Sunday, December 14, 2008

Dead Sex Offenders?

I was thinking. Since not all offenders have family or friends, when a sex offender dies, is the sheriff departments just going to boost the fear factor, and mark that offender as being ABSCONDED? Thus scaring people more? If so, imagine what it is going to be like in 10 or 20 years from now, there will be millions of dead offenders on the registry.

Who is going to go after these dead sex offenders?  Nothing more dangerous than a dead sex offender who can walk through walls and enter your child's bedroom....  We must pass more laws to go after dead sex offenders!!!

And until TAPS and others figure out how to "bring back the dead," then I'm afraid the registry is going to grow in leaps and bounds.

Does the police check obituaries and death certificates, then take those who are now deceased off the registries? I doubt it. So just think about it....

FL - The Jessica Lunsford Act and How It Works Against Children and Families

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Jessica Lunsford Act and How It Works Against Children and Families

The People Power Hour interview author and therapy-trainer Michael Freeny and mother Joanne Pratt concerning sex offenders, Florida's misguided Jessica Lunsford Act and how Florida chidren and families are being harmed the Act.

TX - Sex Offenders Not Registered, Why Not?

View the article here

Well, when offenders are threatened daily by vigilantes and the general public, lose their jobs, cannot find new jobs, lose their home, cannot find a new home, have to move a way from family, friends, etc.  What do you expect?  I bet it will get worse as time goes on.  You push people to the fringes of society, and they have nothing to lose, then you can only guess what might occur then, but then, that would justify many peoples high recidivism rates, wouldn't it?  Sex offenders are LESS likely to commit another related crime, than any other criminall, but, many studies could ANY crime as recidivism, instead of a new sex crime.  So this would just justify their lies!  Video is at the site as well.


By Sara Talbert

MARLIN - It's the law; Sex offenders must let law enforcement agencies know where they live at all times. News Channel 25 has uncovered some startling information that many offenders in Central Texas are failing to do that, but why?

All of the information we gathered is public knowledge through the Texas Department of Public Safety website.

Marlin Police say they have a no-tolerance policy when it comes to sex offenders failing to re-register. Friday, News Channel 25's Sara Talbert rode along with Assistant Chief Darrell Allen as he made compliance checks.

"We have some that are resentful, believing they did nothing wrong and the registration process is a joke and those are the ones we take a close look at," said Allen.

_____, a convicted sex offender says he stays on top of things, for a reason.

"I know I've got to live with this. Not only do you have to live with it, you have to be honest with it," said _____.

But many aren't honest and it's up to police and sheriffs' departments to either get offenders into compliance or arrest them for breaking the law.

"It's a necessary effort on the city's part and the police department," said Allen.

But what if the law doesn't keep tabs on sex offenders?

News Channel 25 found at least 10 offenders in Falls County alone, who are supposed to register with the Sheriff's Department and several in the City of Bartlett in Bell County that aren't current on their registration, many for several years.

One man has been out of compliance since 2006. Another has not been registered for almost two years. And another man, has been out of compliance since 2000. We later found out he has passed away.
- So the man is dead, but we like to use it to scare the hell out of you...

Why hasn't anyone checked up on him? Why hasn't this been fixed?
- Him who?  You mentioned three people above.  When an offender dies, how do you expect them to figure that out?  Do the police check the obituaries all the time?  Over time, the registry is going to be VERY bloated with many dead offenders who are no longer a threat, but, it will help keep the fear up to calm the sheeple!

Assistant Chief Allen from Marlin, where they do keep records up-to-date, says being out of compliance with your sex offender list could be dangerous for the public.
- Yeah, I am willing to bet they have many errors on the registry as well.  How do they know when an offender is dead?  Do they continue to hunt for them for life, and list them as absconded on the registry to scare people?  Yes, that is exactly what they do.  A dead person cannot come back to update the registry....

"If they're not in compliance, number one, the trust the citizens and police departments have in them will be tarnished. That will give them an opportunity to go out there and commit the same offense again," said Allen.
- But, studies show, if you'd read them, that sex offenders are LESS likely to commit another sex crime, why don't you do some homework?  Oh yeah, you need to increase the fear factor to scare people into reading your paper, I understand!  You are assuming all offenders will reoffend, that is not true...

Some sex offenders move or flee but many are just trying to stay under the law's radar which is something Billy Wade doesn't advise.
- And some die!  And many who vanish, are probably trying to live something of a normal life, which these laws, Scarlett letter, do not allow.  So it's common sense that many would rather take their chances on the run.  They can vanish, get a fake ID, and get a job...  I know, it's against the law, but, when you have nothing to lose, what do you expect them to do?  They have to make a living!

"You can't live without the law. You can try but you can't," said Wade.
- Sure we can...  It's sheeple like you who can't!

Falls County Sheriff Ben Kirk told News Channel 25 Friday afternoon and said he wasn't aware of any problems. He said it's up to the city or town where they live but many of those show their reporting agency is the Falls County Sheriff's Department. Sheriff Kirk said this is something his department stays on top of this.

Politicians Do as I say, Not as I Do Mentality

SWEDEN - Swedish watchdog eyes Web site naming rapists

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By MALIN RISING - Associated Press Writer

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - A government watchdog in Sweden is investigating a Web site that publishes the names of convicted sex offenders for potential breach of privacy, an official said Sunday.

Data Inspection Board lawyer Jonas Agnvall said the board opened the investigation after receiving complaints about the site. The board will assess whether the publication has been done with a journalistic purpose or not.

Under Swedish law, material published with a journalistic purpose is excluded from the law that protects personal information. The Web site has been running since October and posts addresses, court documents, dates of birth and photos of convicted rapists.

"These are complicated issues," Agnvall said. "Journalistic purpose is not only reserved for traditional media."

Sweden has a long history of transparency - allowing public access to many private documents, including court papers and information on income, marital status and college grades. However, coordinated Web access to criminal records is controversial because some say it could trigger vigilante attacks or harm relatives of offenders.

The operators of the Web site were not available for comment Sunday. The daily newspaper Goteborgs-Posten reported Saturday that the operators Web site organizers want tougher penalties for sex offenders.

If they are charged and found guilty, they could face fines and up to two years in prison.

In the United States, Megan's Law requires that the public be able to access information about registered sex offenders. The law is named after Megan Kanka, a 7-year-old New Jersey girl who was raped and killed in 1994 by a twice-convicted sex offender who lived near her home.

Activists in the U.K. have pushed for a similar "Sarah's Law," and police started a pilot project this summer allowing parents to check out relatives or neighbors who regularly look after their children.

NJ - Lunch Lady In Porn Scandal Resigns From Job

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Video is available here.


A woman who left the porn industry to work as an elementary school lunch lady in Vineland, N.J. has quit her position.

Louisa Tuck offered a one-sentence resignation to the Vineland, N.J. school district this week, Fox 29 News has confirmed.

Tuck, also know as Crystal Gunns, told school officials she was leaving in "good standing." The letter didn't indicate why Tuck was quitting.

Tuck revealed in November that she was Crystal Gunns, an adult model/actress with a big Internet following.

At the time, she was working as an cafeteria and playground aide at the D'Ippolito Elementary School.

Tuck's past triggered a national debate about her future employment with the school district.

Vineland School District Superintendent Charles Ottinger released a statement in November, which read, "It's one thing if it's an illegal activity, because that would come up in the check. There is no way for us to know if a person is involved in these types of activities."

Frank DiDomenico, an associate solicitor for the school board, issued a statement, which read, "It's a constitutional privilege of free expression. She's employed by the school district, but that doesn't take away her constitutional rights. There's no way the board could delve into someone's private life."

Group seeks kids' online safety in the White House

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By Angela Gunn, BetaNews

Everybody wants something from the next administration, and a group called the Family Online Safety Institute is no exception, asking that increased effort be put toward kids' online safety.

The group requests that President-Elect Obama create a post of "National Safety Officer," to be located within the office of the Chief Technology Officer -- an office to which the new administration has long been committed to creating. FOSI also seeks the creation of an annual White House Online Safety Summit, a US Council for Internet Safety, and an ongoing Online Safety Program.

Lest visions of Mrs. Lovejoy start dancing (hey, no dancing!) in your head, FOSI is an actual industry organization. The membership roster includes such industry lions as Google, Cisco, Comcast, Microsoft, MySpace, Sprint, Symantec, and Verizon. The group has the twin aims of shielding kids from harmful material and protecting free speech on the Internet.

The group gathered in DC Thursday at its second annual conference. The theme was "Safe At Any Speed: Online safety tools, rules and public policies," and the report (PDF available here) was presented at that time.

The group looks at everything from cyber-bullying to ethics and media literacy, but the report focused specifically on online-safety education. The writers concluded that though many groups and organizations have good ideas and even good intentions, without a national education strategy, the message is getting lost. Even industry efforts -- MySpace's Internet Technical Task Force effort, for instance -- are getting swept away in the always-on tide.

It's not just the kids who need a talking-to, by the way. The report notes that breathless media coverage of online predators (NBC's sleazy "To Catch A Predator" series gets a mention by name) don't help. Neither does allowing the discussion to be dominated by law enforcement personnel, who tend to see situations in terms of potential crime, or by the sort of self-proclaimed experts who find that scaring people can be a rather lucrative line of work.

Perhaps the most fascinating part of the report is the information given by documentary filmmaker Rachel Dretzin on what she found during the shooting of "Growing Up Online" for Frontline. The kids are all right, she says, when it comes to "stranger danger" -- consistently rejecting requests to IM with strange adults. (Even with her, in fact, which added a degree of difficulty to making her documentary!)

Instead, the biggest problems come from other kids (cyber-bullying, harassment, dangerous behavior by fringe elements) and from the numbing effect that potentially endless exposure to pre-packaged sex and violence have on their own social interactions and worldview.

Similar results have been noted in the UK and the EU, and action is being taken there at the government level. The US, on the other hand, has no comprehensive effort in place; the report speaks well of the FTC'sOnGuard Online site, but that's just one aspect of the solution. Hence the call for an executive office appointment.

Department of Justice Announces Ongoing Global Enforcement Effort Targeting Child Pornographers

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Wow, only 60 arrested?  From what Oprah has said, this is out of control, and millions of people, every second, are exchanging child porn.  So why so few arrests?  Sounds like not much is being done, or it's all hype!  I vote the latter!  Also, in other studies I've seen, they say over 500,000 child porn computers have been identified, so out of 500,000 only 60 arrests?


Operation Highlights Increased Law Enforcement Cooperation Between United States and European Union

WASHINGTON - Today, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey, speaking after a joint United States and European Union (EU) ministerial meeting, highlighted “Operation Joint Hammer”—the U.S. component of an ongoing global enforcement operation targeting transnational rings of child pornographers. The operation already has led to the arrest of more than 60 people in the United States involved in the trade of child pornography; a number that the Attorney General remarked was likely to increase. Thus far, 11 child victims have been identified through Operation Joint Hammer.

“It should come as news to no one that crimes against children have been an area of special focus for the Department of Justice, and an area of great success,” said Attorney General Mukasey. “Through initiatives such as Project Safe Childhood, we have increased prosecutions of those who abuse and exploit children by over 30 percent in the last two years. Through a series of national media campaigns, we have made great strides in making parents and young people aware of the dangers. And most important, through cooperation with other law enforcement agencies such as our partners in the European Union, we have identified—and in many cases, saved—hundreds of children depicted in images and videos of sexual abuse.”

Operation Joint Hammer was initiated through evidence developed by European law enforcement and shared with U.S. counterparts by Europol and Interpol. The European portion of this global enforcement effort, “Operation Koala,” was launched after the discovery of a handful of people in Europe who were molesting children and producing photographs of that abuse for commercial gain. Further investigation unveiled a number of online child pornography rings—some of which hosted dangerous offenders who not only traded child pornography, but who themselves sexually abused children.

In one case, European law enforcement officials discovered that a father was raping his young daughters and offering a photographer across the continent an opportunity to photograph these sexual attacks. Identification of the father led to the discovery of a commercial website maintained by the photographer, which he used to sell the images of the sexual abuse of those children along with many other images of other children whose sexual exploitation he commissioned. Law enforcement has determined that the customers of the website were located in nearly 30 countries around the world, including the United States .

Eurojust and Europol brought together law enforcement officers from many of the affected countries, including the United States , to share information about possible customers of the website located in their countries and to coordinate enforcement actions against these child pornographers. With close cooperation from European law enforcement, U.S. law enforcement has been able to identify a number of the U.S.-based customers of the website. Further investigation into those targets resulted in the identification of a number of Internet-based trading sites dedicated to the sharing of child pornography. A number of the U.S. targets belonged to more than one site, revealing an inter-connected web of underground child pornography trading.

“Operation Joint Hammer illustrates the effectiveness of international cooperation and the speed with which we can move to protect children, identify those who prey on them and bring them to justice,” said John P. Torres, Acting Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). “Those who produce, distribute and buy images of child pornography cause more children to be damaged. As a member of the Virtual Global Taskforce, ICE works globally every day to stop this from happening.”

“This case is an extraordinary example of the good and important cooperation between U.S. and E.U. law enforcement. Together we have made results to the disadvantage of evil child molesters and to the benefit of a large number of innocent victims,” said Max-Peter Ratzel, Director of Europol.

“The Internet has connected all of us into one world without oceans and boundaries,” said Shawn Henry, FBI Cyber Division Assistant Director. As a result, cyber crimes present a challenge that can only be effectively confronted with strength and dedication exhibited daily by law enforcement agencies around the world working in close coordination. As today’s announcement demonstrates, we are making significant progress. We are proud to be partners in Operation Joint Hammer and I commend the many law enforcement personnel who contributed to its success.”

“The Postal Inspection Service is proud to have participated in this multi-agency initiative,” said U.S. Postal Inspection Chief Postal Inspector William R. Gilligan. “Through Operation Joint Hammer, those who used the Internet and the U.S. mails to traffic in child pornography were identified; huge amounts of child pornography have been seized; scores of individuals have been arrested, and, most importantly, many children have been rescued from further sexual abuse and exploitation.”

To date, U.S. law enforcement, including federal, state, and local authorities, have, through close cooperation, filed numerous charges, and more are expected as investigations continue. Significantly, a number of the child pornography traders identified through this operation had been sexually abusing children themselves, sometimes producing images of their sexual abuse. Thus far, work by U.S. law enforcement has resulted in the identification of 11 child victims.

Operation Joint Hammer is the result of close coordination between the FBI, DHS Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), along with European law enforcement, including Europol and Eurojust. In addition, numerous U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, as well as CEOS trial attorneys, have been handling the prosecution of the targets identified by these numerous investigations.

TX - Unlikely force fighting sex crime's stigma - Texas Voices wants laws to note difference between dangerous predators, nonviolent offenders

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AUSTIN — Martin Ezell is tired of the dead-end jobs and unrelenting stigma that comes with being a registered sex offender.

He has a master's degree in liberal arts and wants to be a teacher.

But employers have been unable to see beyond his presence on the state's sex offender registry, which he is required to be on for the rest of his life.

It's true that a decade ago, he was convicted of sexually abusing a 16-year-old girl who was half his age. But the registry doesn't divulge that his victim was his girlfriend who now is his wife, with whom he has three children.

Glancing at his profile, there's little to distinguish him from the repeat pedophiles and violent rapists who are among the 54,000-plus registered sex offenders in the state's database.

"I just can't equate my offense with the guy who sat next to me in my therapy sessions who raped his 5-year-old stepson," said Ezell, 42.

The military veteran, who lives with his family in a bedroom community south of Austin, is so angry about his lifetime registration requirement that he has joined forces with hundreds of other sex offenders similarly aggrieved about being on the registry.

This unlikely political force, which dubs itself Texas Voices, vows to fight the state's — and the nation's — sweeping registration laws.

The group believes community notification laws fail to protect the public, because they don't distinguish dangerous predators from otherwise harmless men and women who foolishly had sex with underage lovers, served their sentences and don't need a lifetime of public scrutiny.

Texas Voices hasn't yet turned anyone away but targets its message at those who committed nonviolent offenses that did not involve young children.

Selling the concept to the public may be difficult, however. Texas law stipulates that minors, defined as anyone younger than 17, cannot legally consent to sex with an adult.

Texas Voices is finding agreement in unusual places.

Ray Allen, the former Texas House Corrections chair who helped shepherd into law tough sex registration bills, said he and his colleagues went too far.

"We cast the net widely to make sure we got all the sex offenders. Now, 15 years on, it turns out that really only a small percentage of people convicted of sex offenses pose a true danger to the public," he said.

Sen. John Whitmire (Pictured), D-Houston, the Senate Criminal Justice chair, said, "If we're not careful, we're going to have a sex offender registry that is so large and so encompassing, it's not much good."

Texas Voices members know their chances for success hinge on politicians risking their careers on a population with just about zero political clout.

Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, who has been a driving force behind the community notification laws, isn't ready to assume that risk. She insists that if the registry is too large, it's because there are too many people out there committing sex crimes.

Dozens of offenders, along with moms, dads and significant others, show up for the monthly Texas Voices' meetings, sharing stories and plotting strategy.

The most committed spend days and nights scrolling through the registry seeking to recruit new members. Nearly 1,000 offenders have been contacted, and about 300 have heeded the call to action, organizers say.

'I was never a victim'
"We're getting letters from ladies in their 20s who say, 'I was never a victim, and I didn't know my offender was on the registry,' " said Mary Sue, the mother of a jailed sex offender. Like many interviewed for this story, she asked that her last name not be used for fear it would have negative consequences for her son.

Ezell's wife, Avea, now 27, says she's ready to tell lawmakers that her husband is a decent man whose dream of being a high school teacher is forever dashed because of a decade-old offense that will follow him for the rest of his life.

Texas' first community notification law was passed in 1995 and named for Ashley Estell, a 7-year-old girl snatched from a North Texas playground and murdered by a sex offender parolee.

The first notices were printed in local newspapers. An online registry followed in 1999. Since then, the number of registered offenders has more than tripled to 54,000, including nearly 7,500 who committed their crimes as juveniles, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. Most offenders now must register for life.

A difference in danger
But not all sex offenders pose the same dangers.

According to a 2003 U.S. Justice Department study, roughly 5 percent of sex offenders released from prison were rearrested for another sex crime within three years, a recidivism rate lower than for many other types of crimes.

"If you look at almost all the laws out there on the books, they usually have been enacted following a horrible crime, a sexual assault and murder, which represent a tiny fraction of sex offenses," said Dr. Fred Berlin, founder of the John Hopkins Sexual Disorders Clinic.

Annette Burrhus-Clay, executive director of the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, concedes the registry may include people who don't pose a public safety threat. The bigger problem, she said, is the number of people who aren't on the registry but should be.

It's hard to say if public registries have made communities safer. Sex crimes haven't diminished in Texas, Burrhus-Clay said, but that might not mean much. Public awareness campaigns may spur more people to report sex crimes, she said.

Linda Ingraham, a psychologist in Dallas who has treated sex offenders, said most people would be surprised at the number of low-risk misdemeanor offenders.

She said she's probably treated 200 people who were forced to register because they were caught several times having consensual sex in a park.

"It's yucky," she said, "but as a group, they're not a danger to anyone."

From her two-story suburban home north of Austin, Jan Fewell, 50, searches for sex abuse victims in order to help their perpetrators.

"Do you know a man named Stephen Fisher?" she asked into her cell phone. "Do you still keep in touch with him? You do? Was it consensual sex or was it rape?"

She had just phoned a now 23-year-old mother of two. Combing through court records, Fewell learned that the woman, at age 13, had had sex with Fisher, a man five years her senior. Fewell wanted to know if the woman, who had refused to help prosecutors a decade ago, would be willing to help her group.

In a later interview, the woman said she regularly visits the man in prison, is raising the two children he fathered with her and counting the days until his release. Yes, she would be receptive to helping the group.

"That was so easy!" Fewell exclaimed after the call ended.

An unlikely advocate
As the mother of adult daughters, Fewell is an unlikely advocate for sex offenders. She became involved after one of her daughter's teenage schoolmates was arrested for sexually abusing a younger teen. Now, she works full time recruiting members for the group.

At one of the group's recent meetings, Jerry Tuckner talked about how hard it is to get a job. Tuckner, 36, was sentenced to probation for having sex with a 15-year-old when he was 23.

"Even the temp agencies won't hire me, because they say I'm a liability," he said.

The 13-year-old case still tears at the victim's father, who turned Tuckner in. Patrick Peterson, 55, said he was furious when he found out a 23-year-old man was having sex with his teenage daughter.

Now, all these years later, Peterson said he's disturbed to learn that Tuckner remains on the state's sex offender registry. Peterson said he would gladly sign a petition urging leniency for Tuckner and would be willing to share his family's story with lawmakers.

UK - CCTV Clues In Paedo Mob Murder?

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Police are sifting through hours of CCTV footage in the hunt for a mob of killers who stabbed to death and mutilated a convicted child sex offender.

_____, who was jailed in 2000 for unlawful sex with a 15-year-old girl, was found dead in his caravan in the Wandsworth area of south west London.

He had been repeatedly stabbed and reportedly suffered horrific wounds to his genitals.

Detectives believe he may have been murdered in revenge for his past crimes.

And it has been reported that he may have been the victim of a mob attack, although police have not confirmed this.

Anti child-abuse campaigners have condemned the killing and warned it would damage efforts to have more information on sex offenders' whereabouts made public.

Officers are piecing together Mr _____'s movements on the night before he died.

He was last seen outside his caravan at 6.10pm on Tuesday and it is unclear what he did from that moment until his body was found in the caravan the next morning.

Detective Chief Inspector Nick Scola of the Metropolitan Police said: "Regardless of who he was or what he may have done, Andrew was the victim of a vicious assault which ended his life.

"We're still examining CCTV from the area and working to establish the number of suspects involved."

Donald Findlater, director of research and development at the child protection charity Lucy Faithfull Foundation, warned this type of vigilante attack could force other sex offenders into hiding.

He said: "There are some 35,000 registered sex offenders in England and Wales, the majority of whom are being managed safely within our communities.

"But alleged mob action of this nature will make some of those offenders terrified and I fear it may drive some underground and into isolation which is when they become dangerous to children."

Mr _____ was put on the sex offenders' register following his conviction in 2000 and it is believed this was widely known in the area where he lived.

Police said the 2000 incident was Mr _____'s only conviction for sexual offences, and he came off the list in March.

Anyone with information on the attack is asked to contact police on 020 8721 4138 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Reality Show Insanity!

This is just a few of the many. I wonder, if this were today, I guess all these kids would be sex offenders now, and their lives ruined.

CA - Man posts nude photos of ex-wife online, and asks folks to come and rape her!

AUSTRALIA - Anti-censorship rally - Australian Sex Party

GA - Minister accused of molesting tries suicide, cops say

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By MARCUS K. GARNER - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

SWAT team raids Kennesaw home of ‘_____’ performer

A Cobb County police SWAT team on Thursday raided the Kennesaw home of a church minister and magician accused of child molestation to find he tried to kill himself, authorities said.

Officers arrived at the home of _____, 37, around 9:45 a.m. to serve him with a federal arrest warrant. Police said it was a “high-risk warrant” and that _____ was considered armed and dangerous.

The SWAT team went in and pulled out his wife and one of his two children. _____ then ran to the basement and barricaded himself there, police said.

When officers opened the door to the basement, they found _____ with self-inflicted slash wounds, having attempted suicide, Cobb police spokesman Nathan McCreary said.

“He’d cut himself up pretty good,” McCreary said.

The suspect was taken to WellStar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta, where he was listed in stable condition after surgery. He was in the custody of the U.S. Secret Service. No one else was reported injured in the incident.

_____, who had performed for schoolchildren and other groups under the name “_____,” was arrested in July after he reportedly approached two young boys in the restroom of a Target store in Kennesaw and touched one of them inappropriately. He had been a leader of children’s worship at _____ Church in Kennesaw.

Information and evidence from his initial arrest led to federal charges of sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, police said.

AL - Illegal consent

View the article here
The Age of Consent: When Young Love Is a Sex Crime


By Matt Elofson

What some teenagers might see as an innocent relationship could land at least one them in prison if they aren’t familiar with Alabama law.

More often than not, it is an older teenage boy dating a younger teenage girl who lands behind bars and is saddled with a felony rape charge.

Of the 96 registered sex offenders in Houston County, about a third of them have been convicted of felony second-degree rape, often known as statutory rape. Many of the most recent cases are teenage boys in relationships with girls legally too young to consent in the relationship.

Second-degree rape crimes have dramatically increased across Houston County over the past couple of years while for the most part the numbers remained the same across the rest of the Wiregrass. The number of charges tripled in Houston County from 2006 to 2007, and then more doubled again from 2007 through most of 2008.

District Attorney Doug Valeska called today’s teenagers different than year’s past. He said as the numbers of these crimes continue to increase, the number of teenagers losing their innocence and youth will also continue to rise.
- I don't think teens are any different, the laws are.  And these laws are sweeping them up into their nets and ruining their lives, for what was once legal sex play or experimentation.  Now it's a crime.

“My explanation as the district attorney is times are changing. Morals are not what they used to be,” Valeska said. “People have become more willing to do sexual activity. Their respect for authority has changed, for their parents and law enforcement. We still have plenty of excellent kids that don’t do these things.”
- I think politicians making insane laws, and the media has contributed greatly to this.  You cannot even spank your kids in many places now, because it's considered child abuse.  And with these sex offender laws, you cannot hug or discipline a child anymore without being charged with some crime.

Jim Parkman, who has been a criminal defense lawyer for more than 30 years, said most statutory rape charges involve people who know each other and often people who had at least a dating relationship.

“There’s a different world out there now,” Parkman said. “Dothan High is trying to pass a dress code. These kids just don’t look like they used to, and the attitudes have changed.”

Second-degree rape differs from first-degree rape in that it doesn’t involve the use of force during the sexual act. Authorities could charge someone with the crime if they’re 16 years old or older and have sex with someone else who’s less 16 years old and older than 12. The assailant also has to be at least two years older than the victim. The assailant faces the charge even if the victim consented to the act.
- This doesn't make sense to me.  Less than 16 years old and older than 12?  What about those who are 0 - 11 years old, is that OK?  No...  So why doesn't this just say 16 years or younger?

Second-degree rape is a Class B felony and carries a possible punishment of two to 20 years in prison if convicted, along with a requirement of lifelong registration as a sex offender.

“It’s a sign of the evolving moral standards in the country,” said David Hogg, a Dothan defense attorney. “It’s my suspicion that you have younger people who’re sexually experimenting more. If younger people are experimenting with older people of the opposite sex, then you’ll see those type of charges.”
- I think it's a sign of fear-mongering politicians and media myself!  Many people are being charged with crimes for stuff which wasn't a crime 10 or more years ago.  Where have you folks been?  Haven't you watched Jerry Springer or other shows, that show teens having sex with older men?  It's been around since the dawn of time.  It is the laws that have changed, not the morals, IMO!

Houston County Sheriff’s Investigator James Brazier said it’s very uncommon for a female to be charged with second-degree rape. Brazier said there are only three women on the county’s sex offender registry, including a second-degree rape conviction. Brazier, who regularly checks to see if sex offenders are property registered, called second-degree rape the more common sexual assault than first-degree rape. He said if the victim is younger than 12 years the suspect automatically faces a first-degree rape charge.

“These guys and girls have to realize if the age difference is there they’ve got to take the responsibility to say no,” Brazier said. “If they luck up and get youthful offender they’ll still have to register for 10 years.”

A young person charged with a crime between the ages of 18 and 21 has the opportunity to apply for youthful offender status, which seals their case even if convicted.
- That is not true, in all states.  Many young children who have committed what is now labeled a sex crime, are on the registry (non-public) and must register for a long time, and many do NOT get this removed from their records.  That is just misleading, IMO!  Nowadays, if you get a felony conviction, regardless of your age, it's on your record forever, in most cases.

Shaun McGhee, a contract attorney for Circuit Court Judge Butch Binford, said the impact on those charged has a long-lasting effect.

You’re basically branded for life,” McGhee said. “It does impact their lives. They have to register as a sex offender… you’re still looking at two to 20 years in prison.”
- Once again, we have a person here, who knows these laws are PUNISHMENT, and CAN ruin your life.  So therefore, the laws are unconstitutional, but, the Constitution means nothing anymore, so anything is constitutional now.

The young men charged with the crime who are younger than 21 have the opportunity to apply for youthful offender, but McGhee said more often than not they’re denied youthful offender status. McGhee said a sound defense in second-degree rape cases is that it just didn’t happen, but his not knowing the victim’s age is not a defense.

Statute Review

Several area lawyers believe state legislators should examine the law for second-degree rape, especially the punishment that goes along with a conviction for the crime. Thomas Brantley, a Dothan criminal defense lawyer, suggested legislators review the law for second-degree rape and second-degree sodomy to allow for a psychological evaluation if the defendant’s age falls within five years of the alleged victim.
- The punishment, when it comes to sex crimes, no longer fit the crime.  And once again, that is unconstitutional, if the constitution meant anything!

Too often, I have found young men who’re found guilty of rape second are not dangerous to the community,” Brantley said. “It’s just a snapshot, a moment in time when they exercised poor judgement probably because of hormones. I don’t think they should have to register as a sex offender for the rest of their life.”
- And another person who admits the laws are punishment, by the words they use.

Eric Davis, a defense attorney who handles appointed cases as a contract attorney for Anderson, called the punishment harsh for a second-degree rape charge.

It’s a pretty harsh penalty for an 18-year-old who’s dating a 15-year-old. He may have to register for the rest of his life,” Davis said. “I think judges should be allowed to have some discretion in the registration issue as long as it’s in the context of a relationship.”
- And another!

Valeska disagreed and said legislators already changed the age of consent from 18 to 16. He said if he doesn’t prosecute second-degree rape charges, the assailant could move on to another underage victim.

“They’re stealing their youth, their innocence. It’s so preventable. They know how old these girls are, they know what grade they’re in,” Valeska said. “I can’t legislate morality as the district attorney.”
- Come on, give me a friggin' break!  In most of these cases, where young children are involved, the sex is usually consensual.  I am not saying non-consensual sex doesn't occur, because it does, but it's very rare!

Valeska said grand juries have decided against issuing indictments in several second-degree rape cases.

He suggested one part of the charge could be reviewed, which included whether a 17-year-old convicted of the crime with a 15-year-old victim should be required to register as a sex offender. But he said anyone 18 or older should have to register as a sex offender.

“My job as the district attorney is to enforce the laws,” Valeska said. “The purpose of registration is to protect society.”
- Registration protects nobody!  If someone on the registry wanted to commit another crime, do you think simply because they are on the registry it will prevent them from doing so?

He called education a key to at least slowing down the number of second-degree rape charges.
- I agree, education and prevention need to be addresses, and not ignored.

“Ignorance is no excuse,” Valeska said. “They say it’s love, but love is not sex.”

Valeska even said lawyers from the Houston County District Attorney’s Office would go to area schools and talk about criminal law and what type of consequences a violator could face, including second-degree rape.

“They need to be informed,” Valeska said. “I hear from parents ‘He didn’t know. He thought it was not a crime if she agreed.’ I’m not advocating sex, but they should be aware of the law, and the consequences.”


Houston County Sheriff’s Capt. Antonio Gonzalez said he’s been to at least one county school to talk to students about the laws, including second-degree rape. But it doesn’t just fall to teachers, school administrators and law enforcement to make sure teenagers know the responsible actions to take.

“Parents have to talk to their kids constantly, not just the birds and bees, but the legality of it, too,” Gonzalez said.
- How are parents suppose to do this, when they themselves do not know the law?  It all sounds good on paper, but it's not a reality.  Maybe the state should setup a class, that people can join to learn how to find out the laws, etc.  Many do not know you can go to the state legislature web site, and look up the laws.  And in many cases, the laws are so convaluded, it's hard for even a lawyer to understand them.

Parkman suggested education of the consequences not just the legal ones, but the health dangers as well.

Often they don’t buy that they might go jail, and they’re convicted and have to register for the rest of their life just like a serial rapist,” Parkman said.

Houston County Schools Superintendent Tim Pitchford said the school’s doors are always open for area officials to come and speak to the students.
- Many schools do not, and cannot teach sex ed, because the parents get upset.  And I read one article, that a parent was teaching their kid about sex, but was put in jail for "going overboard!"  So it's a catch-22 situation.

“It’s something as a school superintendent and principal we need to make them more aware,” Pitchford said. “The unintentional trap they might fall into, you know, what is under age and what is not under age.”

Pitchford said several parents over the past couple of years have even requested someone come to the schools and talk about second-degree rape charges.
- Why just second-degree rape?  Why not include all that in sex ed classes?  School is where you go to learn, so why isn't all this being taught in school?

“As the world changes, we’ve got to do a better job of educating our students,” Pitchford said. “Our responsibility is not just academics. We have a responsibility to educate our children socially as well.”

KIDS - Sexting could land you in jail/prison, and labeled a sex predator

You may think it's funny and flirting, but sending a nude picture of yourself through your cell phone to another person, if you are under the age of consent, you could be sent to jail or prison for child porn production, and on the sexual offender registry for 10 years or more.

So STOP sending nude photos of yourselves, it's a crime, and if you receive a nude photo from a friend, delete it, and warn them about the consequences....

See here for more articles:

You do not want to be labeled a sexual predator for any amount of time, it will DESTROY your lives.... THINK TWICE BEFORE SENDING THAT NUDE PHOTO OF YOURSELF OR SOMEONE ELSE...

Also, see here for other children who have had their lives ruined for having sex or sending nude photos of themselves.

OH - Connie Schultz: Making kids to tell law's naked truth is the perfect sentence

View the article here


by Connie Schultz/Plain Dealer Columnist

The teenage girl wanted to taunt an ex-boyfriend.

So she used her cell phone to photograph herself in various stages of undress, then attached a simple message:

"This is what you are missing."

Then she clicked "send."

Before long, her nude photos meant for one boy were popping up on the cell phones of other boys at her suburban Cleveland high school. Two of her girlfriends' naked photos also started making the rounds.

All eight of the students involved were between the ages of 14 and 16. And all of them were caught. Not one knew that circulating the photos was illegal until a school administrator caught wind of their game and called the police.

Thomas O'Malley is the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court judge who heard the case, but it was Thomas O'Malley the father who figured out the punishment.

O'Malley knew a growing number of minors across the country were forwarding nude photos of themselves and their friends via cell phones. As Anthony Bondra, a lawyer for one of the boys in this case, told me, "It's an epidemic, from California to Maine."

O'Malley also knew that some of these teenagers, including a 17-year-old girl in Columbus, have been labeled sexual predators for up to 10 years after getting caught.

"Imagine that," he said, "having that label follow you around for a decade."

None of the kids in this case had prior criminal records, and they and their parents were duly mortified over the severity of their crime. Still, O'Malley wanted to sentence the teens in a way that would help other kids, too. He didn't figure out just how he was going to do that until he sat down to dinner with his own four teenagers.

"Give me your cell phones," he told them. One by one, he checked his kids' phones for stored photos. To his relief, there were no naked pictures.

"Do you guys know that it's against federal law to send nude photos of you or your friends on your cell phones?" he asked them. "Did you know that, if you get caught, you can be labeled a sexual predator?"

Not one of them answered yes.

"They all looked at me with such puzzled faces," O'Malley said. "I immediately told them, 'You should tell your friends that. You should make sure your friends know the law.' "

And that's when the judge figured out the sentence for the three girls and five boys who did get caught.

Last week, O'Malley ordered each of them to find 25 teenagers under the age of 18 at their school and ask them one question:

"Did you know that possessing, viewing or sending nude or partial nude photos or images of a minor [someone under 18 years of age] using [a] cell phone is a felony and could result in you being jailed for a minimum of six (6) months up until the age of 21?"

The teens have to record only the students' first name, but each of them has to ask a different set of 25 kids, O'Malley said.

They will report back to the judge with their findings in January.

In the meantime, O'Malley has tried to reach out to area high schools to help educate their students about the dangers of circulating naked pictures on their cell phones.

He sent a letter to 20 high schools in Cuyahoga County, both public and private, offering to speak to their students.

Not one high school has responded.

Perhaps school administrators think their students already know better.

Lawyer Bondra wants them to think again.

His client already has completed his survey. Of the 25 kids he asked, 23 did not know it was against the law to send naked photos of underage classmates.

That's a total of two who knew it was illegal.

O'Malley hopes that parents across the country will have the tough talk with their own teenagers. He also has some advice for parents who think their kids would never do such a thing.

"Check their cell phones," he said. "Click on their pictures."

And do it today.