April 8, 2015

Sex offender registry hearing gets continued

4-8-15 Arizona:

A hearing for a Yuma man who was attempting to have his name removed from the state’s lifelong sex offender registry was continued recently when, by chance, the attorney of one of his victims asked that the matter be rescheduled.

Yuma attorney Dale Wren said he was at the Yuma County Superior Court on the morning of Feb. 19 when he noticed the name of James Anthony Cruz on Superior Court Judge Larry Kenworthy’s calendar and stepped inside the courtroom to find out what the hearing was about.

Upon speaking with the attorneys on the case, Wren said he was told the hearing was to consider a motion to terminate Cruz’s probation, which requires that he also register as a sex offender. He added he was also told that despite there being numerous victims in the case, only one had been notified about the hearing.

“I think it is outrageous. He needs to be monitored,” Wren said in an interview. “The lifetime probation was part of his sentence and was very important to all the girls. They will re-victimize these girls all over again if he is allowed to get off of probation.”

According to court records, on Aug. 18, 2000, Cruz, who was employed as a Community Supervision Officer for the Yuma County Juvenile Courts, was convicted of providing drugs to and having sex with several female juvenile probationers and was sentenced to seven years in prison, in addition to the probation.

The motion, which was originally filed by attorney Michael Donovan in August 2013, requests that the court terminate Cruz’s probation based on him having paid all the restitution that was ordered in the case, that he has been employed and on probation for the seven years following his release without incident, and that he had completed all of his court-ordered treatment.

Wren said that during that February hearing he informed the court that he was still in touch with some of Cruz’s victims and asked it be rescheduled to a later date, which would allow him time to inform them of the motion, as well as provide them with an opportunity to attend a future hearing on the matter or have him speak on their behalf.

“Almost all of these girls have got their lives together now,” Wren said. “It is hard to guess how (Cruz) getting off of probation would affect them.”

Wren said that he was unaware the Cruz has been trying to get his probation terminated for the past two years.

The problem, he explained, is that while victims are entitled to notification whenever the status of a sex offender changes, the girls were young at the time and didn’t request it.

“They figured he would be monitored for the rest of his life and are trying to forget about what happened,” Wren said. “Victims of this type of abuse don’t ever want to be reminded about it.”

Kenworthy granted Wren’s request and rescheduled the hearing to consider the petition to terminate Cruz’s probation for 2 p.m. on April 23.

Wren said anyone who was involved in the case who would like more information about the upcoming hearing can call his office at 329-1871. ..Source.. by James Gilbert

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