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May 10, 2013

Notable new Oregon bill to allow some young sex offenders to get off registry

In this recent post about the Second Amendment rights of registered sex offenders prompted a lengthy comment thread about who does and does not end up on sex offender registries.  With that discussion fresh in mind, I found this AP story about a bill making its way through the Oregon legislature interesting:

Some young offenders convicted of having sex with underage partners would be able to request the crime be removed from their records under a bill narrowly passed by the Oregon House on Wednesday. Voting 31 to 27, the House sent the bill to the Senate with little discussion.

Under the bill, in order for adult offenders to apply to have their records erased, coercion or force could not have been used in the sex act. Other conditions include completion of all required court-ordered programs and treatments.

Proponents say the current punishment for such sex offenders does not fit the crime. Opponents say people convicted of sex crimes often reoffend and should not be able to have their records expunged. "Individuals who commit sex offenses ... this isn't their first time and it won't be their last," said Crook County District Attorney Daina Vitolins, who opposes the bill on behalf of the Oregon District Attorneys Association. To say an act is consensual when it involves a person who is too young to give consent is indefensible and minimizes the law, Vitolins said.

For offenders to have their records cleared under the proposed law, they could be no more than five years older than the victim, and the victim must be at least 14. For sex crimes committed by a minor, the victim must be at least 12 and the age difference can be no more than three years.

House Speaker Tina Kotek, a sponsor, brought the legislation forward after hearing from a constituent who was 14 when his friend's parents reported him to the authorities for engaging in inappropriate behavior — which did not involve intercourse — with their young daughter.  "This is the difference between a life of hopelessness and a future for this individual," the Portland Democrat told lawmakers last month.

Among those testifying for the bill was Matthew Shettles, who served three years' probation on a charge of sex abuse for having sex with his girlfriend in 2004 on the night of his high school graduation. In written testimony, Shettles said he had just turned 18 at the time and she was five weeks shy of 15.  A counselor learned of the encounter and was required by a mandatory reporting law to inform authorities, he said.

He said having a sex crime on his record has made it difficult to get hired and rent an apartment. Employers and housing agencies often run criminal background checks.  "It doesn't seem reasonable that a guy who had sex with his girlfriend should have to pay for the rest of his life," Shettles said in the written testimony.

Under the bill, only sex crimes that meet a specific set of requirements could be erased from an offender's record.  Among other things, the person must have successfully applied to be removed from the state's sex offender registry and cannot have been convicted of other serious crimes.

May 10, 2013 at 01:32 PM | Permalink

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one major complaint from me - that the bill allows offenders whose victims were as young as 12 to remove their names. in many states, 12 is below the age of consent and 12 is in most cases too young to consent to sex. Because of that, in cases with 12 year old victims there is no need to determine whether the offense was a forcible offense.

Hence, this bill could allow offenders who could have committed forcible sex offenses to get off. and in general, one hopes that they would be extremely cautious in other cases to make sure that all of the ofefnders in fact committed consensual offenses and that the verdicts were not based upon plea bargains to the age based ofenses in cases where there is strong evidence of force. Many times cases will child victims will be based upon age even when there is strong evidence of force (and that is especially the case with young offenders).

other than that, most of the people covered by this bill never should have been on there in the first place. There is no reason why a juvenile offender should ever be on the sex offender registry for engaging in consensal sex with another child.

Erika :)

Posted by: Erika | May 10, 2013 2:48:55 PM

The SOR (Sex Offender Registry) laws reflect nothing more than a fascistic war on the US Constitution, the principles of democratic equality under the law and basic human rights. SOR laws, when they came about, were in some senses, precursor laws that allowed for the degrading of basic legal rights and freedoms for certain groups of people, who in this case are previously convicted sex offenders who have completed their obligations to the state but are held as a kind of political, legal-system prisoner to be held criminally accountable again and again where there are no new crimes.

It is highly likely that most Americans simply do not understand how easy it is to be convicted of a "sex crime" and ultimately end up on the SOR list such as public urination, exhibitionism, voyeurism, consensual sex (where age differences are greater than three and half years, mooning and streaking, lewd and lascivious and more.

Here are two sex offender news stories from Oregon that I recall from about five years (or was it seven?). There is a “make-out” park in Salem where three different married couples, each not related to the other couples and at different times, were arrested for lewd and lascivious behavior (although in their cars). Those three sex crimes got the husbands (not the wives – don’t ask me) on the SOR list. Doesn’t take much. Here’s the link: http://www.salem-news.com/articles/august182006/silly_sex_laws_81806.php

Here’s another story (I’m able to find the link from about 2004): Two young people were living together, a boy aged 17 and his girlfriend (adult female) aged 18. The boy was on probation for the crime of theft. On day, a probation officer had come to check up on the boy at his home when he ran into the girlfriend coming out of the apartment where they lived and asked her who she was. She explained everything and showed her identification to the P.O. A few weeks later, the girlfriend was arrested and charged with “contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor” and ultimately ended up on Oregon’s SOR list.

One of the mistakes that people not familiar with SOR list is to assume that they are all the same: incurable, highly recidivistic monsters that cannot control their sexual behavior. This is not true of the vast number of those on the SOR list. Except for stranger-on-stranger rape of adult women and the “fixated” (dedicated) child abusers, the vast majority of “sex offenders” (registrants) are those who are classified as “situational” (non-dedicated) child abusers (around 90% of all registrants). Here is a link for more reading: http://blogs.psychcentral.com/sex/2013/04/clinician-prejudice-toward-sex-offenders

Also you will probably want to know that about 94% of all sex crimes are committed by “first time” sex offenders (think about this: “first timers” are not on any SOR list). Here’s this link: http://www.rethinking.org.nz/images/newsletter%20PDF/Issue%2078/C%2002%20watchedpot.pdf

Who commits crimes against children? As it turns out, it is the family members and acquaintances of those child sexual offense victims. The remaining percentage belongs to the “stranger” category. But of those stranger related sex offenses (in round numbers: 3% to 6%) – and from the previous paragraph’s statistic, we know that 94% of them are first-timer sex offenders. Here’s that link: http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/01/living/juvenile-sex-offenders-rights/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

People who have completed their obligations to society need to be re-integrated back into the community so that they can become the good neighbors that you want: law-abiding, productive and conscientious members of the community. If any person commits a crime of any kind then we have laws described in the ORS to hold them accountable. Free democratic societies respect the principle of equality under the law for everybody not just most.

It’s time to repeal or reform ALL Sex Offender Registry (SOR) laws in the USA.

Posted by: Tom Madison | May 10, 2013 7:32:11 PM

Cute of course pitty it doesn't mean shit. Since the Federal SOR law requires juveniles to be listed.

Posted by: rodsmith | May 11, 2013 1:13:48 AM

For those of us old enough to remember drive-in movies and steamy car windows, I guess we'd all be eligible for the SOR. Did all those young people who had sex "before" they were legal, become rapists or childmolesters as the government would like the public to believe.
Time to stop the witch-hunt.
So many of those on the registry are on there for passive, non-contact reasons, but background checks don't reveal that, only that they did SOMETHING!
Sad state of affairs this world is in. Sad.

Posted by: kat | May 13, 2013 10:25:01 AM

TRENTON, N.J. (TheBlaze/AP) May 12, 2013 — Police stormed a New Jersey home early Sunday and fatally shot a
registered sex offender who had held his girlfriend’s three children hostage, ending a 37-hour ordeal and
recovering the bodies of the girlfriend and one of her children, authorities said.

As TheBlaze reported yesterday, officers initially went to the South Trenton home Friday afternoon and found a
man was barricaded inside. A relative Carmelita Stevens, 44, said she hadn’t spoken to her in weeks and was
worried…authorities then discovered her children hadn’t been to school in 12 days.

They found 38-year-old Gerald “Skip” Tyrone Murphy in an upstairs bedroom and he told them he was armed with a
gun and explosives and had three children with him, Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph L. Bocchini Jr. said.
Officers noticed one of the dead victims before they retreated from the second floor and rescued
Stevens’ 19-year-old son from the basement, who said he hadn’t seen her or his siblings since about April 24.

The officers also noticed maggots throughout the residence.
Murphy kept the captives with him inside the roughly 10-foot-by-11-foot bedroom throughout the standoff, authorities said.

Three of Stevens’ children – an 18-year-old woman, a 16-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy – were rescued and taken to a
medical center.
Authorities found the bodies of Stevens and her 13-year-old son in separate bedrooms. Stevens’ body was in an
advanced state of decomposition..

Murphy had a long criminal history including convictions for aggravated assault and criminal conspiracy, Bocchini said. He had previously been arrested for robbery and weapons offenses and child endangerment. He also had an arrest warrant in Pennsylvania for failing to register as a sex offender.

Posted by: Adamakis | May 13, 2013 11:46:46 AM

Adamakis (May 13, 2013 11:46:46 AM):

Do you have a point? Or are we just re-posting off-topic news articles here?

Was your point that this guy was Registered and how is it possible that it did nothing to prevent this crime? That's what I was wondering. We must need more laws. Maybe the local criminal regimes can write some more to target everyone else listed on their panacea Registries? That's the brilliant pattern, right?

The one thing we know about his Registration is that it contributed to this crime. So, good job, criminal regimes! I would like to know what recent Registry harassment he was getting. Something probably happened pretty recently. Maybe it was the local criminal regime doing one of their PR grandstanding stunts.

The article said that this guy had a long criminal history. The good thing is that he never was Registered until one of his crimes was a sex crime. So probably everyone was *relatively* safe prior to then at least.

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | May 13, 2013 1:59:38 PM

Here's a situation that I think also needs to be addressed. What happens when a teenager poses as an adult on an adult phone chat line? In this case a 15 year old girl meets up with a 24 year old man after chatting on the adult chat line. She stated that she was 18 (but looked in her early 20's). Unbeknownst to him, her real age was fifteen. The two eventually met up and spent the afternoon together. Later on they drove to a park and started making out with each other in the car. There was fondling, and touching of the genitals by both of them but no sexual intercourse was ever involved. While they were making out a police rolls up on them.

The police of course asks both of them for identification. The male provides his credentials but the girl didn't have any. She gave the officer her name and date of birth and discovers she was only fifteen. It turns out the fifteen year old sneaked out of the house to meet up with the male (she has done this before). The 24 year old male had never been in any trouble with the law except for a few traffic tickets. He was arrested on the spot and taken to jail. He eventually plead to one count of Sex Abuse III and was placed on 2 years probabtion. He was required to register as a sex offender and ordered to complete a series of offender classes and evaluations. He submitted to all that was required by the courts and never violated probation.

As officers we are bound by the laws set forth and are required to make arrests based on these current laws. My concern is that this male should have never been arrested under these circumstances. In this instance the fifteen year old girl admitted to being on an adult chat line and apologized to the male for lying as he was taken into custody. She however was released to her parents and they drove home. There was no accountability or consequences for the fifteen year old or her guardians. In cases such as these where clearly the young man didn't know the young lady's real age landed an honest, productive citizen of society in jail and on the registry. This seems like such an injustice to the young man. How can a person in a case like this ever clear his name from the registry?

Posted by: BeanieJ | Oct 10, 2013 4:38:06 AM

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