By Scott J. Croteau
LEICESTER — Police are seeking criminal charges against an 18-year-old woman who authorities said lied about being raped by a family acquaintance.
The investigation is unrelated to the case against a Brookfield man whose rape charges were dismissed recently in Western Worcester District Court in East Brookfield after a teenager admitted her accusations were a lie.
Citing fraudulent crime reports in his town and around the area, Police Chief James J. Hurley said stiffer penalties for filing false police reports are needed. Those accused face harsher penalties than those making false claims against them, he said.
“The Leicester Police Department has laid off police officers due to funding shortages yet the taxpayers have to foot the bill for this type of fraudulent report,” Chief Hurley said. “The punishment for this type of crime needs to be increased. If you fraudulently accuse someone of a crime that could put them in jail for 20 years, then the person who fraudulently reports the crime should face the same penalty.”
Police Chief James J. Hurley declined to identify the woman, a former town resident, saying she has not been charged in court yet. Police have filed an application for criminal charges of filing a false police report, misleading a police investigation and perjury against the woman in Western Worcester District Court. The woman will appear in court at a future date, police said.
Leicester police received a report in November that a woman living in an apartment in town — the address was not released — went to do some laundry and came back to her apartment to find a man inside.
The woman told police she was grabbed from behind by the man, who was armed with a knife. She claimed the man forcibly raped her and identified her alleged attacker as a family acquaintance.
“During the course of the investigation police processed the crime scene for evidence and interviewed a number of individuals pertaining to the crime,” police said in a news release. “The woman even went to the hospital and submitted to a sexual assault evidence kit, which was sent to the state crime lab for processing.”
Police helped the woman receive an emergency restraining order and she later appeared in court to extend it, which was granted.
The detective working the case noticed inconsistencies in the woman's story. The investigator had sufficient evidence to show the reported rape never occurred and he confronted the woman.
“More of the story didn't add up,” Chief Hurley said.
The man was never arrested or charged in the case, the chief said. The woman, in a videotaped interview, admitted the accusations were false, according to the chief.
Sgt. Paul Doray, who investigated the case, spoke to the chief during the investigation about the inconsistencies. The family also began to pressure the investigator about why no criminal charges were filed, Chief Hurley said.
The chief commended the work of Sgt. Doray and noted that without the sergeant's dedicated work, someone could have been falsely accused of a serious crime.
“As police officers, this is something we don't want to have happen on our watch,” Chief Hurley said. “Sgt. Doray did an outstanding job in getting to the truth in this investigation.”
Filing a false police report and misleading police are crimes that can lead to jail time. The maximum penalty for falsely reporting a crime is one year in jail and/or a $500 fine. Misleading a police investigation carries a sentence of no more than two-and-a-half years in jail or a maximum of 10 years in prison, or a fine of $1,000 to $5,000.
Also frustrating to the chief is that these types of false reports place police in the position of having to scrutinize victims more to verify their stories. Having to interrogate a true victim is “just not right,” the chief said.
In the past 18 months, Leicester police have investigated four different reports, including cases involving an armed robbery, a pedestrian allegedly hit by a car and an abduction on Route 9, which all turned out to be false.
Investigations also cost money in terms of manpower dedicated to the cases. This can cost the department thousands of dollars, Chief Hurley said. The department has laid off officers and is facing more cuts.
The charges in the Brookfield case were dismissed last week after the girl sent a letter to the court indicating the accusations were false.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
By KAREN McCOWAN
EUGENE (AP) -- A small-town Oregon lawyer remains so outraged over what prosecutors did to a Central Oregon teenager in 2006 that he intends to go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to seek redress.
For now, University of Oregon Law School graduate Steve Richkind, aided by several current students at the school, is asking the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to allow him to press a $3.5 million civil rights lawsuit against state prosecutors on behalf of _____.
_____ is now 21 and living in Texas with his 30-year-old partner and their young child. But as an 18-year-old resident of tiny Antelope, Ore., he was prosecuted, convicted and jailed on felony sexual abuse charges arising from a consensual relationship with his high school girlfriend, who was three years younger.
In the eyes of some, such charges are themselves an injustice. Activists across the country are pushing to exempt such cases from felony status.
But for _____, getting charged, jailed and publicly labeled a sex offender for such behavior was particularly egregious, Richkind says, because a Jefferson County grand jury had decided it was not a crime. The panel of citizens, after hearing the state's evidence against _____, returned a "no true bill" rather than an indictment. But, in an error chronicled in publications from Oregon newspapers to the American Bar Association Journal, nobody read the grand jury's verdict. Everyone from the prosecutor to the judge to _____' own defense attorney assumed he had been indicted and proceeded accordingly.
After a grand juror alerted them to the error, _____' suit alleges, the judge, prosecutor and defense attorney privately agreed on this remedy: The judge would declare the felony convictions "a legal nullity," and the district attorney's office would file new, misdemeanor sex charges against _____.
To botch the first prosecution and follow it with a second over the same conduct constitutes double jeopardy, "shocks the conscience" and "violates a universal sense of justice," Richkind argues.
Public critics of _____' prosecutions have ranged from newspaper editorial writers to former Oregon U.S. Attorney Charles Turner, who calls the bungled first prosecution an example of "the grossest negligence and incompetence" and the subsequent charges "a terrible exercise of prosecutorial discretion."
The state Department of Justice is defending the six county and state prosecutors who oversaw one or both of the prosecutions. State lawyers have until Feb. 24 to file a response to Richkind's 9th Circuit appeals brief.
Tony Green, spokesman for Oregon Attorney General John Kroger, declined last week to discuss details.
"Our general principle is that we do our talking in court," he said. "What is perhaps obvious is that we have been successful at every level at which this case has been heard."
A Jefferson County Circuit Court judge and the Oregon Supreme Court already rejected a state court civil suit making the same claims. Likewise, a U.S. District Court judge in Portland dismissed _____ suit in the first federal court level. Richkind is pressing ahead.
It's a daunting task, according to constitutional scholars and experienced appellate lawyers particularly for a solo practitioner with no federal court experience. After graduating from the UO Law School in 1987, Richkind set up a law practice in the same town at the foot of Mount Hood where he graduated from high school. In Sandy, he has specialized in family law, mediation and criminal defense, but took on _____ case at the request of a law school classmate in Jefferson County.
"Prior to this case, I had never filed any action in federal district court or the court of appeals," he said. "It was a leap of courage for me, because I was so sure that the Constitution was trampled on by what happened to Mr. _____."
Richkind has a steep hill to climb, said Rankin Johnson, a Portland criminal appellate lawyer.
"But this case is also an outrageous enough injustice that it looks like it's worth fighting over," he said.
Richkind looked every bit the small-town lawyer when he appeared before Lane County Circuit Judge Karsten Rasmussen on _____' state criminal case early last year. (Rasmussen brokered a settlement of that case after Jefferson County judges withdrew because of their court's role in the first prosecution.)
In contrast to the polished manner and sleek suits of most litigators, Richkind had an outraged air and the slightly rumpled look of an absent-minded professor.
The latter attribute torpedoed his 2008 bid for an Oregon House seat: He had no candidate statement in the Oregon Voter's Pamphlet because he missed the submission deadline.
In a brief filed with the 9th Circuit late last year, Richkind argues that Jefferson County officials violated _____ federal due process rights by prosecuting and jailing him "illegally" the first time despite the grand jury's decision not to indict him.
The officials further violated those rights, Richkind alleges, by "conspiring" to go forward with a second prosecution for the sexual contact, this time filing misdemeanor charges. The suit calls the latter prosecution a "vindictive sham" designed to "justify and cover up the illegal first prosecution," thus protecting the state from embarrassment and liability.
And it alleges that the officials violated _____' state and U.S. Fifth Amendment protections against double jeopardy in the second prosecution for misdemeanor offenses that were "lesser and included" versions of the charges in the first case.
He urges the 9th Circuit to overrule a federal district court judge's dismissal of the case. In that decision, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mosman granted a state Department of Justice motion to dismiss the case.
Department of Justice attorney Leonard Williamson had argued that _____ was not subjected to double jeopardy because the first prosecution became a "void act" and because the charges filed in the second case were different and arose from different incidents. U.S. courts have upheld the right of prosecutors to file misdemeanor charges after a grand jury "not true bill" on felony crime arising from the same episode, he wrote.
Williamson noted that the 9th Circuit has previously upheld prosecutorial immunity even when a prosecutor knowingly used false testimony at trial.
That precedent reflects the "fundamental and important" public interest in prosecutors being free to act on behalf of the public without fear of legal reprisal. Johnson, the Portland appellate defense lawyer, considers that a flaw in our legal system.
He doesn't advocate prosecutors being held personally responsible, but said wrongfully prosecuted defendants deserve some kind of government compensation. "If a government official makes a mistake and a citizen suffers as a result, the citizen should come out ahead," he said.
The suit now targets six officials: Jefferson County District Attorney Peter Deuel and Deputy District Attorney Steven Leriche; state Attorney General John Kroger and assistant attorneys general Stephanie Tuttle and Darin Tweedt.
Jennifer Kimble, _____' court-appointed attorney in the first prosecution, originally was a defendant, as well, but was removed from the case after reaching a confidential settlement with _____.
But Kimble admitted publicly that "none of us did our job" soon after officials learned that there had been no grand jury indictment in the first case. She also gave _____ written notice that he might have a claim against her and others for their failure to read the jury's verdict, Richkind said.
Turner, Oregon's U.S. attorney from 1982 to 1993, has publicly criticized both prosecutions of _____, but particularly the latter.
"When the grand jury speaks, that's the end of the matter, as far as I'm concerned," he said.
Turner said he does not buy the argument that the offenses in the second prosecution were different incidents.
"They may have picked different days of the month," he said, "but I know (Jefferson County prosecutors) didn't just present the evidence of the days in question to the jury, they presented the whole ball of wax. To me, the grand jury was speaking and saying this is not a matter worthy of prosecution. If they'd presented the incidents from the second case to the grand jury, they would have had another no true bill."
Among Richkind's arguments to the 9th Circuit is a claim that prosecutorial immunity does not apply to such nondiscretionary tasks as the duty to read a grand jury indictment.
That argument could raise an interesting legal question, Lewis and Clark Law School professor Susan Mandiberg said. The criminal law and federal court professor agreed to speak generally about the immunity defense.
"Prosecutors do have absolute immunity for prosecutorial decisions, but not for administrative decisions," she said. "The question is, where is the line drawn?" That legal question also interested Andrew Kraushaar, a third-year UO law student who hopes to practice criminal or international law. Last May, he volunteered to help Richkind with the appeal.
With fellow law students Evan Wickersham and Ryan Olds, Kraushaar helped Richkind research, prepare, and electronically file the 9th Circuit brief.
"You think about the U.S. as a bastion of Constitutional democracy, but this poor, socio-economically disadvantaged kid who doesn't really know his rights just gets kind of beat around by the system," Kraushaar said.
He added that he could understand the human error that led prosecutor, judge and defense attorney to overlook the "no true bill."
"The second prosecution is where it gets egregious, when all the players get together behind the scenes and agree to declare a judicial nullity," he said. "But it did happen. _____ served 30 days in jail and also was labeled a sex offender."
ARC Talk Radio this week will be speaking with the Director of Hand up Ministries.
This 501C 3 Organization is located in Oklahoma city and is a faith base prison after care program for men and women.
They provide housing and other items needed for success including helping with job placement. It is a structured environment with many rules to help them succeed.
They have even done their own in house study about men/women who have stayed there and what the recidivism rates are with them.
Currently, Hand Up Ministries, houses 151 Male Sex offenders, 12 male non-sex offenders, They also house 6 females, 4 of those being sex offenders and 2 non-sex offenders.
Show your support and join us!
Kevin and Mary
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By Don Davis
Governor Tim Pawlenty (a future presidential candidate?) wants to double some sex offender sentences, the latest in a series of related moves over the years.
ST. PAUL -- Governor Tim Pawlenty (Contact) wants to double some sex offender sentences, the latest in a series of related moves over the years.
Under the Republican governor's plan, a first-degree sex offender would receive a sentence of at least 25 years, compared to about 12 years now.
While he won legislative approval to give life sentences to some who are convicted of particularly heinous sex crimes, Pawlenty this morning said that did not go far enough.
The governor said his proposal today would not cost the state more than $5 million, and no increase in cost would come for years.
- Yeah right. Imprisoning people costs a ton of money!
Pawlenty summed up his philosophy about sex offenders: "They need to be kept off the street for as long as possible."
- Who is they? Not all sex offenders are child molesting pedophile predators, which this man seems to think. Wait until his kids get slammed with some sex crime, then watch him change his mind.
In the past, he has suggested the death penalty for some especially heinous crimes.
Today's proposal is the latest in a series of proposals from both parties to get tough on sex offenders, and longer sentences have been approved. The movement began after the death of University of North Dakota student Dru Sjodin in 2003 and the arrest of convicted sex offender Alfonso Rodriguez in the crime. Sjodin's body was found near Crookston, Minn.
- The "movement" began, when politicians realized they could exploit sex offenders to look tough on crime, and to appears as if they are actually accomplishing something.
By Irina Aleksander
Driving through Broadview Park, a square-mile neighborhood west of Fort Lauderdale, Randy Young splits his attention between the single-level stucco homes outside his window and the laptop affixed to the dashboard of his Toyota pickup. The laptop is equipped with a specially programmed GPS system that displays what looks like a Venn diagram: overlapping, color-coded circles—purple for schools, yellow for day-care centers, and green for parks—marking areas where sex offenders cannot live. In recent months, those circles have been expanding, as the small community, an unincorporated area of Broward County bordered by State Road 7, Interstate 595, and the Florida Turnpike, tries to expel new and unwanted residents.
“See this house here? That’s where we put 24 sex offenders,” says Young, tapping his finger against the glass at a house on SW 22nd Street. “Now there’s only five.”
Young is 53 years old, tan and heavyset, with receding hair and rectangular glasses. He is a registered sex offender, convicted in 2003 of a lewd or lascivious act with a minor—“a 19-year-old girl performed oral sex on a 15-year-old boy in my presence”—and runs a for-profit business called Habitat for Sex Offenders, finding housing for people who have been convicted of sex crimes ranging from child pornography to kidnapping and rape. He operates about 20 houses and 30 apartments in seven counties across South and Central Florida.
Since 2005—when 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford was kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and murdered by a registered sex offender who lived next door—many local governments in Florida have increased the buffer zones that separate sex-offender residences from places where children congregate, and the question of what to do with paroled sex criminals has reverberated from county to county. No one wants to live near them, but no one, especially law enforcement, knows where to put them.
“Everybody says put them on an island,” says Young. “Every sex offender I know would say, ‘Where’s the island? I’ll go! Just tell me where it is.’”
Young made such an island out of Broadview Park. The neighborhood feels forgotten, with derelict vehicles parked on patchy lawns, and rusted wire fences surrounding recently repossessed homes. By early 2008, when Young discovered the area using his GPS system, it was one of the last places in the county with a buffer zone of 1,000 feet, the minimum state requirement, while nearby counties had increased theirs to 2,500 feet. Young leased four houses from landlords desperate enough not to be selective about their tenants, and took in sex offenders who had been living in a tent city under Miami’s Julia Tuttle Causeway. He also bought a three-bedroom foreclosed home for $150,000 and rented it out to nine sex offenders, charging them each $600 a month.
“Randy said, ‘Pay what you can, I’ll work with you,’” said Eddie Pruna, who lived in the house of 24 and kept losing work when his employers found out he had molested his 10-year-old niece. “He helped me when I was on my last nerve.”
Pruna and his roommate, Robert Taylor (12 years for molesting his daughters), paid Young by doing construction work on his other properties. “It’s awful hard, being what we are, to find a place to live,” Taylor said. “We’re supposed to go to therapy and reintegrate into society, but society doesn’t want to see us.”
In 2007, according to the Broadview Park Civic Association, there were four registered sex offenders in the neighborhood; by April 2009, there were 106. Graciela Ortiz, a resident who had 14 sex offenders on her street, began to keep her grandchildren indoors.
Though sex offenders were free to live in Broadview Park, unlicensed rooming houses were illegal, and code-enforcement officials threatened Young with fines unless residents vacated his overpopulated homes. Meanwhile, John Rodstrom, the commissioner of Broward County’s District 7, which includes Broadview, rushed to pass a temporary ordinance mandating a 2,500-foot buffer, which effectively made it impossible for new sex offenders to move in.
“People are afraid of sex offenders, and maybe they have a right to be,” Rodstrom told me. “They certainly have a right to be concerned about their property values, because if it’s a sex-offender haven, people aren’t going to buy in that area.”
The 2,500-foot ordinance was made permanent in September, but it allowed sex criminals who already listed Broadview Park as their permanent address to stay.
Things have since quieted down in the neighborhood. After repeated warnings from code enforcement, many men have moved on, including Taylor and Pruna, whom Young placed in a home in Fort Myers. Some have gone back to living under the causeway. Eighty sex offenders now live in Broadview Park.
Despite their differences, Young and Rodstrom agree that a better solution would be to establish housing in industrial areas—for instance, Young suggested that a major orange-juice company could hire sex offenders to pick its oranges on the condition that they live in corporate housing.
“A good law would be figuring out where they could live,” rather than where they can’t, said Rodstrom. “But no politician would ever do that, because that’s the death of your career.”
As Young crosses State Road 7 into Fort Lauderdale, where the buffer is set at a more friendly 1,400 feet, he glances back at his GPS system. “These used to be million-dollar homes. Last I checked, they were half a million, and now they are probably somewhere around $200,000. So guess what? They’re for rent,” he says. “Two years ago, before the economy collapsed, none of this would have been possible.”
We pass a brick home with large glass windows and a red foreclosure sign on its lawn. Young gets excited. “Oh yeah, another foreclosure,” he says. “They keep pushing and pushing, so I’ll keep moving. All the zoning restrictions did was push us into the rich area.”
The dot on the map representing Young’s truck enters a tiny patch of gray between the spheres of purple, green, and yellow, and Young declares that we are safe here.
By Matthew Squires
A website which publishes details of convicted and suspected Lancashire rapists and paedophiles has sparked fears of vigilante attacks.
South Ribble MP David Borrow also believes the site could lead to cases of mistaken identity, as it contains details of people who have been charged with offences but not convicted – or otherwise – by a court.
The website, which the Lancashire Evening Post is not naming, details scores of rape and paedophilia cases in the county.
Mr Borrow said: "It is dangerous if it is inaccurate."
"If you think they have published details of someone who has been charged, but not convicted, and they have been falsely accused, we have got someone labeled as a sex offender who has never been convicted."
"My big concern would be that – and also it causes a potential problem for the police in that they have got a duty to protect individuals who have served their sentence."
"If someone feels they can take the law into their own hands it causes a problem for the individual and also the police," he added.
The website is a name-and-shame-style page, which publishes details of people who have been dealt with by UK courts and names people who have been charged – but not necessarily convicted.
Other categories of crime outlined on the site include murder, domestic abuse, animal cruelty, terrorism and violence. But the site owners claim they are performing a public service.
In a statement, a site spokesman said: "We are aware of the concerns recently raised regarding vigilante attacks. The majority of the cases reported are already in the public domain."
"Because of this, we are unsure why our website would be any different to other news outlets reporting the news."
"On the subject of vigilante attacks, we must ask ourselves what is it that stops you and I from taking to the streets and committing such vigilante offenses?"
"The point is that a vigilante who decides to take the law into his or her own hands, is a criminal, and equally deserves to be on our website," the spokesman added.
The police declined to comment.