Wednesday, May 22, 2013

NY - Sex offenders - one woman's mission to separate myth from fact

Original Article

We've been told more will air tonight, and if it becomes available online, we will post the info here.


By Jim Kenyon

Shana Rowan (Blog) first met her fiance when they attended high school in downstate New York. She says they lost touch when he suddenly left school at the age of 16. Years later, Shana says they reconnected.

Shana says they eventually fell in love and she learned the reason why he had disappeared when he was 16. It turns out that he had been convicted of sexually abusing an underage girl and spent four years in prison. She asked that we not reveal his name for fear over his safety.

"It wasn't a violent crime. It wasn't a forcible crime. Was it a crime? Yes, and I believe he should have been punished. I'm glad he can now see the impact he had on his victim, but he's not a monster. He's not a pedophile. He's not dangerous to children," Rowan told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon.

They are now engaged to be married. When they moved to a home in Oneida County however, her fiance, a level 2 registered sex offender, failed to register his new address on time. He was arrested and faced spending three years in prison.

Though he was able to avoid jail time, the experience provided Rowan with a mission in life. Shana Rowan is the Executive Director of USA FAIR, which stands for Families Advocating an Intelligent Registry. "We do advocate for some sex offenders but our focus is actually on family members because what I found when my fiance was looking at jail time, I felt so alone."

Rowan maintains a website that features extensive research that challenges what she says are society's preconceived ideas about sex offenders. She also lobbies legislators nationwide in an attempt to reform laws regarding sex offenders.

The USA FAIR website features a wealth of information and studies Rowan says clear up the "myths" about sex offenders. Some of those same government studies are also included on the New York Sex Offender Registry under the heading of "Myths and Facts." For instance, one so called myth is that sex offenders are all likely to commit another sex crime. The registry cites one study that only 5 percent of sex offenders were re-arrested for a sex crime within three years of getting out of prison. That as a group, 43 percent of sex offenders were re-arrested for any type of crime. That compared to 68 percent of criminals who are not sex offenders.

Rowan says many of the laws regarding the thousands of sex offenders are not based on reality. "I can understand where the fear comes from because... it keeps being pumped into us by some media outlets and legislators that these are people we need to fear. That is not accurate. That is not true, save for a small minority."

If anything, sex offender laws are getting tougher, often because of high profile cases like that of [name withheld]. He is accused of murdering Liverpool librarian Lori Bresnahan and raping a 10 year old girl. The shocking crime could lead to a crackdown on the monitoring of sex offenders and legislation to open up their juvenile records.

"We're taking the example of one person and applying it to tens of thousands in New York State." Rowan says.

Rowan says society often does not take into account the impact a "broad brush approach" to sex offenders has on their families. "They're simply not all the same." she says, "They're not all out to get your children. The majority of them just want to move on with their lives with their families."

ID - Idaho Sex Offender Laws Remain a Source of Controversy

Video Description:
Nearly 30 years after his crime and decades of legal behavior, an Idaho man talks about still being listed on the sex offender registry.

CO - Ex-GJPD cop (Eric Janusz) sentenced to prison for child sex crime

Eric Janusz
Original Article


Former Grand Junction police officer Eric Janusz, previously found guilty on one of four counts of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust, was sentenced this morning to 8 years to life for the crime.

Janusz at times wept during the sentencing hearing this morning at the Mesa County Justice Center, in the courtroom of District Judge Valerie Robison.

The jury found in its verdict that Janusz, while employed as a police officer and on duty, had sex with a 16-year-old girl in 2000 in the gymnasium of then-Mesa State College.

See Also:

Feds Push Insane New Speech Codes!

Video Description:
"It is so broad that it turns every single student and every single faculty member on campus, at least arguably, into harassers," warns Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

He's talking about sweeping speech codes just imposed by the Departments of Justice and Education on virtually every college campus in the United States.

The new mandate was revealed in a letter from the DOJ and DOE to the University of Montana that states "sexual harassment should be more broadly defined as 'any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature," including "verbal conduct." The new rules apply to all colleges and universities receiving any sort of federal money, including Pell grants, federally backed student loans, and more. The letter contends the conduct in question need not be offensive to an "objectively reasonable person of the same gender in the same situation." That means that there is effectively no check on what might count as harassment. Course materials, overheard comments, stupid jokes - it's all potentially actionable.

Lukianoff, the author of Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate, hopes that "this is the last straw that causes the universities themselves to start pushing back against this ridiculous overregulation."

NY - Senate passes legislation allowing Niagara County sex offender restrictions

Original Article


By jmaloni

Today, the New York State Senate passed legislation authorizing Niagara County to prohibit level two and three sex offenders from being within 1,500 feet of any school grounds or child care facility. This bill (S. 3457), sponsored by Sen. George D. Maziarz, R-C-Newfane, addresses concerns raised in Niagara County regarding the ensured safety of the children in both the school and day care setting.

Currently, laws in New York only restrict individuals who are classified as level three sex offenders from knowingly entering upon school grounds. These laws do not address level two sex offenders. Maziarz said there are insufficient restrictions in place relating to facilities that provide child day care. This legislation would allow Niagara County to include restrictions on both level two and level three sex offenders from being within 1,500 feet of either a school or any place where day care is provided.

"There is concern among the community in Niagara for the threat posed to children by convicted sex offenders," Maziarz said. "This legislation would allow Niagara County to enforce its recently passed resolution and therefore keep in place the restrictions to the sex offenders. The protection and safety of children is of utmost importance and I now call upon the Assembly to pass this legislation in order to allow Niagara County the ability to do what they think is right for their area."
- Not all sex offenders have harmed children, or even adults, so stop making it appear as if all sex offenders are child molesting, pedophile predators!  They are not!

This bill has been sent to the Assembly. There is currently no Assembly sponsor.

FL - Sex Offender Village

Original Article



For this Op-Doc video, we visited a small community in Florida known as “Miracle Village,” where more than 100 registered sex offenders have settled since 2009. Surrounded by sugar cane fields, the community has become a rare refuge for them as they try to rebuild their lives in one of the only communities that will have them: stringent residency requirements make it almost impossible for them to live anywhere else.

We come to this documentary from two very different perspectives. Lisa has spent years examining sex crimes from the victim’s point of view, making documentaries that try to de-stigmatize the survivors and argue for their access to justice. David spent his years as a public defender in Brooklyn, Harlem and the Bronx, defending people accused of doing the victimizing. These contrasting perspectives have made for a lively collaboration in which we have found common ground.

We live in a society that is terrified of sex offenders, sometimes with good reason. But in some cases the perpetrators, and not just the victims, are denied justice. Every high-profile sex crime spawns a rush to do something about the “predators” among us. Unfortunately, these so-called solutions are doing more harm than good. In the past 25 years, the laws governing sex offenses have gone from punitive to draconian to senseless. The term “sex offender” simply covers too wide a range now, painting the few truly heinous crimes and the many relatively innocuous ones with the same broad brush. This overly broad approach wastes resources that could be better spent, for instance, on clearing the huge and unforgivable backlog of untested rape evidence kits.

We see even deeper problems: the explosion of sex offender registries, stringent yet demonstrably ineffective residency restrictions, and the bizarre world of “civil commitment,” where we punish what someone might do rather than what he or she has done. All of this suggests that our entire approach to dealing with sex offenders has gone tragically off the rails.

Lisa F. Jackson is an Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker based in New York. Her last film, “Sex Crimes Unit,” chronicled prosecutors in the Manhattan district attorney’s office and “The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo” won a special jury prize for documentary at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.

David Feige, a television writer and former Trial Chief of the Bronx Defenders, is the co-creator of the T.N.T. series “Raising the Bar” and the author of “Indefensible: One Lawyer’s Journey Into the Inferno of American Justice.” He has written about law for The New York Times Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and Slate.

Video Link

Video Source

VA - Teens, technology, law: when sexting is not pornography

Original Article


By Justin Jouvenal

When three US high school students from Virginia made mobile phone videos of drunken sex acts with fellow teens and shared them among themselves, they ended up in court last week facing charges usually reserved for adult predators: child pornography.

The case is one of a number where teens caught "sexting" have been charged with a crime that can carry a sentence of 20 years and could require registry as a sex offender.

In many other US states, the law has not caught up with the combustible mix of teens, technology and sex that has made sexting an issue. Prosecutors must rely on a patchwork of laws created before the rise of smartphones to handle such cases.

Some parents and rights groups are calling for a new law that would distinguish sexting from child pornography, create lesser punishments and focus on educating teenagers, not punishing them. But they also acknowledge that young victims can be devastated when embarrassing photos or videos are spread to their peers.

A mother whose 15-year-old son was charged with 12 counts of child pornography for sexting called the experience a nightmare. She said the teen, who has Asperger's syndrome, was naive when he sent out a topless photo of a classmate. ''He is thinking his life was at an end. He could be labelled as a sex offender,'' she said.

Parents of two teens in Ohio and Florida say their daughters committed suicide when they were ridiculed after sexually explicit images of them were forwarded to others. And sexted images and videos can be found by child pornographers, who trade them on the internet.

The three students on trial were charged in January with possession and distribution of child pornography after they filmed themselves engaging in sex acts with at least six teenage girls. All the sex acts were consensual and the 10 videos were filmed at parties at the teenagers' homes, beginning in December 2011. Legislators say they worry a law to make sexting a misdemeanour could unintentionally open a loophole that might be exploited by pedophiles.

In addition, the circumstances of such cases vary widely. They range from a girl willingly texting a racy photo of herself to a boyfriend who does not share it to teens secretly recording sex acts and maliciously spreading the videos.

In the US, at least 20 states have passed legislation on sexting since 2009, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. States have generally moved to create more lenient punishments for sexting teens and to shield them from having to register as sex offenders. A University of New Hampshire survey found 7 per cent of young people had received a nude or nearly nude image, while 1 per cent said they had created sexually explicit images of themselves.

Bars For Life: LGBTQs and sex offender registries

Original Article


By Yasmin Nair

In 1977, Anita Bryant launched her crusade against a recently passed Dade County, Fla., ordinance that banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. As the leader of a coalition named "Save Our Children," Bryant and her supporters tapped into an old perception of gays as sexual predators of children.

In a now-famous statement, she declared, "As a mother, I know that homosexuals cannot biologically reproduce children; therefore, they must recruit our children." Bryant's campaign led to the repeal of the ordinance but paradoxically also became the beginning of the end of her career, alienating her from some conservatives and liberals alike.

In the years since Bryant's campaign, there has been a palpable shift in cultural responses to gay and lesbian issues, with several polls indicating greater support for issues such as marriage equality. But the figure of the gay man in particular as a sexual predator still haunts culture and continues to re-emerge.

In 1955, Boise, Idaho, erupted in a sex scandal where nearly 1,500 men were questioned about allegedly having coerced underage young men into sexual acts. There was no such sex ring, but countless lives were scarred forever.

This April, as the gay marriage debate reached the U.S. Supreme Court, two married gay men in Connecticut, George Harasz and Douglas Wirth, decided to fight charges that they had sexually abused children in their care. In a sign of how differently such cases are still treated in the mainstream press, the website Gay Star News' headline stated, "Gay couple accused of child abuse go to trial to clear their names." New York's Daily New headline ran, "Gay Connecticut couple accused of raping adopted children will face trial."

Since 1977, sex offender registries (SORs) have been instituted in every U.S. state, ostensibly to prevent sexual abuse of minors and others by tracking everyone convicted of sexual abuse.

But according to a growing number of critics across the political spectrum, SORs have also increased so much in scope, by including even acts like public urination in the category of sex crime, that they've become virtually meaningless. In addition, SORs place so many residential and vocational restrictions on offenders that larger numbers are unable to return to society with places to live and stable systems of support.

In Illinois, registered sex offenders cannot live within 500 feet of any school buildings or have trade licenses. Illinois also mandated in 2011 that the licenses of medical and health professionals convicted of sex offenses can be permanently revoked without a hearing. Increasingly, many offenders across the country simply end up homeless.

The term "sex offender" is rarely uttered at gay and lesbian public events, raising as it does an old and timeworn stereotype that still causes fear because of its automatic association with terms such as "pedophile" and "sodomite." To date, none of the major gay and lesbian organizations has explicitly taken a position on issues concerning sex offender registries.

But there are in fact gay sex offenders on the registry, and there have always been widely sensationalized cases of alleged and real sexual abuse of children by men who also identify as gay.

Tracing the specific effects of sex offender registries on LGBTQ people reveals that both terms, "LGBTQ" and "sex offender," are fraught with multiple tensions and definitions. For instance, not all people convicted for sex offenses are LGBTQ, but the sexual acts, such as oral and anal sex, which place them on the registries are defined as "crimes against nature" in certain states.

The circumstances in which LGBTQs find themselves on sex offender registries both challenge the applications of such terms and hark back to older and still-prevalent ideas about sexual minorities.

The fact both sex offenses and sex offenders fall into such diverse and disparate categories also explains why it has been hard to mobilize a concerted political movement against the prevalence of SORs.

CA - Rapist and former police detective (Anthony Orban) may be sentenced - even though he's dead?

Anthony Orban
Original Article


By Matt Cantor

(NEWSER) - A former police detective was convicted of kidnapping and rape last year—but before he could be sentenced, he committed suicide. But he's not off the hook: A California judge could still sentence Anthony Orban despite his death. "The only reason he is not here is because he volunteered to take his own life," said Judge Shahla Shabet, per the San Jose Mercury News. "The court does have jurisdiction to complete the sentencing."

Orban's lawyer disagrees. "I can't comprehend how you can go ahead and sentence someone who is dead," James Blatt told Shabet. "This is not in the best interest of the dignity of the court system." He says the conviction should hold but the case should be removed from the calendar; Shabet argues that either a formal dismissal or sentencing is required, and Blatt says he won't seek a dismissal. Now, the sentencing hearing has been postponed to the summer so Blatt can research his position. Says the victim: "I really just want it to be over." (This isn't the first twist in Orban's case; click to read about his unusual defense strategy.)

Registry removal

The following was sent to us via the contact form and posted with the users permission.

By Anonymous:
After 10 years my nightmare is finally over. I was removed from the sex offender registry today. During that time, I have read your blog daily and wanted to thank you for your hard work in keeping us informed of important issues. While I am not in a financial position at this time to make a donation, when things get better it will be a high priority.

I am having mixed emotions, however, knowing that there are so many thousands of people/families out there that will have to suffer for a lifetime. Perhaps someday facts will outweigh hysteria and people will no longer have to bear the difficult burden of being on the registry for the rest of their lives.