Monday, April 27, 2009

NV - Mother admits lewdness with daughters

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By Sheila Gardner

A 32-year-old former Topaz Ranch Estates woman admitted Monday that she aided her ex-husband in the sexual abuse and exploitation of their two young daughters.

_____ pleaded guilty to attempted lewdness with a child under age 14 and child abuse and neglect.

District Judge Michael Gibbons set sentencing for June 15.

_____ faces up to 26 years in Nevada State Prison, and is eligible for probation if she is determined through a psychosexual evaluation to be at low risk to reoffend.

Gibbons also made _____’s $100,000 bail bondable which means she could be released from Douglas County Jail where’s she’s been held since March 27 if she can raise $10,000.

According to the guilty plea agreement, the state is free to argue at sentencing and provide the court with other information.

_____, represented by Reno lawyer Cheryl Field-Lang, was barely audible as she answered Gibbons’ questions.

Her ex-husband, _____, 36, was sentenced in Washoe County last week to life in prison plus 20 years for his part in the abuse which officials say lasted for eight years.

According to reports, the crimes in Douglas County allegedly occurred from October 2004 until February 2008, while _____ and her ex-husband lived on Granite Way in Topaz Ranch Estates, and continued after the family moved to Reno.

Under terms of the plea agreement, _____ will be under lifetime supervision of the Department of Parole and Probation and must register as a sex offender.

She originally was charged with six felonies and faced life in prison.

Gibbons is free to consider all charges at sentencing.

You actually did these acts specifically with the intent of sexual gratification or acted as principal. A principal is considered equally guilty,” Gibbons said.
- And yet because she is a female, she won't get the same punishment.

Gibbons denied Field-Lang’s request that the court allocate $1,500 so her client could be evaluated by a female psychologist.

The possible punishment is very severe,” Field-Lang said. “It’s very important Ms. _____ be interviewed by a female psychologist.

In light of new information, Field-Lang said a woman would provide “a more enlightened report as to what happened.

If justice is to be served in this matter, the court must receive a full and accurate picture of who this young lady is and what happened,” Field-Lang said.

Gibbons said _____ could use a psychologist provided by Parole and Probation, or she was free to hire her own, but he would not pay with court funds.

In arguing for _____’s release, Field-Lang said the children, now 12 and 15, had regressed since their mothers incarceration.

Prosecutor Laurie Trotter argued against a lower bail.

She just pleaded guilty to two very serious charges,” Trotter said. “The state intends to ask for substantial prison time.

Field-Lang said _____ had been cleared by a parental capacity evaluation as “not a threat to the health and safety of her children.
- Of course she has.  She helped this man, and maybe sexually abused her own kids as well, yet she's going to, like usual, get a lesser sentence.  Watch and see!

Field-Lang pointed out that _____ was the one who reported the crimes to the Reno Police Department last summer even though she implicated herself.

She said the defendant had made several trips a week from her home in South Lake Tahoe to counseling sessions with her daughters in Reno prior to her arrest in March.

It might sound strange to say, but those kids are the most important things in her life,” Field-Lang said.

The children are living with relatives.

MI - Convicted sex offender found dead in Oakland County Jail

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By Mike Martindale

Pontiac -- Authorities are investigating the jail death of a 64-year-old convicted sex offender from Brandon Township who, along with his wife, was charged with the sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl.

_____ was found about 5:30 a.m. Monday in his Oakland County Jail cell, where he apparently cut his wrists with a sharp object and bled to death, according to a preliminary investigation.

_____ was awaiting trial on three counts of child sexual abuse activity, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison; providing pornography to a child; being a felon in possession of a firearm, which carries a five-year sentence; and a mandatory two-year sentence for possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

His wife, Margaret _____, 53, who is an Oxford High School teacher, is charged with failure to report child abuse, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail.

Detectives with the Oakland County Sheriff's Office said the alleged victim, an Oxford High student, said she was befriended by Margaret _____ at school in 2006 when she was a freshman and introduced to William _____. She said she was invited to the _____s' house to do odd jobs and has worked for the couple for two years. She said _____ invited her over to the couple's house June 26, and while they watched a movie together, he sexually assaulted her. She told police she fled the house and drove home. She later reported the incident to authorities.

The girl told authorities William _____ paid her money to test sexual devices and submit a survey of her experience.

According to Oakland Circuit Court files, that activity is very similar to another teenage victim's claims in 2000. A 14-year-old foster daughter living in the _____s' home then said _____ also asked her to try out bras, panties and sexual arousal devices and then critique and rate the products.

The foster daughter contacted authorities after claiming to have had sexual intercourse with _____ twice in the home. A jury found him guilty of four counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, but the conviction was dismissed on appeal and he was granted a second trial in which he pled no contest to a lesser charge, received a one-year jail sentence -- with credit for time served -- and was placed on two years probation with various conditions. He was placed on the state's sexual offender registry in 2002.

FL - Marty Kiar pushes sex-offender cell phone registry (Further invading peoples privacy and stomping on their right to it!)

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By Josh Hafenbrack

A bill requiring sexual offenders and predators to provide home and cell phone numbers when they register unanimously passed, 117-0, today in the House.

Sponsored by Martin Kiar (Contact), D-Davie, HB 115, would make it a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, if a registered sex offender failed to provide those numbers when registering with local sheriff’s offices, who in turn give the information to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Companion bill, SB 340, sponsored by Sen. Jeremy Ring (Email), D-Parkland, is expected to go to that chamber’s floor for a vote later in the week.

Also under the bill, anyone convicted of traveling to meet a minor for sex would be required to register as a sexual predator or offender.

FL - Predator ordinance makes finding housing difficult

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I am so sick of people using sex offender, predator, pedophile and child molester as if they all mean the same thing.  They do not, so stop using the terms as if they do mean the same.


By David Chapman

Several years following the adoption of a three-part local ordinance regarding sexual offenders, a part of the ordinance pertaining to sexual predator placement has become a point of discussion among several City Council members with one looking to address a problem before it becomes rampant.

Council member Glorious Johnson recently called a meeting with fellow Council member Clay Yarborough and Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Chief Wayne Clark to discuss the sexual predator residency requirement of residing more than 2,500 feet from any school, public library, day care center, park, playground or other place where children may congregate.

That requirement is more than the 1,000-foot radius issued by the State of Florida and Johnson said she wants to take a proactive approach to ensure that sexual predators have affordable housing and necessary services.

Miami has a similar 2,500-foot restriction and news reports of sexual predators forming communities under bridges due to the inability to find affordable housing in a non-restricted areas caused Johnson to take notice.
- Not all sex offenders are predators!

Like in Miami, what we don’t want to happen is for that type of situation to happen to us,” said Johnson.

Cassandra Bush, executive director of Thorminic Ministries, was invited to the public meeting as a reference to how the changes have impeded those labeled as sexual predators from finding housing. Bush and Thorminic Ministries worked with the Florida Department of Corrections in ex-offender re-entry programs, including sex offenders.
- Not all sex offenders are predators!

The imposed radius has made it anywhere from difficult to nearly impossible for Bush and Thorminic Ministries to assist sex offenders and keep them off the streets and unmonitored.

They’re extremely limited to where they can live now,” said Bush. “I know it’s an unpopular population, but it’s a difficult situation ... it’s setting them up to fail.

The solution, said both Johnson and Bush, isn’t to revert the bill back to a 1,000-foot radius but instead to renovate dilapidated or foreclosed facilities and centers outside the main areas of the City — a place where sex offenders can live, be monitored and receive any additional treatment — while working with the Department of Corrections and implementing strict residency policies.

We know how to do it,” said Bush. “It can be done.
- Well first of all, those who are off probation and/or parole, what gives you the right to dictate where they can and cannot live?  Stop passing unconstitutional laws, that would be a big start!

As chair of the Council’s Public Health & Safety Committee, Yarborough said he was interested in hearing about the issue and wanted to do more research, especially for the sake of area children.

If there is more discussion in the future, I’d like to be a part of it,” he said.

Johnson noted that more discussion will take place, but that the initial meeting was to shed light on the situation while trying to find feasible solutions to the problem before they escalate.

What we’re trying to do is find out how to get there,” said Johnson. “We want people to understand the situation.

Bush agreed and wanted to see the public educated about the situation and need, but noted how she didn’t want the unpopular topic to be tackled using fear tactics.

The community can be safer,” said Bush. “Just having a 2,500-foot rule doesn’t make people safe ... Education on the part of the community is important.

Johnson said she’d like to see the City take an active role with assistance in the matter moving forward with a potential solution.

We have to try another method,” she said. “I’m concerned because I live here and I see it for myself.

CO - ACLU Wants Changes In Nudity Laws

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Says Punishment Is Extreme

DENVER -- The American Civil Liberties Union plans to lobby for changes to Colorado laws that require nude offenders to register as sex offenders, claiming the laws are unusually harsh.

"We are very concerned about the way in which the Colorado sex-offender registry is set up, resulting in sex-offender status for these kinds of activities," Judd Golden, who chairs the Boulder County chapter of the ACLU, told the Boulder Daily Camera.

The ACLU will host a public forum Tuesday called "Naked in Boulder." The forum will discuss whether nude offenders should be treated as "pranksters and protesters, or criminals and sex offenders."

Boulder is no stranger to naked mayhem. Last year, more than 60 nude cyclists rode around the city protesting oil-burning cars; a teenager streaked at the Boulder-Fairview football game; and about a 100 people participated in the annual Naked Pumpkin Run.

In each case, the offender could be charged with indecent exposure, which carries a mandatory registration as a sex offender.

"We're dealing with a square peg in a round hole," Stan Garnett, who became Boulder County's district attorney shortly after the pumpkin running incident, told the Camera. "Most people would say people running down the mall with pumpkins on their heads may not be somebody who is at risk of becoming a sex offender in the future."

"Prosecutors end up charging people with offenses that don't really fit in order to avoid some of these absurd consequences," said Rep. Claire Levy, a Democrat representing Boulder in the Colorado general assembly. "Then there's an offense on the record that doesn't fit the crime and the public truly doesn't know what a criminal record means."

Previous Stories:

MA - Pembroke looking to restrict sex offenders

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By Sydney Schwartz

Bylaw would prevent Level 3 sex offenders from living near schools

PEMBROKE - Pembroke could soon join several other Brockton area communities in prohibiting convicted rapists from living near schools, parks and other spots where children congregate.

A group of residents has proposed a bylaw that would create sex offender registry restrictions and fine Level 3 sex offenders — those most likely to re-offend — who live within 1,500 feet of a school, day care center, park or recreational facility.

Residents will vote on the proposal, submitted by resident Cheryl Girard and others, at town meeting on Tuesday. If the measure passes, it would need to be approved by the attorney general.

Sex offenders, they’re required to notify us prior to moving into Pembroke, prior to coming to work in Pembroke, and vice versa,” said Police Chief Michael Ohrenberger. “This would restrict where people can live.

In recent years, similar laws have been enacted in Rockland, Weymouth and at least six other Massachusetts communities. Quincy and Hanson are considering such proposals. Taunton proposed a similar ordinance in 2005, but it was never enacted.

The Pembroke ordinance would fine offenders $150 for violating the bylaw and $300 for each subsequent offense. The proposal says each day after the first 30 days would be considered a subsequent offense.

The offender’s parole officer and/or probation officer, and the Commonwealth’s Sex Offender Registry Board would also be notified that the offender failed to move from the residence.

The proposal says Level 3 registered sex offenders who currently live within 1,500 feet of any school, day care center, park, or recreational facility would receive written notice of their noncompliance within 30 days of the passage of the bylaw and be forced to move.
- So yet another ex post facto (unconstitutional) law is being passed, disregarding the constitution, which forbids these types of laws, and to prevent abuse by the government and people!

Ohrenberger said two Level 3 sex offenders who live in town would be affected by the proposal – one who lives near a school and one who lives near a day care center.

There’s no specific language in that bylaw that accounts for grand-fathering,” he said. “These people have lived in those locations for a period of time.
- And now, if this passes, they will be kicked out!

Ohrenberger said the proposal may have to be revamped because the town does not have a Geographic Information System, which the proposal says would be used to determine the distance of residences from schools and other facilities.

He said police would have to measure each property independently once an offender notified them of an address. He estimates that the bylaw could affect as many as 2,000 residences.

We would essentially have to measure a residence from one of those locations and see if it falls within those 1,500 feet,” he said. “If it does, then we would notify the person that they cannot live there.

NC - You can't change the past. You just have to live with it

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By Sherry Youngquist

Larry Murphy said he was shocked when a jury convicted him in April 1989 of sexually abusing his daughter.

He still struggles to understand his daughter Julie, who was 10 when she made the accusation.

"We were having a lot of arguments then," he said. "As to why she did it … her description was too graphic for her not to have been abused."

He believes, as his daughter would say years later, that she was targeting him for something that had happened months earlier, when she was living with her mother and her mother's boyfriend in Iowa -- before Murphy won a custody battle and took Julie and her sister, Stephanie, then 7, back to Yadkin County.

The case rested solely on Julie's words. No investigation, for example, was ever done of the mother's boyfriend, who months earlier had been found to have physically abused both girls.

Murphy wound up receiving three life sentences and three three-year sentences to be served concurrently.

After his conviction, Murphy began an appeals process. In 1990, the state Court of Appeals reversed his conviction on one count of first-degree sex offense for insufficient evidence. As the years went by, though, he ran out of appeals on the other convictions.

It was Julie Murphy's statement to a Yadkin prosecutor in 2002 that gave him hope.

She had sworn to the fact that she lied when she accused her father, and now said that it had been her mother's boyfriend who had sexually abused her.

Murphy had been in prison for 15 years when his motion for appropriate relief came before Superior Court Judge Melzer A. Morgan Jr. in 2004.

The only issue was Julie's recantation.

The prosecution made its case by presenting testimony from a psychologist who theorized that Julie suffered from "child sex abuse accommodation syndrome," one of whose key symptoms is denial. In short, the theory was that her recantation as an adult was a form of denial that she had been sexually abused or that her father did it. Under the theory, her new statement also represented an effort by her to restore a family relationship.

Richard McAnulty, a clinical psychologist and associate professor at UNC Charlotte, said he believes that the child-sex-abuse accommodation syndrome cited was a concept more in vogue in the late 1980s and early '90s, when hysteria about sex abuse at day-care centers nationwide led to some false allegations. One such case occurred in January 1989 at the Little Rascals Day Care Center in Edenton, where several people were accused, only to later see prosecutors drop all charges.

The child-sex-abuse accommodation syndrome is fraught with difficulties, both conceptual and empirical, said Stephen Ceci, a professor of developmental psychology at Cornell University who studies the accuracy of children's courtroom testimony in cases of physical and sexual abuse.

Some parts of child-sex-abuse accommodation syndrome are reasonably well supported by science, such as the idea that abused individuals often delay disclosing their abuse for very long periods.

In the Murphy case, the syndrome probably is of little relevance because Julie made a disclosure and then substituted another perpetrator, Ceci said.

"This is not to say she wasn't abused, or even abused by her father in the manner she alleged, but merely that there is no scientific basis for deciding which of her myriad assertions should be believed and which should not," he said.

"In such a situation, there is no magic bullet as far as science is concerned," he said. "The court must judge the case on its assessment of Julie's credibility, not on some presumed lurking underlying syndrome, especially one of dubious validity."

On April 7, 2004, Morgan denied Murphy's motion for appropriate relief, in effect deciding that Julie Murphy's statement as a 10-year-old was more credible than her assertion as an adult.

Yadkin County District Attorney Tom Horner said he believes that justice was done.

"Obviously, the evidence was heard by both sides.... Judge Morgan is as thorough a jurist as I ever tried in front of," Horner said. "Over time, obviously, you have issues with different motivations coming into play potentially. I think the judge factored all that in."

Murphy remains at Albemarle Correctional Institution, where he has been eligible for parole since January.

Sisters separated

Julie's younger sister, Stephanie, was adopted separately from Julie. She eventually changed her name to Torrie Root.

Today, Root, who lives in Asheville, has a daughter of her own and works for a company that puts together trade shows. She said she remembers nothing about the weekend in January 1989 when Julie alleges that the abuse occurred.

She said she doesn't believe that her father did anything to Julie. She did say she and her sister were physically abused by their mother's boyfriend.

"I honestly have blocked out our horrible childhood only because of the stuff that happened in Iowa with our mother," Root said.

For years, the sisters were estranged; Root said there was a good reason why they were not adopted together.

"Even to this day, Julie still has her own set of issues,'' Root said. "A lot of it stems from her needing and wanting to be the center of attention."

Indeed, in the years after her father's conviction, Julie Murphy was placed in several foster homes, only to have families ask that she be removed or to run away. She assaulted one foster parent.

She said she told social workers that she lied about her father abusing her long before her 2002 statement.

One such report was documented by Sherry Brock, a Yadkin County social worker, in November 1991, just two years after Larry Murphy went to prison.

"She tells lies to an extreme that we are not exactly sure to what degree the sexual abuse from her biological father occurred," Brock wrote.

What witnesses remember

The legal system is set up to assume that when a jury hears a case, it does so when events are freshest in witnesses' minds.

It shouldn't be easy to bring these cases back, said Kendra Montgomery-Blinn, a former prosecutor in Durham who is now the executive director of the N.C. Innocence Inquiry Commission.

"Of course, you don't want to just be able to throw out what a jury has heard," Montgomery-Blinn said. "If there's new evidence, maybe the jury's decision would have been different if they would have had this evidence."

Recantations are tough, though, because they raise so many questions, Montgomery-Blinn said.

What are the other motives behind a recantation? Is the victim's memory better now? Were they so young when making an initial statement that they really didn't remember? Or could they have gotten things confused? Or deliberately lied to punish someone, as children sometimes do?

They might even have been telling the truth both times, she said.

"Something happens to you when you're very young, as time goes on your memory does change. It means literally they are both trying to get the truth out both times."

In a recent interview, Julie Murphy said from her home in Jasper, Ala., that she has memories from a very young age of getting in bed with her mother and her mother's boyfriend in Iowa in 1988. And things would happen to her, she said. She would be touched and rubbed, she said.

At the time, she said, her mother had her call the boyfriend "Daddy." Neither Julie's mother nor her former boyfriend could be located for this story. Neither sister has had contact with their mother in at least 10 years, and they said they don't know where she is.

Julie said she had nightmares about the abuse while she was at her father's house after he was awarded custody in 1988. The nightmares were so real that she thought the abuse was still happening, she said, which is why said made the allegations about her father. That's what she had figured out by 2002 when she wrote the letter to the Yadkin County district attorney's office recanting her allegations against her father, she said.

At the N.C. Innocence Inquiry Commision, a state agency established in August 2006 to investigate claims of innocence, about 425 prisoners have applied to have their cases reviewed, and 123 cases are in review. About 21 percent of those who apply are child-sex-abuse offenders, second only to those convicted of murder.

One of the two cases the commission has reviewed, and which led to a court hearing, involved a child-sex case in which a victim recanted. The hearing did not result in a verdict being overturned, Montgomery-Blinn said. But the former Greenville police officer who was convicted is pursuing a motion for appropriate relief based on newly discovered evidence, and the defense also is claiming ineffective counsel.

"Usually, with child-sex-abuse cases, the child says this happened, the adult says this didn't happen," Montgomery-Blinn said. "There's not a lot of physical evidence because the child doesn't come forward right away. It's our hardest one to look at."

Larry Murphy's case is not unusual, Montgomery-Blinn said. Cases such as this, in which another person is later accused, are as frequent as those in which defendants or victims claim there was never any abuse.

What is different about the Murphy case, Montgomery-Blinn acknowledged, is that the victim is leading the way.

Julie Murphy contacted the innocence inquiry commission about her father's case after Morgan denied her father's motion for appropriate relief in 2004. The commission declined to consider the case.

Mongomery-Blinn said that despite the daughter's stance, there was nothing new for the commission to consider beyond what Morgan had already ruled on, which is its criteria for considering whether to take a case.

Working on the case

These days, Julie Murphy has made working on her father's case a top priority.

She is on disability and is being treated for bipolar disorder and depression, but she spends much of her time keeping family members up to date about her father's parole eligibility.

She knows that even if the state paroles her father, he'll never have his full freedom.

"He'll be a registered sex offender the rest of his life," she said. "No matter what, he still has love and his eyes still twinkle. I also cry, too, because it's bittersweet."

Interviewed at Albemarle, Murphy said life in prison has been tough, especially when other inmates find out he's a convicted sex offender.

"I don't make it a secret. I don't have secrets," he said. He's had death threats, he said, but never been physically attacked.

He is now in a geriatric program, which means that he lives and works around other inmates who are 55 and older. They play games and do some arts and crafts. He reads a lot of military-history books and Tom Clancy novels in his spare time.

He has begun to think about how he will resume his life if he wins parole. He's engaged to a woman named Rose Mary Engel, whom he met in 1993 while she was visiting a family member at the prison.

Engel said she and her first husband, David "Tiny" Engel, believed that Murphy was innocent from the first time they talked. David Engel began to write Murphy letters, believing they could help by being his friend. When David Engel died in 2005, Rose Mary Engel continued writing to Murphy. A deeper friendship developed, then love.

"I never expected it," Engel said.

She said she knows that if Murphy is paroled, he will be a registered sex offender, but the thought doesn't bother her because she believes in his innocence. She already has June 6 as a wedding date if he is paroled, because both of their parents were married on that date. And she hopes for them to live at her home near Asheboro.

It was Engel who, after developing the friendship with Murphy, eventually got in touch with both of his daughters. She used e-mail to keep everyone in the family up to date.

Engel met Julie when she visited her father for the first time in prison in the fall of 2007.

It was an emotional reunion, Larry Murphy said.

"It was easy to recognize her," he said. "She was scared coming in."

They both cried. Julie and Torrie, who also have resumed their relationship and are closer, visit their father every few months, as well as keep in touch with each other.

Murphy said he has forgiven Julie but hasn't made peace with all that has happened.

"You can't change the past. You just have to live with it," Murphy said. "The anger will probably go to spading up a garden."