Monday, June 9, 2008

UK - Former policeman on child pornography charges stabbed to death

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09/06/2008

A former police constable who was stabbed to death outside his home had faced pressure from villagers to leave his home after being charged with child pornography offences, it has been disclosed.

Geoffrey Harries, 49, appeared in court in May accused of possessing more than 2,000 indecent images of children, and was due to stand trial next week.

He was stabbed at about 1.45am on Saturday in the street outside his home in the village of Trimsaran, west Wales. He died later in hospital.

Dyfed Powys Police are questioning a 30-year-old man on suspicion of murder.

A neighbour said residents in the village had drawn up a petition demanding he leave, and handed it to him and to police. Mr Harries, who was married to his wife Elizabeth, and was on bail, moved in with his widowed mother in the village as he awaited trial. He was said to have been driven out of a previous address.

Neighbours said Mr Harries had gone out to confront two men who were allegedly slashing his car tyres, and was stabbed several times in the chest.

One said: "He heard a noise and ran out and confronted the men. I don't believe they or any members of their families were ever victims of any crimes committed by Harries.

"But people here felt very strongly that they did not want him living in the area. There are many young families here.

"Some of the locals signed a petition and handed it to him and the police. It demanded his immediate departure from the village, but he refused to go.

"Some of the locals even went to the house on one or more occasions threatening him."

Another resident Christine Davies said: "Many people felt uneasy about the fact that Harries was living in their midst. I was talking to people when I took the bus today and some were saying 'Good riddance'."

She added: "I feel sorry for his mother above all. She is a nice woman and does not deserve this."

Adrian Jones, a local cockle-picker, said: "There is a feeling that he only got as good as he deserved if he is guilty."

Police are trying to establish a motive for the attack. A spokesman said: "The motivation is part of our investigation."

Mr Harries resigned from the Dyfed Powys force in March, after his arrest. He appeared at Cardiff Magistrates' Court in May charged with 15 offences of making indecent images of children between May 2005 and December 2007. He was also facing one charge of possessing indecent images on Nov 26 last year.

He was alleged to have had 2,082 images on his computer. The court heard nine of the images found on the computer were classed as level five, the most serious on the scale.

Mr Harries was released on bail pending a trial which was due to start at Cardiff Crown Court next Monday.

The case was brought following an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.


CA - Rapper Numskull Charged With 12 Felonies

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06/09/2008

Authorities in California have charged rapper Numskull (born Garrick Demond Husbands) with a laundry list of felony counts.

Varying sources have the exact number of felony counts ranging from 12 to 15, but the story is the same: the rapper has been in custody since January 24th of this year, facing charges including two counts of sodomy, one count of rape of a victim incapable of consent, one count of oral copulation against the victim’s will and three counts of corporal injury to a cohabitant.

According to musikizme.com, Numskull face a minimum of 25 to life if convicted, and would be required to register as a sex offender in state of California.

The rapper gained popularity as one half of the duo The Luinz with their hit song "I Got 5 On It."

Numskull is going on trail June 18th, with bail is currently set at $245,000.


NV - Court: Sex offender exempted from psych panel review

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06/09/2008

In a 2-1 vote, the Nevada Supreme Court's northern panel has ruled a former sex offender serving time for a non-sexual offense doesn't have to get a psychological panel certification before his parole.

Before sex offenders are released in Nevada, a Psych Panel must certify they are not a serious danger to commit another sex-related offense.

Eric Todd Douglas was originally convicted of attempted sexual assault in 1996. He was later paroled but re-arrested in 2005 on charges of attempted burglary while on parole. He was re-certified for release on the attempted sexual assault charge and began serving his sentence for the attempted burglary. But that certification was a less stringent review designed to move him from one sentence to another, not to release him from prison.

When Douglas became eligible for parole on the burglary charge, he was told he had to go before the Psych Panel again. This time, the panel rejected him and Douglas filed suit saying the parole board had no right to make him go through a psychological evaluation as a sex offender for parole on a non-sexual conviction.

The state argued the law requires a prisoner to get that certification "if that offender has ever been convicted of a crime listed in (statute)."

But Justices Nancy Saitta and Michael Cherry ruled Douglas was right, that the statute, "does not provide authority for requiring Douglas to obtain yet another Psych Panel certification on his attempted burglary charge."

They wrote that the state's interpretation is so broad "it would produce absurd results." The example they cited is a prisoner convicted of a sex crime years ago who had fully discharged his sentence. If that person was convicted of a new crime not sexual in nature, they said it would be absurd to require Psych Panel certification before his release on parole in the new case.

But Justice Bill Maupin disagreed with the ruling, arguing the law as he sees is clearly permits the parole board to demand a new certification when a sex offender is going to be released from prison no matter what his current conviction is for. He cited the statute which says any sex offender certified for parole "who returns to the Department of Corrections may not be paroled unless a panel recertifies him...."

He also cited the portion of the statute saying a Psych Panel can revoke certification at any time and that there is no right for any prisoner to be certified for parole.

While Cherry and Saitta pointed to Douglas's institutional certification when he was parole to the burglary sentence, Maupin said that wasn't as stringent a process since the panel was fully aware Douglas was just moving from one sentence to the next and not being released.

He said the majority decision ""suggests that a more cursory evaluation done to facilitate institutional parole to another sentence is binding so as to preclude additional evaluations clearly allowed under this statute to protect the public."

"That, in my view, effects and absurd result," he concluded.

The attorney general's office is expected to seek a rehearing on the issue by the full seven-member court.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.


Perverted Justice - Thought crime in action

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You can skip down to the text in blue. And think about the kids who are being arrested or fired because of drawing they've done, or something they said about killing someone? Talking about something, and carrying it out, it two different things, but not now that Big Brother is charging people for "THOUGHT CRIMES!"

08/08/2007

NEW YORK - "This is not a crime about thought," says the assistant U.S. attorney. Then what is it?

Mahmud Faruq Brent, a 30-year-old D.C. taxi driver, is about to spend the next 15 years behind bars for "conspiring to support a terrorist organization." No one, not even prosecutors, believes that the Ohio-born Brent planned to attack the United States. Brent was convicted of supporting Lakshar-e-Taiba, an Islamist group in Pakistan, and of attending one of its training camps.

"This defendant took action and he offered himself to a terrorist organization," explains the prosecutor. But all the "action" took place in the would-be jihadi's brain. There was no terrorist act. There was no crime.

Based in Pakistan, Lakshar-e-Taiba has attacked India, which it seeks to drive out of Kashmir. It has also carried out terrorist acts in Pakistan as part of its campaign to oust the military junta of General Pervez Musharraf. It's easy to see why Musharraf is afraid of the group. One could understand why the U.S., as Musharraf's ally, might honor Pakistan's request to extradite one of its members. But Lakshar-e-Taiba has never attacked a target in the United States, the West--anywhere outside the Asian subcontinent. Why are American taxpayers footing the bill to lock this man up for 15 years?

Abdulrahman Farhane, a Brooklyn bookstore owner accused with Mahmud Brent of supporting the Pakistani group Lakshar-e-Taiba, received 13 years in federal prison. Two others charged in the case are awaiting sentencing.

"The government is arresting individuals on terrorism charges based on what individuals have said or thought--not on actual, concrete plans," editorialized the Daytona Beach News-Journal- about Hamid Hayat, one of countless Muslims nabbed after 9/11 for "providing material support or resources to terrorists." The feds "only proved that he did things that sometimes precede acts of terrorism. It was pre-emptive justice, but was also speculative justice."

Most people have indulged in theoretical discussions about how to rob a bank or even how to get away with murder. They obviously don't intend to carry out their "plots." Yet any of us could fall victim to the recent tendency to equate crimes of intent to crimes of action.

Jack McClellan, 45, is a self-described pedophile who runs a blog that advocates sex with children. "If you look at things he has posted, he clearly is a pedophile," says Lt. Thomas Sirkel of the Sheriff's Department in Los Angeles, where McClellan lives. As far as we know, however, he has never acted on it. His record is clean.

Local mothers are plotting--er, organizing--to "to push lawmakers in Sacramento to legislate Mr. McClellan out of business," reports The New York Times. "Just the idea that this person could get away with what he was doing and no one could press charges has made me angry," Jane Thompson of East Los Angeles told the paper. Of course, what really angers her is that he's getting away with what he's thinking.

I don't blame her. But McClellan hasn't done anything. Do we really want to live in a culture that penalizes violent and impure thoughts?

Thoughtcrime pours big bucks into CBS Television, broadcaster of the take-a-bath-after-viewing program "To Catch a Predator." No one cares about entrapped suckers like the guy "in a SpongeBob SquarePants jacket, armed with a bottle of K-Y Jelly." Like dozens of other would-be pervs, the 21-year-old man thinks he's going to meet a 14-year-old girl for sex, only to find Dateline's Chris Hansen and a passel of cops waiting to arrest him.

"Anti-predator stings involving decoys may actually outnumber crimes involving real victims," reports Rolling Stone. "To Catch a Predator" claims there are 50,000 child molesters online. But "a study conducted by the University of New Hampshire estimated that there were fewer than 2900 arrests for online sexual offenses against minors in a single year. What's more, only 1152 involved victims who were approached by strangers on the Internet--and more than half this number were actually cops posing as kids."

In other words, most men who fantasize about sex with children don't actually do it. Judeo-Christian tradition rewards those who deny temptation; we throw them in jail. Perverted Justice, the group that trolls chat rooms to set up stings for "To Catch a Predator," has a fitting name.

Ari Fleischer warned us to watch what we say. Now we'd better watch what we think.


NY - Few real solutions for sex offenders

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06/09/2008

'False alarm' doesn't change society's ongoing conundrum

Last week, a 9-year-old girl said she saved her 8-year-old sister from a possible abduction by kicking a man who had grabbed her in a parking lot on the west side of Binghamton in broad daylight.
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The story wasn't true. The child later told police she had made it up -- although the level of detail about the appearance of the suspect and his vehicle suggests she might have had some help.

Before that confession, however, the community's initial reaction was a clear reflection of our times. The story rang true because we know there are predators among us and we've seen what terrible things they're capable of. Moreover, the community was already on alert due to reports of a man exposing himself to youngsters at Johnson City's North Side Park.

And beyond that, a lot of people in the community are convinced that Binghamton especially is home to more than its fair share of paroled sex offenders, although state officials insist that isn't so.

Ours isn't the only community struggling with the problem, however, and while it's a given that everyone involved in the effort to protect children from paroled sex offenders has good intentions, good results are what matter most -- and that's where opinions diverge.

It's easy to say we don't want any of them "here," and propose putting them "somewhere else." The problem with this approach is that every community wants to be rid of them and eventually you run out of "somewhere else."

It's easy to say all sex offenders should be locked away for life, or executed, but that would greatly complicate the prosecution of them and could in fact place victims in graver danger. The perpetrator might be less inclined to leave a potential witness.

The recidivism rate among pedophiles is very high, but not all sex offenders are pedophiles and there are some who benefit from treatment and pose no residual threat.

It's easy to demonize agencies which try to help paroled sex offenders, but without such assistance, what would the rate of recidivism be?

And while we focus so intently on paroled offenders, what are we doing to prevent new crimes?

Megan's Law is beneficial in that it alerts the community to the presence of registered sex offenders who previously went anonymous, but it doesn't offer much guidance about what to do with that information. Increased vigilance, surely -- and the police and parole officers pursue that assignment rigorously -- but not vigilantism.

The protection of children is a paramount concern, and the presence of sex offenders in any number in any community is always going to be troubling. Society is still trying to decide how best to deal with such criminals, including the possibility of confinement in mental hospitals once their criminal sentence is completed; and long-term use of monitoring devices to keep track of their movements.

Last week's incident further jangled community nerves, and some residents suggested harsh punishment for the child who concocted the story. That's a matter best left to her parents, but it would be appropriate to make sure she's familiar with the tale of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf."


FL - Ex-Detective Accused of Arson

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06/05/2008

Former Lake Wales Officer Robert Hendrix is jailed on charges of torching his home and collecting the insurance.

LAKE WALES - A former Lake Wales police detective, who was already facing sex-related charges involving a 16-year-old girl, has now been charged with setting the fire that destroyed his house and then collecting $183,000 in insurance.

Robert Alan Michael Hendrix, 25, was jailed Tuesday on charges of first-degree arson and insurance fraud. His bail was set at $125,000 during a first appearance hearing Wednesday.

Hendrix resigned from the department May 15, said Capt. Troy Schulze.

As a result, Schulze said, the department is no longer involved in either case. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is the investigative agency on the charges relating to the 16-year-old girl, while the State Fire Marshal's Office is responsible for the investigation of the fire.

Hendrix's lawyer, Richard Hornsby of Orlando, said he expects his client to be cleared of all charges.

At the time of the Oct. 24, 2007, fire, Hendrix was working with the Police Department's street crimes unit. He said he returned home Oct. 23 to find someone had spray-painted gang graffiti inside his garage.

Hendrix said he sent his wife and three children to stay with relatives in Mulberry for the night after the vandalism was discovered.

Shortly after midnight the fire was started, apparently in the garage area, Kevin Shireman of the State Fire Marshal's Office said at the time.

Shireman said the fire was "classified as an arson."

In the probable cause affidavit filed by the State Attorney's Office, Michael Douglas, an investigator with the State Fire Marshal's Office, said Hendrix used his cellular telephone to video the garage after the vandalism.

Douglas said the video showed a plastic gas can on a shelf, but that can had been moved to the floor when investigators arrived.

Douglas also noted that Hendrix called his supervisor at the Lake Wales Police Department after the fire, as well as a police dispatcher, but did not call 911 to report the fire.

"It is the observation of State Fire Marshal detectives that Robert Hendrix 'set up' the initial incident, in preparation to set fire to the residence," the affidavit said.

Hendrix and his then-wife, Beverly, later collected $122,000 from the Universal and Casualty Insurance Co. for the destruction of their home and $61,000 for its contents.

According to his personnel file, Hendrix also received about $3,500 in cash, plus other donations, from residents of the community and members of various law enforcement agencies.

After the fire, Hendrix was placed on administrative duty at the Lake Wales Police Department.

That ended May 10 when he was suspended without pay following his arrest on charges that he used his cell phone to send sexually explicit text messages to a 16-year-old girl who had been involved in a police cadet program.

Hendrix had been the coordinator of the program, which involved high school students, before the fire incident.

Hendrix was charged by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement with "use of an electronic device to seduce a child" and "traveling to meet a minor," which are third- and second-degree felonies.

FDLE investigators subpoenaed phone records after witnesses told police they had seen Hendrix and the girl kissing Jan. 21 in the Olive Garden in Winter Haven.

Some of the text messages included in that arrest affidavit were written Jan. 20 and describe in detail what Hendrix planned to do with the girl and the girl's encouraging reaction. They are written with the abbreviations of text messaging.

"U hav the sexiest body I have ever seen. I love you I want you really bad," Hendrix said in one of the cleaner messages.

After leaving the Olive Garden, Hendrix paid $140 in cash to rent a room at a nearby Best Western Admiral's Inn, the affidavit said.

The following day, he text messaged the girl that he had "spent hours in da bed w da girl of my dreams last night and I'm so happy!"

Hendrix was arrested May 8 and his $150,000 bail was posted May 10.

Additional charges relating to the "electronic transfer of info harmful to a minor" were filed May 30. Hendrix was released the following day after posting a $5,000 bond for each of the new counts.

The divorce with his wife, Beverly, was finalized March 19. They have three children, ages 1, 2, and 4.

Lake Wales Police Chief Herbert Gillis, Deputy Chief Chris Velasquez and Capt. Patrick Quinn were not available for comment Wednesday.

Hornsby, Hendrix's lawyer, said he expects his client to eventually be cleared of all charges.

"They're just trying to pile on," Hornsby said of the charges involving arson and insurance fraud.

He said those charges were "a result of poor detective work."

He said the arson was "retaliation against him for his arrest of several gang members."

"They've been sitting on this information for several months. There's nothing new," he said.

Hornsby declined to go into specifics on the charges regarding the girl, but said "I think it will be clear that Mr. Hendrix did not do anything inappropriate."

Hendrix had been with the department since January 2004 and was paid $39,574 annually.

His personnel file contains two commendations. He was commended in November 2007 for working with two other officers in solving an armed robbery that had occurred at the Kentucky Fried Chicken. The investigation resulted in four arrests.

In June 2006, Hendrix was commended for making 52 criminal arrests, one warrant arrest and issuing 69 traffic citations during a three-month period.

He was named Officer of the Year for 2005 by the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

In May 2006, he was reprimanded for violating department policy by not ending a vehicle chase after losing radio communications with the department.

Hendrix's last performance review, written in December 2006, gave him high marks, saying he was "always ready to help other officers" and was "highly self motivated."

[Bill Bair can be reached at bill.bair@theledger.com or 863-676-7118.]