October 23, 2014

Judge Orders Sex Offender To Pay $1.8 Million

10-23-2014 Kentucky:

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) - A convicted sex offender from southern Kentucky has been ordered to pay $1.8 million to the victim of five years of molestation.

U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Russell on Wednesday concluded that 35-year-old Jeffrey Lawan Renfrow of Morgantown made no effort to stop the abuse.

"Conversely, the Court has heard extensive testimony on Plaintiff's emotional suffering and the long-lasting impact (Renfrow's) sexual abuse has caused," Russell wrote in a six-page decision.

The judgment stems from a civil suit brought by the victim against Renfrow in federal court in Bowling Green.

Russell awarded $850,000 in compensatory damages, $1 million in punitive damages and $46,800 for toward future medical treatment.

Renfrow is serving a 30-year prison sentence after being convicted of three counts of second-degree sodomy and three counts of first-degree sexual abuse.

Renfrow sexually abused a boy in his care between Nov. 24, 2005, and July 17, 2010. The victim, now an adult, no longer lives in Butler County.

The victim testified at an Oct. 8 hearing that Renfrow sexually abused him about 10 times a week by inappropriate sexual contact and comments.

Prior to the sexual abuse, the victim considered Renfrow his closest friend and referred to Renfrow as his brother, according to the order.

"Plaintiff did not expose the sexual abuse earlier because he was told by a doctor that he would be taken from his mother and placed back in foster care," Russell said.

The judge found that the victim's childhood sexual abuse by Renfrow led to "severe and persistent emotional distress" and struggles in all facets of his life.

The plaintiff in the suit is now an adult. ..Source.. by LEX18.com

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Law Limiting Sex Offender Housing Could Hurt Kids, Too, ACLU Says

10-23-2014 Florida:

A rule meant to protect Florida children from sex crimes could actually be putting kids in danger, according to a complaint filed Thursday by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The 2010 Miami-Dade County ordinance restricts people convicted of certain sex crimes from living within 2,500 feet of a school, severely limiting the supply of housing available to them. In recent years, as the county has expanded its definition of "school" to include youth shelters and other facilities, scores of registered sex offenders have been forced into homelessness, according to the complaint.

The enforcement of this policy is leaving people with little choice but to live by the railroad tracks on the outskirts of the county -- in a tent city devoid of running water, toilets or "protection from the elements and acts of violence," said ACLU lawyer Brandon Buskey. It's also undermining the very goal it's intended to achieve, he said.

"If you can't find housing, it's hard to find a job, and it's hard to report for supervision," Buskey explained. "It's hard to do a number of things to stabilize yourself after being released from prison, and the result is you're more likely to commit another offense."

A spokesman for the county government, one of the defendants named by the ACLU, declined to comment, saying the county law office hadn't yet received a copy of the complaint. Ronald Book, a prominent Florida lawyer and lobbyist who was instrumental in getting the ordinance passed, dismissed the ACLU's claims.

"It's easy to want to blame laws and regulations for the fact that someone convicted of sexually deviant behavior can't get a job," said Book, whose daughter, Lauren, is a former victim of childhood sexual abuse and outspoken supporter of such regulations. "I would just suggest to you that it's their behaviors that cause the problem and not the other way around."

In July 2013, police evicted dozens of registered sex offenders from a trailer park near a youth shelter, according to the complaint. Since then, a rotating group of about 50 people have been living by the railroad tracks on the edge of the county; they sleep in cars, tents and sleeping bags in a weed-choked lot.

Some were sent there by prison officials and probation officers, the ACLU claims. The complaint tells the story of one man who reportedly arrived at the camp after a prison official directed him to a nearby intersection. He assumed he would find housing there, but was "surprised to learn that he would be sleeping on the street," the complaint says.

The state's Department of Corrections did not respond to questions about the claim that their officials have been directing people to the encampment.

The ACLU says enforcement of the ordinance violates the constitutional ban against depriving people of liberty without "due process of law." It's urging the court to prevent the county from enforcing the rule in the future. ..Source.. by Saki Knafo

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ACLU Challenges Miami-Dade Housing Restriction Forcing Former Sex Offenders to Live by Railroad Tracks

See also: Inside Miami’s Hidden Tent City For ‘Sex Offenders’
10-23-2014 Florida:

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Florida filed suit against Miami-Dade County and the Florida Department of Corrections, seeking a permanent injunction against a housing ordinance that is extraordinarily difficult for former sex offenders to follow without becoming homeless. The law prohibits former offenders from living 2,500 feet (almost half a mile) from any building the county labels a "school," a category the county has enforced arbitrarily since the ordinance went into effect in 2010.

This restriction has left about fifty former offenders with nowhere to live other than an outdoor area along railroad tracks on the outskirts of Miami-Dade county. Each night, they sleep in chairs, in tents, and under tarps, without running water or shelter from the weather.

"As public policy, the Miami-Dade ordinance is a disaster. It has created a homeless population living outdoors in squalor, while doing nothing to serve public safety," said Brandon Buskey, Staff Attorney at the ACLU's Criminal Law Reform Project.

"Disease, exposure to the elements, no drinkable water—these conditions make it extremely difficult to find and maintain stable employment and psychological treatment, which are the only two factors proven to reduce the likelihood of reoffending. We know from decades of research that housing restrictions like Miami-Dade's have no impact on reoffending and, are more likely to increase it."

Finding affordable housing for former offenders is so futile under the Miami-Dade ordinance that probation officers routinely direct supervisees to the railroad tracks, recording the tracks as the person's "address."

"Sending someone just out of jail into homelessness makes no sense, not for the person and not for the public. The Miami-Dade ordinance is not just unworkable, it's unconstitutional," said Nancy Abudu, Legal Director of the ACLU of Florida.

For years, county officials have shuffled former offenders around Miami-Dade. Officials broke up the infamous shantytown under the Julia Tuttle Causeway bridge in 2010, only to create another, lesser known encampment in the Miami neighborhood of Shorecrest. Since officials disbanded that tent city, the area by Miami's railroad tracks has become the only possible location for scores of individuals. ..Source.. by ACLU

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Minnesota Supreme Court issues harsh ruling over probation sentence in rape case

10-23-2014 Minnesota:

The state Supreme Court vacated the sentence of 30 years’ supervised probation given to Jose Arriaga Soto Jr.

In a rare and harshly worded ruling, the Minnesota Supreme Court said Wednesday that a lower court judge erred in sentencing a particularly violent rapist to probation rather than the recommended 12 years in prison.

Justice David Lillehaug opened his 21-page opinion by saying that district courts have a great deal of discretion in sentencing. And the state high court rarely holds that it has been abused, he said.

“But rarely is not never,” he continued. “This is such a rare case.”

The state Supreme Court vacated the sentence of 30 years’ supervised probation given to Jose Arriaga Soto Jr. Polk County District Judge Jeffrey Remick now must conduct additional fact-finding on whether the recommended 12-year sentence should be imposed or if a departure from the guidelines is justified.

Soto was 37 when he beat and raped a woman for two hours after drinking all night in an East Grand Forks apartment in 2012. Soto pleaded guilty to first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

A co-defendant who was involved in the rape to a lesser degree than Soto received 12 years in prison, the opinion noted in its many criticisms of the ruling.

A presentencing report said Soto had minimized his actions without taking responsibility and blamed the victim. At his sentencing, he apologized to her. The opinion notes, in a tempered outrage, the horrors of the assault for the victim:

“Soto committed a forcible and violent assault against an intoxicated and thus particularly vulnerable person. The assault lasted approximately 2 hours and the victim was repeatedly subjected to multiple penetrations by two men. Soto slapped the victim’s face, choked her, and caused several injuries.”

The opinion noted the Legislature and the Sentencing Guidelines Commission have determined a sentence of 12 years in prison is “presumed to be appropriate” for someone with Soto’s criminal history who commits such a rape.

The victim’s vulnerability, the multiple forms of penetration and other particular cruelty that may be involved suggests that an upward departure on the case could have been appropriate, the opinion says.

Remick said it was the most difficult case “of this nature” that he had considered. He sentenced Soto to 12 years in prison, but he then stayed the sentence, saying the rapist was amenable to probation and a proper candidate for outpatient treatment.

As the ruling came down Wednesday, Soto was in jail in Polk County awaiting a probation violation hearing after being terminated from a sex offender treatment program. Kathryn Lockwood, one of his attorneys, said there could be many reasons his participation ended, such as missed appointments.

Lockwood also said she believes the lower court acted well within its discretion in placing Soto on probation and doesn’t agree with the Supreme Court ruling.

The opinion also noted that Soto’s co-defendant, Ismael Hernandez, was “arguably less culpable than Soto — he left the room shortly after the sexual assault began,” but he went to prison for the presumptive sentence of 12 years.

Three of the seven justices dissented from Lillehaug’s opinion. Alan Page wrote that the district court relied on factors generally recognized by the higher court as potentially relevant considerations in determining whether probation was appropriate for Soto.

“While another [district] court or the members of our court might have arrived at a different conclusion, that alone does make this situation the ‘rare case’ warranting our intervention,” wrote Page, who was joined in his dissent by Chief Justice Lorie Gildea and G. Barry Anderson.

Last year, the state Court of Appeals reversed Soto’s sentence and instructed the district court to impose the 12-year term.

Steve Simon, emeritus professor of clinical education at the University of Minnesota Law School, called the ruling very unusual.

“Abuse of discretion is seldom, seldom used to overturn a lower court decision,” Simon said. “Judges have a tremendous amount of discretion. But the reasons [cited by Remick] in this case don’t make any sense.”

Even though probation wasn’t recommended in Soto’s pre-sentence report by a probation officer or an evaluator from a sex offender treatment program, Remick placed him on supervised probation for 30 years. The judge emphasized Soto’s age, lack of serious criminal record and family support. He also said the crime was primarily caused by alcohol and that Soto’s attitude in court was largely respectful and that “this particular type of event seems largely out of character.”

Lillehaug’s opinion challenged all the factors Remick listed for Soto’s amenability to probation, finding that he drew false or inappropriate conclusions in considering them. He said the judge should have argued that Soto was “particularly” amendable, the legal standard used to justify the departure of staying a presumptive sentence. ..Source.. by DAVID CHANEN

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US Justice Dept. focuses new squad on cybercrime combat

10-23-2014 National:

Cybercrime gets greater focus on emerging cyber-threats

The threat and consequences of cybersecurity attacks today lead the US Department of Justice to reorganize in an effort to better battle the scourge.

The changes announced by John Carlin, the Assistant Attorney General for National Security included the appointment of a new Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and a new Chief of Staff and Counselor, as well as the creation of a new Deputy Assistant Attorney General position to oversee DOJ’s National Security Division’s efforts to protect national assets, including its efforts to combat economic espionage, proliferation, and cyber-based national security threats.

This position will oversee the work of the National Security Cyber Specialists (NSCS) Network, consisting of prosecutors in each of the U.S. Attorney’s Offices who focus on cyber threats to the national security.

“The threat landscape we face is ever-changing and evolving, and while our top priority will always be combatting terrorism, we must also sharpen our focus and increase our attention on the emerging threats of economic espionage and proliferation,” said Carlin in a statement.

“We have assembled a talented, dedicated and experienced team of seasoned professionals to launch this new phase for the National Security Division. These changes will help us continue confronting today’s threats while readying the NSD workforce to engage what we see as the key emerging threats to our national security.”

The current Anti-Terrorism and Advisory Council (ATAC) Coordinator program will be re-designated as the National Security Coordinator/ATAC program, to better reflect its ongoing work on the full range of national security threats, including combating economic espionage.

The changes will likely bring many new federal court cases around cyber breaches and crime.

The new NSD leadership team members have plenty of DOJ cybersecurity law expertise include Mary McCord to serve as the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General; Anita Singh as Chief of Staff and Counselor; and Luke Dembosky as the newest Deputy Assistant Attorney General.

According to a Reuters report on the revamp, the changes come amid reports that hackers in Russia and elsewhere are targeting everyone from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union, to JP Morgan Chase & Co and other financial institutions.

Even without the new group the DOJ has been busy with some high profile cases this year.

In May the DOJ filed computer hacking charges against five suspected members of the Chinese army. The IDG News Service wrote of the charges: The charges represent the first time the DOJ has filed computer fraud charges against state-sponsored hackers, and the indictments come after a yearlong debate about cyber surveillance at the U.S. National Security Agency, based on leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The chances of the five alleged members of the Chinese People's Liberation Army ending up in a U.S. court are "nil," but the charges point to an effort by the Obama administration to take back a narrative it was pushing with China before the Snowden leaks about the dangers of state-sponsored hacking, said David Fidler, a professor focused on cybersecurity issues at the Indiana University law school.

Also in May the DOJ shuttered the Blackshades malware operation, which sold potentially pernicious software that was installed on as many as 500,000 computers worldwide.

In June, the DOJ was part of the law enforcement effort to disrupt Gameover Zeus, a 2-year-old botnet employing an estimated 500,000 to 1 million compromised computers. The FBI estimates that Gameover Zeus, which targets banking credentials and other personal information, is responsible for more than US$100 million in losses. At the same time, U.S. and foreign law enforcement officials worked together to seize computer servers central to Cryptolocker, a form of ransomware that encrypts files on victims' computers until they pay a ransom. ..Source.. by NetworkWorld

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October 22, 2014

“Who do you report to when your rapist is the police?”

10-22-2014 National:

This cop is charged with raping eight black women. And while it's chronically underreported, he's not the only one

In 1974, while imprisoned in Beaufort County Jail in Washington North Carolina, Joan Little defended herself against sexual violence by a white guard by stabbing him with an icepick. She was charged with first-degree murder by an all-white jury, and faced the death penalty. In 1975, she was acquitted, the first time a woman had been acquitted of murder on the grounds of self-defense against sexual assault.

In a different case, police were called to Tiawanda Moore‘s home because of a domestic dispute, and a police officer sexually assaulted her. When Moore tried to report the assault to police internal affairs, she was discouraged from doing so, so she started recording the conversation on her cellphone. When caught recording, Moore was arrested and charged with two counts of eavesdropping, and faced up to 15 years in prison.

Then there’s Daniel Holtzclaw, an Oklahoma cop, who allegedly raped and sexually assaulted eight black women between the ages of 34 and 58, threatening to arrest them if they did not perform sexual acts. He has been charged with 16 counts, including first-degree rape and sexual battery. There may be more victims. He is said to have specifically targeted black women with criminal histories, who used drugs and engaged in sex work. ..Continued.. by Tasasha Henderson

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October 21, 2014

Federal government says state's sex offender registry program still compliant with federal law

10-21-2014 South Dakota:

PIERRE, South Dakota — The U.S. Department of Justice has reaffirmed South Dakota's compliance with a national sex offender registration act.

Attorney General Marty Jackley says the state's Sex Offender Registry continues to comply with the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.

South Dakota currently has 3,300 registered sex offenders living in the state.

Jackely says the state has a compliance rate of 98.9 percent and has had only 36 instances of non-compliance.

South Dakota was the originally the fourth registry in the nation to be certified.

South Dakota finished its renewal process in May. The Department of Justice reaffirmed the state's compliance status this week. ..Source.. by Daily Journal

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Citizen Pulls Over Police Officer

10-21-2014 Washington:

Citizen's arrests date back to medieval times. They are arrests made by a person who is not acting as a sworn law-enforcement official. Generally, citizens are encouraged to be mindful of unlawfulness and to take action when they see it.

In an attempt to bring attention to the issue of unlawful traffic stops by police impersonators, Gavin Seim of Washington state flagged down a police officer.

The former Republican congressional candidate and self-proclaimed "liberty speaker" stopped a Washington state police officer last week because he was driving an unmarked vehicle.

Seim asked the officer if it was a registered unmarked vehicle for undercover work.

When the officer replied that it was a patrol car, Seim informed him of the law, saying, "You're not allowed to have patrol cars that are unmarked, are you aware of that?"

In the state of Washington, police are allowed to drive unmarked vehicles for special undercover work but not for regular patrols. This is not a national law.

Seim then went through all the normal steps of a traffic stop: taking the officer's name and asking to see his license. Then after a lengthy discussion about the law, Seim let him off with a warning. He urged the officer to speak with his bosses about their illegal patrol cars.

As odd as this may seem, Seim explains that he has a reason for this type of activism. He says that police using unmarked vehicles for regular patrols puts citizens in danger, because people can never be sure if they're being pulled over by actual cops. On his blog he wrote, "If you think it's not a serious issue, try asking those that have been raped or lost loves [sic] ones because of unmarked cars." ..Source..w/video.. by Emily Scharnhorst

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October 20, 2014

Jean Auldridge, longtime director of C.U.R.E.-Virginia, dies at 83

10-20-2014 Virginia:

For 25 years, Jean Auldridge gave encouragement and hope to some of Virginia’s most forgotten citizens: prison inmates and their families.

From 1989 until recently, she served first as director and later as president of Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants-Virginia, better known as C.U.R.E., a nonprofit advocacy group with branches around the state.

In failing health for five years, she died Oct. 10 at her Northern Virginia home in Vienna at age 83.

Mrs. Auldridge learned about C.U.R.E. while working as an executive secretary on Capitol Hill to Sen. Robert T. Stafford, R-Vt., and met Charles and Pauline Sullivan, who came to see him.

The Sullivans had been jailed in Texas while protesting U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. “They saw the horrible conditions (that prisoners lived in) and founded C.U.R.E.,” said Mrs. Auldridge’s daughter, Judith Anne Fender of Falls Church.

An initial member of the state chapter, Mrs. Auldridge applied 35 years of savvy in dealing with legislators and lobbyists to educate and influence Virginia legislators for what one friend called “fair and common-sense prison reform.”

She dealt with issues including restrictions on family visits to prisoners, shipping inmates out of state, closings of prisons to direct media access, use of unnecessary force and abuse, geriatric parole, imprisonment past recommended sentences, access to health care, privacy of prison mail, telephone rates and restoration of voting rights.

Not the type to lead protests, Mrs. Auldridge arranged for legislators to speak at C.U.R.E. meetings “where people came in mad and would be saying not-so-nice things to them,” Fender said.

“She felt the only way change could be made was by having dialogue. She was good at bringing people together.”

She fielded calls from prisoners and their families as well as letters, which she always answered with her own handwritten letters.

Mrs. Auldridge also comforted people overwhelmed by the incarceration of their loved ones.

“I remember that she invited over a woman whose son had just been sent to prison,” Fender recalled.

“The woman was beside herself with hurt and upset. Through many conversations, my mother showed her that she and her husband could live again. There was something to live for.”

Mrs. Auldridge “had a heart of gold, but she wasn’t naive,” Fender said. “Not everyone could be rehabilitated.”

A believer in rehabilitation and preparing often poorly educated prisoners for their release from prison, “she worked a bit with re-entry issues,” Fender said.

“She thought that only through close contact with family and friends could inmates become successful in society and that it was better if we didn’t treat them like second-class citizens.”

She not only talked the talk, but also welcomed a released inmate into her home. The man, who lived with her family about three years, delivered the eulogy at the funeral of her husband, David Auldridge, who died in 2008. She also found living situations for at least three other released inmates.

Born Mary Jean Williams in Washington, she grew up in Vienna and graduated from Falls Church High School. She worked on Capitol Hill from 1963 until she retired in January 1989.

A family genealogist, she had been active in raising funds to restore Chapman’s Mill in Broad Run, once owned by an ancestor, and was a member at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Alexandria, where a funeral was held Friday. Burial was in National Memorial Park in Fairfax County.

In her final weeks, she received an outpouring of letters from those she worked so tirelessly to help.

A death row inmate, who had been four hours away from execution and whose life suddenly was spared by an effort to which Mrs. Auldridge contributed, wrote, “I feel you made so many good and caring changes in so many lives that karma will be good to you.”

Another man wrote, “Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your years of dedicated and selfless sacrifice and devotion to our cause. Without wonderful people like you championing our cause, we would not have a voice.”

Survivors, besides her daughter, include a son, John Robert Fender of Dillwyn; a sister, Harriet Williams of Matlacha, Fla.; a grandson and two great-grandchildren. ..Source..

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