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Timothy Alan Oates: Florida Under Gov. Bob Graham Let Another Child Rapist Free To Rape Again, Thank God for Registries


. . . The bad old days.  This is Timothy Allen Oates:

In 1987, according to the Tampa Bay Times, he was sentenced to “27 years for ransom, attempted sexual battery on an adult and indecent assault on a child younger than 16.”  Actually it looks like it was ten years.

In any case, he was not supposed to be out of prison until 1997.  Or maybe 2014.  But he only served four years.  He got out in 1991, and guess what he did next?  He went back to prison for additional charges (and some of what may be the same charges).  In 1993, he was sentenced to 27 years and served ten years and nine months.  He got out a second time in 2004.

And then guess what he did next?  We don’t know the whole story, but last month he allegedly molested at least one child younger than 12 and took off for Washington State.

So why was he released in 1991, just a few years after being sentenced for multiple, violent sex crimes?  Why did he receive a sentence of 27 years in 1993 and get out a little more than ten years later?

In order to understand this case, you have to do a bit of digging.  Here is his record with the Department of Corrections.  This first block is the sentencing from 1987.  The second block is the sentencing from 1993.  The third block is the time he actually served in prison.  Look at the dates of the offenses — the 2/1/87 and 9/2/87 offenses appear in both sentencings.  The 5/18/86 charge was only part of the 1987 court decision, while a new 3/1/92 charge appears in 1993.  So my guess is that he was released VERY early for the first set of charges, then re-offended the minute he got out, then was re-sentenced on some crimes and given additional time for the new charges.

There are some other things to understand: he was 23 when he was first sentenced for this set of crimes.  So we don’t know if he had a juvenile record.  He was given a serious second chance, then he went right back into prison.  He got a third chance after his sentence was cut by more than 60%.  Now he’s been caught again.

This is what crime control was like in the 1980’s.  Things got better in the 1990’s, but not enough.  What does it take to put away a child rapist?  I’ll get back to you when we figure that out.

Thank God for sex crime registries.  Without registration, this guy would still be on the loose.  If only the media would mention that once in a while.

Prior Prison History: (Note: Data reflected covers periods of incarceration with the Florida Dept.of Corrections since January of 1983)
Offense Date Offense Sentence Date County Case No. Prison Sentence Length
05/18/1986 L/L, INDEC.ASLT CHILD U/16 09/29/1987 HILLSBOROUGH 8607334 10Y 0M 0D
09/02/1987 SEX BAT BY ADULT/VCTM LT 12(ATTEMPTED) 09/29/1987 HILLSBOROUGH 8711422 10Y 0M 0D
02/01/1987 SEX BAT BY ADULT/VCTM LT 12(ATTEMPTED) 09/29/1987 HILLSBOROUGH 8711423 10Y 0M 0D

Current Prison Sentence History:

Offense Date Offense Sentence Date County Case No. Prison Sentence Length
09/02/1987 SEX BAT BY ADULT/VCTM LT 12(ATTEMPTED) 03/11/1993 HILLSBOROUGH 8711422 27Y 0M 0D
02/01/1987 SEX BAT BY ADULT/VCTM LT 12(ATTEMPTED) 03/11/1993 HILLSBOROUGH 8711423 27Y 0M 0D
02/01/1987 SEX BAT BY ADULT/VCTM LT 12(ATTEMPTED) 03/11/1993 HILLSBOROUGH 8711423 27Y 0M 0D
03/01/1992 KIDNAP;COMM.OR FAC.FELONY 12/09/1993 PINELLAS 9206504 27Y 0M 0D
03/01/1992 L/L, INDEC.ASLT CHILD U/16 12/09/1993 PINELLAS 9206504 15Y 0M 0D


Incarceration History:
Date In-Custody Date Out-of-Custody
10/02/1987 11/27/1991
04/08/1993 01/01/2004

New Haven Occupy: Homeless Rapist Finds An Affinity Group; Innocent Frat Brothers Find a Rape Rap; Scalia Gets Showered With Condoms

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The First Occupy Movement?  Homeless Sex Offenders

Remember 2010, when “homeless sex offenders living under the Julia Tuttle Bridge” became the latest endangered seals of the liberal left?  I blogged about it here:

[R]eporters 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. . . 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.

Fast-forward two years.  Homeless sex offenders don’t need to rely on Dan Barry for tea and sympathy anymore: they’ve found a brand new affinity group in the Occupy Movement:

Woman Raped at Occupy New Haven: Cops

Police charged England Gamble, 53, of New Haven, with sexual assault.

Gamble is on the state sex offender registry for a first-degree sexual assault conviction in 1991. The registry said he was released from prison in 1996 and did not register his address.

Note that he served merely five years for first-degree sexual assault: thank you, ACLU!  Et. al!

Rather than taking steps to ensure that no other sex offenders are hiding out in their camp, Occupy New Haven is busy denying that Gamble and his victim were part of their movement.  But New Haven police point out that Gamble would not have been able to insinuate himself in the area if not for the now-federally-protected protest encampment:

Members of the Occupy movement said neither Gamble nor the victim are members of the movement. They said both are homeless and set up a tent nearby.  Police have not classified Gamble as homeless, but said if the Occupy movement was not on the green, that Gamble would not have been able to set up camp there.

So where does Occupy New Haven stand on sex offender registration, the pertinent issue here?  I very much doubt they support registration rules for convicted rapists.  After all, they’re part of a movement that includes the entire rainbow of anti-incarceration activism and seeks to “empty the prisons.”  They hate cops.  They view law enforcement as oppression.  They discourage women from even reporting sexual assaults to the police.

And so, another woman gets raped at Occupy.


It is possible that the New Haven Occupiers didn’t notice a real rapist in their midst because they were too busy accusing all frat brothers of being imaginary rapists down the road at Wesleyan University:

Politely Demonizing Men at Wesleyan, by Charlotte Allen (Nov. 16, 2011)

This past Monday  I delivered a speech at the Delta Kappa Epsilon house at Wesleyan University. I had been invited to speak by DKE and another fraternity at Wesleyan, Beta Theta Pi, because I had written an op-ed article in June for the Los Angeles Times titled “War Waged on College Fraternities.” That was the theme of my Wesleyan speech, too. I had expected the audience to consist mostly of “Deke” and Beta brothers plus other members of Wesleyan’s tiny Greek-letter community who felt beleaguered by efforts of university administrators to regulate and restrict their activities, and calls by activists to put fraternities out of business altogether. But my speech had been advertised in the student newspaper. The room where I spoke–the former ballroom, now all-purpose party room, of the worn nineteenth-century mansion that served as DKE’s house—was packed with an overflow crowd of some 75 young people. At least half of them were non-fraternity members, many of whom had never set foot inside a fraternity house. From them I learned something: how thoroughly college students, at least students at elite colleges such as Wesleyan, have absorbed and internalized all of the negative things—especially about fraternities as supposed hotbeds of sexual assault—that professors and administrators have been harping on for at least two decades. There seemed to be a consensus that university authorities weren’t tough enough in clamping down on Greek-letter societies.

These bright and articulate young people believed everything. They believed, for example, that college campuses are rife with sexual assaults committed by male students on their female classmates. “One out of every four college women is raped,” declared a young man who was obviously not part of the Deke/Beta group during a post-speech question-and-answer session. “That’s been under-reported,” he said. “Actually, it’s been over-reported,” I responded. I explained, as Heather Mac Donald explained in her City Journal article “The Campus Rape Myth,” that the one-in-four statistic came from a single flawed study debunked many times over the years. . .

A male student standing in the back announced, “I don’t feel safe in this room.” “In this room?,” I queried incredulously, pointing around the spacious ballroom with its neoclassical molding and high fireplaces at each end, both topped by oil paintings of men who appeared to be illustrious Dekes of the nineteenth century. “In this room, where you’re speaking your mind freely and everyone is listening respectfully?” “I don’t mean now, but when the parties are going on, when it’s dark and there’s a lot of loud music and drinking and people are being victimized.” A female student chimed in that she didn’t feel “safe,” either. (“Safe” is politically correct campus jargon for “liking what I see or hear.”) A second male student added his two cents: “Everyone knows there’s a lot of rape going on in fraternity houses.” He got a hiss or two from the Greek-letter contingent but the main audience response was the poetry-reading/Occupy Wall Street version of applause: an enthusiastic round of finger-snapping.


Also this week, the New Haven/Wesleyan Occupiers took time out of their studied avoidance of the rapists amidst them to throw condoms at Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia.  You know, in the name of free speech:

[S]even protesters took off their day clothes and stood up to reveal orange Guantanamo Bay suits and black hoods, protesting Scalia’s complicity in war and torture. These protesters, after refusing to sit down, were escorted out.  Simultaneously, four students dropped hundreds of condoms from a balcony into the crowd to show opposition to Scalia’s assaults on reproductive freedom and privacy.  The condoms bore the label “Practice Safe Sodomy,” referring to his dissent in Lawrence v. Texas arguing in favor of upholding homophobic anti-sodomy laws.   Students also unfurled banners that read, “Scalia Represents the People Inc.” and “There Can Be No Justice in the Court of the Conquered” to oppose his support of corporate personhood and close ties to corporate interests, as well as a national history of colonial subjugation and imperial enslavement which the Supreme Court has codified and enabled.  More Wesleyan students stood up with signs supporting the protesters’ message in overflow rooms.

There are a variety of reasons that students have decided to protest. A media advisory earlier this week said, “Scalia represents highly unjust and oppressive political system, which for example appointed George W. Bush as unelected president in 2000 and increased corporate control of elections in the 2010 Citizens United ruling. In contrast, the Scalia Welcoming Committee is a truly democratic, non-hierarchical group, inspired by the Occupy movement, Arab Spring and global anti-austerity protests. We strongly reject the Wesleyan administration’s choice to invite such a bigoted, sexist, corrupt puppet of the super-rich to speak.”

Bigoted, sexist, corrupt puppet.  At least someone’s teaching them slant rhyme.


So, to summarize:

Occupy New Haven believes in safe sex for Supreme Court Justices, but not sexual safety for Occupy protesters.  They believe in free speech for themselves so they can remain silent as sexual assaults are committed in their camp, while believing in suppressing the speech rights of frat brothers who are tired of being falsely accused of rape.  By them.    

Get it?

Sandra Fluke isn’t a Slut, But She’s a Nasty Piece of Work . . .


. . . lying to Congress about rape that way.

Fluke testified that she knew a fellow Georgetown student who opted to not report a rape because she was worried that her insurance wouldn’t cover the rape examination:

One student told us that she knew birth control wasn’t covered, and she assumed that’s how Georgetown’s insurance handled all of women’s sexual healthcare, so when she was raped, she didn’t go to the doctor even to be examined or tested for sexually transmitted infections because she thought insurance wasn’t going to cover something like that, something that was related to a woman’s reproductive health.

This statement is utterly unbelievable.  Does anyone really believe in the existence of a Georgetown student who was raped, then decided to not report the existence of a dangerous, predatory criminal because she might have to pony up more than a co-pay to have a rape kit examination?  Does anyone believe that this alleged victim wouldn’t at least call 911, or the local rape crisis center, or the Georgetown Woman’s Center, or any of the student anti-rape groups that plaster campuses with their posters denouncing rape, if she was that worried about paying for a rape kit in the aftermath of experiencing a rape?

If this extremely politically convenient woman really does exist, then any of those phone calls would have reassured her that, thanks to the hard work of people like . . . me . . . no woman in this country needs to pay for a rape kit.  The federal government requires states to cover these costs at the risk of losing funding.  Washington D.C. also covers the costs.  State victims’ compensation boards cover the costs.  Rape kit collection is covered even if a woman decides to have a rape kit collected while choosing to not report the rape to the police.

But even if this unlikely, unsympathetic, alleged victim does exist, Fluke’s testimony is still a lie because it was designed to exploit this non-issue.  Ms. Fluke exploited real rape victims in order to advance a non-argument for prescription coverage for contraceptives: what on earth should we call that?  She tried to create false fear about the cost of rape kits in order to promote a different cause.  And that is exploitative.  Repugnant.  If one real victim worries about this now because Sandra Fluke used rape victims’ fears this way on the witness stand, then it is on Fluke’s head, and on the heads of the other professional reproductive rights activists who carefully tooled this testimony alongside her.

Yet not one congressperson challenged Fluke’s rape kit testimony.  Not one mainstream media reporter paused for a gut-check . . . or a fact-check.  The last time anyone in the media bothered to talk about rape kits was during Sarah Palin’s run for vice-president.  Back then, Salon and Huffington Post and a thousand Democratic operatives tried like hell to pin the “not paying for rape kits” charge on Palin.  They never found a smoking gun, but the story made national news, not once, but over and over and over again.

They didn’t do this because they cared about rape victims in Wasilla.  They did it to play a political game, with rape victims serving as the kickball.  That’s how much leftists, and leftist feminists, really care about real rape.

It should be noted that in the wake of Fluke, not one rape crisis representative has come forward to reassure women that they will not have to pay for rape kits, not in Washington DC, not anywhere in the United States.  Where are these advocates?  Where are all the professional rape crisis workers, the people paid to tell the rest of us these things, because it is supposed to be so important to educate the public and dispel misconceptions and encourage reporting?

Where are the campus rape activists, who ought to be out there reassuring women that they don’t really have to pay if they go to a hospital for medical care after a rape?

Where are Tori Amos and Christina Ricchi and Neil Gaiman, those brave spokespeople who lend their names to RAINN, the very well-funded, national, message-driven-anti-rape-non-profit that is supposed to exist to do rape education but somehow hasn’t gotten around to issuing a press release correcting the false information perpetrated by Sandra Fluke?  RAINN raises more than a million dollars a year to “educate the public about sexual assault and conduct outreach to at-risk populations.”  Don’t give your money to people like this.

Fluke went on The View, and not one of the allegedly pro-woman women on that program bothered to pause for a moment to reassure viewers that no rape victim needs to worry about the cost of collecting a rape kit, because doing so would break the narrative, which is that the vicious Jesuit priests at Georgetown are keeping women from reporting rape.

Rush Limbaugh didn’t silence these people.  They silenced themselves, because rape is just an issue to use when it’s politically expedient.  Rape is the red-headed stepchild of the political left.  It’s a crime issue, a sentencing issue, a recidivism issue, and frequently a race issue: as such, the Left works hard to control the message while sometimes actually opposing measures that would achieve justice for victims.  Every honest person working in rape advocacy knows that the price of admission to the left-wing table is to avoid talking about the prevalence of politically incorrect rapes (white victim, minority offender and even minority victim-minority offender) while hammering away at the campus date rape issue (so long as the accused fit the desired stereotype).  Honest activists know that the types of reforms that really reduce rape — minimum mandatory sentencing, truth-in-sentencing, post-release offender registration — are opposed by the Left, so they frequently don’t even bother to show up for hearings on such bills.  And they know to keep their pretty lips zipped on the lies perpetrated by the hate crimes industry in the interest of keeping heterosexual female rape victims from cluttering up the all-important hate crime stats.

While I worked on sentencing reform that would actually reduce the prevalence of rape in Atlanta, the campus rape activists and the local affiliate of RAINN there were super-busy keeping rape victims from being counted as hate crime victims (unless they were gay), in order to please the gay and ethnic-rights activists of the Left.  They were busily raising money for campaigns that hectored all men about rape while they studiously ignored real rape cases that didn’t fit their ideological needs.  They never complained about jurors letting offenders off, for instance, because doing so would involve wading into politically perilous waters.  They never bothered to address the increasingly toxic myths about the prevalence of false accusations being churned out by the Innocence Project.  They pointed fingers at frat brothers, got their degrees in Women’s Studies, blogged about their sex partners, became fake lesbians to enhance their shot at the tenure track, and never once sat in a courtroom watching jurors decide that some 13-year old hadn’t really been raped by her mommy’s boyfriend because she “wanted it.”

I want to make something extremely clear: the first-wave and second-wave feminists didn’t do that.  Those women worked hard and took political risks to help rape victims and punish rapists.  They damned the political costs.  They worked gratefully with sympathetic police and partnered happily with sympathetic Republicans.  They didn’t wallow in thrall to the criminal defense bar.  But by the 1990’s, the third-wave, sex-positivity, politically correct thingies who followed them were literally undoing the work of the women who preceded them.  By 1999, there was a definite schism between the older service-providers — women who actually spent evenings working in the gynecology emergency rooms and staffing rape crisis centers — and the Emily Bazelon ilk, the well-paid third-wave activists who unravelled those efforts in the morning light.

It was an ugly scene, the same scene now being played out nationally, thanks to Sandra Fluke’s decision to lie to Congress about rape.  What a nasty piece of work.  What a shame about the feminist movement.


Jeffrey Dwight Carr, Michael Ray Tackett: Violent Recidivists Wandering the Streets

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While investigative reporters and their academic mouthpieces busily crochet their latest screeds against the notion of putting criminals in prison, here’s a quick sampling of people who should have been behind bars, but weren’t.  Of course, this isn’t a criminological study, because we’re going to actually mention the crimes these men committed, instead of just breathlessly envisioning the endless possibilities of their next “re-entry” into society.

It looks like the last re-entries were easy to a fault.

Jeffery Dwight Carr, Orlando Florida:

Police in Central Florida say a registered sex offender cut off his electronic ankle monitor, kidnapped a woman and tried to have her cash a $1,000 check. Jeffery Dwight Carr has been charged with robbery, false imprisonment and kidnapping.

Although his juvenile record is not available, Carr wasted no time racking up offenses the minute he turned 18: five auto theft convictions in two years.  How precocious of him.  He got a rolling slap on the wrist and just a few months behind bars, which is too bad, because if he hadn’t, he wouldn’t have been free to commit that sexual assault of a minor in 2002.

Of course, people don’t serve time for every crime they commit, so once they’re popped for something, it makes a certain kind of criminal sense to keep committing more crimes, because you won’t actually serve more time for them.  Unless the state has a recidivism law.  And bothers to enforce it.  Which Florida does.  And didn’t.  Oh well.  He’s behind bars now, and the victim was very lucky to escape with her life.


Michael Ray Tackett, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania:

You’d think we’ve lost enough police officers recently.  None were injured hauling Tackett back into custody last week for the brutal, armed 2007 rape of a real estate agent, thank God.  But why was he out on bond awaiting a 2009 charge for the brutal, armed rape of another real estate agent, when he has a criminal record of multiple rape charges, and a neighbor reported that this was Tackett’s second armed standoff with the police?

Michael Ray Tackett

Tackett was previously acquitted twice for raping women who were prostitutes, in 2003 and 2005.  Both women admitted to selling sex to him on different occasions but went to police when he became violent, pulled weapons, and raped them.  You would think that type of history would be enough to keep him in jail awaiting trial after he committed his 2009 rape — of a real estate agent he stalked and attacked in an empty house she was showing.  Yet after that terrifyingly violent crime, and despite his extremely scary record, Tackett told the court that he had a back problem that couldn’t be addressed in prison, so he’d need to await trial at home.   The judge actually bought the back pain story and decided Tackett was a good candidate for pre-trial bond.  You know, like Ted Bundy:

Dec. 16, 2009: A West Pittsburg man accused of luring a real estate agent to an empty Jefferson Township house and raping her June 11 is free on bond.  Michael R. Tackett, 38, had his bond reduced Thursday from $200,000 to $100,000 by Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge John C. Reed after his defense attorney Thomas W. Leslie called the initial amount excessive.  Assistant Mercer County District Attorney Ryan Bonner said Tackett testified Thursday that he required medical attention due to back surgery, and that he couldn’t get it through the Mercer County Jail. . . “Obviously, we were disappointed and alarmed that he bonded out,” said state police trooper Dan Sindlinger.  He said Tackett is potentially dangerous and may have a pattern of targeting real estate agents, and warned them not to show homes alone.

In other words, the judge decided that rather than using stuff like prison guards and bars to keep an eye on Tackett, he would place the burden for watching out for him directly on the real estate agents he was known to be stalking.  After all, lots of real estate agents are part-time ninjas trained in taking down potential serial killers, right?

Tackett was charged with rape in 2003 and 2005 in Lawrence County and acquitted both times, according to published reports. . .  Authorities said Tackett met the woman during a real estate open house. About a week and half later she was showing him a house on Seidle Road when police say he pinned her down, told her he had a gun and raped her repeatedly.  Tackett threatened to kill the woman. He ordered her to answer questions about her family, recited her address, and threatened to kill her and her family if she reported the incident, police said.

And now, the parade of technicalities begins:

Tackett used a fake name when he contacted the woman but she found a photo on the state’s Megan’s Law sex offender registry that looked similar to the man she said raped her, police said.  A Neshannock Township policeman saw the picture, which was not Tackett’s. He realized it looked like Tackett, with whom he’d dealt before.  The policeman showed the woman Tackett’s picture, and she confirmed it was him.  Leslie is trying to have that identification, and any subsequent courtroom identifications of Tackett suppressed in the case. He said showing the picture outside a lineup was “unduly suggestive.” A hearing is scheduled for Jan. 6 on that motion.  In a later state police lineup, the woman said she was “100 percent sure” it was Tackett who raped her, police said.  She also identified Tackett’s car, and was able to point it out from a block away while driving through West Pittsburg with her husband, police said.

The details from the 2007 rape are also chilling:

[Tackett] had been sought by police in the rape of a real estate agent on May 24, 2007. State police said the agent had agreed to meet with Tackett to show him a home along Huson Road in Woodcock Township, Crawford County.  According to documents filed earlier this year in the office of District Judge Lincoln Zilhaver of Saegertown, Crawford County, the agent showed the house to Tackett, who had given her the false name of Randy Thompson, for about four hours, starting around 10:30 a.m.  Toward the end of the showing, Tackett asked to see the basement. Once in the basement, police said Tackett used a stun gun on the woman and raped her.  The woman provided a detailed description of her attacker, including his height and weight, that he wore glasses, had a tattoo and shaved his pubic area.  She also identified Tackett in a photo lineup. During the investigation, police searched Tackett’s wife’s car, which the woman also described to police as the vehicle used by her attacker.  That vehicle search turned up items including a copy of Real Estate magazine and a stun gun.

This sounds like a case where insane pro-offender evidence rules, in addition to judicial and juror leniency, slowed down police in their efforts to contain a suspected serial rapist and, possibly, serial killer.  Let’s hope the body count isn’t too high.  But of course, the real problem is that we just put too many people in jail, man.

Tomorrow: more violent recidivists wandering the streets . . .

Thanks to Modern Sex Offender Registries and DNA Databases, A Rodney Alcala Would Not Succeed Today

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Today, the lead story on all my local news stations was about a Schizu named Tuchi who saved his family from a house fire by barking incessantly at the flames.  Dog-saves-family-from-fire stories are always popular.

Not so popular, at least to the media?  Stories about how registering sex offenders saves lives.  There is only one story to be told about sex offender registries, according to the fourth estate, and that story is how registries viciously destroy men’s lives when all they did was commit one little sex crime and must now live forever under the cold eye of the state.

The corrective to such thinking is always just under the reporters’ noses, but most never seem to suss it out.  Rodney Alcala is one such corrective, but once you get past the fact that Alcala has a giant IQ and funny hair and was once a contestant on The Dating Game, the media (with one significant exception) seems to have lost interest in any lessons that might be learned from his long and shocking criminal career.

For the L.A. Times, studied incuriosity is understandable: after all, they literally allowed Alcala to operate under their noses — in their offices — after he’d racked up an incredibly horrifying, publicly recorded sex crime record.  I’d be busy changing the subject, too.

But what about everyone else?  Alcala is a poster boy for the efficacy of registering sex offenders and other demonstrably violent criminals.  Here is a guy who went from raping and trying to murder an 8-year old in California to working as a camp counselor in New Hampshire while spending weekends in New York killing socialites.  Sure, he did it under an assumed name, but when you combine fingerprinting and national registries and DNA database sharing, you come up with a pretty compelling explanation for the sharp reduction in sex crimes over the past twenty years.

And when you don’t bother to do these things right, what you get is a trail of raped and murdered women, from places like Venice (Florida) to Bradenton, precisely where I once tried, and failed, to prevent a similar trail of women’s bodies, eighteen years ago.

Things are better today.  But they won’t stay that way if we don’t recognize and acknowledge innovations that have actually lowered the crime rate.  Powerful, well-funded, pro-offender activist groups are always working to roll back the clock on things like DNA databasing and minimum mandatory sentencing and three-strikes laws and sex offender registration, and, sadly, they’ve got most of the print media yipping their agenda like so many toy poodles.

Robert Chatigny: By Nominating Him, Obama Shows Extreme Contempt For Victims


Barack Obama is arguably the most offender-friendly, victim-loathing president the country has ever seen.  His judicial and political philosophies are reflexively anti-incarceration.  His political career suggests a particularly disturbing pattern of disrespect for victims of sex crime.

In the Illinois state senate, Obama was the only senator who refused to support a bill allowing victims of sexual assault to have certain court records sealed.  The bill was intended to protect victims from having their sex lives and other extremely personal information (medical and gynecological records) splayed out in the public record for all to see after a trial had ended.  The legislation was written to protect the dignity of women who had been victimized by rapists, and then re-victimized in the courtroom at the hands of sleazy defense attorneys.

The vote for the bill was 58 – 0.  Obama alone abstained from voting, though he was present.

So, while Obama was far from the only liberal in the Illinois state senate, he was the only liberal in the Illinois state senate who believed that a victim of rape has no right to conceal from the public, for example, the fact that she contracted a venereal disease or was impregnated by her attacker.

And, as he had done so many times before, Obama didn’t even display the courage of his convictions by openly voting against the bill.  He voted, merely, “present,” so his opposition to the law would be easier to conceal in subsequent elections.

It would have been far less contemptuous to simply vote “no.”  Then, at least, victims would know precisely what the young senator and constitutional law professor thought of their dignity.  Abstaining from voting sent a stone-cold message — that Obama considered any consideration of the privacy rights of raped women to be quite a few rungs lower than his future political ambition.

It is important to understand that this vote against victims’ rights was no isolated case in the president’s history, as we are reminded today, when news broke that Obama was nominating U.S. District Court Judge Robert Chatigny for the Court of Appeals.

Chatigny is far from the only liberal judge sitting on the bench, but he is the only liberal sitting judge who became so enamored of a sexual serial killer that he denounced the state for deigning to prosecute, let alone convict, the killer.

Michael Ross started raping at an early age, and he had raped and murdered at least eight young women by the time he was caught.  Although there was no question of his guilt, from the moment Ross entered the legal system, he attracted vocal, activist supporters.  This is, sadly, not unusual: raping and slaughtering eight innocent women is, in some circles, quite a draw.  Records from Ross’ trial and appeal barely focus on the young women: they are the usual intricate inquiry into Ross’ feelings, Ross’ rights, Ross’ mood on death row, Ross’ childhood, Ross’ dating disappointments, ad infinitum.

Oh, and the hurt feelings of one hired defense psychologist, who believed he was being dissed by a trial judge.

The system disappears the victims, then the courtroom disappears the victims, then the appeals process disappears the victims, so by the time activists like Robert Chatigny set out to rehabilitate vicious torturers like Michael Ross, there’s no need to haul out metaphysical barrels of lye to dissolve what’s left of his crimes.  That had already been done, with an efficiency that would make an Argentinian death squad spill tears of shame all over the helicopter tarmac.

Judge Chatigny looked at Michael Ross and saw, not a killer, but someone who was suffering from “sexual sadism” and thus should not be held responsible for his actions.  The judge presented a sort of a twinkie defense on Ross’ behalf, the twinkie being Ross’ compulsive inability to stop torturing women.  Ross had been posturing the same defense from death row for two decades: in the killer’s mind, and the judge’s mind, he was the victim of a cruel mother, world, impulse disorder, judiciary, counsel, jury, and insufficiently plumped procedural protections.  But especially, he was a victim of this faux sadism syndrome, the existence of which, in Chatigny’s mind, supercedes the fatal outcome of Ross’ crimes and delegitimates the state’s prosecution of him.

Fox News reports:

[Chatigny] repeatedly stuck up for Ross, saying he suffered from “this affliction, this terrible disease” and suggesting Ross “may be the least culpable, the least, of the people on death row.”  “Looking at the record in a light most favorable to Mr. Ross, he never should have been convicted,” Chatigny said [emphasis added].  “Or if convicted, he never should have been sentenced to death because his sexual sadism, which was found by every single person who looked at him, is clearly a mitigating factor.”

He never should have been convicted?  Really, really enjoying torturing and killing women is a mitigating factor?  This is the mindset Obama chooses to elevate?

Michael Ross: Not a Victim

The legal strategy crafted by Michael Ross and his supporters was to present Ross as a helpless victim deserving of empathy, instead of a vicious killer meriting punishment.  This is not merely a favored strategy of anti-incarceration activism: it is perhaps the most cherished “ethical practice” of the Left.

It is also only effective if the victims’ lives and suffering are simultaneously erased — buried, and forgotten.  Killers can only be elevated if the memory of their victims is systematically denied.  That is what Judge Robert Chatigny did to Ross’ victims in 2005 and what Obama is doing to them now.

I don’t believe for a moment that Obama nominated Chatigny to the higher bench despite the judge’s horrific transgressions in the Michael Ross case: I believe he nominated Chatigny because of those transgressions.  That would be entirely in keeping with the legal and political worldview Obama has endorsed throughout his career.  And, yes, this is extremely disturbing.

Chatigny’s other claim to fame is opposing sex offender registries.  If this administration gets its way, will sex offender registries become a thing of the past?

Here are the names of Ross’ known victims (their photos are here). Little girls, some of them.  All dead, now.  Too bad Eric Holder doesn’t call them victims of hate crime.  If he did, the president would not have nominated the man who set out to liberate, and valorize, their killer:

Dzung Ngoc Tu, 25, a Cornell University student, killed May 12, 1981. Paula Perrera, 16, of Wallkill, N.Y., killed in March, 1982. Tammy Williams, 17, of Brooklyn, killed Jan. 5, 1982. Debra Smith Taylor, 23, of Griswold, killed June 15, 1982. Robin Stavinksy, 19, of Norwich, killed November, 1983. April Brunias, 14, of Griswold, killed April 22, 1984. Leslie Shelley, 14, of Griswold, killed April 22, 1984. Wendy Baribeault, 17, of Griswold, killed June 13, 1984.

Barack Obama should reach out to every one of these families and apologize.


Senators Chris Dodd and Joe Lieberman are supporting Judge Chatigny’s appointment.  Call the Senators’ offices and urge them to withdraw their support.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy suspended hearings on Chatigny’s appointment when prosecutors from Connecticut sent him a letter outlining the Ross scandal.  Call and encourage Leahy to take the prosecutor’s concerns seriously.

Senator Jeff Sessions is vocally opposing the nomination.  Thank the Senator for taking a stand.

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

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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.

Update on Delmer Smith: Another Murder By DNA Database Neglect


Delmer Smith (see The Guilty Project, here), who managed to get away with at least dozen extremely violent crimes before being identified because the F.B.I. didn’t bother to load his DNA into the federal database, is now being charged in the murder of Kathleen Briles.  Dr. James Briles found his wife’s body in their home.

Kathy Briles, mother of three, would be alive today if the government and our criminal courts bothered to prioritize the lives of victims with half the vigilance they direct towards the rights of offenders.  Pro-offender activists, who hammer away at every effort to monitor violent offenders who have been returned to the streets, are culpable too.

But nobody prioritizes victims, except the police.  Victims remain expendable.

Delmer Smith

Here is Dr. Briles:

MANATEE — Dr. James Briles finally got the chance to focus his rage on someone Thursday, more than six months after finding his wife bound, gagged and beaten to death in a pool of blood in the living room of their Terra Ceia home.

Manatee Sheriff Brad Steube announced that Delmer Smith III — already charged with beating and raping several women in their Sarasota homes — has been served with a warrant charging him with murder in the death of Kathleen Briles on Aug. 3.

Detectives say Smith, 38, bludgeoned the 49-year-old woman to death with an iron antique sewing machine, before stealing several items from the house.

After Steube told a room full of media of Smith’s arrest, Dr. Briles spoke on behalf of his sons, Calvin and Curtis, and daughter Kristen Venema, saying Smith deserves “no quarter.”

“Let me say a little bit about Delmer Smith,” said Briles, who found his wife’s body after returning home from work. “He is a coward, a sociopath and a punk. His sole purpose is to inflict suffering.”

Briles said Smith is not only in jail to protect the public from him, but to “protect him from us.” He spoke of his anger, and the horrifying discovery of his wife.

“Am I angry? Oh yeah,” he said. “You’d understand that if you saw what I saw when I came home.”

Good for him.  He’s got every right to be angry:

Investigators also believe Briles’ death might have been avoided, if not for a backlog in the entry of DNA samples into an FBI database.

The FBI had Smith’s DNA, taken while he was in federal prison on a bank robbery conviction. But since it had not been entered into the database, there was no match when Sarasota detectives last spring submitted evidence from four earlier home invasion attacks.

There wasn’t a match until after Smith was arrested for a bar fight in Venice, and after detectives asked the FBI to enter his DNA into the database.

And after Kathleen Briles was dead.

More coverage.

Part of the story here is police performance.  The cops came through when federal parole agents did not.  Venice Captain Tom McNulty (who also helped put my rapist away for good, after various judges and parole officials cut him serial breaks for two decades), was among investigators in two counties who made the cognitive leap to tie Smith to the home invasion crimes and hold him pending DNA analysis — after Smith was arrested in an unrelated bar fight.

Had that fight happened in any one of a thousand other jurisdictions, there is a good chance Smith would have walked away from jail and been free to keep committing crimes.

Delmer Smith is only one of several serial killers and rapists who have literally gotten away with murder thanks to lax sentencing, nonexistent parole, and failure to enforce DNA database laws — a systematic neglect of legal reforms that cost countless women their lives.  There’s John Floyd Thomas, suspected of killing some 30 women in Los Angeles — his first rape conviction was in 1957.  There’s Walter E. Ellis, who killed at least nine women, and managed to avoid detection because Wisconsin officials failed to bother to hold him responsible for submitting another inmate’s DNA as his own before releasing him from prison.

How many more Delmer Smiths are out there?  One is too many.

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:


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):


  • 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?



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:



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:


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.


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?



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?


Michael Barber


Michael Brown


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:

215523db8 ~~~

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:



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:



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.

East Coast Rapist, DeKalb County Rapist: Serial Rapists and DNA. It Works. If You Bother to Use It.

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(Hat tip to Pat)

In 2007, I stood by the mailbox of the house I once briefly rented in Sarasota, Florida, contemplating the short distance between my house and the house where my rapist grew up, less than a mile, and a strikingly direct path over a well-worn shortcut across the train tracks.

I had just spent several months and many hundreds of dollars to get copies of the police investigation reports for my rape and some of the court records of the man who was accused of, but never prosecuted for the crime. Every time he was sent away on another sex crime conviction, the police closed all the other rape cases they attributed to him.  In 1987 he was tried for one sexual assault, and at least six other cases were shelved, including mine.

Such was the economy of justice in 1987: rapes were not deemed important enough to expend the court resources to try every known defendant for every crime.  This attitude arose not from the police but from the legal establishment and, by extension, the public.  It was an accepted status quo, not just in Sarasota, but everywhere.

To behave as if each rape victim actually deserved justice and every woman deserved to be safe from offenders was not anybody’s priority for spending money in 1987.  The same can still be said today, though attitudes have spottily improved.  We’ve never spent enough money to thoroughly investigate and prosecute more than a fraction of all crimes.

Criminals know this, though the public remains largely oblivious.

I remember being astonished when the police told me the D.A. would not be prosecuting my case, even though there was evidence and a rape kit.  A few months later, the first rape case in the United States using DNA evidence would be won in Orlando, a mere hundred miles and three jurisdictions away.  There, the D.A. had decided to be aggressive and use this new technology already in use in Britain, and he succeeded.  But more than a decade would pass before DNA evidence was even routinely collected and databased in most states.

A lot of people slipped through the cracks unnecessarily during that decade, including my rapist.  Sentenced to 15 years for his 1997 crime, he walked out of prison seven years later, the beneficiary of both the state’s unwillingness to fully fund prisons and activists’ efforts to get every convict back onto the streets as quickly as possible.  He immediately returned to raping elderly women, his preferred victims, and wasn’t back in prison until 1998.  At least the prisoner activists, and the defense bar, were happy.

Before the statute of limitations ran out on my case, I had offered to return to Florida to testify against my rapist. to try to keep him behind bars for a longer period of time.  The state had the ability to test the DNA in my rape kit.  I hired a private detective and reached out to the then-current Sarasota County D.A.  They practically laughed at me for having the audacity to suggest such a thing and said they didn’t have the money to go back and try old cases.  So Henry Malone walked, and more elderly women were raped.

Have things changed, even now?  Yes and no.  Two serial rape cases in the news show both progress and stagnation.

The stagnation is in DeKalb County, Georgia, the eastern part of metro Atlanta.  I know the area well: I worked there and lived nearby for much of two decades.  A serial rapist is on a real tear in DeKalb, raping at least three women since October and possibly three more since the last week of September.  Police officials told reporters that they had requested rush DNA tests on the three unknown cases from the state lab and were waiting for results.  But when CBS News Atlanta went to the state lab to find out why the tests weren’t done yet, the head of the DNA testing unit told reporters that no such request had been made.

I’m generally sympathetic to the police — less so to police brass, who sometimes rise through the ranks due to politics, not professionalism (there are some great precinct sergeants in Dekalb County, though).  But now that the mistake has been made, the executive command ought to be out in front, showing the public that they are serious about doing everything they can do, as quickly as they can do it, to catch this rapist.  Six, or even three rapes in a few months is escalating behavior, and he threatens his victims with a gun.

Ironically, the police caught several other fugitives while searching for this rapist.  It’s all about resources: we live knee-deep in wanted felons and under-investigated suspects, and our elected officials pretend that this is a perfectly normal way to live.

Meanwhile, police in the Washington D.C. area are using the media to appeal to the public to help them find the “East Coast Rapist.”  There should be more publicity.  This rapist has been active for at least 12 years: DNA tests reveal a pattern of travel between the D.C. suburbs, Connecticut, and Rhode Island during that time.

So there is a chance that somebody else knows the identity of the rapist because of his changing locations.  Profilers used to assume that serial rapists and serial killers were loners, but this, like so many other presumptions (ie. serial killers are usually white men, serial offenders pick only one type of victim) have been proven to be false.

The Washington Post has an interactive map listing the locations and dates of the East Coast rapist’s attacks in today’s paper:

GR2009121700056The rapist may have been in prison for some other crime between 2002 and 2007, and even 2007 and 2009.  You have to figure that officials in Washington D.C., Connecticut, and Rhode Island have already submitted DNA to the national database, so if he had ever been convicted of a sex crime, or even served time for some other felony in most states, his DNA would be on record somewhere.

But who knows?  Maybe he was committing sex crimes in one of the many places where DNA samples don’t get processed properly, like Wisconsin and Michigan and California.  Maybe he’s supposed to be behind bars but hasn’t been picked up yet because nobody is bothering to keep track of thousands of offenders who have absconded on bail, the situation in Philadelphia.

It’s all about resources.  Twenty-two years after the first use of DNA in convicting a serial rapist, there should be no backlogs.  Rape is too important.  Thousands of offenders shouldn’t still be walking out of prison after skipping their DNA tests, through deceit or carelessness.  Every one of these cases represents a denial of justice to someone.

Too bad criminal justice activists and law professors and university president-types don’t get all worked up when the person being denied justice is the victim, instead of the offender.

When I purchased the transcripts from some of Henry Malone’s many perambulations through the courts (and how nice that I had to pay, and pay a lot, for them), I was astonished to read the details of one hearing that was held at Malone’s behest because he demanded reimbursement for a fine related to his car, which had been impounded when he was arrested for sexual assault.  The judge and the defense attorney seemed amused by his bizarre demand.  I don’t find it so funny.  Imagine what we paid for the judge to read that demand, for the lawyer to research the claim and represent Malone in court, for the court reporter, and the security guards, and everything else that went into assuring that Henry Malone would get to be heard in court over an inane and dismissible whim.

The same courthouse where I had been denied the chance to face Malone for raping me because nobody wanted to bother spending the money to try him for more than one rape.  Criminals have rights the rest of us can’t dream of.  It’s all about the resources, and every last dime goes to offenders; they get everything they want, whenever they want it, out of the courts, while their victims wait out in the cold.

The Guilty Project, Dennis Earl Bradford: A Jury Understood Why He Had To Slash That Woman’s Throat


The Guilty Project documents flaws in the justice system that enable serial offenders to commit more crimes.

Failure to Prosecute, Wrongful Acquittal by Jury, Early Release by State, Family/Employer Cover-Up

Dennis Earl Bradford

Dennis Earl Bradford made the news recently when cold-case investigators in Houston linked his DNA to the brutal kidnapping, rape and throat-slashing of an eight-year old child in 1990.  The child survived and was able to give investigators an excellent picture of her assailant and his first name, Dennis, which he told her.  Unfortunately, Bradford was not identified at the time as a suspect in the crime.

He moved to Little Rock, where he was caught, six years later, after committing a similar crime: he kidnapped a woman, raped her at knife-point, and slit her throat, telling her he was going to kill her.  That victim survived as well and was able to provide Bradford’s tag number to authorities.

According to CNN, Bradford was originally charged with attempted first-degree murder, but prosecutors took the murder charges off the table for some reason.  Sometimes, saying you’re going to kill someone while kidnapping them, raping them, and slitting their throat just isn’t murderous enough, I suppose.

Then a Little Rock jury refused to convict Bradford for the rape.  He had bought his victim a beer and offered her a ride home.  Therefore, they reasoned, she was asking for the rape, and she must have been hankering for a throat-slitting as well.  They did find him guilty of kidnapping, thus putting the final touch on an incoherent, irresponsible verdict: according to this brain-trust, he moved the woman against her will, but she went right along with being cut up with a knife.  And women who drink beer can’t be raped, you know.

Bradford was sentenced to 12 years in 1997 but strolled out of prison a mere three years later.  He had a toddler and a baby at the time he committed the Little Rock rape.  His boss thinks he’s a fine, upstanding citizen despite that little attempted murder/rape/throat slashing thing, and now the revelation about the eight-year old victim:

Bradford worked as a welder for United Fence in North Little Rock. A company representative said Bradford had been working there for 10 years and was a “good guy” who had mended “his old ways” and “changed his life.” He wouldn’t go into specifics about what those “old ways” were.

His family is similarly convinced of his excellent nature.  Good thing he can’t get to his own young daughter anymore:

Members of Dennis Bradford’s family . . . say the Dennis Bradford they know would not do these things.  They say he is a man his grandchildren know as a loving and gentle man.

Why can’t people like this just keep quiet, out of some simulacrum of human decency?


Lessons Learned, or Not Learned:

Dennis Bradford’s 1996 acquittal for a violent sex crime looks very much like the several free rides Sarasota (Florida) jurors and judges handed Joseph P. Smith before he kidnapped, raped and murdered Carlie Brucia.

Joseph P. Smith

Prior to having the shockingly bad luck of being caught on video abducting the 11-year old, Smith had been caught three other times attempting to abduct other victims.  But after each attack, judges or jurors judged the victims instead of Smith and let him go.

In 1993, Smith jumped a woman who was walking home from a club, breaking her nose and bones in her face.  A police officer interrupted the attack before Smith could make away with the stunned woman, but Sarasota Circuit Judge Lee Haworth decided to go easy on Smith, allowing him to plea to a lesser offense, granting him a mere sixty days in jail, and then reducing that sentence to weekend incarcerations.

For breaking a woman’s face, trying to drag her away, rape and likely kill her.  But she’d probably had a beer or two, after all.

In 1997, Smith, armed with a knife, pepper spray, and confidence that he would not face judicial consequences, attempted to abduct a woman at a gas station by claiming he needed a jump start.  She wouldn’t let him into her car but agreed to follow him back to his vehicle: luckily, someone who witnessed the odd exchange called the police, and they interrupted him again and found the weapons concealed in his shorts.  The officer who stopped him wrote that Smith “intended to do great harm” to the victim.

But another judge let him off easy, letting him plead to a concealed weapons charge in exchange for probation, rather than attempted abduction.

The third attack was witnessed by a carload of retirees, who grabbed their golf clubs and chased Smith away from a screaming woman he’d jumped by the side of a road and was dragging into the woods.  The retirees testified at Smith’s trial, but the jury acquitted him nonetheless: the woman had drunk a few beers, after all.  Jurors bought Smith’s risible story that he thought the woman looked suicidal and he was trying to help her into the woods, to safety.  They shook his hand and called him a good guy, a victim of persecution.

Then Smith raped and murdered an 11-year old.

Joseph Smith and Dennis Bradford both targeted children, targeted adults, and got let off easy for acts of extreme violence against females on the grounds that the women were asking for it.  Judges and jurors simply excused their violent assaults because some of their targets were women in bars.  Such prejudiced acquittals aren’t supposed to happen anymore, but any prosecutor will tell you they’re common, even with the levels of violence displayed.  In some jury boxes, drinking a beer can apparently still spell “deserving rape, or death.”

And in Bradford’s case, the details of his 1996 assault suggest an experienced rapist with the forethought to do away with evidence, good character kudos from his boss at the fencing company notwithstanding:

According to a 1996 police report, the victim told investigators Bradford drove her around for 20 or 30 minutes listening to a cassette tape. He took her to a secluded area and once the car stopped, immediately he began choking her and beating her in the face.

She told investigators Bradford held a knife to her eye and threatened to cut her jugular vein several times while she was raped.

Afterwards Bradford took her to a nearby creek and demanded she wash off all of the blood and evidence.

The victim told police her attacker then drove back into town and dropped her off in front of Oaklawn racetrack. He told her he planned to kill her, but got scared at the last minute.

How many more victims will surface?  You don’t start out kidnapping victims from their bedrooms and slitting their throats, nor do you simply take five years off between violent, thought-out attacks.  What you do is concentrate on victimizing the types of women nobody will believe, women who drink beer, for example, who will be dismissed by jurors who look at their broken faces and slashed throats and say: “she sure was asking for it.”

Anti-incarceration activists often complain that putting men in prison “turns them into hardened criminals.”  In the case of Joseph Smith and Dennis Bradford, judges and jurors letting them off easy for their crimes appear to have done the same.

Delmer Smith and the A.C.L.U.

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Delmer Smith is now either being investigated or charged in 11 attacks on women and one on a man that occurred after he left DNA at a crime scene in 2008.  Had the FBI bothered to upload his DNA profile into their database in a timely manner, these 12 rape, murder, and assault victims would not be victims today.  For, if the FBI had done its job, Smith would have been identified the first time he committed a sexual assault after release from prison, and police would have known where to find him because he also had to register his address with the parole board.

Looking beyond the FBI’s screw-up, this case illustrates the importance of probation and registration requirements and of laws that require all convicted felons to give samples of DNA.

If the system had been working as it was supposed to, Smith would have never gotten the chance to victimize so many people.  Yet these DNA database laws are vehemently opposed by the A.C.L.U.

If the A.C.L.U. had its way, convicted felons like Delmer Smith would be able to keep committing crimes under the cover of anonymity, while police hands would remain tied.  The police would be denied the very tools that are credited with significantly reducing the rate of rape in recent years.  That’s thousands of rapes prevented by getting serial rapists off the streets.

The A.C.L.U. argues that the government can’t be trusted with sensitive information like DNA; they argue that ‘in the future, the database might get misused.’ They insinuate that medical information might be gleaned from the information in the database, which is just silly.  They float accusations of potential racial profiling.  They say anything, in other words, to try to inspire fear, in order to achieve their real goal, which is to block the enforcement of the law, by any means necessary, no matter the body count.

When you hear arguments about how unfair it is to force ex-cons to register with the state, or to keep their DNA on record for the next time they decide to rape an elderly woman or beat someone to death, think of Delmer Smith’s 11 victims.  Good policing stopped Smith after bad administration of the federal DNA database slipped up.  But this case illustrates precisely why the police need all the tools they can get.

No matter what the A.C.L.U. says.

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?

Homeless Sex Offenders are Not Gentle Woodland Creatures, Nor Innocent Sprites, Nor Toy-Making Elves


Now the Atlanta Journal Constitution has joined other news outlets spinning fairy tales about the plight of homeless sex offenders forced to live in the woods/under bridges/by the wee blarney rock, where the moss grows.

The stories go like this: completely harmless, harshly punished sex offenders are being forced to live in tents for no other reason but that we invented “draconian” laws that limit where they can obtain housing.  If only we didn’t insist on these cruel living restrictions, why, they’d all be happily ensconced in little cottages with gingham curtains.  But instead, they have to live in the big, bad woods.

That’s a really sad story.  Good thing it isn’t true.

The Miami Herald started this trumped-up morality tale hash with a story about 70 sex offenders living under a bridge.  Yes, their parole officers had directed them there; yes, they had failed to find other housing in that area of Miami.  So why didn’t they move someplace else?  I’d love to live in downtown Miami too, but I can’t afford it.  Neither could they — so they could have simply moved outside the city’s downtown, which, incidentally, was already brimming with sex offenders who were not homeless, many hundreds of them (a fact that apparently eluded all the reporters who descended on Miami to record the plight of the small number of homeless ones).

But somehow, “Homeless Sex Offenders Forced to Get Jobs, Live Within Their Means” just doesn’t have that awards ceremony ring to it.

One of the reasons Miami has such a large population of both sex offenders and homeless sex offenders is because they move there from other states, as do thousands of other homeless people who descend on that city, and other cities in Florida (like St. Petersburg) where it’s possible to live outside year-around.  You know, Midnight Cowboy?  Homeless people, chronic drunks, drug addicts come to escape the cold and stay on in a place notorious for both its drug trade and incredibly corrupt social services, where it’s almost impossible not to get free money from Medicaid scams (mainly, though, it’s the weather).

When homeless sex offenders have to register and announce where they are living, suddenly they are a visible problem, even if they were already homeless for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with sex offender living restriction laws.  How many of those men bathetically living under the bridge would have ended up just as homeless without living restrictions?  How many are drunks and drug addicts who simply refuse to look for work, the real cause of most homelessness?

When I actually started looking up the criminal records of the offenders listed as residents under that infamous Miami Bridge (which, apparently, nobody in any newsroom did), I was surprised to see how many of them had not served their time in Florida for prison-level offenses.  Could the fact that the city had become a magnet for sex offenders — rather than the innate draconianness of the law-abiding — explain city leaders’ desire to make Miami a less desirable destination for rapists from chilly climes?

Nobody in the media was interested in asking questions like that, of course.  They were busy tramping around the “encampment” in fake safari gear, shooting photos of tragic extension cords in the sand and such, and credulously tape-recording tall tales of woe peddled to them by child rapists.

This went on for some time.  Then the authorities moved in and moved the sex offenders — you guessed it — to available housing.  The real issue was money, and once hysterical reporters guilted the government into shoveling a whole bunch more money at a group of miscreants who had long-ago burned through the ordinary goodwill offered by families and employers, suddenly housing was available that could take them, for a price (paid, of course, by us).

This is a racket other homeless people should look into.  But unless they set out to commit sex crimes in order to find a nice government-subsidized pad, I don’t know what type of honey-pot they’re going to find to lure NPR reporters into their stinky lairs.  Regular homeless people are just so 1985.


Of course, living restrictions — 1,000 or 2,500 foot rules — have depleted the quantity of housing stock available to registered sex criminals, especially in some urban areas.  But I suspect that it is the laws requiring sex offenders to register their addresses, not restrictions on where offenders may live, that has depleted the housing stock more dramatically.  The primary deterrent keeping people from renting to sex offenders is probably the requirement to announce the presence of a sex offender at a certain address, something even the slummiest slumlords are loath to do.  Nobody in the media explored this possibility.

That would have, of course, involved more work than just showing up, sweaty A.C.L.U. press release in hand, to fuming about the outrageous fate visited upon these accidental trolls.  It would involve numbers, research: finding landlords who used to rent to sex offenders but stopped when neighbors found their tenants on websites, and landlords who still do rent to offenders but won’t take broke, drunk, or violent ones.  All in all, harder work than spending five minutes emoting righteously on a beach while the camera-girl keeps her backside firmly against the lean-to wall.

Could the media’s disinterest in registration as a cause of homelessness also arise from the fact that the public supports and understand the value of registering sex offenders, far more than they support restricting where sex offenders may live?

Registration makes sex offenses visible: it makes visible all the sex crimes committed by that guy who comes to rent your mother’s house or apply for that job at the Kentucky Fried Chicken.  My own rapist had a nasty habit, between rapes, of stalking female employees and customers at the fast food place where he was employed.  Pre-registry, he got away with it, and the restaurant declined to prosecute him when he got caught peering under stalls in the women’s room, probably because that one offense didn’t seem like a big enough deal to act upon, absent knowledge of the rest of his colorful past.

A shame, because he went on to commit some really horrific additional offenses.  Like many sex offenders, peeping was only his day job.  Nowadays, his criminal history would have been available to potential employers or landlords, and, believe me, they would not be letting him close down shop at 11 p.m. with that nice teenage girl they’d just hired to run the cash register.

And it’s not just sex crimes that pop up on background checks now.  Even a cursory search of the criminal records of the homeless-men-living-under-the-bridge revealed scores of non-sex crime-related good reasons to refuse to hire or rent to them — armed robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries, check-kiting.  The availability of this information doubtlessly contributes to homelessness among all ex-cons, not just the ones who are sex offenders.

Yet somehow, other homeless ex-cons just don’t inspire the type of romanticized advocacy showered by the media on sex criminals.

What really happened in Miami is this: a bunch of criminals who probably would have been homeless anyway ended up in an encampment because they refused to relocate to areas where they could legally live but were undesirable to them for other reasons (no water view?  long commute to good panhandling?  miss the nights spent swapping stories over the sex-offender fire?).  They attracted the attention of the A.C.L.U., which is hell-bent not only on overturning living restriction laws but also sex offender registration laws, and even blocking employer access to non-sex crime criminal histories (an idea being kited by “re-entry” activists in the Justice Department, too).

The A.C.L.U. saw, in the homeless encampment, an irresistible public relations coup.  And they knew that the media, which romanticizes sex offenders even more than they romanticize other criminals, would not look too closely.  Boy, were they right: you can accuse civil libertarian lawyers of a lot of sins, but dullness ain’t one of them.


Fast-forward a few months and a few thousand AP reprints later.  Somehow, the 70 sex offenders living under the bridge got some 7.5 million tax dollars to move, and move they did.  I suppose the feds are building them a magical forest and golf-course community in Hialeah, with that pot of gold.  This inspired other intrepid reporters in other cities to go searching for their own lucky Pulitzer-bearing leprechauns in the woods, and, amazingly, they found them.

Reporters found drunken, drug-addicted, violent, lazy, perverted ex-cons who have trouble finding people who will let them live in their houses!

Who says journalism is dead?


Speaking of journalists, I realize, as I’m writing this, that I owe that editor at Gawker a huge apology for taking him to task yesterday for using a mean term to describe those who feel that Roman Polanski should indeed go to jail for anally raping a child.  Gawker, you see, was the only major news outlet in the country that called one of those homeless-sex offenders-under-the-bridge-type stories for what it is:

“so unrelentingly hackneyed that William Shatner ought to read it aloud to bongos.”

Now, the story they were mocking was not exactly a homeless-sex-offender-under-the-bridge story: there was no bridge in it, for one thing, and Times columnist Dan Barry completely didn’t notice that the grizzled homeless guy he was swooning over turned out to be a serial child rapist and former most-wanted criminal who was in violation of his own requirement to register with the state when he offered to share his woods-wisdom with the reporter.  That little fact only came out after Barry’s column had been published, when an entirely different person decided to spend all of ten seconds typing Grizzly Adams’ name into the state criminal database.

You know, to see if any of the things the Times had just published about the guy’s plight were even true.

Which they weren’t, a fact that eluded the — what — 1,500, 2,000 employee Times newsroom?

To summarize,

This:                                                                             Is not this:

Will Ferrell, playing a mythical, toy-making elf              John Frietas, registry-absconding child-rapist

Once you get done asking yourself why none of the 1,500 – 2,000 reporters and editors and fact-checkers employed by the Times did even the most rudimentary background check on a self-professed criminal who was the subject of a scolding column about how we don’t care about the homeless as much as Dan Barry does, you really have to ask yourself this:

Why would a most-wanted registry-absconding serial child sex offender allow himself be interviewed at length by a famous, nationally-syndicated reporter from the biggest-circulation newspaper in the world?

I can’t think of any reason, except maybe this John Frietas subscribes to the New York Times, and so he felt safe pitching his story there.

Sorry, Gawker.  I was wrong to question your integrity.

More Lessons from the Milwaukee Serial Killer Case: Victims’ Lives Aren’t Worth Very Much


Failure to Protect:

Following the identification of Milwaukee serial killer Walter E. Ellis, Wisconsin officials are acknowledging that at least 12,000 DNA samples that were supposed to be taken from convicted felons and databased are missing from the state registry.

Add to that the 50,000 felon samples acknowledged missing in Illinois, and the hundreds of thousands of other samples from both felons and victim kits that are routinely discovered “stockpiled” or “shelved” or simply gone missing, and what becomes visible is a systematic abandonment of the rights of victims and protection of the public from crime.

So why is there no outcry?  Why are ten, or thirty, or fifty dead women so easy to leave behind?  Sure, we read these stories with prurient interest.  The term “serial killer” piques imagination and inspires Hollywood stories.  But nobody seems to be able to take the next step, to behaving as if injustice to victims matters as much as injustice to anyone else.

For it isn’t just that Ellis’ DNA sample disappeared.  It’s far worse than that.  Ellis convinced another felon to give a sample for him.  On discovering the duplication of samples in the database, the tech simply threw out the one wrongly attributed to Ellis and left his profile blank.  It sounds as if this happened all the time, but nobody did anything about it.  Ellis was released from prison three months before the faked DNA sample was noticed, and his address was known, but authorities did nothing to obtain an accurate sample.

Even with a serial killer operating in Ellis’ neighborhood, and his own prior record, there apparently wasn’t enough curiosity about his effort to conceal his DNA.

Bodies, Bodies Everywhere:

DNA technology has been used in criminal convictions in the United States since 1987, when the first rape case was won using DNA in Orlando, Florida.  Despite the astonishing promise of this technology, it was years before some states even began testing suspects for DNA, and nearly a decade passed before the FBI managed to convince the first few states to begin sharing samples.  At every step of the way, civil liberties organizations have fought implementation of DNA testing, except, of course, in cases where it might be used to exonerate someone.

Georgia recently passed the threshold of solving 1500 cold cases from their database, though “solving” doesn’t necessarily translate into convicting the offenders.  Who’s got the money for all that?  And Georgia, like every other state, still suffers from perennial backlogs and rape kits that go missing.  Meanwhile, murderers like Brian Nichols get stables of silk-stocking lawyers on the public dime.

Little wonder the bodies keep piling up.  In addition to the seven murder victims now tied to Walter E. Ellis, twenty other similar, unsolved murders are being investigated again.  That’s twenty-seven raped and murdered women in Milwaukee whose killers were never caught.  Why?  Lack of resources.  Too many murderers, and not enough cops:

Nick Sandoval, a detective . . . said the homicide unit was understaffed and detectives were often overwhelmed by the number of killings they were investigating. There were 85 homicides that year.  “We were so short-handed,” he said. “Homicides would come in and we would start on one and we never really got our teeth into them to the point that we could do decent follow-up work. We would come in the next morning and, lo and behold, we would have another one. It was like a vicious circle.”

Here is what the cold case investigators in Milwaukee had to comb through:

They sifted through 500 names in case files, 15,000 sexual assault cases spanning 23 years, 6,000 prostitute-related investigations, and 2,000 arrests in the geographic areas where bodies were discovered over a 15-year period.

As I mentioned in this post, Ellis was arrested multiple times.  It isn’t clear why he wasn’t convicted and sentenced to prison after some of those arrests.  How much precious police time and manpower got wasted because prosecutors and judges didn’t follow through?

A Convicted Rapist Working in a Hospital?

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, there are so many serial killings and serial rapes being re-investigated now that it takes color-coded charts to sort them out.  Investigators searching for the killer of ten young, black women recently stumbled upon a serial killer responsible for another cluster of crimes: the rapes and rape-murders of dozens of elderly white women in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Like Walter Ellis, John Floyd Thomas managed to avoid giving police a required DNA sample.  Prior to the advent of DNA, Thomas had twice been convicted of rape, sent to prison, and released.  Later changes in the law required him to submit a sample, but he apparently didn’t comply and was not caught.  He was finally identified by a detective who was trying to solve the young women’s murders by rounding up convicted rapists who had avoided the new DNA law.

One chilling aspect of Thomas is his criminal longevity: his first rape conviction came in 1957, and he is now tied through DNA to a 1986 case.  That’s nearly 30 years — or perhaps longer — of raping and killing women.  Why didn’t he get caught?  Well, he did, of course, once in 1957, and again in 1978, but he was released early, so he could continue doing this:

The “Westside Rapist” became one of the more notorious criminals of the era. Victims ranged in age from the 50s to the 90s. Bella Stumbo, the late Times feature writer, wrote in December 1975 that the “serenity” of the neighborhoods where the victims lived “had been so grotesquely invaded by that elusive maniac the police loosely refer to as the ‘Westside rapist,’ now accused of sexually assaulting at l[e]ast 33 old women and murdering perhaps 10 of them.” She said residents lived in “small colonies of terror.”  The attacks appeared to stop in 1978. That year, a witness took down Thomas’ license plate after he raped a woman in Pasadena. He was convicted and sent to state prison.

Five years later, he was out, and the killings started up again.

Thomas was enabled by his family and by a legal system that made it very difficult to keep him locked away for long.  Others also apparently overlooked his criminal record to give him jobs in social work, a hospital, and a state insurance agency.  It is hard to understand how somebody with a prison record for rape could get a job in social work, or in a hospital, where he had access to vulnerable, elderly, immobilized women — his preferred targets.

Thomas was a work acquaintance of activist Earl Ofari-Hutchinson, who wrote this thoughtful article in the wake of Thomas’ capture.

Released Early and Not Monitored

Meanwhile, investigators are asking why Phillip Garrido, who kidnapped Jaycee Lee Dugard when she was 11 and held her captive as a sex slave for 18 years, was released decades early from a federal conviction for another brutal sex crime.

Decades early.  The federal system, at least, is supposed to be strict when it comes to offenders serving time.  Garrido received a 50-year sentence for an horrific kidnapping and sexual assault in 1976.  11 years later, he was released, apparently in violation of federal sentencing rules:

[Q]uestions intensified Monday over how Phillip Garrido could have served only 11 years in prison after a 1976 rape and kidnapping for which he had been given a 50-year federal sentence as well as a life term in Nevada.

Garrido was convicted of kidnapping in federal court for abducting Katherine Callaway in South Lake Tahoe on a November night nearly 33 years ago and driving her — handcuffed and hogtied — to Reno. He then pleaded guilty to a Nevada state rape charge for assaulting her in a storage unit.

Former Assistant U.S. Atty. Leland Lutfy, who prosecuted the kidnapping case, said Monday that he was “amazed” because, at the time, he believed that defendants convicted of federal crimes were required to serve two-thirds of their sentences — in this case, 33 years. That would have kept him safely away from Dugard, who was snatched from her quiet street in 1991.

“It makes no sense to me,” he said in an interview.

The real question Lutfy and others need to be asking is this: how many more Phillip Garridos are out there?

I wonder why anyone bothers to express surprise that an offender with a life sentence walked out of prison after a few years to commit more violent crimes against women and young girls.  It happens every day.  The U.S. Parole Commission, which was responsible for Garridos’ release, is refusing to answer questions:

A spokesman for the U.S. Parole Commission did not return a call for comment about why Garrido was set free in 1988.

Loyola Law professor Laurie Levenson said that barring an extraordinary situation, “there is no way on a 50-year sentence he should have been out.”

Count me not surprised: parole boards are frequently stacked with pro-offender activists who believe themselves to be above the law.  In trial testimony that should have been reviewed by the federal parole board, Garrido admitted to acting on uncontrollable sexual urges for children as young as seven:

Phillip Garrido admitted that starting in 1968 he hung around schools and pleasured himself while “watching young females.”  “I have done it by the side of schools, grammar schools and high schools, in my own car,” Garrido said in court testimony obtained Tuesday by The Daily News.  Asked how old these girls were, Garrido replied, “From 7 to 10.”

Nevertheless, the parole board decided that he should be released after serving one-fifth of his sentence, and he immediately kidnapped Jayce Lee Dugard.  Three years later, when Jayce was 14, she gave birth to the first of the children with which her rapist impregnated her.  Parole officers apparently didn’t notice that the man they were supposed to be watching had a pregnant prepubescent girl living in a shack in his backyard.

That means the parole officers also did not avail themselves of any records regarding his conviction.  Or something even worse — they knew his history but still viewed Garrido as the real victim of a harsh system.  How could they neglect to check the structures in his backyard, when he was on parole for kidnapping a woman and holding her in a storage unit, and neighbors raised questions about the young females in the storage unit in his backyard?  It belies the imagination, yet the media seems strangely incurious about Garrido’s parole officers.  Why?


This woman, U.C. Berkeley Police Specialist Lisa Campbell, didn’t think Garrido’s behavior was normal when she saw him dragging his “family” around the Berkeley campus.  She started asking questions and ultimately rescued Jayce Lee Dugard and her daughters:

Walter Ellis, John Floyd Thomas, Phillip Garrido: the cops arrest them, and the judges and parole boards let them go.  Not anymore, at least, for these three men.  But how many women and children had to be raped, and killed, in just these three cases, before anybody in the courts could be bothered to respond appropriately, all the times these men could have been put away?

Another Entirely Accurate Critique of the Miami Homeless Sex Offender “Crisis”:

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From PROTECT, the National Association to Protect Children:

Miami’s Julia Tuttle Causeway fiasco–where about 70 “registered” sex offenders have been herded under a bridge to live–is being challenged in court by the ACLU.

PROTECT wrote about the situation earlier this year (See “Gimmicks Gone Wild,” March, 2009 Newswire), calling it a “cynical game of sex offender dumping.” The New York Times reports today that Miami probation officers are telling released sex offenders to go join the encampment, because there are virtually no area rental apartments to be had that don’t violate local residency restriction ordinances for “registered” sex offenders.

Miami area officials, like those in many jurisdictions around the country, are passing the ordinances in a desperate gesture to keep released sex offenders away from children.

The New York Times reports that Florida Governor Charlie Crist “placed the responsibility [for monitoring released offenders] squarely on local governments.”

As long as state politicians continue to peddle sex offender “registration” schemes as a low-cost alternative to incarceration and intensive probation and parole, local authorities will continue to fall back on ineffective zoning ordinances and highway bridges as their main public safety strategy.

Crime Denial at the New York Times: An Update

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Yesterday, while writing about the Times‘ willful misrepresentation of a child sexual assault conviction, I noted:

[W]hen I see an offender with a record of one or three instances of “inappropriate touching,” I suspect that’s the tip of the iceberg.  I suspect the conviction is the result of a plea bargain agreed to just to get the sick bastard away from the child and onto a registry, which is the most victims can reasonably hope for in the courts these days . . .

Well, it didn’t take long to illustrate that point.  From the Cincinnati Enquirer:

Convicted Rapist Sentenced to Life — Again

Barry Daniels was supposed to spend the rest of his life in prison when he was convicted in 1978 of raping a child.

Instead, he served 19 years and was released, returning to Cincinnati where he worked for more than a decade as a maintenance man.

On Tuesday, Daniels was back in court, to be sentenced after he was convicted of raping another child, a 9-year-old girl last September.

Prosecutors had offered Daniels a plea offer of — you guessed it — sexual touching.  Just like this guy, whose fib about his own crimes was credulously reported as fact in the New York Times:

Patrick Wiese, 48 . . . said he served time in prison after having his stepdaughter touch him inappropriately. . .

Unfortunately for the nine-year-old victim in Cincinnati, Barry Daniels refused the plea offered to him, and the child was forced to testify against her rapist.  Fortunately, the jury believed her and sent Daniels to prison for life — again.  Hopefully this time it will stick:

The girl testified during the trial and, despite the stress and embarrassment, proved to be a star witness.

Before the jury was seated, prosecutors [had] offered Daniels a plea offer – to try to prevent the child victim from having to testify – that would have resulted in him pleading guilty of sexually touching the child and being imprisoned for a maximum of five years.

Note that Daniels was offered a sentence that would have put him back on the streets in five years or less.  Prosecutors were willing to essentially “disappear” the rape of a child to get him back into the system, to spare the child more trauma, and, doubtlessly, to avoid incurring the costs of a trial.  Such are the economics of justice these days: a child rapist who rapes another child after being released early is offered a slap on the wrist.

Chillingly, Daniels was willing to take his chances.  And why not?  It’s practically impossible to seat a jury these days in which there is not at least one knucklehead who imagines he is playing Atticus Finch, or re-playing 12 Angry Men, or who just believes that there is never any way to know that anybody is actually guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of anything.

The Daniels jurors did none of these things, bless them.  But if I was guilty of raping a nine-year old child, I’d still take my chances with a jury.  And when you see news articles bemoaning society’s cruel treatment of “men who did nothing more than sexually touch a child,” remember to ask yourself what they really did.   

Crime Denial at the New York Times, Part 1: Regarding the Torture of (Some) Others


The New York Times is the most important newspaper in America, and that is unfortunate, for in their pages, ordinary criminals are frequently treated with extreme deference and sympathy, even respect.  Some types of criminals are excluded from this kid-glove treatment, but that is a subject for another day.  For the most part, ordinary (property, drug, violent, sexual) criminals comprise a protected class in the Times.  Even when it must be acknowledged that someone has, in fact, committed a crime, the newsroom’s mission merely shifts to minimizing the culpability of the offender by other means.

There are various ways of doing this.  Some have to do with selectively criticizing the justice system: for example, the Times reports criminal appeals in detail without bothering to acknowledge congruent facts that support the prosecution and conviction.  They misrepresent the circumstances that lead to (sometimes, sometimes not) wrongful convictions while showing no curiosity about the exponentially higher rate of non-prosecution of crimes.

Then there is their intense personal interest in — advocacy for — offenders.  They pen long profiles of criminals, detailing their difficult childhoods, their self-reported rehabilitation, their suffering in prison, and the social conditions that allegedly “drove them” to victimize others.  These stories rarely include more than passing mention of offenders’ crimes, if they even do that.

Here is the crux of the problem arising from their pro-offender biases: you cannot easily empathize with both a rapist and his victim, so the victim must be erased, or maligned, and the crime erased, or minimized, in order to enhance the reporter’s fictional vision of the criminal.

It is as if these people labor in irony-poor air beneath a giant, pulsating edition of Camus’ The Stranger.

In addition to sloppy ethics, this allegiance to one side of the story leads to sloppy reporting.  Sloppy reporting is hardly the worst sin, but it is one that might embarrass them more deeply than the act of reducing victims to one-dimensional, inhuman flotsam.

That part, after all, is entirely intentional.

Last Thursday, the Times ran a typical crime-denying story about the travails of sex offenders who have been released from prison and now live in a homeless settlement under the Julia Tuttle Causeway in Miami.  The sex offenders’ advocates say that they are living in tents under the causeway because local laws restrict convicted sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of zones where children gather, and they can find no other place where they may reside legally.

The Times reporter spoke with two of the approximately seventy sex offenders who live under the bridge.  He did not bother to note that there are hundreds of registered sex offenders who actually live in apartments near the bridge and throughout the city.  You can see the location of registered sex offenders living either on or near the Julia Tuttle Causeway at the Florida Sexual Offenders and Predators website.  Go to “neighborhood search”; enter “3400 Biscayne Blvd., 33137″ (an address near the bridge), and choose “five mile radius” and “map” to view the entire downtown.  The men dwelling under the bridge appear on the left shore of the causeway.

Some of the men living in apartments have been registered quite recently, so I don’t know why it is that they have housing while others are “forced to” reside under the bridge.  Is it a question of money and not just the living restrictions law?  Are they addicts who would be homeless anyway, and that is the only place where they can live while homeless?  Is it simply getting harder for offenders to find housing because they have to register their addresses now, and landlords are understandably hesitant to accept them as tenants because then their other tenants and neighbors have access to their criminal records?  Is the housing problem caused by sex offender registration laws, as much as by sex offender living restriction laws?  What are the additional circumstances, not reported by the media, that end in an offender moving under the bridge?  Such questions are not addressed in the many news stories about the poor-sex-offenders-living-under-the-bridge.

There are thousands of homeless people in Miami: the ones who are not sex offenders, however, are not currently a pet cause in the national press.

The sight of so many sex offenders in one place is startling: it is no solution for them to live there, of course.  But then, when you expand the search area on the sex offenders website to see the sex offenders living throughout the city, something else becomes startling, as well.  Some streets seem filled with offenders.  There are seven hundred registered sex offenders in downtown Miami alone.  When you look at that map, at flag upon flag until the city disappears beneath them, you can understand why people said: “Enough. We don’t want any more of them near us.”

That is another thing you will not read in the New York Times.

The A.C.L.U. is using this sex offender encampment to challenge living restriction laws, and so “Julia Tuttle Causeway” has become a sort of national rallying cry for activists who oppose placing restrictions on where convicted sex offenders may live.  These activists unabashedly include reporters who have done an especially poor job of covering the living restrictions issue from all sides.

For example, one reporter writes that there is “no proof” that living restrictions prevent crime, and then another reporter repeats that as fact, yet they do not bother to write about instances of convicted offenders being picked up and returned to prison for refusing to stay away from restricted zones.  They never discuss cases where family members tried, and failed, to have a threatening offender returned to prison but could not because, prior to these laws, the bar was often too high to do so.  Parole officers were hesitant to act without adequate power, or they were sympathetic to the offender, or apathetic, their apathy aided by vague laws.  For one tragic example, see the Silver Comet Trail killer, here and here.

Now, large numbers of convicted sex offenders who would have flown under the radar before the registration laws and living restriction laws went into effect have instead been removed from the streets for violating the terms of their release.  Of course, there is no way to count the number of potential sexual assaults that are headed off by enforcing this part of offenders’ sentences.  But that is part of the story, if you actually report the story objectively.

Enforcement of living restrictions is complicated.  At what point do restrictions become too onerous?  Too cost-inefficient?  How many men are returning to prison for violating them?  How many of these men attacked additional victims while they were breaking the laws?  Are strict registration rules, without living restrictions, perhaps the better choice?

Or do living restriction laws offer poor communities the only chance to avoid becoming dumping grounds for huge numbers of sex offenders, even if it is a piecemeal, inefficient approach?

The Times doesn’t care to answer such questions. Faced with a complex subject, they retreat to their preferred narrative, that the men living under the Julia Tuttle Bridge are victims of government oppression:

Under the bridge on Thursday, tents and plywood shacks competed for space with rusty bicycles, a skinny cat, and a beige lawn chair. In a sign of the camp’s bereft permanence, a yellow electrical cord attached to a generator snaked through the camp flat against the ground, pounded by countless footsteps.

Bereft permanence.  And make that completely innocent victims: otherwise, the narrative grows muddy.  But how do you make the case that these seventy convicted sexual offenders are innocents deserving of sympathy?   Shockingly, rather than reporting their official records, the reporter does this by allowing the offenders he interviews to describe their own crimes:

Patrick Wiese, 48 . . . said he served time in prison after having his stepdaughter touch him inappropriately. . .

Look at how carefully the reporter crafts this phrase: “after having his stepdaughter touch him inappropriately.”  Having her . . . touch . . . inappropriately.  A whisper of a crime.  A transitory moment, a merely “inappropriate” gesture, and now he lives under a bridge, poor man, poor Humbert Humbert, three solid years of the countless pounding footsteps and extension cords and relentless sun.

Of course, that is not what really happened.

Here are the crimes for which Patrick Wiese was convicted: three counts of molesting a child under the age of 12 over a period of nine months.  The disposition is available on-line.  Why would a reporter fail to check the record?

Or rather, which is worse: failing to check the official record, or checking it and then intentionally misrepresenting it?

I have a hard time believing that the Times wouldn’t bother to do a simple, on-line fact check, so I think the reporter looked at Patrick Wiese’s record and tried to figure out how to make Wiese sound as “innocent” as possible, even though the only way of doing so would be to collude in obfuscating — denying — his repeated sexual assault of a young child.

The Times, after all, wanted its readers to see only one thing: a bridge, with broken men huddled beneath it, abused by the world, not abusers.  And so the reporter, doing his job, denied through careful omission repeated instances of sexual torture in the interest of advancing this agenda.

You know, like Rumsfeld did with Abu Ghraib.

Only when Abu Ghraib happened, the Times howled to the heavens.  Then, they took a stand in favor of total transparency.  They rejected arguments about the safety of the troops in wartime, calling them a smokescreen for a political agenda.  They published an “important,” line-in-the-sand essay in which Susan Sontag raged over the horror of subjecting male prisoners to sexual abuse, titled “Regarding the Torture of Others.”  They published scores of other articles exploring every aspect of those violations, slowly, graphically, outragedly.

Add to that, ironically.  For when this Times reporter was required by routine standards of journalistic accuracy to note the repeated sexual assault — the repeated sexual torture — of a child, “under twelve,” the Times allowed that crime to be swept under the carpet in the interest of advancing their agenda.

Some victims of repeated sexual abuse are just more important than others, I suppose.

It would have taken one sentence to present a correct record of Patrick Wiese’s crimes.  Not only should the Times have done that, but given the subject of the article, they should have noted his denial of the serious nature of his crime alongside the official record documenting it.  The article, after all, was supposed to be about measures taken to address recidivism by sexual offenders.

How do you justify talking about recidivism policy while denying the recidivist nature of the crimes committed by the very person you are using to illustrate the subject?

Consider the particular horror of this instance of child sexual abuse.  The victim was a child, under twelve; she was forced to live with her rapist.  He had access to her all of the time; she was also forced, for months, or years, to behave as if the rape was not happening.  She had to go to sleep at night with him in the house.  She was told by him that she was the one who was guilty of touching him.  She was told that “touching” him (one must assume sexually manipulating him) was a minor thing, nothing to take seriously or tell.  And then, after enduring the horror of repeated assault, then police interviews, and frightening exams, and a terribly frightening trial, a reporter comes along and says to the world precisely what the rapist said to her: “She touched him.”  “Yeah, it was inappropriate.  Touching.”

I know several victims of childhood sexual assault, and this type of denial on the part of others is every bit as soul-corroding as the assaults themselves.

Consider this, too: anyone who works with childhood sexual abuse victims will tell you that prosecuting abusers is incredibly difficult because circumstances make it very easy to avoid leaving the types of physical evidence that can hold up in court.  After all, offenders live with their victims; they often dress them and undress them and bathe them and lie down next to them in their beds, so unless a child-victim is so severely injured that he or she is brought to the hospital directly following an assault in which semen was left behind, or the victim is infected with a traceable venereal disease, there is little chance of proving forcible rape.  Oral sodomy is even more difficult to prove.

So when I see an offender with a record of one or three instances of “inappropriate touching,” I suspect that’s the tip of the iceberg.  I suspect the conviction is the result of a plea bargain agreed to just to get the sick bastard away from the child and onto a registry, which is the most victims can reasonably hope for in the courts these days, as jurors increasingly demand DNA evidence or actual photographs of the crime.

One would think the amount of denial of crime that is built into our criminal justice system would be enough: enough of a burden to place on victims; more than enough of a burden to place on a child who has been forced to live with her abuser until somebody finally forced him to live somewhere else.  Like under the Julia Tuttle Causeway in Miami.

But in the newsroom of the New York Times, there is never enough crime denial, never enough opportunities to bury what has been done to victims in order to make the offenders the only real victims in sight.

An Important Law Georgia Still Does Not Have: Arrestee DNA Databasing


Back in the 1990’s, Georgia Lt. Governor Mark Taylor made it a priority to build the state’s DNA crime database.  He did this long before other states got on board, and for many years Georgia was rightly viewed as a leader in using DNA to solve violent crimes.  Taylor was driven by his strong commitment to victims of rape and child molestation who had been denied justice.  He did not heed the civil rights and convict rights lobbies who tried to stir up hysteria over using DNA to solve crimes (ironically, these same activists are howling over the Supreme Court’s utterly reasonable decision last week not to enshrine post-conviction DNA as a blanket, federal right, when 46 states already guarantee it, as even Barry Scheck admits: don’t believe virtually anything you read about this case on the editorial pages).

Taylor’s leadership on DNA databasing yielded an extraordinary number of database “hits” long before other states got their databases up and running.  In 1998, only convicted and incarcerated sex offenders were required to submit DNA samples in Georgia, yet 13 repeat-offender rapists were immediately linked to other sexual assaults, and scores of “unidentified offender” profiles were readied to be used if those offenders were finally caught and tested.

The convicted-and-imprisoned-sex-offenders-only database also revealed a chilling reality: many of the prolific rapists whose DNA matched other sex assaults had only ever been convicted of non-sex crimes such as drug crimes, burglary, and robbery.

Any prosecutor of a certain age will tell you that, before DNA evidence, it was so difficult to prosecute rapists that prosecutors often made the choice to allow rapists to plead to non-sex offenses such as burglary just to (temporarily) get them off the streets.  This strategy was directed at serial, stranger sex offenders who were known to the cops but managed to avoid conviction because the public was so resistant to finding anyone guilty of rape.  Taylor’s database made this injustice to victims visible.

Unfortunately, the types of injustice (to victims) and justice (against offenders) the database revealed was of little interest to the media.

Nevertheless, for several years, Georgia’s DNA database quietly withstood efforts by “civil rights” activists to shut it down.  In 2000, the legislature expanded DNA testing to all incarcerated felons: 70 crimes were immediately solved, including serial rapes committed by convicts who had no prior rape convictions.

In 2007, the legislature expanded the database again, adding felony probationers — that weird category, the existence of which should splash some cold water on heartfelt feelings that we are far too harsh in sentencing and imprisoning criminals.  In the real world, even violent felons still routinely walk away with nothing more than probation for their crimes.

As of a year ago, thanks to the expansion of the database, 12 of these “felony probationers” were linked to serious crimes through DNA.  That’s 12 fewer violent offenders on the streets.

Still, no paper.  Few headlines.  Fewer editorials.  And, eventually, Georgia began to fall behind other states in DNA databasing.

As I write this, Florida Governor Charlie Crist has briefly emerged from his offender-kumbaya-fervor to sign a bill requiring all people arrested for felonies to submit DNA samples for analysis — just like they submit photographs and fingerprints.  Florida now joins 20 other states that are using DNA to investigate and solve crimes (Denver D.A. Mitchell R. Morrissey has a good website explaining the use of DNA in the courts).

But Georgia still languishes on the list of states that do not require DNA samples to be drawn upon arrest for a felony.  Here is a chart comparing state laws from the DNA Resource Report.

In 2008, the Georgia Legislature did pass Senate Bill 430, which started out as a felony arrestee DNA database bill but got watered down through the legislative process.  It emerged as little more than a statement affirming that prosecutors may ask the GBI to check a suspect’s DNA sample against the existing database so long as “the sample was obtained through a search warrant, consent of the suspect, court order, or other lawful means.”  Then it concludes: “The bureau [GBI] shall not add a DNA profile of any such suspect to any DNA data bank except upon conviction.”

In other words, a bill that started out attempting to add felony arrestees to the state database morphed into a bill specifically restricting arrestee DNA from being added to the state database.  I’d like to know the story behind this watering-down, particularly as it occurred at the same time when other states were successfully expanding their DNA databases to include felony arrestee samples under certain conditions.

Why did Georgia fold?  Is there another bill in the works?

If you still aren’t convinced that arrestee DNA databasing is an urgent need, take a look at the website for DNA Saves, the organization Dave and Jayann Sepich started after their daughter Katie was raped, strangled and set on fire in New Mexico in 2003.  Her offender was arrested and convicted of several other crimes, but his DNA had never been databased, so her murder went unsolved and he went free to continue attacking women for three years after Katie’s death.

How many victims of murder and rape in Georgia would have been protected by such a law?

Meanwhile, here is a statement from FDLE commissioner Gerald Bailey to the St. Petersburg Times correcting some of its inaccurate and fear-mongering press on the issue of arrestee DNA:

A valuable tool in fighting crime

Your editorial regarding the new Florida Department of Law Enforcement DNA database legislation failed to provide the public with a full picture.

This initiative, once funded, will expand Florida’s DNA database to include samples from persons arrested for felonies. The process is no different from the way Florida already stores and handles fingerprints from arrests. Like the current law on fingerprints, the DNA legislation has provisions for removal of the file when a person arrested for a felony meets certain requirements.

The database in its current form has been a great investment for our citizens; every month it generates an astounding 230 hits. These hits match an unknown DNA sample left at a crime scene to a known felon whose DNA is already on file, or links two or more unsolved crimes. It’s an invaluable investigative tool.

Including felony arrests means more samples in the DNA database and more crimes solved. It also means crimes will be solved faster and, most important, crimes will be prevented. Taking DNA at the first felony arrest ensures that DNA is taken from those offenders who evade felony conviction time and time again. It ensures that DNA from the first felony will be matched to that offender’s next crime, halting further victimization and saving lives.

Florida becomes the 21st state to take samples from felony arrestees. There is no other tool that can prevent violent crimes as efficiently and effectively as this. The Legislature got it right. Our citizens expect this level of protection. I think they deserve it.

Gerald Bailey, commissioner, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Tallahassee

I certainly deserved it: too bad it wasn’t there to help me in Florida when I needed it.  Worse, too bad it still doesn’t exist to protect victims in Georgia.

Bloody Outrage: Another Murder That Could Have Been Prevented — Updated


CORRECTION TO THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE:  A reader informed me that the names of judges currently presiding over a court division in Florida attach to previous cases from that division — therefore, the judge listed online may not be the same judge who meted out a previous sentence in that division.  I have corrected the following story to reflect this.

Why this happens is another issue.  There ought to be real transparency in court proceedings, and it shouldn’t require a trip to the courthouse or a phone call to sometimes-unresponsive clerks to discover how a particular judge ruled on a particular case — who let a sex assailant and child abuser go free, to kill another victim, for instance.

Corrections are underlined.  If anyone can provide the names of these judges, please let me know.  I can’t access the dockets — although I pay these judges’ salaries, and so do you.

In the St. Petersburg Times this morning:

Sex offender accused of pregnant St. Petersburg teen’s death

Polk County Sheriff’s deputies have arrested a 36-year-old St. Petersburg man for the murder of a pregnant teen whose body was found Monday in Davenport.

Aurelio Martinez, (left) a registered sex offender, was arrested at about 7 a.m. on a second degree murder charge for the killing of 17-year-old Bria Metz.

I looked up Martinez’ sex offender record. In October, 1997, in Dade County (Miami), Martinez was convicted of burglary with assault and battery and sexual battery. He was also convicted of probation violation because he was on probation at the time of the attack.

Serious stuff, right? Burglary, assault and battery, sexual assault? So what did the presiding judge do? He or she sentenced him to probation. Probation for burglary, assault, a sex crime, and violating probation.

I guess the judge figured Martinez was getting good at probation. He’d been been on it for so long.

There’s a problem, though: the judge was not supposed to sentence Martinez to probation for these crimes. There’s another problem, too. Because some judge let Martinez go, probably in violation of Florida sentencing law, Martinez was free to commit felony child abuse with injury to the child in 2003.

In November, 2003, in Hollywood, Florida (Broward County), Aurelio Martinez and Amy Andrea Young were charged with child abuse, presumably of Ms. Young’s child. Police actually filed two charges against Martinez: felony child abuse and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Judge Carlos Rodriguez presided, the weapons charge apparently disappeared (of course), and Martinez was sentenced to three years in prison.

Here is where it gets confusing, at least from what can be seen on-line. The child abuse and assault with a deadly weapon crimes were committed on 11/2003. Martinez was sentenced in 7/2005, twenty months later. Was he in prison during that time? Or was he on probation again, until he violated that probation as well? Broward County wants me to pay for access to that part of the website — the charge is five dollars simply to find out Martinez’s sentence. That’s nuts.

[Note to Howard C. Forman, Clerk of Courts, Broward County: I already pay for that website. It’s called taxes.]

My guess is that Martinez was in jail awaiting sentencing. It would be nice to think so — nice to think that the judge hadn’t given him probation again, for beating a child. In any case, he entered the state prison system in 7/2005 and got out 25 months later, which is either two years behind bars or nearly four years behind bars, depending on what happened in 2004.

In 2006, during the time he was in prison, he was also sentenced to one year and three months in the 1997 “burglary/assault-and-battery/sexual assault” charge in Dade County. Maybe he was going to get out early from the child abuse charge, and they finally decided to give him some time for “burglary/assault-and-battery/sexual assault/parole violation.” Or maybe it took them several months to figure out that he was on probation in another county for serious felony charges.

If they did decide to give him a bit of time for the sexual assault, finally, it wasn’t much, and it was served concurrently with the felony child abuse sentence.

Are you enraged yet? I’m enraged. Probation for a sex crime, even after violating probation, and then less than two years for the sex crime after his probation was revoked because he’d violated probation a third time and committed felony violence against a child, and he still didn’t even serve all of that sentence? Do we have absolutely no standards? And still, the academicians and activists and the Pew Foundation whimper:

“We’ve got too many people behind bars. We’re a fascist state.”

But, of course, it gets worse.

Let’s start at the beginning. Only, we can’t do that, because juvenile records are sealed. Oh, well. Aurelio Martinez’s first adult charge, unsurprisingly, occurred months after his 18th birthday. Funny how that happens: I wonder what he was doing before he aged out of juvenile. The 1991 charge was for loitering and resisting arrest. It was dropped. Whatever. It didn’t take long for Martinez to get into serious trouble. In 1994, he was convicted of felony burglary, felony grand theft, felony possession of burglary tools, and carrying a concealed weapon.

You know where this is going. Three felony convictions? Probation, of course. Some judge let him go. One year of probation, starting 12/15/94. What was this judge thinking? What is he thinking today, after the murder?

Another charge against Martinez was decided by the judge that day — it has a different case number and different filing date. I’m not sure if it is a totally separate offense. In any case, felony armed burglary in that case was dropped (thank you, plea bargains), felony cocaine possession and concealed weapon charges were disposed with probation, and probation violation was disposed with terminating probation. But at the end of the day, Martinez walked out of court on probation anyway.

Get it?

“But we’re a fascist state. We’re so hard on criminals.”

Imagine being the police officer who had to arrest Martinez, knowing full well he was armed, that he had used weapons, that he had a record.

Imagine being the social worker walking into his home a few years later to try to rescue a child. We send unarmed child protection workers into homes where there are armed felons. We expect unarmed child protection workers to challenge the authority of armed felons.

“But we’re a fascist state.”

Nobody asks judges to do what we ask of unarmed child protection workers and police officers. Perhaps if we asked them to confront the violent people they send back into the community in the communities they send them to, sentencing patterns would change.

What is the matter with our judges? In this case, it looks very much like at least one judge broke the law. But even if he didn’t — even if there was some loophole that permitted that judge to let Martinez walk free — why, in his judgment, did that seem like the right thing to do? How does any judge justify putting armed felons back on the streets, with no time served?

If no judge broke the law in releasing Martinez, clearly there are still problems with our repeat offender laws and minimum mandatory laws that need to be resolved by the legislature.

Because we can’t trust judges to keep us safe.

At least Martinez had to register as a sex offender in 1998, an act that placed his DNA on record and reminded him that his DNA would be in the state database, so if he committed another sexual assault, he could be identified. How many rapes have sex offender registries prevented this way?

But this raises another enforcement issue: is anybody enforcing the sex offender registry laws? In 2001, in Broward County, Martinez violated the registry rules. Adjudication was withheld — in other words, nobody did anything. And then he brutalized a child.

The record so far:

  • 1991: Aurelio Martinez turns 18 and his subsequent crimes become public record.
  • 1994: A judge lets Martinez walk on a fistful of serious, felony charges, including armed burglary.
  • 1997: Another judge lets Martinez walk on even more serious, felony charges, including sexual assault, probation violation, burglary, concealed weapons.
  • 2005: Judge Carlos Rodriguez slaps Martinez on the wrist for felony child abuse charges, drops other weapons charges, and chooses to not use his authority to enhance Martinez’s sentence in any way, despite his record, the unadjudicated sex offender registry violation, and the other times he has violated probation by committing violent crimes.
  • 2007: Freed a few years later, Martinez violates probation again and flees.
  • 2009: By his own admission, Martinez murders pregnant, 17-year old Bria Metz by strangling her.

Another question: did anybody know that Martinez was in St. Petersburg? If so, why wasn’t he picked up before Metz died, but only afterwards? From today’s St. Pete Times:

Martinez, who is currently in the Pinellas County Jail on violation of probation stemming from a 2003 child abuse case, told detectives he was with Metz was at his home the night she disappeared.

Metz wanted money, Martinez told detectives, and he drove her to her grandmothers. The two argued about money and began fighting after Metz threatened to expose their relationship to law enforcement.

Martinez told detectives that he grabbed Metz’ neck and held her for three to five minutes.

Serial judicial leniency claims another life. Bria Metz joins Eugenia Calle, and how many other victims of murder, killed despite numerous chances to put their murderers away?

Tea and Sympathy: How Recidivists Get Away With Multiple Crimes.

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Yesterday, I wrote about Russell Burton, who got away with violent sex crimes in two different states thanks to a sympathetic judge, an apathetic military command, and a psychopathic appeals system.

Burton is in good company. With sex offenders, in particular, there always seems to be somebody willing to step up and offer a helping hand. Such behavior is not limited to ladies who latch onto serial killers like frowsy pilot fish. Distinctively non-marginal people like college presidents and judges often assume the role of head cheerleader for some of the worst repeat offenders.

Cause, meet effect. When Miss Lonelyhearts licks her Enjoli-scented pink envelope and seals it with a kiss, she is merely swaying the boundaries of rationality. Respected public figures sway parole boards.

A recent string of rapes in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood illustrates the point. There is something jarring about reading a narrative of serial rapist Lavelle McNutt’s past accomplishments, especially coming from people who obviously still admire him, but coverage like this offers real insight into the ways powerful people enabled certain serial offenders:

Early success a distant memory

List of trouble: Disgraced West Point cadet labeled a ‘sex fiend’ faces new criminal charges.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Friday, April 03, 2009

As a teenager, Lavel McNutt seemed branded for success.

He was a Maryland high school football star, made high marks in his classes and got into the prestigious U.S. Military Academy with the help of a nomination from the vice president of the United States.

“He was one of the best [high school] receivers back then, I think, in the state of Maryland,” said Scott Swope, who was the team’s quarterback and is now a strength-and-conditioning coach for University of Maryland athletic teams. “He was very fast. He had great hands.”

He was very fast and had great hands.

But McNutt’s life has been defined not by accomplishments, but by what he has done wrong. Public documents and decades-old news accounts depict McNutt as a disgraced West Point cadet whose successes were overshadowed by emotional problems that drove his sexual impulses.

Today, he sits in the Fulton County Jail awaiting a court hearing in two separate criminal cases, including an attempted rape at a Buckhead-area apartment complex. They’re the latest in a string of criminal charges —- many of them sex-related or involving women —- going back to his college days in the 1970s.

More charges are likely, Atlanta police said. They have identified McNutt as a suspect in at least four attacks on women since August, crimes that had sex-crime detectives suspecting that a multiple rapist was targeting women in the Buckhead area.

A tipster who led police to McNutt last month offered incriminating details about him. The caller reported that McNutt kept items in his car used in such assaults, including duct tape, wigs, lubricant and sex toys, court documents show.

The caller, whose identity has been withheld, also said McNutt blamed his wife for his misdeeds, claiming “she would not engage in sexual intercourse with him,” documents show. Yet McNutt’s sex crime convictions began long before their marriage in 2002.

When a sex offender blames his wife for his crimes, that’s a sex offender talking. But what happens when other men agree with him?

In 1975, he was appointed to the academy at West Point after then-Vice President Nelson Rockefeller nominated him as a prospective cadet, according to newspaper accounts. McNutt became a starting defensive back on Army’s football team midway through his freshman season, newspaper accounts said.

But his West Point career ended abruptly the following spring, when he was charged with raping two women three weeks apart, a Smith College student who came to the West Point campus for a dance and a 30-year-old housewife from a nearby community. He was convicted of both attacks and became the first cadet ever to be court-martialed for rape, The New York Times reported at the time. McNutt, then 18, was kicked out of the Army and sentenced to five years in a military prison.

By 1979, he was attending Morehouse College.

1975: two rapes, five years, out in three or less, then admission to Morehouse. What was Morehouse College thinking, admitting a twice-convicted stranger rapist? Obviously they were not thinking of the young women attending nearby colleges.

The desire to re-cast rapists as victims is a powerful American prejudice, but unlike many other prejudices, this one will get you far. Academia, law schools, bar associations — try sympathizing with rape victims in such settings. But spend weekends volunteering in a reading program for rapists? You’re draped in caché.

By 1979, he was attending Morehouse College when McNutt was convicted of aggravated sodomy of a Delta Airlines flight attendant at a hotel near the city’s airport, court documents show. On the day he was given a seven-year prison sentence, a minister who knew McNutt well testified that he had “grave emotional problems” that began in childhood.

Since then, McNutt has mostly been in prison, county jail or on probation, court records show. He has at least nine convictions in metro Atlanta, including two on Peeping Tom charges and two for loitering and prowling.

Nine convictions. Let’s see a list of the judges who continued to let this man go.

“It’s a shame,” his high school buddy Swope said. “What a tragedy to have a life like that.”

A correction: it is no “tragedy” to be a violent predator of women, hating and hunting them down. Tragedy implies undeserved suffering.

During a 1996 conviction for stalking and aggravated assault, court papers state that McNutt had been diagnosed with “sexual deviance,” but did not elaborate.

“Your honor, the defendant’s a sex fiend, obviously,” a county probation officer, Jeffery Kahn, told a Fulton County judge. “And I have some grave concerns in this case about the safety of this community with a man like this running around.”

But run around, McNutt did.

When not locked up, McNutt gravitated to jobs in Atlanta’s food services industry. He managed a cafeteria. He managed a Wendy’s restaurant. And, most recently, he was a manager at Fox Sports Grill in Atlantic Station. But McNutt struggled to support himself financially. When arrested last month, McNutt was living at his mother’s condo and driving his mother’s car.

Don’t these restaurants do background checks? My rapist was working in a fast food restaurant and stalking women customers. Here is a link to the National Crime Victim Bar Association. There’s nothing like the possibility of a civil suit to focus the mind when faced with the decision about whether to hire a serial rapist to manage your female employees and interact with your female customers.

Are we supposed to feel sorry for McNutt because he was driving his mother’s car? To be continued . . .


I am going to be in transit and not blogging over the next few days. On Monday, I will post more about McNutt’s criminal record.

Recidivist Chutes and Ladders: The Russell Burton Record


The children’s board game, Chutes and Ladders, offers a clearer template for understanding our criminal justice system than a hundred studies put forth by academicians and think tanks.  Here is one example:

Russell Burton, who has been called a “Ted Bundy in the making,” was born in 1967.  According to the Los Angeles Daily News, when Burton was 17, he was arrested in Lancaster, California and charged with “breaking into a woman’s apartment and fondling her in bed.”  “Fondling” is a troubling term here: you fondle your child, or a puppy.  When you break into a woman’s house and try to rape her, that isn’t “fondling.” (“81 Years for Sexual Predator,” L.A. Daily News, 4/27/05, fee for link)

LADDERS:  But apparently, the judge felt otherwise.  A Los Angeles Juvenile Court Judge allowed Burton to avoid prosecution for B & E and attempted rape — by joining the Army.  The Army accepted him, and he was stationed in Georgia.  Thus, in 1984, nearly ten years after the first hard-won battle for rape law reform, the sentence for breaking into a woman’s house and attempting to rape her could still be no sentence at all.

Columbus, Georgia has paid a high price in violent sex crimes.  Several serial offenders have cut a bloody path through that town —  and the Army did precious little to stop at least two of them.

On September 3, 1987, Burton pulled alongside a car being driven by three teenage girls in Columbus, Georgia, near Fort Benning, where he was stationed.  He got the girls to pull over by indicating that something was wrong with their car, pointed a gun at them, and forced them to drive to a remote area.  He raped one girl and orally sodomized the other two.

Benning was 19 years old when he committed this crime.  The sophistication of the attack and the high risk involved — multiple victims, gun use, confrontation in a public place, abduction from one location to another — indicates that he was already an experienced, violent rapist.

CHUTES: In 1988, Burton was sentenced to life for the rape, 20 years for the kidnapping, and 20 years for the sodomy.  He entered prison in Georgia with a life sentence.  There was no sentence of life without parole in Georgia at that time.

Astonishingly, life without parole only became an option in Georgia a few week ago, during the 2009 Georgia General Assembly (previously, a prosecutor had to try for the death penalty to qualify a case for life without parole).  Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, when Democrats controlled the Georgia legislature, defense attorneys controlled the judiciary committees.  Credit where credit is due: such sentencing reform only became a reality in Georgia when Republicans took over both chambers.

LADDERS:  In any case, Burton didn’t have to wait for any parole board to cut him loose: the United States Court of Appeal for the 11th Circuit did that in February, 2002, fourteen years after he was sent away for life.  The Court granted Burton a new trial on the grounds that the district attorney “inappropriately” mentioned that Burton had exercised his right to remain silent when he was arrested.  Now, I know that constitutional attorneys would argue that mentioning Burton’s demeanor upon arrest is horribly prejudicial and tramples all over his rights.  But this blog isn’t a courtroom, so facts can be stated in plain English here: a violent sexual predator was released from prison because a prosecutor told the truth about what the violent sexual predator did when he was arrested, instead of not telling the truth about it, in a court rigged to let criminals off for virtually anything, instead of designed to discover the actual truth of a case.

Rigged like the fairway games at a sleazy carnival.

Or a dice throw in a children’s board game.  Such is our appeals process.

MORE LADDERS:  Burton was released from prison pending a new trial.  Then somebody decided that it wasn’t worth spending the money to try him again — thus deciding that the safety of women is less valuable than other things we could be spending money on, like appeals for violent rapists like Burton.*  In 2003, he was permitted to plead guilty to one count of rape and three counts of kidnapping in exchange for time served.

MORE CHUTES:  It turned out to be a good thing that Burton was required to plead to a sex offense.  Rapists used to be routinely permitted to plead down to non-sexual offenses.  That is why a high percentage of the first several thousand rapists identified through DNA matches had prior records only for crimes such as substance abuse and burglary, two common pleas that allowed predators to move from place to place and continue committing sex crimes with impunity.

Burton moved back to California and was required to register as a sex offender, which turned out to be one of the many, many thousands of good things that arise from sex offender registries — things you will never read about in any newspaper, of course.  Newspapers depict registering sex offenders as terribly cruel and ineffectual.

Anyway, after the good judges of the 11th Circuit threw Burton’s life sentence out on a technicality, and after the State of Georgia declined to try him again, it took him less than a year to go on a violent, crazed hunting spree against women.  It may have taken even less time, for there are no guarantees that Burton didn’t attack women in Columbus, or elsewhere in Georgia, or Alabama while he was awaiting the re-trial that never happened.

What is certain is that in 2004, freshly arrived from Georgia, he stalked and tried to abduct a woman in a parking lot in Palmdale, California.  The woman escaped.  He then attacked a teenager with a knife, trying to drag her into his car.  She escaped, and he was arrested.  After his arrest, three young girls came forward and reported the following crime:

The girls said a man approached them at the store saying he had car trouble and needed a ride, Lankford said. When he climbed into their car, he threatened one girl with a screwdriver and forced the sisters to take him to another town and back. He then forced one sister to drive his car while he rode with the other two. At a second parking lot the sister driving his car jumped out, and the man ran to his car and sped away. (“Felon Chargd in New Crimes,” Columbus Ledger-Inquirer, 3/2/04, fee for link)

These are the types of crimes that end with children’s bodies melting in the desert.  Luckily, those five victims escaped, but who didn’t?

By 2004, Burton was a fluent advocate for his own rights.  Upon arrest, he said to the police, “I’m a child molester, I want my phone call, and I want my attorney.” (ibid.)  Here is where the sex offender registry comes in: had he not been listed as a sex offender, he certainly would not have mentioned his prior convictions, and he might have been let free to await trial before the three young girls had time to see him in the newspaper or the judge learned of his record in Georgia.  Such things happen all the time, as readers of this blog know.

So the sex offender registry law may have saved lives in California that week.  The next time you read a news story condemning registries, remember Russell Burton.

CHUTES: In 2004, Burton was tried in Los Angeles Superior Court and found guilty of stalking, attempted kidnapping, making terroristic threats, and possession of cocaine.  His sentence for these crimes illustrate the effectiveness of California’s “three-strikes and you’re out” laws:

Burton’s sentence consisted of three terms of 25 years to life plus a one-year weapons enhancement and a five-year prior-serious-felony enhancement. (“Rapist’s Sentence Cut by 25 Years,” Los Angeles Daily News, 10/30/06, fee for link)

A dozen years earlier, prior to sentencing reform, Burton would likely not have received such a long sentence for these crimes, even though he has proven that he poses a serious threat.  And without the “three-strikes” rule, any sentence he did receive would have been slashed automatically the moment he set foot in prison.

LADDERS and CHUTES:  Burton immediately set to appealing his new convictions.  Why not?  In 2006, an appeals court agreed to throw out one of his 25-year sentences, the one for stalking, on the grounds that following a woman from one shopping mall to another did not rise to the level of stalking (the more people learn about the substance of most appeals, the better).  But in addition to doing this, the 2nd District Court of Appeals of California also rejected Burton’s claim that the three-strikes law constituted cruel and unusual punishment because so much time (14 years, to be precise) had elapsed between his crimes.  Here is what the court had to say, as reported in the Los Angeles Post:

“His prior strikes were for serious, violent offenses. So were two of the three convictions for which he was originally sentenced here, presently including the attempted kidnapping of a young woman, using a knife,” the ruling said.

“The interim between the two sets of offenses was consumed mostly by imprisonment, which did not restrain appellant from recommencing the same type of crime upon release. Given appellant’s unbroken history of violent crime, we cannot find this case to be one of the admittedly rare ones in which the recidivist sentence is unconstitutional,” the appeals court said.

CHUTES, CHUTES, CHUTES.  It looks as if Burton has finally lost in his bid to be free, thanks to the public outrage over repeat offenders that inspired changes in state laws and sentencing policies.  We won the game, this time.

But none of these laws are carved in stone, and many voices, including highers-up in the new Justice Department administration, are clamoring to roll back sentencing guidelines, overturn three-strikes laws, and eliminate sex offender registries.  The federal Adam Walsh law, requiring states to participate in a national registration system, is officially in limbo, short-circuiting the next stage of information-sharing between the states.  We’re at an information impasse in other ways, too: if any private industry in America had an IT network resembling that used by most courts, they would cease to exist.

The price of incarceration is eternal vigilance, too.

*Re-trying Burton doubtlessly would have been difficult, especially for the victims.  And it is always a risk to involve jurors in rape cases, for prejudices against rape victims persist and in many ways have grown stronger.  Too many people feel it is their duty to root for convicts as under-dogs, and they stupidly romanticize anyone appealing a case — until it’s their own daughter or mother who gets raped.  But difficulties like this are also used as an excuse to do nothing at all to restrain violent offenders in the interest of saving money in an overwhelmed and under-staffed court system.  This should have been a case where all stops were pulled out to keep Burton in prison.