September 30, 2014

Treatment to be mandatory for young sex offenders

9-30-2014 California:

Adolescents and teenagers convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious victim will face mandatory sexual-offender treatment in California. Gov. Jerry Brown's office on Tuesday announced he had signed SB838.

Democratic Sen. Jim Beall of San Jose introduced the legislation after 15-year-old Audrie Pott committed suicide after a photo of her assault spread online. Three teenagers convicted of assaulting the Saratoga High School student received 30- to 45-day sentences.

Beall says "Audrie's Law" closes a loophole allowing lesser penalties for juveniles if a victim is unconscious or developmentally disabled. The bill also allows public access to court hearings in such cases.

Beall removed mandatory two-year sentences from SB838 civil liberties groups and youth advocates raised concerns. ..Source.. by KTVN.com

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University of Oregon hired sex offender to talk sexual assault awareness to athletes

9-30-2014 Oregon:

KATU’s On Your Side Investigators have learned a convicted sex offender was hired by the University of Oregon to talk to athletes about sexual assault.

A contract obtained by KATU says Adam Ritz was paid $4,000 to give the football team alcohol and sexual assault awareness training.

Ritz was convicted of sexual battery 10 years ago after a woman who babysat his kids accused him of sexual assault. He lost his job as a radio DJ in Indiana but went on to give talks about how to stay out of trouble at universities throughout the country. He’s also spoken to NFL teams. In the talks, he does bring up his conviction.

UO Professor Carol Stabile was outraged when she recently learned the school hired Ritz in May of 2013.

Stabile is a co-chair of the Faculty Senate Task Force to Address Sexual Violence and Survivor Support, which formed last spring after three UO basketball players were accused of sexual assault.

"The message he sends is that this can happen to anyone,” Stabile said, “and I simply don't believe that the particular crime he was convicted of can happen to anyone."

Stabile's not alone. Faculty and students have slammed administrators at other schools that have hired Ritz.

Ritz's website, however, features more than a dozen letters of recommendation from other schools. His sexual assault conviction is brought up on the site in small print.

KATU’s On Your Side Investigators called Ritz and emailed him, but so far he has not responded.

KATU asked UO’s interim president several questions about Ritz and got a response from a spokesman saying, “Adam Ritz is a nationally renowned public speaker on the topic of alcohol and drug awareness and the consequences of poor decisions. His personal experience is a critical component of his message.”

The talk by Ritz was one of four sex assault awareness presentations given to the football team last year.

The basketball team, meanwhile, only attended one group seminar, an hour-long talk on “healthy relationships,” according to documents released by the UO athletic department. ..Source..w/Video.. by Joe Douglass

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September 29, 2014

Easton settles Boobies costs for $385,000

9-29-2014 Pennsylvania:

Easton Area School District has agreed to pay $385,000 to attorneys who successfully challenged the district's policy banning breast cancer awareness bracelets with the slogan "I ♥ Boobies!"

The settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania ends nearly four years of legal action on behalf of two former middle-school students who challenged the policy after being threatened with discipline in October 2010 for wearing the popular rubber wrist bands.

Brianna Hawk and Kayla Martinez argued that the ban violated their First Amendment rights to free speech and sued the district in federal court in Philadelphia. U.S. District Judge Mary A. McLaughlin ruled in favor of the girls, and the school district appealed, saying it should have the power to regulate lewd or vulgar messages in school.

After hearing arguments in the case twice, the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals found in a 9-5 opinion that the breast cancer awareness message, "I ♥ Boobies! Keep A Breast" is protected by the First Amendment, notwithstanding its potential to offend, because it is a social or political statement.

Encouraged by the dissenting opinion that the decision "entirely eviscerates the school district's authority," Easton officials asked the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the case. The high court announced in March it would not take the appeal.

Under the federal Civil Rights Act, anyone who wins a lawsuit challenging a violation of a civil right such as freedom of expression can ask a judge to award attorney fees and court costs.

ACLU attorney Mary Catherine Roper said Monday her organization and the school district reached an agreement on attorney fees and costs through negotiations, rather than continuing to litigate over what rate and how many hours were appropriate to determine the attorney fees.

Roper said Hawk and Martinez did not seek money in their lawsuit, and that the fees paid by the school district under the settlement agreement will compensate the ACLU for its work on the case.

According to Roper, the district must pay the fees in three installments: $150,000 in a lump sum, to be made within 30 days; $100,000 on Jan. 1; and $135,000 on July 1.

Easton schools solicitor John Freund said the settlement amount is a substantial reduction from the $499,000 the ACLU initially demanded. The entire $385,000 payment to the ACLU will be funded by taxpayers, Freund said. The school district's own legal fees totaled $110,000, and insurance covered 90 percent of that cost, he said.

The fees Easton Area School District will pay in the "Boobies" case are more substantial than in other recent Pennsylvania student-speech cases.

Pocono Mountain School District in 2013 paid $90,000 to lawyers after the 3rd Circuit ruled a fifth-grade girl's First Amendment rights were violated when school officials refused to let her hand out invitations to a church Christmas party.

A federal court in Scranton awarded $246,048 in fees and $29,403 in costs to the ACLU after the 3rd Circuit ruled in 2010 that Blue Mountain School District officials violated an eighth-grade girl's rights by suspending her after she lampooned her principal on a Myspace page she created. ..Source.. by Peter Hall

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Gov Jerry Brown signs 7 bills beefing up California's human trafficking laws

9-29-2014 California:

Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday signed into law seven new bills intended to thwart human trafficking.

The bills were mostly uncontroversial and had bipartisan support; they primarily involved enhancements and upgrades to existing laws on human trafficking and youth prostitution.

They included AB1585, by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, a Democrat from Watsonville, allowing courts to expunge prostitution convictions when people are found to be victims of human trafficking. The bill, which passed the Assembly by a 73-0 vote and was sponsored by state Attorney General Kamala Harris, lets defendants who are who are convicted of soliciting prostitution to petition to clear their record if they have evidence they were victims of human trafficking.

Alejo said when he introduced the bill that many human trafficking victims "are commonly and wrongly convicted for solicitation of prostitution."

Another, SB477, requires contractors hiring foreign-born nurses, home health workers, researchers and tech-sector workers in California to meet new standards.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said the standards were needed to protect laborers from abuse and human trafficking because many end up in what amounts to indentured servitude because they cannot repay recruitment fees charged to place them in jobs.

Two other bills increase the penalties for soliciting child prostitutes.

AB1791 by Republican Assemblyman Brian Maienschein of San Diego doubles county jail sentences to a year for people convicted of soliciting child prostitutes. Before amendments to the bill, defendants originally would have faced up to life in state prison on human trafficking charges regardless of whether they knew the minor prostitute's age, but it raised concerns over worsening prison overcrowding.

The other, SB1388, increases fines for the solicitation of an act of prostitution involving a minor.

"Instead of going after those who sell the sex, we can now go after those who buy the sex," the bill's sponsor Democratic Sen. Ted Lieu of Redondo Beach said in a statement Sunday. "The message now is clear: If you purchase sex, especially from a minor, then you will be prosecuted, fined and put in jail because our children are not for sale." ..Source.. by The Republic

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Wisconsin proposal would severely limit where sex offenders can live

9-29-2014 Wisconsin:

Would require incoming sex offenders to live at least 2,500 feet, or about half a mile, from facilities for children

ELKHORN, Wis. — An ordinance being considered by the Elkhorn City Council would restrict incoming sex offenders to living in pockets within the city, according to a Gazette analysis.

In September, the city council voted 4-3 in favor of drafting the ordinance, which would require incoming sex offenders to live at least 2,500 feet, or about half a mile, from facilities for children. More than a dozen facilities including schools, parks and licensed and certified daycare centers are listed.

Juveniles with legal guardians and offenders who lived at homes within the limits at the time of their crimes would be exempt. Offenders living within the 2,500-feet limit now would be grandfathered in.

The heated discussion at the September meeting extended outside council chambers.

Travis Schwantes, Walworth County public defender, opposes the ordinance based on research he's read and conferences on sex offenders he's attended.

Ordinances such as this one lead to a devastating cycle of behavior and make the community less safe, Schwantes said.

“When you create another barrier to people who have served their time getting out, (like) not being able to find a place to live, you're making us less safe,” Schwantes said. “You're increasing the strain on public resources. There ends up being sex offender ghettos where you have an enormous concentration of sex offenders, and research shows that isn't an ideal thing, either.”

Offenders' emotional and physical stability waiver when their living options are severely restricted, and such limits can result in homelessness, said Michael Caldwell, president of the Wisconsin Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers and a psychiatrist for juvenile delinquents charged with sexual crimes.

East Troy's restriction of 1,500 feet from facilities for children hasn't resulted in homelessness, said Joel Christensen, Elkhorn's police chief.

Research on whether displacing offenders increases recidivism is not abundant, Caldwell said. He cautioned that when criminals have housing issues or difficulty getting to treatment, recidivism can increase.

“It certainly seems to produce more homelessness in this population, and we would expect that would translate into criminal recidivism -- either sexual recidivism or other kinds of criminal behaviors,” Caldwell said.

Brian Olson, Elkhorn's mayor and an ordinance proponent, said conversations with judges and other community representatives with similar ordinances have shown that recidivism doesn't increase and homelessness isn't a problem.

About 30 states in the United States and thousands of municipalities have adopted ordinances restricting where offenders live, according to a 2009 Colorado Department of Public Safety study.

Most ordinances have restrictions of between 1,000 and 2,500 feet from facilities for children, according to a 2008 Minnesota Department of Corrections study.

Olson brought up the ordinance a few years ago because of what he called a volume issue and citizen concerns.

Elkhorn has the majority of the county's 265 registered sex offenders. It has 60, or six per 1,000 residents. The city of Delavan follows with 39 registered offenders or 4.6 offenders per 1,000 residents.

Adopting the ordinance is a way to limit the number of offenders and make concerned people feel safe, Alderman Jim D'Alessandro said.

“The perception of the area is that we're a dumping ground and that the other communities are not sharing in the burden of having to house sex offenders,” D'Alessandro said.

Restricting incoming offenders doesn't address the population living in the city, said Scott McClory, an alderman and Walworth County Sheriff's Office employee.

“If you want them to be safe, I'm all for that,” McClory said. “If we want to keep them 500 feet or 1,000 feet from a school, a daycare, a church, fine. But when you make it 2,500 linear feet in any direction, that's the entire city of Elkhorn, damn near, so really what you're talking is eradication, not community protection.”

He also said adopting the ordinance is against the police chief's and state Department of Corrections' suggestions.

The Department of Corrections did not state if it was for or against such ordinances.

“The Department of Corrections operates the same in communities with ordinances as it does in communities without ordinances,” the department said in a statement. “We help ensure public safety by maintaining the Sex Offender Registry website and collaborating with local law enforcement. Offenders are responsible for locating their own housing. Agents will remain cognizant of the residency restriction ordinance, discuss the restrictions with registrants under DOC supervision, and direct them to comply with the ordinance.”

Public safety is Christensen's number one concern. He said the ordinance isn't the best choice based on information he has gathered and read.

Offenders living in Elkhorn have a zero recidivism rate for committing another sex offense, Christensen said. That does not mean offenders did not commit other crimes or fail to report some piece of information, he said.

He suggested focusing on finding people who are “grooming” others for sex offenses and educating the public on who offenders are rather than on the myth that they're “the guy who jumps out of a bush.”

“I would go back to what research showed would suggest these restrictions or these ordinances have not improved public safety, and I don't want anyone to get a false sense of security just because of it,” Christensen said.

Police verify offender registry information at least twice a year. Also, offenders meet with parole and probation officers in Elkhorn on an appointment basis and follow other requirements and restrictions.

Offenders are unlikely to re-offend within the areas restricted by ordinances because they are more likely to be recognized in their neighborhoods, according to the Minnesota study.

When offenders seek victims, they're more likely to go to an area “relatively close to home (i.e. less than 20 miles) but still far enough away (i.e. greater than 1 mile) to decrease the chances of being recognized,” the study states.

Offenders are more likely to victimize people they know, such as a family member or child of a woman or man they are dating or living with.

There is no correlation between the number of offenders living in a neighborhood and the number of offenses in that area, Caldwell said.

Like Christensen, Caldwell suggests public education, no ordinance and easier access for therapy, group meetings, probation and parole offices and resources for offenders.

McClory suggested implementing a cap on the number of offenders allowed to live within the city or working with the Department of Corrections to reduce the number of offenders over the coming years.

Dan Necci, Walworth County district attorney, lives in Elkhorn and is a father of three.

He's spoken with people involved with city council and law enforcement about the ordinance. He said the question of where sex offenders can and should live is polarizing, and the city's decision will have repercussions on nearby communities.

“I'm right there with the folks who say, 'Well, don't put them next to me,'” Necci said. “There are no easy answers here, and it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that there is a vigorous debate over this ordinance.”

If the idea that offenders go off the grid and don't report in is true, the district attorney's office would have fewer violation referrals and less work related to released sex offenders, Necci said.

The three sheriff's office deputies who monitor sex offenders outside Elkhorn would see an increase in work because incoming offenders wouldn't be allowed to live in the city, McClory said.

The city council will discuss and possibly vote on the ordinance at its 5 p.m. meeting Monday at the Elkhorn City Hall, 9 S. Broad St. ..Source.. by Andrea Anderson
The Janesville Gazette

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Women chase, beat man accused of attempted child rape

9-29-2014 Ohio:

CINCINNATI —A Hamilton County man is accused of trying to force a girl to perform oral sex.

The incident happened at an apartment complex on Durrell Avenue on Sunday. Police said a man lured the girl to a basement laundry room and tried to force himself upon her.

WLWT News 5's Andrew Setters said a witness, Rasheeda Lawson, said she heard a woman yell “Someone call the police, he just touched my daughter,” and saw a man, later identified as Terry Johnson, running away while trying to pull up his pants.

The 7-year-old victim's mom ran after Johnson, while Lawson followed in her car. "He was running, trying to get his pants back up, and couldn't never get them up," Lawson said.

Lawson said the women caught up to Johnson at a cemetery on Victory Parkway. Lawson said she keeps Mace and a stick in her vehicle and used them both.

“Once I Maced him, he stumbled, looked which way he could go, and we started hitting him with the stick,” Lawson said. She and the victim’s mother both hit the man with the stick before police arrived and took him into custody.

"The officers actually had to put his privates back in the shorts and everything -- it was just gross, a gross mess," Lawson said.

Johnson, 28, was arrested on an attempted rape charge. Bond was set Monday at $100,000. Johnson’s attorney said has a history of mental health issues.

Neighbors say one of the most concerning aspects of this case is that Johnson wasn’t someone they’d seen around the neighborhood before.

“It’s just weird, because they have a school here, a recreation center this way, you know they have daycares around here and these children walk – there’s a lot of parents that don’t be at home at certain times, and have to be at work earlier than children have to be in school,” Lawson said.

The next step in this case is the grand jury report, to determine if Johnson should face other charges.

That will take place early next month. ..Source.. by WLWT5.com

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September 27, 2014

Sex offenders banished from Texas committed assaults in other states

9-27-2014 Texas:

In the past decade, Texas made this deal with at least two men deemed by officials as among the state's most violent sex offenders: If you leave Texas and never return, you can live on your own. ..Source..sub req.. by Mike Ward and Anita Hassan

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Sex offenders defy order to leave home

9-27-2014 Washington:

MARYSVILLE, Wash. -- Sex offenders have moved back into a church-run home, just a few months after the City of Marysville forced them out.

The home in the 15300 block of Smokey Boulevard is located in a light industrial area in Marysville. The city said that it was being used illegally as a residential facility for sex offenders and ex-cons.

"We've got fewer people in here now," said Pastor John Mack, who runs Holy Ghost Ministries. He says the church and its lawyers reviewed zoning laws and believe they have a right to run a church office, which includes several "caretakers," on the grounds. The caretakers are three registered sex offenders.

Previously, the church had nine sex offenders living in the home.

Level 1 sex offender Jim Baker says the home provides him with a stable environment that helps keep him on the straight and narrow.

Holy Ghost Ministries has grown over the years in Snohomish County. It now operates ten facilities that house or assist ex-cons – most of them hard-to-place registered sex offenders.

The ministry filed suit over the Smokey Point Boulevard evictions. That case is now being heard is U.S. District Court in Seattle. In the federal court case, attorney Scott Stafne says the city is violating the ministry's freedom of religion. He has also filed emails that he says show the Marysville Police Department and other city entities conspired to kick the sex offenders out of all Marysville facilities related to the sex offender housing.

A City of Marysville spokesperson declined to discuss the case, citing the pending litigation. ..Source.. by Chris Ingalls

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Nicole Pelletier, Outraged Mom, Allegedly Assaults Neighbor Who Faces Child Porn Charges

9-27-2014 Massachusetts:

A Massachusetts mom faces felony charges after she admitted to assaulting her neighbor, who had returned home after being arrested on child porn charges.

According to a police report obtained by The Smoking Gun, Nicole Pelletier, 42, entered Gary Spring's condo through an unlocked door the evening of Sept. 22.

Spring, 61, a former Merrimack College professor who was recently fired after being charged with possession of child pornography, told police that he was in bed when Pelletier entered his bedroom and punched him square in the face.

The accused man lives in the apartment directly below Pelletier and her two children, 11 and 13. The woman, who was described in the report as "crying and visibly upset" with blood on her arm and hands, called 911 herself after attacking her neighbor.

Danvers police said that Pelletier admitted hitting Spring, and told a dispatcher that she wanted to kill the man. Pelletier, who is a Navy veteran and clinical social worker, is charged with assault and battery and breaking and entering.

Spring, who got a bloody nose in the attack, refused medical treatment.

He was released from federal custody Monday on $30,000 bond after being arrested Sept. 19 on child pornography charges. The arrest was the result of a two-month probe by the FBI, which began investigating after IT workers at the Catholic college discovered a virus on Spring's computer.

“Spring stated that he took two thumb drives, totaling 6 gigabytes, which were full of child pornography and threw them in the trash at his home,” according to an FBI affidavit.

Spring also “admitted being sexually aroused by child pornography" to police, and said he'd tried to destroy the drives because he didn't want his adult aged children to find them if he died, according to NECN.

Although a judge ordered Spring to stay away from children and places where they congregate, he is permitted to reside in a condo complex where children also live, according to The Smoking Gun. ..Source.. by Andres Jauregui

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