Monday, March 10, 2008

Crime in America: Acquaintance rape and self-defense

By George J. Bryjak

Posted on: Friday, March 7, 2008

Editor’s note: In Thursday’s part 1 of this two-part series on rape, the Enterprise regretfully forgot to mention that it would be continued today, with a list of sources for both parts at the end of this report. Part 2 is less graphic in its descriptions of these crimes than part 1, but again, we encourage discretion as it may be inappropriate for sensitive readers, including children.)

According to the United States Department of Justice, “Rape is the most common violent crime on American college campuses.” College women are more likely to be sexually assaulted and raped than women the same age who are not pursuing a university degree.

The risk of victimization is not randomly distributed, as females at some schools have a greater risk of sexual assault than females at other institutions. Schools associated with frequent, unsupervised parties, easily accessible alcohol and single students living alone are thought to have higher rates of sexual assault than institutions without these characteristics.

One study of two- and four-year schools discovered 35 rapes per 1,000 female students over a seven-month period. This translates to 350 rapes per year on a campus with 10,000 females. Approximately nine of 10 women college rape victims know their assailants. Rana Sampson, author of the USDOJ study, states the frequently used term “date rape” is inappropriate for these crimes. Rather, college “acquaintance rape” is a more accurate designation, as these incidents typically occur when two people are in the same locale: for example, at a party or studying in a dorm room.

Fewer than one in 20 college rape victims report the attack to campus police or local law enforcement personnel, although approximately two-thirds of victims confide in a friend. Among the reasons college women give for not contacting the police are:

¯embarrassment and shame

¯fear the police will not believe them

¯fear their family will learn of the attack

¯fear or reprisal from the assailant

¯self-blame for being alone with the attacker

¯their use of alcohol or drugs prior to the rape.

Many young rape victims mistakenly believe that if they did not physically resist their assailants, the sexual act was consensual. Victims of college acquaintance rape often drop out of school, fearing they will have to confront their assailants on a regular basis.

At least three drugs have been associated with sexual assault and acquaintance rape, substances that greatly reduce an individual’s ability to resist or refuse sex. These drugs typically have no distinct color, smell or taste and can be added to a victim’s drink without his or her knowledge. So called “date rape” drugs can impact victims within 10 to 20 minutes. Their potency may be facilitated by alcohol.

¯GHB, or gamma hydroxybutyric acid, can produce drowsiness, dizziness, slow heart rate, dream-like sensations and, in some cases, death.

¯Rohypnol can cause sleepiness, a feeling of drunkenness, dizziness, confusion, problems speaking and loss of consciousness. Individuals ingesting this substance often cannot remember what happened while they were drugged.

¯Ketamine can produce hallucinations, a lost sense of time and identity, out-of-body experiences, dream-like feelings and convulsions.

Women raped under the influence of these drugs may not have a clear understanding of what happened to them and, as such, are less likely to report sexual assaults to police. Because these drugs effect cognition and memory, victims who do come forward make poor witnesses, significantly reducing the chances of convicting offenders. In addition, traces of the substances typically leave the body within 72 hours and are not detected with routine toxicology and blood tests. Medical personnel not specifically looking for date-rape drugs will almost certainly miss them.


The question of how females should respond to a sexual assault suggests that individuals who resist their attackers are much less likely to be victims of a completed rape than non-resisting victims. In addition, most types of resistance are not associated with an increased risk of injury to the victim. However, there are exceptions to these findings. As one offender told A. Nicholas Groth, author of “Men Who Rape: The Psychology of the Offender,” “When my victim screamed, I cut her throat.” The latter response is most likely to occur at the hands of a “sadistic” rapist whose primary pleasure comes from brutalizing women, torturing them in often bizarre rituals. An aggressive act of failed resistance and escape is likely to trigger an especially violent response that could result in a sexual homicide. Five percent of Groth’s subjects were sadistic rapists.

The esteemed psychologist notes that “there is no defense strategy that will work successfully for all victims, against all offenders, in all situations, and the goal of survival is more important than the goal of escape.” Other than vigilance and trusting the people one is with, there is no defense against date-rape drugs. Successfully warding off a sexual attack not only spares females from the often physically injurious effects of a rape but months if not years of emotional anguish. Rape victims have poorer mental health than women who have experienced an attempted, although not completed, sexual assault.

While the criminal justice system has more vigorously pursued and prosecuted sexual assailants over the past 30 years, feminists and women’s rights advocates correctly point out this system still has significant shortcomings. As recently as 2002, an estimated 180,000 to 500,000 “rape kits” across the country had not been processed by law enforcement agencies. Rape kits consist of the material — seminal fluid and pubic hair, for example — taken from victims after the attack. Obviously this material is crucial in obtaining sexual-assault convictions. Speaking of the unexamined rape kits, Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden noted that “the cause of this backlog seems to be pretty straightforward — woefully inadequate funding and understaffing in forensic laboratories. And the result of the backlog is clear — justice delayed and sometimes denied.”

Now retired after teaching sociology at the University of San Diego for 24 years, George J. Bryjak lives in Bloomingdale. The Enterprise “Crime in America” series is adapted from “Myths and Realities of Crime and Justice: What Every American Should Know,” George J. Bryjak and Steve E. Barkan, forthcoming 2008, Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

Sources for parts 1 and 2 of this Crime in America series on rape:

Benedict, H. (1992) “Virgin or Vamp: How the Press Depicts Sex Crimes,” New York: Oxford University Press

Bergen, R.K. (February 2006) “Marital Rape: New Research Directions,” National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women,

Campbell, J.C. (1989) “Women’s Responses to Sexual Abuse in Intimate Relationships,” Health Care for Women International, No. 10, pp. 335-346

Cantalupe, J. (Jan. 23, 2003) “Rape Evidence Sits Unprocessed,” San Diego Union-Tribune

Groth, A.N. (1979) “Men Who Rape: The Psychology of the Offender.” New York: Plenum Books

Hazlewood, R. and J. Warren (February 1990) “The Criminal Behavior of the Serial Rapist,” FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, pp. 11-16

“Marital Rape” (2007) Abuse Counseling and Treatment Inc. p. 2

National Crime Victimization Survey (2005-2006) U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Statistics, Bureau of Justice Statistics,

Sampson, R. (2002) “Acquaintance Rape of College Students,” U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services,

Van Hasselt, V.B. (1988) “The Handbook of Family Violence,” New York Plenum Books

Woman With a Mission: Keeping Tabs on Sex Offenders

Published: March 8, 2008

STONY BROOK, N.Y. — After a quick aerial survey of Long Island and the sites where its 1,200 registered sex offenders reside, Laura Ahearn used her computer’s mouse to swoop down on the Nassau County village of Hempstead, dotted with 50 icons resembling pushpins: green for Level 2 offenders, blue for Level 3. She headed east over Brentwood in Suffolk County, home to about 60 offenders, and zeroed in on the thickest cluster: the Gordon Heights section of Coram, with 69 pushpins, more than a dozen crowded onto a single block.

Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times

Also in Ms. Ahearn’s office are sex offender listings, by state.

She clicked on one pushpin icon, and up popped a picture, complete with dossier: Age, 67. A Level 3 offender. Drives a red Ford Focus. Convicted of first-degree sexual abuse of an 11-year-old girl.

For the past decade, Ms. Ahearn has been painstakingly compiling such information about sex offenders and distributing it — first by hand, then by e-mail — to their neighbors, including updates like a new car or new scar. Last week, her nonprofit advocacy group, Parents for Megan’s Law and the Crime Victims’ Center, received a $593,000 federal grant to take the project national, using the sharp new mapping program that enables such a computerized tour.

“Probably safer than giving it in person,” said Ms. Ahearn, 44, a tough-talking smoker and workaholic who started the group as a grass-roots crusade with several volunteers and now has 25 part- and full-time employees and a million-dollar annual budget. “Sex offenders may be good at what they do, but all of us are getting better at what we do.”

Senator Charles E. Schumer and Representatives Timothy H. Bishop, Pete King and Carolyn McCarthy all joined Ms. Ahearn in her inconspicuous office in a strip mall here to announce the federal grant. The group plans to use the money to compile sex offender data from all 50 states into maps on a revamped version of, its Web site, scheduled to make its debut on May 1; to create a national e-mail notification program to alert people about offenders in their ZIP code; and to establish a toll-free number that Ms. Ahearn says will be the first national Megan’s Law help line.

Critics call Ms. Ahearn’s zealous pursuit of sex offenders counterproductive and unconstitutional, and contend that overexposure can deter the offenders from checking in with the authorities.

“Mapping out sex offenders makes them greater social lepers than they already are,” said Seth Muraskin, executive director of the Suffolk County chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “You’re fostering punishment, not rehabilitation, and you’re leaving them very vulnerable to mob justice. You’re basically challenging vigilantes to come to their doors.”

Notification has also caused some complications. In Southbury, Conn., neighbors recently petitioned the local authorities to reduce their property tax assessments, claiming that a registered sex offender’s recent move into the area had brought down the value of their homes.

But Ms. Ahearn is constantly pushing for more restrictive laws against sex offenders on local, state and federal levels. She worked with lawmakers on state legislation limiting online activities of sex offenders, and on the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006.

She supports state legislation that would require real estate brokers to provide house hunters with sex offender registry material, as well as a proposed Suffolk County regulation against renting to more than one sex offender per residence. She opposes, however, a proposal to prohibit registered sex offenders from residing within a quarter-mile of homes for the elderly, worrying that it could be used to overturn existing residency requirements prohibiting sex offenders from living near schools, parks and day care centers.

After Ms. Ahearn fought to keep paroled sex offenders out of homeless shelters, Suffolk County in 2006 began placing them in a trailer it promised to move from location to location to avoid overburdening any one area; lately officials have been keeping the trailer next to the county jail in Riverhead.

Long Island has had its share of nationally covered sex crimes — from the Friedmans of Great Neck, whose strange tale was documented in the film “Capturing the Friedmans,” to the Katie Beers dungeon case — and Ms. Ahearn has harnessed the issue to attain national prominence.

She is on a first-name basis with elected officials and has gained folk-hero status in many neighborhoods dense with sex offenders.

Ms. Ahearn, a mother of two, was studying to become a social worker when New York State enacted Megan’s Law in 1995, and she found that it was difficult, despite the new disclosure requirements, to get the names and addresses of local sex offenders from the authorities. So she began pressuring politicians and the police, all the while compiling her own local registry and posting it online, complete with offenders’ addresses and graphic details about their crimes.

Publicizing such details has provoked anger among those on Ms. Ahearn’s registry, and after numerous threatening phone calls, she moved her office out of her home in 2000. At the strip mall, one room holds a mock witness stand and stenography machine that are used to familiarize children with the setting before they testify in court. Ms. Ahearn’s office walls are lined with photographs of politicians and notorious sex offenders, and drawings by victimized children.

On Tuesday, workers were cross-checking registry information and preparing updates for school districts and community groups, based on the latest state data and notifications mailed from dozens of local police departments, a vital source of information on Level 1 offenders.

Early on, volunteers would gather information by visiting local police departments and hand-copying details to type later into the database. The group distributed the information to schools and community groups by mail or in person. Though much of the latest information is now computerized, the group still has a huge number of files in binders, labeled by ZIP code, by last name and by offender level.

“These people navigate under the radar screen,” Ms. Ahearn said of the offenders. “We want them to know they’re being watched.”

Sex offenders caught in sweep

Sixteen registered sex offenders in Visalia were found to be out of compliance after several local law enforcement agencies conducted a check on 86 offenders this morning.

By law, people who are convicted of specified sex crimes must register as sex offenders with a local law enforcement agency. They also must update their information annually and when they change residencies.

The Tulare County Sheriff’s Department SAFE Team and members of the Tulare County Probation Department, Tulare Police Department and California State Parole conducted the compliance detail, which was funded by a state grant from the California Office of Emergency Services.

Those out of compliance will have their case investigated and forwarded to the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office. The investigations are on-going and anyone with information regarding the cases should call the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department at (559) 733-6548.

VIRGINIA: Adults who French kiss minors must register as sex offenders

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Adults who French kiss a child younger than 13 would be required to register as a sex offender under legislation passed out of the General Assembly.

Those convicted of tongue-kissing a child would be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Saturday, the House passed the legislation 96-1 and the Senate 39-0. It now heads to Governor Timothy Kaine.

The House of Delegates originally wanted the crime to be a felony, but gave in to senators who thought that was too harsh.

Truck Driver Accused Of Trying To Meet Teen For Sex

By Denise Yost

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- An international driver is accused of trying to meet a teenager online for sex and deputies said they fear there may be victims along his travels.

The Franklin County sheriff's office said Serge Beauseigle has been traveling around the United States and Canada as a truck driver for more than four decades, NBC 4's Lauren Diedrich reported.

Investigators said they believe Beauseigle began communicating online with a sheriff's deputy in November 2007.

But it wasn't until Wednesday that, detectives said, he came to Columbus on a detour in his trip from Louisiana to Canada to meet what he thought was a 15-year-old boy for sex.

Instead Beauseigle was arrested.

"We're thinking he's been engaged in this type of act with young people for a long period of time. The fact that he's a long-distance truck driver gives him the ability to go all over the U.S.," said Franklin County Chief Deputy Steve Martin.

The Franklin County sheriff's office said federal charges could be filed in the case.

Stay with NBC 4 and refresh for additional information.

Man Admits To Molesting Boys At Party

By Denise Yost

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A man admitted to molesting two young boys at a neighborhood block party.

Todd Gavorcik walked into a Franklin County courtroom, facing several felony charges involving the sexual abuse of children for molesting two boys at a Memorial Day party in Groveport in 2007, NBC 4's Lauren Diedrich reported.

"It was an annual block party and we've had it for several years and never had a problem," the victim's mother said.

Gavorcik was eventually arrested for the acts, but after posting bond, he offended again. In November, Dublin police arrested the then 25-year-old man in his car outside Griffith Thomas Elementary School with nude photos lying on the front seat.

"Then to know he's out there stalking other children, knowing that everybody is open to him preying upon them," the victim's mother said.

But the victim's family said they hope Gavorcik will not have a chance to prey upon any other children.

Gavorcik pleaded guilty to several charges on Thursday, including gross sexual imposition.

He will be sentenced in April.

Stay with NBC 4 and refresh for additional information.

Mom Sentenced For Taking Nearly Nude Photos Of Daughter As Punishment

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A local mother accused of abusing her daughter as a form of discipline was sentenced on Thursday.

At one time, Jennifer Henderson-Thomas was accused of beating her 15-year-old daughter, forcing her to eat dog food, strip naked and pose for Polaroid pictures. But in court, those allegations were cleared up, NBC 4's Tacoma Newsome reported.

There was no mention of dog food, but both sides addressed the Polaroid photos. Henderson-Thomas said she took the pictures after she caught her daughter in a sexual act with a boy.

It was originally thought the pictures were some form of sexual abuse. But prosecutors now agree that photos weren't intended to abuse the girl.

The single mother and long-time city employee admitted the punishment may have gone too far.

"(I took the photos) just to basically humiliate her. There was nothing sexual about it from my standpoint. I did not ask her to touch herself or do anything sexual. Her behavior and the disrespect that she showed me and the comments she made to me about why she was doing what she did was the basis of where I came from in terms of the pictures," Henderson-Thomas said.

Henderson-Thomas said she wanted the girl to be humiliated as a form of discipline, not sexually abuse her.

Henderson-Thomas was given 18 months on community control and 40 hours of community service. Because the true nature of the photos was cleared up, she will not have to register as a sex offender.

Stay with NBC 4 and refresh for additional information.

Officials Search For Man Convicted Of Sexual Assault

, Ohio -- The U.S. Marshals released a new list of most-wanted fugitives and are looking for tips that lead to their arrests, NBC 4's Andy Dominianni reported.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This list is current as of Sunday, March 9, 2008.

No. 1 -- Jeffery Johnson

Jeffery Johnson, 32, is wanted for failing to register as a sex offender.

Johnson was convicted of sexually assaulting his 3-year-old stepdaughter in the state of Kentucky.

He is 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs 180 pounds. He has blue eyes and blonde hair.

No. 2 -- Randall Henson

Randall Henson, 44, is wanted for failing to register as a sex offender.

He is 5 feet 9 inches tall, weighs 170 pounds and has hazel eyes and brown hair.

No. 3 – Eric Cowart

Eric Cowart, 41, is wanted for failing to register as a sex offender.

He is 6 feet 1 inch tall, weighs 175 pounds and has brown eyes and black hair.

No. 4 -- Ricky Wilson

Ricky Wilson, 58, is wanted for a supervised release violation; the original charge was bank robbery.

Steele is 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs 160 pounds. He has brown eyes and black hair.

If you have any information about these fugitives, call the U.S. Marshals Service at 614-469-5540.

All tips are anonymous, and there are rewards available.

Stay tuned to NBC 4 and refresh for the latest information.

Homeless Sex Offenders Difficult to Keep Track

Despite any sex offenders loss of residence, probation officers still need them to check-in.
Despite any sex offenders loss of residence, probation officers still need them to check-in.
One problem that's brought up with a sex offender going homeless is the constant movement that offender has, which makes it difficult for officers to keep track.
One problem that's brought up with a sex offender going homeless is the constant movement that offender has, which makes it difficult for officers to keep track.
In San Bernardino, two known sex offenders were said to be living in a public park. But officers say they are powerless to stipulate where they should live.
In San Bernardino, two known sex offenders were said to be living in a public park. But officers say they are powerless to stipulate where they should live.

By Sheryl Kahn and Matt Guillermo
News Channel 3

As many as 42 states have adopted a form of Jessica's Law -- the piece of legislation that restricts and cracks down on where and how a sex offender must live.

The intention is a stricter recourse in keeping convicted offenders from committing sex acts again.

And the punishments according to the law are supposed to keep repeat offenders in prison for a long time.

But with all the stipulations, including a requirement for offenders to live at least 2,000 feet from a school or park, it has reportedly made it difficult for offenders to live anywhere.

And that, according to California's Sex Offender Management Board, has forced hundreds into homelessness.

That, in turn, has made it difficult to track down where those sex offenders are located during the day.

With that, San Bernardino County probation officers are keeping close tabs on registered offenders in the county.

Many of the convicted offenders in San Bernardino County are already registered on the Megan's Law website. Many of them already are subjected to the strict Jessica's Law regulations.

Officers spend hours and hours making sure the offenders are not living someplace that violates their probation, even if their residence is a car or a box.

But if an offender says he's homeless, it won't be always easy to account for him.

One probation officer says they still need to know where the convict is at all times.

"We ask them ‘where do you park your car?' or ‘where do you sleep at night?'" says probation officer Michael Aguilar. "If they live at a park, we ask them ‘which park bench do you sleep on?' ‘Can you be there at 10 o'clock?'

"They may evade that. They may say ‘I'm at a different park all the time.'"

State officials say Jessica's Law has in fact made it much harder for sex offenders to find someplace to live.

And because of that, the number of transient offenders has gone up considerably.

Some probation officers say that's not necessarily true. They say many offenders claim to be homeless so they won't have to move.

"If they're living in a cardboard box, that's fine," says probation officer Greg Levers. "But we need to know the location of the cardboard box.

"We need to know where they are every night...where they lay their head down. If they don't adhere to that, they are going to go into custody."

But there are some disturbing loopholes.

One sex offender officers keep tabs on was convicted of molesting his step-granddaughter.

He now lives in an R.V. usually park inside a San Bernardino park where families often picnic. And at least one other known sex offender also lives in the park.

But probation officers say the two men may not have to move.

Officers say there's not much that can be done to restrict the sex offenders from the park.

"Everywhere, there's going to be kids," says one officer. "We'll do the best we can to control any situation. We'll have them leave if it is a huge concern."

Another offender lives in a car parked on a busy street in a neighborhood in which an ice cream truck drives through often.

Children often walk-by the neighborhood in what officers refer as an "ant trail" -- basically, walking, talking temptation for a child molester. Officers say those kids could wander off close to sex offenders' homes going or leaving school.

Despite the heightened patrols, some people believe there are too many ways to bypass Jessica's Law, especially if an offender reports he is homeless.

Many people say they are even more concerned about what sex offenders may wind up doing once they are off probation or parole, and no one is checking up on them.

Further restrictions for sex offenders in the works

Supervisor Michael Rubio plans to introduce an ordinance further limiting where sex offenders can live in the county.

Rubio is working with county lawyers and intends to discuss the proposal at Tuesday’s board meeting.

A few weeks ago, TV-17 showed you how the Parole Department placed dozens of sex offenders at the Bakersfield Lodge on S. Union Avenue.

Residents said they looked on the Megan’s Law website and found about a dozen more living down the street at the El Don Motel.

The motels are less than 1,000 feet away from a daycare facility and a residential home for the mentally disabled.

Rubio said the ordinance will keep offenders from living near places where children gather.

If it passes, Rubio said he wants to work with incorporated cities like Delano to make sure they pass similar laws so that it’s the same throughout the county.

Sex offender who left NH is arrested

A convicted child killer who sparked outrage when he moved to Derry earlier this year has been arrested in Connecticut, officials said yesterday.

Douglas Simmons, 47, was arrested at a shelter in Hartford for allegedly failing to verify his address as a sex offender in 2006, police said. He was arrested March 1 without incident, said Nancy Mulroy, public information officer for the Hartford Police Department.

Simmons is being held on $50,000 bail and will appear in court again on April 1, according to court officials. Connecticut requires sex offenders to verify their addresses every 90 days. Simmons allegedly failed to do that on Dec. 26, 2006.

Derry may restrict where sex offenders live (9)
Time served, sex offender who killed 6-year-old girl has come to live in Derry (57)

"The next we heard of him was in January of this year when New Hampshire officials notified us he was registering in Derry ," said Connecticut State Police Trooper William Tate.

Simmons had served 22 years behind bars and five years on probation before his move to Derry. In 1981, he admitted to strangling a 6-year-old girl and sexually abusing her body in Norwich, Conn.

Simmons called the Derry Police Department in early February, days after he relocated, to say he had moved back to Connecticut after an outpouring of community outrage.

After he moved, some residents said they remained concerned that he might visit Derry. His Derry apartment was near a private school, a park and a library. In response to Simmons' brief stay, Derry officials are now considering enacting an ordinance restricting where people on the state offenders against children registry can live in town.

Officials say sex offenders at park don't have to move

Just by living in the park, the eight men had faced arrest.

By S.I. Rosenbaum, Times Staff Writer
Published March 8, 2008

Sex offenders may still live at Julie's Mobile Home Park in Palm River after an ordinance requiring them to move was misinterpreted.

[Kathleen Flynn | Times]

[Chris Zuppa | Times]
Michelle Williams of Palm River tells the Hillsborough County Commission she's upset about sex offenders who live nearby

PALM RIVER - A group of men will stay put for now at a controversial mobile home park for sex offenders.

The reason state officials give: An assistant Hillsborough County attorney misinterpreted a county ordinance when she tried to have the men removed.

On Thursday, a group of residents opposed to the park demanded help from the County Commission. Commissioners asked the County Attorney's Office to review the matter.

Hours later, Assistant County Attorney Sheree Fish was on the phone to the Department of Corrections.

According to corrections spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger, Fish told the department that eight of the 10 park residents were in violation of a county loitering ordinance and faced imminent arrest.

The ordinance, adopted a year ago, applies to sex offenders termed "predators" for the severity of their crimes.

It prohibits them from being within a 300-foot "safety zone" around places frequented by children.

Plessinger said Fish made it clear to corrections officials that the men were violating the ordinance simply by living at the park, which is 267 feet from a school bus stop.

Fish denies this. She said she told corrections officials that the men would be arrested for loitering near the bus stop.

She cited some residents who told the County Commission that they had seen men "walking the streets."

Which of the men, specifically? That is for the Sheriff's Office to find out, she said.

"I don't work for the Sheriff's Office," she said Friday. "Any time a law has been broken, it is turned over to law enforcement."

But Debbie Carter, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Office, said the sheriff had received no complaints and had no plans to arrest the men.

And Plessinger said that Fish specifically stated that the men were in violation by living in the park.

"It was them living there," she said. "If it was just a matter of them having to stay inside while children were at the bus stop, that wouldn't be a problem. But it was, 'No, they have to leave.'"

Because it's so hard to find housing for sex offenders, she said, the Corrections Department would not have decided to move the men unless required to do so.

After Fish's phone call, officials scrambled to relocate the eight men.

But the next morning, when they read the ordinance carefully, they realized it did not apply to residences.

"We renotified the offenders that they would not be arrested for living there," said Plessinger.

S.I. Rosenbaum can be reached at or (813) 661-2442.

Murphy: Shred the welcome mat for sex offenders

Posted Mar 08, 2008 @ 12:15 AM

Judge Richard Moses did it again. Another Level 3 sex offender he let loose was accused of committing yet another sex crime.

Before the ink was dry on the story, the apologists lined up. "It isn't Judge Moses' fault - he was just following the law." Blah, blah, blah.

Not really.

Kenneth Stone had a long rap sheet and he'd been charged or convicted at least four times for sex crimes between 1989 and 1995, already far too many bites at the apple. Moses should have known better no matter what the so-called "experts" said.

It's safe to say that Moses has probably had his responsibilities shifted, and there'll be no more "shopping for Moses" by pedophiles and their lawyers. Not that the guy should be shunted off to traffic court but his errors have caused more than enough harm. Let him manage "slip and falls" for a while.

And then, because there are more Moses-types still out there and judges have far too much discretion during "sexual dangerousness" hearings, it's time to take away judicial discretion altogether and pass Jessica's Law. With mandatory 20-year prison terms under Jessica's Law for predators who rape children, we won't need hearings to determine who should walk free upon release from a three- to five-year prison stint (the embarrassing "going rate" for child rape in Massachusetts).

It's a dumb hearing anyway, isn't it? If a perp needs to be civilly committed because he's too dangerous to walk free in society, isn't the real problem that he should have been criminally committed for a very long time in the first place?

I can hear the naysayers now. "Murphy's a fascist. It's bad for humanity to lock people up. Offenders used to be babies, too. They need hugs and treatment for their illness."

Spare me.

Rape isn't an illness, it's a choice. Sure it might be a choice driven by a compulsion, but so what? We all know what it's like to really need to use the bathroom - yet we don't pull our pants down in the middle of Main Street. Sex offenders might really want to impose themselves on children, and they can choose not to, but they don't.

Studies show that offenders tend to be selfish, narcissistic and immature - which is why, like self-centered kids, they opt to indulge rather than restrain themselves. They don't give a damn about anyone else.

Jessica's Law offers the only real solution because it requires long-term isolation of predators from law-abiding citizens and defenseless children. But in this state, where we all but post "welcome pedophile" signs at our borders, offender-huggers and their lobbyists control the Legislature. So it's no surprise that after a hearing on Jessica's Law, one person (who refused to be identified) said, "It has about as much chance of passing as Iraq has of ending the war tomorrow." Great.

Here's what I want to know:

If locking people up is fascist, why aren't the offender-huggers outraged about long punishments for white-collar criminals who embezzle investment and retirement accounts? I've scanned the news stories on such cases and can't find a single example of the American Civil Liberties Union in Massachusetts speaking out against long prison sentences for corporate criminals, inside traders or insurance frauds who burn buildings for money. Maybe the ACLU has a soft spot for sex offenders. They certainly spend a lot of their resources defending rapists. Maybe it's because they get funding from the porn industry? I don't know and they aren't saying.

But I do know this:

Locking up sex offenders isn't fascist. Nobody wants the government to have more power. Responsible citizens simply want the government to use the power it already has fairly. Massachusetts has an ugly reputation of under-prosecuting and under-punishing sex offenders compared to the prosecution of property and theft crimes. This sends an unacceptable message that women's and children's lives are less valuable than material wealth.

With Jessica's Law in place, these disgraceful statistics would change overnight. But it won't happen unless people everywhere call, send letters and e-mails, and literally hound their elected officials to do the right thing.

If we'd had Jessica's Law in place, Judge Moses' mistakes would have been avoided and a 6-year-old boy, allegedly raped in the stacks of a public library by a man Moses released, would have been reading "Hop on Pop" with his mom instead of being violated by a horribly dangerous man.

Long prison sentences for predators protect all of us while promoting the essential idea that the stuff we own is never more important than the children we love.

Wendy Murphy is a victims rights advocate and nationally recognized television legal analyst. She is an adjunct professor at New England School of Law and radio talk show host. She can be reached at

Sex Offender Back In Jail; Simmons charged with failing to notify Connecticut police of move


Douglas Simmons Handout/Staff photo

By Margo Sullivan
Staff Writer

DERRY, N.H. — At least for now, Derry parents can stop worrying that convicted sex offender Douglas Simmons might return unannounced to the East Broadway apartment where he lived briefly earlier this year.

Connecticut police said yesterday that Simmons is under lock and key at Hartford Correctional Center, where he is being held on $50,000 bail. Hartford police arrested him on March 1, according to Nancy Mulroy, the department's public information officer.

"It was pretty basic," Mulroy said. "The police located him and took him into custody without incident."

Simmons was arrested on a charge of failing to notify the Connecticut sex offender registry that he had moved to Derry, according to Trooper William Tate, public information officer for the Connecticut State Police. He is due in a Connecticut court on April 1 to answer to a felony charge of violating the registry's regulation, Tate said.

Simmons, 47, moved to 71 East Broadway, Apt. 3, in Derry in late January after serving 22 years in prison for the kidnapping and murder of 6-year-old Michelle Spencer in Norwich, Conn. He strangled the girl with a phone cord and then sexually assaulted her body.

His move to Derry ignited a public furor among parents who were concerned that he was living within a mile of three schools, a park and a town library.

After the outcry, Simmons moved back to Connecticut. But due to a little-known facet of New Hampshire's sex offender registry, he still was allowed to return to Derry for up to five days at a time without informing police. He had been living with his fiancee and her two teenage children at the East Broadway apartment.

Derry police Lt. Barry Charewicz said police had not been checking the apartment building in recent weeks to see if Simmons had returned for visits because he would not have been breaking any law if he came for a few days.

"There's no law he couldn't come into Derry," he said.

Even though Simmons is no longer in Derry, town councilors continue to discuss an ordinance that would prevent sex offenders from living near schools and playgrounds. Twenty states have laws to stop registered sex offenders from living near schools and playgrounds, but New Hampshire doesn't. Five New Hampshire cities and towns have adopted their own ordinances.

On Tuesday, the Derry Town Council heard from Amanda Grady of the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, who said such restrictions often result in sex offenders failing to register at all.

Still, Councilor Kevin Coyle said the council is leaning toward adopting some sort of sex offender housing regulations. That discussion is expected to resume March 18.

State lawmakers also are taking steps to strengthen the state's sex offender registry. On Wednesday, the House approved a bill that would revise the registry law to list more charges, classify offenders in three categories and provide more details. That would address one of the chief complaints surrounding the Simmons incident — that the registry only showed his kidnapping conviction while omitting the murder.

Right now, there are 25 registered sex offenders in Derry. Thirteen others are required to register with the state but are not on the public list. None probably have a record of past offenses so serious as Simmons, Derry police Chief Edward Garone has said.

Arrest In Fatal Stabbing At Sex Offender Park

ST. PETERSBURG Pinellas County sheriff's deputies arrested a transient early today in the fatal stabbing of a woman at a mobile home park for registered sex offenders.

Christopher Robertson

Christopher Robertson, 41, was arrested at 12:15 a.m. while he was sitting in the carport of Lot 348 at the Palace Mobile Home Park, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. A witness had reported seeing him at the park, 2500 54th Ave. N., near Interstate 275.

Robertson is charged with second degree murder in the stabbing of 22-year-old Anna Marie Kasvicis about 1 p.m. Friday. Sheriff's detectives said Robertson admitted in an interview his involvement in the crime.

The investigation continues.

Deputies said Robertson knew Kasvicis and that they were arguing when the stabbing occurred in Lot 274. Deputies have not said what the argument was about. They said the pair was not dating.

Kasvicis was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Palace Mobile Home Park has Pinellas' highest concentration of sexual offenders and sexual predators, but Robertson isn't an offender or predator, sheriff's spokeswoman Marianne Pasha said.

A similar mobile home park in Palm River recently became controversial when nearby residents tried to force the sexual offenders living there to leave.

Cyber pedophile ring cracked

Paula Doneman

March 09, 2008 12:00am

HUNCHED over their computers in homes around the world, the network of pedophiles devoured the horrific images of children that flashed up on their monitors from their vast library.

Using highly sophisticated double encryption codes and stringent vetting procedures, the predators remained confident their evil activities in the cyber world were completely secure.

For four years they commissioned and traded in hardcore, sadomasochistic images of children as young as two.

Hundreds of children around the world were exploited and subjected to hideous sexual abuse to feed the twisted desires of the secret network, known as "The Group", whose members police believe knew each other only through the cyber world.

The Group had become so adept since forming in 2004 that they had attained an almost aristocratic status among fellow pedophiles.

They were so revered by their peers that other child-sex offenders attempted to emulate them and produced child porn for them.

But unbeknown to the terrible cabal, in January 2006 Task Force Argos – a dedicated team of specialist Queensland detectives who hunt internet pedophiles – had accessed The Group's inner sanctum.

Within five months, its pending demise was further cemented when a Task Force Argos detective arrived in Washington. His brief – to pose as a pedophile and infiltrate the network. "We named the investigation Achilles simply because we were looking for the weak link here in some way, shape or form," said Detective Acting Inspector Jon Rouse, who heads Task Force Argos.

Two years later, the Queensland-driven global police sting rescued more than 20 children from a life of sexual abuse and netted 22 members of The Group.

"These men were leading bizarre double lives, and being part of this network was more important than their real-life existence," Det-Insp Rouse said.

The men were arrested last month in simultaneous raids in Australia, the US, Germany, Britain and Canada. Two Australians were arrested, including a federal public servant in Townsville, who is an alleged ringleader.

More than 100 online users who bought child pornography were arrested worldwide, and four commercial sites, including one that showed more than 40 children being sexually abused, were shut down.

Task Force Argos played a key role in identifying several victims, including an English girl who was filmed being sexually abused by her supposed carer.

The girl was rescued, and subsequent investigations located another seven children who were victims of the man.

Queensland police first became aware of The Group in January 2006 when they were alerted by New Zealand's Department of Internal Affairs, which is responsible for censorship and internet safety.

The Department had become aware of a large amount of encrypted child pornography being traded over the internet and downloaded.

Task Force Argos, which is attached to the Queensland Police State Crime Operations Command, launched Operation Achilles.

It first had to infiltrate The Group, which used complex encryption soft-ware to protect its information that was immune to even the most thorough forensic examination by police experts.

"You will see nothing because they fully encrypt the drive using a variety of tools," Det-Insp Rouse said.

Once the encryption was broken – and police will not reveal how this was done – Task Force Argos found what they believed was the most sophisticated and organised online network of hardcore child sex offenders they had encountered.

The porn ring was run like a business, with the lewd images used as currency instead of cash, FBI executive assistant director J. Stephen Tidwell said last week.

"This is beyond a quantum exponential leap for us, to see folks that have gone to this much trouble to produce this kind of volume of horrific exploitation of children," he said.

To become a member of the online forum, candidates underwent a rigorous 48-hour real-time test.

They had to accurately describe certain child porn series in the most minute detail and be able to provide an extensive library of images, what Mr Tidwell called "various benchmarks and bars to get over to get into their group".

He said that "with 400,000 (images) we're going to be at this for years, trying to find the victims".

Det-Insp Rouse said one of the members, who called himself "the guardian of the gate", had used his own advanced technology "to produce multiple videos and added his own personal flair".

His video of choice was a series titled Baby-Shi, which depicted toddlers being raped while heavy metal music played in the background.

The man produced another chilling video which opened with beautiful scenes of the landmark French museum, the Louvre.

"Imagine a time when a picture is just a picture. And those who view are not vilified," he wrote.

"Follow me to the museum where dreams come true."

The video then takes the user into the museum – but instead of seeing the art classics that grace its walls, the frames contain graphic images of children being raped.

In June 2006, the task force had a major breakthrough, intercepting a video of two girls that had been financed by The Group.

By the end of that month, Task Force Argos enlisted the help of the FBI after identifying that most of the members were based in the US.

"One member posted what he wanted to happen in the next video, which is one of the clinching reasons we took such a heavy interest and active role," Det-Insp Rouse said.

Argos investigators tracked the video to a website called Young Video Models, which had pictures of more than 40 children to choose from in various poses and dress. Some had even been dressed to the specific instructions of child-sex offenders who ordered them online.

The intercepted video of the two girls, sisters aged nine and 12, was sourced to Belgium, where police arrested their father.

An Italian filmmaker, Sergio Marzola, had paid him 1000 euros ($A1650) to have sex with his daughters and pose them for the YVM website. Police discovered many parents in eastern Europe had sold Marzola their children to provide sexual services.

The investigation triggered the international Operation Koala, which last November netted nine Queensland offenders who subscribed to the YVM website.

It also led to the rescue of a four-year-old Brisbane girl who was being sexually abused by her grandfather. Further arrests are expected.

"What we are dealing with is a billion-dollar industry . . . there will always be more models for these types of websites because more parents will provide their children," Det-Insp Rouse said.

In August 2006, a detective from Task Force Argos flew to Washington, where he was based for 18 months. He had spent six months familiarising himself with The Group's practices, reading its messages and viewing thousands of pornographic images and videos.

The messages provided the detective, who cannot be identified, with an insight into the individual suspects' personalities and their age of sexual preference.

"My role as a covert officer was to infiltrate the group, collect evidence and collate intelligence with a view to identifying the members of the network," he told The Sunday Mail in an exclusive interview last week. "I was also principally tasked with extracting and then relaying any data that would help identify child victims." He became familiar with Group members, who were prolific with either posting images and videos or commenting in relation to other posts.

"As we identified members of The Group and obtained other specific intelligence, it became easier to understand what were sometimes very cryptic messages," he said.

"The more insight we gained into the individuals, the easier it became to use their words against them."

A major obstacle in the investigation was the tight security of The Group, with Argos detectives having to adapt their methods to keep up with evolving technology used by the cabal.

To cope with immersing himself in the world of a cyber pedophile, the detective underwent regular psychological assessments and maintained regular contact with his colleagues and family.

By January this year, sufficient intelligence and evidence had been collected for police around the world to move on their targets.

"We had exhausted all lines of inquiry and we determined that the arrests would be made on February 29," Det-Insp Rouse said.

Police are now sifting through evidence and information seized in the raids as part of ongoing efforts to trace The Group's activities and other possible offenders.

But Operation Achilles is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the world trade in child pornography.

In the two years since Task Force Argos began its investigation, it has arrested another 100 offenders in separate investigations in Queensland.

"It is incredible that we saved 40 children (in Operation Achilles) but there are still children we know need our help and we haven't found them," Det-Insp Rouse said.

Judge hands down 27-year sentence in child porn case

by Lori Tipton
Friday, March 7, 2008

PALMER, Alaska -- A 46-year-old Willow man has been sentenced to 27 years in prison on multiple charges of sexual abuse, exploitation of a minor and child pornography.

Palmer Superior Court Judge Eric Smith said during the proceeding that he could only remember trying one case "this bad" during his tenure.

Judge Smith sentenced Mark Dunder Friday.

Dunder was initially charged with 16 felony counts in August 2006 but struck a plea deal with the state.

Alaska State Troopers found thousands of child porn images on his computer and some of those were photos of multiple underage girls.

During testimony, one of the victims and her mother begged the court to give Dunder the maximum sentence.

The victim's mother went on to say he should remain in jail "the longest time possible ... he will never again be able to look at and harm another child."

Judge Smith also ruled that once Dunder completes his sentence and is on probation he be prohibited from using any electronic devices that could be used to view or share child pornography.

Contact Lori Tipton at

Man sentenced for child porn

Judge cites Robert Marney's military career, health problems in handing down lesser punishment
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Staff Reporter

Balancing a Fairhope man's military career and health problems against his less-than-full-throated acceptance of guilt, a federal judge in Mobile handed down a five-year prison sentence Friday for possession of child pornography.

Robert Arthur Marney told U.S. District Judge Kristi DuBose that he started looking at child pornography on the Internet at a time when he had trouble sleeping because of medication that he was taking.

The 75-year-old Marney compared the activity to the baseball cards and marbles that he traded as a youth.

"At the time I was doing this, I didn't know it was illegal," he told DuBose. "It was just something to do. I am not a pedophile."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Murphy urged a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, pointing out that one of the video images Marney saved on his computer depicted an infant being raped during a diaper change.

"I am shocked he would stand before this court and say it is just something to do," Murphy said.

DuBose cited Marney's 23-year military service and his battles against cancer and heart disease as she opted for a lesser punishment.

She also ordered him to register as a sex offender.

It was not the first break that Marney received in the case. Murphy agreed to a plea bargain that included dropping the more serious charge of receipt and distribution of child pornography because defense lawyer Arthur Madden told her that his client was near death.

Marney's death apparently is not imminent, however, and Murphy said she now regrets the decision.

"Knowing what I know now, I would not have gone to my superiors and ask that we ... ignore Department of Justice policy in insisting that a defendant plead guilty to the most serious offense we can prove," she said.

Madden said Marney has cancer of the tongue, suffered a recent heart attack and has had multiple bypass surgeries. "I believed he was at death's door or close to it, and I still do," Madden said.

Marney's wife of nearly 55 years, Evelyn Marney, said her husband is a kind and gentle man who would never hurt a child.

"I know the core of this man, and that core is a great man," she said.

The defendant's daughter, Caroline Marney, said both of her parents raised their children with "old-fashioned" values.

"My father has always been my hero," she said.

Law enforcement investigators traced 28 images of child pornography from a Gurnee, Ill., man to Marney's computer account.

A search of Marney's home computer in July 2006 turned up more than 600 child pornography images, according to court records.

Naval Academy - Mids charged with rape, child porn

The Naval Academy announced yesterday that two midshipmen have been charged with sex crimes.
Midshipman 2nd Class Mark A. Calvanico, of New Jersey, is accused of unlawfully breaking and entering into "a dwelling" in Bancroft Hall, the academy's dorm, on Oct. 14, 2007, an academy spokesman said, and committing rape and indecent assault.

The junior also is charged with unauthorized absence and conduct unbecoming an officer.

In a separate incident, Midshipman 1st Class Michael S. Pollard, a senior, is charged with receiving, possessing and attempting to distribute child pornography between July 2003 and August 2007, and with obstructing justice and making a false official statement.

The Naval Academy declined to release any more details of the alleged events in either case, except to say that both cases were investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

An Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a grand jury preliminary investigation, is scheduled in the Pollard case for March 24 and in the Calvanico case for March 28.

Both hearings will be conducted at the Washington Navy Yard, after which the investigating officers will make non-binding recommendations to the Naval Academy superintendent. The superintendent will then decide whether to proceed with the cases.

Both mids face prison terms if convicted.

Midshipman Calvanico recently made it to the finals in the brigade boxing championship heavyweight division, but was defeated.

In an unrelated case, the academy's former top physician, who was sentenced last year to 46 months in prison for secretly taping midshipmen having sex at his Annapolis area home, learned yesterday that his sentence has been reduced to 24 months.

Annapolis attorney William Ferris, who represented then-Cmdr. Kevin J. Ronan, said yesterday that he successfully asked Ronan's command, the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, to reduce the charges on grounds they were excessive.

"I have seen people with more serious sexual offenses, and they got two years, and this guy got almost four years," Mr. Ferris said.

A military jury convicted and sentenced Ronan in November on charges of violating federal wiretap laws and of conduct unbecoming an officer.

The academy has had a couple of highly visible sexual assaults cases in recent years.

In 2006, a jury acquitted senior quarterback Lamar S. Owens on charges of raping a female midshipman in her room, but convicted him of conduct unbecoming an officer and violating a lawful order. The jury elected to impose no punishment, but the academy dismissed the former football star for violating academy regulations by having sex in Bancroft Hall.

Last year, a jury convicted reserve linebacker Kenny Ray Morrison of committing indecent assault on a female midshipman at a Washington, D.C., hotel, and sentenced him to two years in the Navy brig.

Man, Turned In By Wife, Pleads Guilty In Child Porn Case

A Vancouver man pleaded guilty earlie to child pornography charges earlier this week after being turned in by his wife.Paul Presley appeared in a U.S. District Court on charges of receipt of child pornography. Authorities said he had thousands of pictures and hundreds of videos of children involved in explicit sexual conduct.His wife, Lorrie Presley, said she found the pictures on a computer while searching for family vacation photos.She said the pictures were so graphic that she didn’t give him a chance to explain before she called Vancouver police.

“By getting into that industry, you’re opening up yourself to things you wouldn’t have expected,” Lorrie Presley said. “It ruins lives, it ruins people and it destroys families.”Authorities said she called 911. Paul Presley gave his laptop to his teenage daughter to get rid of it, but instead, she too, turned it into police, authorities said.“Everyone tells me you did the right thing,” Lorrie Presley said. “In retrospect, if something good comes from this, as far as protecting the kids and squelching the industry, then it could be said that I did the right thing.”A judge will sentence Paul Presley in June. He could spend between 5 and 20 years in prison.Lorrie Presley said she never expected it from her church-going husband, who is a computer engineer. While he could be facing jail time, she said she still loves him.

New Members Added to County's Sex Offender Tracking Team

A Riverside County law enforcement team responsible for keeping track of convicted sex offenders living in the county has two new members, thanks to state corrections officials, it was announced Friday.

Two Department of Corrections parole agents have been added to Riverside County's Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement (SAFE) Team, which includes a cross-section of county and municipal law enforcement officers working daily to ensure convicted sex offenders are in compliance with state law.

"Successful tracking of these sexual predators would not be possible without the SAFE Team and the support and cooperation of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation working together to keep our communities safe," said Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco.

He and state corrections Secretary James Tilton released a joint statement announcing the new SAFE Team members and highlighting the "important task" of ensuring the "public's safety from potential predators."

"It is essential that we do our best to equip the (team) with appropriate resources and personnel," Tilton said.

Roughly 3,300 registered sex offenders reside in the county and, according to one recent statistic, an estimated 18 percent fail to comply with California Penal Code section 290, the state's version of "Megan's Law" requiring sex offenders to register their location every year or after moving.

The SAFE Team, formed in May 2006, includes investigators from the D.A.'s office, sheriff's department, county probation department, California Department of Justice, Banning police, Corona police -- and now the state Department of Corrections, according to district attorney's office spokeswoman Ingrid Wyatt.

She said the team consists of five regional compliance units and one countywide administrative unit.

Operations include monitoring and surveillance of sex offenders, compliance checks and group home inspections, Wyatt said.

The team made 316 arrests last year, she said.

A bit of innocence lost

Her kids are learning about predators, and that's pretty scary for Mom.

Register columnist

The sledgehammer of reality landed squarely upon my children's heads last weekend. At a Child Abduction Prevention Class they learned that a handful of strangers – and possibly even acquaintances or family members – prey on children.

I had hoped the class would simply reinforce that they should stick close to me during our upcoming spring break travels. I hadn't bargained on such an eye-opening afternoon.

The instructor, a martial arts expert, played "The Journey of the Steal-Proof Master," a forty-five minute safety video. This fantasy-adventure film chronicles the journey of a young boy, who, with the help of a wizard and two apprentices, defeats ten evil warriors. The evil warriors represent specific lures commonly used by child predators and molesters. For example, "Helpless" tells a child to come closer – he is hurt and needs help. "Magician" mysteriously knows a child's name and is familiar with his family or schedule, and "Messenger" delivers the news that Mom is in the hospital and has sent him to pick up the child.

All of the predators appear harmless and friendly, until the moment they briefly morph into horned monsters, revealing their ugly natures. Throughout the movie, the boy wears an amulet around his neck that glows when he feels uncomfortable, teaching children to recognize and listen to their intuition.

Although the movie is an effective teaching aide, it's terrifying. Unlike the Freddy Krueger horror movies, this type of terror actually occurs at the hands of both depraved sociopaths and leaders in the community.

Following the film, the instructor taught the children how to break away when grabbed and how to brace their legs against a car door to prevent themselves from being thrown in.

When an older girl in the class shyly declined to practice screaming, the instructor matter-of-factly told her to get comfortable with screaming. Scream loudly and immediately, because "the abductor will take you to the second location and make you scream louder and longer than you ever dreamed possible."

A chilling thought, but a thought parents must entertain. According to the AmberWatch Foundation, a child is reported missing every forty seconds, though many of these children are either runaways or have been abducted by a parent. Kidshealth ( reports that only 25% of kids are actually taken by strangers. Two thirds of these abductions involve male abductors and female children and the majority of abducted children are teenagers.

Though the likelihood of a child abduction in your family may be small, we must teach our kids to be alert and cautious.

There's a fine line between caution and fear, a balance that now must be found in my home. My kids are desperately trying to process the information they've learned, role-playing the evil warriors and practicing their screams: "You aren't my parent! Get away from me!"

My kids are now more aware and slightly more prepared to defend themselves. Unfortunately, it cost them a bit of their innocence. It's a price I'm willing to pay.

Have you taught your children about intuition? Inappropriate touch? Not keeping an adults secrets? If not, arm them with information that may just save their lives.

For child safety tips, visit "The Journey of the Steal-Proof Master" is presented in classes throughout California and is also available for purchase at

Contact the writer:

Ex-Eagle speaks out about sexual abuse as teen

Chesley says he was sexually abused as a teen

Posted Thursday, March 6, 2008

Al Chesley (left) and Paul Livingston rally outside the Public Safety building Wednesday to draw attention to the Delaware Child Victims Act. (Buy photo)
The News Journal/ROBERT CRAIG

WILMINGTON -- A former Philadelphia Eagles linebacker spoke out for the first time Wednesday on the sexual abuse he endured as a teen in Washington, D.C., and urged other abuse victims to come forward, too.

Al Chesley, 50, spoke outside the Wilmington Public Safety Building with two California sexual abuse victims, representing the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). They urged other victims to take advantage of Delaware's new law, the Child Victim's Act, which allows victims two years to file civil suit in child sexual abuse cases that previously had been barred by the statute of limitations.

They also urged law enforcement officials to use records unveiled in civil suits to investigate and prosecute other molesters.

Chesley, who played for the Eagles from 1979-82 and the Chicago Bears from 1982-84, said a Washington police officer molested him for several years, starting when he was 13 or 14 years old.

"I'm not crying here as a victim," Chesley said. "I seek no financial gain in any way. I'm here because this might help other kids."

Chesley said it was only in the past year -- after his mother's death -- that he had been able to speak to anyone about his experience.

Chesley said his late father had driven trucks for the police department, and Chesley said he felt safe accepting a police officer's offer to take him home from school one day. The officer told him he had to stop at his own home on the way, invited Chesley inside, showed him scrapbooks of naked teens -- some of whom Chesley knew -- then performed oral sex on him. Chesley said the officer molested him many times after that.

"He had some type of hold on me," Chesley said.

Chesley went on to play football at the University of Pittsburgh. He was an 11th-round draft pick for the Eagles in 1979 and was on the team that lost to Oakland in the 1981 Super Bowl. He became a starter when All-Pro middle linebacker Bill Bergey retired in 1981. Chesley then went on to Chicago.

Chesley said he has tried to learn the whereabouts of his abuser, but has not been successful.

"I'm sure he retired in good standing and continued to do this," he said.

Chesley, though, eventually started to use drugs and his life took a downward spiral.

"I've made a lot of mistakes," he said.

Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach, Calif., and Paul Livingston of San Diego said the men who sexually abused them were exposed publicly in civil lawsuits that also revealed how the organizations their abusers worked for protected them and allowed them to have continued access to children.

Both were able to sue under a 2003 California law that allowed one year during which suits previously barred by the state's statue of limitations could be filed. Delaware's law offers twice as much time as California's. About 10 other states now are considering similar legislation, which was the result of the scandal of clergy sexual abuse that emerged nationally in 2002.

"When the window opened up [in California], some 300 child molesters were recognized," Livingston said.

Laws like Delaware's give victims a chance to seek justice for abuses many have kept secret for decades.

"I numbed the pain, and it led me down a deep, dark path," Chesley said. "I'm 50 years old and just want to free myself from things I've been holding in. As they say, I'm as sick as my secret. But I didn't do anything wrong and every time I share it, the pain lessens."

Casteix and Livingston used the occasion to deliver a letter they had written to Wilmington Police Chief Michael Szczerba, noting the support law enforcement officials had demonstrated when Delaware's law was debated. They asked Szczerba to be sure his officers are educated about the law, treat every case that comes to their attention as if it was a new case and to use the information that comes out of civil cases to investigate those who may still be molesting children.

"The law can help you expose predators in Delaware, keep kids safe today, and possibly uncover more evidence that can put molesters behind bars," they wrote.

Szczerba was on family leave and not available to respond.

"Even if these cases are 50 years old, they find out that this guy has been molesting kids," Livingston said. "They've got a guy on their radar. They know and he knows they know. That may just save a kid."

The Rev. Francis G. DeLuca, who retired from the Diocese of Wilmington to Syracuse, N.Y., when similar allegations arose in 1993, is a case in point. DeLuca last year pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting his great-nephew over several years. After DeLuca's arrest in Syracuse in 2006, other victims came forward. The first lawsuit filed against DeLuca in Wilmington was settled Wednesday, but attorneys say at least eight others are expected.

Contact Beth Miller at 324-2784 or

To learn more about efforts to prevent child abuse in Delaware, go to

For crisis intervention, telephone counseling and referrals, call Delaware's 24-hour confidential helpline at 761-9100.

A Watchful Eye

By Matt Elofson

Most people don’t like to ask permission to do things, especially when it means getting approval of where they can make their home or earn a living.

Those who choose to commit a sex crime take the chance of losing those freedoms many of us take for granted.

A former Wiregrass woman says convicted sex offenders deserve to have these rights removed after committing a sexual assault. Three Alabama men have been convicted over the past decade for molesting or raping the woman’s three children.

“They invade someone’s privacy taking what’s most important to them,” she said. “They take the victim’s identity away from them.”

She has an 11-year-old girl, a 12-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl who she says successfully testified in a Dothan man’s trial in the fall of 2007. Heath Jerome Miller was convicted by a Houston County jury of rape of her child, and was sentenced to life in prison. James Howard Anderson, 55, of Selma, was also convicted of first-degree sex abuse of her one of her children, and he was released in 2004, according to the state sex offender registry Web site. The third man was a juvenile at the time of the arrest.

“If you do the crime, you’ve got to do the time, which includes warning other people of what you’ve done,” she said.

The woman, whose identity the Dothan Eagle did not reveal because her children were the victim’s of sexual assaults, was referred to the Eagle by the Houston County District Attorney’s Office. After the third man was convicted for sexually molesting her children, she encouraged her friends and neighbors to regularly check who lives in their neighborhoods.

Each convicted sex offender must obey several strict rules of registration to the city, county and state government after they are released from prison or start their probation.

“The most important thing about these sex offenders is knowing where they are, and that’s to protect the community,” said Kirke Adams, the district attorney for Dale and Geneva counties. “A large percentage of sex offenders will reoffend, because it’s a disease, and they’re sick.”
Adams said authorities have seen an increase in those violations of the Alabama Community Notification Act by convicted sex offenders. But he said the increase could be attributed to closer monitoring by area law enforcement. Violation of the notification act is a Class C felony, which includes a punishment of one to 10 years in prison.

“It is beneficial because at least we know where they are, and they’re not living around schools and day care places where children are,” Adams said. “It’s the same defense every time. I’m really not living there, I was just visiting or I just didn’t understand it.”

Kent Stewart, 41, of Ozark, recently pleaded guilty to violating the notification act, along with another sex crime. Stewart was sentenced to community corrections and then committed another sex offense. He was charged and convicted of taking a child from a playground back to a nearby apartment, where he sexually molested her. He was sentenced last month to serve 85 years in prison for the rape, and an additional 15 years for the failure to notify.

“He was living somewhere where he wasn’t registered,” Adams said. “When this occurred I feel confident he was violating the act again.”


The Dothan Police Department created a special program to keep the city’s convicted sex offenders in check.

“It gives us an opportunity to keep track of them,” Dothan Police Investigator Sgt. Brian Cherry said. “It helps us protect the community and helps us keep up with the sex offender.”

Through the Sexual Offender Accountability Program, the department monitors 69 sex offenders on a monthly basis, including 47 of those who live in the city. The other 22 offenders only work in the city or were youthful offenders.

Each adult sex offender is assigned an officer to monitor the offender’s activity, which includes verifying their home address, any employment change and whether any children live with them. A convicted sex offender can not live within 2,000 feet of a school or day care facility.

“In the past, we did spot checks, but now it gives us more knowledge of what the sex offender is doing and his whereabouts,” said Cherry, who serves as an investigator in the department’s juvenile division.

Investigators within the program have helped find and charge 10 people since Jan. 1, who police say violated the Community Notification Act, including Willie Gilmore, 58, who was arrested on Feb. 11 for two violations.

Gilmore was charged with failure to notify for a change of residence and living at a prohibited address, according to Dothan Police Investigator Clark Allums. Gilmore was living too close to a daycare when he moved to his sister’s home on South Park Avenue, which was near Ridgecrest Baptist Church Daycare and Childcare Network.

“He had moved within 2,000 feet of either day care, and that’s what’s considered a sensitive site,” Allums said.

Gilmore has not been convicted of violating the notification act, but he was convicted in 1978 of rape.

Earlier this year authorities arrested Aaron Howell, 68, shortly after the New Year and charged him with five counts of failure to properly register as a sex offender. Howell failed to properly register when he moved into Westside Terrace Health and Rehabilitation Center on Nov. 30, which is also located less than 1,600 feet from Houston Academy, police said. Police say he also sexually abused a woman at the center after he failed to notify about his move.
The violation of the state community notification act was discovered after an employee at the rehabilitation center viewed a sex offender Web site. Howell was previously convicted of molesting a 6-year-old girl in February 1993.

Sheriff’s investigators also charged him with three violations, including failure to include his offender status when he renewed his driver’s license and failure to complete his annual anniversary registration verification, along with his six-month verification. If a sex offender does not move or change occupation, they are required to register as a sex offender twice a year. Howell has not been convicted of any of those notification violations.

“The biggest problem we’re having is people coming from outside our city limits into the city,” Cherry said. “They committed the crime, and they are required to register. We’re locating them and we’re charging them.”