Friday, April 27, 2018

Veteran's charity takes away home for disabled vet due to his registry status

This a long story, the short version is a wounded vet got denied a home thanks to the media humiliating this man.

Who the fuck would fight for this country after seeing stories like this?

How a charity for disabled vets almost gave a sex offender a free home in Stuarts Draft


Brad Zinn,

Neighbors began seeing workers last year at the unoccupied house at 120 Brookmill Road, a ranch-style nestled along a cul-de-sac in a middle-class neighborhood in Stuarts Draft.

The contractors repaired the roof and installed a ramp to the front door. Neighbors took note.

It's the kind of place where the afternoon return of the school buses brings the adults out onto porches and driveways to greet children. Sun glances off a basketball hoop at street's edge, and similar monuments dot the fronts of several houses up and down the road.

Tucked away near Stuarts Draft's southeastern corner, the road is part of a suburban-style subdivision. Most of the homes are modest single story family residences, shaded by mature trees planted back when the subdivision began in 1990; bicycles lean on kickstands and are dropped on porches. Toys are casually strewn in yards. Campers occupy some driveways.

In December, following a small media event, word spread through the neighborhood that the house being worked on soon would be occupied. The new owner, by any definition, was an American hero. He had been woundedin Iraq.

It was shaping up to be the perfect feel-good story for the holidays.

Michael Cain, 37, a war veteran and double amputee, was receiving the home mortgage-free, courtesy of the Military Warriors Support Foundation's "Homes 4 Wounded Heroes" program. The charity worked in conjunction with the home's most recent owner, Wells Fargo bank.

Getting a house is no small deal. Getting one for free, in a settled and safe neighborhood in small-town America, is even bigger.

Cain, 14 years after he was maimed by a landmine in Iraq, was ready to begin the next chapter of his life among the families of Stuarts Draft. Television news covered the event. Press releases went to area media.

But after researching a detail about the press release, The News Leader quickly learned via Google something that neither the non-profit nor Wells Fargo had discovered. The man they were about to permanently embed in a neighborhood full of families and children was a convicted sex offender who had sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl, according to Wisconsin court records.

That revelation set in motion a process that led the charity to rescind the home offer.

The vet in question had traveled the country as a member of sports teams that celebrated the accomplishments of disabled veterans. In archived clipping after archived clipping, veteran organizations and local media had photographed Cain, noted his achievements and described him in glowing terms:

"He lives every single day with an attitude that is unparalleled, and a heart full of nothing but kindness," the Purple Heart Foundation wrote in 2017.

"He has defied the odds," the NoVa Caps website said in 2016.

Perhaps he had.

After his injury and return to the U.S., Cain was the subject of an extensive New Yorker profile called "The Casualty."

"When people talk about the Army being good for a certain kind of young man, it’s boys like Michael Cain they have in mind," Dan Baum wrote. "Tall and lean, with a sweet smile and doll’s eyes, Michael spent his high-school years searching fitfully for the disciplined achiever within him."

Baum painted a picture of an American hero, but didn't foreshadow what was to come. Within two years of his return Cain was having sex with a 14-year-old girl. The teenager reported him. He was convicted and served two years in the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.

Military Warriors Support Foundation, a non-profit charity based in San Antonio, Texas, claims it did a background check on Cain before deciding to award him a home. But it says it didn't know about his sex offender status. Now, the agency says changes are underway to how it screens applicants.

Cain has been active in other endeavors, such as the USA Warriors Sled Hockey program and the Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team, which played in Minnesota prior to this year's Super Bowl. It's not entirely clear whether these traveling teams played in school environments, which could be problematic for a registered sex offender in some states.

One of the organizations knew of Cain's criminal history and opted to support him, the News Leader investigation learned. The other has since cut ties with the veteran.

Cain, who has repeatedly declined interview requests for this article, remains in Virginia and now lives in Franklin, according to the Virginia State Police sex offender registry.

He has served his court-mandated sentence for his crime.

Slipping through the cracks

The News Leader began its research about Cain after it was invited to cover the home giveaway. Oddly, the press email from Wells Fargo arrived almost four hours after the event took place in Stuarts Draft. It was odd enough that an editor decided to Google Cain's name, and the sex offender registry popped up.

Further research by a reporter revealed convictions in his home state of Wisconsin that resulted in prison time.

Wells Fargo, which said the email snafu was inadvertent, regularly participates in the mortgage-free home giveaways for wounded vets, according to Kristy Marshall, a spokeswoman for the company.

Marshall said Wells Fargo — which has donated more than 350 homes worth more than $55 million in all 50 states through various non profits such as Military Warriors — was not aware of Cain's criminal past until contacted by a reporter.

"Wells Fargo donates properties to the Military Warriors Support Foundation for use in its Homes4WoundedHeroes program," Marshall said. "The foundation takes applications and chooses recipients for their program. Wells Fargo has no role in the selection process. This was an unfortunate situation and we intend to work with the nonprofit to ensure controls are in place so a mistake like this never happens again."

Over the years, Cain, who goes by "Big Mike," has been a media darling. The 2004 New Yorker article was the first and perhaps the brightest spotlight to stop on the former soldier. It delves into his boyhood in Berlin, Wisconsin, a town located in Green County and an area with fewer than than 6,000 residents. It tells how Cain joined the Army in 2000 and became a truck driver. Three years later he would find himself stationed in Tikrit, Iraq, it said.

On Aug. 10, 2003, Cain volunteered to ride along with a group of other soldiers to help deliver food and water in a large tactical truck to an encampment of U.S. soldiers two miles away, according to the magazine.

During the trip, an anti-vehicle mine ripped through the vehicle, shredding Cain's legs. His right leg would have to be amputated below the knee. In 2013, Cain's left leg would be amputated due to complications.

He would be awarded a Purple Heart for his injuries.

After The New Yorker, Cain was featured in a 2008 news article from the U.S. Department of Defense, where he played hockey with other soldiers undergoing rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Maryland.

Besides being hurt in the explosion, Cain told the reporter he'd been shot in the back and in the back of his head, according to the story, a version of events not consistent with what The New Yorker reported a few years before.

In 2009, USA Hockey Magazine ran a picture of Cain speaking with a Washington Capitals player during a hockey practice for wounded veterans.

In 2013, Cain is pictured in a photograph for Wounded Warriors Amputee Football Team at an event at a high school in Arlington, Va.

In a 2013 article, Cain was quoted on the Army's website. In 2015 the Army Times wrote a piece about Cain receiving help from a charity that assists veterans.

The East Bay Times, which covers the San Francisco area, wrote about a Wounded Warriors football game that Cain took part in.

In April of last year, the Purple Heart Foundation also featured Cain in an article.

All were written from the perspective of admiration for wounded warriors who come home and overcome obstacles. None mentioned his legal problems.

On Nov. 20, 2008, Wisconsin Representative Steve Kagan, D-Appleton, read into the Congressional Record a long lyric poem written in honor of Michael Cain. The poem, composed by Albert Carey Caswell, was titled "Raising Cain."

Kagan had met Cain at Walter Reed Medical Center a few days earlier while visiting another wounded soldier. It's unclear from the Record whether Caswell, a member of the Capitol Guide Service, had passed the poem on to Kagan, or if Cain himself had.

The poem described Cain's valor and courage in surviving the explosion of his vehicle, and focused on the image of him raising himself up from the wreckage: "As you were the one who so raised his head... / Whose fine heart so began to pound! / Raising Cain..." The poem calls Cain "This American Jewel... / a simple man... / And most of all he's a family man...."

The poem gives no indication that Caswell was aware that the heroic subject of his work had been serving time in prison for a violent sex crime only seven months earlier. Nor is it likely Rep. Kagan was aware of the fact as he read the poem into The Congressional Record that a far more tragic story could be told about Cain's behavior.

It started less than two years after the Iraq landmine forever altered Cain's life. He found himself back in Wisconsin, according to a statement of probable cause written by a Waushara County detective.

It was there in the summer of 2005 that Cain, who was married at the time, first kissed the 14-year-old girl.

The teen told authorities a few weeks later that she and Cain had sex at her parent's house in the town of Marion, Wisconsin, after everyone had gone to bed.

"She stated that she and Cain were in the living room watching TV," the detective wrote in his statement. "She stated that Cain asked her for a backrub. She stated she gave him a backrub and the two began kissing."

After having sex, Cain told the girl to "keep it a secret," according to the detective.

In a second incident, the teen described having sex in Cain's truck after he pulled off to the side of the road following a music festival.

Questioned by the detective, Cain, 24 years old at the time, said he was friends with the girl's brother.

"He stated that that was the first time he saw (the girl) since she had grown up to be 14 years old," the detective said in the report.

Cain admitted to having sex with the teen on three occasions, according to the detective. Less than two months after the probable cause statement was filed, Cain's wife filed for a divorce, court records show.

The victim's mother, contacted by The News Leader, said when Cain was in high school he used to ride on the same school bus as her daughter, who was in kindergarten at the time.

When Cain returned to the area, he began hanging out at the family's farm, chipping in and helping with chores when he could.

"He told us it made him feel worthwhile," she said.

The mother said because of his status as a wounded war veteran, Cain would often get free tickets to professional wrestling events and concerts, sometimes taking her children — four boys and her daughter, the youngest — with him.

"We always trusted him," she said.

She described Cain as "very polite, very nice," and said he was married at the time with an infant son. But Cain's wife and child didn't live in Wisconsin and were in "one of the Dakotas," she said.

She recalled a moment at a going away party for her oldest son, who was about to head off to the Marines. Cain gave an impassioned speech about being "blood brothers" and made a show of giving her son his Purple Heart medal as a good luck charm.

She suspects his bravado was just a disguise for his true intentions, adding, "They always want to look good in public."

Then came the sexual assault charges against Cain in two counties.

When her son came back on leave from the Marines after training, he and his father confronted Cain at his home. The medal was never seen again. The woman asked her husband and son what happened.

"They said that's all a mother needs to know. I don't know what was said or what was done," she said.

As for Cain's favorable press coverage over the years and him being chosen to receive a mortgage-free home, she said it didn't surprise her at all.

"Everything seems to always be given to him," she said, noting Cain was tabbed as the grand marshal of a Berlin parade shortly after he was wounded.

She even felt that Cain's status as a wounded war veteran led to a light prison stint.

In 2006, he was convicted in Wisconsin on two counts of second-degree sexual assault of a child, considered a violent offense under Wisconsin law. He was released from prison in April 2008 after serving slightly less than two years, according to the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. He could have faced up to 25 years for each felony, court files show.

The next month, Cain was back in the news, this time in a Department of Defense article about an ice hockey clinic for disabled vets.

After moving to Virginia, he was entered into the state's sex offender registry.

Swift action

Andrea Dellinger, vice president of the Military Warriors Support Foundation, said her agency was unaware of Cain's criminal convictions, and said he did not divulge them to the charity. Dellinger said Cain came to the agency based on a high recommendation from another organization, which she would not identify.

In his "Bio Information" provided to Military Warriors, Cain was listed as living in Alexandria when he applied for the mortgage-free home.

In explaining why he joined the Army, Cain wrote, "I grew up my entire life wanting to be an army soldier. I loved the army and when I was old enough to understand why the men and women did what they did in Vietnam I loved them and wanted to do what they did."

In the biography, Cain said his plans were to continue traveling with the Wounded Warrior Amputee Football team. "We go to schools and talk to kids there and show them that disability" doesn't mean you are handicapped, he wrote.

One of the agency's goals with the home program is to give veterans a stable environment that allows them to focus on their recovery and financial well-being, Dellinger said.

Military Warriors vetted Cain prior to naming him the beneficiary of the home, according to Dellinger, but said his criminal past was not revealed.

"We did do a vetting process on him and that information did not come up," she said.

The Cain episode has prompted the agency to take a closer look at its procedures when choosing veterans for a home, Dellinger added, and it will now be using LexisNexis, software that will give Military Warriors access to public and non-public records.

While Military Warriors was initially unaware of Cain's sex convictions, Dellinger said once the agency found out about Cain it immediately sought a resolution.

"We acted swiftly and appropriately to this situation, taking action the same day we received notice of Mr. Cain's background. Mr. Cain never took possession of the home."

Dellinger described the situation as "very uncommon" and said although the Stuarts Draft home is no longer being offered to Cain, the agency would assist in his transition to another residence — support that could vary from assistance with the cost of moving, storage or rent payments for a period of time.

"He's still a combat-wounded veteran, a Purple Heart recipient," she said.

Who knew?
Professor Charles Figley of Tulane University, director of the school's Traumatology Institute, said those severely wounded in combat are "treated like heroes and many times they don't feel like it."

He said wounded vets who return to civilian life face "everything the non-injured face, except they have more."

Initially, he said, hospitalized veterans are better off psychologically because they are able to connect with other wounded vets. But dealing with their combat injuries can be a double-edged sword, Figley noted, because often they can overcome their physical limitations through a certain tenacity that many of them seem to have, but "on the other hand, they're hurting emotionally."

Figley said veterans who are severely wounded, and the effect those wounds have on their lives, remains an understudied field. When asked why, the answer was blunt.

"There's no money in it," he said.

Not everyone was kept in the dark about Cain's past.

Thom Hirsch, a board member for USA Warriors Hockey, which fields a sled hockey team for wounded veterans, said Cain was forthright with officials about his criminal conviction when he joined the team. Hirsch said the mission of the organization is to help wounded veterans transition back into society. Sensing that Cain needed help as well, he was welcomed.

"It takes years, in some cases, for them to right themselves mentally," he said.

USA Warriors Hockey sometimes travels to schools and meets with children, but Hirsch said Cain is not permitted to attend those events and stays behind.

"The USA Warriors Hockey has protocols and procedures in place to address any concerns related to children and youth, such as screening of players and instituting background checks of players going to schools," he said.

Based on press clippings, Cain has also participated in numerous events for the Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team, including a January game prior to this year's Super Bowl in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

The football team's website has a group photo including Cain and his teammates as well as high school cheerleaders, from a flag football game at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, Va. in 2013, according to information on the website.

Chris Visser, who heads the Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team, declined comment for this article but noted Cain is no longer part of its football program.

Neighbors react

As for the home on Brookmill Road that was supposed to go to Cain, it remains vacant four months later with a real estate lock box on the front door.

Military Warriors is pondering whether to give it to another military veteran.

"The final disposition of this property has not yet been decided," Dellinger recently said. "Military Warriors is currently evaluating the situation and how this could potentially cause undue stress on another recipient."

Patrick Harrigan, a longtime homeowner who lives across the street from the residence that was supposed to go to Cain, said he's glad a convicted sex offender wasn't placed in the neighborhood, and said the move could have potentially depressed property values.

"I wouldn't have been very happy," said Harrigan, who has a young daughter.

Next door to the house in question, Donald Wolff was picking up his children — one of them a teenage daughter — from his ex-wife's house when told of the Cain issue.

"That's ridiculous for this neighborhood," Wolff said.

But not everyone was completely against the move. Christina Truslow, who lives across the street and a few doors down from the vacant house, said she would have taken a wait-and-see approach had Cain moved into the neighborhood.

Truslow, a renter who has lived on the street for 10 years, said she's certain that some of her neighbors wouldn't have been very welcoming.

"It definitely would have caused a stir," she said.

Hirsch, the USA Warriors Hockey board member who works with Cain, said these issues are complicated: reintegrating damaged servicemen, protecting the community, providing ample support services, holding the line on court-mandated consequences, rebuilding a life afterward.

He said he considers Cain a friend and said the veteran has come a long way helping other wounded vets, as well as holding down a job.

"He did a terrible thing, and he paid a terrible price, and he continues to pay the price," Hirsch said.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin blames sex crimes against children on teacher strike

Between those quotation fingers is a full blown idiot. If your kid misses school even one day, not only will he/she be sexually assaulted, that kid will try drugs for the first time, according to this guy putting the goober in gubernatorial.

Kentucky Governor Blames Teacher Protest For Inevitable Assault Of Children Left Home Alone

Mary Papenfuss,
Fri, Apr 13 11:15 PM EDT

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin slammed protesting teachers with an outrageous accusation Friday evening, indicating they were responsible for the inevitable sexual assault or poisoning of children left home alone in his state because school was out.

“I’m offended by the fact that people so cavalierly, and so flippantly, disregarded what’s truly best for children,” the Republican governor said at an impromptu news conference captured on video after teachers rallied at the state Capitol to stop school funding cuts.

Bevin also dissed protesting teachers for “hangin’ out, shoes off ... smokin’, leavin’ trash around, takin’ the day off.”

Bevin said “for a fact .... hundreds of thousands” of children were left home alone because schools were closed in 39 districts across the state to allow teachers and administrators to protest funding cuts.

“I guarantee you somewhere in Kentucky today a child was sexually assaulted that was left at home because there was nobody there to watch them,” he said. “I guarantee you somewhere today a child was physically harmed or ingested poison because they were home alone because a single parent didn’t have any money to take care of them.”

Bevin said, that in some “communities,” his fellow Kentuckians knew children would be home alone and “took advantage of it.” He added: “As surely as we’re having this conversation, children were harmed, some physically, some sexually. Some were introduced to drugs for the first time because they were vulnerable and left alone. It’s offensive. It really is.”

Teachers rallied in Frankfort to urge legislators to override Bevin’s vetoes of the budget and tax reform bills — which they did on Friday.

Kentucky Education Association President Stephanie Winkler told The Louisville Courier-Journal that she was “appalled” by Bevin’s remarks. Organizers said parents were given plenty of notice about school closings.

Jefferson County Teachers Association President Brent McKim told the Courier-Journal that using Bevin’s logic, schools should never close.

“The fact is, every school district did its level best to let parents know school was going to be closed with as much notice as possible,” McKim said. “The bottom line is that’s one day. He was cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from kids that would impact every day, and that’s what we were in Frankfort to stop. We were there with the overwhelming support and encouragement of our parents who know that we care about every student in our classes.”

Friday, April 13, 2018

Grabby Garcia might want to avoid Minnesota if HF 2800 passes

Sorry, I can't stop laughing over that MeToo shill Grabby Garcia, but this bill is no laughing matter, and it actually has a chance of passing.

If you want to follow the progress of HF 2800, CLICK HERE.

Fifth degree criminal sexual conduct exclusion for nonconsensual, intentional touching of another person's clothed buttock eliminated.

Bill would make backside groping a sex crime

A bill moving through the Minnesota Legislature would make it a sex crime to grab someone's clothed buttocks without permission.

Author: John Croman

Published: 10:57 PM CDT March 14, 2018
Updated: 10:57 PM CDT March 14, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A bill moving through the Minnesota Legislature would make it a sex crime to grab someone's clothed buttocks without permission.

The fact it's not already a sex crime is surprising to some, but it's a loophole intentionally crafted by legislators in 1988 when they created the offense of 5th Degree Sexual Conduct.

"I am closing the loop on an exemption that I don’t believe belongs in the law," Rep. Regina Barr, an Inver Grove Heights Republican and chief author of the bill, told KARE.

"My bill specifically it makes criminal to touch somebody on the buttocks or derriere, without permission, in other words, it has to be nonconsensual and intentional touch."

Current law lists several descriptions of sexual contact that would constitute a violation, but carves out a clear exception -- "but does not include the intentional touching of the clothing covering the immediate area of the buttocks."

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said, if the bill becomes law, prosecutors would use their discretion and consider the context. For example, the slapping that happens in athletics wouldn't land people in jail.

"I don’t know that any prosecutor would prosecute a situation like a baseball coach slapping somebody on the butt and saying get out on the field right now, right?" Choi remarked. "You still have to prove sexual intent."

He said the original exception was probably an attempt to protect coaches and athletes from overzealous prosecution.

Rep. Barr said she was already working on the proposal before then-Sen. Al Franken was accused by women of grabbing them, through their clothing, during photo ops. Barr, herself, says she has experienced harassment during her professional career.

"We have a different generation that’s not gonna tolerate some things that may have been tolerated before," she said.

Her bill cleared it's first hurdle Wednesday, winning approval of the House Public Safety Committee.

Choi is currently president of the Minnesota County Attorneys Association, which supports the legislation.

"If someone was doing this to my daughter without her permission, I'd be very concerned. I would want that person to face consequences."

He said it's difficult to prove an accused person's frame of mind, but circumstances surrounding the groping incident would come into evidence, including statements and texts made before and afterwards would shed light on intent.

This offense is a gross misdemeanor, which carries a maximum sentence of up to one year in jail. Choi said first-time violators would not have to register as sex offenders.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Media Outlets try to use abolishing the registry as evidence Shooter Conditt was crazy

I'm just glad this shooting occurred after my court case with the Book Crime Family, since Bimbo Book already tried comparing me to the Parkland FL school shooter. The point of these articles, of which the one below is merely one of the more salacious examples, is that the media presented a short writing piece on why Conditt believed the registry should be abolished as evidence that the man was going to go on a shooting spress. What the fuck is wrong with America?

Austin bombing suspect Mark A. Conditt proposed ending sex offender registry, blog says
Sean Collins Walsh, Claire Osborn, Tony Plohetski, Jeremy Schwartz and Mary Huber, Austin American-Stateman
 1:15 p.m Wednesday, March 21, 2018

In 2012, when he was 17 years old, Austin bombing suspect Mark Conditt laid out his political views in a series of blog posts he wrote for an Austin Community College course on the U.S. government.
>> Read more trending news

No motive for the bombings has been disclosed, either by the bomber or by authorities. Four bombings in Austin over 17 days left two people dead and four injured. Another bomb exploded in a FedEx distribution facility, and one unexploded bomb was found at another distribution center, officials said. Authorities identified the 23-year-old Conditt as the bombing suspect who died in a bomb explosion during a confrontation with police early Wednesday, the American-Statesman and KVUE have reported, citing local and federal law enforcement sources.

In the blog, Conditt described himself as a conservative. It’s not clear whether politics played any role in the bombings, but the blog posts provide insight into Conditt’s thinking as he was growing up.

He wrote that he was against gay marriage and abortion and in favor of the death penalty.

He also wrote that he supported doing away with the sex offender registration system.

“So you have a guy who committed a crime. Will putting him on a (sex offender) list make it better? wouldn’t this only make people shun him, keep him from getting a job, and making friends? Just for a crime that he may have committed over 15 years ago as a adolescent? On a side note, one fifth of all rapes are committed by a juvenile,” Conditt wrote.

On abortion, he wrote: “First, if a women does not want a baby, or is incapable of taking care of one, she should not participate in activities that were made for that reason. Second, if we are going to give women free abortions, why not give men free condoms, or the like? Is it not up to the couple to take these preventive measures?”

Arguing against gay marriage, he wrote that homosexuality is “not natural.”

“Just look at the male and female bodies. They are obviously designed to couple. The natural design is apparent. It is not natural to couple male with male and female with female. It would be like trying to fit two screws together and to nuts together and then say, “See, it’s natural for them to go together,” he wrote.

Conditt attended ACC from 2010 to 2012, but never graduated, a school spokesperson told the Texas Tribune.


Here is the actual piece that Conditt wrote. It looks like a school project, because that's what it was.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Why we might want to consider doing away with Sex Offender Registration.

    In theory, these registries are list of every sex offender in the state, with the his house location and other pertinent facts to help people avoid exposing themselves to such people.  Megan's Law requires sex offenders to register and update law enforcement every time they change location.

    This is not the result.  You have to really hate the guy to make him suffer for the rest of his life, even when his prison time is up.  This sounds perfect for a serial rapist or pedophile, but its not such a great idea if something as trivial as public indecency or streaking can put you on the registry right alongside them.

    So you have a guy who committed a crime.  Will putting him on a list make it better?  wouldn't this only make people shun him, keep him from getting a job, and making friends?   Just for a crime that he may have committed over 15 years ago as a adolescent?  On a side note, one fifth of all rapes are committed by a juvenile.

    And how effective is it? Even if you know about a registered sex offender in the neighborhood, what's to stop him from doing it again?  And that's not taking into consideration that 95 percent of all cases are from someone the victim had already knew?  And if he was really going to do it again, would the fact that he is on a list really going to stop him?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Illinois Supreme Court Injustice Mary Jane Theis proves to us why facts and figures does not trump the whims of an out of control "justice system"

This is why my focus has shifted from the courts to the legislature. The IL Supreme Court doesn't care about your facts and figures.

Read the Illinois Supreme Court Decision HERE.

Writing Sex Offender Laws Based on Fake Recidivism Numbers Is Rational, Court Says

The Illinois Supreme Court unanimously upholds a law banning sex offenders from public parks.

Jacob Sullum|Apr. 11, 2018 1:45 pm

Last week the Illinois Supreme Court upheld a state law banning sex offenders from public parks, overturning a 2017 appeals court ruling that deemed the statute "unconstitutional on its face because it bears no reasonable relationship to protecting the public." The seven members of the higher court unanimously disagreed, saying, "We conclude that there is a rational relation between protecting the public, particularly children, from sex offenders and prohibiting sex offenders who have been convicted of crimes against minors from being present in public parks across the state."

In reaching that conclusion, the justices relied on alarming claims about recidivism among sex offenders, even while acknowledging that the claims have been discredited. The decision, written by Justice Mary Jane Theis, shows how fear overrides logic in dealing with sex offenders and how toothless "rational basis" review can be, allowing legislators not only to draw their own judgments but to invent their own facts.

Under Section 11-9.4-1(b) of the Illinois Criminal Code, "It is unlawful for a sexual predator or a child sex offender to knowingly be present in any public park building or on real property comprising any public park." In 2013 Marc Pepitone, who served a six-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to sexual assault of a child in 1998, was arrested for walking his dog in Bolingbrook's Indian Boundary Park. In addition to dog walking, the Third District Appellate Court noted when it overturned Pepitone's conviction, the law he violated criminalizes "a wide swath of innocent conduct" in public parks, including hiking, photography, bird watching, fishing, swimming, and bicycling; "attending concerts, picnics, rallies, and Chicago Bears games at Soldier Field"; and visiting "the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium, the Art Institute, the Adler Planetarium, or the Museum of Science and Industry, all of which are public buildings on park land."

Despite the park ban's substantial and lifelong impact on the recreational options of sex offenders, Pepitone did not claim the law implicated a "fundamental liberty interest." It was therefore subjected to rational basis review, a highly deferential test requiring only a rational relationship between the law and a legitimate government objective. In concluding that the law failed even that test, the appeals court noted (among other things) that "the statute places individuals who are highly unlikely to recidivate in the same category as serial child sex offenders."

The Illinois Supreme Court also thinks recidivism rates are relevant but is willing to accept whatever legislators say on the subject, even when there is no evidence to support it. "The State asserts that sex offenders have high rates of recidivism," Justice Theis writes. "Those rates have been widely accepted by courts across the country, including the United States Supreme Court, which has mentioned 'a frightening and high risk of recidivism' for convicted sex offenders." But that widely cited quote from Justice Anthony Kennedy, which comes from the plurality opinion in the 2002 case McKune v. Lile, was based entirely on an unverified claim in a 1986 Psychology Today article by a therapist who has repudiated it, saying he is "appalled" at the lingering impact of his three-decade-old estimate.

Kennedy said "the rate of recidivism of untreated offenders has been estimated to be as high as 80%." Urging passage of the Illinois park ban, a state legislator claimed sex offenders commit new crimes "40 or 50 or 60 percent of the time." Studies that track sex offenders after they are released from prison find much lower recidivism rates. A 2014 meta-analyis covering almost 8,000 sex offenders, for example, found a five-year recidivism rate of about 20 percent among "high-risk" offenders but less than 3 percent among the rest. After 15 years, the recidivism rate rose to 32 percent for the high-risk offenders and 5 percent for the others.

Theis is aware of the controversy over Kennedy's Trumpesque claim. "Regarding recidivism rates," she notes, "the defendant insists that the McKune plurality's 'frightening and high' comment has been debunked." It has. Repeatedly. And courts have begun to notice. But never mind. "Regardless of how convincing that social science may be," Theis says, "'the legislature is in a better position than the judiciary to gather and evaluate data bearing on complex problems.'"

In this case, both the legislature and the judiciary have assumed crucial facts that simply are not true, as far as we can tell based on all of the research that has been done during the last few decades. Theis is saying laws should nevertheless be written and upheld based on those demonstrably false assumptions until legislators decide to gather data. Call that whatever you want, but it surely is not rational.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Scott Andrew Ecklund crashes car into empty house because he thinks a registered citizen lives there

He looks like he could be the Book Crime Family's future campaign manager.

Man who crashed into Winter Park house threatened to shoot officer, report says

By: Jeff Weiner, Orlando Sentinel
April 3, 2018

man who crashed a truck into a Winter Park house late Sunday claimed to be an FBI agent and threatened to shoot an officer with a high-powered rifle, according to a police report.

Police were called to the house on Aloma Avenue about 9 p.m. Sunday after receiving a report that a black truck had crashed into it.

They arrived to find the driver, Scott Andrew Ecklund, 32, standing outside the vehicle “taking a fighting stance,” according to the report. Officers ordered him to get on the ground, but he refused, the report said.

Officer Joshua Larson wrote in his report that Ecklund “stated multiple times that he was going to kill me and that he had an AR that he would shoot me with,” apparently referring to a military-style rifle.

The standoff ended when Ecklund tripped while walking backward and fell down, the report said. He kicked and punched the officers as they put him in handcuffs, spitting in Larson’s face, the officer wrote.

“I’m going to [expletive] kill you,” Ecklund said, according to the report.

While officers waited for the fire department to arrive to check Ecklund for injuries, he explained that he had crashed into the house because a sex offender lived there, the report said.

He said he was an FBI agent and “was working,” the report said.

A Florida Department of Law Enforcement database doesn’t show any sex offenders living at the house Ecklund was accused of striking. No occupation was listed for him in the arrest report.

The crash caused an estimated $7,500 in damage to the front of the house, the report said. Police contacted its owner, who opted to press charges for criminal mischief. The house was unoccupied at the time.

Ecklund also faces charges of battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting an officer with violence and threats to harm or kill and officer, records show. He remains in the Orange County Jail.

Records show he served a brief term in state prison for battery on an officer, stemming from a 2010 case. At least 24 traffic infractions have been filed against him in Orange County since 2002.

Mark Longwell, an Orlando attorney who has represented Ecklund in the past, said he hadn’t been retained to represent him in his latest arrest and couldn’t comment specifically on the new allegations.

“As a society, we don’t always know how to deal with mental health issues and our healthcare system and our criminal justice system are really not well-equipped at handling those issues,” he added.