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July 17, 2008

ISPs Nationwide Unite in Attack against Exploitation

Effectively this is a boycott of recognized websites that contain child pornography, which is very good, assuming those websites have been verified to contain such pornography.

7-17-2008 National:

ISP-based newsgroups have taken a beating in the last month, as New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's initiative against child pornography has forced many of the more popular newsgroup hierarchies offline. Verizon, Sprint, RoadRunner, and late last week, AT&T, have all acted on the Attorney General's recommendation.

Today, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) announced a "historic" agreement where all member companies have entered into a MOU (Memoradum of Understanding) with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) to attack child pornography on their servers and networks.

The exact details of the MOU is unknown, as Rob Stoddard, Senior Vice President of Communications for the NCTA, informed Slyck.com that the information contained in the MOU is not releasable. However, it's rather clear from the press release that the fight initiated by Andrew Cuomo is now taking on nationwide proportions. NCTA is the premier organization that represents the telecommunications industry, and today's announcement has the endorsement of every member.

Those who signed on today are as follows: "Comcast Corporation; Cox Communications; Charter Communications; Cablevision Systems Corporation; Bright House Networks; Suddenlink Communications; Mediacom Communications; Insight Communications; Bresnan Communications; Midcontinent Communications; Broadstripe; GCI; Harron Communications; US Cable Corporation; BendBroadband; Eagle Communications; and Sjoberg’s, Inc. Time Warner Cable has already signed the MOU."

This total number of ISPs represents 87% of all carriers, providing connectivity to 112 million individuals. From the press release, it's difficult to gauge what Internet medium will be targeted. However, the statement does offer the following:

"Specifically, the cable companies have agreed to use NCMEC's (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children) list of active websites identified as containing child pornography, to ensure that no such site is hosted on servers owned or controlled by those companies. The companies will also report these instances to NCMEC's CyberTipline and where appropriate revise their policies around other potential sources of child pornography, such as, for example, newsgroups."

Slyck followed up with Rob Stoddard, who told us the list referred to in the press release was a "prospective statement". A representative from NCMEC clarified that the agreement is protocol agnostic, and their targets change as content appears. If the past is any indication of what's in store for ISP customers, the newsgroups may very well be a prime target.

The move garnered support from 45 Attorneys Generals. In a letter to the NCTA, Attorney General Patrick Lynch of Rhode Island and President of NAAG, offered his congratulations on the agreement.

“I commend the nation’s cable operators for utilizing the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) to negotiate and collectively enter into a unprecedented industry-wide agreement with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to limit the availability of child pornography on the internet.”

What this means for the newsgroups is unknown at this time, however as ISPs begin to enact the MOU, the repercussions of this agreement will likely be felt throughout the online community. ..News Source.. by Thomas Mennecke

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MO- Sex offender laws enhanced

7-17-2008 Missouri:

MISSOURI -- Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt recently signed legislation that he says will further enhance laws to better protect Missouri children from sexual predators, especially those who use the Internet in their search for young victims.

Senate Bill 714 requires registered sex offenders to register their e-mail addresses and other online identifiers to county law enforcement before using them. This information will be made available to Missourians so they can further protect their children when they use the Internet, Blunt said in a news release.

The legislation gives Cyber Crimes Task Forces and Missouri prosecutors a powerful new tool to go after Internet predators by creating the new crime of "age misrepresentation with the intent to use the Internet to engage in criminal sexual misconduct with a minor, which is classified as a Class D felony punishable by up to four years in prison," Blunt added.

He said the legislation also allows courts to accept children's testimony in court cases involving child pornography without the children having to be in the courtroom.

The legislation also mandates a lifetime sentence with a minimum of 30 years for serious sexual crimes committed against young children and calls for certain sex offenders to be monitored their entire lives.

Oregon County Deputy Lee Simmons said no registered sex offenders in Oregon County have yet to register their e-mail addresses at the sheriff's office. Simmons handles the registration of sex offenders in the county. ..News Source.. by The South Missourian News

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VT- Put focus on sex-offense prevention

7-17-2008 Vermont:

The tragic case of Brooke Bennett brings into focus again the harsh reality that despite our best efforts, bad things still happen to our children. This situation is heart-wrenching and scary; many similar tragedies that don't end in murder go unnoticed and unreported every day. Thanks to the tireless, collaborative work of law enforcement and allied professionals, there has been a swift response to this situation.

Meanwhile, Brooke's family and neighbors in Randolph and communities across the state of Vermont are angered, saddened and once again searching for answers to prevent this kind of situation from happening again. Hindsight kicks in; we wonder what didn't work, who didn't do what, and who we can blame. We call for definitive punishments for the offenders, as if identifying and isolating violent and destructive behavior as "other" will make it all go away and reduce the chances that it will happen again. An alternative response starts with having the courage to transform our thinking. We need to widen and deepen a statewide commitment to comprehensive, coordinated prevention regarding attitudes and behavior that lead to sexual violence.

What happened in Randolph is more ordinary than we imagine or believe is possible: A family member and registered sex offender lives in the midst of family and community. Offenders do return home after serving time, or, more often than not, aren't identified and offend for years. Yet huge gaps exist in educating and supporting adults in families and communities to take responsibility for identifying, monitoring and calling out offending behavior.

Teaching children to assert firm boundaries and make safe, healthy choices is one aspect of adults' responsibility, but it isn't enough. It places too much onus on the least experienced and the least powerful. Adults must be willing to understand the language, popular culture messages, and destructive patterns that cumulatively produce and reproduce this kind of tragedy. Parents or not, we share accountability for parenting, for making the world in which all young people live and grow a safer, more peaceful place. We all -- adults and youth together -- have a part to play in changing the culture of violence, interrupting and stopping the sources of its persistence.

What would happen if we each spoke up when we encountered language and behavior that supports gendered violence? We all are subjected to such talk and images every day at work, in social gatherings, at sporting events and watching television. Subtle or shockingly explicit, these words and images are so commonplace they become invisible and embedded in our everyday lives. We all have the opportunity to stand up for something better.

Imagine how Brooke's and her family's life might have been different if she had grown up in a violence-free state where women and girls, youths and elders were valued and safe. At the very least, what if there were:

A statewide community education toolkit for understanding offending behavior and teaching adults to see and respond to warning signs, from casual, inappropriate remarks to coercive grooming?

State standards and resources for school-based, age-appropriate, culturally competent education in sexually ethical relationships and sexual violence prevention?

A multidisciplinary community containment protocol (in some cases lifelong) for supporting and holding accountable offenders returning to society, including?

A family safety plan with ongoing supports in the community for living with offenders?

Vermont has caring, committed and dedicated people working to end all forms of sexual violence. Let's support their work.

To find out about The Vermont Approach: A Strategic Plan for Comprehensive, Collaborative Sexual Violence Prevention in Vermont, 2006-2010, go to the Web page for the Anti-Violence Partnership. ..News Source.. by Anne Liske

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NV- Second letter from AG's office state's sex offender law is retroactive

7-17-2008 Nevada:

But not when it comes to where a convicted offender can live

A second letter from Nevada’s attorney general today offers to "clarify" that a a letter from yesterday referred only to where an offender lives and not whether the new sex offender laws apply only to future cases.

In response to the American Civil Liberties Union's question of the whether or not SB471 will apply to those already convicted of sex offenses, Deputy Attorney General Binu Palal stated in a letter dated yesterday:

"The position of this office is that the statutes stemming from SB 471 will be applied prospectively."

A second letter received today from Palal by ACLU attorney Margaret McLetchie stated the SB 471"only provide(s) for the prospective application of the newly added requirements concerning residency within 1,000 feet of a school or daycare facility."

“If the AG’s office doesn’t have a clue how to interpret this law or what their position is and keeps chaning their mind day to day, then how is the average citizien supposed to understand. The state of nevada has provided no clarity," said McLetchie from her Las Vegas office this afternoon.

"They don't know what they are doing, how’s anyone else supposed to know what they are doing? They are really falling down on the job."

If applied SB 471 would increase the number of Tier 3 sex offenders — defined as those convicted of the most serious offenses — from about 160 to more than 2,500. ..News Source.. by NevadaAppeal.com

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VT- Governor’s official statement on a special session and Senate hearings on safe communities legislation

While the Governor's heart is in the right place as to Vermont's children his new policy to prevent future sex crimes is short sighted. Ignoring the unfairness of his policy towards sex offenders, the Governor is missing a greater threat towards children. The Dep't of Justice tells us that, released non sex offenders commit SIX sex crimes to every ONE committed by released sex offenders. Accordingly the focus on sex offenders is short sighted and leaves Vermont's children exposed to a greater threat than one from sex offenders.
7-17-2008 Vermont:

As public servants, our most important responsibility is to protect the most vulnerable. Children represent our greatest hope for a better tomorrow and it is heart-wrenching for all of us when we are confronted with cases of abuse — especially sexual abuse of children.

There has been a great deal of talk, finger-pointing and grandstanding regarding the tragedy of Brooke Bennett’s death. This does nothing to serve Brooke’s memory. This does nothing to address the failures of that particular case and, more importantly, it does nothing to protect children all across our state who deserve to grow up in a safe and loving community.

We must remember that the ultimate responsibility of Brookes’ tragedy lies with the person or persons who ended her life. As a society, our responsibility is to ensure that we do everything possible to prevent future victims.

This isn’t about one community or one case; this is about every child and every community. I will not rest until I can look every parent in the eye with the confidence that we have done everything possible to give them the tools they need to protect their children.

Last week, I called for an immediate aggressive internal investigation surrounding a probation officer’s 2004 recommendation that a judge grant Michael Jacques an early discharge from probation. Both the position of the probation officer and decision of the judge in that case couldn’t have been more wrong. I have demanded an overhaul of the department’s policies to ensure that no judge can irresponsibly use the misguided recommendation of a probation officer to release a repeat sex offender from probation.

I have ordered that under no circumstances will a probation or parole officer or any other individual, department or agency support the early release of any sex offender before they have served their maximum sentence.

Additionally, Corrections will work closely with Sen. Dick Sears and his committee to explore other improvements to protect Vermonters. The department has worked closely with Sen. Sears in the past and Vermonters expect that he will conduct his review with the same objectivity and thoughtfulness that have characterized his prior efforts.

To effect positive change at every level, we must thoroughly examine judicial decision-making in these types of violent sexual cases to ensure that dangerous sexual predators are never again released before serving their maximum sentence. To that end, I expect the judiciary will conduct a review to ensure that missteps are not repeated by judges in future cases.

Now we must look to the future — to steps we can take today to strengthen Vermont’s sex offender laws in every way possible. We must not put off action on those changes we can make immediately. I stand ready to call a special session to pass civil confinement, an expanded sex offender registry and a Vermont-style Jessica’s Law to enhance mandatory minimums. These proposals have already been deliberated at length and do not require additional testimony.

I have scheduled a meeting with legislative leaders of both parties and will urge them to support a one day special session for the sole purpose of considering these proposals.

My administration will be an active participant in Sen. Sears’ hearings and will work with him to advance a comprehensive package of reforms when the Legislature returns in January. I hope the Legislature will join with me in the same spirit of bi-partisanship to take immediate action in a one day special session to pass civil confinement, an expanded sex offender registry and enhanced mandatory minimums.

Children trust adults. That bond is the basis for every healthy successful family and community. When that trust is broken and is used to harm a single child, the fabric of our community is torn. It is our responsibility to join together to take action that reassures parents, families, and communities that we are doing everything possible to protect Vermont’s children. ..News Source.. by Jim Douglas of Middlebury is governor of Vermont.

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TX- Texas AG: Sex offenders arrested for using MySpace

Notice how happy the State AG is to have caught a few sex offenders who did nothing more than access a social networking wesbite, a technical violation of parole, not a crime. Notice also, the absence of any comment that the State AG caught any other person on parole, for any kind of parole violation. Why does he ignore them and focus on sex offenders, well its simple, using the sex offender stigma (SOS) the AG looks good to the public. Additional crimes committed by these sex offenders, ZERO!

The Dep't of Justice tells us, that for every sex crime committed by a released sex offender, there are six sex crimes committed by non sex offenders released from prison. So, by the AG focusing on these five sex offenders, he has missed the risks posed by non sex offenders possibly committing THIRTY new sex offenses!


7-17-2008 Texas:

Investigators arrested five registered sex offenders earlier this month for illegally using the popular social networking site MySpace.com.

“Each of the registered sex offenders arrested during this operation were (sic) originally convicted of crimes involving young children,” said Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, in a news release. “Despite clear legal prohibitions, all five of these sex predators accessed MySpace.com. Parents and children alike must remain vigilant about the dangers posed by online sex predators.”

On July 1 investigators arrested Daniel Louis Trowbridge, 47, in Seguin, for using the Internet in violation of his release terms. He was convicted in Travis County in 1980 for indecency with a child. His victim was an 11-year-old girl.

“These arrests reflect MySpace.com’s ongoing willingness to work cooperatively with law enforcement. However, until MySpace.com and other social networking sites implement true age verification software, dangerous sex offenders will continue using these Web sites to prey upon young children,” Abbott said.

In May, the Attorney General's office subpoenaed sex offenders’ user profiles from MySpace.com. As a result, the network provided Abbott with data from Sentinel Safe, which MySpace hired to compile and verify its users. ..News Source.. by KVUE.com

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OH- Background Checks for Houseguests

7-17-2008 Ohio:

Ohioans might be at risk of losing their kids if they don't know a visitor's criminal history

A friend from another state spends a few nights in your home. One morning before he leaves, a social worker shows up on your doorstep with a cop telling you that she's there to remove your children pending an investigation of an anonymous allegation of negligence.

If convicted of child endangerment, you could lose custody of your children. Permanently.

Sound like a bad made-for-TV-movie? It's a real-life scenario that will play out all over Ohio if House Bill 111 (names certain sex offenders, those defined in 2950.01), already passed by the Ohio House, moves out of a Senate committee and is voted into law by legislators.

The brief summary provided by the bill's author, State Rep. Thom Collier (R-Mount Vernon), states that the law will in part "expand the definition of neglected child to include a child whose parent, guardian or custodian knowingly allows certain sexually oriented offenders or child-victim offenders to reside in the same residence as that child."

-Now, let me guess he is looking to be reelected, or needs more votes, so he jumps on the sex offender stigma (SOS for lawmakers) to get the votes with comments that lack any support or authority, but accusations abound.

If you're not aware of a houseguest's conviction on a sex-related crime, your children could be defined as "neglected." Can't prove you didn't "knowingly" allow this to happen? You're going to be in deep, because anyone could make an anonymous call to the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services (JFS) and start an investigation.

-Why are sex crimes more dangerous than say, nurderers, domestic violence, homicide etc.? Lawmakers never seem to have any concern over them, must be because of the SOS payoff!

One of the many problems with this law -- beyond unnecessary trauma for children who aren't at risk and debates over wrongful convictions -- is that it's redundant. JFS already has the power to launch investigations of parents; all they need is a suggestion of abuse, according to Jackie Sparling, administrative assistant for the Sex Offender Support and Education Network.

Sparling is a child-victim of molestation at the hands of a family member. She passionately believes that former offenders have the right to a second chance.

Sparling says that most individuals on the Ohio electronic sex offender registry are male and many have children. She says HB111 all but guarantees that former sex offenders will be prohibited from living with and therefore parenting their own children.

"Case workers are human beings," she says. "Human beings come with their own set of prejudices. ... They're going to go in (to home investigations) with a preconceived notion ... and I fear happy, healthy, well-adjusted children are going to be taken out of perfectly fine and wonderful homes ... and put into foster care."

The potential for false accusations and botched investigations is something Tracy Golden, president of the Ohio chapter of Women Against Sexual Predators, avoids addressing. When asked to comment about the potential harm done to children and families when false accusations of abuse are made, she doesn't respond. She does point out problems within the agencies as proof this law is necessary.

-When someone fails to respond to a valid question, here false accusations, one must question their real motives, especially when that person is the president of an organization whose alleged purpose is to protect children. However, it is true that state agencies often have worker problems especially when they come full of prejudices and preconceived notions.

"As everyone already knows, child welfare agencies consistently are poorly run," Golden says. "Every time I hear from a family who is having problems getting their child's sexual abuser prosecuted (it's) due to the lack of help and actual hindrance from Family Services. Unless there is DNA left in the child, many times they refuse to prosecute because they refuse to take the words of a child as true.

-Here there is a misconstruction, in that, it is prosecutors who prepare charges based on evidence secured by Family Services, and prosecutors will not accept anyone getting in the way of the criminal justice system.

"This law will make children safer because it will do what some parents lack to do, which is use common sense. You do not place your children in a home with a convicted felon who has a propensity to sexually abuse. We all know the staggering statistic that the over 90 percent of victims know their attacker. It would be foolish to assume that this is not occurring in their home."

-Notice the assumption that all convicted felons have the propensity to sexually abuse children, notice also the lack of any valid support for such personal belief. Prosecutors prosecute cases based on facts not assumptions. I wonder how much time this WASP organization spends bringing these issues to state lawmakers?

Golden says children won't be taken from a safe home environment as a result of HB111.

"They will not be wrongly separated from their families," she says. "They will be separated for their own protection until the sexual offender is removed from the home. You do not leave the fox in the chicken coop and hope that he leaves. First you protect the chickens, then remove the fox."

Aside from providing no evidence to support her claims about JFS obstructing investigations, Golden's logic is flawed. She assumes that any person convicted of any sex crime is a risk to a child.

The nature of the mental health issues that cause people to act out sexually aren't all the same (see "Postcards from the Edge," issue of Jan. 12, 2005). Portraying people convicted of any sex crime as out to molest children and a guaranteed repeat offender isn't helping children or anyone else, according to Sparling.

"There are about 600,000 people in the national registry," she says. "According to the Department of Justice, only about 5.3 percent are people you'd really want to know if they were your neighbor -- they are of the predator caliber. The rest of them are paying for that 5.3 percent.

-Here is a misstatement, the figures quoted (5.3%) are from a Dep't of Justice study which actually said, 5.3% or released sex offenders were rearrested within 3 years of release, and 3.5% of them were reconvicted of a sex offense within those first 3 years. However, past the first 3 years of release there is no mention of any recidivism rates, but there is a comment which says, the majority of sex offenders DO NOT reoffend thereafter. Further that, the same study pointed out that, non sex offenders released from prison commit 6 sex offenses to every one committed by a released sex offender. See chart.

One of the things that concerns Katherine Blacksmith (not her real name) of Northern Ohio is the "false sense of security" laws like HB111 give the general public. She believes the money spent on registries and enforcing laws that prohibit former offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school perpetuate a "lie" that children are safe from sexual abuse if these laws are enforced.

After working with former offenders for five years, Blacksmith says that most people still aren't aware that most offenders know their victims.

"It's a false sense of security because ... it's normally someone that's close to the victim," she says. " 'Stranger danger,' are there those icky pedophiles out there? Yes. But they make up such a minute part of the population and yet everybody is being classified as being that dangerous."

Now married to a former sex offender who committed his crime more than 25 years ago, Blacksmith says the stigma is an added punishment but the laws on top of that make it difficult to move on.

"We have the worst of the worst case here with my husband," she says. "What I find very disturbing is that he spent over 19 years in prison. He received treatment. He got a very good job since he got out. He's getting on with his life. He has remorse. He doesn't blame anyone else for what he did, and yet he's going to be persecuted for life."

Unwilling to subject his victim to potential publicity participating in an interview could bring, Blacksmith and her husband decided to remain anonymous. They want to live their life together with their daughter, who's a toddler, and that's what they're trying to do despite his requirement to register for life as a sex offender.

"My husband is a lot of things: He's a husband, a father, a Viet Nam veteran," Blacksmith says. "He had a great naval career, he's a hard worker, he's a friend. He's somebody's uncle, cousin. But sex offender still remains. ... Does that ever go away?"

HB111 additionally mandates that former sex offenders can't change their name or they'll face fraud charges. It also contains outdated language -- the passage of Senate Bill 10 last year changes all of the offender categories -- and includes an exception for an offender who's a juvenile in order to allow families to deal with problems related to incest when the offender is under age and a blood relative.
..New Source.. by Margo Pierce

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NJ- TWP. TO FIGHT COURT RULING LIMITING WHERE SEX OFFENDERS LIVE

7-17-2008 New Jersey:

GALLOWAY TWP.-- Galloway Township was one of the first in the state to enforce legislation that placed restrictions on where convicted sex offenders could live. Nearly three years after the ordinance was written, a State Appeals Court has ruled it invalid.

"It's bad enough now that we can't let our kids play outside like when I was younger, now we have to worry about that type of thing," the type of thing this mother of three is talking about is sex offenders in her neighborhood.

Megan's Law was passed in 1994 here in New Jersey, to protect children, requiring those convicted of sex crimes against children to register and notify local law enforcement of any change of address or employment after release from custody.

Galloway resident and mother, Mary Moliver said, "Megan's Law is great, but no, it's never going to keep everybody safe."

In 2005, Galloway Township officials agreed saying it didn't go far enough.

"We went a step further put it in legislation in our ordinance," said Mayor Tom Bassford.

The Galloway Township ordinance banned sex offenders from living in two thirds of the town and said they couldn't live within 2500 feet of schools, parks or playgrounds.

"When you put them in such close proximity to children, we just feel it's a temptation that we shouldn't have out there," said Bassford.

"People that do things to children like that shouldn't live around children or playgrounds," said Moliver.

A State Appeals Court disagreed with the township yesterday, saying Megan's Law should be the only law governing how sex offenders are treated.

The ordinance was ruled invalid because the restriction interferes with their rehabilitation and re-integration.

One concerned resident and great grandmother said, "I don't care how far away they are, they're not far enough away."

"I don't think that any township can make tough enough laws though to make sure citizens are protected especially the youngest ones," said Justin Nadal, father of 2.

But the township is going to try. "We'll be passing a resolution at our next council meeting next Tuesday, giving them the go ahead to appeal to the State Supreme Court."

Mayor Bassford believes all council members will vote in favor of an appeal during next Tuesday’s meeting.

Dozens of similar laws enacted in Monmouth and Ocean counties and across the state could also be at risk if the latest ruling stands. ..News Source.. by Jennifer Husko

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July 16, 2008

The government gropes at straws to convict Gregory Blum in Federal Court, but why there?

There is no doubt this man is guilty of many things, but, what he was charged with and how the government convicted him of those charges needs to be reviewed. Blum was ultimately charged in federal court with violating 18 USC 2251(a) (a provision ofThe Adam Walsh Act).

First, the background facts, and notice, in particular, the highlighted portions and my comments:

Monroe man admits to child porn
Thursday, June 21, 2007 11:39:41 AM Central Time
By Kevin Murphy : Special to the Times

MADISON -- A Monroe man pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to videotaping himself sexually molesting two minor girls last year.

Gregory Blum, 51, admitted to District Judge John Shabaz that he had sexual contact with girls ages 3, 4 and 5 during the summer of 2006, that he videotaped some of the contact on July 29 and 30, and the girl in a DVD recovered from his house was probably the 3-year-old, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Meredith Duchemin.

-The Adam Walsh Act was signed into law on July 27, 2006

According to court documents, authorities learned that Blum, a former truck driver for Swift Transportation, had purchased memberships to Web sites featuring child pornography in May 2002 and a different child pornography Web site on an unspecified date. Authorities also received 12 tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that Blum was the registered owner of two Web sites, where child pornography was located.

Acting on that information, a state investigator executed a search warrant on Oct. 23 on the Swift truck Blum drove while it was in Winnebago County. The investigator recovered a laptop computer. Blum was later charged in Winnebago County Circuit Court with 20 counts of possession of child pornography.

On Oct. 24, state agents searched Blum's Monroe home. They took a mini-DVD that contained "several snippets of sexually explicit conduct involving children," Duchemin said.

Blum soon confessed to the agents about the pornography, and he was indicted in federal court on two counts of manufacturing child pornography. He pleaded guilty to both counts Wednesday at a hearing that had just been set on Tuesday, an unusually short duration for federal court.

Blum's attorney, Chris Kelly, has sought dismissal of the charges arguing that the search of his client's home and laptop was based on information from the 2002 Web site membership purchase and was "too stale" to give police reasonable cause to conduct the search.

Also, that while the blank mini-DVD had traveled in interstate commerce, the child pornography on it never did and such "homegrown" pornography was not sufficient to give federal jurisdiction to the case.

-The BLANK DVD apparently was made in a state other than Wisconsin, but that was before any child porn was placed on the DVD. These are the facts that support federal jurisdiction and charges under 18 USC 2251(a).

Last week, Federal Magistrate Stephen Crocker recommended that Blum's grounds for dismissal be dismissed. Shabaz has not ruled on Kelly's motion and would allow Blum to withdraw his guilty plea and go to trial if Shabaz finds that the search was unlawful.

Shabaz took Blum's conditional plea under advisement and set sentencing for Aug. 29, when Blum faces 15 to 60 years in prison.

Blum remains in custody.

Duchemin said she doubted Blum's plea in the federal case would affect pending Winnebago County charges, as they involve different child pornography. ..News Source (Google Cache).. by Kevin Murphy

The federal statute: 18 USC 2251(a)
(a) Any person who employs, uses, persuades, induces, entices, or coerces any minor to engage in, or who has a minor assist any other person to engage in, or who transports any minor in interstate or foreign commerce, or in any Territory or Possession of the United States, with the intent that such minor engage in, any sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing any visual depiction of such conduct, shall be punished as provided under subsection (e), if such person knows or has reason to know that such visual depiction will be transported in interstate or foreign commerce or mailed, if that visual depiction was produced using materials that have been mailed, shipped, or transported in interstate or foreign commerce by any means, including by computer, or if such visual depiction has actually been transported in interstate or foreign commerce or mailed.

Accordingly, because the BLANK mini-DVD was likely made in another state, although never proven, and mailed to or purchased by Blum, that gave the federal coourt jurisdiction to prosecute Blum.

Somehow, although technically such fits the wording of 2251(a), I think this is a overbroad interpretation of that portion of 2251(a). A more likely interpertation is, that materials purchased for mass production of such videos crossed state lines, is what Congress had in mind, not the construction used to charge Blum in this case.

For reasons that are a mystery to this writer, it seens this was not brought up on appeal, and the appeals court went off on a tangent of possession of child porn, see appellate court decision: USA -v- Gregory Blum . Something is very wrong with this appeal and hopefully it will be appealed higher at some future date.

However, that still does not answer why they tried so hard to get this case into federal courts rather than charge the man only in state court where they still have 20 counts of possesion of child pornography pending.

Now we get to why, a conviction in federal court will send Blum to the Bureau of Prisons for whatever his sentence may be. Also added by the Adam Walsh Act is a statute which calls for anyone in the custody of the Bureau of Prison to be evaluated for civil commitment at or near the end of the federal sentence, see:

Sec. 4248(a) Institution of Proceedings- In relation to a person who is in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons, or who has been committed to the custody of the Attorney General pursuant to section 4241(d), or against whom all criminal charges have been dismissed solely for reasons relating to the mental condition of the person, the Attorney General or any individual authorized by the Attorney General or the Director of the Bureau of Prisons may certify that the person is a sexually dangerous person, and transmit the certificate to the clerk of the court for the district in which the person is confined. The clerk shall send a copy of the certificate to the person, and to the attorney for the Government, and, if the person was committed pursuant to section 4241(d), to the clerk of the court that ordered the commitment. The court shall order a hearing to determine whether the person is a sexually dangerous person. A certificate filed under this subsection shall stay the release of the person pending completion of procedures contained in this section.

Now, is there any doubt that he will be civilly committed? That folks, is the reason why federal proceedings were sought. Oh yes, the 20 state counts of child porn, after conviction, will be used in his civil commitment proceeding.

Without Sec. 4248 of AWA, he would only be convicted of the state charges, and since it is Wisconsin which has civil commitment, possibly committed, but not guaranteed as under AWA.

Is this the fate of all child porn convictions? After all, it could be claimed the clothes the folks wore traveled in interstate commerce at one point and get a conviction in federal court. Just something to think about.

eAdvocate

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Catching Liars With Technology

7-16-2008 National:

It's the truth: It may be getting tougher to lie in court.

A wide range of tests designed to catch liars are starting to gain some respect in court, including the much abused polygraph, voice-stress analyzers and a newer test that tries to tell if someone is faking an illness or injury.

In recent years, courts have expanded the use of polygraphs in particular, allowing lie detector results to be admitted as evidence, and subjecting more individuals to mandatory testing, including parolees, sex offenders and police officers.

Many lawyers cite technological advancements and increased use of lie detectors in general as reasons for their growing acceptance. As the tests get more reliable, and more people use them, they say, more judges are willing to consider them as evidence.

"Nobody could spell polygraph five years ago. But as the technology gets better and better, judges are feeling more comfortable with at least eyeballing the results, " said Susan Moss of New York's matrimonial firm Chemtob Moss Forman & Talbert.

Moss also noted that family law attorneys are getting "more wiggle room" to submit polygraph results in motions for judicial review.

But lawyers aren't just asking judges to eyeball lie detector results. They're pushing to get the evidence submitted at trial -- and some of them are succeeding.

In Ohio, a law student accused of rape was acquitted last summer after a judge allowed his polygraph results to be admitted as evidence, over the objections of the prosecutor. The judge acquitted the defendant, in part, because of the polygraph results. Ohio v. Sharma, No. CR 06-09-3248 (Summit Co., Ohio, Ct. C.P.).

In New Jersey, an appeals panel last June upheld the burglary conviction of a man who failed a voice stress analysis -- another type of lie detector that measures stress in a person's voice. The defendant claimed the voice-stress exam was deceptive and coerced him into making a confession, but the court disagreed. New Jersey v. Torres, No. A-3350-0574 (N.J. App. Div.).

In Florida, a motion is currently pending before a federal court to allow jurors to hear that a suspect in the murders of four people at sea passed a lie detector test. Prosecutors are fighting to keep the evidence out. U.S. v. Archer, No. 07-20839-CR (S.D. Fla.).

THE 'FAKE BAD SCALE'

On the civil litigation front, a new test known as the Fake Bad Scale is increasingly being used by defendants in personal injury cases who claim that plaintiffs are lying or exaggerating about injuries. The Fake Bad Scale is a true-or-false test that attempts to identify those faking pain, psychological symptoms or other injuries alleged in personal injury claims. In the last year, the Fake Bad Scale has been upheld by one administrative law judge, but rejected by two courts in Florida.

Currently, New Mexico is the only state that allows polygraph results to be admitted without stipulation by both the defense and prosecution. About a dozen states allow polygraph results to be admitted if both parties agree to it. Most states, however, ban the practice altogether.

In the federal courts, judges have discretion over polygraph admissibility. The U.S. Supreme Court gave them that discretion in 1998, when it held that "the scientific community remains extremely polarized about the reliability of polygraph techniques," and thus left it up to individual jurisdictions to decide such matters. U.S. v. Scheffer, 523 U.S. 303 (1998).

"I think there is a slow trend building that is overcoming the courts' reluctance to admit polygraph results. I think that they are being used more, and I think that their reliability is increasing," said criminal trial attorney William Matthewman, of Boca Raton, Fla.-based Seiden, Alder, Matthewman & Bloch.

Matthewman is pursuing the motion to have polygraph results admitted in a Florida murder trial involving four crew members of the Joe Cool fishing boat who were killed at sea. A defendant passed a lie detector test, and Matthewman is trying to get that before a jury. He is relying on a 1989 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, which allows for the admission of polygraph results in federal trials, provided that certain requirements are met. U.S. v. Piccinona, 885 F.2d 1529 (11th Cir. 1989).

Matthewman, who has successfully used polygraph results in prior cases, argued that if jurors can hear DNA evidence, ballistic evidence and hair evidence, "there's no reason to exclude polygraph evidence."

Kirk Migdal, the Ohio defense attorney who successfully had lie detector results admitted in a sexual battery case over prosecutors' objections, agreed.

"[The polygraph] is either good science or it's not. I think it's good science," said Migdal, a solo criminal defense lawyer in Akron, Ohio. "You shouldn't require stipulation. They don't for fingerprinting, DNA, blood splatters. ... The jurors can weigh it just as if it were any other piece of scientific evidence."

But jurors might give too much weight to lie detector results, countered Robin Sax, a deputy district attorney in Los Angeles who believes its safer to omit polygraph results during trial.

"It's better to keep it out than risk a prejudice it has to a jury," Sax said. "It's good enough as an investigative tool, but I wouldn't want a case to rest on the reliability of the polygraph."

Sax said that prepolygraph interviews, where investigators interview suspects just before they are about to take the polygraph, are especially helpful. That's when suspects tend to admit to certain things, she said, adding those statements are admissible in court.

"In that interview we get a lot of admissions because all of a sudden, the suspect is sitting there thinking, 'What is this test going to say?' They can make preadmissible statements, and those can be helpful in determining guilt," Sax said.

Sax noted that, in recent years, she's seen an uptick in the use of voice-stress analyzers in child sex abuse cases, adding that one jurisdiction in particular "uses them in practically every child sex assault case to determine whether they can get any admissible statements."

Sax, however, said the validity of tests like the voice-stress analyzer and polygraphs remains to be seen, adding that the polygraph in particular remains highly controversial.

"The problem isn't the courts. The scientific community doesn't find it reliable," Sax said.

Neither does Joshua Marquis, district attorney in Clatsop County, Ore., who rarely, if ever, drops criminal charges because a defendant passed a lie detector test prior to trial.

"The science behind them is not strong," Marquis said. "The absolute worst offenders -- people who are true sociopaths -- lying is a way of life for them, so they're going to probably pass them easily."

Marquis, does, however, see polygraphs as a useful tool in monitoring probationers, a growing practice that has been upheld by dozens of courts despite defense lawyers' claims that such tests violate the constitutional right against self-incrimination.

The 2nd Circuit in 2006 upheld the practice of using polygraph exams to monitor convicted sex offenders who have been released, holding that such testing "produces an incentive to tell the truth, and thereby advances the sentencing goals." U.S. v. Johnson, No. 04-4992.

Chicago criminal defense attorney Tamara N. Holder strongly disagrees, arguing that it's wrong to force a defendant to undergo testing when they've already served their sentence.

She also has reservations about the polygraph itself.

Currently, Holder, a solo, is challenging the results of a polygraph in a child abuse case, claiming that investigators coerced a 16-year-old into taking a polygraph, which she didn't pass, and then charged her with aggravated battery to a child. She recently filed a pretrial motion to make sure that any polygraph statements are excluded from trial. People v. Jordan, No. 07 CR 23415 (Cook Co., Ill. Cir. Ct.).

"The polygraph is the only thing that could possibly hurt her. She never admitted to anything in her statement," said Holder.

Holder added that she's seen a rise in the use of polygraphs by law enforcement. "Absolutely. I am seeing police officers unable to build a strong case against somebody and using the polygraph as a crutch to get charges, instead of doing a proper investigation."

Police officers, meanwhile, may find themselves sitting in the lie detector seat in Massachusetts.

Most recently, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in May ruled that police officers can be forced to take polygraphs in the course of an internal investigation. The case involved a police officer who was accused of child molestation, but refused to take a polygraph because he was never charged. Furtado v. Town of Plymouth, No. SJC-10049 (Mass.).

In Massachusetts, trial courts have discretion to admit polygraph evidence, which is admissible only after a party can show the polygraph examiner is reliable through producing proficiency-exam results.

Also in Massachusetts, polygraph results played a significant role in the high-profile case of Louis Greco, one of four men wrongfully convicted and sentenced to die in 1968 for a mob-related murder.

Last year, Greco's estate was awarded $28 million from the federal government over his wrongful conviction. Limone v. U.S., No. 02cv10890-NG (D. Mass.). Greco, who had passed several lie detector tests, died in prison in 1995 and was posthumously exonerated in 2004.

Two weeks ago, the commonwealth of Massachusetts also paid $500,000 to Greco's estate to settle another civil suit filed over the wrongful conviction. Warner v. Commonwealth of Mass., No. CV2007-02365 (Suffolk Co., Mass., Super. Ct.).

Among the claims was that prosecutors wrongfully ignored several polygraph results.

"They not only ignored it but argued against the test results. ... It was the whole case," said Boston attorney John Cavicchi, who for years fought for Greco's release and eventually filed civil suits over his conviction.

Cavicchi, a solo, is calling on courts to give polygraph results their due place in the courts. After all, he argues, the FBI uses them. The military uses them. And police departments all over the country use them.

"What is wrong with the courts?" Cavicchi said. "If the polygraph is so unreliable, then why are the taxpayers paying all this money for them?" ..News Source.. by Tresa Baldas, The National Law Journal

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July 15, 2008

WI- Tutor in Amery, Wis., student sex case is banished from community

This sentence is totally wrong for the circumstances of this case, the article's first sentence tells us why "had sex multiple times". Further, banishment should never be used as a punishment simply because it moves a local problem elsewhere and ignores the responsibility of the judge to protect, the local area and society as a whole.

Here the ties between the victim and the offender still exist, the next step we will hear about is, he runs to her and they elope to parts unknown.

It appears that this sentence lacks a component of "preventing it from happening again," (sex offender therapy at a minimum) which judges are also responsible for when choosing a sentence, here I see nothing. If this woman has a propensity for young men then what -within her sentence- would prevent her from finding another young person in the new community she is banished to?

7-16-2008 Wisconsin:

Wisconsin sex offender banished for 15 years after refusing to stay away from victim


An Amery, Wis., tutor who had sex with her daughter's high school classmate has been banished from her hometown.

Brenda K. Baillargeon, a mother of four who was once engaged to the 16-year-old boy she tutored, was ordered out of Amery on Thursday for the next 15 years.

The unusual order, part of a sentence that includes one year in jail, was made because she repeatedly violated past restraining orders by contacting the boy at his home, work and elsewhere in the western Wisconsin village of about 2,800.

-Any guy would get 5-10 years in prison, this is just wrong.

Polk County District Attorney Daniel Steffen said the sentence was just.

"It's not common," he said. "But where there's a clear victim and a threat, it is done."

A judge has discretion in sentencing and terms of probation, and given the actions of the former teacher's aide, the punishment could have been worse, a Hamline University School of Law professor said.

"She has found it difficult to discipline herself, so this is just another way of accomplishing that," said Robin Magee, who teaches criminal law and procedure.

The 40-year-old Baillargeon, who in March admitted to the relationship, also was ordered to have no contact with the boy the duration of the banishment. If she violates any part of the conditions, she will be sent to a state prison for at least five years, Polk County Circuit Judge Molly E. GaleWyrick said.

-Remember the movie "Catch me if you can" about the guy who was a master conterfeiter, here we will see eloping.

GaleWyrick granted Baillargeon work release, which means she can leave jail for up to 50 hours a week for work. But Baillargeon, who resigned her seven-year post as a teacher's aide during the investigation, is employed by her parents in Amery, so she will have to find another job, Steffen said. Court records say she now lives in Luck, Wis., some 20 miles north of Amery.
The judge said gender did not play into the sentence, which would have been the same for a man who had sex with a teenage girl.

"He relied on you to say stop, 'This is wrong.' He is blameless. You are not. You were 39 and he 16. It is not too much to ask what you were thinking," GaleWyrick told Baillargeon.

"I have never encountered a less likely felon," GaleWyrick said, noting she was a mother, had been employed with the school district, and had family and strong ties to the community. And "no criminal record, which in the law is significant."

Those factors weighed in her favor, but Baillargeon "clearly needs to be punished," the judge said, ordering her to have no contact with her victim, who is now 17, during her 15-year probation.

"You are going to prison if he contacts you and you respond," GaleWyrick said. "It's that simple."
As a convicted felon and a sex offender, Baillargeon can't vote or use firearms and must submit to polygraph and DNA tests, and register as a sexual offender. She must also pay restitution to the victim and his family, but the amount will be set at a later date.

Before entering no-contest pleas to sexual assault and child enticement as part of a plea agreement, Baillargeon faced 10 criminal charges and up to 31 years in prison.

Steffen said Baillargeon has failed to take responsibility or show remorse. But Baillargeon's attorney, Owen Williams, disagreed.

The boy remains interested in his former tutor and is "sorry for Brenda," he said. "She came to this relationship as a damaged person ... in a damaged state of mind as her marriage deteriorated."

Baillargeon remained stoic during the proceedings and never turned to face the victim's mother and family, even when she addressed them.

"It doesn't paint a good picture of me," she said of a blistering letter — read in court — that the boy's mother wrote detailing the damage to her son and family. "I do realize what I did, and I am very sorry for the hurt it has caused. I do apologize to you in public. I think that shows I am trying to be remorseful. I am not a sexual predator who seeks out young boys."

She, her family and attorney left court without comment. The boy's family, according to the court's victim advocate, said they were satisfied with the outcome.

The teenager's mother became suspicious about the relationship last fall — a relationship Baillargeon and the boy first denied to investigators. The mother obtained a restraining order, which Baillargeon repeatedly ignored.

She had sex with him at his home, at his grandfather's cabin, on a bench at a nearby park and at her cabin near Amery over the course of seven months, Steffen said.

Baillargeon also took him on trips and sneaked into his home in the early morning hours for sex, the court records said. He saved his summer earnings for an engagement ring, and after she got a divorce, they planned to marry and move to North Carolina, where he wanted to become a NASCAR mechanic.

Under Wisconsin law, marriage applicants must be 18. But 16-year-olds may marry with parental consent.

There have been banishments similar to the one imposed on Baillargeon, including the 1992 case of a 61-year-old Bloomington man who molested a 9-year-old girl. A judge ordered him to move permanently from the neighborhood or go to prison for more than five years.

In 2003, an Alaskan village of 110 grew tired of a troublemaker with a history of drunken violence and banished him. The Native Village of Perryville Tribal Council and a state judge told the man to leave and not come back. He was given a one-way ticket to Anchorage. ..News Source.. by Kevin Harter

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VT- Governor says no parole or probation for sex offenders

Ah yes, a perfect society you seek, seems like I've heard that before Heil Governor!

7-15-2008 Vermont:

As public servants, our most important responsibility is to protect the most vulnerable among us from harm. Children represent our greatest hope for a better tomorrow and it is heart-wrenching for all of us when we are confronted with cases of abuse – especially sexual abuse against children.

There has been a great deal of talk, finger-pointing and grandstanding in recent days regarding the tragedy of Brooke Bennett’s death. This does nothing to serve Brooke’s memory. This does nothing to address the failures of that particular case and, more importantly, it does nothing to protect children all across our state who deserve to grow up in a safe and loving community.

We must remember that the ultimate responsibility of Brooke’s tragedy lies with the person or persons who ended her life. As a society, our responsibility is to ensure that we do everything possible to prevent future victims.

This isn’t about one community or one case; this is about every child and every community in our state. I will not rest until I can look every parent in the eye with the confidence that we have done everything possible to give parents the tools they need to protect their children.

Last week, I called for an immediate and aggressive internal investigation surrounding a probation officer’s 2004 recommendation that a judge grant Michael Jacques an early discharge from probation. Both the position of the probation officer and decision of the judge in that case couldn’t have been more wrong. I have demanded an overhaul of the department’s policies and practices to ensure that no judge can irresponsibly use the misguided recommendation of a probation officer to release a repeat sex offender from probation.

While that investigation is underway, and until a full report is issued by the Department, I have ordered that under no circumstances will a probation or parole officer or any other individual, department or agency support the early release of any sex offender before they have served their maximum sentence.

Additionally, I have asked Corrections to work closely with Senator Dick Sears and his committee to explore judicial and corrections improvements to protect Vermonters. The department has worked closely with Senator Sears in the past and Vermonters expect that he will conduct his review with the same objectivity and thoughtfulness that have characterized his prior efforts.

In order to effect positive change at every level, we must thoroughly examine judicial decision-making in these types of violent sexual cases to ensure that dangerous sexual predators are never again released before serving their maximum sentence. To that end, I expect the judiciary to conduct a similar review to ensure that missteps are not repeated by judges in future cases.

Now we must look to the future – to steps we can take today to strengthen Vermont’s sex offender laws in every way possible. We must not put off action on those changes we can make immediately. I stand ready to call a special session of the Legislature to pass civil confinement, an expanded sex offender registry and a Vermont-style Jessica’s Law to enhance mandatory minimums. These proposals have already been deliberated at length and do not require additional testimony.

I have reached out to the offices of the Speaker and President Pro Tem to request a meeting with them, the minority leaders and the chairs of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees to urge them to support a one day special session for the sole purpose of considering these proposals. I would ask them to return for one day to give an up or down vote on these important reforms.

In the coming months, my administration will be an active participant in Senator Sears’ hearings and will work with him to advance a comprehensive package of reforms when the Legislature returns in January. I hope the Legislature will join with me in the same spirit of bi-partisanship to take immediate action in a one day special session to pass civil confinement, an expanded sex offender registry and a Jessica’s Law to enhance mandatory minimums.

Children trust adults. That bond is the basis for every healthy successful family and community. When that trust is broken and is used to harm a single child, the fabric of our community is torn. It is our responsibility to join together to take action that reassures the parents, families, and communities that we are doing everything possible to protect Vermont’s children. ..News Source.. by Rutland Hearld

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NJ- NJ Appeals court dumps town laws limiting sex offenders

Appeals Court Decision is here:

7-15-2008 New Jersey:

NEWARK, N.J. - New Jersey towns cannot ban sex offenders from living near parks and other places where children gather, a state appeals court ruled on Tuesday.

The three-judge panel found that New Jersey's Megan's Law was "pervasive and comprehensive" and should be the only law governing how sex offenders are treated.

The court rejected laws in two New Jersey towns that placed tight restrictions on where sex offenders could live.

"The ordinances interfere with and frustrate the purposes and operation of the statewide scheme," Appellate Judge Joseph F. Lisa wrote for the court in a 42-page decision.

The ruling upheld findings by judges who invalidated ordinances in Cherry Hill and Galloway townships. Those laws banned adults convicted of sex offenses against a child from living within 2,500 feet of any school, park, playground, church or other place "where children might congregate."

Dozens of similar laws have been enacted in other New Jersey towns. Those would also be at risk if the latest ruling stands.

Some other states have enacted residency rules, but New Jersey's Megan's Law does not directly address that issue, and many question whether a statewide rule would be workable in New Jersey.

Cherry Hill Mayor Bernie Platt was considering whether to appeal the ruling and maintained that the ordinance "is valuable to our community," spokesman Dan Keashen said.

A message seeking comment from officials Galloway was not immediately returned.

The ruling was applauded by the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

"Megan's Law is already accepted as constitutional and as the state's comprehensive approach to sex offenders. The residency requirements do not contribute to rehabilitation and may in fact undermine it," said Deborah Jacobs, executive director of the state chapter.

However, Richard D. Pompelio, a lawyer for the New Jersey Crime Victims' Law Center who had urged the court to uphold the ordinances, said he hopes the towns appeal.

He questioned how New Jersey's Megan's Law was pre-empted because it does not impose residency restrictions.

New Jersey's tradition of allowing "home rule" by its 566 municipalities favors allowing towns to impose their own rules, Pompelio said. And because some towns are small, and some are large, no state law restricting residency would be workable in all of them, he said.

State Public Defender Yvonne Smith Segars, who urged the appeals court to strike down the laws, agreed that a state law would be unworkable, especially in urban areas, because "everything is within 10 feet of everything."

"You can't impose unrealistic burdens on people and expect them to reintegrate. They paid their debt to society and are under supervision," Segars said.

The appellate panel says it did not have to decide constitutional issues because state law pre-empted the local laws.

The Cherry Hill law was challenged by two sex offenders convicted of violating the law after being placed in a motel by welfare officers with the approval of their probation and parole officers. The two men were considered moderate risks of committing another sex offense.

A 20-year-old college freshman at Richard Stockton College, in Galloway Township, challenged the law there after moving into a dormitory on campus. The student was considered a low-risk sex offender for an offense he committed when he was 15 against a 13-year-old girl.

Calls to their lawyers were not immediately returned.

The three men were among about 11,000 sex offenders registered in New Jersey, the first state to enact a Megan's Law. It was passed after a 7-year-old Hamilton Township girl, Megan Kanka, was killed in 1994 by a sex offender who lived in her neighborhood. Similar laws in other states and eventually the nation followed.

In New Jersey, neighbors of high-risk offenders are notified by police. ..News Source.. by JEFFREY GOLD

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Find Evidence on Your Opponent's Web Site

7-15-2008 National:

One of the best places on the Internet to find information about a company -- such as a litigation adversary -- is the company's own Web site. But while a visitor researches a company, the company may be researching the visitor, revealing more than the researcher would like. In addition, the company may at any time change or remove information on its Web site that may be most valuable to the researcher. This article discusses the information that Web site owners can learn about visitors to their site, and shows ways to see older versions of Web pages that may have been changed or removed.

Web sites routinely collect certain information from visitors to maintain statistics and to enhance the visitor's experience on the Web site. Much of this information may be sent from the visitor's computer to the Web site without the visitor's knowledge, and may reveal more than the visitor expects. A Web site owner can learn many things about visitors through "cookies" and environment variables such as the IP address.

A "cookie" is a small piece of information written on a visitor's computer by a Web site. A cookie might contain the visitor's Web site user name and password, display preferences or even name and address. When a Web site offers to "remember" a visitor, it is offering to write cookies. Cookies stay on the visitor's computer after the visitor has left the Web site, closed the Web browser, disconnected from the Internet and even turned off the computer. If a visitor provides his name and e-mail address to a Web site, that information might be stored in a cookie, and would be available to the Web site on the next visit, which could be months later.

Cookies have received a great deal of attention in the media because privacy advocates are concerned about the way advertisers use cookies. However, cookies are probably not a significant concern for those performing covert research on an opposing party's Web site. As a general rule, cookies contain only information that the visitor has provided to the Web site or information that the Web site could have obtained without cookies.

If a visitor is concerned about information that might be stored in cookies, cookies can be erased. In the Internet Explorer Web browser, for example, the visitor can pick Tools menu, Internet Options, General, Delete Cookies. This can be done at any time -- before, during or after the visit to a Web site -- and will immediately delete all cookies. Unfortunately, this will also delete desirable cookies, such as Westlaw or Lexis logins. For those who wish to preserve desirable cookies while deleting undesirable cookies, there is privacy software that provides enhanced cookie management.

A greater concern for those performing covert research is environment variables, particularly the Internet Protocol address. The IP address is a unique identifying set of numbers used to direct communications through a network or the Internet. A Web site always has access to every visitor's IP address: Without that information, the Web site and visitor would not be able to communicate. However, the IP address may reveal more than the visitor realizes.

Most larger businesses, including large law firms, have "static" IP addresses, permanent IP addresses that specifically identify the company. For example, the static IP address 67.200.59.2 can easily be identified as the Young Conaway law firm. Most smaller businesses and residential connections to the Internet use "dynamic" IP addresses, temporary addresses that are assigned when the person connects to the Internet and may be different every time. The dynamic IP address 141.158.235.41 can be identified as a customer of the Verizon Internet service in the Philadelphia area, but cannot be connected to a specific individual or company.

The Web site Broadband Reports has a useful tool to show what can be learned from a person's IP address. When a person visits www.dslreports.com/whois, the page displays the visitor's current IP address. That IP address can then be entered in the WhoIs box to learn what is readily known about that IP address. Another site, www.IP-adress.com, displays the IP address of the current visitor with a map showing the locality associated with the IP address.

Web sites routinely store IP addresses for statistical purposes, but Web site owners do not ordinarily analyze the IP address of every visitor to a Web site, so there is little concern in casually browsing public areas of an opponent's Web site. However, Web site owners are likely to check the IP address when there is suspicious behavior. For example, they might check the IP address of a person who tries to view a confidential, blocked or hidden page. They might check the source of an e-mail requesting information about the company or its products. Users should be aware that the e-mail sender's identity cannot be concealed by using Web e-mail services, such as a Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo Mail -- these services embed the sender's IP address in the e-mail. The only way to effectively conceal the sender's identity is to send the e-mail from some other location, such as a home computer, a public library or an Internet cafe.

Web site owners may also track the IP addresses of messages posted on the Web site's message boards or chats conducted through online chat services, and are likely to check the address if the post or chat is suspicious in nature. For example, if a visitor posts a message on a customer support message board asking if any other customers have had a particular problem with the company's product, the site owner might be inclined to check the poster's IP address.

Environment variables can also reveal the last page that the visitor saw before coming to the current page, the page where the visitor clicked a link to come to the current page. Like IP addresses, this is not the sort of thing that a Web site owner normally checks in the absence of suspicious activity. However, if a page on one site links to a page on another site that is supposed to be confidential or hidden, the host of the latter site might look into the former site and into the visitors who clicked that link.

Other information found in environment variables is generally less of a concern for covert research. For example, environment variables reveal the visitor's browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, etc.), which is not especially confidential. Hypothetically, environment variables could reveal a visitor's network login, but as a practical matter that information is rarely revealed.

THE WAYBACK MACHINE

Browsing a party's Web site will only show the information that the Web site owner currently wants visitors to see. Sometimes, the most valuable information about an opposing party is the information that has been changed or removed. Fortunately, there are ways to see older versions of Web pages. Pages that were changed recently can be viewed through Google's cache feature. Pages that were changed months or years ago may be available through the Internet Archive, also known as the Wayback Machine. Viewing these older versions of Web pages avoids the privacy risks discussed above: The copied pages are not on the company's Web site, so the company has no record of the researcher's activities.

When Google indexes Web pages, it stores a copy, referred to as a "cached" page. Google provides a link labeled "Cached" that allows researchers to view this copy. This cached version may be a day, a week or a month old, depending on how recently Google indexed the page.

Google's cache is most useful when the page found in a search doesn't fit the search performed. The mismatch occurs because the page has changed since it was indexed. The cached version will show the page as it appeared when it was indexed, with the search terms highlighted. The cache can also be useful when seeking information that is known to have been recently removed. If a researcher recently saw useful information on a Web site but that information is no longer there, a Google search for the missing information could turn up a cached version of the page that would contain the desired information. Google discusses its cache feature in detail in the Google Guide at Cached Pages.

If older versions of Web pages are desired, they may be found in the Internet Archive, better known as the Wayback Machine, a reference to the "Peabody's Improbable History" segment on the classic "Rocky and Bullwinkle" cartoons. The Wayback Machine crawls the Internet and makes copies of Web pages, storing them as they existed at some time in the past. It currently stores more than 85 billion Web pages, comprising two petabytes of information, archived since 1996.

The Wayback Machine does not allow visitors to search the archive's content; it simply retrieves older versions of a page with a known Web address. The page may not look precisely the way it did at that time: Images, formatting or code may be missing from the page. However, the text of the page is as it was on the day it was archived. Links on the page will function, and will take the visitor to archived versions of the linked page, allowing visitors to browse through an older version of the site. This is very useful if the precise address of the desired old page is unknown. Users should be aware, however, that the linked page may not be from precisely the same date as the linking page. It is important to watch the URL (Web address), which indicates the date in a year-month-day format. For example, the Wayback Machine contains a version of the Young Conaway home page archived on Aug. 11, 2007, with this URL: http://web.archive.org/web/20070811170145/http://ycst.com/. The page links to an article about the firm's support for the South Asian Bar Association that was archived on June 29, 2007, with this URL: http://web.archive.org/web/20070629214521/ycst.com/newsart.htm?a=179.

The Wayback Machine can be used to find older versions of guidelines, policies or procedures of an organization that have since been changed. It may contain claims that the company made about its products, services or business prospects that it may now deny. It may show when a company possessed particular information. It may hold older versions of manuals or documentation that are no longer available.

USE AS EVIDENCE IN LITIGATION

The Wayback Machine has been used several times as evidence in trade secret and copyright infringement cases. See Syncsort Inc. v. Innovative Routines International Inc., No. 04-3623, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 35364 (D.N.J. April 30, 2008) (to prove that information was not a trade secret because it was publicly available on the Internet at one time); Allen v. The Ghoulish Gallery, No. 06cv371, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 86224 (S.D. Calif. Nov. 20, 2007) (to prove validity of copyright claim); Telewizja Polska USA Inc. v. Echostar Satellite Corp., No. 02 C 3293, 2004 U.S. Dist. Lexis 20845 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 14, 2004) (to demonstrate inaccurate claims made in opposing party's past advertising).

However, use of the Wayback Machine as evidence has been questioned as hearsay under Fed. R. Evid. 801 and as lacking authentication under Fed. R. Evid. 901. See, e.g., Novak v. Tucows Inc., No. 06-CV-1909, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 21269 (E.D.N.Y. March 26, 2007); Chamilia LLC v. Pandora Jewelry LLC, No. 04-CV-6017, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 71246 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 24, 2007); and St. Luke's Cataract & Laser Inst. P.A. v. Sanderson, No. 8:06-CV-223, 2006 U.S. Dist. Lexis 28873 (M.D. Fla. May 12, 2006), though one court has permitted its use over such objections. See Telewizja Polska USA, 2004 U.S. Dist. Lexis 20845, at *6 (finding an affidavit to be sufficient authentication, and the information not hearsay as an admission by a party-opponent). Nevertheless, the Wayback Machine remains a valuable research tool, even if its contents cannot be used for evidence.

Researching an opposing party's Web site, both past and present content, can be a valuable source of information. But researchers must remember that if they are looking at their opponent's current Web site, rather than an older copy, the Web site owner may be aware of who they are and what they are doing. ..News Source.. by Tracey R. Rich is the library and information services administrator for Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor in Wilmington, Del., and is the co-author of Bisel's Pennsylvania Damages.

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Police caution 13yo girl over sex pictures on MySpace

7-15-2008 New Zealand:

A 13-year-old girl has been cautioned by police after sexually explicit pictures of another 13-year-old girl were posted on social networking site MySpace without her knowledge.


A 17-year-old boy could also face charges over the incident, say Victorian police, who called in the FBI in the United States to help with the investigation.

The case began two months ago when one of the 13-year-old girls sent sexually explicit pictures of herself to her 17-year-old boyfriend at that time, said police based at Bacchus March, west of Melbourne.

The images later came into the possession of a second 13-year-old girl, who then created a false MySpace account using the first girl's identity and posted the explicit images.

After receiving a complaint, police began an investigation in conjunction with the FBI and Australian Federal Police, who helped obtain computer-based evidence and close the MySpace site.

Detective Sergeant Tony Coxall said the investigation was a timely reminder to all parents to monitor their children's use of computers and the internet.

"Cyber bullying can be very traumatic and upsetting for the victim and there can be instances where the perpetrator doesn't know that they are actually breaking the law," he said.

"Any explicit images can constitute serious criminal offences and are investigated accordingly."

Det Sgt Coxall said images posted on the internet could be hard to erase and could become a record for many years to come.

"Children should be very careful when creating personalised accounts or posting images of themselves or others," he said.

Det Sgt Coxall said the 13-year-old who created the false MySpace account had been cautioned, while the boy could be charged on summons for related offences. ..News Source.. by World News

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Why we suffer from fear-mongering, who's to blame, and what to do about it

7-15-2008 National:

Who profits from promoting fear? Does paranoia make us blind to real dangers? How can we combat fear-mongering? These are some of the questions author Dan Gardner answers in an interview with DigitalJournal.com about his recent book Risk.

Digital Journal — Do any of these headlines sound familiar?

“Parents fear MySpace is playground for pedophiles.”

“What is the most dangerous part of flying?”

“Nonstick cookware may cause cancer.”

If you answered “yes” then you win the grand prize of fear-mongering, the trend du jour in politics and media. Author Dan Gardner studied how our brains are hard-wired to accept paranoid proclamations as real dangers.

In his book Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear (McClelland & Stewart), Gardner, a reporter for the Ottawa Citizen, explains how irrational fear is dominating sectors of society that profit from making mountains out of molehills. It’s all well and good to illustrate the true risks afflicting global cultures, Gardner says, but we live in the safest and healthiest period in human history. So why are we bombarded with messages about the risk of flying, terrorist attacks, cancer-causing cookware and Internet pedophiles?

In an interview with DigitalJournal.com, Gardner discusses how our Stone Age ancestors actually understood the real dangers existing in their lives. So what changed? This is your guide to how politicians and journalists put the fright into people all over the world.

DigitalJournal.com: What inspired you to write Risk?

Dan Gardner: It came out of my experience as a journalist. I was digging into subjects like cancer, terrorism, and crime. Time after time I found the threat wasn’t as big as it was being portrayed. I became increasingly aware of the disconnect behind this fear-mongering and the improvement of our living standards. We have become fearful of things that are not as bad as we think they are, and we aren’t aware of the benefits of life today. Why is this?

DigitalJournal.com: Who is responsible for making us so fearful?

Gardner: First there’s the media, who engage in sensationalism to tell catastrophic stories. Sadly, all the commonplace criticisms of media are true. Second, marketers love fear. There’s a long list of organizations that profit by promoting fear. If a corporation makes you fear something, they’ve succeeded. Look at how security and home-alarm systems are a big industry: if you see their ads, there’s no question they promote the fear of crime. If you’re afraid of being a victim, the solution is to buy a home alarm.

The third most important factor is psychology. I argue about the mismatch between our brain and the information age we live in. We have a conscious mind, the mind listening to this conversation, the mind that can think logically. But we also have an unconscious mind that does most of the brain’s heavy lifting. It delivers snap judgment and offers decisions as hunches. They are feelings that are somehow true but you can’t explain why. So why does the unconscious mind deliver instant results whereas the conscious mind is slow and lumbering? Because we don’t always survey information logically. We take snippets of info and apply a rule of thumb.

DigitalJournal.com: Like in what situations?

Gardner: What about thinking of examples? If you can think of an example easily, it must be common and may happen in future. If you struggle to find an uncommon example, it will unlikely happen in the future. It made sense in the Stone Age. The only info available was personal experience or anecdotes from other guys. If you can quickly think of an example of someone grabbed by crocodile, you should be worried about croc attacks. In the information age, you turn on the TV and see the evening news, say a story about a German boy lured by a pedophile, kidnapped and then murdered. Now parents take their kid to a park, and they’re worried about strangers abducting children. The unconscious mind processes the info and says, “How hard is it to think of a pedophile example?” It’s really easy because the parents just saw a case last night on the evening news. Therefore it is common, right? And parents have an uneasy feeling because now they need to watch their kids. Abductions by strangers are fantastically rare but parents are convinced it’s a serious threat.

DigitalJournal.com: Won’t some parents say that there’s no harm in being protective?

Gardner: When you dig deep, there’s a huge cost to being overly cautious. It’s significant when parents won’t allow kids to play unsupervised. They keep children indoors where they don’t get enough exercise and then we see a rise in obesity. That’s a serious threat to their well-being.

Part of the process of maturation is increasingly taking on risk. Children should make decisions for themselves. Street-proofing kids can be important, but what does it do to a four-year-old’s psyche when he’s being told every stranger is a monster?

DigitalJournal.com: It seems that politicians love putting the fear in us in order to win more votes come election time.

Gardner: Politicians can work on the fear of pedophiles, for instance, and say “I’m a responsible leader, and I will crack down on strangers lurking in bushes!” The media report the politician’s words, the paranoia is instilled in the public and around it goes in this never-ending cycle, resulting in outsized fears totally out of proportion.

DigitalJournal.com: How can science reporting give the public the wrong impression?

Gardner: When scientific studies flip-flop, it tends to damage the credibility of science and not the media reporting on those studies. But that’s unfortunate because changing results says nothing about science. It’s supposed to work like this: in science, there is a slow accumulation of evidence. Researchers look at any question that contradicts their bits of evidence. Scientists assess the total body of evidence and wonder which direction it points. The problem is the media iare overwhelmingly scientifically illiterate. Many reporters say a study proves X and it’s now settled scientific fact. Then another study proves negative X and the public says “Science is crazy.” But reporters should understand the scientific process. They should communicate that one study proving an essential point is only one study. In the same story, reporters should discuss all evidence to date. Is this conclusion in line with other studies? Is it contradictory?

DigitalJournal.com: So what can we do to resist the tug of fear-mongering in politics, science and media?

Gardner: I don’t think the solution is moving up to a cabin in the woods and avoiding television. In human decision-making, the conscious mind can always overturn decisions from the unconscious mind. People don’t usually do that, instead thinking with their gut. But we have to have a healthy amount of skepticism and ask ourselves, “If I believe something to be true, why do I believe it?” ..News Source.. by Digital Journal

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