Tuesday, August 26, 2008

NV - Upcoming court challenge sparks debate between sex offenders and neighbors

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Two high-risk sex offenders have recently registered with Reno police and it's sparked debate on an upcoming court challenge between neighbors and the offenders and their rights.

Nevada was among the first to pass laws that would allow the state to post on the internet the names, photos, home and work addresses and vehicle descriptions of offenders who've served probation or prison sentences on convictions as far back as 1956.

Some advocates say sex offenders have rights too and it's wrong to lump those guilty of minor offenses with the worst offenders.

The advocates say the laws don't provide public safety and only demonize a particular group but the Deputy State Attorney General says the system is based on convictions. He says informing the public of a true fact is not considered punishment.
- Why don't you live under these laws for several years, then tell me this?  It's easy to say it's not punishment, when you are not the one living with it.

"Having the knowledge and knowing how to protect your children is of the utmost importance by notifying the community of who lives in their area that has potential to reoffend which tier 3 offenders do,"
- So why isn't all criminals on a registry so we can further "protect" our children and ourselves?  Why pick on one group?  That is discrimination!  If it must be done for sex offenders, then ALL CRIMINALS should be on a public accessible registry.

Sex offender laws in Nevada are set to face a court challenge Sept., 20.

CA - Supervisors Discuss Sex Offender Ordinance with State Parole

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BAKERSFIELD -- A month after failing to show to a Board of Supervisors meeting representatives from state parole were in the board's chambers Tuesday morning talking about sex offenders.

The conversation between state parole and the supervisors focused on the county's proposed ordinance to strengthen Jessica's Law.

They also discussed the specific issue of the El Don Motel, where more than 50 sex offenders reside and some say it is in violation of the law by being within 2,000 feet of a park. While state parole disagrees, they say they're willing to work with local communities.

Thomas Hoffman, Director of Division of Adult Parole, told the board that if they have a location of sex offenders they want moved, if they have another location to move them to, that state parole would do that the very same day.

State parole says their biggest concern with communities kicking properly registered offenders out of areas is that those offenders will end up being homeless and transient meaning they're out of touch with law enforcement and could be a danger and that's why they'd need a place to move to.
- If they are properly registered and it's a legal place to live, then why are they being kicked out just because someone doesn't like it?  Where do you expect them to live?

But for local businessman Jim Starkey, who started this whole conversation over the last few months, wasn't satisfied with state parole's explanations.

Starkey also said that his home for developmentally challenged adults is within the so-called "green zone" for the offenders at the El Don meaning that's where they can freely go, which concerns him greatly for his clients.

Nothing new was decided on the ordinance that the board has been discussing for months now.

They received and filed state parole's report as they continue to figure out how to remedy this problem, not just at the El Don but across the county.

Also discussed during the meeting was using GPS devices to monitor parolees in the county and state.

IN - ACLU challenges Jeffersonville's sex-offender ordinance

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The American Civil Liberties Union argued in court Monday that an ordinance prohibiting sex offenders from entering public property owned by Jeffersonville is unconstitutional.

Ken Falk, legal director of the ACLU of Indiana, said it is not rational to ban someone from going to a park when he or she has not committed an offense there.

“The ban applies whether you’ve done anything wrong in the park or not,” Falk said.

The city’s attorney, Larry Wilder, said that Indiana allows local municipalities to establish rules regarding their parks.

He argues that there is a rational basis for denying sex offenders to enter the park. He cited a national study that found that convicted sex offenders are four times more likely to be rearrested for subsequent offenses.

The challenge stems from Eric Dowdell’s attempts to watch his son play baseball in Jeffersonville. Earlier this month, Clark Circuit Court Judge Abe Navarro ruled that Dowdell did not meet the requirements for an exemption to the rule because of his criminal history. Dowdell has pleaded guilty to domestic battery and battery and faces charges of class D felony strangulation and class A misdemeanor domestic battery.

Falk argued that his history is irrelevant.

“He’s not even required to register (on the sex-offender list),” Falk said. “The state has determined that we don’t have to know Mr. Dowdell’s whereabouts.”

When asked in an interview if it would be constitutional for Jeffersonville to prohibit people currently on the registered sex-offender list from entering public property, Falk said that would not be constitutional either. He said doing so violates their “rights to personal autonomy.”

Wilder countered that “it is not a fundamental right to enter a park.”

The decision will have widespread effects. Falk said he has been contacted by other sex offenders in Jeffersonville who want the ordinance overturned, but he said he could not recall how many. He also said the ruling is important as other communities in Indiana are considering similar ordinances.

The attorneys have 15 days to file paperwork, and then Superior Court No. 1 Judge Vicki Carmichael will make a decision.

Wilder predicts that no matter what happens, the losing party will appeal the decision.

“I fully expect that one day Mr. Falk and I will be presenting our cases in Indianapolis,” Wilder said. “I know the Jeffersonville City Council is committed to protecting the children in this community, and the ACLU is committed to protecting people’s rights.”

Female Sexual Abuse of Children - The Ultimate Taboo

WARNING: This video series may be disturbing to some people, viewer discretion is advised!

NC - Limiting Where Sex Offenders Live

Not sure how old this video is, but the offender here, says what I have said for years now.

PA - Ex-official to stay on probation

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Samuel R. Hozella III, a former Schuylkill Haven borough council vice president who exposed himself to a 10-year-old girl, must remain on probation, a Schuylkill County judge decided Monday.

Judge John E. Domalakes rejected Hozella’s request that his probation be terminated early, ruling there was no evidence Hozella had successfully completed his sex offenders program.

“I want him to continue that treatment,” Domalakes said of Hozella, 43, of Sinking Spring, who spent 45 days in prison in 2006 after having been convicted of indecent exposure and later found to have violated his probation.

As a result, Hozella will be on probation for almost two more years as the result of his conviction in a case that touched off a political controversy in Schuylkill Haven.

A Schuylkill County jury convicted Hozella on Sept. 6, 2005, of indecent exposure, while being unable to reach a verdict on a corruption of minors charge. Domalakes, who presided over Hozella’s one-day trial, sentenced him on Oct. 27, 2005, to spend three years on probation, pay costs and a $300 fine, enter the sex offenders program and have no contact with the victim.

Domalakes then revoked Hozella’s probation on May 17, 2006, and again on Aug. 4, 2006, after spending 45 days in prison for not participating in the sex offender program. At the second revocation hearing, Domalakes extended Hozella’s probation until May 21, 2010.

Schuylkill Haven borough police charged Hozella with exposing himself to the girl on Dec. 1, 2003, in the borough.

Hozella said Monday he believes he has been rehabilitated by participating in the sex offenders program.

However, Domalakes accepted the testimony of Berks County probation officer Michael S. Brown, who testified he talked on Friday with Hozella, who was reluctant to accept full responsibility for his actions.

“I found that to be unacceptable,” Brown, said.

Brown also testified that he had given Hozella permission to travel for work-related reasons, and that Hozella never asked him for permission to attend school-related events with his wife, Virginia Matias, and her daughter.

Hozella’s case became a political football in 2005 when Robert M. Reedy, a Republican candidate for mayor and former borough police officer, alleged Hozella’s fellow borough council members had pressured the police department to drop the charges.

IA - Thoughtless? Yes. A sex offender? No

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High school student Andy Dougherty of Moville doesn't belong on the state's sex-offender registry with rapists and child molesters. But the absurdity of this state's sex-offender laws put him at risk for landing there.

Dougherty did something stupid. At the age of 17, he sent a friend a 10-second video that showed Dougherty with his pants down, engaged in a sex act with his teenage girlfriend. Dougherty sent the video after the couple had a fight, apparently trying to get revenge on his girlfriend for spreading rumors about him.

A Woodbury County prosecutor charged Dougherty with telephone dissemination of obscene material to a minor, a sex crime. Since then, the teen pleaded guilty to three counts of third-degree harassment and will spend time in jail, do community service and pay fines.

But had he not pleaded guilty to lesser offenses, he faced having his entire life turned upside down. If convicted and placed on the registry, he would have been banned from living certain places, prohibited from doing certain jobs and labeled a sex offender for life.

Dougherty's story is, we suppose, a cautionary tale to teens: Don't send racy cell-phone videos.

But more than a lesson for teens, the case should serve to educate Iowa lawmakers. It calls into question this state's extreme and unreasonable laws on sex offenders.

First, there's something wrong with the law when a teen who sends pornography to another teen could be placed on the sex-offender registry. That list should be reserved for those who are a threat to society - the people Iowans need to know to watch out for.

Second, the case underscores the ridiculousness of residency restrictions on sex offenders in this state. If convicted, Dougherty would not have been able to live within 2,000 feet of a school or child-care center. Since state universities don't allow sex offenders to live on campus, a conviction would have meant he couldn't live in most residence halls at the three state universities.

As this page has noted repeatedly, restricting where sex offenders can live doesn't make anyone safer. It soaks up thousands of hours of law enforcement officers' time and continues to punish one group of criminals long after their sentences have been served.

In Dougherty's case, society wouldn't be better off if his entire life had been disrupted and derailed. The teen didn't rape anyone. There's no evidence he's a threat to other Iowans.

Some good may come out of this case, however. Some Iowa lawmakers are apparently questioning why a law intended to target pedophiles is ensnaring teenagers angry at ex-girlfriends.
- Not all people on the sex offender registry are pedophiles.

Even Rep. Christopher Rants (Email) of Sioux City, who has repeatedly defended the residency restrictions and getting tough on sex offenders, seems to recognize there's something wrong when current law could impose such harsh punishments on, in his words, a teenager's "stupid mistake."
- Getting tough doesn't mean the laws are right, constitutional and will work.  We never learn from history, do we?

If Rants is willing to question the reasonableness of this state's sex-offender laws, there may be hope lawmakers could revisit those laws with an eye to common sense.
- Common sense?  Are you kidding?  These people making and passing these laws, have no common sense.  If they did, they would listen to the many experts on sex offenders and lawyers who continue to say the laws are unconstitutional and will not work.  So you see, there is no common sense in the state legislature!

IN - Park ban on sex offenders challenged - Man can't watch son play baseball

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Prohibiting a man convicted of sexual battery 10 years ago from going to a Jeffersonville park to watch his son play baseball is irrational and unconstitutional, a lawyer told a Clark Superior Court judge yesterday.

The park rule imposed on Eric Dowdell and others by a city ordinance enacted last year "bans people who have had no offense in a park" and violates Dowdell's "rights to personal autonomy," said Ken Falk, legal director of the ACLU of Indiana.

Falk also told Judge Vicki Carmichael there is nothing to support an argument that Dowdell presents a particular risk to children in the park.

But Larry Wilder, the lawyer who wrote Jeffersonville's sex-offender ordinance, argued that cities have the authority to make laws protecting their citizens in city parks. Use of parks "is not a fundamental right and constitutional protections don't apply," Wilder said.

Dowdell, 36, of Clarksville also wants to use Jeffersonville parks to play basketball and baseball himself, watch Thunder Over Louisville, and take part in other lawful activities, Falk said in a court filing.

Carmichael, whose hearing considered the constitutional claims in the case, said she would issue a decision after Sept. 12, the deadline for the lawyers to submit final documents.

Dowdell has twice sought court waivers from the city's sex-offender ordinance. A waiver was denied in 2007 because he didn't provide all the required documents. It was denied earlier this year because of Dowdell's police record since his 1996 sex offense.

Dowdell pleaded guilty to domestic battery and battery in separate incidents in 1999 and 2001 involving his son's mother. He also has agreed to plead guilty to domestic battery involving an incident earlier this year with a different woman.

But Falk said yesterday that the more recent offenses have no bearing on whether the parks ordinance is constitutional. The ACLU is concerned because the ordinance is one of several in Indiana and around the country that erode the rights of sexual offenders after they have completed their sentences, he said.

While it is important for cities to protect their children, Falk said in an interview, the problem with such ordinances is, "Where do you stop?"

Wilder, in an interview, said if the Jeffersonville ordinance is struck down, it will raise a question about "where do you stop" in limiting a city's authority to protect its citizens.

Ultimately, he said, cities could be unable to control their parks.

TX - Ex-Fort Worth officer sentenced in fondling case

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FORT WORTH — A former Fort Worth police officer was sentenced to five years’ deferred adjudication probation Friday after pleading guilty to fondling the daughter of a fellow officer.

David Ryan Babb, 23, was fired from the Police Department in December after an internal investigation into the incident. Babb joined the department in August 2006.

As part of the plea, Babb must take sex offender classes and will have to register for life as a sex offender, prosecutor Kim D’Avignon said.

"After discussing options with the family, it was agreed that we would offer this, and the defendant accepted the offer," D’Avignon said.

Babb’s attorney, Navid Alband, did not want to comment.

Investigators have said Babb stayed the night at the home of a fellow officer during a gathering June 12, 2007, because he was too intoxicated to drive.

The next morning, the homeowner’s 9-year-old daughter told her parents that Babb had come into her room in the night and touched her arm and genital area outside her clothing.

The girl’s 12-year-old sister told authorities that Babb had also come into her room and had touched her back, hair and arm.

Babb had told internal affairs investigators that he was heavily intoxicated and did not recall going into either girl’s bedroom or touching them.

Deferred adjudication means that if Babb completes his probation, the case will be dismissed and there will be no conviction on his record, although the arrest will remain.

AUSTRALIA - Man killed suspected pedophile 'to protect his fiancee'

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A MAN fatally beat another - who he believed to be a pedophile - to protect his fiancee from sexual assault, a court has heard.

Duane Matthew Simpson today told the Supreme Court he "lost control" and killed Robert Albert Gardiner only after "extreme and grave provocation".

The court was told Simpson attacked Gardiner after walking in on the attempted assault of Tiahn Louise Lovell - who is charged with assisting her fiance's crime of manslaughter.

Gilbert Aitken, for Simpson, said Gardiner's actions mitigated his client's conduct.

"Simpson's first reaction was to go to the aid and protection of his fiancee, and all sorts of things were going through his head," he said.

"He saw a man trying to grope his fiancee, trying to touch her breasts, and he knew Gardiner was a sex offender who had been jailed for offences of violence.

"It was extreme and grave provocation, and he lost control."

Simpson, 27, has pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Lovell, 31, and their friend Brenton James Grosser, 44, have admitted assisting an offender.

Simpson killed Gardiner, whose badly beaten body was found at a property at Wandearah East, near Port Pirie, on Australia Day last year.

His ankles were bound by red tape, his shorts pulled down around his ankles and his T-shirt was stuck around his neck.

A broken piece of a whisky bottle was found wedged inside Gardiner's mouth and one of his legs was broken after his death.

In sentencing submissions today, Mr Aitken said Gardiner liked to get drunk and incite fights by claiming he was a pedophile.

He said Lovell had shared with Simpson her long history of sexual abuse and domestic violence.

It was these factors, he said, that prompted Simpson's actions.

"My client is now absolutely shocked by the gravity of his actions, and is genuinely remorseful," he said.

Justice Trish Kelly will sentence all three offenders next month.

FL - Where Can You Live in Florida if You Are a Registered Sex Offender?


The Florida Department of Law Enforcement website answers the question regarding where registered sex offenders and sexual predators may live in Florida as follows:

"In very general terms, barring any exceptions as so outlined in Florida Registration Statute, if a subject is a registered offender, who has a released status (meaning he/she is no longer serving any sanctions for the crime), and his/her offense date was committed before 10/1/2004, there is no Florida Statutory restriction on where he/she can live based upon his/her designation as an offender/predator.

However, Florida Statute 794.065, provides that certain individuals who have been convicted of a violation of s. 794.011, s. 800.04, s. 827.071, or s. 847.0145, with an offense date on or after October 1, 2004, where the victim of the offense was less than 16 years of age, cannot reside within 1,000 feet of any school, day care center, park, or playground. Please see the complete statutory text for F.S. 794.065 for further information.

Furthermore, there may also be municipal and/or county ordinances in your area regarding sex offenders/predators. Contact the appropriate entities in your local area (i.e. your local Sheriff's Office and/or Police Department) to obtain this information. For contact information for each of the Sheriff's Offices and Police Departments click on Links from the registry website.

Finally, if you are a sexual offender/predator who is still serving sanctions imposed, such as probation, parole, or community control under the [Florida] Department of Corrections (DC), you are required to follow the Conditions of Probation ordered by the judge in accordance with Florida statute. Restrictions are normally listed in these conditions. You should contact your probation officer directly for more information."

Some city and county ordinances in Florida make it extremely difficult--if not impossible--for sexual offenders to live lawfully in their communities. Take Miami for example. Last year, CNN reported how some sex offenders in that city have resorted to living under a bridge in order to comply with Miami's sex offender registration laws:

MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- The sparkling blue waters off Miami's Julia Tuttle Causeway look as if they were taken from a postcard. But the causeway's only inhabitants see little paradise in their surroundings.

Five men -- all registered sex offenders convicted of abusing children -- live along the causeway because there is a housing shortage for Miami's least welcome residents.

"I got nowhere I can go!" says sex offender Rene Matamoros, who lives with his dog on the shore where Biscayne Bay meets the causeway.

The Florida Department of Corrections says there are fewer and fewer places in Miami-Dade County where sex offenders can live because the county has some of the strongest restrictions against this kind of criminal in the country.

Florida's solution: house the convicted felons under a bridge that forms one part of the causeway.

The Julia Tuttle Causeway, which links Miami to Miami Beach, offers no running water, no electricity and little protection from nasty weather. It's not an ideal solution, Department of Corrections Officials told CNN, but at least the state knows where the sex offenders are.

Nearly every day a state probation officer makes a predawn visit to the causeway. Those visits are part of the terms of the offenders' probation which mandates that they occupy a residence from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

But what if a sex offender can't find a place to live?

That is increasingly the case, say state officials, after several Florida cities enacted laws that prohibit convicted sexual offenders from living within 2,500 feet of schools, parks and other places where children might gather.

Bruce Grant of the Florida Department of Corrections said the laws have not only kept sex offenders away from children but forced several to live on the street.