Friday, November 14, 2008

Fed Blotter: MySpace Sex Offender Charged With Running Fake Internet Church

View the article here

For most ISP's, in order to get a static IP address, you have to pay additional fees.  IP addresses, in most cases, are dynamic, changing all the time, so I wonder what would happen if some pedophile was out downloading tons of child porn, then a day later, you get his IP address and he gets a new IP.  So is the feds going to be knocking on your door and charging you with someone else's crime?  I wonder.....  Try it yourself, go here, see what your IP address is.  Reboot your machine, or log off, then go back to the site and check again, or check it again in a couple days.  See if your IP changes.  On my machine, everytime I reboot, or connect the the Internet the address changes.


By Kevin Poulsen

A convicted pedophile who turned up in MySpace's 2007 purge of sex offenders faces new charges of bank fraud for allegedly running counterfeit checks through a bank account he established for his online church,

Carl Courtright III, 37, came to law enforcement's attention when MySpace began automatically matching its members against a database of convicted sex offenders. MySpace launched its crackdown in May of last year, following a similar search by that found more than 700 registered sex offenders using its service. MySpace's more sophisticated effort turned up some 29,000 offenders within two months.

Eager to learn what those ex-offenders were up to, if anything, the attorneys general of several states subpoenaed MySpace for IP addresses and other data on the deleted accounts. But aside from a handful of parole violations -- mostly offenders who weren't supposed to be using the internet -- there's been only one new criminal charge announced in connection with the data. That's Courtright, who'd been convicted in 1998 of sexually abusing a 16-year-old.

Investigators with the Illinois Attorney General's Office matched Courtright's IP address with a list of addresses that had been spotted trading kid porn over file sharing services. When they searched and seized his computer, they found numerous child pornography files, and evidence -- they say -- that he was producing some of it himself.

The feds stepped in and charged Courtright with production, possession and receipt of child pornography. Now he's been hit with a new indictment (.pdf) that adds bank fraud to the list.

Calling himself "Pastor Carl A. Courtright," the defendant allegedly opened a bank account for his online church, "We reach out to those in need following the example of our Risen Saviour [sic] Jesus Christ visiting those who are sick in Hospitals, Lost in Prisons, Homeless on the streets, even those lost living 'normal' lives at home, and praying with and for those who are just in need of the touch of Gods Loving Grace and Mercy that He give FREELY to all who ask," reads the website.

"In addition to soliciting prayer requests on the website, Courtright solicited financial contributions to the 'Truth of God Ministries' which could be made at any Regions Bank," the indictment notes.

It's not clear whether Courtright got any donations from his ersatz missionary work, but the indictment, filed in September in federal court in St. Louis, charges that he used the same computers on which he made child porn to produce $3,100 in counterfeit donation checks payable to his church. In February of last year, he allegedly deposited the checks and cashed them out through ATM and Visa Checkcard transactions before they were rejected.

When Regions Bank asked him about the apparent fraud, he wrote a letter as Pastor Carl assuring the bank that he'd cooperate in the investigation, and was looking forward to a continued business relationship. "Last year alone, our operating budget was $987,436.00," he boasted.

Courtright's trial had been scheduled to start this Monday, but last week a federal judge ordered a continuance to give Courtright's lawyer time to process the new charge. If convicted of producing child pornography, he faces a life sentence.

Big bucks were also allegedly on the mind of Eric Andrew Hamberg, a former computer technician with the South Carolina Employment Security Commission.

When Hamberg was terminated from his job in October, 2005, after five years of service, he hacked back into the state agency's computers and stole its massive database of South Carolina citizens, according to an indictment (.pdf) handed down last week in federal court in Columbia.

The stolen data included names, addresses, and driver's license and Social Security numbers on every single man and woman with a job in the Palmetto State, according to court records.

Prosecutors say Hamberg planned on selling the information. Called "full infos" in the parlance of the underground, identity thieves pay a pretty penny for such stolen data.

It's not clear from the indictment whether the data was ever sold or exploited. Clark Newsom, a spokesman for the agency, declined to comment on the case, claiming the investigation is still ongoing over two years after the fact. He also refused to say whether the state had warned any of the victims that their personal information had been stolen. Threat Level could not turn up any public disclosure of the breach.

Hamberg is charged with computer intrusion, identity theft, making false statements to the FBI denying the hack attack, and being a felon in possession of firearms, specifically a Marin model 60, 22. caliber rifle; a J.C. Penny 20 gauge shotgun; an SKS AK-47 assault rifle; a Ruger .22 caliber rifle; and a 9mm handgun.

TX - Editorial: Reasonable parole limits

View the article here


Texas' parole system regarding sex offenders provides a way to set conditions of release that can protect the public.

That's the ideal, anyway. In practice, the parole board uses what can charitably be called a broad brush in setting potentially counterproductive restrictions on the lives of some paroled sex offenders.

Let's be clear: Sex predators are often dangerous, loathsome creatures who belong in prison for life. Others need the tightest supervision after release, and parole guidelines indeed impose sweeping limits on where they can go and what they can do.

But that slate of exacting restrictions – called Condition X – is imposed even in cases involving low-level, non-dangerous sex offenders whose crimes stem from teenage romances. Yes, they broke the law and must answer for their actions. It's also important that these young adults rebuild their lives and become productive. That won't happen if nonviolent offenders face obstacles inappropriate to their original crimes.

In an examination of parolee supervision, Dallas Morning News reporter Diane Jennings found that 90 percent of paroled sex offenders are subject to Condition X restrictions even though they had no clear opportunity to due process in the matter. A panel of parole board members renders a decision based on their individual reading of cases. They can vote from the privacy of their individual offices.

There is no guarantee that an inmate will have any face-to-face meeting with a panel member. There is no real opportunity for a low-level sex offender to argue for reasonable access to certain jobs, educational opportunities, social events or places of residence. A nonviolent parolee may be barred from moving back in with family. He may be barred, according to the law, from having "a platonic relationship with any person who has children 17 or younger ... ."

This is not the best way to re-integrate people with potential back into society. If court tests fail to bring about proper reforms, lawmakers need to instill reason in the process.


We want to hear from everybody on this. We want you to respond to this blog item, and tell us the advantages and disadvantages of each aspect we've listed, and if you think we've missed something, let us know and we'll add it.  Below is just the start on this, to get people started.  We are working on adding our thoughts to these items offline, and will add them as time goes on.

We want to get this list together, so we can all see the good and bad of these issues, and so we can determine if they will actually work as they were originally intended to work.

We want to hear from all sides.  And as someone responds, we'll add that to the list, and add our comments to it, and if anybody else responds to a specific item, we'll add their response as well.

Eventually we will have one big list that we can see.

NOTE: Please check other comments before posting something. It may have been said already, and just saying the same thing will make this more difficult.  Also, if you have any links to point to an article or study to prove an issue, then please add the link as well.

When you leave comments, try to do like others have, and put your advantages under the word advantages, and the same with disadvantages, so we can easily figure out what you are saying, and not have to guess.  Also, do not ramble on, just give us a short advantage or disadvantage, and we can elaborate on it as time goes on.

P.S. We are playing both sides in the items we've initially posted below, devil's advocate, etc.  We would like to have people from the general public post comments here, so we can get their side of the issues as well, not just what we think they may be.

Here is a quote from Rabbi Daniel Lapin, and how true it is.  Keep this in mind when you read the items below:

"The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation."

  1. GPS TRACKING (GPS Articles)
    • Advantages
      1. The companies selling the GPS devices, and those who have stock in the GPS market, get rich.
      2. Creates a new job for those people needed to monitor the offenders.
      3. The state gets grant money.
      4. It is supposedly cheaper than housing people in prison.
      5. It can allow more people to bail out of jail while awaiting trial.
      6. It can help determine probation violations.
      7. It can eliminate suspects from some crimes.
      8. It can help in the investigation of some crimes.
    • Disadvantages
      1. Cost a ton of money for the devices.
      2. Cost a ton of money to hire people to monitor the devices.
      3. Many false alarms, due to the offender entering a building, bridge, tunnel, mountains, or some other remote area.
      4. Homeless offenders have a hard time keeping the devices charged, since they do not have electrical outlets.
      5. GPS devices can be cut off.  If an offender is intent on going underground, or wants to harm someone, they will, with or without GPS.
      6. I don't think any GPS is real-time, so if an offender does cut off the device, or goes into a restricted zone, it will be a couple minutes before anyone is even aware of the issue.
      7. It does not locate people in real-time.
      8. It does not locate people with enough accuracy.
      9. It could trigger false allegation.
      10. It requires infrastructure like cell phone towers, phone lines, and electricity that may not always be available.
      11. It may waste money that could be used more effectively to fight crime in other ways.
      12. The financial hardship on the offender can lead to probation violations and re-incarceration.
      13. Device goes off for no reason, even in the middle of the night, if the satellite is lost.
      14. Affects sleep, jobs, etc, as the offender is often asked to go outside and walk around to reacquire the signal.
    • Advantages
      1. People know where all the sex offenders are around them, and can inform their children who to stay away from, or places to stay away from.
      2. The legislature gets to look good, by giving the public a placebo to make them feel safer.
      3. A registry that only included the most dangerous predators (maybe the top 3-5%) would be beneficial to the public by alerting them to the presence of a truly dangerous person.
      4. A system that allowed people to work their way off the registry would provide the public with more accurate information regarding potential danger.
    • Disadvantages
      1. All sex offenders are basically treated the same, regardless of their dangerousness.
      2. The registry is nothing more than a digital Scarlet Letter, that shames people.
      3. It's not a deterrent!  If it was, the registry would not be growing like it is.
      4. The registry is used to harass, intimidate, shame, and in some cases, has become a hit list for vigilantes to use to harass, beat, set fire to their homes, damage property, or worse.
      5. Sets up a situation that is the direct opposite of what the sex offender treatment professionals say is needed to reduce recidivism.
      6. It isolates the offender, removes them from support systems, subjects them to public scorn, joblessness, and all other things that are known to be stresses that could increase recidivism.
      7. Puts the offenders family in danger as well.
      8. False sense of security, as most new crimes are committed by someone NOT on the registry. Parents are keeping an eagle eye on the registry, while uncle Frank or the coach is molesting their child.
      9. A registry that included all offenders or that classifies all or almost all offenders as the "most dangerous" makes it useless.  The public can't figure out who is a danger and who isn't and just fears and reviles them all.
      10. The registry contains a ton of human errors which further dilutes the purpose of the registry.  When people cannot trust the information on the registry, why have it?
      11. The registry doesn't go into enough details to explain the entire situation that occurred.  Some people can be labeled a child molester and not even touch a child, yet people see the label and assume the person is a pedophile and dangerous, which is not always the case.
    • Advantages
      1. Makes people "feel safe" due to an offender not living within XXXX feet from schools, day cares, play grounds, or other places children congregate.
      2. Doesn't cause property values to go down, due to a sex offender living near by.
    • Disadvantages
      1. Forces sex offenders into exile (i.e. banishment).  The buffer zone could be 100 miles, but if a person was really intent on committing another crime, this would not prevent that.
      2. Forces sex offenders, in many cases, into homelessness, due to not being able to find a place to rent to them, and is outside the boundary.
      3. Large problem with false sense of security.
      4. Cannot stop anyone who is intent on committing a crime.
      5. Does not take into consideration the over 90% of new child molestations that occur by first time offenders and by those who are members of the family or close circle of trust.
      6. Treats human beings as animals, just tossing them out in the country somewhere when they are no longer wanted.
      7. Studies prove no correlation between residence and the crime committed.
      8. There is an increased amount of former offenders absconding due to being homeless, helpless and hopeless.  Experts tell us, this increases the risk of re-offending.
      9. Pushes sex offenders and families into more rural areas, which creates a stronger pull on family resources, and on law enforcement resources.
      10. Removes offenders and their families from easy access to critical social, community, and therapeutic services.
      11. Young and juvenile offenders are often unable to live with their families at a time when, developmentally, they need them most.
      12. Adult offenders are often released from prison with nowhere to go.  This increases the whole family stress.
    • Advantages
      1. Offenders are sent away for longer times, so they have less chance to harm another child, or adult, and reduces the recidivism rate.
    • Disadvantages
      1. The prison system is already overflowing. This makes it worse.
      2. Requires more money, due to the overcrowding prison system.
      3. In some states, they are being forced to let some other criminal go early, due to the overcrowding.
      4. This is the same thing they tried with drugs offenders, and it was a disaster there also.
      5. Sex offenders are not a homogeneous group.  Each crime is very different.  This would lead to people with little or no risk of re-offending, being given far worse sentences than necessary.
      6. Decreases the likelihood that family members will report abuse this increasing the number of children who continue to get abused and preventing those offenders from getting the help they need.
      7. Removed judicial discretion and consideration of circumstances surrounding the offense.
    • Advantages
      1. People are put away for life, so they cannot harm another person.
      2. There are some truly mentally ill people who are, and may always be, very dangerous to the public.  Although, this is an incredibly small percentage of former offenders, and these are recognizable with professional testing.
    • Disadvantages
      1. Costs more money to house an offender in civil commitment, than it does in prison.
      2. Offenders almost never get out of these places, so it's basically prison outside of prison.  It just wastes tons of tax payer dollars.
      3. This is another example of our government taking something that could be helpful, on a very limited basis, and going terribly overboard.  There are people who do NOT belong in civil commitment, locked up possibly forever.  The government is totally in control of who can get out, and who will not.  The conditions in many commitment centers is deplorable, and the quality of "treatment," is either non-existent, or very poor.  Each state, each district, each judge, has different criteria to letting someone out.  Sometimes, someones life, can depend on the mood of the judge that day, or how good his public defender is.
    • By having registered sex offenders provide email addresses, instant messenger names and other online id's, web sites that cater to children, can check the people signing up for their service, if the person is a registered sex offender.  Also, parents can check email addresses online (in some states) to see if anyone talking with their child is a registered sex offender.
    • Sex offender issues help politicians get votes.
    • Sex offender issues help politicians look good to the public.
    • Sex offender laws have created many businesses, which are making millions.
    • The media gets their big stories.
    • The government and politicians can ignore the Constitution and Bill of Rights to trample on the rights of sex offenders as a whole, and eventually your rights as well.
    • Other vigilante companies, like Perverted-Justice and "To Catch a Predator," make millions of dollars, all for entertainment.
    • Boosts the private prison industry.
    • Makes people "feel safe."
    • Gives people their daily dose of danger and fear.
    • Boosts media ratings.
    • Lose of job (financial burden)
    • Lose of home (homeless)
    • Lose of friends, family, children
    • Increased stress, anger, depression, hopelessness, shame, humiliation, guilt, sadness, worthlessness, suicidal thoughts, you name it.
    • Friends, family and children also suffer the same as the offender, jobs, friends, etc.
    • By having registered sex offenders provide email addresses, user names and instant messenger names, it violates their right of privacy, for those who are off probation and/or parole.  It is also used to deny them the right to use a web service, even if they have no intention of using the service to harm anyone.  It's discrimination.
    • Almost 100% of the sex offender laws and restrictions, are just placebo's to make the public feel better, when they actually do nothing to prevent another crime from occurring.
    • Politicians cannot speak out against sex offender laws, or else they would look like they are pro-sex offender, and that could ruin their careers.
    • Registries are not being updated on a daily basis, so a lot of the information is out dated, or just plain wrong.  The offenders give the police their personal information and then the police enter the data into the database.  Humans make mistakes, and it happens quite often.  I am not sure if this is still an issue, but at one time, Florida had dead people on the registry, which bloats it, making it look like there is more sex offenders in the state, thus increasing the fear factor.
    • The fear factor is heightened on Halloween, when their has only been one case, in 1975, of a child being harmed on Halloween.  So this is all hype.  Most crimes committed on Halloween are not by sex offenders.
    • Many sex offenders are being sent back to prison on technicalities.  Due to the ever changing laws, restrictions and everything else, it's hard for a person to know what they can and cannot do, so many are caught on some small technicality, and in many cases, are sent to prison for more time than they actually received for the crime itself.
    • Many people are always saying sex offender recidivism is high, when in fact many studies show this is not the case.  Many studies show the recidivism rate lower than 10%.  Several show the recidivism rate at 3.5% or 5.3% instead of the usual 75% or more you hear from the media and politicians.
    • The media and public have turned to vigilantism in many cases.  The media are always going to sex offenders doors, harassing them, to get their big stories.  And the public (mob squad) comes out and pickets in front of offenders homes, harass them, destroy property, or anything else to get the offender to move, when they have a right to live there.
    • Sex offenders are used as today's scapegoat.
    • Sex offenders laws and issues are nothing more than mass hysteria and moral panics, brought on by bogus statistics and recidivism rates, by the media and politicians.
    • The government and politicians ignore the Constitution and Bill of Rights to trample on the rights of sex offenders, which I believe is a test bed.  Eventually the rights of others will be trampled on as well.  The more they are able to bypass the Constitution, the more rights will be trampled on.
    • The laws are passed, but the fund are not there to pay for everything.
    • Much of peoples constitution rights are being trampled on, just to make others feel safe.
    • Sex offender laws are really targeted at a minute segment of the population but impact all offenders equally.
    • Lifelong restrictions are absurd - an offender who committed a minor offense at age 18 or even as a juvenile is still subject to them at age 80 after being offense-free for more than 60 years.  This serves no purpose.
    • Ineffective and costly waste of resources at a time of economic instability.
    • All SO laws dilute law enforcement resources by focusing them on monitoring all offenders instead of the most dangerous.
    • Lack of research-based laws result in bizarre feel-good legislation with no basis in fact.
    • Advantages
      1. Can be used to find out if SO's are interacting with children.
    • Disadvantages
      1. As part of a larger federal directive to monitor ALL communications as an aspect of counter-terrorism, due process will be ignored or waived by the authorities in the interests of public safety.
      2. Restriction of freedom of speech.

TN - Metro Police sergeant pleads guilty to sex charges

View the article here

And you expect a child to go to a police for help? Hell, many of them are raping women and molesting children, see here.


By: Lisa Marchesoni

A Metro Nashville Police sergeant convicted of sexual offenses against minors must resign from his job and give up his certification as a police officer.

Sgt. Michael Dioguardi, 41, of Nashville was charged in August with soliciting a minor and providing obscene material to a minor on the Internet, sheriff’s Detective Mickey McCullough said.

Dioguardi was accused of trying to solicit a 14-year-old girl and providing the obscene material during a 2-1/2 month investigation, McCullough said.

The sergeant pleaded guilty Friday in Circuit Court to reduced charges of attempted solicitation of a minor and attempting to provide obscene material to a minor, both misdemeanor charges.
- Of course, just like Mark Foley, and many others in government and politics, the laws do not apply to them, and they get slaps on the wrist, while the general public, who does the same, goes to prison for many years.

District Attorney William Whitesell and defense attorney Guy Dotson Sr. worked out a plea agreement accepted by Judge David Bragg.
- Yeah, they said "Oh, he's a cop, we got to cut him a deal, he's a good ole' boy!"

As part of his plea, Dioguardi must resign from the police department and give up his certification as a law enforcement officer, Whitesell said. He must undergo a psychosexual evaluation and follow the recommendations. He will be on probation 11 months and 29 days.

Dotson said Dioguardi planned to pay the court costs Friday.

Dioguardi will not be on the state’s sexual offender registry because the two convictions do not mandate it, the prosecutor said.
- Of course, what did you expect?  He's a cop, he gets deals, so they knock it down to misdemeanors, so he doesn't have a record, once completed, and not ruined for life, like normal citizens are.

After the plea, Whitesell said it would have been difficult to prove Dioguardi solicited a minor.
- You see, this is why you NEVER TAKE A PLEA DEAL!  They do that to scare you, and because they usually know they do not have enough evidence to convict you!

In his online chats, Whitesell said Dioguardi mentioned the girl had to wait until she was 18 for a sexual encounter.

“He never directly tried to have a sexual encounter,” Whitesell explained. “He was very careful to state he would not do anything until she was 18.”

Whitesell’s goal was to get Dioguardi convicted and to resign as a police officer.

“We have accomplished that,” Whitesell said. “This is a good settlement.”

Since Dioguardi entered a diversion plea, if he successfully completes the probation, his record could be erased.
- Of course.  Show me one normal citizen, who doesn't work in the government, who did the same, who is NOT on the registry and did not serve prison time?  You see, we have two sets of laws, those for the government folk, and those for the rest of us...

LA - Jefferson Parish sheriff's deputy arrested

View the article here


GRETNA - A reserve deputy with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office has been arrested and booked with having pornography involving juveniles.

Sgt. David Patrick White was arrested Thursday after an investigation by the state Attorney General's High Technology Crime Unit, the Kenner Police Department and the Sheriff's Office.

Col. John Fortunato, a spokesman for the sheriff's office, says White had pictures of child pornography on an internet account.

White had been a member of the reserve division since July 1999. He was assigned to the 1st District patrol division in Metairie but Fortunato says White's volunteer status was terminated after the investigation.

White was booked at the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center in Gretna. He was released on a $25,000 bond.

OK - Okla. To Build Sex Offender Nursing Home

View the article here

This Nazi BS is getting out of hand.  Sex offenders cannot get a job, cannot get a home, so they become homeless, then when they are homeless, they are arrested for being homeless.  They cannot go to church, they must live in FORCED EXILE as modern day lepers, and now, when they are dying, they must be segregated.  Give me a break!   WELCOME TO NAZI AMERICA!  Hell, I'm surprised they are not just throwing sex offenders into the gas chambers!


Experts: 60 Sex Offenders Currently Housed In Regular Nursing Homes

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma is a step closer to building the nation's first long-term care facility exclusively for sex offenders.

A nonprofit group, A Perfect Cause, said there are currently 30 sex offenders living in Oklahoma nursing homes. The group hopes that moving offenders out of those facilities will make them safer for other residents.

"The Department of Corrections talked about there being thousands of people moving from the criminal justice system who are 65 or older in the coming years," said Wes Bledsoe, of A Perfect Cause.

Bledsoe's group said it has calculated more than 60 murders, rapes and assaults committed by criminal offenders while living in nursing homes throughout the country.

Gov. Brad Henry (Contact) signed a bill into law last July that required the state to build a separate nursing home for sex offenders. The Oklahoma Health Department is preparing to seek bids to run the facility, but also wants to know how those bidders would plan to operate it.

"The proposal will include provisions for heightened, 24-hour security to protect the residents and the public," said Henry Hartsell, of Protective Health Services.
- Sounds like prison to me!  Damn, even murderers are treated better than this.  When sex offenders are treated like this, it's only a matter of time before they snap, then I guess you will just say "see, I told you they were dangerous!"  Anyone backed into a corner, will eventually fight back!

State health officials hope to begin accepting bids next month and will pick a winner by February.

Once the nursing home is built, it will be used as an example to other health departments around the country.
- Nursing home?  It's a prison!

IA - Court Upholds Iowa Sex Offender Cohabitant Law

View the article here

This is just wrong!  Now, single parent sex offenders cannot have a relationship?  I think the people in this fascist government have gone mad, I really do.  I'm waiting on the day they pass a law and say you cannot breath!


DES MOINES (AP) - The Iowa Supreme Court has upheld a law that bars single parents from living with sex offenders.

The case involves a Coralville woman who was found guilty of child endangerment and sentenced to one year probation. The woman, Holly Mitchell, lived with a convicted sex offender and let her children stay with the man while she was at work.

Mitchell appealed her conviction, claiming the state's law is unconstitutional because it treats people who are not married and living with a sex offender differently than people who are married and living with a sex offender.

The Supreme Court on Friday rejected that argument, saying it's reasonable to believe that an unmarried parent living with a sex offender poses a greater risk to a child than a parent who is married to a sex offender.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

NC - Convicted Sex Offender Talks With WITN

View the article here

Old I know, but I do not have this story or video yet!


A convicted sex offender living in Beaufort County says he just wants to get on with his life.

Ernest Rambo, 41 years-old, talked with Dave Jordan about how he ended up on North Carolina's Sex Offender Registry and what people think about his conviction of statutory rape.

Rambo said the person involved was a 15 year-old, "Like I said I saw it, I left, I got accused of it, I did my time. I did 16 years. I've been down here two years, I have a nice steady job, I work fulltime. Everybody has opinions, I can't stop someone from giving an opinion of me. If a person can't accept me for who I am when they meet me, hey, I don't need them. I'm not trying to hide from nobody, but hey, it happened."

Rambo is headed back to court this month because he is charged with failing to register as a sex offender as required by law. He also faces charges of DWI, giving fictitious information to police, and driving with a revoked license.

Rambo says failing to register as a sex offender is just a mix up.

GA - Report from Hearing on November 13, 2008


We hope this finds you well. We are writing today to give you a quick update on yesterday’s hearing in front of Judge Cooper. We have also provided a few articles below that summarize the day.

The Court heard excellent testimony from several people on the registry who have had to stop their faith-based volunteering since the passage of the SB 1 this July. Attorneys from SCHR made arguments on why Georgia’s sex offender law criminalizes religious practice. As you may know, this statute bans any form of volunteering at church, prohibiting people on the registry from giving full voice to their faith by singing in the church choir, playing the piano, or reading scripture before a church congregation. Violations of the law are punishable by 10-30 years in prison. One man recently faced prosecution for playing the piano during a regular Sunday worship service. Judge Cooper did not rule on the volunteering provision yesterday.

Unfortunately, he did deny the preliminary injunction to allow for Wendy Whitaker to remain in her home. Ms. Whitaker is on the sex offender registry for engaging in consensual sex as a high school student with another student. This conduct occurred over ten years ago. Ms. Whitaker had just turned 17. The other student was 15. They were both sophomores in high school.

Ms. Whitaker is now 29. She and her husband purchased their home in Harlem, Georgia in January 2006. Ms. Whitaker was forced from her home in 2006 because its proximity to a child care center violated the law. The couple subsequently moved from residence to residence, paying mortgage on their Harlem home and rent for other residences. In early 2008, Ms. Whitaker returned to her home in Harlem, believing that since she owned her home she had a right to reside there pursuant to the Georgia Supreme Court’s decision in Mann v. Ga. Dep’t of Corr., 282 Ga. 754, 653 S.E.2d 740 (2007). In July 2008, however, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office again ordered Ms. Whitaker to vacate her residence within 72 hours because it is within 1,000 feet of a church.

The Judge’s ruling against Ms. Whitaker only applies to her and does not affect the class of all people on the registry. We will continue to work with Wendy and make efforts to prevent the loss of her home. We will keep you posted as we know the outcome of her case is of interest to all on the registry.

Please be assured that we always post any new information about the case on our listserv as soon as we receive it. If we have not posted new information, it means that we do not have anything new to report.

All the best,

Sara, Sarah, Mica, Gerry and James