Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Sex Crimes DA Answers 100 of the Most Asked Questions

Host Name: Dave and Bill (Twitter)

Show Name: A Sex Crimes DA Answers 100 of the Most Asked Questions

Date/Length: 03/31/2009 1:00 PM - 1 hr

Description: Robin Sax is a Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney who specializes in prosecuting sex crimes against children. For over fifteen years Robin has prosecuted some of the most despicable defendants who committed the most heinous crimes. As one of the prosecuting attorneys for the Child Sexual Assault division of the Los Angeles County Sex Crimes Unit, Robin works with a multi-disciplinary team at UCLA's Rape Treatment Center/The Stuart House. Robin has written six books that draw upon her vast experience as a sex-crimes prosecutor, child advocate and parenting expert. Upcoming titles include: “Predators and Child Molesters: A Sex Crimes D.A. Answers 100 of The Most Asked Questions” (April, 09)


CyberHood Law Meets Capt. Rhett McQuiston of the ICAC-TF

Related Article | Read the Comments

Host Name: Dave and Bill (Twitter)

Show Name: CyberHood Law Meets Capt. Rhett McQuiston of the ICAC-TF

Date/Length: 4/22/2008 - 1 hr

Description: The CyberHood Watch is pleased to welcome Captain Rhett McQuiston; Captain of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC-TF) The ICAC-TF is a multi-jurisdictional task force that includes federal, State, and local law enforcement officers across the State of Utah. Captain McQuiston has been involved is arresting well over 200 individuals for the crime of Enticing A Minor Over the Internet, a Second Degree Felony.


CA - Former Sheriff's Deputy Ordered to Stand Trial on Rape, Kidnap Charges

View the article here

04/01/2009

INDIO - A former Riverside County sheriff's deputy must stand trial on charges of kidnapping and raping a woman in La Quinta, a judge ruled Wenesday.

Marc Javier Diaz, 35, of Indio, is charged with kidnapping to commit rape and two counts of rape under the threat of authority of a public official. He could face life without the possibility of parole if convicted of the kidnap-to-rape charge, according to prosecutors.

After a two-hour preliminary hearing, Riverside County Superior Court Judge John C. Evans ordered Diaz to stand trial on all three charges and set an April 15 post-indictment arraignment date.

Diaz allegedly walked into Point Happy Massage Therapy at 78370 Highway 111 in La Quinta the evening of Jan. 31 and asked for a 30-minute massage, according to Maria Montalvo, who co-owns the business with her husband.

"He told me he was an undercover cop," Montalvo testified, adding that Diaz then flashed a badge at her that was encased in a black wallet.

She described the badge as "shiny" with "stars," but said he displayed it so quickly that she did not know what kind of badge it was.

Montalvo said Diaz asked to see a business license before she took him into a back room, where he asked to see her husband.

She said her husband and another woman who was helping the couple move into the business, which had only opened two days earlier, came into the room at that point.

"He told my husband he had sent an undercover cop to check the business because there was something illegal going on," Montalvo testified.

She said Diaz asked for identification from all three of them. The business owners showed him their California driver's licenses, and the other woman -- the alleged victim -- had a Mexican passport, according to Montalvo.

The woman, referred to in court documents as Jane Doe, testified through a Spanish-language interpreter that Diaz told her that he was going to take her to the Indio police station.

"He told me he was going to check my fingerprints and we walked to his car," she said.

Diaz drove her to a secluded location next to some railroad tracks and threatened her with arrest and deportation if she did not have sex with him, she testified.

"That person told me he wanted to make a pact with me, that he wanted to have sexual relations with me in exchange for letting me go to my home," she said.

The woman testified that Diaz then forced her to orally copulate him and perform other sexual acts.

"I put my clothes on and he told me he would take me back to where he found me," she said. "He told me not to tell anyone about anything."

She said he threatened her with arrest again and told her to go back to Los Angeles, where she lives.

"He told me he would come back, that he didn't want to see me around and if he did, he would report me to immigration," she said.

Diaz worked for the Coachella Valley Unified School District for 16 months before his arrest in February. Officials at the Coachella Valley superintendent's office have declined comment on his employment history, calling it a "personnel matter."

Diaz was a Riverside County sheriff's deputy for nine years before he resigned in July 2004, a month after being arrested on suspicion of soliciting and engaging in prostitution in the area of Bliss and Oasis streets in Indio.

At the time, he was assigned to the Indio courthouse.

The District Attorney's Office never filed charges against Diaz on the prostitution allegation, citing insufficient evidence, a spokesman for the office has said.

Diaz is being held at the county jail in Banning in lieu of $1 million bail.


OH - SB 10 challenge on right to counsel

The Ohio Supreme Court will hear an SB 10 challenge. The court heard oral arguments on whether folks who challenge their reclassification are entitled to an attorney. A week or so later, the court ordered briefs on whether SB 10 imposes punishment or even if civil, if folks are entitled to counsel.

PDF Document

Click the image below to view the video


CA - 8 Arrested In Sex-Offender Crackdown (The Gestapo Bust Down Doors!)

View the article here

So instead of just having the probation/parole officers go down and check on people, they have to bust out the FBI and other Gestapo to scare the hell out of everyone. What a charade! Raids to parolee homes DO NOT NEED A SHOW OF FORCE and to do so violates the public trust in such agencies to not squander public grant money for the sake of sensationalism which this obviously was. I do believe it is very likely some of those cops violated the 4th amendment!

04/01/2009

Officers Search Hotel Marshall In Sacramento

SACRAMENTO - Eight people were arrested Wednesday when police swarmed a downtown Sacramento residential hotel as part of a crackdown on sex offenders.

The officers raided the Hotel Marshall on Seventh Street to make sure dozens of offenders who live there are following the conditions of their parole and probation.

"We are routinely going out and making sure that these folks are adhering to their terms and conditons of parole," said Marvin Speed, a probation officer.

About 75 officers, including the FBI and Sacramento police, searched the hotel. About 50 convicts live there.

Those arrested were found in posession of pornographic materials. In one room, a knife was found.
- Pornographic?  Is that adult or child porn?



And they all sang "We all live in Amerika, Amerika, Amerika!


April Fool's Computer worm no ordinary bug


A self proclaimed child safety consultant, claims to know the facts, when in fact, he doesn't know what he's talking about!

YouTube Channel

And you will notice, no mention of where these bogus statistics come from!
Maybe he should check my Studies blog for more education material?

Missing Children Statistics


Registered Sex Offender Statistics


Children Statistics


And he is now posting stuff on Craigslist (here):

Changing the laws for child molesters (A step in a different direction)
Reply to: pers-npqew-1112967889@craigslist.org [Errors when replying to ads?]
Date: 2009-04-08, 9:56AM PDT

I was just so sad when I saw the news about that suitcase they had found near Sandra Cantu's home. I had a sinking feeling it contained her body. I have three granddaughters who live in another state, and I just kept thinking about them. It makes me sick to think about all of these perverted monsters we have in our country, and how they are allowed to be set free among us, time after time, deemed able to live with our society, and preying upon our children, again and again. I am willing to bet the evil thing that did this to that poor little girl is a convicted child molester, and I bet she was sexually assaulted.
- Well, you are wrong on that assertion.  It was a Sunday school teacher, from what the news has been saying, and not a convicted child molester.  We all know, those who scream the loudest, usually have the most to hide.  You need to read more facts, instead of going on your "gut" feelings.  Studies show that 90% or more of all sexual crimes are committed by someone NOT on the sex offender registry and someone in the family or close friends, as in this case.

I would like to ask people who care about this to please start a letter writing campaign. It is time we insist that laws be changed. I am all for the death penalty, as you cannot rehabilitate a twisted sick mind such as these, but since our government and society is so damned soft hearted, maybe micro-chipping these bastards would be a good way to go. Put the chip in their skull where they cannot remove it, and monitor them 24/7/365.
- Well, once again, you are wrong.  Therapy does work, and hate and vengeance does not.  And even if they were microchipped, it still would not prevent another crime.  You just love to show your ignorance, don't you!  Educate yourself instead of feeding the frenzy!  And even if we had the death penalty, does that prevent murders?  Nope.  And in this case, it was someone not on a registry.  So you are worrying about the strangers, when studies show you should be worried about those around you.

Please help our kids and write, demanding laws change. Obviously, the current ones are not doing any good. We need drastic measures to be implemented. Get these monsters off our streets, and out of our neighborhoods.

* Location: A step in a different direction
* it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

- So, you make all these claims, but what do you think would make the laws "work!"  And what exactly does "work" mean to you?


CO - Jury convicts former police officer of sex assault

View the article here

04/01/2009

GRAND JUNCTION (AP) - A Mesa County jury has convicted a former Palisade police officer accused of sexually assaulting two young girls.

Jurors reached their verdict Wednesday in the case of 51-year-old Patrick Casey of Clifton. He was found guilty of 27 counts including sexual assault on a child, sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust and in a pattern of abuse.

Casey was accused of sexually assaulting two of his former foster children between January 1997 and April 2008. The abuse allegedly began when the girls were between the ages of 3 and 4.

Casey's attorney had said the girls manufactured the allegations in an attempt to stay out of foster care.

A psychosexual evaluation has been ordered for Casey.

Sentencing is scheduled for June 5.


The Online Predator Scare - Profiting from the panic

View the article here
Folk Devils and Moral Panics (Book)

04/01/2009

By Steve Rendall

There is money to be made from fear—and business has been good for those hawking the online child predator threat.

Exploiters of the scare range from the Internet-policing groups who ferret out suspects and share information with authorities (and sometimes, for a fee, with journalists) to vendors of software intended to help parents monitor and restrict web use. Some of the biggest beneficiaries are TV companies that feature salacious segments on how predators stalk the web in hopes of arranging live liaisons with their young prey. Of course, it’s all in the spirit of public service and protecting the children, right?

CNN says so: “It’s a scary reality. Your children are vulnerable to predators online,” remarked CNN’s Gerri Willis (7/28/07), reporting on “the need to increase awareness of online predators.”

And Bill O’Reilly (Fox News, 10/4/07) says it’s a big problem, too: “Every day we’re seeing kids molested, murdered, kidnapped because they are meeting people on the Net and then they go meet them in person. And that’s just insane.”

The threat has been the subject of any number of television news magazine segments (ABC’s Nightline, 9/25/08; CBS’s Early Show, 11/22/07), as well as the Fox broadcast network’s America’s Most Wanted (8/8/09, 1/3/09, 2/6/09).

But it’s an NBC show that gets the top award for ceaseless flogging of the theme.

If you wanted to watch something besides football last Superbowl Sunday, you could tune into MSNBC’s “Predator Bowl”—12 hours of wall-to-wall episodes of NBC Dateline’s popular (if critically scorched) To Catch a Predator. The show features men who have talked dirty on the Internet with actors posing as minors. The men are lured by the actors to supposed live liaisons, where Dateline anchor Chris Hansen grills them about their motives and reads their smutty letters back to them—and, voyeuristically, to the viewers. Each episode ends with the subject being tackled by waiting police.

The show was always a mess from the point of journalism. It created news rather than reporting it, it surrendered its independence by working hand-in-glove with police agencies, and it paid sources. (NBC paid hundreds of thousand of dollars to the online policing group Perverted Justice for information and help in setting up stings.) Moreover, the show’s week-in and week-out pounding on the same theme suggested it had less to do with journalism and public service than with pandering for ratings through salacious exploitation.

But appeals to journalism ethics left NBC News executives unmoved until one of the show’s stings resulted in the suicide of a target: a former Texas prosecutor who had allegedly engaged in online sexual conversations with one of Dateline’s “minors.” When the subject failed to show at the arranged rendezvous/sting, he was tracked by police and NBC to his home. As they arrived, he shot himself to death (New York Times, 6/26/08).

In addition to the suicide, for which NBC paid an out-of-court settlement, there were embarrassing reports that many of the “cases” in which Dateline had been involved had been thrown out of court, reportedly because NBC’s and Perverted Justice’s involvement interfered with proper police evidence-gathering procedures (20/20, 9/7/07; AP, 6/28/07).

This was finally enough to get NBC News to cancel production of the show in December 2008—but not quite enough to get them to stop airing it. Since its cancellation, Predator has lived on in perpetual reruns on NBC’s cable outlet MSNBC, with the “Predator Bowl” merely the program’s most prominent recent showcase.

To Catch a Predator might be dismissed as just a sleazy scramble for ratings, but its producers claim to be motivated by a genuine journalistic concern. Predator host Chris Hansen says the threat is “an epidemic” (Dateline, 12/23/06), that “the scope of the problem is immense” (MSNBC.com, 11/3/05) and it “seems to be getting worse” (Dateline, 12/16/05). On his MSNBC blog, the anchor claimed that “one in five children online is solicited for sex by an adult” (2/6/06) and “at any given time, 50,000 predators are on the Internet prowling for children” (11/3/05).

This would all seem highly newsworthy, not to mention alarming. But the fact is that researchers reject these claims—and with them the show’s journalistic premise.

According to a new report from Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society (Enhancing Child Safety and Online Technologies, 12/31/08), while online solicitation of children by adult strangers does exist, it is a much smaller threat than Hansen and others have claimed.

The researchers, examining existing research, found that roughly 1 percent of minors were threatened by online advances from adult strangers, and that the small cohort that were most threatened had home situations such as drug abuse or absent or disengaged parents that put them at higher risk in all aspects of their lives, online and off. The Harvard study concluded that minors were under greater risk from online harassment and bullying by their peers than from adult sexual “predators.”

So where did Hansen and others (e.g., ABC News, 5/3/06; CNN.com, 4/20/06) get the claims that “one in five” minors have been sexually solicited by adults online, or that “50,000 predators” are trolling the Internet right now?

In the first case, by distorting the findings of a 2000 study by the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire. That study, surveying 1,501 minor Internet users (aged 10 to 17), found that 19 percent of them reported “at least one instance of unwanted sex talk (from other teenagers), or sex talk from an adult (whether wanted or not), in the past year.” Eighty-two percent of such contacts came from other minors, so the proportion of minors who had an online sexual episode with an adult was more like 1 in 30 than 1 in 5.

And the researchers were asking about contacts that fell short of actual sexual solicitation. What the researchers called “aggressive sexual solicitation” accounted for just 3 percent of overall contacts—but, since 66 percent of those approaches were by peers, the actual instance of minors who were aggressively sexually solicited by adults on the Internet was roughly 1 percent.

The survey did not turn up a single example of a minor who ended up meeting an adult for sexual purposes as a result of these online activities.

Harvard’s 2008 study clarified the point further: (See another study here)

Other peers and young adults account for 90 percent–94 percent of solicitations in which approximate age is known. Also, many acts of solicitation online are harassing or teasing communications that are not designed to seduce youth into offline sexual encounters; 69 percent of solicitations involve no attempt at offline contact. Misperception of these findings perpetuates myths that distract the public from solving the actual problems youth face.

And the “50,000 predators” figure? In a thorough report on the predator scare and the media’s role in it (9/06), Skeptical Inquirer magazine’s Benjamin Radford explained how the NBC anchor more or less concocted the number, which had been repeated in influential circles:

As it turns out, Attorney General [Alberto] Gonzales had taken his 50,000 Web predator statistic not from any government study or report, but from NBC’s Dateline TV show. Dateline, in turn, had broadcast the number several times without checking its accuracy. In an interview on NPR’s On the Media program [5/26/06], Hansen admitted that he had no source for the statistic, and stated that “it was attributed to, you know, law enforcement, as an estimate, and it was talked about as sort of an extrapolated number.”

Radford concluded that the predator scare fits the definition of a “moral panic,” a sociological term “describing a social reaction to a false or exaggerated threat to social values by moral deviants.” The evidence certainly suggests that the online child predator scare would fit comfortably alongside such other greatly exaggerated or concocted threats as the Salem Witch Trials, the Satanic ritual murder scare and the crack baby epidemic (Extra!, 9–10/98). But in this case, the panic is not just being driven by outrage over an alleged threat to the moral order, but by the profit motives of an industry directly exploiting the scare.


PA - Parental control is best prevention against sex predators

View the article here

03/31/2009

By JIM PENNA

Expect a tidal wave of anger from politicians over a federal judge’s ruling that one of those oh-so-popular sex-offender residency laws has been ruled unlawful.

The judge ruled that a restriction set up in Allegheny County amounted to “after-the-fact punishment” and runs contrary to state laws designed to reintegrate and rehabilitate sex offenders. But not all anger is created equal, and beware of those who are using your fear and outrage as a tool for political gain.

The Allegheny County ordinance is not that different from many that have popped up in our region, with registered sex offenders not permitted to live within one-half mile of schools, community centers, public parks and licensed day-care facilities.

Those local ordinances now face repeal or lose-in-court scenarios. Frankly, it was only a matter of time.

Such residency laws, while well-intended by some, were obvious constitutional losers.

Before you start to wonder if I am siding with sex offenders, think for a moment if you are not the one being exploited here. I am a father of three sons, and their safety is foremost in my life.

But bad law is bad law

– except that in this case, bad law makes for good political traction even though it does little in the way of public safety. Worse yet, it erodes your best weapons in this battle:

Vigilance and education.

Let’s say a sex offender can not live near a park. He can, however, live far away and show up there. He can live away from a elementary school, but buy a ticket to the school play or go to the public pool.

Do you really think these ordinances mean there are no registered sex offenders at the grocery stores, the shopping malls, the movies, hockey games, concerts, playgrounds or parks where our kids gather?

I realize this offers little solace for my fellow parents concerned for the safety of their children. My advice to you is to stay close to your kids in such places and talk to them about the dangers and what to do if approached.

That is a real line of defense – not some silly ordinance meant to grab a headline.

Good laws make sense, can be enforced and truly offer an improvement to the public welfare.

Residency restrictions on sexual predators just do not pass that test. They do, however, grab a headline or two and make the political predators among us salivate because of the public approval they will get for stopping these monsters, even though they know their weapon in this battle is an illusion.

Here is another fact you need to keep in mind when considering the real worth of these restrictions: Most children who are abused know their abuser. They trust their abuser.

More than one tortured parent has wrestled with the thought that maybe they should have known that the person who hurt their baby was not some stranger at the playground but a friend or relative who was willingly let in the front door.

Instead of knee-jerk residency ordinance restrictions, how about council funding information packets on signs of abuse in your kids and give them to parents? How about demanding that the state send in an expert or two, and have a seminar free of charge for families? Maybe ask the hospitals, or local abuse experts and the district attorney to hold public forums on what to look for and how to report your concerns?

Has your local police department worked with your school to talk to kids about what to do if approached or touched? Do you know how to use the existing Megan’s law Web site?

These are meaningful efforts.

Someone willing to take your child into the back of his or her van and do unspeakable things is not worried about a borough ordinance.

This is not like cracking down on shoplifting. A convicted sex offender has already hurt a child and gone to prison. You think he fears township supervisors?

But the political predators are about to come rushing forward with moral outrage, declaring that they will fight to keep “some” neighborhoods free of sexual predator residents (who are still free to visit anytime). That is what these ordinances amount to.

Beware those who fight for such rules while not simultaneously offering you real help.

They are running for re-election or planning a run for an even higher office.

Better to do something rather than nothing, you say?

Not so. Not when that something is bound to lose in court, open your municipality to a lawsuit with money going to a sex offender discriminated against while at the same time allowing your children to be tucked into bed under a false blanket of security.

No, I do not want a sex offender living next to me.

But one has a moral obligation to ask that even if such an ordinance could demand that such people live someplace else, where is someplace else and how does it come that there are no children there?

Indeed, our moral obligation is to all children, not just those within a half mile of a licensed day-care center.

Meeting that obligation is a matter of education and awareness, not silly rules that pander to our fears and, in some cases, are crafted to turn that fear into political gain.


UK - Former GLBT Police Liaison Jailed for Gay Sex With Teen

View the article here

04/01/2009

By Kilian Melloy - EDGE Contributor

A former London policeman who pleaded guilty to sex with an underage boy has received a sentence of two and a half years in prison.

The former officer, Mark Brigham, has consensual sex with a 15-year-old boy in Portsmouth, England, last summer.
- By law, a 15 year old cannot consent to sex!

Brigham, 38, was in Portsmouth last August to attend a party when he and the boy met.

The boy’s family had asked for the officer, a formerly GLBT liaison with the London police, to talk with him, reported an April 1 article posted by the BBC.

They engaged in consensual "sexual activity" in an alley, the Portsmouth.co.uk article said; a week later, the boy’s family complained to authorities.

Brigham received a suspension from the police force, the article said, and later resigned. In court, he confessed to having had sexual contact with the boy and said that he had been intoxicated at the time.

Brigham’s defense said that the former officer had been under personal stress at the time of the incident, grappling with debt and in the midst of breaking up with a former romantic partner.

Brigham was then released on bail, after being instructed to register as a sex offender. He returned to court for sentencing, and was admonished by the judge in the case.

According to the BBC article, Judge Roger Hetherington took note of the fact that before the sexual activity took place Brigham had expressed his admiration for the boy to others at the party, calling him "stunning," and had been informed of the boy’s underage status.

Said Judge Hetherington, "You had received some warning of his age but you succumbed to temptation and committed these offences."

"The offences are aggravated by the disparity of age between the two of you--you were more than twice his age."

Added the judge, "You were someone he could expect to look up to and expect some guidance from."

In addition to prison time and being required to register as a sex offender, Brigham is barred from employment that would involve working with children.
- What about from the police force?  I guess that involves children as well!


PA - Kids Jailed for Cash? Judges Accused of Jailing Kids for Cash!

Two part series. After watching the first, the second will play automatically.


SD - Finally Free!

View the article here

04/01/2009

Seven years behind bars for a crime he didn't commit

Irvin Schoenwetter wept when he took his first breath of air outside the prison walls.

He had served his time, but he was not truly a free man. He had spent seven long years behind bars for a child rape he did not commit.

He was no longer an inmate, but he was still a prisoner of the circumstances that in 1988 had taken him to Sioux Falls and the state penitentiary.

No doubt the quiet Flandreau man fought back tears again earlier this month, overwhelmed with emotion as he learned that – 22 years after he was first accused and then imprisoned – he was finally exonerated.

The victim had recanted her testimony years earlier, and on March 12, five years after receiving Schoenwetter’s petition, Gov. Mike Rounds, had given him a full and complete pardon.
- So, since she ruined his life, why don't she get put into prison for the same amount of time?  We need to take a stand on these false accusations, and then, just maybe, people will stop making false accusations.  And this makes you wonder, how many of the over 600,000 sex offenders, are actually a victim of this kind of false accusations?  I wonder!

Schoenwetter’s conviction for third-degree rape and incest was overturned, his status as a sex offender reversed, and the records of his court case two decades ago forever sealed.

Schoenwetter was only 21 years old in July of 1987, just about to turn 22. His half-sister, Cindy Schoenwetter, was 7, and both were living with Cindy’s mother – Irvin’s stepmother – in Huron at the time.

Within a few short weeks, Schoenwetter would be accused of repeatedly molesting his young housemate, and a year later, he was tried and convicted of rape and incest.

He was sentenced to 10 years.

That wasn’t what happened, however.

According to a deposition Cindy gave to Flandreau attorney John Shaeffer in 2000, she was molested in the summer of 1987 by her mother’s boyfriend. At the time, the man was living with Cindy, her mother, Irvin and another brother.

The first incident occurred while Cindy’s mother was at work. Cindy told her about the rape the next day. Even though the molestation continued, Cindy’s mother and her boyfriend convinced the child to say it was Irvin who raped her. When she objected, they called her a liar. Her mother’s boyfriend told her, Cindy said, to say that Irvin was molesting her.

The man threatened Cindy, telling her that if she didn’t say it was Irvin who raped her, that the family would end up homeless, with no money or food, and that her mother would be unhappy.

And so, the child was forced to accuse her brother.

Schoenwetter first found out he was being accused of molestation after he had moved out of their Huron home and into his birth mother’s house in Flandreau.

“My first thought … when I found out about the charges against me,” said Schoenwetter, “I thought, ‘I didn’t do it.’ And I was very angry with my stepmother.”

Schoenwetter swears that his anger was never directed at Cindy, only his stepmother.

“She was a little girl,” Schoenwetter said. “She wasn’t telling the truth, but that’s because she was scared. I was never angry with her. I only felt bad for her. She was too young.”

Cindy’s mother later married the man who raped Cindy. He became her stepfather. A few years later, the marriage ended in divorce.

Schoenwetter was arrested in August of 1988. He spent the next three months behind bars in the Huron Regional Correctional Center and was found guilty of third-degree rape and incest on Nov. 30, 1988. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Schoenwetter pleaded not guilty but says he was advised by his attorney not to testify at his trial.

His court-appointed attorney for the trial was George Danforth, who still practices law in Huron today. Asked about the trial and Schoenwetter’s case, Danforth will only respond, “I don’t recall much about that.” Still, Danforth is the attorney who handled Schoenwetter’s appeals.

Because the incidents occurred before DNA testing was common practice, Schoenwetter was convicted by Cindy’s testimony only, Shaeffer, the Flandreau lawyer said. There were no physical evidence presented.
- You see folks, like I've said a thousand times, it only takes a ticked off friend or relative to accuse you of sexual abuse, and your life is over!

Schoenwetter was 23 years old when he said goodbye to his young wife and first set foot in the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls. The first emotion he felt walking through the doors of the prison was fear, he says. “I remember the first thing I heard. Another inmate shouted ‘Welcome to the jungle baby!’ at me. I was scared.”

Schoenwetter said he would lie to the other inmates about his charges. He told them he was serving time for grand theft – auto. Because he was innocent, Schoenwetter says he couldn’t bear to have others thinking he was a child rapist. He was also lying out of fear.

I saw what happened to the other inmates that were in there for rape and child-molestation,” said Schoenwetter. “I didn’t want them to find out that that’s was what I was charged with.”

Schoenwetter said that while he was in Sioux Falls, only one other inmate knew the truth about the sentence. This man came to be, and remains today, a close friend.

“He believed that I was innocent,” Schoenwetter said. “He didn’t judge me.”

Schoenwetter went to prison with only an eighth-grade education. A naturally reserved, quiet person, he didn’t receive the encouragement he needed as a child from some authority figures in his life.

“Teachers told me that I wasn’t that smart,” he said. “That’s why I dropped out of school.”

While serving out his sentence, Schoenwetter eventually obtained his general education degree. He also received a transfer to the Mike Durfee State Prison (formerly known as Springfield prison in Springfield, S.D.).

The prison in Springfield is a medium-security state facility. Schoenwetter went there to participate in a training program in automotive repair, which had been his passion. But that small bit of joy evaporated after only a few weeks because some of the other inmates in Springfield found out about Schoenwetter’s rape conviction, and he was forced into protective custody and eventually transferred back to Sioux Falls for his own safety.

Throughout his years in prison, Schoenwetter maintained his innocence to everyone involved in his case. He stayed in constant contact with his lawyer, trying to work his way through the appeals system. Danforth appealed the case on two issues. One was the lack of physical evidence used to convict Schoenwetter. The other was the testimony of a social worker involved with Cindy. The woman’s testimony was allowed as evidence against Schoenwetter, though the social worker was not present at the trial, and Danforth had been unable to question it.

The Supreme Court upheld the circuit court’s ruling. Schoenwetter would be forced to serve his entire sentence.

During his years in prison, Schoenwetter said his friends and family all stayed in touch with him regularly, always maintaining their belief that he was innocent, although his wife divorced him and he has since lost touch with her.

February 15, 1995, was an emotional day for Schoenwetter and his family. It was the day he was finally released from prison, three years early, due to good behavior.

He remembers walking out with tears streaming down his face. His mother and two brothers were there to take him out to eat, and then drive him home. He immediately moved in with his mother in Flandreau.
Schoenwetter lived the next few years of his life quietly. He found work in Flandreau as a mechanic in Flandreau. He had to register as a sex offender. He was convinced, though, that no matter how long it took, he would one day be able to clear his name, and that the world would know he was an innocent man.

“From the first day I met (Schoenwetter), I did not doubt his innocence,” said Shaeffer.

It wasn’t until his brother died in 2000 that things started to turn around for Irvin.

Cindy had contacted Schoenwetter shortly after the funeral. At the time, she gave him two notarized documents stating that he was indeed innocent, that the crimes he spent most of his adult life paying for were not his fault. The young woman said she was moved by her brother’s death.

Schoenwetter then hired Shaeffer, who advised him to re-contact his half-sister. But once again, he was unable to locate her. It took four years before they got together again.

In an interview with Shaeffer in 2004, Cindy, now 23, with two children of her own, said “I guess I just feel really bad about it, and I want (Schoenwetter) to be able to have a better life.”

Shaeffer sent the first letter, requesting a pardon for Schoenwetter, to Gov. Mike Rounds in 2004. The next month, he filed an application for the pardon.

Rounds requested that the South Dakota Board of Pardons and Paroles perform its own investigation of Schoenwetter’s case. The Board unanimously recommended a pardon.

A few months later, Rounds’ office interviewed Schoenwetter and Shaeffer. Rounds then requested that the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation perform its own investigation.

Years went by. Shaeffer said he called Rounds’ office repeatedly, but was told again and again that the pardon was still being considered and investigated. Shaeffer threatened to take Schoenwetter’s story to the press. But Schoenwetter wouldn’t allow it. He didn’t want to hinder his chances of receiving the pardon.

It wasn’t until Russell Olson, South Dakota District 8 Senator, asked to get involved, and requested the pardon himself, that some action was taken.

Shaeffer received a call from Rounds himself on March 11 of this year, five years after he first wrote to the governor. Rounds said that he was granting the pardon, and that official documentation would be arriving in the mail a few days later.

Now, Schoenwetter simply wants to be left alone. He wants his name cleared. He wants to walk as a free man.

“That’s all I ever wanted,” Schoenwetter said. “… to have my name cleared. I wanted to be able to watch my nephews wrestle, and go to the school for the kids’ performances. All I ever wanted was for people to know that I was innocent, that I didn’t do it.”


GA - Ruling lets sex offenders volunteer in churches

View the article here

03/31/2009

By Stephen Gurr

Georgia’s 16,000-plus registered sex offenders can sing in church choirs, take up collection plates and help out in church kitchens, at least for now.

A federal judge this week granted a preliminary injunction that overturns a provision of Georgia’s sex offender law. The provision imposed by state lawmakers prohibited registered sex offenders from volunteering in churches.

The Southern Center for Human Rights challenged the constitutionality of the restriction, saying it criminalized protected religious activity. The center has a pending lawsuit against Gov. Sonny Perdue (Contact) which also challenges a restriction that would prevent sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school bus stop. That restriction is also on hold, pending the outcome of the court case.

U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper wrote in a ruling that church activity was recognized by state correction officials as a benefit for convicted criminals that helps reduce recidivism.

"Allowing plaintiffs to continue to participate in their faith communities will further public safety by providing support, stability and a grounded sense of right and wrong," Cooper wrote.

Cooper found the law banning sex offenders from volunteering in churches to be unconstitutionally vague, according to Sarah Geraghty, an attorney with the Southern Center of Human Rights.

"It was the only way to rule consistent with the Constitution," Geraghty said. "Certain people on the registry should not work with children in a church setting or elsewhere, but criminalizing the practice of religion does more harm than good, and that’s what this statute did," Geraghty said.

Geraghty said the law would make participating in Bible study a crime for sex offenders punishable by 10 to 30 years in prison.

The attorney said the ruling marks the sixth time that a provision of Georgia’s sex offender law was overturned, either by injunction or other means.

"The time for overbroad political posturing is over, and it’s time for the legislature to listen to law enforcement and fix this law," Geraghty said. "We need a strong law that protects children, but this law was so poorly drafted that it doesn’t serve its intended purpose."
- Yes, we do need to protect children, but not by trampling on people's Constitution rights, regardless of if you think they should not have rights.  If they do not have rights, then neither should you!

Hall County authorities had been enforcing the church provision by informing sex offenders that they could not volunteer in churches, Hall County Sheriff’s Col. Jeff Strickland said. As a result of the court’s ruling, authorities will no longer impose that restriction, he said.

Hall County has 221 registered sex offenders, according to a Georgia Bureau of Investigation public database.

Portions of the federal lawsuit have been pending since June 2006. Cooper ruled against the state attorney general’s office this week in allowing the lawsuit to go forward as a class-action case.
- Yes, it's been pending for 3 years.  WHY THE HELL IS IT TAKING SO LONG?

The bus stop provision is believed to be the biggest single element of the case. If the law went into effect, many of Georgia’s sex offenders would be unable to find a home in their county that was not within 1,000 feet of a bus stop.

Authorities are not enforcing the bus stop restriction pending the outcome of the court case.

Geraghty said the two sides will present their final written legal arguments in the coming months.


United States Military Joining the Resistance