Wednesday, September 12, 2012
By Shana Rowan (Blog, Facebook)
I am the fiancee to a sex offender (crime committed at age 12) and registry reform advocate — and am still attempting to understand why a registrant providing an incorrect address is considered “news.” Particularly when it has yet to be determined whether or not the mistake was intentional, it sounds much more likely that Councilwoman (Rose Mary) Christian was eagerly awaiting an opportunity to get her name in the paper. (“Christian: Sex offender picked the wrong address,” story, Sept. 11.)
Instead of giving a politician with a clear, admitted bias a platform from which to crow her bigotry, why not use this as an opportunity to enlighten readers about some of the lesser-known facts regarding sex offenders and sex crime?
Christian openly admits that she won’t give sex offenders a second chance. Other than crying to the paper, making sure to highlight her personal disdain for registrants, where is her solution? It might feel good to make life difficult for registrants, but as public policy, it is disastrous. Doesn’t she know that homelessness, lack of access to treatment and support systems, and inability to support ones’ self have all been proven to be factors in increasing recidivism? These things have all been clearly documented, and it would have been prudent to include this in your article.
Many sex offenders have not victimized children and are not (have never been) violent. Children themselves make up over a third of all perpetrators of sex crimes against other children. Are we to throw them under the bus as well? Many registrants have families and children of their own, whose safety is put at risk every day due to the ignorance and selfishness of people like Councilwoman Christian. We don’t often hear from them, since for the most part, they are bullied into silence. Recidivism rates for sex offenders are in the single digits and have been since before the registry. New York-based researcher Dr. Jeffrey Sandler found that 96 percent of sex crimes are committed by someone not on the registry — and just as many are perpetrated by family or an acquaintance known to the victim, not a stranger.
What good can it possibly do for our communities if our elected officials repeatedly insist on using anecdote and emotion, rather than empirical research, as the premise for legislation?
Britney Spears (Twitter) has struck a settlement with her former bodyguard. Fernando Flores claimed the American entertainer was a genital-flashing sexual harasser while he was working with the singer. According to court documents, Britney and Fernando Flores agreed to end their 2-year legal battle which started when Fernando Flores filed a lawsuit against the pop star.
In his suit, Flores had alleged Britney would intentionally drop her cigarette lighter in Fernando’s presence and then bend over to pick it up and “thereby exposed her uncovered genitals.” He also claimed Spears abused her children. She probably took her entertainer self too far.
Although Spears denies all of the allegations, TMZ reported that she coughed up a huge sum in settlement just to make the case go away. She’s got a lot to lose than to allow a suit of sexual harassment drag on in court. Besides winning multiple awards, Britney has a star on the Hollywood’s walk of fame. She has been involved in many philanthropic activities over the years. She’s presently a judge in Simon Cowell’s X-factor.
By LOHR McKINSTRY
ELIZABETHTOWN - Essex County is again considering a local law to restrict where sex offenders can live.
Board of Supervisors Chair Randy Douglas (D-Jay) said he recently learned of 11 convicted sex offenders who reside near an AuSable Valley Central School District elementary school.
He said the proximity of those people to the school worried many people, prompting him to revive the discussion of a countywide prohibition against their presence near a school or park.
“It’s something we might want to discuss again,” Douglas said. “I think we’re going to have to look at it again, possibly creating a law in Essex County.”
The county considered a sex-offender law in 2008 but took no action after several other counties’ laws were shot down in the courts.
Sheriff Richard Cutting said he’d support a sex-offender residency restriction.
“Right now, the only restriction would be if the offender is on probation or parole, they can set restrictions,” he said. “Otherwise, they can live anywhere, overlooking a park or playground.”
Cutting said he recently sent an email to school officials, giving them the information on where sex offenders live in the AVCS District, which stretches from AuSable Forks to Keeseville and includes parts of Essex and Clinton counties.
“I don’t see any reason why it can’t be done,” he said of passing a county law.
Essex County currently has 108 registered sex offenders in three categories of risk set by the state.
County District Attorney Kristy Sprague said she also is in favor of regulating where sex offenders can reside.
“I would support any legislation locally.”
She said that when she was an assistant district attorney in Clinton County, they learned of a sex offender living across from a school in Plattsburgh who would pull out a chair and sit and watch the children, and there was no law to stop that.
Clinton County has not passed a sex-offender restriction law.
Warren County has a law that restricts Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders from living or working within 1,000 feet of facilities used by children.
Sprague said they will look at laws passed in other communities to see what can legally be done in Essex County.
By Judy Harrison
PORTLAND - Once again the Maine Supreme Judicial Court has been asked to help balance an individual’s rights with the public’s interest in protecting people, especially children, by requiring individuals convicted of sex crimes to be identified on the state’s online sex offender registry.
Justices will hear oral arguments Thursday afternoon for the second time in a case that was filed in 2006 in Kennebec County Superior Court.
The return of the case to the state’s high court is the latest skirmish over a complex legal issue that has been addressed by judges and lawmakers more than a dozen times over the past 20 years.
The primary challenge to Maine’s Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act is that it violates the rights of plaintiffs who were convicted before the law requiring them to register as sex offenders existed.
Maine’s sex offender registry has gone through a number of changes since it was created in 1992, according to The Associated Press. It attracted national attention when on April 16, 2006, a 20-year-old Canadian man killed two sex offenders in Maine before killing himself after randomly getting their names from the state’s online registry.
The current case stems from a court case filed less than two weeks later challenging the law. Over time, several dozen John Does joined the case, but a number of them later dropped out after the Legislature amended the law in 2009 to allow some sex offenders to be removed from the registry if they had completed their sentences, committed no additional crimes and met other standards.
Many of the remaining plaintiffs in the lawsuit, however, are not eligible to have their names removed from the registry, according to the AP.
“The central issue has always been the registrants’ desire to be removed from Maine’s sex offender registry,” attorney James Mitchell of Augusta wrote in his brief for the plaintiffs, all of whom are referred to in court documents as “John Doe.” “Every plaintiff along the way was a person who received notice to register years after his offense and punishment or who had registration requirements changed after his first registration. Retroactivity is at the heart of the case.”
Assistant Attorney General Paul Stern disagreed with that premise in his brief.
“From the outset of this litigation, [the plaintiffs’] goal has been to do away with the registry so that ‘the [sexual] offender[s] could sink back into anonymity,’” he wrote, citing one of the Mitchell’s motions filed in the case.
“The state does not claim that the registry is a complete or perfect solution to the larger issue of sex offender recidivism — indeed, it is but one component of a broad-spectrum approach that includes containing and supervising convicted offenders, supporting victims, and educating and informing the public,” Stern said.
Stern said the registry did not have to “be perfect to pass constitutional muster.”
The case does not challenge a law — passed earlier this year by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Paul LePage — that overhauled the sex offender registry.
LD 1514 created a tiered system for offenders. Under the new law, offenders will be separated into 10-year registrants, 25-year registrants and lifetime registrants based on the severity of their offenses. The new law also created a Sex Offender Risk Assessment Advisory Commission “for the purpose of conducting a continuing study of methods that may be used to predict the risk of recidivism by a sex offender and to develop a method that may be used for such purposes.”
It was unclear Wednesday how the justices will view the issues raised by the plaintiffs — which include an argument that a reoffender risk assessment is a better way to protect the public from pedophiles than is a list of people convicted of sex crimes — in light of the new law.
No this is not real news. It is a parody to show how ridiculous society reacts to sex offenders on Halloween. Sex crimes do not take place on Halloween - Fact.
Bits and pieces are from an actual news report about a man living in an "adults only" park. The news agency (having nothing better to report on) decided to show up at the mans door to tell him that the neighbors are upset about his Halloween decorations.
This man is not on parole or probation. He has served his time. He should be left alone and treated the same as everyone else.
By KRISTEN ZAMBO
RACINE — A state psychologist testified Tuesday that a man who was ordered locked away almost two decades ago as too sexually violent to return to Racine County should never have been placed in the treatment center for sexually assaulting three little girls.
Richard Elwood, a psychologist evaluator with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, said while [name withheld] was convicted of sexually assaulting three little girls between 1990 and 1994 — when [name withheld] was between 10 and 14 years old — he was not a pedophile at the time, and still isn’t today after about 18 years behind bars.
“With Mr. [name withheld], the sexual contact with children was when Mr. [name withheld] was a child himself,” Elwood testified Tuesday during the second day of [name withheld]’s bench trial to determine if he could be released from Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center in Mauston.
“I concluded (in 2010) he was not a sexually violent person and met the criteria for discharge. Mr. [name withheld] clearly didn’t fit the criteria for pedophilia before the age of 16,” Elwood testified. “One could have deviant sexual interests and not be a pedophile.”
Racine County prosecutors are fighting [name withheld]’s bid to be released into the community, which is backed by the Department of Health Services.
[name withheld], now 31, was convicted July 26, 1994, of three counts of first-degree sexual assault of a child and one count of incest of a child. He was 13 years old when convicted of sexually assaulting the girls, who were 3, 4 and between 8 and 9 years old at the times of the attacks.
[name withheld] has been held in Sand Ridge since completing his sentence in the criminal cases because of a state law which allows a person to be confined in a prison-like setting for treatment after completing his or term sentence because of three factors. He must have been convicted of a sexually violent offense, have a diagnosed mental disorder, and have been deemed dangerous to others because a mental disorder makes it likely he will commit further acts of sexual violence.
According to state law, such involuntary civil commitments continue for an unspecified period of time until the person no longer is considered to be sexually violent — which is one reason why hearings such as [name withheld]’s occur.
Elwood said he evaluated [name withheld]’s case three times, in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Elwood testified he did not diagnose [name withheld] with having pedophilia, and opined that he didn’t fit the requisite treatment criteria to be placed in Sand Ridge in the first place.
Rattling off a list of seven doctors and the years they all issued reports on [name withheld], Assistant District Attorney Randy Schneider pointedly asked Elwood how he could be the only psychologist out of that slew to not only never diagnose [name withheld] as being a pedophile, but to maintain his opinion that [name withheld] never should have been committed to the sex offender treatment center in the first place.
“You’re aware that you’re probably the only doctor who did not diagnose him as a pedophile?” Schneider asked.
“I believe so,” Elwood responded.
Elwood said he used the medical definition of pedophilia used in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, also called the DSM. According to this definition — which Elwood said is considered the standard for mental health professionals — someone with pedophilia must have “intense, recurring sexual fantasies or urges” for “sexual activity with a prepubescent child.” And, he said, the person must be at least 16 years old, have these urges for at least six months and they must cause a marked impairment or dysfunction.
“I don’t believe Mr. [name withheld] ever met the criteria for a ... commitment,” Elwood testified.
When questioned by Racine County Circuit Judge Tim Boyle, Elwood explained if [name withheld] is released he might re-offend, but “certainly the likelihood is far less than 50 percent.”
But another psychologist who testified Tuesday disagreed.
The base rate of the likelihood that a convicted juvenile sex offender may victimize another person after being released from a treatment center falls somewhere between a 5 and 10 percent chance, said clinical neuropsychologist Debra Anderson. Elwood said the base rate is 7.1 to 8 percent.
“You have an individual who has jettisoned himself well above that base rate,” Anderson testified Tuesday. “Yes, he does have a mental disorder and yes, his risk remains high,” she said, explaining [name withheld] has pedophilia. “...I see him more likely than not to re-offend.”
More than a decade ago, [name withheld] was deemed a sexually violent person through a separate, civil proceeding in court.
Boyle could rule after the testimony ends Wednesday, or at a later date, whether [name withheld] should be released.
The trial, which began Monday, continues this morning.
By Thomas Prohaska
LOCKPORT - Niagara County may follow the City of Lockport's lead in repealing a sex offender buffer zone law.
The County Legislature's Administration Committee approved a resolution Tuesday that would call a public hearing on repealing the law.
County Attorney Claude A. Joerg said the county's law, passed in 2008, is stricter than the state's buffer zone law and thus could be invalidated in a court challenge.
Courts accept a fixed legal principle of supremacy in which no state law is allowed to be more severe than a federal law, and no local law is allowed to be more severe than a state law.
- Well, this doesn't hold true for some states, Florida, for example, has a 1,000 foot buffer zone, but other counties have a 2,500 foot buffer zone.
Niagara County's law came close to matching the state's rule, which says no Level 3 sex offender on probation or parole is allowed to live within 1,000 feet of a school, playground or other place where children gather. The county law covered Level 2 and 3 offenders, including those who were no longer on probation or parole.
"We passed something we thought was going to pass constitutional muster," said Legislator Paul B. Wojtaszek, R-North Tonawanda, who sponsored the 2008 law.
His original version also applied to Level 1 sex offenders, but that provision was deleted before final passage.
Lockport's law, repealed Aug. 1, also applied the 1,000-foot rule to all Level 2 and Level 3 offenders.
Earlier this year, Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III invalidated a Town of Newfane law with a 2,000-foot buffer zone. North Tonawanda's quarter-mile buffer zone also has been challenged in court, but no ruling has been made yet. Niagara Falls' 1,500-foot limit is still on the books.
In the past year, federal judges have overturned buffer zone laws from the City of Geneva and Suffolk County. Previous decisions by various judges invalidated such laws in Albany, Rockland, Saratoga, Rensselaer, Rockland and Schenectady counties. But Orchard Park passed a 2,000-foot buffer zone law last month.
"None of the counties or municipalities have taken these cases up to the Appellate Division," Joerg said. "They determined it would be futile. . We're walking a tightrope."
The full Legislature is expected to vote next Tuesday on holding a public hearing.
ALERT: CERTAIN Registered Sex Offenders and The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) Reauthorization Act of 2010
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