Friday, December 19, 2008
CLAYTON COUNTY - A Clayton County grand jury indicted a former Forest Park police officer on rape and other sex charges Friday.
Kenneth Andrew Schmidt is accused of assaulting a woman in the back seat of his police cruiser. Prosecutors said he offered the alleged victim a ride home following a traffic stop in April.
The Forest Park Police Department fired Schmidt after the allegations came to light.
Thousands of convicted sex attackers won the right to challenge being on the sex offenders register for life today after a landmark High Court ruling.
Three judges said that indefinitely placing sex offenders on the register with no right of a review is a breach of their human rights.
The test case opens the way for thousands of individuals to try to get off the list on the basis that there is no longer a risk that they will reoffend.
Tonight the Home Office said that it was extremely disappointed with the ruling and is urgently considering an appeal. There are 31,392 sex offenders on the register. Anyone given a sentence of more than 30 months for a sex crime automatically goes on the register for life.
The ruling came in test cases involving a teenager, known as F who cannot be identified, and an adult, _____.
Lord Justice Latham, Mr Justice Underhill and Mr Justice Flaux said that the existing registration scheme wrongly denied them the chance to prove in a review that they no longer posed a risk of reoffending.
The judges said that both applicants were entitled to declarations that the scheme was incompatible with their Article 8 right to private and family life under the European Convention on Human Rights.
Lord Justice Latham said that it might well be that any right of review “should be tightly subscribed in the public interest”. He warned that an offender might find it very difficult to establish that he no longer presented any risk of re-offending.
“But I find it difficult to see how it could be justifiable in Article 8 terms to deny a person who believes himself to be in that position an opportunity to seek to establish it.”
Lawyers for the applicants argued they should be entitled to appeal to come off the register and stop having to notify the police of their personal details, including whether they intended to travel abroad.
F, now 16, was convicted of two offences of rape and other serious offences at the age of 11. He was sentenced to 30 months’ detention by Liverpool Crown Court in October 2005 and was released on licence in January 2007.
Last year F’s family booked a holiday in Spain, but he was unable to travel as approval had not been given, the High Court was told.
Later his local youth offending team wrote to his mother making it clear that, as he was on the sex offenders register, he would need to notify the authorities of his travel plans “for the remainder of his life”.
Hugh Southey, appearing for F, said that as there was no review process — he could still be on the register “aged 70 or 80”, even if he committed no further offence.
Pete Weatherby, appearing on behalf of _____, argued that adults were also entitled to periodic reviews.
_____, from Newcastle Upon Tyne, was sentenced in November 1996 to five years’ imprisonment on two counts of indecent assault on a female and other offences of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
The court heard that he had since been released and he had not been in any more trouble.
The Home Office and Ministry of Justice were unable to say how many people are on the register for life.
A Home Office official said: “We are extremely disappointed with today's High Court judgement and are now considering an appeal.”
The official added: “The UK has one of the most robust systems of managing sex offenders in the world. The notification requirements form an important part of this system."
“They provide an invaluable tool to the authorities in allowing the police to keep track of the whereabouts of individual sex offenders and managing the risk of known sex offenders.”
Walks out of court free; insists he never killed pregnant teen in 1988
HARTFORD - A man who served 20 years in prison for a killing in which another man has now been charged walked out of court free on Friday after a judge granted him a new trial.
Miguel Roman, 52, was released on a promise to appear in court again Feb. 5. He looked stunned as he was rushed through a crowd of reporters and cheering family members to a waiting SUV.
"It's a miracle," said Roman's uncle, Efrain Colon. "I knew that someday he'll be coming out."
Two weeks ago, authorities charged another man with the 1988 murder of 17-year-old Carmen Lopez, Roman's pregnant girlfriend at the time, and announced that new DNA tests eliminated Roman as a suspect. Pedro Miranda was also charged in the killings of two other Hartford teens in the 1980s, after the new DNA tests linked him to the crimes, police said.
- This is why when a child is sexually victimized, they need to do a DNA kit immediately. So they get DNA, and do NOT send the wrong person, if any, to jail/prison.
Roman had been serving a 60-year sentence for killing Lopez.
An FBI investigator testified in Roman's trial that tests eliminated him as a suspect, but a jury convicted him on circumstantial evidence and witness testimony, according to the arrest warrant affidavit for Miranda.
- You see. At one time, it was "innocent until proven guilty, and must be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt!" Now, you need no evidence, nothing, only someone accusing you, and your life is over. You are guilty until you prove you are innocent, which is almost impossible to do. Plus, the media helps with this as well, with shows like Nancy Disgrace! She finds people guilty, before they even go to court. And when she shows crap like that on TV, it WILL persuade the Jury. The Jury does watch TV, and it DOES influence them. You'd be an idiot to think otherwise. They should not release ANYTHING until after the conviction or trial.
New Haven attorney Rosemarie Paine brought Roman's case to the attention of the Connecticut Innocence Project.
DNA tests also determined that Roman was not the father of Lopez's unborn baby. That issue had been a motive in the case because Roman "expressed a degree of displeasure to that matter," prosecutor David Zagaja said.
But Zagaja said that fact alone did not warrant a new trial.
Roman's daughter Ana, who was 8 when her father was convicted, said the entire family was planning a huge get-together to welcome her father.
"I have to go Christmas shopping again. I thought I was done," she said.
- I can understand the shock he must be in, and the happiness. I wish them well!
Benjamin Maldonado, Roman's brother-in-law who flew in from Florida, said, "I'm happy! I'm happy!"
Roman has been in state custody since June 10, 1988. Since September 2007, he was held at the maximum-security MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution.
Miranda, 51, who had dated one of Lopez's relatives, is a registered sex offender who had been living in New Britain. He is also accused in the killings of 16-year-old Rosa Valentin in 1986 and 13-year-old Mayra Cruz in 1987. If convicted, he could be sentenced to death.
By Michael Kruse, Times Staff Writer
We've never been more safe. We've never been more afraid.
That's the paradox we're left with now that police have finally named a killer in the murder of Adam Walsh.
For 27 years, it seemed that the freckle-faced 6-year-old was snatched by the bogeyman Out There Somewhere. Last week we got a name: Ottis Toole, drifter and serial killer, who died in 1996 while in prison for other crimes. But since 1981, when Adam was kidnapped from a Sears at a South Florida mall, we've become irreversibly more watchful, and more worried, and more aware of dangers both real and imagined.
We search for missing kids better now. We find more of them. But we're also a little paranoid. We put kids on leashes and track them by satellite. We teach them the world can be mean.
The legacy of Adam Walsh isn't fixed. It pulses on a sliding scale between cautious responsibility and hypervigilance.
Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, credits Adam's father, John Walsh, for changing the way parents and lawmakers think about and respond to the threat.
"Adam's story captured the attention of the American media and moms and dads all over the country," Allen said. "The results have been overwhelmingly positive."
A leading criminologist says no way.
"John Walsh, if he had raised awareness in a more rational, considerate and moderate way, he might have done some good," said Richard Moran, a sociologist and criminologist at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. "But he raised awareness in this hysterical way and he created enormous anxiety among parents."
"It robbed a lot of children of their childhoods."
The changes — in law, and in perception — started almost immediately after Adam Walsh went missing.
John Walsh and his wife lobbied Congress to pass the Missing Children's Act in 1982. It required the FBI to enter data about missing kids into a national crime database. They also helped found the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in 1984.
Security tightened at stores and schools. Pictures of missing kids appeared on milk cartons and shopping bags and fliers in the mail.
In 2006, on the 25th anniversary of Adam Walsh's kidnapping, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act was passed, expanding the national registry of sex offenders and stiffening penalties against them.
These days, Amber alerts go out, practically instantly, all over the country, when a kid goes missing. Code Adam is an alarm set off in stores that alerts employees to a missing kid and locks the doors.
Statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice show that since the mid 1970s violent crime has gone down, down, down.
The Department of Justice estimates that 115 kids a year are kidnapped in what are labeled "stereotypical" kidnappings — a stranger taking a child with intent to keep or harm or kill. Fewer than half of those cases end in deaths.
In 1990, according to Allen, the NCMEC president, police recovered 62 percent of missing kids; now it's about 96 percent.
It's impossible to say exactly how much of this has to do with Adam Walsh.
Last Tuesday, though, the NCMEC called Walsh's parents "true American heroes" who "deserve the gratitude of every person."
It's safer now. Kids are far more likely to die by drowning, choking or in a car crash than they are to be kidnapped, raped and killed. Even accidental deaths are on the decline, thanks to bike helmets and seat belts and pool fences. It just doesn't feel safer.
Moran blames John Walsh.
"He created a sense of panic that was unrealistic," Moran said, "and he inflicted it on the nation."
Said author Richard Louv, who writes about overanxious, overprotective parents: "I'm not saying there's no risk out there, and I'm not saying the fear people feel is silly. But the stats in no way match the amount of fear parents feel."
In Florida a generation ago — before Carlie Brucia was taken and killed in Sarasota, before Sarah Lunde was taken and killed in Ruskin, before Jessica Lunsford was taken and killed in Homosassa — kids built tree forts and rode bikes all day till dark and played cowboys and Indians with cap guns in orange groves.
Now we scan mug shots on sheriff's Web sites.
Now we check for area pedophiles on the national sex offender registry.
America's Most Wanted, hosted by John Walsh, is on still, and has been for two decades.
Nancy Grace is on CNN every night talking about Orlando girl Caylee Anthony, confirmed dead.
Malls offer fingerprinting and DNA swabbing. Dentists can put ID chips in kids' teeth. Parents can buy GPS-based homing devices with names like Toddler Tag to stitch into their kids' clothes.
"This is all about this little boy," John Walsh said at last week's news conference. More than 27 years had passed since a voice came over the loudspeaker at the mall.
"Adam Walsh," the voice said.
"Please come to customer service."
View the article here
The world's leading vigilante group appears to be Perverted Justice in the US, who gloatingly jumped onto the sex abuse moral panic platform to use it as a mechanism for the expression of hatred and sadism. It was a license to express their innate criminality. So bad were their activities, some even with the cooperation of television companies, that a counter group, Corrupted Justice came into being and was joined by former PJ members disgusted by the behaviour they had participated in. The case against PJ can be read HERE
By JIM AVILA, ALISON LYNN and LAUREN PEARLE
Wife Stands by Illinois Policeman Jeff Pelo, Sentenced to More Than 400 Years in Prison
On May 12, 2003, 25-year-old Kristie Mills awoke to the unimaginable: a masked intruder standing in her doorway.
"I was in shock," Mills said. "Absolute shock. I looked at the door and saw the light there, and something just didn't seem right. And that's when I saw him.
"The next thing I remember is he was on top of me in the bed," she said. Mills said the intruder told her he was there to burglarize her, and that he didn't want to hurt her, but if she made noise, he would shoot.
Wearing a ski mask and gloves, he seemed oddly calm and methodical as he bound her with zip ties and duct tape, she said.
"He actually taped all the way around my head so that I wouldn't be able to open my mouth at all. Put tape over my eyes."
Then he slipped a pillowcase over her head. "He seemed very assertive when he talked and not like somebody who's, you know, panicking. He seemed like he knew what he was doing," Mills said.
The man sexually assaulted Mills for 45 minutes.
Then, still blindfolded, he forced her into the bathroom where she heard water running. "I started to panic and I thought he was going to shoot me in the bathtub," she said. "Just over a month from my 26th birthday, and I was going to die."
Mills was forced to take a long bath and told to wash carefully, while her rapist calmly walked about her apartment cleaning up after himself.
As quickly as he had arrived, he was gone, taking with him all the evidence, including the bed sheets.
She was so upset and scared that when she got out of the bathtub, removed the pillowcase, and ripped the tape from off her eyes, she "actually ripped hunks of hair out." She then called 911.
Rapist's Next Victim
Two years later, the rapist found his fourth victim, 28-year-old restaurant manager Sarah, who also awoke to someone coming into her room in the middle of the night. She was just six weeks away from her wedding.
"It was gun to my head, knife to my throat," said Sarah, who asked that her last name be kept private.
He made it clear he had been stalking her, and he threatened her loved ones. "He knew everything about me," she said. "What my sister looks like to what car my husband drove, my work schedule. He knew where I worked out. Pretty much everything."
Sarah had brushed off an attempted break-in a couple of months earlier. "I didn't take that seriously," she said.
The intruder sexually assaulted and attacked Sarah for almost three hours. As with Mills, he was careful. He bound her hands and covered her head with a pillowcase.
"The majority of the assault was spent just humiliating and demeaning and terrorizing me. I mean, it wasn't at all about anything to do with sex. Just devastation is what, how I felt."
Rape Investigation: Searching for a Model Citizen
Before leaving, as he had with Mills and his other victims, the attacker forced Sarah into the bathroom for a long soak to wash away the evidence.
"All I could think about was, 'I can't have someone call my family, my fiancé, my parents, my siblings and tell them that I have been killed six weeks before I get married,'" she said.
He left Sarah alone, shaking in her tub and waiting hours until sunrise to flee.
Although she considered telling no one, she thought, "If I don't tell the police, this person is going to rape yet another person." So she called the cops.
Even through her trauma, Sarah had memorized details of her attacker, from his gait to the haunting eyes behind his mask.
"He had a very distinct way of walking," Sarah said. "Kind of cumbersome. He had very distinct bright blue eyes. I knew I would be able to pick them out as soon as I saw that person."
Mills also remembered his eyes. "When you're staring into those eyes and that's the only thing you can see and the only thing you can focus on, they stick with you."
Bloomington, Ill., Police Detective Clay Wheeler had spent two years, from December 2002 to January 2005, pursuing the first serial rapist in his town's memory.
"I've seen more brutal things, more violent things, but some of the things that happened and what he would say and tell these girls as he's assaulting them, and I mean, I get chills and just … it just disgusts me," he said.
He and his partner Matthew Dick realized this was a special kind of rapist; he was a stalker, a man seemingly obsessed with his victims who gathered intimate details about them.
"He's actually engaging in conversation rather than just the quick act of violence," Dick said. The victims described how he would talk almost lovingly to them, as if he was their boyfriend, before getting angry and violent.
And he knew how to cover his tracks. "It was very obvious to us that this was a sophisticated criminal and knew what he was doing," Dick said.
When the police turned to the FBI for help, they were told the rapist might be a seemingly model citizen.
"The one thing they did tell us that I'll never forget is that this would be some guy that everybody works with. They'll say, 'Naw. He couldn't do that. He wouldn't do that,' you know. And it'd be somebody that would be maybe a respected member of the community," Wheeler said.
The police had no prime suspect. Meanwhile, the rapist was stalking his next victim.
This is what happens, when you put someone who knows nothing about technology in charge of technology. This could potentially put a ton of people on the sex offender registry and in prison!
from the say-again? dept
We all know that child porn is a terrible problem -- and I have absolutely no problem with severely punishing anyone involved in the production or distribution of it. However, where things get tricky is when you start punishing anyone merely for possession. Sure, if it's a situation where someone is discovered with a ton of it, that might be a different scenario (though, I would think it's more of an issue to be handled with psychiatric help, rather than criminal prosecution), but mere possession in the digital age is problematic. Anyone can send someone an email with a pornographic picture attached, and suddenly the recipient is guilty of possessing child porn through no fault of his own. Or, you could get some malware that pops up such images. There are plenty of ways that people could unwittingly have such images on their computer, and making them criminally liable could result in some pretty awful scenarios.
Apparently, the guy the Irish government put in charge of dealing with the child porn problem hasn't thought about any of this, however. He's recommending that Irish laws be strengthened to make merely viewing child porn a criminal offense, claiming that viewing it drives demand for more such images.
Of course, if you read the article linked above, it sounds even worse. I'm hoping it's because the reporter, rather than the guy who wrote the report, is clueless, but it implies that the guy's report to the government said that child porn viewers are purposely using "caching" to avoid downloading child porn to protect them from legal liability. Except... caching is downloading. The way something is cached is that it's downloaded. So, if you accidentally go to a website that includes child porn, the images are most likely cached, meaning you're now guilty of a committing a crime. Yet, the article (which claims to be repeating what's in the report) suggests that caching is actually a nefarious technique used by technologically sophisticated folks to avoid legal liability. Apparently, the fact that almost everyone uses caching when they browse wasn't explained to someone.
Fighting back against child porn is important, but technologically clueless people going on a witch hunt isn't going to help things very much.
Video is available at the site, and below.
SACRAMENTO - The California Sex Offender Management Board released a report Thursday that shows a dramatic increase in homelessness among sex offenders on parole.
The report, titled "Homelessness Among Registered Sex Offenders in California: the Numbers, the Risks, and the Response," shows an 800 percent increase in transience among sex offenders when residency restrictions under Jessica's Law are actively enforced.
California voters approved Proposition 83, or Jessica's Law, in 2006. It prohibits convicted sex offenders from living within 2000 feet of schools and parks.
"When you draw circles, 2000 foot circles around schools and parks particularly in dense urban areas it becomes really difficult to figure out a place they can live," said Sex Offender Management Board Chair Suzanne Brown-McBride. "So many folks are forced to be transient."
Along with her post on the Sex Offender Management Board, Brown-McBride is also the Executive Director of California Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
"As a victims' advocate, the thing that I care most about is making sure I can do everything I can to make sure an offender will not re-offend," said Brown-McBride.
The report found that homelessness increases the risk that a sex offender may re-offend.
"When offenders are transient, it's difficult to stay in contact with your supervisor. It's difficult to be in treatment, it's difficult to hold a job, all of those things we know stabilize offenders," said Brown-McBride. "When they (sex offenders) are successful in the community, it means that we're safer."
The report concludes that laws forcing sex offenders to go homeless are not in the best interest of public safety.
"Policymakers should take steps to ensure that there are stable and appropriate housing options available for sex offenders," said Brown-McBride.
Lawmakers in Iowa, which has similar residency restrictions for convicted sex offenders, will consider several bills aimed at easing those restrictions.
"It's easy to say I don't care if a sex offender is homeless, but you should care because it's about public safety," said Brown-McBride.
Paroled sex offenders are fitted with GPS devices in California. "But GPS is not the same thing as having a stable place where you can check on them and be around them," said Brown-McBride. "We're going to have to figure out some other solution."
The Sex Offender Management Board will make recommendations to legislators in January. "Some of that may involve rethinking the restrictions," said Brown-McBride. "It may involve thinking about loitering restrictions instead of residency restrictions."
To view the full report, click here.