Friday, July 1, 2011
ADRIAN - Michigan’s new sex offender registry laws take effect today.
The changes were needed to bring Michigan into compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Child Safety and Protection Act, according to the state of Michigan’s website. Without the changes, the state risked losing a portion of the federal funds through the Justice Assistance Grant Program, which is used to fund a wide range of law enforcement efforts.
- Apparently they did not do homework, as usual. It's going to cost more to implement, in the long run, that just sucking up the loss.
Gov. Rick Snyder signed the changes into law on April 12.
Under the new rules, Michigan is implementing a tiered system for reporting based on the seriousness of an offense. The most serious offenders will still have to report four times a year and remain on the registry for life.
To comply with the new rules, offenders on the registry will now have to provide additional information beyond current requirements. These additions include Social Security numbers, passport information, email addresses, vehicle information and employer information. The changes will make it easier for law enforcement to track offenders.
The measure also removes many juveniles and other non-dangerous offenders from the public list. These include teenagers who have been convicted of statutory rape for consensual sex with a teenage partner.
1st Lt. Tony Cuevas, commander of the Monroe and Adrian posts of the Michigan State Police, said registered offenders should allow extra time for the registration process, as it could take up to 15 minutes per person.
|Nicky Ray Bryant|
KNOXVILLE - A former police officer pleaded guilty today to attempted sexual exploitation of a minor in one case, and two counts of providing alcohol to a minor in two other cases.
Nicky Ray Bryant, 43, who was once with the Knoxville Police Department, was placed on probation for three years, must register as a sex offender, and agreed to permanently surrender his certification as a law enforcement officer. Those are the terms of a plea agreement.
Bryant and Donald Scott Clark, 29, were both KPD patrol officers in 2009 when they were accused of partying with two teenage girls in Bryant's apartment. The attempted sexual exploitation charge to which Bryant pleaded guilty today was related to another incident.
More details as they develop online and in Saturday's News Sentinel.
JACKSONVILLE - In the last five years the Attorney Generals Cyber Crime Unit jailed 250 sexual predators.
The highly successful unit was recognized by law enforcement around the country. But as of June 30th, it's no longer in existence.
Instead, the units investigators will join the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and continue to find predators who target children online.
But the former head of the Cyber Crime's unit isn't sold on FDLE's effectiveness.
"The Goal of saving children and doing proactive undercover investigations to child predators will be diluted with other more pressing needs," says Maureen Horkin, who lost her positions as head of the Cyber Crimes this year unit when Pam Bondi took office as Florida Attorney General.
The FDLE tells Action News it will still have investigators dedicated soley to finding predators online.
"What they'll be doing is continuing their efforts on the cyber crime in regards to child exploitation," says Mark Perez, Special Agent in charge of FDLE's investigation and forensic science program office in Tallahassee.
Horkan wished FDLE luck and hopes it will still have the same number of investigators dedicated to finding sexual predators a year from now.
Horkan now travels the country to show state leaders how successful her Cyber Crime unit was in hopes they'll follow Florida's lead and start similar programs.
By Jennifer Thomas
BUCKEYE – A former Buckeye police officer was arrested for alleged sex offenses involving children.
On June 15, a Buckeye resident reported allegations of child abuse involving Casey Shook, 39, according to the Buckeye Police Department.
Detectives investigated the allegations against Shook, who reportedly was in Florida for training related to his new job with American K9 Detection Services LLC.
Buckeye police worked with the Daytona Beach Police Department to arrest Shook on June 22. He is currently in custody in Florida and awaiting extradition to Arizona.
Buckeye police spokesman Lt. Jared Griffith said Shook was a prisoner transport officer with the department and was terminated in September for not completing his probationary period.
Griffith said Shook was a karate instructor in Buckeye and instructed juveniles. Griffith did not know where Shook taught karate, however, Lee's Black Belt Academy, Buckeye's only martial arts studio, said he was not an instructor there.
Shook was charged with nine counts of sexual conduct with a minor, three counts of kidnapping, aggravated assault, two counts of sexual abuse, three counts of voyeurism, indecent exposure, and threatening and intimidating.
Anyone with information regarding any further potential victims is asked to contact the Buckeye Police Department.
By A.C. Thompson, Joseph Shapiro, Sandra Bartlett and Chisun Lee
Listen to: Part 1, Part 2
Her name was Isis Charm Vas and at 6 months old she was a slight child – fifth percentile in height and weight.
When the ambulance sped her to Northwest Texas Hospital in Amarillo on a Saturday morning in October 2000, doctors and nurses feared that someone had done something awful to her.
A constellation of bruises stretched across her pale skin. CT scans showed blood pooling on her brain and swelling. Blood was found in her vagina. The damage was so severe that her body's vital organs were shutting down.
Less than 24 hours later, Isis died.
An autopsy bolstered the initial suspicions that she'd been abused. Joni McClain, a forensic pathologist, ruled Isis' death a homicide and said the baby had been sexually violated. McClain would later describe it as a "classic" case of blunt force trauma, the type of damage often done by a beating.
The police investigation that followed was constructed almost entirely from medical evidence. In the end, prosecutors indicted one of the child's babysitters: Ernie Lopez.
Today, Lopez is serving a 60-year prison term for sexual assault and is still facing capital murder charges.
But in the years since Lopez was sent to the penitentiary, a growing body of evidence has emerged suggesting that McClain and the hospital staffers were wrong about what happened to Isis — and that her death was not the result of a criminal attack.
If Lopez is ultimately exonerated, his case will not be unique. An investigation by NPR, ProPublica and PBS Frontline has found that medical examiners and coroners have repeatedly mishandled cases of infant and child deaths, helping to put innocent people behind bars.
We analyzed nearly two dozen cases in the United States and Canada in which people have been accused of killing children based on flawed or biased work by forensic pathologists, and then later cleared.
Some spent years in prison before courts overturned their convictions. In 2004, San Diego prosecutors moved to dismiss charges against a man who'd been imprisoned for two decades for murdering his girlfriend's son.
Others were freed more swiftly but endured hardships nonetheless. An El Paso, Texas, jury acquitted a woman of killing her child in 2010, but after spending 22 months in the county jail, she still had to wage a legal battle to regain custody of her other children.
The questionable prosecutions identified in our joint investigation had common elements:
Often, authorities had little to go on other than autopsy findings. Many of the doctors who conducted post-mortem examinations failed to consult specialists in childhood injuries or ailments, or to thoroughly review medical records that could have affected their conclusions. In several cases, forensic pathologists worked so closely with authorities, they effectively became agents of law enforcement, rather than objective arbiters of scientific evidence.
Some experts in the field say worries about mistakes in child death cases are overstated. "The vast majority of forensic pathologists recognize a child abuse case when they see it, and it's not because they want to persecute people," said Mary Case, chief medical examiner for four Missouri counties including St. Louis County.
But others say the criminal justice system has yet to confront the full scope of the problem, and that, as a result, more innocent people may be serving time for crimes they didn't commit. "I think it's time to look at these cases again," said Michael Laposata, chief pathologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, adding that this could "result in the liberation of a number of falsely accused people."
Lopez, 40, a soft-spoken man with a slight twang, still can't quite believe he may spend the rest of his life locked up for something he says he didn't do: harming the infant he nicknamed "Little Bird."
"Sometimes I wake up and I look at my cell and man, it just hits me: You know, I'm in prison," he said in an interview. "I never thought I would be in prison, never in a hundred years."
At 10:55 a.m. on Oct. 28, 2000, Ernie Lopez grabbed the cordless phone at his house and dialed 9-1-1.
"What's going on? What's going on?" asked the operator.
"OK, my ... We're babysitting this little baby girl for Dr. Vas," said Lopez, according to a recording and transcript of the call. A spider, he explained, had bitten Isis a week earlier, "and she's been acting funny ever since."
Lopez and his wife, DeAnn, regularly babysat Isis and her two older siblings, both toddlers. The children's mother, Veronica Vas, was a physician at a nearby hospital, and on that morning she was on her way to Detroit for the weekend.
Lopez, a burly, gregarious man who worked as a mechanic, was looking after the children while DeAnn went shopping for a dress for the annual Lopez family Christmas photo, scheduled to be taken that afternoon. He had been watching the Vas children for 40 minutes when he called for an ambulance.
On the phone, Lopez described his efforts to revive Isis. "I tried to slap her on the bottom and slap her on the face and she won't wake up. She won't do nothing." Blood spilled from her mouth. "She was bit about 14 times. ... She's got all these bruises around her neck and on her face where she was bitten." After the ambulance arrived at his modest one-story home, Lopez rode with Isis to the emergency room.
Police detectives, alerted by hospital staffers, quickly showed up at the hospital to question Lopez. He wept as he spoke to the officers.
By the time Isis died a day later, police had arrested Lopez.
The body of the baby was transported to Dallas, where McClain performed the autopsy. To the doctor, the evidence pointed to sexual assault and murder.
"It is my opinion that Isis Charm Vas, a 6-month-old white female, died as the result of multiple blunt force injuries," McClain wrote in the autopsy report. (McClain declined to comment for this story.)
For police, solving the case was an exercise in elimination. Lopez was the only adult present when Isis collapsed. That made him the sole suspect. Who else could have done it?
In October 2001, a grand jury indicted Lopez on charges of capital murder and sexually assaulting a young child.
Forensic pathologists like McClain play a critical role at the intersection of medicine and law enforcement. Employed by medical examiners and coroners' offices, they are called in to figure out how people have died. They scrutinize corpses, searching for clues. If a forensic pathologist says it's a homicide, police will soon be hunting for the killer.
Though depicted as glamorous and high-tech on TV shows such as CSI, the field of death investigation is plagued by chronic underfunding, a shortage of specialists, and a lack of national standards, according to a 2009 report by the National Academy of Sciences.
Many of the nation's morgues are staffed by doctors who aren't board-certified in forensic pathology. To become certified, doctors need an extra year of training and must pass a day-long test. Earlier this year, an investigation by NPR, ProPublica and PBS Frontline showed that more than 100 physicians without board certification were working at the country's busiest coroner and medical examiner offices.
Even for the best educated and trained doctors, performing an autopsy on a baby or young child poses particular technical challenges. Their developing bodies function differently. It's why doctors who treat living children — pediatricians — receive different training than those who deal with adults.
"Adults are generally tougher and harder to kill then a small child. Particularly an infant," said Jon Thogmartin, chief medical examiner for Pasco and Pinellas counties in Florida, a jurisdiction that includes St. Petersburg. "So, you're looking for very subtle signs of trauma or pressure, or small amounts of bleeding that could potentially cause a kid severe illness or death."
"Often there are only two pieces of evidence," said Justice Stephen Goudge, a Canadian judge who conducted an extensive inquiry into Ontario's forensic pathology system. "The first: who had care of the infant in the hours leading up to the death, normally a parent or caretaker. And secondly, the forensic pathology, which attempts to give an opinion on what the cause of death was." If the autopsy findings are flawed, the judge said, "then the risk of a miscarriage of justice is high."
Thogmartin said the charged emotions inevitably triggered by a child's death add another layer of complexity. Forensic pathologists, in his view, can get "caught up in the anger, the emotion, the despair." Their mindset can become prosecutorial, Thogmartin said, until every child death is a "homicide until proven otherwise."
Thogmartin overruled the autopsy conclusions in two child death cases handled by his predecessors that he said might have been colored by bias. In one case, a man was four years into a 10-year prison term for killing his infant son. In the other, a father was facing trial on murder charges for killing his 7-month-old daughter.
When Thogmartin sifted through the autopsy files and tissue samples, he was shocked: He saw no evidence of violence. In his opinion, the children had died of natural causes.
Both men were subsequently cleared by the courts, but even the one exonerated before standing trial suffered life changing consequences, Thogmartin said. "That unfortunate gentleman had his life turned upside down. ... His life was destroyed."
The trial of Ernie Lopez began in April 2003.
Potter County prosecutors decided to try him only on the sexual assault charge; the capital murder charge was left pending, allowing prosecutors to try him for that offense at any time.
There were no witnesses to the alleged attack, and Lopez had not confessed, so the prosecution's case relied heavily on medical testimony. Over five days, a stream of doctors and nurses who had treated Isis at the hospital told the jury she must have been brutalized.
Eric Levy, who treated Isis in the hospital's pediatric intensive care unit, said the child's symptoms indicated she had been the victim of a violent attack. Looking at a photo of the baby's lower half, Levy pointed out bruise after bruise.
Michelle Gorday, a veteran nurse who specialized in sexual assault examinations, said it was one of the worst cases she'd witnessed in her 20-year career. "I've never ... ever seen that kind of trauma," she testified.
The defense called no expert witnesses. Lopez chose to take the stand, insisting he had never hurt Isis and testifying about the strange ailments that shadowed the last days of her life.
With each day, more health issues cropped up, he said. Blood spots speckled Isis' left eye. Congestion made it hard for her to breathe, prompting the Lopezes to treat the baby with a nebulizer. When Lopez changed her soiled diapers, her fecal matter, he testified, was "black" and "really thick and sticky."
DeAnn Lopez corroborated her husband's testimony.
Veronica Vas, Isis' mother, disputed the Lopezes' account, maintaining that Isis was only mildly ill before she died. "She had about six little bumps on the left side of her forehead, but those were already healing up," Vas testified. The baby's energy level was "quite normal."
Addressing the jury, Assistant District Attorney J. Patrick Murphy summed up the case by saying, "Common sense tells you who had to have done it. ... This child could not fight back. This child could not consent. This child could do nothing but lay there."
The jury found Lopez guilty. It was not until the sentencing phase of the trial that the jury learned Isis had died.
McClain, the medical examiner, testified she had ruled Isis' death a homicide. The baby, she said, suffered a "laceration of the vagina area" and injuries to her brain.
"In this case," McClain continued, "we know the head has struck something, because we've got bruising in that area."
Scrutinizing Isis' eye tissue under a microscope, McClain said, she had discovered more bleeding, which she interpreted as another possible indicator of violent head trauma. Seven other doctors in her office had reviewed the case and concurred with her findings, McClain added.
Lopez was sentenced to 60 years.
Heather Kirkwood was an unlikely candidate to take on Lopez's case. She had spent the bulk of her career litigating anti-trust cases for the Federal Trade Commission.
After learning about Lopez from a relative living in Texas, Kirkwood, who lives in Seattle, agreed to represent him. For her, Isis' death presented a fascinating jigsaw puzzle to solve. Lopez struck her as "a nice young man" and the "circumstances of the case seemed weird as hell."
"My gut sense kept telling me this was a sick baby who was neglected," she said.
Kirkwood started contacting physicians to analyze Isis' medical history. She sent a stack of documents to Richard Soderstrom, an emeritus professor of gynecology at the University of Washington. As an adviser to the Food and Drug Administration, Soderstrom served on a panel that studied the accuracy and safety of the colposcope, a device that can be used to take photos of injuries in sexual assault exams.
Isis Vas had been examined using a colposcope. After Soderstrom reviewed the photos taken of her, he gave a sworn affidavit stating that, in his opinion, the photos did not suggest there had been sexual abuse.
Kirkwood also approached Michael Laposata, the chief pathologist for Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville and a leading expert on blood disorders.
To gauge how the blood is clotting, physicians typically begin with a pair of basic tests called the PT and PTT. In Isis, the "PT and PTT were markedly abnormal," Laposata said, adding that other tests also suggested a coagulation disorder. Where McClain had seen a "classic" case of blunt force trauma, Laposata saw something entirely different, a "classic picture" of Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC), a potentially lethal condition that can cause bleeding from sufferers' every orifice.
Based on the baby's "dark, tarry stools," elevated white blood cell count, and abnormal liver function tests, Laposata concluded, "something had to be going on for days" — long before the 40 minutes Lopez was alone with the baby.
An infection could have led to DIC, and, eventually, to a fatal collapse, Laposata said. DIC could also explain Isis' bruises and the bumps on her head that Lopez and others believed were spider bites, he added.
"The reality is when your blood is so thin, when you're so unable to make a clot, you can just develop bruises and they can be spontaneous," he said.
There is a growing awareness among medical practitioners of "mimics": ailments that can cause the kind of bruising and bleeding once assumed to be telltale indicators of child abuse. A 2006 textbook on head injuries in children listed literally dozens of afflictions — including some fairly common illnesses — that can produce hemorrhaging in the brain.
This is just one way that the science of how children die has evolved in recent years. The most notable — and controversial — example of this is the intense debate over "shaken baby syndrome," which has played out in scientific journals and mainstream outlets such as the New York Times Magazine.
Based on studies dating back to the 1960's, many forensic pathologists — as well as other physicians — came to believe that a signature trio of symptoms provided definitive proof that someone had violently shaken a child. Under the theory, certain patterns of bleeding and swelling of the brain, and hemorrhages of the retinas came to be seen as conclusive evidence that a child had been assaulted with terrible force, even if there were no other signs of trauma.
But many experts now view the diagnosis with increasing skepticism. In Canada and Britain, official reviews have uncovered nine cases in which people may have been wrongly convicted based on the shaken-baby theory.
Case, the Missouri medical examiner, said the controversy is a "sideshow": Typically, children who've been shaken have also suffered other serious injuries from being battered. "Yes, there is a scientific debate," she said. "I personally believe that you can shake a child and kill it."
The thinking of other doctors has undergone a radical change. Patrick Barnes, a pediatric radiologist at Stanford University, was a key prosecution witness in what is arguably the most famous shaken-baby case of all, the trial of Louise Woodward. Woodward was a 19-year-old nanny charged in 1997 with shaking an 8-month-old baby to death, hitting his head and causing fatal bleeding. With Barnes' help, the jury found Woodward guilty of second-degree murder. (She was ultimately released after serving less than a year in prison, when a judge reduced her charge to manslaughter.)
Barnes said he wouldn't give the same testimony today. There's been a "revolution" in the understanding of head injuries in the past decade, in part due to advances in MRI brain scanning technology, he said. "We started realizing there were a number of medical conditions that can affect a baby's brain and look like the findings that we used to attribute to shaken baby syndrome or child abuse," Barnes said.
In prosecuting Ernie Lopez, law enforcement officials focused almost exclusively on Isis Vas' final hours.
Lopez's legal team looked back further, however, marshaling evidence suggesting that the baby's deteriorating condition might have been overlooked by her mother.
Veronica Vas had moved to Amarillo in 1995 to do her residency at a branch of Texas Tech University. She began dating a doctor, with whom she had two children. Then, in a subsequent relationship, Vas, 32, became pregnant with Isis. According to court testimony, Isis' father wasn't involved in her life.
The Vas household was chaotic in the period surrounding Isis' birth. That's clear from court records in the custody dispute between Vas and the father of her older children, as well as a statement submitted as part of the Lopez case.
Dena Ammons, a nurse who worked closely with Vas during her residency, said Vas changed during her pregnancy with Isis. She began showing up late for work, her hair matted and uncombed. In a sworn statement, Ammons said that Vas drank and smoked throughout the pregnancy.
Lorrie Word worked for Vas as a live-in nanny from August 1999 until the summer of 2000, caring for Isis from the time she was born. Word said in an affidavit that, on one occasion, she returned from her night off to find Isis alone in a darkened house, crying and soaked with urine. Vas would later say she only left the child for 10 minutes. Soon after the incident, Word quit her job.
Vas declined repeated requests for comment for this story. She has moved to Michigan, where the state medical board recently suspended her medical license due to alcohol abuse.
During Lopez's trial, Vas testified that in the months after Word quit she came to depend on the Lopez family to help care for her children.
According to Ernie Lopez, the day before Isis went into cardiac arrest he became so worried about the baby's health that he asked Vas for a note authorizing him or his wife to take the child to the doctor.
Vas didn't give him the note before leaving town for the weekend, he recalled in an interview. "Isis will be fine," Lopez said Vas told him.
By 2009, the new medical evidence gathered by Heather Kirkwood had captured the attention of the courts. After she filed an appeal, a habeas corpus petition, a judge granted Lopez a new evidentiary hearing. It represented a step toward possibly overturning his conviction.
The hearing lasted nearly twice as long as the original trial. This time, seven doctors testified —for free — on Lopez's behalf.
Kirkwood questioned Joni McClain, the forensic pathologist who ruled Isis Vas' death a homicide. McClain stood by her conclusion that Isis was killed by violence, not disease.
But she acknowledged that she'd paid little attention to Isis' blood-clotting tests and had only a vague understanding of their possible significance. "Did you look at these lab tests before reaching your conclusions?" Kirkwood asked. "I don't think I did beforehand because it was such a clear case of blunt force injury," McClain replied.
McClain admitted the tests went beyond her expertise as they can only be run on the living. "I don't get into a PT, PTT. It's a useless test after someone's dead," the doctor said.
Four other doctors testified for the state, saying Isis had died from blunt-force injuries, not a bleeding disorder. "This is a pattern of injury that we see with trauma," said Randell Alexander, a pediatrician who heads the child abuse division at the University of Florida's College of Medicine, in Jacksonville. "This is not a bleeding death."
McClain also argued that it was possible for head injuries to cause the type of clotting problems Isis had suffered.
In an interview, Laposata agreed head trauma can have that effect but said Isis' lab results were too abnormal to have resulted from an attack that allegedly occurred about an hour before her hospitalization.
It would be nearly a year before Potter County Judge Dick Alcala issued his opinion on the case. In August 2010, Alcala made a recommendation to the state's highest criminal court that Lopez's conviction should be overturned. He found that Lopez's original attorneys had failed to "fully investigate the medical issues of whether a sexual assault had occurred" and "the cause of death of the child." If they had investigated properly, Alcala wrote, the jury might not have convicted Lopez.
The judge rejected Lopez's claim of innocence, which would have required a conclusion that "no reasonable juror would have convicted him" — a high legal standard.
The case is now in the hands of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. It has the power to throw out Lopez's conviction and free him.
Potter County District Attorney Randall Sims continues to fight Lopez's appeal. In an interview, Sims said he could not discuss the case in detail because it is still ongoing. (He also said he had discouraged state witnesses, including the medical examiner, from speaking with us.) Sims said he thought Lopez had received a fair trial.
"The jury found him guilty," he said. "And we're defending that conviction."
There is no timetable for the appeals court's decision. Even if it overturns Lopez's conviction, he could remain tangled up in the criminal justice system for years. Sims could refile charges and try him a second time.
Behind the prison's thick cinderblock walls, Lopez struggles to hold onto what's left of his old life. Every Tuesday evening he calls his children collect, offering fatherly guidance despite the circumstances. He communicates less frequently with DeAnn, who divorced him and remarried after he was sent away.
Today, nearly 11 years after Isis died, Lopez continues to maintain — emphatically — that he never harmed her.
"Why should they believe that I'm innocent?" he asked during a two-hour interview. "Well, because that's not my character. That's not who I am."
Thinking back to that Saturday, Lopez paused and went silent, anguish filling his face. He exhaled heavily. "Her heart was beating a hundred miles an hour and she wasn't breathing. I put my ear to her chest, and I heard her heart just beating, just racing and ..." His head tilted downward and he stared at the floor. "She was there and then she wasn't there."
Lopez's voice grew quiet as the words trickled out slowly. "So many times," he said, "I think about what I could have done different to help her more."
NPR Investigations editor Anne Hawke edited and produced the radio stories.
Additional reporting contributed by Catherine Upin of PBS Frontline. ProPublica's Lisa Schwartz, Sergio Hernandez and Liz Day contributed research to this story.
Once again, an article proving sex offenders have low recidivism rates. Out of 300 offenders, only 5 were arrested for non-compliance, not a new sex crime. So the recidivism rate here is 0%.
By Becky Graham
VANDERBURGH (WFIE) - Authorities make surprise home visits to convicted sex offenders and other violent offenders.
Vanderburgh County Deputies, along with U.S. Marshals, made the unannounced visits to verify the addresses of more than 300 registered offenders over three days.
Arrests were made for five people violating the sex offender registry.
Deputies say 253 sex offenders, or 82 percent, were living at the address matching the one in registry. But, 38 participants were not verified, and will have to be rechecked.
For years, detectives at the Vanderburgh Country Sheriff's Office thought they were only allowed to do check-ins on sex offenders once a year, but have since learned, according to state law, they can check as much as necessary.
"We definitely want our records to be accurate. We want to check the truthfulness of the those records and we want them to be reflected to the best of ability," Det. Mike Robinson says.
For the records to be accurate, detectives say they needed to know if they were living at the registered address. One way to do that is the element of surprise.
"Two hundred and fifty three of the sex or violent offenders were verified meaning they were at their address. We knocked on the door. They were compliant and cordial," Det. Robinson says.
- You mean they were not angry and molesting kids? What a shocker!
"We did this to be a truthful reflection of what the sex offender registry is doing and how the website works," Det. Robinson says.
- So how does the website work? The online registry has nothing to do with compliance rates! But, like usual, they spin it to "attempt" to prove the laws work, which they don't.
The sheriff's office say they need your help in locating a offender that has failed to register.
See Further Comments Here
By ISAAC WOLF
WASHINGTON - Five years after Congress called for better oversight of the nation's 100,000 missing sex offenders, only seven states have adopted federal standards for tracking the 728,000 Americans convicted of sex crimes.
After blowing deadlines in 2009 and 2010, most states will miss a third one on July 27, the U.S. Justice Department predicts. Linda Baldwin, director of its Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking office, said in an interview that she expects only 10 to 15 states to meet the coming deadline for tracking sex offenders.
Delaware, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, South Dakota and Wyoming already have complied with federal standards.
Baldwin, whose office oversees enforcement, added that several other states, which she declined to identify, may not meet the deadline but are "very close" to complying.
States that don't stand to lose millions of dollars in criminal justice-related federal grants. States overall were allocated nearly $268 million for 2010, Justice Department data show. Those that miss the deadline could lose 10 percent of their respective shares.
- But, it will cost more to implement the draconian, unconstitutional laws, then to just implement their own and not get the grant money.
Part of the 2006 Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act -- named for the Florida boy who was abducted and killed in 1981 -- the rules require states to develop uniform standards for tracking offenders in the community and posting information on public registries.
With thousands of AWOL sex offenders eluding oversight by slipping across state lines, the law's sponsors envisioned seamless national standards replacing the current hodgepodge of state laws.
A Scripps Howard News Service investigation last November showed how sex offenders take advantage of uneven state laws, congregating in regions with lax enforcement. In response, a House subcommittee on crime, terrorism and homeland security conducted a sex offender oversight hearing in February. It focused on why states were dragging their feet implementing the Walsh law.
- They "congregate" in regions because the residency restrictions force them to do so.
"I am not pleased," Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis. and the subcommittee chair, said at the hearing. "The whole purpose of the act was to make it easier to track these offenders, yet many of the same problems remain because so many states have failed to fully comply with the law."
- Even if they complied with the law, you'd still have this problem.
States have balked for many reasons. Aside from the millions of dollars some states estimate they would have to pay to implement the law, many states say their own rules for flagging serious sex offenders are better than the federal standards required by the Walsh law.
The law "waters down the effectiveness" of Texas' sex offender registry, said Marc Levin, director of the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative policy group based in Austin.
- There are many studies that show these laws do nothing to prevent crime or protect people, but I'd like to see a study to show what these idiots say all the time, they they are effective. Why don't you show me, in facts, they are effective? I bet you can't!
"These registries need to be narrowly tailored, and this federal mandate goes too far," Levin said. "Some people will be getting a lifetime a scarlet letter when they shouldn't have it."
Texas, with more than 60,000 registered sex offenders, won't take action anytime soon.
"The Legislature just went home" and won't reconvene until January 2013, said Tela Mange, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Public Safety. "We won't be in compliance with the Adam Walsh Act."
By not complying, Texas would be denied about $2 million, based on 2010 Justice Department statistics.
But implementing the law would require spending as much as $14 million a year, the Texas Legislative Budget Board, a research body for lawmakers, has estimated.
California, with more than 63,000 sex offenders, has also not met the federal guidelines and could lose $3 million, according to department data.
A spokesman for the California Department of Justice did not respond to an interview request.
Baldwin said states that do not meet the deadline may apply for those lost funds -- as long as they use the money to implement the Walsh law.
When President George W. Bush signed the Walsh Act into law in 2006, states were given three years to revamp their sex offender tracking rules. No state met the 2009 deadline, and federal authorities provided two one-year extensions.
A particularly thorny point of disagreement between states and federal officials has been what to do with juveniles convicted of a sex crime: The federal law requires states to place underage offenders on registries, but many states think that's too punitive. To resolve this impasse, the Justice Department in January said states could keep information about juvenile offenders out of the public domain, only sharing that information among law enforcement agencies.
In Kansas, state lawmakers in May tweaked its sex offender rules -- including reducing the amount of time offenders had to register when moving within the state, changing jobs or going to a new school from 10 days to three -- to comply with the Walsh law.
GOP State Rep. Pat Colloton, who chairs the Kansas Legislature's corrections and juvenile justice committee, said Kansas was submitting its sex offender oversight paperwork and thought the state would meet the deadline.
Colloton said she thinks states shouldn't be penalized: "Taking money away -- it seems to me to be the wrong penalty. ... The states should get at least one more legislative session."
By Robert Hornacek
GREEN BAY - Green Bay is seeing a rise in the number of registered sex offenders who are not reporting where they live. Some of those sex offenders are homeless.
The state says it's a result of the city's tough sex offender residency restrictions. The city bans violent and child sex offenders from living 2,000 feet from places likes parks and schools. In order to live in the city, sex offenders must get permission from the sex offender residency board.
FOX 11 On Special Assignment reporter Robert Hornacek spent hours pouring over data on the sex offender registry to find out how well Green Bay's sex offender ordinance is working. The numbers show that fewer sex offenders are living in Green Bay, at least officially. In reality, no one really knows how many are in the city.
In 2007, the Green Bay city council decided to get tough on sex offenders by severely restricting where many of them could live. Supporters of the law wanted to keep dangerous offenders out of the city and in prison. The mayor wanted to reduce the concentration of sex offenders living in Green Bay.
- There is no studies out there that show residency restrictions (where someone sleeps at night) prevent crime or protect anybody, they do, like this story mentions, force people into homelessness, creating a new sub-class of citizens, and creates penal colonies. Welcome to Amerikka!
After four years, that has happened, at least according to the online sex offender registry.
According to FOX 11's analysis of the registry, in 2007, 294 of the 435 sex offenders in Brown County lived in the city. While the number of sex offenders in the county has risen in the last four years to 471, fewer (291) are listed as living in Green Bay. That means the concentration of sex offenders has dropped from 68% to 62%.
"I think this whole city understands that people have to live somewhere," Green Bay mayor Jim Schmitt said. "We just want to share that responsibility."
That's not to say sex offenders aren't moving into the city. In the last four years, 187 sex offenders have applied to live in Green Bay. The sex offender residency board has allowed 126 of those sex offenders to move in and denied 51. Ten applications were withdrawn.
- Since when did someone have to "apply" to live somewhere? If it's within a constitutional law, they should be able to live anywhere they chose.
"Every case is different," said Dean Gerondale, who serves on the sex offender residency board. Gerondale says the ordinance is working.
- Yes, each case is different, yet the grand-standing politicians continue to pass unconstitutional laws, disobeying their oath of office, treating all sex offenders as if they are all child molesting, pedophile predators just waiting for some kid to sexually assault and murder.
"Our number one priority is to make sure the citizens are safe. That's why the board exists in the first place," he said.
- So how does forcing people into homelessness keeps the public "safe?" And what about protecting ALL citizens, like the Constitution says?
But that's not the whole story. The ordinance has also had some unintended consequences.
"The impact we have noticed is an increase in non-compliance," said sex offender specialist Tom Smith. He says more registered sex offenders are not telling the state where they live.
- And why is that? I am willing to bet it's not because they are out lusting over kids to molest, but because if they do, then it's almost impossible to get a job, home, etc, etc.
According to the Department of Corrections, in 2007, the state referred charges against 14 sex offenders in Brown County for not complying with the registry. That number has gone up each year. Last year, it went up to 41. This year, 10 cases have been referred so far; 30 are under investigation.
Another disturbing trend according to Smith is the rise in homeless sex offenders. Smith says there are many as a dozen sex offenders in Green Bay with no residence.
"When we no longer know where these people live, this is what we're dealing with," Smith said. "So definitely the protection of the public decreases when we're dealing with homeless and transient people because we can't specifically put our finger on them as to where they are living."
One of those sex offenders is [name withheld].
When asked whether he considers himself homeless he replied, "Pretty much. I don't have anywhere to go."
FOX 11 On Special Assignment interviewed [name withheld] at his girlfriend's house in Green Bay.
In 2001, [name withheld] was convicted of second degree sexual assault of a child for having sex with a 15-year old girl. [name withheld] was seventeen. He was sentenced to three years in prison.
- Yes, another kid ruined by the system. This is a "Romeo and Juliet" case, and this man should NOT be on the registry.
"I'm not looking for sympathy at all," [name withheld] said. "I take full responsibility for my actions."
What [name withheld] is looking for is an official place to live. The sex offender residency board denied his request to move in with his girlfriend, although neighbors say he's been living there for awhile. [name withheld] says now, he moves from house to house and stays with friends. Every week, he checks in with the state to report where he's staying.
"Yes, I am a sex offender and there's probably other sex offenders who are in the same predicament that I am," he said. "Just because you're a sex offender doesn't mean you're hard core and you should be homeless."
Alderman Jerry Wiezbiskie is one of just two aldermen who voted against the ordinance.
"I'm not really for sex offenders but I think everybody has a right for proper placement," he said.
- Yep, got to get that out there, don't want to ruin his career by looking "soft" on crime. The laws are unconstitutional, period, end of story! But, the government is corrupt and the Constitution means nothing to them anymore, that is apparent.
Wiezbiskie says he knew the law would make it more difficult to keep track of sex offenders.
"History, before we actually did this, proved this would most likely happen and I guess it looks like it is happening," he said.
But overall, supporters say the ordinance is better than doing nothing.
- But you are doing something. When someone commits a crime, you sentence them, just like any other criminal. But, when you continue to punish them and add more and more unconstitutional ex post facto laws on them, then it goes beyond that, into cruel and unusual punishment.
FOX 11 asked Green Bay mayor Jim Schmitt if he's troubled that more sex offenders are not complying with the registry.
"I think there always were," Schmitt replied. "Those things, yeah, they trouble me that people aren't abiding by the law. That troubles me on a lot of different levels. But I do think what we're doing is having more benefit than not."
- Prove it!
Green Bay was one of the first but certainly is not the last community to restrict where sex offenders can live. In fact, 16 of the 24 municipalities in Brown County have adopted restrictions on where sex offenders can live.
By AMY LANGE
DETROIT (WJBK) - The story of a traffic stop turned sexual assault. A former Wayne State police officer is accused of the crime while on the job back in May. It's alleged the 38-year-old officer coerced a 22-year-old woman into performing oral sex on him.
That former officer will be headed to trial after graphic testimony on the stand from his alleged victim.
"He groped my breasts," she said.
Gregory Gladden swore to protect and serve. Instead, he's accused of taking advantage of a drunk driver -- a young woman he pulled over while working as a Wayne State police officer, making the woman perform oral sex on him to avoid being arrested.
"I was standing there naked. I said, 'What do you want? Do you want me to have sex with you?' He said, 'No,'" the alleged victim said in court.
"The bottom line is there was choice involved here," said defense attorney Jeff McCarty.
The prosecutor took issue with that, noting Gladden pulled her over with lights and sirens. She admitted she had been drinking. He said he'd cut her a deal and then took her to the fourth floor faculty lounge at Manoogian Hall.
"Where he then says, 'I need to pat you down.' So, he feels her up. It clearly was not for offensive weapons as he wants this court to believe, but it's to get a quick feel," said assistant prosecutor Danielle Hagaman-Clark.
The victim testified she was asked to take off her clothes. Gladden, she said, didn't want sexual intercourse. He wanted her to perform oral sex on him.
"He has placed her in a situation where she has no choice but to do what he asks or go to jail," Hagaman-Clark said.
The judge agreed there was sufficient evidence to send the case to trial.
By MONICA VON DOBENECK
Lemoyne Borough Council plans to repeal its law restricting where sexual offenders can live following a state supreme court ruling that such laws are unenforceable.
In a May 25 court ruling invalidating a similar law in Allegheny County, Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald Castille said such laws isolate former offenders in what would amount to “localized penal colonies” distant from families and old neighborhoods. That would go against the state’s goal of rehabilitation, he wrote.
Lemoyne’s local ordinance, passed in 2007, prohibits registered sex offenders from living within 500 feet of places such as day care centers, parks and schools. It is less restrictive than Allegheny County’s law.
Borough manager Robert Ihlein said council plans to repeal the ordinance on the advice of their solicitor at their 7:30 p.m. Thursday meeting. He said there have been no local complaints about the law.
“It’s something council should do because it’s not enforceable,” he said.
About 150 municipalities around the state have similar ordinances, including several in the midstate. Nearly 11,000 sex offenders are registered with the state police under Pennsylvania's Megan’s Law.
Some studies have shown that restrictive laws do not keep the public safer, and can make it more difficult for police to keep track of former offenders.