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Admissability of Evidence, Assignment of Blame: The Paterson, NJ Rape Case

Man rapes, tortures five daughters, impregnates them repeatedly, forces them to deliver babies at home.

Administers beatings with steel-toe boots, wooden boards.  Withholds food, doles out extreme psychological torture.

Flees authorities.  Keeps the young women captive for decades.  For their lifetimes.  Receives probation after getting caught once.  Some of the babies die.  Daughters, wife forced to secretly bury them.

But what about the admissibility of evidence?  Isn’t that what’s really important here?

AP — A New Jersey man with apocalyptic visions is accused of years of terrorizing his family, raping his five daughters and impregnating three, beating his children with wooden boards and even moving at one point to avoid child welfare investigators.  The nightmarish picture of a family subjected to more than a decade of threats and violence and largely cut off from the outside world is emerging in a state courthouse where prosecutors are preparing to have the man stand trial five times, one per child victim. . . . In her testimony, his daughter described experiencing and witnessing beatings administered with wooden boards and steel-toed boots. She said minor transgressions often were punished by the withholding of food.   The girl’s mother testified some of the babies were delivered at home and never received birth certificates, and said in at least two instances babies who died in the home were buried without authorities being notified.  The children were home-schooled, she said, and were discouraged from interacting with other kids.  “No one really asked questions of each other because somebody would tell on somebody and somebody would get in trouble,” she said.  Even after she became aware of sexual abuse, she said she was too frightened to confront him.  “I was afraid to ever accuse him of being demented, or being a pedophile. I knew the word but I wouldn’t dare use it because it would result in a beating,” she said. “I’m sure my not standing up to him didn’t help the kids. They felt disempowered also. There was just a lot of fear. Everybody was threatened.”  Daryl Pennington, an attorney representing the defendant, did not return messages seeking comment

Now, wait for it . . .

Attorneys are scheduled back in court on Friday, when state Superior Court Judge Raymond Reddin is to rule on the admissibility of the wife’s testimony.

It’s the system, not Judge Reddin’s fault, but they will spend more time in that courtroom quibbling over rules of evidence than talking about the crimes themselves.  Such is our justice system, after fifty years of defense-driven exclusion of evidence rulings.  The truth, the whole truth, about what this man has done will unavoidably take a back seat to our sickening and criminal-biased criminal procedural rules.

So who, other than the defendant, is at fault?

Usually, the media’s default angle in a case like this is the “failure of child protection authorities” line.  But is it really the child protection workers who failed when the court lets him go?  In this case, child protection did their job by getting this animal into a courtroom and at least temporarily removing one of his children from the home.  They some judge cut him loose.

Many reporters view child protection workers as fair game — prosecutors and judges, not so much.

Refreshingly, the AP reporter here does not point fingers at the child protection workers and call it a day.  He seeks comment from the prosecutors in the previous case, where the offender was permitted to walk away from extremely serious charges.  However, the reporter doesn’t name the judge who delivered such a lenient sentence.  Maybe the prosecutors were asking for more time.  Maybe it was the judge’s fault.  Maybe both the prosecutor and the judge wanted to throw the book at this man, but they were constrained by a system that still makes it difficult to hold people responsible for crimes committed against their own children.  Here is the AP account:

As the first [rape] case nears trial, questions have been raised about whether state authorities could have put a stop to the abuse sooner. Some of the crimes are alleged to have occurred while the family was under scrutiny by the state child welfare agency, and after the father had been arrested and pleaded guilty to assault and child endangerment.

During that time, child protection authorities has already brought the man to court.  His success in essentially beating the charges (mere probation, despite fleeing, kidnapping, attempted kidnapping, abuse) cannot be laid at their feet.  Doubtlessly, beating those charges empowered the abuser.  I’m sure the child protection workers feared for his daughter’s lives after the court cut him loose.  Then, this:

Arrested in 2006, [the defendant] stands accused of raping five of his daughters, three of whom are believed to have given birth to a total of six children. He is being held on $1 million bond.  Having been ruled competent to stand trial earlier this year, he faces 27 charges including aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, lewdness, child endangerment, aggravated criminal sexual contact and criminal sexual contact.

He is back in jail now, awaiting trial, but this man was out of jail on bail for the 2006 rape charges for a very long time.  NorthJersey.com has more troubling details about his time out, below.

If the defendant was being evaluated for mental competence, for such serious offenses — five young rape victims, three repeatedly impregnated by him — and if the question was whether he even had the ability to control this behavior (shades of the twinkie excuse of sexual assault), and if his wife and daughters had been tortured by him and were terrorized by him, and he believed their lives were his to destroy, what the hell was he doing out of prison for five minutes, let alone 3+ years, while being “evaluated for psychological competence”?

What type of system says to a serial rapist and torturer: OK, you may not be able to control your rapin’, torturin’ behavior, so we’re going to cut you loose while your lawyer drags out the process of getting you checked out by the yours-and-mine shrinks?

Our system.  I wonder how many other little girls this rapist was able to “get” while awaiting trial this time.  We know some of what he did the last time he walked away with a slap on the wrist:

Authorities say the assaults began in the mid-1980s and lasted until 2002, when the parents separated, and occurred at residences in Paterson, East Orange, Orange and Eatontown. . . According to court records and published reports, the girls’ father was arrested in 2000 and charged with kidnapping for allegedly trying to take three of his children from state custody at a Monmouth County medical center. He posted bail and later pleaded guilty to assault and child endangerment and was sentenced to a year’s probation. Prosecutors in Passaic County say one of the daughters, then in her early teens, was raped as late as January 2002.  New Jersey’s Division of Youth and Family Services declined to comment, citing confidentiality requirements.  But the man’s wife and one of his daughters testified that the agency had indeed removed at least one of the children from the family’s home, and that the family had temporarily moved, first to Jersey City and then to Florida, to avoid the agency’s investigation.

Who was the judge in the 2000 case?  What does he or she have to say about the decision to give him probation for such serious offenses?

NorthJersey.com has more information about the 2006 bail decision. The defendant has been out on bail for years and was only remanded six months ago.  Read this horrifying passage carefully:

It is a complicated series of events that led a state Superior Court judge in Paterson to remand [the defendant] to the Passaic County Jail on Sept. 24 after having been free on $500,000 bail since his 2006 arrest. [He] is awaiting trial on charges he sexually assaulted his daughters and deliberately impregnated them.  [The defendant], 50, committed the sexual assaults from 1985 through 2002 in Paterson, East Orange, Orange and Eatontown, according to prosecutors. Authorities have described him as a “blueblood,” or someone who believes in keeping his bloodlines pure, and that the assaults were a disturbing attempt to create “purebred” offspring.  A hearing is scheduled before state Superior Court Judge Raymond Reddin in Paterson on Tuesday to determine how to deal with the matrix of factors that have made and could continue to make the $280,000 home he used as collateral for his bail insufficient. [The defendant] will remain in jail as long as the matter is unresolved.  What led to the suddenly precarious status of [the defendant’s] bail was that prosecutors noticed the defendant was apparently accompanied by a woman and a young child at a recent pretrial conference before Reddin last month, said Joseph Del Russo, Passaic County chief assistant prosecutor. Defendants in sexual assault cases — as a condition of bail — are often ordered not to have contact with small children. Prosecutors checked to see if such a no-contact order was part of [the defendant’s] bail conditions set back in 2006. As it turns out, it was. But that became a side issue when prosecutors noticed an even bigger problem, Del Russo said.  “We began to discover that his original bail posting — that is, the original process of posting bail with the County Bail Unit — was flawed,” Del Russo said. The most glaring problem, Del Russo said, was that proof that the property [the defendant] owned was worth $285,000 and was unencumbered — meaning no liens against it — was misleading. The document providing that proof was actually a title search produced by the seller of the property, according to Del Russo.

Let me attempt to reign in my disgust here long enough to paraphrase:

This child-raping animal has been walking free for 3 1/2 years while his attorneys successfully deflected his trial on multiple rape and torture charges.  By now, the defendant is so unworried about consequences that he actually showed up in court with a woman and young child — knowing full well that by having the child with him, he was violating his bail conditions in a child-rape case — in front of law enforcement, the prosecutor, and the judge.

However, the revelation that the child-rapist had another child under his control isn’t what landed him in jail again.

No, the endangering-another-innocent-child-after-impregnating-three-of-your-daughters-six-times-and-raping-two-others isn’t the problem.  Oh, heck no.  That, according to the reporter, the courts can swallow.  Regarding that, they’re good with the guy being out on the streets indefinitely.  Another two or three years, at least.

So what’s this bigger problem than child rape?  Real estate valuation.

The quote bigger problem unquote is that the child-rapist’s house, which he put up for collateral for bail, has some title issues and needs to be reappraised.  Yes indeed, that’s far more relevant than letting a child-rapist traipse out of the courtroom with another little baby in tow:

The most glaring problem, [Passaic County assistant prosecutor Joseph] Del Russo said, was that proof that the property [the defendant] owned was worth $285,000 and was unencumbered — meaning no liens against it — was misleading. The document providing that proof was actually a title search produced by the seller of the property, according to Del Russo.”The seller produced for [the defendant] a title search that showed the house was paid for — free and clear — and unencumbered,” Del Russo said. “Instead of [the defendant] showing his interest in the property, he showed us a document from the seller, rather than from him. So we don’t know, when he brought the house, whether he had a tax lien that followed him, or if he took a second mortgage on it. It was certainly misleading, let’s put it that way.”

Pardon me for being blunt, but shouldn’t the prosecutor be raising hell about the fact that the child rapist has a little child in his custody instead of prattling on to the media about real estate minutiae?

To heck with the mental state of the defendant: unless the NorthJersey.com reporter got the story very wrong, the heads Passaic County authorities need to be examining are the ones on the northern end of their own necks.  While the rest of us examine our hearts.  Doesn’t child rape matter?  Child rape.  Impregnating your daughters, over and over again.  Forcing them to give birth in front of you, for the love of God.  Making them bury their babies in secret.

Kicking their little bodies with steel-toed shoes.  Between rapes.  The prosecutor is busy talking about real estate?

~~~

Whenever I read a story like this, I wonder at the lack of outrage.

  • Where are the campus rape activists and the N.O.W. activists, with their “take back the night” marches and “teach-ins” and glossy “no-means-no” leaflets?  Is that all just . . . self-serving theatrics?
  • Where are the legal activists and law school students and law professors who pour millions of dollars and thousands of hours into investigating perfectly legitimate convictions every year because “every single injustice is unacceptable” . . . unless, of course, it is injustice absorbed by the victims of crime?
  • Where are the across-the-disciplines academics who never met a violent offender who didn’t simply titillate them?  Do they ever doubt their loyalties, ethics, or research claims, looking at a case like this?
  • Where are the tough-on-crime politicians?  Are conservatives still playing shy on child molestation because their “pro-family” constituents don’t like the state messing with private lives?  Are the “dad’s rights” deadbeats whining about attacks on the patriarchy again?  The small government purists linking arms with the A.C.L.U. to denounce prison costs?
  • Where are the crusading journalists, especially self-styled experts like Dorothy Rabinowitz, who has been dining out on the story of two (two!) bad child rape prosecutions from two decades ago, although no pattern of wrongful prosecution was ever uncovered (because none existed)?  Rabinowitz’s large-print account of the Amirault and Michaels cases has done immeasurable damage to the ability of prosecutors to convince jurors that a child has been raped, yet Rabinowitz has never revisited her own claims that these anomalous cases represented anything other than a real good chance to present herself as some sort of breathless freedom fighter.  “Like lightning, the charge could strike anyone” she trilled.  With no supporting evidence.  Because there was none.  This shameful chapter in the usually reliable Wall Street Journal’s history, and Rabinowitz’s histrionic, projection-heavy, thin-on-facts book, No Crueler Tyrannies, could both use an honesty makeover via some attention to the unfolding Paterson case, which has far more in common with the  average child molestation case than the handful of decades-old cases Rabinowitz still rails about.

You know, in the interest of opposing cruel tyrannies.

Sex Offender Two-Step: Those (Pricey) Revolving Prison Doors

Crime Victims Media Report is back, after an unexpected hiatus.  Some updates:

Loc Buu Tran

A reader informs me that Loc Buu Tran, previous granted probation for a kidnapping and sexual assault in Clearwater, Florida has finally been convicted of murder in Orlando, after his trial for slaughtering his girlfriend was repeatedly delayed:

Another appeal in the making, yes, but a little light filters through this cloudy justice journey. Today, Loc (Anthony) was judged “guilty, 1st degree murder”. His jury found fourteen stabs a bit zealous for simply giving her the head’s up that he was in control.

Jo Frank

Loc was convicted of sexual battery, kidnapping, and obstruction of justice in 1998.  The woman he kidnapped and raped had “rejected him.”  For this shockingly violent crime, he got . . . a get out of jail free card by some sympathetic judge who probably believed it was merely an acting-out-sort-of-kidnapping-and-rape-thing.  Two years probation for sexual assault and kidnapping.  They probably apologized to him for his inconvenience.

In 2001, the state had another chance to punish Loc and protect women when he violated his probation by committing multiple acts of credit card fraud.  Consequently, he faced prison time for the sexual assault, along with the new charges.  But instead of taking into consideration his new status as a recidivist, another judge gave him another “first offender” chance and telescoped down all his charges to one sentence.  You can guess what happened after that:

[A]fter letting Tran get away with a known rape for four years, then catching him violating his probation with several other charges, then sentencing him to an absurdly short prison term . . . [t]he State of Florida let him go early, after serving only 26 months of a 38 month sentence.

They also apparently trash-canned the rest of his probation, for good measure.  It’s all about prisoner “re-entry,” you know.  Probation’s a drag.  How dare we ask judges to enforce the law when rapists need to be rehabilitated back into society and given job training and that all-important-help getting their voting rights reinstated (Florida Governor Charlie Crist’s weird hobbyhorse)?

As we know now, Tran “re-entered” society with a bang.  A slash, really, stabbing [another] young woman to death when she tried to break up with him.   Given the court’s repeated bungling of his case this time, you have to wonder if he’ll ever really be off the streets.

Well, he is now, at least until the defense attorneys manage to find the golden key that sets the rapists free.  When Floridians pay property taxes this year, they should remember that they’re now bankrolling Loc’s endless appeals.

I’ll be writing that in the subject line of my check.

Maybe it would be cheaper if we just let him go again, like all the anti-incarceration activists chant.  Of course, they’re also the ones making it so expensive to try people in the first place.  CourtWatcher Orlando, which witnessed Tran’s trial(s), has more to say about the way defense attorneys ran up costs at his trial.  Tran committed murder in 2006.  A few months ago, after the state finally got around to trying him, his trial was suspended because the judge realized Tran had been her client earlier in his epic crawl through the courts.  Responsibility for this mess-up can be laid directly at the feet of the defense bar, which has made prosecuting any defendant so mind-numbingly drawn-out and irrelevantly complicated that the courts can’t cope with even an obvious murder like this one.  Every delay is a victory for the defense bar, which tries to make trials as expensive as possible in order to bankrupt the system.

Then last month, Tran’s trial was postponed again because a translator got sick.  That means dozens of people on the state payroll, and all the jurors who had reorganized their lives to do their duty to society, and the traumatized family members and witnesses, were all left twiddling their fingers for the second time in a row.  Yet CourtWatcher is reporting that Tran didn’t even need a translator.

And, of course, we paid for the translator.  If we had not paid for the translator, that would doubtlessly be grounds for appeal, even though Tran didn’t need a translator.  Nevertheless, I predict that something relating to the translator will be appealed anyway, just because it’s there.  All this costs money.  Our money.

Instead of letting convicts out of prison early to save money, state legislators should be taking a hard look at the ways the defense bar wastes our money, all in the name of some people’s utterly manufactured version of “rights.”  It’s another must read from Orlando, here.

~~~

Meanwhile, in Georgia, Michale Coker writes to report the capture of Charles Eugene Mickler, one of the absconded sex offenders featured in a story in the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

You will be happy to know Mickler is currently in the Gwinnett County Detention Center on a probation violation. This weirded me out since I know this guy. Oddly enough it was Need To Know* publications where I discovered he was wanted.

Charles Eugene Mickler

*Need To Know is one of the for-profit broadsheets detailing offenders.  It is not on the web but sells in hard copy.

Mickler does not appear to have served any time in prison for his 2007 sexual battery conviction.  Then he absconded.  Of course, the story in the paper didn’t raise the question of why someone convicted of sexual battery was not imprisoned for the crime.  Instead, the reporter wrote that the public need not worry about all those absconded sex offenders because they generally “just” target people (ie. children) they know.  Except for the ones who didn’t, as I detail here.  See my original post here.

How many of those absconded sex offenders have been located?  The media already answered that question.  The answer goes something like this:

How heartless of you to believe these men should be monitored, you vengeful hysterics!  I’m not telling.

In fact, the only coverage, to date, of these 250 absconded sex offenders has been the one story focusing on scolding the public for caring that these men have violated parole and gone hiding.

Policing public sentiment is so much more important than policing sex offenders, you know?

~~~

Until it isn’t:

Chelsea King

King’s parents, at a vigil, after her body was found.

John Albert Gardner, who is being held in Chelsea King’s murder, is a convicted sex offender who had been given an easy plea deal for a prior sex offense.  He could have served 30 years in prison but was released in five, instead, against the recommendations of psychiatrists, who said he was a high risk to attack more little girls.

But, hey, California saved some money cutting him loose instead of incarcerating him, didn’t they?  And prisoner re-entry is so important.

Now Gardner is also being investigated in other horrifying crimes.  Isn’t there a different end to the story?

According to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, a 16 year old girl, walking to a friend’s house in Lake Elsinore, said a man pulled over and asked her for directions. She told police he asked if she was a virgin, showed a gun, and tried to force her into the car. She ran away. This happened in October 2009.

At the time, Gardner was not registered as a sex offender in Riverside County because he was living in San Diego County, said John Hall, with the District Attorney’s office.  Gardner registered in Riverside County, in January, when he moved to his grandmother’s house near Lake Elsinore.

Escondido police are trying to figure out if Gardner is responsible for the disappearance of a 14-year-old Escondido girl.

Gardner is also a suspect in the case of a 22-year old girl who was attacked in the same area where King’s car was found.

Gardner had already admitted to molesting a neighbor girl back in 2000. According to court records, he had lured her over with a movie.

King’s parents are planning a memorial. During an interview, King’s parents expressed concern that Gardner was released from jail after serving only five years, despite a psychiatric evaluation that recommended he stay locked up for 30 years.

John Gardner

Disturbed enough, yet?  Here is more disturbing information:

As recently as November 2009, Gardner registered as a sex offender at an Escondido address two miles from the school.

People living at the Rock Springs East condominiums said they were shocked to learn Gardner had lived in their building.

A woman with small children who lived next door to Gardner and recognized him from photos posted online over the past few days said he lived with a blond woman and two toddlers.

The former neighbor, who didn’t want to give her name, said teenagers, both male and female, often came over to play video games at Gardner’s apartment. She said she could hear the loud games through the walls.

She and other neighbors said Gardner had moved out about six months ago.

In 2000, Gardner was convicted of a forcible lewd act on a child and false imprisonment after he took a 13-year-old neighbor girl to his mother’s home in Rancho Bernardo. The girl accused him of repeatedly punching her in the face and touching her private parts.

A psychiatrist who interviewed him in that case said he would be a “continued danger to underage girls” because of the lack of remorse for his actions.

Prosecutors initially charged Gardner with more-violent sex crimes that could have resulted in a sentence of more than 30 years because the terms would have been served consecutively. He was sentenced to six years in prison as part of a plea agreement and served five years before he was released in September 2005. He completed probation in 2008.

In 2000, Gardner didn’t go out and attack a stranger: he targeted someone he knew, a 13-year old neighbor, to be precise.  If Gardner had lived in Georgia, that would qualify him for the “don’t worry, those absconded sex offenders only target people they know” category.

Until they don’t.  And what does it matter anyway, except as an idiotic argument by people who can’t stop justifying the behavior of sex offenders and opposing sex offender registries?  Gardner’s record illustrates a disturbing point that anti-registration types never acknowledge: it takes real nerve, and a real lack of worry over consequences, to target children who know you and can identify you.  Maybe people should be more worried, not less worried, about child molesters who know their victims.  Unlike anti-incarceration activists, child rapists don’t worry so much about the distinction.  They go after children they know, and they go after children they don’t know: one is just easier to access than the other.

Although the real solution would have been to never let Gardner out of prison again, once the sick coddle of California justice cut him loose, DNA database laws and sex offender registration probably saved some lives, including the lives of the little girls whose mother was shacking up with Gardner.  How could any mother let some man move into her house, with her two young children, without checking to see if he shows up on a sex offender registry?

If you know a co-habitating mother who hasn’t checked her partner’s background, do it for her.  Today.  The world is full of sex offenders cut loose by some judge or prosecutor or parole board.

The Guilty Project, Wayne Williams: Still Guilty. And the Role of Child Prostitution in his Murders.

To name all defendants Innocent Until Proven Guilty is a beloved tradition, and an ethical one, at least so long as the pontificating guardians of the reputations and feelings of criminals are willing to let it go once their clients have, in fact, been proven guilty.

Yet this is almost never the case.  Defense attorneys express a touching faith in the wisdom of the public and juries . . . until precisely the moment a guilty verdict is reached.  Then, like lovers scorned, they denounce everything about their former paramours: their intelligence, their morals, their identities, their actions, their collective and individual races.  All are fodder for the endless second act of criminal justice: the post-conviction appeal.

It’s never over, as victims know, particularly when it comes to notorious defendants.  In the weird rubric of prisoner advocacy, the most heinous criminals attract the loudest cries for reconsideration.   Attention-seeking activists and lawyers seize on the worst of the worst to prove their own superior compassion, or to thumb their noses at society in the biggest way.  And so the garden-variety mugger must line up behind the child murderers and serial rapists.

Susan Sarandon won’t be playing your religious confessor in the Hollywood version of your life if all you did was steal a few cars, no matter how badly you feel about having done it afterwards.  Rape and murder a few kids, though, and she might come calling.

~~~

And that brings us to Wayne Williams. Thanks to the notoriety of the Atlanta Child Murders (at least those Atlanta child murders), Williams possesses all the best in serial killer accessories: a team of lawyers laboring (on our dime) to endlessly re-try his case; internet nuts issuing manifestos that nobody can ever really know if anybody is ever really guilty; miniseries and media attentions, breathless stories about DNA testing that disappear from the news when they fail to exonerate, and so on.

images

Wayne Williams

The thirty dead children and young men identified as possible ACM victims are themselves a mere accessory to Williams’ drama.  The police continue to seek the killer or killers of several of these victims.  They are (literally) damned if they do and damned if they don’t, as they were throughout the terrible period when children kept turning up dead, but they do it anyway, because the police are tasked to behave professionally despite the unprofessional nature of the accusations hurled their way.

There are probably police serving in metro Atlanta today who were children in southeast and southwest Atlanta neighborhoods at the time when the murders took place.  Did that experience inspired them to become officers?

Few serious books have been written about the Atlanta Child Murders.  There is The List by Chet Dettlinger and Jeff Prugh, and an interesting academic study by Bernard Headley, The Atlanta Youth Murders and the Politics of Race.  Now there is a third, The Atlanta Child Murders: The Night Stalker, written by the prosecutor who proved Williams’ guilt, Jack Mallard.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution ran an interview with Mallard this week.  It is strangely contentious: the reporter seems to be more interest in arguing with Mallard over Williams’ guilt than asking him questions about his book:

Between 1979 and 1981, 30 young African-Americans between ages 9 and 28 were either killed or declared missing in what was known as the “Atlanta Child Murders” case. The victims’ bodies were found in wooded lots, vacant buildings or the Chattahoochee River.

Williams received a life sentence 28 years ago this month for killing two of the victims, but he was implicated in at least a dozen others. He has said for years that he’s innocent. The doubt that shrouded the case has fueled articles and books by people who still question whether Williams was the sole killer.

Well, not really.  That’s not the question the keeps popping up in appeal after appeal for Williams.  Williams’ advocates are specifically actually arguing that he is innocent of the two crimes for which he was convicted.

Oddly, the reporter interviewing Mallard tells readers to “Judge for yourself,” presumably regarding Williams’ guilt.  What an odd way to begin an interview with the prosecutor in a settled case:

Now, finally, Mallard has heeded the urgings of others and weighed in with his new book, “The Atlanta Child Murders: the Night Stalker.” Though a bit pedantic, the book lays out the prosecution’s strategy, from presentation of evidence to cross-examinations. Here, Mallard, 75 and retired, talks about guilt, doubt and closure. Judge for yourself.

Q: Reading this book, it almost feels as though you’re retrying the case right there in the courtroom. But in writing this did you look back and see things you might have done differently or mistakes you might have made?

Ah yes, he is a prosecutor who successfully convicted someone, so he must have been making mistakes.  Nobody ever challengingly demands of defense attorneys whether they made mistakes.

A: As a longtime prosecutor, what I would do is map out a trial plan, like writing a screenplay; everybody has a part. If you work up the right trial plan, then you expect things to go as you planned it. This trial went according to plan.

Well, we can’t have that, can we?  It sounds as if Mallard simply stands by the verdict.

Q: You relied heavily on verbatim testimony for dialogue in this book and you included a few updates. But why didn’t you talk with any of Williams’ original defense attorneys, at least those who are still around?

A: I knew it wouldn’t serve any purpose. [They’ve] always thought that Wayne was innocent.

In other words, verbatim testimony just isn’t verbatim enough, Mr. Mallard: you should have gone to the other side and given them a platform to call you a liar.  Because, of course, they do that for you whenever they climb onto their soapbox, don’t they?  No?  Well, you should do it anyway.

Q: Williams was basically convicted on the basis of carpet fibers and dog hairs found on the victims, which you argued could only have come from Williams or his home. There are still doubting Thomases out there who think the fiber and hair evidence was suspect in some way. Do you think you finally assuaged any doubt about that evidence with the book?

A: Yes, and I think I mention in [the book], had cameras been allowed in the courtroom — you can look at these fibers and compare them in living color in photographs like the jury did — people would really not be suspicious as to whether or not you can identify a fiber.

Q: Yes, but there are still doubters out there, some who’ve suggested that maybe the fibers were somehow planted or inadvertently transferred by a lab technician in the case.

A: Well, you either believe in law enforcement and scientists or you don’t. What you read on the Internet, that’s not evidence. That’s not tested in a court of law. So much of it that is completely fiction.

Q: OK then, consider me a doubter . . .

Wow.  That pretty much speaks for itself.  And here’s what it is saying: I’m a partisan for the defense, inappropriately assigned to challenge you and your crazy “guilty verdict” ideas.  Next, due to my biases, I’m going to get the legal issue completely wrong:

Q: OK then, consider me a doubter, because after reading your book, I could see how he could have committed more than half of the 30 killings that were investigated as part of the case. But there were at least five cases that just didn’t seem to fit, in particular the killing of the two little girls, Angel Lanier and LaTonya Wilson. All the other cases involved boys and young men. Do you think he killed the two girls?

A: No, no, no. The two girls should never have been on the list. There was no scientific evidence at all, no trace evidence linking them to Wayne Williams. There’s 25 of them that had trace evidence to Wayne Williams.

There were 25 dead youths and boys linked to Williams through the evidence.  The state tried the two strongest cases.  They investigated the h*ll out of those murders, using federal money and assistance.  In the end, they could not try every case.  That is a function of the pricey mess the defense bar has managed to make of rules of evidence and criminal procedure.  When you destroy the very meaning of seeking the truth with all available evidence, you make it financially and pragmatically impossible to convict murderers like Williams for every offense.  So the state did what they had to do, convicted him of the two strongest cases, and closed the ones in which they were confident that he was the killer.

The inclusion of girls on the highly politicized victim “List” has nothing to do with Williams’ guilt.  As Mallard points out, he does not believe they should have been on that particular list in the first place.

Q: Well what about the other five? What do we do with them?

A: They’re still open. If one day there’s ever any evidence, even the girls, they potentially can be cleared. It happens all the time.

Q: Was Wayne Williams your most formidable opponent?

A: He probably was in the sense that he was the lengthiest cross-examination. He was on the stand about three days. He was prepared and he was smart and he was hard to pin down. But he kept contradicting himself and the jury saw right through it. He probably cooked his own goose by taking the stand.

Q: Do you think your book will help the victims’ families heal, or will it just upset them?

A: I don’t think it will hurt, but the families I really feel for. They’ve been used by the defense in the support of Williams in his appeals. When victims’ families are supporting the defense, that’s somewhat unusual.

Q: Have you talked with any of them in the years since the trial?

A: No, I haven’t kept up with them.

Q: Ever visit the grave sites of any of the victims?

A: No. I don’t like graveyards.

Mallard comes across as somebody who did his job, didn’t suffer fools, and doesn’t play romanticized games with serious issues like child murder.  How refreshing.

Q: You make a direct appeal in the book to Williams, imploring him to confess to the killings. Have you heard from him?

A: No.

Q: Why did you make that appeal to him?

A: Well, if he wants to do something to help humanity he could do it by helping these mothers settle in their own minds that the killer is not still out there. He knows there’s nobody else out there.

Now, back to the irrelevant questions about the victims who weren’t linked to Williams:

Q: Is it possible that somebody else could have been responsible for the remaining five deaths we talked about earlier?

A: It’s possible, because we don’t have any direct evidence connecting Williams to them. Those, I would say, we don’t know.

Q: Will you write another book? You’ve been involved in several other high-profile cases that could be good reads.

A: Several cases would make good writing, but I’m not sure I want to get into that again. I want to enjoy the remaining years I have.

By, like, not being repeatedly pummeled by inaccurate gotcha’s by a reporter who doesn’t bother to have her facts straight.

~~~

Angel Lanier and LaTonya Wilson’s murders were, of course, not irrelevant.  Nor were the murders of other youths who met violent ends in the same time and place.  One of the many tragedies of the ACM controversy is that Lanier, Wilson, and other victims are still being used by the media and various activists to advance other agendas.  It’s clear that the AJC reporter mentions these murdered girls only to attempt to poke holes in Williams’ conviction for the uptenth time. Why doesn’t somebody revisit the girls’ lives, and deaths, as if they themselves mattered?

Why are we continuing to obsess over Wayne Williams at all, when we should be talking about child prostitution, an ongoing crisis that created the conditions in which young adults and children were extremely vulnerable to predators like Wayne Williams thirty years ago?

Child prostitution, or, better, child-and-youth sexual exploitation, is the great unspoken subtext of the Atlanta Child Murders story.  Not all the victims were involved in trading money for sex, but many reportedly were.  And when a community accepts, or cannot stop, such behavior, every child is in danger.

That’s the point of H.B. 582/S.B. 304, the important Georgia child prostitution prevention bill sponsored by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford).  Thirty years after so many youths lost their lives on city streets where the existence of a wild west “sex trade” drew predators targeting both boys and girls, it’s far past time to leave Wayne Williams to rot in prison and turn our attention to preventing similar murders in the future.

Go to this site to learn how to support the legislation.

Julia Tuttle Bridge, Redux: More Made-Up Reporting on the “Sex Offenders Under the Bridge”

Quick, what’s more bathetic than a sack of drowned kittens?

Why, it’s the Sex-Offenders-Under-the-Bridge in Miami.  Again.  In Time this time.  Apparently, it’s just not possible to guilt the fourth estate into covering this issue factually (see here, here, and here for my prior posts).  Is some defense attorney running a tour bus for gullible reporters to guarantee a steady supply of this melodrama?  If so, I wish they’d take a side trip to go shopping for new adjectives:

The Julia Tuttle Causeway is one of Miami’s most beautiful bridge spans, connecting the city to Miami Beach through palm-tree-filled islands fringed with red mangroves. But beneath the tranquil expanse sits one of South Florida’s most contentious social problems: a large colony of convicted sex offenders, thrown into homelessness in recent years by draconian residency restrictions that leave them scant available or affordable housing. They live in tents and shacks built from cast-off supplies, clinging to pylons and embankments, with no running water, electricity or bathrooms.

Draconian . . . clinging to pylons . . . tranquil expanse . . . it’s beginning to sound like a Simpsons episode.  And then, there is the embarrassing failure to fact-check:

Miami is hardly the only place in the U.S. where registered sex offenders can’t find shelter. In Georgia, a group living in tents in the woods near Atlanta was recently ordered out of even that refuge.

Oh, please.  “[O]rdered out of even that refuge.” Cue to violins.  That’s not what happened.  The county spent taxpayer resources arranging housing for them, just as they spend taxpayer money to address all their needs.  Didn’t the Time reporter bother to speak to county officials?

Press releases from activist organizations are not facts.

Here’s a better way to describe the “homeless sex offender” drama in its entirety: inspired by the Miami story, reporters coast to coast set out to comb bridges and underpasses, eagerly seeking encampments of homeless sex offenders.  Lightening their trip by jettisoning the heavy burden of objectivity, they finally stumbled upon a handful of men shacked up in the woods outside Marietta, Georgia — living there for about five minutes while other housing was being found for them.  Included in the group was a particularly violent child abuser who had been booted from his last taxpayer-subsidized dwelling because he couldn’t be bothered to pay a token bit of rent (he, of course, was the one being represented by a “civil rights” group suing the rest of us for failing to provide him with more free housing after he screwed up the last handout).  Plus there were a few other child molesters crying poverty and misrepresenting their convictions to the gullible gal Friday sent to interview them.  Meanwhile, nobody really noticed the hundreds of sex offenders living nearby in perfectly legal housing, just like nobody noticed the thousands of non-homeless sex offenders in Miami.

Other than the Miami encampment and the blink-of-an-eye Atlanta thing, the only other reported sighting of a homeless sex offender was by the New York Times’ Dan Barry, and that was entirely accidental: Barry didn’t realize that the manipulative old coot he was slavishly profiling was actually an absconded child rapist . . . because he didn’t do a simple thirty-second online fact-check to confirm any part of the man’s sob story.  Ouch.

Of course, the media’s failure to actually find more homeless sex offenders (let alone homeless sex offenders whose homelessness can be vaguely attributed to living restriction laws) did nothing to quell their passion for the story.

Anyway, back to the latest breathless confabulation:

But the Miami shantytown, with as many as 70 residents, is the largest of its kind [make that the only one of its kind], thanks to a frenzied wave of local laws passed in Florida after the grisly 2005 rape and murder of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford by a convicted sex offender. The state had already been the first to enact residency rules for convicted predators, barring them in 1995 from living within 1,000 feet of schools, playgrounds and other children’s sites. Municipalities, with questionable authority, then adopted even tougher ordinances — there are 156 of them so far. Miami Beach, for example, bars offenders from living within 2,500 feet of all school-bus stops, effectively precluding them from living anywhere in the city.

Not true, not true, and not true.  Consistency: not always a virtue.  A “frenzied wave of local laws”?  What kind of reporting is that?  Frenzied?  Is the public “frenzied,” or did elected officials pass laws in response to public concerns about child rapists living incognito in homeless shelters and on the streets, in poor neighborhoods, among children who often lack supervision?

Note to self, Reporter Skipp: two courts have ruled that, in fact, the authority of the municipality in question is not “questionable”: that’s your opinion, and your opinion hardly belongs in a purported news story now, does it?  Particularly with no mention of the fact that, when challenged by the well-heeled lawyers from the side you’re on, the county won in court.  Twice.  Who died and made you a judge in Miami-Dade County anyway?  You are supposed to be a journalist.  This is supposed to be a news story.  Go read the court rulings.  Then report them.  Easy, right?

And are these men really homeless because they’re sex offenders?  How many had housing prior to their convictions?  How many assaulted a child in the last place they lived, with relatives or girlfriends, and that’s the real reason they’re on the streets now? “Effectively precluding them from living anywhere in the city”?  Wrong again.  Thousands of other sex offenders are housed throughout the city.  What’s wrong with these particular men?  And what does the ordinance actually say?  Reporting on this story has been shamefully devoid of such facts.

Could it be that the bridge-dwellers are sexually violent drunks and druggies who would be homeless anyway, especially as many of them have long records of other crimes that would make anyone choose to reject them as tenants?  Could it be they’re cleverly playing journalists like violins in the interest of advancing their lawsuit against the city, and busking up the federal handout they’ve been promised?  Do they, like so many homeless we shower with resources, prefer to live rough rather than avail themselves of taxpayer-subsidized housing that comes with some behavioral strings and a move away from their old stomping grounds?

And what happened to all that federal funding (our tax dollars) slated to be thrown at this trumped-up problem six months ago?

This tiny minority of Miami-Dade’s sex offenders who are living under the bridge are the only ones responsible for their own homelessness and the persistence of the encampment.  Some are staying on because they are suing the city, of course.  You know, that “questionable authority” place across the water?

Ah, but who cares? The academics have arrived to assist the lawyers suing the city, armed with their trumped-up research about how living restrictions cause rapists to do more rapin’.  None of this can actually be proven, of course, but that doesn’t stop certain politicians from repeating the claim, over and over and over again:

“The safety of Floridians has suffered as local politicians have tried to one-up each other with policies that have resulted in colonies of homeless sex offenders left to roam our streets,” says state senator Dave Aronberg, a Democrat running for state attorney general.

Has it really?  Are sex offenders really “roaming the streets” more because they’re being watched?  How does that work?  Prior to living restriction and registry laws, all sex offenders were free to “roam the streets” with impunity: to say that more do so now due to rules against such behavior is just intellectually dishonest.

Also intellectually dishonest?  Not getting a quote from someone who disagrees with the claims you’re pushing as fact in what’s supposed to be an objective news story.  You know, reporting both sides of a contentious issue?  Whatever happened to that?

Incidentally, the very last thing Florida needs is an A.C.L.U.-style Attorney General who spouts inane anti-incarceration propaganda at the drop of a hat.

To actually report this story, which not one journalist has done, you have to consider the offense patterns of this small group of men and others offenders like them.  Where did they find their victims?  Should society allow them to go back to identical circumstances?

To make the claim that living restriction laws threaten public safety, you have to compare recidivism rates before and after living restrictions were put in place.  And nobody has done that, either.  In fact, they cannot do it, because child molestation (the law in Florida applies to child molesters, not that you would know that from the news) so rarely gets reported, let alone reported in a timely manner.

Recidivism is nearly impossible to measure in a system where the vast majority of serial offenders, especially those who start as juveniles, are permitted to plead down to single offenses or non-sex crime charges.  So there are many things we cannot know.  Researchers claiming that they can isolate a specific cause-and-effect relationship between criminal behavior and the existence of these laws are just churning out propaganda in the service of activists who are looking for ways to pad their lawsuits.

No matter what David Aronberg claims.

Here’s an example of the type of research claims now being made by activists:

Research by agencies like the Minnesota Department of Corrections has found that a stable home is the strongest guarantor of sound post-incarceration behavior among sex offenders.

Well, of course it is.  It’s also the type of self-selecting factor that makes research conclusions suspect in the first place.  Having a “stable home” to go back to means you’re among the cohort of offenders who haven’t utterly bollocked every aspect of your life, or engaged in such chaotic and violent behavior that you had no stability to begin with and nothing left to lose.  It means you haven’t raped your own kids and thus can’t go home (hopefully, it means that).  It means you aren’t so addicted or psychopathic or mentally disorganized or impulsive or violent or lazy that you won’t follow the rules for the housing you’ve been offered.

By the taxpayers, including rape victims who pay taxes and are thus frequently forced to pay their own rapists’ rent.  A little gratitude would be attractive, instead of all this carping.

Academics take obvious insights like ‘offenders with stable lives are more stable’ and mutate them into policy arguments against monitoring offenders.  This is politics disguised as research.  And don’t think they’ll stop when they overturn living restrictions; the ultimate goal of the pro-sex offender movement is to do away with registration itself, so offenders can slip back into anonymity once they’ve served the six months (or mere probation) that still passes for punishment for many child molestation convictions.

It’s worth asking why reporters continually get so snowed by myths — like the claim that living restriction laws are magically forcing sex offenders to re-offend when they wouldn’t do so otherwise.  I think it’s the consequence of a mindset that refuses to contemplate, or write about, the existence of the crime itself.  They see the criminal, and empathize, but work hard to deny the existence of his victims.  Consequently, the thing that’s missing from all the extensive coverage of the “homeless sex offenders” is their crimes, as if these men are just people who have been randomly and unfairly designated “sex offenders” and sent to live under a bridge.  How can we even begin to have a conversation about the efficacy of these laws when reporters refuse to include any discussion of the types of crimes the men committed, and might commit again, in their stories?  Once we’re done reading about the lean-tos, and the slap of the waves, and the extension cords snaking through the encampment, could we possibly talk about child rape for a moment?

I once had a reporter tell me that he didn’t choose to write about an offender’s crime if he has “paid his debt to society.”  That’s risible.  We don’t write sentencing laws in order to let reporters feel that cinnamonny rush of self-esteem for opposing them; reporters shouldn’t cover crime policy without including the subject of . . . crime.

So, despite all the award-winning coverage of the view of the unjust sunset from under the Julia Tuttle Bridge, we haven’t really begun discussing the real issue, which is this: considering these men’s actual records and our continuing extreme leniency in sentencing, which settings pose the most risk for re-offense?  The last homeless shelter where they stalked vulnerable runaways?  Their ex-girlfriend’s apartment, where they raped their last six-year old victim?  Enough with the drama about pitiful child maulers: what works?

The men under the bridge are neither heroes nor victims; most would probably be homeless anyway, and it is grotesque that activists posing as journalists continue to trumpet their cause in editorials disguised as new stories and devoid of even the most basic facts.


A Trying to Be Civil Exchange on Sex Offender Registry Laws

Last week, after writing about this strange article that attempted to depict the flight of nearly 250 Fulton County (GA/Atlanta) sex offenders as “no big deal” because the offenders mostly targeted family members or their girlfriends’ kids (!), I was barraged with abusive and threatening e-mails apparently originating from a pro-sex offenders website.

But I also received some thoughtful commentary from other people who disagreed with my view that registries protect the public and are one factor in the decline in the sex offense crime rate.  I’ve been meaning to write more about the registry issue because I think the media reflexively reports on it in bad faith.  I also think academicians with anti-registration biases are crafting advocacy research and making claims that do not stand up to scrutiny.

What follows is my response to “Nunya,” one of the thoughtful, if angry, responders.  This won’t be my last word on the subject.  I hope it will spur a real conversation about the efficacy of these laws, the myths that have risen up around them, and what we should and should not do to improve the sex offender registration system.  “Nunya” and I disagree about many things, but I think we agree that recidivism rates and the vexed issue of statutory rape committed by young men (or, as I see it, alleged recidivism rates and allegedly statutory crimes) deserve more attention.

~~~

Nunya: There are so many things in your article that are erroneous it’s difficult to know exactly where to start, but I will begin at the beginning with your title: “Georgia’s Sex Offender Registry Works”. Since these laws have been in place for a number of years now, with Georgia having passed one of the toughest set of laws in the country over three years ago, I’m sure you can point to plenty of documented evidence as to how these laws have actually reduced sexual crimes in this country, right? There must be plenty of studies that show a dramatic decrease in sex crimes all over the nation as a result of the laws you claim are so effective.

No, I can’t “point to plenty of documented evidence.”  In order to document evidence, we would need to have a criminal justice system that functions adequately and predictably in response to sex offenses, and we don’t have one.  So nearly all of the types of statistics that people would like to see are currently impossible to produce, at least accurately.

While there are both more and less reliable figures on victimization rates, no statistical analysis indicates that anywhere near half of all sex crimes result in an investigation, let alone prosecution, of an offender.  The conviction rate is far lower for sex offenders who target children.  Statistics on recidivism that make claims about a “3%” or “4.5%’ rate are thus simply untrue.

What they are actually measuring is the performance of our criminal justice system, not recidivism.

Some recidivism studies are more obviously unreliable than others.  Things activist-academicians do to minimize recidivism rates include:

  • Counting only imprisonments, not convictions.  As I’ve illustrated in my blog, an unknown number of convicted sex offenders are not being sent into the state prison system after they have been found guilty of crimes as serious as child rape.  Some research on recidivism focuses only on offenders who have entered the prison system.
  • Counting only subsequent convictions, rather than investigating the cause of parole or registration violations that send an offender back to prison.  When a first-time sex offender is caught in the act of committing or trying to commit another sex offense, often the most-cost-effective way of removing him from the streets is to simply revoke parole or charge him with a registry violation.  How many of the men returned to prison for these alleged “non-sex” crimes were actually caught trying to commit another sex crime but were not prosecuted for that offense?  Nobody knows.  But in our perennially underfunded courts, there is tremendous pressure to save money by simply revoking someone’s parole or convicting them of merely “failure to report” when they are caught committing another sex crime.
  • Studying only a small time frame after release.  When you track offenders only for the time when they are under the highest post-incarceration scrutiny, often completing half-way house and therapeutic interventions, of course you’re going to find lower recidivism rates.  Virtually all the studies cited by pro-offender activists track offenders for very short periods of time after release.
  • Failing to account for strategic conviction practices from the recent past, when they apply.  Even when researchers look at re-offense rates over longer periods of time, they do not consider prior practices such as charging sex offenders only with property crime in order to guarantee a conviction.  Yet DNA databases are revealing vast numbers of sex offenders with only drug or burglary convictions who have been matched to un-prosecuted sexual assaults on the database.
  • Leaving out juvenile sex offenses.
  • Counting only convictions and ignoring consolidated charges.  This is the way most recidivism gets “disappeared” in the first place.  When sex offenders are caught, they are rarely prosecuted for more than one crime, even when they are suspects in multiple crimes, even when they confess to multiple, or prolific, sex crime sprees.  Even stranger, serial rapists who leave behind DNA routinely aren’t prosecuted for all their known crimes.  Each sex crime investigation that gets shelved when an offender is sent away for another crime artificially lowers recidivism rates.  With child victims, of course, recidivism against single victims is routinely “disappeared” when prosecutors can prove any single instance of abuse.  Here is merely one recent example of the practice, from Court Watch Florida (Orlando):

eymann, jeffrey allan.jpg

State v. Jeffrey Allan Eymann  2009-CF-004477-O
Charged with 1,200 counts of Lewd/Lascivious Molestation of a Child < 12 years old
Victim was the daughter of his ex-girlfriend.  Eymann pled on 10/16 to 1 count of Lewd/Lascivious Conduct. All other counts were dropped. Sentenced to 7 years in prison + 5 years sex offender probation; no contact with victim, but may have contact with victim’s mother.

CourtWatchFlorida’s blog does a great job of illustrating the many ways criminal records get minimized as they are processed through the system.  Here is a study that looks at variability in recidivism studies.  I can’t link to the entire report, but if you have a library card, you may be able to log into the database with a librarian’s help.

Nunya: The fact is Tina, sex crimes have not only increased over the years since these laws were passed but now, as a result of politicians and the media seizing on the public’s fear, these so called “child protection laws” are now responsible for children themselves, some as young as 13, being victimized for life as a “sex offender”. What might have initially been a good idea, a public listing of violent and potentially dangerous people that the public needed to be aware of, has turned into a watered-down joke, full of all sorts of “dangerous” offenses such as public urination, mooning, and consensual sex among teens, which, I might add, I’m sure all of us, including the above mentioned article’s author, have probably engaged in at some point in their lives. So now we are ALL sex offenders. Be sure to pick up your membership card at the door.

Well, no.  According to the Uniformed Crime Report (UCR), which measures reported crimes, forcible rape rates have dropped in every year but one since 1992.  So what’s changed?  Sentencing reforms, post-incarceration registration, and and the gradual implementation of DNA databasing.  Sexual assault rates have also fallen by more than 60%.  People are not being placed on the sex offender lists for pranks like mooning, or for public urination.  Violent sex offenders often engage in flashing and “peeping Tom” behaviors, which is why these crimes are treated, as the should be, like sex crimes, even if they seem dismissible to many.

The idea that public concerns about sex crime are groundless “fears” manufactured by the media and forced onto a gullible public, is an opinion, not an argument.  Women must routinely and reasonably contemplate the safety of the choices they make: they are not hysterical for doing so.  I will address statutory and allegedly statutory crimes in more detail below, but let me observe here that in a state such as Georgia, where there are approximately a million teenagers, half of whom will have had sex while still a teenager, there is no evidence that “consensual sex among teens” is causing people to end up on the sex crimes registry.

Rather, in a state where there have been nearly 29,000 forcible rapes reported to authorities since the registry went into effect (crimes after 1995), and many times that number when you count other sex crimes, it hardly seems outrageous that some of the 17,893 people on the Georgia registry are teens who raped or otherwise sexually assaulted other teens or younger children.

As to recidivism, many many studies, by independent groups not associated with criminal justice, repeatedly verify that sex offenders, as a category, have the lowest recidivism rate of any crime. Period. You should bother to look at them before you start expounding about an issue that you obviously have very little knowledge about.

See above.

One [thing] that I do agree with you on [is] that journalists, ALL journalists, including those who write such biased reporting as yours, should “hold themselves to a higher standard” as you say. The truth is that all reporting is biased in some way, since it is written by people who are, as a result of being human, biased in their opinions. The best a person can do is to look at the facts and try to reach an objective conclusion based on those facts. Someone has already posted some links to resources where some of those facts can be verified. I suggest you educate yourself before you pose as an authority on this, or at the very least provide references for your information so that the reader can verify what you say.

“Of course most victims know their offenders.” I got confused on this one Tina. Since it is true statistically that most, and by that I mean MOST people, children and adults, who are sexually abused are done so by people they know (usually a family member or friend of the family), how does monitoring the others, in this case strangers which would include previously convicted sex offenders, help to reduce incidents of abuse? Let me put it this way: monitoring people who have already committed a sexual crime in the hopes that it will prevent a future offense is like locking the barn door AFTER the horse has already gotten out of the barn. To use the reasoning that we need to know the whereabouts of the 250 people whose whereabouts are unknown to the authorities in order to feel safe from sexual offense makes no sense at all. Again, it’s not the stranger in town you need to watch, it’s the uncle, the dad, the brother, etc. If politicians and others, such as yourself, are as concerned about the safety of children as you say you are, then why not do something to protect them from the group that represents the greatest threat to them, namely their own family and friends of the family? Maybe we could remove all children from their homes until they are 18 and allow periodic supervised visits by their parents? I’m being facetious here but hopefully you get my point. WE ARE WATCHING THE WRONG PEOPLE!

What is so hard to understand about this?

I have to admit that I am terrifically, monumentally confused by the argument that people who target children they know are less of a danger (For what?  For recidivism?) than people who “snatch random children off the streets.”  Of course, there are very few of the latter compared to the former, but so what?  Registries are not designed to modulate some abstract economy of fear, or label people before they get convicted of a crime: they are designed to keep tabs on individual people who have a proven propensity for sexually abusing children or adults.

Nevertheless, this weird argument keeps popping up in activist propaganda (where it was obviously manufactured), and, predictably, journalists have now begun parroting it (without entirely understanding it, I think) in news stories.

But it makes no sense.

Adults who prey on children they know — be they coaches, step-dads, uncles, grandfathers, priests — pose a risk to any child they get to know in the future.  They also continue to be a danger to the children they victimized or knew or were simply related-to prior to their first conviction.  And because they’re far more likely to be released from prison (or not sent in the first place) than sex criminals who abduct random children, there’s an argument to be made that registration is even more crucial for offenders whose modus operandi involves targeting children in their lives and/or “grooming” children through their legitimate relationships with them.

Compulsive child molesters are often compulsive groomers: do we say that the youth minister should not be on the registry because he gets to know his victims first?

Adults who prey on children in their own families, or extended families, also pose a special danger if their relatives protected them in the past, or if the cycle of sexual abuse is part of the family dynamic: they may be returning to households where there are still vulnerable children, not to mention returning to families that will continue to protect them, excuse them, or even participate in their crimes.  Parents don’t always lose custody when they commit a sex crime against their own children, or another minor relative, and protecting these especially vulnerable children was actually one of the motivations behind the creation of sex offender registration laws.

Many child molesters access their victims through consensual adult relationships with single moms.  So, what happens when one of them strolls out of prison, meets a new woman, and moves in with her and her children?  Should we “not worry” because he’s not out on the streets, when, instead, he’s alone in the apartment, babysitting the six-year old while her mom goes to work?

I think this argument (more of a campaign, it is so coordinated) is a very clear example of activists controlling the media discourse: it’s such a strange claim to make, but, suddenly, it’s being voiced in many quarters.  Some might say that what the activists mean is that we should be more worried about sex offenders who haven’t been caught yet, as opposed to the sex offenders who have been caught.  But that makes no sense, either, as a criticism of registries.  It would be useful to be able to place all child molesters, including those who haven’t been caught yet, on a list.  But the fact that we can’t monitor child molesters who have not yet been caught and convicted is no argument against monitoring those who have, regardless of how they choose their victims.

Now, clearly there are some people who are dangerous and represent a potential threat to public safety, and they should be prevented from hurting anyone else. But if that’s the case then why are these people not in prison in the first place? Why are they being released? I suggest that they reason the really dangerous people are out on the street is because due to just about anything even remotely sexual in nature being treated as a sex crime, there simply isn’t room enough to keep the really bad guys locked up.

I don’t agree: I think there are simply a lot of sexual offenders, not that there are no prison spaces because we’re imprisoning minor sex offenders.  And even though the numbers in prison look large, the victim pool is far larger, especially when you start adding in sexual crimes against children and adolescents.  Nobody is “keeping rapists out of prison” because they’re filling prisons with lesser sexual offenders: heck, they’re simply not sending many rapists and child molesters to prison because the system is simply criminally lenient across the board, as I’ve illustrated countless times on this blog (search “The Guilty Project” for a partial rogues gallery).  Who are these people sitting in prison for lesser sexual crimes?

I do agree that a lot of the men out on the streets after sex crime convictions should be locked up forever, instead.  The real solution to that problem, however, is vastly expanding the number of people with life sentences.  And precisely the same activist groups that are trying to get sex offenders off registries are simultaneously trying to get even the most violent recidivists out from behind bars.  It’s all one very well-funded, well-placed, powerful movement.

I further suggest that you have a look and see exactly what will get you a place on the sex offender registry these days for yourself. The Georgia Sex Offender Review Board, the government body who is responsible for classifying the risk level of offenders on the registry, has gone on record as saying that only 4% of those listed pose any real significant threat to society. That means for every 4 people listed there are 96 who should not be there at all.

Here is another interpretation: the Georgia Sex Offender Review Board is not doing its job.  You complained, above, about dangerous, recidivist sex offenders being free on the streets when they should be locked up?  Well, the folks responsible for bringing that free-range-serial-rapist-show to a theater near you are the same ones being trusted to classify the offenders they’re cutting loose: do you think the parole board wants to admit that they’re letting a bunch of predators out early every other Thursday?  It took me about two clicks to find someone on the registry who should be classified a sexual predator but is not.  And then I found a lot more of them.

Here is the rule (you can read the entire code section here):

The board shall determine the likelihood that a sexual offender will engage in another crime against a victim who is a minor or a dangerous sexual offense. The board shall make such determination for any sexual offender convicted on or after July 1, 2006, of a criminal act against a minor or a dangerous sexual offense and for any sexual offender incarcerated on July 1, 2006, but convicted prior to July 1, 2006, of a criminal act against a minor.

Here is somebody who should be classified a predator.  And, oh yeah, he’s absconded:

Miguel Ortiz:

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Ortiz was convicted in DeKalb County of aggravated child molestation in 1994.  He was also convicted in DeKalb County of aggravated child molestation in 1989.  He got three years . . . for aggravated child molestation in 1989.  Then he got out of prison, early of course.  Then he got eight years for aggravated child molestation in 1994.  Despite a prior conviction.  Then he got out of prison, early again, of course.  Now he’s on the run.  The GBI and the Atlanta Journal Constitution want you to know there’s nothing to worry about because Ortiz probably just victimized children he knew.

All recidivists should be classified as predators, including all the recidivists who aren’t recidivists on paper because they were permitted to plead down to one offense but were charged with two.  Or fifteen.  Or 1,200.  All people convicted of forcible rape should be classified as predators.  Many other states have saner classification practices.

Nunya: How can authorities monitor the 4 who need to be monitored when they have 96 others they have to, according to the law, treat exactly the same?The truth is they can’t, which is why you hear about cases such as the guy in California recently who kept a woman captive for a number of years and abused her repeatedly, and all under the nose of his parole officer who was too busy keeping an eye on the rest of his case load to catch it. Being the victim’s advocate that you are, how would you explain to that woman how the sex offender laws are working?

This is another activist-manufactured argument that’s been bleeding out all over the obeisant fourth estate.  That guy in California, Phillip Garrido (see my previous posts on him here and here), got away with kidnapping Jaycee Lee Duggard because the federal parole board let him loose decades before he was supposed to be released from a federal sentence that was supposed to disqualify him for parole.  So, a parole board broke the law of the United States of America, and yet, somehow, we’ve heard not one whisper about anyone being held responsible for it.

And then some parole officers didn’t do their job, and it’s not because they were “stretched too thin”: they managed to pay regular visits to Garrido’s house but apparently were snowed by him or didn’t bother to read his record.  Or, perhaps, believe it: the parole industry is riddled with people whose hearts bleed for child rapists; who believe there’s such a thing as rehabilitation for a sick monster like Garrido who should have never, ever seen the light of day again after what he had done to his previous victim.

Don’t blame me: blame the people who labor tirelessly to ensure that the Phillip Garridos of this world get multiple second changes to rape and kill.  Blame the anti-incarceration activists who run the academic departments and the law schools and the treatment centers and the state parole boards and activist groups.  Blame their fake statistics on recidivism and their self-righteous commitment to an ideology of rehabilitation for every prisoner, and an ideology of emptying the prisons — that’s what cut Garrido loose to chew the bones of a few more women.

It takes some real nerve for the anti-incarceration industry to point to a horrible injustice like the early release of Phillip Garrido and blame the people who are trying to prevent such injustices from happening by using piddling band-aids like parole and registration lists — because other options are closed to us — thanks to the power of the anti-incarceration industry.  But they get away with it.  They get away with getting most evidence excluded from courtrooms, and most sentences reduced, and most offenders offered an array of “alternatives to incarceration,” and then the media swallows it whole when they then point at sex offender registries and squeal: that’s what got that little girl raped!

Here’s what I would say to Jaycee Duggard: I’d tell her that I will be the first person to agitate for severe consequences for the people who got her raped by letting her rapist out of prison early, and so should you, and if you did it with me, then there would be two of us.  And do you know who we would be up against?  The activists at the Southern Center for Human Rights, who you speak so well of below.      

Lastly, you took a swipe at the Southern Center for Human Rights and the AJC.

I like to think I took more than a swipe at them.  I think I hit the target.

I’d suggest to you that the Southern Center is responsible for acting on behalf of the rights of not only sex offenders, but anyone who is being victimized by an out of control government and legal system. They take a very unpopular stand for a group of people who can’t defend themselves and I applaud them for it. With the background you have I am sure you know that “laws” are not necessarily based on what is constitutional but on what public opinion happens to be at the time. If you were to have asked a black man in Mississippi in 1950 did he think his “constitutional” rights were being protected I am sure you would have gotten a different answer then than you would now. It was due to the efforts of civil rights “activists”, as you call them, that those rights, which were there along, were finally made to be recognized. Yes, it was very unpopular idea at the time, but it was also right to do it. It’s also right to protect the rights of ALL citizens of this country, regardless of public opinion or how popular or unpopular it is at the time. Along those lines, I suspect that at some point in the future people will look back on all this legal B.S. and wonder what in the world were they thinking? That’s the best case scenario. The worst case scenario is people never waking up at all until everyone’s rights, including yours Tina, are gone, at which point it’s too late. I suspect you’d want the Southern Center in your corner at that point.

The reference to historical racism is irrelevant and accusatory.  “You want to keep people in prison for crimes they commit, so you are a racist” doesn’t get welcomed on this website, though I’m sure you can peddle it elsewhere.  And much as they see themselves as the courageous descendants of Atticus Finch, the SCHR has never met a rapist they didn’t try to free, nor hesitated to tar crime victims and others with offensive and groundless accusations of racism in order to get their way.  Unpopular stands . . . people who can’t defense themselves . . .  says who?  They get plenty of approbation: all this carrying on about taking courageous stands against the darkness is just so much adolescent, self-serving garbage.  They get paid every time they file a frivolous lawsuit on behalf of some child rapist who wants the taxpayers to cover his rent, or other such nonsense — and that sort of thing is what really busts the justice budget, not mythical conspiracies to imprison people for peeing in public.  I have little patience for this stuff.  I’ve paid too high a price for it.  So have many, many hundreds of thousands of victims who have been denied justice, or lost their lives, over the last fifty years, thanks to such one-note activism parading as “civil rights.”

I’ll leave out the end of the letter, where I’m offered a bit of unsolicited career advice (you can read it here) because I think “Nunya” is being sincere.  And there is an important point that came up more in our off-line discussion: he argues that statutory rape laws are wrongfully condemning young men to a lifetime on the sex offender registration lists for nothing more than having consensual sex with their slightly younger girlfriends.  A lot of people believe this: it is a criticism that prosecutors need to address, for if it is true that there are any cases of 17-year olds being placed on the registry for having actually consensual sex with their 14-year old girlfriends, that is likely something that ought to be changed.

But I suspect most cases of “statutory rape” on the registration list are more complicated than that.

Georgia law on statutory rape is designed to avoid some “Romeo and Juliet”  scenarios: so are the rules on who must register.  The age of consent is 16.  But if a potential defendant is 18 or younger, and he or she has consensual sex with someone 14, 15, or 16, the charge is a misdemeanor, no registration required.  Here are other exclusions (see a description of the law here):

WHO IS NOT REQUIRED TO REGISTER?

  • If a person convicted of a sexual offense in Georgia was released from prison, placed on probation or supervised released before July 1, 1996, he/she is not required to register as a sexual offender (with some exceptions for victimizing minors)
  • A person who was convicted of a misdemeanor sexual offense after June 30, 2001.
  • Juveniles prosecuted in juvenile court are not subject to the registry.

A lot of sex offenders claim that their “only crime” was consensual sex with someone not much younger than themselves.  And a lot of journalists take such claims at face value.  But an 18-year old is not supposed to be placed on the sex offender registry for the statutory rape of his 14-year old girlfriend; nobody prosecuted in juvenile court is supposed to be placed on the registry at all.

What is happening in the cases where it appears these rules have not been followed?  Were the offenders tried as adults because of the seriousness of their crimes?  Is the statutory charge a plea from a more serious offense?  Which statutory charges are pleas, regardless of the age of the offender?

Many statutory rape charges are for serious crimes, including crimes involving under-age prostitutes.  There needs to be some clarity on this issue, for the public, and perhaps in the code itself.

Because registration is too important for the practice to founder or lose public confidence.  Every time a sex offender (and in Georgia, not a misdemeanor sexual offender) knows that he or she is being monitored by the government, the law is working.

A Few of the “Don’t Worry, They’re Harmless” Absconded Sex Offenders in Atlanta

Charles Eugene Mickler: Mickler is classified as a sexual predator (the most dangerous offenders), yet somehow he didn’t serve any time in a Georgia prison for his 2007 sexual battery conviction?  Can anyone explain that?

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Willie Morgan Jr. is the other Atlanta-area absconder also classified as a sexual predator.  No picture in the Georgia Registry.  There is a picture, however, in the Florida Sex Offenders Registry.  Morgan was convicted in 1995 of sex crimes against children in St. Petersburg.  He relocated to Atlanta before absconding:

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Miguel Ortiz: Ortiz was convicted in DaKalb County of aggravated child molestation in 1994.  Oh, and he was also convicted in DeKalb County of aggravated child molestation in 1989.  He got three years . . . for aggravated child molestation in 1989.  Then he got out of prison, early of course.  Then he got eight years for aggravated child molestation in 1994.  Despite a prior conviction.  Then he got out of prison, early again, of course.  Now he’s on the run.  The GBI and the Atlanta Journal Constitution want you to know there’s nothing to worry about because Ortiz probably just victimized children he knew:

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Why doesn’t somebody write stories about how you used to get three years for aggravated child molestation, then eight years for the second offense, before Georgia legislators courageously reformed the law (to the dismay of anti-incarceration activists)?  Today, Ortiz would be facing a minimum twenty-five year sentence for his first aggravated child molestation conviction, and there wouldn’t be a second one.  That is, if the judge enforced the sentencing law.

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Ricardo Alverdo isn’t an Atlanta case: he absconded from Troup County.  But his is a typical case, in that it raises more questions about sentencing and the courts.  Alverdo was convicted of aggravated assault with intent to rape in 2004.  Unless there’s something wrong with the Georgia Corrections database, Alverdo, like many, if not most, of these convicted sex offenders, never made it to a prison cell.  He was never sent to state prison.  That most likely means he was not sentenced to more than a year behind bars, if that.  Did he serve a few months in a county jail and then get cut loose?  Did he serve any time at all?  Georgia law requires a minimum one-year sentence for aggravated assault with intent to rape.  Did the judge just deliver the minimum?  Is one year anybody’s idea of a fair sentence for trying to rape someone?

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Michael Barber of Fulton County didn’t go to state prison for child molestation in 2005, nor did Michael Brown, convicted of child molestation in Fulton County in 2004.  It’s unclear if either of them served any time at all, even in the county jail.  The minimum sentence for child molestation by 2004 was five years, but (again, if the Corrections database is working) some Fulton County judge apparently let them go instead.  Barber definitely absconded during the time when he should have, by law, still been in prison, and Brown may have done so as well, depending on when he took off.  What on earth in happening in the Georgia courts?  And why isn’t the Atlanta Journal-Constitution asking questions about that?

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Michael Barber

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Dawud Brimsley doesn’t appear to have spent five minutes in jail after he was convicted of aggravated assault with attempt to rape last March in Fulton County.  Ten days after the conviction, he registered as a sex offender, presumably because he walked out of jail.  Even if he got the minimum, he is still supposed to be in jail, but instead he’s now on the run after committing a violent sex crime.  That means a judge in Fulton County did not follow sentencing guidelines.  Which judge?  And are there any judges out there who do anything other than assign the minimum sentence, no matter the crime?  But there’s no reason to worry, according to the newspaper:

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David Brent Telano was convicted of aggravated child molestation and “aggravated sexual” (one assumes assault) in Fulton County in 1994.  But there are no records for him in the state corrections database, either.  Did he even go to county jail, for a year, or less?  He didn’t go to prison.  Now he’s absconded:

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Jermiah Anthony Facundo, should have never been let out of jail in the first place.  Sentenced for rape, aggravated sodomy, armed robbery, and possession of a firearm in 1999, he served less than ten years of his sentence, walked out of prison in 1999, registered in Fulton County, then took off some time after December of 2005.  Where has he been for the last five years?  That’s anybody’s guess, but he is representative of many of the men on this list, men with extremely violent records:

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So there are rapists, armed rapists, attempted rapists, sexual batterers, and (many) aggravated child molesters on the absconder list.  Many of these men never went to state prison for crimes committed in 1987, 2007, even 2009.  And this is only a list of the men (plus a few women) who have absconded: of the thousands of sex offenders in Georgia, how many of them actually served more than a year or two for very serious crimes?

With a three-pronged attack of lawsuits, lobbying, and sympathetic media coverage, anti-incarceration activists are trying once again to convince the public that Georgia is “too harsh” on sex offenders.  They’re trying to roll back the clock on Georgia’s sentencing reforms, reforms that would have saved, for just one example, Miguel Ortiz’ second child victim from being raped by him.  It takes five minutes of perusing the conviction and incarceration records of these offenders to see that, in reality, we’re still letting rapists and child molesters walk away with a slap on the wrist.

Lots of them.

Georgia’s Sex Offender Registry Works. Why Don’t Newspapers Report That?

A convicted child rapist is suing the state of Georgia to keep his name off the sex offender registry.  I wonder who’s paying his legal fees for this foolishness?  Jim Phillip Hollie was actually convicted of three separate sex offenses in Gwinnett County: one count of child molestation (5 yrs.), one count of aggravated sexual battery (10yrs.), and one count of aggravated child molestation (10yrs.).

He’s already being given the concurrent-sentencing free-pass: his 25-year sentence is already reduced to 15 to serve, ten on probation.  But apparently that’s not lenient enough: he wants more leniency.  Hollie is claiming that being placed on a registry is like extending his “sentence” beyond the maximum allowable 30 years.

Registration, and other restrictions placed on sex offenders, have been absurdly misrepresented by the media.  Reporters simply don’t write stories about registration working — though it works every single time an offender gets reminded he’s being watched or gets sent back to prison for breaking the rules.  That didn’t used to happen before registries placed sex offenders under scrutiny.  And, contrary to the activist-driven “scholarship” arguing that sex offenders aren’t likely to re-offend (in-depth studies and victim data and sheer common sense dictate otherwise), sex offenders do target one victim after another.  Does anybody really believe that people like Hollie wake up one day at the age of 32 and decide to rape a child, just this once, just out of the blue?

The truth about sex offenders is that they get away with many, many crimes for which they are never punished.  The truth about sentencing and the courts is that virtually every offender benefits from systemic leniency and a plea system that trades money-savings up front for public safety on the back end.  These truths, and sex offenders’ proclivity for recidivism, is why we’re resorting to band-aids like registration, and living restrictions, and involuntary commitment, when what we should really be doing is growing the courts and actually bothering to hold offenders responsible for all of their crimes.

Sex offender registration works every time a single mom looks up that nice-looking man from the apartment complex who asked her out and learns he’s been convicted of molesting his last girlfriend’s kids.  It works every time somebody applies for a job and the background check shows a propensity for sexual violence.  Yet there’s a news blackout on these types of stories.

Admittedly, it’s not the same type of story when a sex offense is prevented.  But when reporters take up the issue of registration, they behave as if the only case to be made is the “anti-registration” one.   They don’t investigate instances or the prevalence of offenders being sent back to prison — what they did to get caught this time, and all their prior crimes, not just what shows up in the prison records.  They don’t speak to the victims to learn what was left out of court proceedings.  They don’t ask if there’s a juvenile record.  They take the canned and highly selective sob-stories handed to them by activist groups and regurgitate them in a few lines.

They never acknowledge that the sexual assault rate has dropped since registration laws were passed — and this, from reporters who will swallow any vague claim about crime being related to the weather, or the economy, even after those flavors of correlation get disproved again, and again, and again.

Media bias against monitoring sex offenders leads to a lot of sloppy reporting.  Reporters routinely fail to check the real criminal histories of sex offenders they interview, taking the offenders’ descriptions of their own crimes at face value.  Virtually all youthful sex offenders appearing in news stories claim that they’re guilty of no more than “Romeo and Juliet” cases of statutory, consensual intercourse.  Reporters believe them and repeat their claims without calling the prosecutor and the victim to see just how “consensual” the incident really was.  Rapists start young and target young victims in their immediate surroundings: how many of those “statutory” cases are pleas down from a worse crime, or not even “merely” statutory at all?  You have to ask questions to get answers to questions like that, and with utterly uncharacteristic shyness, reporters don’t ask, don’t tell.

Even non-youthful offenders often make the “Romeo and Juliet” claim, and nobody seems to bother to, say, count off on their fingers to see if the ages and offense dates even match.

Reporters need to hold themselves to higher standards — heck, some kind of standard.  They need to start fact-checking actual offense and prosecution records whenever they describe an offender’s prior record.  They need to contact victims if they’re going to allow an offender to describe a sex crime as consensual sex.  Sure, doing this would be uncomfortable, but not nearly as uncomfortable as being the victim who reads in the paper that the man who raped her is telling the world that it was just some star-crossed affair.

But they won’t.  They’re so besotted with the idea that sex offenders are the real victims — victims of society — that they approach issues like sex offender registration with blinders on.  Remember the utterly manufactured “homeless sex offender” debacle?  Not one news organization had the integrity or standards to corrected their misreporting of legal facts, or the real criminal histories of the offenders they profiled, or any of the other published inaccuracies confabulations in that activist-invented crisis.

In a related story, Georgia officials are reporting that they can’t find “nearly 250” sex offenders who are supposed to stay in touch with officials in metro Atlanta.  250 absconded sex offenders, breaking the law and evading authorities.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has this utterly bizarre coverage:

Nearly one-tenth of the area’s registered sex offenders who are not in jail are listed as “absconded” — meaning that law enforcement authorities have lost track of them, despite a strict law intended to keep such offenders under close supervision and away from potential victims.

Nevertheless, some say the long list of missing offenders — rapists, kidnappers and molesters, as well as people convicted of engaging in consensual sex acts when they were minors — should cause no alarm.

“The people on the registry are not the ones to be concerned about,” said John Bankhead, a spokesman for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which maintains the sex offender registry. “It’s the ones who live right up under your nose. Stranger-on-stranger sex crimes do happen. But most cases involve people the victim already knows.”

Nothing to worry about, move along, move along.  Two of the men are child rapists with a high likelihood to re-offend — predators.  All of them have committed crimes bad enough to come to the attention of authorities and result in a conviction — and as anyone who works in the criminal justice system knows, most sex offenders get away with most sex offenses most of the time, so just having a conviction indicates at least one serious lapse in self-control.

Why motivated GBI spokesperson John Bankhead to minimize the fact that 250 sex offenders from the metro Atlanta are currently missing?  Were his words taken out of context?  Was he trying to say that there are so many more sex offenders who have never been prosecuted that this mere 250 don’t pose as much risk as the non-prosecuted ones?  Because, if that’s what he’s saying, it’s horrifying and implies the need for more, not less, vigilance on sex crimes.

Of course most victims know their offenders. That’s not an argument against being worried that 250 un-incarcerated offenders in Atlanta are actively breaking the law.  Child molesters use trust and family relationships to gain access to their victims.  The fact that they knew their prior victims does nothing to minimize the possibility that these absconded offenders will do exactly the same thing with new victims.

But instead of even bothering to profile any of the most prolific and dangerous offenders on the absconded list, the reporter skips directly from playing down the danger posed by these men to another re-hash of the faux “homeless” controversy:

Georgia’s sex offender registry, known for its restrictive rules governing where offenders can live, work or even loiter, has been controversial since its creation in 1994. This fall, authorities forced a group of homeless sex offenders to leave a makeshift camp behind an office park in Marietta — one of the few places, the men said, they could live without breaking the law.

See my post here explaining the many ways the AJC got this story wrong the last time they staged a textual pity party for a bunch of shiftless sex offenders on the make for yet another government handout.  Rather than calling them homeless sex offenders, a more accurate label would be: “Sex Offenders Who Want You to Pay Their Rent and Have the Southern Center for Human Rights Staff at the Ready to Sue You to Make You Do It (and, oh yeah, pay their legal fees, to boot).”

And so, a story about 250 sex criminals absconding from the law morphs into yet another story about how the offenders themselves are the ones being victimized by society, complete with quotes from the offenders’ attorneys, yet no quote from anyone disputing their claims.  This is journalism manufactured by anti-incarceration activist caveat.

And in this case, it comes with a particularly steep price for the victims.  If the reporter and his editors are going to work so hard to assert that these men pose no danger to society, shouldn’t they ask some of the men’s victims what they think of such a curious, subjective, opinionated, cheerily uninformed claim?

For, after all, how would you feel if you had experienced being raped by, say, your uncle, and then you endured the trial, and alienation from family members, and all that hell, and your uncle gets out of jail and goes into hiding, and some careless reporter prattles on that he isn’t really dangerous because he “knew” the victim he picked the last time?  I’d feel pretty appalled.  Making assertions like this smacks of minimizing non-stranger sex crimes, when in reality, non-stranger offenders are every bit as dangerous, and often more dangerous, especially if they’re being abetted by sympathetic relatives and dysfunctional families.  And I think the psychological harm they do to their victims dwarfs the harm done by most stranger-rapes.

But hey, nothing to see here: it’s just the AJC crudely diminishing the experience of hundreds of rape victims, mostly child victims, in order to cobble another soapbox for the activists over at the Southern Center for Human Rights.  Just another day in the vast media pity party for men who rape children.

Journalistic Ethics Fortnight, Part 5: Vanity Fair’s “Up With Pedophilia!” Issue

Imagine if reporters actually behaved neutrally when approaching subjects like the government’s efforts to stop child predators.  Imagine if they sat themselves down and said: I am going to suspend my natural tendency to side with the accused and control my adolescent rebelliousness towards all authority.  I am going to behave as if I am the blank slate I am supposed to be, suspending judgment as I gather and report facts.

No?  I didn’t think so.

In the very same issue in which Graydon Carter advances his theory that certain people (his friends) shouldn’t have to go to prison for child rape, but should be permitted to make art expressing the pain of child rape instead, Vanity Fair ran this article ostensibly investigating the “shadowy” world of police stings of internet sexual predators.

Note that the term “shadowy” here refers to the cops, not the suspects.

In every way this is a companion piece to Graydon Carter’s weepy panegyric to Roman Polanski.  Author Mark Bowen’s intense effort to paint an entirely sympathetic portrait of child predators is matched only by his presumptions that the police are naturally acting in bad faith:

After months of prowling Internet chat rooms, posing as the mother of two young daughters, Detective Michele Deery thought she had a live one: “parafling,” a married, middle-aged man who claimed he wanted to have sex with her kids. But was he just playing a twisted game of seduction? Both the policewoman and her target give the author their versions of the truth . . .

I’ll save you the trouble of reading it to find out which “truth” Bowden chooses: he completely buys the sex offender’s line — which is, astonishingly, that he didn’t really want to sleep with the children being offered to him on-line, but merely initiated talk of raping the children on a fetish chat line, then spent months planning on-line to have sex with them, and arranging on-line to have sex with them, and fantasizing on-line about having sex with them, and then showed up with a bag of sex toys, handcuffs and condoms to have sex with an 8 and 11-year old because he is really shy and awkward around women and was afraid the mom wouldn’t like him anymore if he didn’t seem like someone who wanted to rape her children.

A great deal of the article is delivered in a creepy first-person narrative, Bowen weaving the sex offender’s “version” in through other details, as if it is the real story, not one of the “two truths” he briefly purports to be exploring.  Before long, the predator’s version literally takes over:

Bingo! A woman! The line popped up in a window at the top of J’s screen as soon as he logged in to the chat room.  He had peeked into a number of active chats to see how many women were there, and logged on to the ones with a promising ratio. His screen name, parafling, was a nod to paraflying, the tiny parachute/tricycle flying machines he had once or twice enjoyed. It was the only really different, exciting thing about him. He imagined it was like a colorful lure on the surface of a pond.

See.  He’s just lonely, and kind of pathetic.

The sun blazed in from the window to his back porch. J had about an hour before his wife would be home from work. She knew nothing of his cybersex life, or if she did, she ignored it. A burly, round-faced man of 42, with a thickly muscled neck and shoulders, thinning hair, and a goatee, he was seated before the computer in their living room in a small, two-story town house in suburban Philadelphia. J had just finished a long day repairing copy machines, driving from one job to the next. This was his time, a quiet interlude before his wife came in the door from her job at the local hospital. He would have to deal with her until about eight p.m., which is when she usually retired upstairs.

J didn’t sleep much. The steroids he was injecting to help him bulk up made his heart race and filled him with explosive energy and lust. He felt like a walking hard-on. The Internet was his only outlet, and it had become a compulsion.

Compulsion, addiction.  Not his fault, of course.  Now here comes the crux of his “excuse”:

In the years he had been dipping into these chat rooms, he had learned a few things about the women who entered them. They were skittish. J was convinced that everyone, down deep, had twisted sexual desires, and he had reasons in his own life for believing this—his first sexual relationship, as a teenager, which had lasted five years, was with a slightly older girl who liked sadomasochistic play. In this sense, women were no different from men, except they were more reluctant to show themselves. The ones who entered the fetish rooms had desires that were very specific. Men were eager and up for whatever—that certainly defined J—but women were looking to scratch a particular itch. He knew that if he answered the query from heatherscutiepies wrongly, she would simply stop responding. Her question was a polite nibble. The response was critical. He had chatted about this online with other men, comparing notes on opening moves, and the safest approach seemed to be simply to announce that you were into “everything,” right off the bat.

He typed:

—I am into bondage s/m breeding incest young rape spanking you name it . . .

He had learned from earlier chats that if he said he had never tried a thing the woman would stop responding. It was best to claim to have done everything. Besides, making these things up came easily to him. In the years he had been chatting sexually online, J had learned to ease fluidly into a realm of complete make-believe.

The story goes on, and on, and on . . . and on, about how poor J keeps talking about raping children because he is really, really worried “Heatherscutiepies” won’t like him unless he does, and he’s kind of a lonely guy. Except for having a wife, of course.  And, except that he started the child sex stuff.  And that he keeps this part of the conversation going when the undercover detective steers away to other subjects.  And that he is actually trolling other sites and trying to talk to other women about raping their children, too, a fact that ought to give Bowen a clue but doesn’t:

He had engaged other women online within the last few weeks with highly descriptive talk about sex with their children. So he asked specific questions about how physically able the girls were to have sex, and then slid back onto his own erotic turf . . .

You see, everyone’s making him talk about raping children, and he just wants to be loved in a different way.  Isn’t that, like, weird?  Mark Bowen, at least, agrees:

Words were J’s game. Perverse ideas. He had never been aroused by images. He was not a porn addict. What gripped him was a woman limning her darkest dreams—for him. This was the essence of his personal fetish, a woman baring all, not the private parts of her body but the private parts of her mind, her unique sexuality, her heart’s most peculiar desire. It drove him wild. He was after heatherscutiepies’ singular taboo. The key to her erotic zone, the thing J sought to provide in return, was complete acceptance. His chatting partner had to feel free to go anywhere with him.

Not even a quarter of the way through this stuff, you really have to wonder if Bowen even gets how much he has lost his way, that he’s utterly riffing on this guy’s justifications, holding up every facet to the light, urging him on and not critically examining a word the sex offender is claiming.

This isn’t journalism: it’s pure advocacy.  “A woman limning her darkest dreams for him.”  Really?  Is that true?  Or is it something people say when they get caught trying to solicit multiple children for sex on the internet?

One of the most staggeringly dishonest aspects of this article lies in Bowen’s refusal, after all this chest-heaving, woman-limning stuff, to proceed to show J’s actual description of what he wants to do to the 8 and 11 year old girls.  Astonishingly, Bowen throws a veil over this, the heart of the police case.  He turns the moment into yet another opportunity for J to claim that he didn’t intend to rape the girls, instead:

If he could get her alone, they could play and he would be long gone by the time she came home with the girls. That could work. Real sex! He was tremendously excited by the idea.

—I have thought about this for so long baby

—yea its been a while for them

“Them.” O.K., he thought, I get it. At this point J plunged in, inventing a sexual encounter with her and the girls, giving heather exactly what he thought she was after. The details are graphic and sickening, and cannot be printed.

The last sentence is Bowen’s.  It’s really hard to tell, isn’t it?

It’s also very hard to actually evaluate the police’s case, since Bowen refuses to reveal it.  You know, to protect us.  So the police are simply hung out to dry, narrated and condemned away by a predator and a journalist entranced by his views.

There are some minor things Mark Bowen gets right: statistics on the prevalence on child internet sexual predators are exaggerated, of course.  There is a moderately interesting history of legal entrapment larded in between all the method-acting-stream-of-consciousness child molester stuff, too, though it is, of course, also shamelessly one-sided.  I would call it unprofessionally one-sided, but journalism is a profession in which such one-sidedness advocacy for offenders is the professional standard.

Imagine a world where journalists actually bother to report on the vast historical and current predominance of cases where the police do an exemplary job bringing offenders to justice.

No?  I didn’t think so.

But all of this pales beside the story Bowen is telling. His article literally mutates before our eyes, into a raw plea for a sexual predator’s twisted justifications for his crime, gussied up with paragraph breaks.  The end of the article is an extended sob-fest for J.  All pretense of examining the issue is long gone:

J is off steroids. His body has slipped back into a normal shape, slightly pudgy. His manner is subdued, submissive, earnest, eagerly friendly, and polite. He helped several inmates earn high-school diplomas when he was in jail, and he is proud of that.

How touching.  Amazing, all the people helping offenders get their diplomas in jail (and how he did this in a year’s time in a county jail, I don’t know, but hey, who has time to fact-check these things?).  It’s not like he’d make anything up.

He lives alone in his suburban town house with his dogs. He has joined a church. He says the pastor there has embraced him, forgiven him, and provided him with support and direction. After his arrest he went to every neighbor in his suburban cul-de-sac, knocking on doors to tell each of them his story. He did not want them to know only what they learned from the police.

Yeah, I bet he did that.  I often hear from decent people who are shattered that they trusted someone who claimed he was merely framed for prior crimes.  Then the person rapes and kills again.  We must let go of this fantasy that our prisons are filled with innocent men.  They aren’t.

He says they believe him, and he feels accepted. He recently found a new job, after telling his whole story to the man who hired him.

Let’s hope he’s not working with children.

He sees the years he spent obsessed with cybersex as an illness, or a lapse into sinfulness, that drew him deeper and deeper into depravity. He is embarrassed. He has been humiliated.

But he has stayed angry. The classes he attends as a condition of his probation demand that he admit a sexual desire for children. It is considered an essential step toward recovery. J told his instructor that he has no such desire. He never did. He was told that if he persists in this denial he will jeopardize his probation and could be sent back to jail.

So he pretends to be something he is not. He is good at it.

Cue to violins.  What the hell is the matter with Vanity Fair?  Why are they so up with pedophiles?  Isn’t there some less degrading taboo they can go break to make themselves feel all rebellious and brave?

Journalistic Ethics Fortnight, Part 4: Vanity Fair’s Pedophilia Problem

Graydon Carter has a problem. How do you pose as a moralist while excusing your own history of peddling young flesh — and justifying the child-rape committed by your friend?

It’s a tall order.  Under Carter’s tutelage, Vanity Fair has acquired a strange fixation on certain types of photos of nude young women.  It’s simply weird how often the editor feels compelled to litter his pages with shot after shot of extremely youthful actresses in the buff surrounded by other people in clothes — also weird how vehemently and frequently he defends this basement-porn aesthetic in the magazine’s pages.  This tightrope act occasionally threatens to unravel beneath the weight of one too many coy verbal gestures toward the breasts of girls who could be one’s daughter, or rather grand-daughter.  But Carter just can’t seem to help himself.

Of course, the Vanity Fair editor has a dial-in justification for all of this, the very same justification he uses when sending camera crews around the world in private jets to shoot photographs of movie stars berating non-private-jet-flying-people for burning fossil fuel in Vanity Fair’s annual “Green” issue:

But these are celebrities raping children (or the planet).  Rules don’t apply to celebrities, do they?

Such a worldview is merely laughable when the product is giant-carbon-footprint eco-porn featuring Leonardo DiCaprio looking sad over melting icebergs, wedged between ads for luxury products that actually are accelerating the warming of the planet.  It’s less funny when Graydon Carter mounts the well-worn stairs of his bully pulpit to insists that there is nothing troubling about pressuring young actresses to pose nude alongside fully-clothed male actors, or nothing wrong with publishing topless shots of an underage Miley Cyrus: the photos were taken by Annie Leibowitz, so it’s OK that she pressured the child to take off her top because the end result was artistic.

The “artistic” stuff is harder to swallow when you see how the magazine packaged the photo shoot controversy, and I quote:

Sweet niblets, Annie Leibovitz’s photographs of Miley Cyrus sure have caused a stir. . . as this exclusive video shows, the nefarious photo shoot that has parents threatening to host Hannah Montana bonfire parties was actually a relaxed family event in one of the most picturesque settings imaginable: the green hills of Calabasas, California. Check it out!

Check it out, indeed.  The mag promises “candid images” from the shoot.  And the video still accompanying this cheeky proffer is a jarring, grainy back-shot of Cyrus swinging from a tree limb with her bare-skinned bottom coming out of her pants.

It resembles nothing more than the dirty playground snapshots a pedophile would take on the sly.

What message is Carter sending, framing the debate over his decision to publish “artistic” topless photos of an underage girl with a troubling photograph like this one?  What does it mean that he runs a photo so obviously resembling child porn with a blurb insisting, of all things, on the “relaxed family” atmosphere of the Miley Cyrus photo shoot?  I think one should always take people at face value, and the face Carter is offering is a belligerent one, defending his right to break the rules because of who he is, while slyly pushing the envelope even further.

Context matters, including ugly context (see here and here for more disturbing smirkiness on Miley Cyrus’ body by other aging VF writers).

You hardly need a rorschach to perceive Graydon Carter’s ethos of ethical exceptionalism for celebrities.  Here he is, in the current VF issue (not yet available online), writing about Roman Polanski’s rape of a drugged child.  After some creepy, predictable natter about Polanski being Jean Valjean to the Los Angeles Justice Department’s Inspector Javert, which if taken at face value undermines all that follows, Carter argues for leniency over holding Polanski responsible for his crimes, on the grounds that he is a talented film director and therefore should not be subject to the same laws that apply to the less aesthetically inclined.  You know, the Jack Henry Abbott defense:

Even during the trial in London, my affection for [Polanski] never flagged.  Perhaps many of his supporters are correct.  Perhaps he should be treated differently.  Perhaps, in this case, the punishment should fit the criminal rather than the crime.  Perhaps the act of penance that would do the greatest amount of lasting good would be for Polanski not to go to jail but instead to spend the next period of his life — perhaps the rest of his life — using his protean talents as a filmmaker to create an anti-rape feature, one that would show the brutality and consequences of this heinous act.

It’s sort of like jurisprudential carbon credits: rape a kid, make a movie about raping kids, clean the slate.  But important questions remain unanswered: what type of punishment is it, exactly, to green light a pedophile to shoot a movie about child rape?

And what happens if Polanski plans a sequel?  Does he get a second pass?

What Graydon Carter is suggesting here is grotesque.  It is a nauseating assault on the dignity of crime victims, a creepily shameless argument for unequal application of our laws.  All the bespoke tailoring in the world can’t turn such a piggish mindset into anything other than what it is: assertion of the right of certain elite people to rape less elite children, wedged on scented pages between ads for Dooney and Bourke purses and Louis Vuitton travel bags.

If I represented either of those companies, I’d be more than a little disgusted by the environs.  But that’s only the first article in the latest Vanity Fair that works hard to excuse the rape of a child.  Perhaps in a bow to the flagging economy, this month is a two for one.

Tomorrow: Child rapists are simply misunderstood aesthetes who feel too much, Part II.

More on the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s “Homeless Sex Offenders” Hysteria

How easy is it to predict the many ways the media has substituted thinly-disguised advocacy and sheer make-believe for reporting on the alleged “homeless sex offender” crisis?  Painfully easy. 

Before I even read the latest installment of the homeless sex offender soap opera, the one that appeared in the AJC last week, I made up a list of rules for such stories:

Template for Homeless Sex Offender Stories

1.  Open story with bathetic description of the campsite.

2.  Assert that sex offender living restriction laws are the sole cause of homelessness, and that they are “forced” to be homeless.

3.  Do not mention the fact that there are hundreds (or thousands) of other registered sexual offenders living in the same area and abiding by living restriction rules who are not homeless.

4.  Do not question offenders about other behavior that led to their homelessness, such as getting evicted, not paying bills, refusing to work, drug/alcohol addiction, domestic violence, non-sexual criminal acts and criminal history.  Also do not ask if they were homeless before they were forced to register as sex offenders.

5.  Seek out the most seemingly-sympathetic offender to profile; studiously avoid the “hard cases.”

6.  Allow offenders to describe their own crimes: do not check the records for accuracy.  Actually, try to avoid mentioning their crimes at all.

7.  Quote activist groups opposing living restriction laws, but do not seek statements from people who support living restrictions for sex offenders.  Do not cite data on efficacy of post-conviction monitoring of sex offenders.  What, tell both sides of the story?  There aren’t two sides of this story, are there?

Let’s see how I did with the AJC story:

1.  Open story with bathetic description of campsite:

A path leads from a nearby parking lot next to a sign that says: “State Property. No Trespassing. No Dumping.”  Up the hill, camping tents, some with tarps, dot the woods. There are bicycles, a gas barbecue grill and empty bottles. A solar water bag that heats water for a shower is pegged to a tree, and a little mirror is nailed below it.

“Little mirror nailed to tree.”  “No dumping” (except unwanted humans, get it?).  Bathos: check, check.  But nothing matches the way this story ends: with a little Chiuahua named Trista helping her owner Cindy phone for help for her homeless sex offender friend.  What tripe.  Note that the reporter does not bother to mention the victims, nor the offenders’ records or sentences.

But we get to meet Trista the perky Chiuahua.

not Trista

I don’t know whether to shudder or gag.  Who lets reporters get away with stuff like this?  Oh yeah, their editors.

2. Assert that sex offender living restriction laws are the sole cause of homelessness, and that they are “forced” to be homeless:

A group of homeless sex offenders is living in a camp in the woods behind an office park in Marietta — one place that does not violate the many living restrictions that Georgia’s tough sex offender law imposes. . . “This is ridiculous that we have to live like this,” said Marque Miechurski, 30, who has lived in a tent in the woods for about a month and a half.

The reporter insinuates that housing that does not violate the statute is extremely rare — “one place that does not violate” — which is simply untrue, and she lets Miechurski’s claim that he “has to” live there go unchallenged, but, in fairness, she doesn’t come out and say that they have no place else to go.

They’re just whining that they have no place else to go.

These offenders, a mere 12 in Cobb County, a mere 70 in a place as large as Miami, are people who have burned through every other resource — family, friends, employers.  Unsurprisingly, most of them are child molesters, which can put a chill on your relatives’ willingness to help.  Even so, their homelessness sounds transient, unless they are homeless for other reasons as well, such as substance abuse.

The reporter utterly fails to investigate other reasons for their homelessness.

3.  Do not mention the fact that there are hundreds (or thousands) of other registered sexual offenders living in the same area and abiding by living restriction rules who are not homeless:

“We have about 375 sex offenders in Cobb County,” said sheriff’s spokeswoman Nancy Bodiford. “We check on most two to three times per year.” Of those, 13 are listed as homeless, Bodiford said.

This gets buried, but at least it’s in the article somewhere.  It also disproves the point of the exercise and the paper’s editorializing on the subject, since 97% of registered sex offenders in Cobb County are not actually homeless after all, but, whatever.  Maybe the AJC should read . . . itself.

Unfortunately, a sampling of the 300+ reprints of this story in national and international media suggests that this paragraph gets left out when the story is run overseas (yes, there is outraged international coverage of these 12 temporarily homeless men: Georgia is now an international baddie for being mean to these 12 sex offenders).

And so the echo-chamber of anti-Americanism nibbles on.

4.  Do not question offenders about other behavior that led to their homelessness, such as getting evicted, not paying bills, refusing to work, drug/alcohol addiction, domestic violence, non-sexual criminal acts and criminal history.  Also do not ask if they were homeless before they were forced to register as sex offenders:

The Southern Center for Human Rights represents Levertice Johnson, 52, who moved to the wooded camp after he couldn’t find a job and couldn’t afford the $60-a-week rent at a shelter in Fulton County. . .

So Levertice Johnson is not homeless because he is a sex offender.  Lervertice Johnson is homeless because he did not pay the paltry $60 a week that was asked of him at the last place he lived.  The reporter does note this, but it does not seem to leave any impression with her or her editors.  The story, after all, is not about Levertice Johnson not paying his rent.

For that matter, if the folks at the Southern Center for Human Rights are so concerned about finding Mr. Johnson a place to live, why don’t they take him home?

Maybe this is why: Levertice Johnson has a very nasty record, including two convictions for child molestation and two convictions for cruelty to children.

Maybe Levertice Johnson is homeless because nobody in his family wants to have anything to do with him, and he is too lazy to get a job.  He got convicted for cruelty to children, which is a hard thing to get busted for unless you’ve actually killed a child or sent them to a hospital.

Somehow, this is not stopping the Southern Center for Human Rights, and the AJC‘s editorial staff, from painting him as a victim of the rest of us — of our what, unwillingness to pay his rent for him?  Unwillingness to support him as a man of leisure?  The unwillingness of employers to hire somebody who molests and beats children?  What about the human rights of the children themselves, or Mr. Johnson’s responsibi. . . Wait, look over there: it’s Trista!

not Trista

5.  Seek out the most seemingly-sympathetic offender to profile; studiously avoid the “hard cases.”

Now we get to brass tacks.  I mean, child molesters.  Out of the 12 offenders-living-in-the-woods, seven were convicted of child molestation, one with enticing a child for indecent purposes, one with sexual battery, one with aggravated assault with intent to rape, and one with the distressing crime of “rape and aggravated sodomy-reduced to aggravated assault.”

Lovely bunch.  The reporter chooses one Marque Miechurski to profile, apparently on the grounds that he is willing to publicly wallow in self-pity even after being convicted of molesting a child.  And this is the best she can do.

6.  Allow offenders to describe their own crimes: do not check the records for accuracy.  Actually, try to avoid mentioning their crimes at all.

And here is Mr. Miechurski’s version:

Miechurski says his troubles all started when he “had an itch” and scratched it when he was out smoking in front of his apartment on Franklin Road in Marietta last year. He says a child said that his pants were down, but he denies that.  “I get hit with the worst charge a person could ever be hit with,” said Miechurski.

Even though Marque Miechurski claims to have been merely scratching an itch, and not exposing himself, and not molesting a child, he was convicted of child molestation and indecent exposure.  That’s not an opinion: it is a fact.  That’s not an allegation: it is a conviction.  Two convictions.

Shouldn’t the Atlanta Journal Constitution stick to reporting facts?

Miechurski was found guilty.  He can sit in the woods in a tent and whimper about scratching his crotch all day long, and his creepy pal can sit around whining about the injustice of it all to some daft reporter who doesn’t even bother to go to the courthouse and check the actual criminal conviction but sits around playing with a dog named Trista instead, but none of this changes the fact that Marque Miechurski was not convicted of scratching himself.

He was convicted of exposing himself and molesting a child.  So the reporter should have offered a corrective to this claim, instead of just publishing it.

That’s what reporters are supposed to do.  Not “tell one side,” as if the conviction doesn’t exist.  She  should have gone down to the courthouse and checked the criminal case records and reported what the courts found.  If she was going to give Miechurski and his friend and their dog all those column inches to claim that the child wasn’t really attacked, then why didn’t she interview the prosecutor and the victim’s parents?

not guilty

Why didn’t the reporter do these things?  Because this type of story isn’t about facts: it is about reporters feeling morally superior to the public.

7.  Quote activist groups opposing living restriction laws, but do not seek statements from people who support living restrictions for sex offenders.  Do not cite data on efficacy of post-conviction monitoring of sex offenders.  What, tell both sides of the story?  There aren’t two sides of this story, are there?

Yes Virginia, there are two sides of this story, though you won’t find them in a trumped-up fairy tale about woods-dwelling sex offenders.  In this bias the AJC does not disappoint: they quote the Southern Center for Human Rights and nobody else.  They also quote them without acknowledging that the entire “homeless sex offender” controversy has been manufactured by activist groups like the S.C.H.R., so it’s a little like reading off cue cards.

It is clearly a bygone conclusion to the editors at the AJC that there is only one side to this issue, the side they are on, which is that living restrictions and sex offender registration serve no good purpose at all.

This is called advocacy, not reporting.

Admittedly, it is hard to find data analyzing living restriction and sex offender registration outcomes: how do you measure sex offenses that have been prevented, particularly when such a small percentage of sex offenses and even smaller percentage of child molestations are brought to the attention of authorities?  Sex offender statistics are notoriously inaccurate, not only because of lack of reporting, but also because of the way the justice system telescopes multiple offenses into one charge, or allows offenders to plead to non-sexual crimes, or captures known sex offenders on something like burglary or possession because they’re easier to prove.

But none of this justifies ignoring the arguments of advocates for these laws, particularly when the “reporting” here consists of little more than selectively edited anecdotes in the first place.

Look at those 12 men and their records.  Not so many years ago, they would be able to act with impunity: now they know they are being watched, and because they are child molesters, this is especially crucial.

Look at their records.  And ask yourself this: what is it about mainstream journalism that sends journalists flying to the sides of men like this, irrationally, even hatefully?  There is nothing reasoned about this reporting: it is romanticized, and it is very, very angry.  Not at sex offenders, but at the rest of us for daring to hold sex offenders accountable for their own behavior, for anything.  It is the journalistic equivalent of a finger in the eye, with no recourse to facts.

If anything became clear this week, with the Polanski case, it is that a certain segment of Americans automatically take the side of child molesters over their victims.  Even the anal rape of a drugged child is not too terrible for them.

~~~

And then, something even more troubling surfaces, when you actually look at the criminal histories of these 12 men.  Probation for molesting a child; six months for molesting a child; one year in jail for rape and aggravated sodomy “reduced to aggravated assault.”  Five years for two counts of child molestation and two counts of cruelty to children?  One year for rape?  Six months for molesting a child?

No, these men should not be living in the woods: they should still be in prison.  What is happening in the courts?  And why is the AJC so blandly, utterly incurious about that?