Friday, November 19, 2010

Stephanie Halter - Sex Crime Laws

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MO - Former Police Captain (Kenneth D. Tomlinson II) Admits to Child Sex Abuse

Original Article


A police captain in Fredericktown, Missouri faces 16 felony charges involving at least three underage boys.

Residents say 42-year-old Captain Kenneth Tomlinson, 42, had a good reputation in town, and was well liked in the police department.

Newly elected police chief John Wright says Tomlinson was arrested early Tuesday morning.

According to court documents, Tomlinson faces 16 counts of sex charges involving boys who are 17, 14 and 12 years old.

"It wasn't so much my suspicions, it was just talk in general among other personnel," Wright said.

Tomlinson is being held in the Cape Girardeau County Jail, being held on $100,000 cash-only bond.A police captain in Fredericktown, Missouri faces 16 felony charges involving at least three underage boys.

SD - Former sheriff's deputy (Roy Shilhanek) pleads guilty to child porn charges

Original Article


A former Faulk County sheriff’s deputy who resigned after a theft case at a Seneca farm more than a decade ago has pleaded guilty in federal court to possessing child pornography.

U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson says 44-year-old Roy Shilhanek of Sioux Falls faces up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine when he’s sentenced Feb. 25.

Authorities say they found child porn on Shilhanek’s computer in March.

While as a deputy in 1997, Shilhanek was involved in the theft of a tent, battery charger and other items during a call about a suspected underage drinking party. He and the sheriff at the time later resigned and were given suspended jail sentences.

MN - Prominent attorney agrees to be disbarred

Original Article


MINNEAPOLIS -- A petition and stipulation agreeing to disbar Aaron Biber from practicing law was filed in Minnesota Supreme Court Friday.

Aaron Biber was sentence to 18 years in prison on Oct. 21 after being convicted for First Degreee Criminal Sexual Conduct after it was learned he raped his son's 15-year-old friend. Biber started practicing law in May of 1988.

Biber once worked for a prominent Twin Cities law firm and is the former president of the Hennepin County Bar Association. It's been a long fall to convicted sex offender.

Prosecutors wanted double the normal sentence. The defense asked for probation.

The 15-year-old boy who was assaulted by Aaron Biber stood in front of the judge in October and Biber to explain how the rape has affected him.

The boy said, "I would turn to Aaron Biber as a mentor and friend...but that mentorship came at a deep cost...I trust no one anymore."

Prosecutors say Biber groomed the boy since he was 11. The victim was the best friend of Biber's son.

Biber sent him more than a thousand sexually explicit text messages, touched him inappropriately and then last fall - on what was the boy's homecoming weekend - Biber got him drunk and raped him, prosecutors say, for four hours.

After a two-day sentencing hearing, it took the judge an hour to tell Biber that he would spend 18 years in prison.

In Minnesota, felons serve two thirds of their sentence so Biber could be out of prison after serving 12 years of the 18-year sentence.

Related Story:

CA - State court issues temporary stay on ruling that blocks part of Jessica’s Law

Original Article


By Ruben Vives

A California appeals court Thursday ordered a temporary stay on a ruling by a Los Angeles County judge that blocked a major provision of Jessica's Law, which restricts how close sex offenders can live to schools or parks.

Los Angeles County Judge Peter Espinoza's ruling on Nov. 1 said that the measure was unconstitutional and that it left sex offenders in some areas with the choice of being homeless or going to jail because the law restricts them from living in large swaths of cities such as Los Angeles.

Following the ruling, the state Department of Corrections ordered parole agents to immediately suspend the portion of the law prohibiting sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school, park or play area. Additionally, parole agents were told to use global-positioning systems to track the movement of offenders and to continue enforcing local ordinances governing offenders.

Proposition 83 (PDF), approved by state voters in 2006 and informally known as Jessica's Law, imposes strict residency requirements on sex offenders, including rules forbidding them from residing near locations where children gather.

Before the law passed, those residency requirements were imposed only on offenders whose victims were children.

Civil rights attorneys have argued that provisions of the law make it impossible for some registered sex offenders to live in densely populated cities, and Los Angeles officials have noted the lack of places that meet its requirements.

Nearly all of San Francisco, for example, is off-limits to sex offenders because of the number of parks and schools close to housing. In Orange County, where more than a third of the paroled sex offenders are homeless, dozens started living on the streets in an industrial section of Anaheim because it was the only place they could find that complied with Jessica's Law. After complaints, police broke up the camp in May. But many of the offenders moved to another industrial area.

Earlier this year, the California Supreme Court said that registered sex offenders could challenge residency requirements in the law if it proves impossible to avoid living near parks and schools.

There are about 5,100 registered sex offenders in Los Angeles, and about 1,020 of them are prohibited under Jessica's Law from living near places where children gather. Throughout Los Angeles County, about 2,000 registered sex offenders are subject to residency restrictions.

MD - Former trooper unable to get name off sex offender list

Original Article



Brian Hanford Murphy had filed a petition to have his conviction modified to probation before judgment

A former Maryland state trooper convicted of possession of child pornography was unsuccessful Thursday in Washington County District Court in an effort to have his name removed from the Maryland Sex Offender Registry.

Brian Hanford Murphy, 37, of Frederick, had filed a petition with the court to have his conviction modified to probation before judgment, or to have his supervised probation modified or terminated retroactive to Sept. 23, his attorney Jason Shoemaker told District Court Judge Mark D. Thomas.

A retroactive termination, or modification to unsupervised probation could result in Murphy not being required to register, he said.

Murphy was convicted in 2007 of five counts of possession of child pornography and sentenced by Thomas on Feb. 12, 2008 to five concurrent, one-year suspended sentences. He was also placed on supervised probation for three years, which is due to expire in February 2011.

Murphy was charged with possessing images of child pornography on a hidden file known as a thumbs.db file on his computer, according to published reports of the trial.

However, a new state law went into effect on Oct. 1, requiring that anyone on parole or supervised probation for certain sexual offenses be registered, Deputy State’s Attorney Joseph Michael said at the time the law went into effect. That list of offenses included possession of child pornography which, at the time of Murphy’s conviction, did not require an offender to register.

Registration was not an issue at sentencing and was not anticipated for Mr. Murphy,” Shoemaker told Thomas. Murphy has complied with all other conditions of his probation and should not be subject to an additional requirement when he has just three months left on probation, he argued.

The ship has already sailed on probation before judgment or any other changes in the sentence itself,” Michael told Thomas. The original 2008 motion to modify was not filed within 90 days of sentencing, he said.

To my recollection ... there has never been a person convicted of possession of child pornography that has not seen the inside of a jail” during his time as a prosecutor in Washington County, Michael told the judge.

We have made efforts to stall the registry requirement,” Shoemaker said. He told Thomas that, although Murphy’s fulfillment of all conditions of probation mean he is worthy of modification, “the retroactive date is the most important issue here for us today.”

The registry requirement would be more of a burden on his client than the original conditions of probation, Shoemaker argued.

Thomas said he would not modify the sentence and that it was not appropriate for him to circumvent the intentions of the legislature in passing a law requiring registration for those on parole or active probation for sexual offenses.

Thomas denied a request by the Maryland Division of Parole and Probation for Murphy to undergo a polygraph examination as a public safety measure, noting that Murphy’s probation is almost over.

Shoemaker argued that the law only calls for the polygraph examination in cases where the offender is under lifetime supervision.

He’s repeatedly said he didn’t do it. He’s innocent,” Michael said of Murphy. “So what’s the downside for him?

Murphy would be registered for 15 years, subject to modification to 10 years, Michael said after the hearing.

I’m a little concerned about the denial” of guilt by Murphy, Thomas said. The judge said he felt the verdict and sentence were fair and there were indications at the time of the trial “that there was a predisposition for thinking about young people in a way Mr. Murphy shouldn’t.”

However, Thomas did grant Murphy’s request to have unsupervised contact with his own children.

Murphy retired from the state police on medical disability after the charges were filed, according to a published report at the time of the trial.

MI - Stigma of being on the sex offender registry, pushes a teen to kill himself

Original Article


A recent horrifying case involving teen suicide has gotten wide attention. The case got Michigan Radio’s Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry thinking about the state’s sex offender registry.

If news is what people are talking about, then the big story in Michigan last week wasn’t the budget deficit, or Governor-elect Rick Snyder’s efforts to put together an administration.

No, the big story was a horrifying case where a fourteen-year-old girl killed herself after having sex with an eighteen-year-old boy.

And it ought to make us all think about a lot of things, including whether the Michigan Sex Offender registry makes any sense.

In this tragic case, both teens at first told police the act was consensual, but later the girl appeared on local TV news, and said she had been raped. Following that, the kids in her high school evidently turned on her. Eventually, the child went home and hung herself. This story is distressing on too many levels to count.

Whatever actually happened between the teens is hard to determine, though police say the girl said she told the boy she was eager to lose her virginity. If so, she later had second thoughts. As a journalist, I am appalled that a local so-called news station put this child on TV, identifying her by name, as she talked about her sex life.

Grownups ought to know how cruel the world can be.

But this whole episode really ought to draw attention to an appalling institution called the Michigan Sex Offender Registry.

Since the 1990s, the registry has listed anyone convicted of a so-called sex crime and indicates where they live. The idea was to protect children by allowing families to discover if a convicted sex offender lives in the neighborhood.

That may make some sense in the case of serious pedophiles, though it also could be seen as a dangerous invitation to vigilante action. But the registry also includes those convicted of a wide variety of far lesser offenses, including drunk frat boys who relieved themselves in public. They are on there with the serial rapists.

The main problem is in cases like this one. In Michigan sixteen is the legal age of consent. But in our highly sexualized society, there are many sixteen year old boys who are active with their almost sixteen year old girlfriends. Legally, they are committing a felony.

If they are caught, they will end up on the registry, and you can imagine what that will do to their futures.

A few years ago, I knew of a seventeen-year-old honor student who was taken to court for having relations with his underage girlfriend. Upon finding out he’d be on the registry, he killed himself by driving into the path of a huge truck.

In the case now making headlines, the student who was the dead girl’s sex partner wasn’t old enough to legally drink, but he was headed to hard time in prison, even if she had admitted that she solicited him. Our law has no tolerance for sex with underage minors, no matter the circumstances. The young man would also have been on the sex offender list for at least twenty-five years.

But ironically, he won’t be on that list now, since the only witness is dead. I’m not saying he should be, nor am I condoning whatever his behavior was. I am saying there is something terribly wrong with this system.

FL - Duckett-Grace case settlement raises questions

Original Article


By Suevon Lee

Experts say it may embolden other hosts to be aggressive

The settlement between cable show host Nancy Grace and the estate of Melinda Duckett put the estate's lawsuit to rest.

But the deal awakened new questions about the impact the case will have on cable news programming, especially the emotionally charged brand that Grace delivers.

The consensus by experts is that the case won't do much to muzzle Grace — and may even embolden other talk show hosts to be aggressive with guests.

"I don't think this case will have a dramatic effect on other broadcast journalists because Nancy Grace operates in a unique realm," said Jill Geisler, a faculty member at The Poynter Institute who specializes in broadcast media. "She operates as a personality and as a prosecutor who uses the news as the basis for a show that is largely entertainment-focused."

That could open the door for others.

"I believe that other talk show hosts, at some point, will keep pushing this boundary, almost what you call bullying behavior, on the air that might cause someone to snap," said Clay Calvert, a University of Florida journalism professor who specializes in First Amendment law.

After four drawn-out years of litigation, the civil battle arising from Duckett's suicide after appearing on Grace's show ended in a draw.

CNN established a $200,000 trust account to help find Duckett's missing son, Trenton.

For its part, Duckett's family issued an apology to CNN and absolved the network of any responsibility for Melinda's death.

And both sides managed to avoid an agonizing jury trial.

Also coming out a winner was the media, in general.