Tuesday, September 23, 2008

URGENT CALL OUT TO ALL READERS, THEIR FAMILIES, AND CIRCLES OF ASSOCIATION. YOUR IMMEDIATE ACTION IS REQUIRED! STOP S. 431'S FURTHER ATTACKS ON THE U.S. CONSTITUTION

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SENATOR BIDEN KNOWS WHERE 400,000 INTERNET PREDATORS ARE!

Courtesy of OperationAwareness

It's all about money!  Like this article says, they can bail out huge banks from money out of thin air, or the tax payers, but they cannot fund this?  Why not?  Because it doesn't make them rich?

09/22/2008

(Acutally, it's 399,999 not counting former disgraced Florida Senator Mark Foley who won't be charged).

Sen. Biden on introducing S-1738 in 2007, said, and I quote, "Let me repeat that, we have new investigative techniques that will allow us to identify many of the people who are trafficking child pornography and we can go pick them up. A very conservative estimate is that there are more than 400,000 people who we know who are trafficking child pornography on the Internet in the U.S. right now. We can, with minimal effort, take these people down."

So why aren't they? Oh yeah, money. The Feds need more money. They seem to be able to find it instantly when it comes to bailing out banks and other special interest groups who line their pockets with dough, but apparently when it comes to saving children from being victims of child pornography there never seems to be enough.

Perhaps if they stopped focusing all their energy and resources on former offenders who have served their sentences and have gone decades without re-offending we could go get these predators who are harming children NOW. Maybe we could actually prevent some crimes along the way. All across the country states are spending billions of dollars and wasting valuable law enforcement resources verifying addresses and updating databases on children who got caught playing doctor years ago, Romeo and Juliets who got caught up in the system, and others who pose no threat whatsoever in the here and now to the public. It is so terribly saddening to know that there are, as Senator Biden says over 400,000 people involved in child pornography and that officials know who they are but simply can't get them. After pumping $40 million a year into the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and their Cyber-tipline what have we to show for it?

It goes to show where the priorities of our elected officials really lie. It isn't really on the children, they have proven that banks and big business take first priority. Second priority isn't for the children either, that's given to those who somewhere in their past have committed any of a number of enumerated offenses which can get one labeled as a sex offender, from rape to prostitution, to teenagers caught in the backseat of a car and everything in between. A literal alphabet soup that can't distinguish the dangerous from the non-dangerous and treats them all alike.

Billions get wasted on this every year, even though not a single shred of evidence exists to show that the ever mounting and increasingly costly sex offender registration laws have ever proven to have prevented a single offense.

Instead of focusing on the saving these poor children who are being exploited on the internet we pour money down a black hole of senseless laws that lead to senseless and unintended consequences both for former offenders and society as a whole.

Senator Biden wants to pour more money down a black hole even though we don't HAVE any money. There are laws already in place to address the issues Mr. Biden attempts to re-introduce in S-1738. Additionally, we've already thrown more than enough money to arrest and rearrest all 400,000 of the internet predators he mentions several times over.

It is high time to re-assess how the billions of dollars already spent and allocated are being used. Are we getting what we pay for? Obviously we aren't. Not if there are 400,000 predators out there known by Mr. Biden that are actively breaking the law and no one is doing anything to stop it.
- I think this happens to be one of those magic numbers they use, which they pull from thin air.  Where is the statistics to prove this 400,000 number?  And if there is this many out there, why are they not arresting them?  The police already get paid, so just get a warrant and go arrest them!  Why is that difficult?  Why does that require more money?  We don't have the money!

Instead of "throwing" more money at the problem we need to demand solutions. Solutions which focus on education, prevention and those who are ACTIVELY breaking the law.

We need viable solutions that address societal problems which lead to safer communities for ALL.

For more on Senator Biden's comments and proposed bill go HERE.

Maybe we ought to all drop Mr. Biden a line or an e-mail and ask him how he's sleeping at night knowing there are 400,000 predators loose on the streets - with their whereabouts KNOWN, actively exploiting children. Let's ask him WHY then, the major focus has been and still is on the 600,000 who have already been caught, sentenced, treated, and released - the majority of which are law abiding citizens.


Remarks Prepared for Delivery by Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey at the Project Safe Childhood National Conference

View the article here

09/23/2008

The following are the remarks prepared for delivery by Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey at the Project Safe Childhood National Conference:

Good morning. Thank you, Ernie, for that introduction, and for the extraordinary work you and your colleagues do at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. As some of you may know, Ernie's center, known as NCMEC for short, was one of the first places I visited as Attorney General. I saw their Wall of Recent Recoveries; a wall filled with the success stories of children found and cases solved. Of all the monuments and memorials I've seen in Washington - and I've now seen a lot of them - that wall is one of the most uplifting monuments I've come across. It is a powerful reminder of what this work is all about.

Thanks also to all of you, for taking the time to come to this conference and for the work you do to advance the mission of Project Safe Childhood. The mission of Project Safe Childhood is, simply put: to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. It is simple to describe our mission. It is not simple to accomplish it; it takes a lot of collaboration and a lot of hard work.

That work is at the same time some of the most grueling, and some of the most rewarding, an investigator or a prosecutor can do. There are few challenges that we in law enforcement take on where it can so clearly be said that we are fighting on the side of the angels. And unfortunately few that at times can make us feel so helpless.
- More like a wolf in sheep's clothing!

In days past, when parents thought about threats to their children's safety, they feared what might happen on the walk home from school, or at the playground. But home is no longer the sanctuary that it used to be. By simply logging on to the Internet, children open themselves to new and hidden threats. The online game or chat room parents see as an entertaining diversion for their kids after homework, might actually be a hiding place for adult pedophiles. E-mail can be turned into a tool of deceit and abduction.
- Their own home may be a "hiding place for adult pedophiles" as well.

Regrettably, there are still many people who fail to grasp the seriousness of these crimes. Many people fail to realize how widespread crimes against our children are, or even how damaging those crimes are to their young victims. And there are far too many misconceptions about what kind of person commits these crimes. A diligent parent cannot prevent these sorts of crimes by merely keeping an eye out for the person who looks out of place or acts a bit strange.
- Crime in general is widespread, it's not just crimes against children.  What about that war on drugs that will NEVER be won?  This is going to be another one of those "wars!"  I am not saying something should be done, but you must be reasonable as well.

Consider the case of a man from Oregon, who struck up an online friendship with a young girl and, after e-mailing explicit photos of himself, tried to arrange a meeting with her. Fortunately, the person he thought was a young girl was really an FBI agent and when the man went to what he thought was his meeting with the girl, he was arrested, prosecuted, and sent to prison.

From all appearances, that man lived a normal life. He was an attorney. He had strong ties to his community. He was married. And he had two small children and a third on the way when he was arrested. Many people would consider someone like him to be above suspicion. But child predators can live anywhere, can be anyone. The only thing they have in common is the danger they pose to our children.
- So basically, suspect everyone...  Your mother, father, brother, sister, uncle, etc!  All are suspected pedophiles now, even you!

Added to this ambiguity is the apparent anonymity provided by the Internet. There's a famous cartoon from The New Yorker magazine several years ago picturing two dogs sitting at a computer, with one saying to the other: "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog." It's a funny cartoon, but it also illustrates a dangerous reality. On the Internet, nobody knows you're a child predator either.
- Nor do they know if you are a serial killer, gang member, drug dealer, abusive parent, corrupt politician!  This is just their way of saying, we are going to eliminate the anonymous Internet and start policing it, so we can get Big Brother into your home and everyday lives!

It is these challenges, as well as what is at stake, that can sometimes make us feel helpless in this work. But we are not helpless. The work of the Department and the work of you - our partners at the state and local level, especially the Internet Crimes Against Children, or "ICAC," Task Forces, and our partners in the non-profit sector - are powerful reminders that there is much we can do.

In my time as Attorney General, I've said as often as I can that the Justice Department's approach to fighting crime has to be built on partnerships with state and local authorities. Perhaps nowhere is such a cooperative approach more important than in Project Safe Childhood, which relies on partnerships with state and local law enforcement officers to get child predators off our streets and off the Internet. It's not about who gets the credit - there's plenty of that to go around. Moreover, some things in life are more important than that. And the protection of our children is surely one of those things.
- This sounds exactly like something Gonzales said, and I believe it's just a template letter!

The results of our collaboration speak for themselves. In fiscal year 2007, our U.S. Attorneys' offices filed more than 2,100 Project Safe Childhood indictments, a 28 percent increase over the year before. And in 2008, we kept up that momentum, bringing even more cases. Over that same two-year period, the Justice Department's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section worked with the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Postal Inspection Service to coordinate six large-scale national operations that yielded over 7,000 subjects in the United States - many of whom were prosecuted by federal, state and local jurisdictions.
- So where is the break down?  Anybody can say what you say, but when you break it down and give us the FACTS, those facts may speak a different tune.  So you see, why do you love to cite statistics, but not show those so-called statistics and studies?

We're not pausing to rest, though, because even one exploited or abused child is one too many. Earlier this year, we announced 43 new Assistant U.S. Attorney positions across the country. These additional resources will help the Department to bring more of these cases, and as a result, to keep child predators away from our children. And today, I'm pleased to announce the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding among federal law enforcement to share criminal intelligence on child predators. With this memorandum, which covers the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the U.S. Marshals Service, we will build on the Regional Information Sharing System network, and the collaboration and online training it's already got in place.

To give additional heft to this agreement, the Department is awarding $800,000 to further support information-sharing among all levels of law enforcement - with the ICAC task forces leading the way. These funds are part of more than $17 million that we are providing to state and local law enforcement agencies in support of their work with ICAC task forces.
- It has been said that law enforcement know where many of the child porn is coming from, but due to staff, they cannot go get the people.  So why isn't any of this money being allocated to more staff?

Our goal is to weave more tightly the web of enforcement to detect and respond to these crimes. The Internet child predator does not stand on the street corner like a drug dealer. He can't be chased down by a cop on the beat. Catching him requires sophisticated tools, technical know-how, and the partnership and expertise of law enforcement at all levels and of specialists like the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

We must make sure that every partner, every police department, no matter how large or small, knows how to handle these crimes. They should have training, and some level of comfort, with handling computer evidence. They should know whom to call for help if they don't have an expert on hand.
- And they need the staff as well, so why aren't you giving them money to hire more gestapo?

For ten years, the ICAC task forces have built state and local capacity to investigate these crimes. My urgent request to all of you here today is to keep going. Share your know-how, share your experience, share what has worked and what hasn't worked with your colleagues, so that our web can be seamless.
- Why don't you examine the existing sex offender laws, discuss what works and what doesn't work?  Listen to the experts who tell you over and over these laws do not and will not work?  Why don't you PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH?

Law enforcement is vital in this fight, but we must also devote resources to prevention. It is far better to keep children from ever becoming victims in the first place than to rescue them after they've been taken or abused. We need to teach our children how to keep themselves safe on the Internet. And we need to remind parents of the need to supervise what their children do and see online.

That requires long-term relationships with schools, churches, and community groups. And it requires patience. If children were easily convinced to listen to their parents, parenting would be easy. They're not, and it's not. But just because a problem can't be solved easily or overnight doesn't mean that it can't be solved. And difficulty is no excuse for not trying.
- So what about the sexual predator who, more than likely, resides in the child's own home?  Are you going to teach kids how to tell on their parents?  90% or more of all sexual crimes occur by family members, not strangers, so what are you doing about this?

The Department has been trying - and those efforts have been paying off. For example, the Department sponsors several programs to help educate parents about how to keep their kids safe on the Internet. In partnership with the Ad Council and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and thanks to tens of millions of dollars of donated air time, we launched the highly successful "Think Before You Post" public service announcements. With additional partners, we are now working on a new set of commercials that we'll be releasing in a couple of months. Today, I'd like to offer you a sneak peak at a couple of them.
- So, why doesn't the government make a program, or hire someone who will, that a parent can put on their machines to monitor their child's online usage?  One that is FREE!  If you wanted to protect people, this would be a free program, with free updates, and be simple to install.  I know there is several out there, but have you told parents about them?

The first ad you're going see is targeted at potential offenders, as a warning not to download sexual images of children or to attempt to entice a minor. The second ad aims to remind parents about the dangers children face online and the need for supervision. It will run in Spanish - although we've added subtitles for your convenience here today.

We're confident that, like our previous campaigns, these ads will spread our message and that they'll help keep our children safe. I compliment - and thank - all of our partners who have helped put them together.

Project Safe Childhood could not address a more compelling issue: the need to keep our children safe and secure. We created the program two years ago in response to a true public safety threat. We will never be satisfied as long as any of our children remain in danger, but our efforts are succeeding. With your help, we are getting child predators off our streets and off the Internet.
- I think you did all this due to a couple high profile cases, which are rare, and since abuse is and has always been around, I guess you are saying "You will NEVER be satisfied!"

The kind of success we've had does not happen by accident. It happens because law enforcement and others, at all levels, are talking with each other and working in cooperation. This is a strong, nationwide coalition of the committed -- with many partners dedicated to supporting each other and pulling together toward our simple goal of making childhood the safe, secure, and hopeful time it should be.

Let me close with a story that shows that dedication, and highlights what we can do by working together. In June of this year, Canadian authorities sent to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children a new series of photographs depicting the sexual abuse of a young girl. A dedicated ICAC officer in Maine noticed that the girl's eyes were different colors and that she was wearing glasses. She managed to identify the model and make of the glasses and passed that information on to an FBI agent in New York. After further investigation, the FBI agent located an eye doctor in Annapolis, Maryland, who recognized the victim as one of his patients.

Based on that information, FBI agents in Maryland did surveillance on the victim's house and positively identified her from the pictures. Working together, Assistant U.S. Attorneys and agents from New York and Maryland immediately got a search warrant, and agents went into the house. There, they found evidence of the abuse visible in the photos. Two defendants were charged - and, most important, one little girl was saved.

As one of the Assistant U.S. Attorneys involved in the case said, and I quote: "This makes the moments of frustration and discouragement all worthwhile. I am so proud to be a part of Project Safe Childhood and honored to work with such an outstanding group of people."

There's nothing I can add to that, except my profound thanks to everyone involved in that case, and to everyone involved in the hundreds of similar cases that all of you and your colleagues handle every day around the country. Keep up the good work.
Thank you very much.

SOURCE U.S. Department of Justice


Copyright (C) 2008 PR Newswire. All rights reserved


OH - Searches of old criminal records end school jobs

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So now, due to the background checks people are doing now, everyone's past is coming back to haunt them. So the sex offender hysteria is affecting potentially everyone with a criminal past.  I guess this would be more of those "unintended consequences?"

09/21/2008

Sweeping changes in state laws intended to keep students safe have uncovered criminal offenses -- some decades old -- that are costing school employees their jobs.

The impact has been especially evident among nonteaching employees who, until this year, did not have to undergo the kind of comprehensive background checks done for teachers.

Now, staffers such as custodians, secretaries and cafeteria workers may face dismissal for newly unearthed offenses committed years ago.

John Reccord, a night supervisor for the Orange school district, has worked there for nearly two decades. But he stands to lose his job for an offense to which he pleaded guilty 35 years ago and was sentenced to probation.

"I have been at the school for 19 years without any problems," Reccord said. "This is going to affect people who did something when they were young. Why should they lose their jobs now?"

He is one of a handful of Orange school employees facing an uncertain future as a result of the background checks.

Statewide, it's unclear how many school employees are in a similar predicament. The Ohio Department of Education doesn't keep track of nonlicensed employees, and a union representing such nonteaching staff also had no tallies available.

Shaker Heights is among the area school districts grappling with the issue.

"We absolutely need to protect children by checking the background of school employees. The problem we're struggling with is that schools are being forced to let some exemplary employees go," said Robert P. Kreiner, business administrator for the Shaker Heights school district.

"It doesn't make a lot of sense to me that a school district has to dismiss a veteran employee who was convicted of assault after getting into a fistfight at age 22, paid his debt to society, has stayed out of trouble, and has a spotless work record," he said.

It wasn't until 1993 that nonteaching school employees who had direct contact with students were required to undergo an Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation background check.

State legislators expanded the employee misconduct reporting laws last year to require that all school employees --teachers and nonteaching employees regardless of whether they have student contact -- undergo background checks by both the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation and the FBI.

For nonteaching employees, the checks will be performed when someone is hired and every five years after that.

Rep. Brian Williams, an Akron Democrat and a supporter of the new laws, said they were put in place to protect children by ensuring accountability at the state and local levels. School districts should be responsible for the conduct of employees, he said.
- So are state reps having their backgrounds checked and fired if they have a criminal past?  I doubt it!  Again, the laws do not apply to the rich and famous!

"We need to do everything we can to create a safe haven for kids," Williams said.

Some offenses uncovered in the background checks require immediate dismissal; others allow employees to keep their jobs if they can show they have been rehabilitated.
- So lets do backgrounds for ALL people, and see how many get fired!  And how much the unemployment rate skyrockets!

Reccord, then 22, pleaded guilty in 1972 to a crime that triggers automatic dismissal.

Although he maintains his innocence, Reccord said he pleaded guilty to what is now known as robbery on the advice of his court-appointed attorney. He said the attorney told him he could face jail time if the matter went to court, so the young man opted for the guilty plea and five years' probation.

Orange school officials wouldn't comment directly on Reccord's situation, citing privacy issues. However, the district acknowledged that it's reviewing the employment of a handful of staffers after offenses turned up in their criminal background checks.

David Burnison, director of human resources at Orange, said it's difficult for an employee with a long history of successful employment to be confronted with an offense that occurred 20 or 30 years ago.

"They would feel that their debt to society has been paid," Burnison said. "But it's also hard to argue that an employer wouldn't want to know about certain offenses."
- They have paid their debt to society!  If they went to jail or prison, or did everything on the CONTRACT they had when they were sentenced, then they are done and paid their debt to society!

In the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, criminal background checks have so far turned up two employees, both laborers, with serious violations -- burglary and aggravated assault. Both resigned before hearings could be conducted.

The status of about 60 Cleveland school employees is unclear because they have not yet submitted to the background checks.

In Shaker Heights, two nonteaching employees have left the district as a result of their criminal background checks. One was terminated and the other resigned. A third employee's case is pending after the background check revealed a dismissable offense, according to Peggy Caldwell, a school spokeswoman.

Eight other nonteaching staff were found to have lesser offenses. They must provide evidence that they have been rehabilitated to keep their jobs.

Some of the cases are quite old. One dates to 1983, Caldwell said.

That's too long ago for Charles See, executive director for Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry's community re-entry program, which supports people adjusting to life after prison. He said it's unfair not to take into account how a person has lived after committing a crime.

"People change. People are rehabilitated," he said. "We need to make sure our laws allow people to rebuild their lives and contribute to the community."

Officials at the Ohio Association of Public School Employees said they argued for a "grandfather" provision in the General Assembly, but the proposal never gained traction. The 37,000-member association represents custodians, secretaries, food service workers, bus drivers, and maintenance personnel.

Hollie Reedy, director of legal services at the Ohio School Boards Association, said the new laws revamping background checks were layered on top of an existing system.

And that has created some confusion at school districts.

"Sometimes the new requirements don't mesh with the already existing requirements," Reedy said. "This wasn't put together in the most thoughtful way."
- Laws passed by the "elected" officials, usually work out like this.

Plain Dealer reporter Tom Ott contributed to this story. To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: jgonzalez@plaind.com, 216-999-4327


IL - New trial date for man accused of killing sex offender

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09/23/2008

By STEWART WARREN - swarren@scn1.com

JOLIETCorrie Wallace's second murder trial will begin Sept. 29 with jury selection.

Although it was scheduled to begin this week, it once again was delayed.

Will County Assistant State's Attorney Mike Knick couldn't prepare last week for the trial because of a death in his family. After explaining the situation to the judge Monday, Will County Assistant State's Attorney Steve Platek asked for a new trial date.

Wallace, 25, of Joliet, was arrested by Joliet police on March 1, 2005, and charged with murder and aggravated battery in the death of Hallie Parrish, a registered sex offender. Early that morning, police found Parrish's body slumped over the steering wheel of a car parked on Robin Lane, in the Forest Park neighborhood on Joliet's East side. The 38-year-old had been shot to death.

While being held at the Will County Jail, Wallace also was charged with another unrelated murder: The Feb. 18, 2006, shooting death of Starsky Crowder, 29, of Joliet. Crowder was killed near the former Eo Vannus nightclub, 2045 N. Chicago St., Joliet. The club now is closed.

David L. Woods, of Joliet, also was charged with murder in connection with Crowder's death. In exchange for his testimony against Wallace in the Crowder trial, Woods was allowed to plead guilty to lesser charges and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Then in August 2007, a jury found Wallace not guilty in the Crowder slaying. He was represented by Joliet lawyer Michelle Hansen during that trial. She also will represent him in the second murder trial.

Woods is expected to testify against Wallace in the second murder trial as well.

As a precaution, Platek asked the judge to make sure that Wallace did not speak or have contact with Woods and a few other witnesses while in the jail or the courthouse.

A hearing will be held Wednesday to determine if transcripts of some telephone calls Wallace made while being held at the jail can be admitted as evidence in court. Wallace allegedly made incriminating statements about the Parrish shooting during the calls.


The Founding Fathers on Tyranny


AUSTRALIA - Man jailed for 10 years for killing sex offender

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What a disgrace!  10 years for murdering someone!  He should be in prison until he dies!

09/23/2008

A SOUTH Australian man has been jailed for nearly 10 years for savagely beating to death a convicted sex offender who tried to "crack onto" his girlfriend.

Duane Matthew Simpson "lost control" when he found Robert Albert Gardiner trying to sexually assault his girlfriend Tianh Louise Lovell during a drunken and drug-fuelled night at a property at Wandearah East in the Mid-North.

Supreme Court judge Trish Kelly said Mr Gardiner, 56, died from massive facial injuries that could have been caused by "fists, kicks, stomps or blows from a blunt instrument."

He was then dragged outside, his ankles bound with tape and was run over as Simpson, Lovell and another man Brenton James Grosser, fled the scene.

A broken piece of a Jack Daniels whisky bottle was found lodged in Mr Gardiner's throat after his partially-clothed body was found outside his home hours later.

Justice Kelly said Simpson had confessed to the killing in a phone call to his sister, saying Mr Gardiner "tried to crack onto Tianh" and "because he was a pedophile."

Justice Kelly said the full circumstances of Mr Gardiner's killing would probably never be known.

"I doubt very much that the court has been told the whole truth about events that night," she said.

"Much has been made about the victim's previous history but Mr Gardiner was also a human being and a father of four children, these children no longer have a father."

Simpson, 27, also breached the terms of a suspended jail term for assault by killing Mr Gardiner and will serve a total sentence of nine years and four months in prison.
- This is just insane!  9 years and 4 months for savagely murdering a man!

With time already served, he will be eligible for parole in January 2013.

Grosser, 45, must serve another six months in prison before being eligible for parole, while Justice Kelly suspended the remainder of 31-year old Lovell's prison term.
- So the way I see this, this judge is basically saying it's OK to kill a sex offender, you will only get about 4 years in prison!

The trio was originally charged with murder but prosecutors accepted guilty pleas to the lesser charges midway through the trial in Port Augusta in July.


NJ - Ex-cop pleads guilty to raping 14-year-old girl

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09/22/2008

By Shelby Sebens

Bolivia - A former Boiling Spring Lakes police officer pleaded guilty Monday afternoon in Brunswick County Superior Court to raping and taking indecent liberties with a 14-year-old girl he courted through MySpace.

Luther “Luke” Stidham, 38, was charged with the crimes in September 2006. He had been a Boiling Spring Lakes police officer for a little more than a year.

Under a plea agreement, Stidham pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree rape and two counts of indecent liberties with a child and was sentenced to four and a half to six years in prison, followed by three years of supervised probation after he gets out. He was facing up to 40 years in prison on the original charges of statutory rape and taking indecent liberties with a minor.

Stidham was fired from the police department. His page on MySpace, a popular social networking Web site, featured several messages from local teenagers until it was taken down, according to a Sept. 24, 2006, Star-News article.

The relationship

Stidham, who is married and the father of three, first met the victim in July 2006 when she took an approved ride-along in his patrol vehicle, Assistant District Attorney Meredith Everhart said.

After the first ride-along, the two connected on My Space, and Stidham persuaded the girl to sneak out at night and meet him, Everhart said. She was 14 at the time, and he was 35.

The Star-News does not usually name victims of sex crimes.

It was in his patrol car that he took indecent liberties and raped the victim, Everhart said.

In August 2006, the teenager attempted suicide. She later told her parents she was depressed because of what happened with Stidham, Everhart said. He cut off all contact after the rape.

Second-degree rape means the sexual contact was forced, Everhart said, adding the former police officer used his position and power to lure the victim, who was depressed because her parents were divorcing.

“He took advantage of her emotional state at the time,” she said.

A volunteer Boiling Spring Lakes firefighter, Leon Henry Gyselinck III, was also charged with statutory rape of the same girl shortly after Stidham was arrested. His case is still pending.

Lawyer limbo

Monday morning before the plea, Stidham tried to have his attorney, Mike Ramos, removed from the case.

“Mr. Ramos does not have my best interest in any form or fashion,” he told Superior Court Judge Gary Locklear.

Stidham claimed Ramos did not try to recover deleted files from his computer. The prosecution planned to use e-mails from the victim’s computer as evidence. Stidham said he felt e-mails from both computers should be compared.

Locklear said the case, which was supposed to go to trial this week, had been delayed long enough.

“You have a well-trusted and well-respected attorney,” he added.

He said Stidham could either keep Ramos on the case or represent himself.

About an hour after Stidham made his request to the judge, Everhart said she expected him to take the plea instead of going to trial.

The victim was brought in, and Stidham apparently changed his mind about Ramos.

“Are you satisfied with your lawyer?” Locklear asked in a series of questions during Stidham’s plea.

“Yes I am,” he said, adding he also made the decision of his own free will.

The victim, holding hands with supporters, sat shaking and sobbing during the short hearing.

“These are serious matters,” Locklear told Stidham. “I commend you, however, for stepping up and admitting to what you admitted to. You have made a wise decision.”

Locklear allowed Stidham, who has been free on bond, to go home Monday night and report at 9 a.m. Tuesday to begin serving his sentence.

Shelby Sebens: 264-8005 - Shelby.sebens@starnewsonline.com