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.
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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.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.
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.
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.
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.
The full schedule with links to all the videos is here.
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.
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.
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.
Currently RCT evidence does not support that psychological interventions reduce the risk of sexual offending. High-quality RCTs with minimal bias and long-term follow-up in the community are required to identify interventions that can reduce sexual reoffending rates.And Dr. Hanson's commentary:
The current review is likely to have little impact on practice. Although their search was thorough and their analysis competent, there was not enough evidence to make strong conclusions. Furthermore, the majority of the available RCTs did not examine sexual recidivism, but only intermediate outcomes (such as social anxiety), which may or may not be valid risk indicators.So the data isn't all that great and we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater. That's fine, but what the Cochrane review said was that current evidence does not support the notion that psychological interventions reduce sexual reoffending. We can believe in our heart of hearts that it should - and maybe it does and those studies just haven't been done yet - but as scientists we need to accurately report what the data shows. Dr. Hanson was accurate in his commentary but all too often what scientists want to be true clouds what the data actually shows.
The number of paroled sex offenders who are fugitives in California is 15 percent higher today than before Gov. Jerry Brown's sweeping law enforcement realignment law took effect 17 months ago, according to figures released Wednesday by the state corrections department.
The increase amounts to 360 more sex offenders whose whereabouts were unknown and who were not reporting to their parole officers last year.
An Associated Press analysis of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation data shows that 2,706 paroled sex offenders dropped out of sight in the 15 months since the new law took effect in October 2011, compared to 2,346 in the 15 months before realignment. The numbers were obtained by the AP before their public release.
That's an average of 180 sex offender fugitives each month, up from 156 before realignment.
The Morales case arises from an incident where the victim's boyfriend left the room, she fell asleep, Morales entered, he began having sex with her, possibly while she was still asleep, she continued consensually believing he was her boyfriend, and he knew that. She says, and he denies, that he continued by force after she realized who he was and pushed him away. The problem arises from some nineteenth century language still in the statute.
There is a provision in the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization bill for certain crimes to be prosecuted in tribal courts. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is against that. Jonathan Capehart at the WaPo has this over-the-top post contending that Cantor's position is "trying to protect white men from prosecution."
Basically, right now, if you are a non-Native American man who beats up, sexually assaults or even kills a Native American woman on tribal land, you'll get away with it. That's because tribal courts do not have jurisdiction to prosecute non-Indian defendants. In addition, federal and state law enforcement have limited resources and might be hours away from a reservation.That's a pretty far-fetched accusation. The statement about law enforcement is irrelevant, because the dispute is not about the investigation of the crime but the prosecution of it. It is not at all unusual for a crime to be investigated by law enforcement officers of one jurisdiction and prosecuted in the courts of another. It happens all the time in drug cases, for example, when local police bust the drug operation and the U.S. Attorney takes the prosecution to federal court.
Capehart cites the percentage of cases declined by federal prosecutors to support his claim that lack of tribal court jurisdiction means the perpetrator gets away with it. But the report he cites notes that the most common reasons for the declinations are weak evidence, "witness problems," no federal offense, or "suspect to be prosecuted by other authorities." The last category obviously does not mean he gets away with it, and the next-to-last often does not. The others mean reasonable doubt of guilt. Is Capehart suggesting we dispense with the reasonable doubt requirement?
If these cases are being insufficiently prosecuted, that is a problem that needs to be addressed. But Capehart has not made the case that the problem exists, and expanding jurisdiction of tribal courts to non-Indians is not necessarily the optimum answer. Capehart's hyperbolic attack on Cantor is unwarranted.