Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Original Article (Listen)
By Randy Travis
ATLANTA - For the first time, the state is making it easier for some convicted sex offenders to get their names removed from the sex offender registry.
The new law (House Bill 571) comes in the wake of an I-Team investigation into how the monitoring of so many low-risk offenders has let some of the worst ones fall through the cracks.
Some sheriffs say this will help them focus their dwindling resources on monitoring the truly dangerous sex offenders in our community.
The law also fixes a confusing situation we uncovered: people on the sex offender registry... who aren't sex offenders at all.
By STEPHANIE KLEIN
A state lawmaker said he's been trying to get legislation passed to try to keep students and parents informed of sex offenders in their schools.
Representative Kirk Pearson (Contact) (R-Monroe) told KIRO Radio's Dave Ross he tried to pass a law in 2003, but there were "a number of legislators who said this would cause harassment and the student would be picked on."
Pearson wants parents to have access to a county sheriff kept list of juvenile sex offenders attending public schools.
"The ways our laws are set up, they aren't adequately protecting our kids and furthermore, they're not allowing parents their right to know if there is a juvenile sex offender in their public school," he said.
As for concern over whether sex offenders could be harassed, Pearson said the state already has bully statutes that would protect the student.
Pearson plans to introduce his proposal in the next legislative session.
"They have tremendous power when no one knows their background. They're able to groom other students and do these horrible things. There is a loophole in our law when an 18-year-old who should have to register they don't have to because they're in our school system as a juvenile," Pearson said.
By Paul Bryant
Chandler officials are expected to consider on June 8 passing an ordinance prohibiting registered sex offenders from living or loitering within 300 to 1,000 feet of where children gather.
“From what I’ve heard, our police department has no authority to remove a sex offender from a playground,” City Council member Gene Giger said. “State law is broad enough that it covers a big area, but it’s harder for our police to enforce a state law than for them to have a city ordinance in hand. We can enforce that much easier. It also lets your city court become involved.”
Chandler Police Chief Ron Reeves did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.
The “City Council ... finds that sex offenders who are required to register pursuant to Chapter 62 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure may present an extreme threat to the health, safety, and welfare of children; and ... it is the intent and objective of the City Council of the City of Chandler to exercise all legislative powers within its means to protect citizens and children,” the proposed ordinance says.
Under Section II of the ordinance:
- It is an offense for a sex offender to establish a permanent or temporary residence within 1,000 feet of real property comprising a school, child-care facility or institution, park, playground, or other places where children congregate.
- It is an offense for a sex offender to knowingly enter a child safety zone.
- It is an offense for a sex offender to knowingly loiter on a public way within 300 feet of a child safety zone.
- A sex offender shall not, on each Oct. 30-31 or any date set by the city for trick-or-treaters, between 4 and 11 p.m. leave an exterior porch light on or otherwise invite trick-or-treaters to solicit the premises.
The ordinance also prohibits property owners from renting real property to sex offenders. It mandates that any sex offender in violation of the ordinance has committed a misdemeanor and shall be fined up to $2,000 each day of the offense.
According to state records, 15 registered sex offenders show they live inside the Chandler city limits.
By Gabriella von Rosen
MIAMI — The Julia Tuttle Causeway, named for the founder of the city of Miami in 1896, is one the three bridges that connects Miami Beach to the main land. A beautiful scenic drive, it offers unobstructed, panoramic views of the dark blue Atlantic waters. The causeway is one of the two main routes that tourists take to and from the Miami Airport to South Beach. At the eastern end of the causeway, visitors and residents alike are greeted by an Art Deco era sign proclaiming “Welcome to Miami Beach ” — a perfect introduction for both locals who are returning home and tourists who are coming in for the first time.
Along this particular stretch of road, it’s possible to see not only houses with unapologetic displays of wealth — huge mansions with enormous boats docked behind them — but also grim realities: clusters of colorful tents located only feet away from the rugged waters break. The contrast in the living situation of those two groups could not be clearer.
At first glance, these tents appear to be a campground for families: a campground, it is, but for families, it’s definitely not. The inhabitants of these tents are sex offenders, forced to live under the bridge ever since 2006. When a law was passed by the City of Miami, forbidding any sex offender and predators who has served time to live anywhere within a 2,500 foot radius of any establishment that children congregate, i.e. schools and parks.
In a crowded, cramped area such as Miami Beach, places which satisfy those requirements are few and far between, resulting in ‘Tent City,’ as the area has come to be called — the only solution as to where these unwanted individuals can legally live.
In the four years since the law was approved, the number of sex offenders facing the problem of where to live legally has only increased. This small community of tents that has sprung up under the shadow of the Julia Tuttle Causeway has multiplied to the point that the area resembles a small town with faulty generators, rudimentary plumbing, and dogs and cats kept as pets by the residents. Everyone seems to have an opinion as to this sad and tragic situation, but no one seems to have a permanent and acceptable solution.
Clearly, the nature of the convicts’ crimes makes the issue a sensitive one. Some Miamians are of the opinion that this is what the sex offenders deserve (they have to live miserable lives to pay for their crimes) while others have a different view, that putting them there is inhumane, they have been punished enough and it is time that they be integrated back into society. The criminals may not be sympathetic figures, but casting them to the side of the road, living in tents under a bridge, is also not a solution. It’s only a matter of time before this band-aid fix leads to an infection. The authorities are fully aware what is going on in ‘Tent City’ but, as there is no other option, they tolerate it.
It was Florida’s correctional authorities that put the offenders there in the first place. After it was discovered that there was no other option for registered sex offenders who claim Miami Dade County as their home to live legally, given the 2,500-foot radius clause, officials began assigning released inmates to the base of the bridge.
Housing criminals guilty of similar crimes amongst each other in a kind of ‘leper colony,’ some say, will only create a hostile and dangerous environment, one that will make crime amongst themselves and towards visitors more likely. The law is one that forces individuals with mental illnesses to live together, unsupervised, in the most unsanitary and precarious condition. There must be a better way of reintegrating sex offenders back into society other then having them live in an environment that surely will hasten the deterioration of their mental health.
Not only are registered sex offenders and predators living amongst themselves, but now homeless drug addicts have allegedly sought refuge in this legal campground.
Now, a new bill is about to be presented to Florida Governor Charlie Crist that would make life for sex offenders and predators more difficult. The bill, intended to create a ‘circle of safety’ for children, would forbid those kinds of individuals from loitering within 300 feet of places where children naturally congregate: parks, schools and playgrounds, etc. The bill states that any convicted sex offender who is caught breaking that law would be charged with a first degree misdemeanor, in addition to spending up to a year in jail. A separate part of the bill would forbid sex offenders and predators from wearing costumes to attract children, such as dressing like Santa Claus.
Back to Tent City:
Tent cities are temporary housing facilities, often set up by homeless people or protestors informally, or officially by state governments or military organizations to house refugees, evacuees or soldiers. An example of this would be the tent cities that formed after natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina or the earthquake in Haiti. But even Wikipedia states that ‘for sanitary reasons, military tent cities place toilet, shower and laundry facilities at least 50 feet from living quarters.’
Miami’s tent city lacks all of the above. Perhaps that is the case because placing facilities 50 feet away from the tents would violate the terms of their probation. Miami’s ‘Tent City’ also violates numerous fire codes. Under normal conditions, tents are set up in groups of 1o or so, as a precaution to prevent the rapid spread of fire.
The constant noise of traffic flying by; unpredictable, sudden and harsh afternoon showers; extreme heat; intolerable humidity; and unsanitary conditions, all those make Tent City a difficult, if not impossible, environment in which to live. This presumably would make released inmates more prone to breaking the conditions of their probation since it would throw them back into prison — a place that looks like the Four Seasons Hotel compared to Tent City. In prison, housing is guaranteed, along with electricity, beds and meals.
There has been ample media coverage of Tent City, and rightly so, since the day it was founded. Countless images of spray painted signs of ‘We R not monsters ,’ among other statements, have become a blemish on the Julia Tuttle Causeway’s otherwise picture perfect, camera ready face. The inhabitants, according to media reports, range from teens who recently turned 18 who had consensual relations with younger teens all the way up to the extreme violent predators, rapist, and child molesters. But everyone there bears the scarlet letter of sex offender.
At any given time, Tent City houses between 60 and 70 sex offenders and predators, but it’s not uncommon for the number to peak to almost 200. Some fear ‘Tent City’ will, in time, become a breeding ground for its inhabitants, a volatile situation that will eventually cause turmoil amongst their own community. The individuals there are competing for scarce resources, including food, water and space. Other concerns are that the living conditions there are completely unsanitary, with trash thrown aside and left to decay (not unlike the inhabitants themselves). Or worse, that these sex offenders will eventually leave city officials no other choice but to force them back into the general population.
Amazingly enough, no one from the City of Miami seems in any hurry to do much about this controversial situation, since some of the sex offenders have the address of ‘Under Julia Tuttle Causeway’ as their permanent residence on their government issued drivers’ licenses. Mail is delivered to them there, at their ‘home.’
A significant impediment for politicians concerning the situation of Tent City is the fear and apprehension of tackling such a sensitive and overwhelmingly controversial topic. Whatever a politician may decide as to the solution to ‘Tent City’, well, passions regarding it are such that it has the potential to sway voters at election time.
Recently, officials have made feeble attempts to try and shut down Tent City. These attempts generally came after news of the locale being plagued by a series of predicable health and sanitation problems. But, as with a majority of laws that have been passed, those usually are implemented at a painfully slow place.
In mid-January, Miami Dade County Commission passed a new law stating that sex offenders find residency other than in Tent City. The Code Enforcement Department — the same department that fines residents of Miami Beach for noise infractions, parking violations, illegal construction and the like — recently put up warning signs at the makeshift camp, threatening evacuation if tenants fail to clean up their trash, and tear down illegally built ‘homes’. But as of March, the tents still remained.
A lawsuit filed by the City of Miami and American Civil Liberties Union concerning Tent City could eventually determine its fate. The case could either lead the camp to being either 100 percent legal, or close it for good. As of April 2010, Tent City was declared to be illegal. A new law states that “sex offenders are still prohibited from to live at least 2,500 feet away from schools and parks, but now they are eligible to find residency at least 1,000 feet from other places kids are at: such as day care centers.” Naturally, this ruling was met with mixed reactions. Jose Smith, Miami Beach’s City Attorney, expressed his disappointment with the passing of this law and stated that this only ‘watered down’ the strict rules that were once enforced.
Recently, officials from the City of Miami Dade County’s Homeless Trust placed all homeless sex offenders in more permanent housing. They decided to close down Tent City and move the residents to a motel, courtesy of taxpayers, along with footing the bill for signing leases up to six months. But that idea didn’t work out. Other guests of that establishment complained at having such unsavory people staying nearby. The manager evicted them, with the result that, within days, some sex offenders now roam the streets freely. Any attempt to go back to their former living quarters would result in immediate arrested on the grounds of ‘trespassing.’
As of late April, all signs of Tent City had vanished — that is, with the exception of its inhabitants, who are now scattered around Miami.
By JOHN ELIGON
A former police officer was convicted on Wednesday of sexually abusing two women in Manhattan who had been lured by promises of applications for jobs and programs for their children.
The former officer, Wilfredo Rosario, faces up to seven years in prison after his conviction on sexual abuse and other charges.
Mr. Rosario, 41, was previously convicted in January of telling an 18-year-old woman that he would destroy a summons he was issuing her in exchange for oral sex; he was dismissed from the police force as a result of that case. After this trial, he faces a separate rape charge involving a different woman.
During the trial, Mr. Rosario testified that the allegations were all part of a conspiracy aimed at tarnishing his reputation because he had filed a class-action lawsuit claiming racial discrimination against the department.
He said that in one of the current cases, he did not remember ever being in the apartment of a woman who testified that in 2004 Mr. Rosario came to her apartment and touched her breasts and hugged her without her consent.
He accused the second victim of misrepresenting what had happened after they were alone in his car. The woman said Mr. Rosario forced her to touch his erect penis while his pants were unzipped; Mr. Rosario said that she only touched his religious beads.
Where: American’s Reality Check
When: June 2nd, 2010 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern
Dial: 724-444-7444 - Code: 29521
Show is over, but you can listen here
Please join us this coming Wednesday, June 2nd to welcome Humanity Healing International to ARC Talk Radio. Liane and Chris, are the founders, and will join us to discuss their work through their 501C3 organization.
Part of their website reads:
“When you look at the view of earth from space, you are immediately in awe of what you do see: the incredible beauty of Creation. It is not until you look closer that you realize what you do not see. You do not see lines partitioning countries. You do not see separation between races. You do not see division between religions. You do see the walls people build to isolate themselves from each other.
Our mission is to seek out and identify specific projects worldwide and to implement definable and sustainable solutions. Our initiatives our not broad mandates to eradicate poverty, and famine, or stop violence and world torn countries.”
To learn more please visit: http://humanityhealing.org
Their work is incredible as they now consider working towards public safety here in the United States and expand their goals.
Please join us and welcome Lianne and Chris to the show as they work for Humanity for all.
Show your support and join us!
Kevin and Mary
Click Here to See our Show Schedule for Further dates!
NEW EDITION OF AMERICANS REALITY CHECK WILL BE ARC "HOT TOPICS" - EFFECTIVE NOV 30TH EVERY MONDAY AND FRIDAY AT 6PM EST.
Good job! It's about time someone fought back. I hope she wins. All those who said she did this, should also be named. Sounds like a witch hunt similar to the "Daycare Sex Abuse Scandal," to me.
By STEVE OSUNSAMI, DARIN BYRNE and SARAH NETTER
[name withheld]: Wants Federal Court to Crack Down on Interviews With Children
Three weeks after she was acquitted of molesting three children including her own daughter, a former Georgia teacher has filed a $25 million lawsuit against her accusers, including her ex-husband.
"The lawsuit is set in place to hold people accountable for these false allegations, for this not to happen again," [name withheld] told "Good Morning America."
[name withheld], 37, is also suing the parents of the two other children she was accused of molesting during sleepovers with her daughter as well as the sheriff and other county workers who she said "repeatedly and suggestively questioned" the children until they believed she had touched them inappropriately.
The Catoosa County, Ga., Superior Court jury returned its verdict last month after nearly two days of deliberation in the trial. The former Chickamauga Elementary School teacher faced 22 charges of child molestation, aggravated sexual battery and aggravated child molestation.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in hopes a judge will force the court [name withheld] was tried in to change their practices when it comes to interviewing children.
Her lawyer, Demosthenes Lorandos, said [name withheld] case was a prime example of "incompetent interviewing" of children and that they believe the three children, including [name withheld] own daughter, were force-fed false memories, either intentionally or unintentionally.
[name withheld] said she is not angry with her 8-year-old daughter for testifying against her.
"I think you get past it as a mother, that you unconditionally love your child," she said.
"She either has memories falsely that have been implanted or she's been manipulated," [name withheld] said. "But it's not her fault."
Likewise, [name withheld] said she considered the other two children victims.
[name withheld] is also suing her ex-husband for full custody of the couple's two children. Her daughter and son, nearly 11, were taken away from her two years ago when the molestation accusations were first leveled against her.
Now living in Tennessee, [name withheld] keeps bedrooms in her home decorated for both of them in case they get to come home.
She has seen them briefly since the trial ended and wears a pendant around her neck with their pictures.
"Every second is cherished," she said of her visits with them.
After her arrest in May 2008, [name withheld] was fired from her job. She said she has no desire to return to teaching, but "I do plan on fighting for children."
[name withheld] said she knows some will see her lawsuit as a cash cow and others will always believe she molested the children, despite the acquittal.
"It was a tough row to hoe to save her from these terrible allegations," Lorandos said. "She owes her family a ton of money for her defense that she'd like to recoup."
[name withheld] mother has said the family spent more than a half a million dollars fighting the charges.
"We mortgaged our home, we threw out all of our savings and 401ks, we sold stock," Betty Faires said.
During the trial the prosecutors alleged that for nearly two years [name withheld] fondled children at her home multiple times, starting in August 2005, all while they were in kindergarten and first grade.
But some court observers said the prosecutors went too far.
"I think that this says that Catoosa County needs to take a real hard look at how they investigate child molesting, child molestation charges," Dennis Norwood, from Chattanoogan.com, said last month.
[name withheld] had maintained that when her daughter's friends spent the night at her house, it was nothing more than an innocent sleepover. But the parents of other children said it was something far more sinister: They claimed [name withheld] molested their kids several times.
The allegations sparked a trial that shocked the small community of Ringgold.
When asked how the town will begin to heal now that the trial is over, resident Barbara James said "To be honest I really don't know."
All three girls, now 8 and 9 years old, took the witness stand during the trial. People in court said the awful testimony included graphic pictures and doctors arguing about whether the girls were violated.
"Whether it really happened to them or not, in their minds they believe it did. It was just, I can't tell you, it just tore my heart out to just sit there and have to watch these little girls testify," Norwood said. "And to see their private parts put up on a screen for the jury to look at. It was just, you know, it was just -- I hope I never have to see anything like that again."
[name withheld] lawyers argued that the girls were coached by parents who suddenly had it out for [name withheld]. They argued that the family of one of the girls was upset that [name withheld] wasn't giving the girl better grades in class.
The problem of homeless sex offenders is causing a political meltdown on Long Island. In Suffolk County, like places all over the country, sex offenders are barred from living near schools, parks, pools or any other place children gather. Some communities — usually poor — have ended up with more offenders than others. Tensions have risen.
That tension is nothing compared with what happens when a small subset of the 1,000 or so registered offenders in the county — about two dozen — end up having no place to live.
New York State law rightly requires counties to find housing for homeless people who ask for it, even sex offenders. Regular shelters won’t work. Children gather there. Suffolk decided to put its offenders in trailers. It settled on Riverhead and Westhampton where a predictable furor and legal challenges arose.
The county then decided to distribute vouchers so the offenders could find their own motel rooms. But the $90 a day galled county lawmakers, who hate the idea of these offenders moving around freely on the taxpayers’ dime. They passed a law to end the vouchers and to move the offenders within 30 days to sites scattered around the county — no more than six to a site, and only one site per town or legislative district.
The lawmakers seem to have forgotten that finding places to park the trailers would likely be very difficult. They also didn’t consider the fact that offenders who have neither vouchers nor trailers will drop out of sight and supervision, an outcome nobody professes to want.
The Suffolk County executive, Steve Levy, who, in this case, is acting like the responsible party, vetoed the trailer law. He said he didn’t want his social services department to run afoul of its obligation to house the homeless. The Suffolk County Legislature has enough votes to override. We hope Mr. Levy prevails.
The county should use vouchers to meet its obligations and help the men to find stable jobs and homes with strict supervision to reduce the chance that they will commit more crimes.
By Letters to the Editor/Gloucester County
To the Editor:
In reference to the state law that now requires red stickers on the license plates of vehicles driven by newly licensed teenage drivers:
What I think they should do is put a big flashing neon sign on the top of their cars. This will invite sex offenders and all the other scum that is on the road.
If my daughter were driving, I would not like an invitation like these stickers attached to her car.
If we are now going to let people know just who is in a car, how about a black sticker for sex offenders, a blue one for convicted drunk drivers, and so on?
- And if we are going to label people sex offenders and put them on an online registry, we should do the same to everyone else!
I have driven behind adults who were texting, combing their hair, putting on makeup, shaving, reading the paper and using their cell phone. How about a big gray sticker for us older folks?
To label our teenagers is a disgrace.
- To label anybody is a disgrace!
An example of what can happen is the 1996 Aimee Willard case in nearby Delaware County, Pa. The 22-year-old college senior was pulled over on the Blue Route by someone posing as an officer, who murdered her.
(Listen) There was another case this week of an 18 year old senior dating a 14 year old freshman and now having to register as a sex offender because of it. While I highly do not advise seniors dating freshman, this is hardly a legal issue that should scar anyone for life - regardless of what happens in the relationship.
AUSTRALIA - A former police officer (Adam Michael Purcell) punished for warning the community about a sex offender
This is a first!
A former NSW Police officer who flagrantly disobeyed orders and tipped off the media about a serial sex offender has been fined $2000 and ordered to perform 200 hours of community service.
Adam Michael Purcell, 47, had pleaded guilty to misconduct in a public office and to giving misleading evidence before the Police Integrity Commission (PIC).
When sentencing the former superintendent in Sydney's Downing Centre District Court today, Judge Peter Berman said he accepted Purcell was remorseful.
He noted the Crown might have had difficulties getting a guilty verdict if the PIC matter had gone to trial as Purcell had "literally" told the truth in his evidence.
The misconduct charge related to him giving a Seven Network journalist a "head start" on a story about an alleged sex attack on two children in a Sydney park.
Purcell told the judge the reason he had disobeyed orders from his superior not to divulge the information was that he wanted to protect children in his community.
The PIC charge related to his talking to a friend and fellow officer in a secretly recorded conversation about an investigation in which he was due to give evidence.
After the judge imposed the sentence the crowded public gallery applauded the decision not to jail Purcell.
Original Article (Listen)
By Jen Judson
WALTHAM - Members of the public could have a greater say, through juries, in deciding whether convicted sex offenders should be released back into society if a bill approved by the state House of Representatives is signed into law, said state Rep. Peter Koutoujian (Email), D-Waltham.
The bill is an amendment to the Criminal Offender Record Information System reform legislation that passed May 26. That legislation shortens the time criminal records can be accessible and is supported by Gov. Deval Patrick (Contact). The CORI reform legislation has also passed in the Senate, and is now in conference committee.
The CORI reform legislation does not affect sex offenders or murderers, as their records are kept in a different system.
The amendment, meant to "further protect victims from sexually dangerous persons," was submitted by Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone (Contact) and Koutoujian, according to a press release.
The legislation will give the state's prosecutors "equal standing with the convicted sex offender to choose to go before a jury or judge," in a sexually dangerous person trial, said the release.
The trial, set up when a sex offender is nearing completion of his or her sentence, determines whether the person is sexually dangerous. To be found sexually dangerous, it must be determined beyond a reasonable doubt that the offender is "likely to engage in sexual offenses if not confined to a secure facility," according to the statute.
If the offender is determined to be sexually dangerous, he or she must be committed to a treatment center, according to the statute. The offender can apply to be re-examined and undergo another trial to decide if she or he is still sexually dangerous once each year.
When a convicted sex offender is close to finishing his or her sentence, said Koutoujian, the district attorney will now have a say regarding whether the offender will have a sexually dangerous person trial before a jury or before a judge.
Currently, it is up to the offender to choose whether to go before a judge or a jury, said Koutoujian. Under the Koutoujian-sponsored amendment, the sexually dangerous person trials would have to be heard by a jury unless both sides agree to waive the jury process.
"I am a former prosecutor," Koutoujian said yesterday, "I had great frustrations watching people that you know would re-offend just be allowed to re-enter society without any conditions, without any control."
"Those I would be most concerned about were sexual offenders," he said.
There have been 53 sexually dangerous person trials in Middlesex County since 1999, said Koutoujian. Twenty-nine cases were heard by a judge, in which 50 percent of the offenders were ruled to be sexually dangerous. Of the 24 offenders whose cases were decided by a jury, 75 percent were found to be dangerous.
- And that sounds like a problem to me. Since studies show, over and over, that of all the sex offenders in this country, less than 5% are truly dangerous. Sounds like people are being labeled dangerous, when they are not.
"It's important to put some of the power back in the hands of the people and back into the community," said Koutoujian.
"I know the value of having the flexibility to pursue a jury trial when dealing with some of the most egregious cases," he said.
"I think it is a good idea to put some of the decision making into the hands of the people who might be living next to them," said Waltham Police Detective Jim Auld of the previously convicted sex offenders.
Judges make these kinds of decisions every day, said Auld, and may become "desensitized," to the process.
Auld said it is a good idea to give the district attorney, "a level playing field," in the case of dealing with potentially sexually dangerous people.
Koutoujian and Leone, "did a good job crafting this legislation," Auld said. "It makes sense."
The amendment's language was included in both the House and Senate versions of the CORI reform bill.
Since the language is the same in both chambers' versions, said Koutoujian, it is likely to remain unchanged in conference committee. Once the reform bill is finalized by the Legislature, it will reach the governor's desk, where it can be signed into law.