Sunday, September 21, 2014

AL: Madison Co. Schools try to set up an entrapment sting but ends up setting up an alleged rape

What do you do when the people entrusted to educate your kids are blithering idiots? I wonder if these "edumacators" got the idea from that idiotic Dateline NBC show, TCAP. If you can't trust police with conducting a proper sting, then how reasonable is a plot where school officials hire a mentally handicapped girl to be bait for a potential rapist?


Plan to use teen as bait leads to rape at school in Alabama, lawsuit alleges
POSTED 7:37 PM, SEPTEMBER 20, 2014, BY CNN WIRE, UPDATED AT 07:41PM, SEPTEMBER 20, 2014
By Victor Blackwell
CNN

(CNN) — It’s an unimaginable horror. A 14-year-old girl with special needs allegedly was raped at school after a teacher’s aide persuaded her to act as bait to catch an accused sexual predator, a fellow student.

“It has essentially devastated her life,” attorney Eric Artrip — who represents the girl and her father — said of the alleged January 2010 incident.

The Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education filed an amicus brief Wednesday supporting her family’s federal lawsuit against the Madison County School Board in Alabama.

An amicus brief is a legal argument offered to the court by someone who is not a party to the case. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta will decide whether to accept the argument.

“School administrators knew the student’s extensive history of sexual and violent misconduct and were alerted to the substantial risk he posed” to other students, according to the brief.

About a week before the alleged rape, Sparkman Middle School vice principals Jeanne Dunaway and Teresa Terrell received a complaint that the boy had touched a female student inappropriately and was assigned in-school suspension, according to federal attorneys.

A few days later, June Simpson, a teacher’s aide at the Huntsville-area school, told the principal, Ronnie Blair, that the boy had “repeatedly tried to convince girls to have sex with him in the boys’ bathroom on the special needs students’ corridor” and had actually had sex with one student, according to the brief.

The boy and his alleged sexual partner denied having sex in the bathroom, but Simpson recommended the boy be “constantly monitored,” according to the brief. Blair said the boy could not be punished because he had not been “caught in the act,” the brief reads.

School policy requires allegations of student-on-student misconduct be substantiated.

Trying to “catch him in the act”

On January 22, 2010, the boy approached a 14-year-old girl with special needs who had already declined his “recent, repeated propositions” for sex, according to the brief.

“She was not physically or mentally handicapped, although she does qualify for special education classes,” Artrip told CNN.

When the girl told Simpson, she encouraged the girl to “meet (the boy) in the bathroom where teachers could be positioned to ‘catch him in the act’ before anything happened,” according to the brief.

The girl initially refused, but then agreed, according to Artrip.

Simpson and the girl went to Dunaway’s office to explain the plan. Dunaway “did not respond with any advice or directive,” according to the brief.

“If this was problematic for the administration it would have been better to express that on the front end instead of the back end,” said attorney McGriff Belser III, who represents Simpson.

The girl left Dunaway’s office, found the boy in the hallway, and “agreed to meet for sex,” according to the brief.

“Something went wrong,” said Artrip.

Instead of meeting in the boys’ bathroom on the special needs students’ corridor, the boy told the girl to meet him in the sixth-grade boys’ bathroom, in another part of the school, according to the brief.

“No teachers were in the bathroom to intervene,” the brief reads.

“She stalled for time. She continually tried to fight him off but ultimately was anally raped by this young man,” Artrip told CNN.

“It was evident that this had been a severe trauma for her,” said Artrip.

Police were called and the girl was taken to the National Children’s’ Advocacy Center in Huntsville, where a rape kit was taken, Artrip told CNN.

Medical personnel found evidence of trauma “consistent with (the girl) being sodomized.” The boy claimed he had only kissed her, according to the brief.

Attorneys: Boy had a long history of serious misconduct

The girl was uncommunicative after the incident, Artrip said. The district attorney in Madison County investigated the incident, but with a victim who was unable or unwilling to talk about the incident, the office didn’t think they had a good case, and did not pursue it.

Even after viewing photographs of the girl’s injuries, vice principal Terrell “testified that she didn’t know whether (the girl) had consented to the assault,” according to the brief.

The school listed the alleged rape as “inappropriate touching a female in boys’ bathroom,” on the student’s computerized disciplinary report. He was suspended for five days and sent to an alternative school, but later returned to Sparkman after about 20 days, according to the brief.

Vice principal Dunaway testified that the girl was responsible for herself once she entered the bathroom, according the brief.

DoJ and DoE attorneys claim the boy had a long history of sexual and other misconduct in school and Sparkman Middle School administrators knew it. Several pages of the 126-page brief detail years of disciplinary problems.

The boy had been involved in 15 violent or sex-related proven incidents of misconduct before the alleged rape, according to the brief.

Federal attorneys say details about the severity of the incidents are unavailable because school administrators shredded the boy’s disciplinary files.

The girl’s father filed the federal lawsuit in October 2010 against the boy, the three administrators, the teacher’s aide and the Madison County School Board.

“We felt, (that) the teacher putting her into this position, because of the policy as interpreted by the school board and the principal, violated Title IX,” Artrip told CNN.

Title IX is a federal law aimed at ending sexual discrimination in education. In part, it dictates how schools that receive federal funds must respond to claims of sexual harassment.

In 2010, a district court judge allowed the father’s claims of state violations, including negligence, against Simpson and Dunaway, while dropping the boy from the lawsuit because he was a minor. The judge tossed out the federal claims — that the school district violated Title IX and that Simpson and school administrators deprived the girl of her civil rights.

Both sides have appealed.

Fighting for a jury trial

According to the rare amicus brief, written in part by an attorney with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the school, in its capacity as a recipient of federal funds is “liable for [its] deliberate indifference to known acts of peer sexual harassment.”

On the same day the federal brief was submitted, the Women’s Law Center, joined by 32 national and local organizations, submitted a joint brief supporting the family’s lawsuit. Earlier this month, the National Women’s Law Center and Artrip submitted a joint brief to the Eleventh Circuit.

Artrip told CNN his client deserves her day in court and a jury should weigh in on the Madison County District’s requirement of substantiation of allegations of student-on-student misconduct.

“We hope that the attention that this case is getting will spur a movement on these kinds of policies so that a girl can simply report sexual harassment without having a need to bring a witness with her or roll up her shirt and show bruises,” Artrip told CNN.

The girl was withdrawn from Sparkman Middle School and underwent extensive counseling. She went to live with her mother in North Carolina, but her mother died soon after. Instead of moving back to Huntsville, she and her brother were placed with Child Protective Services in North Carolina, the attorney said.

Geraldine Tibbs, the head of public relations for the Madison County Board of Education, said the board and school officials “are confident that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals will rule in favor of the Board and the administrators.”

“Our attorneys recommend that we not discuss ongoing litigation,” she said.

Ronnie Blair and Teresa Terrell are still principal and vice principal at Sparkman Middle School.

Jeanne Dunaway is now principal at Madison County Elementary School.

June Simpson resigned shortly after the incident.

“My client has gone from being a teacher’s aide to being a scapegoat,” said Simpson’s attorney.

When asked why his client thought it was a good idea to use a special needs teen as bait to catch a suspected attacker, Besler told CNN, “I don’t personally think it is a good idea. The events of this case have shown us that it was not.”

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Texass Sheriff's deputy takes naked pictures of Registered Citizens because "It's the law"

When I first got the news, the tagline read "Florida," not "Texas." I can understand the confusion; after all, Florida is usually the state that gives us stories such as this one.  I guess you can say this was not a "Wise" choice.


Officer arrested for photos of sex offender
By Brian Knox | Published Saturday, September 13, 2014
(Un-)Wise Co. TX Sheriff's Office--
Sgt. Chad Hightower

{{platinum}}}This article contains descriptions that may be offensive to some readers.

A longtime officer at the Wise County Sheriff’s Office has been arrested for improper photography related to convicted sex offenders.

Chad Alan Hightower, 41, of Boyd was charged Friday morning with improper photography or visual recording. He was released after posting $25,000 bond.

According to the arrest warrant affidavit filed by Texas Ranger Ron Pettigrew, Hightower forced a male sex offender to strip naked and be photographed.

The victim came forward and related what had happened to District Attorney Investigator Jack McGuinn. He told McGuinn that after he was released from prison in June, he was required to register as a sex offender. On June 17, he met with Hightower to complete the paperwork, and was told nude photos would need to be taken.

“Deputy Hightower represented this as a change in the sex offender registration required by the state,” the affidavit states.

The victim was taken to a bathroom in the sheriff’s office lobby where he stripped naked, and Hightower took “several photographs from all sides” before telling the victim he could get dressed and leave, the affidavit states.

A month later, the victim had to meet with Hightower again to update his sex offender information. He was told the photos were defective due to a glare, and more would need to be taken. The two got into Hightower’s county vehicle and drove to the county’s impound yard on Farm Road 51 South in Decatur.

There, the statement alleges, Hightower directed the victim into the impound office where he once again was photographed in the nude. The two were the only ones in the building at that time.

“After a short time, Deputy Hightower reportedly advised (the victim) he believed the next thing the State was going to require was photographs of a sex offender’s erect penis,” the affidavit states. “Deputy Hightower asked (the victim) if he could obtain an erection for him, so that the needed photographs could be taken and (the victim) would not have to return in the future for them.”

The victim said he declined the request and was asked an additional “three or four times” before he was told to get dressed. The two returned to the sheriff’s office, and the victim went home.

McGuinn asked the victim to describe the impound office, and he was able to describe details that would only be known by someone who had been inside.

Surveillance video from the sheriff’s office lobby show Hightower with a camera with the victim with actions that are “consistent with (the victim’s) description of events,” according to the affidavit.

Pettigrew was able to collect the SD cards from Hightower’s county camera. Using the assistance of a forensic investigator, images that had been deleted were recovered. Among the images are several that appear to be the victim standing naked against a wood panel wall located in the impound office.

“Pettigrew noted on the above-mentioned media there are several more nude males that appear to be in the same bathroom (the victim) described, others are in the county impound office and yet more in what appears to be a residence,” the affidavit states.

Responding to Pettigrew’s questions, the victim confirmed that Hightower locked the gate of the impound yard behind them. He also said that he would not have consented to the nude photos if Hightower was not a police officer, and he felt compelled to submit to the photographs due to Hightower’s law enforcement position and being told it was state law.

Wise County Sheriff David Walker said he was shocked to learn what took place.

“It’s a shock and a sad day for all of us, especially me, because I have worked with Chad my entire law enforcement career,” Walker said.

Hightower started in 1992 as a dispatcher, became a deputy at the Wise County Sheriff’s Office in 1998 and was promoted to sergeant in 2004, according to a Wise County Messenger feature story on him in July 2011.

Walker said Hightower put in his papers to retire several weeks ago and is on leave until his retirement on Sept. 30.

Friday, August 29, 2014

"Yes Means Yes" California now all but requires a sworn notarized statement before you can have sex

Did these bears get "affirmative consent" first?
I'm not exaggerating by much: The California legislature passed a bill that requires "affirmative consent" before two people can engage in consensual sexual activity. Instead of the old "No Means No," California adopted a "Yes Means Yes" policy. What's the difference?

The Washington Post offers an explanation as to what Yes Means Yes Means:

Under the proposed standard, the fact that a person didn’t say “no” is no defense in a campus sexual assault investigation.

In addition to consenting up front, the bill requires affirmative consent to be “ongoing throughout the sexual activity,” meaning that sexual partners must agree to each step of a sexual encounter as it progresses and consent can be revoked at any time. The standard would apply to all sexual encounters regardless of whether the parties are having a one-night stand or are in a long-term relationship.

One thing the bill doesn’t say is that affirmative consent must be verbal. The bill’s original language warned “relying solely on nonverbal communication can lead to misunderstanding,” but that language was removed as was the requirement that consent be “unambiguous.” Nonetheless, as Slate’s Amanda Hess pointed out, this fact was lost on commentators, some who lamented the standard would redefine most sex as rape and would require students to agree to a verbal or written contract before sex...

While the bill doesn’t spell out what “affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement” looks like in practice, it’s very clear what doesn’t count as consent: lack of protest or resistance, silence, unconsciousness or being asleep or too intoxicated to understand what’s going on...

Sexual assault prevention advocates welcomed the bill, which challenges the idea that victims have to resist an assault in order to have a valid complaint. “The survivors [of sexual assault] are going to be positively affected because they are going to be going into a system that no longer asks them why they didn’t do something,” Denice Labertew, the director of advocacy services at the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, told Inside Higher Ed in June.


But critics say the proposal unfairly burdens those accused of sexual assault. “How does a person prove they receive consent “shy of having it videotaped,” Joe Cohn, the legislative policy director at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, told Inside Higher Ed. Cohn said the policy reverses the presumption of innocence for the accused, which he called a “dramatic and important shift.”

Here is the actual bill, so you can try to figure it out yourself:

SENATE BILL No. 967

Introduced by Senators De León and Jackson
(Principal coauthor: Assembly Member Lowenthal)
(Coauthors: Senators Beall, Cannella, Evans, Galgiani, Monning, Pavley, Torres, and Wolk)
(Coauthors: Assembly Members Ammiano, Fong, Gonzalez, Quirk-Silva, Skinner, Ting, and Williams)

February 10, 2014

An act to add Section 67386 to the Education Code, relating to student safety.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST

SB 967, as amended, De León. Student safety: sexual assault.
Existing law requires the governing boards of each community college district, the Trustees of the California State University, the Regents of the University of California, and the governing boards of independent postsecondary institutions to adopt and implement written procedures or protocols to ensure that students, faculty, and staff who are victims of sexual assault on the grounds or facilities of their institutions receive treatment and information, including a description of on-campus and off-campus resources.
This bill would require the governing boards of each community college district, the Trustees of the California State University, the Regents of the University of California, and the governing boards of independent postsecondary institutions, in order to receive state funds for student financial assistance, to adopt policies concerning sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking that include certain elements, including an affirmative consent standard in the determination of whether consent was given by a complainant. The bill would require these governing boards to adopt certain sexual assault policies and protocols, as specified, and would require the governing boards, to the extent feasible, to enter into memoranda of understanding or other agreements or collaborative partnerships with on-campus and community-based organizations to refer students for assistance or make services available to students. The bill would also require the governing boards to implement comprehensive prevention and outreach programs addressing sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. By requiring community college districts to adopt or modify certain policies and protocols, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to these statutory provisions.

BILL TEXT
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1. Section 67386 is added to the Education Code, to read:
67386. (a) In order to receive state funds for student financial assistance, the governing board of each community college district, the Trustees of the California State University, the Regents of the University of California, and the governing boards of independent postsecondary institutions shall adopt a policy concerning sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking, as defined in the federal Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1092(f)) involving a student, both on and off campus. The policy shall include all of the following:
(1) An affirmative consent standard in the determination of whether consent was given by both parties to sexual activity. “Affirmative consent” means affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. It is the responsibility of each person involved in the sexual activity to ensure that he or she has the affirmative consent of the other or others to engage in the sexual activity. Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent. Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time. The existence of a dating relationship between the persons involved, or the fact of past sexual relations between them, should never by itself be assumed to be an indicator of consent.
(2) A policy that, in the evaluation of complaints in any disciplinary process, it shall not be a valid excuse to alleged lack of affirmative consent that the accused believed that the complainant consented to the sexual activity under either of the following circumstances:
(A) The accused’s belief in affirmative consent arose from the intoxication or recklessness of the accused.
(B) The accused did not take reasonable steps, in the circumstances known to the accused at the time, to ascertain whether the complainant affirmatively consented.
(3) A policy that the standard used in determining whether the elements of the complaint against the accused have been demonstrated is the preponderance of the evidence.
(4) A policy that, in the evaluation of complaints in the disciplinary process, it shall not be a valid excuse that the accused believed that the complainant affirmatively consented to the sexual activity if the accused knew or reasonably should have known that the complainant was unable to consent to the sexual activity under any of the following circumstances:
(A) The complainant was asleep or unconscious.
(B) The complainant was incapacitated due to the influence of drugs, alcohol, or medication, so that the complainant could not understand the fact, nature, or extent of the sexual activity.
(C) The complainant was unable to communicate due to a mental or physical condition.
(b) In order to receive state funds for student financial assistance, the governing board of each community college district, the Trustees of the California State University, the Regents of the University of California, and the governing boards of independent postsecondary institutions shall adopt detailed and victim-centered policies and protocols regarding sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking involving a student that comport with best practices and current professional standards. At a minimum, the policies and protocols shall cover all of the following:
(1) A policy statement on how the institution will provide appropriate confidentiality for individuals involved in an incident. protections for the privacy of individuals involved, including confidentiality.
(2) Initial response by the institution’s personnel to a report of an incident, including requirements specific to assisting the victim, providing information in writing about the importance of preserving evidence, and the identification and location of witnesses.
(3) Response to stranger and nonstranger sexual assault.
(4) The preliminary victim interview, including the development of a victim interview protocol, and a comprehensive followup victim interview, as appropriate.
(5) Contacting and interviewing the accused.
(6) Seeking the identification and location of witnesses.
(7) Providing written notification to the victim about the availability of, and contact information for, on- and off-campus resources and services, and coordination with law enforcement, as appropriate.
(8) Participation of victim advocates and other supporting people.
(9) Investigating allegations that alcohol or drugs were involved in the incident.
(10) Providing that those an individual who participate participates as a complainant or witness in the an investigation of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking, either as a complainant or a third-party witness, or stalking will not be subject to disciplinary sanctions for violations a violation of the institution’s student conduct policy at or near the time of the incident if the violations did not place incident, unless the institution determines that the violation was egregious, including, but not limited to, an action that places the health or safety of any other person at risk. risk or involves plagiarism, cheating, or academic dishonesty.
(11) The role of the institutional staff supervision.
(12) A comprehensive, trauma-informed training program for campus officials involved in investigating and adjudicating sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking cases.
(13) Procedures for confidential reporting by victims and third parties.
(c) In order to receive state funds for student financial assistance, the governing board of each community college district, the Trustees of the California State University, the Regents of the University of California, and the governing boards of independent postsecondary institutions shall, to the extent feasible, enter into memoranda of understanding, agreements, or collaborative partnerships with existing on-campus and community-based organizations, including rape crisis centers, to refer students for assistance or make services available to students, including counseling, health, mental health, victim advocacy, student advocacy, and legal assistance, and including resources for the accused.
(d) In order to receive state funds for student financial assistance, the governing board of each community college district, the Trustees of the California State University, the Regents of the University of California, and the governing boards of independent postsecondary institutions shall implement comprehensive prevention and outreach programs addressing sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. A comprehensive prevention program shall include a range of prevention strategies, including, but not limited to, empowerment programming, programming for victim prevention, awareness raising campaigns, primary prevention, bystander intervention, and risk reduction. Outreach programs shall be provided to make students aware of the institution’s policy on sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. At a minimum, an outreach program shall include a process for contacting and informing the student body, campus organizations, athletic programs, and student groups about the institution’s overall sexual assault policy, the practical implications of an affirmative consent standard, and the rights and responsibilities of students under the policy. Outreach
(e) Outreach programming shall be included as part of new student orientation. every incoming student’s orientation.

Missouri Compromised! Bill to allow prior accusations without convictions to be used as evidence in criminal cases

Is Missouri trying to have a monopoly of dumb laws this year? (This is Missouri's THIRD appearance in the Dumbbest New Law category). Is law enforcement so desperate to add more names to their registry coffers they need to include the equivalent of Facebook rumors in order to try to get a conviction?

"It would also include evidence of past criminal sexual activity even in cases where the defendant was not convicted or not charged with a crime." This sounds a lot like what is known as "hearsay," and hearsay is generally not allowed in court.

It is far too easy to convict someone on a mere accusation these days. Add a false accusation into the mix and the potential for abuse is even greater. Imagine someone acquitted because of a false allegation being accused later by a paranoid neighbor or vindictive ex who knows this person was accused in the past. Don't think it never happens because it does. This bill would assist in convicting innocent men.

This bill compromises the concept of "innocent until proven guilty."

http://ksmu.org/post/law-enforcement-officials-back-ballot-measure-allow-more-evidence-some-sex-crime-cases

Law Enforcement Officials Back Ballot Measure To Allow More Evidence In Some Sex Crime Cases
By MARSHALL GRIFFIN
Originally published on Wed August 27, 2014 1:50 pm

A group of Missouri law enforcement officials have officially endorsed a proposed constitutional amendment designed to make it easier to prosecute sex crimes against children.


Under current law, juries in Missouri can only hear about a defendant's prior offenses during the sentencing phase of a trial, regardless of the type of crime committed. If passed, Constitutional Amendment Two would allow evidence of prior criminal acts to be admissible in cases where the defendant is accused of a sex crime against someone younger than 18. It would also include evidence of past criminal sexual activity even in cases where the defendant was not convicted or not charged with a crime. Eric Zahnd is prosecuting attorney for Platte County.


The federal government (and) other states specifically allow this information to be provided to juries, but because of a couple of Missouri Supreme Court decisions, Missouri juries hardly ever get to know that a sexual predator may have abused other children in the past … and in my opinion that’s wrong," Zahnd said.


Amendment Two, originally known as House Joint Resolution 16, was initially approved by Missouri lawmakers during the 2013 legislative session. Earlier this year Gov. Jay Nixon ordered it placed on the November ballot.


"It's wrong to make children who have been through some of the most horrific sexual abuse you can imagine go it alone with a jury," Zahnd said. "Juries deserve to know the full story, the full truth, about a sexual offender."


http://www.sedaliademocrat.com/news/news/50214006/Local-authorities-endorse-change-in-sex-crime-evidence#.VACe3MRDuUY

The group says Missouri is more restrictive than any other state, barring prosecutors from telling jurors about prior criminal sex acts in nearly all cases against accused child predators. This came about in a 2007 Missouri Supreme Court decision, which struck down a similar law that was already in place.

Pettis County Prosecuting Attorney-Elect Phillip Sawyer said Amendment 2 is about getting the statute that was ruled unconstitutional by the Missouri Supreme Court, a statute he has used before, back on the books.


“We had a statute in place that provided for it. We have gotten to the point now where we are one of the most restrictive states as it pertains to letting priors in,” Sawyer said. “When you are dealing with a prior in that type of case and you want to implement that in a new trial, you’re talking about somebody who has become a predator.


“I think that justice should always prevail. I certainly was a fan of that statute and I used it before prior to the case law coming out that voided us using it.”...


Listen to the justification by Victim Industry Advocates:

Carolyn Green, Executive Director of Child Safe of Central Missouri Inc., a local child advocacy group, said the organization is behind the amendment “100 percent.” “We have had, more than once, the same perpetrator on several children,” Green said. “If you have a 5-year-old who can’t give a good disclosure, and you can’t bring in the fact that this man has also been accused by four other children of perpetrating on them, you might lose that case on the 5-year-old if you can’t bring in those prior acts.”

Beth Jackman, a forensic interviewer and program manager with Child Safe, said it is statistically proven that sex offenders often have more than one victim. “Even in self-reporting from the alleged offenders the numbers could run easily into the hundreds. I think it could be very beneficial to our cases if someone has been convicted previously that it be important to the case we are working on at that time,” Jackman said....


The proposed amendment overwhelmingly passed the Missouri General Assembly in May and will amend the Missouri Constitution as follows:


“Section 18(c). Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 17 and 18(a) of this article to the contrary, in prosecutions for crimes of a sexual nature involving a victim under eighteen years of age, relevant evidence of prior criminal acts, whether charged or uncharged, is admissible for the purpose of corroborating the victim’s testimony or demonstrating the defendant’s propensity to commit the crime with which he or she is presently charged. The court may exclude relevant evidence of prior criminal acts if the probative value of the evidence is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice.”


It will now go to the voters for consideration in November as a ballot question as follows:


“Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended so that it will be permissible to allow relevant evidence of prior criminal acts to be admissible in prosecutions for crimes of a sexual nature involving a victim under eighteen years of age? If more resources are needed to defend increased prosecutions additional costs to governmental entities could be at least $1.4 million annually, otherwise the fiscal impact is expected to be limited.”


http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/ef3fa1e0f57b4c9e84ca8b41a73ee703/MO--Child-Sex-Abuse-Amendment

If approved by Missouri voters in November, Constitutional Amendment 2 could make it more difficult for defendants to persuade juries and judges of their innocence, said Kim Benjamin, a Belton attorney who is the past president of the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

"You're now defending your entire life, your entire reputation, rather than this one act," she said. "It causes a tremendous risk for more people to be wrongly convicted."


One of Benjamin's most prominent clients was Burrell Mohler Sr., the patriarch of a western Missouri family who was accused along with his four sons of sexually abusing young relatives over many years. The charges ultimately were dropped in March 2012, after Mohler had spent more than two years in jail while awaiting trial.


The Missouri ballot measure would essentially undo a December 2007 decision by the Missouri Supreme Court, which struck down a state law allowing evidence of past sexual crimes to be used against people facing new sex-related charges involving victims younger than 14.


The court said in that ruling that "evidence of prior criminal acts is never admissible for the purpose of demonstrating the defendant's propensity to commit the crime with which he is presently charged."


The Legislature voted last year to refer the proposed constitutional amendment to the 2014 ballot.


Prosecutors say it would bring Missouri's evidence standards closer to federal ones. Under a 1994 federal law, courts may allow evidence of other sexual assaults or molestations of children younger than 14 to be used against defendants facing those charges. Those federal evidentiary rules have been upheld in several appellate court decisions.


Prior allegations are allowed to be used as evidence in child sex abuse cases by 11 states, according to a 2012 report by the Missouri Office of Prosecution Services.


Supporters of the Missouri ballot proposal have formed a campaign committee with the hopes or running advertisements for it, though the group had barely $1,300 in its account as of the end of June.


Benjamin said defense attorneys have not organized a campaign against the amendment, because she said they lack the money to do so.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What's worse than cops acting like military? Military acting like cops

Aim High, Low Blow. What's worse than the police acting like the military? How about the military acting like the police! I guess this zoomie had nothing better to do with his time, but hey, you have that ISIS crisis under control huh? Way to go, Air Farce; Ain't It Really F'ing Obvious, Retards Control Everything?

Too bad they did not list this zoomie's name, because "I Want You..." for the Shiitake Awards.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2014/08/26/air-force-sex-stings-federal-law/14611583/

Air Force aiding Florida police in sex stings
USA TODAY NETWORK 
Noah Pransky, WTSP, Tampa 
12:51 p.m. EDT August 26, 2014

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Not only have Central Florida law enforcement officers violated federal rules in conducting "To Catch a Predator"-inspired sex stings, but WTSP in Tampa has learned they may also violate longstanding federal law that prohibits the use of military resources to enforce state laws.


While Tampa Bay-area law enforcement agencies refuse to turn over public records from questionable "predator" roundups, court records show that a member of the Air Force's Office of Special Investigations (OSI) has been a regular participant in Central Florida undercover stings for more than a year.


In a recent deposition, the agent indicated his goal was to trap service members who might be willing to break the law. But he also admitted to targeting, and helping arrest, civilians. According to an operation plan from a recent Pinellas County sting, Agent William Glidewell, acted as a "chatter," communicating with potential investigative targets online. He was put up in a Clearwater Beach hotel for four days and reported to the sting's lead agencies, the Clearwater Police Department and Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.


"It's odd that you would have a military (investigator) being so treated like civilian law enforcement," said Charles Rose, a Stetson Law professor and retired U.S. Army prosecutor in the Judge Advocate General (or JAG) Corps. "You cannot assign military personnel -- on orders -- to a (local law enforcement) organization."


Unlike the original "To Catch a Predator" stings, which posted suggestive ads indicating the availability of children, detectives in recent Central/West Florida operations began reaching out to otherwise law-abiding men who posted ads themselves on legal dating sites. An ACLU leader has called for a federal review of the stings.


Violation of federal law


Now, a number of the prosecutions could be in jeopardy with the discovery that the Air Force OSI agent may have broken the law with his involvement.


A court motion filed last week by defense attorney Peter Aiken in Pinellas County contends a civilian case from April's "Operation Home Alone II" that Glidewell participated in should be immediately dismissed on the violation of the longstanding Posse Comitatus Act.


The federal law, which dates back to Reconstruction and Southern aversion to Northern influence, mandates the military may not be used to enforce local laws. Violations are considered felonies, although Rose couldn't remember a case ever being prosecuted.


Aiken's motion contends "the Clearwater police, over the course of four days, made direct, active use of Glidewell, the 'military investigator' to execute purely state laws" and "in this case, it is particularly egregious in that it was counseled, planned and executed with the knowledge and consent of numerous members of state law enforcement."


Other law enforcement agencies involved in the Clearwater/Pinellas sting include the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, St. Petersburg police, Department of Homeland Security, FBI and the Polk County Sheriff's Office.


Several agencies had no immediate response to questions about the Air Force's involvement, but Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, interviewed after a recent press conference, said he "didn't know" how or why the military investigator got involved.


"I think (OSI) got involved because (there was a target) from MacDill (Air Force Base) and I think they got involved because of that on the backside," Gualtieri said, indicating the agent wasn't a part of the initial sting plan.


But documents obtained through court records, after the Pinellas sheriff's office would not turn them over, indicated the Air Force OSI had been involved from the early planning stages of not just the April "Operation Home Alone II" sting, but the January "Operation Home Alone" sting as well.


Furthermore, OSI Agent Glidewell admitted in a recent deposition that he had been a part of multiple stings around the state for almost a year. Glidewell works out of Detachment 340 at MacDill, but reports to Air Force leaders in Quantico, Virginia.


The Air Force said OSI agents are involved with internet crimes against children task forces across the U.S. and typically get involved after a servicemember is identified in a sting. That was not the case in Pinellas County.


Rose, from Stetson Law, said aside from entrapment and posse comitatus issues, there should be concern regarding how the Air Force investigators are prioritizing their time.


"Every moment that OSI has been doing this work, for free, for the civilian government, is a time where he's not out investigating military cases and handling military issues," Rose said. "If you have military members engaging in criminal activity, it very often has a national security component."


Targeting servicemembers


The Air Force OSI agent said in his deposition that his goal was to identify servicemembers who may commit crimes. It included posting ads specifically designed to get responses from servicemembers, including posting military seals and referencing "men in uniform."


However, Gualtieri denied knowing anything about ads that target servicemembers.


"I haven't seen anything to that, and I don't know if that's the case. If someone says 'targeting men in uniform,' that doesn't necessarily mean the military either. It could be any one of a number of different things. There are all kinds of uniforms out there, and it doesn't necessarily mean the military."


In his deposition with attorney Aiken, the Air Force investigator said he had worked on a handful of other stings around the state, with other civilian men arrested. Depending on what the judge rules on Aiken's motion, the case could impact several other prosecutions.


http://www.wtsp.com/story/news/investigations/2014/08/25/air-force-sex-stings-federal-law/14568993/


Operation Home Alone: Mistakes Made

One of the non-servicemembers the Air Force OSI agent helped apprehend in "Operation Home Alone" this spring was not looking for children. He was tricked by Glidewell into meeting what he thought was an 18-year-old woman interested in him.


Glidewell forgot -- or simply failed -- to switch his decoy's age from 18 years old to that of a 14 year old girl after he started chatting with a man he met online. While the "switch" typically happens soon after the "bait" in Central Florida stings, 10 Investigates found detectives don't always follow the rules, either.


Court records reveal Glidewell and the defendant, from Miami, swapped 200 messages over the course of two days, including some sexual. The two ultimately made plans to meet at the decoy's house on Clearwater Beach. It wasn't until the defendant had driven 300 miles to the sting location that Glidewell realized he was still playing the part of an 18 year old woman and told the defendant "she" was really only 14.


READ: Ad posted by Air Force OSI agent


Seemingly uneasy and confused, the defendant found a hotel to stay at for the night. But the two continued the conversation, and the defendant said he wanted to meet the girl who showed so much interest in him over the last two days. They made plans to meet, and he was arrested for traveling to meet a minor.


During his deposition for the case, Glidewell acknowledge the defendant wasn't the kind of man the stings were supposed to target. But like so many other men arrested, he ultimately gave in to the bait-and-switch and has paid the price for it. His family, job, and financial futures have all been adversely impacted, even if charges are ultimately dropped.

Monday, August 25, 2014

If you are going to set someone up for a CP charge, be sure you know how a computer works

Meri Jane McCracken-Woods, NOT a computer expert
This isn't the first time someone has landed on the Shiitake Awards for trying to set up someone else on a bogus CP charge only to have the accusation backfire. This woman was so patently bad at trying to set up her ex-husband it was definitely Shiitake-worthy. Now, she might end up on the registry when she is sentenced in December.

I wondered why there is no pic of her online when her husband would have been plastered all over the internet had Meri Jane Woods succeeded in her devious scheme. Well, thanks to an anonymous tip, I have located a pic of Mari Jane (McCracken) Woods. All these married and maiden names make it harder to locate people, so thanks to the anonymous emailer!


Woman guilty of downloading child porn
by The Indiana Gazette on August 20, 2014 10:54 AM

A Clymer woman faces a maximum of nine years in prison and could face sanctions under Megan’s Law after being convicted of charges related to child pornography Tuesday in Indiana County Court.
A jury of six men and six women returned a guilty verdict against Meri Jane Woods, 43, of Route 580, after about 1ᄑ hours of deliberations.
Police and prosecutors said Woods had tried to frame her husband, Matthew Woods, about one year ago when she told investigators that he had downloaded images of child pornography to the computer in their home.
Using technological investigative techniques, police computer experts almost immediately ruled out Matthew Woods’ involvement by finding the images date-stamped between Aug. 11 and 14, 2013.
Matthew Woods had been forced from the home before that time by a protection-from-abuse order, prosecutors told the jury.
Meri Woods found the porn on her own, District Attorney Patrick Dougherty said.
“She download in excess of 40 images of different acts of child pornography to the family computer, took it to the state police and said, ‘My husband downloaded all this porn,’” Dougherty said.
Dougherty had only one witness, Cpl. John Roche, a state police forensic investigator based in Indiana, who testified about what happened.
Defense attorney Matthew Budash had a rebuttal witness, professor Mary Volonino, of Canisius College, Buffalo, testify that the time stamps determined by Roche were unreliable.
The jury convicted Meri Woods of a felony count of sexual abuse of children/possession of child pornography and a misdemeanor count of unsworn falsification to law enforcement.
Dougherty said that charge is punishable by up to two years in jail and a $5,000 fine, while the felony conviction could bring up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
Judge Thomas Bianco scheduled sentencing for Dec. 15 to allow time for an evaluation of Woods by the Pennsylvania Sexual Offenders Assessment Board, which could recommend mandatory registration with the state police for up to 15 years, Dougherty said.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Oregon's Not-So-Finest Victim Industry Propagandists: Danielle Tudor of Portland and Steve Doell of Lake Oswego

If you really take the time to study victim industry mouthpieces, then you'll see that they are actually quite disturbing. They remind me of the movie Groundhog Day, the Bill Murray comedy about living the same day over and over again. In Danielle Tudor's case, that same day has been revisited for 30 years. At what point is society allowed to say that it is time for someone to move on with their lives and be something besides a victim? We do it for anyone who suffered any other kind of tragedy. Her statement in the Oregonian, which is a response to the story I recently posted about the schmucks who drove a registrant out of town after he worked as a taxi driver. This statement does succinctly summarize the victim industry mentality that keeps these victim groups from promoting healing and forgiveness:

http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2014/08/sex_offenders_in_oregon_pacifi.html

Danielle Tudor, who was 17 when serial rapist Richard Troy Gillmore sexually assaulted her on Nov. 11, 1979, in her Southeast Portland home, now travels and shares her experiences with victims' advocates across the country. She said the public deserves to know about Shutt's past... "By the mere horrific acts he committed, the safety of others must always come first – no matter how long he has been offender-free,'' she said. "It's part of the price he will pay for the rest of his life – just as his victims have to live with the darkness he brought into their lives forever. Maybe it seems cruel or unfair to others, but they would think differently had they or someone they loved been a victim.''

It is bad enough that Shiitake Award nominee Maxine Bernstein promotes this woman like she's the Second Coming, she is also a member of a victim industrial corporation, Crime Victims United. Speaking of CVU, another mouthpiece of the organization, Steve Doell, also has a statement in the same Oregonian article:

Steve Doell, who leads Crime Victims United of Oregon, called Shutt's decision to drive a taxi "completely inappropriate.'' "This is a guy who's grabbed a woman off the street, kidnapped her and forcibly raped her,'' Doell said. "To put someone completely unknowing in his cab would be irresponsible. What if, all of a sudden, he gets the impulse or urge to drive off somewhere into the hinterlands? We put warning signs on cigarette packs. We put labels on poisons sold in stores. We put signs on fences to warn people about guards,'' Doell said. "That's why we register these people.''

In Steve Doell's case, there are a couple of instances in his own past that raises red flags. It seems Doell had a couple of restraining orders placed against him for domestic violence, has a reputation for being angry and confrontational, and even scared people while lobbying for victim measures:

http://www.blueoregon.com/2008/10/steve-doell-is/

These two restraining orders, based on allegations of physical abuse, were ordered by a judge before his daughter's death.

Of course, it's also true that his behavior hasn't improved since then, either. His "anger control problem" carries over into the world of politics. From WW, in 1999:


[Measure 11 opponent Arwen] Bird says matters took an ugly turn around 3:45 pm, when, during a commercial break [on the Lars Larson Show], Doell waved his stage prop, a picture of his murdered daughter, Lisa, in front of her. "You can't even look at it, can you?" Doell said.

Bird says Doell leaned across the studio console and yelled at her with such rage that "I feared for my physical safety." After that incident, she refused to debate Doell without others from her group present.

Doell denies threatening Bird, but he concedes he was furious.


This is just one incident that got news coverage. I've heard second-hand reports of other incidents. Steve Doell is not a nice man.


Reasonable people can disagree about matters of policy. But anybody who cares about the rights of crime victims should be appalled that this man is considered their leading spokesman in this state.


Steve Doell is simply not a credible advocate for crime victims. No way.


Perhaps Maxi-pad Bernstein should look for better interviewees. The victim mentality allows such bad behavior to go unchecked.

Oregon surf shop owner Travis Ellis and "Nosy Nellie" Gina Anderson push to keep a registrant from driving a cab

In a small town, a man who has been clean for over three decades has been harassed by a couple of idiots who feel he should never have a chance for redemption. If that isn't enough, these two idiots plan on lobbying the state legislature to prevent registered citizens from certain employment opportunities. The harassment was so bad, their victim had to file a restraining order. That is definitely Shiitake-worthy.

http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2014/08/sex_offenders_in_oregon_convic.html

But Shutt's Cape Kiwanda Taxi service lasted just shy of three months before his past caught up with him.

Classified as a predatory sex offender for two rapes and an attempted rape involving three women he didn't know, Shutt and his makeshift cab bitterly divided the north Oregon coast community.


The sheriff and the high school principal distributed warnings about Shutt. The food bank restricted the hours that he could show up. Friendships frayed as critics argued that the convicted rapist shouldn't be alone with anyone in a van while supporters pointed to Shutt's clean record of more than 30 years.


Shutt fought back, taking out restraining orders against his most outspoken detractors. He told a judge that he was "making a last stand'' in Pacific City.


"I was going to prove to them that a person like me who hasn't reoffended should have the opportunity for life, liberty and the American dream," he said. "I paid my price."


Shutt's troubles illuminated the clash between society's desire to protect the public by holding sex offenders accountable and an offender's hope for a second chance long after serving prison time.


The controversy and its outcome aren't surprising to authorities who work to track registered sex offenders. Many of them -– especially those with a predator label -- face enormous challenges finding a job because of their pasts and often end up self-employed as a result or homeless because they can't pay their bills.


But rape victims and their advocates say that's the price Shutt and other sex offenders must pay -- just as the women they attacked must live with the humiliation of the assaults for the rest of their lives...


Travis Ellis, who runs the Haystack Coffee and Kiwanda Surf Shop, was outraged when Shutt's criminal history came to light and even banned a few regulars from his shop who supported Shutt.


"It's scary to me that people were defending him. ... I don't want him in a cab and I want this town to realize this is a safety issue,'' Ellis said. "I put kids with boogie boards in cabs. ... What is the predatory list for if not to caution people?''


Mark McRae, owner of the True Value Hardware store, had no qualms about Shutt or his business. "I'm a Christian,'' McRae said. "I believe in redemption. I believe people do change.''


But he glanced out the front window of his store across the street to Haystack Coffee.


"He's a friend I no longer have,'' McRae said of Ellis.


The crimes


Shutt, now 57, bald and solidly built, was 25 when he committed his crimes in Bakersfield, Calif., in 1981...


Local resident Gina Anderson researched Shutt's record and visited businesses, warning her friends not to get in his cab.


Shutt in turn filed a complaint with the sheriff and then went to court to get restraining orders against Anderson and two others who were denouncing him. He told a judge he felt threatened.


"I have an entire community that's hating on me,'' Shutt said in court. "I just want to put a stop to it.''...


Shutt's departure wasn't enough for Ellis and Anderson. They said they plan to push for stricter laws, particularly in rural communities like theirs, that would require background checks for drivers of taxis or other cars for hire and prevent anyone with a violent criminal record from driving one.


View the two idiots' interview with the Whoregonian here:

http://video-embed.oregonlive.com/services/player/bcpid1949055967001?bctid=3740902251001&bckey=AQ~~,AAAAPLpuSqE~,a1DdoZJH5WQo4iWaJj1w_CktvJfhQVVG

Feel free to flood Travis's FB business page with complaints as well.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Kellie Green of Mart, TX uses a giant pic of her kid as a tool to try to get a registered citizen fired, then claims she needs privacy out of fear

This is Kellie Green of Mart, Texas. Recently she attended her local city council during an open meeting and presented a giant picture of her 12 year old girl in order to protest the city's decision to hire a registered citizen. The article states she has six kids.

SIX kids? It makes me wonder how she decided which of the six got to be the literal poster child for her "fire the guy who has served his time and wants to be a productive member of society" campaign. Did she cast lots? Maybe she had a six kid over-the-top-rope battle royal WWE-style match. Maybe a dartboard? Or maybe a very long game of one-potato-two-potato.

The city of Mart has not exactly been too kind to registered citizens; after all, they violated state law by passing a local ordinance increasing residency restrictions. But at the same time, they considered the registered citizen's background before hiring him.

My other question is why Kellie Green wants to hide all of a sudden after exploiting her child to push her personal agenda (which is how one typically gets a nomination at the Shiitake Awards). She claims she is getting "threats." I guess harassing registered citizens isn't that heroic these days.

http://www.wacotrib.com/news/politics/sex-offender-at-center-of-mart-employment-controversy/article_3ff32546-fcae-5a94-a31c-b40e2ad01f95.html

At this week’s Mart City Council meeting, Kellie Green, 38, who is no relation to Lonnie Green, stood before the elected officials holding up an enlarged photo of her 12-year-old daughter.
“How has the council worked toward her safety?” she said. “Can you tell her that you had the safety of the children of Mart in mind when you hired this person?”
Kellie Green demanded that Lonnie Green be fired.
The mother of six children said the council needs to realize the city can’t absorb the liability of keeping him as an employee.
Hiring one sex offender sets a precedent that hiring all sex offenders is OK, she said. If one child is hurt because of that practice, the repercussions, financially, legally and publicly, would devastate the city, Kellie Green said.
“I don’t know Lonnie Green. He could be a great guy,” she said. “But I still think anybody who thinks it’s OK to have sex with a 14-year-old girl, there’s something wrong with them.”

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Polk Co. FL Sheriff Grady Judd entrapped adults looking for other adults in online "predator" stings

It is yet another FloriDUH story. Every time I think the stories cannot get any worse, I'm proven wrong. Today's nominee is Grady Judd, the sheriff of Polk County, a cesspool of a county trapped between Tampa and Orlando. A hick county needs an equally hick sheriff, and Grady Judd fits the bill.

Sheriff DUDD is already controversial. There is a movement to remove him from office. He is mostly known for his statement about killing a fleeing man with 68 bullets because "That's all the bullets we had." Judd interjects his distorted views of Christianity on people; he was recently sued by an atheist. Of course, there is another lawsuit against him of greater importance-- two lawsuits regarding abuses at a juvenile facility run by the sheriff.

It is no wonder the Sheriff is crusading the internet with his entrapment stings. Even though many of those he arrested were not even prosecuted, Sheriff Dudd still calls them "predators." What a douche.

http://www.wtsp.com/story/news/investigations/2014/08/07/law-enforcement-crosses-lines-on-sex-stings-entrapment/13734121/

Officers bend rules to boost sex sting arrest totals
Noah Pransky, WTSP 3:38 p.m. EDT August 9, 2014

This is the first of a two-part series examining how law enforcement is blurring the lines on due process.


POLK COUNTY, Florida – In the decade since Chris Hansen and "To Catch a Predator" popularized Internet sex stings, more than 1,200 men in Florida alone have been arrested, accused of preying on underage teens and children for sex.


But as the stings put more and more men behind bars, detectives are working harder and harder to keep up their arrest numbers. And the tactics they're using to put alleged sexual offenders in jail are sweeping up large numbers of law-abiding men, too.


A yearlong investigation by 10 Investigates reveals many of the men whose mugshots have been paraded out by local sheriffs in made-for-TV press conferences were not seeking to meet children online. Instead, they were minding their own business, looking for other adults, when detectives started to groom and convince them to break the law.


While detectives used to post ads suggesting an underage teen or child was available for sex, they now routinely post more innocuous personal ads of adults on traditional dating sites. When men – many of them under 25 with no criminal history - respond, officers switch the bait and typically indicate their age is really 14 or 15 years old. However, sometimes the storyline isn't switched until the men, who were looking for legal love, already start falling for the undercover agent.


According to arrest affidavits inspected by 10 Investigates, law enforcement is also now routinely making first contact with men who have done nothing wrong, responding to their ads on dating sites like PlentyOfFish.com. After men start conversing with what they think are adults, officers change the age they claim to be, but try to convince the men to continue the conversation anyway.


Officers bend rules in sex stings to boost arrest totals.


Other examples include undercover officers showing interest in a man, then later introducing the idea of having sex with the undercover's "child." If the men indicate they weren't interested, they were still often arrested for just talking to the adult.


Critics of the stings, including a number of prominent Tampa Bay law enforcement leaders, tell 10 News the operations make for better press conferences than they do crime fighting. Many of the men who are arrested for sexual predator crimes see little jail time.


But Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, when asked about over-aggressive detectives, instead went on the offensive: "The concern (I have) is that you inflate your investigative reporting to make it glitzy."


Judges have also been very critical of some of the tactics used in the stings, which violate Internet Crimes Against Children guidelines. Among the comments from judges in recent entrapment decisions (case numbers withheld to protect the defendants):


"It was the agent who repeatedly steered the conversation back to sexual activity with a minor."

"The government made a concerted effort to lure him into committing a crime."
"The undercover officer failed to follow the procedures …"
"The law does not tolerate government action to provoke a law-abiding citizen to commit a crime."
The judge in one dismissed case criticized the undercover officer for failing to follow procedures and "the officer controlled the tone, pace and subject matter of online conversation, pushing toward a discussion of sexual activity."

The blurring of legal and ethical lines has led many agencies such as the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, and most of South Florida to focus their cybercrime resources on other areas of online abuse. Instead of conducting "To Catch a Predator"-style stings, they spend their time and effort on areas where there are known victims and children at immediate risk, like child porn and sex trafficking.


But the time- and resource-intensive predator stings are still alive and well in West/Central Florida, operating under the watchful eye of ICAC task force leader Judd.


Grady Judd's 'favorite topic'


Sheriff of Polk County since 2005, Judd has made it clear that targeting sexual predators is his top priority. He called hunting predators his "favorite topic" at a recent predator sting press conference, and he has invited national media outlets along for some of the operations. The predator stings have been featured in three MSNBC specials as well as a recent CNN series.


But Judd has been much less forthcoming when it comes to questions of how detectives lure in their targets and whether innocent men are getting swept up to.


Judd has failed to provide public records to 10 Investigates on the following issues:

  1. The language in the ads detectives post.
  2. How detectives responded when innocent men showed no interest in speaking to teens.
  3. If detectives are doing the stings because there is a problem of teens looking for adults online.
  4. How many men get baited before detectives find someone to investigate.
Judd said the overwhelming majority of men who communicate with detectives do the "right thing" and either end communication or report the officer posing as an underage teen -- or parent offering up a child -- to authorities. But he won't even turn over those communications over, a possible violation of Florida State Statute 119.

Judd says the records are exempt from state records laws because all of those men are still "under investigation," for they may surface in future stings. However, that indicates Judd - and other law enforcement leaders around Tampa Bay and Sarasota who have now used the same exemption to withhold records - have active investigations open on hundreds, if not thousands, of men who did nothing more than legally communicate with adults on legal websites.


The state's best-known lawman also showed little concern for due process during a Tuesday press conference to tout arrests since March in predator-style stings. He pointed to 132 mugshots on a giant posterboard and called the men "sexual predators."


But when 10 Investigates pointed out some of the men had already been cleared of charges, he said they were still fair game because "we have a very liberal - a very forgiving - criminal justice system."


That system may give defendants the benefit of doubt and assume "innocent until proven guilty;" but Judd makes sure the mugshots and stigma of being arrested for a sex crime haunts the men for the rest of their lives.


Critics point out many of the 1,200 men who are ultimately arrested in Florida and called "sexual predators" weren't preying or even looking for kids; many were seeking adults. The majority of them were in their teens or 20s at the time, and approximately 97 percent of the men had zero history of any sexual crimes or accusations.


"The biggest waste ever"


While countless West/Central Florida law enforcement agencies have gotten involved in the predator stings, including the sheriff's offices in Polk, Pinellas, Manatee, Citrus, and Sarasota, some agencies were noticeably absent at Judd's season-ending press conference.


Judd indicated the Hillsborough sheriff's office was a part of the operation, but was unable to attend. However, an HCSO spokesperson said the the agency has not been a participant.


While HCSO has a full-time "Internet Predator" unit, it has been reluctant to dedicate the huge resources needed for a "To Catch a Predator"-style sting. Instead, HCSO detectives are focused on offenders that are participating in "the proliferation of child porn," focusing on infants and young children who are exploited.


Hillsborough detectives say those type of arrests tend to yield better conviction rates, longer prison terms, and also provide law enforcement other leads on areas of crime like sex trafficking.


Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco has adopted similar priorities, saying his cybercrime unit is extremely proactive and focused on the areas of the worst abuse.


"Any way you can take a sexual predator off the street is tremendous," Nocco said. "Especially those that are online looking at child pornography ... they may do something physically against a young little kid."


Pasco also spends a lot of time and effort focused on teen-on-teen cybercrime because it can often be addressed before it ruins a person's life permanently.


Nocco was complimentary of ICAC, but says he's not a huge fan of the "To Catch a Predator"-style stings, saying the prosecutions often don't hold up.


"You spend your resources, you arrest somebody and then they walk right out. It's the biggest waste ever," Nocco said.


ICAC stings typically cost tens of thousands of dollars - sometimes close to $100,000 - in costs and officers' time, and that doesn't include the costs to prosecute and jail defendants.


10 Investigates found light plea sentences are sometimes offered because the suspects simply aren't considered dangerous offenders, contrary to Judd's claims.


Local law enforcement leaders also refused to turn over ICAC guidelines, claiming they were confidential investigative material. But a copy 10 Investigates obtained through court records indicates the online undercover stings, which typically don't involve real children or victims, are not even specified in the list of priorities agencies are supposed to target:

  1. A child is at immediate risk of victimization.
  2. A child is vulnerable to victimization by a known offender.
  3. A known suspect is aggressively soliciting a child(ren).
  4. Manufacturers, distributors or possessors of images that appear to be home photography with domiciled children.
  5. Aggressive, high-volume child pornography manufacturers or distributors who either are commercial distributors, repeat offenders, or specialize in sadistic images.
  6. Manufacturers, distributors, or solicitors involved in high-volume trafficking or belong to an organized child pornography ring that operates as a criminal conspiracy.
  7. Distributors, solicitors and possessors of images of child pornography.
  8. Any other form of child victimization.
Almost all of South Florida's law enforcement agencies have moved away from the stings as well. The Broward County Sheriff's Office, which is in charge of the South Florida ICAC task force, told 10 Investigates it was time for the agency to move on to other areas of cybercrime fighting.

The "other" victims


There may be no excuses for men who victimize children or those that look for underage victims online.


However, it's easier to make the case for the men who were swept up in the stings when they were looking online for adults.


"(My son) was stalked by law enforcement for three days," said the mother of a 22-year-old arrested in one of the stings. 10 Investigates is protecting the identity of her family.


The son was on Craiglist's personals pages, looking to meet other adults. He responded to a "no strings attached" ad for a 26-year-old woman. He says her story changed a few times, including the claim she was only 13, but he was skeptical.


He spoke on the phone to the undercover and she sent a photo, in which she was wearing a wedding ring. He said he was sure she was an adult (she was), so he made plans to meet her. When he arrived, he was arrested. He was later sentenced to two years of house arrest and a lifetime as a registered sex offender.


"He had a life of promise; he had an education," his mother said. "That's all been shot."


She says her son is paying the price of opportunistic lawmen.


Board-certified defense attorney Anthony Ryan says law enforcement officers have become experts in coercing innocent men into breaking the law.


"They are really good at subtly turning conversations and normal statements into sexual innuendo - whether or not the other side intended that," he said.


Ryan, who has a practice in Sarasota, just got a 23-year-old client's case dismissed in Manatee. A judge ruled deputies entrapped his client, writing that their tactics had "no place in modern day law enforcement."


Ryan adds that officers are pushing the boundaries further and further to keep up their arrest numbers and keep the federal ICAC grants flowing. And responding to legal ads on legal dating sites crosses the line.


"Once the low-hanging fruit is sort of gone, taken off the tree," Ryan said, "there's still pressure from high above to justify these actions."

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Mike Hudson of the Niagra Falls Reporter: Why drunken musicians have no business writing articles

This find was a reader submission (I do take email submissions, in case my readers forget). This one is quite a doozy.

My first thought when I saw this report was, "Who the hell is Mike Hudson?" Apparently he's a musician for some crappy "indy punk" band from Cleveland who fancies himself to be a writer and has some small level of fame. Since about 2000, he has written for a small town gossip rag posing as a newspaper in Niagra Falls of all places.

Mike Hudson has quite a sordid reputation, including a reputation for drunkenness and other wild accusations. Reminds me of a certain reptile from South FloriDUH. Maybe they're related?

http://www.niagarafallsreporter.com/Stories/2014/JULY22/sex.html

Sex Offender Epidemic Growing Larger Here With Every Passing Day
By Mike Hudson
July 22, 2014

They’re everywhere.


How many people do you encounter throughout any given day? At work, driving, grocery shopping, exercising, out at movies or at a concert; we are constantly interacting with people from the time we wake up until we go to sleep. So would it alarm you that in every 1,000 people you interact with, three were registered sex offenders? 

If you live in Niagara Falls, that is the case.


We welcome them, in much the same way we welcome dead baby burning garbage incineration plants. In a city so desperate for cash, Niagara Falls takes what it gets.


Fracking waste in our drinking water, polluted air from the burned garbage of New York City and dangerous and violent offenders from all over the state are just a few of the things we deal with in an effort to allow the city to balance its’ budget.


The city of Niagara Falls has more than a third more registered sex offenders than the rest of Niagara County, and about double the number that people in the rest of the state are subjected to.


According to the Sex Offender Database found on the Niagara County Sheriff’s website there are 158 registered sex offenders living in Niagara Falls, making the number the sex offenders in every thousand Niagara Falls residents, 3.2.


Since his election in 2007, Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster has welcomed sex offenders with open arms. 


“They’ve got to live somewhere,” he has said.


That attitude, and the fact that the state Parole Board is increasingly eager to put undesirable perverts as far away from civilization as possible makes Niagara Falls the ideal destination.


The number here is a third higher than the second highest number in Niagara County of 2.4 sex offenders for every thousand residents in Gasport and Newfane.


The ratio for the total population of Niagara Falls is 314 residents for every sex offender living in the city. The simplistic explanation as to why the city has the worst ratio for the county might be because it has the highest population.


But since the population for city and town of Lockport combined, is roughly 41,700, or 8,000 less than Niagara Falls, and the ratio is one in 758 residents for every registered sex offender which means it is more than two-times lower than Niagara Falls. The towns of Lewiston and Wheatfield both have over 15,000 residents, while city of North Tonawanda has a population of over 31,000.


All three have fewer than 10 registered sex offenders living inside their borders. Even the city of Buffalo, with a population over five-times the size of Niagara Falls, has a ratio of one for every 428 residents.


The statistics get worse when you look statewide. Of the eight cities in New York State with a population between 40,000 and 60,000, the only city with more sex offenders to total residents than Niagara Falls is Binghamton with a whopping one for every 136 residents.


At first it may seem like a no-brainer that in a city with high crime rates, drug use, and high unemployment, having a large amount of sex offenders living in Niagara Falls would make sense. Of course there is likely some coloration between all those elements, but many cities have high crime, or low employment but do not have anywhere close to the poor figures that Niagara Falls has in relation to sex offenders.


So we get guys here like a  Robert Ray Taylor, a 47-year old blonde haired and blue eyed man who raped a 12-year-old back in the Nineties and would probably do the same today if given half a chance.


He’s the guy you might be standing in line next to at Rite Aid or Tops Friendly Markets. He might be living next door to you in a rental unit and you might think he’s a nice enough guy to coach your kid’s soccer team. 


The numbers certainly get overlooked when taking about what is wrong with the Niagara Falls, but having 3.2 sex offenders in every thousand city-residents is a painfully statistic that needs to be remembered. It should be addressed as an important factor that is keeping people away from living in the city.


At least for those who don’t particularly care to run into, much less live next to, a sex offender several times a day. Or want them living a few doors down from the school their child attends.