November 24, 2014

Should child sex offenders receive rehabilitation in prison?

11-24-2014 Alabama:

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – In early November, WIAT 42 ran an investigative report that featured collected letters from sex offenders to see what they would tell parents to protect their children from abusers. That report caused us to take a closer look at what’s going on behind bars in Alabama.

It turns out Alabama is one of a few states that does not offer treatment programs for sex offenders who are in prison.

“If they leave and they are untreated they are two to three times more likely to re-offend than if they are treated and if they are treated re-offense rates are spectacularly low,” says Dr. Barry Burkart, a psychology professor at Auburn University.

Burkhart has spent 40 years studying sexual violence in society. At first he treated victims, but then he decided to tackle the source of the crimes, the offenders themselves.

“I had this kind of epiphany where I realized I could treat all the victims for the rest of my life and not make a dent but if I could treat offenders and prevent victimization,” he said.

His epiphany led him to the Alabama Department of Corrections where he sat on the board and helped develop the only sex offender treatment program at Bullock Correctional Facility. It was a state of the art program at the time ,says Burkhart.

“We were 10 years ahead of the rest of the country, when can you say that Alabama was ahead of anything except football?” added Burkhart.

Alabama had a program that addressed treating sex offenders who had been incarcerated, but got rid of it. So why remove the program?

Burkhart says the state’s administration did not believe the program to be necessary, “It was done during the administration of Fob James…he never talked to me but what I read in the newspapers [was] he did not believe the treatment programs were necessary and, coincidentally to closing the treatment programs, he reintroduced two old style ‘rehabilitation’ methods. He reinstated the chain-gang and the hitching posts.”

That was in 1995, now in 2014, State Senator Cam Ward says he has people asking to bring those methods back, “I have people today who say we should go back to chain gangs we should go back to how Fob did it.”

Ward heads the Alabama Prison Reform Task Force. He says prison reform is a hard push, “So prison reform just the slogan itself is a hard push. But if the face of prison reform becomes how do we help child molesters…the mama and daddy of that [victim] is going to say I don’t care about that.”

He says what they care about is where the money will come from and is the legislature taking it away from victims to treat criminals.

Dr. Burkhart says, “the rehabilitation side is not coming into the discussion, maybe it should, what’s coming into the discussion when I go these task force meetings unanimously is if this is anything about helping sex offenders we are not supporting anything with that going on.”

The discussion is clear for those working on the front lines to end child sexual abuse, “we want criminal justice to do two things, provide justice to the citizens of this state, which includes safety, and also deter, prevent, preclude criminal conduct, and nobody can tell anybody in this state that prisons in Alabama do any of those. They just don’t.”

Right now youth in DYS custody do receive treatment for illegal sex crimes they commit. The governor’s office says if Alabama is to treat adult sex offenders in prison that money needs to come from the legislature. ..Source.. by Sherri Jackson

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Mother of low-IQ sex offender worries about loss of therapy program

11-24-2014 Minnesota:

With an IQ of 60, Claire Potter's 47-year-old son Clark verbalizes at the developmental level of a 13-year-old. But socially, he's even younger -- perhaps 8 years old, according to his mother.

He's also a sex offender. Although never charged with a crime, Clark Potter forced himself on his girlfriend at a group home for the mentally disabled some 20 years ago, his mother said. He later sexually assaulted a staff member's young child.

As a result, he spent a year in a state psychiatric facility, followed by 20 years in group therapy. For three hours a day, up to five days per week, he has met with therapists and other low-IQ sex offenders at ABC Mental Health Therapy on Payne Avenue in St. Paul.

That door is now closed. After losing a Ramsey County contract, the nonprofit officially called it quits Friday, capping nine years of running the "Onward" group therapy program in St. Paul. Metropolitan Community Mental Health Center ran Onward from 1970 to 2005 before it went out of business.

With painstaking effort and medication, Clark Potter has recognized his mistakes and avoided making new ones, his mother said through tears. He recently began job training after nearly two decades of preparation.

"There is nothing comparable to this program," said Claire Potter, a retired airline customer fraud investigator.

"It's such a niche. I'm terrified of having my son's support system yanked out from under him."

Ramsey County officials felt otherwise. Earlier this year, they informed ABC Mental Health director Dane Jorento that they would no longer contract with the nonprofit and another day-treatment therapy program, Pathways Counseling Center on University Avenue.

While the county did not fund ABC Mental Health directly, losing the contract eliminates the nonprofit's ability to qualify for reimbursement through Minnesota's Medicaid medical assistance program, known as MA.

Most clients have no income, and without the reimbursement, ABC Mental Health can't afford to pay its staff, Jorento said.

"All the staff, I think, already have job offers, as they are well-trained, awesome staff, and there is growing demand for therapist and therapy services," he said. "I really hope Ramsey County succeeds but unfortunately can't see that happening with going back to failed practices."

Jorento and several fellow therapists from Metropolitan Community Mental Health opened the nonprofit together and operated it for six years at Fairview and University avenues before relocating to Payne Avenue in 2011.

They believed their strategy toward treating low-IQ offenders was working, keeping the offenders and society safe.

Organized something akin to a support group, the approach helped clients suffering from brain injuries, autism and mental disabilities to acknowledge their crimes and then think through ways they could control their negative impulses.

The effort took years, and in some cases decades.

Jorento said his therapists worked with peeping Toms, clients who had engaged in public masturbation and some who had committed more serious offenses, such as sex assaults. Many, but not all, were referred through a county correctional system and had been found mentally incompetent to stand trial.

Ramsey County officials said they review all county contracts on a five-year basis and determined that the day-treatment programs no longer were meeting modern standards within their field.

They said they want each offender to have an individualized case plan, based on the latest research, with the goal of getting them back into work sites.

Jorento is skeptical.

"Most of our clients can't keep a job because they have offended at the job sites," he said.

"They need ongoing structure, oftentimes the first stable, safe structure they have ever experienced in their lives, to create stable and durable behavioral changes, including brain neurology changes.

"One-on-one therapy, one hour a week doesn't work with these clients and hasn't worked in the past," he said.

It's unclear what Ramsey County's new strategy will be for low-IQ offenders. Claire Potter said that in addition to the expense posed by residential programs, developmentally delayed clients like her son would be easy targets for more sophisticated predators.

"He falls between the cracks for a number of reasons," she said. "The programs that are available are for people who are much higher functioning, in which case he's the vulnerable person. It's like putting the lambs in with the wolves."

Based on discussions with various state Department of Human Services staff, Jorento believes there are 150 low-IQ sex offenders housed at the Minnesota Sex Offender Program, which is located at state psychiatric facilities in Moose Lake and St. Peter.

And someday, they may go free. The state of Minnesota is under increasing legal pressure to release patients who have been held for years after the end of their criminal sentences, especially if they are deemed low-risk.

If that happens, counties appear ill-equipped to direct them to appropriate services, Jorento said. Officials with the Department of Human Services confirmed last week that they had set up a contract with ABC Mental Health to provide therapy to low-IQ offenders if more are released.

Claire Potter still cries when she thinks of her son's sexual assaults two decades ago, and she said she spent years in therapy herself to relearn how to love him.

"He's in the right place," she said. "It has taken 20 years of therapy and medication to get him, in very tiny increments, to understand at all that what he has done is wrong."

On Friday, Jorento penned an open thank-you letter to county officials and state contacts within the Minnesota Department of Corrections.

"There will never be another nonprofit like ABC, as there are very few skilled and experienced people crazy enough to do so much for so little for the unwanted," Jorento wrote. "This fight, to get the best therapy services to vulnerable clients, is over."

Counseling sex offenders rarely results in awards and recognition, but Jorento has his share of fans.

"I thought he ran a very respected organization in the field," said Christopher Onken, who owns about 20 group homes in the south metro and has worked with ABC since it opened. "We should be expanding resources for this under served population, not reducing them." ..Source.. by Frederick Melo

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November 22, 2014

Mistaken identity leads to jail time

2-24-2007 Wisconsin:

Man released after being confused with illegal immigrant, sex offender

Heriberto Tirado is the first to admit he's no saint.

But he's also not an illegal immigrant or a convicted child molester.

The 49-year-old Cudahy man spent six nights in jail this month on suspicion of both, in what has turned out to be a bizarre case of mistaken identity involving a twice-deported Mexican national.

Federal agents resolved the confusion this week. And the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department said it's taking steps to make sure the error isn't repeated.

But Tirado's family is skeptical. And Tirado filed a notice of claim Friday against the county and the Sheriff's Department seeking compensatory damages of $25,000.

"This is going to happen again and again," said Anna Sanchez, Tirado's longtime companion, who contends he's been trying for years to get the Social Security Administration to address his claims of a stolen identity. "Every time this person does something, they're going to come after him."

"This person" is Heriberto Matias - or Miguel Rodriguez, or Juan Zayas, or any one of the 25 aliases he's used over the years, according to John Nienhardt, a special agent in the Milwaukee office of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Matias, who authorities say has used Tirado's birth date, address and Social Security number, has a 1997 conviction for second-degree sexual assault of a child. He served two years in a federal prison for re-entering the country after deportation and was sent back to Mexico in June 2004, Nienhardt said.

Tirado, a U.S. citizen born in Puerto Rico, has had his own troubles with the law, including a 2003 conviction for drug trafficking.

"But I'm not a child molester," Tirado said from his Cudahy home.

County sheriff's detectives arrested Tirado on Feb. 14 at the federal courthouse after he had been summoned by the Social Security Administration for what he thought was a resolution of a claim. He was directed from there to the courthouse, where he was handcuffed by detectives.

Tirado was arrested on four outstanding warrants - three involving municipal traffic tickets, and the fourth, against Matias, for failing to register as a sex offender.

News that Matias was arrested triggered an immigration hold that would have led to his deportation, a prospect that terrified Tirado's family.

"How can they do that if he's from Puerto Rico?" said Sanchez's daughter Denise Calaff-Garcia, as the family frantically tried to win his release. "We are legal citizens of the United States."

Part of the problem, Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Kim Brooks said, was that Tirado has used the name Matias in past encounters with police. When the jail ran his prints, she said, they matched his own in the system and listed Matias as an alias.

Tirado denies using Matias, part of his family name, in the more than 20 years he's lived in the Milwaukee area.

Nienhardt said it was quickly apparent to agents that Tirado might not be their man. For starters, he claimed to be Puerto Rican, not Mexican. Tirado was missing Matias' distinctive tattoos, and their criminal histories didn't match, he said.

"We ran his fingerprints, and the FBI numbers were not the same, so we released him," Nienhardt said.

Brooks said the Sheriff's Department could have cleared Tirado earlier if it had the same information. Both the warrant and immigration hold documents included just basic data about Matias, and neither listed his FBI number, she said.

A Milwaukee County Circuit Court commissioner dismissed the charge against Tirado on Thursday.

Now Tirado said he just he wants to get back to work. He learned Friday that he will keep his job assembling wheels for airplanes. The company needed corporate approval because the jail stint caused him to miss more than the approved three days of work.

"That is a relief," Tirado said Friday. "I have three children, and they are relying on me." ..Source.. by Annysa Johnson

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Robert Haro Malicious Mistaken Identity

1-11-2004 Oregon:

With the stroke of her pen, Deschutes County, Oregon Deputy District Attorney Sarah Foreman lied to the Court and signed a false affidavit under oath and penalty of perjury, swearing that she had “ the police reports...and based thereon...[had] reason to believe that [Robert Haro had] committed the crime of...failure to register as a sex offender.” Based upon Sarah Foreman’s sworn affidavit, a judge signed the warrant submitted by the prosecutor, and an innocent Robert Angel Haro was arrested and handcuffed in front of his wife and child at his home in Bend, Oregon, for crimes which his father, Roberto Haro, had committed. Robert and other family members had already been shamed, traumatized, and victimized by his father's criminal misconduct and the prosecutor’s blatant disregard of the facts lead to a new round of pain and suffering.

Robert Haro protested to the police that if only they would check the records they had available, it would be obvious a mistake was being made. This did not save him from being arrested and taken to jail, strip searched, finger-printed and booked for a crime he did not commit. Police explained they had to assume the warrant was valid - it had his name on it.

The false arrest set in motion a cascading sequence of events which resulted in Robert Haro being jailed, publically shamed, immediately fired from his job where he had just received a promotion, his name being listed in the newspaper as a sexual offender, and being denied housing for his family, because the prosecutor's false affidavit and criminal charges had created a false criminal record profile, labeling Robert as a registered sex offender.

After Robert Haro hired an attorney who immediately contacted the court and prosecutor and filed a motion to dismiss the false charges, the prosecutor took more than two weeks to dismiss the false charges, which required Robert to pay an attorney for two court appearances.

Prosecutors took no steps to remove the false criminal history which they created. Robert and his family were left destitute, unable to find employment for over a year. Each time Robert applied for a job, he was usually granted a subsequent interview, and an indication of intent to hire, only to be denied upon a record check, even though the record stated the charge was dismissed due to error. Record searches for prospective employers either did not find or comprehend the dismissal. His family struggled to survive, and were finally forced into bankruptcy. Robert was humiliated and devastated by the circumstances which made it impossible to take care of his family. By contrast, even after Robert found a pro-bono civil rights attorney and filed a civil rights law suit, the prosecutor was promoted, being hired by the Oregon Attorney General's Office (AG's), who also provided Foreman with an attorney at public expense.

Had the prosecutor cared about the impact on persons falsely accused of crimes or had she actually read the police report, she would have seen that the officer stated in pertinent part: “I had been attempting to locate Roberto Haro for failing to register since December 2004...Robert Haro is the son of Roberto...I called Robert (he) told me in substance that Roberto is living in an RV on the beach in Ensenada, Mexico under the alias of Saldana...Roberto Haro has two outstanding warrants for his arrest...parole violation and sex abuse...This report is being forwarded to the Deschutes County District Attorney's office for consideration of charging Roberto Haro with the above listed failure to register charges.” The only mention of the son Robert in the report was that Robert Angel Haro had assisted the detective with the Mexico address. The report included a photo of the offender with a birth date listed as 6/15/1949. Ironically, prosecutor Sarah Foreman had full information regarding Roberto Haro's convictions as they had all occurred in her office.

Just three months earlier Foreman had signed an almost identical affidavit attesting to the Circuit Court Judge that she had reviewed the same Gallino police report, “a copy of which I attached hereto and incorporate by reference herein...Based on the above, I have reason to believe, and do believe that defendant Roberto Haro, DOB 6/15/1949 has committed the crime of – FAILURE TO REGISTER AS A SEX OFFENDER.”

Prosecutor Foreman not only failed to ever apologize to Robert Angel Haro for the false arrest and trauma caused by her false statements to the court, but would later, with the assistance of her free, tax payer funded attorney from the AG's office, compound the false statements to the Circuit Court and Oregon Court of Appeals with both attorneys falsely asserting by affidavit, as an excuse, that Roberto Haro had an alias of Robert Haro.

Foreman's defense attorney from the AG's office also falsely represented to the courts that Foreman had not been personally served and he misrepresented the Federal case law. These additional false statements to the Oregon courts, further demonstrates the willingness of government attorneys to disregard truth and argue whatever they hope will win.

Prosecutors in this case and in general are working hard to attempt to convince the courts that all prosecutorial misconduct, even if criminal, should continue to enjoy the protection of “absolute immunity.”

Making a false representation to the courts on oath or affidavit is a crime. Ironically, a citizen or even a non-government attorney nvolved in false statements to the courts, tampering with evidence or witnesses is quickly charged with crimes to preserve the“authority,” “sanctity,” and “dignity” of the court and judicial process; while in stark contrast, the very prosecutors who swear an oath to protect the Constitution and the “sanctity”of the courts are granted immunity, and are not accountable for their crimes against citizens, the courts, and the Constitution.

Even prosecutors who commit crimes by intentionally withholding or creating false or perjured evidence are granted immunity for the very criminal conduct for which they have the exclusive power and duty to prosecute others. In fact prosecutors are granted the exclusive privilege of determining who will be charged with a crime. Frankly, not only is it difficult to conceive of a more illogical and hypocritical policy, but it is also impossible to conceive of a policy which would be more destructive to public confidence in the integrity of the judicial system, than that of placing those sworn to protect constitutional protections, above the law. Often the court rationalizes prosecutorial misconduct and avoids dealing with the problem of the judge who works with the prosecutors, confronting, supervising, or questioning the conduct of prosecutors.

The courts solution is to adopt a presumption that as “officers of the court” prosecutors either meant well, or that they inadvertently made a mistake while zealously pursuing the difficult duty of prosecuting crime – for this purpose the courts have protected prosecutors under the judicially created umbrella called “absolute prosecutorial immunity.” The rationale for granting prosecutors absolute immunity for their crimes is based upon the fiction that without absolute immunity prosecutors would be hampered in zealously prosecuting crime. To the contrary, history has shown that this policy has created a culture, exhibited in thousands of documented cases, where prosecutors are permitted to zealously obtain a conviction of even persons known to be innocent, by utilizing criminal conduct such as withholding evidence, creating false evidence, failing to disclose or test exculpatory evidence, and by intimidating witnesses with threats of prosecution or promises of immunity.

Tolerating such misconduct undermines both the integrity of the judicial system and the very foundation of the principles of justice guaranteed by our Constitution. The courts continued condoning of prosecutorial misconduct through its grant of “absolute immunity,” and refusal to hold prosecutors accountable, gives the public a strong message that the courts are not interested in meeting their constitutional obligation to provide equal justice and to protect citizens from a now corrupt government, taken captive by the rich and privileged. By failing to hold corrupt government officials accountable for constitutional violations, courts are perceived by citizens as just a partner of an elitist, morally bankrupt and corrupt shell of our once constitutionally principled government. These perceptions of government are quickly becoming self-evident.

If the courts fail to act quickly, the public confidence in our government will soon be so eroded that our government will be in peril of collapse from within. Then the beautiful, universal principles of our Constitution, so brilliantly conceived and hard won by our founding fathers will hang in the balance as if by a thread, because few citizens have read the Constitution and fewer yet understand its principles. Then the Constitution will not be judged on its own merit, but rather perceived as an obsolete, outdated, and badly flawed document; an ill-conceived dream for freedom created by our founding fathers, which established the blue print which permitted the rich and privileged to capture the government, its institutions, and financial resources, and to enslave and condemn the general public to the eternal financial bondage of funding the rich and privileged's insatiable greed.

The purpose espoused by our founding fathers was to create a constitutional separation of power, of checks and balances, to empower the citizens to prevent kings, despots, and the rich, or privileged from taking control of government institutions and financial resources, under the false pretense of serving the general public interest. Unfortunately, the courts have exhibited a history of tolerating prosecutorial misconduct, providing absolute immunity for even criminal conduct of prosecutors, that strikes at the very heart of the constitutional promise of due process and fundamental justice. Both the Oregon Constitution and the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution provide that all citizens shall enjoy equal treatment and immunities under the law.

In the Haro case The Oregon Court of Appeals recently affirmed without opinion that the prosecutor is entitled to “absolute immunity.” To reach that opinion, the Justices of The Oregon Court of Appeals apparently ignored the case precedent from the United State Supreme Court and 9th Circuit Court of Appeals which hold that a prosecutor in not entitled to absolute immunity, “for her act in giving sworn testimony as a witness,” which is not a prosecutorial function. Milstein v. Cooley, 257 F acting as a 3rd 1004 (9th Cir. 2001). Prosecutors are not entitled to absolute immunity when, “acting as a complaining witness in support of a warrant application.” Al-Kidd v. Ashcroft, 580 F3rd 949 (9th Cir 2009), citing Kalina, v.Fletcher, 522 US 118 (1997), In Kalina at 120-21 the United States Supreme Court specifically denied immunity to a prosecutor who filed the equivalent of an affidavit in support of a motion for an arrest warrant.

The US~Observer has taken on this case as part of our effort to hold the courts accountable. Presently a Petition For Review has been filed in the Oregon Supreme Court. The question is whether the Supreme Court of Oregon will also deny hearing the case or otherwise attempt to bury any case which asserts that the US Constitution does not permit prosecutorial misconduct to be accorded absolute immunity. The next step will be an appeal to the Federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. If the 9th Circuit refuses to serve justice, this case will go directly to the Supreme Court of the United States.

These cases are important in order to protect our individual liberties which can only be obtained if we as citizens join together to hold the courts and government accountable. We desperately need your support, help, and financial contributions in this effort.

We also have the Berg and Driscoll cases which will soon be filled in Federal Court. Be responsible and assist us, before you become a victim of our dangerous and totally out of control “justice system.” ..Source.. by Edward Snook, Investigative Journalist

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Templeton sex offender acquitted of annoying girls

6-4-2010 California:

Man allegedly annoyed girls, but witnesses say it wasn’t him; he faces further charge involving threat in court

A case of mistaken identity resulted in the recent acquittal of a 50-year-old Templeton sex offender accused of annoying underage girls.

The defendant, Billy Gene Mannon, and his lawyer say an announcement authorities issued in March warning about his loitering near a route taken by the Templeton High School girls cross country team contributed to unfair public attention.

But authorities say they had reason to suspect Mannon and to consider him a dangerous person, citing his 1986 sex-crime conviction.

In an interview Friday at San Luis Obispo County Jail, where he remained after what prosecutors said was a threatening outburst during his trial, Mannon said that he wasn’t at Templeton Market and Deli on March 15 at the time underage girls said he stared at them and called one of them “pretty.”

At the conclusion of the five-day trial, a jury on May 28 found Mannon not guilty of annoying the girls.

“The system was broken from day one,” Mannon said. “Everything went wrong.”

Chief Deputy Jerret Gran of the District Attorney’s Office wouldn’t comment on details, but said “while we disagree, we respect the decision and deliberative process of the jury.”

The trial

Mannon said he told investigators he was at the Templeton Market earlier in the day — but not at the time alleged.

Mannon was accused of telling the girl that he was staring at her because she was “pretty” after she confronted a man at the restaurant, Mannon’s lawyer said.

But defense attorney Pierre Blahnik said two adult witnesses testified during the trial that Mannon wasn’t the same man the girl spoke to that day. A much older man acted surprised by the teen’s allegation, the witnesses said.

“The man clearly wasn't my client, and it's doubtful a crime occurred, Blahnik said. After 35 minutes of deliberation, the 12-person jury found Mannon not guilty of annoying or molesting a child.

The investigation

On March 10, Mannon was stopped at Moss Lane and El Pomar Road in Templeton by sheriff’s Deputy Jonathan Franklin, according to court records.

Franklin wrote in a search warrant that Mannon possessed 0.6 grams of methamphetamine, more than 300 pornographic images on his cellular phone of suspected underage girls, and binoculars.

Females often frequented the road for walking and running, and “Templeton High School students also run and exercise there, Franklin wrote in the warrant.

Mannon later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drug possession charge. Authorities determined the images on the cell phone were of women, not underage girls.

“It’s a beautiful spot,” Mannon said about visiting Moss Lane. In the interview, he denied going there to look at women passing by. He said he carries binoculars for nature excursions.

The incident at the deli took place March 15 about 3:15 p.m., according to a sheriff’s report, and Mannon said he was having a tire repaired in Paso Robles at the time.

The alleged crime of annoying the girl at the deli was reported at 9 p.m. on March 16 — more than 24 hours after the incident, according to a sheriff’s report.

That happened to be the same day the Sheriff’s Department created a flier notifying the public that Mannon, a registered sex offender, had been loitering in an area frequented by the Templeton girls cross country team. The flier noted “Mr. Mannon is not wanted for any crime at this time.”

Detectives then created a photo lineup for the underage girls to review, and they identified Mannon as the man who had stared at them at the deli, Blahnik said. Mannon was arrested March 17.

As for the other older man who apparently spoke to the girls, the authorities do not know his identity, Blahnik said.

The aftermath

Mannon now faces a charge of making criminal threats against a prosecutor at a court hearing. He remains in custody at County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.

At an April 7 hearing during his annoyance case, Mannon allegedly said, “Can we just get this thing done? If I ever find this dude, I’m going to put a rope around this dude’s neck,” referring to prosecutor Greg Devitt.

Mannon was reacting to an admitted law enforcement mistake in his case, Blahnik said. Blahnik now argues Mannon’s alleged comments weren’t meant to be threatening.

Sheriff’s investigators initially believed Mannon’s 1986 conviction in Lancaster of forced oral copulation was against a child under 14.

But prosecutors changed the annoyance charge before trial from a felony to a misdemeanor after checking with the state’s Department of Justice to confirm the victim in that earlier case was an adult.

Mannon said that he knew about the mistake in the registration and that he’d been trying to correct his status with authorities for years.

He has a hearing set for Monday and is hoping to be released from jail. He believes much of his legal trouble has been caused by his sex offender status.

He’ll appear in Judge Teresa Estrada-Mullaney’s court on a motion to disqualify the case, according to court officials. ..Source.. by Nick Wilson

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Man awarded $890K after condo association mistakenly identifies him as sex offender

12-23-2013 Wisconsin:

SANTEE, SC (WIS) - A South Carolina man has been awarded $890,000 in a defamation of character lawsuit because his condominium association mistakenly identified him as a sex offender.

"It was humiliating, embarrassing, disgusting," said James King. "Living in a small town I wanted to protect my name."

Three years ago, King owned two units at Lenora's Santee Resort Inn just off I-95. He thinks it started because of a dispute with the board of directors over the fact he was about $200 behind on association fees.

"I don't think that gives anybody any reason to do what they did," said King.

King said those board members started going around the complex with fliers with the picture of William James King, Jr., a sex offender. The problem is, the photo was of a different William James King, Jr.

"After I'd heard it from the fourth or fifth person, and after I heard it from my friend at the bank..." said King.

Word of the flier made it's way to King's loan officer. At that point, he called attorneys Jason Daigle and Shaun Kent.

"The defendants claimed they weren't telling people this was Jamie King, but asking people if it was Jamie King. We had fact witnesses whose testimony ran exactly counter to that," said Daigle.

"It wasn't an investigation," said Kent. "It was a witch hunt. They weren't going to listen to what anyone said."

"These people can learn a lesson, and realize they can't go around calling people what they want to," King said. "It's unfair, it's disgusting and it can really hurt someone."

King said he is happy that this is mostly behind them, as for the money he says he will be using it to send his daughters to college and buy a new house.

Defense attorneys have until today to file post-trial motions, including an appeals. ..Source.. by

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When the Only Crime Is Having a Common Name

7-23-2013 Illinois:

Samuel M. Jackson, of the Chicago area, already has it rough it enough when it comes to name recognition.

But comparisons with the same-named famous actor likely sounded wonderful to him after three other Samuel Jacksons got mixed up into his criminal background report. They're Samuel Jacksons all convicted of sex offenses; two of whom are currently in prison.

"He had a background check company that ran a background report that was grossly inaccurate. Almost laughably so if it wasn’t so outrageous," said attorney Chris Wilmes, who represented the job-seeking Jackson in a lawsuit against the background check company InfoTrack. "He had a background check report that suggested he was a serious, serious sex offender and that he had committed crimes that merited life in prison."

Wilmes said his client has no criminal record. His only fault? Having a common name.

"People with common names -- there is a significant risk that they’re going to get a background check that has nothing to do with them that shows a criminal record that doesn’t exist. And it is going to harm them when they are trying to get employment," according to Paul Strauss of the Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, who also worked on the case against InfoTrack.

Samuel M. Jackson, the job-seeker, is white and was 26 years old when the background report was performed. The three Samuel Jacksons whose reports were attached to his name were all decades older, African American convicted sex offenders, two of whom were currently in prison. One of them is incarcerated for a rape that occurred when the job-seeking Jackson was only four years old.

"He was outraged that a background check company would be that sloppy with something that important," Wilmes said of his client.

InfoTrack did not return calls for comment by publication time, but did settle the lawsuit with the job-seeking Samuel M. Jackson. InfoTrack settled for $35,000 and corrected Jackson’s record.

But another example has no such happy ending yet in sight.

In Milwaukee, 29-year-old Dennis Teague has a 13-page criminal background report, riddled with gun and drug offenses. But Dennis Teague has never been arrested and has no criminal record.

"Dennis has done nothing wrong. He’s done absolutely, positively nothing wrong," said his lawyer, Jeff Myer of Legal Action of Wisconsin.

So why does Teague have the record of a career criminal? It goes back at least seven years, when a second cousin who was wanted by law enforcement used Dennis’ name when stopped by police.

"I didn’t do anything wrong, and that’s what I don’t understand right now today. It’s not me, I’m not a felon," Teague says.

Teague, who has a college degree, says the name-based background report delivered to prospective employers by the state of Wisconsin is standing in the way of his employment. He says scores of interviews that seemed promising went nowhere, which didn’t make sense until he says he discovered the misleading records blended with his report.

Teague says he feels like a lifetime of making the right choices is being tossed out with the state’s refusal to disseminate his actual record, which should be "no record."

"I feel like I’m just thrown out. For one, you’ve got to think about: no employer has the time to read 13 pages. So, they probably won’t know to look and say, ‘This is identity theft. Somebody stole his name,'" he explained.

“It’s just wrong for the government to be lying about their citizens," said attorney Myer. "There's no question that an African American male of Dennis' age who is looking for work, is seriously impacted when a criminal background check comes back and says anything other than "no record," and that's what Dennis is entitled to."

Teague is suing the state Department of Justice, asking that it change the way background information is disseminated, especially in the case of identity theft victims.

Wisconsin DoJ did not respond directly to NBC Chicago’s questions, but in court filings has said its system is based on the interests of law enforcement. If a citizen like Teague is impersonated by a criminal, who uses the clean name for an alias, police investigating a case may need to know that. It appears the state does not have a mechanism to produce one report for prospective employers, with a separate one for law enforcement.

In Illinois, an identity theft victim does have a mechanism that severs the thief’s record from his or hers. It is called the Criminal Identification Act.

Wisconsin did offer Teague a letter that confirms his identity is separate from that of his second cousin's, and that he has no criminal record. Teague said he can’t get far enough in an interview process to get much use of the letter.

"[Employers] don’t want to hear that. A lot of employees say, ’Oh , that wasn’t me, somebody used my name.’ They probably hear that all the time.. But with me, it’s the truth," said Teague.

Experts say these kind of incidents point to the need for all consumers to read their own background reports. Federal law requires notification if a job-seeker is denied employment based on a negative background report, but industry observers point out it is often impossible to know if that happens as required.

Consumer rights are laid out in the Fair Credit Reporting Act , but many job-seekers have no idea to what they are entitled if a company orders a background report on them.

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse publishes a “Jobseeker’s Guide” that lays out frequently asked questions about employment background checks.

An industry group that represents some background check companies also answers frequently asked questions on the topic on its website. ..Source.. by Lisa Parker

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Sunnyvale: Trespass charge dropped against sex offender

3-11-2014 California:

SUNNYVALE -- Citing a case of mistaken identity, prosecutors dropped charges against a registered sex offender from San Jose who was accused of illegally trespassing on school property.

Theodore Lorigo, 42, was arrested on Jan. 23 based on tips from Los Gatos police that he had walked onto the Sunnyvale Hebrew Day School campus a month before. He was identified by school employees after watching surveillance video.

However, Deputy District Attorney Rebekah Wise said on Monday that after further review, the trespassing charge was dismissed.

"We did follow up and determined he was not the person who was on campus," Wise said.

She said they had sufficient evidence to make the initial arrest, including Lorigo being picked out of a photo lineup. But he was ruled out after "we later covered additional avenues."

Lorigo, who also goes by Francine and Francis and dresses as a woman, pleaded guilty to having a forged identification and was sentenced to time served.

According to the Megan's Law website, Lorigo was convicted of "kidnapping a child under the age of 14 years old with intent to commit lewd or lascivious acts."

In 1994, Lorigo was charged with luring a 9-year-old girl into his car after offering to sell her a dog he was walking. The girl got out of the car when it stopped and ran away. Two other girls said they had also been approached by a man driving a matching car who asked them to help find his lost puppy. ..Source.. by Eric Kurhi

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Merrill Lynch manager became janitor after mistaken ID in child sex probe

6-3-2014 New York:

A Long Island man says he went from being a Merrill Lynch manager to a shattered school janitor after the feds — in a terrible case of mistaken identity — arrested him at work and threatened to ship him off to Mexico to face charges that he had sex with minors.

Philip Simone, a married dad from New Hyde Park, is suing the government in Brooklyn federal court for $2.75 million, claiming his life went to pot after they wrongly busted him for being a child molester.

“They told me they had a warrant for my arrest in Mexico,” Simone, 57, testified at his civil trial Monday.

“I said, ‘You have the wrong guy. I’m just a family guy. ’ ”

Simone said he first learned he was a victim of mistaken identity when federal marshals approached him at his Merrill Lynch desk in May 2008.

They escorted him to a security room, then dropped their bombshell, he said.

“They told me they had a warrant for my arrest in Mexico,” he recalled. “That’s when the room started to spin.

“They told me they were going to put me on a plane right there. I have never been more scared in my life.”

Simone — who worked in the settlement division at Merrill Lynch’s Garden City office for 28 years — had the same name as a man sought by Mexican officials for paying for sex with minors in that country.

An ambassador sent an official request to then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to arrest the wrong Simone — and even supplied his home address and a copy of his driver’s license, the suit states.

After being placed in handcuffs and leg shackles, the bewildered dad — with no arrest history — told agents that he wasn’t the man they were looking for.

Federal prosecutors let Simone out on bail with a warning.

“They told me I had a week to prove my innocence,” he said.

Simone desperately searched for paperwork that could prove he wasn’t in Mexico during the time of the child abuse. His son eventually found evidence online of another Philip Simone in New Jersey — a registered sex offender and the real target of the Mexican probe.

Prosecutors dropped their case four days after his wrongful arrest. He eventually returned to his job at Merrill Lynch after being cleared, but was laid off in 2009 as part of a downsizing.

After going on unemployment, Simone took a school custodian job in Queens.

Simone said he suffers everything from depression to lessened sex drive because of the incident.

But Assistant US Attorney Vincent Lipari, in his opening statement, suggested that Simone was greatly exaggerating his plight to score a payday.

Lipari also stressed that Simone spent a total of only four hours in custody and that his case was dropped in a matter of days. ..Source.. by Selim Algar

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