Monday, December 29, 2008
Video is available at the site.
By: Nicole King
(ABC 6 NEWS) - If a convicted predatory offender lived close to your kids' school or playground, would you want to know?
The truth is, many do.
In Minnesota, only level three sex offenders, those who are most likely to re-offend, are required to register with the state.
But there are no legal restrictions on where they can live once they've served their time.
A new law would change that.
- So once again, they are going to violate the Constitution and pass a retroactive (ex post facto) law? Why do we even have a Constitution? It means absolutely nothing anymore.
But some say it goes too far.
- Yes, it's an ex post facto law, and violates the Constitution against ex post facto laws being passed.
Ella and her brother Quincy love to hit the slope at Skinner's Hill.
Their dad, Dan, keeps an eye on the action.
In the Muzik family, safety is a priority, whether it's a ride in a sled or talking about the danger of strangers.
That's why Dan wants to know if a sex offender lives close to where his kids play.
"If it's got anything to do with our children and any kind of sexual predator, we want to know where they're at,” he says.
Minnesota Representative John Lesch (Email) hopes to toughen the state's sex offender laws.
- Yeah, he's jumping on the bandwagon, to make himself look "tough on crime," when this law will violate the Constitution, and he TOOK AN OATH to uphold the Constitution. So he lied!!!
That includes strict restrictions on where offenders can live.
"The areas that these individuals, high-risk sex offenders were moving into, they were near schools. They were near parks, playgrounds, areas where children would congregate,” says Lesch.
- Did you even look at your very laws, and residency restrictions? I am willing to bet they are forced into these areas. And even if you made the zone 100 miles, it will still not prevent a crime. Also, where is the study that shows that these insane laws even do anything to protect people? How many sex crimes do you know of, occurred at a school, park or playground?
That's what exactly what Lesch wants to stop.
His plan is to ban sex offenders from living within 1,500 feet of school, day care center, park or another sex offender.
- Or another sex offender? What, do you think they are going to work together to carry out some huge mass molestation or something? Give me a break! Like I said, even 100 miles will not prevent another crime, it's just "feel good" reactions, and to make you look good to the sheeple...
And unlike several other similar laws, Lesch wants to put these restrictions on all offenders, not just those who are most likely to reoffend.
- So he is OK with violating his OATH OF OFFICE and the CONSTITUTION! So if he's willing to do that, then what is next?
"Because of the crime they committed, I don't feel sorry for them,” he says.
- So what crime did "they" commit? You are assuming all sex offenders have harmed some child, which is a flat out lie, and just fear-mongering on your part!
"It's not only not needed, it's unproductive,” says Charles Samuelson, the Executive Director of Minnesota’s Civil Liberties Union.
Samuelson says the ACLU will fight the proposed law.
"If this guy lives next to you, he's a monster and he's going to eat your children. That's basically what they're saying,” he says.
- Yep, it's called fear-mongering, to scare the people into helping him pass an unconstitutional law, and to help boost his reputation and ego!
A level three-sex offender lived at the Sterling Motel for about a week, just a few hundred feet from Banfield Elementary.
While the school didn't want to comment on the issue, they say they did notify parents.
A new law in Minnesota would make this distance illegal.
But even if you push it back a few hundred feet and the offender can still see the school, will the law do any good?
- And if they make the distance 1,500 feet, are they magically OK at 1,501 feet? And the above statement makes it sound like offenders are sitting at their windows, drooling at the school...
"Where there's a will, there's a way. No matter what, they're going to find a way to get to their victims,” says Mower County Sheriff Terese Amazi, who adds the law would also put a strain on the state's law enforcement.
- Exactly, but, do they listen? No, they need to look good to the sheeple, to boost their careers!
Instead of just watching Minnesota’s 141 level three-sex offenders, they would have to monitor more than 4,700 sex offenders.
- So now, instead of monitoring those who are the most dangerous, they are going to monitor all. Yeah, that is a big waste of time and money. And, by doing so, could make things even worse.
"To keep track of all those individuals, it would be a cumbersome process,” she says.
And while 1,500 feet isn't as far as Iowa's 2,000 feet requirement, it would make finding a place to live difficult in small Minnesota towns.
Samuelson says it's unfair to offenders who have already served their time.
"It punishes people for crimes these people haven't committed yet, which overturns the American principle of innocent until proven guilty,” he says.
- And what about the Constitution? Why doesn't any of these lawyers, judges, or officials mention that? Do they even know what the Constitution is? Doesn't sound like it.
Until a law is in the books, Muzik will continue to talk to his kids about strangers who could harm them.
- Better talk to your kids about NON-STRANGERS who could harm them as well. Statistics show that 90% or more of sex crimes, are committed NOT by a stranger, but someone in the family, or close friends.
"They have rights, I understand, but we have the right to keep our children safe as well,” says Muzik.
- OK, so keep your children safe!!! You say we, but clearly you want the government to tell you what to do, and baby sit for you!
Representative Lesch thinks the law will pass during the 2009 session, but admits it will likely be amended.
View the article here
A pair of lawsuits that will be heard in federal court in San Diego allege that guards in Imperial County abused their positions of power to garner sexual favors, according to a published report.
The lawyer who filed the suits -- including Gerald Singleton, a local attorney -- told the San Diego Union-Tribune they believe there could be other woman who suffered the same treatment at the hands of Imperial County Sheriff's Department employees. A hearing on the case is set of Jan. 20.
Former guard James Ray Morris pleaded guilty last year to having sex with inmates. One of his alleged victims claims in the suit that she felt forced to have sex with Morris and got an STD from him while she was incarcerated.
"It's looking to us that this is pretty widespread and systemic," Singleton told the paper.
- I'm sure you'd be surprised at the corruption in men and women's prisons.
Read the Union-Tribune's "Two Suits Say Sex Abuse By Jailers Tolerated" story for more details.
He offers reason in police interview
An Atascadero State Hospital patient who allegedly attacked two officers may have done so to leave the facility for prison, according to a search warrant.
Lee Gregory Mahlanza, 48, who has been charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon, battery and resisting an officer in connection with a Nov. 12 attack, reportedly told ASH Police officer Scott Tibbetts that he wanted to go back to prison.
“I want to go back to prison today,” Mahlanza said in an interview immediately following the incident, according to the search warrant.
It’s not unusual to see ASH patients commit crimes to go to prison because they don’t want mental health treatment and prefer to be in a prison setting, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
- The way I see it is, apparently this place is such a nightmare, that he would rather commit another crime to go to prison, then stay there. So either the staff are lying, or, this place is a terrible place to be committed to. What does this "mental health treatment" consist of?
Another Story Here
FRESNO - Ellie Nesler, who sparked a national debate about vigilantism after killing her son's accused molester in a courtroom in 1993, has died of cancer. She was 56.
Nesler died Friday morning at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, according to hospital spokeswoman Phyllis Brown. She had battled breast cancer since 1994.
Nesler made headlines when she shot Daniel Driver five times in the head in a Tuolumne County courtroom during a break in his preliminary hearing for allegedly molesting four boys, including her then-6-year-old son William, at a Christian camp. Some hailed her for exacting her own justice, while others condemned her for taking the law into her own hands.
Nesler was convicted of voluntary manslaughter, but her 10-year sentence was later overturned because of jury misconduct. She cut a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to manslaughter and get out after serving three years because she had breast cancer.
The case became a 1999 TV movie, "Judgment Day: The Ellie Nesler Story," on the USA cable network.
After the shooting, the Nesler family remained entangled in the legal system. In 2002, Nesler was sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty to selling and possessing methamphetamine. Outside the courtroom, she maintained her innocence, saying she felt she couldn't get a fair trial in Tuolumne County.
She got an early release from a women's facility in Chowchilla in 2006.
Meanwhile, her son got into legal troubles of his own and was convicted of first-degree murder in 2005 for stomping to death a man hired to clean the family's property in Sonora. The 23-year-old said he believed David Davis was letting people pick through the family's belongings.
William Nesler killed Davis less than an hour after he was released from a 30-day sentence for an earlier assault on him. He is serving a 25-year-to-life sentence.
Prison officials allowed William Nesler to speak with his mother on the phone until she became too ill Christmas night, said Terry Thornton, spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
"He knew she was very ill, and he knew her death was impending," Thornton said.
William Nesler has asked for a temporary leave to attend the funeral, and the request is being reviewed by prison officials, Thornton said.
View the article here
Sex offenders can count their wives and girlfriends among the survivors of their crimes. Therapists say these women often feel blindsided and betrayed by their partners' behaviors.
- You are assuming all those labeled a "sex offender" have actually committed a crime. Most probably have, but there are those who are innocent.
In Connections for Family Safety, a program of Reach Counseling Services Inc. in Menasha, the women work through their hurts and find healing as their partners undergo treatment for committing sex offenses against children.
"If they want to believe their partners can heal, there is a huge level of coming to understand what their partners did," said Reach Counseling executive director Lyn Sporleder.
United Way Fox Cities in 2009 is allocating $38,427 to Reach Counseling's sexual abuse treatment programs.
Connections for Family Safety helps women cope with the problems and stigma they face in their communities, said Kim Hlavka, Reach Counseling's clinic manager and the program's therapist.
Also among the women are mothers of young sexual abuse survivors who are not in relationships with sex offenders.
"Whether they are the mother or the partner or both, one of the things that's really common is from the moment of the disclosure, their relationship with the entire world is turned upside down," Hlavka said.
How it works
The 24-week program includes informational presentations, group therapy and peer support. Reach Counseling bases payment on a sliding fee scale.
"One of the outcomes of the group is everyone completes a pretty thorough safety plan," Hlavka said. "It's individualized for the family and includes prevention strategies, what are the things we need to do to prevent (abuse) from happening. We also talk about what happens if abuse happens again. We encourage both partners to work on this together, and that's an important part of the reunification plan."
Hlavka said her goal is for each woman to emerge feeling more confident and less isolated.
"What I've really seen, one of the things I've heard people report, is the level and quality of communication between the partners has improved," she said.
Sporleder said the nonprofit in 2009 plans to offer more sessions of Connections for Family Safety to take women off a waiting list.
She said the search is on for a building where it can run various groups simultaneously.
For more information about Reach Counseling, call 920-722-8150, or visit www.reachcounseling.com.
Compiled by Post-Crescent staff writer Kara Patterson: 920-993-1000, ext. 215, or email@example.com.
By Tricia Bishop
Court weighs whether to identify authors of critical and anonymous postings on the Internet
Maryland's highest court will soon decide how easy it is to unmask those who use pseudonyms to post critical comments on the Internet. So far, the state has been operating without a set of rules for identifying those people, but the issue has surfaced over criticism of an Eastern Shore developer.
The issue of Internet anonymity has cropped up in other courts around the country, but this is the first time that Maryland's Court of Appeals has confronted it. This month, the judges heard arguments that invoked the right to anonymous free speech and the right of defamed people to sue their attackers.
The outcome will have implications for the thousands of people who post critical comments, true or not, on Internet message boards, chat rooms and blogs.
Decisions in similar cases around the country have varied.
A Delaware Superior Court ordered Comcast to divulge the identity of an Internet poster critical of a councilman who filed a lawsuit. But the decision was overturned by the state's Supreme Court in 2005 "because the trial judge applied a standard insufficiently protective of [the poster's] First Amendment right to speak anonymously." A year earlier, a Texas court said an Internet poster couldn't file a lawsuit response anonymously even though he claimed the suit targeting him was intended to silence critics.
Web sites themselves, meanwhile, have not generally been held liable for carrying such critical comments - a policy enshrined in federal law and designed to encourage the free flow of opinion, information and ideas online.
Here's a primer on the Maryland dispute:
CASE: Independent Newspapers Inc. v. Zebulon J. Brodie; arguments heard Dec. 8.
LEGAL QUESTION: "May a court breach the constitutional right to speak anonymously and order the identification of Internet speakers who are alleged to have violated the plaintiff's rights without a factual and legal showing that the plaintiff has a supportable claim on the merits?"
In other words: If someone files a defamation suit over your anonymous online comments, can a court order that you be identified - even without evidence that you lied?
AT STAKE: The right to free, anonymous speech, which has a long history in the United States (think The Federalist Papers) and is credited with everything from shaping our government to uncovering Watergate. And the right to confront a person who has done you harm, so you can set things straight.
Appellant - Independent Newspapers, or INI, which runs community papers and Web sites in Maryland, Delaware, Arizona and Florida.
Appellee - Zebulon J. Brodie, a real estate developer who also runs several businesses, including a Dunkin' Donuts in Centreville.
BACKGROUND: On March 20, 2006, someone using the online handle "CorsicaRiver" posted a derogatory comment about one of Brodie's businesses on an Eastern Shore-focused message board maintained by INI. The comment: "I wouldn't go to that Dunkin' Donuts of Brodie's anyway ... have you taken a close look at it lately? One of the most dirty and unsanitary-looking food-service places I have seen."
A user self-identified as Suze responded: "I haven't seen the inside of a DD in a while, but have you seen the outside? I drove the through not long ago and was completely and utterly SHOCKED at the amount of trash that is and sides of that building. It's apparent no one is cleaning the outside of the building and the wafting into the river that runs right alongside."
Two months later, Brodie filed a defamation lawsuit against INI and some Internet posters in Queen Anne's County Circuit Court. The judge dismissed INI as a defendant but ruled that the comments about Dunkin' Donuts could be considered defamatory and ordered the newspaper publisher to give up the posters' identities.
INI: The court can't make it too easy for predators to unmask their critics, or too easy to hide behind a pseudonym. It should adopt a five-part test similar to that used in other jurisdictions before enforcing subpoenas requiring identity disclosure: (1) notify the posters so they can defend their anonymity, (2) require plaintiffs to specify which statements have violated their rights, (3) make sure the complaint has a cause of action against each defendant, (4) require plaintiffs to produce evidence supporting their claims, and (5) weigh the potential harm to plaintiffs if they can't proceed against the potential harm to defendants by losing their anonymity.
Brodie: Defamatory speech is not constitutionally protected; once a statement has been deemed potentially libelous, the writer should be revealed. Plaintiffs shouldn't have to prove their cases from the outset; that's too onerous. Moreover, they often need to know the identity of their defamers to produce evidence to support their claims.
DECISION: Expected in early 2009