Tuesday, June 1, 2010

CO - Advocates for Justice and Empathy for Developmentally Disabled

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LA - Sex offender bill toughens penalties on those with youngest victims

Original Article (Listen)

06/01/2010

By Ed Anderson

Legislation designed to prohibit convicted sex offenders from holding certain jobs was amended by the Senate late Tuesday to also provide for life imprisonment for those who prey on children younger than 18.

With little debate, the Senate amended then passed 35-0 Senate Bill 780 by Sen. Sherri Cheek (Email), R-Shreveport, sending it to the House for debate.

Cheek filed the bill in response to the grisly slaying of 12-year-old Justin Bloxom of Stonewall on March 30. Cheek described the youth as "the All-American boy" who was a scholar and athlete.

Police have arrested [name withheld], a twice-convicted sex offender, in the boy's death.

Officials said [name withheld] posed on a social networking site as "Amanda" and expressed interest in meeting Bloxom. [name withheld], working as a cab driver and still posing as "Amanda," said he would send a taxi to pick up Bloxom.

When the boy got in the cab, police said, he was killed. His body was found the next day in a field in DeSoto Parish.

Cheek's bill started out banning convicted sex offenders from working as cab drivers, bus drivers and limos drivers as well as a "service worker who goes into a residence" like a plumber or handyman.

Cheek's bill also would prohibit any sex offender who committed a crime involving a child from working as an amusement park or carnival ride operator.

Cheek said Tuesday she is looking to add other occupations to the bill.

She amended the bill on the Senate floor to make life imprisonment mandatory if the offender is convicted of a second felony sex offense involving a victim younger than 18.

The life sentence could not be suspended and the offender could not be eligible for probation or parole.

Cheek said the amended bill would apply to sex crimes committed "on or after Aug. 15" and could not affect the Bloxom case.

State law now requires a minimum of 25 years for a sex offense against a juvenile. Statutes also ban sex offenders from certain jobs already, such as teaching and being employed in or around child day care centers and related facilities.

"What we are trying to do here is target the truly defined pedophile ," Cheek said after the bill passed. "Every parent, grandparent, aunt and uncle in my district is still on guard" because of the Bloxom case.


WA - Police: Teen Sex Offender Raped Special Ed Student At School

Original Article

06/01/2010

By Chris Halsne

SEATTLE -- A registered sex offender attending Roosevelt High School has been criminally charged again -- this time, with raping a special education student in an on-campus bathroom.

This occurred just two weeks after KIRO Team 7 Investigators first revealed the fact that the Seattle School District has been quietly mainstreaming juvenile sex offenders.

Our extensive research identified hundreds of students attending public schools in Washington who were previously convicted of rape, child molestation, and sexual assault. The Seattle district claimed it had nine offenders enrolled.

Now, Investigative Reporter Chris Halsne has new questions about the apparent failure of the Seattle Schools plan to keep all students safe.

This latest rape case is going to be a public relations nightmare for Seattle Schools, and a potential liability for taxpayers.

Court documents show an 18-year-old junior at Roosevelt High School groomed a 9th-grade girl with special needs into a "dating relationship," then used the privacy of the schools bathroom to sexually assault her.

Even though he was a level-two registered sex offender, the Seattle School district welcomed [name withheld] into its classrooms. They didn't tell other students -- or their parents -- about his past.

At 15-years-old, [name withheld] was convicted of indecent liberties with force. Previously sealed juvenile court records obtained by KIRO Team 7 Investigators show he used Pokémon-like trading cards to lure child victims.


TX - Texas parole system needs major overhaul

Original Article (Listen)

06/02/2010

The state should start overhauling its parole system and correct the shortcomings, cited by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a ruling issued last month, instead of continuing to defend its questionable activities.

For years, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles policy has allowed correction officials to classify some parolees as sex offenders although they have never been convicted of a sex crime.

The appellate court took issue with the fact that the so-called sex offenders were never allowed a hearing.

Under the current procedure, the parolee has no opportunity to correct false information or provide an explanation. Neither the parolee nor his attorney may even see the completed evidentiary packet on which the board bases its decision,” Justice W. Eugene Davis, wrote for the panel hearing the case.

It is estimated there are 6,900 inmates who have been labeled sex offenders and been subjected to mandatory counseling, electronic monitoring and registration as a sex offender without having an open hearing or a chance to challenge the charges.

The parole officials, who have the option of seeking further appeals in the case or making the changes proposed by the 5th Circuit, should forgo the appeals and fix the system.

The cost of providing hearings for all the inmates who have been labeled sex offenders under the administrative policy will be about $750,000, a cost unlikely to go down.

More than a dozen parolees have suits pending over the board's questionable policy, and there are bound to be more if the situation is not remedied.

Sex offenses are serious matters. Holding sex offenders accountable by requiring them to register and letting authorities know where they live is an important part of our criminal justice system.

Being labeled a sex offender has long-term consequences and should not be the result of some internal parole department finding without allowing parolees a hearing, a lawyer or knowledge of the charges against them.


UK - New software will root out sex offenders posing as teens

Original Article (Listen)

Yeah, right! This is just more junk science, like the polygraph. I wonder how many innocent people will be falsely accused of being a pedophile, by a computer, if this becomes law?

06/01/2010

Paedophiles who hide behind false online identities to groom children for sex could soon be flushed out by a computer programme.

Scientists have been working with police to develop a tool that can identify a computer user’s age and gender by analysing their language.

They hope the software will shorten the time-consuming process of examining logs of internet chat and other online material in the search for suspicious behaviour.

Professor Awais Rashid, of Lancaster University, said an early working version of the device could be available by next summer.

He said: "It picks up on subtle clues that an ordinary person would not be able to pick up on. That is where there is an operational interest."

"The software looks at a range of things, for example, the structure of sentences, the language that is being used and also things that indicate deception." Researchers brought in 350 school pupils from the Queen Elizabeth School, in Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria, to help them fine-tune the software.

They discovered that four out of five children (18%) could not tell when they were talking to an adult posing as a child.

The computer software did significantly better by correctly working out who wrote web chat in 47 out of 50 cases.

Last week, postman Michael Williams, 28, admitted 27 specimen charges, including grooming children for sex online through Facebook, Bebo and MSN messenger.

He used at least eight fake identities to target young people he met on his round, doing school runs as a taxi driver and as the secretary of a football club.

In March, sex offender [name withheld], who used a fake Facebook profile to lure Darlington student Ashleigh Hall to her death, was jailed for a minimum of 35 years.

Professor Rashid said the software could eventually track paedophiles as they move around the internet after identifying their stylistic "footprint".

He said children rely on subject matter, use of slang and the answers to simple questions to establish who an individual is when online.

Professor Rashid said he is working with the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Agency (Ceop) and several regional forces, which he declined to name.

He added: "In our analysis, we found that four out of five children across the school got it wrong."

"Interestingly, the strategies they use to detect who they are talking to are also the ones that lead them to make wrong decisions."

"They rely on the subject matter, use of slang and even something as simple as whether the individual said he or she was an adult or a child."

"This really highlights the need for a safety net of some sort." Queen Elizabeth School deputy head teacher Alison Wilkinson said: "We are concerned about the dangers our pupils face when they’re online and have welcomed the opportunity to help the project at the same time as raising pupils’ awareness of the risks."

"It has been chilling to watch them being taken in by adults masquerading as teenagers." The research project involves experts at Lancaster, Swansea and Middlesex universities.


UK - I don’t think I’ll ever trust a woman again, says student cleared after false rape allegation

Original Article (Listen)

05/31/2010

By Trudy Simpson

A BIO-medical university student cleared by a jury after a woman falsely accused him of raping her says he may never trust another woman again.

[name withheld], 27, told The Voice: “I’m really distancing myself from women now. I just want to be alone. I don’t think I will ever trust any woman again. As a matter of fact I was on the train today and a woman came to sit beside me and possibly because of what I had in my head I had to get up from there to sit somewhere else.”

A jury at Sheffield Crown Court cleared [name withheld] of rape last week after [name withheld]’s 21-year-old accuser’s claims were disproved. The Court also heard that 18 months ago, she had made up rape allegations against another man, who later killed himself.

[name withheld] said he too had contemplated killing himself because of the “sheer hell” he had endured.

It got to a point where I was contemplating suicide. I couldn’t take it anymore. I have never been accused of any wrongdoing in my life

[name withheld] was on a ten week course in Sheffield last October when he met the woman in a nightclub.

She claimed [name withheld] raped her in a house he shared but other witnesses told the court she planned to have sex with him and told a friend she planned to accuse him of rape.

[name withheld] told the court that she willingly had sex with him, even hugging him goodbye and accepting £8.00 for cab fare home from him.

The judge criticized prosecutors over this case, saying that “The evidence did not and was never going to prove rape.”

I feel happy (at the verdict),” [name withheld] told The Voice. But he said he was considering getting counseling to help with the lingering trauma. “I just want to concentrate on how to put my life together,” he said. “The more I talk about it the more depressed I become (so) I just want to pull myself together. I’m going to get some counseling. That is what I am thinking.”
- This "woman" should have to pay for his counseling!


DC - Registry law doesn't apply to all sex offenders, Supreme Court rules

Original Article (Listen)
More detailed article here
Sentencing Law And Policy Article
Read more on SCOTUSWiki

Finally people are sticking with the constitution, which forbids ex post facto laws.

06/01/2010

By Warren Richey

A sex offender who moved from Alabama to Indiana in 2004 does not have to register with authorities because his move predates the registry law Congress enacted in 2006, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday.

A national sex offender registry law does not apply to interstate travel by a sex offender that took place before Congress passed the registry statute in 2006, the US Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday.

In a 6-to-3 decision (PDF), the high court rejected the Obama administration’s expansive reading of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). Instead, the majority justices embraced a narrower view of the law, while overturning a convicted sex offender’s 30-month prison sentence for traveling to another state and failing to register.

The decision triggered a heated dissent by three justices who warned that the ruling will impair the ability of law enforcement officials to locate and register some 100,000 convicted sex offenders who have eluded authorities.
- Related article here.

Under the court’s interpretation, the many sex offenders who had managed to avoid pre-existing registration regimes, mainly by moving from one state to another before SORNA’s enactment, are placed beyond the reach of the federal criminal laws,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote.

Lawyers for convicted sex offender Carr had claimed the government’s retroactive enforcement of SORNA violated the Constitution’s ban on ex post facto laws. But the high court did not reach that constitutional question.

No retroactive enforcement, court rules

Instead, the majority justices found that the statute, as written by Congress, did not authorize retroactive enforcement.

Taking account of SORNA’s overall structure, we have little reason to doubt that Congress intended [the statute] to do exactly what it says: to subject to federal prosecution sex offenders who elude SORNA’s registration requirements by traveling in interstate commerce,” wrote Justice Sonia Sotomayor in the majority opinion.

Justice Sotomayor said Congress chose to use the present-tense word “travels” in the statute, rather than the past-tense word “traveled.” If Congress wanted the law to apply to travel undertaken before the law’s passage, it would have used the past tense, she said.

Mr. Carr, a convicted sex offender, had argued that the law was unconstitutional because it sought to punish earlier actions committed prior to passage of the statute. Under SORNA, a defendant may face up to 10 years in prison if he or she is a convicted sex offender who travels from one state to another and who knowingly fails to register with authorities.

Case history of Carr

Carr was arrested in February 2003 in Alabama for touching a 14-year-old girl over her clothes. He pled guilty in May 2004 and was sentenced to two years in prison with credit for time already served.

Upon his release, Carr registered in Alabama as a sex offender. Five months later, in December 2004, he moved to Indiana but did not register with authorities there. He was arrested in 2007 and charged with violating SORNA.

Carr’s lawyer fought the charge, arguing that his client moved to Indiana in December 2004, well before SORNA was passed by Congress and long before the attorney general established a regulation retroactively applying the new registration law to interstate travel by sex offenders.

A federal judge ruled that retroactive enforcement of the law did not violate the Constitution. Carr pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 30 months in prison. But he reserved his right to appeal the ex post facto issue.

On appeal, a panel of the Seventh US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Carr’s conviction. The appeals court said his conviction should stand because he had been given a sufficient grace period (five months) between the enactment of the attorney general’s regulations and his failure to register as a sex offender.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court reversed that decision, remanding the case back to the lower courts to apply the new ruling.

Reading [the statute] to reach only postenactment travel does not contravene SORNA’s underlying purposes, let alone result in an absurdity that would compel us to disregard the statutory text,” Sotomayor wrote.

She said since the case could be resolved through statutory interpretation, the high court need not consider whether the law violated the Constitution’s ex post facto clause.

Joining Sotomayor in the majority opinion were Chief Justice John Roberts , and Justices John Paul Stevens , Anthony Kennedy, Stephen Breyer, and Antonin Scalia.

The minority report

Justice Alito was joined in his dissent by Justices Clarence Thomas and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

As I read this language, neither the use of the present tense in paragraph (2) (B) nor the sequence in which the elements are listed provides any basis for limiting the provision to those sex offenders who move from one state to another after SORNA’s enactment,” Alito wrote.

SORNA was a response to a dangerous gap in the then-existing sex-offender-registration laws,” Alito said. “In the years prior to SORNA’s enactment, the nation had been shocked by cases in which children had been raped and murdered by persons who, unbeknownst to their neighbors or the police, were convicted sex offenders.”

Alito said that the court’s analysis of the text of the statute was “unsound” and that the court’s conclusions “make no sense.”


OH - Rape claims are falsified at an alarming rate

Original Article (Listen)

05/31/2010

By Joshua Burns

With the surfacing of yet another falsified rape allegation, this time by UC nursing student Kristen Lamb of Lebanon, Ohio, many are left questioning just how many rape claims are fabricated. Statistics show that such fake claims happen at an unfathomable rate.

The false allegations of Lamb's are not unusual, unfortunately. A 1994 study conducted by Purdue University professor Eugene Kanin, Ph.D. found that 41% of forcible rape allegations made during a multi-year period were false. While the Kanin Study has its critics, the findings of falsehood in the report were all based upon confessions by the alleged victims that their claims were fabricated.

The Kanin Study found three primary reasons for women making false rape claims, all reported by the women themselves: providing an alibi, a means of gaining revenge, and a platform for seeking attention or sympathy.

Regardless of the reasons for the false claims, a fabricated rape claim carries some of the most damaging, far-reaching consequences. For example, when a woman claims rape and names a particular man as her assailant, the accused male is typically arrested after a short investigation. After arrest, the man's face is plastered across media outlets locally, sometimes even regionally. The alleged victim, however, remains shielded with her name and identity hidden by media, police and prosecutors.

Once it becomes known that a rape claim is false, the woman (much like in the case of Kristen Lamb) faces a possible criminal charge, though oddly enough such a charge is not as automatic as the original false rape charge itself. Many then begin to cast doubt on other potentially true rape allegations, creating pressure on true victims of rape to not even come forward in the first place.

Whether Kanin's Study accurately places that false rape claim figure at 41% (rape victim advocates would argue strongly that it does not) or if the number is some smaller percentage, any false claims at all are devastating. The only way to reduce the number, whatever that number is, is to prosecute those that file false charges to the fullest extent of the law.


Follow Joshua on Twitter and subscribe at the top of this page to stay up to date on the latest Ohio and Cincinnati news. Joshua is also the Hamilton County 2010 Elections Examiner and Cincinnati Political Buzz Examiner.