Thursday, August 27, 2009

CT - Coach Sues Mom Over ‘Pedophile’ E-mail and Wins

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06/26/2009

Pedophilia is nothing to take lightly. And calling someone one, or “one step away from being one,” can get you in trouble if there is no evidence that she is.

The mother of an East Hartford High School swimmer is going to have to pay her daughter's former swim team coach $88,000 because of a "malicious, outrageous, and evil" e-mail campaign during which, she repeatedly used the word "pedophile."

Laurie Lima admitted she had no evidence that the former coach of the high school girls swim team was a pedophile, Hartford Superior Court Judge Julia Aurigemma said. Aurigemma decided those little communications were libelous.

Lima's campaign against _____, which began in November 2007, was "malicious, outrageous, and evil," the judge wrote.

_____ sued. In April, a two-day trial was held. _____ said she did nothing wrong.

Lima wrote in one e-mail that _____ was "one step away" from being a pedophile because the coach had told the girls to keep swim team matters secret.


"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved


SD - Modifications to registry sensible

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08/27/2009

The creation of the South Dakota sex offender registry in 1994 and eventual Web site to pinpoint offenders was a public service — providing valuable information for communities across the state.

But it could be falling short, needlessly becoming a life-long stigma attached to some offenders who are no longer a threat to the community.

Last week, a legislative panel heard from a woman whose husband was required to put his name on the registry for a decades-old incident. He’s no threat to society, she said, and should have the option of being removed from the registry.

We agree. In limited cases, people should have the ability to request their name be removed from the list — all offenses shouldn’t carry the same weight, nor the requirement the offender’s name appear on the list for his or her lifetime.

Public access to the registry is less than four years old – in 2006, the state Legislature mandated a public access web site and it has developed into what we can see today.

But it’s volatile information that is being put in the hands of the public. And, despite the clear warning over misuse of the information users agree to before entering the site, we’re sure the information has been used to harass and intimidate those on the registry.

It’s a powerful tool. And like any tool, easily misused.

In a limited number of cases, removal from the list would make sense. Of course, we would urge lawmakers to err on the side of caution and not risk letting a predator roam the streets without oversight.

But we doubt that would be an issue in South Dakota.

Sen. Gene Abdallah, R-Sioux Falls, the panel’s chairman, said lawmakers are unlikely to give much of a break to those who committed serious sex crimes. “There isn’t anybody on this committee who’s going to ever let them off the list,” he said.

Abdallah said the legislative panel could consider ways for people to seek removal from the registry based on the severity of the crime they had been convicted of.

It’s good to see a legislative panel tackle this thorny topic. Doing so may result in some people being removed from the list and living their lives free of an undeserved stigma.


"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved


FL - Numbers tell a sad tale for exiled offenders

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08/27/2009

By FRED GRIMM

Begin with a baseline of 927,647 -- the total number of housing units in Miami-Dade County -- and the rationale for stashing several dozen sex offenders under the Julia Tuttle Causeway suffers from an apparent crush of alternatives.

Surely 927,647 housing possibilities leave the Florida Department of Corrections no excuse for dumping newly released probationers into a homeless colony.

But that's only the starting number. Paul Zandbergen, a geographer with the University of New Mexico, and Timothy Hart, director of the Center for the Analysis of Crime Statistics at the University of Nevada, juxtaposed their baseline against the reality of ex-cons looking for housing in daunting circumstances.

Figure the number of "affordable" rental units (available for $1,250 or less a month) and the offenders' alternatives shrink to 270,874, Zandbergen reported in a declaration filed in Miami-Dade circuit court. (The ACLU hired Zandbergen and Hart, both former University of South Florida professors, to provide a statistical backdrop for a lawsuit challenging the county's residency restrictions.)

When the researchers subtracted rentals located in zones where state, county and 24 different municipalities ban registered sex offenders, the possibilities tumble again. "The analysis shows that there are 6,832 theoretically available rental units in Miami-Dade County with an estimated monthly rent of $1,250 or less that fall outside the residency restriction zones," Zandbergen told me via e-mail Wednesday.

THE OBSTACLES

But relatively few of those are actually on the market. "In July 2009 only 43 of these units were listed as available on publicly available rental listings," he said. None of those 43 rented for as little as $750 a month.

"In addition, many landlords may be hesitant to accept convicted felons as tenants, and possibly even more so when it comes to sex offenders. This makes it very difficult for probation officers to find suitable housing for sex offenders," the professor said.

Most of those few available units -- 30 -- were located in unincorporated Miami-Dade County, with a less restrictive ordinance than most of Miami-Dade cities. I'm not sure how that finding helps the ACLU's difficult legal case -- which claims the county, which put a 2,500-foot buffer around schools, exceeded its authority by preempting the less restrictive state law, which calls for a 1,000-foot radius around schools, parks, playgrounds, etc.

UNSPOKEN JUDGMENT

But the study offers powerful evidence for a theoretical case -- the lawsuit not filed -- against Miami and Miami Beach and other municipalities that amassed so many 5,000-foot circles around schools, parks, daycare centers, even school bus stops (18,000 of them countywide) that the effect was the virtual banishment of sex offenders. Judges tend to frown on local ordinances that utterly exclude sex offenders from anywhere within the city limits.

Of course, the Miami-Dade Commission can fix this, without frittering away money fighting lawsuits, by passing a county-wide ordinance mandating less Draconian limits. Zandbergen and Hart's study offers a series of scenarios that show housing alternatives increasing as zones are ratcheted back.

The researchers calculated the housing numbers. But they failed to offer estimates on how much political courage the county commission needs to send the Tuttle dwellers home.


"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved