Recently in Sex offenses Category

Sam Hananel reports for AP:

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has temporarily blocked a Senate subpoena that seeks information on how the classified advertising website screens ads for possible sex trafficking.

The order Tuesday came hours after Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer asked the high court to intervene, saying the case threatens the First Amendment rights of online publishers.

A federal appeals court ruled Friday that the website must respond to the subpoena within 10 days. Roberts said Backpage does not have to comply with the appeals court order until further action from the Supreme Court. He requested a response from the Senate by Friday.
The order reads in full:

IT IS ORDERED that the August 5, 2016 order of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, in case No. 16-mc-621, is hereby stayed pending receipt of a response, due by noon Friday, September 9, 2016, and further order of the undersigned or of the Court
The individual Justice assigned to the circuit (the Chief, for DC) is authorized to stay a lower court's order, but they typically refer the application to the full Court for anything more than a brief stay.  I expect that "further order" will come early next week, and it will be from the full Court.


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Peter Holley reports for the Washington Post that "Day-care worker who raped toddlers on video actually a 'charming young lady,' lawyer says"...Really?  A charming young lady?  She videotaped herself sexually assaulting multiple babies and toddlers, then sent the footage to her convicted Tier II Sex Offender boyfriend.  Her boyfriend was on probation for pandering obscenity involving a minor in 2011.  Heather Koon pleaded guilty to four counts of rape, kidnapping, pandering obscenity involving a minor, plus other crimes involving illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.  However, she pleaded not guilty to specifications labeling her a sexual violent predator.  That will be determined at a future hearing.  If so designated, she will receive a mandatory life sentence without parole.

Her attorney said:  "It's very unusual to have a female charged as a sexual predator - almost unheard of...Psychologists tend to think she's more along the lines of a battered woman.  She was being influenced by her boyfriend."

She met a guy, who happened to be a convicted sex offender on probation for offenses involving a minor.  Knowing this, she still chose to date him.  As a day-care worker working for a licensed day-care facility, she was trusted by parents to take care of their young children, not prey on them or sexually exploit them.  She made the choice to sexually assault those children at the day care facility.  She made the choice to videotape the acts.  And she made the choice to send the footage to another sex offender. She is not a "battered woman".  She is a woman who made very wrong choices.  I'm sure she is "charming", but so was Ted Bundy.  She raped children.  She involved herself with a convicted sex offender.  Like her boyfriend, she should also be held responsible for her bad choices.

Trust your gut

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A 50+ year-old single man living alone with 12 young girls who are rarely seen outside and don't attend school is odd.  It's odd enough to raise the eyebrows of those in the neighborhood.  And it did raise eyebrows.  Several calls were made to law enforcement over a two-year period, but nothing was done because the community sense that "something was wrong" was not enough to justify a search warrant.  Not until the police were informed that a teenage girl living in the house had given birth twice while living there was a search warrant finally obtained. 

The police searched the home of Lee Kaplan and discovered the unimaginable - the Amish teen's parents, Daniel and Savilla Stoltzfus, had supposedly "gifted" her to Kaplan a few years earlier to thank him for saving them from "financial ruin."  The Stoltzfus' are also the suspected parents of nine of the other young girls and the grandparents of the two youngest girls (who are believed to be fathered by Kaplan) living in the home.  I don't know much about the Amish community, but I do know that giving your 14-year-old daughter to a 47- year-old man is not an acceptable form of repayment.

Amish or not, "gifting" your teen daughter to a much older man is mind-boggling.  Permitting your younger daughters to live in the house with them is inconceivable.  Allowing that man to impregnate your teenage daughter is abominable. 
The U.S. Supreme Court this morning decided Lockhart v. United States, No. 14-8358:

Defendants convicted of possessing child pornography in violation of 18 U. S. C. §2252(a)(4) are subject to a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence and an increased maximum sentence if they have "a prior conviction . . . under the laws of any State relating to aggravated sexual abuse, sexual abuse, or abusive sexual conduct involving a minor or ward." §2252(b)(2).

The question before us is whether the phrase "involving a minor or ward" modifies all items in the list of predicate crimes ("aggravated sexual abuse," "sexual abuse," and "abusive sexual conduct") or only the one item that immediately precedes it ("abusive sexual conduct").

Only the last item, 6-2, opinion by Justice Sotomayor.  Justices Kagan and Breyer dissent.

Simulacrum of Sin

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The Atlantic has a story about Shin Takagi.  Mr. Takagi manufacturers anatomically correct lifelike child sex dolls for pedophiles to use, as he puts it, to help "people express their desires, legally and ethically. It's not worth living if you have to live with repressed desire." 

To be a conscious person is to have repressed desires.  One need not be a devoted Freudian to accept the plain fact that everyone has desires for what he or she cannot have. It is a mark of maturity (and one would think rather obvious) that life can be lived and even enjoyed without indulging in every desire of the heart.  Indeed, wisdom would say that is a life that is mastered.
Sharon Cohen has this article for AP on a renewed drive to test the DNA from old rape kits.

In resurrecting old crimes, investigators have detected an alarming pattern: Many rapists are repeat offenders.

In Cuyahoga County, home to Cleveland, about 30 percent of cases that have developed from testing so far are serial rape suspects. One of them, Robert Green, assaulted seven women over nearly a decade as evidence went unprocessed. He pleaded guilty last fall and was sentenced to up to 135 years in prison.

I'm not sure I would have said "alarming."  We have known that for a long time.  The DNA provides irrefutable confirmation, though.

Conviction does not always follow a DNA match, though.  The statute of limitations may have run.  A claim of consent may be hard to refute in a very cold case.

"It's great entertainment on television that in one hour's time, we have a crime, we take the sample, we get a `hit,' we arrest the suspect and then he's prosecuted and off to jail," says Doug McGowen, coordinator of Memphis' Sexual Assault Kit Task Force. "That's just not the case, clearly."
"Sentencing reform" is the deliberately gauzy name given the movement for shorter sentences and earlier release.  Its advocates say it will be focused on "low level, non-violent" offenders, but quietly, and less prominently, acknowledge that it's intended to apply to "all offenders."  

This is one reason I want to add explicit language to one of the main "reform" measures, the Justice Safety Valve Act, before it gets a vote.  I want the public to know exactly what "all offenders" means.

It's also the reason I want to highlight an item from today's News Scan.  The Scan is sometimes easy to pass by quickly, because it contains a number of stories. But this one deserves our immediate attention:

Sex Predator Gets Second Chance, Reoffends:  Michael Shepard, released after serving a 15 year sentence for committing sex offenses against children, faces 14 new charges of raping or assaulting at least seven children after being out of prison 18 months.  Claire McNeill of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Shepard initially lied to his neighbors about his crimes, claiming his sex offender status stemmed from a Romeo and Juliet affair with a preacher's daughter.  He was released from prison after two psychologists determined that he "did not qualify for commitment" to a treatment facility after his sentence.  Shepard claims that the children fabricated their stories.

Rape, PTSD, and Being Believed

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Abigail Hauslohner, WaPo Cairo bureau chief, has this poignant story of her long-ago victimization and its effects on her.  Along with her personal story, she has this comment on current controversies:

Today, what scares me the most about the debate raging over Rolling Stone's U-Va. rape story, and the magazine's apparent shortcomings in verifying it, is that the next woman who is raped at that school or any other might not come forward. Even if she does, people may be less likely to believe her, as her individual tragedy will probably be conflated with everyone else's opinion about this particular case.

So it pains me to think about how there are other women out there right now making the same "rational" decision that I did. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, 97 percent of rapists will never spend a day in jail. That is largely because most rape victims, myself included, don't report the crime to the police to begin with.
I think this backlash effect is a real problem, not only with loose standards of journalism but also with ill-advised policies on college campuses.  Rape is a horrific crime causing long-lasting psychological damage.  At this point, we are in real danger of hurting rape victims by misguided efforts intended to help them.  The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Rape, College, and Reporting Rates

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Are young women in college at greater risk of rape than women of the same age who don't go to school?  No, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey.  For the period 1995-2013, the rate of rape and sexual assault among women aged 18 to 24 was 6.1 per 1000 for students and 7.6 for nonstudents.  The Bureau of Justice Statistics released this report today, Rape and Sexual Assault Victimization Among College-Age Females, 1995-2013.

Numbers on sexual assault can vary widely depending on the definition of sexual assault used and whether the numbers reflect survey data or assaults reported to the police.  This report finds that reporting rates are much lower among students, 20% versus 32%.  The NCVS provides a valuable cross-check to reporting-based numbers such as the Uniform Crime Reports because it is a survey independent of police reporting.

Truth and Journalism

Bill noted yesterday how a hoax was printed as fact to bolster a position on the campus rape debate.  Before commenting on the story, let me make very clear that CJLF has a long history of supporting the rights of victims of rape.  It is a terrible crime, and the victims deserve justice.  We have further supported shield laws to protect victims from being revictimized.  Our commitment to victims' rights remains undiminished.  That said, however, the current movement regarding campus sexual assault is going to extremes that will do little to help actual victims, threatens grave consequences against people who have done nothing wrong, and may well end up hurting real victims as a backlash creates renewed skepticism of those who come forward.

Now, Rolling Stone never has been an exemplar of objective journalism, but reporting inflammatory allegations without the most elementary fact-checking is well below the standard we should expect of any national magazine.  An editorial in the Wall Street Journal today pinpoints the underlying problem here:

The larger problem, however, is that Ms. Erderly was, by her own admission, looking for a story to fit a pre-existing narrative--in this case, the supposed epidemic of sexual assault at elite universities, along with the presumed indifference of those schools to the problem. As the Washington Post noted in an admiring profile of Ms. Erdely, she interviewed students at several elite universities before alighting on UVA, "a public school, Southern and genteel."
In other words, Ms. Erdely did not construct a story based on facts, but went looking for facts to fit her theory. She appears to have been looking for a story to fit the current popular liberal belief that sexual assault is pervasive and pervasively covered-up.

FedSoc Convention Videos

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Bill previously posted a link to the Criminal Law Practice Group's panel at the National Lawyer's Convention of the Federalist Society.  Another panel relevant to the topic of this blog was the Civil Rights Practice Group's panel on sexual assault on campus.  The speakers and video links for both panels follow the break.

The full schedule with links to all the videos is here.

Today the Ninth Circuit decided Doe v. Harris, No. 13-15263.  The opinion by Judge Bybee begins:

California law has long required registered sex offenders to report identifying information, such as their address and current photograph, to law enforcement. Cal. Penal Code §§ 290.012, 290.015. The Californians Against Sexual Exploitation ("CASE") Act sought to supplement and modernize these reporting obligations by requiring sex offenders to provide "[a] list of any and all Internet identifiers established or used by the person" and "[a] list of any and all Internet service providers used by the person." Id. § 290.015(a)(4)-(5). The Act also requires registered sex offenders to send written notice to law enforcement within 24 hours of adding or changing an Internet identifier or an account with an Internet service provider ("ISP"). Id. § 290.014(b). Appellees Doe, Roe, and the nonprofit organization California Reform Sex Offender Laws filed a complaint alleging that the CASE Act infringes their freedom of speech in violation of the First Amendment. Appellees filed a motion for a preliminary injunction, which the district court granted. Kamala Harris, the Attorney General of California, and Intervenors, the proponents of the CASE Act, appeal. We hold that the district court did not abuse its discretion by enjoining the CASE Act. Accordingly, we affirm.

On the Success of Community Monitoring...

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This article speaks for itself.  It begins:

A New York man who cut off his ankle monitor before killing a woman and raping her 10-year-old daughter was sentenced Wednesday to 30 years in federal prison for possessing more than 11,000 images and 1,100 videos of child pornography.

U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian said 30-year-old David Renz will begin the 30-year sentence after completion of whatever sentence he receives for his guilty plea in state court for the murder and rape. U.S. District Judge Norman Mordue went beyond the 19 to 24 years recommended by federal sentencing guidelines.

Good grief.  The only encouraging part is the next paragraph:

Sentencing on the state charges is scheduled for May, but it has been postponed several times while the U.S. Department of Justice decides whether to charge Renz on a federal carjacking statute that could carry the death penalty if he is convicted.

Campbell Brown, founder of the Parents' Transparency Project, has this op-ed in the WSJ (subscription):

When a Michigan middle-school teacher was denied $10,000 in severance pay last month, the local teachers union filed a grievance against the school board on his behalf. Given the union's mission to defend the rights of educators, this would appear to be routine. Not so fast: The teacher is a convicted sex offender.

Neal Erickson was sentenced in July to a 15- to 30-year jail term after acknowledging that he had sexual relations with a male student beginning when the boy was 14 years old. The school board denied him severance once he was charged. But the local chapter of the National Education Association thinks this criminal deserves his severance, which says a lot about the mindset of teachers unions, which are also trying to weaken a bipartisan bill in Washington that would help keep sexual predators out of schools.

The Real War Against Women

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"War Against Women" is a political catchphrase used by Democrats to attack Republicans for the latter's generally more conservative views on the availability of abortion, pay "equity", government financial assistance to families, and several other questions.

There was a time when the word "war" was thought to connote violence.  None of those issues involves that; they're about other things, from religion and religiously-influenced social values to views about the size and role of the welfare state.

There is one issue, however, that very much involves violence against women  --  rape.  As to that, there really is a war being waged against women, but it's not being waged by Republicans.  It's being waged by liberal judges who seem to view rape as no big deal.

That's the only explanation I can think of for the state judge who imposed a sentence of rehabilitation and counseling  --  and not a day in jail  --  for a defendant who raped the victim three times.  The story is here.  But I should probably add that it's a little misleading for me to characterize it as a "war against women." A "war against girls" is more like it:  The victim was 14 at the time of the first attack, and 18 at the time of the last two.

Can we look forward to Chairman Leahy's demanding strong, mandatory minimum sentencing laws to prevent such mind-bending travesties in federal jurisdiction? Uh, guess not.

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