Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
A Chilliwack physiotherapist caught with a large collection of child pornography on his computer will spend two months' worth of weekends in jail for his offence.
Judge Russell MacKay gave Laurence Wong a 60-day jail sentence in provincial court Friday morning. The sentence is to be served intermittently.
"I sincerely hope this chapter is put behind you," the judge told him.
Wong was arrested May 3, 2007 after police found approximately 26,000 images on his home computer that depicted various degrees of pornographic images involving children. It also contained several hundred explicit videos.
"Needless to say, this material is shocking, repulsive and abhorrent," MacKay said.
The arrest was part of an international investigation based in the Netherlands.
Wong pleaded guilty in December. Prior to sentencing, both a pre-sentence report and psychiatric evaluation were ordered.
The physiotherapist has faced restrictions about working around children in his practice. Currently, he is working in the Vancouver area at a grocery store. He also lost a chance to serve as a physiotherapist for the British kayak team at the upcoming Olympics in China.
Wong's professional association is expected to review his status now that the court case has concluded. Judge MacKay said he expected the association will impose further sanctions against the physiotherapist.
In addition to the 60-day sentence, Wong faces two years of probation when his term ends. Judge MacKay also included an order that Wong be placed on a sexual offenders' registry for a 10-year term, but declined to make an order for a sample for an offenders' DNA registry.
Wong faces restrictions against being around young people under 16 years of age and can only use a computer for work purposes. He must also pay a victim surcharge fine of $1,000.
He faced a minimum of 14 days in jail and a maximum of 18 months. When passing sentence the judge took into account the accused's lack of criminal history, his willingness to admit his mistake, and that he had not produced or distributed the material.
"He acknowledges that his behaviour was extremely inappropriate," MacKay said.
The judge took note of Wong's family and a letter from his mother.
"It is a credit to the family that they continue to stand behind their son," MacKay said.
However, he also cited the extreme nature of some of the material Wong possessed and did not grant defence counsel's request for a minimum jail sentence.
By Kim Smith
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona Published: 05.27.2008
Anthony Garcia got busted, not by a cop on the street, but by an eye in the sky.
The 18-year-old registered sex offender got too close to a couple of schools, and he didn't stick to his probation-officer-approved schedule.
His probation officer wasn't anywhere around, but he knew where Garcia had been because of a satellite-based GPS tracking system quietly put into use 18 months ago.
Since late 2006, some child molesters who are placed on probation have been required to wear Global Positioning System ankle bracelets that track where they are 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Probation officers can download data whenever they want to check where a defendant has been and whether they're keeping to their pre-approved schedules. Or, the officers can sit at a computer screen to watch a probationer move from place to place in real-time, said David Sanders, Pima County's chief probation officer.
Pima County probation officers are monitoring nine local residents, plus 16 people who live in other Southern Arizona counties that don't have the necessary equipment, said Barbara Johnson, who supervises the sex offender unit of Pima County Adult Probation.
In each case, the child molesters are told there are certain areas where they can't go, Sanders said. If they go into an "exclusionary zone," the ankle bracelet sounds an alarm and immediately notifies his probation officer.
If the probation officer thinks it's necessary, he or she can immediately call the police, Sanders said.
Exclusionary zones could include playgrounds, school yards and victims' neighborhoods.
The tracking system also can be used as an investigative tool, Sanders said. Detectives investigating a sex crime can compare a sex offender's GPS data with the location and time of that crime to see if they match, he said.
Johnson stressed that probation officers are still doing all the same checks they did before GPS — making unannounced visits to homes and jobs, testing for drugs and alcohol and meeting with probationers on a regular basis.
"Just because they are on GPS doesn't mean we sit back," Johnson said. "It's just another tool for us to use."
Garcia, the 18-year-old, was placed on lifetime probation in February 2007 after admitting to sexual conduct with an 8-year-old relative.
A probation officer filed a motion to revoke Garcia's probation on May 6.
According to court documents, Garcia wasn't where he was supposed to be on 11 days, failed to live up to GPS requirements on six days, went near schools twice and failed to participate in his counseling program on a certain day. He also failed to report to his probation officer on another day.
Garcia said he didn't adhere to his schedule, and he didn't live up to his GPS requirements on those dates. Pima County Superior Court Judge John Leonardo could place him back on probation June 6, or he could sentence him to up to 15 years in prison.
Garcia is the first person placed on GPS monitoring who could have his probation revoked because of it, Johnson said. However, a warrant has been issued for a second sex offender who cut off his GPS monitor and disappeared.
Right now, the only sex offenders who are fitted with the GPS monitors are those convicted of "dangerous" crimes against children, who have been placed on probation, Sanders said.
The number who fall into that category is relatively small because most people convicted of such crimes are sent to prison, Sanders said.
In addition, there are some sex crimes that are not considered "dangerous" under Arizona law, Sanders said.
But the number is expected to increase, Sanders said, because there are a few dozen people in prison now who will have to spend time on probation after they're released.
The state is paying for the bracelets, which cost $6 a day, Sanders said.
He said he expects legislators will eventually expand the circumstances under which GPS can be required, possibly to include people awaiting trial, domestic-violence suspects and those convicted of adult sex crimes.
Although no studies have been done to see if the monitors have a deterrent effect on sex offenders, there is speculation they could make them think twice about committing bad acts, Sanders said.
"GPS makes the most sense in cases where there are exclusionary zones that have been set up for justifiable reasons, such as when you have a stalking-type situation when the victim is at a higher risk of being attacked," Sanders said.
Pima County Public Defender Bob Hirsh said he has problems with GPS monitoring, especially considering the cost.
"They've got to know where these people are every second of every day? What's the point of that?" Hirsh said. "I think it's all pretty circumstantial. I'm found near schools every day going to and from the grocery store."
There is no correlation between someone being successful on probation and GPS, Hirsh said. Some people succeed on probation because they've decided to change their behavior, and others simply because they are in a more structured environment.
"I don't see any benefit," Hirsh said. "This is just another example of encroachment by the government."
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Feds are investigating a man held in Jeffco in connection with 2003-04 disappearances.
By Carlos Illescas and Jace Larson The Denver Post/9News
Article Last Updated: 05/16/2008 07:02:28 PM MDT
A man is in custody in Jefferson County who federal authorities believe is connected to the disappearance of at least four people.
Scott Lee Kimball: According to a search warrant, information about three of four missing people plus images of rape were found on Kimball's computer.
Scott Lee Kimball, 41, is in jail on unrelated charges as authorities investigate his link to the disappearances of Jennifer Marcum, Kaysi McLeod, Terry Kimball — Scott's uncle — and Leann Emry of Aurora.
Information from a search warrant issued for Kimball's laptop computer in 2007 showed that information about three of the four was in his computer, according to court documents obtained by 9News.
Also found on his computer were images of bondage, sex acts and rape as well as photos of four other unidentified women, whose whereabouts are unknown.
Marcum, a dancer at a Glendale strip club, disappeared Feb. 17, 2003. Her car was found abandoned at a remote parking lot at Denver International Airport.
Jennifer Marcum disappeared in 2003.
The documents say that Kimball's and Marcum's cellphones both went three days without any calls around the time she disappeared.
In June 2003, Kimball told authorities that a drug dealer had killed Marcum. He said that a friend of a former cellmate had shown him a photograph of Marcum with her hands and legs bound and her mouth taped shut, according to an affidavit. Kimball said that in the photo Marcum was lying in a fetal position on the floor with her eyes closed.
Kaysi McLeod was reported missing in August 2003. She was 19 at the time and was never seen after Kimball was supposed to pick her up from a Thornton hotel. Kimball married Kaysi's mother, Lori, later that year.
Rob McLeod, Kaysi's father, told 9News: "I believe Scott Kimball killed my daughter."
Terry Kimball, 60, disappeared in late 2004, shortly after he arrived in town and began to stay with Scott Kimball.
Scott Kimball told people that his uncle won the Ohio state lottery, then went to Mexico with a woman.
Emry, 24, disappeared somewhere between Moab and Washington state in 2003. In January 2003 she told her father, Howard,
Jennifer Marcum disappeared in 2003. that she was planning a camping trip. Her car was found in Moab.
James Davis, FBI special agent in charge of the Denver office, told 9News that the FBI was trying to gather information about the four other women, concerned that they, too, are victims.
"I think that's entirely possible," Davis said. "We don't know what we don't know."
Scott Lee Kimball may be connected to the disappearances of these four unidentified women. If you have any information, call the FBI at 303-629-7171.
Posted by Suzanne Thompson on May 23 2008, 10:44 AM
It’s hardly the stuff of polite conversation around the Lymes, but families and children in all of southeastern Connecticut towns are not immune to the seamy business of prostitution and sex for pay, according to Frank Barnaba, founder of the Barnaba Institute (BI) of Clinton.
In fact, pimps and perpetrators particularly prey on the stiff upper lips of parents and the seeming naiveté of young people from this region, according to Barnaba, who has worked in the field, both undercover and in advocacy, for almost 35 years. In the last three years he has tried to help several young women get away from exploitative situations in New London County that involved prostitution, pimps, and drugs: three cases in Old Lyme, one in Niantic, and two in Norwich and New London. Families or friends of someone in need of help will contact him; not every case is successful.
Barnaba started the Paul & Lisa Program, Inc., in 1980. The nonprofit organization was named after Lisa, a young woman Barnaba happened to meet at a diner in Woodbridge when he got stuck in a snow storm. The young honors student from a religious and caring family had gotten involved with a businessman who “sold” her to the mob in New Haven. After much counseling and support by Barnaba, she made plans to escape prostitution and drugs. But she died of a suspiciously large overdose of cocaine. The “Paul” came from St. Paul’s Church in Westbrook, which gave money to start the organization.
Since 1980, Barnaba personally has rescued about 135 people from human trafficking and sexual exploitation, most of them in the New York metro area. Some have gone on to be nurses, school teachers, and there are two psychologists—one is a famous doctor in New York City. Barnaba has gone undercover with federal agents on some cases and has trained FBI agents on commercial sexual exploitation. In 1988, he was recipient of the National Victim of Crime Award by President Ronald Reagan for his outstanding contributions in assisting victims of crime.
“People think of trafficking in other countries—Africa and Indonesia—but domestic trafficking is truly growing,” he said. “Nobody has the numbers, really.”
The U.S. Department of Justice estimates 200,000 to 300,000 U.S. citizens, mainly children and young women, are at high risk of being trafficked throughout the country for sexual purposes. Barnaba considers this a low estimate.
“It’s not organized crime anymore,” he said. “Gangs are getting involved big-time, and this is changing the whole scope.”
Nationally, the average age of a child roped into trafficking and prostitution is 13, according to BI. Barnaba said he recently dealt with 12-year-olds working the streets in Waterbury. It’s not unusual for the pimps now to be 17 to 25 years old.Along the shoreline, he said, the perpetrators often are drug dealers.
Lest anyone think they are preying only on inner city youth and the suburbs are safe, he recounts what a New London drug dealer and pimp told him last year: “It’s a piece of cake with these upper-class wealthy kids; parents don’t talk about this with them.”
Barnaba said parents and teachers need to be talking with children starting around age 11 about the fact that there are people in the local community who are here for one reason: to exploit children.
Since retiring from Paul & Lisa about two years ago, Barnaba decided to form the institute in his name, to carry out a two-pronged mission: One is a preventative approach to raise awareness of the problem among community leaders, schools, and residents.Lisa Bragaw of Niantic, one of BI’s directors and a mother of three children under age 11, agrees that knowledge is power, for both adults and children.
“While it’s a difficult topic, it’s something that we need to know as parents to help protect our children,” Bragaw said. “We raise our children to be polite and to say hello to people who say hello to them. On the other hand, I’m trying to tell them to watch themselves and to look out for predators, without scaring them. It’s a really fine line.”
The PTA at Niantic Center School sponsored a BI presentation for parents in East Lyme last spring. Bragaw is in discussions with East Lyme High to put on a similar presentation.
“This was all new to me,” Bragaw said of hearing BI’s presentation the first time. “The predators befriend the kids, get them to trust them, buy them gifts, and they get the kids to start telling little white lies, sneaking out on their parents a bit. They are very patient on how they will get these kids involved.”
“Kids are so much smarter today,” Barnaba said. “They know what’s going on, more than their parents. They can find anything they want on the Internet. They think it’s a lark.”
“‘Stranger-danger’ isn’t necessarily the way to go because unfortunately kids who are abused are often abused by people they know,” Bragaw said. “You have to learn what to look for in a predator.”
BI also can conduct presentations for community and citizen groups and training for law enforcement. It recently received a three-year, $70,000 grant from the Ittleson Foundation of New York City to develop an educational program, including a survivor transitional guide, for outreach staff at other organizations that help victims. The materials will first be used by Covenant House locations worldwide.
The grant has made it possible for BI to hire Sandra Taylor of Niantic, who started out as a BI volunteer, to work part time as a grants researcher and use her graphics and editorial skills on developing the pilot program materials. She also is involved in fund-raising and promoting BI’s objectives.
Taylor has enlisted two Old Lyme Middle School eighth-graders to help with local fund-raising projects. Alyssa Bernblum, 14, daughter of Bennett Bernblum and Barbara Fallon, and Kelsey Riggs, 14, daughter of Jeff and Julie Riggs, helped with a bake sale at Stop & Shop in East Lyme and a fund-raiser at Plaza Ford in Niantic earlier this year. Tracy McHugh of Niantic is a new member to the BI board. She will be contributing her experience in fund-raising, magazine publication, and marketing.
BI’s other targeted effort is outreach to victims who want to get off of the street. This is a more undercover operation for Jen Sheehan, BI outreach director, and trained volunteers. They get to know the kids, give them a BI phone number to call, and make arrangements to get them out of their environment to a safe location. Sometimes this involves Covenant House in New York or other support organizations. For now, the focus is on Waterbury, a town with extreme trafficking problems, according to Barnaba.
Before BI starts outreach in a community, it maps out the centers of trafficking activity. BI hasn’t mapped out New London County yet, according to Alexis Taylor Litos, BI executive director, but that doesn’t mean trafficking isn’t going on here.
“Many law enforcement agencies still treat prostitution as a crime and don’t look at the trafficking that’s beneath the surface,” she said. “We haven’t approached the police here yet.”
Barnaba considers a case from Old Lyme, about eight years ago, to be one of his worst. A former high school student got recruited by a man in New London and went off to New York to dance in peep shows. Despite attempts by Barnaba and her family to get her out, she became an adult film actress. Barnaba noted the Hollywood portrayal of young girls turned hooker only to meet a nice, handsome client is hardly what happens.
Perpetrators are looking for naiveté over good looks in their victims, he said. They look for children who are loners, a bit despondent. In southeastern Connecticut, he said, children are as likely to be approached on the beach or at a fast-food restaurant as at a shopping mall.
“These guys brag that all they need is two hours, all they need to do is get the kids into a car,” Sheehan said. It often starts with lavished praise or adoration. Sometimes it might start with requests to take photos of the child, or for them to do something special for the perpetrator.
Youth of a similar age often are used as recruiters, she said, and the targeted child doesn’t meet the person behind it all until later.At some point, sexual and physical abuse and violence enter the picture.
“They use the fact that these are good kids. Kids want to please an adult, that’s natural,” she said. “It just depends on what the adult is demanding of them.”
BI hasn’t studied the educational level or aptitudes of kids it rescues, she said, but at ages 12 and 13, they aren’t even old enough to be stereotypical teen drop-outs.
“For the most part, they seem to be very well-mannered, well-spoken kids,” Sheehan said. “One thing a lot of the girls seem to have in common is some sort of abuse.”
She also cautions that there isn’t one socioeconomic class that is preyed upon.
“I think that pimps can range from wealthy to poor,” she said. “The range is just amazing.”
One barrier Sheehan has seen among the trafficked victims is that they feel ashamed of having been roped into prostitution, not really understanding what was going on at the time.
“A lot of the girls feel so ashamed to talk to their families because they really don’t realize that someone else has committed a crime against them,” she said. “They think they should have known better.”
Sheehan currently has three clients from Deep River, one an adult who was purchased by someone from out of state. One girl claims to be 14, she said, but is likely to be a malnourished 12- or 13-year-old.
“I know it sounds so clichéd, but talk to your children, listen to them,” Sheehan said. “Know where your kids are, who they are with. If they suddenly develop this cool friend who is a year or two older than they are, know who that person is. Know who their family is before you allow your child to go and visit them.
“If they go to the mall and meet some older kid, they need to know that they can’t leave with them,” she said.
Loophole keeps some convicted of sex crimes off list
By Justin Fenton Sun Reporter
May 24, 2008
A former Roman Catholic priest who was convicted in 2006 of sexually abusing a student at Calvert Hall College High School 20 years earlier will not be required to register as a child sex offender due to a loophole in state law, which legislators unsuccessfully sought to address this year.
Jerome F. Toohey Jr., who was permanently removed from the ministry this week, completed an 18-month jail sentence last year for abuse that had occurred in the late 1980s. He is not required to register because of the time lag between his offense and his conviction.
Maryland law requires sex offenders convicted of offenses that occurred after September 1995 to register with the state. Also, offenders convicted of earlier crimes are required to register - if they were in prison or on probation in October 2001. Toohey is among a small number of sex offenders who fit neither of those two descriptions. The manager of the state's sex offender registry said his case is troubling.
"Eventually the problem won't exist, as you move further and further away" from the 1995 cutoff date, said Elizabeth Bartholomew, the registry's manager. "But right now it does exist, and it's not a good loophole to have, and we would like to see it corrected. Individuals like Mr. Toohey have hurt a child and have been convicted, but, because of this loophole, get out of that particular part of his obligation. Even one person who gets out of it is probably too many."
Lisae C. Jordan, legal director of the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said that two or three cases fall within the sex offender registry loophole each year."It seems to be a simple oversight from when the law was made retroactive," Jordan said. "There was a desire to put people under the registry if they were in jail at that moment, and there's no indication that the legislature considered that some cases would be involving someone convicted after 1996 but who had committed the crime long ago."
The sex offender registry was created in 1995, the year before Congress passed "Megan's Law," which requires states to keep track of registered sex offenders. It is designed to inform communities of convicted rapists, child predators and other such criminals in the area, and has since been expanded to include mapping software and to enable victims to receive automatic updates when an offender changes addresses or is released from prison.
Del. Christopher B. Shank, a Washington County Republican, sponsored a bill this year designed to close the loophole by requiring anyone convicted in October 1995 or later of a child sex offense to sign on to the registry. He said he filed his bill in response to concerns from a woman in his district who had come forward in 2005 with allegations against a former teacher more than 20 years after the alleged assault. The woman - told that the man would not be required to register as a sex offender - testified before a House committee in February that as a mother of two she was worried for the safety of children as the man nears his release from prison, Shank said.
The bill passed both chambers unanimously but stalled while waiting to be heard in front of a committee on the final day of the session.
Shank said Toohey's situation shows that the problem went beyond his constituent's concerns and provides more incentive to get changes passed into law next year. Both he and Sen. Nancy Jacobs, a Harford County Republican, said they intend to re-introduce the bill next year.
"If it can prevent one other crime, then it's important for public safety," Shank said. "I think that's why we have it for sex offenders, and this loophole in the law is the only reason they're not on there."
Toohey, 62, served as chaplain at Calvert Hall College High School in Towson from 1982 to 1993. He also worked at St. Francis of Assisi Parish from 1977 to 1984 and as chaplain to the deaf community from 1984 to 1993, according to the archdiocese. In addition, he was a member of the board of directors of the John Carroll School and celebrated Mass regularly at St. John the Evangelist Church in Hydes.
He was stripped of his authority to function as a pastor in 1993 by the Baltimore Archdiocese after a former John Carroll student, Michael Goles, accused the priest of sexually abusing him in the 1980s after he had sought counseling. A lawsuit Goles filed in 1994 against Toohey was dismissed because state law requires that civil suits be filed within three years of an alleged incident.
Toohey pleaded guilty in Baltimore County Circuit Court in November 2005 to abusing Thomas Roberts when the victim was attending Calvert Hall and went to the chaplain for counseling about his parents' divorce.
Roberts went on to become an anchor at CNN Headline News. Toohey, known as "Father Jeff," was sentenced to 18 months in prison. However, because of threats on his life by other prisoners, he was kept in solitary confinement and was later granted a change in sentence by Baltimore County Circuit Judge John G. Turnbull II. After serving 10 months, Toohey was placed on home detention.
The woman who urged Shank to propose his bill told the House committee that she was sexually assaulted by a former Boonsboro Middle School social studies teacher, during the 1983-1984 school year but did not speak out until 2005, Shank said.
Other former students then came forward with their own allegations against the former teacher, Robert Merle Haines Jr., according to the Hagerstown Herald-Mail. He was charged in 2005 with second-degree rape and four counts of third-degree sex offense and pleaded guilty in 2006 to one count of child sex abuse. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with 5 1/2 years suspended, court records show. The newspaper reported that he is scheduled to be released in December.
A former teacher of bar mitzvah lessons who was active in Baltimore's Orthodox Jewish community could also be affected by the proposed change in law. Israel Shapiro, 58, received a suspended five-year prison term and five years of probation in March after having been accused of abusing two boys on separate occasions in September 1988 and June 1994. Baltimore Circuit Judge John P. Miller ordered Shapiro to undergo sex offender screening and treatment but said he would not have to register as a sex offender because the registry did not exist when the incidents occurred.
Bartholomew, the sex offender registry manager, emphasized that sex offenders such as Toohey are watched closely by parole and probation agents who are specially trained and work with smaller caseloads. "Parole and probation won't treat him any differently just because he doesn't have to register," she said.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Kids get message on sex abuse
Saturday, May 17, 2008 3:06 AM
By Mary Beth Lane
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
LANCASTER, Ohio --
No. Go. Tell.
That is the advice that children in Fairfield County are hearing to protect themselves from sex abuse.
Educators from the Child Advocacy Center of Fairfield County, which opened in September to investigate and prosecute child abuse and provide treatment to young victims, are visiting schools.
Their message goes like this: The parts of your body covered by a bathing suit are private, and if someone tries to touch those parts, you should say no, then go and tell a trusted adult.
The program is working, said Lancaster City Prosecutor Terre Vandervoort.
As a result of its efforts, a convicted sex offender is back in court on new charges.
A third-grader at Cedar Heights Elementary School in Lancaster listened to the presentation in class Feb. 26. Two days later, the 9-year-old indicated by her comments and behavior in the classroom that she had been sexually abused.
School administrators contacted her parents and county Child Protective Services workers the same week, and the girl was interviewed at the center the next Monday morning by a Lancaster police detective. She identified a neighbor, registered sex offender Virgil E. Larson Jr., as the abuser. The detective interviewed Larson later the same day.
"He made confessions, which resulted in him being arrested, and he was taken into custody that evening," Vandervoort said.
A county grand jury has indicted Larson, 27, on two counts of rape and six counts of gross sexual imposition. He is being held in county jail in lieu of a $50,000 cash or securities bond and a $25,000 recognizance bond. He is scheduled for trial on Tuesday.
"Obviously, that child was waiting for the affirmation to tell someone. It was an ongoing situation. It was not something that wasn't going to occur again," Vandervoort said.
Larson is among four registered sex offenders who Vandervoort has been trying to force to move because they live within 1,000 feet of a school, which is in violation of state law. Larson lives too close to Cedar Heights Elementary.
Common Pleas Judge Chris A. Martin ruled in July that Larson and the others must move, but he granted a stay of the ruling while the men appeal. Meanwhile, the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that the residency restrictions don't apply to sex offenders who committed their offenses or were convicted before the law took effect in 2003. That includes Larson and the others.
"The (new) charges, as far as we are concerned, have nothing to do with the fact that he is living near a school," said David Singleton, executive director of the Cincinnati-based Ohio Justice & Policy Center, which represents Larson and the others in challenging the residency restrictions. "Drawing an arbitrary line does not do a thing to stop these types of crimes from happening. Kids live everywhere, not just near schools."
David Stansbury, Larson's court-appointed attorney defending him against the new charges, could not be reached for comment.
"Sometimes in government, the success of what you're doing is very intangible," Vandervoort said. "This time, you can actually say this project, this education did actually work and stop something for her and probably for another child. We don't get that very often."
COLUMBUS — Testimony began Wednesday on a new bill that would require camps to run background checks on their counselors.
Camp safety is now under intense scrutiny after what occurred last year at a central Ohio camp.
Timothy Keil, a camp volunteer, was caught sexually molesting a child inside a cabin at a Perry County youth camp. His crime revealed a loophole that legislators are working to close. The state requires background checks at summer day camps but no checks for residential or overnight camps.
Senate Bill 321 calls for criminal background checks for all camp staffers, FBI checks if the person has not lived in Ohio for the past five years and requires Social Security number background checks on camp volunteers.
If the bill is passed, it probably won't go into law before camps kick off in June.
The state is now teaming with health inspectors to notify camp directors that criminal records are now required."I promised you that last year and we're doing it this year," said Helen Jones-Kelley, the director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
According to Jones-Kelley, the department is working to protect children despite the loophole.
"We're just kind of taking on a more positive, proactive kind of role so that we can get out of there and make sure children are safe," Jones-Kelley said.
Carl Morgan, the business manager for the Scioto Youth Camp, Inc., where Keil volunteered, said that he received a letter from the Perry County Health Department through the ODJFS. According to the letter, all workers including volunteers need to be fingerprinted if they have contact with children.
Anyone from the dish washer to the evangelist will have the fingerprint background check. According to Morgan, Keil would not have been caught that way but he said that the checks are worthwhile.
Camp operators and directors are also being cautious. Central Ohio's YMCA calls its policies more stringent than state requirements. There is fingerprinting on camp counselors and reference checks, including a Social Security number background check, on paid staff and volunteers.
"Once a counselor is hired and gone through the background checks, they are required to go through pretty impressive and stringent child prevention and care training and we do that, actually, the first week on the job," said John Bickley, the YMCA's chief executive officer.
10TV checked on other camps, including the Boy Scouts. Thousands of campers will spend part of the summer at all Boy Scout sites in central Ohio.
A Social Security background check and youth protection training are required to become a registered volunteer."There's no one-on-one interaction between any youth and any adult that's not in public view," said Don Sheppard, the development director for the Boy Scouts of America's Simon Kenton Council. "We can make sure that's adhered to and that all of our staff and volunteers understand that policy and several others aimed at protecting kids."
May 20, 2008
By BARBARA BLAINE and DAVID CLOHESSY
Following is a statement by Barbara Blaine and David Clohessy, leaders of the national Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a support group based in Chicago:
When a corporation knowingly hides the flaws in dangerous products and hurts unsuspecting consumers, no CEO tries to escape responsibility by saying, "I've reformed and won't do it again." Nor can the CEO of a nonprofit that deliberately risks others' safety say, "But ours is a nonprofit that helps people. Don't make us pay a fine."
In both cases, the institutions are held accountable, because that's what will make them (and other institutions) be safer and more responsible in the future.
So how can Vermont Bishop Salvatore Matano claim that his organization shouldn't face consequences for decades of recklessness, secrecy and deceit surrounding hundreds of horrific child sex crimes by clergy?
Matano is stunned by the $8.7 million punitive damage decision by an impartial jury. But such a decision will certainly help deter future wrongdoing. It gives employers more incentive to screen out molesters. It also prods employers to train employees how to spot warning signs of child molestation and respond appropriately when allegations surface. Vermont kids are safer now because of these wise jurors.
Any reasonable person will applaud that result. But within hours of the verdict, Matano vowed to fight it. He could accept responsibility, admit wrongdoing, and make genuine reforms to prevent future crimes and cover ups. Instead, he's pointing fingers, shifting blame and making excuses.
He claims he has already "reformed.""This stuff isn't happening any more," one of his defense lawyers insists.
That's tempting to believe, but evidence, history and common sense suggests otherwise.
Common sense tells us that decades, perhaps centuries, of deceptive and self-protective patterns cannot be reversed in just a few short years. This is especially true in the church hierarchy — an ancient, rigid, secretive, all-male monarchy that essentially answers to no one. Thousands of crimes were successfully covered up for dozens of years. None of the complicit church officials has been disciplined. So, on its face, it's just plain silly and naïve to think that this deeply rooted, Mafia-like behavior has suddenly and magically ended.
A look at recent evidence leads us to the same conclusion.
If Matano has reformed and clergy sex crimes aren't being covered up any more, then why does he refuse to take simple prevention measures like some of his colleagues? Why isn't he:
Posting the names of proven, admitted and credibly accused predator priests on his Web site.
Working to reform the archaic laws that prevent predators from being exposed in court.
Personally visiting parishes where predators worked and begging victims to come forward.
Insisting that his pedophile priest live in a remote, secure, independent treatment center where neighbors are warned, kids are protected and sick men get treatment.
Several Catholic bishops are taking these steps. But Matano is doing none of this. Instead he continues to do the absolute bare minimum. When credible allegations of child molestation arise, he follows the advice of his insurers, lawyers and public relations staff and suspends the priest. But he stops there, ignoring Jesus' admonition that shepherds leave the 99 behind and search for and help the one lost sheep.
If Matano has reformed, why hasn't he disciplined even one church worker who suspected or knew of sexual abuse but stayed silent or concealed it? (With at least a dozen credibly accused pedophile priests in his diocese, surely Matano knows of one employee — whether priest, principal or custodian — who kept quiet or did nothing about an abuse charge.)
If he has reformed, why does Matano tolerate hardball legal maneuvers by his defense lawyers? (One church attorney's excesses caused a judge to harshly criticize him and declare a mistrial, possibly deterring other victims from coming forward and certainly rubbing even more salt into the already deep and still fresh wounds of a clergy sex abuse victim.)
And why, just two years ago, did Matano wait four months before telling police about child sex allegations against the Rev. Steven J. Nichols? That's ample time for a possible criminal to invent alibis, fabricate evidence, intimidate witnesses, and threaten victims.
Finally, if Matano has reformed, why did national church authorities find him in violation this year of the bishops' own weak abuse policy, even though he has had six years to comply? Why, when this finding was announced, did Matano not discipline a single staff member who was at fault?
Actions like these would show remorse, reform and commitment to change. On the other hand, passivity, inaction and mere words do not. In Vermont's Catholic diocese, there has sadly been little of the former and plenty of the latter.
Because of this disturbing and persistently callous track record, these 12 unbiased men and women were right to send a strong signal that neither child sex crimes by predators nor ongoing complicity by officials will go unpunished.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Nicole had barely turned 12 when a 29-year-old man crept into her bedroom.His entry point was her PC. His ticket was AOL Instant Messenger. His method was to befriend her through online chats, lure her from home and molest her.It took a month for him to accomplish it all.That happened nearly four years ago. Though the predator was arrested, and police say he confessed, he is a fugitive.Now, Nicole and her mother seek their own kind of justice. They want to make sure the mistakes made by prosecutors at the time — allowing Waqas "Michael" Rehman to flee the country before being brought to justice — won't happen again. And they want Nicole's story to be a lesson for others.Out of their Coral Springs home, Nicole and her mother, Jaemi Levine, whose last name is different from her daughter's, have launched their version of MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. Theirs is called MAP, Mothers Against Predators.They are pressing Florida legislators to require specialized training for police and prosecutors who go after Internet predators. And they hope to change the way children are taught to deal with criminals who stalk via computer screens."He got me to trust him," said Nicole, now 15.The South Florida Sun-Sentinel doesn't usually identify minors who have been victimized but is honoring Nicole and her mother's request to do so to raise awareness of the issue. "Too many victims feel they have to hide in shadows or shame," said Levine. "We put our faces out there to protect other children."On the surface, Nicole is a typical kid. She has a giggly laugh, is prone to sarcastic remarks and hounds her mom for what she wants. These days what she wants most is freedom from her mother's overprotective watch.But talk to Nicole about what happened and her mood darkens. Quiet and polite by nature, a scowl washes over a reddened face and she tends to swear. She is angry, still a little scared. Yet she's determined to change the world, the online world, which connects so many vulnerable kids to hunters like Rehman."They tell kids 'You're so sexy,' and 'I want to meet you' when they mean 'I want to have sex with you.' It's disgusting," Nicole said. "It's horrible."She spends little time online now. She prefers her cell phone to stay in touch with family and friends. She appeared on several television shows, including America's Most Wanted, after the crime occurred. Because of that, students at her high school recognize her.Some have asked if it was fun to be on TV. Some teased her about what happened, in that way that high school kids can sometimes be brutally mean. But some have confided that they, too, were contacted inappropriately by adults online, and ask her for advice. "Those are the kids I care about," Nicole said. "I say tell an adult. Tell police."When Nicole was victimized, she was into Care Bears, Barbie dolls and learning to use her new computer. Along with her three siblings, she convinced her mother, a single parent, that it made sense for each to have a computer in their bedrooms. Convenience and a quiet place to study was the argument.Her foray online began with setting up an AOL profile and posting a series of photos of her and her friends at a pool party. They included shots of her in a yellow swimsuit."They were not provocative," said Nicole. "I was 12. How could they be?"Within a few days, she received an instant message from Rehman. "Hi. Looking for a friend. Wanna chat?" She was flattered and didn't tell her parents. "I didn't want to get grounded," she said.Nicole was 12, but her profile claimed she was 15. Rehman said he was 18, 11 years younger than his real age, according to police reports. Only a few days passed before he professed love for her."I was fighting with my dad," recalled Nicole, whose parents are divorced. "He said my dad was wrong for fighting with me. He told me he loved me. I thought, 'Wow,' he's real."
Rehman was real, all right — real dangerous. Police say he convinced Nicole to meet him twice and molested her both times. After the second incident, she told her mom."I went from a Martha Stewart mom, a Brownie leader, to someone who now knows a lot about online dangers and is determined to make sure this never happens to another child again," said Levine.Statistics indicate that MAP, with its two dozen members, all parents of South Florida teens, has an uphill battle. More than 77 million children regularly use the Internet. Approximately six out of 10 teens ages 13 to 17 have profiles on social-networking sites, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. One in seven report being solicited by predators.Fortunately, Florida is on the forefront in attempts to apprehend cyber criminals targeting children.
Attorney General Bill McCollum has made the law-enforcement campaign a central cause in his administration. In the past year, his office has conducted teaching seminars at middle and high schools across the state, reaching more than 65,000 students. During the presentations, more than 3,700 students told officials that they had either been sexually solicited by an adult online or sent pornography — both of which are felony crimes.McCollum also has launched a special law enforcement division — the Child Predator CyberCrime Unit — to investigate and arrest adults who prey on children online or traffic in child pornography.The Legislature last year approved state funding to operate seven offices statewide with 56 full-time investigators, prosecutors and victim advocates. But budget cuts have forced plans for two of those offices (Fort Myers and Tallahassee) to be put on hold and jeopardized two others ( Tampa and Pensacola). Only three offices are up and running (Jacksonville, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale) with half the staffing approved by lawmakers.Yet, in just 2 1/2 years, the unit has made 63 arrests of alleged criminals charged with creating, possessing or distributing child porn, or sexually soliciting children online and traveling to carry out the crimes.The state effort is commendable. But, it needs to be expanded. Funding needs to be preserved and eventually increased.Spend time on sites like AOL, MySpace and Facebook, and you'll get a taste of what law enforcement is up against. For a predator, these sites can provide shopping lists of children, with public profiles that often detail ages, names, home cities and other personal information. The profiles may be meant for friends, but predators infiltrate them with ease.Just as Rehman did with Nicole's.MAP's intentions are solid, but the group is understaffed, underfunded and not well-publicized. Levine attemptsto recruit members through home meetings and handing out flyers in public. She also is developing plans for public meetings with the attorney general's office.MAP's core mission is to educate parents and children about what to do when they're approached. Some educational campaigns encourage children to turn off their computers when contacted by anyone suspicious or to end communications. Nicole and her mother want children and parents to be more proactive. They want children to SCREAM: Save, Copy and Report, Every Arrest Matters.Authorities are warming up to the SCREAM concept."We encourage children and parents to report the incident to the CyberTipline with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children," said Maureen Horkan, director of the state's CyberCrime units, adding, "Certainly, if they want to do more by saving and copying, it is helpful."Levine wants more from authorities too."We need more than a separate state police force; we need a separate judicial system," said Levine, adding that drug courts serve as a model of what she is talking about. Short of that, she calls for mandatory cyber crime training for all county and state prosecutors, police and judges.Rehman, a Pakistani national, was released from a Broward County jail because of missteps by the state. He was set free despite confessing to six felony counts of crimes against a child between the age of 12 and 16, according to police reports. He skipped three court hearings before an arrest warrant was issued.That day was Dec., 20, 2004, the same day Rehman boarded a flight to Jordan."A mistake was made," said Dennis Siegel, a supervisor of the state attorney's Sex Crimes/Child Abuse Unit in Broward County. "We filed the case too late to require him to post a bond in order to be released." Siegel said his office has made changes to ensure the same thing won't happen again.Changes after the fact offer little comfort to Nicole and her mom."I know he's out there. I know he knows where I live," said Nicole. "Sometimes I want to forget what happened and move on. But I also don't want him to hurt another little girl."Nicole, Levine and MAP are the underdogs in this battle. The cyber stalkers have the advantage now. But Nicole is willing to put her pink Care Bears backpack aside, along with her pain, and give up what's left of her childhood years to fight this fight.The least we can do is line up behind her.Daniel Vasquez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 954-356-4219 or 561-243-6600, ext. 4219.
By RYAN MILLS (Contact)
9:16 p.m., Sunday, April 20, 2008
It might not be fair to the Nile crocodiles, but Naples Detective Joe Whitehead compares their method of attack to that of adults who prey on children for sex.
Nile crocodiles, he said, move slowly through shallow water without making a ripple, and attack their victims when they least expect it.
“They work with their environment to camouflage their aggression,” Whitehead said. “Predatory people work in a similar way. ... They use whatever tools they have, such as presenting themselves as a volunteer, someone who helps kids. They have a goal, something they want to achieve.”
Thursday morning, Whitehead is joining professionals from across Collier County for the Campaign Against Sexual Exploitation, a free workshop designed to instruct people on how to protect their children from becoming victims of sexual exploitation.
The workshop, which runs from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Norris Community Center, 755 8th Ave S., in Naples, is a new effort by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and the National Association of Counties.
The other agencies participating in the workshop are the Collier County Board of Commissionaires, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collier County, Project HELP, and the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking.
“It’s going to be a presentation, but at the same time there is going to be an exchange of ideas,” said Maribel Slabaugh, program manager for the National Center of Missing & Exploited Children of Collier County.
Though there tends to be less crime in Collier County than in surrounding counties, sexual predators can be found in any community, authorities said.
For instance, on April 7, Naples police arrested a 22-year-old Golden Gate Estates man after they say he confessed during a monitored phone call to having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl he met on the social networking Web site, MySpace.
Later that week agents from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested a 35-year-old Golden Gate Estates man after they say he sent e-mails containing child pornography from his girlfriend’s computer.
“We can’t continue thinking that nothing is happening here just because I don’t know of it,” Slabaugh said. “It’s happening.”
People who attend the workshop will learn about a predator’s profile, the investigative process, signs of abuse, and the healing process. There will also be a question-and-answer period, and information booths.
“They’re going to get a very complete picture in regards to child exploitation,” Whitehead said.
Just as the Nile crocodile likes to keep a low profile while pursing its prey, a seemingly safe community like Naples can be appealing to a sexual predator, Whitehead said.
“The placid environment,” Whitehead said, “is sometimes an attractive one for some of the most predatory individuals.”
For more information or to register for the workshop, contact Maribel Slabaugh with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children of Collier County at (239) 566-5806 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Campaign Against Sexual Exploitation
When: Thursday, April 24, 2008, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Where: Norris Community Center, 755 8th Avenue South, Naples, Fl
Age limit: All ages
Description: Campaign Against Sexual Exploitation is a free workshop designed to instruct people on how to protect their children from becoming victims of sexual exploitation. The workshop, which runs from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Norris Community Center, 755 8th Ave S., in Naples, is a new effort by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and the National Association of Counties.
Event posted: April 20, 2008Last updated: April 20, 2008
Monday, April 21, 2008, 10:51 AM
By Steve Walsh
Governor Matt Blunt (R-MO) is renewing his call for the state's worst sexual predators to be death penalty eligible.
The Governor is asking the General Assembly to send him legislation that would allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty in cases of forcible rape and forcible sodomy when the victim is younger than 12-years of age.
In issuing his call, Blunt noted a recent child rape case in Springfield where a 36-year-old man has been charged with kidnapping and forcibly raping and sodomizing a 7-year-old girl and leaving her for dead in a burning house. Blunt strongly believes death should be an optional penalty for child rape.
Currently Louisiana, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas have laws that allow capital punishment for a violent offender convicted of child rape. Alabama, Colorado, Mississippi and Tennessee also are considering similar laws.
He rules that making them register if they move to another state is unconstitutional.
Jim Leusner Sentinel Staff Writer
April 19, 2008
An Orlando federal judge has ordered the release of two jailed, out-of-state sex offenders who moved to Florida, ruling that part of the Adam Walsh Act requiring their registration is unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell on Friday ruled that the 2006 federal law requiring state sex offenders to register with law-enforcement officials when they move across state lines was largely a local issue.
The ruling, made in two unrelated sex-offender cases pending in Orlando, led to the dismissal of charges against Robert D. Powers, 43, and Tommy William Buckius, 60, both of Orlando. Powers was released Friday from the Seminole County Jail, but Buckius remained in the Orange County Jail.
Powers was convicted in 1995 in South Carolina of sexual assault, freed in 1997 and later arrested for failing to register as a state sex offender. In 2002, he registered in North Carolina but absconded in 2005 and did not register with Florida authorities when he repeatedly visited Orlando in the late 1990s and lived with his mother in 2007.
Buckius, who pleaded guilty to the attempted rape of a 13-year-old Ohio girl in 1986, was freed from prison there in 2000 and later registered as a sex offender. He previously was convicted of assault with intent to commit rape in Texas in 1973, court records show.
But in November 2006, Buckius moved from Liverpool, Ohio, and did not notify local authorities of his new address. He was documented living in Orlando as early as March 2007 and arrested in February 2008.
Assistant Federal Public Defenders Michelle Smith and Stephen Langs argued that Congress lacked the authority to force state sex offenders solely convicted of local offenses to register.
Powers had an IQ of 68, a second-grade reading level and did not understand state sex-offender forms he had signed, Smith argued.
They also contended both men were convicted of crimes before the new law was passed and should not be subjected to them. But federal prosecutors argued that an Attorney General's rule applied to sex offenders before the new took effect in 2007.
Known as the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, it was passed in honor of Adam Walsh, a South Florida boy killed in 1981. It was designed to help identify up to 200,000 unaccounted-for sex offenders nationwide.
Failing to register carries a prison term of up to 10 years. The law requires states to notify all sex offenders in or out of prison about the federal provision, but Florida has yet to comply with the new federal rules deadline of July 2009.
"The Adam Walsh Act was enacted with a commendable goal -- to protect the public from sex offenders," Presnell wrote. "However, a worthy cause is not enough to transform a state concern [sex-offender registration] into a federal crime."
Ironically, three other Central Florida federal judges have upheld the law's constitutionality in other cases, though one last year said he wished he could have dropped the case the next day if the suspect had registered. He sentenced the suspect to probation.
Presnell's problem with the federal law centered on the "mere unrelated travel in interstate commerce" to link it with local criminal conduct. Such reasoning would subject virtually all criminal activity to federal scrutiny, he wrote."
Surely, our founding fathers did not contemplate such a broad view of federalism," Presnell wrote.
Jim Leusner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-5411.
April 21st, 2008 @ 8:42am
FARMINGTON, Utah (AP) -- Funds have run out for psychosexual examinations and sex offender therapy for indigent sex offenders in Davis, Weber, Morgan and Tooele counties.
Probation and parole officials in those counties say the $10,000 budgeted for that work has been spent. New funds will be available when the next fiscal year begins July 1.
Defense attorneys, prosecutors and probation agents say the $550 evaluation and treatment are intended to help defendants cope and resist re-offending.
Defendants who can afford to do so pay for their own exams and treatment, but many defendants become indigent once they're in jail, and many are indigent before even coming to court.
Restrictions similar to Green Bay's
By Patti Zarling • email@example.com • April 21, 2008
ASHWAUBENON — Ashwaubenon leaders want to slam the door on sex offenders migrating from Green Bay into the community.
The village may adopt restrictions mirroring a Green Bay ordinance that bars certain sex offenders from living in most of the city. Village officials took a wait-and-see approach last year when Green Bay enacted its tough new rule. Today, Ashwaubenon leaders say residents are fed up with sex offenders coming into the village because they can't find housing in Green Bay.
"We have to do something to protect our citizens," said village President Jerry Menne. "When you have someone crying on the phone because they're so upset, it's time to take action."
The village Public Works and Protection Committee supports an ordinance that would restrict certain sex offenders from living within 1,500 feet of a school, day care center, park or other place children might gather. That's less stringent than the Green Bay law, which sets a 2,000-foot restriction.
But it's still tough enough to limit sex offenders to small patches of properties within the village.
The committee also endorsed a loitering rule making it illegal for certain offenders to visit areas within 200 feet of certain places where children might be.
The restrictions need final Village Board approval. The board is expected to discuss the issue at its regular Tuesday meeting.
If enacted, the village likely also would create an appeals board, similar to Green Bay's, said public safety Director Eric Dunning.
That board, made of ordinary citizens, considers requests from offenders who want to move into or to a different home within the community.
Many offenders in so-called "Romeo and Juliet" cases, in which teens have consensual relations with teens, are not seen as likely to re-offend and are allowed to move.
Dunning said the village likely would grandfather in sex offenders already living in the village.
Although neighbors may be unhappy with sex offenders moving in next door, state Department of Corrections officials say they're likely to go underground if communities make it too hard for them to find housing.
Jed Neuman, corrections field supervisor for the DOC, further argues that 86 percent of victims know their perpetrator.
"Let's not assume these ordinances are keeping people safe," he said. "I would hate for residents to think they've solved the problem."
Both Dunning and Menne say they support those arguments, but they insist Green Bay has created an uneven playing field.
"I truly believe in the process (the state) laid out and that we'll be worse off if we don't know where they are," Dunning said.
Governor Bob Riley recently announced that Alabama has been awarded a $300,000 federal grant to enhance the states ability to track sex offenders.
The grant application was coordinated through the Governors Community Notification Task Force, which Governor Riley established by executive order last August.
Sex offenders are considered the most dangerous criminals because of the great likelihood that they will repeat their crimes. Thats why it is so vitally important for law enforcement and the public to know where these dangerous predators live, said Governor Riley.
This federal grant will augment law enforcements ability to monitor, track and take enforcement actions against convicted sex offenders in Alabama.
The funds will be used by the state to improve electronic information sharing, concerning sex offenders and provide local law enforcement agencies with assistance for conducting in-person address verification checks.
This will occur through the coordinated efforts of the Alabama Department of Public Safety, the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center, the Alabama Department of Corrections and the Alabama Office of Prosecution Services.
The Department of Public Safety, which maintains the states sex offender registry, will serve as the lead agency and administer the grant.
The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice.