Thursday, March 13, 2014

CA - DNA Evidence Found on Bulletproof Vest of San Jose Cop (Geoffrey Evatt Graves) Accused of Rape

Geoffrey Evatt Graves
Geoffrey Evatt Graves
Original Article


By Marianne Favro

New information has emerged regarding evidence in a case for a San Jose police officer accused of raping a hotel maid.

Sources tell NBC Bay Area DNA evidence from Officer Geoffrey Evatt Graves' bulletproof vest is undergoing forensic analysis. Court documents also reveal other physical evidence supports the rape allegation.

Graves, 38, is charged with raping a woman whom authorities said he was tasked with helping after she had fled a fight with her drunken husband. He was arrested on Monday of one count of felony sexual assault following a five-month investigation.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney, however, ended up filing one count of forcible rape.

Graves, who is out of custody after posting bail, is scheduled to be formally arraigned on March 24. If convicted of the charge, he could face a maximum of eight years in prison and have to register as a sex offender, according to court documents filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court.

A judge may also decide at a probable cause hearing to force him to take an HIV test.

News of the officer's arrest have local domestic violence groups worried.

Kathleen Krenek, Next Door executive director, said other potential domestic violence victims are telling her they are now afraid to call police.

"We have a couple of people call and ask us 'Should I call police or should I just call you?'" she said.

San Jose Police Department Chief Larry Esquivel said he is concerned Graves' arrest will create public-trust issue in his department.

"It may and I hope it doesn't because it is an isolated incident," he said. "And you know we are not happy about this."
- It may be isolated in this county, but many cops in California and all over the country have been charged / convicted of sexual assaults.

Sources also confirmed to NBC Bay Area the victim is an undocumented immigrant, which both the district attorney's office and Esquivel said will have no bearing on the case.

"We are here to protect our citizens no matter where they are from," Esquivel said. "It is our job now to build the community trust backup."

MN - Any fix for Minnesota Sex Offender Program looks dead for session

Minnesota House
Original Article


By Briana Bierschbach

Despite stern warnings from a federal judge to fix potential constitutional problems with the state’s sex offender treatment program, talks to revamp the program in the Minnesota Legislature have buckled — again — under political pressure.

Democrats, who control the Legislature, say a proposal to deal with issues raised by locking up about 700 offenders with little hope of release in the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) is unlikely to move forward during the short legislative session.

The two political parties in the House have so far failed to strike a deal that would garner votes from both sides.

Republicans favor a plan that would create a less restrictive living facility for low-functioning sex offenders on the grounds of the MSOP facilities in St. Peter and Moose Lake. They’re referring to offenders who have mental or physical limitations that keep them from being able to successfully complete the program, such as the elderly.

They aren’t about to hop a barbed-wire fence, but they could still pose a danger if they came in contact with potential victims,” said Rep. Nick Zerwas, R-Elk River, who has been involved in MSOP negotiations.

The proposal would get some people out of their indefinite confinement within the program without moving offenders into a new community, Republicans say.

But lead Democrats in the House say that offer doesn’t go far enough to fix the long-term problems and constitutional questions with the program. They prefer to adopt most of the final recommendations of the Sex Offender Civil Commitment Advisory Task Force.

In December, the task force recommended creating a panel of experts to advise county attorneys in recommending people for civil commitment. It also called for an automatic biennial review of people enrolled in the program and an independent judicial hearing process that first determines if a person is sexually dangerous. The task force also wants a separate hearing to determine where an offender should be treated.

Those changes, experts say, would create more options for offenders.

That’s all fine with me, but you don’t need a bill for that,” DFL Rep. Tina Liebling, chair of the Health and Human Services Policy Committee, said of the Republican proposal. “That’s a bonding project that the department can propose and nobody would be opposed to that, but that doesn’t solve the problem we are dealing with.”

Talks have stalled with time running out in the short session. Without Republican votes on the table, Democrats haven’t moved forward with a proposal, fearing the issue will be used against them on the campaign trail this fall.
- You see, it's not about fixing a broken system, it's about their own reputation and career!  That is why this country is falling apart!

This is a problem that’s created bipartisanly over a number of years, and it has to be solved bipartisanly,” Liebling said. “It’s such an explosive political issue, such a difficult one to deal with, that unless there’s buy-in from all sides here, nobody is going to be willing to move forward because it’s a very potent election issue.”

Pressure mounting
Minnesota currently houses more sex offenders per capita than any other state with a similar program in place. Only one person has been successfully released from the program in its nearly 20-year history. The MSOP population exploded after the 2003 rape and murder of University of North Dakota student Dru Sjodin by a released offender.

Experts have warned that it’s unconstitutional to lock people up in a treatment center with little hope for release after they’ve served out their prison terms. But politicians and state officials have been reluctant to release offenders or make changes to the program, fearing political backlash for releasing an offender into a community.
- So do politicians run the program?  If not, then it's not their function to determine who can and cannot be released.

Late last year, Republicans criticized Gov. Mark Dayton over the proposed transfer of six men from the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter to a less restrictive facility in Cambridge. In response, Dayton used his bully pulpit to throw the issue back into the legislative arena, publicly opposing those transfers and calling on lawmakers to make an MSOP fix a priority during the 2014 session.
- Again, it's about saving yourself and blaming others, not about Constitutional rights and fairness!

Pressure is mounting to tackle the issue. In late February, U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank issued a strongly worded ruling that called on legislators to do something to fix serious constitutional questions with the program immediately or face court action.

The Court, like others, will not hesitate to take strong remedial action,” Frank wrote. “The program’s systemic problems will only worsen as hundreds of additional detainees are driven into MSOP over the next few years.”

Frank and a team are currently reviewing case by case hundreds of offenders committed in MSOP as part of a class-action lawsuit (Liebling said she has introduced a bill this session that will pay the $3.5 million it will cost to complete that review process).
- If these people already get paid for doing their job, then why do you need an additional $3.5 million to do their job?

No plan in place
Without action from the Legislature, Frank could toss out the whole program out on constitutional grounds. He also could single out individual cases where continued commitment of the offender doesn’t meet constitutional muster. Without a legislative plan in place, it’s unclear where offenders would go.

I’m not surprised it remains a politically charged issue, but I am surprised that the Legislature would be willing to risk a federal court takeover of this program,” said Eric Janus, a professor at William Mitchell College of Law and a member of the Sex Offender Civil Commitment Advisory Task Force. “Why would anyone want to delay that and risk a federal court order that could have very substantial consequences?
- Because they don't want to accept the responsibility of it and want someone else to get the blame for it, that's why!

It’s not unprecedented for the courts to order states to release prisoners. In 2009, a three-judge special panel ruled that widespread overcrowding in California prisons was unconstitutional and constituted “cruel and unusual punishment.” The U.S. Supreme Court upheld that ruling, and a federal judge ordered the state to release thousands of low-level offenders before their sentences expired.

We do not have a publicly safe plan in place to deal with somebody that the court determines we are not longer able to treat under our civil-commitment laws. That is a failure on the part of the Legislature,” said Sen. Kathy Sheran, DFL-Mankato, who successfully passed a bill adopting many of the task force recommendations in the Senate last year.
- If you are no longer able to treat them, then let them go.  If they re-offend, then arrest them just like you would anybody else who commits a crime.  Stop playing with people's lives!

If the public isn’t scared to death about that, I don’t know what’s going to scare them,” Sheran added. “It scares the living daylight out of me.”
- Yeah, they need the public to be scared of something so they can continue to eradicate our rights!

Politics complicates debate
This session, Sheran has introduced another bill to fill out some of the final recommendations from the task force, but she’s skeptical anything will move to the governor’s desk this session.

The proposal passed off the Senate floor last year with support from Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader David Hann, but the bill was never brought to the House floor because Republicans and Democrats again couldn’t reach an agreement.

After Dayton’s call for legislative action, Zerwas and Liebling were part of high-level meetings with officials from the Department of Human Services and the Department of Corrections to find a solution before session started, but talks again broke down in the House.

I was told that that [our proposal] was a non-starter,” Zerwas said. “They want a bifurcated trial system…. we could get there, probably, but we are not going to get there in a two-month session.”

I’m somewhat frustrated. I didn’t think we could solve the whole MSOP problem in the shortened session, but I really felt like in the progress we were making, we were going to take a bite out of it,” he continued. “I don’t think that’s in the cards now.”
- We don't see what the whole problem is.  If you hire experts to treat ex-offenders and then they later determine they are not a risk, then release them.  Let the people you hired do their jobs!  If nobody wants to release anybody for fear of repercussions, then you need to eradicate civil commitment!

Liebling said she got no indication from Republicans that they would be willing to accept a two-part judicial review process, a key part of the task force recommendations.

Bottom line is, there hasn’t been any real willingness from the minority in the House to move forward with this, and that’s why nothing has happened,” Liebling said.

GOP Sen. Warren Limmer, who has been working to resolve issues with MSOP for the last four years, says he fears the House will put off taking action until the court does, pushing legislators into a likely special session scenario to fix the problem.

Then all the eyes of Minnesota will be focused on us and this issue and our failure to act when we should have,” Limmer said. “When you have a federal court threatening action, it behooves us to do something ourselves.”
- It should never have came to this in the first place!

Will we get an online bill of rights?

Yeah this all sounds great and all, but we seriously doubt the government will sign off on something like this. They like control too much!

Video Description:
Earlier today, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the world wide web, made an unprecedented call. Speaking on the 25th anniversary of his creation, Sir Tim said there needed to be a "Magna Carta"-style bill of rights to protect web users -- otherwise the online community could end up just continuing down a road towards more and more government surveillance. While all this sounds great however, we're skeptical that governments would ever agree to such a bill. Here's just a few reasons why.