A bill co-sponsored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal to better protect children has received bi-partisan approval. The bill strengthens current laws to protect kids from child pornography, sexual abuse, and trafficking.
Thursday, December 6, 2012
By Dominic Casciani
Sentences for rapists and other sex offenders in England and Wales could become tougher to recognise the long-term psychological harm they cause.
The Sentencing Council also suggests judges could give longer sentences to offenders who film their victims.
In a new consultation, the body says judges should closely consider the complex and damaging effect that a crime has on a victim.
The proposed new guidelines cover virtually all sexual offences.
The Sentencing Council is responsible for trying to ensure consistency in criminal sentencing across all courts in England and Wales and it draws up complex guidelines to assist judges.
The council said that its proposed guidelines for sexual offences aim to update the way the courts deal with 54 crimes, to take into account the tactics and technologies used by offenders, as well as the long-term damage done to a victim.
The guidelines cover almost every sexual offence that is recognised in the UK, from voyeurism to rape, and, if adopted, would play a key role in dealing with people convicted of historic allegations of sexual abuse when victims have come forward decades after the event.
In the 14-week consultation, the council said that judges should be able to send offenders to jail for longer where modern technology proves to be an aggravating factor in increasing the victim's suffering - such as filming abuse of a sexual assault and then distributing it to others.
Judges are concerned that they have seen a worrying increase in the number of cases where rapists have filmed their attack and the victim.
Previously the focus in sentencing has been largely on the physical act of the crime, such as which part of a body was violated, because the law defines each individual offence in a quite technical way.
The council's new guidelines make clear that this form of sentencing does not take sufficient account the potentially catastrophic long-term effect on the victim.
The city of San Diego has paid out nearly $1 million in settlements for victims of sexual abuse by former San Diego police officer Anthony Arrevalos. Attorney Dan Gilleon of the Mitchell | Gilleon Law Firm represented a number of the victims and he appears on KGTV-TV Channel 10 News to discuss the case.
It's all in who you know. If this were you or I, we'd be in prison and on the sex offender registry for life. I would advise everyone in this state who has been charged with a similar crime, to take it back to court and use this case as an example. This is a man who once prosecuted sex crime cases, and when he's on the same side of the law, this happens?
MOBILE - Just a week before his trial was set to begin, the charges (PDF) against a former Mobile County Assistant District Attorney have been dropped. Steve Giardini, who once prosecuted sex offenders, was charged with child sex crimes.
Giardini's first trial ended with a hung jury May 2011. A judge Monday afternoon granted the defense motion to dismiss the charges and also granted the defense motion for judgement of acquittal.
Giardini may have thought he was chatting online and on the phone with a 15-year-old girl, but in reality, he was talking to a male, undercover FBI agent. Their conversations were extremely sexual in nature. But because there was no victim, the judge said there was no case.
- And this "No Victim" thing never comes up with it's someone from the general public. So is this judge going to rescind all the convictions of those in the state who have been charged with a crime for doing the same thing? I doubt it.
"The statute under which Steve was charged is a decades old statute that was never designed for computer solicitation or anything of that nature," said Giardini's defense attorney Dennis Knizley.
Knizley says now there is a law that covers when perpetrators think they are soliciting minors, even if they're not. Giardini had been charged with that, too, but the charge was dropped because the law went into effect in May 2009, one month after Giardini's activity stopped.
We went by Giardini's Midtown home for comment Tuesday. No one came to the door.
Knizely says it's been three years, nine months since this case began, and with the judge's ruling, it's finally come to an end.
"It's not something to be condoned, but just because we don't like the conduct does not necessarily make it criminal. And in this case it was not criminal," said Knizley.
Knizley says Giardini has an active law license and family in Huntsville, but he has not discussed what Giardini's plans for the future are.
The Alabama Attorney General's Office prosecuted the case and emailed this statement Tuesday afternoon:
"We are disappointed in the ruling of the court. We feel that our case was strong and cogent. We have no further comment at this time."
By Barbara Reyelts
Moose Lake - Pushed by a class action lawsuit, and rapidly rising costs, Minnesota is looking for options to its sex offender treatment program.
A task force met in St. Paul this week to look at less restrictive ways to treat sex offenders while still keeping the public safe.
The Minnesota Sex Offender Treatment Program in Moose Lake houses the state's largest population of civilly committed predatory sex offenders.
A smaller population is housed in St. Peter.
Since 1994 Minnesota sex offenders, deemed most likely to re–offend, can be civilly committed after their prison sentences are done.
Their time of lock up is indefinite and since the program began there's only been one person successfully released.
That's raised concerns, not only among residents, but throughout the state.
“It begs a question if you have a treatment program then there's a presumption that somebody's going to get well and be done being treated at some point,” Dan Cain, of the Mpls. Sex Offender Rehabilitation Program. “So far that's not been the case."
Last year MSOP residents filed a class action lawsuit claiming their constitutional rights were being violated because they had already served their court ordered punishment but were still locked up. The Minnesota Civil Liberties Union agrees.
“You can't put people in jail for crimes they haven't yet committed, there's a presumption of innocence in the state constitution,” Chuck Samuelson, Executive Director of MN Civil Liberties Union said.
And it's not just the lawsuit prompting the call for change, it's also the expense of the program.
Each of the current 669 residents costs the state $120,000 a year. The facility has a total annual budget of $73 M.
Last month a task force was created to come up with recommendations for the legislature to develop new programs to treat predatory offenders.
“I think it will be an interesting discussion,” Senator Roger Reinert, DFL of Duluth said. “Does the legislature look at this from people's rights, the civil rights that we all have regardless.To me that will be the interesting conversation when the legislature looks at the recommendations and tries to look at other ideas. Will it be a policy conversation or will it be a political conversation.”
Among the recommendations are the creation of smaller group homes, outpatient centers and other treatment programs throughout the state.
Predatory rapists may not actually wind up committed to MSOP if they are compliant, go through treatment, show remorse, admit their crime.
Panel members recognize this is going to be a tough sell with many concerned about public safety if predatory sex offenders are released into less restrictive settings. Lawmakers plan to meet over the several few weeks to develop a course of action.
Minnesota State Commissioner of Human Services, Lucinda Jesson, will work with lawmakers in developing a more acceptable, affordable program.
TX - Parents' lawsuit spreads blame in jailed 15-year-old teen's alleged rape by jailer Robert Emerson Robinson
|Robert Emerson Robinson|
By Anita Hassan
For months, no one stopped or questioned Robert Emerson Robinson for leaving his post as a jailer on the boys unit at the Harris County Juvenile Justice Center and going to the girls' floor. Instead, many of the jailer's co-workers covered for him when he did leave.
These allegations are outlined in a civil lawsuit by the parents of the 15-year-old girl, who was housed at the juvenile detention center and allegedly sexually assaulted by Robinson in May.
The teen told authorities Robinson lured her into sexual acts by providing her with candy while she was housed in the facility at 1200 Congress.
Officials fired the 28-year-old jailer about two months before he was charged with sexual assault of a child in October.
Danny and Michelle Hall, the girl's parents, said they filed the suit this week because they are concerned that proper procedures are not being implemented at the juvenile detention center regarding interaction between male jailers and juvenile girls. They want to make sure this doesn't happen to anyone else's child.
"The fact that Harris County allowed this predator to wander around the juvenile detention center unsupervised, we can only suspect that there are more victims not only from this gentleman, but potentially from other people," said Keith Lapeze, the Halls' attorney.
Officials with the juvenile probation department had not yet been served with the lawsuit and declined to comment, said spokeswoman Kendall Mayfield. She did not return calls for comment regarding whether any other jailers or employees were fired or disciplined or about results of any internal investigations.
Harris County Juvenile Judge Michael Schneider, who is on the county's juvenile board, said he believed the department launched an investigation into the incident and was open about bringing it to the board. "We're more focused on trying to make sure this doesn't happen again," he said.
According to court documents, the teen told police investigators Robinson entered her cell and sexually assaulted her May 23, the night before she was transferred to a state-operated facility. Cameras at the detention center show Robinson visiting the girl after the lights were turned off inside her cell that day.
When he was interviewed by authorities, Robinson, who worked as a jailer for nearly six years, said he made a mistake, confessed to the sexual activity and admitted the teen was truthful, court records state.
Robinson was fired Aug. 7. He was charged with sexual assault of a child under 17 and released from jail on $30,000 bail. His criminal defense attorney, Edward Chernoff, could not be reached for comment.
The lawsuit was brought against Robinson, Thomas Brooks, executive director of the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department, and Harris County. It alleges that the jailer visited the Halls' daughter at least three times a week for about two months, offering her candy and food to manipulate her into performing sexual acts.
Each time Robinson, assigned as a corrections officer on the boys' unit, "had no trouble accessing the girls unit or having fellow colleagues cover for him when he decided to pay 'special visits,' to the (teen)," the lawsuit stated.
According to the department's operating procedures, opposite gender supervision is not allowed when detainees are showering, being physically searched, disrobing or when personal hygiene practices require the presence of a jailer.
The portion of the procedures given to the Houston Chronicle by the department do not appear to specify any other policies regarding opposite gender supervision.
"One would think that you wouldn't allow adult males access to minor females, if that's not a procedure or policy, that should be in our mind," Lapeze said.
The Halls are shocked that their daughter could be harmed while she was in the care of a county facility. "I thought she would go in there and be just fine," Danny Hall said. "It got worse."