athletic scholarship soon after he was released.

The story made national news as Dixon was featured on the "Oprah Winfrey Show", "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" and several media outlets. Soon thereafter, another case made national news regarding a black teenage boy and sexual misconduct. Genarlow Wilson was just recently released under similar circumstances and, like Dixon, was given a scholarship to college.

Now Dixon is a viable NFL draft prospect, according to mock drafts. Standing 6-foot-4, 294 pounds, the defensive end is listed in the top 30 at his position.


United States tort law

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Under United States tort law, torts are generally divided into three categories: intentional torts, negligence, and strict liability torts.

Intentional torts include those actions that are intentional and voluntary and that are made with knowledge by the tortfeasor (i.e. the person who committed the tort) upon the plaintiff (the one who brings the complaint seeking relief). Intentional torts include: battery, assault, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED), invasion of privacy, fraud, defamation of character (includes libel, which is written defamation of character and slander, which is non-written defamation of character), malicious prosecution, abuse of process, the real property tort of trespass to land, and the personal property torts of conversion and trespass to chattels. (apprehension of harmful or offensive contact),

Negligence

Amongst unintentional torts one finds negligence as being the most common source of common law, most Americans are under the impression that most people can sue for any type of negligence, but it is untrue in most American courts (partly because negligence is one of the few torts for which ordinary people can and do obtain liability insurance.) It is a form of extracontractual liability that is based upon a failure to comply with the duty of care of a reasonable person, which failure is the actual cause and proximate cause of damages. That is, but for the tortfeasor's act or omission, the damages to the plaintiff would not have been incurred, and the damages were a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the tortious conduct. Other non-intentional torts include negligent infliction of emotional distress (or NIED, not recognized in all states), malpractice (professional negligence), and product liability (liability of manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers for unreasonably dangerous products).

Some jurisdictions recognize one or more designations less than actual intentional wrongdoing, but more egregious than mere negligence, such as "wanton", “reckless” or “despicable" conduct. A finding in those states that a defendant's conduct was "wanton," “reckless” or “despicable”, rather than merely negligent, can be significant because certain defenses, such as contributory negligence, are often unavailable when such conduct is the cause of the damages.

Punitive damages (sums intended to punish the defendant) may be awarded in addition to actual damages intended to compensate the plaintiff. Punitive damage awards generally require a higher showing than mere negligence, but lower than intention. For instance, grossly negligent, reckless, or outrageous conduct may be grounds for an award of punitive damages. These punitive damages awards can be quite substantial in some cases. [1]

Strict liability

Strict liability torts are brought for injuries resulting from ultrahazardous activities, for which the defendant will be held liable even if there was no negligence on his/her part. Strict liability also applies to some types of product liability claims and to copyright infringement and some trademark cases. Some statutory torts are also strict liability, including many environmental torts. The term "strict liability" refers to the fact that the tortfeasor's liability is not premised on their culpable state of mind (whether they knew or intended to accomplish the wrongful act, or violated a standard of care by doing so,) but, instead, strictly on the conduct itself or its result.

Federal torts

Although federal courts often hear tort cases arising out of common law or state statutes, there are relatively few tort claims that arise exclusively as a result of federal law. The most common federal tort claim is the 42 U.S.C. § 1983 remedy for violation of one's civil rights under color of federal or state law, which can be used to sue for anything from a free speech claim to use of excessive force by the police. Tort claims arising out of injuries occurring on vessels on navigable waters of the United States fall under federal admiralty jurisdiction.


The Civil Rights Act of 1871

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The Civil Rights Act of 1871, also known as the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, is an important federal statute in force in the United States. Several of its provisions still exist today as codified statutes, but the most important still-existing provision is 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Act was originally enacted a few years after the American Civil War, along with the 1870 Force Act. One of the chief reasons for its passage was to protect southern blacks from the Ku Klux Klan by providing a civil remedy for abuses then being committed in the South. The statute has been subject to only minor changes since then, but has been the subject of voluminous interpretation by courts.

Section 1983 does not create new civil rights. Instead, it allows individuals to sue state actors in State or federal courts for civil rights violations.[1] To gain federal jurisdiction, i.e., access to a court, the individual must point to a federal civil right that has been allegedly violated. These rights are encoded in the U.S. Constitution and federal statutes.

The document reads:[1]

Every person who under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, Suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer's judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia.

For most of its history, the Act had very little effect. The legal community did not think the statute served as a check on state officials, and did not often litigate under the statute. However, this changed in 1961 when the Supreme Court of the United States decided Monroe v. Pape.[2] In that case, the Court articulated three purposes that underlay the statute: "1) 'to override certain kinds of state laws'; 2) to provide 'a remedy where state law was inadequate'; and 3) to provide 'a federal remedy where the state remedy, though adequate in theory, was not available in practice.'" Blum & Urbonya, Section 1983 Litigation, p. 2 (Federal Judicial Center, 1998) (quoting Monroe v. Pape). Pape opened the door for renewed interest in Section 1983.

Now the statute stands as one of the most powerful authorities with which State and federal courts may protect those whose rights are deprived. Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act provides a way individuals can sue to redress violations of federally protected rights, like the First Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment and Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. Section 1983 can be used to enforce rights based on the federal constitution and federal statutes, such as the prohibition of public sector employment discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex and religion. Section 1983 rarely applies to private employers.


The Contract Clause After 1934

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During the New Deal Era, the Supreme Court made several fundamental changes regarding constitutional interpretation of the Commerce Clause, Due Process, and the Contract Clause. The changes came during a time of great crisis for the United States, and there was large public support for government programs which the Supreme Court had been ruling as unconstitutional. Finally, the Court fundamentally changed its interpretation of the constitution to accommodate the new programs. This "change" has been called The switch in time that saved nine.

In Home Building & Loan Association v. Blaisdell 290 U.S. 398 (1934), the Supreme Court upheld a Minnesota law that temporarily restricted the ability of mortgage holders to foreclose. The law was enacted to prevent mass foreclosures during a time of economic hardship. The kind of contract modification performed by the law in question was exactly the kind that the Framers intended to prohibit. However, Chief Justice Marshall famously said in McCulloch v. Maryland, "It is a constitution we are expounding." By this, he likely meant that the constitution must adapt to the times. This statement is also interpreted to mean that the "framers' intent is not controlling." The Supreme Court held that this law was a valid exercise of the state's Police Power. It found that the temporary nature of the contract modification and the emergency of the situation justified the law. [1].

Further cases have refined this holding, differentiating between governmental interference with private contracts and interference with contracts entered into by the government. Succinctly, there is more scrutiny when the government modifies a contract to alter its own obligations. (See United States Trust Co. v. New Jersey, 431 U.S. 1 (1977).) [1]

Modification of Private Contracts After 1934
The Supreme Court laid out the test for whether a law violates the Contract Clause in Energy Reserves Group v. Kansas Power & Light 459 U.S. 400 (1983). The test is a three part test. First, the state regulation must substantially impair a contractual relationship. Second, the State "must have a significant and legitimate purpose behind the regulation, such as the remedying of a broad and general social or economic problem." 459 U.S. at 411-13 Third, the law must be reasonable and appropriate for its intended purpose. This test is similar to rational basis review. [1]

Modification of Government Contracts After 1934
In United States Trust Co. v. New Jersey, the Supreme Court held that a higher level of scrutiny was needed for situations where laws modified the government's own contractual obligations. In this case, New Jersey had issued bonds to finance the World Trade Center and had contractually promised the bondholders that the collateral would not be used to finance money losing rail operations. Later, New Jersey attempted to modify law to allow financing of railway operations, and the bondholders successfully sued to prevent this from happening. [2]

Application of the Contract Clause Barbri Bar Review (2004)
The Contract Clause prohibits states from enacting any law that retroactively impairs contract rights. The Contract Clause applies only to state legislation, not court decisions.

Private Contracts
The Contracts Clause prevents only substantial impairments of contract, i.e. destruction or loss of most or all of a party's rights under an existing contract. However, not all substantial impairments violate the Contracts Clause.

To determine whether state legislation is valid under the Contracts Clause, the following three part test applies:

(i) Does the state legislation substantially impair a party's rights under an existing contract? If it does not, the state legislation is valid under the Contracts Clause. If it does, such impairment will be valid only if it:

(ii) Serves an important and legitimate public interest; and

(iii) Is a reasonable and narrowly tailored means of promoting that public interest.


IL - West Suburban Sex Offender Commits Suicide In Jail

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05/08/2008

Ex-Con Bryan Halstead Was Arrested After Allegedly Attemptin Tryst With Teenage Girl

CREST HILL - Former Naperville resident Bryan E. Halstead was freed from prison a little more than four months ago, after serving a 21-year sentence for raping an Aurora girl in 1985 and brutalizing her family in their home.

Halstead, 44, committed suicide Wednesday morning, less than a day after being arrested for trying to arrange a sexual tryst with a Naperville girl.

Halstead reportedly hanged himself with a bedsheet while in a holding cell at Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill. He had been taken there for violating terms of his parole following his arrest Tuesday afternoon in Naperville.

"We are investigating an apparent suicide of Mr. Halstead from Wednesday morning at Stateville," said Derek Schnapp, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Corrections. Schnapp refused to discuss how Halstead killed himself.

Halstead in 1985 lived on the 1800 block of Princeton Circle in Naperville. He moved to south suburban Chicago Heights after being paroled from prison on Dec. 27.

Naperville police arrested Halstead at 3:45 p.m. Tuesday on a felony charge of indecent solicitation of a child. He had been accused of using the Internet to try to arrange a meeting with a 16-year-old girl from Naperville.

Police Cmdr. Dave Hoffman said the investigation began May 1, after detectives were contacted by the girl's parents. One of the parents, while monitoring the teen's online activities, found evidence of a "disturbing online chat between their child and another individual that was sexual in nature," communications that had been going on "over the course of the last two weeks," Hoffman said in a written statement.

The suspect, quickly identified as Halstead, had lied to the girl, claiming to be a 16-year-old Naperville boy and asking her to send "inappropriate digital photographs" of herself to his MySpace account, Hoffman said. Detectives set up a sting operation and arrested Halstead in a parking lot on the 500 block of South Washington Street in Naperville, where he believed he would be meeting with the girl, Hoffman said.

Aurora police arrested Halstead on Aug. 26, 1985, at a house on the 2400 block of Lakeside Drive, where his estranged wife was living with her parents and two younger sisters.

Records in DuPage County Circuit Court in Wheaton indicated Halstead, then 21, armed himself with a .357 Magnum before invading the home that afternoon.

He fired a shot that missed striking his then-13-year-old sister-in-law, who was home alone at the time. He then raped the girl in her bedroom before tying her up with rope and forcing her into the basement.

Halstead then waited as his estranged wife, mother-in-law, father-in-law and another sister-in-law arrived home one by one through the afternoon, confronting and hog-tying all of them with rope.

He shot his estranged father-in-law in the left arm and left him bleeding for nearly five hours in the basement with the rest of the family. The father-in-law ultimately underwent surgery to have his arm shortened by an inch.

A prosecutor during Halstead's trial said Halstead "systematically, for eight hours, terrorized that family." One of the victims testified they "all joined hands in the basement and prayed together" after becoming convinced it was their "last day on Earth."

Halstead eventually decided to free his captives and call 911, although court records indicated he later told police the confrontation with the family and the shooting had been accidental.

Judge John J. Bowman in June 1986 sentenced Halstead to 45 years in prison after he was convicted of felony charges of home invasion, aggravated criminal sexual assault, armed violence and unlawful restraint.

Halstead served just more than 21 years of that sentence in downstate Danville before being paroled.


NY - Rep. Admits To Affair, Fathering Child

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05/08/2008

N.Y. Rep. Vito Fossella (Contact), Who Was Arrested For Drunk Driving Last Week, Says He Has A 3-Year-Old Daughter With Woman In Va.

Rep. Vito Fossella admitted Thursday that he fathered an out-of-wedlock child - the latest fallout from his drunken-driving arrest last week that has been a major political embarrassment for the Republican lawmaker.

"My personal failings and imperfections have caused enormous pain to the people I love and I am truly sorry," said Fossella, who has three children with his wife in Staten Island.

Fossella's private life came under scrutiny after he was arrested for drunken driving last week in suburban Washington. His blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit, and he could face a mandatory five days in jail if convicted.

When Fossella was pulled over, police said he told officers that he was going to see his daughter in the area. The woman who got him out of jail, Laura Fay, is the mother of the child.

"I have had a relationship with Laura Fay, with whom I have a 3-year-old daughter," Fossella said in a statement.

The arrest prompted questions about whether the daughter he told police he was going to see was his child with another woman.

The disclosure clouds Fossella's political future. He faced a surprisingly tough re-election challenge in 2006, and Democrats were hoping to unseat him this year.

"While I understand that there will be many questions, including those about my political future, making any political decisions right now are furthest from my mind. Over the coming weeks and months, I will to continue to do my job and I will work hard to heal the deep wounds I have caused," he said.

Fossella was elected to Congress in 1997 in a special election to replace Rep. Susan Molinari, who resigned. A graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, he also earned a law degree from Fordham University.

Fossella, 43, serves as a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.


CA - Former cheer mom pleads no contest

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You see the double standard here? Flip this around and it being a male adult and a female child, and the book would've been thrown at them.

05/08/2008

A Paradise woman accused of molesting a 14-year-old boy surprised the prosecutor yesterday in court by accepting a plea bargain and entering a no contest plea to felony child endangerment.

Toni Allexy, 39, was facing charges for allegedly fondling a minor, providing alcohol to minors and driving while intoxicated with children in her vehicle. Deputy District Attorney Lynda Hunt said Allexy pleaded to an added charge of felony child endangerment in exchange for the dismissal of five other charges, including committing a lewd act upon a child and four misdemeanor counts of child endangerment.

She explained that the single felony child endangerment charge entailed furnishing the victim with alcohol, taking him in a vehicle and driving while intoxicated and then performing a lewd act on him.

Defense Attorney Robert Marshall said his client decided to accept the plea bargain rather than risk conviction during trial and have to register as sex offender. Under the terms of the plea bargain, it's up to the judge's discretion whether or not to order sex offender registration.

If Allexy had been convicted the felony charge for committing a lewd act upon a child, she would have faced three years imprisonment but conviction would have carried a mandatory life- time sex offender registry, Hunt said. The felony child endangerment charge carries a six year possible sentence and leaves the registry for the judge to decide. Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey said he was surprised Allexy "went that route," because she doubled her potential prison sentence from three years to six years. The judge may also place Allexy on felony probation. Marshall said he hopes this will be the case, as his client has a clean record. "She has absolutely no criminal record, not even a traffic citation," he said.
- That is never considered in cases where it's a male adult and female or male child, so why here?

Hunt agreed that felony probation is the most probable outcome, as this is Allexy's first felony with no criminal record. The defendant will also be required to complete a 52-week child abuse program, Hunt said.
- What about sexual offender treatment?

The prosecutor said she's satisfied with the outcome of this case, as a great part of their consideration was the effect on the victim. Hunt said she hadn't expected Allexy to accept the plea bargain. She was busy meeting with witnesses and preparing to begin trial May 19. The situation was extremely emotional, embarrassing and humiliating for the victim, especially with all the press attention, Hunt said, citing her reasoning to avoid putting him through a jury trial.

Marshall said his client still maintains that she did not commit a lewd act with the boy, but with such extreme consequences weighing on a possible conviction, she felt her best choice was to take the plea bargain and plead no contest. Ramsey, however, said a no contest plea carries the same weight as an admission of guilt.

"Our families are so thankful that the truth has finally come out," said Tammy Ferguson, speaking on behalf of the victim's mother. Ferguson, whose daughter was a witness, said the outcome is a "huge, huge relief." She said her daughter was extremely relieved when she found out she wouldn't have to testify.

"This event has changed our kids' lives dramatically," Ferguson said, citing changes in friends, school and home life. "We're so relieved the truth came out without having to put our kids through a trial ... our only hope is that when she is sentenced, justice will be served. We want to be sure she will never hurt or endanger another child."

Allexy is the former head cheerleading coach for the Paradise Junior Football League. The allegations began in October, after Allexy hosted a gathering at her home for a few of the teenagers.

Several parents told police Allexy had served alcohol to minors, driven under the influence, and fondled one of the 14-year-old boys. Butte County Superior Court Judge Steven Howell allowed Allexy to remain out of custody on her own recognizance pending sentencing July 16.

The writer can be reached at estevens@paradisepost.com


OR - As Attorney General, I will lead Oregonians forward

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Election time is coming, time to bust out the sex offender issues to get them brownie points!

05/08/2008

Next January Oregon will swear in a new Attorney General for the first time in a dozen years. Hardy Myers has served the state as Attorney General with great skill and integrity since 1997.

Because no Republican filed by the deadline in March, the winner of the Democratic primary this month will become Oregon’s next Attorney General.

I’m honored to have Hardy Myers’ endorsement in the race to succeed him. But the next Attorney General should not just continue the current work of the Department of Justice he leads.

The Attorney General should respond to the changing threats faced by Oregonians and bring the fresh perspective any organization needs after years under the same leadership.

Internet threats

Some of the new threats to Oregonians come over the Internet. A dozen years ago the Internet was in its infancy. It’s now in a rambunctious adolescence.

Adult sex predators prowl chat rooms in search of underage teens.

Identity thieves and other scammers find victims among Oregon consumers connected to the Internet. As seniors and lower income people get computers, these vulnerable citizens are exposed to greater risk.

Last year I sponsored a new law making it a specific crime to solicit an underage teen for sex over the Internet. I also passed a law toughening the penalty for high volume identity thieves.

As Attorney General, I will make sure these new laws are enforced. To do so, I will expand the Internet forensics capability of the Department of Justice, a function performed now by just one investigator.

We must be able to find those who prey on our kids and vulnerable consumers. I also will introduce legislation requiring that sex offender registration include the offender’s e-mail address so we can trace attempts to contact victims.

Threats to our landscape

Last year I led the effort to refer Measure 49 to Oregon voters to save our protections for farmlands and open space.

But Oregon’s landscape is threatened by some claimants who assert the right to go forward based on development steps taken before voters approved Measure 49.

As Attorney General, I will challenge invalid development claims to protect farmlands and open space and to assure that landowners are treated the same across the state.

Threats to retirement security

As traditional pension plans disappear, Oregon workers are threatened by loss of their retirement benefits when the stocks in their defined contribution plans drop in value.

Last year I helped pass a new law authorizing Oregon’s Attorney General to act as lead plaintiff in class action lawsuits to recover losses on stocks where fraud is involved. As Attorney General, I will use this authority to collect from those who defraud stockholders to protect the financial security of retirees.

Threats to air quality

Auto makers are trying to prevent Oregon and other states from implementing cleaner tailpipe emission standards for new vehicles sold in the future.

The Bush administration has sided with the auto makers in trying to block the cleaner standards. As Attorney General, I will challenge this federal interference with a key environmental protection Oregonians have chosen.

In all these areas, and others, I will lead Oregon forward, protecting our state from all the new threats coming at us. I can be reached about my campaign for Oregon Attorney General at greg@votemac.com or 503-294-9391.

Rep. Greg Macpherson, Lake Oswego, represents Oregon House District 38. He is a candidate for Oregon Attorney General.


MD - Chamber won't bar people on sex offender registry from joining

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05/08/2008

BRUNSWICK -- In an unusual discussion Wednesday, the Greater Brunswick Area Chamber of Commerce voted to not bar people listed on a sexual offenders registry from being members of the organization.

Twenty-three people, 19 of them members, attended the meeting. Thirteen voted down the motion, five approved and one abstained in a secret ballot vote.

The subject was brought to the board's attention because a representative of a member company of the chamber is on a sex offender's list.

The board discussed the matter at length covering liability, public opinion toward the chamber, other organizations' bylaws, and chamber responsibility to members.

The board decided not to make a decision on whether to address the issue without membership input. The board placed a specific policy before the membership for a vote.

Additionally, the bylaws committee was given the task of writing a more comprehensive membership policy than exists at present.

"I've belonged to more than a dozen national and international organizations, and there was never a need for any of the organizations to conduct a background check," said chamber member Ellen Lerner. "If something came up, it was taken care of in an appropriate manner and discreetly."

If there is a dispute the board should set up a special committee of members from different chamber regions to address each case, said member Jerry Knight.

"You just can't blanket people," Knight said. "Find out what happened. Give them a chance to prove why the chamber shouldn't kick them out."
- Yet if it's not a member of some elite club or government, they are not allowed. What hypocrisy we have in this corrupt government... I'm glad they let the people have jobs though.

Member Ayala Sherbow said it was not the place of the GBACC to establish such a regulation, because the organization doesn't screen people for membership.

"The motion seems arbitrary," Sherbow said. "For people who would interact with our children, such as with teachers or in the Scouts, you might consider a measure like this."

Some members discussed whether a member on a sexual offenders registry should attend the annual chamber picnic.

"I don't need the GBACC to screen people for me at a chamber picnic," Sherbow said. "As a parent, I am responsible for my children's welfare. My son is 8 and I still don't let him go to a public bathroom alone. I don't leave it up to the mall to decide what is safe."

One member said that the chamber would be better served to establish rules of conduct rather than point to one group of offenders.

Several members said that the motion was too narrow in focus. If such a motion were to be considered, the focus should be broadened.

A narrow focus could exclude a valid chamber member, another member said.

The Brunswick chamber had consulted with the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce about how to deal with this kind of issue, said Tim Barkley, a past Mount Airy chamber president and an attorney.

"We amended our bylaws about 18 months ago to take care of those kinds of things," Barkley said. "We anticipated that something could happen in the future, but we never had to use it."

The Mount Airy chamber bylaws spell out how a person can be removed from chamber membership and how a person can be disqualified.

"Our bylaws are written not as part of the sexual registry issue but more broadly," he said.

A Mount Airy chamber member can be disqualified if the member is convicted of, or pleads guilty or nolo contendere to felony charges.

A member can also be disqualified for moral turpitude or financial dishonesty.


CA - Sex offender's bail raised to $1 million

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So much for the Constitution and Bill of Rights, which reads:

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

05/07/2008

A registered sex offender charged with molesting two Hemet-area teenagers reportedly admitted to investigators he could not control his sexual urges, according to court records.

Marcos Joel Castro, 29, said he would flee to Mexico if the boys' relatives reported what happened to authorities, according to a request for increased bail signed by Riverside County sheriff's investigator Greg Harrell.

Castro pleaded not guilty during his arraignment last month.

Riverside County prosecutors charged Castro with 41 counts of sexually abusing the two teenage boys between 2004 and 2008. He faces more than 50 years in prison if convicted, prosecutor Burke Strunsky has said.

Authorities arrested Castro on April 24 in West Hollywood and released him from a Riverside County jail May 1 after he posted $100,000 bail, according to court and sheriff's records.

Judge John Monterosso increased Castro's bail to $1 million earlier this week and he was returned to jail May 5, the records show.

Castro, of Monrovia, was convicted in 2002 of oral copulation with a person under the age of 16, according to court records filed in Pasadena.

There is no record of Castro being sent to prison, according to officials with the state's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

His next court date is set for May 19 at the Southwest Justice Center in French Valley.

Reach Tammy J. McCoy at 951-375-3729 or tmccoy@PE.com


TX - Jury convicts ex-El Paso police officer

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05/08/2008

A former El Paso police officer was found guilty Wednesday of having sex with a teenage girl and having child pornography that was found in his police station locker, officials with the district attorney's office said.

Luis Nava III was convicted on one count each of sexual assault of a child, sexual performance by a child and possession of child pornography.

Nava, 40, was found guilty by a jury in the 384th District Court. A sentencing hearing was scheduled to begin today.

Sexual assault of a child and sexual performance by a child are second-degree felonies, each punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Possession of child pornography is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Nava was one of two police officers arrested in 2005 and accused of having sex with the same teenage girl.

Former officer Philip Frank Amato, 41, is scheduled to go to trial in late August on a charge of sexual assault of a child.

Nava and Amato both had been with the Police Department for six years, graduated in the same Police Academy class and were assigned to the Northeast Regional Command.

They were fired from the department days after their arrests in August 2005.

According to a complaint affidavit by investigators, Nava and the girl began a sexual relationship in 2002 when she was 14. The girl was a friend of Nava's daughter. The sexual encounters continued for a couple of years.

An investigation by detectives with the Special Investigations Group, which handles criminal cases involving police, began when allegations against Nava surfaced.

During the investigation, pornographic photos of the girl were found in Nava's locker at the Northeast Regional Command Center.

Daniel Borunda may be reached at dborunda@elpasotimes.com; 546-6102.


LA - La. could lose $1 million grant for fighting sex offenders

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This might explain his idiotic speech, here. Video is available at the site as well.

05/07/2008

With thousands of abused children in the metro area, there is a new law in place that is intended to protect them and potential new victims. However, if local law enforcement isn't ready to enforce the Adam Walsh Act by January 2009, the state will lose almost $1 million in crimefighting grant money.
- Money usually is a great motivator, as I think is the reason in his speech at the other link above.

The need for that money is clear when you step inside a quaint and cheery yellow house in Uptown New Orleans. Inside, more than 1,000 children this year will tell their horror stories of abuse and pain.

“It is much easier for people to believe that the child made it up, that it couldn't possibly have happened,” said Dr. Adrienne Atzemis. She analyzes abuse cases at the Audrey Hepburn Care Center's new facility at Children's Hospital.

That includes examining the child for injuries, then taking them into a colorful, friendly room where a camera covered by a toy hot air balloon will tape the child describing their abuse to a trained counselor.
- Is this legal?

“Whoever is investigating the case can be here and can watch the interview in progress,” said Atzemis.

That recording can then be used as part of a child's testimony against the accused, sometimes even in a federal trial.

“When you have to tell a parent or a child that someone has taken images of their children, that's the hardest thing I've ever done in one case,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Klebba. Klebba has never lost a case with his partner, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Mann. They have learned that sex offenders can fit any personality profile.

“They're lawyers, pediatricians, child psychologists, locksmiths,” said Mann.

That is why the prosecutorial team favors the demands of a new federal law, the Walsh Act. It requires that sex offenders register in person and often. If they don't, local law enforcement can call on federal resources, like U.S. Marshalls, to find them and the U.S. Attorney's office to prosecute them.

There is currently a tier system depending on the severity of the sex crime. Under tier one, an offender must register once a year for 15 years. Tier two means a requirement that they register twice a year for 25 years; tier three means registration three times a year for life. If they don't show, they serve a minimum of five years in prison.

For example, right now sex offender JCM Baker is listed as living at 4821 Yale Street, around the corner from St. Ann Grammar School in Metairie, but when we checked if he actually lived there, there was no sign of Baker. No one at that address claimed to know him either. The day we checked, state police issued a warrant for his arrest for not answering his verification letter.

Meantime, in New Orleans' sex offender office at NOPD headquarters, sex offender Ken Lavoid obeyed his registration obligation and showed up for his appointment the day our cameras were there.

The Louisiana state sex offender web site shows there are 2,000 registered sex offenders like Lavoid in the greater New Orleans area and just over 100 that police can't find in the city of New Orleans.

“They know they have to show up, especially now with this law, within three days. And if they don't we're going to find them and they're going to jail,” said Sgt. Joseph Lorenzo, the Assistant Commander of the NOPD Child Abuse Unit.

Next week, the New Orleans Police will receive $200,000 from the Department of Justice and the city of New Orleans because of the Adam Walsh Act. “We're very excited,” Lorenzo said. “It's going to make our lives a lot easier.”

The money will pay overtime hours for their staff so they can run more checks, spending entire days only verifying addresses and executing high risk warrants with federal help.
- So how long will this money last? And I guess once it's gone, you will be asking for even more money from the tax payers?

For those offenders they can't find, Detective Joe Goings enters their information in their database and will then call State Police who then enter the information into the Louisiana sex offender web site, where you can track offenders in your own ZIP code.

By January 2009 all of this information has to be current and updated on the web site or the law says the state loses almost $1 million in crime fighting grants. The NOPD unit says it's not worried and will be prepared.

In the meantime, those who deal with abused children say the law sounds effective, but doesn’t address the largest part of the problem: 90 percent of children abused are abused by someone they know. “It is not the people outside but the people we bring into our home who are most likely to abuse our children,” said Dr. Atzemis.

In the end, doctors say just talking to your children about what seems like the unspeakable in your own house is the best way to keep them out of the small yellow house at Children’s Hospital.