Tuesday, August 16, 2011
By Rich Pietras
Doylestown Township supervisors on Tuesday night voted unanimously to repeal the ordinance restricting where registered sex offenders can live.
The decision came at the recommendation of Jeffrey P. Garton, the township solicitor. After the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in May that an Allegheny County ordinance barring sex offenders from living in certain areas was invalid, Garton told the board that he wanted to protect Doylestown Township from any civil rights related lawsuits.
There was no discussion among the board and no public comment after the vote from the handful of people who attended the meeting.
Garton said after the meeting the decision to get rid of Ordinance 327 (PDF) was strictly precautionary and not in response to any particular situation.
Garton said he did not know of any other surrounding municipalities that have voted to do the same.
Doylestown Township police Chief Stephen White was on hand and said he wasn't worried about the ordinance being killed because Megan's Law added more protections about three years ago, including pictures and addresses of offenders.
Doylestown Township has had a sex offender residency restriction in place since 2005. The ordinance prohibited registered sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of playgrounds, parks, schools or other facilities related to children, according to township Manager Stephanie J. Mason.
Township police have never arrested or cited anyone for violation of the ordinance.
- Because most sex crimes occur in the victims own home and family, or friends homes, not at a school, park, etc.
According to Megan's Law website, Doylestown Township has 10 registered sex offenders not residing in Bucks County Prison. Six of those actually live in the township and four are listed only as being employed in Doylestown.
In the Allegheny County ruling, Chief Justice Ronald Castille said that ordinance was pre-empted by state laws that balance public safety and the goal of rehabilitation for sex offenders.
penal colonies" distant from families and old neighborhoods, Castille wrote in the unanimous opinion.
Castille also wrote: "The county's legislative effort in this instance undermines the General Assembly's policies of rehabilitation, reintegration, and diversion from prison of appropriate offenders and significantly interferes with the operation of the sentencing and parole codes."
Allegheny County passed its ordinance in 2007. A federal judge struck it down in 2009 and the county appealed. In a twist that lawyers described as unusual, a panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia sought the state court's input on whether state law pre-empted the county ordinance.
- Unusual? Really? What is unusual is these cruel and draconian laws, and people ignoring their oaths of office and the Constitution, that is what is unusual!
Nearly 11,000 sex offenders are registered with the state police under Pennsylvania Megan's Law.
So, I guess PJ cannot claim their "100% conviction" rate anymore, as if it was true in the first place?
By PAUL PAYNE
A former Watsonville sailor caught in a nationally televised Petaluma child-sex sting five years ago was acquitted Tuesday by a Sonoma County judge who said there was insufficient evidence of lewd intent in online chats the man had with a decoy posing as a 13-year-old girl.
In dismissing the case against [name withheld], 26, Judge Arthur Wick also criticized the tactics used by Dateline NBC's “To Catch a Predator” and agents from the group, Perverted Justice, whom he suggested lacked credibility and engaged in entrapment.
“The axiom actions speak louder than words clearly does not apply in this case,” Wick said from the bench.
[name withheld] and his parents were ecstatic. The ex-Navy cook was kicked out of the military and spent about a year in jail after his 2006 arrest on a charge of attempting lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor.
“I'm ready to move on with my life,” he said outside the courtroom. “Hopefully the service will take me back.”
His mother, [mother name withheld], said she and her pediatrician husband spent more than $100,000 defending their son. She vowed to sue NBC producers and called the sting a “huge waste” of tax money.
“They made my son's life a living hell for five years,” she said.
A Dateline spokeswoman, Amy Lynn, did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
Wick's ruling came as the prosecution rested following six days of trial testimony. Jurors were expected to be dismissed this afternoon.
[name withheld]'s attorney, Stephen Turer, argued his client's online chats were innocuous and that he intended nothing other than “cuddling and watching movies” when he rode a bus 110 miles north to meet the girl in Petaluma.
BIRMINGHAM (WIAT) - With nearly 700 million users on Facebook, the social networking giant has made it easier to get in contact with just about anyone.
But when used by the wrong people, it can be downright dangerous.
- Sure, and so can all the other billions of web sites. Are we banning people from those as well?
Newly signed laws in Illinois and Louisiana ban sex offenders from using all social networking sites.
Although it's an effort to protect children, some groups say these restrictions violate sex offenders rights.
“For the government to ban access to virtually all information on the Internet is overreaching, and opens the door to further government intrusion on everyone’s First Amendment rights," says Louisiana's ACLU Executive Director Marjorie Esman.
People like Alvin Carter agree.
"I don't think you can just go around just banning certain people because once you start with them it's just gonna be a matter of time before you move on to another group."
While it's not illegal in Alabama for a sex offender to have a Facebook account, a law signed in July requires them to register email addresses cell phone numbers and any identifiers they would use on the internet.
However not every offender obeys the law.
"If they're using false or different names or identifiers or things of that nature, then yes it can be very dangerous."
- The claims of false use of identifiers have not been proven, it is nothing more than a false premise to justify this law.
Sgt. Jacob Reach works with the Jefferson County Sex Offender Unit. He says it's important to stay on top of these offenders to ensure they don't strike again.
- You are assuming all sex offenders will re-offend, see statement below, which is false. Sex offenders have one of the lowest recidivism rates of all other criminal, and yet those with higher recidivism do not have an online registry for them!
"It is very well proven that these type of offenders have a tendency to reoffend. And the sole purpose of the law is to continue to protect the children and keep kids safe throughout the community," adds Reach.
- Well Mr. Reach, you are wrong. See the link above, which disproves your statement. You are just saying the same thing everyone else does, repeating sound-bites you've heard over the years, without proof. Do you care to show me the proof of your statement? I did above, if you care to read a little.
If the Sex Offender Unit finds out an offender has an account that hasn't been registered, they'll be hit with a Class C felony, and face court process and prosecution.
The management of high-risk or dangerous offenders is understandably a matter of significant public concern. The Probation Service carries out detailed assessments on offenders using an electronic process called OASys -- Offender Assessment System. This enables Probation staff to assess both the factors that contribute to an individual's offending and the potential level of harm that individual represents.
A small proportion of offenders may be assessed as potentially representing a high or very high risk of harm. Many of these offenders will remain in prison for an indefinite period. However, some will have received a fixed term of imprisonment. If they are considered unsuitable for Parole or other early relase they will be kept in custody until the end of the custodial part of their sentence and then be released into the community.
Offenders assessed as high risk and convicted of sexual/violent offences will normally be managed in the community through MAPPA (Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements). This process brings together a panel of staff from different agencies who share information and develop a joint management plan for the individual, taking into account a range of issues including victim and child safeguarding concerns.
These arrangements aim to reduce individual offenders potential risk of causing harm and demonstrate the effectiveness of partnership working to protect local communities.
IL - Sheriff (Raymond Martin) busted for growing pot, murder for hire and keeping sex offender fees in a briefcase
How many fees are being charged nationally, and how are they accounted for. Is there a system of checks and balances, so stuff like this doesn't happen? I doubt it!
By Jack Howser
GALLATIN CO - While the headline sounds somewhat suggestive, this post is literally about exactly what it states: a box in the Gallatin County sheriff’s office labeled “sex offender.”
Astute observers will note that the handwriting on the post-it affixed to said box belongs to none other than the former sheriff of Gallatin County, Raymond Martin….and this is the genesis of this little tale.
While we were in Gallatin last week, we happened to get into a conversation with a public official regarding some of the disparaging remarks made about the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Department and whether or not the deputies knew what Raymondo was into.
The more vociferous among GallCo residents have opined repeatedly, since Raymondo’s arrest May 19, 2009, that “everybody” at the SD “had to have known what Raymond was doing; hell, they were prolly all in on it at one time or another.” Many were so convinced of it, and so convincing when they spoke about it, that there for awhile, we were tending to believe them….after all, how could they have possibly NOT known what was going on in their own evidence lockers, their own office purchases, right under their own noses?
Yet we sat through hours upon hours of testimony last year at the federal trial, and we heard two of the deputies (Shannon Bradley and Bobby Glover) give testimony that, through their own words and the very delivery of them, were very, very conclusive: Raymondo had an iron hold over operations in that office, and it was highly likely that while deputies had some suspicion of him, they had no way of proving anything by looking into it themselves: their sheriff had total control over keys, locks, items, EVERYTHING. That was the way it was done, and he wasn’t gonna let it go down any other way.
Bradley also found some interesting items right there in the office, however….one of these being the sex offender box.
The story as it was related to us went that Bradley was inventorying things and opened the box, labeled in Raymondo’s own handwriting, which inside held a little more than $100 cash.
He walked across the hall to Treasurer Pat McGuire’s office and asked her what to do with the money. McGuire said she had no idea; she’d never seen the box or any cash from it before.
So McGuire called the state, and they advised her that it was fees posted by registered sex offenders in Gallatin: $10 per offender per year. Since Gallatin is so small (and seems to be so lacking in anyone resembling a prosecutor for so many years), they didn’t have a whole lot of sex offenders paying such a fee, and the money in the box appeared to represent every fee ever posted by the local offenders, at least, perhaps, over the past couple of years.
So McGuire was directed to set up a bank account into which that money was to be deposited, and Gallatin was to keep half, while the state was to be disbursed the other half, and that mystery of the box was solved.
However, Bradley’s actions sort of fly in the face of those who want to disparage his honesty and integrity.
He didn’t have to turn over that box or the cash in it. Apparently, no one else in the world knew it was there except Raymondo, and no one else knew he was taking in fees except the sex offenders. And apparently, Raymondo had no intention of using the money that was in it like it was supposed to have been used, especially if Ms. McGuire had never been apprised of the situation. So that was one of those things that Bradley could have just ‘let slide’ and maybe bought himself some choice steaks next time he was having a cookout instead of settling for drumsticks. But he didn’t. He turned it over, the thought never occurring to him to do anything different with it.
We’ve gotta wonder how many years of this fee thing Raymondo did go out and buy steaks with (or maybe just more pot seeds). But this little anecdote, to us and to the person who related it to us, goes a long way to show that Gallatin really is in good hands with Shannon Bradley in the office of sheriff. Good job, Shannon. And thanks to the kind gentleman who shared this tale with us.
- Raymond Martin, Gallatin County Sheriff, Accused Of Dealing Drugs While On Duty
- MURDER FOR HIRE: RAID AT GALLATIN CO. SHERIFF RAYMOND MARTIN’S HOME
A federal appeals panel (PDF) in Washington today rejected an argument that the District of Columbia's sex-offender registry is an unconstitutional example of ex post facto punishment.
The challenge to the registry was brought by [name withheld], who according to the panel's opinion is required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. A jury convicted [name withheld] in 1988 of attempted rape and other charges. While he was serving his sentence, the D.C. Council in 2000 passed its Sex Offender Registration Act.
[name withheld] brought the case pro se. U.S. District Judge Richard Roberts granted motions by the District government and the U.S. Justice Department to dismiss the case. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit appointed a student and professor from the University of Georgia School of Law to argue for [name withheld] as amicus.
The decision today from a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit says the D.C. registry should be viewed as a civil system of regulation and not as an additional criminal penalty. The opinion notes, for example, that the registry is housed in an administrative agency, not in a court office or in an agency charged with carrying out punishment.
“We see no reason to think that the Council’s aim with [the registration act] was different from that of the many other legislatures that have passed similar laws,” Judge Thomas Griffith wrote for the unanimous panel. Judges Merrick Garland and Karen Henderson joined the opinion (PDF).
Griffith wrote that [name withheld] failed to support his other claims, including violations of the Fifth and Eighth amendments.
Ariel Levinson-Waldman, senior counsel to D.C. Attorney General Irvin Nathan, wrote in an e-mail today: “We are pleased that the court of appeals confirmed the constitutional validity of the Council’s regulatory law dealing with this important issue.”
A message left with Erica Hashimoto, a University of Georgia associate professor who handled amicus briefing in the case, was not immediately returned today.
Well, when the police do not tell registrants, and since most people do not monitor the laws 24/7, how do you expect them to know about the law? The police should be telling them, but they don't.
By Amanda Thomas
Despite changes in the state's sex offender law that allows offenders to petition a superior court for release from registration requirements and any residency or employment restrictions, only three in Carroll County have petitioned to be removed.
Carroll County Sheriff's Department Capt. Shane Taylor said there are 255 registered offenders who live in Carroll County.
Georgia's sex offender laws were revised following challenges from civil liberties groups and losing court battles, according to the Associated Press. Georgia's law failed because it cast too wide a net, targeting offenders who had committed crimes years before the strict law was inacted in 2006. The law banned all sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of schools, parks and other places where children congregate.
HB 571 (PDF) became effective on May 21, 2010, and allows registered sex offenders who committed their offenses before June 4, 2003, to live wherever they choose. The new law also deletes a requirement that persons on the registry must provide their email addresses, user names and user passwords to law enforcement officials as part of the required registration information.
Most sex offenders who committed their crimes after June 4, 2003, are subject to the 1,000 feet living and work restrictions. The new law also allows sex offenders to petition a superior court for release from registration requirements and any residency or employment restrictions. But, in most cases, the person must have completed all prison, parole, supervised release and probation for the offense which required registration.
- Read the 42-1-19 code to see the exact wording, don't rely on the media or politicians to tell you what it says.
Carroll County Sheriff's officials locate those on the list each month to verify addresses and other information.
"It's not a law requirement," Taylor said. "It's just something that our sheriff's office does."
Investigator Lee Kahlenbeck is responsible for maintaining the county's sex offender registry. A person who has been convicted must register with the sheriff's office within 10 days of moving to the county. Sex offenders are required to verify their information every 90 days and remain on the registry for life unless they petition to be removed.
Taylor believes that some sex offenders may not be taking advantage of the law simply because they don't know about it, or they could be hindered by the expense of getting an attorney and petitioning the court.
After the judge makes the ruling, the court decision will be sent to the DCSO, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the state Department of Corrections, Wilson said.
"Some (sex offenders) may not have paid attention to the new law or they are just not fooling with it," he said.
- As if ex-sex offenders monitor the laws 24/7? The police should be forced to tell people about the new changes.
Carrollton attorney Jason Swindle has filed a number of petitions in the west Georgia area asking that a client be removed from the sex offender registry.
"However, only a limited number of people are eligible for removal under this code section," Swindle said. "First, the individual must be classified as a Level 1 offender, which means that the person has a low risk of re-offending."
- As I said, read 42-1-19 for yourself, at the link above.
He noted that there are three offender levels, and most probationers aren't classified.
"In order to receive a classification, a superior court judge must sign an order directing the Georgia Sex Offender Registry to evaluate and classify the person," Swindle said. "Then, the court will conduct a hearing and make a ruling. The judge has wide discretion in deciding whether or not someone comes off the registry."
Another section of the law allows offenders whose sentences and any related probation or parole ended more than 10 years ago to petition the court for removal.
"In those cases, classification is not required," Swindle said. "However, without being considered a Level 1 offender, you are probably wasting your time in asking a judge for removal from the registry."
He agrees that many offenders are not taking advantage of the law because they don't know it exists. But he noted that many won't be eligible to take advantage of the law anyway because they won't fall into the Level 1 category.
By Steve Phillips
GULFPORT - A former Harrison County sheriff's deputy, who also worked as a school resource officer, is now a convicted sex offender.
Michael Chauvin, 49, pleaded guilty in circuit court Monday to one felony count of "exploitation of a child." That charge involves possession of child pornography.
But a sexual battery charge against the former law enforcer was dismissed, after the victim refused to cooperate.
"Before you, Mr. Chauvin, is a petition to enter a plea of guilty," circuit court Judge Larry Bourgeois said to the defendant.
The former deputy stood before Judge Bourgeois wearing a white shirt and tie, flanked by his defense attorney.
Michael Chauvin had been charged with statutory rape for a sexual relationship with a teenager who was a former babysitter.
That sexual battery charge was dismissed when the girl, who's now 19, refused to testify.
"On multiple occasions she has not been of any cooperation to our office. Does not wish to go forward in this matter. Does not want to testify," explained assistant district attorney Scott Lusk, during the brief afternoon hearing.
The defendant pleaded guilty to a charge that involves possessing child pornography images on his computer, a computer which was seized following his arrest.
"Two images were sent to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. There were more than two images. There were two that came back identified as child porn," said prosecutor Lusk.
"Did you do that sir?" asked the judge.
"Yes sir," came the defendant's reply.
"What did you do?" the judge inquired.
"Downloaded a picture of a child underage onto my computer," said Chauvin.
Defense attorney Joe Sam Owen pleaded leniency in sentencing for his client, saying his record was "impeccable" prior to this mistake.
"I think it's based on the historical record of this individual. What type of activity has he been involved with prior to that. As I told the court, does he fit the footprint of somebody that's been involved in child pornography or as a child predator? Or has this individual had an impeccable record, with one incident," said Owen.
After the brief hearing, Judge Bourgeois ordered Chauvin into custody, saying it's not a question of "if" he's going to jail, only when and for how long.
The defendant will be sentenced on November 7th.
Chauvin has been under house arrest for the past two years since his arrest.
By Katey Rusch
A judge has sentenced a former International Falls Customs and Border Protection Officer to more than seven years in prison for a sex crime.
Police arrested 46-year-old Patrick Hamburg last November, on a second-degree sexual assault charge. According to the criminal complaint, Hamburg's victim is a young girl who was assaulted multiple times over several years. Hamburg admitted to the accusations early on. He was sentenced to 90 months in jail by a Koochiching county judge Monday morning.
By Joel Moreno
EVERETT - A local company is giving police another way to track down child pornography on the Internet.
Everett-based Fluke Networks adapted a troubleshooting product to help law enforcement officials fight crime.
A feature on iPhones and laptops allows users to detect WiFi networks in the area. Fluke Networks made a device, called the Aircheck WiFi Tester, that can focus in on any networks being used to handle child pornography.
Detectives who have a lead on a child predator can use Aircheck to quickly locate the WiFi network used to handle child pornography.
The directional antennae on the device scans a building or home for WiFi connections. Aircheck can tell if a network is open or password-protected, then pinpoint the person who handled the illegal content. That way, police can confidently identify their suspects and make a quick arrest.
Officers with the Martinez Police Department in California say Aircheck makes all the difference.
"It provides us and additional layer of certainty that the person we are targeting is, in fact, the suspect that we are looking for," said Sgt. Dave Mathers. "We don't have to go in blindly anymore."
Prior to Aircheck, police struggled when child predators piggy-backed on someone else's WiFi signal, making it hard to trace the crime. The device now gives investigators a way to sort through the variables, and hunt down the criminals.
"Police have found that they are able to pick this tool up, and within minutes, they know how to use it, and they know how to use it effectively," said Mark Bauman of Fluke Networks.
This device can also be used against identity theft, Internet stalking and even online phishing scams.
By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana sued Monday to block enforcement of a new state law that limits sex offenders' access to social networking websites and other online forums, claiming the restrictions are overly broad and unconstitutional.
Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is named as a defendant in the federal suit, said he will "fight this with everything I have."
"If these people want to search the Internet for new victims, they can do it somewhere else," Jindal said in a statement.
- Hey idiot, not all ex-sex offenders are trolling for victims. You are just pandering. Are you running for president or something? God forbid!
The suit, filed in Baton Rouge, says the law may have targeted sites like Facebook and MySpace but also blocks access to newspaper sites, job databases and other websites that allow users to communicate.
Marjorie Esman, the group's executive director, said the state has a legitimate interest in preventing sex offenders from using the Internet in ways that can harm children.
- You already have laws against contacting children and discussing sexual issues, so why do you need more draconian laws? No amount of laws will prevent a true predator from creating an email address in a matter of minutes, then going online, if that is their intent.
"This goes way beyond that. This blocks (their) access to probably any Internet at all," she added. "It needs to be narrowly tailored to actually accomplish the goal."
The ACLU is asking a federal judge to immediately block enforcement of the law pending the outcome of a judicial review
Jindal, who signed the measure into law in June, said the lawsuit is "a disturbing break from reality, even for the ACLU."
- And you are blatantly ignoring the Constitution which you sworn to uphold.
|Bobby Jindal, the exorcist|
- If you want to see a monster, just look in the mirror.
Louisiana Attorney General James "Buddy" Caldwell also is named as a defendant in the suit. A spokeswoman for Caldwell's office said they hadn't seen the suit and couldn't comment on it.
State Rep. Ledricka Thierry, an Opelousas Democrat who sponsored the legislation in the House, didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.
The anonymous plaintiff is a registered sex offender, living in East Baton Rouge Parish, who was convicted of possessing child pornography and served four years in prison. He has worked as a computer repair technician since his 2006 release but will be unable to perform his job under the law's restrictions, the suit says.
His "efforts to remain a productive, contributing member of society will be severely hampered," the suit adds.
The law prohibits "unlawful use or access of social media" by convicted sex offenders whose victim was a child. Probation, parole officers and judges can make exceptions, but the ACLU says the law doesn't specify any procedures for obtaining permission.
The ACLU also argues that the law's definition of a social networking website could be interpreted to include "most of the Internet."
"Just about every website in existence incorporates a 'mechanism for communication' among users, whether that mechanism is as simple as a 'comments' section or as complicated as a web-based email service, such as Yahoo or Gmail," the group wrote in a court filing.
A first conviction for violating the law carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. A second conviction is punishable by at least five years and up to 20 years in prison.