Friday, October 22, 2010

FL - Neighbors Rally Behind Man Called 'Child Predator' In Flier

Original Article
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10/20/2010

Police Say Port St. Lucie Man Has No Criminal History

PORT ST. LUCIE - Neighbors of a Port St. Lucie man who is being called a child predator in fliers are rallying behind him.

"Most neighbors are positive for me -- they're supportive of me," [name withheld] told WPBF 25 News on Wednesday.

[name withheld], who is gay, said fliers calling him a child predator were found in mailboxes on Bermel Avenue.

"Child predator in your area," the fliers read, warning that Halloween is approaching and [name withheld] has been wooing boys in the neighborhood. The fliers call him a "pervert" and list his address and sexual orientation.

His neighbors are now coming to his defense.

A woman who identified herself only as Shira said she would trust [name withheld] to watch her children.

"I'm going on Facebook with my friends and letting them know that if you do receive something, please do not believe it," she said.

Port St. Lucie police spokesman Tom Nichols said [name withheld] has no criminal history and has never been convicted of a sex crime.

In response, Toni McKellum has been distributing her own fliers clearing [name withheld]'s name, and she said even more neighbors have rallied around him since WPBF 25 News first aired his story Tuesday.

"He made a lot of good friends in the neighborhood now," McKellum said.

Postal inspector Blanca Alvarez told WPBF 25 News by telephone that it is illegal to place fliers in mailboxes. She said the U.S. Postal Service is "in the preliminary stages" of an investigation.

"It hurts inside, that's all I have to say," [name withheld] said. "And I hope I don't have to pick up and move someday because of this because whoever's doing this to me, they're destroying me."
- You need to sue them, once police find out who is doing it.  The person is apparently homophobic, and they'll probably do it to someone else, if they are not stopped.


Get Tough on Get-tough-on-crime Politicians

Original Article

10/08/2010

By Sylvia Clute

Another election is at hand. On November 2, many Americans will head to the polls to elect state and federal representatives, governors and senators. We now have enough data to know that voting for candidates who promise to get tough on crime is a big mistake. That’s political jingoism used to play on our fears, not because it is good public policy, but because it’s good for getting themselves elected.

For forty years U.S. politicians have used the get-tough punitive approach to crime to convert complex problems into simple slogans. What they don’t tell us is that these policies have little effect on the rate of violent crime, because they are primarily locking up nonviolent offenders. By the 1990s that was clear.

Between 1980 and 1993, nonviolent offenders accounted for eighty-four percent of the growth in state and federal prison populations. Nonetheless, politicians of both parties continue to run on a get tough on crime platform because it works. How did we get caught in this trap?

From 1950 to 1960, the number of televisions in U.S. homes grew from nineteen million to forty-seven million. As television took over as our main entertainment and source of information, the media, politicians, and pollsters became more savvy about how to use feelings, images, and thirty-second sound bites to shape how Americans vote. They discovered that our fear of crime is easily manipulated.

Richard Nixon was the first to combine television ads with a promise to get tough on crime, but others soon followed. Within a decade, the incarceration rate nationwide began to move upward, then the floods gates opened.

In the 1980s, politicians began to see thirty-second sound bites about crime as essential campaign tools. They crafted snappy messages, like “the war on drugs,” “abolish parole,” “truth in sentencing,” “three strikes, you’re out,” “mandatory minimums,” “zero tolerance,” and “try juveniles as adults.” These clever sound bites were translated into ever more punitive laws that have deeply impacted the system.

We have been on an incarceration binge ever since, as poignantly demonstrated in a graph prepared by the Justice Policy Institute called The Punishing Decade (PDF). Getting tough on crime has become a crusade, used even when crime rates are falling.

Candidates who object to this wasteful path and propose better answers are labeled “soft on crime.” In an environment of vengeance at any cost, it makes them an easy target. While tough on crime is an easy sell, the assertion that this excessively punitive approach is good public policy is refuted by a stream of reports, studies, books, and documentaries that have been warning us of an impending crisis for a long time.

Dr. Karl Menninger wrote The Crime of Punishment in 1966, even before the U.S. incarceration binge began. He tells us about two disturbed young men who had pointlessly killed a younger friend. In a compromise, life sentences were imposed instead of death. While incarcerated, one was killed by a fellow prisoner.

After the other man spent many years in prison, a number of people helped him secure parole. He worked in a hospital laboratory until he was fifty; then he went to college. After graduation, he served for four years as research associate and project director in the Department of Health.

Menninger asks, as a society, was this the right decision, or “. . . should we have held to the ancient, savage ritual of confinement and punishment, and continued his slow suffocation at public expense?"

So far, our society has favored the ancient, savage ritual of punitive justice for which we all pay a price. We are offered forced compliance, at the expense of meaningful, transformative change. We have acquiesced as the politicians continue to write the laws that sustain this failed policy, blind to its excessive costs.

It is time to get tough on politicians who promise to get tough on crime by getting rid of them. November 2nd can be the beginning of a new day.


UK - False rape claim girl (Samantha Merry) faces jail

Original Article

10/22/2010

A 21-year-old aspiring model is facing jail after falsely accusing a man of rape.

Samantha Merry, from Great Baddow, wasted over 230 hours of police time after making the false claim relating to a 37-year-old man from Chelmsford back in March of this year.

At Chelmsford Crown Court this week, Merry pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice in court last week and now faces sentencing on 15 November.

Judge Anthony Goldstaub QC warned Merry: “Sort out your affairs on the assumption you're likely to be sent to prison.”

Perverting the course of justice is a serious matter. A man was arrested in his home, spent 15 weeks on bail and there were 235 man hours wasted. It has a bad impact and affects rape cases all over the country.”

After the case, Chief Inspector Joe Wrigley, of Essex Police, said: “Justice has been done and I hope it serves as a warning to anyone who would want to make a false allegation."

There are enough real crimes for us to investigate. The real victims need our support and those who don't should refrain from doing this.”

Merry was granted unconditional bail and will be sentenced next month.


FL - Woman (Emily Marie Riker) accused of false rape claims heads to court today

Original Article

10/22/2010

By Anika Myers Palm

A woman accused of filing a false rape claim is expected to appear in an Orange County courtroom today.

Emily Marie Riker, 21, of Orlando, told a security guard at a convenience store in June that someone had pulled her into a vehicle and raped her, but deputies said her story was inconsistent and did not match the physical evidence.

She faces charges of filing a false claim to a law-enforcement officer.

Riker later said she lied because she was angry with the man she had been with, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies also determined that Riker had filed two other false rape reports in Orange County and may have reported one in Osceola County.


NY - Riverside Man (Kevin Zorn) Charged With Harassing Sex Offender Gets New Attorney

Original Article

10/13/2010

By Laura Cooper

A Riverside man charged with harassing a registered sex offender working at a local motel was assigned a new lawyer during a court appearance on Tuesday.

Kevin Zorn, who was originally scheduled to be arraigned on second-degree harassment charges on October 12 in Southampton Town Justice Court, was instead assigned a new lawyer and will now return to court sometime in November.

Mr. Zorn is charged with harassing [name withheld], a Level 3 sex offender who lives and works at the _____, this past summer. According to a deposition filed by Mr. [name withheld], Mr. Zorn “bumped his chest against mine” while both men were inside _____ on July 31. In the document, Mr. [name withheld] also alleges that Mr. Zorn “continued to verbally abuse me as I tried to make my way past him,” and that Mr. Zorn followed him from the deli to the motel and spit on him.

Mr. Zorn, who previously stated that Mr. [name withheld] tried to hide his criminal record by using the name Ralph Smith, on Tuesday repeated his complaints about Mr. [name withheld].

I feel like the victim now,” Mr. Zorn said while standing outside Southampton Town Justice Court in Hampton Bays. “This is a crazy world when a man who did what he did is living in my neighborhood.”

Mr. [name withheld] was convicted of having sex with a 12-year-old girl in 2009 and served a year in prison, according to state records. He did not attend Tuesday’s court hearing.

Mr. [name withheld] has already secured an order of protection against Mr. Zorn that forbids him from walking or driving on _____. On Tuesday, Mr. Zorn said the order is problematic for him because it will prevent him from walking to _____, which is located just south of the motel, where he is employed as a handyman.

I go down that road every single day—I can’t avoid it,” Mr. Zorn said, adding that he is being forced to violate the order of protection. “Once it’s official, he can call the cops.”


CT - Sex offender listing process not open

Original Article

10/21/2010

HARTFORD (AP) — Details cannot be disclosed about how some convicted Connecticut sex offenders are placed on a confidential registry rather than the list available to the public, the state Supreme Court has ruled.

The court's unanimous ruling Thursday overturns a lower court in a dispute over Connecticut's "restricted" registry, a sex offender list available only to police and courts.
- The entire registry should be "restricted," offline and used by police and courts only!

By law, sex offenders can get on that list instead of the public registry if a judge decides they are not dangerous to others and naming them would identify their victims.

The Journal Inquirer newspaper of Manchester asked the state Department of Public Safety in 2007 for information — without the offenders' names — on when and where court orders were issued giving permission for them to appear only on the private list.

Thirty-nine people were on the confidential registry at the time. Connecticut State Police Lt. J. Paul Vance said Thursday the number remains about the same today.

The Freedom of Information Commission supported the newspaper when state police rejected its request, and a court later sided with the commission and newspaper.

The Supreme Court's ruling Thursday overturns that decision, saying state law supports the police's argument for confidentiality.

The justices said details about the court actions fall under the broader realm of registration information, which is private under state law for those offenders. The FOI Commission had argued it was administrative information, which would have made it public.

Justices also questioned whether someone could use the bits of court information to piece together facts about the offender — thereby identifying the victim, directly in contrast to what lawmakers intended when they created the restricted sex offenders list.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said Thursday that although he strongly supports the state's sex offender registry laws, he believes victims' privacy rights deserve protection.
- Everyone's privacy rights deserve protection!

"This ruling rightly upholds state law providing judges discretion to conceal a sex offender's information in certain very narrow circumstances, usually to shield the identity of victims," Blumenthal said. "It protects the anonymity of incest victims and others especially vulnerable to identification."
- So what about the children of sex offenders?  By placing offenders on a public shaming list, you are exposing their family and children to harassment as well.

Colleen Murphy, the FOI Commission's executive director, said Thursday officials there are disappointed by the decision and think defining "registration information" so broadly isn't in keeping with the spirit and intent of Connecticut's open-records rules.

"The whole point of the registry is for public access," Murphy said. "The (FOI) commission was in a difficult position in this case because there was no definition for 'registration information,' so it was trying to use common sense and balance the various interests that were at stake."


ME - Former drugs prosecutor and ex-assistant Attorney General (James Cameron) challenges child porn convictions

James Cameron
James Cameron
Original Article
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10/15/2010

By Betty Adams

The state's former top drug prosecutor is challenging his federal conviction on child pornography charges.

James M. Cameron, 48, formerly of Hallowell, was convicted Aug. 23 in U.S. District Court in Portland on 13 counts of possessing, sending and receiving child pornography over the Internet. He was found not guilty of two counts of sending child pornography.

He was taken into federal custody pending sentencing and remains jailed in Maine, according to his attorney, Michael Cunniff.

Cunniff has filed several motions with the court seeking a new trial or acquittal. The filings say Cameron was denied the right to confront individuals who "seized the digital contraband from password-protected online storage spaces on the Yahoo! network."

The claim says that violated Cameron's Sixth Amendment right to confrontation.

"He was not given an opportunity to confront the adverse witness(es) who effectively put the digital contraband at his fingertips, which amounted to a violation of his right to confrontation," Cunniff wrote in one brief filed late last month.

Another claim says Cameron was denied due process, a violation of the Fifth Amendment, and another says Cameron should receive a new trial or an acquittal on five separate counts "because the guilty verdicts contradict clear and convincing evidence by the government's expert witness, Lawrence Ricci, establishing that no reasonable fact-finder could have concluded that the images depicted minors."

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gail Malone and Donald Clark argue in a responding brief that verdicts should stand and that Cameron's motion for a new trial should be denied. They say the material from the Internet service providers and connection logs was properly authenticated.

In a 34-page document, the two prosecutors lay out the process by which investigators connected Cameron with various Internet addresses and accounts.

The document says Cameron accessed child pornography sites from his home and from out-of-state locations. It also says Cameron's other family members were not home when many of those sites were accessed.

Testimony at trial indicated that on days when attorney general time sheets show Cameron was at work, he was actually at his home on the Internet.

"The evidence proved that, as alleged in the indictment, he was often at home, on his computer, trading child pornography," the federal prosecutors wrote.

Cunniff said a judge typically rules on post conviction motions prior to holding sentencing hearings.

Clark said sentencing hearings typically take about three months of preparation because the U.S. Probation Office prepares a presentencing report, on which the defense and the prosecution can both comment.

"We expect a sentencing date to be set after the presentence report is prepared," he said.

Cameron, who did not testify in his own defense, was taken immediately into federal custody after the verdicts. Up to that point, he had been free on bail, living with a brother in Michigan and then moving back to a home in Rome, Maine.

He had been an assistant district attorney in Kennebec and Somerset counties and was hired as an assistant state attorney general in 2000. He was fired in April 2008, after reports surfaced that he was being investigated.

A federal grand jury indicted him on child pornography charges in February 2009.

As a result of the convictions, Cameron faces a minimum of five years and a maximum of 20 years in prison.