Friday, November 27, 2009

Vigilantism and Violence against Sex Offenders (RSOVigilantism)

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"That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing." - Martin Luther King - United States Constitution | Bill of Rights


© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues, All Rights Reserved


MSNBC - Lockup (Not sure of the date)




"That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing." - Martin Luther King - United States Constitution | Bill of Rights

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues, All Rights Reserved


NY - Utica man, 66, shot dead after answering door

View the article here

11/27/2009

By ROCCO LaDUCA, JENNIFER BOGDAN and EMERSON CLARRIDGE

UTICA   - _____ and his roommate had just spent Wednesday evening baking pies and sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving dinner when they heard a knock at the door of their Dudley Avenue apartment shortly before midnight.

Having only one leg, _____, 66, grabbed his crutch and made his way to the door. The roommate said he next overheard _____ talking with what sounded like a man and a woman.

The unknown visitors then demanded money from _____, the roommate recalled, but _____ refused.

Suddenly, shots rang out.

Moments later at 11:53 p.m., _____, a previously convicted sex offender, would be found dead in his first-floor doorway, said his roommate, who asked not to be named. By Friday morning, his killer or killers remained at large, Utica police said.

When officers arrived, they said the smell of nutmeg and cinnamon still wafted through the air inside 1139 Dudley Ave.

While police officials did not dispute the roommate’s account of what happened, investigators spent the Thanksgiving holiday trying to piece together who might have killed _____, and for what reason.

I do know that there was a conversation at the door, and I do know that there were gunshots,” Utica police Capt. James Watson said. “That lends itself for us to believe that the victim may know the offender.”
- Really?  Maybe it was someone who lives near by, who saw the man on the sex offender registry, was having hard time with money, and decided to extort some money from this man.  That doesn't mean they have to know the man personally.  But, that is just another question.

_____ appeared to be shot in the head, according to the roommate, but police would not confirm where _____ was shot on his body or how many times. Officials said an autopsy most likely will take place early next week.

Interviews conducted at the scene of the homicide earlier that morning offered few clues about the culprits, Watson said.

Based on the people we’ve spoken to, we need to do some follow-up interviews with people before we can even come remotely close to developing suspect information,” Watson said.

Shortly after the shooting, area police agencies were put on alert for an older white jeep occupied by two men and two women that reportedly drove away from the scene north on Dudley Avenue toward Eagle Street.

‘He didn't deserve to die this way'

Several hours after _____ was killed, his crutch remained propped up against the porch near the front door, which still was stained with blood.

For those who knew _____, it was those crutches and a mobilized wheelchair that they most often saw him use to move throughout the Cornhill neighborhood.

And although _____ spent more than 15 years in prison for sexually abusing a 12-year-old boy in the late 1980s in Otsego County, his status as a registered Level 3 sex offender wasn’t mentioned as they recalled their neighbor.

I was a good friend of his,” neighbor Judith Torres said Thanksgiving Day afternoon in front of the first-floor apartment where _____ was killed. “He didn’t deserve to die this way. God took a good man.”
- God did not take a good man, some vigilante killers did.

Despite having only one leg, _____ still offered to cut lawns for his neighbors, while using one hand to push the mower and the other hand to balance himself on a crutch.

He also drove a tractor that towed a small trailer throughout the neighborhood to collect scrap metal that he would sell for cash, friends said.

_____, they said, enjoyed bird-watching in his backyard, where a row of leafy collard greens still grew in the ground Thursday as a reminder of _____’s love of gardening.

On his birthday, he would say God gave him another chance," Torres said.

_____ did have a number of children that he hasn’t talked to for years, according to the roommate, who has lived with _____ since July.

But shortly before _____ was killed, he had just spoken on the phone with a son he hadn’t seen in about 14 years, the roommate said. _____ also recently had made contact with another son living in Texas that he hasn’t seen for nearly 30 years.

After the roommate was questioned by police until about 6 a.m. Thursday, he was not immediately allowed to go back inside his apartment because it was a crime scene.

‘Like light bulbs dropping’

When police officers responded to the call, they already had been notified that multiple shots had been fired. The sound of gunfire had clearly been heard by nearby residents.

It sounded like light bulbs dropping to the floor,” Torres said from her nearby home.

In the early morning hours after the shooting, area police agencies were put on alert for an older white jeep occupied by two men and two women that reportedly drove away from the scene south on Dudley Avenue toward Eagle Street

The city police forensic truck spent hours parked in the middle of the block with its spotlights shining on the 2-1/2 story house as evidence was collected.

As word of _____’s death spread, the Thanksgiving eve killing brought shock and fear to neighbors such as Jessenia Lopez, 19, who moved to the block with her three children about eight months ago.

Lopez was decorating a Christmas tree when she noticed the police activity on the street, she said.

This is not what I want for my kids. ... Now I'm scared to even close my eyes,” Lopez said about an hour after the homicide.

This is Utica’s fourth homicide of the year.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call police at 223-3510.

All calls will be kept confidential.

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"That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing." - Martin Luther King - United States Constitution | Bill of Rights


© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues, All Rights Reserved


MA - Editorial: Pushing out sex offenders

View the article here

11/27/2009

Some issues make us so uncomfortable that we don't want to dwell on the right and wrong way to handle them we just want them to go away. That's certainly the case with sex offenders.

Most people don't want to be bothered with details about where sex offenders end up after being released from prison. They just want them taken away from their neighborhoods.

The problem is that this "out of sight, out of mind" approach doesn't solve the problem; it just moves it.

A bill that would prohibit sex offenders from sleeping in homeless shelters has the support of most shelter providers in the state and rightfully so. Statistics shows most Level 3 sex offenders use shelter addresses as a feint to avoid the sex registry requirement. And those that do actually sleep at shelters present another problem. Shelter providers say they aren't equipped to provide the support programs these people need.
- Show me the "statistics" to prove the "most Level 3 sex offenders use shelter addresses as a feint to avoid the sex registry requirement!"

The problem of offenders giving a shelter address while living elsewhere says something about the lack of adequate post-release supervision. Someone should be checking out these addresses - and hauling into court anyone who violates the sex offender registry law by giving a false address.

These problems may also justify a law banning offenders from the facilities, but such a move should not come without a plan that addresses where exactly these people will live.

The driving force behind laws banning the worst sex offenders from living near schools, day-care centers, parks, playgrounds, libraries or nursing homes is easily understood. Nobody wants a convicted child rapist deemed likely to re-offend living somewhere that puts them in contact with the most vulnerable people in our community, children and the elderly.
- But, have you read the studies that show that where someone lives, has nothing to do with if they will commit another crime?

Marlborough and, more recently, Ashland have passed such bans. But pushing them further out of certain areas doesn't mean they disappear. It means they just end up in someone else's backyard.
- And that is what I've said for a long time, nobody wants to deal with the problem, they just want to push the problem off to someone else.  California has been shuffling sex offenders around for many years now.

Ban them from homeless shelters and what? Where do they go?

Massachusetts must do a more credible job with post-release supervision. We may also need statewide policies restricting where the most dangerous offenders can live or linger. But a town-by-town patchwork of regulations provides a false comfort. Like the rest of us, most convicted sex offenders can easily travel from town to town. No community should have to bear an unfair burden when offenders are squeezed out elsewhere.


"That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing." - Martin Luther King - United States Constitution | Bill of Rights


© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues, All Rights Reserved


ID - Prison officials hearing more reports of male rape

View the article here

11/27/2009

By Andrea Jackson

Idaho Department of Correction (Contact) officials expect more charges of male rape to be filed against inmates after a former Magic Valley convict became the first Idaho prisoner to ever be found guilty of the crime from behind bars last week.

An Ada County jury on Nov. 17 found inmate _____, 31, guilty of male rape and attempting to intimidate a witness, after assaulting his cellmate on Sept. 15, 2008, at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution, according to IDOC.

The charge and conviction are a first for Idaho’s 120-year-old prison system.

In the past three to four years, more inmates have come forward to report rape as Idaho implemented the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act, according to Pam Sonnen, chief of prisons for IDOC.

Sonnen confirmed that she anticipates more rape charges with the precedent set by _____’s conviction, but added that charging inmates with male rape is still challenging.

There have not been any rape complaints reported to IDOC so far this fiscal year, according to IDOC spokesman Jeff Ray. In fiscal year 2009, IDOC received three, and none were reported in the 2008 fiscal year, Ray said.

Inmates are feeling more comfortable and they’re trusting the system,” Sonnen said.
- Or, are afraid of the system!

But still, Sonnen says “it’s very humiliating and embarrassing especially for men in our prison system to come forward.”

The crime has been hard to prove in the past, often due to he-said, he-said situations. Also evidence destroyed through showering and clothes-washing has also complicated cases.

But _____’s victim came forward, preserved evidence and testified, Sonnen says. “That’s why we’re so proud of this first case.

Inmates have been fearful to report rape in the past and Sonnen said IDOC in recent years has tried to take “that stigma away” by offering more education and resources.

Some offerings include more cameras and restroom layouts have changed. Rape counseling is also available and inmates have a toll-free phone number they can call to report rape, said Sonnen.

Consensual sex is against the rules for IDOC inmates and before the rape, _____ was not classified as a sexual predator, according to IDOC.

He faces two life terms now for the male rape conviction and for being a persistent violator with his sentencing set for Dec. 22. He has convictions for burglary, assault, escape, grand theft, driving under the influence and eluding an officer, spanning the counties of Minidoka, Twin Falls, Bonneville and Cassia.


"That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing." - Martin Luther King - United States Constitution | Bill of Rights


© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues, All Rights Reserved


TX - Father putting his life back together after daughters recant stories of molestation

View the article here

11/26/2009

By DIANE JENNINGS

"Paul Parks" spent almost three years in prison for molesting his two young daughters. He spent another 15 years living with the stigma of being a registered sex offender.

All because of what they now say is a lie.

Last year his now-adult daughters changed their story and he was exonerated. Such recantations are not unusual, but being declared innocent by the courts is rare.

For Parks, who requested a pseudonym as he pulls his life back together, his moment came when a Dallas judge concluded that his daughters' recantations were credible. In April, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals set the convictions aside "on actual innocence grounds."

The 54-year-old father of nine, paroled in 1994, got a call at work last spring telling him that after 25 years of hoping and praying, his name was cleared.

"It feels like I've got my life back, like I was suffocating and I came back to life," he says.

"I didn't want to die with a lie."

Once a lawyer, now a truck driver, he celebrated by asking his boss for time off to attend the wedding of one of the two daughters who accused him of molesting them.

Parks' case is every man's nightmare: to be accused of molesting your own daughters and to have no way to prove you didn't do it. Even now, he's aware that without conclusive evidence, like in the flurry of DNA exonerations in recent years, some people will always wonder if he's guilty.

Unlike the dozens of recent DNA exonerations, prosecutors fought the effort to clear Parks. They called old witnesses and questioned his daughters, because in recantation cases, proof of innocence is murky.

Assistant District Attorney Christine Womble, who handled the final hearing, says she has "mixed feelings" about the court's decision clearing Parks. "I had questions after talking to the girls prior to the hearing – and I still have questions."

Domestic difficulties

The lie began during a bitter custody battle. The primary evidence against Parks was the testimony of his daughters, backed up by his two ex-wives, "June" and "Kathy."

The two women did not return calls for comment. The daughters who testified against him declined to comment through his attorney. The Dallas Morning News examined the transcript from Parks' exoneration hearing and other court appeals related to his case.

Parks and his first wife, June, met in college. He served in the U.S. Marines and received a law degree from Western State University College of Law in California. But he and June separated after six years of marriage and three daughters.

When he dropped his wife off at school one day, he whisked away his three daughters to Dallas to start over. June claimed he kidnapped them; Parks said she refused to accompany him. They divorced in 1982, but June had no idea where he'd taken the children.

The next year, Parks married a Dallas neighbor, Kathy. They divorced 14 months later. When that union soured, court testimony indicates Kathy phoned June to tell her where the girls were. She suggested asking whether they had been abused.

June alerted authorities, who swiftly removed the girls from Parks' home.

"I just went crazy," Parks said. "I guess I told them, 'This is ridiculous. I'm not that type of person.' "

At a custody hearing in Dallas the abuse charges were deemed not credible, Parks says. Ike Vanden Eykel, one of Texas' premier divorce attorneys, remembers his client's steadfast denials, and how he offered to take any test and answer any question. "He never wavered."

But June's attorney pressed for criminal charges, which were filed in May 1985. The girls moved back to California with their mother in a joint custody agreement.

Parks moved back to California with the woman who later became his third wife, Michelle, to be closer to his daughters.

But June raised the abuse allegations again when she sued for full custody in California.

There, a psychological report stated Parks "did not present a personality profile consistent with that of a child molester" and noted that the girls may have been "coached."

Again, the abuse claims went nowhere, and Parks expected them to be dropped in criminal court. He exhausted his savings and was assigned a public defender.

To his dismay, Judge Gerry Meier, a no-nonsense jurist, decided to try the case – immediately. "We were ready for the dismissal," Parks said. "But we weren't ready for the trial."

Girls testify

From behind the defendant's table, Parks watched his life unravel.

According to court papers, Parks' first ex-wife said he talked to the girls like lovers, telling them to "give me some of your hot kisses."

His second ex-wife testified that Parks walked around in front of his daughters nude, with an erection; showered with them, French-kissed them and discussed their genitalia in crude terms. Parks said it wasn't true.

Peggy Nichols, a Texas Department of Protective Services social worker, testified about her interviews with two of his daughters – here called "Cindy" and "Nancy" – after removing them from their father's care. Parks' youngest daughter, who was 3 at the time of the alleged abuse, was not part of the case.

At first, Cindy, 6, and Nancy, 4, denied to Nichols that any inappropriate touching had occurred, court records show.

But by the time of the trial, three years later, they'd faced repeated questioning by Nichols and been shuffled from a shelter to foster homes then back to their mother, who also peppered them with questions. The girls' stories changed.

From the big wooden witness chair, Nancy said her father "molested me."

Watching his daughter, Parks wondered, "Where in the heck did they get that big word?"

Under questioning, Nancy added details in more childlike language.

Cindy said their father told them "not to tell anybody" what happened.

Parks says the girls wouldn't look at him during their testimony. "They made them into nothing but little robots there on the stand," he says.

Parks could do little. He wanted to introduce records from family court to show the allegations had been previously discredited, but says the judge didn't give him time to do so. He denied the abuse, but without evidence it was his word against theirs.

The jury believed the two little girls. And Parks didn't help himself in the sentencing phase.

He said therapy wouldn't help because he hadn't done anything wrong. When a prosecutor asked if he thought incest was normal, he said he didn't know.

He shrugs helplessly when asked about that now. "I was tired and depressed," he says. "They tripped me up ... I do not advocate [incest]."

The damage was done. Parks received two 10-year terms.

"I just wanted to sit there and die," he says.

The appeal became well known among Texas lawyers because it decided the issue of when extraneous evidence could be admitted. State courts concluded the testimony about Parks parading around naked should not have been introduced because the legal question was whether he had inappropriately touched the girls, not other conduct.

But the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals also ruled that the mistake was harmless because the other evidence was so strong.

In 1992, Parks went to prison.

That's when Michelle finally told their children that their father was going to prison for a crime he didn't commit. "It might be awhile before Daddy comes back," she said.

'Life dismal'

In prison, Parks worked in the leather factory, and helped inmates with their cases. He studied the Bible and sang in the choir.

Michelle found work at a day care and in other low-paying jobs. She sold the car, but lost the house when she fell behind on the mortgage. Relatives took the family in.

When he walked out of prison after 2 ½ years he found that being a registered sex offender "makes your life dismal," Parks says.

He couldn't live with his family, so Michelle arranged for him to rent a nearby duplex.

After several months, parole officials allowed him to move home. He eked out a living doing odd jobs. Then a relative helped him find factory work. When that factory closed, he became a truck driver.

Though he was prohibited from contacting his children from his first marriage, Michelle tried to locate the girls, sending letters to possible addresses. She received no response.

Then the phone rang one day in 2001. Nancy, now 21, was on the line. One of Michelle's letters had reached her. She wanted to talk to her father.

" 'No, no – I can't get on the phone,' " a panicked Parks said. "It's a violation of the rules."

Michelle says both women were puzzled by his refusal to talk. Separated from their father at an early age, they didn't even realize he'd gone to prison, Parks says.

Michelle says they thought their father had abandoned them.

"Do you not remember saying Daddy molested you?" she asked.

They remembered, but said they did it to please the adults pressing for answers. "Daddy didn't do that," they told Michelle.

'Complete lie'

According to court transcripts, the sisters – now an elementary school teacher and a child therapist – had discussed clearing their father's name before. But that's no easy task.

"It's a common misperception that all you've got to do is take their written statement, 'He didn't do it,' and Daddy walks out of jail," says Bill Allison, co-director of the Actual Innocence Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law.

But judges are skeptical of such claims. They want to preserve the finality of convictions and are suspicious of the witness's credibility, Allison says. "At some point the witness is not telling the truth – either then or now."

Some children, even as they become adults, worry that they or their other parent could face perjury charges, if they change their stories.

Parks' attorney, Gary Udashen, says he assured the daughters that their father was not interested in pursuing charges against anyone else. Kris Wise, who oversees such cases for Dallas County, said the district attorney also had no interest in further prosecutions.

Reassured, the women swore in affidavits that their father did not molest them, and in 2008 they traveled to Dallas for a hearing.

"It was glorious," Parks says of their reunion after more than a decade.

In court the next day, Cindy and Nancy testified.

"Somebody had created this story and, over time, we were just coached and coerced to saying a complete lie," Nancy said, according to the court transcript.

Cindy testified that, "After being questioned and asked about it so many times, it's kind of like you feel like just giving in ... They're not gonna listen to me, so I might as well just tell them what they want to hear."

She also denied that her father ever "walked around the house naked," saying he was "very modest."

Nancy said she didn't feel guilty for testifying against her father.

"I was a child," she replied. "And the way I looked at it, I was manipulated and taken advantage of, so I can't say that I feel guilty."

Womble didn't re-call Parks' former spouses to the stand. During his original trial, they'd never testified that they witnessed any sexual abuse. "The primary question is whether these girls lied," Womble said.

Allison, the expert on such cases, says it's unfair to call adults who recant their childhood testimony liars.

"They are giving in to pressure from adults ... it is not a lie to them. They have no idea of consequences ... they're children."

Parks' attorney also presented a new psychological report saying the testimony of the women as children was not credible, but their recantation was.

Writ master April Smith recommended Parks be cleared. Judge Susan Hawk says she "signed off on it without hesitation."

Getting reacquainted

A few weeks after charges were dropped, Parks was pulled over by a police officer while driving his younger children to school – a forbidden activity for registered sex offenders.

Luckily, he had a copy of the judgment in his car and was free to go.

Today, he's enjoying even more freedom. He can camp with his son, decorate the porch on holidays, even visit amusement parks.

Parks hopes to get a fresh start with several hundred thousand dollars in compensation money that he'll get under state law for being wrongfully convicted.

He and his two oldest daughters are getting to know one another again through weekly phone calls. To make up for the years he missed, they presented him with photographic scrapbooks of them at various stages of their lives.

Parks says he never blamed his daughters.

"I was never really angry at them for something somebody else did to them. I felt like they were raped mentally."

Prosecutor Wise says "you don't always have to have somebody to blame. Obviously a mistake was made, at some point or the other, but it wasn't a mistake that was maliciously made ... I think everybody fully believed at the time that they were telling the truth."


"That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing." - Martin Luther King - United States Constitution | Bill of Rights


© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues, All Rights Reserved