By Roger Phelps The Telegraph
After an El Dorado Hills mom reported observing a strange man speaking with her two children at each of three children's-story events, deputies arrested the man at his Folsom home.
Victor Emmer, 49, was arrested March 13 on suspicion of loitering where children gather.
"It's an odd charge," said sheriff's Sgt. Jim Byers, noting the statute intends chiefly to protect school-grounds neighborhoods. "The family was at the Folsom Borders Books story-telling time, where he (spoke to one of the children), and for lack of a better term, he creeped the mom out. Then, a few days later at the
El Dorado Hills Library story time, she saw him again striking up conversation with her children. And then, he does it again. We felt it justified a criminal complaint, she signed it and he was arrested."
The case appears unrelated to recent report of unwelcome advances to children in the area by a middle-aged man driving a dark-colored van or SUV, Byers said.
When investigators heard a low bail amount set for Emmer, they explained to a judge that they believed it was too low. Now bail in the case is set at $100,000, and Emmer has bailed out of custody, Byers said.
Investigators want to hear about any similar incidents, he said.
“He is not a registered sex offender in Folsom or California and we have not found any information to indicate he has any prior offenses,” said Lt. Sheldon Sterling of the Folsom Police Department.
[Ed: Okay so... this guy talks to children in a public setting and, because of that and because a mother thought him to be "creepy", he is arrested and given a $100,000 bail? Did I hear this correctly? When did "loitering where children gather" become a crime? Apparently, it's a felony, and a rather serious one that warrants a high bail. Did you know about this?]
By Roger Phelps The Telegraph
San Francisco Chronicle
(03-24) 18:03 PDT LAFAYETTE -- Contra Costa County prosecutors dropped child-molestation charges Monday against a Lafayette music teacher who had been accused of assaulting three teenage boys, after a judge ruled that an investigator in the case had shown a "reckless disregard for the truth."
Prosecutors dropped the case against James Toland, 63, after Superior Court Judge John Sugiyama granted a defense motion to throw out evidence obtained under a warrant to search Toland's computers.
Sugiyama agreed with the defense that the Contra Costa sheriff's investigator had made misstatements and omissions in asking a judge to approve the search warrant.
The investigator reported that one of the alleged victims, a 15-year-old boy who took singing lessons from Toland, said the teacher had "grabbed his penis and buttocks and moved it around," said Ellen Leonida, an attorney for Toland.
But Toland had simply touched the boy's lower back and abdomen to adjust his posture, a standard technique in voice lessons, Leonida said. The boy was offended by Toland's actions, but the sheriff's investigator warped his statement with a false assertion that the teacher had touched the boy's genitals, the defense attorney said.
Prosecutors contend that the boy did report being molested, saying the incident was separate from being touched on the back or stomach.
Authorities said two other teenage boys had alleged that Toland molested them. Toland has taught choir and other music programs at Campolindo High School in Moraga, Acalanes High School in Lafayette and Miramonte High School in Orinda.
"We are, of course, gratified that the case has been dismissed, although the damage already done to Jim's reputation may be irreparable," Leonida said. "From the beginning, I have been confident of Jim Toland's innocence, and I sincerely hope that he can now put this painful chapter of his life behind him." [Ed: The public's respect for the veracity of law enforcement or, for that matter, the press is ill-deserved. This is one case where a judge had the integrity to reject police and D.A.'s attempts to railroad a defendant but there are many, many more defendants who have been wrongly accused and imprisoned for decades and for whom there was no justice.]
Are Politicians Really Protecting Us?
Opinion by JOHN STOSSEL
Mar. 20, 2008 —
When New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer was caught using a prostitution service, the irony was that he was a tough-on-prostitution politician. He took pride in locking up the same kind of people he is said to have done $80,000 worth of business with. He supported "tougher laws" to imprison customers like him.
In his statement to the news media, Spitzer called the scandal a "private matter." Good point. Adults' paying for sex ought to be a private matter, but when Spitzer was attorney general, he didn't consider paid sex private. He's one of many politicians who were eager to punish others for doing what he did.
What's going on here? Maybe these men want to punish others for acting on the same forbidden impulses they know they can't control themselves?
Former Rep. Mark Foley of Florida was a big advocate of punishing any adult who had sex with minors. "They're sick people; they need mental health counseling," he shouted.
But then ABC News caught Foley sending sexual instant messages to minors.
Politicians should cut back on their grandstanding, says Arizona public defender Chris Phillis, because while it's bad enough to call what consenting adults do "sex crimes," it's even worse to criminalize kids who do what kids have always done.
Phillis, who defends teens accused of sex crimes, says common sexual experimentation is now prosecuted. "If a 15-year-old touches a 13-year-old, touches their breasts, they are now guilty of a felony crime. And I would love to tell you that 13-year-olds aren't engaging in this conduct. I have a 13-year-old. But telling you that isn't going to change the fact."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 25 percent of America's 15-year-olds say they've have had sex. Nearly 40 percent of 16-year-olds and almost half the 17-year-olds say they have. All are under Arizona's age of consent, which prompted Senate committee chairwoman Karen Johnson to try to change Arizona's sex-offender laws. She wanted to give kids a break.
But the political winds are not on her side. Few politicians want to spend political capital weakening sex-crime laws -- even when such laws have horrendous unintended consequences.
Arizona's Speaker of the House Jim Weiers defends Arizona's tough laws, saying that if you are a sex offender, "Arizona is becoming very quickly known as a state you don't want to stay in." But Weiers acknowledges that Arizona's sex-offender registry has 15,000 names on it.
I asked him how putting young people who engaged in noncoercive sex play on Arizona's registry protects the public. "I don't know if it does. ... You can't take each and every individual & "
But it is individuals whose lives are wrecked by these laws. When Garrett Daley was 14, his 9-year-old adopted sister, Devon, said he molested her. Their mom called the police.
It turned out Devon had lied. It was she who initiated sex with Garrett. She later told the police, but they didn't believe her. Today, seven years later, prosecutors still won't let her change her testimony.
To avoid a jail sentence, Garrett plea-bargained to "attempted molestation of a child." What choice do these kids have? "They're told they'll go to jail for 90 years or 50 years or something, unless they accept this plea, and the plea almost always requires lifetime sex-offender registry," Johnson says.
Garrett didn't realize his plea bargain would put him in a different kind of jail. Once you're on the sex offender registry or on probation, your life is wrecked, public defender Phillis told "20/20."
"They can't go anywhere children frequent. So that's McDonald's, that's Jack in the Box. ... They've actually been told if you go to a movie and another child walks in, even if it's a R-rated movie, then you're to get up and leave."
I told Weiers about the public defender's comments. "The public defenders say all laws go too far," Weirs replied.
Give me a break. State sex-offender registries could separate consensual teen sex from pedophiles who prey on 5-year-olds. Minnesota does that.
Too often, American criminal law is a blunt instrument designed to make it look as if politicians are protecting us. I think the politicians usually protect themselves, at our expense.
Copyright © 2008 ABC News Internet Ventures
[Ed: John Stossel is virtually alone amongst t.v. journalists willing to report honestly (and bravely) on the sex hysteria sweeping our country today]
[Ed: Yes, you read that correctly. Now the sex offender registry website in Texas will include the place of employment of registered sex offenders. Imagine the implications...]
By TRACI SHURLEYStar-Telegram staff writerThis year, visitors to the Texas Department of Public Safety's Web site can find out where the state's registered sex offenders are working and can sign up for a notification system for their home ZIP code.The changes, which resulted from a $1.2 million software upgrade, will be welcomed by some North Texans.
In Mansfield, members of one neighborhood group that recently organized around concerns about where sex offenders live say they're glad to get any information they can. Sex offender employment information will help residents keep tabs on those they consider dangerous, said Steve Kyle, a Mansfield father of two who helped organize a recent meeting about a registered sex offender in his neighborhood.
"The guy comes and goes at very odd hours," Kyle said. "In our community, we'd at least be able to know if he's working, and if we knew where he was working, it might give you some indication of when he would be coming and going."
About 47,000 registered sex offenders live in Texas. Their names, birth dates, addresses, physical descriptions including shoe size and limited information about the conviction for which they are required to register is available on the DPS Web site, said Tela Mange, an agency spokeswoman.
The upgrade came about in part because of federal regulations related to the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, Mange said. That act requires states to comply with a number of disclosure rules by 2010 or risk losing some federal funds. The new features also reflect Attorney General Greg Abbott's opinions about what information should be available to the public.
Twice in February 2007, Abbott issued opinions that law enforcement agencies should release sex offenders' employment information.
Besides work information and e-mail notifications, the new system will also allow people to search for a full listing of sex offenders in their ZIP code. The software doesn't now allow generation of a ZIP code list of more than 100 names, Mange said.
Restrictions in place
Registered sex offenders can be restricted in where they live and work as long as they are on parole or probation.
But those restrictions don't continue after an offender successfully completes supervision.
As a result, many Tarrant County communities, including Arlington, Southlake, Watauga and Richland Hills, have adopted ordinances in the past few years to limit where sex offenders can live, typically more than 1,000 feet from schools or other places where children gather.
In Mansfield, the subject of sex offender residency restrictions has been discussed among city leaders for several months and played a large role in the resignation of the mayor this year. Now, in part because of concerns from Kyle's community, the issue is once again on the City Council's agenda.
Mansfield's Web site has its own listing of sex offenders with a link to the state database. Residents can also sign up for computerized RSS alerts that notify them of any new or changed registration in the city.
Kyle said he didn't know about the city's notification system until after a man convicted of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl moved into his Walnut Creek Valley neighborhood.
Now, he said, parents in the neighborhood are cautioning their children more than ever and keeping an eye on their new neighbor. Giving the public more information about offenders would make that easier, he said.
Shari Julian, who teaches in Texas Wesleyan University's criminal justice and sociology department, said she worries that the workplace information could result in "collateral damage" by creating dangerous situations for businesses that have chosen to give a registered sex offender a second chance.
Julian said she's not justifying sex offenders' crimes. But, she said, the state needs to do a better job of separating classes of offenders if authorities are going to continue making more information available about their lives and adding more restrictions.
"We have to figure out who got on there because somebody's dad was ticked off because their 16-year-old daughter was seeing a guy who just turned 20 and they ended up getting married and having kids," Julian said.
Sgt. Cheryl Johnson, who oversees the Fort Worth Police Department's sex crimes, registration, apprehension and monitoring unit, said the addition of work addresses to the registry will be helpful to the public. But she cautions that people need to remember that not every sexual predator can be found by looking on the registry Web site.
"I'm just as concerned about the sex offenders we don't know about as I am the ones that are registered with us," Johnson said.
This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.
PROPOSED MANSFIELD ORDINANCE
The Mansfield City Council is scheduled tonight to consider regulations that would apply to registered sex offenders who were convicted of crimes against children younger than 16. Offenders who have completed their probation or parole are not now limited in where they can live. The first of three required votes and the first of two public hearings are set for the 7 p.m. meeting at City Hall, 1200 E. Broad St.
The proposal would:
Prohibit offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school, day care, playground, youth center, public swimming pool or video arcade.
Forbid renting a house or trailer to an offender not allowed to live within a 1,000-foot safety zone.
Require police to mail alerts to neighborhoods when an offender moves nearby. Police would also notify the school district.
Fine an offender up to $500 for each day of a violation.
In the know
Texas Department of Public Safety Web site: www.txdps.state.tx.us
March 23, 2008
Program’s escalating price tag
The costs for the Sexual Predator Treatment Program:
Fiscal year 2003 — $2.4 million
Fiscal year 2004 — $4.5 million
Fiscal year 2005 — $7.8 million
Fiscal year 2006 — $9.5 million
Fiscal year 2007 — $11.5 million
Fiscal year 2008 (present) — $13.4 million
Source: Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services and Governor’s Budget Report.
Topeka — Kansas’ controversial program that indefinitely holds sexual offenders past their prison sentence continues to produce friction among lawmakers.
Last week, a move to require an audit of the program was defeated by legislators who said the request was a threat to public safety and jobs.
“The program works,” said House Minority Leader Dennis McKinney, D-Greensburg. “It protects the public, and it provides economic development for Larned.”
State Rep. Eber Phelps, D-Hays, said many of the employees of the Kansas Sexual Predator Treatment Program are from the Greensburg area and were set back from last year’s tornado that devastated the town.
“I don’t think we need to put them through this type of anguish and have them worry about whether they are going to have their job,” he said.[Ed: Did these guys just say that? They admit to it? Incredible! Obviously, the economy of "Larned" and Greensburg and government jobs for the marginally employable is more important than the Constitutional rights of the men locked up in an ersatz treatment program!]
But some lawmakers believe the program, which is on the grounds of Larned State Hospital, has shortfalls.
The program provides treatment for convicted sex offenders who have completed their prison sentences and have been civilly committed under the law because they have been deemed a continuing threat to the community. The law was prompted by the 1993 rape and murder of a Pittsburg State University student by a sex offender who had been released from prison seven months earlier.
The law was challenged up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which on a 5-4 vote ruled that the program was constitutional.
But the costs of the program continue to increase while some legislators are doubtful that the treatment received by the offenders is doing much good.
In recent weeks, lawmakers have approved $1.3 million in supplemental funding for staffing and operations at both the program at Larned State Hospital and transitional housing for patients at Osawatomie.
The proposed budget for the sexual predator treatment program for the present fiscal year is $13.4 million to treat 171 patients. That is five times more than the program cost in 2003.
State Rep. Bob Bethell, R-Alden, who chairs a budget subcommittee that oversees the program, said since the program’s start in 1994, two have graduated through the various phases of treatment and been released.
That’s not very effective, he said.
“Let’s look at the program and see how we can actually affect the treatment of these folks,” he said.
Mark Brull, who has been committed to the sexual predator program since 1999, said the program is a waste of taxpayer’s money.
Brull said he would rather serve time in prison, which is about one-third the expense of the program.
He said the treatment program fails to advance patients toward re-entering the community, such as allowing patients to go to work under supervision. He said he is prohibited from talking about his current problems, but must constantly re-hash his past.
“All we do is sit here all day and talk about deviancy,” he said.
Tim Burch, another patient in the program, said the treatment has good things to offer but that there needs to be a better way to assess who should enter the program and who should graduate from it.
“You could put ankle bracelets on a lot of them and let them out so they could work, and everyone benefits,” he said, referring to devices sometimes used to keep track of suspects and offenders.
“You have such a backed-up system,” he said of the program. “The people who could benefit from the program can’t get into it, and the people who shouldn’t be in the program can’t get out.”
But Don Jordan, secretary of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, defends the program.
SRS, Jordan said, “has implemented a rigorous treatment and evaluation system to assure each person committed in this program remain in treatment until a court determines he is able to safely return home without posing a risk to his family, neighbors or community at large.”
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Some legislators say the state program that indefinitely holds sexual offenders doesn't seem to be effective, while others say the treatment is working.
Lawmakers last week rejected an effort to require an audit of the program at Larned State Hospital.
Opponents said the move would threaten public safety and the jobs of the program's employees.
But Representative Bob Bethell, a Republican from Alden, says that since the program started in 1994 only two people have finish the various phases of treatment and been released. [Ed: Oh, but don't you see, Bob? That's the SUCCESS part! These laws were enacted as a "work-around" to the Constitution, enabling government to imprison these guys (and they are almost always "guys") for the rest of their lives or, at least, until they are so old and infirm that they become too expensive for the State to keep. The whole IDEA is to EMPHASIZE TREATMENT as a way of justifying "civil" incarceration while laughing at those so gullible as to believe that treatment is their real aim!]
Under Kansas law, sex offenders who have finished their prison sentences can be kept in the program at Larned State Hospital if they are determined to be a continuing threat to the community.
But costs of the program have increased. The proposed budget for the sexual predator treatment program for this year is $13.4 million to treat 171 patients.