Friday, July 4, 2014

AUSTRALIA - Dangerous Sex Offender Act under review

Morning paper and coffee
Original Article (Video available)


West Australia's Attorney General says the government is currently reviewing the state's Dangerous Sex Offenders act.

It follows the removal of serial rapist _____ from a small wheatbelt town amid fears of vigilante attacks.

_____, 41, was released from prison last week by the WA Supreme Court on a strict supervision order that includes curfews and electronic monitoring.

Corrective services commissioner James McMahon said _____ was relocated from his property because the situation had destabilised.

'I've moved him for his own safety,' Mr McMahon said.

'The situation has become untenable in that location for all ... parties concerned.

'But the No.1 priority for my department and for the police department is the safety of the community.'

_____ was handed an indefinite detention order in October 2008 after spending most of his adult life in prison.

His release from prison last week sparked an outcry from talkback callers and politicians.

_____ had five episodes of serious sexual offending, starting in 1987 when he was 15.

The victims were generally adult women, but five offences in 1994 were committed against a nine-year-old girl.

It was reported in The West Australian newspaper on Thursday that the Wheatbelt town's residents were given no warning about _____ moving in, and some female residents had begun arming themselves for protection or fled town.

WA opposition police spokeswoman Michelle Roberts said relocating _____ to another location only shifted the problem.

'It seems to me just really unfair to take him out of one community and inflict him on another,' Ms Roberts said.

'If he presents any kind of danger to the community, to children, to women ... the place for him is in a secure facility.'

AL - DA asks for emergency hearing in case of former officer (William Watson) charged with sex abuse

William Watson
William Watson
Original Article


LIMESTONE (WAFF) - The Limestone County District Attorney filed a motion for an emergency hearing in the case against a former police officer charged with sex crimes against several victims.

William Watson, a former officer with the Madison Police Department, is charged with multiple counts of sexual abuse against victims under the age of 12.

District Attorney Brian Jones said it concerns conditions surrounding the terms of Watson’s release on bond as he awaits trial.

The Limestone County Sheriff’s Office charged Watson with one count of sexual abuse in the Summer of 2012 while he was still with the Madison Police Department. He resigned, then in January 2013, more charges came down.

The motion filed by the DA asks the court for the emergency hearing as soon as possible. It says, based on new information, prosecutors believe it is necessary to add additional conditions to Watson’s release.

Watson is free on $300,000 bond. His trial is scheduled to start August 25.

OH - New search allows check for sex offender email, phone numbers

Morning paper and coffee
Original Article


By Jessie Balmert

Concerned your child is chatting with a sex offender? There’s a new tool to help you check.

A new function on the Electronic Sex Offender Registration and Notification (eSORN) Database will allow parents to input phone numbers, email addresses, social media screen names and video game handles to check if they are linked to a registered sex offender, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced at a news conference Thursday.

If the information is linked to a registered sex offender, a screen will advise parents to contact the local sheriff’s office or the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, DeWine said. Specific information about the sex offender will not be listed, according to a news release from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

From there, deputies can investigate whether sex offenders have violated the law by contacting children, DeWine said.

Sheriffs in Ohio’s 88 counties already collect detailed information about registered sex offenders, but now it will be available for the public to check.

Our communication capabilities are better than ever before. We can talk on our smart phones, we can email people, we can post pictures and share our experiences through social media. But it’s that kind of access that can open the door for predators to have access to our children,” DeWine said.

Ohio joins seven other states that allow residents to investigate whether sex offenders are contacting their children electronically. The eSORN database contains nearly 18,000 people required to register as sex offenders after convictions for offenses from soliciting sex to rape.

MD - Are Sex Offender Registries Effective?

Original Article


By Jemie Lee

MARYLAND - It gives a sense of security for many parents – having access to the state's sex offender registry.

"It's a way for us to be safe as parents for our children. I use an app to find out if there's any in the neighborhood. That's what my sister and I did before, and we actually found some. So we would know to keep an eye out, especially for my daughter that I'm worried about," Christie Sarminto said.

But a controversial ruling by the Maryland Court of Appeals could immediately remove about a third of those currently on Maryland's sex offender database. It's cause for concern, but experts say the registry itself isn't a good tool to keep our children safe.

"There are cases where someone is pleading to a lesser offense, which doesn't require registration on the sex offender registry," executive director of the Life Crisis Center in Salisbury, Md. Michele Hughes said.

Hughes was also on the governor's sex offender advisory board. She says she's seen cases where the judge won't order the offender to register, and many cases, especially those involving children, either never go to trial or end in a not guilty verdict.

"The child can't articulate clearly what happened to them, even though the child may have been offended against. Those people show up nowhere and those are the people you have to worry about, because no one is looking at them," she said.

So, what's the best way to keep our kids safe?

Hughes points to good parole and probation departments that have programs in which sex offenders go to therapy, take lie detector tests periodically, and are heavily monitored.

"There are a lot of studies that say that this works much better than sort of public shaming on the sex offender registry. So perhaps we need to look more at things like that and be less dependent on public lists," she said.

The problem is, these programs are extremely expensive, and funds are already limited. So until we can find a way to change the system, Michele says, for now, the responsibility lies on the parents.

"Parents should not get a level of comfort knowing that no one in their neighborhood for instance is on the sex offender registry, because it is not a panacea. You still need to be vigilant with your children. You need to make certain that your children are not left alone with adults, one on one," she said.

Hughes also says that often times parents focus solely on stranger danger, when in fact most children are not abused by strangers. They're abused by people they know and trust. So it's important to understand that the sex offender registry, and teaching our kids to run away from strangers, isn't enough to keep them safe.

See Also:

CA - Sex offenders sue over ordinances that ban them from places

Sex offender lawsuit
Original Article


By Jose Gaspar

BAKERSFIELD - Wasco and Taft are among a group of California cities being sued by a civil rights group that advocates on behalf of sex offenders.

In 2006, state voters approved Jessica's Law (Proposition 83), which bars sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park.

Shortly after, numerous cities adopted much more restrictive local laws that prohibit sex offenders from being present in any "children's facility," such as a public library, school bus stop, or "any location that facilitates on their property classes or group activities for children."

"We believe it is a misguided and unconstitutional effort to do that," said Santa Maria attorney Janice Bellucci, president of California Reform Sex Offender Laws.

Bellucci said the group was created to give a voice to registered sex offenders.

In addition to Wasco and Taft, Shafter, Delano, Tehachapi and California City also passed similar sex offender ordinances. So far, Wasco and Taft are the only two cities in Kern County served with a lawsuit by the civil rights group.

In June, the Tehachapi City Council voted to repeal its ordinance rather than risk litigation.

"For us, it's going to be a point where we're going to be spending a lot of money on attorney fees," said Tehachapi Mayor Phil Smith. "And we will not win that battle."
- And that is why all states and counties must fight these laws!

In May, Shafter Mayor Jon Johnston wrote a letter to Bellucci stating Shafter would stop enforcing its ordinance pending further review. The city of Wasco is currently reviewing its response to the lawsuit.

For people such as _____ of Grover Beach, he said the ordinances and restrictions placed on his life have made it extremely difficult to continue with his life. According to the Megan's Law website, in 1979 _____ pleaded guilty to lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14. He served six months in jail and was given two years probation. _____ went on to make a new life and opened a small business. He never committed a new sex crime again.

"The city of Pismo Beach awarded me volunteer of the year for a project I worked on for them," said _____.

But when word leaked about his past, _____ said his landlord terminated his lease and he was forced to lay off five employees and run his business from his home. His gross earnings fell dramatically, he said. He came home one night to find a man waiting for him inside his house. The man took a hammer to _____, who managed to fight him off, but _____ said he suffered numerous injuries. The assailant was arrested and is now in prison.

The way Bellucci sees it, not everyone on the sex offender registry should be on it.

"We have a boy on the registry because he streaked at his high school. That's a sex offense. We had a 16-year-old girl who took a nude selfie and shared it with some students at her high school, she's on the registry," said Bellucci.

And because cases like these are on the registry, they are subject to all sex offender restrictions. According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, less then 2 percent of sex offenders on parole committed a new sex crime between 2007 and 2009. The vast majority of children who are sexually molested suffer at the hands of someone known to the family.

California Reform Sex Offender Laws is lobbying for the state to create a tiered registry that distinguishes between the severity of the offenses.

"There are people on the sex offender registry who have raped a child or an adult, and they certainly would be at the highest level," said Bellucci.

For _____, his 1979 conviction will never go away. California law requires him to register for life as a sex offender.

"That was 35 years ago I did something. That's not who I am today," said _____.

AL - Law banning sex offender camp might violate Alabama's constitution

Sex offender housing
Original Article



CLANTON - A new law used to shut down a church-affiliated camp for convicted sex offenders in rural Alabama violates a state constitutional amendment designed to protect religious liberty, the American Civil Liberties Union said Thursday.

Randall Marshall, legal director of the ACLU's Alabama office, said the law that went into effect this week is in apparent conflict with the Alabama Religious Freedom Amendment, passed in 1998 to make it tougher for government to infringe on religious rights.

Pastor Ricky Martin says he built a church in rural Chilton County and allowed convicted sex offenders to move to the property because the men had nowhere else to live. He said he was trying to follow biblical instructions to help the outcast.

The camp, which began accepting former inmates in 2010, closed when the new law took effect Tuesday.

Marshall said the amendment "raises serious questions" about the law, which was passed this year and affects Chilton County only. The amendment says laws can restrict religion narrowly only if there is a "compelling governmental interest."

Martin "has sincerely held religious beliefs that he's acting upon, and now you've got government prohibiting him from doing something that he considers part of his religion," Marshall said.

The sponsor of the bill, state Rep. Kurt Wallace, said the law is meant to protect the public from people convicted of rape, child molestation and other crimes.

Most of the more than 50 men who've lived in the camp through the years are from other counties and states, officials said.

"No religion is being disenfranchised," Wallace said. "He can practice any religion he wants, but he can't recruit sex offenders to our community. That's just crazy."

Martin hasn't sued to block the law, but he said he might. Some of the half-dozen men who were living in old campers behind his Triumph Church are now homeless, he said.

"I don't know what they're doing, just walking around trying to find a place to sleep," he said.

The law, which Wallace said was drafted with Martin's refuge in mind, prohibits two convicted sex offenders from living within 300 feet of each other on the same property in Chilton County unless they are married. It includes a provision to allow a state-approved counseling center or halfway house if one opened, Wallace said.

Martin, who serves as a volunteer prison chaplain, said the camp was needed because inmates serving time for sex-related offenses have a hard time finding suitable residences after release.

Like other states, Alabama restricts the areas where sex offenders are required to live, barring anyone convicted of certain crimes to reside within 2,000 feet of a school or day care. Laws are even stricter about where offenders can work or hang out, restricting them from being within 500 feet of parks, athletic fields or businesses where kids gather.

Inmates serving time for sex crimes must tell authorities where they plan to live following their release, and prisons or county jails must continue holding anyone who can't prove they have a legal place to live.

See Also:

WA - $150,000 bail set for SPD officer (Eric A. Smith) accused of child molestation

Eric A. Smith charged with child molestation
Eric A. Smith
Original Article


By Jennifer Sullivan

A Seattle police officer accused of molesting his ex-girlfriend’s daughter was ordered held Tuesday in lieu of $150,000 bail.

Officer Eric A. Smith, 57, of Bothell, appeared in Everett District Court on Tuesday afternoon via video feed from the Snohomish County Jail, where he is being held for investigation of alleged child molestation and communication with a minor for immoral purposes.

Snohomish County Deputy Prosecutor Kathy Jo Blake sought $250,000 bail, claiming Smith was an “untreated sex offender.” Smith’s attorney, Soloman Kim, sought a lower bail for the veteran police officer, who was arrested on Monday.
- He is not a sex offender until he's found guilty!

Officer Smith is a 30-year veteran of the Seattle Police Department. He has no criminal history, whatsoever,” Kim said in court Tuesday.

Kim said his client has had no contact with the victim or his ex-girlfriend since October.

District Court Judge Tam Bui found probable cause to hold Smith and granted Kim’s bail request. She also ordered Smith to turn over his passport.

Blake said felony charges could be filed as early as Wednesday.

The allegations came to light after the girl, who is now 12, told a teacher about years of abuse, according to jail booking paperwork released Tuesday by the Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office. The abuse allegedly occurred when the girl was between the ages of 7 and 11 while Smith was dating her mother.

According to the paperwork, the child had told her mother about the alleged abuse on three earlier occasions.

Blake said in court that when the girl first told her mother about the abuse in 2009, the mother confronted Smith.

The mother and Smith, together, then went to talk to the girl, Blake said. Smith never should have been included in that conversation, she said.

The girl’s mother told investigators that after the first disclosure the girl recanted and was punished by her mother for lying.

The mother told investigators she now believes her daughter might have been coerced by Smith into changing her story, booking paperwork said.

Over the years, the girl told her friends and wrote notes about being abused, the booking paperwork said.

Seattle police personnel records say Smith was hired as an officer in 1983 and has worked as a motorcycle officer since 2002.

The department says he was placed on administrative leave on June 18 when the department became aware of the Snohomish County investigation.

According to a tweet sent Tuesday, Smith remains on paid leave. Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole will re-evaluate his status if he is charged, police tweeted.

And yet it's not being done this way!

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