Saturday, July 10, 2010

RUSSIA - Father of newborn goes to jail for sex with minor wife

Original Article

01/26/2010

The father of a newborn girl has been sentenced to three years in prison for having sexual relations with his underage wife, who is the mother of his newborn daughter.

A modern-day Romeo and Juliet, 19-year-old Zhenya and 15-year-old Katya, still a schoolgirl, live in the provincial town of Efremov approximately 310 kilometers off Moscow, Russian daily Moskovsky Komsomolets reports. They had known each other for about a year and a half when last summer Katya learnt she was four months pregnant. At the time Zhenya had no idea that Katya had in fact lied about her age and told Zhenya she was 17.

When we met I told Zhenya I was almost 17. In fact I was two years younger. I lied because I liked him very much, but I was afraid he wouldn't go out with me if I told him my real age. He only found out after I got pregnant,” Katya says.

The girl’s mother recalls that the news was a shock for her:

I knew she was dating Zhenya but did not think they had intimate relations,” she told journalists.

When the lovers’ parents met to discuss the situation, Katya and Zhenya told them that they loved each other and wanted to live together and bring up their child.

Soon, Katya’s parents obtained permission for the marriage of their underage daughter, which took place in January 17 this year. Two weeks later Katya gave birth to little Ksenia, who was born two months premature.

Relatives say Zhenya was looking forward to the birth of his daughter and was very anxious during the delivery.

The young family settled in Zhenya’s one-bedroom apartment. He found a job as a welder while his wife resumed her studies at school. Relatives of the newborn took care of her while the teenage mother was out, but what seemed to be a happy end to the love story was only the beginning of an ordeal.

Police contacted Zhenya, informing him that he was charged with having sexual relations with a person under the age of 16. The court then sentenced him to three years and one month in jail.

After the hearing Zhenya left the courtroom and looked at his daughter for a long time, caressing her cheek. All the family was crying,” the relatives said. “He loves little Ksenia so much. What is his fault? They made love because they both wanted to. The judge has broken the life of the family.”

Zhenya is now in custody in the nearby town of Novomoskovsk. His wife comes to visit him almost every day.

Katya can't breast feed the baby anymore due to stress. She also has to miss outs on school lessons, because Zhenya used to babysit while she was studying.

Zhenya is not allowed to see his wife, let alone his daughter. If the family loses the appeal, the young father would not only miss his baby's first steps and words, but also in three years time will become a total stranger to his little girl.

Discrepancy between law and life

The young couple’s love has fallen victim to controversial Russian legislation. 19-year-old Zhenya is now in prison for having sex with his own wife Katya, meaning she has to take care of their baby without a father figure.

Russian law, simply put, states that you can marry an underage person with the permission of the parents, but you cannot have sex with this person.

Commissioner for Children’s Rights in Moscow Aleksey Golovan has admitted that there is a discrepancy between the Family Code and the Criminal Code.

On the one hand, the girl was allowed to get married. On the other hand, law forbids sexual relations with a person under 16,” he said, adding “In this particular case, special circumstances should have been taken into account.”

The family believes the young couple did not receive proper legal protection.

The public defence attorney we had lied to us. She said he has to admit his guilt and then nothing will happen to him. So he did and they put him in jail. She did nothing to protect our interests. We found a new lawyer and appealed,” says Katya’s mother Elena Karpova.

Boris Altshuler is a children's rights expert and says cases like this one should be inspected on an individual basis, rather than simply following the law. He says the prosecutors used this case heartlessly for their own interests. For prosecutors it’s just a good report for their chiefs – they did a good job and have exposed a crime.


AL - Second municipality considers sex offender ban in public parks

Original Article

07/10/2010

By Trent Moore

DODGE CITY — Dodge City officials are now eyeing an ordinance to ban registered sex offenders from the town park, less than a month after the City of Hanceville passed a similar measure.

Mayor Tawana Canada said she views the ordinance as a priority to insure the safety of local children.

I don’t think sex offenders should be in the park,” she said. “Children and families use that park and we want to keep them as safe as we possibly can.”

The ordinance will make it a class C misdemeanor for a registered sex offender to be on town park property — a crime punishable by a fine of up to $500 and up to 30 days in jail.

Council member Jason Burney, a sergeant with the Blount County Sheriff’s Office, said he believes the ordinance will be a great change for the town.

We don’t want sex offenders anywhere in Dodge City, period,” he said.

Town officials got the idea from Hanceville, and Canada said the Dodge City ordinance will be based on the one now in effect in Hanceville.

We looked at Hanceville’s ordinance and decided that was a good idea,” she said. “We want to thank Hanceville for being so innovative with this.”

Recent reports of a registered sex offender spending time at the park also pushed the council to make the change, Canada said. There are approximately two registered sex offenders currently living in the town.

The ordinance, number 2010-8, underwent a first reading Thursday night and will be up for final approval next month.

Canada said the town plans to act quickly to enforce the regulation once it is approved.

We’d like to have the sign up [announcing the change] the day after the meeting,” she said.

The ordinance will effect the recently opened Ray Park, located behind the town hall.

Over the past several months, the town invested approximately $35,000 to make upgrades and improvements to the park, which had fallen into disrepair in recent years.

The council has also approved a new closing time of 8 p.m. for the park, due to some recent vandalism.

We’re just trying to make things as safe as possible,” Canada said.

The council also:
  • Purchased a 2001 Chevy Silverado truck for the town at a cost of $6,500. Repairs of $989 were also approved. The council is considering the purchase of new tires for the truck.
  • Approved a 25-cent raise for town maintenance worker Barry Walling, who has been at work for six months.


WI - Spot open on sex offender board

Original Article

07/10/2010

By Charles Davis

Mayor hopes to fill position with mental health professional

Wanted: One Sex Offender Residency Board member. No previous experience required.
- What? No experience necessary? No wonder the system is screwed up! I guess all you need is a deep seated hatred of sex offenders to qualify?

That sums up the vacancy on a board made up of Green Bay residents who decide whether sex offenders can live in the city.

Mayor Jim Schmitt, who appoints board members with approval by the City Council, is not concerned that board members don't need any expertise in the behavior of sex offenders.

"The Sex Offender Residency Board is made up of neighbors, and there are no detailed requirements or specifications," Schmitt said.

Schmitt said the board approves about 60 percent of the more than 100 appeals it has received since its inception. No offender has approached him alleging unfair treatment, he said. Schmitt could coordinate visits from experts if board members requested the help.

A 2007 city ordinance prohibits sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools, parks and other places where children gather. That covers about 90 percent of the city, and those wishing to move to restricted areas must appeal to the five-member board.

The board has had a vacancy since March. Schmitt hopes to fill that opening with a mental health professional in the next month. None of the current board members have worked in psychology or law enforcement.

The village of Howard is one of 12 municipalities in Brown County that have sex offender residency restrictions. Like Green Bay, the village's Sex Offender Residency Appeals Board doesn't have any members with a background in mental health or the legal system, said village President Burt R. McIntyre.

That's partly because the five-member board wasn't expected to last.

Some local officials hoped the state Assembly would pass a bill to override local sex offender residency restrictions in favor of a state guideline.

"Everybody was under the opinion that the state was going to come along and say, 'Here's what you did, now here's what you have to do,'" McIntyre said.

Since that kind of legislation is not on the horizon, local boards need to improve, McIntyre said. That involves training and selecting members with the ability to analyze a problem, though McIntyre isn't sure a doctor or police officer would do a better job.

"Certainly, the better qualified people you can have, the more fairer the process is," he said. "I don't think some of them had any idea how permanent these boards were going to be."

The Howard ordinance prevents certain types of sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of places where children gather. It also established "safety zones" around these areas where sex offenders would not be allowed to loiter. The measure made exception for offenders who had previously been Howard residents.

In Green Bay, board chairman Arthur Taylor believes life experience should be taken into account when selecting an applicant.

"If I was a psychiatrist or a doctor or a police officer, would I be better qualified to judge these people? I don't think so," said Taylor, who added that he works in advertising and has studied sex offender behavior and joined the board to raise awareness about sex offenders.

The board hears appeals from incarcerated sex offenders who wish to live in the city once they are released, those who want to move to Green Bay from another municipality, or those who already live in the city and wish to move. The board considers the severity of the offense, whether offenders show remorse and if they will be contributing members of society, among other things.

Brad Hopp was an original board member who had a background in law enforcement. Hopp left the board in January 2009 because the board did not receive police reports on offenders' cases as well as some confidential investigatory information from law enforcement. Police Chief Jim Arts stopped assigning a detective to attend the meetings because they were not allowed to provide confidential information.

"I preferred not to be involved in making decisions unless I had that information; there were other board members that felt differently," he said.

However, Hopp said the job isn't easy and the board is doing well with the information it receives.

"In a perfect world, if someone had a unique background that lends itself to the board that would be good, but I think any citizen with basic common sense can look at an individual or a case and make a determination if all the information is there before them."

Hopp said members should educate themselves about sex offender behavior.

Taylor said the job is tough and he's struggled over not being restrictive enough and allowing a convicted sex offender to live in the city.

"I've had cases where I go home at night and I think, 'I made a mistake.'"


CA - States resisting Adam Walsh Act

Original Article

07/09/2010

By Michael Gardner

California, 46 others argue law is flawed

SACRAMENTO — It was milestone legislation hailed at the White House, the culmination of an exhaustive campaign by bereaved parents to help prevent future abductions and murders of children.

Yet, nearly four years after the Adam Walsh Act was signed by then-President George W. Bush, California and 46 other states have refused to follow through and implement the law, despite its potential political appeal and the threat of losing federal funding for noncompliance.

By continuing to balk, cash-short California risks losing $5.6 million annually from the Justice Department as well as another $22.5 million in a one-time grant to be received in 2010-2011, according to the state Department of Finance.

However, it would cost the state even more — $32 million a year — to carry out the law that the state believes is flawed, officials here argue.

California is smart to step back and say there are more costs than benefits. ... So far, pretty much everyone seems to understand this is a bad idea,” said Robert Coombs, a member of California’s Sex Offender Management Board, which has long contended the state is better off sticking with its own aggressive measures and registration policies.

But the father of Amber Dubois, one of two San Diego County teenagers raped and murdered by convicted sex offender John Albert Gardner III, said money should not be part of the argument.

I’d like to ask any of those people who have a child if that child goes missing how much money would they invest to go to recovering their child?” Moe Dubois asked.

The Adam Walsh Act was named after the son of John Walsh, who launched the popular “America’s Most Wanted ” television series. Walsh’s 6-year-old son, Adam, was snatched from a South Florida shopping mall in 1981. Authorities were never able to bring Adam’s killer to justice; the prime suspect died while serving time in a Texas prison for murder.

On July 27, 2006 — the 25th anniversary of Adam’s abduction — parents John and Reve Walsh stood with Bush as he signed the legislation in a White House Rose Garden ceremony.

Its provisions include a searchable national registry for sex offenders on the Internet and penalties for offenders who fail to promptly register when relocating to another state. Prison terms were extended for crimes against children, human trafficking and downloading child pornography.

Although called the Adam Walsh Act, the legislation includes various components named after other children murdered by sex offenders in a dozen states, from Florida to California.

Adam’s case became a symbol for the inadequacy of the system,” said Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Dubois is urging lawmakers to pass a package of measures aimed at speeding response time to abductions, arguing that clear, coordinated efforts dramatically increase the likelihood of a safe return. But he doesn’t plan amendments to bring California in line with the Adam Walsh Act, fearing that such a move would endanger the current bills.

Separate, more extensive legislation — known as “Chelsea’s Law ” — would impose harsher sentences on sex offenders and make other changes to the state’s parole system. It is being pushed by Kelly and Brent King, parents of 17-year-old Chelsea of Poway, who was Gardner’s second murder victim.

That measure is not connected to the Adam Walsh Act either, according to the office of Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, R-San Diego, who is carrying Chelsea’s Law, which is pending before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Nationally, states largely concentrate on their own efforts to deal with sex offenders and registration, said Sarah Hammond, who monitors the issue for the National Conference of State Legislatures.

It’s not like the states don’t already have the laws,” she said.

Only Ohio, Delaware and Florida have complied with the Adam Walsh Act.

Coombs, whose board advises the governor and lawmakers on sex offender issues, said one of the biggest failings of the act is that it is too rigid. Significantly, the act requires post-release parole, supervision and rehabilitation polices to be set by the crime, which in many cases is a plea bargain.

That, he said, could hamstring state efforts to perform risk assessments to tailor punishment and treatment options so that the worst offenders, or those most likely to attack again, will be targeted.

The act would essentially require California to take steps, many of which undermine policies we have now,” Coombs said.

Some California officials oppose the requirement of posting on the Internet the names and records of juvenile offenders because it could stigmatize an entire family. Also, that could make it difficult for offenders to turn their lives around by attending school or getting a job. The act also could force the state to reassess and re-register thousands of sex offenders.
- The same applies for adult sex offenders as well.

The Sex Offender Management Board and the state Attorney General’s Office have both penned reports critical of the Adam Walsh Act.

Recognizing the reluctance of states to come on board, the federal government has given them waivers each year and the funding cuts have been avoided so far.

The U.S. Department of Justice is circulating proposed revisions to the act.

The recommended changes, still under review in California and elsewhere, would give states more latitude to exempt information regarding juveniles that must be posted on sex-offender registry sites. The proposals also would scale back some retroactive sex offender reporting regulations, exempt e-mail addresses of those registered from publicly accessible Internet sites and improve the exchange of data to better track offenders across state lines.

Allen, of the missing children’s center, said a broader national registry, in particular, would be effective because too many predators easily slip across state lines and avoid notifying authorities.

The most dangerous sex offenders are highly mobile,” he said.


California for Romeo and Juliet Law

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US legal system should differentiate between types of sex offenders

Original Article

07/09/2010

The issue of what to do with convicted sex offenders in America is not black and white. There are several shades of gray, both in terms of the types of offenders and the types of laws that deal with them.

Marc Klaas is the founder of the KlaasKids Foundation. His daughter, Polly, was kidnapped from her own slumber party, raped and later murdered by a repeat sexual predator when she was 12 years old. Since Polly's death, Klaas has devoted his life to protecting children.

In Miami, sex offender laws have become increasingly harsh, making it nearly impossible for them to even live in the city. Klaas said he fully understands the laws and where they come from. He can relate to the fear many feel. However, Klaas said distinctions need to be made between the types of offenders and laws need to address them differently.

I don’t believe that all sex offenders should be considered in the same boat. The “Romeo and Juliet” scenarios are very different from the John Couey type of scenarios and I think that society has to understand that,” said Klaas.

Klaas argued that the legal system needs to ensure the worst of the predators are put in prison and those who are lesser offenders should enter programs where they can be observed and tracked.

He also said that the system needs to “weed out” those who are 19 year old men who have sex with their 16 year old girlfriends and those who get caught simply urinating in public.

There should be different levels at which sex offenders are evaluated, however hysteria has prevented that from happening, said Klaas. Media and political conversations and coverage of sexual offenders fail to differentiate between different cases and types of offenders, causing the public to lump them into a single category.

Since the tragic murder of his daughter, Klaas said progress has been made in the legal system.

We have Megan’s Law, which requires widespread sex offender registration and notification across the country. And we’ve also seen the implementation, or partial implementation, of the Adam Walsh Act,” said Klass.

The Adam Walsh Act is aimed at coordinating state efforts and laws towards ensuring that a safe society can be maintained without extreme measures, like those currently in place in Miami.

Randy Young of Habitat for Sex Offenders helps find housing for convicted sex offenders and their families. As a convicted sex offender himself, he is well aware of the challenges many face when they try to rejoin society.

The families are put through a grueling process of traveling through neighborhoods and being turned down by landlords and then being turned down by the state of Florida, that it is too close to this or too close to that or that we don’t want to rent to sex offenders. That can be really tough on a mother who loves her child and would like to help him get back on the right track,” said Young.

In the Miami area, the airport, the everglades, and the space under a causeway are the only areas that meet distance requirements from schools, churches, and other places children gather.

Like Klaas, Young agrees that the legal system needs to differentiate between the types of sex offenders. He calls for a tier system. Those convicted of severe crimes should be kept away from children, while those involved in conventional sex between consenting teenagers and public urination should be treated differently.

Young himself was convicted and placed on the sex offender registry because, in his case, two young people engaged in sexual acts in his house while he was home. Young himself was not involved in the acts.

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NY - Doug Pacyon Talks About His Wrongful Rape Conviction and Exoneration

Original Article

07/09/2010

By Maryalice Demler

On June 17, 2010, in Erie County Court, Douglas Pacyon was exonorated by DNA evidence that proved he had been wrongly convicted.

In 1984, he was tried and sent to jail for a rape he did not commit. After serving over 6 years in Collins Correctional Facility, he was released and began serving another sentence; the life of isolation and stigma of a wrongly convicted sex offender.

Pacyon spoke exclusively to 2 On Your Side's Maryalice Demler about his 26-year ordeal, including his struggle to clear his name for a crime he did not commit.