Friday, July 8, 2011

OK - Major County Sheriff’s Office deputy (Daris Cope) facing child pornography charges

Daris Cope
Original Article

07/07/2011

FAIRVIEW — A Major County sheriff’s deputy facing charges for allegedly violating a protective order and possessing child pornography is free on $55,000 bond.

Daris Cope, 46, was arrested Wednesday on complaints of stalking, computer crimes and possession of child pornography. He is suspended from the Major County Sheriff’s Office without pay.

The arrest arose after an ex-girlfriend complained Cope was violating the conditions of a protective order issued against him June 23.

The woman had complained to officials Cope had posted comments about her on his Facebook page

Assistant District Attorney Danny Lohmann said a judge granted the woman a protective order and told Cope not to violate it by posting derogatory comments about her on his Facebook page, but Cope allegedly did just that.

Lohmann said Cope wrote he had sexually explicit photos of the woman on his computer and continued to call and harass the woman.

The woman notified police and a district attorney’s office investigator obtained a search warrant for Cope’s computer for the photos. During a search for those photos investigators found child pornography.

Sheriff Steve Randolph said Cope was placed on suspension with pay the day after the protective order was issued June 24. Cope has been a deputy with Major County since 2006. He took a year off during 2009 and 2010 to serve in Afghanistan with his National Guard unit. He returned to the U.S. in December 2010 and to the sheriff’s office in February 2011.


Dead Children Make Bad Laws

Original Article

07/08/2011

By John Stossel

Many are outraged that a jury found Casey Anthony "not guilty". An online petition has already gathered 650,000 signatures calling for a new law - "Caylee's Law" - that would make it a criminal offense to fail to report one's own missing or dead child to law enforcement within 24 hours (as Anthony failed to do.)

State legislators around the country are eager to introduce the laws. In the version of "Caylee's Law" under consideration in Florida's legislature, parents would be guilty of a felony even if their child was later found unharmed. In the Kentucky version, parents would face between one and five years in jail.

Laws passed when emotions are high tend to be poorly thought-out. As law blogger Josh Blackman points out:

If a parent actually killed her daughter, do you think she would tell the police so as not to violate some random federal statute?

And the potential unintended consequences are endless. What if the child has a history of getting mad and running away for a day? Or a week? What if the kid sleeps over at a friend's place?

Salon.com points out that laws named after victims and passed in an emotionally charged atmosphere have a bad track record. Almost all the laws that go after sex offenders - "Megan's Law", the "Adam Walsh Act", "Dru's Law", and "Jessica's Law" - are named after victims. Yet as I've reported, those laws are responsible for locking up and stigmatizing innocent kids, like sixteen year olds who have consensual sex with a peer.

The government criminalizes too many things. Murdering your child is already against the law. So is lying to the police. We don't need more laws.


PA - Former cop (Thomas Kuechler) sentenced for sex assaults

Thomas Kuechler
Original Article

07/08/2011

By Laurie Mason Schroeder

Thomas Kuechler, the 66-year-old former Middletown police officer convicted earlier this year of sexually molesting three young girls, was sentenced Friday to 14 to 31 years in a state prison.

Kuechler, who was designated a sexually violent predator under Megan's Law last month, learned his fate during a hearing in Bucks County Court in Doylestown.

Prosecutor Nathan Spang said Kuechler's victims are pleased that he'll be off the streets for a long time.

"It's a long sentence and he deserves every moment of it," Spang said. "This sentence sends a message to predators that there are severe consequences for preying on children in Bucks County."

A jury in January found Kuechler, a Middletown native who moved to Florida after retiring from the township police force in 1994, guilty of sexually assaulting three girls, starting when one was just 6 years old.

During the week-long trial, the girls testified that Kuechler touched them inappropriately and forced them to perform sex acts.

Most of the abuse occurred in local hotel rooms. Kuechler, who knew the victims through family members, traveled back to Bucks often as part of his new job training police officers in accident investigation and invited the girls to swim in the hotels' pools.

The sexual assaults began in 2000 and lasted until 2008. The crimes came to light in 2009 when one victim's mother found a note she'd written to a friend about the abuse and questioned her.

Kuechler took the stand during the trial and denied the allegations. He said he never touched the girls sexually and was "devastated" that they accused him.

In court Friday, Kuechler again said he was wrongly convicted.

"The system got this one wrong," he said.

Kuechler's attorney, Louis Busico, said his client will appeal the conviction.

"Obviously, all the families involved in this case have suffered greatly. As evidenced in court, Mr. Kuechler steadfastly maintains his innocence."

Busico said Kuechler's family continues to support him. Many people were in court Friday on his behalf.

"Just like certain individuals are convinced of his guilt, as was seen in the courtroom today, just as many are convinced of his innocence,'' Busico said.

Kuechler was found guilty of numerous counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault, unlawful contact with a minor, indecent exposure and corruption of minors.

As a sexually violent predator, he'll face lifetime police monitoring and mandatory sex offender counseling, and his neighbors will be notified when he's released from prison and moves into a community.


FL - 'Caylee's Law' doesn't address any real issues

Original Article

07/08/2011

By Paul Flemming

It's barn-door legislation from after-the-fact reactionaries.

Following Tuesday's acquittal of Casey Anthony on charges of killing her 3-year-old daughter, outrage-for-hire TV commentarians, civilian Twitter-actionaries and, not surprisingly, Florida lawmakers moved swiftly into action.

State Rep. Bill Hager, a Boca Raton Republican, is drafting legislation to criminalize failing to report a missing child. He and untold online others expressed shock that this is not against the law. "Caylee's Law" is their answer. While Hager was grabbing headlines, fellow Republican lawmakers Scott Plakon and Jose Felix Diaz were writing legislation, filed Thursday as HB 37.

The Jessica Lunsford Act. Terri's Law (state Part I and federal Part II). Rachel's Law. The Officer Andrew Widman Act.

This is a Florida and American tradition. A media-frenzied case leads to legislation to redress an outraged citizenry and stop a wrong from happening again.

Or so goes the theory.

In truth, it's often grandstanding of the most offensive sort. Caylee's Law is one of those.

These bills never bring anyone back to life, retroactively prevent crimes or reverse persistent vegetative states.

They're designed to make us feel good, as if we're doing something. And though these laws may bring satisfaction to some, they should not. Because they engender a false hope, encourage an ill-considered sense of security and play to the worst of our base instincts.

We cannot legislate evil out of existence. We should not pretend that we can.

Even so, it's appropriate for lawmakers to address failings of law. Certainly, elected officials should be responsive to popular (if idiosyncratic) waves of interest. It's folly to think politicians will stop grabbing attention while the arc lights are hot.

However, there's a right way and a wrong way to do it.

First, vindictiveness is no way to legislate. Hager's bill is aimed at putting future Casey Anthonys in jail. It's prospectively proscriptive for a highly unlikely repeat of the insane circumstances of this case.

Some of these after-the-fact laws reflect legitimate policy aims. Legislation to give judges more power to hold probation-violating offenders in custody is a valuable idea, whether it's called the Officer Andrew Widman Act or not.

Strengthening sexual-offender registration requirements and stepping up monitoring is a worthy policy discussion, whether it brings Jessica Lunsford back to her family or not.

It's always worthwhile to remind law-enforcement agencies about their duty to protect citizens, including those in their own confidential-informant programs, even if it's a milquetoast list of suggestions in the wake of Rachel Hoffman's murder.

But Caylee's Law is nothing but silliness. It doesn't close a meaningful loophole. It does nothing positive.

In January 1996, 9-year-old Amber Hagerman was abducted in Arlington, Texas. She was later found dead, her throat slashed. Her parents and friends began the work to create instantaneous notification networks of law enforcement, media and citizens when a child goes missing.

Amber Alerts, now in place nationally, are a positive step, a lasting legacy that Amber Hagerman's family can be proud of and a fitting memorial to a little girl tragically killed.

Can the same be said for Caylee Anthony if Hager's bill becomes law? No.

It seems unlikely Hager's proposal will save lives. TV talking heads and barstool philosophers will get to vent. Hager's name will appear on screens and in print. That's a sad list of beneficiaries.

The evidence given in court both against and in defense of Casey Anthony painted a bleak picture of an Orlando family it would be charitable to describe as dysfunctional.

I can think of a much better Caylee's Law.

Provide or increase the resources available to young mothers who find themselves overwhelmed by parenthood, in circumstances they don't understand and can't control. Hotlines and counselors and information and peer aid and help. This does not need to be a government program. Let's get off our faux-activist Twitter behinds and do something.

This has the potential to save a future Caylee. This could make a difference. This is a worthwhile legacy for a tragedy.

A new law criminalizing failure to report a missing child is cheap, easy and rewarding to our most shallow instincts. It will mean less than nothing.

An effort to make a difference in the lives of parents and children who need help would take dollars and compassion.

Florida public life is short of both.


UK - Police inspector (Geraint Lloyd Evans) in court on child sex offences

Original Article

07/08/2011

By Emma Pengelly

A police inspector accused of child sex offences is expected to enter a plea at Swansea Crown Court next month.

Geraint Lloyd Evans, of Manor Drive, Coychurch, Bridgend, was bailed to return to the court on August 12 for a plea and case management hearing.

The 47-year-old, who worked in the central division (Barry and Bridgend) for South Wales Police, is charged with conspiring with others to incite engagement in unlawful sexual activity with a child under 13, as well as possession of section one ammunition and child sex offences.

Evans’ co-accused, who are also charged with a number of offences relating to indecent images, are [names removed].

Champion and Asser were remanded in custody and the other defendants were granted bail.

Judge Paul Thomas QC varied Evans bail conditions so that he only has to report to Bridgend Police Station once a week rather than twice, as the court heard it is “distressing” for Evans to report to his former police station.


NE - Former Officer (Tyler Reinpold) Claims Porn Was Part Of Investigation

Original Article

07/08/2011

By Chris Fankhauser

SCOTTSBLUFF - A former Scottsbluff police officer says the child pornography found in his possession was part of an investigation he was conducting into a friend.

But prosecutors say Tyler Reinpold was a patrol officer, not an investigator, and that the images were found on his personal computers.

The 26-year-old Reinpold, of Mitchell, was charged last month with 10 count of possessing child pornography. The Star-Herald in Scottsbluff reports that Reinpold was ordered Wednesday to stand
trial on the counts in Scotts Bluff District Court. He is set to be arraigned next Friday.

In court Wednesday, investigators say that while Reinpold claimed the images were part of an investigation, he initially said he had no knowledge of them.


When monsters make policies

Chrysanthi Leon
Original Article

07/07/2011

Professor's new book examines sex crime policy in America

The high school senior accused of statutory rape against his sophomore girlfriend. The construction worker fined for indecency and branded a sex offender for life after taking an outdoor bathroom break. The family members of registered sex offenders who face public ridicule, anger and limited employment and housing opportunities.

Their situations aren’t unique, according to Chrysanthi Leon, an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice at the University of Delaware. Rather, she says, they’re examples of what happens when “laws passed with the bogeyman in mind are applied to real people.”

Her new book, Sex Fiends, Perverts, and Pedophiles: Understanding Sex Crime Policy in America, examines the history and evolution of offenders — viewed in various points within the past century as nuisances, psychopaths, patients and monsters — and explains how we’ve reached a current tough-on-crime, one-size-fits-all approach.

Modern legislation for sex crimes is often based off the most gruesome, highly publicized cases and consequently does more to undermine public safety than bolster it, Leon writes.

By tracing the evolution of sex crime policy in America and debunking several myths surrounding sex offenders (the most common experience of sexual assault, for instance, occurs within families and among acquaintances, not by strangers), Leon illustrates that our “empirical picture” of the sex offender is a partial one.

This partial view,” she says, “allows perpetrators to deny their offenses, victims to remain unidentified, and society to remain accepting of highly punitive symbolic policies that do not address the root causes of sexual assault.”

As a result, Leon argues, victim advocates, criminal justice and correctional employees, and experts in the social sciences have a major goal in shaping sex crime policy: “To insist that policy is grounded in what we know about the perpetrators of sexual violence, not what we fear about monsters.”


Bringing Adam Home - The Abduction that Changed America

Original Article

Les Standiford and Detective Joe Matthews describe the 1981 abduction and murder of six-year-old Adam Walsh—unsolved for over 25 years—and how it changed America. Before Adam Walsh there were no faces on milk cartons, no Amber Alerts, no National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, no federal databases of crimes against children, and no pedophile registry. Bringing Adam Home: The Abduction that Changed America reveals how this crime captured public attention and how its aftermath altered America and our ideas about childhood.


KS- Legislator Briefing Book - Sex Offenders and Predators (2011)


WA - Ex-Prosser mayor gets three months for sex abuse

Original Article
20/20 - Did Grief Turn Loving Mom Into Sex Offender?

I feel sorry for everyone involved here, but what I find sickening, is if the roles were reversed, and this was a male mayor who touched a female child, he'd be in prison for a very long time.

07/07/2011

By Kristin M. Kraemer

PROSSER - The mother of a teen boy molested in April 2010 asked Linda Lusk on Thursday why she didn't take her punishment from the beginning, instead of dragging the case and both families through a year of public scrutiny.

Lusk's decision to "ride it out for over a year" resulted in a media frenzy, said the mother. She also said her son's attendance at school and interest in sports dwindled.

"High school will never be the same for him. There will always be constant reminders for him as your husband is the high school principal and your daughter attends the same school," she said.

Lusk, 50, briefly apologized before she was sentenced to three months in jail for third-degree child molestation, a felony.

The former Prosser mayor already has been serving time on work release since pleading guilty May 20 in Benton County Superior Court. Jail logs show she had done 48 days as of Thursday morning.

It is not clear if she will get any time off her sentence for good behavior, since it is being done on a program that allows her to leave jail for a set time each day to operate her Prosser handbag boutique.

Lusk told Judge Carrie Runge it is "difficult for me to even speak. I'm just ready for all parties to heal ... and I couldn't be more sorry that this happened for everybody."

One of her lawyers, Jim Egan, told the court before she spoke that they'd discussed things Lusk could say to the judge, and "she decided not to say anything at all."

Lusk's husband, Kevin, the Prosser High School principal, attended the hearing, along with a half-dozen friends.

Lusk inappropriately touched the 14-year-old boy in April 2010 when he stopped by her home "to have her sign a community service form" during his lunch hour, court documents said.

"Mrs. Lusk said this was not a planned event, and she said the instant (she touched him), she knew what she was doing was wrong, and became upset with herself, and left the room."

Documents also said she led the boy to a bedroom and undressed him.

Lusk will have to register as a sex offender for 10 years. The plea deal also called for charges of third-degree rape of a child and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes to be dismissed at sentencing.

The boy and his mother are not named under a Herald policy not to identify people who report a sexual assault.

Lusk and the teen's mother both met separately with Department of Corrections officials completing a pre-sentence investigation. Daniel Manning, a community corrections officer in West Richland, in his report recommended a standard-range sentence of six to 12 months in jail.

The mother told Manning that she believed Lusk took advantage of her son when he was vulnerable because of his parents' divorce. She also said she believed "Lusk was attracted to her son and did not care it was wrong and illegal."

Prosecutor Andy Miller said ever since Lusk's guilty plea, the victim has been a different boy knowing this will soon be behind him. He didn't attend the hearing fearing television cameras would put his picture on the evening news, Miller said.

"While this has been a very difficult case, one silver lining is getting to know him," Miller said. "I told (sheriff's Detective Lee) Cantu this afternoon, I'd be proud to have him as a son."

The boy's mother questioned why Lusk got a deal that allows her to leave jail "to run your own business in which you're the boss. This really isn't much punishment if you ask me but, in order to prevent my son from having to testify in court with cameras in court, my family had to accept the plea deal."

In the presentencing report, she said Lusk should have to stay in a regular cell, "and should have to deal with other inmates who do not like child molesters."

Lusk was given an agreed-on sentence below the standard range because a Spokane psychologist found she has a mental disorder caused by depression that could be traced to the long-term care of her disabled son and his death in March 2009 at age 15.

Lusk told Manning she was "detached and depressed" after her son's death and in a state of deep grief. She said she welcomed the noise and distraction of her daughter's friends hanging out at her house which had "become so sad, quiet and depressing."

The boy visited often and often complained about his family life, she said.

"I felt sorry for him and over time took him under my wing offering any help if needed ...," Lusk said.

The boy apparently began texting her frequently, saying he was bored, and late at night when he couldn't sleep. She said she scolded him when some texts became inappropriate, but he would say he was joking.

When the boy came over during lunch and pulled down his pants, Lusk said she was "shocked" and "more concerned about him and his feeling ... than thinking about what the situation meant to me ...."

She said she told him to leave and he went back to school to brag to his friends while embellishing what happened.

"I didn't realize at the time that I had such a deep need to fill the void left by my son's death," she Lusk said, according to the report. "The child appeared to need my help and attention, and I was depressed and unaware that I was being used and manipulated until it was too late."

Manning wrote that Lusk did admit to committing the crime but denied full culpability due to her "somewhat diminished capacity."

He also noted that she regretted it happened and is seeking counseling.

"Ms. Lusk made many comments about how (the boy) took advantage of her and her fragile emotional state and (she) appeared to be blaming a significant amount of what happened on the victim...," Manning wrote.

However, Lusk also did say that she was the adult and should have taken responsibility to stop it, the report said.

Larry Stephenson, Lusk's other attorney, said his client is not a risk to reoffend.

"Linda ... had to do an awful lot to keep that child alive. What she didn't know is what happens to people when they lose a child. To some degree, she is built like a man in that sense. Men have a sense of surrounding themselves with armor," said Stephenson, who choked back tears at the memory of his own son's sudden death in 2009 at age 27.

"... You shut yourself down. Finally this case opened up some of that stuff. She's seeing a good counselor. The reason she ended up in this situation, to some degree, was from putting armor around all of the depression and stuff."

Also filed with the presentencing report were multiple letters and a list of more than 200 names of people who had called or stopped by to see Lusk to offer support.

A lifelong friend, Shelly Hendrickson, said Lusk is an upstanding citizen with amazing qualities, talents and a passion to improve life.

"Many untruths and exaggerations have flooded the press and I believe Linda's character and true human qualities will conquer all this ugliness," Hendrickson wrote.

Jackie Bell, who's known Lusk since 1999, wrote about her dedication to others, including special needs children, her family and the Prosser community.

"The general public is happy to believe the worst with no consideration of who Linda Lusk really is ... She is the epitome of honesty and moral character," Bell wrote.

Another friend, Mary Hanlon, of Prosser, said Lusk's behavior is "completely and utterly out of character" and an indication that something went "horribly wrong."


MD - Citing Casey Anthony case, Md. senator pushes for new law

Rep. Nancy Jacobs
Original Article

07/07/2011

By Julie Bykowicz

Sen. Nancy Jacobs wants to outlaw nonreporting of missing or dead children

Stunned by the not-guilty verdicts this week in Florida's Casey Anthony murder case, state Senate Republican leader Nancy Jacobs wants Maryland parents who do not report the death of a child to be subject to felony charges.

Jacobs said dozens of outraged constituents have contacted her and asked her to do something. She said she is drafting a bill to introduce in the next legislative session.

She's now looking into criminalizing the failure of a parent, guardian or legal caretaker to inform authorities that a child has gone missing or has died — new crime categories that several local top prosecutors said could prove helpful to them.

A Florida jury acquitted Anthony of murder and child abuse in the death of 2-year-old Caylee, convicting her of less-serious charges related to lying to the police. A judge sentenced the 25-year-old to four years, the maximum sentence under the law. Because of the time she served while awaiting trial, she is to be released July 13.

While jurors who have spoken with the news media said prosecutors did not present enough evidence to prove murder or abuse beyond a reasonable doubt, those involved with the case, including Anthony's defense attorneys, agree that the young mother did not report her child's death in a timely manner.

That's where Jacobs hopes to step in if a similar Maryland case ever were to arise.

"People are saying to me, 'Good grief, that woman's as guilty as can be, and they're not doing anything,'" said Jacobs, a Republican representing Harford and Cecil counties.

Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger says making it illegal for parents to leave a child's death unreported is a good idea — and would be another tool for prosecutors in the event of an Anthony-style situation.

"I think under the right, unique circumstances it would be very helpful," Shellenberger said.

Harford County State's Attorney Joseph Casilly said the proposed legislation appears to close a loophole. "You wouldn't think that you would actually have to require a parent or guardian to report a child missing or dead, but we're in an age where there is a need here," Casilly said.

High-profile crimes frequently inspire local legislators to take action.

Reacting to the December 2009 kidnapping and death of Sarah Foxwell on the Eastern Shore, to which a registered sex offender later pleaded guilty, state lawmakers proposed dozens of sex-offender bills.

Jacobs, Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley and scores of other lawmakers backed those efforts, leading to, among other laws, new reporting provisions about when a child is in regular contact with a known sex offender. Foxwell's guardian had been dating Thomas Leggs Jr., who now is serving a life sentence for killing the 11-year-old.

Although some lawmakers and defense attorneys have warned against legislating in reaction to an emotional, headline-grabbing crime, Shellenberger said he knows from experience that it can have practical implications in the courtroom — even if they come years later.

One striking example: Baltimore County was able to prosecute and convict David Miller not only for the first-degree murder of Elizabeth Walters, but also for the death of her unborn baby. The 24-year-old had been pregnant when Miller shot her outside a shopping plaza.

Medical examiners determined that Walters' fetus would have been viable outside of the womb, triggering a seldom-used Maryland law that had been on the books since the early 1990s. Lawmakers had passed it after being inspired by a controversial case in California.

"It's a good example of a law where, eventually, the facts were there to use it," Shellenberger said.