Tuesday, June 30, 2009

NJ - Sex offender residency law repealed in Manalapan

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MANALAPAN — The township's sex offender residency law, which was dubbed Miracle's Law upon its passage in 2005, has been stricken from the books.

Without any comment from the public at the Manalapan Township Committee's June 24 meeting, Mayor Richard Klauber and committee members Michelle Roth, Andrew Lucas and Don Holland voted to repeal the ordinance which delineated areas of Manalapan in which people who had been convicted of sexual offenses would not be permitted to live.

Committeewoman Susan Cohen was absent from the municipal meeting.

In general terms, convicted sex offenders would not be permitted to live close to Manalapan's schools, parks and other areas where children congregate.

The law also established areas in Manalapan in which convicted sex offenders would not be permitted to linger. Those areas had been dubbed "Brown Zones" after Police Chief Stuart Brown and were generally areas around businesses where children might be present.

The committee's stated intent in adopting the ordinance was to protect the community's young people from individuals who had been convicted of sexual offenses.

The ordinance was repealed by the committee as a result of a ruling by the New Jersey Supreme Court.

Township Attorney Ron Cucchiaro explained that the Supreme Court recently ruled that individual municipalities do not have the right to impose regulations regarding convicted sex offenders.

That right is left to the state through Megan's Law, which requires convicted sex offenders who live in a community to register their presence with police.

In some cases under Megan's Law the community may be notified about the presence of a convicted sex offender in town, but the law does not restrict where the individual may live.

Cucchiaro said the state Legislature is considering taking action on bills which could impose residency limits on convicted sex offenders or give municipal officials the right to do so.

In other action on June 24, the committee approved a resolution to renew two liquor licenses for the period from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010.

The liquor licenses that were renewed are held by Molly Pitcher Post 434 American Legion (Molly Pitcher Post 434) and Wei Hsin Corporation (Hunan Gourmet).

The resolution states that the applications submitted by the liquor license holders have been deemed complete and in order for the renewal period, and that inspections have been completed for compliance with state and local regulations.

And, Township Administrator Tara Lovrich said the final count on the number of children who will attend the Manalapan summer recreation program is 770.

The enrollment had initially been capped at 750 children, but Lovrich said all 20 children who were on the waiting list were accommodated. The township's summer recreation program began on June 29.

Lucas thanked the members of the Yorktowne Social Club for making a donation to the township which will allow more children in need to attend the summer recreation program.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)

MA - Push to strengthen sex offender laws in Mass

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By Brad Puffer

Boston - There is a push in Massachusetts to tighten the state's sex offender laws. One bill would eliminate a 27-year statute of limitations on rape for victims under the age of 18. Today, a House committee heard from a woman who was raped 19 years ago when she was just a teenager.

House Minority Leader Bradley Jones's (Email) measure would include adoption relationships in the state's incest laws and a Rep. Lantigua (Email) bill would ban spying on another person in order to derive sexual gratification, as well as nude trespassing.

Less than two years ago Elizabeth Holmes began dealing with the emotional trauma of a brutal rape by a stranger in a park. It happened one week after her 16th birthday,. Now 34, she had found the strength to tell lawmakers exactly what happened.

"Here I was just enjoying a walk I had done a million times before and thinking about the special birthday I had just celebrated and second later I was being dragged into the woods fearing for my life," Holmes said.

This is the latest push by advocates like Holmes to eliminate the statute n of limitation on sex abuse cases involving children.

"The effects this rape had on me physically and emotionally were too much for my brain to process and I had to live in avoidance for years in order to function in life," Holmes said.

In 2006, victims of clergy sex abuse pushed hard for a change in the same law. Following that effort, and high profile case like the prosecution of defrocked priest Paul Shanley, legislatures increased the statute of limitations from 15 years to 27 years in cases of child rape. But many, including Senator Michael Morrissey (Email), say it’s not enough.

"The technology has changed the DNA and the testing but what has not change is how difficult it is for someone who had been assaulted step forward whether it was twenty years ago or yesterday," Sen. Michael Morrisseay (D-Quincy) said.

Holmes finally filed a police report in 2008. She says her chance to hold someone accountable has long passed and that needs to change.

"Our laws simply cannot continue to tell our children that when they do find the superhuman strength to come forward and confront their rapists ‘sorry but it’s too late'," Holmes said.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)

ME - Maine State Prison Comes Under Legislative Scrutiny

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By A.J. Higgins

Over the past year, the Maine State Prison has been the scene of a murder, a hunger strike and a hostage crisis that have frayed nerves at the 900-inmate facility in Warren. Besides pitting prisoners against corrections officers, the incidents have also increased tensions between the admininistration and staff. Now a legislative watch dog panel wants to know how the state Department of Corrections plans to change the culture within the prison.

Two weeks ago, the state medical examiner concluded that the death of a 64-year-old sex offender at the prison in April was the result of blunt force trauma. This spring there was a week-long hunger strike by prisoners at the jail. And last year, a guard and an inmate were taken hostage by a prisoner.

State Sen. David Trahan (Contact) says corrections officers are reluctant to report problems for fear of retaliation from their supervisors.

"A number of previous employees, employees at the prison currently, came to me with these concerns, that they felt a disconnect with the administration, they didn't feel comfortable coming forward with concerns around health issues, treatment of prisoners, treatment of employees," he says. "So they came to me and asked me to move forward with a review through OPEGA."

A Waldoboro Republican, Trahan sits on the Legislature's Government Oversight Committee that oversees the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability, known as OPEGA. He and other members of the panel received a report they say shows that the Maine State Prison culture is one of intimidation and retaliation by the administration, part of what Trahan refers to as a "good old boy" network.

The five-term lawmaker says he's not entirely reassured by his panel's decision to allow the prison administration to come up with its own plan for a cultural correction.

"I'm a little uncomfortable with the approach of letting the administration who these employees feel uncomfortable with resolve the issues, so I'm going to insist that we keep a more active role in watching what happens," Trahan says. "One of the terms that the OPEGA review talked about was the 'good old boy system.' I want to make sure that this good old boy system -- if it does exist to the degree I think it does -- I want to make sure that that's broken up, and a new system is put in place that allows employees to feel comfortable coming forward."

"My sense is from the commissioner, this is something you live with in a correction atmosphere," says Committee member Richard Nass, an Acton Republican, who says he has had numerous dealings with Corrections Commissioner Martin Magnusson over the years.

Nass says no one feels comfortable at the Maine State Prison -- and for good reason. "The Commissioner and the Deputy are very good at -- when something comes up, something specific comes forward -- at being concerned about it. And I have doubts about whether they really think there is anything that they can ever do about it. And it's just part of the culture. It's a prison. I mean this is not a kindergarten or a high school, it's a prison."

The involvement of OPEGA staff on prison conditions was perceived as a small victory by Ron Huber of Rockland. Huber has protested the state's prison policies, particularly those involving the relocation of prisoners that he claims were transferred out of state simply for speaking out about conditions there.

"I'm very glad that the Legislature's OPEGA process is underway, that they actually are reviewing and evaluating this program," Huber says. "I think they're being very, very moderate, more moderate than they should be, but that's a good start. I think the onus should be on Governor Baldacci (Contact). Does he want to be known as the governor whose legacy is dozens of people exiled and a prison in chaos? I don't think so. I hope not."

The OPEGA review of the Maine State Prison has been ongoing since March.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)

LA - Gov. Bobby Jindal signs sex-offenders laws

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By Ed Anderson

Gov. Bobby Jindal (Contact) used a central Louisiana courthouse today as the backdrop to sign into law nine bills toughening the state's sexual predator laws to "ensure that our children are kept safe from these monsters."

Jindal used a ceremony at the Rapides Parish Courthouse in Alexandria to approve the bills, part of his package of legislation cracking down on sex abuse against children.
- Got to boast and grand stand some how!  Why can't you just sign the bills in your office instead of on national TV?

The measures range from requiring more detailed background checks for state employees at the Department of Social Services who are in charge of child abuse and neglect investigations and placing youth in foster homes; to prohibiting sexual contact between students under the age of 21 and their teachers.

Jindal said the goal of the package is to "send a message to folks everywhere that we will not tolerate crimes against children in Louisiana. Criminals work quickly to get around the law and we have to be just as swift to modify our existing laws and pass new laws to ensure that our children are kept safe from these monsters."

Another bill would require that sexual predators be required to undergo lifetime electronic monitoring by the state, instead of five years as state law now requires in some cases.
- Lifetime monitoring!  Wow, think about how much money that is going to cost the tax payers!

A special review panel and a court must recommend the special procedures after a court hearing.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)

RI - Senate passes sex-offender registration bill

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By Mike McKinney

PROVIDENCE - The state Senate on Tuesday approved a bill (PDF) in which registered sex offenders who temporarily live in the state for at least 14 days would have to register at the police station in the community where they are residing.

Bill sponsor Sen. James Doyle (Email), D-Pawtucket, simply told the chamber "it's a good bill" and urged passage. The vote was 33 to 0 and came without floor debate.

A registered sex offender would have to register with the local law enforcement within 24 hours of the 14th day in the state.

The bill requires House passage. The House may return into session later in the summer, as may the Senate. It's unclear the extent of legislative topics the chambers would take up later in the summer.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)

PA - Former ‘Perverted Justice’ Member Arrested for DDoSing Rolling Stone, Radar

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By Kim Zetter

A software developer whom authorities say once worked with the online vigilante group Perverted Justice has been charged with launching denial of service attacks against web sites belonging to Rolling Stone, Radar and others.

Bruce Raisley, 47, allegedly launched the attacks to block access to two articles written by the publications that reported embarrassing information about him. But ironically his attempt to obscure the information is now bringing even more attention to it.

His actions were alarming in that he chose to attack third party web sites when he didn’t like their content,” says Assistant U.S. Attorney Erez Liebermann. “It’s one thing for him to be unhappy with a web site. It’s another thing for him to attack third parties that have not done anything, which causes damage on the side of the victim companies and on the side of any affected computer.”

According to a federal complaint (PDF) unsealed today in New Jersey and written by FBI Special Agent Susan Secco, Raisley launched the attack against nine sites using a botnet that he controlled. One of the computers in the botnet belonged to the Academic and Research Network of Slovenia, which is the base for Slovenia’s Computer Emergency Response Team. The team helped U.S. authorities trace the botnet and DDoS attacks to Raisley.

Rolling Stone experienced multiple DDoS attacks between July 2007 and March 2008 in an attempt to prevent readers from gaining access to an article the magazine published in July 2007 titled “To Catch a Predator: Is NBC’s Primetime Dragnet the New American Witch Hunt?

Another web site for a group called Corrupted Justice experienced three attacks in 2007 and 2008 that lasted several days. The site had published a copy of the Rolling Stone article as well as another article published in 2006 by Radar titled “Strange Bedfellows.” According to the complaint, Raisley had asked the site to remove the articles and when this didn’t happen, he launched attacks against it. He allegedly contacted the site’s administrator and boasted that he had “unleashed a virus that could never be stopped” and that the administrator could “kiss [his] website goodbye because nothing could protect [his] servers against this attack.”

When FBI agents raided his home in March 2008, they recovered a memory stick and hard drive that Raisely allegedly admitted contained malware that he wrote to conduct the web site attacks.

Per the complaint, Raisley was a volunteer with Perverted Justice in 2004 but became an active opponent after falling out with the group.

Perverted Justice is a group based in Oregon run by Xavier Von Erick, aka Phillip John Eide, that helped NBC create its controversial sweeps-week “To Catch a Predator” series. The group’s volunteer members posed as young minors online to lure adults into sexual conversations then, after verifying the would-be predator’s identity, would post his name and other personal details on its web site to encourage others to harass the target at home and work. After the group partnered with NBC, targets were also lured to a decoy house where NBC’s cameras would catch them in the act of meeting with the “minor,” ostensibly for sex.

According to articles about Perverted Justice written by Rolling Stone and Radar, Raisley fell out with the group after one of its members allegedly used a picture of his son to lure predators. Von Erick denied the claim to Radar in a story that no longer appears to be available on the site, but is archived at other sites.

Raisley became an outspoken opponent of the group after this, posting online threats against members and exposing the online handles they used to pose as minors and lure predators. In retaliation, Von Erick told Radar that he posed as a young woman named “Holly” online and lured Raisley, who is married, into a relationship. Raisley chatted with Holly via instant messaging for months and even engaged in cybersex with her. He reportedly told his wife he planned to leave her for Holly and rented an apartment for his new “lover.” But when Raisely went to meet “Holly” at the airport, Von Erick sent someone to snap a picture of him carrying flowers and waiting expectantly for his “lover.” Von Erick posted the picture online with a message mocking Raisley.

When Radar contacted Raisley’s wife she told the publication, “That was just a big old mess.” She went on to say, “He’s already lost one job over this, and he doesn’t want anybody to know about it. I’m just hoping this will just fade away.”

The chance that the story would “fade away,” however, wasn’t likely as long as sites continued to publish it. So Raisley allegedly tried to make it go away with his DDoS attacks.

Raisley, whom Liebermann says works for HSBC, faces a maximum of ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He was released on a $100,000 unsecured bond and is restricted to using his home computer for work purposes only. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 20.

A call to Raisley’s home in Pennsylvania was not returned.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)

OH - Ohio court declares sex offender law a violation of the "Separations of Powers" clause and unconstitutional

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"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)

VT - City loses in sex offender case

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MONTPELIER (AP) - A judge has blocked the city of Barre from enforcing an ordinance that would have required a convicted sex offender to move.

Twenty-9-year-old _____ had been ordered by city officials to move under a new ordinance passed last year that blocks convicted sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of schools or other places children gather.

The preliminary injunction issued by Washington Superior Court Judge Helen Toor blocks the city from forcing _____ to move at least until the full case is heard in court.

_____ has been getting help from the American Civil Liberties Union's Vermont Chapter.

_____ was convicted of lewd and lascivious conduct over a contact with a 15-year-old girl that occurred when he was 18.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)

TX - Smith blasts Perry for vetoing sex offender bill

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By Aman Batheja

State Rep. Todd Smith (Contact) has an op-ed piece in today's Star-Telegram criticizing Gov. Perry (Contact) for vetoing one of his bills. Smith also suggests that Perry didn't properly understand the bill before he vetoed it.

SB 3148 would have allowed certain low-level sex offenders to petition a judge to be removed from the state's sex offender registry. The bill passed through the Legislature relatively easy and faced little organized opposition.

"Gov. Rick Perry vetoed one of the most morally compelling bills I have ever filed in the Texas House," Smith wrote.

Perry said in his veto statement that he couldn't sign the bill because "sex offenders would be eligible to petition a court for an exemption from sex offender registration, regardless of the age of the victim." However, Smith's bill only applied to cases where an offender was convicted of having consensual sex with someone who was at least 14 and not more than four years younger than the defendant.

"Perry apparently believes that every teenager who has a consensual relationship with someone more than three years, but less than four years younger should be labeled for life as a sex offender," Smith wrote.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)

OH - Man’s request for new trial is denied

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By Brad Dicken

ELYRIA - Convicted sex offender _____ won’t get the new trial that he believes would clear his name, a county judge ruled Monday.

In his decision, Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Miraldi wrote that _____ hadn’t produced enough new evidence to justify granting a new trial.

_____ was convicted in 1996 of molesting his then-stepson and then-stepdaughter in the early 1990s, but he has maintained his innocence.

The victims in the case, now adults, came forward in 2007 to say they believed _____, who spent 11 years in prison, was innocent of the crimes they’d accused him of. They both also urged the Ohio Parole Board to free _____.

Miraldi has granted a new trial for _____ once before based on the victims’ testimony, but Miraldi’s decision was overturned by the 9th District Court of Appeals in the case of his former stepdaughter.

The stepson said that he had made up the allegations against _____, and the stepdaughter said she had no memory of him molesting her and didn’t believe it had happened.

Prosecutors ultimately dropped the charges that centered on the stepson but have fought to keep _____’s conviction for molesting the stepdaughter in place. _____ remains a registered sexual offender because of that conviction.

_____’s attorney, W. Scott Ramsey, made another effort to get his client a new trial after the girl’s biological father came forward to say that he had seen the stepdaughter’s grandmothers, including his mother, coerce her into accusing _____.

Prosecutors countered that had been the defense _____ presented at the previous trial, and, although the biological father filed a signed affidavit stating that the girl had been coerced, he failed to appear for several hearings to testify about it.

With only the written word of the biological father, who is a convicted felon himself, Miraldi wrote that he had no choice but to reject _____’s second request for a new trial.

He also said he believed the appeals court’s earlier decision barred him from considering the girl’s testimony that she had no memory of being molested by _____.

If he had considered that along with what the biological father wrote, he would have granted a new trial, Miraldi wrote. He also wrote that a jury would likely clear _____ of the charges against him if the case went to trial again.

Ramsey said he hadn’t seen Miraldi’s decision but was disappointed in it and promised to appeal.

We’re not done fighting that’s for sure,” he said.

County Prosecutor Dennis Will said he hadn’t reviewed Miraldi’s decision but that he was pleased the judge didn’t order a new trial.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)

OH - Sex offender’s house can be demolished before trial, judge says

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I don't get it.  If he was arrested days before the arson, why is he being charged with the arson?


By Nancy Bowman

TROY — What remains of _____’s home on Troy-Sidney Road can be demolished before the former Troy Christian Schools coach is tried on a felony aggravated arson charge, but not until a photographer for the defense videotapes or takes still photos of the property, a Miami County judge ruled Monday, June 29.

_____, 42, is serving a five-year sentence in the Chillicothe Correctional Institution on a separate charge of sexual battery. He was convicted by a jury last fall of illegal sexual conduct with a 15-year-old student at Troy Christian.

The fire at his home occurred Dec. 21, 2007, just days after _____ initially was arrested on the sexual battery charge and pleaded not guilty. A trial is scheduled in September. _____ was in court Monday, but made no comment.

Investigators said _____ told them he and two of his children, ages 7 and 9, fled the house between Troy and Piqua after someone broke in and started a fire. No one was injured.

Investigators found _____’s car spray-painted with the words “guilty,” “leave” and a racial epithet.

In days following the fire, local ministers and Southern Christian Leadership Conference officials called for investigation of the fire as a possible hate crime. County Prosecutor Gary Nasal said the fire was “fully and thoroughly investigated and fairly presented” to the grand jury, which indicted _____ in March.

Prosecutors earlier this month filed a request seeking the court’s permission to demolish the structure at 5320 Troy-Sidney Road.

Griff Nowicki, _____’s lawyer, did not oppose the request but asked for time to have the property photographed.

Common Pleas Judge Robert Lindeman said funds will be set aside for the photography or videotaping because _____ is legally indigent. The judge said the taping or photography work should be done by Aug. 1.

Photographs already have been taken by investigators and will be used in the court case against _____, Jim Bennett, first assistant county prosecutor, said in court papers seeking permission to demolish. He said investigative work is done.

With the court approval, the county health department can begin the process of condemning the property so it can be removed, Nasal said. He said the property is both “an eyesore and a health hazard.”

The house also is in foreclosure, according to county court filings. _____’s wife, Charity _____, asked the court in late May to continue the case while the criminal charge was pending. That request was denied by Judge Jeffrey Welbaum.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)