Wednesday, December 25, 2013
By CHRISTINA TURNER
This is part one of a two part series on Missouri's sex offender civil commitment program. Christina Turner talks to people with close ties to the SORTS program and its patients.
Christopher Cross is the legal guardian of a mentally disabled sex offender. He says one of the ways the state gets people into the SORTS program is by forcing sex offenders like his ward to confess guilt to allegations.
"The state doesn't care what the evidence is. The state doesn't investigate anything. They just see that an allegation is made and that, as a result of that, the offender has to confess guilt," he said.
According to Cross, Missouri courts say it's therapeutically beneficial to confess to allegations because it gets guilt off the offender's chest.
"Just because the state slaps a label on a program as being therapeutic does not mean it is therapeutic. It just means that's what the state is saying it is to make it look like it's consitutionally correct," he said.
He says confessions could be used against his ward if a civil commitment hearing comes after prison.
Marty Martin Foreman runs Fulton State Hospital where 75 of the 199 SORTS patients are being held. She says several patients contesting their placement in SORTS have not participated in treatment to avoid appearing guilty.
"For some they were involved in appeals and things like that and, upon advice of an attorney, the attorneys did not believe it was in their best interest to be engaged," she said.
Martin Foreman says patients' progress is guaged by their participation in things like group psychotherapy, recreational therapy and work therapy.
Former lieutenant governor Kenneth Rothman says you can't be too careful when dealing with violent sex offenders.
"We have to have a balance. Yeah, we owe these people some help if we can give it to 'em, but we really owe the people who would be innocent victims if they were released," he said.
But in 2012, a MO Supreme Court judge said that, of the five categories of felony offenders in Missouri's correctional population, sex offenders have the lowest rates of recidivism.
By CHRIS BLANK
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) - Missouri's Supreme Court on Tuesday sided against three men previously convicted of a sex crime and facing a new criminal charge under a law making it illegal for them to be near certain parks.
The cases are the most recent to focus on a portion of the Missouri Constitution barring retrospective and ex post facto laws. The high court ruled last month the ban on retrospective laws does not apply to criminal statutes. A divided Missouri Supreme Court concluded Tuesday the parks restriction is a criminal law and the retrospective laws prohibition does not apply.
- The Constitution applies to everything / everyone, but what do you expect when those who swore an oath to defend this document are not?
A 2009 Missouri law makes it illegal for those convicted of sexual offenses from knowingly being present or loitering within 500 feet of a public park with playground equipment or a public swimming pool. First-time violators can be charged with a felony and spend up to four years in prison, and repeat offenders could face up to seven years in prison.
In the cases before the high court, each defendant was convicted of a sex offense during the late 1990s. A circuit court dismissed the charge for being in a park against two of the men on the grounds that it was unconstitutionally retrospective when applied to them. The third was appealing his conviction. The high court upheld the conviction and remanded the two other cases.
- I don't get it. Above they say it doesn't apply to criminal cases, but for these two men it does?
Supreme Court Judge Zel Fischer wrote in the majority opinion that the park law is part of the criminal code, uses the language of a criminal provision and does not depend upon someone's registration as a sex offender. He said the law also carries a severe punishment.
- Huh? So if the law is a criminal law, but doesn't depend on someone wearing the "sex offender" label, then who exactly is the ban for?
"The General Assembly intended for this statute to punish felons, who had been convicted of committing specific, enumerated crimes, for engaging in future conduct that the General Assembly determined should be prohibited," Fischer wrote.
The Missouri Supreme Court has seven judges. Three agreed with Fischer's conclusions.
Judge George W. Draper III wrote a dissent joined by two other judges. Draper said he believes the statute against being near parks should be construed as a civil law and that he would find it retrospective as applied to the three sex offenders. Draper said the law is designed to protect the public from harm and derives from the requirement for sex offenders to register, which has been deemed nonpunitive and civil in nature.
MD - Former Detective of the Year (Keith Tabron) Pleads Guilty to Secretly Videotaping Stepdaughter While She Undressed
By Mark Segraves
Last year he was named detective of the year, but now a 23-year veteran of the Metropolitan Police Department has pleaded guilty to secretly videotaping his adult stepdaughter while she was undressing.
Detective Keith Tabron pleaded guilty to multiple counts of video surveillance with prurient intent in July. According to prosecutors in the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office, Tabron videotaped his stepdaughter in the bathroom as she was getting in and out of the shower as well as in her bedroom as she was undressing.
Court records show Tabron was charged with 50 counts of secretly videotaping the victim over the course of nine months in 2011 and 2012. A spokesperson for the State’s Attorney’s Office said the victim was the daughter of Tabron’s estranged wife who lives out of state. The victim was staying at Tabron’s home because she had “fallen on hard times,” according to spokeswoman Gina Ford.
According to Ford, the victim realized she was being spied on when she noticed fresh paint in her bathroom. When she inspected the paint she found one of the cameras. The victim called a cousin who found the second camera in her bedroom. They traced the wires back to Tabron’s home office and called police.
Tabron has been suspended from the police force without pay, according to a spokesperson for D.C. police Chief Cathy Lanier.
Attempts to reach Tabron for comment were unsuccessful.
Tabron joined the force in 1990 and, according to a department press release, he was named 2nd District Detective of the Year in 2012 for his work getting a defendant to confess to 28 burglaries.
“Tabron used his excellent interviewing skills to bring these crimes to a closure," the program for the ceremony read.
Tabron was sentenced to 5 years suspended sentence and 5 years of probation. Ford says because Tabron had no previous criminal record prosecutors did not request that he be required to register as a sex offender. Surveillance with prurient interest is a registerable offense in Maryland.
CASTLETON - Vermont State Police have charged a Strafford woman with filing a false report after she told police she was sexually assaulted at a party in Castleton earlier this month, according to a state police press release.
Bridget K. Sanchez-Yirka, 18, was arrested and charged with false report to law enforcement authorities after the Dec. 8 allegations, according to police.
Sanchez-Yirka told police she was sexually assaulted by an unknown male while attending a party on Mechanic Street in Castleton.
Detectives with the State Police Special Investigation Unit in Rutland, along with officers with the Castleton and Fair Haven police departments, investigated the claim but turned up no suspects or evidence of a crime, according to police.
Sanchez-Yirka was interviewed again and police determined she made a false report, police said.
According to the release, officers with the Vermont State Police arrested Sanchez-Yirka on Dec. 13. She is scheduled to appear in Rutland criminal court Jan. 27.
The Vermont State Police, in the press release, said it takes all sexual assault reports seriously and works to help victims get the support they need.
According to the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, one in five women are sexually assaulted, yet 63 percent of victims never file a police report. Research has shown that false reports are 2 percent to 8 percent nationwide.