Friday, November 6, 2009

OH - Sowell's Sexual Predator Report

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I am in no way condoning what he did, but when offenders are portrayed as demons and monsters in the media all the time, when only about 5% are truly dangerous, they cannot keep a home, get a new home, keep a job or get a new one, and are subjected to vigilante violence, and have nothing to look forward to in life, then what do you expect?


CLEVELAND -- A psychiatric report on Anthony Sowell raises almost as many questions as it answers about why Sowell allegedly became a serial killer of women.

Fox 8 I-Team Reporter Bill Sheil has obtained a copy of the "Sexual Predator Evaluation." It was done in 2005 - after Sowell finished serving a 15-year prison sentence for a brutal attack on a woman in 1989.

The report says Sowell is one of a two children born to a couple that later divorced. He grew up in Cleveland. His father was a construction worker who died in 2002. His mother worked at a dry cleaners. Despite the break-up, Sowers described "both of his parents in positive terms." Though his father left when Sowell was an infant, he reported staying in touch with his dad throughout his life.

Sowell indicates he was "teased and bullied" growing up, but "said that he had many friends...."

The report says that, in general, Sowell "described his childhood as good."

So how could he grow into the man who allegedly committed so many brutal crimes? The report suggests that alcohol was a major problem - and may have played a role in his attacks. The report says Sowell "had significant problems with drinking" and that he acknowledged "increased aggressiveness with drinking."

Sowell allegedly served malt liquor to at least some of his victims before he attacked.

He attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings while in prison, but said in the 2005 report that he had not been to any meetings since his release.

In a chilling sentence, the report states "the defendant reports having no deviant sexual preferences and there is no documentation of such." Sowell admitted to looking at pornography and said he had more than fifty sexual partners in his lifetime.

Sowell was in the Marines for seven years, and married a fellow Marine. The two later divroced, but not before having a daughter who today would be 31 years-old.

The fact that Sowell is older, 46 at the time of the evaluation and 50 now, and the fact that he had a daughter, were two factors plugged into a formula to try and estimate if he was likely to commit another sexual crime.

The formula concluded that Sowell only had a six percent of offending in the next five years, and a seven percent chance in the next ten or fifteen years.

The report cautions that the numbers are only an "estimate." If what police believe about Sowell repeatedly killing women is true, the estimate was dead wrong.
- Did he sexually molest the woman?  If not, then I would say they were dead on.  Sexual recidivism is determines by the likelihood of the offender committing another sex crime, and if these woman were not sexually abuse, which I am not saying they were or were not, then killing someone is a whole different ball of wax.

Video Link

"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, Bill of Rights)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved

FL - Paid promotion deal raises questions about Mark Lunsford's finances

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You see, follow the money trail folks! There is money to be made in exploiting children, even if it's your own!


By Susan Taylor Martin

HOMOSASSA — Since his daughter Jessica was raped and murdered in 2005, Mark Lunsford has become one of America's best-known child advocates. With the help of donations to his nonprofit foundation, Lunsford has lobbied nationwide for tougher laws against criminals who prey on children.

But unknown to most, Lunsford has had another source of income for the past two years — a Boca Raton company that could profit from the very child-protection measures Lunsford has sought to enact.

It is the latest revelation about a man who has been hailed as a hero but whose handling of the foundation's finances has also raised questions about the line between advocacy and personal enrichment.

In an affidavit filed in a paternity case, Lunsford disclosed he is paid $4,000 every other week — more than $100,000 a year — by Technology Investors and its multimillionaire founder, Hank Asher.

Asher, who created databases used to track sexual predators and other criminals, is developing new technology to help in the fight against child molesters.

Asked what he does for Asher's company, Lunsford says: "It's not what I do for them, it's what they do for me." The steady pay, he says, enabled him to dissolve his foundation last year and concentrate on what he likes best — lobbying for Jessica's laws, not raising money.

"Mr. Asher wanted to help me because he knew what passion I have," Lunsford says. When the two first met in 2007, Asher "got real teary-eyed and said, 'You have the heart of a fighter.' "

It was Asher, Lunsford says, who persuaded him to drop plans to sue the Citrus County Sheriff's Office over its alleged bungling of the investigation into Jessica's murder. News of the intended suit triggered criticism that Lunsford, 46, was trying to profit from his daughter's tragic end.

"Hank said, 'I understand your anger and I know you want results, but the best thing is to close your nonprofit and focus on legislation.' "

Thus the Jessica Marie Luns­ford Foundation quietly disbanded after just three years. But questions remain about how nearly $400,000 in donations was spent.

'Rock star status'

On Feb. 24, 2005, convicted sex offender John Couey slipped into the Homosassa trailer where Jessica, 9, lived with her father and grandparents. Couey took her to his nearby trailer, raped her and buried her alive.

Immediately after Couey's March 18 arrest and the discovery of Jessica's body, almost $50,000 in donations poured into a trust set up for the Luns­fords at a local bank.

"They wrote to help with our bills or to use however you wish," says Lunsford, who bought a used truck.

Lunsford says some of the money went into the nonprofit foundation he set up that spring with the help of Joe Boles, a nephew who briefly served as a foundation director.

While in Sarasota for a 2005 fundraiser, Boles and a girlfriend got into a drunken, violent fight at a Hyatt hotel. "Blood was literally on all of the walls, furniture and bedding," police said.

The $4,789 in damages were billed to a foundation credit card; Boles disappeared and never repaid the money.

That incident went unnoticed at the time as attention focused on Lunsford's metamorphosis from trucker with a high-school eduction to impassioned child advocate. He helped win quick passage in Florida of the nation's first Jessica's Law, which imposed tougher penalties on child molesters and required many of those released from prison to wear tracking devices for the rest of their lives.

Lunsford moved on, persuading legislators in more than 40 states to pass their own Jessica's Laws. There were fundraising bike rallies, appearances with Oprah and Bill O'Reilly, talk of book and movie deals. Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (Contact) called Luns­ford "a great man" and donated $63,812 from his inaugural to the foundation.

"It was rock star status," says Cheryl Sanders, a cousin of Luns­ford who served as foundation treasurer.

"He liked that lifestyle. He'd never seen so much money in his life."

In the three years of the foundation's existence, Lunsford drew salaries totalling $118,800 and was reimbursed for travel costs, either by the foundation or by organizations that invited him to speak. Sanders wondered about some of the expenses charged to a foundation credit card — $1,435 for furniture from Kane's, $73 for drinks at Outback after Couey was sentenced to death (the restaurant "comped" the rest of the meal, she says) and gas for travel not related to the foundation.

Sanders says Lunsford also demanded reimbursement for nearly $1,000 in clothing.

"I said, 'Mark, the IRS is going to come on you; you can't do that,' '' she recalls.

"He said, 'F--- the IRS, I'm Mark Lunsford.' That's the day I was finished," says Sanders, who says she resigned as treasurer in October 2007.

Lunsford says he doesn't recall the incident, but denies using foundation money for personal expenses. He says he fired Sanders and paid a Jacksonville firm to "straighten out" what he says was her poor record-keeping.

"I don't know about book-keeping, that's why I hired people," he says.

IRS agents went to Lunsford's house last year, shortly after the dispute over his plans to sue the sheriff's office: "They looked over a bunch of stuff," he says, "and asked me to send copies of stuff.'

He says hasn't heard from the agency since it acknowledged receipt of the material. The agency would not comment on whether it is investigating.

Paid to promote

In 2006, Lunsford had a brief agreement with a New York company, AdZone Research, to promote its Online Predator Profiling Service for monitoring Internet chat rooms.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, AdZone said it would give the foundation $2,500 a month, 50,000 shares of stock and 1 percent of gross proceeds from the sale of the profiling service.

Lunsford plugged the service on MSNBC and says AdZone made one $2,500 donation. But the deal fell apart after the SEC questioned AdZone's claims to shareholders; the company appears to be out of business.

Lunsford says he rebuffed "plenty" of other for-profit companies before meeting Asher, a board member of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

As a pilot in the '80s, Asher acknowledged flying several cocaine-smuggling flights, but he was never prosecuted. He went on to develop two databases, AutoTrak and Accurint, that provide addresses and other information, making them invaluable tools for police and others that need to track people quickly.

Asher made his databases available to the missing children's center at no charge. He reportedly received $260 million when he sold his company to LexisNexis in 2004 and started Technology Investors.

In a lawsuit last year, LexisNexis claimed Asher was violating a noncompete agreement by developing "revolutionary" tracking technology that he intended to eventually sell. Asher countersued, alleging LexisNexis wanted to keep its monopoly on database searching. Both cases were settled in April.

Asher did not respond to calls seeking comment. Lunsford, who rode in Asher's Mercedes during a media tour of company headquarters in December, says he sees nothing wrong with their arrangement. (It surfaced in a paternity case filed by a Homosassa woman who gave birth to Lunsford's son Roger Davis in 2007.)

Asher and his company "make it possible for me to go to other states, to be able to fly up to D.C. They gave me insurance and a salary and said, 'Fight the fight, Mark, and don't stop.' "

Where did money go?

After dissolving the foundation, Lunsford gave the Citrus County Child Advocacy Center a $17,200 motorcycle trailer that had been donated by a Sarasota woman.

The foundation's other assets included a tour bus once used by actor Sylvester Stallone. Donated in 2006, its value was never determined for tax purposes and the bus was never listed on IRS forms the foundation was required to file.

Lunsford says he sold the bus and banked the money, which he says will be given to charity. However, he says he doesn't remember who bought the bus or what was paid.

Nor does he remember the specifics of some of the foundation's expenditures, including $12,461 in 2006 for "entertainment," $23,700 in 2007 for "machinery and equipment" and $17,887 last year for "office supplies."

"That's all part of the reason for getting out of (the foundation). I just threw up my hands and said, 'Screw it.' "

Lunsford is one of several parents of murdered children who have started charities, only to see them struggle to survive as new tragedies hit the headlines.

Contributions to Florida's Jimmy Ryce Center, which has donated 300 bloodhounds to police agencies since 1996, dropped to $11,000 last year. The late Claudine Ryce took a small salary to run the center, but she and husband Don shunned offers from for-profit companies.

"You just really have to be careful because an organization can end up with a mess and it reflects on the child that the organization was named after," Ryce says.

Marc Klaas, whose daughter Polly was murdered in California in 1993, says he has never been paid by a for-profit company. But he doesn't criticize Lunsford's decision.

"Mark really did a lot of work in his organization by himself and never really had a huge support system. So if Hank Asher is Mark's support system, I could almost understand why he would accept that support and not ask a lot of questions. I think the legacy of his daughter is pretty strong because of the work he's done."

View the article here

A man of many trades, and apparently had a ring of criminal friends!


The tech bubble had not yet burst as Hank Asher strode up to the dais in early October 1999 at the Hyatt Regency in Fort Lauderdale. Ambition and high expectations permeated the audience of more than 300 who had packed the banquet hall to kick off the so-called DevCon '99, a gathering of software developers devoted to a programming language named Clarion. Asher, the day's keynote speaker, had become a minor deity in the Clarion world. He'd also struck it rich. Using that language, he'd built the Boca Raton-based Database Technologies Online, or DBT Online, which was primarily a database for law enforcement and private investigators. Need to find a guy? Give DBT Online his name, approximate age, and, bingo, you've got a list of addresses and phone numbers and a whole lot more.

Asher had sold his share of the company, garnering more than $100 million. The publicly traded DBT Online now had market capital of $500 million, but Asher had gone on to found a similar database company, eData, which also employed Clarion as a means to parse a database of billions of public and business records. Many in the audience had no doubt read some of the recent news stories about Asher's connection with Bahamian drug smugglers years ago, but in this New Economy of the Internet, there wasn't much reason to dwell on ancient history.

Asher, then 48 years old, wore the casual dress of a techie, a short-sleeved white shirt, unbuttoned at the neck. He sported a scraggly beard of gray and black and slightly disheveled hair that was receding a bit on the front sides. At 5-foot-10-inches, he was burly with a middle-age paunch and a full, round face.

In a baritone voice, Asher told the story of the first time he ran a report on himself at DBT Online: it found both his parents, his siblings, his in-laws, his ex-in-laws, his ex-wife, "her newest victim," all his old addresses, and those of his old neighbors and where they now lived. "Oh my God, what have we done?" he asked himself.

That's a question many have asked themselves after crossing Asher's path. As the brains behind Matrix, the fast-moving Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange, a proposed 13-state database designed to find links between acts of terrorism and suspects with lightning searches of police, public, and commercial records, Asher recently stepped up as a major figure in the burgeoning homeland security effort.

Then, because of a checkered past, he was forced to take himself out of the game two weeks ago.

It was just the latest development in a long, turbulent personal history involving top-level disputes and allegations of illegal drug trafficking. In recent years, Asher has hassled with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, which temporarily curtailed using DBT Online in 1999 after learning of Asher's alleged ties to drug smugglers. Two former board directors of the company he founded, Seisint Inc., have sued him for allegedly running roughshod over top executives and bribing other board directors to acquiesce to his wishes. Then, on August 29, he was forced to step down as a board member of Seisint, which is in the middle of contract negotiations with the state for the lucrative Matrix contract. The Seisint board is now scrambling to minimize Asher's profile.

According to friends and associates, Asher is a creative genius with an impulsive streak, a master manipulator, adept at corporate gamesmanship, and, some say, more secretive than Citizen Kane. Asher has grown rich turning personal data into a commodity, but he shuns public scrutiny.

"He's not a publicity seeker, by any means," contends Martha Barnett, a longtime friend. "He's not shy, he's just not someone who seeks out or wants to be in the press by nature. He's not a secretive person at all."

But Asher remains elusive to anyone who is not among his personal circle of friends. He lives in a $3 million house in a gated community in Boca Raton. Requests by New Times for interviews went unanswered, and many who know him are either unwilling to talk or cannot because they've signed confidentiality agreements.

Asher has been both the greatest asset and greatest liability of the companies he has built during the past decade. He's an entrepreneur who values risk and chafes under limitations. When his first company, Database Technologies, had grown highly successful in the mid-1990s, board directors and investors tried reining him in. Asher reacted like an enfant terrible, manipulating employees and directors from behind the scenes. The same struggle has been playing out at Seisint for the past few years. Now, with Seisint poised to play a major role in the nation's anti-terrorism effort, the company has ousted Asher from his director's seat.

If the past is any indication, however, Asher, who remains the majority stock holder in Seisint, still holds great sway over the company.

In introducing Asher at DevCon '99, Bruce Barrington, who created the Clarion program and is now a board director for Seisint, claimed that Asher had departed his home state of Indiana because his "efforts were underutilized," according to an article at the time in the trade journal Clarion Magazine. Asher, however, set the record straight at the podium: He was fired from his last job in Indiana on the grounds that he couldn't get along with people and that his ideas didn't work. He paused a beat after the admission. "I think I have proven that my ideas do work," he declared. The audience roared at the droll gloss over, but Asher's thorniness has indeed been as prominent as his innovation.

Henry Edward Asher was born on May 9, 1951, and raised on a farm near Valparaiso, Indiana, which is 60 miles from downtown Chicago. He briefly attended Valparaiso University, a small, private college. Although he didn't graduate, each year the college awards the Hank Asher Scholarship, which is funded each year by a Valparaiso resident who wishes to remain anonymous. The scholarship is intended for students interested in computer science.

He moved to South Florida during the early 1970s and began the first of numerous entrepreneurial ventures. In 1975 he incorporated three companies based in Wilton Manors: Asher Painting; Asher Waterproof Coatings, Roofing and Painting Corp.; and Technological International Inc, which changed its name in 1977 to Asher International Corp. His brother, Charles A. Asher, who graduated from Indiana University School of Law in 1977, served as an officer for the third company.

Through a friend, Asher met Judith Redden in 1977, and the two lived together on and off in Wilton Manors from then through 1982. The couple apparently traveled frequently to the Bahamas and Hawaii. In March 1979, Redden gave birth to the couple's first child, Eliza Asher. Asher was "thrilled" with the arrival of his first-born, according to documents filed in 1993 by the state seeking child support payments from Asher. Caroline Asher was born in July 1982.

Asher's business ventures unraveled that year, and he closed them down.

Sometime during this period, Asher, who was also a pilot, bought a home on Great Harbour, a small island in the Bahamas about 85 miles south of Nassau. There he was to strike up a lifelong friendship with fellow homeowner F. Lee Bailey, one of the nation's premier defense attorneys. Bailey first gained prominence in 1961 by taking on the case of Sam Sheppard, who had been convicted seven years earlier of killing his wife, and he went on to handle a series of high-profile cases. (A Bailey also was in legal troubles, see the link above)

Great Harbour was separated only by a small channel from Cistern Cay, a tiny isle with a landing strip that gained notoriety as a drug smuggling base in the 1970s. Robert Vesco (Also was a fugitive from justice), a fugitive American financier, bought Cistern Cay in 1978 for $180,000. Vesco, who had been charged in 1976 with stealing $224 million from a mutual fund, became a figure in the Watergate scandal after it was revealed that he had illegally contributed $200,000 to the 1972 Richard Nixon reelection campaign. Vesco is also alleged to have assisted Carlos Lehder, an infamous Colombian drug smuggler, in laundering money through Nassau banks.

Cocaine dealing seemed virtually out of control in those days. By the early 1980s, no less than Bahamian prime minister Lynden Pindling had been caught up in allegations of assisting smugglers on Cistern Cay (he was never charged). In 1983, NBC broadcast a story alleging that Pindling and other government officials were being bribed by a Cistern Cay operative to keep quiet about the island's flourishing drug trade. Bailey called NBC's assertions "wildly inaccurate and recklessly reported," and he offered to sue the network on behalf of the Bahamian government.

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) torqued up its efforts in the 1980s to stem the flow of drugs into the United States via the Caribbean. Agents in the DEA's Chicago office began investigating Roger W. Nelson, a Chicago-area pilot and professional skydiver who owned a home on Cistern Cay. Aware that the feds were developing a case against him and a handful of his Chicago friends, Nelson moved to mitigate the prosecutor's wrath by striking a deal with agents in the Miami DEA office. Enter F. Lee Bailey.

In 1985, Bailey approached the Miami DEA office and proposed helping the agency capture drug shipments being smuggled from the Bahamas to Florida. Bailey "offered to make available a man he identified as Hank Asher, a pilot and onetime smuggler who lived on Great Harbour, an island near Cistern Cay," according to a Chicago Tribune article that was based on federal court documents. "Asher wanted to sell his home but could not because drug-smuggling activity had depressed market values." Bailey told agents that his own interest was "primarily to make the island a more marketable item and second, to punish those involved in the burning of his house." One former DEA agent recalls that Bailey owned a waterfront condo, which was connected to a boat slip by covered walkway. Someone set the boat on fire, which then followed the walkway roof to the house. Bailey contended that the fire was set because he was trying to clean up the island of drug smuggling. (Bailey declined to be interviewed by New Times.)

"My understanding is, and the position always was, that Asher was not criminally involved with these people," says a former Miami DEA agent who was involved in the case. "It's kind of like a bunch of American expatriates living in a foreign country in a place that has no movie theaters, one bar, and they're all pilots, so they're all going to probably know each other."

News accounts, however, have described Asher as an "unindicted co-conspirator" in a $150-million cocaine-smuggling case, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has, because of Asher's drug involvement, expressed serious reservations about his connections to a company that was to be entrusted with sensitive law enforcement data.

After Bailey met with the DEA, "an agreement was reached that DEA would try utilizing any information obtained by Asher in an effort to clean up Great Harbour," the Tribune explained. Asher came up with little useful information, however, and so he and Bailey recruited five other men, including Nelson. The Miami DEA office began using them as informants, even though four of the so-called Cistern Five were under investigation by the Chicago DEA. They were given special codes for communicating with agents and infrared night scopes for surveillance of smugglers. In September 1995, a Cistern Five tip led to the seizure of 1,133 pounds of cocaine valued at $24 million. (Despite his cooperation, Nelson was indicted in Chicago for drug smuggling in 1986 and spent time in jail after pleading guilty. He died earlier this year in a skydiving accident.)

Asher's role concerning the Cistern Five was inconclusive, but it did put him on the DEA radar, or more precisely -- and ironically -- in its database. (Karma?)

Like many South Floridians who had been, rightly or wrongly, caught up in the flourishing South Florida drug trade of the 1980s, Asher moved on. He founded Database Technologies in Pompano Beach in 1992, the company that begat his wealth and future firms. A 1996 Miami Herald article about the company described Asher at the time as "a burned-out computer consultant without a paycheck." Asher told the newspaper, "There was a six-month period when we first started DBT that I was living off borrowed funds from my family."

As a consultant, Asher had begun using the Clarion language, which was popular with Internet development mavericks at the time. "Clarion is a language used for Windows software development, primarily for business applications," says David Harms, who publishes Clarion Magazine. "Typically, Clarion developers are not corporate developers. I'd go so far as to characterize the majority of Clarion users as independent developers, a lot of small shops, a couple people." Clarion is useful for developing specialized software that would only be useful to, say, dental offices. The language was especially appealing because users did not have to pay royalties for new software that was sold, Harms said.

By the 1990s, thousands of separate databases containing names, addresses, and phone numbers, and a plethora of other personal details had been amassed by law enforcement agencies, public bureaucracies, and private businesses. But many of the databases had been designed with custom software and were never intended to interface with other systems. Asher's quantum leap was in writing programs to connect these databases in order to parse useful information. The categories of information that can be retrieved are numerous: aliases, historical addresses dating back 30 years, dates of birth, relatives, associates, neighbors, phone numbers, licenses, car and boat registrations, property transactions, land holdings, professional licenses, arrest records, criminal and civil court records, concealed weapon permits, and many others. The data are useful if, say, police need to find the female owners of black Buicks within a 50-mile radius of a particular address. Or perhaps a private detective is tracking down someone using only the first name Wilbur, who has a pilot's license and at one time worked for a bank. Those three details are enough to come up with a short list of names and current contact information. The rest is gumshoe work. (Service is limited to approved users, such as detective agencies and insurance investigators.)

Asher collected and preserved his own cache of databases. In addition, he designed search protocols for confidential databases kept and maintained only for law enforcement agencies. By 1996, his company's name had been shortened to DBT Online, but the firm had amassed 180 computers filling two buildings, which generated reports from billions of records from more than 700 federal, state, and local agencies.

DBT's utility and its success were aided by the suddenly colossal presence of the Internet. The speed and precision of DBT's electronic reports were a highly saleable commodity on the World Wide Web, and that enticed several high-profile investors, including Jack Hight, who had cofounded Electronic Data Systems Federal Corp. in the 1960s. "I personally believe that Hank is an outstanding businessman," Hight testified recently in a civil lawsuit. "There are not a lot of people that I know of that can take an idea from practically nothing and make it into a company, a successful company."

Hight eventually convinced Kenneth G. Langone, a cofounder of Home Depot, to invest in DBT, although Langone had walked away from an earlier chance to become involved with Asher because "he struck me as being utterly unstable," Langone stated in a deposition earlier this year.

Martha Barnett, an attorney who represented Asher while he was at DBT, became a friend. "He's a very creative person who understands the ability of technology to meet the needs of people who need data," she says. "He has created products for the commercial side to help people make money or to plan sales or programming or the million things you can do. I think he is probably a mathematical genius."

Barnett presents the unblemished picture of Asher, the dynamic innovator. "Hank's been able to attract very sophisticated computer specialists, technology specialists, to the companies that he's been involved in," she says. "He has been the creative genius behind the products. He's hands on in the programming, the software and the hardware. He has not just thought it up and told someone else to go do it." As for his personality, she describes him as "a very open, gregarious, friendly individual."

But Asher can be notoriously moody. One Fort Lauderdale businessman who dealt with him in the 1990s says, "Sometimes he was nice, and other times he was just unbelievable. He'd come unglued, a different personality completely."

He could also be rash, a trait that has at times blurred the boundaries between his personal and work lives. Take, for example, his two-month marriage to Teryn McCullough, who had been Asher's employee at DBT. According to court documents, the couple married on October 16, 1996, and was separated a month later. When she sued for divorce on November 20, she was unemployed and pleaded with the judge for emergency support from her estranged husband. Asher "let me go from employment in his company because his previous fiancée is the [chief financial officer] and he did not want her to know that he was dating me," McCullough claimed in court documents. (A prenuptial agreement contained a stipulation that infidelities on the part of either would have financial consequences, including possible stock awards or givebacks.)

It was perhaps Asher's impulsive workplace behavior that began rubbing some DBT board directors the wrong way as they prepared to take the company public on the New York Stock Exchange in the mid-1990s. Asher, who was not only a major stockholder and board director but also DBT's president and chief executive officer, was a by-the-seat-of-the-pants innovator, not a navigator. Some directors believed the best way to steer the DBT ship was with a formal management structure headed by experienced executives. That arrangement didn't leave enough room for such a larger-than-life personality as Asher.

Apparently seeing the writing on the wall, Asher founded a new company, Indar, in 1997, and signed a confidentiality agreement with DBT stipulating he was not to compete with DBT or hire away its employees. Indar was also an online database company, and Asher established it virtually across the street from DBT's Boca Raton offices. This put Asher in the odd position of competing against DBT, a company for whom he still served as an officer and director.

A rancorous battle erupted between Asher and DBT directors, and he was ousted as president and CEO in May 1998, though he retained his director's seat and stocks. Not until a year later would another shock wave force him to sell the stock. Asher was resentful of the heave-ho and continued to disrupt company operations, according to a law suit filed by DBT three years later.

DBT executives were alarmed that Indar was stealing its employees, so much so that it threatened litigation against Asher. In a letter to Asher dated September 4, 1998, DBT's attorney accused Asher of disparaging the company and its management, soliciting employees to join Indar, and actually hiring some of them. The problem was magnified, the attorney wrote, because of Asher's "past history of intimidation and harassment of DBT employees." Asher was forced out of his DBT board seat two months later.

The same year Asher left DBT, 1998, the company contracted with Florida to purge the state's voting rolls of felons, who are barred from voting under a provision of the Florida constitution. In the aftermath of the contested presidential election in Florida, the company, by then owned by Atlanta-based Choicepoint, was criticized for having identified legitimate voters as felons. Many of them were black, a demographic group that largely voted for Al Gore in 2000.

By 1999, the only tie left between Asher and DBT was his stock holding, but it was enough of a connection to send the company reeling. In May of that year the FBI and DEA suspended their contracts with DBT because of Asher's Bahamian past. During a routine inspection of the DEA's Miami office, a five-year-old memo concerning Asher came to light, according to an article at the time in the Miami Herald. Written by DEA security officer Jerry Castillo, the 1994 memo stated that Asher was "known to Miami Enforcement Group 10 and is listed in NADDIS [DEA's internal intelligence computer system] as a pilot with suspected Bahamian drug connections."

Just as Seisint would one day be forced to do, DBT management launched a damage control effort by distancing the company from Asher. One company spokesman even denied that Asher founded DBT, rather he'd founded a company that was later merged into DBT. The board forced Asher to sell his 23 percent share of stock, for which he received $117.5 million from an October public offering. In addition, three board directors with ties to Asher, including his sister Sari Zalcberg and Jack Hight, were forced out.

Asher took his money and set the stage for battle with a new set of board directors.

When Seisint announced Asher's resignation late last month, the company did its best at spin, calling the move "part of a management transition plan initiated 18 months ago." In fact, the company has struggled for years with its strong-willed founder, and there's little reason to believe that Asher, still the major shareholder, won't continue to wield great influence within the company.

In October 1999, BankAtlantic Bancorp, which is a holding company of BankAtlantic, entered into an alliance agreement with Asher and Seisint. Bancorp invested a large sum in Seisint, and, as a gesture of goodwill, Seisint bought BankAtlantic stock. Alan B. Levan, who was chairman and CEO of Bancorp, and John Abdo, the company's vice chairman, then became directors on Seisint's board. Levan and Abdo, however, more or less remained outsiders on the board, which also included Jack Hight, Martha Barnett, and Bruce Barrington, the creator of Clarion.

The new directors soon found that Asher routinely transferred personnel to his pet projects, despite the objections of company management, according to court documents. Seisint fell behind in an important project as a result, and the company experienced a cash-flow crisis by the summer of 2001. In October of that year, Levan issued a confidential memo to the board that began, "Speaking on behalf of Jack Abdo and myself, we believe there is a pattern of dysfunctionality and deceit here that creates real liability for our founder and the Board of Directors."

"Hank Asher, without the authority of the Board, is hiring and firing, spending corporate funds, committing important resources of the company and intimidating and harassing its officers and directors, including the CEO."

"Make no mistake, there will be shareholder litigation. The full truth of Hank's background, his activities and behavior at his prior company and this company will be investigated and come to light."

Levan urged, as he had in the past, that the board remove Asher from any role in the company. When the board declined to do so, the two men resigned and sued Asher and the directors soon afterward for mismanaging Atlantic Bancorp's investment. The lawsuit is pending.

Seisint took another blow in August when Asher's Bahamian ghosts rose again. Asher had approached Florida Department of Law Enforcement officials soon after the September 11 attacks and proposed a database system for tracking terrorists. With $1.6 million appropriated by the Florida Legislature, the company entered into a pilot program with FDLE for the Matrix system. The full search power of Matrix won't be in place until multiple states have included their databases. That may take awhile. When FDLE head Daryl McLaughlin learned of Asher's past from a newspaper reporter, he called for an official investigation before further committing to Matrix. The inquiry hasn't been concluded, but McLaughlin calls Asher's removal from Seisint's board "a positive development."

Barnett says she doesn't believe that Asher's history -- whatever the truth may be -- denigrates his accomplishments at Seisint. "He developed law enforcement tools because he was concerned about criminals on the street, about kids being kidnapped," she said during an interview before Asher's removal. "He's developed some of his tools because he saw a problem and he wanted to solve it."

The company, she argues, has grown bigger than its founder. "The story ought to be about this great company in the state of Florida that's doing unique, cutting-edge things, saving lives, saving money, creating products that are beneficial, as opposed to focusing on an individual and what may or may not have happened in his life 20 years ago. Seisint is not about Hank Asher anymore."

As for the rest of the Hank Asher story -- stay tuned. The world hasn't heard the last of Boca Raton's restless cybermagnate.

"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, Bill of Rights)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved

CA - Tracking Sex Offenders

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"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, Bill of Rights)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved

KY - Apartment complex housing sex offenders will let family break lease

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Well, ignorance is no excuse. That is why they have the registry. You should have checked it before you moved in. If I was the owner of the apartment complex, I would not let these idiots out of their lease.


By Shayla Reaves

LOUISVILLE (WAVE) - A parent wants to get out of a lease for an apartment shared with three small children. After moving in two months ago, the parent learned some frightening news.

"We have the highest concentration of sex offenders in the state in this one complex," Councilman Doug Hawkins (Contact) (R-District 25) said.

Hawkins said 40 registered sex offenders live in the six-building apartment complex on Hackel Drive in Pleasure Ridge Park. This is part of his own District 25 and I made a call to the councilman after learning of the family's situation.

"When you all told us about this, we contacted Legal Aid and Legal Aid has worked very hard on this," Hawkins said.
- Got to look tough on crime, and help out the sheeple who want the government telling them what they can and cannot do.  The people should have checked the registry before moving in.  Put the blame where it belongs, in the peoples hands.  This congressman, IMO, is doing this to look like he's helping people, and in the process, violating the offenders rights to live there.  He must be running for some office.

Progress is being made on this case.

"We called the landlord and advised her of the situation. The landlord said there are sex offenders in the apartment complex, they have lived there about three years and no one has had a problem," said Gwen Horton, a Legal Aid attorney. "If she did perceive it was a problem for her and the health and safety of her children and herself, they had no problem with her being able to break her lease."

Gayle Collins works for Southwest Community Ministries at 9800 Stonestreet Road. The agency agreed to provide some transition assistance for the family.

"What we could provide for this young family is some assistance with their rent, assuming they stay in our service delivery area," Collins said.

If the family decides to move outside of the service area, Collins said they can be linked up with another Southwest Community Ministries location.

Thursday, the family said their next step is finding that new place to live.

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"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, Bill of Rights)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved

CT - A Molestation Case Against a Former Police Lieutenant Continues

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A judge in Stamford has denied a motion to drop sexual assault and enticing charges against former Norwalk Police Lieutenant Thomas Cummings. The former Lieutenant stands accused of having sex with two 15-year-old boys and luring another to his Norwalk home.

The judge in the case has issued a decision Thursday saying Cummings' attorneys did not provide enough proof that their client had been deprived of a fair investigation into the charges.

Cummings was arrested in January of last year. He resigned from the Norwalk Police Department shortly thereafter. A trial date has not been set.

TX - Female Sex Offenders Increasing

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By Rosenda Rios

More Victims Reporting Women To Police

SAN ANTONIO -- They could be anyone you know -- sisters, aunts, cousins and teachers. But their sexual crimes are far from harmless and now the number of female sex offenders in Bexar County is growing.

"There is a sense to downplay a bit, not seeing it as being serious," said Cynthia Gentry, an associate professor who specializes in criminology. at Trinity University

According to Gentry, when it comes to young victims of a female predator, society is shocked and outraged, but when it's a teenager being sexually abused, society tends to look the other way.

"In their particular circle, in this culture, it might be considered a plus," Gentry said.

Sex abuse cases by women are rarely reported and when they are, cases like Mary Letourneau, an elementary school teacher caught having sex with a twelve year old boy, the attention is almost celebrity status.

But according to Dr. Gentry, a victim is a victim.

On the state's registered sex offender Web site, you would think all predators are men, but there are also plenty of female sex offenders on the list and according to authorities, that number is on the rise.
- Because most women, from what I've seen and documented on this blog, get slaps on the wrist when crimes are committed, where men get long times in prison.  It's a double standard, and must be changed.  People are suppose to be created equal, and a crime is a crime.

Based on numbers provided by the Bexar County Sheriff's Office, there are 4,700 registered female sex offenders in the county and according to authorities, the number has doubled, maybe even tripled what it was just a few years ago.

"That's the reaction I get, 'Never knew they had female offenders,'" said Deputy Armando Diaz of the Bexar County Sheriff's Sex Offender Registration Unit.

Diaz has been with the sheriff's sex offender office for nearly 10 years.

Diaz has noticed a jump in the number of registered female sex offenders in Bexar County from a few names on the list to a couple of pages full of women who are registered sex offenders.

Earlier in the month, 67 sex offenders were rounded up by various law enforcement agencies. Among those picked up was Irene Tejerina, a sex offender who failed to properly registered with the state.

Diaz believes tips have everything to do with the rise in the number of cases.

"Families are contacting the authorities to report the abuse, not the youngsters," Diaz said.

Gentry said victims of a sex crime are just that. A victim and female predators, most times, are very troubled.

"People tell me, 'Females do it.' I didn't think so, but now I know," said Mary, a young woman who was sexually attacked by a female.

"I was paralyzed down, paralyzed from my legs. It changed everything, it changed my life," Mary said.

Mary is still undergoing therapy and continues to use a cane to help her walk, but she hopes more victims will come forward to report the sexual abuse.

"It's a serious crime and that needs serious attention," she said.

"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, Bill of Rights)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved

Citizens for Second Chances (New Web Site)

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"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, Bill of Rights)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved

CA - County to pay $4 million to settle jail-beating lawsuit

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Illegal immigrant, accused of molestation, was left brain-damaged after inmates attacked him, his lawyer says.

County officials have agreed to pay more than $4 million to settle a lawsuit brought by an undocumented Mexican immigrant who was beaten by inmates while in custody at the Orange County jail, the man's attorney said Monday.

The settlement appears to be the largest ever paid by Orange County for an in-custody incident involving county sheriffs, according to county officials and the man's lawyer.

_____, then 21, was left brain-damaged by inmates in Module A at the Orange County Central Jail in June 2006. He was jailed after a 6-year-old girl told her mother a stranger touched her over her clothes on her private parts at El Salvador Park in Santa Ana. _____ was charged with child molestation but eventually pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of non-sexual battery, said his attorney, Mark Eisenberg.

But Eisenberg said the jail's classification of his client contributed to the attack because other prisoners became aware of the sexual assault allegation. Deputies in charge of monitoring the jail that night were elsewhere in the jail when the attack occurred, Eisenberg said.
- Of course they were. Instead of monitoring them, they left so the beating could occur, IMO.

The ensuing beating left _____ with the intellect of a 4-year-old child. He is unable to walk unassisted and will need help for the rest of his life, said Eisenberg.

County officials declined comment on the settlement. However, a spokesman did confirm that the next highest pay out for an in-custody incident was a $650,000 settlement paid in 2002 to the family of a man who died in 1998 after scuffling with deputies in the jail.

County supervisors gave their lawyers authorization to settle the lawsuit earlier this month in a closed session.

Eisenberg said a final settlement was approved Apr. 17 and described the amount as $3.75 million for _____'s family along with nearly $900,000 to cover all outstanding medical liens for medical care rendered while in custody.

The attack occurred months before another highly publicized inmate jail beating which resulted in the death of _____, who had been jailed on suspicion of possessing child pornography.

After The Orange County Register published an investigation of deputies' role in that case, a criminal grand jury probed the _____ beating.

The grand jury described a culture among deputies of lax oversight of prisoners as well as a culture of cover-up regarding deputy actions. Two assistant sheriffs and seven deputies resigned during the fallout from the grand jury investigation.

The disclosures from the _____ grand jury, as well as the 2007 federal indictment of former Sheriff Mike Carona on unrelated corruption charges, presented challenges for the county during a jury trial.

"The county was vigorously fighting any effort by _____ and his counsel to have anything introduced from _____," Eisenberg said, adding that he reviewed such motions during trial preparations.

"I think the grand jury report was influential," he said. "I also think the criminal conviction of Sheriff Carona, albeit on the limited count of witness tampering, was also influential."

"It was a chapter in the county's history that needed to be closed. And these two factors, _____ and Carona, played a role," Eisenberg said. "It certainly influenced the powers that be to conclude that this case was one that should be settled."

Eisenberg said his side also had challenges facing a conservative jury pool in Orange County, because of _____'s immigration status and the nature of his arrest.

"Both sides had problems," he said.

For example, _____'s family accepted a settlement of $600,000 in large part because of the potential impact on jurors due to the sexual nature of the allegations against him.

Eisenberg called the settlement "fair" noting that it will take care of _____'s medical needs for the rest of his life. He credited county officials for "stepping up and doing the fair and responsible thing."

While County Supervisor John Moorlach would not comment on the details of the _____ settlement, he did say that Sheriff Sandra Hutchens has turned around a lax culture within the jails.

His chief of staff, Mario Mainero, recently took a tour of the jails and said the infrastructure, staff and inmates showed a very different attitude since his first jail tour in the wake of the _____ death.
- Of course it does.  When they know you are coming, they will clean up their act, but what goes on when you are not there, is a different story.

Moorlach also said several changes – such as cameras, more visible and mobile guards and a full shuffling of top managers – has helped to begin changing the culture that contributed to the _____ and _____beatings.

"We're seeing management get involved," Moorlach said. "And what I'm getting as feedback is that we're seeing dramatic change."

"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, Bill of Rights)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved

IN - Should convicted drug dealers be ordered to register like sex offenders?

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You bet! So should murderers, DUI offenders, thieves, drug users, abusive parents, gang members, and all other crimes. We need a registry for all criminals! For those who say no, why not? Because you might be on one?


By Jerry Davich

Bob B. of Valparaiso claims he lives next door to a convicted drug dealer who is allegedly dealing and using again, but there's nothing he can do, he says.

"We are afraid. And we have been instructed by the local police to report anything the least bit suspicious," Bob said. "Yet legally, there is nothing we can do."
- Yes legally there is, do what the cop said!

Bob and his wife have lived in their home for 22 years, and they're tempted to move.

"However, we like our house and have put in a lot of work over the years. Morally, how do you sell a house to someone knowing what kind of neighbors they would have? I have decided to stay and improve the neighborhood rather than flee. Do I have any assurances that my new neighbors would be better?"

He's also concerned for his neighbors.

"Next door to us is a couple with a 4-1/2 year old and a 15-month-old. Across the street is a widow, and beside her is a couple with five kids who enjoy playing outdoors. A popular park for very young children, Tower Park, is less than a block away and others in the neighborhood walk young ones by their house everyday," Bob told me.

The problem (and possible solution), he points out, is that convicted drug dealers do not have to register publicly as sex offenders do. Instead, he noted, "they are allowed to cut a deal, testify against others, and then return to the community... where innocent people live."

Bob's advice to others: "Ask everyone in their neighborhood if they know of a convicted drug dealer living in the area. Ask where you walk, jog, etc. We all need to know and we all need to keep our eyes wide open. Ask for their own safety."

"We have done nothing wrong, but are serving a sentence."

"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, Bill of Rights)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved

OH - The Killer Next Door: The Cleveland Rapist

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Isn't it ironic and hypocritical, that they very people who lobbied for these laws, are not back tracking and saying the "system is broken?" I could've told you that, matter of fact, I have been, for the last couple years. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to tell you that. You need to get past your hate and anger, and one sided views, and see the whole picture.


By Ernie Allen

Ernie Allen, president and CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (Contact), was online Thursday, Nov. 5, at 11 a.m. ET to discuss the discovery in Cleveland of 11 bodies in one home in a run-down neighborhood that has relatives of the presumed victims wondering how such a gruesome scene could have gone unnoticed for perhaps years, and they charge that police ignored their missing person reports.
- So what makes Ernie Allen an expert in sex offenders and serial killers?

How does something like this happen in plain sight? What can authorities and communities do to protect citizens from registered sex offenders? Who are the victims?

There are as many as 100,000 registered sex offenders in the United States whose whereabouts are unknown, and with the passing of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, NCMEC joined in a partnership with the United States Marshals Service (Contact) (USMS) in their initiative to apprehend fugitive sex offenders. The primary goal of NCMEC's Sex Offender Tracking Team (SOTT) is to support law enforcement by providing assistance in identifying and locating non-compliant/fugitive registered sex offenders.
- That 100,000 number is their magical goldilock number. Do you know of any legitimate study that was done to PROVE that number? If so, I'd love to see it!

Fairfax, Va.: How does something like this happen in a community without law enforcement checking into it? Wasn't there enough suspicion? Is it a matter of law or is it a breakdown in the enforcement system?

Ernie Allen: The systems for following up on these offenders are simply overwhelmed. And once an offender has completed his parole, there are limitations in terms of what authorities can do. In Sowell's case, Sheriff's deputies showed up at least once a quarter, went to his house and confirmed that he was there. But absent additional evidence and probable cause, they couldn't enter or do additional investigation. Clearly, they didn't look closely enough and neither did the community. In so many of these cases, these most serious offenders are simply hiding in plain sight. It is not acceptable and we have to do a lot more, including increasing the resources when these guys are released into the community.
- What do you mean they didn't look close enough?  Even you and the law states, they cannot search the mans home or property without probable cause.  So what more do you expect them to do?  The man is clearly a sick man, but without a search warrant and probable cause, not much they can do.

Phoenix, Ariz.: It's like an episode of "Criminal Minds." You take people that no one will miss -- homeless, prostitutes, junkies, for instance.

The pig farmer in Canada killed 49 that way. Comments?

Ernie Allen: Typically, the offender is known to the victim, at least casually. While we don't know all the details yet, it is hard to imagine that there aren't families or loved ones somewhere who have been looking for at least some of these victims. From what we know, he seduced or lured most of his victims, getting them into a situation in which they were unable to escape. It is far more typical than the stereotypical fears that many have about snatched off the streets. In most of these cases, they are more "seduction" than "abduction."

Washington, D.C.: What does the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children do in cases like this? Do you look for adults that are missing?

Ernie Allen: Our involvement in these kinds of cases is focused on the offender. We do not work missing adult cases, unless the adult is between 18 and 21 and we are asked to assist by law enforcement. The premise under the law is that adults have a right to be missing, juveniles do not. However, we are very active in the effort to track down missing or noncompliant sex offenders. Of America's 686,000 registered sex offenders (as of our last national survey in July), at least 100,000 are missing or noncompliant. We have a Sex Offender Tracking Team at NCMEC which is using public record databases and other similar tools to try to locate these guys. We do this in support of the US Marshals Service and at the request of state and local law enforcement.
- Notice he now added the "or noncompliant?"  The 100,000 missing is a magical goldilock number (not too much, not to less, just right, but is not backed by facts).  Many are noncompliant because the laws are so draconian they are almost impossible to follow.  Many offenders being arrested today, if you notice, are arrested for noncompliance, not a new sex crime.

Obviously, Mr. Sowell was compliant with his registration obligations, a fact which was confirmed on a quarterly basis by law enforcement. However, somehow nobody saw what his real preoccupation was. There were no public suspicions or tips reported to authorities (to our knowledge) and law enforcement did not pick up any clues as to his behavior.
- So how does a police officer go to this mans home to check on him, and when he opens the door, not get knocked to the ground with the smell of death?  I don't understand that.

Boston, Mass.: Could/should police have walked a cadaver sniffing dog around the street by the house in question when neighbors complained of a "dead body" smell? They wouldn't have needed a search warrant just to do that right? And then, what if the dog smelled a cadaver in that house's yard? Is that enough probable cause for the police to enter the property and start digging?

Ernie Allen: That's right. Just as in the Garrido/Jaycee Duggard case in California, this information was in plain view (or scent). You don't need a search warrant to look over a back fence. When there were complaints of the dead body smell, clearly additional investigation should have taken place. The backyard is private property, but I am confident that enough information could have been generated (particularly considering Sowell's criminal history) to meet the probable cause standard and obtain a warrant for more extensive searching.

Annapolis, Md.: How does this Cleveland case rank in the hierarchy of similar cases nationwide?

Ernie Allen: It is a really bad one. I don't how one rates or ranks these kinds of atrocities, but it is well up the list. America has a long history of serial killers, including people like Ted Bundy and others. The number of victims is outrageous, and particularly troubling is that he apparently conducted all of these crimes in and around his home in the middle of a city. Certainly, the investigation is on-going and it is not inconceivable that authorities will learn more, and that we have not yet identified the full scope of what Sowell has done.

Richmond, Va.: I heard that there was a sausage manufacturer near the house, so that could have provided an excuse for the smell.

Ernie Allen: There are always excuses and explanations, particularly in cities. People are busy. People look for "normal" explanations for situations that appear "abnormal." The key in cases like this and many others is for people simply to pay attention and if there is something troublesome or that appears unusual, to report it. We at NCMEC get hundreds of calls every day through our hotline 1 (800) THE LOST or our cybertipline, Many of them are from well-meaning people who are concerned about something and let us know. Oftentimes, there is an innocent explanation. However, in case after case, average people doing average things but simply paying attention, are providing information that leads to finding missing children and saving lives. The problem in this case, I suspect, is that there were these kinds of excuses for the smell, and not enough people reached out and expressed their concerns. Some did, and weren't taken completely seriously, but in so many cases, that is how we get resolutions, not from CSI-type wizardry but simply from good citizens speaking up.

College Park, Md.: Is it true that the victims were people on the "edges" of society, i.e., homeless, prostitutes? Do you think he knew them?

Ernie Allen: It is too early to know with certainty, but overwhelmingly female rape victims know their assailants. These are most often crimes in which offenders win the confidence of their victims, lure them into situations in which they have little opportunity of escape and then victimize them. Our assumption here is that he tricked or seduced his victims, and then raped and killed them.

Washington, D.C.: Are sex offenders ever completely "cured"? Is incarceration effective? Do they repeat?

Ernie Allen: The key point that we try to make is that all sex offenders are not alike. One of the areas where we need to direct most of our attention is the area of risk assessment. 2/3 of America's sex offenders are not in jails or prisons, they are in our communities. There is contradictory evidence in the research literature, but clearly treatment is effective and beneficial for certain kinds of offenders. However, the treatment needs to be entered into willingly by an offender who accepts responsibility for what he has done and is committed to changing his life. Other offenders, including offenders against children, we are more skeptical about. For some of these offenders, these offenses are not lapses of judgment, they are a lifestyle. Recidivism research offers some encouragement, but our skepticism is that recidivism measures the numbers of offenders arrested and convicted. Most of these crimes are not even reported, particularly by child victims. And these offenders tend not to be monogamous. They tend to have multiple victims. So, it is a complex challenge for society that requires more serious sentencing for the most serious offenders, more robust and effective follow up and monitoring in the community post-release, treatment as a matter of privilege, not right, and a serious, comprehensive national strategy to do something about this problem.

Woodbridge, Va.: Why does this happen over and over? I am so tired of criminals getting the benefit of the doubt until disaster strikes.

This guy had already done a 15-year stretch for rape, so he has a history of violence. When the neighbors began to suspect something through the stench of decay, law enforcement should have been able to investigate it FROM THE BEGINNING.
- One conviction of rape doesn't signify a "history" of violence, more than one, yes.

Do they really need an invitation from the court system, even when they have "reason to suspect?"

Ernie Allen: The problem is that the greatest leverage that we have over these criminals is when there are specific conditions applied as part of their probation or parole. Once they escape those conditions through the end of their parole period, law enforcement is much more limited in terms of what it can do. In Sowell's case, Sheriff's Deputies went to his home at least quarterly, but they could not go beyond the front door without probable cause and a warrant. We believe fervently in the rule of law, but you are right, the concern about Sowell wasn't because of who he is or what he thinks, it was because of what he had already done. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

Lima, Ohio: Doesn't this case exhibit the shallowness of the registration laws? Legislators can take a bow because it looks like they're doing "something," but in reality all it represents is busy work for bureaucrats.

Ernie Allen: We think registration laws are absolutely essential. At a minimum authorities need to know where these offenders are and what they are doing. But like all laws, they are only as effective as they are implemented. The big challenge we face as a nation is that there are now 686,000 registered sex offenders. It is like triage in a battlefield situation. You can't do brain surgery on everybody. You have to set priorities. You have to identify those who represent the greatest risk and focus greater resources and attention on them. In our sex offender registries in some states, we have registered offenders convicted of Romeo and Juliet-type offenses; i.e., statutory rape in which a 19 year old had sex with his 15 year old girl friend. That is unlawful, but I am not terribly concerned about him as a threat to the community. Similarly, the guy arrested for public urination at Mardi Gras probably isn't the same level of risk as Sowell, a convicted violent rapist or Garrido, a convicted kidnapper/rapist. We need to do much better in not only identifying those offenders likely to represent the greatest levels of risk, but also educating the public about them. That is why we pushed for a provision in the Adam Walsh Act for every state to implement a system with tiers of risk in the sex offender registries. Tier IIIs are the most serious, highest risk. Tier IIs represent less risk, and Tier Is represent relatively minor risk. It is not perfect, but we need to do a better job of differentiation.
- The AWA "Tiers of Risk," are not that, they are tiers based on the crime committed, not the risk to reoffend, that needs to be fixed. And even with these tiers, it doesn't show on the registries, so everyone is assuming that just because they are on a registry, they are all dangerous child molesting killers, which is false.  Only a few are truly dangerous, about 5% or less.

Washington, D.C.: In other words, they are among us. Isn't the problem that victims -- if they survive -- don't like the stigma of having had abuse affect them? Is it a personal decision to just "keep it in" and not report it?

Ernie Allen: Absolutely. For example, among children the leading research indicates that we are up to about 1 in 3 reporting sexual abuse, a dramatic increase over 20 years ago. But that still means that 2 out of every 3 victims never tell anybody. Rape victimization data for adult women is comparable. So, when you consider the fact that there are 686,000 registered sex offenders, you must also remember that that only represents those who have been arrested and convicted in a court of law. It doesn't include those whose victims never reported, and it doesn't include those who for some reason were not convicted. There is trauma associated with victimization, and many victims are reluctant to put themselves through the ordeal of the criminal justice process in a quest for justice. We are doing better but it remains a huge challenge.
- Where is the study for the "1 in 3" number?  And who did the study?

Baltimore, Md.: Once an offender is released, how often is he monitored?

Ernie Allen: It varies state to state. In the recent Adam Walsh Act, the Congress increased the penalty for failure to be compliant to a felony. It had been a misdemeanor in 25 states. That means that when they don't comply, there is an opportunity to have their parole revoked and have then sent back to prison. Under the Adam Walsh Act, states are supposed to do personal visits/confirmations of the most serious offenders at least quarterly, the Tier IIs at least every six months, and the Tier Is annually. However, again, states are overwhelmed and need help. In many states historically, the way in which an offender was determined to be complaint was by mail, hardly a very effective way of ensuring that the offender is where he is supposed to be and is doing what he is supposed to do. The primary and most intensive oversight occurs when these offenders are on parole and have specific limitations and conditions imposed by the court. However, the parole period runs out. We need to dramatically intensify the system at the back-end to ensure follow up monitoring and supervision. It is not only in the best interests of society, it is also in the best interests of the offender. The last thing a child molester needs is to be told to go forth and sin no more. They tend to be model prisoners, but when they get back on the streets, they begin to encounter children, or the rapists begin to encounter women. They start to fantasize. Society needs them to have meaningful oversight, and not to simply drift into anonymity where nobody knows where they are or what they are doing.
- We are always talking about the Adam Walsh Act and it's laws, but no state has implemented it yet, so you are further confusing people by stating stuff that is not law in all states yet. And you mention above they can have their probation or parole revoked, well, most offenders are on either.

Bel Air, Md.: What tier would Sowell be classified in?

Ernie Allen: I don't know with certainty how he was classified in Ohio. Based on the severity of his crime (violent rape), he should have been classified as a Tier III, the most serious.

Lusby, Md.: I dont' think police and the media take the cases of missing African Americans seriously as they do with white women. You never see the national news reporting on the disappearance of a woman of color like they do white women. You would think we never go missing. When is the disparity going to end?
- This is not an issue of race, so why make it into a race issue?

Ernie Allen: What we are trying to ascertain in this case is whether there were missing persons reports filed on these women. There is no question but that the level of response to missing adult cases is not as intense as with missing children. However, I am convinced that there are reports out there on these victims and that they have loved ones looking for them somewhere. The process of identifying the victims will answer a lot of those questions.

Alexandria, Va.: Don't they have some sniff-alyzer, which can tell rotting corpses apart from sewage?
- Yeah, it's called a Dog.

Ernie Allen: There are a variety of new forensic tools that can be used in these kinds of cases. I am not sure what Cleveland authorities used in these cases, but one of the things that NCMEC's Cold Case Unit does on a lot of these cases is use new technology to try to locate and identify remains. The technology advancements in this area are phenomenal.

Alexandria, Va.: What causes someone to do this kind of crime? And repeatedly? What is in the psyche? Is it a childhood trauma? To what can this be attributed?

Ernie Allen: I wish we knew more. Certainly, we know that many of these kinds of offenders suffered abuse as a child. However, it is important to point out that the vast majority of abuse victims do not go on to become abusers themselves. There is long-standing debate in this country regarding accountability for these kinds of acts; i.e., is this evidence of mental disease or defect, or is it criminality? Our view is that while it is important to focus on causation and how a particular offender turned out the way he did, we do not believe that it is exculpatory. Ultimately, we believe that adults are responsible for their acts. Help them, try to change them, but don't excuse these kinds of crimes.

Washington, D.C.: What is the standard that is used to heighten the search for an adult who may be missing? As I understand it, in this country people do have the right to simply be left alone.

Ernie Allen: Exactly, and that is the problem. Adults have the right to be missing. So, typically, the cases of missing adults that are taken most seriously are those where there are actual witnesses or physical evidence that suggests foul play. One of the challenges is that in many of these cases, there is no evidence, there are no witnesses. It is important that law enforcement take these disappearances seriously and conduct investigations. Because of the growing number of young adults who have become victims, we were asked a couple of years ago to take on the cases of 18 -- 21 year olds when asked by the police to assist. The rationale was that in many of these cases, the fact that a victim became an adult one month before and was abducted at the age of 18 years and 1 month instead of 17 years and 11 months seems pretty arbitrary. It is still a child to his or her parents. So, I think the response in these cases is getting better, but as you point out, there are legal hurdles.

Anacostia, D.C.: In the CBS TV show "Without a Trace," they always put up a picture of someone who has gone missing at the end of the show. In reality, is this effective? Have any of the people posted been found?

Ernie Allen: Yes, and you make a really important point. NCMEC disseminates the photos of missing children through a network of 400 private sector partners. There are missing child bulletin boards in every Walmart store (200 kids have been recovered as a direct result of Walmart shoppers). We work with media. We have one partner that has distributed missing child photos in mailers into 85 million homes each week in America for 24 years. It works. Somebody knows. We recover 1 in 6 of those kids as a direct result of that photograph. What 'Without A Trace' has done in using prime time, expensive airtime to create visibility for these cases is huge. When Jaycee Dugard was recovered, it became clear to me that there are many more of these kids out there who are recoverable. We currently have 800 long-term missing stranger abducted kids for whom we are searching. I simply do not believe that through some accident of fate, we have now recovered every one of them who is still alive through the recoveries of Jaycee, Elizabeth Smart and Shawn Hornbeck. The public is the key.

Betehsda, Md.: Do you think that part of the reason the system is so overwhelmed is because of the broad definition of "sex offender?" Would smarter laws help us determine the potential dangerous repeat offenders and keep better tabs on them? It seems to me that no one would ever have the political will to do something like this for fear of appearing "soft on crime."

Ernie Allen: That is the whole premise of requiring states to categorize sex offenders by tiers of risk. The problem and the challenge is that it is hard and not scientifically precise to do that. Ultimately, our view is that the best predictor of future behavior is what you have already done. There are those who argue for more in-depth psychological analysis and similar techniques. That is great, but how are you going to do that with 686,000 offenders. Clearly, this challenge can't be fixed with "one size fits all" and our approach has been a "triage-based" system, a comprehensive approach that prioritizes offenders and develops an array of techniques more tailored to the unique needs and challenges of each one.
- So when are you going to work on education and teaching kids and adults what to look for?  I do not see much about doing that, only punishment after the fact.  Education is key, IMO.

Wasahington, D.C.: Were you surprised about the Jaycee Duggard case, being in the backyard all those years and nobody noticing or realizing she was being held and abused for so long? What is her current condition? How is Elizabeth Smart now? Others?

Ernie Allen: Jaycee is doing great. NCMEC has provided a psychologist from our Outreach Network who is working with Jaycee and her family. This is not a quick or easy process. It really is a life-long process of recovery. You can't erase those 18 years. We are trying to achieve a new normal for her. I was not only surprised but discouraged that Jaycee was not identified and Garrido not apprehended over those 18 years. If you have seen the age progression photo our forensic artists did of Jaycee, it is right on. All we needed was for somebody to look at the picture, generate that one key lead, and Jaycee should have been recovered long ago. Nonetheless, the good news is that she is alive, she is young, she has two young kids to focus on and care about. There is real hope for her future. Regarding Elizabeth, she is an amazing young woman. If you read the articles and transcript of her testimony in the recent hearing on Brian Mitchell, her abductor, you can appreciate what courage this young woman has. Elizabeth, Jaycee, Shawn Hornbeck and others give me real hope for so many of these kids. The human spirit is resilient. These kids figured out how to survive, and we are hopeful about their futures.

Phoenix, Ariz.: Ernie said: " is hard to imagine that there aren't families or loved ones somewhere who have been looking for at least some of these victims."

While this is true, the 'community' may very well not notice if there are a few less homeless or other street people. That was the original question -- How can a community not know this is happening?

Ernie Allen: A police officer said to me once, "the only not to find this problem in any city is simply not to look for it." I really believe that we have made enormous progress in this country and that America has begun to look. However, a story like this makes it abundantly clear how far we have yet to go. I don't know how a community can not know that this is happening. We live in a time in which in many places we have lost that sense of neighborhood, people looking out for each other. In many communities, people don't even know who their neighbors are. This is a human tragedy and hopefully, will awaken people everywhere to what else needs to be done.
- Well, using bogus statistics and scaring the hell out of people, doesn't help either.  You need to tell people the truth, not just what would help you or your business.

Washington, D.C.: I can't help but think this tragic situation is due in part because the victims were black women, SOME of them with other challenges in their lives. Thus, they are/were "perfect" victims; some people in the community don't care about such people and sadly, the police, who we the taxpayers pay, didn't care about such people either. So to me, this smacks of racism, sexism and classism, not only on the part of the police, but SOME community members as well. Lastly, do you know what kind of rape crisis services are in this city? Thanks.
- It's not a race issue, and I am sick and tired of every time a crime is committed on a black person, everyone comes out of the woodwork claiming it's a race issue.

Ernie Allen: We know that African-American, Hispanic and other minorities are victimized disproportionately with these kinds of crimes. We know that there are growing numbers of people in our society who have become anonymous, the homeless, the forgotten. In our work at NCMEC, we are seeing growing numbers of kids on the streets of American cities. In a New York Times series last week (am I allowed to say New York Times on this site?), it pointed out the stories of the new American homeless, runaway kids struggling to survive on the streets and being subjected to sexual victimization. Two weeks ago, NCMEC joined with the FBI in a national sweep focusing on child sexual trafficking and child prostitution. To date, we have rescued 900 kids and prosecuted 500 offenders who prey upon kids. In so many ways, we still have "hidden victims," victims who somehow nobody sees. I remain convinced that that police officer was right. First and foremost, you have to look for it and then do something about it.

Washington, D.C.: I heard on cable news that Mr. Sowell stated his aunt with whom he lived was in a nursing home. Did authorities every find her? Could she be among the missing?

Ernie Allen: We don't know that answer right now.

Washington, D.C.: You said that there are 686,000 registered sex offenders. Do you know many of them are non-violent or convicted because of consensual acts (e.g., the 18-year-old boyfriend of a 14-year-old girl)? Given the reality of limited monitoring resources, wouldn't it be more effective to have law-enforcement personnel focus on violent offenders like Anthony Sowell?

Ernie Allen: Absolutely. That is why we argued for and Congress included in the 2006 Adam Walsh Act a "Romeo and Juliet" provision that excludes those kinds of cases. However, that doesn't mean that some states don't include them. The goal is to prioritize these offenders based upon their level of risk to the community, and focus our limited resources on the most dangerous.

Ernie Allen: Thank you for all of the great questions. I have really enjoyed chatting with you this morning, and feel the same sense of anger and indignation that you do about the Cleveland tragedy. I am convinced that average people can make a difference. First, if you see something, or suspect something, or know something, report it, including reporting it to NCMEC at 1 (800) THE LOST. If you want free information about to keep your children and your family safe, visit our NCMEC website at

"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, Bill of Rights)

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