Tuesday, April 12, 2011

IL - Judge T. Jordan Gallagher tells sex offender "You’re a second-class citizen and will be for the rest of your life!"

Original Article

04/12/2011

By Clifford Ward

A sex offender was ordered today to spend a year on electronic home monitoring after it was learned he was serving as head coach of his son’s youth baseball team.

[name withheld], 38, of Batavia, had been barred from unsupervised contact with minors as a result of his conviction in Kane County in 2006 on one count of possession of child pornography. But last year he began coaching his 9-year-old’s team in a Batavia Park District league.
- Yes, he was ordered no unsupervised contact and he broke the rules, but saying what the judge said below, he should be fired!

He was arrested in August after the parent of another player on the team learned of [name withheld]’s background and contacted police. He pleaded guilty in November to a charge of unlawful association by a child sex offender.

During his sentencing hearing, a tearful [name withheld] made an emotional plea, telling Judge T. Jordan Gallagher, “All I wanted to do was create a memory with my son.”

There were no allegations that [name withheld] did anything inappropriate with the players. The judge noted that psychological evaluations indicated that [name withheld] was not sexually interested in young boys, but said those factors did not mitigate his crime.

You are a sex offender and there are rules, and whether you like them or not, you’ve got to follow them,” Gallagher said. “You’re a second-class citizen and will be for the rest of your life.”

In addition to the electronic home monitoring, the judge placed [name withheld] on 24 months of a specialized probation for sex offenders and ordered him to re-enroll in a counseling program that he participated in following his original arrest. He was also ordered to undergo a new psychiatric evaluation.

[name withheld] did not seek the coaching job; someone from the park district asked him to volunteer while he was registering his son, his attorney, Justin Sather, said.

My client was trying to be a father to his son,” Sather said.

Kane County Assistant State’s Atty. Pam Monaco asked the judge to sentence [name withheld] to 180 days in the county jail. “When you re-offend, the ante goes up,” Monaco told the judge.
- He did not re-offend, sexually, he broke a rule.


TN - Sex offender law creating concerns for school officials

Original Article

04/12/2011

By Bill Christian

Sex offenders in Tennessee cannot be within 1,000 feet of a school. But there are a few exceptions that were added to the sex offender law last year. A registered sex offender can drop off and pick up their child at school if they give notice to the school. And they can attend a parent teacher conference at the school if approved by a principal.

"We will have folks that actually weigh all those what the request is and if we can accommodate their request and it's in the guidelines of what we're talking about we will try to make sure we keep the peace within the family, but not at the expense and the safety of the children," said Dr. Jubal Yennie, Sullivan County Director of Schools.

One school system official in the Tri-Cities said they would possibly expand the sex offender guidelines to include other school events. Sullivan County District Attorney William Harper believes the sex offender law should be very limited when it comes to allowing sex offenders on campus.

"They've carved out limited exceptions, but I guess others have tried to expand that exception even further. I would have a problem with them expanding that," said William Harper, Sullivan County Assistant District Attorney.


ME - House kills bill to allow tighter sex offender residency restrictions

Original Article

04/12/2011

By Kevin Miller

AUGUSTA - House lawmakers on Tuesday followed the lead of the Senate and voted to kill a bill that would have given rural municipalities more flexibility in restricting where convicted sex offenders can live.

The bill, LD 8 (PDF), would have allowed towns without a police chief to enact local ordinances prohibiting certain sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of a public or private school. Current law allows towns to exclude sex offenders from living within 750 feet of schools.

Supporters argued that the measure would help protect children in rural towns that lack a regular police presence to keep an eye on convicted sex offenders.

But opponents, including law enforcement officials, said Maine’s current law is effective and that creating a 2,500-foot exclusion zone could make matters worse by driving sex offenders into even more rural areas far from treatment. They also pointed out that the family members — not strangers — commit the vast majority of cases of sexual abuse of children.

The House voted 93-56 to kill the bill. The measure died on a 19-16 vote in the Senate last week.


NY - Judge gives Lawrence Taylor low-level sex offender status

Original Article

04/12/2011

By Sean Leahy

A judge in New York gave Lawrence Taylor a low-level classification as a sex offender on Tuesday.
- Must be nice. He's a celebrity, and I thought determining someone's level was to be done by a professional board, not a judge.

Taylor, who received six years probation last month after a guilty plea for sexual misconduct, must register for 20 years with the Level 1 classification after convincing a judge not to impose a harsher penalty.

Judge William Kelly said he did not think it was likely that Taylor would recommit his offense and said the fact that he didn't believe Taylor was targeting children with his crime was a factor. (Via ESPN)

Taylor admitted to having sex with a 16-year-old runaway who had been prostituted. But Taylor said he believed the girl was 19 and that she told him that was her age.

The Pro Football Hall of Famer's name will not appear on public registries because of his low-level classification.

The victim in Taylor's crime -- whose name USA TODAY will not reveal -- said after his sentencing last month that she believed he should have gone to jail.


MI - Governor Snyder signs legislation that change sex offender registry rules

Original Article

04/12/2011

By Smita Kalokhe

Changes will affect "Romeo and Juliet" offenders

LANSING (WXYZ) - Governor Rick Snyder signed into effect new laws that would change Michigan’s sex offender registry rules, hoping to get so-called “Romeo and Juliet” offenders off the list.

Michigan has the fourth largest registry in the country, and lawmakers and law enforcement say it unfairly includes offenders who are not a threat to the public. In particular, the new laws say so-called “Romeos and Juliets,” which is when teens have consensual sex with another teen, would not be included on the list. The rules say if the victim is between 13 and 16-years old and consented to having sex with another teen who is no more than four years older than them, then the offender can’t be put on the list. Teens must be at least 16-year old to have sex legally in the state. This law does not change that.

That’s not really a dangerous offender who the public needs to be aware of,” said Michigan State Police Sgt. Christopher Hawkins, who was at Tuesday’s signing. “These people right now are lumped onto the registry and are compared to child molesters and pedophiles, and it’s really a fairness issue to take them off the registry.”
- Most people on the registry are not people the public needs to be aware of as well.

The laws also bring Michigan into compliance with federal rules. The changes take effect July 1, 2011.


MN - Life on the List

Original Article

04/12/2011

By Steve Yoder

Does publicly posting names of convicted sex offenders actually reduce the number of sexual offenses?

You could say it started with three small-town Minnesota boys riding their bikes to a convenience store on an October night in 1989. As they were returning home on a dark stretch of road, a man stepped out of the darkness holding a gun. He told them to lie face down on the ground and then directed two of them -- Trevor Wetterling, age 10, and Aaron Larson, 11, to run into the woods and not look back or he'd shoot them. That was the last that they, or anyone, would see of 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling.

The subsequent fruitless search led President Bill Clinton to sign a law in September 1994 designed to help police quickly locate potential perpetrators of sex offenses. The Jacob Wetterling Act required states to create sex-offender registries accessible to police, though not to the public. But that same year, 7-year-old Megan Kanka of Hamilton Township, New Jersey, was lured across the street, then raped and murdered by a neighbor who -- unbeknownst to her parents -- had served six years in prison for aggravated assault and attempted sexual assault on another child. The Kankas maintained that, had they known a convicted sex offender lived nearby, they could have protected their daughter. So in 1996, Clinton signed Megan's Law, which required states to open up their sex-offender registries to the public.

Megan's Law launched America's practice of notifying neighborhoods of where sex offenders live. Though the law is well intentioned, it's not clear whether it has reduced the number of sex offenses; rather, public notification appears to destabilize offenders' lives, increasing the risk they'll commit another crime. There is also ample evidence that since the law passed, vigilantes have used sex-offender registries to threaten, harass, and inflict violence on hundreds of offenders and their families.

In the decade and a half since Megan's Law was passed, public-policy researchers, corrections officials, and treatment professionals have begun to recognize the faulty premises and poor outcomes the law has created. A few states, recognizing the problems with public registries, have tried to develop legal solutions that both protect offenders from abuse and reduce sexual violence. But a new federal law -- the Adam Walsh Act, signed by President George W. Bush in 2006 and set to take effect this summer -- threatens to shut down those innovations; states not found in compliance by July 26 will lose critical federal crime-fighting funds. At a time when criminal-justice policies are increasingly adopting a "smart on crime" approach grounded in research on what works, the legal treatment of sexual offenders is moving in the opposite direction.



"Jeff" isn't his real name. When he talks about the June day in 2005 that the beer bottle shattered his front window, his voice quavers. "I'm sorry -- all of this just makes me so angry," he says. He was convicted in 1995, as a 23-year-old, for having what he says was consensual sex with a 15-year-old girl he met in a bar. That onetime liaison came to light, Jeff says, when the girl became pregnant (he says DNA later showed he wasn't the father) and her parents reported the episode to the police, with the girl as a cooperating witness. He spent five years in prison, but even after his 2000 release, state law required that he be placed -- for life -- on the state registry, which shows his photo, address, and the details of his conviction.

Jeff says the bottle thrower on that June day was a neighbor -- someone with whom he'd been friendly -- who had found Jeff on the registry and appeared on his lawn with two biker buddies, shouting threats. When Jeff went out to talk to the group, the men formed a semicircle, pushing and spitting on him. He retaliated with punches, and the resulting fight ended with both sides bloodied and a hole in a wall when they pursued him as he retreated into the house.

A month later, Jeff recalls, his tool shed was broken into and the equipment for his logging business stolen. Not long after, a second neighbor plugged a culvert they shared so that Jeff's basement flooded in the next storm; Jeff says the man told him he'd done it "to get the sex offender out of my neighborhood." Jeff has changed his phone number a dozen times after repeated threatening calls.

In 2003, Jeff married a lifelong acquaintance who knew his history. She worked as a nurse at a hospital, and shortly after their marriage, a manager told her that she had to choose between her job and her husband. Jeff attributes their 2005 divorce to his status on the sex-offender registry: "We were looking at each other, and it was like, 'I'm destroying your life.'" Even the two girls he parents, ages 13 and 14 (one from a previous partner and the other for whom he serves as guardian), started being teased in school and were excluded from social, school, and church events. "What have my kids ever done to anybody?" Jeff says. "In reality, sometimes I wonder if maybe killing myself may not be the best thing I can do for them."

About 700,000 sex offenders appear on registries in the 50 states and other U.S. jurisdictions. But their crimes vary widely, from chronic violent sexual predation down to voyeurism and even public urination. Researchers estimate that the vast majority of these offenders are at low-risk for repeating their crimes. Nonetheless, the public is overwhelmingly concerned: In a 2005 Gallup poll, 66 percent of respondents said they were "very concerned" about sex offenders, while 36 percent said the same about terrorism.

Giving a nervous public instant access to the addresses and photos of sex offenders produces none-too-surprising results. Though no reliable national statistics exist on vigilante violence against sex offenders, a few studies indicate widespread abuses. In a 2005 study by University of Louisville criminologist Richard Tewksbury in the Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 47 percent of 121 sex offenders reported they'd been harassed as a result of being on a state registry, and 16 percent said that they'd been assaulted; among nearly 600 immediate family members of offenders that Tewksbury and Lynn University researcher Jill Levenson surveyed, 44 percent said they'd been threatened or harassed by neighbors as a result of their relative's sex-offender status, 27 percent that their property had been damaged, and 7 percent that they'd been physically assaulted or injured. A 2005 study in the same journal by Levenson and Leo Cotter, who directs a Florida sex-offender outpatient program, reported that 21 percent of 183 offenders had their property damaged by a person who found out about their status.

Recent incidents illustrate those findings. In April 2010, a man used a printout from California's sex-offender registry to try to rob the homes of two registered sex offenders in Grover Beach. In November, a registered sex offender from Orlando was assaulted in front of his home by three teens who told him they knew he was a sex offender; they punched and kicked him repeatedly and stomped his dog to death before running off. That same month in the Virginia town of Hopewell, police charged 19-year-old Daniel Narron with attempted murder for using his SUV to try to run down 52-year-old Rudolph Ellis, who is on Virginia's sex-offender list. Since 2005, at least six sex offenders nationwide have been murdered by people who used a state registry to track their victims.

The problems with the sex-registry laws are myriad, starting from their very premises. One of the basic assumptions behind Megan's Law is that parents who know that a sex offender lives nearby will take precautions; after a decade and a half, however, there's little research to show that's happened. A second premise is that sex offenders are somehow different from other criminals and can't change, but a 2003 study found that sex offenders had a three-year recidivism rate of 5 percent for another sex crime; that compares with a 47 percent rate for other criminals committing another crime. Finally, the law assumes sex offenders will be less likely to commit another crime if they know they're being watched. Again, the research is weak: In 2009, analysts at the Washington State Institute for Public Policy looked at seven studies on recidivism by registered sex offenders that had been conducted since the first registry law was passed. Two showed that being on a registry decreased recidivism, one showed an increase, three indicated no effect, and one didn't measure the effect. "Though the research differs somewhat from state to state and study to study, overall it does not appear that registries have resulted in a significant decline in sex crimes in general or in recidivistic sex crimes more specifically," says Levenson, perhaps the leading researcher on the effects of sex-offender registries.

Still, probably the biggest issue with registries is who gets on them and what happens to those who do. As originally conceived in the Wetterling Act, registries were to be accessible only to law enforcement. It was raw public pressure, rather than criminological research results, that turned those lists over to the public. And, like many policies driven by public furor, the enabling laws overreached. Today, most registries include offenders busted for a range of acts, from offensive or vulgar behavior to heinous crimes. A 2007 Human Rights Watch study reported that at least five states required those convicted of offenses related to adult prostitution to be registered, 11 states did the same for those guilty of public urination, and 25 did so for public exhibitionism. "Most people assume that a registered sex offender is someone who has sexually abused a child or engaged in a violent sexual assault of an adult," noted the study's authors. Registries, that is, create the impression that neighborhoods are thick with recidivist sexual predators, making it impossible for parents to discern who actually is dangerous.

Sex-offender registries also now include people who have committed no sexual crime: Forty-one states put those convicted of falsely imprisoning or kidnapping a minor on their sex-offender registries -- whether or not the crime was related to sex. Last March, for example, the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld a ruling that a 17-year-old boy who forced another 17-year-old to go with him to collect a drug debt could be made to register as a sex offender, though the crime involved nothing sexual. The court majority argued for the wider net because "Wisconsin's sex offender registration statute 'reflect[s] an intent to protect the public and assist law enforcement.'" As the dissenting justices noted, under that reasoning, convictions for violating most provisions of Wisconsin law could trigger mandatory sex-offender registration.

Sweeping everyone onto a single list produces some absurd outcomes. Fred Berlin, who founded the Sexual Behaviors Consultation Unit at Baltimore's Johns Hopkins Hospital, worked with a patient in his 80s who had Alzheimer's and was living in a nursing home. The man also was on the sex-offender registry for fondling a child in his family. Berlin says the man's offense probably was related to the onset of his dementia. But that didn't stop the nursing home's neighbors, who found his name on the registry, from successfully demanding he be moved to another facility.

A raft of research shows that such disruptions increase offenders' risk of committing another sexual crime. For example, three studies conducted between 2000 and 2007 indicate that being listed on a sex-offender registry leads to a loss of positive community supports and to barriers in getting housing and employment, both problems linked to increased recidivism. Betsy Mata and her husband Jose know that well. They're co-pastors at Holy Ground Christian Fellowship in Anaheim, California, where they run a 12-step residential treatment program for sex offenders under a contract with the state parole agency. After a registered sex offender was convicted of murdering two teens 90 miles south of their facility, someone looked on the state registry and found out that the program was housing 11 sex offenders in two rented houses. Two hundred fired-up citizens attended a community meeting. Betsy Mata started getting threatening calls -- one caller said he'd castrate the men. When the story broke in The Orange County Register, one of the landlords canceled the program's lease, and the parole agency stepped in to shut down the second house to avoid the publicity. As a result, eight of the 11 men ended up on the street.

That outcome isn't surprising: A state task force report issued last November documented a 750 percent increase in California's population of homeless sex offenders since a restriction on offenders living within 2,000 feet of schools or parks went into effect four years ago. Last November, the Oklahoma town of Sand Springs took advantage of that state's 2,000-foot law by announcing plans to build a new town park close to a trailer park where 23 sex offenders live, which will force the offenders to move. Nationally, a 2008 U.S. Department of Justice report concluded that cases of offenders being forced into homelessness have been "widely reported."

Sex-offender policies, meanwhile, are growing ever more punitive, including tightened residency restrictions, lifetime placement on sex-offender registries for even minor offenses, and even the expanded use of the death penalty for certain non-homicide sex offenses. Treatment professionals say no other group of ex-convicts who have done their time are the target of such systematic vitriol. "Drunk drivers can be dangerous -- they get in cars and kill innocent people, but we still see them as human beings deserving of help," Berlin says.



In recent years, however, a few states have taken the lead in using their registries more judiciously in response to research showing the link between public notification and vigilantism and discrimination against offenders, including those who are lower-risk. One state leading that effort is Washington, which created the country's first public sex-offender registry, in 1990, after three highly publicized murders, two involving children. Washington has invested heavily since then in evaluating and improving its practices. Before an offender is released from jail, a multidisciplinary committee uses an actuarial risk-assessment tool to determine his likelihood of committing another crime, looking at factors like whether the offender has a history of sex offenses or has completed a treatment program. On that basis, offenders are placed into one of three tiers. Those in tier 1 -- judged the least likely to re-offend -- are listed on a registry accessible to law-enforcement eyes only. Those in tiers 2 and 3 must submit to the state's public registry, and police must distribute notification flyers in the offenders' neighborhoods before their release.

The police, though, do more than notify. Given resources by the state's association of sheriffs and police chiefs, local cops also educate. Before a tier-2 or -3 offender moves into a neighborhood, police hold a public meeting. A parole officer and a sex-offender treatment provider talk about the characteristics of the offender, how the neighborhood can stay vigilant, and how the parole officer monitors offenders. An advocate for sexual-assault victims offers context, including that most assaults are committed by people whom victims know, and discusses strategies parents can use to communicate with kids about what to watch out for. Police also make clear that harassing sex offenders often puts them more at risk of committing another crime. "We will not accept any vigilantism any more than we would accept a sex offender re-offending," a Seattle police detective said at one meeting. Having a team of presenters "allows the community to see that many players are part of sex-offender management," says Lindsay Palmer of the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center.

There are still problems -- tiering and community notification practices can differ from county to county -- but overall the state's results have been positive. After a 1997 state law mandated the current protocol for community meetings, the five-year recidivism rate for released felony sex offenders dropped by half (though researchers note that state and national crime rates generally fell during that period). A 2006 Washington State Institute for Public Policy study of recidivism among Washington's convicted sex offenders showed a re-offense rate of less than 3 percent, compared with the national rate of 5.3 percent reported in a 2003 U.S. Department of Justice study.

Other states that are instituting reforms also have shown promising results. Like Washington, since 1997 Minnesota has held community education meetings and included only higher-risk offenders on its state registry. A 2008 study of those practices showed lower recidivism rates for sex offenders subject to them than for matched comparison groups of sex offenders. In Vermont, the Department of Corrections launched a "circles of support" initiative in 2005 that links ex-offenders with trained community volunteers. Though the state hasn't yet formally evaluated the project's impact, the department's David Peebles says that offenders who participate have so far shown more success than others in reintegrating and avoiding new crimes. In Colorado, the head of the state sex-offender management board says the state's community-education efforts have helped reduce re-offense rates while avoiding vigilantism: A 2008 evaluation of 101 high-risk paroled offenders there showed a recidivism rate of less than 1 percent.

But innovative approaches like those could be undermined by the Adam Walsh Act. After passage of Megan's Law, missing-children's advocates became concerned about offenders using differences in state registries to slip across state lines to jurisdictions with looser requirements. They lobbied for a uniform national registry, and in 2006, President Bush signed the act, named for a 6-year-old boy kidnapped and murdered in 1981 by a serial killer (and which no sexual abuse was ever determined). The law mandates a uniform structure for state registries and links them to create a single national registry. It also requires that states adopt identical risk-assessment systems that automatically classify offenders based on their crime of conviction.

The implications of that apparently technical change are enormous. According to an internal memo of Washington state's Sex Offender Policy Board (SOPB), which develops guidelines for state practice, about 70 percent of the state's sex offenders are now classified as lower-risk, in tier 1, while the other 30 percent are grouped into the higher-risk tiers 2 and 3. The new law would roughly invert those statistics. Worse, the law would prohibit the state's practice of not making public the names and addresses of tier-1 offenders. According to SOPB member Brad Meryhew, within two months of implementing the law, neighborhoods would be flooded with notification flyers about high-risk sex offenders living in their neighborhoods -- offenders who previously were classified as low-risk under Washington's system. "The hysteria and the impact on people's lives would be astounding," Meryhew says.

That's a concern for one key advocate for missing children -- Patty Wetterling, Jacob Wetterling's mother. In 1990, she started the Jacob Wetterling Foundation to help communities protect children and teens. Wetterling believes the highest-risk offenders should never be released. But for others convicted of sexual crimes, she opposes get-tough laws like restricting where they can live. "We need to keep in mind the goal -- to have no more victims," she says. "If you go down that path, then you have to find the things that every human being needs in life. You need housing. You need a job. You need family support, community support. ... Everyone on the registry is somebody's brother, somebody's son, somebody's father."


OH - Melinda Denham charged with false rape claim due to boyfriend taking her cell phone

Original Article

04/09/2011

By Kimball Perry

Melinda Denham awoke from a sound sleep at 1:25 a.m. Aug. 13 to find her ex-boyfriend, [name withheld], in the bedroom of her father's Blue Ash home.

Denham, 25, told police [name withheld] twice raped her. Eleven days later, she swore before a grand jury about being raped.

[name withheld], 36, ultimately was jailed and charged with burglary and two counts of rape, crimes that could have sent him to prison for 30 years.

He stayed behind bars for months until Denham wrote a letter to a judge -- and admitted she lied.

"The truth is he never raped me. It was mutual between both of us. I got mad over him taking my cell phone and not giving it back," Denham wrote in her Sept. 15 letter to Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Charles Kubicki, Jr., who was presiding over [name withheld]'s rape case.

Five separate times in the letter, Denham noted [name withheld] hadn't raped her or that she had wrongly accused him.

Kubicki turned Denham's letter over to Hamilton County prosecutors who did something they rarely had done before - charged Denham with lying about being raped.

After reading Denham's letter, prosecutors dismissed the charges against [name withheld] and charged his accuser with perjury and making false alarms. She pleaded guilty Feb. 24 to making false alarms in exchange for the more-serious perjury charge being dismissed.

"For someone to admit to lying under oath is pretty unusual," said Chief Assistant Prosecutor Mark Piepmeier. "I cannot recall in my time here that something like this has happened."

It's happened twice in Hamilton County in the last five years, during which Hamilton County prosecuted 943 rapes allegations.

Deanna Taulbee swore before a grand jury that her estranged husband raped her. He was indicted and served 42 days in jail before she went before a judge and admitted she lied. Deanna Taulbee pleased guilty to attempted perjury and served 58 days in jail.

[name withheld], through his attorney Adam Seibel, wouldn't comment. "He just wants to put all this behind him," Seibel said.

Falsely accused, real victims affected

A 1997 report on sexual assault conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice stated that "In 1995, 87 percent of recorded forcible rapes were completed crimes and the remainder were classified as attempts. Law enforcement agencies indicated that about 8 percent of forcible rapes reported to them were determined to be unfounded ..."

The report considered data submitted by 16,000 law enforcement agencies around the country.

False charges are a nightmare for the men who are targeted, but are also a concern for people advocating for real victims, such as Kendall Fisher, executive director of the advocacy group Women Helping Women. More than 1,300 women were victims of rapes, sexual assaults or other sex crimes last year in Hamilton County, Fisher said.

She's afraid false rape allegations could result in a negative backlash for true victims.

"What it may do is impact somebody else's decision to report or not to report," Fisher said.

"It's always one of the things people are afraid of: 'I'm not going to be believed.'"


FL - Law draws line between sex crime and misconduct

Original Article

04/12/2011

By Erin Kourkounis

The 16-year-old boy who pleaded no contest Monday to sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl probably was not thinking her age would make a difference if they got caught.

He was wrong.

The March 1 incident at Tate High School has prompted discussion about where the line is drawn between a sex crime and misconduct involving two students.

The boy was accused of pushing the girl's head toward his genital area during a reading class. On Monday, he was placed on probation until he turns 19.

He told investigators he wasn't the aggressor; rather, he said he pulled back his shorts to expose himself when the girl asked him to. The girl told school officials she was forced.

Actually, under the law, it makes no difference.

The girl's acquiescence, if true, would not be a legal defense. She is not old enough to give consent, according to state law.

If a teen 16 or older engages in sexual activity with another who is younger than 16, it is a crime, even if both consent.

Laws on consent

Brian Shorette, an Escambia County Sheriff's Office sex crimes investigator, said it is crucial for parents to talk to their children about consent laws.

"A lot of kids are aware that there is some law out there that's controlling what they're supposed to do, but I doubt many of them know exactly what it is," Shorette said. "If they're under 16, they can't consent to any sexual activity, whether it's just touching or sex."

Teens can face felony charges for sexual assault in two main areas. The first is sexual battery — the penetration by or union with the sexual organ of another or penetration by any object. The second is lewd and lascivious molestation — intentionally touching the breasts, buttocks or genital area, or the clothing covering them.

Assistant State Attorney Anne Patterson said there are a lot of good reasons for children under 18 to refrain from engaging in sexual activity besides the fact that it could be against the law.

"There are health concerns, the threat of unplanned pregnancy, the disruption of their education and general mental health issues in engaging in that behavior before they're economically or emotionally ready for the implications," she said.


MA - Sex Offender Tells His Story

Original Article

04/11/2011

By Sandy Quadros Bowles

The public does not have to fear all Level 3 sex offenders.

That was the message delivered tonight by [name withheld], a Level 3 sex offender from Grafton, who spoke during a meeting of residents concerned about sex offenders in town.

[name withheld] said he lives quietly in town and causes no problems. He said people might not like him, but they do not have to fear him.

The meeting, hosted by State Rep. George Peterson, R-Grafton, was inspired by concerns of residents over the recent actions of [name withheld] of Grafton. [name withheld], a Level 3 sex offender on lifetime parole on a variety of sex charges, removed his GPS monitoring bracelet and fled to Maine.

Residents have expressed concerns about the notification process and anger that [name withheld] was living in their neighborhood. They also questioned why [name withheld] was not in prison on the charges but instead was given lifetime parole, which requires him to wear a GPS monitoring bracelet.

[name withheld] was ordered to wear the GPS monitoring bracelet as a condition of parole, which he was granted April 29, 2010.

On that date, he pled guilty to a series of charges, including three counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14 and four counts of statutory rape of a child.

The district attorney's office has said that a plea deal was struck in part because the victims were hesitant to testify. Peterson said that when victims refuse to testify, the case against the accuser weakens.

In the legal system, the accused has the right to face their accusers. Residents questioned why children in particular could not deliver their testimony in a disposition or via closed circuit TV, methods the legal system does not currently allow.

[name withheld] said he understood residents' frustrations with [name withheld].

"These guys hurt it for me,'' [name withheld] said.

He agreed with residents who expressed outrage that [name withheld] had been reportedly working in construction and home improvement. They questioned whether customers knew they were allowing a registered sex offender into their homes.

"I don't want this guy in my house,'' he said.

[name withheld] served time for assault with intent to rape and indecent assault and battery on a person 14 and older. The incident happened in 1993.

"I did something stupid, and I will live with it for the rest of my life,'' he said. He said he thinks about his crimes every day but "I paid my dues'' in the system.

[name withheld] served additional time in prison after the 1993 crimes. He said he has written proof that the alleged victims in these later incidents lied.

He said that anyone who has served time for a sex crime is automatically listed as a Level 3 offender when they are newly released from prison.
- I don't think this is true, and if it is, it's wrong!

He said he lived in town without incident and under the radar prior to the sex offender registry that requires sex offenders to register and for their identities and addresses to become public information.

"There are more sex offenders living in Grafton than there are police officers,'' he said.

But until they are convicted, "you don't know who they are.''

Peterson, Police Chief Normand Crepeau and many residents in attendance said they respected the courage it took for [name withheld] to address the audience.

Crepeau also noted that is is against the law to harass, accost or otherwise take action against a registered sex offender.


IL - Cops: Abduction attempt really wasn’t

Original Article

04/10/2011

SUGAR GROVE — Police now believe a reported attempted child abduction earlier this week actually was just an instance of overly friendly grandparents.

Police put the community on alert Tuesday afternoon when they received a report that two elderly people in a car had approached an 11-year-old boy in the Strafford Woods subdivision. The boy told police he had just gotten off the school bus when an elderly man approached him and offered him candy.

Police later received reports that several residents in the Prestbury subdivision had seen the car in the neighborhood a week earlier.

On Thursday afternoon, police stopped the car and identified the elderly couple involved and concluded there was never any intent to abduct a child.

A Sugar Grove police officer spotted the vehicle in the Prestbury subdivision at about 4:15 p.m. Thursday. Police said the elderly couple was in the subdivision to pick up their own grandchild at the school bus stop.

Earlier in the day, the daughter of the couple contacted police and said that based on what she had read in news accounts, she believed that her parents could be the subjects being sought.

She told police that her father often would give candy to children at the bus stop. She also said he had been warned not to do that because people would not understand his intent.

Police said they received calls from several residents who helped in identifying the couple.