Wednesday, August 3, 2011

DC - 72 Charged in Probe of Child Sexual Abuse Network

Original Article

This is good news.

08/03/2011

WASHINGTON – Seventy-two people have been charged with participating in an international child pornography network that prosecutors say used an online bulletin board called Dreamboard to trade tens of thousands of images and videos of sexually abused children.

Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Wednesday a 20-month law enforcement effort called Operation Delego targeted more than 600 Dreamboard members around the world for allegedly participating in the private, members-only Internet club created to promote pedophilia.

Numerous participants in the network sexually abused children ages 12 and under, produced images and video of the abuse and then shared it with other club members, according to court papers released in the case.

At a news conference at the Justice Department, the attorney general called the criminal activity a "nightmare" for the children and said that some of the children featured in the images and videos were just infants.

In many cases, the children being victimized were in obvious, and intentional, pain -- even in distress and crying, just as the rules for one area of the bulletin board mandated, the attorney general said.

Fifteen arrested Dreamboard participants personally created child pornography, according to the Justice Department.

Napolitano said the amount of child porn swapped by participants in the network was massive, the equivalent to 16,000 DVDs. Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, who heads Justice's criminal division, called the criminal enterprise "a living horror."

Of the 72 charged in the United States, 43 have been arrested in this country and nine abroad. Another 20 are known to authorities only by their Internet names and remain at large.

Authorities have arrested people in 13 other countries -- Canada, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, Hungary, Kenya, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Qatar, Serbia, Sweden and Switzerland, but some of those were arrested on local rather than the U.S. charges.

To conceal their conduct, members used screen names rather than actual names and accessed the bulletin board via proxy servers, with Internet traffic routed through other computers to disguise a user's location, according to the court papers.

Participants were required to continually upload images of child sexual abuse to maintain their membership.

Participants who molested children and created new images of child pornography were placed in a "Super VIP" category that gave them access to the entire quantity of child porn on the bulletin board, the court papers stated.

A "Super Hardcore" section of the bulletin board was limited to posts showing adults having violent sexual intercourse with "very young kids" subjected to physical and sexual abuse.

All 72 U.S. defendants are charged with conspiring to advertise and distribute child pornography, and 50 of them are also charged with engaging in a child pornography enterprise. Thirteen of the 52 defendants who have been arrested have pleaded guilty in the conspiracy. Of the four who have been sentenced, the least amount of prison time was 20 years behind bars and the most was 30 years.


FL - A glimpse inside a therapy session – and the minds – of sex offenders

Original Article

08/03/2011

By Michael Mayo

Offenders open up about guilt and shame, but still have to remain hidden

The designation immediately triggers fear, hysteria and hostility: sex offender. They bring backgrounds as varied as their crimes: a middle-aged professional who enjoyed flashing adult women, a Vietnam veteran in his 60s who molested young girls, a man in his 20s who suffered brain damage in a car wreck and forced a woman to have sex with him in return for a shopping spree.

Every week, they come to a South Florida counseling center to open up, to confront themselves and their pasts with brutal honesty. But because they are sex offenders, they have to do so clandestinely.

They are told to be inconspicuous, not to draw attention to themselves or loiter outside before the weekly group therapy sessions. The therapist doesn't want trouble with the community, even though the clinic is in an isolated strip mall.

"Ironic that the place we come to figure ourselves out, the place we're trying to get out of our secret life, we have to remain hidden," one offender said in a session last week.

This is the incongruity of life as a sex offender. In the outside world, they try to live under the radar, even though they must register with the state and their crimes trail them for life. When they get to the small room they consider a sanctuary, they can finally talk freely, sharing their thoughts, frustrations and shame.

"I have a hard time forgiving myself, even though it's been all this time," said one offender, who sexually abused his stepdaughter 25 years ago.

The Vietnam vet, who molested three girls in the 1980s, said, "I can't have contact with my victims, but I wonder, 'Did I screw them up for life?' "

After my recent columns about sex offenders and the strict residency restrictions that make it nearly impossible for them to live anywhere in South Florida, I was invited to sit in on two group therapy sessions last week, provided I didn't reveal identities of the offenders, therapist or clinic.

Here's what the offenders want you to know: Yes, they have done bad things, illegal things, deviant things. But they are still human beings, not animals or monsters. They want to make good choices, and have a chance at redemption. But faced with so many restrictions, they say it feels as though society just wants never-ending retribution.

"A friend of mine asked, 'How come a murderer or someone who sold drugs to kids can move right next to a school after they get out and we're not told, but it's totally different for you guys?' " said one offender, who had sex with several 14-year-old boys when he was in his early 20s. "I can understand wanting to protect kids, but it's very inconsistent."

As the father of a young girl, I'd rather some of these offenders not live anywhere near me. But they need to live somewhere, and they need some stability in order to hold jobs, rebuild their lives and be monitored by probation officers. So how does society strike the right balance?

Here's what the therapist wants the public to know: Treatment can be effective. "The belief is that sex offenders can't be helped and everybody re-offends, but that's just not true … A lot of people think therapy is coddling but we don't do that. We don't accept excuses. We stress accountability. We want them to understand the development of their behavior, and learn to manage it."

Nobody, not even the offenders, says pedophilia or other deviant thoughts can be "cured," but they say therapy gives them tools to change their patterns and cope with stresses that could lead to re-offending. Studies about sex-offender recidivism paint an unclear picture and are hotly disputed, but some recent long-term studies show re-offense rates in the 8-to-24 percent range.

Most of the 25 offenders at the sessions I attended were there by court order, paying $30 for the hour. Some had just been released from prison, and wore electronic monitoring devices. Others have "graduated" from the program — after giving presentations about what they've learned — and keep attending for free.

Nearly all had been abused — either sexually, physically or emotionally — when they were kids.

You don't have to have sympathy for what they did, but it helps having some empathy for what they face.

The man who sexually abused his stepdaughter spent 17 years in prison, and has been in treatment for nine years. "My offense was a long time ago and I've never re-offended," he said. When he returned to his apartment three months ago, he found an unflattering name scrawled on his door. He has since been evicted and is now homeless.

"I want people to know two things," said another offender, who has bi-polar disorder and molested a minor in 1997. "Treatment provides an arena, if you're honest with yourself, to change. And even though what I did 14 years ago was illegal and deviant, I am not my crime. I did a lot of good things in my life — I've been an advocate for mental illness — and I can do a lot of good things again."


IL - Batavia won’t pursue tougher sex offender limits

Original Article

08/03/2011

By Linda Girardi

BATAVIA — The city will not be toughening residency restrictions for convicted sex offenders living in the area of schools.

The City Council City Services Committee this week decided to end discussions of expanding on Illinois’ law that prohibits convicted child sex offenders from living within 500 feet of school property.

In June, the city began researching issues associated with toughening sex offender residency restrictions, after a parent alerted authorities of a registered sex offender living in front a school bus stop and near school property.

The registered sex offender was 204 feet outside of the exclusion zone, which makes him in compliance with the state statute, police officials said.

The Batavia School District subsequently changed an Alice Gustafson Elementary School bus stop for next year, but the parent had asked the city to consider an ordinance extending the distance for sex offenders to 1,000 feet.

Police Chief Gary Schira said literature on the subject didn’t convince him of a need to change Batavia’s residency requirements.

The 500 feet (standard) has been working very well for the 10 sex offenders we have,” Schira told aldermen.

Schira said research on tougher residency requirements indicated that it can give a “false sense” of security and it is not the best way to ensure there won’t be repeated offenses.

I am not sure what we would accomplish by moving the requirement beyond 500 feet,” Schira said.

Schira said if the city moves to a 1,000-foot requirement, nine out of 10 registered sex offenders living in the city would not be in compliance and would have to relocate. If the city were to move to a 2,000-foot minimum, all 10 would be in violation.
- That would be an unconstitutional ex post facto law, and if not applied retroactively, they would not have to move, and thus the law would do nothing.

Schira said studies show increasing the exclusion area makes it more difficult for registered sex offenders to find places to live in a community to the point they are forced to live transient lifestyles and subsequently do not register their place of residency, making it more difficult for law enforcement to track them.

Under the existing 500-feet requirement, 30 percent of Batavia’s property is off limits to registered sex offenders, Schira said. He said 59 percent and 80 percent of property in Batavia would be off limits if the residency requirement is extended to 1,000 feet and 2,000 feet, respectively.

I think we are trying to fix a problem that doesn’t need to be fixed,” the police chief said.
- The same could be said for the sex offender laws in general.

Alice Gustafson School parent Rodney Shiver expressed concern there is little supervision when children are let out of school and many of them must walk home, but Schira said officers cannot realistically police all school exits with the existing manpower.
- And whose fault is that?  The parents of course, but they want Big Brother to baby sit their kids for them.


CT - To Catch a Predator host (Chris Hansen) busted cheating on his wife 'had a SECOND mistress - a Vegas stripper'

Original Article

08/03/2011

By Paul Bentley

To Catch a Predator host Chris Hansen, who was caught a month ago cheating on his wife with a young blonde television reporter, has also secretly been dating a Las Vegas stripper, it has been reported.

The married NBC anchor, 52, who made his name with a controversial show that catches would-be internet sex perverts, was secretly filmed on an illicit date with 30-year-old Kristyn Caddell in late June.

And now it appears he was also cheating on his mistress, with revelations that Hansen was also for six months secretly dating petite blonde Kathleen Collins, a stripper and aspiring country singer.

Miss Collins was said to have been shocked when she found out - through the press - that her married lover, who lives with his wife Mary, 53, and their sons in Connecticut, had also been sleeping with another woman.

A friend told the Enquirer: 'I know this sounds crazy, but Kathleen really thought she was the only one.'

She is then alleged to have told her friend: 'Chris cheated on me just like he cheated on his wife.'

Miss Collins is said to have been told by the high profile television anchor that he had separated from his wife and was set to get a divorce.

'Kathleen feels like she's been used and betrayed - Chris definitely broke her heart,' the source told the Enquirer.

The magazine claims to have seen pictures of the two embracing in Las Vegas and read text messages and emails sent by Hansen to Miss Collins from his official NBC Universal address.

Hansen has worked for NBC for two decades, but became famous with his controversial Dateline series To Catch a Predator.

The show's producers work with online watchdog (vigilantes) Perverted-Justice, whose volunteers pose as underage girls offering sex on the internet.

But when they arrive to meet the girls, they find themselves confronted by Hansen, his film crew and sometimes the police.

The anchor, however, got a taste of his own medicine when he was secretly filmed in a romantic tryst with TV reporter Miss Caddell at the Ritz-Carlton in Florida.

According to the Enquirer, he took her for a romantic dinner before spending the night at her palm beach apartment.

Secret cameras filmed the couple as they arrived at the hotel for dinner and then drove back to her apartment - where the pair left, carrying luggage, at 8am the following day.


Forcing Your Internet Provider to Spy On You Just In Case You're a Criminal Act of 2011

Original Article
H.R. 1981 presumes we are all child pornographers

As we've said before, name something after a child, or say it's "for the children," and anybody will be all for it, and they know it. Come on, "DO IT FOR THE CHILDREN!" Here is a nice (fitting) quote.

"The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation." - Rabbi Daniel Lapin

08/01/2011

By Julian Sanchez

If Congress had to name laws honestly, it would be called the "Forcing Your Internet Provider to Spy On You Just In Case You're a Criminal Act of 2011" — a costly, invasive mandate that even the co-author of the Patriot Act, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), says "runs roughshod over the rights of people who use the Internet."
- <sarcasm on> Maybe he has something to hide? <sarcasm off>

But because it's disguised as the "Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act," (PDF, Video) the House Judiciary Committee approved it last week by a wide margin — even though it's got little to do with child porn and won't do much to protect kids.

The centerpiece of this ill-conceived law is a sweeping requirement that commercial Internet providers retain a one-year log of all the temporary Internet Protocol addresses they assign to their users, along with customer-identification information. The Justice Department says this will help track down child-porn peddlers by linking online activity and real-world identities. But the government would be able to access that sensitive data for all kinds of investigations, most of which would have nothing to do with child porn.

Traditionally, citizens in a free society are presumed innocent. If the police want to look through your computer files, the Fourth Amendment requires them to show a judge that there's "probable cause" to suspect wrongdoing. The PCIPA turns that assumption on its head, treating every Internet user as a presumptive criminal and exploiting a serious Fourth Amendment loophole.

The Constitution protects privacy against government intrusion, but it doesn't stop the government from forcing private companies to do its dirty work. Records held by a corporation don't enjoy the same Fourth Amendment protection as does the data on your personal computer — so a search warrant isn't necessary.

But there's no evidence that law enforcement has a systematic problem obtaining Internet records in child-porn investigations. A Government Accountability Office report released in March concluded that Internet providers usually could provide subpoenaed records — and in the few cases where they couldn't, investigators could often obtain them by other means.

Moreover, the government gets more than 100,000 tips (there is that magical goldilock number again) volunteered by Internet Service Providers each year — typically, with user information already attached — although it can only investigate a small fraction of those. The true bottleneck in such investigations, the GAO suggests, isn't a records shortage but delays in doing forensic analysis of computers.

In fact, the Justice Department still hasn't finished a mandatory study of the information-sharing system established by the last major child-porn legislation, in 2008. That means Congress is rushing to impose costly legislation on the basis of a few anecdotes about pedophiles who eluded police, without a serious, evidence-based understanding of what works (or doesn't) about the existing system.

Ironically, this is happening even as many European countries are rejecting the invasive and ineffective data-retention mandates they've established in recent years — mandates that the Bush administration wisely criticized when they were introduced.

Unfortunately, nobody has explained to Congress that tech-savvy criminals can easily evade detection even if ISPs are required to retain data, by using such anonymity tools as proxy servers or software like TOR, which routes communications through dozens of relay points.

The real costs will be borne by innocent Internet users, whose data pile up in ever-larger databases that are sure to make an attractive target for hackers and identity thieves.

They're also apt to show up on your wireless bill, as carriers scramble to overhaul mobile networks that may assign dozens of IP addresses to the same device over the span of a few minutes — or share a single IP address across hundred of phones and tablets.

Going forward, the architecture of data networks will be determined not by what makes the best business or engineering sense, but by the legal mandate to facilitate centralized tracking. The design of the Internet used by the vast innocent majority will be determined by a guilty few, who will still evade detection.

In short, the PCIPA is an intrusive, costly, confused "solution" that won't work to a "problem" it's not even clear exists. But there's no idea so misguided or ineffective that it can't become a law if it's "for the children."


VA - Justin Hodges charged with first degree murder of an ex-sex offender

Original Article

08/03/2011

By Dianne Saison

An alleged domestic dispute has led to the shooting death of a convicted sexual predator and the imprisonment of the suspected gunman.

According to Essex County Sheriff Stanley S. Clarke, On July 25 at approximately 9:40 p.m. his department responded to a call advising of a shooting at 3749 Richmond Highway in the Paul's Crossroads area of the county.

After arriving at the scene, Essex authorities discovered [name withheld], 46, dead of a gunshot wound. At that time, the suspect, identified as Justin Hodges, 29, the next door neighbor, had already fled the scene.

According to numerous reports by neighbors and sources close to the investigation, Hodges's ex-wife, whose identity was not disclosed, had recently left her husband and moved into [name withheld]'s home. The Hodges' children reportedly shared time at both domiciles, which were only separated by a single wall.

Hodges allegedly became irate after discovering [name withheld], a registered sexual offender who was convicted of forcible sodomy and rape in Jan., 2001, had become verbally abusive.

Essex authorities would neither confirm nor deny the reports, saying that the investigation needed to continue without being tried in the press.

According to Clarke, Hodges turned himself in to the Sheriff's Office on July 27 and was arraigned the following day on charges of first degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

He is currently being held at the Middle Peninsula Regional Security Center with no bond. A mental evaluation has been ordered and a preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Sept. 22.


GA - Crisp County jailer (Albert Bill Pole) arrested in sex sting

Albert Bill Pole
Original Article

08/03/2011

By Ryan Houston

CRISP COUNTY - A part-time Crisp County jailer was arrested Tuesday night in an undercover sex sting in middle Georgia.

Sixty-three year old Albert Pole is charged with attempt to commit child molestation.

He is in the Butts County jail.

Sheriff Haralson has confirmed that a part time deputy assigned to the detention division was arrested in Butts County, Georgia on August 2, 2011.

Haralson stated that his agency was notified at approximately 6:15 yesterday that Albert Bill Pole, age 63, had been arrested in an undercover sting.

Haralson said Crisp County Sheriff's office is working with Butts County Law Enforcement and the GBI in the continuation of this investigation. Pole, who had retired from the Department of Public Safety, has been employed part time with Crisp County for several years.

Sheriff Haralson stated that Mr. Pole has been dismissed from the Crisp County Sheriff's office and that this type of behavior will not be tolerated or condoned.

Pole has been charged with attempting to commit child molestation.


HI - Two Teens Still on Run from Juvenile Sex-Offender Treatment Facility

Original Article

08/02/2011

By Ron Mizutani

Honolulu Police continue to search for two teenage boys who escaped from a juvenile sex-offender treatment facility in Pearl City Sunday night. The incident has re-ignited concerns about the treatment center which is a quarter mile away from two schools.

It's known to Pearl City residents as Benchmark, a 10-bed facility on the Waimano Training School and Hospital grounds that treats teenage boys 12-through-18 who aren't classified as sexual predators or violent sexual offenders but have had sexual relations with family members. The teens are ordered by the court to receive residential treatment; most are there for 1-to-2 years.

"The facility is secure, it's surrounded by a 10-foot fence," said Janice Okubo of the State Health Department. "There's an additional three-feet of fencing over that 10 feet. There's also surveillance cameras inside and outside of the facility. The last time we had a run-away from the facility was back in 2005."
- Secure?  Really?  Then how did two teens escape?

That changed at 7-30 Sunday night when two teens, a 14-year-old and a 15-year-old escaped from the facility during a fire alarm.

"They assured us that none of this would happen and should anybody escape we would be the first line that they would inform," said Pearl City resident Myrna Sugiyama.

"I guess we just have to keep our door locked again and just make sure everything is secure," said Lois Miyashiro.

Miyashiro and Sugiyama were part of a group that strongly opposed the facility in 2000 when it first opened. Many were concerned that teenage sex-offenders who escaped would be a threat to children at nearby Momilani Elementary School and Pearl City High School.

"We brought up all the reasons why it shouldn't be there the high school is right there, the elementary school is right there and so at that point we told them we didn't want it," said Miyashiro.

"In fact they said they wouldn't be in your backyard they'll be way far away from the facility but then we said well they have to come through our neighborhood don't they," said Sugiyama.

The facility is run by Benchmark, one of the largest mental health agencies in the U.S. Benchmark is contracted by the state. Its executive director declined to comment. The state is investigating.

"There are many success stories and these kids are able to stay in the community and to get better in their own communities and be close to their family and get the best kind of treatment that the could possible have in Hawaii," said Okubo.

In the meantime the teenagers remain on the run. The state says because of confidentiality issues, a description of the minors cannot be given.


CT - Montville ends legal fight against sex-offender treatment site

Original Article

08/02/2011

By Jeffrey A. Johnson

Council votes 5-1 to end lawsuit against state filed to prevent construction

Montville - The fight is over.

The Town Council on Monday night voted 5-1 to end a lawsuit against the state that was aimed at halting construction of a residential sex-offender treatment facility planned for the grounds of the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center.

The council approved a draft of an agreement with the state Department of Correction that details safety guidelines for the sex-offender facility. The two parties have spent several weeks working on the agreement, which will now go to the attorney general's office for final approval.

Monday's vote essentially ended a dispute that has lasted the better part of two years and has cost the town approximately $91,000 in legal fees, Mayor Joseph Jaskiewicz said.

Town councilors did not comment on the draft per the advice of Michael P. Carey, the attorney representing the town. Jaskiewicz said a meeting could be held next week to make the details of the agreement public.

Town Councilor Ellen Hillman was the lone opposing vote.

The town has made several efforts to halt construction of the facility. It recently pursued an appeal after a judge ruled against the town in an initial lawsuit. Legislators also unsuccessfully proposed legislation that would have forced the state to change the process it used in selecting Montville as the site for the facility.

The 24-bed sex-offender facility will be operated by Middletown-based The Connection Inc. In a meeting earlier this year with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's chief of staff Tim Bannon and DOC Commissioner Leo C. Arnone, Jaskiewicz and town councilors were assured of the safety measures the state intends to adhere to.

For instance, Arnone said the facility would not house "the worst" offenders, but rather offenders on probation "with a chance to correct their future behavior." Offenders would enter a program for three to six months.

Arnone also said at the time that offenders would not be allowed to enter the Montville community except in the case of a medical emergency. They would be under constant supervision by a minimum of three staff members, tested for drugs and alcohol and returned to their communities of origin once they completed the program.

Councilor Gary Murphy abstained from Monday's vote citing his employment with the DOC.


AK - Is Sullivan mayor only for 'self-worthy'?

Original Article

08/02/2011

By ELISE PATKOTAK

Here's the quote that seems to have caught a lot of people's attention. Mayor Sullivan uttered it concerning the gentleman sitting on the sidewalk across from City Hall protesting the mayor's actions regarding our homeless population. " 'I try to limit my discussion with first-degree sex offenders,' he told reporters. Sullivan said the man would have to 'clean up and make himself presentable as a good self-worthy human being would do,' as well as filling out a form in the mayor's office if he wants to have a legitimate meeting." Wow. I mean, I get the sex offender part. But that crack about self-worthy?

It caused me to flash back to one of my earlier memories of life in Alaska. It was the late 1970s and I was on a Wien plane from Barrow to Anchorage with the head of the North Slope Borough's health board, an amazing lady named Mary Edwardsen. As always, the flight stopped to pick people up in Fairbanks.

When the flight resumed, I noticed a man making his way to the bathroom. As he walked down the aisle he greeted people in just about every row. Since this flight had stopped in Prudhoe Bay prior to Barrow, I assumed the man was one of the pipeline workers on his way out to R&R. He looked familiar, though, and I kept wondering if I'd met him through my work with the borough health department, especially when I noticed he stopped to chat with Mary who was sitting a few rows ahead of me.

The plane arrived in Anchorage and this gentleman stood in line with the rest of us to pick up his baggage and carry it out to the curb. As he passed us, I nudged Mary and asked her who he was and why did he look so familiar. She smiled and allowed as how that was Gov. Hammond.

That's how I think about Alaska politicians -- accessible to everyone and not too good for anyone. Mayor Sullivan seems to want to break that mold by introducing a sense of elitism into our elected officials that I find disturbing. After all, Alaska is a wide and diverse state in which not everyone has access to running water and flush toilets, clean clothes and store bought food. So some Alaskans might just be a tad messier than others. I've always reveled in the idea that we are not only this diverse but embrace the diversity that includes people from every walk of life, every income level, every social stratum. I love that I can go to a statewide awards banquet for Alaska media and find people dressed in everything from long gowns to Carhartts. That, to me, is the essence of this state.

Mayor Dan Sullivan
So for Mayor Sullivan to claim that someone has to meet some sort of "self-worthy" standard in order to have the honor of being in his presences is more than a little disturbing. I mean, exactly who gets to decide what constitutes "self-worthy?"

Is it the smell that bothers the mayor? Then he'd better never go into bush Alaska because showers there tend to be few and far between and the aroma of some traditional foods might indicate to him that these people are not "self-worthy."

Is it that the guy is a sex offender? Every day both government and private sector workers are required to deal with all kinds of people in a civil, polite and respectful manner. Apparently, though, when you get to the top, that civility is replaced by what can only be called elitism at the thought that a commoner feels he has the right to address his government.

So much for that trite old poem on the Statue of Liberty about bringing the tired, the poor, the huddled masses to our shores. So much for the miracle of the loaves and fishes, which was apparently done without the requirement of showing evidence of being self-worthy before being fed. So much for Christ washing the feet of the poor without the poor first having to get a permit and a bath.
- The person speaks about Christ, but in his comments at the top "I get the sex offender part," it would seem to me like a hypocrite.

Can you imagine those words coming out of Wally Hickel's mouth? Jay Hammond? Arliss Sturgulewski? Tony Knowles? I can't. And I hope we never hear them coming out of the mouth of an Alaska politician again.


MO - New Missouri Law Bans 'Exclusive' Online Contact Between Teachers, Students

Original Article

Since most sex crimes are committed by someone the victim knows, usually a parent, are we going to also ban parents from talking with their own kids on Facebook and other social networks?

08/02/2011

By Joshua Rhett Miller

A controversial new law in Missouri designed to protect students from sexual misconduct bans direct contact between educators and students on social networking websites, but has prompted criticism from those who say it goes too far in its effort to clearly define digital boundaries.

Senate Bill 54 (PDF), also known as the "Amy Hestir Student Protection Act," was signed into law on July 14 by Gov. Jay Nixon.
- STOP HUMANIZING BILLS BY NAMING THEM AFTER SOMEONE!  We should make a law against naming laws after people.

The law requires state school districts to report allegations of sexual abuse to authorities within 24 hours, and holds those districts liable if they fail to disclose suspected or known abuse by past employees.

It also bans registered sex offenders from serving on local school boards and strengthens criminal background checks on school bus drivers.

But one provision of the bill -- section 160.069 -- also prohibits teachers in elementary, middle or high schools from establishing, maintaining or using a "work-related website unless it is available to school administrators and the child's legal custodian, physical custodian, or legal guardian," effective Jan. 1.

"Teachers also cannot have a nonwork-related website that allows exclusive access with a current or former student," the new law reads.

The new law is believed to be the first of its kind nationwide. Other states and school districts have only recently formed guidelines and policies on student-teacher online interaction.

In Massachusetts, some districts have adopted a model by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees that bans "improper fraternization" via Internet and telephone.

Elsewhere, teachers in several districts in Toledo, Ohio, have been told they can communicate with students when it directly relates to school matters. But some teachers say Missouri's approach, although well-intended, is heavy-handed and will ultimately hurt students by restricting access to educators.

"Throwing the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to social networking is bad policy," said Todd Fuller, spokesman for the Missouri State Teachers Association, which represents 44,000 members statewide. "There's so much gray area in this bill that it's difficult for us to define them," Fuller said.
- The same applies with making blanket laws that kick ex-sex offenders off social networks as well.

MSTA officials have recently received calls from educators on an "hourly" basis regarding the provision. Some callers have inquired about potential ramifications of the social networking clause, while others are concerned about breaking the new law unwittingly.

"What happens if I use a third-party website to communicate with students?" Fuller said, mimicking an educator. "That's not public. There are lots of elements beyond Facebook that are part of social networking that I don't think this bill takes into account."

State Sen. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, sponsor of the bill, told FoxNews.com that the social networking provision bans solely "exclusive access" between a teacher and a student.

"We are in no way trying to stop communication between educators and students," Cunningham said Monday. "We are allowing school districts to form their own policy with this and to police themselves. The social media aspect comes in because we're finding that it's an early pathway to sexual misconduct."
- Sure you are, that is exactly what this law does, prevents teachers talking with their students, because of the mass hysteria surrounding the sex offender moral panic.  Also, you said it's a "pathway to sexual misconduct," but, do you have any proof to back that up, or do you just want us to take you at your word?

The bulk of the legislation, which was approved unanimously by the state's Senate on April 7, will take effect on Aug. 28 -- just in time for the new school year.

Districts will have several additional months to implement the social-networking aspect of the new law. "Frankly, a teacher that has nothing to hide will be real pleased by this, because it's going to show their good work," Cunningham said. "A good teacher is going to like this."
- I am so sick and tired of hearing the "if you have nothing to hide," argument.  It's not about having something to hide, it's about free speech and privacy, and I guess for those who oppose the law, are bad people?  Of course they are not, but that is what this person is saying.

Randy Turner, a communication arts teacher at East Middle School in Joplin, Mo., told FoxNews.com he's fearful districts will ban usage of social-networking sites altogether to eradicate any potential gray areas.

"I understand people have concerns about who their children are having as friends on Facebook, but I know many teachers who have used Facebook, and all of them have been professional," Turner said. "We're not getting on there to be pals. It's a professional service."
- It's nothing more than Minority Report, trying to predict the future.  They apparently think most people are out to hunt for kids to molest.  Of course that is not true, but that is what this appears to me.  When the draconian laws and hysteria affect many more, then these laws will be shot down, and so should the same for ex-sex offenders.

Turner said he's also worried that the new law removes an important "avenue" for contact between teachers and students -- both during times of emergency and during the everyday grind of homework. "A student having difficulty with a classroom assignment probably won't want to advertise on Facebook that he or she is having a problem with it," he said.

Under the new law, Turner said teachers wouldn't be able to respond directly to seemingly innocuous questions like whether school will be in session tomorrow or to directly disseminate information during times of emergency. Turner said he used Facebook extensively in May following the tornado that killed at least 116 people in Joplin.

In a statement to FoxNews.com, Facebook officials said a growing number of teachers everyday use social networks as a "valuable educational tool" to answer homework questions or to identify bullying. "It is imperative that this law does not limit schools' and teachers' ability to use technology in this way to educate Missouri's students, and we are working with the education and legal communities to investigate," spokesman Tucker Bounds wrote in an email to FoxNews.com.

Meanwhile, Robert Sigrist, assistant principal at Central High School in St. Joseph, Mo., said Cunningham's primary intention with the new law was to ensure that "inappropriate communication" does not take place between teachers and students online.

"This is an evolving thing," he told FoxNews.com. "It still has to be worked out as to what is acceptable. This is new technology, especially for people who don't tweet and aren't on Facebook, so there's always concern for the unknown."


NY - Seeking Arrangement: College Students Using 'Sugar Daddies' To Pay Off Loan Debt

Original Article

I wonder how many of these women have slept with underage kids, from fathers bringing their sons in, as a "right of passage," to pay for school?

07/31/2011

NEW YORK -- On a Sunday morning in late May, Taylor left her Harlem apartment and boarded a train for Greenwich, Conn. She planned on spending the day with a man she had met online, but not in person.

Taylor, a 22-year-old student at Hunter College, had confided in her roommate about the trip and they agreed to swap text messages during the day to make sure she was safe.

Once in Greenwich, a man who appeared significantly older than his advertised age of 42 greeted Taylor at the train station and then drove her to the largest house she had ever seen. He changed into his swimming trunks, she put on a skimpy bathing suit, and then, by the side of his pool, she rubbed sunscreen into the folds of his sagging back -- bracing herself to endure an afternoon of sex with someone she suspected was actually about 30 years her senior.

Taylor doubted that her client could relate to someone who had grown up black and poor in the South Bronx. While he summered on Martha's Vineyard, she'd likely pass another July and August working retail in Times Square.

A love match it wasn't. But then again, this was no ordinary date.

A month prior, faced with about $15,000 in unpaid tuition and overdue bills, Taylor and her roommate typed "tuition," "debt," and "money for school" into Google. A website called SeekingArrangement.com popped up. Intrigued by the promise of what the site billed as a "college tuition sugar daddy," Taylor created a "sugar baby" profile and eventually connected with the man from Greenwich. ("Taylor" is the pseudonym she uses with men she meets online. Neither she nor any of the other women interviewed for this article permitted their real names be used.)

In her profile on the site, Taylor describes herself as "a full-time college student studying psychology and looking to meet someone to help pay the bills." Photos on the site show her in revealing outfits, a mane of caramel-colored hair framing her face. But unlike other dating sites, where a user might also list preferred hobbies or desired traits, Taylor instead indicates preferences for a "sugar daddy" and an "arrangement" in the range of $1,000 to $3,000 a month.

Saddled with piles of student debt and a job-scarce, lackluster economy, current college students and recent graduates are selling (prostituting) themselves to pursue a diploma or pay down their loans. An increasing number, according to the the owners of websites that broker such hook-ups, have taken to the web in search of online suitors or wealthy benefactors who, in exchange for sex, companionship, or both, might help with the bills.

The past few years have taken an especially brutal toll on the plans and expectations of 20-somethings. As unemployment rates tick steadily higher, starting salaries have plummeted. Meanwhile, according to Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, a professor of psychology at Clark University, about 85 percent of the class of 2011 will likely move back in with their parents during some period of their post-college years, compared with 40 percent a decade ago.

Besides moving back home, many 20-somethings are beginning their adult lives shouldering substantial amounts of student loan debt. According to Mark Kantrowitz, who publishes the financial aid websites Fastweb.com and Finaid.org, while the average 2011 graduate finished school with about $27,200 in debt, many are straining to pay off significantly greater loans.

Enter the sugar daddy, sugar baby phenomenon. This particular dynamic preceded the economic meltdown, of course. Rich guys well past their prime have been plunking down money for thousands of years in search of a tryst or something more with women half their age -- and women, willingly or not, have made themselves available. With the whole process going digital, women passing through a system of higher education that fosters indebtedness are using the anonymity of the web to sell their wares and pay down their college loans.

"Over the past few years, the number of college students using our site has exploded," says Brandon Wade, the 41-year-old founder of Seeking Arrangement. Of the site's approximately 800,000 members, Wade estimates that 35 percent are students. "College students are one of the biggest segments of our sugar babies and the numbers are growing all the time."

Wade identifies clients who might be students on his site by a .edu email address, which the site verifies before it will allow a profile to become active. Currently, 82,510 profiles on the site contain one or more of the following keywords: school, college, university, money for school, student debt, college debt, tuition or college expenses. Wade says 110,126 women and 25,363 men list "student" as their occupation.

Wade rewards students who use a .edu email address to register on Seeking Arrangement by automatically upgrading their free, basic membership to a premium membership, allowing them to send unlimited free messages and granting them exclusive access to the site's cadre of VIP sugar daddies. The site also includes a complimentary stamp on student profiles, certifying them as a "college sugar baby."

Wade sees his company as providing a unique service, a chance for "men and women living through tough economic times to afford college." He bristles at the notion that he's merely running a thinly veiled, digital bordello, choosing instead to describe his site as one that facilitates "mutually beneficial relationships."

Taylor doesn't explicitly refer to what she was doing in Greenwich as prostitution, but she now allows that her primary motivation was, indeed, money. She and her host ended up in his bedroom, where he peeled off her bikini.

"I just wanted to get it over and done with as quickly as possible," recalls Taylor, forcing out a nervous smile. "I just wanted to get out of that situation as safely as possible, pay off my debt, and move on."

While she and her host hadn't agreed to a set amount of money, on the drive back to the train station in Greenwich he handed her $350 in cash. She pocketed the envelope, seeing it as decent money for half a day's work. But once on the train and no longer worried for her safety, she started to agonize over what she had just done.

"I never thought it would come to this. I got on the train and I felt dirty. I mean, I had just gotten money for having sex," says Taylor, who never heard from the guy in Greenwich again. "I guess I accomplished what I needed to do. I needed the money for school. I just did what needed to be done."

And she's still doing what needs to be done. With tuition due in September to pay for her last semester of college, Taylor's back on the hunt for other, more lucrative online hookups.

WHO ARE THESE GUYS?

"It's a very expensive job," says Jack, a 70-year-old sugar daddy, who describes himself as a "humanitarian" interested in helping young women in financial need. Jack isn't the name that appears on his American Express black card, but an identity he uses when shopping online for companionship and sex.

Jack says he meets up twice a week with a young woman from Seeking Arrangement. He typically forks over about $500 a night -- and that's not including lavish dinners at Daniel or shopping excursions on Madison Avenue.

"Unlike a traditional escort service, I was surprised to find such an educated, smart population," says Jack, during cocktail hour recently at the Ritz-Carlton in Manhattan. He said he lives next door in a penthouse apartment overlooking Central Park South and pays $22,000 a month in rent.

In his profile on Seeking Arrangement, Jack describes himself as a 67-year-old with a bachelor's degree. Prior to retiring, the divorced Charleston, S.C., native says he founded four financial services companies. But after taking a big hit in the financial crisis and being forced to downsize, Jack says he had to part ways with his private jet due to what he describes as "reduced circumstances." On the site, he lists his annual income as $1 million and his net worth as something between $50 and $100 million.

While sugar babies can create profiles on Seeking Arrangement free of charge and a regular sugar daddy membership costs $50 each month, Jack pays $2,400 a year to belong to the Diamond Club. For a sugar daddy willing to pay up, the site says it verifies his identity, annual income, and net worth and then ensures his profile gets the most traction by continually allowing it to pop up in the top tier of search results.

Educated, debt-ridden 20-somethings happen to be an age demographic that intersects nicely with Jack's preferences. "I only go out with girls 25 and under," says Jack, whose thick head of white hair and bushy eyebrows form a halo around a red, flushed face. "But I can't walk into a bar and go up to a 25-year-old. They'd think I'm a pervert. So, this is how I go about meeting them."

As he continues, he repeatedly glances over his shoulder to make sure no one is listening.

"Most of these young women have debt from school," says Jack, who finds most young women also carry an average of $8,000 in credit-card debt. "I guess I like the college girls more because I think of their student debt as good debt. At least it seems like I'm helping them out, like I'm helping them to get a better life."

"By the way, how old are you?" he asks, inching closer.

"Older than 25," I respond.



CA - Domingos Jose Oliveira sentenced for posting 'Wanted Dead or Alive' signs

Domingos Jose Oliveira
Original Article

08/02/2011

A 49-year-old Spring Valley man has been sentenced to more than seven years in prison for hanging "wanted dead or alive" posters offering a $3,000 reward for the death of his daughter's boyfriend.

Domingos Jose Oliveira was convicted of solicitation of murder and a hate crime. His anger was directed at his daughter's 33-year-old boyfriend, a registered sex offender. His daughter is 20 years old.

Oliveira placed posters around Grossmont College, offering the reward "for the body" of the boyfriend, a student at the college.

Oliveira was sentenced Monday to seven years and four months in prison by San Diego Superior Court Judge William McGrath.


FL - He says he said no to sex, now says no to child support

Original Article

07/31/2011

By Leonora LaPeter Anton

Here's what's certain about the Hudson High School romance of [male name withheld] and [female name withheld]:

They dated, on and off, for three years.

On Jan. 6, 2006, when he was still 17 and she was 18, they had sex in the back seat of a car and made a baby she named Joshua.

A paternity test confirmed [male name withheld] was the father.

[male name withheld] was not present at Joshua's birth.

He did not contribute anything — not time, not money — to Joshua's care.

[female name withheld] never asked [male name withheld] for help.

In March 2009, [male name withheld] got a letter from the state of Michigan. [female name withheld] had moved there and gone on welfare and Michigan wanted [male name withheld] to start paying child support.

[male name withheld] hired a lawyer. He said he shouldn't have to pay child support because he never wanted the baby.

[female name withheld], he said, raped him.

Around the country there are plenty of cases of underage boys who got a woman pregnant and then tried to avoid paying child support. The 15-year-old in California who was seduced by the 34-year-old mom next door. The 13-year-old boy in Kansas who had sex with his 17-year-old baby­sitter. The 15-year-old boy in Florida who impregnated a 20-year-old.

Under a strict interpretation of the law, these boys, by virtue of their age, were raped. But family courts have seen these incidents for what they were: consensual sexual encounters. And as a result, they have ordered the boys to pay child support.
- It's consensual sex if it's a male who is younger, but flip the roles, and it's rape?  That is a double standard, and one that needs to stop.

The baby is the innocent one, judges say. One court put it this way: If the sex was voluntary, then the parenthood is also.

[male name withheld] says his case is different. He's not fighting the child support because he was underage. He's fighting, he says, because he said "no" to the sex.

[female name withheld] denies that she forced him to have sex, and she has not been charged with any crime. But [male name withheld]' argument in the child support case has the potential to make case law in Florida. It rests on a simple question:

Do you believe him?



[female name withheld] remembers the exact date she first met him in the halls of Hudson High School. It was Aug. 25, 2003, her freshman year.

"You don't know it yet, but you are my future boyfriend," she said to him a day later.

The following morning, he was waiting for her at her bus and by lunch time, they were inseparable.

[male name withheld] had never had a girlfriend before. He wore glasses and was kind of geeky. She was outgoing and had auburn hair and hazel eyes. His world shrank. She was it.

Their relationship was tumultuous. They fought, broke up and always reconnected. In between, she dated other boys.

They joined the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps at their high school. They talked about one day getting married, having kids. They first had sex in early May 2005 in the back seat of his 1997 Mazda 626. He was 17, she was 17.

She got pregnant later that year, but miscarried two months later. She remembers the hospital, [male name withheld] standing there. He looked pale, scared.



What happened in the weeks after the miscarriage, and specifically on the night of Jan. 6, 2006, is where the couple's stories begin to diverge. [male name withheld] told his version at a child support hearing in Brooksville in 2010. [female name withheld] was not present.

[male name withheld] testified he wasn't ready to be a father. And the doctor told them [female name withheld] would now be particularly fertile, so they decided to avoid sex.

On Jan. 6, 2006, [female name withheld] and [male name withheld] fought and she broke up with him again. He was in love, he said, and he begged her not to leave him. So she invited him to her church youth group meeting that night.

Their friends drove, but the church was closed, so they headed to Hudson Beach in Pasco County. The other couple went for a walk.

[male name withheld] and [female name withheld] sat in the back seat. He said he was looking out the window at the smooth water when she got on top of him and said: "You know you want me."

The passenger seat in front of him was tilted back at a 45-degree angle. She used one arm to pin him down, he said, the other to unzip his pants. At the time, he said, he was 5-foot-7 and 150 pounds and she was heavier.

"At any time do you make a statement to her about you will not have sexual intercourse with her?" asked his lawyer, Kerry O'Connor, at the hearing.

"I told her, 'No, I do not want this.' And that's when she said, 'It's going to happen.' "

"And did you specifically use the word 'no'? "

"Absolutely . . . several times."

He said he tried to push [female name withheld] off. He said he tried to pull the door handle to open the car door. He said she slammed her hand over the lock. He said it was over pretty fast.

He got out of the car, sat on the tailgate with his head in his hands. Their friends returned and he said nothing. They dropped him at his house.

Did you go to the police immediately? his lawyer asked.

"No, I did not," he responded. [male name withheld] said he called the Sheriff's Office a few weeks later and spoke to a deputy. The deputy seemed to doubt him but said he would follow up. He never did and neither did [male name withheld].

"At this point, I was a senior in high school. I didn't want to lose respect amongst friends. I was in a respected position in JROTC. I didn't want to lose that. I didn't want any kind of unwanted attention drawn to me."



In February 2006, [male name withheld] said, he and [female name withheld] sat down on the soft brown couch in the living room of his parents' home in Brooksville.

They told his parents that [female name withheld] was pregnant.

How did this happen? his mother asked. The doctor had told them to be careful. They had agreed to refrain from sex.

[male name withheld], his mother and his father all say that at that moment, [female name withheld] admitted that she forced [male name withheld] to have sex against his will.

"I made him," [mother name withheld] recalls her saying.

[male name withheld]' dad, [dad name withheld], was initially skeptical, but he didn't say anything.

"How does a girl rape a guy? I just couldn't see that," he said in a recent interview.

Experts say it is physically possible for a man to be raped by a woman, or, put another way, to get an erection without wanting to have sex.

"Teenagers, in particular, often have an uncontrollable genital response," says Debby Herbenick, a research scientist in sexual health at Indiana University and author of Because It Feels Good.

"Many men, for example, recall getting erections when they felt scared, angry, or even nervous — like having to go up to the chalkboard to write out a math problem," she said. "And certainly seeing someone naked could lead them to get an erection."

There are statutes addressing child support if a man rapes a woman, said O'Connor, [male name withheld]' lawyer. But not if a woman rapes a man.

Was it fair for the court to order the victim of a crime to compensate the perpetrator? O'Connor asked.

"I know society does not believe, I think overwhelmingly, that a man can be the subject of an involuntary sexual battery," she said. "And that is unfortunate because my client is."



[female name withheld]'s Facebook page says she is a proud mother of two. A Christian who likes to go to church. A community college student who hopes to be a special education teacher.

In a phone interview from her home in Michigan, [female name withheld], now 23, pregnant and engaged to another man, acknowledges a lot of things.

That she got on top of [male name withheld] in the back seat of the car and initiated sex that night.

That [male name withheld] stopped them in the middle and raised questions about whether they should continue. "I didn't get off him and he didn't push me off."

They remained together, [female name withheld] said, for about a month afterward, until [male name withheld] discovered that [female name withheld] had had sex with another guy that same night. They didn't see each other much after that.

In instant messages the day [male name withheld] was served with child support papers more than two years ago, he told her he was afraid he would go to jail because he couldn't afford child support.

[female name withheld]: im sorry, but theres nothing i can do. You helped make the kid, now you have to help take care of it.

[male name withheld]: excuse me? u know as well as i do that you forced yourself on me that night

[male name withheld]: and you know i said no

[female name withheld]: omg...

[male name withheld]: you admitted it right in front of my parents

[female name withheld]: ok, no i didn't

[female name withheld] said she didn't go after child support because she was hoping that one day [male name withheld] would want something to do with Joshua, who is now 4.

"[male name withheld] would be very proud of how smart he is," she said.

[female name withheld] said she still cares about [male name withheld].

"He was my first love," she said, "and I'm always going to care about him."

But she said she's disappointed.

"If for some reason they ever found me guilty of raping him, my whole career would be completely destroyed, I'd be put in jail and the children would go in foster care," she said. "To destroy my entire family for the simple thing that he didn't want to pay child support, that's a very selfish thing to do."



Two months ago, [male name withheld], now 23, was dealt a setback. His request to dismiss the child support case was denied.

In rejecting the claim, a Hernando County hearing officer pointed to cases of the 13-year-old boy in Kansas, the 15-year-old in California, a 15-year-old in Florida — all of whom were underage when they had consensual sex with women who got pregnant.

"Like the other states, Florida has an interest in requiring parents to support their children," the hearing officer wrote.

Left open was the question of consent.

"The crux of the tension here," said Ruth Jones, a professor of law at McGeorge Law School in Sacramento, Calif., "is if . . . he is a victim of forcible rape, is that sufficient to alleviate him from the responsibility of child support?"

There is a case that deals with this. It's not exactly like [male name withheld]' case, but similar. It involves a 34-year-old man from Alabama who passed out at a party. A woman had sex with him while he was unconscious and she got pregnant. The court ordered him to pay child support.

[male name withheld] earns $21,000 a year working with his dad's water conditioning company.

This past week, he married another woman who has two kids.

The amount of child support he owes has never been calculated. But he said he has spent about $5,000 to fight it.

He had to decide recently if he wanted to appeal the case to the 5th District Court of Appeal. He decided to keep going, he said, because he feels like he's being punished for something [female name withheld] did.

He says he knows it sounds harsh, but he doesn't want anything to do with Joshua. Ever.

"He was the result of something traumatic in my life, and I don't think I could bring myself to be a parent," [male name withheld] said. "It's not fair to him. It's not his fault."


OK - Could Oklahoma Sex Offenders Fall Of Registry List?

Original Article

You can see the video at the link above as well.

08/02/2011

Oklahoma Supreme Court Set To Consider 2007 Ruling

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Oklahoma Supreme Court is considering a 2007 law that might be unconstitutional, a possible ruling that could take sex offenders off the registration list.

Eyewitness News 5's Wendell Edwards reported Monday night that the law, passed in 2007, established three levels of sex offender -- with Level 3 resulting in having to register as a sex offender for life.

However, for sex offenders convicted prior to 2007, a Supreme Court decision ruling the law unconstitutional could mean hundreds of sex offenders fall off the list.
- As they should. Any additional rules and regulations added to a person, after they have been convicted and served their time, is an ex post facto law, which is unconstitutional.

Eyewitness News 5 talked to an offender, who asked that KOCO keep his identity secret. He wanted to share his fight to have his name removed.

"I was supposed to register for five years," he said. "I would really like to be off this list. This affects all your life. Everyday there's something that this affects."

And the law might be on his side.
- The law isn't, but he Constitution is!

The case in front of the Oklahoma Supreme Court involves [name withheld], a Level 3 offender who got a deferred sentence in Texas in 1998. He now lives in Pawnee County.

[name withheld] was about to have his name taken off the registry list when the Oklahoma Legislature changed the law, forcing [name withheld] to register for life even though [name withheld] had completed his probation.

"The problem is that you simply can't change the rules in the middle of the game, and that's what they've done," said attorney David Slane.

Two different courts, acting as one voice, ruled already on two similar cases -- and the offenders won.

In October 2010, the Court of Criminal Appeals -- the highest court for criminal cases -- ruled for a registered offender from Roger Mills County who had been charged with "failure to register."

In June, the Court of Civil Appeals ruled in favor of a Bethany offender who was already off the registry list but who had been ordered to move away from a school.

In each case, the courts ruled that sex offender laws could not be applied retroactively.

Oklahoma City Police Lt. Pete Walker oversees the city's sex offender registration department. He said it's tough enough already to keep track of sex offenders -- and he'd be concerned if several fell off the list suddenly.
- Why?  Then your job would be easier, and people would not have their rights trampled on!

Out of 1,300 registered offenders in Oklahoma City, 859 are Level 3 offenders.


IA - Bill would establish military sexual predator database

Original Article

Yet one more law humanized by naming it after someone. And also, why do we need another registry, why not use the existing database, or place all criminals on one massive database?

08/02/2011

By Rekha Basu

Three years ago, Jesse James, of Dubuque, Iowa, got a call from his daughter, Holley, 24, in Fort Bragg, N.C., where she was stationed as an Army nurse. She was planning to leave her year-old marriage to John Wimunc, a 23-year-old Marine corporal at Camp Lejeune. She said she was tired of the abuse. She expected a nasty breakup.

James, who retired from a military career and now is dean of admissions at the University of Dubuque, advised his daughter to change the locks on her apartment and take some clothes to a friends' place. He now wishes he had insisted she take leave and come home -- or had flown there.

He understood the term "nasty breakup" in a benign way: "screaming at each other, some harassment." He never imagined that five days later, his daughter would be dead.

Holley was shot in the head by Wimunc, who shouldn't even have been allowed off the base that night to make the two-hour drive. After numerous complaints by his wife, he'd been placed on unsupervised restriction, her father said. With a fellow Marine as an accomplice, he then dumped her body in a wooded area and set it afire. Wimunc later confessed to murder and was sentenced in fall 2010 to life in prison.

James has since learned many lessons: about the heightened risks to battered women when they try to leave, about the shame that often prevents their disclosing the extent of their abuse and about signs to watch for.

He also has learned that an order to stay away means nothing unless someone is enforcing it. So he is glad to see his daughter's life honored in a congressional bill bearing her name. Introduced this spring by Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, the Holley Lynn James Act is intended to provide military accountability for the handling of sexual assault and domestic violence cases. It takes the authority for handling such cases against military members away from the usual chain of command and places it with the inspector general for policy and oversight -- a third party not serving in a combat zone.

Holley had expressed frustration with the Marine Corps' lack of response to her appeals for help restraining her husband, her father said. She would call her parents and say, "He's supposed to be on restriction, and he's standing outside screaming at me." One time, James heard the screaming and called the base duty officer.

As it now works, when someone in the military commits an offense, the first responders are leaders of that unit, "and often they make the decision about what's going to happen or not happen," James said. "They're not attorneys, and in some cases, they're not unbiased."

Look at it this way: The accused might be your best soldier. You've been in combat together. "Someone's spouse comes along and says they did these things, and you can't believe it."

It's not an indictment of the officers, James said. But trained independent investigators are necessary, especially since civilian police do not have authority on military bases.

The bill says that in cases involving an accusation of rape, sexual assault, harassment or domestic violence, "the facts of the case shall be given precedence over the value to the service of the accused."

Braley, who serves on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said there were no repercussions against the commanding officers in the Wimunc case, and his bill would require consequences for failing to observe proper procedures.

He said domestic and sexual assault are rampant in the military, and the Department of Defense has said it has trouble addressing such cases. According to a 2010 Government Accountability Office report, 8,223 cases of domestic abuse were reported to military clinics in 2009. The defense department thinks those represent a small percent of actual incidents.

The Pentagon also thinks the 3,158 official reports of sexual assaults in the military in 2010 represent only 13 to 14 percent of actual cases. Braley said that's because of "pressure on women in the military."

In 2009, the military hospitals treated 65,264 patients in connection with "military sexual trauma" -- the official term for rape and sexual assault in the military -- 60 percent female and 40 percent male.

The bill also would require data collection and reporting of sexual assault and domestic abuse cases, along with training in prevention and response. It would establish a military sexual predator database, and it would require that an attorney be assigned to the accuser.

If an investigation revealed evidence against a military member, a court martial would be required. Braley also has introduced the Support for Survivors Act, which would require the military to preserve records connected with sexual assault and sexual harassment cases.

Given all the bitter partisanship in Congress, this bill might end up going nowhere this year.

"Congress is messy," James sighed. "Just because a bill should be passed doesn't mean it will be."

But he hopes it is. "This bill, or anything else, can't bring Holley home. But for one young lady out there to get the proper protection -- if that can be done in the name of Holley, that would be wonderful."

This isn't a partisan issue, and it is about supporting the troops. It's about preventing crimes and weeding out the criminals.