Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Sounds like something Mark Lunsford would say. The patch to the left, is what he wears all the time. What is ironic and hypocritical is, that Mark Lunsfords own son, Joshua, molested a 14 year old child, so why hasn't Mark hung his child yet?
By Joe Burns - GateHouse News Service
“Protect our children: kill a pedophile.”
That’s what the bumper sticker read on a car just ahead of me.
Encountering a call for murder is unsettling, but, in this case, not surprising. In the dung heap of depravity, where sadists, serial killers and mass murders dwell, you will find the sexual predator as well. But while convicted serial killers and mass murderers will, mercifully, never see freedom and may even be executed, that is not the case with pedophiles and other sexual offenders. We don’t give them the same sentences we give to murderers, and with good reason: doing so would offer little motivation for sparing the life of the sole witness to a sexual crime. And so they serve their sentences and are released out into the world.
But unlike many other violent criminals who are returned to society without restrictions, the whereabouts of sexual offenders are monitored. And those deemed most likely to re-offend also have their name, address, photo and past offenses made easily accessible to the public.
- You need to do a little more homework Joe. Not all on the registry are "likely to re-offender!" Check out the MANY studies I have on my other blog, which proves this is a myth that is propagated by the media and politicians who use (exploit) sex offender issues, for their own political gain. Sex offenders are their scapegoat!
So what message is that giving us — that these are people ready to live among us or that they’re a danger in our midst that we must protect ourselves and our family against? Many would say the latter.
That was likely why, in 2006, a 20-year-old Canadian, Stephen Marshall, who had no history of being sexually abused, took the law into his own hands. Marshall killed two Maine men whom he had never met and whose names and addresses he had gotten from a sexual offender list. One of the men, 24-year-old William Elliott, had been placed on the list after serving four months in jail because, as a teenager, he had consensual sex with his girlfriend who was days shy of the age of consent.
Marshall shot and killed himself as police were about to arrest him. Shortly after the killings, Maine took down its online sex offender listing. They are now up again.
- Yes, the online registry is now a public hit-list, and the exact reason it needs to be taken offline, like it was originally, and used by law enforcement only! The blood of the victims of vigilante violence is on their hands!
Two men in a small Tennessee town didn’t want to kill the pedophile who lived down the road, but they took a life just the same. Attempting to drive away a neighbor convicted of downloading child pornography, they set fire to his home. The man escaped the blaze, but his wife died in the fire.
One of the most famous, or perhaps infamous, examples of taking the law into one’s own hands is that of Ellie Nesler, a California woman who died last month.
Nesler, whose story was the subject of the TV movie “Judgment Day,” became a hero to some in 1993 when she walked into a California courtroom and shot and killed the man who was accused of molesting her son and other boys.
- He was accused, but not convicted yet. And he might have been guilty, but he may have been innocent as well.
“He deserved to die. Maybe I'm not God, but I'll tell you what — I'm the closest damn thing to it for all the other little boys," Nesler said at the time.
The state of California disagreed. Nesler served three years in prison for her crime.
- Three years, for shooting a man in cold blood! Oh yeah, she's a woman, so it's ok!
Some would call that a small price to pay for doing away with a predator. Others might say it’s a small price to pay for taking a life. But Nesler also paid in other ways.
- Yeah, three years is a small price to pay, and what kind of message does that send? Well, I think that is obvious. She should've been in prison until the day she died, well, actually that is what happened, but, if she would not have died of natural causes, she would been out in a couple years.
Eleven years after Nesler took the law into her own hands, her son did the same, stomping to death a man he accused of stealing his tools. How much of that disturbingly distorted sense of justice stemmed from his abuse and how much stemmed from his mother’s actions and the public’s reactions to her act is impossible to determine. But he is now serving 25 years to life, and his mother was unable to have him by her side before she died.
- Well, her son had her to learn from! You see, he gets 25 years to life, and she got 3 years! Talk about unequal justice. Well, I guess being female has it's advantages, doesn't it?
Being made aware of who and where the most dangerous sexual offenders are is meant to be a way of controlling crime and protecting the public, but as this anecdotal evidence shows, it can backfire tragically.
The “kill a pedophile” sentiment doesn’t represent the feelings of just one motorist; the bumper sticker has been spotted all over the country. Why someone chooses to advocate violent vigilantism is not ours to understand. Perhaps they do so because of a personal pain, a hatred for those who commit such vile acts, or a frustration with those who turn them out into society and then tell us to beware. In all cases, one can recognize the rage while rejecting the rationale.
But as long as we free convicted sexual offenders, saying that they’ve paid their debt to society, and then tell the public the “degree of dangerousness” posed by them is such that we be made aware of their whereabouts “to prevent further victimization,” there will be people who believe they must take the law into their own hands.
- Well, they need to pay for their crimes as well. If they harass and harm a sex offender, then throw them in prison, and if they kill someone, they remain in prison until the day they die! But letting them out in three years, that is sending the message that it's ok to kill someone, if they are a sex offender.
Anyone that dangerous should not be reintroduced to society. The way we deal with sexual offenders must be changed, and not with death sentences or mandatory sentences. We need a system that allows for greater flexibility in sentencing — a system that sets benchmarks for release so that those who are judged a serious danger to society aren’t set free, while others, like William Elliott, are allowed to return to their community without the threat of being targeted by some self-appointed vigilante with a downloaded hit list.
If you have an idea for a "Who Cares" column, you can call Joe Burns at 508-375-4936 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Darren Perron - WCAX News
"While trying to fight him off, he ended up punching me in the face," Susan said.
Susan will never forget the night she was kidnapped, raped, brutally beaten, and left for dead in the woods of Washington County.
"I woke up hours later," she said. "I knew I was in grave danger."
She somehow stumbled naked to a campsite where coincidentally, some teens had hiked 3 miles into those same woods. They got help.
The attack still haunts her 16 years later. Her assailant, Richard Laws, is behind bars now. But he could get out of jail in just a couple of years.
"It took years and years and years to recuperate and we are still healing from that trauma," she said.
Susan wants more done to protect others from sexual violence.
- No matter how many darn laws you pass, it still won't prevent a criminal from committing a crime. It's just something to make you "feel" like something is going to protect you. You people need to come back from Wonderland. PUNISH THE ONE PERSON, NOT ALL SEX OFFENDERS, THAT IS MORALLY WRONG!
Many Vermonters echoed that this summer following the shocking death of 12-year-old Brooke Bennett. Her uncle, Michael Jacques, is accused of kidnapping, raping, and killing the girl.
- And he is a good example. He was a KNOWN sex offender and living by these very laws. And did it prevent him from committing a crime he was intent on doing? Nope! So ten million laws will not stop a criminal who wants to commit a crime, period!
"Vermonters were horrified by the death of Brooke Bennett and I can't remember a more upsetting crime during my lifetime here in this state," said Sen. Peter Shumlin, D-Windham County.
- Yeah Peter, I'm sure that is the truth! Love the fear mongering tactics you politicians use all the time. Stop the BS! One day, maybe, the public will see you people for who you are!
Jacques is a registered sex offender. He's victimized before. Revelations about his past outraged Vermonters and lawmakers. Several public meetings were held to gauge the public on what went wrong and how laws could be fixed.
- Yeah, he was out, because someone who evaluated him, did not think he was a threat. Why? Because people cannot predict the future, that is why. What do you expect to be done? You could kill every sex offender right this moment, but, more will follow, until the end of time. Come back to reality folks!
"I don't think it's fair to say we were weak. But I think it is fair to say we can be tougher and I think that is exactly what this package of changes will do, it will make us the most thoughtful and toughest state in the country to make sure our children are safe," Shumlin said.
- Tougher doesn't mean smarter. How come I never hear you say that? Because it's the truth. Hell, Hitler was tough as well, but did that achieve his "master plan?" No!
Lawmakers came up with a new sex offender bill that would:
- expand the DNA database
- call for new prevention programs in schools
- ban deferred sentences for sex offenders
- eliminate pretrial depositions of child victims
- and give prosecutors the option of a 25-year mandatory minimum sentence for sex crimes on kids under 16 years old
"It's an important issue for everybody," said Sgt. Arthur Cyr, director of the Chittenden Unit for Special Investigations.
Sex crime investigators say this bill strengthens Vermont's laws without hurting victims again, because mandatory minimums-- like with Jessica's Law-- result nearly 100 percent of the time in trials and plea deals are rare.
- And if scares me, that with mandatory sentencing, that these people who do harm children, just might kill them, to possibly stop them from testifying against them. And who does that help?
"It gives the prosecutors some leeway and tools to work and hopefully won't have to bring in all of the victims to be revictimized once more," Cyr explained.
- Never, ever, ever take a plea deal. This is their way of getting a quick conviction, when they probably do not have any evidence. Take it to court!!!
Susan calls herself a survivor on a mission and applauds the bill. But she'd like to see an even tougher law that would keep high risk offenders, like Richard Laws, locked up for good.
"It's not safe for him to come back into society," Susan said. "I don't think it's safe for the public. I think the next person won't survive. He'll make sure that won't happen."
- Well, if they would get the treatment in prison, then we might not have this problem. But, they almost NEVER get treatment in prison, that is usually done afterwards. So, the STATE is to blame for that, IMO.
The sex offender bill, as is, is expected to be voted out of committee this week, out of the Senate next week, and then it goes to the full house for a vote. Most expect easy passage and that the bill will be on the Governor's desk for him to sign into law by Town Meeting Day.
Some of these ideas have met fierce opposition in the past and yet this bill is on the fast track. It's quite a turnaround and it speaks to just how severe the public outcry was over Brooke Bennett. But lawmakers do believe they've given the issue careful consideration through the public hearings held during the fall. And they believe this bill is a good compromise that protects the public as well as the rights of both the offenders and the victims.
- And they do not care about the OATH OF OFFICE they took to uphold the Constitution either! If they did, then these unconstitutional laws would not be passed. We have a corrupt legal system, and when that system comes for you, I don't want to hear you scream about being treated wrong. You asked for it!
MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee man's confession - just a few days before his death - may provide a major break in the Jacob Wetterling case.
Police received a tip in mid-December that Vernon Seitz, 62, confessed to his psychiatrist that he had killed two children, according to information in a search warrant , obtained by WTMJ-TV, Milwaukee. The psychiatrist told KARE 11 this afternoon that Seitz confessed to killing only one child and police have it wrong in their documents. A search of the man's home in the past few weeks turned up numerous items related to the Wetterling case, including posters and photographs of Jacob, maps of St. Joseph, MN, letters about Wetterling and more.
Also recovered, according to Milwaukee police inventory records, were numerous photos, slides and videos of young children, missing children posters from throughout the region, maps of various parks and towns, pornographic images of young boys, tufts of hair, children's shoes, drawings of nude young children and books on cannibalism.
Jacob Wetterling was abducted from St. Joseph, MN on October 22, 1989. He was just 11. Jacob, his brother and a friend were riding their bikes home from a nearby convenience store when a masked gunman appeared and told the boys to lie down on the ground. The gunman eventually let the other two boys go, but took Jacob. The crime remains unsolved.
According to the affidavit, Seitz made the confession to his psychiatrist on December 12 and the doctor called police immediately to report it. A few days later, police say Seitz was found dead inside his home, apparently of natural causes. He lived alone. Police detectives did not interview Seitz before his death.
There is no information in the search warrant that specifically names Jacob Wetterling as someone Seitz confessed to killing. But there are numerous items related to Wetterling, listed as recovered by police during their search of Seitz's house. Also in the search warrant, detectives note that there is newly poured concrete in Seitz's basement and elevated dirt piles in his yard. Seitz also owned a barbershop in St. Francis, WI and police have obtained search warrants for that location as well.
KARE 11 reporter Allen Costantini spoke with Patty Wetterling by phone last this afternoon and she was not yet aware of the Milwaukee developments, though she remembered meeting Seitz.
"Vernon Seitz's name came up a long time ago, when he came to us with psychic information," Wetterling said. "I don't know all of the investigation that law enforcement has done on him. I know he came to Minnesota. I've met him." Wetterling said she remembers that Seitz had done a painting of Jacob. "He was clearly obsessed with our case," Wetterling said. "He came as somebody who cared deeply about Jacob and our case and tried to solve it, that's the way he represented himself to us." Patty Wetterling is one of the nation's foremost child safety advocates, a role she was propelled into after Jacob's disappearance. The Jacob Wetterling Resource Center still operates, helping parents and communities keep children safe.
KARE 11 will have more on this story tonight online and on television newscasts at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.
By Paige Tucker - WJBF News Channel 6 Weekend Anchor/Reporter
Columbia County - When Georgia sex offenders go online, there could soon be more eyes watching what they do, who they instant message, even monitoring their email accounts. “We have people here who are involved in internet crimes, internet crimes against children, and I’m sure we’ll come up with some type of plan to make sure we do monitor those people to make sure they’re not doing something illegal.“
- If you want someone's password, you must have probable cause and a search warrant. This is just another way for you to bypass getting a search warrant. I am sure you will be inundated with law suits. Emails are one thing, but passwords? That is going too far!
Starting January 1st, sex offenders have to turn in their email addresses, passwords, and screen names to their local sheriff’s office. David Rush with Columbia County admits there are some kinks for law enforcement agencies to work out, but once they do, he says it (the new law) will be a plus.
Columbia County hasn’t decided exactly how they’ll monitor the offenders online or how often, but says if they don’t send in the information, they will be arrested. “It’s just another way for these people, these sex offenders to know that we are looking at them. As long as they’re obeying the law, they have nothing to worry about. But we want them to know that if they try to entice a child, or try to engage in any type of internet porn, we will be watching them and taking appropriate action if they do violate the law,“says Rush.
- If someone who was not mandated from it, wants to view adult porn, you cannot stop them, that is not illegal. Everyone, on probation or not, who lives in this state, needs to SUE the state for this. It's a total violation of the first and fourth amendments. Contact the Southern Center for Human Rights and the ACLU.
Next week, the Governor’s Sex Offender Registry Task Force meets and could hammer out guidelines for how law enforcement agencies should validate the internet information sex offenders turn in and how often they should check on them. We’ll follow up after that meeting.
- Guess RSO's should get busy and create thousands of email addresses. Go to Yahoo, Hotmail, GMail, etc and create as many user names and passwords and possible. And if they ask you which one you use the most, tell them that that was not part of the law, for me to tell you that, you figure it out.
The Pierce County woman who used an aluminum baseball bat to attack a 7-foot-3 sex offender living in her trailer park has pleaded guilty to third-degree assault, according to The Associated Press.
After the June attack, she told television crews the man had been trying to talk to her young daughter and that she'd beat him again.
- Well this reporter, like usual, doesn't tell you, he talked to her child a YEAR BEFORE, not the day she beat him. And he could've easily kicked her a__, but he had restraint, unlike she did. She has a HISTORY of assaults, just look up her criminal record. And she is a HABITUAL offender, unlike him. He was doing nothing wrong. She should be sentenced to the maximum allowed by the judge, to send a clear message to the other vigilante jerks out there.
The man, William Baldwin, pleaded guilty on charges he failed to register as a sex offender.
Both lived in part of unincorporated Puyallup.
After Gibson was jailed, she became an Internet celebrity and people started a "Free Tammy" movement, attempting to raise her $15,000 bail.
- Yes, all the sick vigilantes all came to her aid, like some from AbsoluteZeroUnited and other vigilante terrorist groups. Also, his bail was more than hers. She should be tried for attempted murder!
Baldwin, who was 24 during the beating, is a Level 3 sex offender and considered a high risk to reoffend.
"This isn't a soccer mom in a minivan," Pierce County Sheriff's Office spokesman Detective Ed Troyer said at the time of the 5-foot-11 Gibson. "She has no less than a dozen arrests over the last few years, for assault, drugs, driving crimes – you name it."
"This is someone well versed in the criminal justice system, " Troyer said.
Our news partners at KOMO/4 spoke to both Baldwin and Gibson, who said she'd kill him if she had the chance.
- So you see, she admits she would kill him. So if they let her out, and they kill him, if he was out on the streets, do you think the government would take the blame for it? I seriously doubt it!
By Christina Rowland/Staff Writer
Most parents are cognizant of the dangers of children which may be lurking on television, in the movies or on video games, but State Attorney General Greg Abbott (Email) would like parents to be equally as concerned with the dangers to children using cell phones.
Abbott addressed those concerns Tuesday in Dallas.
“We are here today to provide a warning and a message,” Abbott said.
He is urging use of parental controls on children’s cell phones and other personal communication devices.
Cell phones are a new way that child predators can get to their victims.
“Our office has seen a shift in the technology these predators are using,” Abbott said.
As technology changes, the youth of Texas gravitate toward those changes. A few years ago, desktop computers and laptops were the cool way that children communicated with each other and today it is texting and online chat rooms that can all be accessed with cell phones.
Abbott believes the most effective way to protect children from cell phone predators is to limit the ability to text, limit access to chat rooms and limit the amount of downloads they are allowed.
“It is a fact that predators communicate with kids on devices such as this (holding a PDA),” Abbott said. “What parents need to understand is that almost all cell phone companies across Texas have parental controls of some kind.”
Abbott held his press conference in an AT&T store where he was not only able to show cell phones but also talk about the parental controls that AT&T offers.
Adam Vital, vice president and general manager for AT&T of North Texas, understands that parents want their children to have cell phones because of accessibility and safety but he also wants to make sure parents know they can protect their children at the same time.
According to a study in September 2008 by Harris Interactive, an international research firm, about 79 percent of teenagers ages 13 to 19 have mobile phone devices.
AT&T offers Media Net parental controls on all their cell phones to limit the online services that children can access.
Mari Maldinado recently bought her 11-year-old son a cell phone and with it she got Media Net. She is able to control who her son sends and receives text messages from, his web access from his phone and also the actual hours he uses his phone
“The reality is we can’t arrest all predators and the best protection is parents,” Abbott said.
He is urging all parents that buy their children cell phones to also take the precautions necessary to keep their children safe from child predators.
Abbott established a Cyber Crimes Unit in 2003 which has arrested 104 predators since it was launched. Some of these predators have communicated with victims via text and chatrooms accessed from cell phones.
According to a press release, Abbott recently urged the legislature to update Texas’ sex offender registration laws. If enacted, the attorney general’s proposal would require that sex offenders register their e-mail addresses, mobile telephone numbers, social networking aliases and other electronic identification information.
Until those laws are enacted parents must do their part to protect their children, Abbott says.
By Chrissie Cole
Many teens are hooked on social networking sites and unaware of the dangers of the information they post on their profiles for the world to see.
In a new study, researchers found more than half the teenagers who use the popular social networking site MySpace have posted unsafe, revealing personal information on the site.
The same research group followed up with a second study and found a simple intervention –a single e-mail from “Dr. Meg” – made many of the teen’s change their risky behaviors.
In her e-mail, "Dr. Meg" wrote: ''You seemed to be quite open about sexual issues or other behaviors such as drinking or smoking,'' the e-mail said. ''Are you sure that's a good idea? After all, if I could see it, nearly anybody could.''
Also in the e-mail was information on where to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases.
“As we reviewed the study findings, we wanted to know, why are they engaging in such behavior?” said Dr. Megan Moreno (aka “Dr. Meg”), an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“Do they just not get it? Could we send them a warning message to let them know just how public their information really is?”
The results from both studies are published in the January issue of the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.
Ninety percent of teenagers in the U.S. have internet access, according to background research from both studies and nearly half of them use social networking sites, including MySpace and Facebook. MySpace boasts 200 million profiles, according to the studies, and nearly one-quarter of those belong to children under 18.
For the first study, 500 MySpace profiles who listed their age as 18 were randomly selected by researchers.
They found 54 percent of the profiles contained risky information, with 14 percent posting violent information, 24 percent referencing sex and 41 percent referring to drugs and alcohol use.
For the second study, 190 random profiles were selected of people listed between 18 and 20 years of age who displayed risky behaviors, including sexual information. Half of them were then sent an e-mail from Dr. Meg.
Over a three month period, about 42 percent of those who received the e-mail either removed references to sex or substance use or changed their profile from “public” to private which means only their friends can view their page.
Teenagers who refer to risky behavior on their MySpace pages put themselves at risk of online harassment or solicitation for sex, Kimberly Mitchell of University of New Hampshire's Crimes Against Children Research Center, who wasn't involved in the studies, wrote in an accompanying editorial. They also may jeopardize future job prospects.
“Teens live in the here and now, parents need to talk with them about the long-term impact and repercussions that the information posted on these sites can have – now and ten years from now.”
According to another recent study conducted by, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, sexting is a growing trend in middle schools and high schools across the country.
“Sexting” (instead of “texting”) involves sending nude or semi-nude photos from cell phone to cell phone. The sexy snapshots may be intended just for a girlfriend or boyfriend to see, but the photos often wind up being shared.
Criminal organisation Original Gangsters (OG) has assumed control of a Swedish website that exposes the identity of sex offenders, Crime News reports.
- Sex offender website under investigation (15 Dec 08)
- Widespread benefit fraud among career criminals (6 Dec 08)
- Norwegian paedophile on the loose (19 Oct 08)
The gang has taken the step after the founders of the Kriminellt.com website, four concerned parents, approached them after receiving a series of threats.
"We have families to think about and the threats have recently been getting a little close to home. Call us weak if you will but the family always comes first," explained the four founders in a statement on the site.
OG leader Denho "Dano" Acar explained that the the gang "wanted to provide a community service" and underlined that taking over the site "has nothing to do with money."
"Just because we are professional criminals does not mean that we don't have any morals," Acar wrote in a statement on the site.
But the move has drawn criticism from some observers concerned that the involvement of the criminal organization might lead to an escalation of violence and an increased incidence of vigilante justice.
Many of the comments on Kriminellt's user forum are of a threatening nature with specific warnings directed towards some of the convicted rapists, child sex offenders and child pornography offenders listed on the website.
"In a democracy it is of great interest that the state retains a monopoly on the administration of justice and that there is not some form of private punishment," said retired state prosecutor Sven-Erik Alheim to Crime News.
Many of those writing on the site's open forum reason that the OG are less likely to succumb to threats and are therefore a suitable and effective means of keeping the site open. A published survey of 89 users showed that 71 percent were "very much in favour" of the new owners.
The site introduces itself by asking a series of questions: Why are convicted criminals protected by the media? Why are no convictions ever published? and Do we not have the right to know if we have a convicted paedophile as a neighbour?
- What about the criminal records of this gang?
Original Gangsters leader Dehno Acar has promised that the site will continue to address these concerns and will ensure that more offenders are exposed.
"We shall increase the amount of news. More and more will be exposed. We feel it is our duty to do so," Acar said in an interview with Nyheter 24.
Call me crazy, but this is going too far. Next they will be putting a bar-code on your right-hand or forehead, and when the police want to know all about you, they hold up a bar-code scanner and scan your bar-coded number. Then it pulls up all information about you. All in the name of "security," or "for the children," of course!
In a move likely to incite fervent reaction from privacy advocates, police authorities in the United Kingdom have this week been given the power to ‘hack’ into the computers of suspects without first securing a search warrant.
The British Home Office, which granted the permission, is also reportedly drawing up plans that will increase levels of access so that police across the European Union (EU) are able to gather information from computer hardware based in the British Isles.
A hack by any other name, the practice of “remote searching” involves the installation of a key-logging device into a suspect’s computer, or the dispatch of an e-mail equipped with a hidden virus that invades the suspect’s system and relays private information to a waiting remote surveillance team.
According to police authorities in Britain, remote searching has become a vitally important tool in helping track down online criminals and sex offenders.
The Independent reports that, while the practice has thus far been applied sparingly, civil liberty groups are concerned such permissions could drastically expand its usage and contribute to the erosion of privacy.
Responding to the Home Office’s decision, which will hand power of assessment and approval to a police chief constable, human rights group Liberty has said it has strong legal grounds in the UK and the EU to challenge remote searching.
According to the organisation’s director, the police should still be required to seek a court-approved warrant prior to hacking someone’s personal computer, and any expansion of power handed to the police should be subject to parliamentary regulation.
Allowing the police to hack computers without court-secured approval is yet another move in what many see as the UK becoming something of a nanny state.
Specifically, the country already has genetic details of more than four million residents registered on a national DNA database and is expected to begin issuing biometric identity cards at the end of 2009.
View the article here
By BRIAN HAYNES - LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
A veteran Mesquite police officer has been fired amid allegations he sexually assaulted two women, including one while he was on duty.
City officials fired Kirt Hughes, a 10-year police veteran, on Dec. 23 for conduct unbecoming an officer, according to the city manager's office.
Hughes had been on paid administrative leave since September, when the Nevada Department of Public Safety launched a criminal investigation on behalf of the Mesquite Police Department, an agency of about 30 officers that polices the town of 20,000 residents.
The investigation centered on allegations from two women who said Hughes had sexually assaulted them, according to a state investigative report.
One of the women said Hughes was on duty when he stopped by her house one morning in December 2007 to give her a wedding invitation. After she invited Hughes in for coffee, he made sexual advances and groped her before leaving, the report said.
The woman told police Chief Doug Law about the incident but did not file a formal complaint against Hughes, citing fear of retaliation, the report said. Law told investigators he talked to Hughes about the allegation and "prior similar complaints," but he could not proceed until someone filed a complaint, the report said.
The second woman told detectives that Hughes raped her at her house in March 2004. The woman reported the incident at the time but didn't press charges because she didn't think anyone would believe her, the report said.
Both women eventually filed written complaints in August, which launched the criminal investigation.
State investigators referred the case to the Clark County district attorney's office in October with recommended felony charges of battery with intent to commit a crime and sexual assault. Prosecutor Eric Jorgenson reviewed the case and declined to file charges because one of the allegations fell beyond the statute of limitations and the other could not be proven in court, he said.
The Lincoln County sheriff's department then conducted an internal investigation on behalf of Mesquite and came to the finding that led to Hughes' firing.
A phone call made to Hughes' listed home number seeking comment was not returned.
By SEAN ROBINSON
The new neighbor was a convicted sex offender, so Tammy Lee Gibson attacked him with an aluminum baseball bat.
Gibson, a Pierce County resident, pleaded guilty Monday to third-degree assault stemming from the incident on June 16 of last year. It was a plea bargain, reduced from original charges of second-degree assault and felony harassment.
Gibson, 40, faces up to eight months in jail. Her sentencing is set for for Feb. 27 in Pierce County Superior Court.
Deputy prosecutor Sunni Ko said the guilty plea resolves a case that could have turned into a tricky trial. Initial police reports of the incident said the victim, William Allen Baldwin, might have suffered a broken arm. He didn’t.
Charging papers said Gibson saw fliers announcing that Baldwin, a Level 3 sex offender, had moved into the 7900 block of River Road East to live with a relative. Gibson, armed with the small aluminum bat, went to the address and knocked. Baldwin answered the door.
Ko said a trial would have raised several questions. Would the small bat qualify as a deadly weapon? Would a jury sympathize with Gibson, allegedly a crime victim in the past?
- Yes the bat is a deadly weapon, give me a break! Anything can be a deadly weapon, if used a certain way!
“That could certainly sway a juror,” Ko said. “We took a lot of that into consideration. This is a plea to a felony, which still recognizes this person who was assaulted.”
By JOHN CHRISTOFFERSEN Associated Press Writer
Some US cities drop criminal-history question from job applications
Hoping to prevent convicts from being shut out of the work force, some major U.S. cities are eliminating questions from their job applications that ask whether prospective employees have ever been convicted of a crime.
Most of the cities still conduct background checks after making conditional job offers, but proponents say the new approach will help more convicts find work and reduce the likelihood they will commit new crimes.
- Except sex offenders, where they can just check the registries. We need a registry for all criminals! If it's good for one group of people, then it's good enough for all the others, IMO.
"This makes sense in terms of reducing violence. The amount of recidivism — committing crimes again — in this population is dramatic, and it has taken a toll on this community," said John DeStefano, mayor of New Haven, where officials recently proposed a so-called "ban the box" ordinance that drops the criminal-history question from job applications.
Similar measures have been adopted in recent years in Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, Baltimore, San Francisco, Oakland, Calif., and Norwich, Conn. Los Angeles and other cities are considering doing so.
Some cities such as Chicago continue to conduct criminal background checks for all positions. Others such as Boston do so only when reviewing applicants for school jobs or other sensitive duties.
In New Haven, 25 former prisoners arrive each week after being released. Without help, about 10 of them will return to a life of crime, officials said. The city has some 5,000 residents on probation or parole.
New Haven's existing application asks whether prospective employees have ever been convicted of anything other than minor traffic violations or juvenile offenses.
Shelton Tucker, a New Haven resident who served five years in prison for assault with a firearm, said he has lost countless job opportunities because of his record.
"There were some times I was tempted to go back to my old way of making money," Tucker said. "I fell off the wagon a few times. You get stuck with this decision of telling the truth and possibly never being called or lying to get the job and losing it later."
Tucker, who was recently laid off from a glass company because of the weak economy, said eliminating the criminal-history question would encourage more people to apply for jobs. But, he said, the policy will not solve the problem, noting that criminal background checks would still be conducted.
"In a way it's just window dressing," Tucker said.
Cities that have dropped the question could not say how many convicts they have hired. Baltimore has had a hiring freeze since it banned the box nearly a year ago, officials said.
Proponents acknowledge that changing the application is not a panacea, but they insist it allows people with criminal records to get a foot in the door.
Cities are also creating standards for determining whether a criminal record is relevant to the job.
In Chicago, where more than 20,000 inmates return from prison annually and two-thirds are arrested within three years, the city adopted a hiring policy to balance the nature and severity of the crime with other factors, such as the passage of time and evidence of rehabilitation.
San Francisco also considers factors such as the time elapsed since the conviction and evidence of rehabilitation.
Boston's job application starts with an anti-discrimination statement and lists "ex-offender status" as a classification protected under civil rights laws. The city only does criminal background checks for sensitive positions such as jobs with police, schools, and positions involving large amounts of money or unsupervised contact with children, the disabled and elderly.
Boston officials sent a letter in December requiring companies that do business with the city to comply with that policy.
"What are these folks going to do if they cannot work?" said Larry Mayes, chief of human services for Boston. "You're creating a permanent underclass."
In New Haven, the changes are part of a broader strategy to help convicts make successful transitions by offering them support with monthly assistance sessions and helping former inmates mentor each other.
But critics worry about the message being sent by the changes.
When the Norwich City Council adopted the policy in December, critics feared it would attract criminals.
Edward Jones, who owns a computer business, opposed the effort, though he said cities should make efforts to ensure everyone is fairly considered for jobs.
"I think they're doing a disservice because this person could end up being in a position of trust," Jones said.
Supporters point to a study in October by the Urban Institute that found former prisoners who had jobs and earned higher wages were less likely to return to prison.
"You start to get desperate," Tucker said. "You go back to what you know."
- And I think that is what the prison business wants, so they stay in business!
View the article here
By Nicklaus Lovelady
Federal agents arrested a former Alabama police officer and convicted sex offender today for allegedly being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Edward Scott Yancey was originally arrested on Nov. 14 by Long Beach Police officers on allegations that he molested a 10-year-old boy. During the course of that investigation, evidence was obtained that Yancey, a convicted felon, was allegedly in possession of a firearm, according to a FBI news release.
Yancey appeared before U.S. District Magistrate Judge John Roper on Monday. A probable cause and detention hearing will be held on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. at the Federal Courthouse in Gulfport. He will remain in the custody of the U.S. Marshal Service pending the hearing.
Yancey, a former police officer in Gulf Shores, Ala., was prosecuted in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama in 1998 for possession of child pornography. He received three years probation and was required to register as a sex offender.