Thursday, January 13, 2011

Asking For It - The Ethics & Erotics of Sexual Consent

Original Article
Transcript (PDF)

The line between sexual consent and sexual coercion is not always as clear as it seems -- and according to Harry Brod, this is exactly why we should approach our sexual interactions with great care. Brod, a professor of philosophy and leader in the pro-feminist men's movement, offers a unique take on the problem of sexual assault, one that complicates the issue even as it clarifies the bottom-line principle that consent must always be explicitly granted, never simply assumed. In a nonthreatening, non-hectoring discussion that ranges from the meanings of "yes" and "no" to the indeterminacy of silence to the way alcohol affects our ethical responsibilities, Brod challenges young people to envision a model of sexual interaction that is most erotic precisely when it is most thoughtful and empathetic. Ideal for classes in gender studies, communication, and sociology, and especially useful for extracurricular programs and workshops.

NY - NFL Legend Lawrence Taylor Pleads Guilty to Sexual Misconduct (with a minor)

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I figured with him being a celebrity he would wiggle out of the online registry. Guess not, but will he be on it for life, like most others who did the same? Probably not! Maybe if he was someone like Michael Vick, who President Obama likes, then he would, but who knows.

He thinks it's all behind him and he can move on with his life, he has no clue how this is going to affect his life, that is, if he is made to live by the same residency restrictions and laws.

Maybe when we get enough rich celebrities, like Mike Tyson, PeeWee Herman and others on the list, they will help bring the laws down due to being unconstitutional and unfair punishment?


Former NFL star Lawrence Taylor pleaded guilty Thursday to sexual misconduct and patronizing a prostitute, misdemeanor charges that carry no jail time but require him to register as a sex offender.

The 51-year-old ex-linebacker, who led the New York Giants to Super Bowl titles in 1987 and 1991, will serve six years probation.

"She told me she was 19," Taylor said in court as he admitted having sex with a prostitute who turned out to be a 16-year-old Bronx runaway.

Harry Carson, his former teammate and fellow Hall of Famer, was in the courtroom and gave Taylor a supportive greeting when he arrived.

Taylor was arrested in May at a suburban hotel.

He previously had pleaded not guilty to third-degree rape, patronizing a prostitute, sexual abuse and endangering a child. He had been resisting a plea deal for months.

Prosecutors said in December he had been offered a six-month jail term and 10 years' probation in exchange for pleading guilty to a felony. Taylor would have had to register as a sex offender. Defense attorney Arthur Aidala had called that offer unacceptable but said he would listen to any other offers.

Two other members of the Giants' 1991 Super Bowl team are behind bars. Mark Ingram Sr., a star receiver, is spending nearly 10 years in federal prison for money laundering, bank fraud and bail jumping. And the electrifying kick returner Dave Meggett was sentenced last year to 30 years for criminal sexual conduct and burglary.

Taylor's trial would likely have started within a few weeks.

He was arrested May 6 after the underage girl's uncle contacted New York City police. Officers from Ramapo woke him at a Holiday Inn in Montebello.

Police said he was cooperative and no drugs were found in the room, although a bottle of alcohol was. Taylor has a history of drug offenses but has been to rehab and his lawyer says he has been sober for years.

In a related case, federal prosecutors in Manhattan filed a complaint last year against a man who is accused of acting as the girl's pimp. Court papers in that case say Taylor admitted to sex acts with the girl but said he was told the girl was 19.

Ramapo police Chief Peter Brower said after Taylor's arrest that ignorance of a minor's age is not a defense to third-degree rape.

Aidala had claimed that Taylor's arrest was illegal because police did not have a warrant when they burst into his suburban hotel room in May. Prosecutors said no warrant was required and state Supreme Court Justice William Kelly rejected the claim. But he granted a pretrial hearing on whether statements Taylor made upon his arrest were admissible. Aidala said in December he was relishing the chance to cross-examine the arresting police officers.

Taylor was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999. A fierce, athletic linebacker, he redefined his position and was selected to the NFL's 75th Anniversary All-Time Team.

In 2009, he competed in ABC's "Dancing With the Stars." He had also been a spokesman for the NutriSystem weight-loss company, but he was dropped after his arrest.

FL - Florida police chief (Daniel Saylor) charged with blocking case released on bond

Original Article


By John Couwels

Orlando (CNN) - A central Florida police chief arrested and charged with derailing an investigation into the alleged rape of a minor in order to protect a friend was released Thursday morning after posting bond.

Windermere, Florida, Police Chief Daniel Saylor, 44, was arrested Wednesday morning on felony charges of official misconduct and unlawful compensation for official behavior, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Windermere is a small central Florida town adjacent to the exclusive gated community where Tiger Woods lives. Saylor was in the news after the car accident that precipitated news of the golf star's infidelity. Saylor was one of the few officials who would give reporters details about the November 2009 incident.

Saylor's friend [name withheld], 50, also was arrested Wednesday and charged with sexual battery of a minor under 12, a capital offense, along with lewd and lascivious acts upon a minor, a third-degree felony. The alleged sexual battery occurred to a young girl between 2000 and 2003.

Orange County Circuit Court Judge C. Jeffery Arnold Thursday issued a $5,150 bond and ordered Saylor to have no contact with any member of the Windermere Police Department or [name withheld]. The judge also required the police chief to surrender his service gun and any personal weapons within 12 hours of his release.

"We received information that Chief Saylor terminated an investigation by his department of a sexual battery of a child to keep a friend from going to jail," said Joyce Dawley, special agent in charge for the FDLE, at a news conference Wednesday in Orlando.

Orange County State Attorney Lawson Lamar said the chief offered police officers such benefits as time off with pay, promotions, letters of recommendation and transfers for destroying material evidence, such as investigation notes, and for giving false information to the FDLE.

In the second count, Lamar said the chief is accused of changing the time card for an officer "to pay them off."

Saylor, who joined the Windermere Police Department in 2002, has been suspended without pay, said Mayor Gary Bruhn. An Orange County Sheriff's officer will temporary sit in as Windermere's chief.

No other Windermere officers have been charged, but FDLE's Dawley said it's an ongoing investigation.

If convicted, Saylor could face 15 years in prison. [name withheld], if convicted, could face life in prison.

MS - Sex Offender Registry and Laws Audit (2010)

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MI - Dad's arrest in sex case results in $1.8M wrongful arrest settlement

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More than three years after police in West Bloomfield arrested a man and accused him of raping his autistic daughter, the township's insurance carrier has agreed to pay his family and attorney $1.8 million to settle a wrongful-arrest suit.

[name withheld] served 80 days in jail and faced life in prison; his wife, [name withheld], faced decades behind bars, accused of allowing assaults to happen. Their 14-year-old daughter, who cannot speak, and their son, 13, were in foster care.

The evidence against them? A statement the girl, who functions as a 2-year-old, reportedly typed with the help of a teacher's aide. The statement claimed her father had raped her since age 7 as her mother stood by. A physical exam showed no evidence of abuse.

Prosecutors dropped the case in March 2008 for lack of evidence, but township lawyers deny any police wrongdoing.

The family's attorney, Deb Gordon, said: "They nearly sent an innocent man to prison for life."

Evidence shaky, case fell apart
A school aide reported that a 14-year-old autistic girl, who can't speak and functions at the level of a 2-year-old, was telling her that her father began raping her when she was 7 and her mother stood by.

The claim came from a method known as facilitated communication, in which the aide helped the girl type on a keyboard.

There was no physical evidence the girl had been assaulted, but the typed message became the key evidence against West Bloomfield residents [name withheld] and [name withheld].

Prosecutors dropped the case in March 2008, about four months after arresting the parents. The girl and her 13-year-old brother were placed in foster care.

The case dissolved in front of a judge when the girl couldn't communicate answers to even simple questions, such as the color of her sweater. The aide helped the girl type in court, but hadn't heard the judge's questions. The girl's responses were mostly gibberish. Other courts have long refused to accept testimony provided through facilitated communication.

"They pushed this thing in spite of literally having no evidence of any kind of abuse, other than this facilitated communication nonsense, which is in effect, a Ouija board," said Bloomfield Hills attorney Deborah Gordon, who represents the [name withheld]. "What the police department did was unbelievably horrific."

On Tuesday, a settlement in the [name withheld]' federal lawsuit was made public. The family and the attorney will share a $1.8-million settlement from the township's insurance carrier. The lawsuit continues against the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office, the Walled Lake Consolidated Schools and the Michigan Department of Human Services.

Those defendants are due in federal court in Ann Arbor on Thursday. They have asked the judge to dismiss the case on the grounds of governmental immunity.

The [name withheld] named the West Bloomfield Police Department as a defendant, in part, because of a two-hour interrogation a detective conducted with the 13-year-old boy shortly after his parents' arrest, telling him that they had videos of both the boy and his father sexually assaulting the girl. The boy had no adult representative present for the interview.

Detective Joseph Brusseau, who remains on the police force, later admitted in depositions that he had lied about police finding videos.

The boy, who suffers from Asperger's syndrome, a mild form of autism, can be seen on video rocking and crying during the interview and insisting that neither he nor his father had assaulted anyone.

The Free Press obtained a copy of the video of the interview, and the parents said they had no objections to putting it on the Free Press' Web site,

William Hampton, the attorney representing the Police Department, said the settlement was "nothing more than a business decision by the insurance company, with no admission of wrongdoing or of any liability."

It's unclear how much township insurance premiums will rise because of the settlement.

Hampton also said the department would investigate the case the same way again, including the interrogation of the boy and the jailing of the father.

"We'll assess everything, but really, right off-hand, I can't think of anything they would do differently because we really don't think they did anything wrong," he said.

Oakland County prosecutors said in depositions that they did not investigate the facilitated communication method before charging the [name withheld], and could not find anyone to testify that the method is reliable, despite nationwide calls after the arrests.

Still, they pursued the prosecution.

TX - Will Texas Be Safe for Romeos and Juliets?

Original Article



According to the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee, the state should go its own way when it comes to the registration and monitoring of sex offenders.

In its interim study report released last week, the committee, chaired by Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, recommends that the state unbind itself from federal laws that provide for minimum offender registration requirements – clearing the way for the state to devise its own methods of assessing the risks individual offenders pose to the community at large and (finally) allowing the state to create a much-needed path to allowing qualified offenders off the list.

As of Jan. 6, there were 64,565 names on the state's sex offender registry, which is maintained by the Department of Public Safety. The swift growth of crime and punishment in this area of the law has created a number of issues. While initially designed to keep the public – in particular, children – safe from predators, the number of offenses eligible for registration has ballooned since the registries were first created in 1994, via the federal Jacob Wetterling Act. Many experts – including some who testified before the Senate Criminal Justice Committee last summer – agree that the addition of so many types of crimes has diluted any positive effect the registry might have had on public safety. (The registry includes not just serial pedophiles but also so-called "Romeo and Juliet" cases, often involving youthful romantic affairs in which one party is younger than 17, Texas' age of consent.)

As we reported in September (see "Sex Offend­ers Exposed," Sept. 10, 2010), there are other, similar relationships, such as that of Martin Ezell and his wife, who became involved when he was already 32 and she was just shy of 17. Ezell was prosecuted and given deferred adjudication on the charge of sexual assault of a child. Though he successfully completed his sentence, he will have to register for life. In the Ezell family's case, the registry's effect seems merely cruel: He's unable to find meaningful work; the couple's three children have, at times, been ostracized at school; and the family has had to move numerous times when neighbors have discovered his name and picture on the public database and responded negatively. Researchers around the country have determined that registration does serious collateral damage to sex offenders' families. "Based on the research, [and] the testimony provided during the hearing," reads the committee's report, "it is clear registries do not provide the public safety, definitely not the way it is now."

Although state lawmakers have previously asked the state's Council on Sex Offender Treatment to devise a scheme allowing qualified individuals a path to deregistration, those efforts have been stalled because of a state statute provision binding Texas law to the federal law – which is itself in flux. At issue is whether the state will enact the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act – in essence, an update to the Wetter­ling provisions – that seeks to "provide consistency," as the committee describes it, among the states' registries. But implementation would require the state to overhaul its current registry. For example, while Texas has sought to classify offenders based on risk, the Adam Walsh Act would classify them solely by the offense – a situation that the CSOT and many in law enforcement believe could cause misclassifications. This system would also increase, for many, the number of times per year registration must be updated with local authorities – at the cost of those local agencies – and could significantly increase the number of individuals required to register for life, in part because the act adds additional offenses requiring registration. The AWA also requires juveniles as young as 14 to be publicly registered, a decision that, in Texas, is currently left to judges' discretion.

Finally, and importantly, implementation could cost the state nearly $39 million, while the penalty for not doing so – the loss of some grant funding – would cost just a little more than $1.4 million. "Retaining the ten percent of federal funding is not adequate incentive" to enact the AWA, writes the committee. "Sex offenses are very serious crimes. There is no debate over whether violent and dangerous people should be punished [and] monitored extensively," reads the report. "However like with most issues there are levels and gray areas. In addition there are limited resources to address all of the issues facing the state today." In the end, the committee recommends that the state not implement AWA.

Whether lawmakers will take that advice remains to be seen. Dallas Democrat Sen. Royce West has filed a bill (see "This Way to the Big Top!") that would update state law to comply with the AWA. That would pose additional challenges for people like Ezell who have been searching for a way off the registry.

As it happens, Ezell caught a glimmer of hope in mid-December, when then-District Judge Charlie Baird ruled that the state's registration requirement, as applied to Ezell, is unconstitutional. The registry's purpose is to enhance public safety, Baird wrote, and is not meant to be "so punitive as to be a criminal sanction." He continued, "When the remedial nature of the statutory scheme is not served by registration, and the registration requirement serves as the basis for continued criminal prosecution and causes the disruption of the ordinary course of five lives [Ezell, his wife, and their three children], the registration requirement, as applied to a particular individual, loses its remedial function and becomes purely punitive." Baird ordered Department of Public Safety to "remove all information" about Ezell from the registry.

Despite the order, the DPS has not yet removed Ezell from the list. According to an e-mailed statement from DPS spokeswoman Tela Mange, "DPS declined comment until its attorneys could review and evaluate the ruling." Indeed, the DPS is still bound to comply with the linkage between state and federal law as it applies to deregistration; nonetheless, Baird's order is valid. Interestingly, Ezell's attorney, Gus Garcia Jr., says he sent notice to DPS attorneys prior to the hearing, but no one from the agency responded. "We're hoping that [Ezell] will be able to avail himself of the judge's order," said Garcia, "because it's really like he's in limbo right now." He added that it may take legislative action – enacting the committee recommendations, perhaps – for Ezell to find a final measure of justice.