Wednesday, May 11, 2011

IN - Former bank president pleads guilty to sex charge

Original Article



SOUTH BEND — A former bank president charged with child molesting pleaded guilty today in an agreement with the state that will allow him to avoid registering as a sex offender if he follows set requirements over the next three years.

St. Joseph County prosecutors in November 2008 charged Granger resident [name withheld], 43, with felony child molesting, alleging he fondled a sleeping 6-year-old daughter of a friend and neighbor while visiting the family at their Granger home in May 2008.

The victim’s mother told police she came in their home from outside and found [name withheld] with his hand down the front of the girl’s pajama pants.

[name withheld]’s trial, in which his victim would likely have had to testify, had been set for Friday.

The terms of Tuesday’s plea agreement required [name withheld] to, among other things, have no contact with the victim, continue psychiatric counseling, attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, not reside with 1,000 feet of a school, youth program center or public park and not drink alcohol or use controlled substances.

If he follows the requirements for three years, St. Joseph Superior Court Judge Jane Woodward Miller will sentence him in 2014 on only a misdemeanor battery charge and dismiss the child molesting and sexual battery charges.

If he breaks the terms of the agreement, however, the judge can sentence him on the sex charges, which would require him to register as a lifetime sex offender.

At the time he was charged, [name withheld] was president of St. Joseph, Mich.-based Edgewater Bank. He was fired shortly after charges were filed.

[name withheld]’s attorney, Dan Pfeifer criticized the victim’s parents, who also filed a civil suit against [name withheld] seeking unspecified damages for emotional distress.

"It’s very unfortunate they have chosen to go down this path where they have destroyed his life," Pfeifer said.

The victim’s parents said after Tuesday’s hearing that they were relieved the criminal case has been resolved — but also said they disappointed he might only be convicted of misdemeanor battery.

"Given the circumstances, it’s the best we can do," the girl’s father said.

MA - Town Meeting Passes Sex Offender Bylaw

Original Article


By Bill Clapper

Police gain tool to limit access by level 2 and level 3 sex offenders to places where children gather.

By a 2-to-1 margin, Town Meeting members showed their support of a bylaw that would prohibit sex offenders from loitering near places where children congregate.

Last night, Town Meeting passed the Sex Offender Bylaw by a 101 to 51 vote. The law makes loitering by level 2 or level 3 sex offenders, in a safety zone, unlawful. A fine of up to $300 could be imposed for violations of the bylaw.

A safety zone, according to the bylaw definitions, is within 300 feet of a school, school bus stop, day care center, park or recreational facility, elder facility, a facility for the mentally impaired or a place for organized youth activity.

The police have enforcement jurisdiction for the bylaw and a police officer can roust a loiterer found inside a safety zone once it has been determined that the person is a level 2 or level 3 sex offender.

The intent of the bylaw is to, “serve the town’s compelling interest to promote, protect and improve the health, safety and welfare” of Framingham citizens, according to an explanation that went with the bylaw. The stated purpose of the bylaw is to “reduce the potential risk of harm to children” by classified Level and Level 3 sex offenders in areas where children gather.

Town meeting members that were in favor of the bylaw said it would give the police another tool to keep children safe and it would prevent an influx of sex offenders from coming into Framingham.

Proponents also mentioned that surrounding towns have such laws and the concept is supported by the state’s attorney general.

Town meeting member Stephen Orr asked the assembled Town Meeting members not to lose sight of the fact that the bylaw requires that the police would react to a complaint and it would give police an additional tool to do their job.

This is not about fixing problems,” said Orr.

Those opposed to the bylaw based much of their opposition on an individual’s right to move freely around town. The constitutionality of the bylaw was also questioned.

Mike Zimmer, a town meeting member from precinct 13 said the bylaw is a “blatant disregard of people’s rights and it doesn’t provide any more safety,”

As the discussion wore on it was evident that many Town Meeting members wanted to vote on the article and move on to other items.

It took two attempts to end debate and move the question. When that procedure was completed a motion to send the article back to sponsor was addressed. Only 58 Town Meeting members wanted to send the article back to the sponsor while 92 voted no.

Three minor amendments to the bylaw were soundly defeated before the vote to accept the bylaw was voted upon.