So Maryland protects the person that reports child abuse. So with no retribution for the person that makes false allegations then they are given a green light to report hearsay or knowingly make false allegations against a father in a custody fight. WOW!
Friday, March 6, 2009
So Maryland protects the person that reports child abuse. So with no retribution for the person that makes false allegations then they are given a green light to report hearsay or knowingly make false allegations against a father in a custody fight. WOW!
BARTOW - One of five teenage suspects in the videotaped beating of a central Florida classmate has been sentenced to three years probation.
_____ was sentenced Friday. She pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery in January.
_____ also was ordered to do 100 hours of community service, write a letter of apology to the victim and pay restitution.
In exchange for her guilty plea, prosecutors dropped charges of felony kidnapping and witness tampering.
Four other teen girls were also arrested last April in connection with the attack that was recorded on video and broadcast around the world.
Another participant, _____, was sentenced Thursday to a year's probation. The other teens will be sentenced later this month.
By BARBARAH KESHEN For the Monitor
Next Tuesday Hillsboro voters will be asked to decide whether their town will join the handful of others in New Hampshire that restrict where convicted sex offenders may live. The voters should say No.
Sex offender residency restriction laws forbid convicted sex offenders from living near child-oriented places like schools or playgrounds. The theory is that if children are out of sight of sex offenders, they will be safe.
At first blush these laws might seem like a good idea. On the surface it makes sense that prohibiting convicted sex offenders from living near a school or playground might deliver them from temptation. But many experts have come to the opposite conclusion: These laws don't protect children and, in fact, might hurt them.
Why is that?
Sex offenders are least likely to re-offend when they reside in stable, supportive environments with friends or family or receive counseling or are closely monitored by probation and parole officers.
Laws that make it difficult for offenders to live with family or near their counselors destabilize them. When offenders are destabilized, they are at greater risk for re-offending.
By design, these laws push offenders out of the majority of affordable housing, forcing them to live in clusters at the outskirts of town. Since the stock of available housing is greatly diminished, many offenders can't find housing at all and are forced to live on the streets or under bridges, as was reported in Florida. Some offenders take the risk of living with their family and not registering.
Iowa was among the first states to enact sex offender residency restrictions. After years of experience with the law, the Iowa County Attorneys Association issued a statement supporting its repeal. The experiment with these restrictions, the county attorneys concluded, was a failure.
The law caused offenders to become homeless, to change residences without notifying authorities of their new location, to register false addresses or to simply disappear. The county attorneys cited offenders' families that "were unfairly and unnecessarily disrupted by the restriction, causing children to be pulled out of school and away from friends, and causing spouses to lose jobs and community connections."
Rehabilitation of offenders was jeopardized, putting the public at greater risk, and the information available to the public on the sex offender registry was unreliable and incomplete.
Victims' groups like the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence also reject these laws. They recognize that they do little to protect the victims of sexual assault. Molestation of a child by a stranger is extremely rare. How rare? Each year there are 60,000 to 70,000 arrests on charges of child sexual assault, according to the U.S. Justice Department. On average, about 115 of those arrests involve abductions by strangers.
Laws like these divert attention and resources away from the greatest source of abuse - family and close friends - and provide a false sense of security.
There are proven ways to make children safer from abuse. California is home to the nation's largest population of convicted sex offenders.
The California Research Bureau found that "intervention strategies that combine therapeutic treatment, risk assessment, specialized supervision, and global positioning monitoring have some effect on reducing sex offender offenses and recidivism rates." Restricting where sex offenders live does not.
View the ruling here, or download it here.
By Rich Daly
A federal appellate court rules that the section of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act regarding prolonged federal civil commitment of sexual offenders is unconstitutional.
A federal appeals court has struck down a 2006 federal law that allows indefinite civil commitment of "sexually dangerous" inmates beyond the length of their prison terms.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond ruled in January in the case U.S. v. Comstock that Congress intruded on powers reserved for the states through civil-commitment provisions it included in the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (PL 109-248). The ruling, which affirmed a lower court ruling in the case, was the first time a federal appeals court addressed the legality of the federal commitment law.
The ruling is binding only in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Maryland.
The law allows the U.S. attorney general's office to obtain a stay prolonging federal detention of people convicted of certain sex-related offenses through a certification alleging sexual dangerousness.
The three-judge appeals panel noted that "no evidence or preliminary showing is required" as part of the preliminary certification of sexual dangerousness to automatically remand the inmate for indefinite detention in a federal prison hospital. The law allows a federal court to rule on the petition but the court can use only the standard of "clear and convincing evidence" instead of the higher bar of "beyond a reasonable doubt."
"The Constitution does not empower the federal government to confine a person solely because of asserted 'sexual dangerousness' when the government need not allege (let alone prove) that this 'dangerousness' violates any federal law," Judge Diana Gribbon Motz wrote in the unanimous opinion.
The law defines a "sexually dangerous person" as someone who "has engaged or attempted to engage in sexually violent conduct or child molestation and who is sexually dangerous to others," and who suffers from a severe mental illness to the extent that the person would "have serious difficulty in refraining from sexually violent conduct or child molestation if released."
The ruling noted that the law does not define either "sexually violent conduct" or "child molestation."
Motz wrote that the perceived need for a federal civil-commitment statute did not create the constitutional power for the government to create one, and Congress could seek alternative and constitutional means of achieving the possibly "commendable objectives" of civil commitment.
The ruling by the appeals court upheld much of the 2008 decision by U.S. District Judge W. Earl Britt of Raleigh, N.C., which was similar to a previous ruling by a federal district judge in Minnesota. The appeals court ruling, however, is at odds with the decisions of federal district courts in Hawaii, Oklahoma, and Massachusetts, which have upheld the commitment law.
Federal prosecutors may appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court or seek a rehearing before the full 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The ruling came on the appeals of five inmates convicted of receiving online child pornography, including Graydon Earl Comstock. All of the inmates have been kept in custody for at least two years beyond the end of their sentences in a North Carolina federal prison hospital.
The ruling is explicitly limited to the federal civil-commitment law and does not affect the legality of state civil-commitment measures. Motz said federal authorities were still free to contact state officials about potentially dangerous inmates about to be released, and state officials could then bring their own civil-commitment proceedings. The federal law specifically directs the U.S. attorney general to make "all reasonable efforts" to transfer responsibility for sexually dangerous offenders to an appropriate state authority at the conclusion of their federal sentences, but until a state assumes that responsibility, inmates are held in federal confinement for as long as they remain "sexually dangerous."
The ruling noted that the civil-commitment power is among the most "severe" wielded at any level of government.
"The Framers, distrustful of such authority, reposed such broad powers in the states, limiting the national government to specific and enumerated powers," Motz wrote.
Also unaffected by the ruling are provisions of federal law that fund state civil-commitment programs. The Adam Walsh law authorizes $10 million each year for state civil-commitment programs through Fiscal 2010.
By March 2007 20 states had enacted laws regarding civil commitment of sexual offenders. Such state laws have been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court as constitutional in part because their aim is to ensure that inmates receive treatment, not be punished twice for the same crime. Despite this, only a small fraction of committed offenders have ever completed treatment to the point where they could be released without additional mandated oversight.
The federal appeals court ruling will have a limited impact because many such prisoners will simply be transferred to state control, said forensic psychiatrist Paul Appelbaum, M.D., a member of APA's Council on Psychiatry and Law, in an interview with Psychiatric News. The only individuals likely to be affected are people held on federal sex crime charges in states without civil-commitment statutes, he said.
APA's Committee on Persons With Mental Illness in the Criminal Justice System provided a written statement on the court ruling to Psychiatric News that described civil commitment for sexual offenders as "incarceration under the guise of treatment."
"The court ruled against indefinite commitment because it determined this to be a states' rights issue and not a power controlled by Congressional statute," said the committee statement. "However, in our opinion the legal tests defining 'sexual dangerousness,' 'severe mental illness,' and 'difficulty from refraining from future sexual violence or child molestation' are difficult to translate into psychiatric decision making."
The committee pointed out that the burden of a societal remedy for sexual violence should not rest with psychiatry. "By obliging psychiatrists to participate in the indefinite detention of individuals, their role as treating clinicians is transformed into that of a jailer," the committee statement said.
Instead, the committee's members suggested that the complex forensic issue of predicting sexually violent dangerousness is better handled through criminal-justice proceedings and sentencing rather than through the psychiatric civil-commitment process.
Check out the second video, and listen to all the BS!
I'm not certain what's going on over at the Miami Herald, but the last few months, the paper has actually been worth bringing up online to read. Whatever is happening, keep it up.
Bringing me to MH columnist Fred Grimm. And Ron Book.
Froggers who follow my ramblings know that Mr. Book is forever financially secure as a successful Florida lobbyist. He is--as we say--connected to the max and because of that, has used his power to lobby a devastating personal blow to an extreme legislative level, influencing lawmakers--again successfully--to support child protection laws based on dated research.
If that's not enough, back at home, Book has managed to hold positions of local power to ensure compliance with personally important passed laws. Currently, he serves as chair of the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust.
The mission of the Trust is simple. To Eliminate Homelessness in Miami-Dade County.
Unfortunately, Mr. Book seems to think that mission is inapplicable to a group required to register as sex offenders camped out under the Julia Tuttle Causeway--living under the span due to the inability to find affordable housing in Miami--due to city/county residency restrictions that overlap state law, actions which Mr. Book supported and which obviously contradict in his current focus on the homeless.
The Herald's Mr. Grimm calls out Book in his column, provided below in its entirety as such great opinion pieces have a tendency to disappear from our online world.
"If those people aren't employable, if they don't have financial resources, that's an issue of their criminal convictions. There are people convicted for other offenses who have similar difficulty finding housing." - Ron Book
Lobbyist pushed laws that push outcasts into homelessness
BY FRED GRIMM03/04/2009
In the bowels of the Julia Tuttle Causeway, an ever-growing number of community outcasts live amid the putrescence of a shocking community failure.
No fresh water. No toilets. No trash dumpster. And no indication, after two years watching a public disgrace metastasize into a public health hazard, that the $41 million-a-year Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust would intervene.
Wednesday afternoon, I called and left a message for Homeless Trust Director David Raymond. The call was returned by the ubiquitous Ron Book.
Book, among his many incarnations, serves as chairman of the Homeless Trust. But the colony of sex offenders beneath the bridge were essentially forced into homelessness by a burst of overlapping city and county residency restrictions championed by this same Ron Book.
Book, the most powerful lobbyist in South Florida, pushed for sex-offender restrictions in town after town. When Book pushes a city commission, he gets results.
I wanted to know why the Homeless Trust hasn't provided a few basic necessities for a homeless camp. It was the wrong Book to ask. He launched into a defense of the laws that put them there. And he claimed that the restrictions leave three areas in the county not yet off limits for sex offenders.
But Greta Plessinger of the Florida Department of Corrections said those areas just aren't affordable. "The bottom line is that we've been working with the offenders, but we haven't been able to find a legal place for them to live that they can afford."
Book countered, "If those people aren't employable, if they don't have financial resources, that's an issue of their criminal convictions. There are people convicted for other offenses who have similar difficulty finding housing."
Except other convicts aren't forced to live under a bridge.
The colony has burgeoned to 48 men, living in tents, scrap-wood shacks, rusting campers, the back seats of cars. Thirty-three are on probation, most after serving prison terms. The others are forced to live there because, under Florida law, "sex offender" becomes a life-long designation.
Plessinger said that residency laws intended to protect the public have the perverse effect of making ex-sex offenders more difficult for DOC to monitor. "We're concerned that it's more dangerous. That homeless sex offenders are more likely to abscond."
WHY NO TRASH DUMPSTER?
Most social scientists, and studies by corrections officials in Minnesota and Colorado, have come to the same conclusion. But the wisdom of residency laws was beside the point. All I wanted to know was why the Homeless Trust, which has done so much heroic work for Miami's transient population, hasn't at least provided a trash dumpster for the Tuttle outcasts.
Book said no. He has a policy against providing services (such as outdoor feedings) that enable the homeless to remain adrift. Except laws that Book championed preclude ex-sex offenders from entering a homeless shelter.
The men have been banished to a dank permanent netherworld that Book, as much as anyone, helped create. Shouldn't the trust do something?
"You should pose that question to the Department of Corrections," Book insisted. "They put those people there."
View the article here
from the lookup-section-230-please... dept
If you're the sheriff, aren't you supposed to understand at least the basics of the law? Apparently not in Cook County, Illinois. Sheriff Thomas Dart is now suing Craigslist because it's "the single largest source of prostitution in the nation." Of course, we've been through some of this before. Atlanta's mayor mistakenly blamed Craigslist for prostitution a while back, but didn't do anything about it. Some Attorneys General were threatening to do stuff, so Craigslist finally changed its policies last year. Of course, as expected, all that did was make prostitutes disperse to other sites. In other words: same amount of prostitution, just a lot more difficult to catch.
There have been some officials who recognize this. Some police officers have realized that Craigslist certainly isn't to blame, and is, in fact, a great tool for tracking and catching prostitutes. Hell, even Dart's own staff has regularly used Craigslist as a tool to crack down on prostitution. His own office says it's used Craigslist to bust at least 75 prostitutes in the last 18 months. Rather than suing Craigslist, he should be thanking Craigslist for making it so easy to catch these prostitutes. It seems unlikely that this lawsuit will go very far. Craigslist is almost certainly protected by Section 230 safe harbors as the service provider. You would think that a sheriff that used the tool successfully for so long could recognize this... but apparently Dart would rather it be more difficult to find and arrest prostitutes.
from the progress,-perhaps dept
There has been something of a stink made in the UK after some children's charities complained that some ISPs weren't implementing web filters designed to stop people from accessing child pornography. While trying to stop child porn is certainly an admirable cause, the problem here is twofold: first, the filters simply don't work, and often do more to block access to legitimate content than to stop access to undesirable or illegal material. Second, simply thinking filters will solve the problem focuses only on catching consumers, rather than working to stop the producers and distributors of such reprehensible material. Stopping it at the source would seem to be a much more effective way to combat child pornography, rather than to just focus on the point of consumption. With that in mind, it's nice to see that a new pan-European alliance has been formed to go after child-pornography producers by tracking the flow of money around trade in it. The goal is to track the money back to those who are abusing children and making the porn, which would seem a much better way to fight the real problem. By only focusing on stopping consumption through filters, little is done to actually prevent kids from being abused, or to put the dirtbags who make this stuff out of commission.
Carlo Longino is an expert at the Insight Community. To get insight and analysis from Carlo Longino and other experts on challenges your company faces, click here.
By Cornell Barnard
MODESTO - A Stanislaus County jury failed to reach a verdict Thursday in the trial of a convicted sex offender who attacked several news media crews, including News10.
- Well, if the news media would mind their own business, and stop being media vigilantes, then this would never had occurred!
_____ was arrested last November in Oakdale after assaulting news crews and making threats to kill them with a knife.
Eleven jurors voted to convict _____, but one juror refused.
A Stanislaus County District Attorney's Office spokesperson said they would re-try the case. _____ will be held in custody.
News10 along with other media outlets attempted to get an interview after police held a community meeting to answer questions about _____, who moved back to the Oakdale area after finishing his parole last August.
_____, 44, was convicted in 1991 on two counts of sexual assault with force and was sentenced to 25 years behind bars. He was released on parole in 2004 after 13 years, eight months in prison.
With cameras running, _____ attacked News10 reporter Cornell Barnard and photo journalist Damien Espinoza along with another television news crew when they went to his family's house to ask him questions.
- So stop being vigilantes and this will not occur, now would it? Anything for a story, right?
At one point during the altercation, _____ pulled out what appeared to be a box cutter and yelled threats as he slashed the air and tried to come after the news crews. He was restrained by a relative.
By MARTY RYAN
A problematic issue facing the Iowa General Assembly this year is the possible implementation of Title I (Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act) of the Adam Walsh Child Protection Act of 2006. In a nutshell, this federal act requires states to "substantially" comply with its provisions or lose up to 10 percent of federal funding from Byrne Memorial Grants.
A Byrne Grant is named after a police officer killed in the line of duty while protecting a drug-case witness in New York City. Congress named these grants in his memory, and the grants are specifically earmarked for eradicating drug-dealing offenses. The funds have nothing to do with sex offenders.
The Adam Walsh Act contains statutory requirements that states must enact to receive 100 percent of the state's allotment of Byrne Justice Assistance Grants. States that don't "significantly" comply will have their grant awards cut by up to 10 percent. No one really knows what "significant" means. In any case, compliance with this act will cost more than the 10 percent grant money that could be lost through noncompliance. The grants are temporary, but changes to Iowa law will be permanent and cause long-term problems.
- This is basically bribery and/or extortion! And the last time I checked, was against the law!
Many political people passionately, but erroneously, believe that the Adam Walsh Act is the answer for getting rid of Iowa's 2,000-foot residency restriction for sex offenders. This emotional response keeps the same people from seeing the many flaws in making this exchange. Sex offenders have difficulty finding a place to live. Under the provisions of the Adam Walsh Act, sex offenders will have difficulty finding employment, locating a place to live (based upon enhanced notification requirements), furthering their education, and focusing on rehabilitation.
The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act requires sex offenders to provide the name and address of any place where the sex offender is an employee or employer, and this includes self-employment, volunteer work, transient work, etc. Although the act does not require the employer's name appear on the public Web site, it does require the employer's address. The cost to counties verifying this information will be burdensome at a time when government is trying to cut costs. Iowa law does not require registration nor verification of employment information.
Sex offenders attending school - and this applies to all students, college level, high school, and yes, grade school - must register in the jurisdiction of the school, as well as the jurisdiction where the student resides. Although Iowa law does require students attending a post-high school educational institution to register in the jurisdiction where they attend school, as well as their residential address, there is no such requirement for students in high school or elementary school.
License-plate numbers of all vehicles owned by a sex offender must be part of the information required for registration. This requirement includes the vehicles owned by the sex offender, but driven by a spouse, teenage child, mother-in-law, grandparent, etc. Iowa has no such requirement.
This act would be retroactive. Iowans who have completed their 10-year registration process without incident may have to begin the process all over again because of the nature of their crime. They could be required to now register for life.
- And retroactive laws violate the ex post facto portion of the constitution, without due process of law.
The safety of children was overlooked as Congress enacted this legislation. Sex offenders complying with current Iowa law may be forced to go underground to survive. A report by the Fiscal Service Division of the nonpartisan Iowa Legislative Services Agency cites U.S. Department of Justice statistics that, in Iowa, 2008 data indicate that "approximately 98 percent of minor victims knew the offender."
Focusing limited resources on federally mandated sex-offender registration would be both costly and ineffective.
It is admirable that policymakers want to undo the damage done by the 2,000-foot residency restriction. The Adam Walsh Act is simply more bad policy based on emotional response. It selfishly enacts a false sense of security for adults, when Iowa should be finding better ways to educate and protect our children.
MARTY RYAN is the legislative director of the ACLU of Iowa. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
This is so tragic, and parents need to inform their children about this, and also the schools and law enforcement need to start talking to the kids about this.
By Sheree Paolello
CINCINNATI -- More and more teenagers are getting caught "sexting," or sending racy, revealing or nude pictures of themselves on their cell phones. But when that picture gets in the wrong hands, it can be devastating. One local couple says "sexting" cost them their daughter.
_____ was 18 years old and about to graduate from Sycamore High School when a nude picture she sent to her boyfriend was sent to hundreds of students at schools around the Tri-State.
Last May, _____ talked to News 5’s Sheree Paolello about how embarrassed and humiliated she was. She said she was being harassed and teased by other students, at home, at school and when she went out.
As she tried to explain what it was like, _____ broke down crying. "I still get harassed and stuff,” she said. “I just want to make sure no one else will have to go through this same thing."
_____ was trying to be strong. She wanted to warn other parents and kids. But _____'s mom, Cynthia Logan, says the teasing turned to torture.
"She was called filthy names, things thrown at her,” said Cynthia. “Every single place she went they knew about that picture, they saw the picture. They knew about the picture! It's abuse. She was abused."
Cynthia says the moment her daughter’s private picture was sent out for everyone to see, things spiraled out of control. _____'s grades plummeted, she started skipping school and Cynthia says when _____ would go to school, she would hide in the bathroom to avoid being teased.
_____'s family and friends knew how much she was struggling to move on but they had no idea how low _____ had fallen. Two months after _____ spoke with News 5, she went to the funeral of a boy who had committed suicide. After the funeral, she came home and killed herself.
Eight months later, that horrifying moment was almost unbearable for Cynthia to recall. “And I walked over into her room and saw her hanging. Her cell phone was in the middle of the floor."
Cynthia found her daughter hanging in the closet.
What seemed like high school bullying changed this family forever. The last memory Cynthia has of her petite, blond-haired, blue-eyed, only child is a phone conversation that happened hours before _____ took her own life.
Cynthia could hardly utter the words. “And she said ‘I love you madre.’ And I said ‘I love you baby and I'll see you soon.’"
Cynthia and her husband, Albert, say they are heartbroken and angry. They feel like something should have been done. They question why the five teenagers who continued to spread _____'s picture and harass her were never charged.
"Almost eight months later, my daughter is buried in the ground. Are you kidding me? Where were you?" asked Cynthia as if the authorities were right in front of her.
Since _____’s death, authorities have started taking action against “sexting.”
Montgomery police have charged one teenage boy who sent a racy video to other students. And Wednesday, the Warren County prosecutor filed misdemeanor charges against two 15-year-old students at Mason High School, for sending out nude pictures over their cell phones.
The school resource officer at Sycamore said he tried to do something about _____’s case. He said he confronted the kids who were harassing _____ and even took _____'s case to the prosecutor to see if he could press charges. But he said that because _____ was 18, there were no laws to protect her. He said he'd like to work with the Logans to have the laws changed.
Cynthia says the fault doesn't only lie with the police, but also with the school.
"To have a nude photo being disseminated throughout the school of your child, how would you feel as a parent?” she asked. “Wouldn't you want other parents to know?"
Adrienne James, the superintendent for Sycamore Schools said letters were not sent out to parents, but that the district did address the cell phone problem at a parent’s night school forum.
James also said no action was taken against the students because some attended school in a different district. She also explained that because _____ took the picture at home and not on school property, there was little the school could do.
No explanation can comfort Cynthia or her family. She believes _____ took her life to escape the relentless teasing and feels like the people who were supposed to protect _____, failed her.
"The police department didn't protect her. The school didn't protect her. She had no one,” said Cynthia.
Because Cynthia knows she can’t turn back the clock, she wants to change the laws. She says she wants “sexting” to stop and for the people involved to be held accountable.
Cynthia also wants every parent to know how dangerous this teenage trend is, so that no parent has to find their child the way she did or go on without them the way she must do now.
By Karamagi Rujumba, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Robert V. Mitchell took responsibility for viewing child pornography online by pleading guilty to it, but argued at his sentencing yesterday that prison wasn't necessary because the recommended guidelines are overly strict, his actions were influenced by medication he was taking, and because he didn't actually touch a child.
- Any lawyer should know that is no excuse, and viewing child porn, there IS a victim! But, you know what, he will probably get the typical slap on the wrist, because he's a lawyer with money!
The judge disagreed.
U.S. District Judge David S. Cercone did choose to go below the recommended guideline range of 51 to 63 months in prison, but still ordered Mr. Mitchell, a Pleasant Hills lawyer, to spend 2 1/2 years in prison, to be followed by eight years of supervised release.
- What about being on the sex offender registry for life, like the average Joe would get?
Just looking at the images, the judge told the man standing before him, is a serious crime.
"The loathsome conduct of creating child pornography is driven by the demand for it," he said. "Children will continue to be abused in its making."
Mr. Mitchell, a Pleasant Hills lawyer who operated Invest Financial on Old Clairton Road, pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography in August. FBI agents searching his office in July 2007 found 16 videos and approximately 500 images that had been deleted from his computer.
Yesterday in court, he apologized to his family and said he never considered the consequences his behavior might have. "It's been more punishment than I think this court could impose on me," he said.
- Yeah right. I bet when you were a lawyer, you helped sentence many people to prison for less than you did. And if you get the same as others who download child porn, then you will be in prison for many years, but I doubt you will get much more than a slap on the wrist!
The man who once wanted to be a priest, also apologized to the legal profession.
"I would never intentionally do anything to embarrass my profession," he said.
Since his criminal case began, Mr. Mitchell, who specialized in estate and retirement planning, lost his securities license. Though he still has his license to practice law, its status was pending sentencing, said Mr. Mitchell's attorney, Stanton Levenson.
Several people testified on Mr. Mitchell's behalf, including his mother and wife.
Lisa Mitchell said her husband is the "kindest, most unselfish man," that she knows and described his criminal behavior as "uncharacteristic."
"That's not the person that he is," she said. "He is the foundation of our family. I can't imagine life without him."
In arguing against incarceration, Mr. Levenson said his client never abused or molested a child, and never visited any online chat rooms.
- So what? What about the thousands of others who have been sent to prison for the same, and this was never an excuse! But, since he's a lawyer, he'll probably get a slap on the wrist, and all this considered. The justice system is backwards. Those who should be held to a higher standard, usually get less of a sentence.
"He will forever bear the label of convicted felon, as well as the shameful designation 'sex offender,' " Mr. Levenson said.
Further, he cited two medical reports that concluded that Mr. Mitchell, who has been in continuing therapy, is not a pedophile and is not a danger to the community.
In asking the judge to allow him to stay at home with his family, Mr. Mitchell criticized the now-advisory federal sentencing guidelines.
"You have the opportunity to right a real wrong of Congress," he told Judge Cercone. "I looked at pictures. Granted, it was wrong to look at them. It was wrong to do what I did."
- Isn't is hypocritical how those who are in the legal profession put people in prison all the time, and never believe these stories, yet when it's their butts on the line, the same excuses come out? Ironic, isn't it?
But he continued, "I did not participate in any kind of commerce with these pictures."
"Why I did what I did, I can't explain."
Mr. Mitchell's father-in-law told the judge that he believed his son-in-law's behavior was caused by medication he was taking to control a seizure disorder.
However, in one of the medical reports submitted to the judge, the doctor discounted that, saying that Mr. Mitchell started the medication in question nearly two years before he began viewing child pornography.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce Teitelbaum only spoke briefly but emphasized the severity of the crime.
"Every one of those pictures -- the vast majority of films are real, pre-pubescent children who have been molested and scarred for life."
OH - DNA test exonerates inmate - Convict in 1983 rapes vows to seek compensation, says pleas for tests were ignored
WHEN IN THE HELL IS SOME HIGH POWERED LAWYER GOING TO INVESTIGATE THE SYSTEM? IT'S CORRUPT, AND THE MANY CASES SHOULD PROVE THAT. IN TODAY'S WORLD, INSTEAD OF INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY, IT'S THE REVERSE, AND INNOCENT PEOPLE ARE BEING RUINED BY A CORRUPT MONEY MAKING SYSTEM! THIS KIND OF STUFF, SHOULD ANGER EVERYONE, BECAUSE YOU MAY BE THE NEXT VICTIM OF THE SYSTEM!
By Geoff Dutton and Mike Wagner - The Columbus Dispatch
A man who has served more than 25 years in prison for two Columbus rapes has been proved innocent by DNA testing and is expected to be released today.
Joseph R. Fears Jr., 61, had been sentenced to 15 to 75 years for rapes committed a week apart in 1983.
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien said Fears was emotional when he personally delivered the news to him Wednesday at the Ross Correctional Institution.
"His reaction was, 'I've been telling you that all along!'" O'Brien said.
Fears had been requesting DNA testing for years. Prosecutors opposed it, and a judge denied him. Fears doesn't have a lawyer.
- Of course they denied it, they do not want to potentially let a free man go, making them look bad!
In a 10-minute phone interview with The Dispatch last night, an angry Fears vented at O'Brien and a criminal justice system that he says ignored and distorted his case.
"My reaction to this is: I think it's a bunch of bull and this was a cover-up," Fears said. "Ron O'Brien doesn't deserve any credit. I first asked for a DNA test in 1995, and they never did anything. Then they tell me my evidence is gone."
- Why isn't anyone questioning why evidence just magically vanishes? This happens all the time, yet nobody seems to care! It vanishes for a reason, IMO!
Fears said he plans to hire a prominent attorney to handle his case to seek compensation from the state.
The first thing he plans to do upon his release is bring his elderly mother from a rehabilitation center in Georgia to a nursing home in Dublin.
"I can't wait to tell my mother myself that her son is innocent and free," he said.
"I do feel good about this, but it's hard to separate the anger of what's happened to me all these years."
The Dispatch reviewed Fears' case as part of "Test of Convictions," a series published last year about prisoner DNA tests being derailed by systemic indifference or hostility.
The stories highlighted 30 prime candidates for testing, identified by the newspaper and the Ohio Innocence Project. Fears wasn't included because prosecutors said for years that the evidence in his case was gone.
- And they apparently lied for years as well. Since he is being set free now, due to DNA, apparently the evidence was not gone, but they lied about it! This is why these jerks need to be held accountable for sending innocent people to prison and ruining their lives, while they live the good life!
Everything changed when Robert McClendon was released from prison in August, after serving 18 years for a child rape that DNA testing showed the Columbus man didn't commit. McClendon's application for testing had been ignored for years until publicized in "Test of Convictions."
O'Brien said the Dispatch project forever changed his view of prisoner-innocence claims.
McClendon said O'Brien's new outlook is giving innocent men their lives back.
- So when is some victim of the system, going to work on passing a law, in their name of course, since that seems to be the trend, and make the DA's, lawyers, police, etc, responsible and held accountable for sending innocent people to prison? Until they is done, innocent people will continue to have their lives ruined based on NO EVIDENCE!
"I want to challenge other prosecutors in other cities to do the same thing," McClendon said. "If they do the things The Dispatch and Ron O'Brien has done, I guarantee other people will be walking out of prison."
O'Brien said he ordered a top-to-bottom inventory of the county evidence room and the case files.
So far, it has turned up evidence from Fears' case, as well for Charles Dumas, another Columbus man rejected for testing in the past because the evidence supposedly was gone.
- Anytime someone claims evidence is "gone," that should put up red flags to start an investigation! Evidence should not vanish, period!
Testing for Dumas, who has served more than 10 years for rape, is under way at DNA Diagnostics Center, a private lab near Cincinnati that is providing free testing as part of the newspaper's project.
For Fears, the evidence search uncovered microscope slides from one rape victim's medical exam, as well as the underwear from the other victim. DNA from the slides didn't match Fears', O'Brien said.
The unknown DNA on the slides was compared against a national FBI database of DNA and matched a felon in Michigan, who is now deceased, O'Brien said. Further investigation showed that the man was in Columbus at the time of that rape, and the victim didn't know him.
- So you see, the victim did not get justice, they basically got an innocent person sent to prison over BS evidence.
As for the underwear remaining from the other rape, the state crime lab didn't detect any male DNA on it. The victim in that case was a female acquaintance of Fears. He acknowledged a confrontation with her but said he'd never had sex with her and that she fabricated the rape claim.
Fears was convicted of both rapes in separate jury trials in 1984. He lost his appeals and was labeled a sexual predator, with a judge noting that "his denial of guilt made it unlikely he would benefit from programs to lessen his chances of re-offending."
- You see, they think everyone who is convicted on BS evidence is guilty, so they try to make you confess to something you did not do, and if you do, then they ruins your reputation. If you did not do anything, under no circumstances plead guilty! Never, ever, ever! And do not accept a plea deal, period!
Fears didn't have any previous sex offenses. He served a stint for breaking and entering and receiving stolen property, O'Brien said, but had been free for several years before being charged with the rapes.
The victims couldn't be reached yesterday for comment.
If Fears is exonerated during a court hearing expected in Columbus today, he will be the eighth prisoner released by DNA testing in Ohio and 233rd nationwide. O'Brien, in a notice filed with the court, said the DNA tests proved Fears' "actual innocence by clear and convincing evidence."
- Which should've been done in court, not years afterwards! So much for innocent until proven guilty!
Of the 30 cases highlighted in "Test of Convictions," 16 have been approved for testing, more than had been tested in the five-year history of the state's prisoner DNA testing program. But DNA testing has been completed in only a few of those cases, an indication of the delays that still plague these cases.
Mark Godsey, director of the Innocence Project, said more prosecutors need to follow the example set by O'Brien's office.
"He is the exact kind of prosecutor that every citizen in Ohio should want; tough on crime but willing to be open-minded to second chances," Godsey said.
"This shows the need for this type of examination in every county. This again shows there are far more cases like this out there around our state."
McClendon was proved innocent, another man was proved guilty and two other prisoners received potentially favorable results that are now subject to ongoing legal wrangling.
Lawmakers are preparing a bill that would make state-funded DNA testing more widely available for prisoners, require evidence to be preserved and create other protections to prevent and expose wrongful convictions.