Wednesday, January 14, 2009
This disturbing trend continues to gain popularity.
Three teenage girls who allegedly sent nude or semi-nude cell phone pictures of themselves, and three male classmates in a western Pennsylvania high school who received them, are charged with child pornography.
Police in Greensburg, about 30 miles east of Pittsburgh, say the girls are 14 or 15 and the boys charged with receiving the photos are 16 or 17. None are being identified because most criminal cases in Pennsylvania juvenile courts are not public, reports the Associated Press.
Police say Greensburg Salem High School officials learned of the photos in November when a student was seen using a cell phone during school hours, which violates school rules.
The phone was seized and the photos were found on it. When police investigated, other phones with more pictures were seized.
This case is more evidence of a growing teen trend. Cases have been reported in Colorado, New Jersey, New York, Alabama, Utah, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, Ohio, and Connecticut, and the practice appears to be gaining popularity.
Last month, we told you about the cheerleaders who got booted off the squad in Washington after sending racy pics to other students. Two of the girls' parents are suing the school district over it.
In October, we told you about an Ohio girl who faced felony charges and may have to register as a sex offender after taking nude photos and sending them to classmates.
The perception among teens is that sending nude photos is cute or funny, according to attorney Ronald Dunn. But he says sharing such photos meets the federal definition of child pornography ... and breaks the law. But even if your teen doesn't get charged with a felony, the photos can end up being forwarded to everyone in school, causing devastation and ongoing humiliation.
Teens have told prosecutors the photo trading is fueled by students vying for attention from the opposite sex. A girl likes a guy, so she sends a nude picture of herself to him -- or vice versa.
"Parents ought to handle this by keeping track of their kids or taking away their cell phones," prosecutor Craig Halls says. Another attorney encourages parents to consider whether their children need to have cameras with their cell phones -- or whether the teens need phones at all.
The Worcester Gazette & Telegram reports 56-year-old _____, of Uxbridge, could now face charges because he failed to notify authorities that he had moved, according to Connecticut State Police.
- I wonder if he is going to get assaulted now that this media organization has released his name? Just like this man, who also won the Alaska lottery and got assaulted!
"I'm flabbergasted," Connecticut State Police Lt. Paul Vance told the Telegram. "His whereabouts, until you told me about this, have been unknown to us. But I guess you could say he's very fortunate."
_____ works driving trucks for a yacht dealership in Mendon. He won the $10 million from a $20 scratch ticket purchased at Cumberland Farms in Hopedale.
But the lottery winnings also come with unwanted publicity.
- Yeah, and you are not helping!
"He was concerned, but there's not much you can do about it," said _____'s lawyer Joseph M. Fabricotti. "We talked about it and he understood this was one of the repercussions that could happen."
_____'s record of sexual assaults dates back to 1974. He has been convicted six times of indecent assault and battery in Massachusetts. Level 3 offenders are considered the most dangerous and the most likely to commit another crime.
By Emily Morris
In response to similar ordinances in nearby municipalities, Perkasie Borough Council has started discussions on the creation of an ordinance that would limit where sex offenders could live in the borough.
"It's something the (police) chief and I have talked about," said council Vice President Rich Hendricks. "Adjacent municipalities have been enacting them for some time now."
- Why talk with the police? Why not talk with experts who treat sex offenders, and civil/human rights people? Of course a cop is going to be all for it, it helps keep him a job.
In fact, Perkasie is essentially surrounded by municipalities with similar ordinances.
East Rockhill, Bedminster and Hilltown have all enacted variations of the same ordinance.
Perkasie Police Chief Joe Gura said he also plans on proposing a similar ordinance in neighboring Sellersville Borough, which the Perkasie Police Department covers.
- Why don't you quit your police job, and run for a legislature seat? Seems like that is what you want to do, instead of being a policeman!
If approved, the ordinance would limit where sex offenders could live in the borough by placing some radius around schools, parks or playground areas in the boroughs where certain levels of sex offenders could not live.
- And how many sex crimes, can you tell me, has occurred at either of these places? 90% or more of all sexual crimes occur by the victims own family, or close friends. So you are just pushing them out into the country, where it will go unnoticed longer.
What the borough will need to decide is what that radius will be and whether they want to include just schools or parks and playground areas or day cares as well.
Currently, the state law requires sex offenders that are deemed to be "sexually violent predators" to register under Megan's Law with the municipality where they will be moving, but the state law does not limit where they can reside within that municipality.
"It's like a loophole in the law we are trying to close," said Gura.
- So why don't you let the senate do their job, and you do your job, being a policeman?
Borough Manager Dan Olpere presented council with a map that drew a 2,000-foot radius around the three schools either in or adjacent to the borough —Pennridge High School's Fifth Street campus in East Rockhill, P.A. Guth Elementary School on Seventh Street and Pennridge South Middle School on South Fifth Street in Sellersville.
"Schools are known to be high-risk areas," said Gura of why the schools had been selected to set the primary map.
- BS! Show me the proof of this? Why don't you tell me how many sex crimes have occurred at a school? I am willing to bet you cannot tell me of ONE such crime!
Olpere said the borough could choose whether or not it wanted to also draw a radius around parks or playgrounds in the borough, which are also often hangout spots for children, noting that some neighboring municipalities had chosen to include such areas in their ordinances.
While some ordinances also include areas adjacent to registered day-care centers in the prohibited areas, Olpere said some other municipalities choose not to.
"Day-care centers are more tightly controlled," said Olpere. "Kids don't tend to be wandering around by themselves."
Councilwoman Maria Slowik questioned how the map would change if a similar radius was drawn around the park.
Gura said that when he included parks and playgrounds, the only remaining parts of the borough where the registered offenders could live would be a small area near Parkridge Drive, a portion of Blooming Glen Drive and "a couple spots in the Third Ward" of the borough, which is roughly located below the East Branch of the Perkiomen Creek.
However, Gura said the borough could choose to lower the radius of the circle to perhaps 1,000 feet, which might leave more areas open where offenders could live.
- This is just total BS, feel good laws to help the chief get brownie points. When you do this, and the offenders start moving into the other areas, there is going to be more issues with other people not wanting them there either, so it's a never ending cycle. I have absolutely no confidence in any state government, especially when they act on emotion instead of facts!
Borough Solicitor Ann Thornburg Weiss cautioned that the main issue with creating ordinances to limit where sex offenders can live is that they can be too restrictive, which can end up making them hard to defend in court.
Weiss said that arguments against the ordinances typically involve whether or not it is fair to limit where sex offenders can live after they have already served some type of sentence and whether or not they are truly effective.
- Yeah, so when are you going to address those issues?
"Those arguments are that these people have already served their time for their crime," said Weiss.
- Correct, and you are making and passing ex post facto laws, which is a direct violation of the Constitution!
She also noted that while the ordinances can limit where a registered sex offender can live, they cannot truly prohibit the offender from visiting areas by schools or parks and playgrounds.
"You're also saying that they can't live there, but you can't prevent them from hanging out there," said Weiss. "So I think the question is do they really serve the purpose that you're suggesting that they serve."
- And that answer is NO! They are just further punishment, which do NOTHING to protect society!
Weiss said she was unaware of any cases that had deemed these types of ordinances unconstitutional.
Gura noted also that some sex offenders are allowed to be removed from the registry after some period of time, so obviously it would not apply to them. Additionally, any sex offenders who already lived in the borough prior to the approval of the ordinance would be allowed to remain in their residences, even if in one of the prohibited areas.
Hendricks said the borough would need to work more on coming up with an ordinance that was "seemingly defensible" or "seemingly enforceable" for police.
16,513 total sex offenders, 3,144 incarcerated, 103 predators, 459 absconded.
So that leaves 12,807 sex offenders who are being punished the same as the 103 true predators, or those deemed as such by someone. Doesn't seem fair does it? They are wasting their time monitoring 16,513 offenders, when they really should be worried about 103 predators, and also wasting a bunch of money for gas, car repairs, etc.
IT’S A NEW YEAR so of course Georgia has put onto its books another new law that won’t work. And, once again, it has to do with sex offenders. Legislators have a real fetish about such folks.
There’s nothing wrong with the intention, of course. Indeed, the state’s version only seeks to implement an act of Congress approved by entirely different politicians of higher rank who similarly know too little about the computer age.
The 2006 federal law simply requires authorities to keep track of the Internet addresses of sex offenders. Georgia one-upped this by requiring them to hand over all their passwords along with screen names and addresses. The only other state to have gone this far is Utah, where one portion of the law has already been overturned by the courts.
The perceived purpose of such laws is entirely valid as regards predatory sex offenders. It’s no secret that the Internet has become the happy hunting grounds for them, particularly as regards children.
THE PROBLEM, in Georgia, is once again the state’s overly broad definition of sex offender — basically anybody ever caught with their pants down in the wrong place at the wrong time. They’re also put on the sex-offender registry for life, even if the offense was premarital sex with the woman, then a teen, who is now their wife.
Making Internet prowling difficult for true perverts that prey on children is entirely worthwhile although, as often mentioned in this space before, if authorities really believe such now-released ex-convicts are still this much of a danger why did they let them go in the first place? Why didn’t they commit them to a secure mental-health facility for treatment until cured (or chemically castrated)?
The real predators are a very small minority of the 16,000 Georgians currently on the registry, some of whom are there for offenses pretty much ignored nowadays, such as voluntary oral sex.
Until Georgia changes its definitions and zeroes in only on true predators for intensive scrutiny, and further ceases to release them until treated and cured, all this constant attack by the General Assembly on this front is utter nonsense and, as the courts regularly agree, unconstitutional to boot.
PERHAPS EVEN worse, in this instance, is pretending this can do any good whatsoever and keep predators off the electronic hunting ground. Maybe they can catch the really, really dumb offenders with this but those would trip themselves up anyway. It’s the clever ones that are truly dangerous, and particularly if they are even modestly computer savvy.
First of all, it is child’s play to open a new account with e-mail, a different name and a different password every day. Heck, every minute if so inclined ... and all for free.
Plus, there are also such things as anonymous surfing through servers located overseas that are immune from Georgia (or U.S.) snooping and encryption programs of such a level that only the CIA — maybe — can decode them.
Sound-good, feel-good laws that don’t work are dangerous to a public that largely is deluded into believing it is somehow protected by them. The best way to protect our children from Internet predators remains strong parental/adult super-vision of computer usage.
While defenders of such laws are often heard arguing that “sex offenders have no rights” the reality is that they do, and particularly so if not in a cell and “having paid their debt to society.” They’ve got mostly the same rights as everyone else, particularly if they behave themselves.
SURRENDER THEIR passwords in an era when computer users are warned to protect their Social Security numbers at all costs?
Surrender access to bank accounts and credit cards managed online?
Surrender privacy in making political comments or in communicating with one’s minister?
The rest of us would tell the General Assembly to go to hell if asked to do this. Why should released sex offenders, most of whom are trying to become ordinary people once again, feel any different?
It is appallingly easy to predict that this new Georgia law will be struck down by the courts, assuming any sex offender is actually ignorant enough of it and computers to be caught.
Indeed, one looks forward to the case where a sex offender if found not to have revealed his account and password on his church-operated server and is threatened with being sent back to prison for making contributions to his denomination’s mission fund “in secret.”
The risk that the General Assembly seeks to address is real, although far more limited than its overly sweeping law. It also won’t work, which makes it a fraud.
SO LONG as the legislators aren’t willing to pay for identifying true predators and keeping them confined, and giving them medical treatment, it remains their political stagecraft that poses the largest danger to the state’s children.
California Sexual Offender Management Board Review (PDF)
By Michael Rothfeld
A state board says tight residency limits on sex offenders have driven many to homelessness, which could propel them back into crime. The state spends $25 million housing some of the offenders.
A state panel is urging the governor and legislators to change "Jessica's Law," saying its restrictions on where sex offenders can live are counterproductive and calling the nearly $25 million a year spent to house them a poor use of taxpayers' money.
The residency restrictions, passed by voters more than two years ago in Proposition 83, have never been shown to prevent new crimes and may reduce public safety, the panel says.
Since 70% of voters approved the initiative, "the availability of suitable housing has plummeted," the state's Sex Offender Management Board said in a report sent to lawmakers this week.
The state previously had more modest residency limits that applied only to certain sex offenders. Jessica's Law expanded the restrictions to all sex offenders and greatly reduced the locations where they could reside.
Barring sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools, parks and other areas where children gather has driven many into homelessness, an unstable situation that can propel them back to crime, according to the board.
State corrections officials say they find housing and pay rent for about 800 who are on parole, but they cannot house them all; the number of homeless sex offenders on parole is 12 times as large as it was when the law was passed.
"It seems unwise to spend such resources as a consequence of residence restriction policies which have no track record of increasing community safety," board members wrote.
Proposition 83 expanded both the categories of sex offenders included and the limits on where they could live.
Scott Kernan, undersecretary for adult operations at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said his agency is discussing plans to scale back its housing of sex offenders, some of whom have their rent paid by the state for several years while they are on parole, to a shorter period such as 60 or 90 days.
"I don't know that we can continue to pay long-term for sex offender housing in the current fiscal situation," Kernan said.
He said the housing, often in motels or halfway-house settings where multiple sex offenders live, was always meant to be transitional. But with the passage of Jessica's Law, he said, many have been housed for longer because they have little money and their families' residences may fall in a prohibited zone.
And Kernan said some local officials have created extra barriers -- for example, creating parks on highway medians to make certain neighborhoods off-limits.
The Sex Offender Management Board was created in 2006, with 17 members to be appointed by lawmakers and the governor. It includes state and local officials from law enforcement, judicial and social services backgrounds.
It has advocated for the state to focus on the offenders who pose the highest risk and to use practices -- such as treatment -- that have been shown to work. The state does not provide treatment while offenders are in prison. Jessica's Law makes little distinction between high- and low-risk offenders, addressing all of them equally with lifetime residency restrictions and satellite tracking.
State lawmakers can alter the initiative with a two-thirds vote. Robert Coombs, a spokesman for the board's chairwoman, said the members found it infeasible to call for abolishing the residency restrictions, given the sweeping voter approval of Proposition 83. He said state and local officials have the power to interpret the law to allow more housing for sex offenders, but the board believes that the likelihood of legislators fixing the problems in more comprehensive ways -- at least in the short term -- is slim.
"I can't imagine a policymaker who would put their name on something that says we want to make it easier for sex offenders to find housing," Coombs said. "Even though it's a strong public safety concept," lawmakers would be setting themselves up for political attack.
Responding to the criticism that residency restrictions have no benefit to public safety, state Sen. George Runner (R-Lancaster), an author of the initiative, said, "I do believe the general public would say a child molester should not live across the street from a school."
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a strong supporter of Proposition 83, has said he is open to revisions but has not suggested any.
Jeanne Woodford, a former state corrections secretary under Schwarzenegger, said the residency restrictions should be abolished. She said many states are reexamining their handling of sex offenders in light of studies showing that there is little utility in registration requirements and other laws the public has supported to keep track of them.
"The bottom line is, this is really what happens when we allow our emotions to get the best of us, as opposed to dealing with the facts," she said.
View the article here
More of the same sound bites, and BS statistics from another uninformed person, trying to make a name for themselves, while riding the backs of sex offenders.
By Karla Ward
A bill filed in the state legislature would further restrict areas where registered sex offenders can live.
Under House Bill 38, filed by Rep. Stan Lee (Contact), R-Lexington, sex offenders who have committed crimes against minors would not be able to live within 1,000 feet of public or private parks and community swimming pools.
The bill also would prohibit them from participating in Halloween activities involving minors, such as trick-or-treating.
Lee said swimming pools originally were included in the 2006 legislation that tightened the rules on where sex offenders can live, but that provision was deleted before the bill passed.
Now, Lee said, he wants to get it added into the law.
"Some of the individuals who are opposed to that are no longer in in the General Assembly," he said in an interview. "I've been approached by citizens ... who have wanted to know basically why we left a loophole in the law."
The state Department of Corrections has filed an impact statement saying that the bill could be expensive and difficult to enforce.
Swimming pools in the back yards of single-family homes would not be covered under the bill, but the impact statement states that pools at apartment complexes or hotels and motels would be.
"This provision is too restrictive and would further reduce available options and increase staff time to help offenders find housing," the Department of Corrections statement says.
But Lee said restricting where sex offenders can live is important, because the recidivism rate is high.
- Once again, another uninformed person. The recidivism rates are LOW if this idiot would read the studies.
"You can lock them up, but you're not going to cure them," he said. "The next best alternative is to know where they are."
"Everything we can do to protect our children is well worth it."
The measure has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.
By Mike Ross
ANCHORAGE - The winner of a recent lottery was beaten with a tire iron or a metal pipe by a stranger Tuesday, according to the Anchorage Police Department.
_____, 53, is also a convicted sex offender. After taxes, he won about $350,000 in a lottery set up to benefit a local organization, Standing Together Against Rape, which aims to educate the public about sexual assault.
A 20-year-old white male, Brandon J. Hughes of Los Angeles who was unknown to _____, stopped _____ as he entered the Fifth Avenue Mall Tuesday at around 2:30 p.m., according to police.
Hughes asked _____ if he was the "half million dollar lottery winner," and _____ responded that he was.
- Bad move, you do NOT tell anybody, especially a stranger, you just won that kind of money!
As _____ was leaving the mall later, Hughes approached _____ and struck him in the head with a metal object about eight or 10 times. _____ threw a drink he was holding at Hughes and ran to a nearby café, where he called police.
"There's certainly been a lot of publicity on the fact that the lottery winner has a criminal past-- perhaps that was in the assailants mind, but I don't know," Lt. Dave Parker said.
Chris Robuck manages a jewelry store just across the street from the mall.
He said shortly before the attack, _____ came into his store and thought about buying a $5,000 ring.
"He told me that he had just bought two Lincoln navigators for the price of one, and he was going to buy a house out in big lake for $240,000," Robuck said. "He said that he had to hire a lawyer for a $1,000 because people were bad mouthing his name."
- He sure isn't wasting no time spending the money, at this rate, he'll be broke in less than 1 month!
Robuck said _____ then went across the street to the 5th Avenue Mall.
When _____ left the mall a few minutes later, police say Hughes attacked him with a lead pipe or a tire iron.
Robuck said he saw the attack as it was happening.
"I saw a young guy just whapping somebody on the back of the head with what looked like a lead pipe," he said. "So I was probably 40 yards away, and I yelled as loud as I could 'Hey! Knock it off!'"
Robuck said he had no doubt that _____'s life was in danger.
"The guy kind of stopped, looked at me, and I thought maybe he was coming after me next," Robuck said. "But I guess when I shouted as loud as I did, he stopped his assault, and it was a pretty brutal one."
Hughes ran away, and _____ was taken to a hospital, but was later released.
Police say _____ identified Hughes as his attacker.
Police also said one of the two women who were with Hughes at the time of the attack was taken into custody, but she has not been charged with any crimes.
Hughes has been arrest for second-degree assault, and his bail was set at $90,000.
However, Hughes is also charged with being a fugitive from another state due to a warrant he had in California, so he cannot be released on bail.
View the article here
By Gene Hartley, KY3 News
JEFFERSON CITY -- The Missouri Supreme Court upheld the conviction of a woman from Hickory County who killed an ex-boyfriend at her home eight years ago. This is the second time that the state's highest court considered Jamie Avery's conviction.
Avery shot Bruce Paris at her home at Nemo, near Pomme de Terre Lake, in December 2000. Investigators said she gave more than one version of what happened but ultimately claimed she shot Paris in self-defense after he threatened to beat her. She said she didn't mean to kill him.
Avery argued she was afraid Paris might sexually assault her. She said Paris had made several harassing telephone calls to her before she finally agreed to meet with him. Several hours later, she ended up shooting him after she said he tried to come in her home after she tried to keep him out.
A jury convicted Avery in 2001 for second-degree murder and armed criminal action. She received two consecutive 30-year prison sentences in December 2000. Avery appealed.
In November 2003, the Supreme Court ordered a new trial. It said the jury should have been able to consider alternate verdicts of self-defense and voluntary manslaughter. The trial judge declined to read jury instructions that would have allowed either verdict.
At a second trial in Webster County, a jury convicted Avery of voluntary manslaughter and armed criminal action. A judge sentenced her to concurrent prison terms of 15 and 35 years. Avery appealed again.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court upheld the second set of convictions. In a unanimous opinion, it said there was a great deal of evidence that Avery drank alcohol the day of the shooting. That evidence, the court said, supports the trial judge's decision to submit a voluntary intoxication instruction to the jury. That instruction was read to make sure the jury knew intoxication is not a reason to acquit someone of a criminal act.
"Avery argues that Instruction No. 6 was likely to confuse or mislead the jury into believing that she had admitted some wrongdoing and was attempting to escape liability based on voluntary intoxication. If an instruction is an accurate statement of law and supported by the evidence, however, there is no prejudice," the Supreme Court decision says.
"In this case, there was abundant evidence of Avery's alcohol consumption to support the trial court's determination that without being instructed as to the legal effect of that evidence, the jury might well have been left to guess as to what legal effect to give that evidence."
Also, the Supreme Court judges ruled, the trial judge didn't abuse his discretion by not letting the jury hear testimony that Paris was a registered sex offender.
"Avery argues such evidence was admissible to demonstrate whether the victim was the initial aggressor. There was no evidence offered at trial that Avery knew anything about the conviction," the opinion says.
The court said having that information wouldn't have helped the jury decide what happened that day in 2000.