Tuesday, July 12, 2011
By Malaika Fraley
The El Dorado District Attorney's Office Tuesday released clips of convicted kidnappers Phillip and Nancy Garrido's home movies, including videos of young girls playing at parks and a parole agent searching the couple's Antioch home without knowledge that a captive Jaycee Lee Dugard was 30 feet away in the backyard.
District Attorney Vern Pierson, who also released documents related to Phillip Garrido's criminal past and a map of known victims before Dugard, said he hopes the previously undistributed materials will shed light on how a violent sexual predator who was well-known to law enforcement was able to avoid suspicion in Dugard's 1991 abduction for 18 years.
"This is one individual case, but it highlights some of shortcoming and failures that are more systematic," Pierson told Bay Area News Group. "Some things have already changed (since Dugard resurfaced in 2009), but it is important to examine every aspect of the system to determine what more we can to do to ensure something like this won't happen again."
Pierson and state Sen. Ted Gaines, R-Roseville, are hosting a public meeting at the state Capitol on Aug. 3 to explore deficiencies in state law and identify potential legislative solutions that could strengthen public safety. Law enforcement officials at the state and federal level, as wells as victims' rights advocates, have been invited to participate. Gaines and Pierson's report on failures that contributed to the Garridos escaping justice for nearly two decades will be released at or just before the meeting, Pierson said.
In a startling 2 minute, 42 second video, Nancy Garrido films a state parole agent conducting one of the dozens of searches of their home while Jaycee was in the backyard. The agent, whose face is blurred, never steps foot in the backyard and seemingly follows Phillip Garrido throughout the house.
The video clip, filmed between 2000-2007, begins mid-visit, as Phillip walks into his elderly mother's bedroom, his long sleeve shirt unbuttoned and exposing his bare chest. His ailing mother is briefly seen in the bed as the parole agent quickly checks the room.
As they continue through the house, Nancy Garrido begins to badger the agent: "What does the parole agent do for his parolee?"
"Ma'am, you can come to the office and we can discuss that," the unnamed agent says. "It's an inappropriate time. Right now I'm doing a search ... and if you'd stay in this front room, so I won't have to place you in restraints because right now I'm searching the house."
As the agent continues, Nancy follows him and films. While not in the video, the agent is heard telling Phillip Garrido: "So right now, it's just you, your wife and your mother ... oh OK."
As Phillip Garrido leads the agent out the front door, Phillip Garrido is heard for the first time: "I don't understand. I'm doing everything I'm supposed to do. ... No one's ever talked to me like this."
The agent tells the Garridos to contact him at his office for further questions.
The clip ends with Nancy Garrido saying: "He's an arrogant little guy isn't he?"
A video taken sometime between 1989 and 1993 -- overlapping with Dugard's kidnapping -- shows the Garridos fumbling with the autofocus feature on a camcorder with a city park in the background.
For bystanders in the area, it looks like Phillip is leaning against a tree waiting for Nancy to film him singing and playing guitar. But their chatter suggests that the singalong is a distraction.
The camera shakily captures girls playing on a tire swing in a playground that serves as the video's background. Then Phillip's instructions are heard.
"So what you need to do is you need to make it look like you're pointing at me," he says. "That way you get it so it sort of looks like it's pointing at me, but it's going just by me."
He adds: "The further you are away from me, they can't tell exactly where it's pointing."
That's followed by Phillip singing and strumming, but the camera pans left to focus on a young dark-haired girl in a red tank top as she swings from a bar. They continue obfuscating their true purpose with more chatter.
"Can you see me real good?" asks Phillip.
Nancy responds, "I can see you really good!"
But the video doesn't match: it continues to follow the young girl as she walks from one end of the playground to the other.
Phillip Garrido used a chemical agent to reduce the video to heaps of melted plastic before investigators found them buried in garbage that dominated the Garrido's backyard. While most investigators dismissed them as unsalvageable, Contra Costa Sheriff's Detective Garrett Schiro was adamant that they should not be discounted, said El Dorado district attorney investigator Mike Franzen. It took several hundred hours of manpower by El Dorado County and NASA technicians to recover the film.
"We can't give Schiro enough credit for not taking no for an answer," Franzen said. "Had this gone to trial, they would have been presented to show that (Garrido) was a lifetime sexual predator trolling for new victims or was shooting them for his own sexual pleasure."
"We can only assume it was an Antioch-area park because that's where he frequented but we never really figured it out," said Franzen, a former Antioch detective. "We know it happened after they took (Dugard) because she said Nancy would complain about having to do it."
A final video showed female legs in short skirts, with Nancy and Phillip Garrido discussing the filming in the background.
By Alex Cameron
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Over the three-year period that ended December 31, 2010, juveniles committed more than 1,300 sex crimes in Oklahoma.
Nearly 500 of the offenses were of the most serious variety -- rape, rape by instrumentation, or forcible sodomy -- the sort of offenses that, under state law, would make the offender eligible to be required to register as a juvenile sex offender.
And yet, according to the Office of Juvenile Affairs, the agency responsible for maintaining the state's juvenile sex offender registry, there is currently just one person on the registry. In fact, over the ten years since the registry was created, OJA officials say, just ten juveniles have ever been required to register.
The notion of an offender registry containing just one name might seem less shocking, if Oklahoma's adult sex offender registry didn't contain several thousand names (6,916 at the time this was written).
But, while the two registries do have one thing in common -- the crimes that qualify an offender for inclusion are essentially the same -- they are different in every other way, and comparing the two can be most misleading.
The adult sex offender registry, which is maintained by the Department of Corrections, is offense-based. That is, anyone 18 years of age or older who commits any of a specified list of sex offenses is automatically required to register as a sex offender upon release from custody. Depending on the seriousness of the crime (offenses range from level 1 through level 3), they may have to register for 15 years, 25 years, or life.
The adult registry is also public -- fully accessible online. By inputting one or more search criteria, you can pull up offenders, their photo(s), current address, and criminal history.
Mandatory registration allows police to keep tabs on criminals who have a penchant for re-offending, and to enforce residency restrictions. Publication of the registry allows citizens to know if they should be concerned about any of their neighbors.
How society treats juvenile offenders, though, is very different.
In the juvenile justice system, more important than handing down punishment for a crime is offering a hand up -- providing treatment so that the juvenile won't repeat the behavior in the future. For this reason, except in the most depraved cases, the identity of a juvenile delinquent is withheld from public view.
It follows, then, that Oklahoma's juvenile sex offender registry is confidential -- only law enforcement may gain access to it.
The more fundamental difference between the adult and juvenile registries, though, is that the juvenile sex offender registry is risk-based, and not offense-based.
What this means, in the most basic sense, is that each case of a juvenile committing a crime that qualifies for possible registration must be considered individually.
In Oklahoma, this is an evaluation process that involves as many as three distinct steps.
First, the local District Attorney would have to make a determination that the juvenile in question -- even after undergoing treatment -- still poses a significant threat of re-offending. Under such circumstances, the D.A. would file an application to have the court require the juvenile to register as a sex offender, upon release from custody.
This application would trigger a second step -- an evaluation of the offender by a panel of two juvenile mental health professionals. These experts would write a report, containing a recommendation for or against registration, which they would then submit to the court.
It would then fall to the presiding juvenile court judge to decide -- the third and final step -- whether to accept or deny the D.A.'s application, based on the panel's recommendation.
It's a process that rarely happens.
"There's not been one application, since I've been here," said Oklahoma County Juvenile Court Judge Richard Kirby, who's been on the bench since early 2007.
In Tulsa County, Assistant District Attorney Tara Britt is in charge of the juvenile division. She says she has actually applied twice to have an offender put on the juvenile registry.
The result? "The court denied it," Britt stated flatly.
Dr. Mark Chaffin, a professor in the department of pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma's Health Sciences Center and an expert on child sexual abuse, says the fact that there's just one juvenile currently required to register is, in his estimation, proof that the system is working as designed.
"Typically, in Oklahoma, youth are not released from these facilities until there's some general sense that their risk has diminished or until they age out," Dr. Chaffin explained, "so it's really not surprising to me that we would have so few youth on the registry in Oklahoma."
The lack of juvenile offenders on the registry is surprising, however, to State Representative Gus Blackwell.
"Definitely," said Blackwell, R-Lavern, "there has to be more than one person on it."
During the past legislative session, Rep. Blackwell introduced legislation intended to bring Oklahoma into full compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Act, a measure signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2006 creating a national sex offender registry and including provisions for the registration of juvenile sex offenders, as well.
The Act requires that states implement juvenile registration parameters similar to those for adults -- in other words, automatic registration, based on the offense and not based on perceived risk.
Blackwell's bill, HB 1350, would convert Oklahoma's juvenile registry from risk-based to offense-based; the registry would, however, remain accessible only to police.
The bill passed the House, but failed in committee in the Senate.
Still, Rep. Blackwell is hopeful the bill can be revived next year. His primary motivation, he says, is to capture $500,000 in annual Byrne grant funding that the state is missing out on currently because it is only partially compliant with the Walsh Act.
But the panhandle Republican also feels there are too many juvenile sex offenders who aren't being adequately watched, and creating a more robust registry would change that.
"This puts a tool in the hand of law enforcement to protect our citizens," Blackwell told us.
Whether law enforcement will actually use the tool, however, could be debated.
In the ten years that Oklahoma has had a juvenile sex offender registry, the Office of Juvenile Affairs says, not once has a law enforcement agency asked to see it.
For proponents of the current system, the issue of greater concern is the idea that juvenile sex offenders should be treated the same as adults, at least when it comes to requiring them register with the government. Experts, like Dr. Chaffin, couldn't be more emphatic in stating that juvenile sex offenders are very different from adult sex offenders.
"They're not simply younger versions of adult sex offenders," said Dr. Chaffin, "nor do most of them age into becoming adult sex offenders."
Chaffin and others say, to begin with, most juveniles who commit sex crimes aren't motivated in the same way that adults are.
"They can be adolescents who are acting out of poor judgment, out of impulsivity, out of sexual curiosity," noted Chaffin.
"They rarely eroticize aggression," added Assistant D.A. Britt. "Very few fit the criteria for being a predator."
Studies also show that juvenile sex offenders who go through a treatment program, which is required, are far less likely than adults to re-offend.
- And adult sex offenders have the LOWEST recidivism rate of any other criminal, except murderers, which is from 3.5% to 10%.
"The future sex crime rate of most of these youth is quite low," said Dr. Chaffin, "and, in many cases, is no higher than that of non-sexual delinquents."
"From what I understand," Judge Kirby recalled, "it's between four and fifteen percent recidivism rates for juvenile sex offenders, whereas, for adult sex offenders, it's up to fifty percent."
- Well, this just shows, judges, lawyers, media, politicians, have no clue what they are talking about, when it comes to recidivism. They just repeat the same lies they've heard over the years.
The best way to protect the public, juvenile experts say, isn't to expand the juvenile sex offender registry, but to make sure juvenile sex offenders continue to have treatment options. They worry that forcing more juveniles to register could alienate them and jeopardize their chance to reform.
Dr. Chaffin recommends parents with questions about juvenile sex predators and protecting their kids visit this web site for the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.
|Randy Lynn Quinn|
By Jenny Arnold
A former state trooper has been indicted by federal authorities on two charges of child pornography.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced the indictments on Tuesday. Federal authorities listed Randy Lynn Quinn’s address as Townville in Anderson County, but authorities searched his home at 1283 Old Johnson Road in Cowpens on June 7.
Quinn, 34, was fired the same day of the search warrant. The reason for the termination was “improper conduct,” said Sid Gaulden, director of the S.C. Department of Public Safety.
Quinn was assigned to Troop 4 with the Highway Patrol, which includes York, Chester, Chesterfield, Union, Lancaster, Cherokee and Fairfield counties.
Quinn had worked for the Highway Patrol since March 2006, and had worked previously as a Gaffney police officer.
The case has been investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations agents, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The case is being brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse, a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Project Safe Childhood is led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and coordinates federal, state and local resources to find, arrest and prosecute those who exploit children via the Internet, and identify and rescue victims.
Quinn faces 10 years in prison on one charge, and 20 years on the second if convicted, federal authorities say.
By DARRYL ENRIQUEZ
ELKHORN - Michael Curry, a former officer with the Wisconsin Civil Air Patrol, has pleaded guilty to felony possession of child pornography.
Curry, 54, accepted a plea agreement offered by Walworth County District Attorney Phillip Koss. The plea settles the criminal case that began with a police raid at Curry’s home in September 2009, according to court records.
Sentencing is set for Sept. 8.
Curry, 306 Main St., Delavan, was charged last July with five felony counts of possessing child pornography. He remains free on bail.
Curry resigned from the Civil Air Patrol as a lieutenant colonel and commander of a Racine squadron. He had more than a 40-year association with the group, according to the patrol’s website.
Under the plea agreement, Curry’s lawyer, Jeffrey L. Murrell, will argue that the former commander should not receive a prison sentence. The maximum is 25 years.
In exchange for the plea, four counts were dismissed but can be considered by the sentencing judge.
Koss and Murrell will argue whether Curry should become a registered sex offender. Walworth County Judge Robert Kennedy ordered a presentence investigation.
No additional charges will be filed, Koss reported in a letter to Murrell. Koss recently investigated allegations that Curry had committed additional child sex crimes.
According to a written statement from Civil Air Patrol national headquarters at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, no connection to Civil Air Patrol was alleged in the criminal complaint against Curry.
MD - Former police officer working for the Department of the Defense (Matthew McMullen) sentenced for sex offense
A 27-year-old former police officer working for the Department of the Defense was sentenced Tuesday to 57 months behind bars for traveling interstate to have sex with a minor.
Matthew McMullen, of California, Md., entered the guilty plea in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. McMullen faces a maximum sentence of 30 years of imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. Federal sentencing guidelines call for 46 to 57 months in prison.
According to evidence, McMullen contacted an undercover FBI agent through a social networking site in February. He began emailing the agent, saying he was interested in having sexual contact with an under-aged child. He traveled from Maryland to a pre-arranged meeting place in Washington, D.C. When he arrived, he was arrested.
By JENNY MICHAEL
A former police officer and judge has pleaded guilty to three sex charges, one of which could put him in prison for the rest of his life.
Randall Hoffman, 55, pleaded guilty on Tuesday at the Morton County Courthouse to Class AA felony continuous sexual abuse of a child, Class A felony attempted gross sexual imposition and Class C felony corruption or solicitation of minors.
In exchange for his guilty pleas, prosecutors moved to dismiss 49 additional corruption or solicitation of minors charges. South Central District Judge Tom Schneider will sentence Hoffman following a presentence investigation and sex offender risk assessment.
The continuous sexual abuse of a child charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole. The attempted gross sexual imposition has a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and the corruption or solicitation of minors charge carries a five-year maximum sentence.
Hoffman was charged in September 2010 in Grant County with the 52 offenses, which accused him of molesting and attempting to rape a girl from the time she was 12 or 13 until she was 17. Until his arrest, Hoffman had been the police chief and only officer in Elgin.
Hoffman resigned from his district judgeship in April 1999 after facing a disciplinary complaint for stalking, harassing and exhibiting abusive conduct toward his ex-wife. The North Dakota Supreme Court suspended his license to practice law in 2003 for misconduct, then declined to reinstate it in 2005, finding he had practiced law without a license during his suspension.
Schneider on Tuesday ordered Hoffman to be held in the Mercer County jail, which contracts with Grant County to house inmates, until his sentencing. Since March, Hoffman has been at Alpha Human Services in Minneapolis, a nonprofit sex offender rehabilitation facility. His sister and brother-in-law posted $50,000 cash bond and paid for his time there.
Hoffman’s attorney, Irv Nodland, suggested in court that Hoffman should be allowed to return to Alpha Human Services rather than go back to jail pending sentencing. Hoffman made significant progress and had not been a problem at the facility, while his time in solitary confinement in the Mercer County jail had been difficult on him physically and emotionally.
“He has gotten emotionally very much stronger,” Nodland said about Hoffman’s time at the facility. “It’s better to let him improve physically and emotionally than to put him back in solitary confinement in Stanton.”
Assistant Attorney General Jon Byers, who is prosecuting the case with Grant County State’s Attorney Dan Herbel, said Hoffman should be returned to jail, as prosecutors will be recommending a prison sentence for him no matter how he does at the sex offender treatment facility. Schneider ordered Hoffman to go back to jail for convenience; if parole and probation officers conducting the presentence investigation need to talk to him again or if sentencing can be held more quickly than planned, the judge wants him close by.
Byers said the plea agreement under which the 49 additional charges were dismissed does not include anything about sentencing. He did not say how much prison time he and Herbel would be seeking for Hoffman. He also explained that they felt it was appropriate to drop the additional corruption charges, which accounted for each month the girl was abused, as proving each charge would have been an unnecessary use of state resources.
By Dianne Williamson
Legislation fueled by populist anger over bad legal cases often becomes the subject of maudlin and mediocre Lifetime movies, but it’s seldom a good idea in real life.
Such is the case with Caylee’s Law, a hugely popular push that would make it a federal crime for a parent or guardian not to quickly report the disappearance or death of a child.
- You don't need another law for something that is already illegal!
More than 1 million people have signed a petition on Change.org that would make it a felony if parents fail to report the death of a child within an hour, or fail to report a missing child within 24 hours. The petition is the most successful campaign in the site’s history. Lawmakers in more than a dozen states, backed by voter support, have introduced similar bills.
The frenzy, of course, stems from the already notorious verdict in the case of Casey Anthony, who was acquitted in the murder of her 2-year-old daughter and will be released from prison next week, even though a feral cat would make a better mother than she would. Americans were outraged by the verdict and rightly so, but creating a new law as an outlet for that outrage is misguided.
But it’s not unusual, even though laws named after dead children are often a bad idea and infamous for having unintended consequences. Consider “Megan’s Law,” which was named for 7-year-old Megan Kanka, who was abducted and killed by a convicted sex offender who had moved in across the street. The well-meaning law mandated that information about sex offenders be made available to the public, and it passed in the wake of fear after that crime.
While Nancy Grace claimed that the “devil is dancing” over the Anthony verdict, he’s also lurking in the details of such bills. Studies show that Megan’s Law doesn’t reduce recidivism by sex offenders, although it adds thousands of low-risk offenders to the registries. In August of 2009, The Economist published a critical look at “named” legislation and concluded the following:
“Harsh laws often do little to protect the innocent. The police complain that having so many petty sex offenders on registries makes it hard to keep track of the truly dangerous ones. Cash that might be spent on treating sex offenders — which sometimes works — is spent on huge indiscriminate registries. Public registers drive serious offenders underground, which makes them harder to track and more likely to re-offend. And registers give parents a false sense of security: Most sex offenders are never even reported, let alone convicted.”
But most politicians are less concerned with details than with appearing soft on crime, so few dare to vote against laws named after crime victims, especially dead ones.
Yesterday, Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. said he was worried about a “rush to judgment” in regards to Caylee’s Law. Formerly a lawyer in private practice, he raised issues of enforcement and other pertinent questions: Must the parent have knowledge that the child is missing? Should the parent have known? How would the law affect visitation cases in probate court, in which a child isn’t returned on time to a parent? Would it create an unacceptable burden on police? When does the clock start on a missing child?
“People’s emotions are running so high right now,” Early said. “Is this a reaction to everyone’s anger and outrage? This bill could be called the ‘We’re Furious She Got Away With It’ law. We have to give this time before rushing something through. We have an awful lot of safeguards with regard to children. We want to vet this carefully. We have to get it right.”
Activist Michelle Crowder of Oklahoma is pushing Caylee’s Law, and she admitted that she didn’t consult with any law enforcement professionals before developing it. But she likely watched the Anthony trial, in which it was revealed that the search for little Caylee began after 31 days only after her grandmother — not Casey — called police.
“Abandoning a child is illegal. Abuse is illegal,” Crowder told The New York Times. “But not reporting a child missing is somehow OK?”
She makes a good point, but so does Early. If Caylee’s Law is an emotional reaction to the little girl’s death, it’s too late to affect the case it was crafted for. The overwhelming majority of parents don’t need a law to compel them to report a missing child. Those who do will likely not be deterred by the threat of a felony, just as men intent on killing their wives or girlfriends aren’t deterred by the threat of a restraining order.
- I find it ironic though, that none of this was ever considered when passing draconian laws against sex offenders.
“It’s just more bad after bad,” said Early, and he’s right. Despite their best intentions, those seeking the elusive “Justice for Caylee” won’t find it in a federal law, especially one based on emotion rather than reason.
By Martin Staunton
Police from several agencies spread out to check in with scores of sex offenders to make sure their registration information is up to date.
PINEVILLE -- Several law enforcement agencies came together in Wyoming County for a spot-check of sex offenders there. Police want to make sure that this segment of the criminal population is in compliance with the terms of their release back into the community.
Police were up early for a strategy session just before the sex-offender compliance sweep.
The officers fanned out across Wyoming County to make sure the information on file for each registered offender is up to date. Sgt. M.K. Summers is a member of the Crimes Against Children Unit of the West Virginia State Police. Summers said it's vital to community safety to maintain current information when it comes to sex offenders.
"The recidivism rate among sex offenders is extremely high and what we're trying to do by doing operations like this today is to kinda keep them in line and keep everything up to date, so if we do have something happen, we're able to find out where they're at, what they're doing, it just makes it a little easier for us to track them," said Summers.
- Once again, an ignorant police officer just repeating the same BS he has been told. The recidivism rate among sex offenders is lower than any other criminal, except murderers. Drug dealers, gang members and others have higher recidivism rates, so why don't they check on them as well?
The One Voice Drug Counseling Center in Pineville is the backdrop for the gathering of law enforcement.
Files for each of the offenders in the sweep were hauled in and assigned to a team of officers. If they discover violations, it's up to Wyoming County Prosecuting Attorney, Rick Staton, to bring charges against non-compliant sex offenders.
"It's important for both the offender and the community to make sure they're in compliance, to make sure the community is aware that this is not something that which we drop the ball, in which they just register and then nothing is followed up on, so regular check-ups are good," Staton said.
There are more than 52 sex offenders who are on the list for compliance sweep.
The law enforcement officers split into five teams, each with about 10 offenders they need to check-in with.
"Today, our primary focus is to check compliance, if there is a major offense, we'll go ahead and make an arrest there." Summers said.
The cooperative effort between agencies is a source of pride for the Prosecutor.
"We have great inter-agency cooperation between the state police and all the various agencies. I'm not surprised but then again, every time I see it happen it always makes me feel good," said Staton.
Officers from the Mullens and Oceana City Police Departments participated, as well as Wyoming County Sheriff's Deputies, the U.S. Marshal Service, and the West Virginia State Police.
- So, what was the outcome of the compliance check? I am willing to bet almost 100% were in compliance.