Screaming about sex offenders

Don’t take your kids trick or treating at any crack houses, yards guarded by dogs dripping blood from their teeth – or the home of any sex offender.

Photo Ryn Gargulinski

Photo Ryn Gargulinski

Halloween safety news releases have been screaming through my e-mail inbox all week, many warning parents to avoid these perverted predators.

The releases come complete with a link on how to find the offenders: http://www.azdps.gov/Services/Sex_Offender/

Out of curiosity, I entered my midtown zip code and found 24 registered sex offenders live within it, with 29 living just outside its boundaries.

The site does not list every convicted sex offender, only those who were determined to have an intermediate or high risk of repeating their deviant behavior, the level 2 and level 3 offenders.

The TucsonCitizen.com’s office, located at the corner of Park and Irvington avenues, has a zip code containing 19 registered sex offenders and 60 in the immediately surrounding area.

An additional 19 may live around there – their addresses have not been verified – and one guy was registered as a homeless sex offender. Records state he lurks in the area of Alvernon Way and Interstate 10.

I narrowed down the search to a 3-mile radius of the office’s exact address, a radius that overlaps different zip codes, and found 22 offenders. The map also pointed out that same area contained 21 day care centers and 14 schools.

Photo Ryn Gargulinski

Photo Ryn Gargulinski

“There is no law restricting where an offender may live,” the Arizona Department of Public Safety site said, “however, if an offender is on probation/parole, the respective probation department may impose restrictions on living arrangements.”

Perhaps the department would suggest he not move in next door to a day care or school.

Roughly 14,500 registered sex offenders are peppered throughout the state. With an overall population of 6.5 million, that would mean one out of every 450 people in Arizona is a registered sex offender.

Think about that next time you are at an event with 500 or more.

Just to make matters more interesting, the Arizona Department of Public Safety site also lists 212 sex offender absconders, or those who never bothered to register their whereabouts.

So where the heck are we supposed to go trick or treating?

While a sex offender handing out JuJu Bees may not be likely to grab a little ghost or goblin if his or her parents are standing right behind them – you never know.

Yes, a good number of the crimes were child molestation. And yes, this whole topic makes me sick.

[tnipoll]

wb-logolilWhat do you think?

Will you be checking the map before heading out trick or treating?

Is cautioning the public about the sex offenders in the area a valid warning or an unnecessary panic tactic?

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About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at ryngargulinski.com.
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91 Responses to Screaming about sex offenders

  1. radmax says:

    Mornin’ Rynski. That many eh? Geez, no wonder there are less and less trick or treaters every year. I don’t let my daughter go without supervision, too many weirdo’s out there. It’s a shame…

    • Rynski says:

      mornin’ radmax. yeah, i was very sickened to know there were so many sex offenders around. if you want to get even more sick, check out the site and some of these guys’ photos. ugh! glad your daughter has supervision to help keep her safe.

  2. radmax says:

    PS-looks like you’re runnin’ 100% on shooting the pond scum. (2 votes) 🙂

  3. Jennatoolz says:

    Hi Ryn! How creepy..there are 24 sex offenders in my zip code. Very creepy!! Luckily for me, none of their names are familiar. 😛

    • Rynski says:

      hey jennatoolz – whew, glad you didn’t have any over for tea lately! don’t you like the little arrows on the map that point out how close/far they live?

      • Jennatoolz says:

        Haha yes..those little arrows pointing to trouble. There are quite a few about a block away, and it makes me even more nervous to go out alone (walking or riding my bike) and it worsens my fear of being attacked. Especially since these guys act on opportunity (so I’ve heard)…and I definitely don’t want to be the one to give them the opportunity.

        Pepper spray = my new best friend. 🙂

  4. james says:

    having worked behind bars for a long time, much of it with these types, i may see them differently. many have been seriously abused as kids, this does NOT excuse their behavior! It does explain where they LEARN their behaviors. there are many that have abused later in life. this seems to be a result of really flawed thinking that leads to the actions. NO EXCUSE! separate them all from society.

    • Jennatoolz says:

      I agree..these people should be kept behind bars. Especially if they’re assumed to be capable of recommiting some of these crimes. It’s not a good feeling knowing that there are so many sex offenders living so close. People shouldn’t have to worry about where these guys (and gals?) are located, to avoid those houses. It’s just too much trouble. “Okay kids, you can go to that house, and that house, but DO NOT go anywhere near that house!”

    • Rynski says:

       
      hi james – thanks for chiming in. it is a sad situation. i read a lot of true crime and yes, many of the sex offenders have had childhood abuse/molestation or other issues. but i agree with what you said – just because we can figure out why someone acts a certain way does not condone it.
      p.s. you must have a million stories from working behind bars – if you ever want to share some, i’m sure readers would be interested. please e-mail me at rynski@tucsoncitizen.com if you would allow me to write an article about your career. thanks.

  5. leftfield says:

    Well, it’s pretty to come out against sex crimes.  I’m against them too. 

    I voted “other”.  It’s clearly a big problem that we have yet to deal with in any effective way.  It is a type of crime that is very invasive of the victim’s life, both physically and psychologically, leaving long-standing or permanent scars; much more so than, say, stealing someone’s money.  And, if you include heterosexual rape in the statistics, it is a very widespread crime.

    I don’t know what the answer is, but I’m not sure the long term solution is more prison space.  Without an effective strategy of prevention, more sex offenders will continue to be created every day.

  6. radmax says:

    I wonder Rynski, is this disproportionate percentage of sex offenders peculiar to the US?
    Perhaps our Victorian/Puritanical idea of permissible moral standards creates more sexual repression, resulting in higher per capita statistics?
    I’d be curious to see a comparison between the US and say, the Scandinavian countries and maybe the Dutch.

  7. leftfield says:

    I did a little superficial research into statistics comparing sex crimes and crime in general in the US and Scandinavian countries.  On the surface, it would seem that the incidence of major crimes of all types per capita is much higher in Sweden (couldn’t find anything on the region as a whole) at least.  However, the posters of the statistics are quick to point out that there are some big differences in laws and reporting criteria that make comparison difficult.  As regards child pornography, for example, the age of adulthood for purposes of such things is 13 in Sweden, meaning that a picture of a nude person of 13 years of age would not constitute child pornography as it would in the US. 

    As regards other crimes, their standards for what constitutes a “major assault” or an “attempted murder” are much lower than in the US.  For example, taking a swing at someone with a lead pipe (even if you didn’t connect) might be reported as an attempted murder.

    • leftfield says:

      Since it is time for this good commie to go to work, I will leave you with something to ponder.  That is, it is important to keep things in perspective when considering emotional issues such as sex crimes.  As horrific as these crimes are, it is at least worth considering that the perpetrators might not also be conservatives as well as sex offenders (as crazy as that idea might seem), and thus, not all of them are unredeemable and deserving of draconian punishments.

    • Rynski says:

      good job, lefty! …and now you know why i passed the buck on such a comparison! so many factors weigh into it. i always hear that the u.s. has the most violent crimes of any nation thanks to drugs. actually, i think i even heard it at the citizens police academy if i’m not mistaken.

  8. tiponeill says:

    Well I see that you have found something to worry about that will generate a lot of public outrage.
    Should be good for circulation – how about next covering those terrorists who put razor blades in candy apples.
    Still a couple days before Halloween

  9. Karen Nelson says:

    Wow… Did anyone notice that there are 15 registered sex-offenders that live in the same apartment complex(?) at 2445 N Oracle Rd????  Woah… I will have to check out that address. Is it a home for sex offenders?!
    This is good information to have. Thanks for bringing it up.

  10. Yikes! I just went to the map on : http://www.azdps.gov/Services/Sex_Offender/ 
    found out there are a large number of the sex offenders around my area and around many day care centers, and schools.  I get a post card from the Sheriffs department about every few weeks and find out another one has moved into 724 N. 10th St. Thanks for bringing this to our attention. PARENTS should definitely go with the younger children on Halloween night.

    • Rynski says:

      hi charlie – i was wondering about the alert system for new offenders moving into a neighborhood (i.e. notices sent to nearby residents). good to see it is in place. i’ve never received such post cards, so the ones around me must have been here longer than i have.

  11. azmouse says:

    I’m signed up with a website calle Family Watchdog.
    They will send you email alerts any time an offender moves into or out of your zip code.

    Personally, I don’t believe child molesters can be forced to change their thinking. That is like asking a straight man to NOT be attracted to women. Child molester are attracted to kids, period. There is no fix, they can only learn to try not to act on their feelings. That is why the re offend so often.

    • Rynski says:

      ah – good info, AZMouse. thanks for sharing it.
      based on all the crap i read, i’m going to agree with you that child molesters are in for the long haul. and they can only learn NOT to act on it.

      • azmouse says:

        It is true.
        When I was in college, I had the opportunity to talk to a few different sex offenders (for criminal justice related classes)
        In that situation, the rapists knew it was wrong, felt they didn’t have to force women to have sex with them, or even worse, blamed the women for ‘bringing it on’ themselves (the attack).

        The child molesters knew it was wrong, but they were attracted to young children every day, and wanted to find ways to stop or not act on their feelings towards kids.

        Child predators are in a world of their own. They can look you in the eyes and tell you they would NEVER, ever, hurt a child, because they love children so much. They cannot for the life of them understand why they aren’t allowed to share their need to love children.
        I talked to one guy who had molested little boys repeatedly and he talked to me along with his counselor. He honestly did not see what he had done wrong. He is obviously the SCARIEST type of predator. I can recall the look in his eyes, and he was so sincere in his feelings that he never has and never will hurt a little boy. What he, in his mind, did was to share his love with these boys. There was no hope for this guy, no changing his mind, no comprehension that you don’t love children by getting them naked and doing things to them that you should do with an adult. Not a clue.
        I’ll never forget it, and he’s not the only one like that.

  12. earthbound says:

    The offenders I am worried about are the ones not yet caught.  They far outnumber the ones listed on the registered sites.  At least you know where they are if registered and monitored.   I don’t feel high level sex offenders are able to be rehabilitated.  They are what they are.  

    • Rynski says:

      good point, earthbound, about the many that are not yet caught. ANY criminal that doesn’t get caught are definitely the scariest  – and trickiest.

  13. Lois2009 says:

    Hey, folks.
    What disturbs me most is the number of absurd things that have gotten various people on the sex offender registry. Not to mention stuff we all did (or would have done!) as teenagers.
    Did you check the ID of everyone you dated? So why are there people on the registry who THOUGHT they were dating someone their own age, only to find out that the other person was younger than they claimed.
    Might you (come on, be honest now!) have sexted, if the technology had existed at the time.
    Have you ever touched some child’s behind (say to dust it off after they fell) through the clothes? In some states this makes you a criminal and a sex offender.
    A true pedophile is rare. Furthermore, even a pedophile can successfully resist the temptations, given the right treatment.
    Recidivism is one twentieth that of most felonies. The Department of Justice Statistics show that. So the fact is that they do not re offend often at all.
    I know this reply will gain me some enemies, but I could not just let this ride. My mother lives here, and she is quite disturbed about the way that facts are misrepresented. If her own grandson, my son, had not been arrested for touching a child through the clothes on the bottom while fastening her in a ride, my mother and I might never have known that the facts are not as the press (in the past) and the politicians (in the present) represent them.
    Before someone in your family gets arrested for nothing much, inform yourself. Don’t let your son become another statistic, one that says “he is a monster!”

    • azmouse says:

      I’m sorry about your son, and commend you for speaking out and showing another side to this story.

      I do agree that some offenders are in the ‘statutory rape’ region, where it was probably an iffy call. He or she was eighteen, the other was sixteen, seventeen.

      I would be very surprised, however, to find out that MOST child molesters are in the category that your son is in. I think he is one of the few.
      The majority of child offenders in my zip code, for example, molested extensively, and over a period of time, sometimes repeated abuse for years.

      I do know this isn’t the 1950’s where you see a cute kid at the grocery store and try to pat him on the head saying, “Aren’t you the cute one!”
      I mean, I tell people how cute there kids are, but at a distance.

      I hope you and your Mom are doing okay, as well as your son. (I assume he is an adult?) Thanks again for sharing that.

    • Rynski says:

      Hi Lois2009 –
      wow. what a story. and yes, thank you so much for sharing it. sorry to hear of the very crummy situation, to say the least and thanks for warning others.
      i would tend to agree with AZMouse, however, that your son is an exception to the rule, that most sex offenders are of a different and perpetual nature.
      I also agree that those who do get stuck with the conviction can never shake it – even it was an innocent mistake.
      was your son working at an amusement park? i am curious as to how this happened if you would not mind sharing more details. if not, i fully understand. thanks again for your honesty and openness.
       
       
       

  14. oldwest2 says:

    Prostitution is legal in Sweden also, so go figure a nude picture of a 13 year old in Sweden not being considered child pornography. I vote keep em locked up until the powers to be up stairs,  calls them up for roll call.

  15. oldwest2 says:

    Some people believe in an eye for an eye approach, death penalty, possibly?
    I suppose that has to be left up to each individual state. If the state in which the crime was committed has no death penalty,  then better to let them rot in jail, ( my opinion of course)  than be paroled for others to be preyed upon.
    How many chances should society give sex offenders, one and done? i like the sound of that!!!

  16. Sue says:

    If Americans would quit believing our “VERY” honest politicians who are getting “tough” on crime for their own benefit and educate themselves they would see that so many of today’s sex offenders are older teens having younger girlfriends, teens sending risque photos of themselves to each other, streaking, urinating in public, etc. Absolutely no threat to anyone and yet the politicians would have you believe that they are ALL dangerous!

    Wake up America and educate yourselves before you find yourself on the registry!

    • azmouse says:

      Thanks Sue.
      I’ll only speak for myself and my neighborhood. In a three mile radius check of my address, I can say in all honesty that out of 12 offenders, not a single one of them can be in the category you put them in. None are teens. The youngest one is 31 years old for an aggravated sexual assault/sodomy charge.

  17. Sue says:

    So, how old were they  when they committed their crime?? Was it a false claim from someone making sure to get rid of the ex and get custody of the kids? Was it a parent taking pictures of their kids in the tub? Many have been arrested for possesing child porn for this.
    Right there in Arizona. The website doesn’t tell the whole story and people shouldn’t judge. Look what happened to this family.
    http://www.sfchronicle.us/cgi-bin/blogs/sfmoms/detail?entry_id=48024

    • azmouse says:

      I am familiar with that situation.

      I feel like this is a personal experience for you, so I am not trying to offend you in any way.
      I still feel that the registry is a good thing, and many, many child predators are repeat offenders, and some obviously end up killing their victims. You can hear about that every day.

  18. Tonia says:

    When is society going to realize who is actually on the sex offender registry. Dont you realize that not all of those on the registry have even hurt a child. More than 80% of those listed are there for non-violent crimes. For example, teenagers having consensual sex with a few years age difference – teenagers for texting nude photos of one another or emailing them – teens and adults for stupid acts like mooning a school bus – adults for urinating in public.  There are even men on the registry for child pornography that ONLY went to adults sites – with a disclaimer on the site that everyone is of legal age. Well, some of the legal ages in other countries is 16 and if a man happens to run across a picture of a 16 year old and believes she is 18, he can (and will) go to jail and be listed as a sex offender. Our laws do not differentiate between child molesters and other non-violent crimes that are of NO danger to our children.  According to a study  titled “Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment”  it says, “Sex crimes against pre-teen children are no higher during Halloween than at any other times of the year and diverting law enforcement places people at more risk”. The link is: http://www.scientificblogging.com/news_articles/creepy_weirdos_halloween_sex_offender_policies_questioned
    Please take the time to learn who is a sex offender before you judge them. The registry does not list what actually happened (consensual sex for example) when they put criminal assault or rape on the registry. 90% of child molesters are not even listed on the registry before the crime – they are family members and friends, so in fact, this registry is not protecting our children – especially when it’s our children that are being listed on the registry. Educate yourself!
    http://www.love-is-not-a-crime.com

  19. renate says:

    when i see some of these comments, i must aplaude the media,the spread of hysteria works!has anybody ever looked at http://www.reformsexoffenderlaws.org? many of the so called offenders are non violent ones.public educate yourself,urinating in public,mooning,consensual sex,texting,highschool sweethaerts,asking hey you need a ride? all those are subject to get on the registry.politicians rather committ social murder than political suicide by “being tough on sexoffenders”this has nothing to with law.it only brings ratings on voting days and gives the media someting to write about.politicians are cowerdly avoiding responses to letters,requests of those who brought them into office.double standards are widley spread,check http://www.love-is-not-a-crime.com there you will find,who has the power and who will get off.money talks,not justice.get the non-violent ones off the registry,so that $ are not wasted,don’t let the media keep you from the real truth,when you think it will not happen to you or your family,think again before one of your loved ones end up on the registry and you find humiliating comments spread about you.educate yourself!

  20. azmouse says:

    Sue and Tonia,
    Hello again.
    I know this must be personal for you in some way, and I can certainly understand that, and you did make me think and try to see this from a different perspective. I have been a Mother for 23 years and have always wanted to protect my kids from sexual predators, so I didn’t want to have a one-sided view.

    I went to the Pima County Justice Court website, and I looked up all twelve offenders that were in the 3 mile radius of my address, and this is what I found:

    The oldest crime out of those twelve was committed in 1995 by a man who is currently 51 years old. (So, he was far from a teen when he committed his crime.)

    The other eleven offenders’ crimes were all committed between 2000 to 2008, which means they were all well into adulthood when they offended.

    I also noticed that out of those twelve offenders, ten of them were repeat sexual offenders. (All had other crimes, including breaking and entering, burglary, and many drug charges.)

    So, in the case of these random twelve offenders in my neighborhood, NONE fit the criteria you speak of.

    • Tonia says:

      I completely understand your point of view and YES, there are some people out there that are a danger.  The problem is, MOST aren’t.  Obviously, your looking in your own city and as a mother, you should.  However, in my son’s case, he is listed as committing the crime of criminal assault with force, which is the furthest thing from the truth. He was 19 and has “consensual” sex with his 16 year old girlfriend. The father of the girl got mad at her and called the police (a year into their relationship) and he is now a sex offender. Since this time, I have met THOUSANDS of mothers (and fathers) whose kids are on the registry for the same or similar acts and that is what my problem is. If our laws would differentiate, then maybe the registry would work. But, when they put ALL these so-called crimes into one category, it’s confusing and too many are of no threat, which makes the registry almost useless.  I applaud your efforts to find out the truth – I wish there were more people like you.

      • azmouse says:

        Tonia,
        I’m so sorry about your son. I can only imagine how you feel. Once my son turned eighteen, I was afraid for him that something like that would happen. I forbid him to date anyone younger than eighteen and explained to him why….an angry parent or vindictive girlfriend, etc. I explained it could be a statutory rape charge or a child molestation. I also explained to him that if he bought a Playboy for his still underage buddies, he could get into serious trouble for distributing pornography to minors. I tried to cover all those bases. But, as parents, we can only do so much.

        Again, thank you for sharing your story with me and making me see another perspective. I hope someday soon your son will (hopefully) be able to clear his name and move on from it all.

      • Shelley says:

        AZmouse, at least you’re trying to see the truth.  You say you’ve been a mother for 23 years; so have I.  My teen son feel victim — yes, victim — to the vindictive wiles of a girl who stated in a love note she left on his car after alleged “incident” date, “I would do anything to be your girlfriend.”  However, after witnesses indicated that he continued to shun her advances for two months — he didn’t even know this girl — she went to the police with a false allegation.  She was experienced with this and had done the same to her father, also now registered.  My teen son passed two polygraphs and we have many, many people indicating to us that she lied, that she was delusional and telling people at school after the date she alleged there was “contact without consent” that my son is her boyfriend.  She even posted a comment on My Space to his picture, dated well after her alleged date, that “This is my love.”  Yes, there’s her profile picture and the date.  It didn’t matter.  My son has a chronic illness, and after sitting in jail awaiting trial for six months because we could not afford bail — me visiting this clean-cut kid through the glass, him putting his hand up to the glass and me as well, the only “contact” we could have with each other, him asking us to send Harry Potter books to the jail — his favorites at the time — his attorney came to him with a plea deal, which was no deal.  He told him — because he was in the midst of a huge high-profile case and couldn’t be bothered — that if he signed the paper, he could “go home today.”  Isn’t that amazing?  You can go home today!  Of course, he signed, but he called me in tears, his voice shaking, “Mom, did I do the wrong thing?”  What could I say?  He received a five-year probationary sentence which has been nothing short of hell from day one — no job for him, registered, a felon.  This is a kid who used to load up his friends and take them to church every Wednesday and Sunday, who played soccer and in the band at high school and middle school, who volunteered summers at the hospital.  I could go on and on.  Oh, and the vindictive girl, she fled because so many people were on her back about her lying.  She became pregnant by an unsuspecting kid in her new town and now has a baby, and all our lives have been destroyed.  These are the stories of the registry.  Please learn the facts.  It will be your loved one we’re hearing about one day.

      • azmouse says:

        Hello Shelley.
        Thank you for sharing the story of what happened to your family with me. It literally took my breath away. I’m so sorry for what happened to you and your son and the rest of your family and friends. It’s life changing when our children go through a horrible trauma of any kind.

        One of my sons also dealt with a young girl who pursued him aggressively. (he was 19 and she was 16. I had him held back in the second grade because he’s dyslexic, and he was falling behind, so he didn’t graduate from high school till 19, and he had met her in a class.)
        He immediately came to me and told me he was uncomfortable about the attention she was giving him. He showed me some myspace messages she left him. I told him to tell her he didn’t like her in that way, and blocked her from his myspace. She then started telling people they were in love but I wouldn’t let them be together, she was threatening suicide, etc.
        My son and I immediately went in front of a judge to get a restraining order. Any contact she would attempt to make, one of us would call the police to get a docket number so we could have a record of any and all attempted interactions. It may have saved my son from the same fate that your son is dealing with.

  21. oldwest2 says:

    Guess what? Channel 4 news at 5 will have a coverage piece concerning “sex offenders” on Halloween night in Tucson. I guess Rynski is way ahead of the news, “you go girl”

  22. Alabama says:

    OMG…sometimes when I read sites like this it amazes me at the things I hear.  When are people and parents going to wake up and start taking reasponsiblity for their children instead of leaving it up to the goverment to do.  So what, your neighborhood has sex offenders living in it.  Does that mean you wouldn’t be as protective of your children if they were not there?  If so, you are a fool.  Every study out there says that at least 90% of all child sex abuse cases happen from someone the child knows well.  A family member, a preacher, a coach, a teacher etc etc….its rarely the guy next door or the one in the next neighborhood.  The public is so misinformed on this subject it makes me sick.  Its simply a feel good topic that makes everyone get on their high horse and not have to face the facts that ultimately….WE as parents have to protect our children.  If there is one teenager or one adult for that matter who has had his life ruined but these registries, that is one too many and I would gladly give them up.  I don’t rely on outside “tools” to protect my daughter.  You people need to wake up!

  23. james says:

    I have read all of these posts, and allow me to qualify my statements with this, I have been behind the pars with them.  There have been posts leaning both ways on the subject. Sex crimes are covered under one blanket for this reason, AZ has, is , and will be a conservative state for a long time. Thus, we will lock folks up for a number of reasons. Some reasons will seem silly, others will make perfect sense. If you wish to have each case treated SOELY on its own merits, then mandatory sentencing will have to go away. This was brought into play in 1978, when the voters thought too many convicts were getting out without “paying their dues”. So now here we are, 2009, and our prisons are overcrowded, underfunded, and woefully burdening our finances. What do we do? I realize that every family member of a convicted S.O. has their own emotions and thoughts as to what their loved one was doing or the intent. The criminal justice system is intended to be blind. We enact laws that sound great until one of our own is caught up in the system, then we tend to think the laws are draconian. We can’t have it both ways. I know of many cases that the inmate claimed to have been “misunderstood” or otherwise reasonably inocent of the crime charged, but then read his file. It may leave you with a different view.
      I certainly empathize with many of the posts and the folks that have been through this before, and those to come after. But I also say that this and many other incarceration issues are not simple affairs that will be solved in any short period of time.
       I don’t know if this has helped or hindered anyone here, but it is my intention to have been a help. James.

  24. Sue says:

    And then there are false allegations: WILL SOMEBODY HELP, WILL ANYONE LISTEN,DOES ANYONE CARE???? In the eyes of the law, my son is a registered sex offender in Illinois. This is the furthest thing from the truth, a truth nobody has wanted to hear. Paul at the age of 18 was very close to his 2nd cousin, Heather who was 12. Paul is ADHD and learning disabled (All documented; report dated just weeks before his arrest show his comprehension level at the 4th grade, 7th month. This was an evaluation for special education paid for by the state to determine goals for life after high school). The cousins were together everyday due to Heather’s Mom being a caregiver for my mother. On Memorial weekend, 2003, Heather’s family went on a camping trip which included Paul.  Heather’s Mom noticed them sitting close and wanted to know what was going on between the two of them. Both children denied anything was going on and yet she insisted that the children were lying. Upon returning home from camping on Sunday, Heather’s mother grounded her to her room, with no books, TV or games. She was not allowed out of the room except to use the bathroom until she told the “truth”. Regardless of what either child said, Heather’s mother refused to let her out of her room until the truth was told. Heather’s mom went so far as to take Heather to the emergency room on Tuesday to see if she had been having sex. Finally on Thursday Heather told her Mom that Paul had touched her and was allowed out of her room for telling the “truth”. Heather couldn’t say exactly when this happened, only that it happened twice; once in February and once in March at my house. I know for a fact that it couldn’t have happened in March, because Heather was grounded the entire month for hooking up with a 23 year old on the internet, lying about her age, saying she was 18 and having him call my house so that they could set up a location to meet. Heather’s parents went to the police to file a complaint and until Paul’s arrest, Heather continually called him and told him to just tell the police he did it and everything would be over with. On Sunday, June 15th, Paul was stopped by the neighborhood police while driving one of his other cousins home. My husband and I were at the police station within minutes of the police bringing him there. They refused to let me see him since he was 18. I knew because of his low comprehension that he would not understand what was going on. Paul was kept there, booked and arraigned the next morning because he “confessed”. He told the police “Whatever Heather said I did, I did”. After Paul was arraigned and we brought him home we talked at great length about what happened. When I asked him why he didn’t ask for a lawyer when the police asked him he told me that he was never asked if he wanted an attorney. I told Paul that they had to have asked him and he said “no, they didn’t”! I said, Paul, did they say “you have the right to remain silent, you have the right to an attorney” and he said “yes”. I pointed out to him that that was the way of them asking if he wanted an attorney. He started to sob and told me he didn’t know that’s what it meant. He also told me that the police officer told him to just say he did it and he’d be out of there and home in to time at all. I know my son did not understand what was happening; even the police knew he had a disability. The very first thing on the police report is that Paul is ADHD. Someone should have intervened and explained to him. Upon reading Paul’s “confession” I knew that a large part of it had been dictated to him. As the months went by and we went back and forth to court, nobody wanted to listen or hear the truth. No matter the motions our lawyer filed, nobody wanted to listen. At one point, Heather’s mother (related through my sister, the grandmother of Heather) that if we gave them $2500 they would see what they could do about dropping the charges. This was brought to the attention of the state’s attorney and again nobody cared. This was all for money. Paul at this time was 5’ 2” and weighed 105. We knew we risked prison time for him if we went to trial and lost because of his “confession”; so when the state’s attorney offered a plea bargain in June of 2004 of 2 years probation we took it knowing he would never survive in prison being as small is he was, having low comprehension, and the maturity of a 12 year old.  God, I am so sorry that we didn’t fight then.  Had we known what a “sex offender” label was, we would gladly have even paid the $2500 to the mother to end this. For 6 years we have been in a nightmare and it has now come to a head. Paul has had much difficulty in gaining employment, not only because of his “sex offender” status, but due to his disabilities. He finally gained employment, delivering pizzas and he was the happiest I had seen him since this nightmare started. When his boss found out he was an offender and couldn’t deliver to schools he was fired from his job and has not been able to gain employment since. I am now watching my son slowly die emotionally because of this label. He is appalled that this label has been put on him, knowing he would never touch or hurt anyone in his life and that nobody wants to hear the truth.  He’s been accused of “touching” Heather and to think that he is now labeled with others who have viscously attacked children. I, and my family have lost ALL faith in our system. Where is justice? When this all started I had faith and believed in our system, that the truth would prevail, that others would see he didn’t understand when he  “confessed” because Heather and the police told him to just admit he did it. Now I see that it’s actor against actor, state’s attorney against defense lawyer; the best actor wins. My son was released from a state mental health facility in mid-February after five weeks diagnosed as bipolar, brought on by the stress of being labeled a sex offender. He will receive services from a mental health provider and their goal was to have him moved to a respite program for 21 days when he was released to help with the transition to home. We were devastated to find out that it was not possible because it is across the street from a school and sex offenders can’t be within 500”. My son has lost much due to these allegations and his “confession”. And now he has paid the ultimate price by loosing his sanity. The diagnosis of bipolar is a lifetime sentence and because of his sex offender status resources will be limited to him. Yes, I’m a distraught mother and I wonder why he just wasn’t executed back when he took his plea; these laws are killing him anyway, only in a slow manner. And to know that there are so many more on the registry just like him is appalling! What has happened to society when so many lives can be destroyed by laws created from mass hysteria, confusion, panic, and the media.  Is there anyone out there who cares enough to help bring justice to this young man? Does anyone care enough to help fight a wrong?          

    • azmouse says:

      Sue,
      I’m so sorry for you and your son. I don’t mean to see it from a different perspective, because I’m familiar with the laws and as a Mother of a son with learning disabilities, I have always tried to protect him from this type of thing happening. It would’ve been difficult for my son to fully absorb what was happening if he ever had gotten arrested as well. Actually, my  son is now 21 years old, will  never be able to drive, but is in college, which has great resources for the learning disabled. Maybe that would be something your son might be interested in?

      I also cannot fathom family doing that to each other. I come from an extremely large extended family and there is nothing we wouldn’t all do for each other. Heather and her Mother need mental health help. Listening to your story, it seems they are the blame for your problems more than the laws are. How can they live with what they’ve done to your family? Has the rest of your family disowned them in support of your son, knowing he is innocent, and also that she (Heather’s Mom)  tried to blackmail you? What family does that to each other?

      As the laws in Illinois stand (I have no idea, but maybe you know) if Heather comes forward some day and admits that she lied about this, would your son possibly be able to get this judgement overturned and remove him from the sex offender registry, or will it always stand because of his confession? I would just hope Heather will mature and realise what she has done to her own cousin. I’m still trying to rationalize family doing that and I just can’t.

  25. Rynski says:

    Wow. Thank you everyone who shared their stories — and it is so sad to hear how innocent folks got caught up in the system. Obviously, as James pointed out, justice can be blind.
    Obviously, too, there are MAJOR problems with the way a lot of things are handled in the justice system.
    To Sue, Shelley and Lois2009 – These are true nightmares — but perhaps you being bold enough to speak out will help someone else from getting into the same situation. Little recourse, I know…and I hope/wish things to turn around somehow. Please keep us posted. Perhaps, too, someone will read your tales and know a way to help.

  26. Sue says:

    There are many mental health services not available to my son because he is a “sex offender”. Many schools are off limits to him as well.

    Our laws need to change so young men/women do not get caught up in this hysteria.

    I have a large family and my niece/great niece have been banished fromt he family.

    A couple years ago my Sister (mother of niece, grandmother of great niece) went to a lawyer so my niece could come forward and recant. When my niece  learned that they could be charged they backed off immediately. Plus I’m sure (not positive) that they received state money under the victim’s compensation act and that would have to pay it back. Yes, they both need desperate help. My great niece who turns 19 tomorrow attempted suicide last fall because she misses her best friend and the rest of the family. I blame my niece and her husband the most; who would do that to a child????

    But, I also must blame the local police because they have known my son since he was 6 and we’re always stopping and talking to him when he played outside. They knew of his disabilities and most believe that what happened to him never should have happened. Several have even told me to my face that if they had been on duty when this went down that this never would have happened.

    You know what I say to that? These offecers are NO better than the arresting officer becuase they stood up for the man in blue even knowing it was wrong!

    As I’ve said in previous posts, educate yourselves before it’s too late for you  or a loved one!

    • azmouse says:

      Hang in there Sue. Like Ryn said, maybe someone will see this that can help or knows what direction to go in. I really pity those members of your family that created this nightmare. Without them, your son wouldn’t be in this situation in the first place. Really, really sick and selfish.

    • tiponeill says:

      Some resources here.
      Review and recommendations on Sex Offenders policies here.
      (Hint: checking public databases of not high risk offenders before going trick-or-treating is NOT recommended policy.
      Its great for yellow journalists, though).

  27. leftfield says:

    It does drive me nuts to read something like Sue’s story.  The news is full of them.  Kids in high school that have sex and the boy gets arrested and charged and called a sex offender because he was 18.  Or a situation like Sue’s son and their life is ruined over an allegation that has no merit.  

     The laws are such a “one size fits all”  blanket when it suits the system.  Those same laws do help protect society from the true evil perps, but they also catch those in the mix that should not be there.  Kind of like fishing for tuna and the dolphins pay the price.  Its the same with so many laws and mandatory sentencing issues.  

    There are many sex perps out there that never even get their hand slapped.  Take my foster daughter that was raped over and over by her father from the age of 10 until her removal from the home at age 12.   Nothing happened to him.  He’s out walking around.  And she was not his first.  She ended up in foster care and her life fell apart from the abuse she suffered by her own parent.  She is now 14 and starting to come out of the hell she lived.  You would be surprised how many kids in foster care have been sexually abused and how many of the people that did it to them have zero accountability for destroying a child’s life.  The numbers of kids sexually abused by someone in their family or that knows the family is staggering.   The low numbers incarcerated for what they did are also staggering.  The majority are never reported. The same system that wrongfully charged Sues’ son DID NOT help or work for my foster daughter and a total sexual predator is out on the streets.  So, those same laws fail as well as improperly incarcerate. 

    I also wonder if those that can afford the best legal representation are better off served?  Do they “get off” more or do they get “convicted” more depending on who has the upper hand?  The system is definitely not fair by any means.

    • azmouse says:

      That poor little girl, leftfield.
      Like you said, so many are still out there re offending. By the time they are caught, most have offended much more than for that ‘one crime’ that finally got found out.

      I think parents should be able to utilize all the tools available to them to protect their children. Obviously, the sex offender registry isn’t fool proof, but it is one way to look out for a child. You can never be to safe with little ones.

    • Rynski says:

      thank you, leftfied, for her story. it points out YET ANOTHER problem with the system. so glad you were able to help save her from that hell.
      and yes – whomever can pay the most for legal representation are the ones that get served – look at oj.

  28. Sue says:

    Everyone who reads these posts can help by not spreading panic and fear, but by educating so that maybe some day these laws can change and not get so many caught up in the net. We need the laws changed to track “true” offenders, not the 1000’s that are are listed who are a danger to no one!! Education is the best policy instead of fear and hysteria! Check out http://www.love-is-not-a-crime.com to start getting educated and spread the word so that maybe someday the registry won’t be so diluted.

    • azmouse says:

      I can only imagine how much pain you are in. I can feel it in your writing and I would NEVER dismiss that in any way. Also, there are MANY laws out there that need to be changed as they currently stand.

      That said, and I’m only speaking for myself, as a Mother (I have three biological children, one girl and two boys, and also raised two non-biological boys as well) I felt it was my responsibility to make sure these boys knew what the laws were once they turned eighteen. That any girl at school who wasn’t eighteen, was off limits, period. Whether they were in love with a girl or not, they were now an adult and would be arrested and considered a child molester if they had relations with anyone under eighteen. I started talking to them about this once they turned sixteen, to protect them from exactly what that website says about Romeo and Juliet.
      One of my boys thought it was cool when he turned eighteen, because he could by Playboy. I informed him that he could be arrested if he showed it to his ‘not yet’ eighteen year old friends because it is against the law to show ‘children’ pornography.

      As parents of young boys/men, we HAVE to educate ourselves, so we can educate them about all these laws and the repercussions of them. It doesn’t make the laws right, but until that changes, it is just something all parents have to do.

  29. radmax says:

    The system sucks, I agree. Too many are pigeonholed along with the true scumbags, not only sex offenders.
    SO sorry to hear of your daughter’s abuse Leftfield. I believe she is in a loving, caring home now.

  30. earthbound says:

    Sue:  I don’t think anyone is spreading “panic or fear” here.  The reality is what it is and sexual abuse is widespread and woefully under reported.  AND, many KIDS are being swept up in the mess.  All of these posts are knowledge.  Thank you though for the website info. 

    • azmouse says:

      Hi earthbound,
      I agree that parents should have every thing available to them in their quest to keep their children safe and that on the other end of the spectrum there are many judges who give child predators and repeat offenders not even so much as a slap on the wrist.

  31. earthbound says:

    Hey Lefty – your post doesn’t sound like you.  No political spin?  But, it is so welcomed and painfully honest.   Thank you for being there for a child in need.  You and Mrs. Lefty are good people to open your hearts and home to a child like that.  And a teenager?  Wow. 

  32. Sue says:

     Rynski, you are right; many who have power and/or money tend to escape this nightmare. On http://www.love-is-not-a-crime  on the left hand side click on discrepencies to read of those that have gotten off because of who they were.

    I would love to see a day when our government would concentrate the millions of dollars and manpower on “true” offenders so that we can say “no more victims”!

    No more victims of abuse and no more victims caught up in these laws.

  33. Shelley says:

    I posted a comment to this which was here last night but is now gone.  Has it been removed or is there a Page 2?  I also notice that a couple of the other posts are missing.

  34. Shelley says:

    Never mind.  I see it way up at the top, I was looking at the bottom.  Sorry, and I appreciate the supportive comments.

  35. Shelley says:

    When I first logged into this blog, my heart was broken by what I read, the rage expressed against a group that now includes my young son.  At the time this happened to him, he was not even long past trick-or-treating himself, now in certain parts of the U.S., most, really, we would have to put a sign on our door warning trick-or-treaters away.  Parole & Probation even has big red stop-sign-shaped signs that some “offenders” have to put in their yard: “Stop, a sex offender lives here.”  Can you imagine having to put one of those in your yard as your teen son once again cries himself to sleep, a nightly occurrence?  But I am grateful to the responses to my post, Sue’s and Lois’s.  I am advocating vigorously against these laws, and as the man who indicates he’s seen this from “behind bars,” mandatory minimum sentencing must also be done away with.  For instance, as in Sue’s case, my son was faced with 14 years in prison due to mandatory sentencing if he’d gone to trial and lost for some reason.  So this forces these guys to bear false witness against themselves and accept a plea so they can “go home today” instead.  They don’t know what they’re doing; they’ve never been in trouble before.  If any of you ever have a chance to rally against mandatory minimums, please do it. 

    We continue to live with grief and despair, my once delightful and joyful son, a boy who didn’t know a stranger, and who everybody loved except for this horrible girl, has become dark, his Crohn’s Disease exacerbated and physically destroying him due to the stress, and tears are a part of every day.  He was released last April and the pain only continues to grow every day.  What happens when he wants to have a relationship or children?  This is a nightmare.  My request of all of you, use your talents and your blog to get the truth out there.  We all want to protect our children, but thousands and thousands of “children” are being placed on the registry every day.  Many states post names, photos, addresses, and even maps to the kid’s home on the online registry, and these kids aren’t even 18 (Idaho for example).  They’re KIDS.  I just watched a video where a couple of vigilantes — a man and a woman — appeared at 4:00 a.m. at the door of a registered offender.  When he went to open the door, a shot was fired, killing his 13-year-old son who was visiting him.  It was determined that these were vigilantes, the scum of the earth in my opinion.  Learn the truth, and thanks for listening.  If any of you are open to prayer, we could certainly use some.

  36. Sue says:

    Shelly-your post brings me to tears, even though I too live this nightmare on a daily basis. Halloween is tomorrow and I watch my son curled up in a ball, unable to function. It was a holiday that he so loved participating in and now it is the worst time of the year for him.  Our laws have destroyed him and everyday as he slips deeper into depression I’m afraid of losing him. Our mental health laws are no better I’m finding out; he’s over the age of 18, there is nothing I can do. I have lost faith in justice and humanity.

  37. shelley says:

    Why can’t I see the most recent posts?  I know they’re there, I saw them earlier, but it’s as though I’m stuck on the first page. 

    • shelley says:

      Dear Sue,

      Your son is so lucky to have you by his side.  I know the pain is unbearable.  My son loved Halloween as well, in fact, before this happened, his life goal was to be a teacher.  Not only will that never happen, but he’s restricted from attending church or any school functions, even with me.  I believe I see the hearts of some good people on this site who will think more about this knowing that our sons are but two on a registry of horrors.  If the registry wasn’t so overloaded with people who don’t belong on it, and if law enforcement weren’t so busy being forced to monitor youngsters like ours, those who present a real threat would not be getting away with murder, literally.

  38. shelley says:

    Okay, the only way I bring up the most recent is apparently sending out a new post.  Is that the only way?

  39. koreyk says:

    The system can work, as azmouse’s research on the offenders in her area seems to show.  But it is truly frightening just how wrong it can get at the extremes of the spectrum, from Phillip and Nancy Garrido to some of the stories above.  Even with the distancing effect the media has, I feel outrage when I see reports of situations like those of Leftfield or Sue, Lois, Tonia and Shelly.  When I read it in their words, I just want to cry.

    The reasons for these failures and abuses are myriad and complex, and politics is behind a lot of it, from how much money will be allocated and where it will be spent to the political ambitions of the prosecutors.  I think this is especially true of those unjustly sucked into the system, like Sue’s son.  An example must be made of these “criminals”, so we get our modern day stocks and whipping posts, only the effects are more severe and long lasting.

    Sometimes the local mores can affect the direction.  In Tucson around 1993, photographer Robyn Stoutenburg had all her work seized because a nude photograph of her 4 year old son holding up a plucked chicken was visible through a gallery window.  Contrary to popular belief, images of non-sexual underage nudity are not illegal in most of the US.  However, that doesn’t stop a prosecutor from interpreting them as sexual.  And, the Pima County Prosecutor was claiming the image depicted bestiality, and threatened Ms Stoutenburg with years in prison.  The Tucson Weekly published the “offending” photo, and the public largely saw it as the innocent piece of art that it was.  The resulting negative public opinion of the Prosecutor’s actions probably had a large part to do with the charges being quietly dropped.  But, what might have happened if the public was not able to see the photo?  What if this occurred in the bible belt?  

    • azmouse says:

      Hello koreyk,
      I agree with you, that the system works for some, but obviously not all. When my sixteen year old son gets home from school today, I am going to have him read all of the comments on here, as a continuing part of keeping boys/young men educated on protecting themselves from inappropriate contact with someone who is underage and to help him see what can happen, even if he’s  at the wrong place at the wrong time.
      Of course, in Sue’s case, where a family member does something like that, there is no safe place to fall and will continue to ruin the family for generations.

  40. Sue says:

    Unfortunately I have come across several articles where parents are charged and have to fight child pornagraphy charges for taking bathtime photos of photos of new moms breastfeeding. I send ALL of them to family and friends to beware.

    This link is one and I sure hope they win big in their lawsuit against Arizona and Walmart. If nothing else I it will show people what our politicians/lawmakers are doing.
    http://www.sfchronicle.us/cgi-bin/blogs/sfmoms/detail?entry_id=48024

  41. Jennatoolz says:

    Wow..all of these stories here made me stop and take a look at my family. In my situation, I have a very close relative who is in a relationship with an underage girl. Of course, I don’t forsee any of this stuff happening, but you never really know. I know a couple of my family members have talked to him about what could happen…but he still wants to be with her because they love each other, etc. They’re living together, I might add. So, what should someone like me do? Let him live and learn? It seems that that’s the route he’s choosing to take.

    • azmouse says:

      He should not be living with an underage girl. Why can’t he keep the place going, then she can move in when she turns eighteen? Where are her parents and why isn’t she still living at home with them? I would not have let my daughter do something like that.

    • tiponeill says:

      These laws are typically enforced in a haphazard manner and depend more than anything else on the attitude of the girls parents.
      If she has parental consent, the girl can marry in AZ at age 16 so that is probably the best bet.
      If there are parental objections I would seriously consider moving to another state.
      (Of course that recommendation applies for almost everyone due to many of AZ”s backwards laws 🙂 )
       

  42. azmouse says:

    This just happened in Ohio, for example. He is the kind of person most of us are afraid of and we want monitered. I think he embodies what we fear for ourselves and our children.

    http://www.woio.com/global/story.asp?s=11412465

  43. james says:

    Greetings again, many of the stories resonate from my years of corrections. Please do not think I do not empathize, However, these numbers are miniscule relatively speaking, and the county attornys will not cede one inch of ground in this field. They are elsected officials, and therefore will be running for office rather than delving into each case. We also have newer technology available and that takes longer to precess than before. This could impact the right to speedy trial of the accused.
    Ragarding the photos and artwork, we have subjective laws regarding what is and isn’t, and we have people interpreting the items. Therein lies the problems, humans. each of us view an item differently than another. you take photos into be developed, someone else looks at them and is offended. They believe it to be porn or something else, they notify their boss, your information is turned over to the police. They knock on the door and grandpa answers the door, yes they are pics of him and his grandson, and grandson is in the bath. Is it child porn or not? This answer will depend upon your belief system. But, I will tell you, legally, this can and is child porn in many cases. Photos that were stolen from inmates of them and thier children, became child porn in the prison, and still are. How you view something may be SO different than another.
    One must teach their children dilegently and hold guard against them wandering into dangerous waters.
    Also remember, the police are NOT there to protect, they are there to enforce laws that have been broken. They take statements, collect and process evidence, and turn the cases over to the county attorny for prosecution.
    This may not seem right, but it is the system as it has evolved.

    • azmouse says:

      One must teach their children dilegently and hold guard against them wandering into dangerous waters.

      Hello James,
      I absolutely agree with this statement one hundred percent. I have repeated over and over we as parents need to know the laws so we can teach our children those laws to protect them.

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