Monday, May 19, 2008

WA - U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Penalties for Promoting Child Pornography

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05/19/2008

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court upheld criminal penalties Monday for the promotion of child pornography, ignoring arguments that the law could apply to mainstream movies that depict adolescent sex, classic literature or even innocent e-mails that describe pictures of grandchildren.

The ruling upheld part of a 2003 law that also prohibits possession of child porn. It replaced an earlier law against child pornography that the court struck down as unconstitutional.

The law sets a five-year mandatory prison term for promoting or pandering child porn and does not require that someone possess child pornography. Opponents have said that could make the law apply to movies such as "Titanic" or "Traffic," which depict adolescent sex. Both movies won "best picture" Academy Awards, "Titanic" in 1997 and "Traffic" in 2000.


Justice Antonin Scalia, in his opinion for the court, said the law does not deal with movie sex. There is no "possibility that virtual child pornography or sex between youthful-looking adult actors might be covered by the term 'simulated sexual intercourse,"' Scalia said.

Likewise, Scalia said, free speech protections in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution do not apply to "offers to provide or requests to obtain child pornography."

Justice David Souter, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, dissented. Souter said promotion of images that are not real children engaging in pornography still could be the basis for prosecution under the law. Possession of those images, on the other hand, might not be prosecuted, Souter said.

"I believe that maintaining the First Amendment protection of expression we have previously held to cover fake child pornography requires a limit to the law's criminalization of pandering proposals," Souter said.

The 11th U.S. Circuit of Appeals struck down the provision. The Atlanta-based court said it makes a crime out of merely talking about illegal images or possessing innocent materials that someone else might believe is pornography.

In the appeals court's view, the law could apply to an e-mail sent by a grandparent and titled "Good pics of kids in bed," showing grandchildren dressed in pajamas.

In 2002, the court struck down major provisions of a 1996 child pornography law because they called into question legitimate educational, scientific or artistic depictions of youthful sex.

Congress responded the next year with the PROTECT Act, which contains the provision under challenge in the current case.

Authorities arrested Michael Williams in an undercover operation aimed at fighting child exploitation on the Internet. A Secret Service agent engaged Williams in an Internet chat room, where they swapped nonpornographic photographs. Williams advertised himself as "Dad of toddler has `good' pics of her an me for swap of your toddler pics, or live cam."

After the initial photo exchange, Williams allegedly posted seven images of actual minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Agents who executed a search warrant found 22 child porn images on Williams' home computer.

Williams also was convicted of possession of child pornography. That conviction, and the resulting five-year prison term, was not challenged.


MA - Critics Slam Boston Doctor Who Offers Sex Change Treatment to Kids

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This is just SICK, IMO!! They are not adults and cannot consent to things until 16 or older, but they can OK this?

05/19/2008

Boston’s Children’s Hospital bills itself as the hospital for children — and now it’s also the hospital for children who want a sex change, a procedure some critics are calling “barbaric.”

Dr. Norman Spack, a pediatric specialist at the hospital, has launched a clinic for transgendered kids — boys who feel like girls, girls who want to be boys — and he’s opening his doors to patients as young as 7.

Spack offers his younger patients counseling and drugs that delay the onset of puberty. The drugs stop the natural flood of hormones that would make it difficult to have a sex alteration later in life, allowing patients more time to decide whether they want to make the change.

Spack also offers some teenagers hormone therapy, a drastic step that changes the way they grow and develop. While the effects of drug treatments can be stopped, long-term hormone therapy can be irreversible, causing permanent infertility in both sexes.

For some, that trade-off is worth it. Transgendered children are deeply troubled and have a “high level of suicide attempts,” Spack told the Boston Globe. “I’ve never seen any patient make [a suicide attempt] after they’ve started hormonal treatment,” he said.

Spack would not grant an interview to FOXNews.com and the Boston’s Children’s Hospital declined to respond.

But not all doctors are convinced, and some say the treatments do much more harm than good.

“Treating these children with hormones does considerable harm and it compounds their confusion,” said Dr. Paul McHugh, University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at John Hopkins University. “Trying to delay puberty or change someone’s gender is a rejection of the lawfulness of nature.”

McHugh said gender reassignment for children harkens back to the dark ages, when choir boys were castrated to retain their high-pitched voices. "It’s barbaric,” he said.

Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, a legal charity affiliated with the late Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, says that transgender disorder is a mental disorder, not a medical one, and that it should be treated with behavior modification, not hormones or surgery.

“Just as you don’t give liposuction to an anorexic, you don’t do sexual reassignment surgery on men who think that they are women and vice versa,” Staver said.

“At some point in childhood," McHugh said, "many children role play as the opposite sex, but it is a social, not a medical issue.”

But other doctors say there is a transgender “gene.”

Dr. Irene Sills, an physician and Senior Professor of Pediatrics at the State University of New York, has treated 15 transgender children in the last 6 years, and considers the condition innate as a result of her study.

“We have had a case of identical twins that seems to disprove [other] theories,” she told FOXNews.com. “The twin girls were brought up in exactly the same environment, but by the age of 3, one of them kept insisting that she was a boy and kept mimicking masculine dress and behavior.”

Sills reported that her patients and their families have all been pleased with her therapy and support. She said she never asks families to sign a waiver before treating their children. “I trust our procedures and I trust my patients,” she said in an interview.

But some experts expect legal challenges to mount in the face of further treatment. According to Austin Nimocks, senior legal counsel for the conservative Alliance Defense, parents and doctors may not be safe from litigation if children are made sterile due to hormonal treatments — even if they do sign waivers.

“We will eventually start to see such parents and doctors sued and possibly arrested for what is essentially child abuse,” Nimocks told FOXNews.com.

Still, some think transgender medical therapies for children, which have been used for many years in Europe, Asia and Australia, may soon gain more acceptance in the U.S.

“Most medical professionals know very little about transgender treatments for children, so I do grand rounds at hospitals to educate them,” said Stephanie Brill, co-author of “The Transgender Child,” which will be published in June. “The doctors are very receptive, so I believe that we will see transgender medicine become much more prevalent over the next decade.”

Yet even as such procedures are introduced to a wider public and offered to younger patients, it remains to be seen whether proponents of the procedure will find much support.

“Just because modern medicine can accomplish certain things does not mean that these procedures should be done,” said Nimocks. “That’s the mindset of a Dr. Kevorkian, and he wound up in jail.”


OH - Mother of 4 sentenced for sex with boy

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05/19/2008

TROY — A mother of four convicted of felony importuning for sexual relations with a 15-year-old boy was sentenced Monday, May 19, to three years of community control and classified a Tier I sex offender, requiring registration of her address with the sheriff for 15 years.

Amie Teets, 26, of Piqua, was sentenced in Miami County Common Pleas Court following a series of questions from Judge Robert Lindeman.

"As a mother of four children, what in the world was going through your mind when you did this?" Lindeman asked.

Teets replied she didn't know.

She originally was charged with felony unlawful sexual conduct with a minor for alleged sexual activity with the boy in Piqua in September. The charge later was amended to felony importuning. She pleaded no contest and was found guilty in March.

The boy told police the sexual conduct occurred on several occasions in Piqua. Teets told police she thought the boy was at least 16 years old and claimed his mother gave her permission to have sex with him.

Her lawyer, William Zimmerman Jr., said this was her first felony offense. Lindeman said her lack of a record and having four children at home played heavily in his decision to put her on probation instead of sending her to prison.
- Yeah ok, what if this was a man who had four children? He'd be in jail or prison right now.

If she violates the community control, Lindeman said he'll send Teets to prison for 11 months.

Lindeman asked if Teets considered the impact it would have on her children if he sent her to prison. "You need to think of the kids you have been blessed to take care of," he said.

Teets was ordered to pay court costs and to attend sex offender counseling, abide by a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew and undergo random drug and alcohol testing.

She was ordered to have no contact with the boy.

Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2292 or nbowman@DaytonDailyNews.com.


CA - S.J. men suspects in death of inmate

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This is exactly why all sex offenders should be segregated from the general population.

05/17/2008

Three San Joaquin County men serving sentences in a prison near Monterey are among a group suspected of using a jailhouse shank to kill a convicted child molester Friday, a spokesman for the Salinas Valley State Prison said.

Sumnang Chea, 21, David Inthirath, 27, and Sarim Kheleung, 25, were among those believed to have killed inmate Donald Jones, 30, of Los Angeles, said Lt. Eric Moore of the prison in Monterey County. Jones was sentenced to spend 20 years in prison for sodomy on a child younger than 14 years old.

Jones was attacked at 10:53 a.m. on a general population yard for maximum-security inmates. He was taken by ambulance to an outside medical center and was pronounced dead at 12:17 p.m., Moore said.

Another three inmates from Sacramento, Orange and Los Angeles counties also are suspected in the death. All the attackers are in their 20s, Moore said.

Of those from San Joaquin County, Chea was serving a sentence for second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter, Inthirath had been sentenced for voluntary manslaughter, and Kheleung was sentenced to prison for second-degree murder, Moore said.


Addressing the Harsh Reality of Rape in Prison

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Go to the above site to listen to the audio discussion.

05/15/2008

The group Human Rights Watch estimates that 22 percent of male inmates in the Unites States have been raped at least once during their incarceration.

We continue our month-long look at the criminal justice system with a focus on the sexual health of prisoners.

For insight, Farai Chideya talks with former prison inmate, Keith DeBlasio, and Lovisa Stannow, Executive Director of the advocacy group Stop Prisoner Rape.


FL - HABITAT FOR SEX OFFENDERS


For nearly three years, Habitat For Offenders has been regarded as the leading provider of housing for registered sex offenders. We specialize in the placement of registered sex offenders.

Habitat For Offenders impressive portfolio includes some of Florida's premiere locations including Downtown Orlando, Saint Petersburg, and the retirement town of Zephyrhills. Speak with one of our representatives to learn why Habitat For Offenders has been trusted with the placement of over 300 registered sex offenders by the department of corrections, as well as loved ones.

We understand the needs of today's registered sex offender tenants.
We accept Designated "Predators" at some locations.

Call (407) 925-4471

Habitat For Offenders is known for quality service. Because of this, we are highly regarded by both property owners, Florida Department of Corrections and tenants. Our friendly and exceptional service sets us apart from others offering roach infested run down motels and over crowded roach infested mobile homes. Other companies cannot meet our extensive resources and long-standing relationships with the community.

We can find a home for a registered sex offender just about anywhere in Florida.

Habitat For Offenders has placed many men, from under the bridges of Miami and the palm trees of fort Lauderdale, in safe homes!

Call Habitat For Offenders today and learn why we are the best choice for placement of registered sex offenders. Call (407) 925-4471

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Call (407) 925-4471
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GA - SB-474 - Everyone in Georgia read this bill



SB-474 (PDF) is basically law now, and modifies 42-1-12 (PDF), which is the Georgia code on who has to register and what info has to be registered. The 42-1-12 link above is before these new changes have been added to it, but you can read SB-474 to see what is going to be added.

Basically all sex offenders will have to provide more info to the police, which includes email addresses, user names, passwords, etc.

So you will probably be visited by the sheriff or have to provide this info the next time you register.

I am not a lawyer or legal expert, so you'd need to verify this with the Southern Center for Human Rights, a lawyer or your probation/parole officers.

Below is the text for SB-474 only. See the 42-1-12 link above to see what is currently in the law before these new changed get added.



08 SB474/AP
Senate Bill 474
By: Senators Staton of the 18th, Heath of the 31st, Douglas of the 17th, Powell of the 23rd, Thomas of the 54th and others

AS PASSED
AN ACT

To amend Part 2 of Article 6 of Chapter 2 of Title 20, Title 39, Code Section 42-1-12, and Code Section 42-8-35 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to competencies and core curriculum, minors, the State Sexual Offender Registry, and terms and conditions of probation, respectively, so as to provide greater protection to children with regard to the use of the Internet; to provide for the development and distribution of Internet online safety education and information; to provide for definitions; to provide for the availability of parental controls over Internet access by minors; to provide for immunity for interactive computer service providers; to provide for the crime of failing to report certain information to the Cyber Tipline at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children; to provide for penalties; to require registered sexual offenders to provide additional information as a part of the required registration information; to provide for additional probationary conditions for a probationer who has been convicted of a criminal offense against a victim who is a minor or dangerous sexual offense as those terms are defined in Code Section 42-1-12; to provide for related matters; to provide effective dates; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF GEORGIA:

SECTION 1.
Part 2 of Article 6 of Chapter 2 of Title 20 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to competencies and core curriculum, is amended by adding a new Code section to read as follows:
"20-2-149.
(a) The Department of Education shall develop a model program for educating students regarding online safety while using the Internet, taking into consideration educational materials on this topic developed by other states as well as any other materials suggested by education experts, child psychologists, and technology companies that promote child online safety issues.

(b) Each local board of education may incorporate into its instructional program a component on online Internet safety to be taught on a schedule as determined by the local board of education."

SECTION 2.
Title 39 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to minors, is amended by adding a new chapter to read as follows:

"CHAPTER 5

39-5-1.
As used in this chapter, the term:
(1) 'Internet or any other computer network' means the computer network commonly known as the Internet and any other local, regional, or global computer network that is similar to or is a predecessor or successor of the Internet.

(2) 'Internet access provider' means an entity that provides consumers with access to the Internet; provided, however, that such term shall not include an entity that provides access to the Internet using wireless service.

(3) 'Interactive computer service' means any information service, system, or access software provider that provides or enables computer access by multiple users to a computer server, including specifically a service or system that provides access to the Internet and such systems operated or services offered by libraries or educational institutions; provided, however, that such term shall not include an entity that provides access to the Internet using wireless service.

(4) 'Minor' means a person who is less than 18 years of age.

(5) 'Wireless service' shall have the same meaning as set forth in paragraph (3) of Code Section 46-5-221.

39-5-2.
(a) If an Internet access provider knows or has reason to know from registration data in its possession that a subscriber currently resides within this state, such provider shall make available to the subscriber, in accordance with subsection (c) of this Code section, a product or service that enables the subscriber to control a minor´s use of the Internet, if such product or service is reasonably and commercially available for the technology used by the subscriber to access the Internet.

(b) The product or service shall enable, in a commercially reasonable manner, the subscriber to:

(1) Block a minor´s access to specific websites or domains;

(2) Restrict a minor´s access exclusively to specific websites or domains approved by the subscriber; and

(3) Allow the subscriber to monitor a minor´s use of the Internet service by providing a report to the subscriber of the specific websites or domains that the minor has visited or has attempted to visit but could not access because the websites or domains were blocked or restricted by the subscriber.

(c) If a product or service described in this Code section is reasonably and commercially available for the technology utilized by the subscriber to access the Internet service, the Internet service provider shall:

(1) Provide to the subscriber, at or near the time of subscription, information about the availability of a product or service described in this Code section; or

(2) Make a product or service described in this Code section available to the subscriber either directly or through a third-party vendor and may charge for the product or service.

39-5-3.
(a) Telecommunications service providers, wireless service providers, and providers of information services, including, but not limited to Internet service providers and hosting service providers, shall not be liable under this chapter by virtue of the transmission, storage, or caching of electronic communications or messages of others or by virtue of the provision of other related telecommunications or information services used by others in violation of this chapter.

- So from what I am reading here, it appears any web site, ISP or anyone can basically kick you off their service without any reason and you cannot do anything about it, because they are not liable.

(b) No provider of an interactive computer service shall be liable under this chapter for:

(1) Identifying, removing, disabling, blocking, or otherwise affecting a user based upon a good faith belief that user´s e-mail address, username, or other similar Internet identifier appeared in the National Sex Offender Registry or the state sexual offender registry; or

(2) Failing to identify, block, or otherwise prevent a person from registering for an interactive computer service or failing to remove, disable, or otherwise affect a registered user whose e-mail address, username, or other similar Internet identifier appeared in the National Sex Offender Registry or the state sexual offender registry.

39-5-4.
(a) An interactive computer service doing business in this state that obtains knowledge of facts or circumstances from which a violation of any law of this state prohibiting child pornography is apparent shall make a report, as soon as reasonably possible, of such facts and circumstances to the Cyber Tipline at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

(b) Any interactive computer service that knowingly and willfully violates subsection (a) of this Code section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon a second or subsequent conviction shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature."

SECTION 3.
Code Section 42-1-12 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to the State Sexual Offender Registry, is amended by revising subsection (a) of Code Section 42-1-12, by adding two new paragraphs to read as follows:

- This is adding new items to what needs to be provided when registering at the sheriff's office. This is just defining what these terms mean.

"(21.1) 'Username' means a string of characters chosen to uniquely identify an individual who uses a computer or other device with Internet capability to communicate with other individuals through the exchange of e-mail or instant messages or by participating in interactive online forums.

(21.2) 'User password' means a string of characters that enables an individual who uses a computer or other device with Internet capability to gain access to e-mail messages and interactive online forums."

SECTION 4.
Said Code section is further amended by revising subparagraphs (a)(16)(J) and (a)(16)(K) as follows:

- This is where it is adding to the existing 42-1-12 sections the new information which has to be supplied to the sheriff.

"(J) If enrolled, employed, or carrying on a vocation at an institution of higher education in this state, the name, address, and county of each institution, including each campus attended, and enrollment or employment status;

(K) E-mail addresses, usernames, and user passwords; and

(L) The name of the crime or crimes for which the sexual offender is registering and the date released from prison or placed on probation, parole, or supervised release."

SECTION 5.
Code Section 42-8-35 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to terms and conditions of probation, is amended by revising subsection (b) as follows:

"(b) In determining the terms and conditions of probation for a probationer who has been convicted of a criminal offense against a victim who is a minor or dangerous sexual offense as those terms are defined in Code Section 42-1-12, the court may provide that the probationer shall be:

(1) Prohibited from entering or remaining present at a victim´s school, place of employment, place of residence, or other specified place at times when a victim is present or from loitering in areas where minors congregate, child care facilities, churches, or schools as those terms are defined in Code Section 42-1-12;

(2) Required to wear a device capable of tracking the location of the probationer by means including electronic surveillance or global positioning systems. The department shall assess and collect fees from the probationer for such monitoring at levels set by regulation by the department;

(3) Required, either in person or through remote monitoring, to allow viewing and recording of the probationer´s incoming and outgoing e-mail, history of websites visited and content accessed, and other Internet based communication;

(4) Required to have periodic unannounced inspections of the contents of the probationer´s computer or any other device with Internet access including the retrieval and copying of all data from the computer or device and any internal or external storage or portable media and the removal of such information, computer, device, or medium; and

(5) Prohibited from seeking election to a local board of education.

(c) The supervision provided for under subsection (b) of this Code section shall be conducted by a probation officer, law enforcement officer, or computer information technology specialist working under the supervision of a probation officer or law enforcement agency."

SECTION 6.
This Act shall become effective on July 1, 2008; provided, however, that Sections 3 and 4 of this Act shall become effective on January 1, 2009.

SECTION 7.
All laws and parts of laws in conflict with this Act are repealed.


OH - Adam Walsh Act - Attorney Information - Senate Bill 10

View the article here

Tons of info at the above site, and below about SB-10 (PDF) in Ohio.

Sample Motions

Court Orders

Challenges

Class Action Lawsuit, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio

Filed by the Cuyahoga County Public Defender Office, the Office of the Ohio Public Defender, the ACLU of Ohio Foundation, and the Ohio Justice and Policy Center, this lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment that the 60-day time limit on the filing of challenge petitions and the provisions that require community notification for newly-classified Tier III offenders without a prior hearing violate the procedural aspect of the Due Process Clause.

Class Action Lawsuit, Hamilton County

Filed by the Ohio Justice and Policy Center, this lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of Senate Bill 10 based on the Contracts Clause, Retroactivity Clause, Due Process Clause, Double Jeopardy Clause, Inalienable Rights Clause, and Separation of Powers Doctrine of the Ohio Constitution.

Class Action Lawsuit, Licking County

Filed by the Ohio Justice and Policy Center on behalf of adult and juvenile registrants, this lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of Senate Bill 10 based on the Contracts Clause, Retroactivity Clause, Due Process Clause, Double Jeopardy Clause, Inalienable Rights Clause, and Separation of Powers Doctrine of the Ohio Constitution.

Appeals

  • State of Ohio ex rel. S___ K___ v. Hon. Jeffrey M. Welbaum, Judge
    Filed in the 2nd District, this is a complaint for a writ of mandamus and/or prohibition, asking the Court to order Judge Welbaum to appoint counsel at state expense to represent Ms. K. in her efforts to challenge reclassification under SB 10.

  • In re Darian S.
    Filed in the 3rd District, this appeal concerns the classification of a juvenile offender. Contains constitutional arguments, as well as the argument that because of the effective dates of SB 10, there was no sex offender classification law in effect from July 1 through Dec. 31, 2007.

  • State of Ohio vs. M_____ B____
    Filed in the 7th District, this appeal from the Municipal Court of Columbiana County challenges the application of SB 10 to a defendant whose offense occurred prior to the enactment of SB 10. Contains constitutional claims, as well as the argument that because of the effective dates of SB 10, there was no sex offender classification law in effect from July 1 through Dec. 31, 2007.

County Information


IL - R. Kelly trial mocks Chicago

View the article here

05/19/2008

by Jennifer Evrard

The trial of Robert Sylvester Kelly, a.k.a. the Pied Piper of R&B, aka the King of R&B, a.k.a. R. Kelly, may never take place. It’s already been more than six years since his golden shower made headlines, and because of the seemingly endless obstacles put up by the defense and the media, the music mogul may never see the inside of a jail cell. "Trapped in da Closet" could forever remain a metaphor for this sex offender.

On June 6, 2002, Kelly was indicted on 21 counts of having sexual intercourse with a minor. The charges, which have since been reduced to soliciting a minor for child pornography, stemmed from a videotape allegedly showing Kelly having sex with a 14-year-old girl. To date, Kelly still faces 14 of the original charges. After all this, jury selection for his trial only officially began last week.

The first stumbling block came last Friday at jury selection when reporters were barred from entering the courtroom. One-hundred-and-fifty potential jurors were led into Judge Vincent Gaughan’s courtroom, along with two sketch artists, but the media was stopped at the front door.

According to the Chicago Tribune, law enforcement officials chalked the mistake up to "first-day jitters." Really? The entire courtroom was so nervous that they just refused to let the media in? I understand this is a high-profile case, but you’re only making us more suspicious by barring reporters from getting the story.

The media outlets were angry, and rightfully so. They notified local attorney Terry Sullivan, who is serving as the judge’s media liaison during the case. Sullivan said he asked a deputy to pass Judge Gaughan a note asking him to halt the proceedings so the media could enter. The judge’s response, according to Sullivan and the Tribune, was: "No, not right now."

Ultimately, news agencies were offered free copies of the unsealed indictment and given an opportunity to purchase the transcript of the proceedings from the court reporter for $142.20 apiece. Great, so the media has to fork over cash to get a crack at a public trial? Who is in charge here, when those whose job it is to convey the news to the public are barred from doing so by a judge and police officers? This town is really scared about how this trial is going to play out.

Here’s the list of Kelly’s offenses, according to the Tribune, and it’s not pretty. Each one is a Class 1 felony, and if he’s found guilty he would serve between four and 15 years, whether he’s convicted of one or all 14 charges. Also, they’re all non-probationable, which means that Kelly will serve time if he’s convicted.

Count 1: Child pornography–intercourse

Counts 2 and 3: Child pornography–sexual contact

Count 4: Child pornography–masturbation

Count 5: Child pornography–lewd fondling

Count 6: Child pornography–excretion/urination

Count 7: Child pornography–pose/exhibition

Counts 8-14: Child pornography–produces or performs [pornographic material]

So this guy is pretty sick, I think we can all agree on that. So why is it that people are walking on eggshells around this case? It’s clear he’ll be convicted if all goes according to plan, but the prosecution can’t seem to maintain even a modicum of control over these proceedings. The blogs are abuzz with speculation about the difficulties of jury selection in such a high profile case, so I don’t see how it’s even possible to get an untainted jury pool. At press time a jury had been selected. It is composed of eight white and four black jurors; eight jurors are male and four are female.

The circus has been further complicated by the presence of a mysterious videographer seen outside the courthouse. The Tribune learned that the man is part of Kelly’s entourage and could possibly be getting footage for a documentary or biopic of the singer’s life. All I can say is wow.

This is completely unprofessional and could easily be stopped if all of downtown would quit acting so star-struck and treat this like real litigation! I’m embarrassed about the national press this issue is garnering because it makes Chicago government look like it has lots of biases and no control when it comes to its citizens’ rights. It makes all of us look bad to allow this trial to continue in the way that it has been going.

Kelly’s own bravado seems to be clouding everyone’s judgment. The discussion about his blue attire in court this week took up more column space than it should have, and people seem more interested in the controversy that is being stirred up than they are in bringing a guilty man to justice. Kelly was quoted as saying, "I’m the Ali of today. I’m the Marvin Gaye of today. I’m the Bob Marley of today. I’m the Martin Luther King, or all the other greats that have come before us" in a hip-hop magazine last year.

It seems to me that Chicago is buying into this kind ridiculous hype, thereby allowing a pedophile to live freely and in the limelight without facing any repercussions. Here’s hoping this all gets resolved somehow, and soon, before R. Kelly writes another god awful hip-hopera about his evasion of the law.

Jenny Evrard is a senior English student. Her opinions are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of The DePaulia.


CO - Son Dismembered Dad After Being Raped

View the article here

05/16/2008

Jeremiah Berry Says His Father Wanted Son To Become Wife

CORTEZ -- A 20-year-old man accused of killing and dismembering his father told police that after his father raped him, he shot his father, skinned and decapitated him and then fed his flesh to coyotes, according to court documents obtained by the Cortez Journal.

Jeremiah Berry was charged Wednesday with second-degree murder. Police started searching for Jack Berry, 42, on April 28, after family members in Arizona claimed he had been missing for some time.

Deputies with Montezuma County Sheriff's Department later found body parts -- some encased in concrete -- at various locations in the county.

According to a search warrant affidavit, on April 29, Jeremiah Berry confessed to police. He said that on or about Feb. 19, his father told him that God instructed him that his son needed to get a sex change and become his wife, according to the affidavit obtained by the Journal.

Shortly after that, he was raped, Jeremiah Berry said.

He said after the assault, his father threatened to take him to the mountains and "make 'Jerry' his girlfriend," the affidavit said. His father also threatened to kill him and the rest of his family, the Journal reported.

Jeremiah Berry said he shot his father in the back of the head and then stabbed him 199 times with a knife and dismembered him with an ax, according to the affidavit. Jeremiah Berry said he removed the head, the hands and the feet and skinned the body, feeding the flesh to coyotes.

For the next two days, Jeremiah Berry carried the body out of the canyon in five-gallon buckets, the affidavit said. The two buckets containing his father's head, hands and feet, he put in a storage room at a local dog kennel.

Police seized the buckets with a search warrant and a CT scan showed that one bucket -- which was encased in concrete -- contained what were believed to be a man's hands and feet, according to the affidavit.

Cortez is about 250 miles southwest of Denver, in the Four Corners region.

Read more about this story from the Cortez Journal.

Previous Stories:


WA - Nosy parents sniff out improper e-mails

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Now this is what every parent should do.

05/18/2008

When a man sent a 12-year-old Longview girl an e-mail asking her for nude photos of herself, the girl’s parents quickly knew. They have an Internet surveillance program.

“Some parents allow themselves the luxury of being naive,” said the girl’s vigiliant father.

The mother turned the e-mail and other correspondence from the man over to Cowlitz County sheriff’s Det. Pat Schallart. On Wednesday, armed with a Cowlitz County arrest warrant, Colorado authorities took into custody Benjamin Clinton Stribling, 25, of Elbert, Colo., a registered sex offender, on allegations that he sent the Longview girl sexually explicit e-mail.

“I hope a lot of parents share this story with their kids,” the father said.

The West Longview couple asked that their names not be used to protect their daughter’s identity. Schallart and Capt. Mark Nelson of the sheriff’s office verified the couple’s account.

The mother said she set up an e-mail account for her daughter for a school project. She checked up on the girl’s use of the Internet with Spector Pro, a surveillance program she installed 18 months ago.

Spector Pro secretly monitors e-mail communication and Internet use, she said.

Nelson said he “appreciated and admired” the couple for keeping their daughter safe.

Allowing your kids to go on the Internet without supervision is no different than sending them out the door with no idea where they’re going,” he said. “Kids throw, ‘You don’t trust me’ at parents” who install Spector Pro, Cyberpatrol, PC Tattletale or similar surveillance tools. “The answer is, ‘Yeah — and look. This is why.’ We have to be willing as parents to address the issue.”

In February, the girl opened an account with TeenSpot, a social networking Web site for teens.

In late March, her mother was alarmed to discover her daughter had begun chatting on TeenSpot with a man who claimed he was 22 years old.

“(Age 22 is) not quite old enough to be creepy but old enough to be interesting — and my daughter was interested,” her mother said. But the mom got a “creepy” feeling about the man and contacted Schallart.

“Then we started sleuthing,” the mother said.

“You have to prove a lot of things,” Schallart said, including that the man knew the girl’s age and had illegal intentions. Schallart also had learn his identity and whereabouts, because he was using an alias and was sending e-mail over wireless Internet away from his home.

The mother said she “chose to sit back and let her continue these e-mail conversations so that the sheriff’s office could do their work. That was hard.”

“You have to allow the case to build,” her husband said.

“It built quickly!” said his wife. “He was vulgar.”

She was appalled when he asked her daughter to e-mail nude photos of herself. The girl refused.

“She actually said, ‘Dude, do you remember how old I am?’ ” the mother said.

When the e-mail became vulgar, the girl told him to quit it and stopped corresponding with him, the mother said. But then the man apologized, became gentle and resumed worming his way into her daughter’s trust, she said.

As she spoke, she held a plastic bin full of correspondence between her daughter and Stribling.

Schallart viewed the relationship as, “A 12-year-old girl who wanted someone to talk to,” and a predator who was grooming her to do his bidding.

“(The Internet is) a fantasy world,” she said. “It’s an encounter between strangers, totally fantasy. Nobody has any idea who they’re dealing with. And (teens will) share information they wouldn’t share with their own parents. They’ll divulge information they wouldn’t normally divulge.”

The girl’s father added, “There’s a strong belief among teens that the older generation are not half as computer savvy or half as computer literate as they are. Society as a whole has presented this idea to teens that they’re this much ahead of the older generation.”

The investigation revealed that Stribling sent more than 100 similar e-mails to young girls all over the country, Schallart said. Colorado Springs Police Department officers and the Internet Crimes against Children Task Force Colorado served a search warrant and seized three computers and pornographic materials involving minors, she said.

The parents said the girl has been made aware of the investigation.

“We had a big meltdown here at the sheriff’s office,” the mother said.

Stribling is being held in Colorado in lieu of $200,000 bail on the Cowlitz County warrant for exploitation of a minor, attempted possession of sexually explicit photographs of a minor and eight counts of communication with a minor for immoral purposes.

Nelson said additional charges are possible in Colorado and Stribling may also be indicted federally. It’s unknown when he will be extradited to Cowlitz County.

Stribling’s criminal history includes sexual assault in 2003 and extortion in 2005. In the latter case, investigators said he hacked into a woman’s Internet account, found erotic photos of her and threatened to post them on-line unless she agreed to have sex with him.


TX - Dumb on crime means broken lives

View the article here

05/17/2008

Something is terribly wrong with the Texas justice system, which has sent scores of innocent people to prison for crimes committed by others. It is especially tragic that Texas has the capability and technology to prevent (or discover) errors that lead to wrongful convictions but lacks the leadership and will to use it.

What other conclusion can be drawn in the face of the dozens of DNA exonerations - now totaling 33 - of wrongfully convicted people who languished in Texas prisons for years, some nearly three decades. And those exonerations don’t include people cleared by other means, such as the Tulia residents who were convicted on the false testimony of a law enforcement officer.

Perhaps after last week’s public hearing at the state Capitol, the issue of protecting innocent citizens from being wrongfully imprisoned finally will gain traction. It must. It is unacceptable that innocent people are convicted while the real culprits get away with rape, murder and other violent crimes. That approach is not tough on crime - it’s dumb on crime.

At the Capitol, nine men who were wrongfully convicted of crimes explained the events that sent them to prison and the trauma they suffered as a result.

“I’m here to tell you I lost everything. I am still hurting. I am still broken,” said James Curtis Giles, who spent 10 years in prison for a rape he did not commit.

In the way of details, here are the reasons the system broke down for Giles and 32 others exonerated by DNA. Some cases involve a combination of the errors:

  • Witnesses misidentified suspects in 27 cases.
  • False forensic testimony contributed to six convictions. In some cases, it was deliberately false on the part of forensic experts.
  • Testimony from informants, accomplices or those with incentives to lie was found in five cases.
  • False confessions or guilty pleas led to three convictions.
  • Prosecutors suppressed exculpatory evidence or engaged in other misconduct in four cases.

Technical and scientific advances in crime investigation have narrowed the margin for error, making the problems impossible to ignore. Innocent people are being harmed. Furthermore, in many cases, the real criminals are not punished. They are free to roam and commit more crimes. As Sen. Rodney Ellis (Contact), D-Houston, said, “We’ve reached the tipping point.”

Just a few weeks ago, James Lee Woodard of Dallas was exonerated by DNA evidence after spending 27 years in prison on a rape-murder charge. His case exposed the damage done when prosecutors put conviction rates over justice. In his case, the then-Dallas district attorney suppressed evidence that would have bolstered Woodard’s innocence claim.

The case also illustrated the best and worst of Texas justice: Dallas leads all Texas counties in the number of wrongful convictions reversed by DNA - 17. In Travis County, four people have been cleared by DNA. Unlike most other counties, however, Dallas preserves biological evidence in all criminal cases, so it has the greatest capability to correct its mistakes.

Texas lawmakers should require that all counties preserve biological evidence and review questionable cases for error.

There certainly are heroes on this battlefront, including Ellis and Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins, whose efforts in reviewing cold cases for errors have set an example nationally. It’s encouraging that other leaders are working to fix flaws in the Texas system, including Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt, Travis County District Attorney-elect Rosemary Lehmberg and Court of Criminal Appeals Judges Barbara Hervey - who worked as an assistant district attorney in Bexar County - and Cheryl Johnson, who say crime labs need greater oversight or independence from police to avoid conflicts of interest.

Anyone interested in justice - regardless of political philosophy or party affiliation - has a stake in finding a solution. We can start by establishing a Texas Innocence Commission that Ellis has been pushing hard for since 2003. Lawmakers should adopt and fund it.

Such a commission could establish best practices for criminal cases that would go a long way in ensuring that the guilty are punished and the innocent are not. Texas no longer can claim to be tough on crime if it doesn’t get smart on crime.



Some of the wrongfully convicted Texans cleared by DNA

Chris Ochoa and Richard Danziger were sent to prison on a false confession. Ochoa confessed to the 1988 murder of Nancy DePriest, 20, whose body was discovered at an Austin Pizza Hut store where she worked. He confessed after police aggressively interrogated him for 20 hours and threatened to go for the death penalty. Ochoa, who worked at the same Pizza Hut, fingered co-worker Danziger as the rapist and testified against him. They spent 12 years in prison. The real culprit was identified by DNA.

James Curtis Giles had a similar name to one of the perpetrators (James Earl Giles) in the 1982 robbery and rape of a Dallas couple. His photograph was added to a police photo lineup, and the rape victim wrongly identified him as one of her three attackers. He was paroled as a registered sex offender after 10 years in prison. Prosecutors hid an affidavit by one of the criminals that identified the guilty parties and cleared Giles.

James Waller spent 10 years in prison after he was convicted of raping a child on the testimony of a witness who erred. A 12-year-old boy, the victim of a sexual assault, identified Waller as his attacker by the sound of Waller’s voice and look of his eyes. At the time, Waller and his family were the only African Americans living in the apartment complex where the victim lived and the 1982 crime took place. The attacker was black.

Carlos Lavernia spent 15 years in prison after being identified by a witness who erred. Lavernia was convicted for the 1983 rape of a woman jogging through the Barton Creek greenbelt after she finally picked him out of a photo lineup more than a year after the attack. She had failed to identify anyone in two previous photo lineups. Austin police detective J.W. Thompson helped obtain DNA testing for Lavernia after interviewing him in prison in 1999.