The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled in a Kenton County case Thursday that a law regulating sex offenders can't be applied retroactively. It means some sex offenders no longer must comply with tighter restrictions on where they can live. Tell us what you think in this poll.
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Officer Glenn Coyne, 35, was booked into the Mesa County Jail on Thursday night on suspicion of first-degree burglary and sexual assault, related to an incident in the predawn hours of Tuesday that was investigated by the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department, according to interim Grand Junction Police Chief John Camper.
Coyne was fired by the department Thursday night in a face-to-face meeting at the jail with Deputy Chief John Zen, according to Camper.
The officer voluntarily went to the Sheriff’s Department late Thursday afternoon, where he was arrested, Camper said.
Coyne’s arrest was the second in five weeks involving a Grand Junction Police Department officer accused of criminal activity while off duty.
"We find this to be embarrassing, tragic and alarming," Camper told The Daily Sentinel on Thursday night. "We recognize how much it negatively impacts the reputation we work so hard to build in this community, and we’re going to do everything we can to regain the community’s trust."
"I accept full responsibility for what happens under my command."
At the time of Coyne’s arrest, his employment status was considered probationary. His salary had been cut earlier this year as a disciplinary action after an internal investigation found he had violated department policy during an off-duty incident involving another woman in December 2008.
Camper said he had not seen Coyne’s arrest affidavit, which he said has been filed under seal.
According to events described by Camper, Coyne was among a group of officers who were dispatched to a Grand Junction home on Sunday night. Coyne’s alleged victim had called for assistance on a family matter, Camper said.
Camper said the woman called Coyne and asked him for additional assistance on Monday; Coyne had left a contact phone number behind after handling the call Sunday.
After Coyne’s regular shift ended around 1 a.m. Tuesday, he allegedly went to the home again and sexually assaulted her, Camper said.
Camper said the department learned of the incident Tuesday, and the matter was turned over the Sheriff’s Department. The chief said he was unaware of many specifics surrounding the incident, and he declined to answer some questions because of an ongoing investigation.
When asked why he moved so fast to fire the officer, Camper said Coyne had been on notice.
"There was no doubt in my mind the officer had really violated the terms for which he was put on probation initially," Camper said.
Camper said the department has "made every effort to extend our concern and apologies to the alleged victim in this case."
The December 2008 off-duty incident involving Coyne and another woman was investigated by the Sheriff’s Department, while the Police Department did an internal investigation.
According to Camper, the criminal prosecution was dropped by the Mesa County District Attorney’s Office, which found a lack of probable cause a crime had occurred.
Camper did not provide specifics about Coyne’s 2008 investigation. The matter has been opened again because of the similar nature of the allegations in Tuesday’s incident, Camper said.
"I’m satisfied that both the internal and criminal investigation were both thorough," he said. "That being said, we would all like to go back and take a look at the outcome."
With Coyne’s firing Thursday, the department has lost two officers in as many weeks who were snared in criminal investigations. Former officer Courtney Crooks, 24, resigned Sept. 16 and is scheduled to return to court later this month on misdemeanor physical harassment allegations involving his wife.
Camper on Thursday said the arrests shouldn’t reflect on the department as a whole, but changes may be in order.
"I have nothing but respect for the fine men and women I’ve met here since I’ve become chief," said Camper, who has been on the job four weeks as of today. "I’m not necessarily concerned with standards here, but I envision we’ll look at the entire process for hiring all the way through. Clearly there’s something we need to look into."
Coyne was hired as a patrol officer in January 2007. He previously worked for the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department from February 2006 to January 2007.
Coyne arrived in the Grand Valley from a law enforcement agency in Florida.
Well, the tax payers wanted these draconian unconstitutional laws, so they should be paying for it, IMO. There is no proof residency restrictions even work, but there is tons of proof that they do not.
Green Bay's ordinance restricting where registered sex offenders can live has been in place for more than two years, but some city leaders still worry the rules are too strict.
For some council members, it comes down to safety for the city of Green Bay. They say sex offenders shouldn't live anywhere near children. - Not all sex offenders have harmed children either!
Other city leaders want that protection for residents, too, but they say the current rules aren't perfect.
"Sexual offenders, to me it's important to know where they are, not to take any chances in our city. It's been a known fact that most of them are repeaters," city council member Tom De Wane said. - It's not a "known fact," it's a known myth! Sex offenders are less likely than any other criminal, to commit another related crime, see here and here.
De Wane said he was the one who called for the proposed sex offender ordinance to change from a 500-foot ban from places where children gather to a 2,000-foot restriction, which is what the city has.
Some of his fellow council members complain the rule might be too strict.
"The areas for them are very minimal, and of course I for one questioned that when the sex ordinance was passed as far as the availability of where they can live," city alder Jerry Wiezbiskie said.
Wiezbiskie has expressed concerns in the past that sex offenders stop reporting where they live because of the current restrictions.
Still, both council members told Action 2 News there are no plans to rewrite the city rule.
Green Bay has a residency board which approves or denies registered sex offenders appealing to move into the city. Both alders we spoke with agreed the appeals process is fair and seems to be working fine.
(WHAS11) - When Kentucky’s new sex offender law went into effect last October, Louisville Metro police officers went door-to-door looking for convicted sex offenders and according to the law, if they found them living within 1000 feet of a school, day care or park, they had to move.
Michael Goodwin, Attorney for Plaintiffs says, "They force individuals out of their home and by doing that it’s a second punishment to people who have already been punished by the courts."
So Attorney Michael Goodwin filed a complaint on behalf of nearly a dozen local sex offenders claiming that the law violated their rights. The Court agreed.
Michael Goodwin says, "(The) ruling by the Supreme Court is a demonstration of exactly what the courts are supposed to do."
It’s a decision that has raised some eyebrows, especially in the law enforcement community.
Lt. David Jude says, "There was 996 people, just in Jefferson County alone, on the Sex Offender Registry. And that represents one county within the Commonwealth of Kentucky, so potentially there could be thousands of people that could be affected by this ruling." - As it should be. The law is an unconstitutional ex post facto law, which is forbidden by the US and state constitutions!
Many of those people include children. According to the Supreme Court’s ruling, registered sex offenders who lived within 1000 feet of a school, day care or park before 2006 and were forced to move, can now move back. And parents we spoke with aren’t happy about it.
Greg Pursley says, "I wouldn’t want them living near a school because I would fear for my kid’s welfare."
Rebecca O’Toole says, "They shouldn’t be allowed to live in an area to where they’re going to be tempted by kids running around and live next to a school. They’re definitely putting the criminal’s rights above the rights of kids and the public." - You assume that all sex offenders are tempted by children, which is a total myth.
Attorney General Jack Conway issued this statement in response to the court’s ruling today. "We have some serious concerns about the impact on public safety. As a parent, I am concerned that this ruling could open the door for sex offenders to be living next door to our schools and daycare centers. We are discussing whether to pursue a petition for rehearing before the Kentucky Supreme court or to ask the U.S. Supreme court to review this issue. We may also choose to do both."
Meanwhile, Goodwin says he plans to now take this case to the federal court.
Ron Book's Robot Speaks! She repeats everything he has said, and he's still saying the same old sound-bites, which must be burned into his brain. I find it very ironic that she is now, all of a sudden, when her father is in the spot light, to come out and say this. Sounds like your father has brainwashed you into forever being a victim as well, IMO. In both cases (Lauren Book and Elizabeth Smart) is "residency restrictions and the registry would not, could not, and did not help either victim." I also find it ironic that Lauren Book is coming out now, the same time Elizabeth Smart is testifying in court!
"This is Homer's house," Book says, standing in front of a small wooden door on a wretched shack that looks more like an outhouse than a home. Homer isn't there because he is back in jail. But a handful of other sex offenders and predators who harbor here are busying themselves cleaning up trash and human excrement.
Book has visited this dark and foul-smelling encampment over and over again, about a dozen times in all. Most residents know her name, and she knows many of theirs.
What is remarkable about Book's visits to this world of outcasts is that for six years, starting when she was 11, she was a victim of sexual abuse. She later embarked on a legislative crusade against sex offenders, lobbying the state Legislature with her father, Ron Book, one of Florida's most powerful lobbyists, to enact stricter laws against convicted molesters. - She is Ron Books puppet, and Ron Book is a jerk! He's also been in the spot light (in the past) about fraud, and I'm not sure what came of that, but it makes you wonder. Now the government has granted him a ton of money from the "stimulus fund," which I'm sure the public would not appreciate him using for this, I don't think that helps stimulate the economy in any way.
The legal frenzy prompted local communities to enact more restrictive laws, creating an international public embarrassment over the bridge's rodent-infested squalor in the shadow of Miami Beach. At one point it was home to almost 100 sex offenders.
Lauren Book, 24, now realizes that forcing predators to live in inhumane conditions will not protect children; in fact, she fears it may do the opposite. - She repeats everything he father has said, and again, not all sex offenders are predators, child molesters and pedophiles, like her and her father continually pound into everyone's heads.
"It's a terrible situation under there, it is awful," she admits. "I don't think them living under a bridge or absconding keeps children safe. I don't want them so desperate that they go out and find a child." - You are speculating again! I'm sure they'd go out and commit some other crime first, like break into a store for food or clothing before they went after a child. She and her father think predators are hiding in all the bushes around the country just waiting to pounce on some child! Give me a break!
Book, working with her father, is now trying to help the same kind of people she fought so long to erase from her childhood memory.
YEARS OF ABUSE
Book was 11 years old when her nanny, Waldina Flores, angered because the little girl was chewing gum, disciplined her in a bizarre way: She stuck her tongue in Book's mouth and pulled the gum out with her tongue.
Soon thereafter, Flores was forcing her to have sex at night when her younger brother and sister were asleep, in closets, bathrooms and other private places. If Book refused, she was beaten, punched, kicked, defecated upon and thrown down a flight of stairs.
The physical and sexual abuse would last for years.
"It went on every single day, morning and night," Book said. "She had brainwashed me into believing that we were in love and were going to get married." - So where was her father? Surely she would have bruises and other marks on her body. Maybe he should have spent more time with his own family instead of doing whatever it is he does?
Though Flores was formidable, at times she could be caring and loving. Book admits she was dependent on Flores, who combed her hair, picked out her school clothes, helped her get dressed and even decided what type of feminine hygiene products she would use.
"I was scared and confused, but she explained it in a way that made sense to a 12-year-old," Book said. "She provided a shower curtain around my life. I didn't have to see any terrible things because she took care of the problems, which made her seem really appealing because you have someone who is listening to you, someone who loves you, who is there for you and has not left."
It would take years before she could talk about the abuse to her father, who was working long hours in Tallahassee as a lobbyist. Her mother, Patricia, also worked tirelessly, tending to her new chocolate-shop business.
Up until then, Lauren Book was too ashamed and afraid to tell her parents, which experts say is common among children of sexual abuse.
Instead, she confided in her then-boyfriend, Kris Lim, now her husband. She also told her therapist, who, in turn, told her father. Ron Book removed Waldes from their Plantation home and contacted police.
Book weeps as he talks about those dark days.
A PARENT'S PAIN
Until this day, he has not been able to read the entire police report.
"There were some tough things for a parent to read. The detail that went into the report was very painful . . . you're telling your child to obey somebody, to treat that person with respect, to deal with the day-to-day care of your child and all the time they are raping your kid," he said.
Both he and his wife tried in vain to find signs they missed. Book pored through box after box of family photographs and videos to look for something that was out of kilter. As part of their family, Flores was in most of the photographs and videos.
"It was a very secretive type of thing," Patricia Book said. "Lauren was told that if she said anything, `I will hurt your mother and father; somebody is going to get killed.' Waldina was very good at what she did."
Toward the end, however, Flores became increasingly confrontational with Lauren's mother.
"She was roughing me up and getting too obsessive with the children. I fired her twice," Patricia Book said.
The day she found out about Lauren's abuse, Patricia Book left her business and never went back.
In 2002, Flores was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Two years later, she was found guilty of violating an order not to contact Book after writing her letters from prison. Ten more years were added to her prison term.
The traumatic experience left the Book family frustrated with the state's failure to protect children by better monitoring sex offenders. - This lady had no criminal record and was not on any registry, so how would monitoring sex offenders have helped? Help me Big Brother, I am too busy with my own life to look after my own children! These folks are rich, so why was both parents working all the time?
The state already had banned sex offenders and predators from living within 1,000 feet of areas where children congregate, like schools and playgrounds. But the dynamic duo -- a heavyweight lobbyist and his petite young daughter with a harrowing story of abuse -- helped persuade politicians across South Florida to set stricter perimeters of 2,500 feet. - Yeah, because instead of politicians obeying their oath of office, they react to emotions, and history has shown that running on emotions, always causes bad laws to be passed.
The Books now admit that the restrictive boundaries had unintended consequences: it banished many predators from living in almost every city and town. - And after even admitting this, Ron still wants to keep the 2,500 foot law, which is what pushed these folks into homelessness in the first place.
`THERE ARE PLACES'
Ron Book, however, is unapologetic, and still believes molesters should be prohibited from living 1,750 to 2,500 feet of where children play. - And he believes all sex offenders are child molesting, pedophile predators, which is totally false. Just listening to him, you can see he thinks the boogeyman is everywhere!
"Residency restrictions do work," says Ron Book, who, as executive director of the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust, has helped find homes for about half the people under the bridge. "If you look, there are places for them to live." - Show me the proof they work Ron? Many people over the years, have shown they do not work, but there is no proof they do work, so why don't you work on that?
The first time Lauren Book visited the encampment under the bridge it was in a torrential downpour. She remembers driving away with her windows down and the rain falling.
"You can't really understand what it's like unless you go there. You can't capture it in words or pictures. Being there, hearing it, seeing it, smelling it -- it's all part of understanding the situation under the Julia Tuttle Causeway."
At the time, she was a member of a Broward County task force examining residency restrictions for sex offenders and she believed she needed to see the conditions to be more knowledgeable about the issue.
She concedes that the visit was difficult.
"I can tell them, `I really don't condone anything you've done . . . but I don't think you should be living under a bridge.' " - Again, sounds just like her father!
TOUGH BUT FLEXIBLE
But make no mistake: Lauren Book has no sympathy for sexual predators and offenders, especially those who argue that they served their time, and therefore, they should not have to live a life sentence in exile.
"I say to them, `Well, you're damn right you're serving a life sentence -- and so am I,' " she said, her eyes blazing. "The things that Waldina Flores did to me will always, always be there. I was never given the luxury of saying, `Hey I don't want this life sentence.' " - You are "serving a life sentence," because you refuse to put the past behind you, and move on with your life. As long as you see yourself as a professional victim, you will always be one. I was also molested as a child, and I do not see myself in some "life sentence," but a survivor, and refuse to dwell on the past, which I cannot change.
Lauren has immersed herself in the issue of protecting children from sexual abuse. She talks openly about her abuse in public forums, and she has launched her own foundation, Lauren's Kids, a nonprofit that works to educate the public about child sex abuse.
"There's something about her kindness -- her love for others. Whenever she walks into a room, it makes a room a lot different. It makes the room brighter," said her husband, a professional golfer. "She's a driven girl."
Now, despite her bad days, Lauren Book is smiling with a cheerful veneer that almost masks the pain in her soul.
"I still have flashbacks," she says. "I walk through a broken life every day." - So are you getting therapy, which you clearly need?