understand not wanting to create new crimes of Teen Sexting in the VA Code (see editorial
below) BUT the problem is the wording in the code for child
pornography production, dissemination and viewing/possession includes Teen
Sexting, like it or not.
at the next G.A. session (January 2015) there is a proposal to the various
Child Pornography statutes to add a line excluding Teen-to-Teen
“Sexting”? This way over zealous Commonwealth Attorney’s and Magistrates don’t
overstep in this area.
disclaimer/exclusion in code should have an age gap allowance (4 years) for age
would stop any stubborn House or Senate members who have fought past Sexting proposals
based on the claim it would open the door for 50 year old perverts to take
advantage of our children.
how we need to include the 18 and 19 year olds. I know they are adults in the
eyes of the law but it is completely appropriate for an 18 year old to date a
16 year old and a 19 year old to date a 17 year old. If the 18 and 19 year olds
have not threatened, forced or intimidated the younger person, if they have not extorted
them and if they have not forwarded the image on to others or posted it on the
Internet then they should not face felony child pornography charges either. One
other point to consider is the now 18 or 19 year old may have sent or received
the images when they were minors but when the images are finally discovered
months or years later they are legal adults, the time in which the images were
sent or received should be the time considered by the state.
Sunday July 20th I received an email from a reader (first time) looking
for direction to remain compliant and avoid inadvertently committing a felony.
He is a Virginian
RSO and he’s getting married in the next few weeks and they plan to honeymoon
in Europe following the wedding.
visited the Traveling
as a Registered Sex Offenderpage on this blog and read about
the Federal requirement to notify the authorities of his intended travel
abroad. On that page there are article about other RSO’s who failed to notify
the authorities prior to travel and when they returned home they were arrested
and charged with a new felony, so this reader understood the risk if he did not
follow the process.
is I have been unable to find the process for Virginia RSO’s to submit the
planned travel ahead of time.
previously given examples to the Virginia General Assembly Committees and to the Virginia State
Crime Commission of the VCBR stacking the deck against the residents to retain
them as long as possible (usually because legislation to expand their authority
is being proposed) and this recent example is just another shameful example of
how the staff/management regularly sets residents up for failure.
As ACLU of VA's Claire
Gastanaga says below, “It’s about some people doing it because they can”.
It's an abuse
of power by the VCBR and it's been occurring for years, most examples just
never make the news.
Sex offenders upset over
punishment for watching HBO, July 29, 2014
rights advocate for a state facility that provides treatment for civilly
committed sex offenders in Virginia
has filed a complaint on behalf of one of those sex offenders alleging unfair
the more common questions I receive from readers is……
How long do I have
July 1, 2008, any Registrant classified as “Non-Violent” must remain on the
Virginia Sex Offender Registry for a minimum
of 15 years before they can petition the court to be removed. The 2008
Virginia General Assembly increased the minimum time from 10 to 15 years,
retroactive to everyone in an attempt to become Federally Adam Walsh Act
compliant, as of 2014 Virginia
is NOT compliant. When this change occurred in 2008 some offenders that had
been successful in a petition to be removed back in 2006 and 2007 were put BACK
on the VSP Virginia Registry for an additional 5 years before they can petition
for removal, again.
Now, we know the ACLU-VA does NOT support adding
the word “sexting” to VA Code, even to make it a misdemeanor. Without adjusting
the VA Code more Virginia
teenagers who “sext” will face felony prosecution of child pornography which
carry mandatory minimum prison sentences.
It’s very disappointing to learn the only concrete fix
to this problem (amending VA Code) is opposed by our ACLU.
Mary Davye Devoy
Manassas case rekindles debate over penalties for
‘sexting’July 25, 2014
Back on June
8th I posted about the upcoming Federal elections
in November advising you who is retiring, who is running as an incumbent and
who some of the party nominees were after the GOP convention and Primary Day.
Plus why the Federal Representatives for Virginia
matter for this platform (Sex Offender legislation, funding and restrictions)
and the process to apply for restoration of rights (voting rights for citizens
convicted of felony offenses) in Virginia.
after all of that we did not know who all the candidates were because there was
a filing deadline still pending.
we know who all the Virginia
candidates for Federal seats that are up for reelection this November are.
situation from Texas
is just heartbreaking. He did everything he was aware of to remain compliant and
yet he’s facing new felony charges.
of you whose original conviction was a misdemeanor, the punishment for administrative
issues is harsher than the crime that forces you to register. The punishment
does NOT fit the crime.
All for a
registry that to remain Constitutional is supposed to be administrative, not
punitive. Yeah right!
The below story
shows exactly why I have continued to raise the point that the Commonwealth makes no effort to advise
those who must abide by these rules of the requirements even when they change
every year during the General Assembly.
warrant to force the 17 year old Manassas minor
to be medically injected with a substance to erect his genitalia and then
submit to photographs of his erect penis by Virginia authorities has been
allowed to expire there have been many editorials written as the 17 year old is
STILL facing felony charges of child pornography that carry mandatory minimum
prison sentences and a lifetime on the Virginia Registry as a Violent Sex Offender.
repeatedly told the current 136 (4 seats are vacant) Virginia Delegates and Senators that it’s time
to separate Teen Sexting from our Child Pornography statutes and I
asked you to tell them too.
In Virginia legislation has
been proposed and passed for many years under the claim its Adam Walsh
15 and 25 years minimum registration (instead of the original 10 and 20
years) and juvenile mandates.
states tier based on risk or on the conviction which was probably a plea to a
states have private registries and who is listed on them?
contacted numerous people looking for this data but no one had a complete list.
So I took
a December 2013 ATSA 50 State Level/Tier spreadsheet, I then visited http://klaaskids.org/megans-law/
for all 50 states, then I visited more than half of states registries (where
I had missing info) and finally I did an Internet search for states with
Below are two charts (too wide to leave
as one) for all 50 states:
Which ones have classifications systems for their Sex
Offenders and which ones don’t
If they do group the offenders is it Risk-Based or
How long registration is required in each state
before petition is allowed
What states have private/authority registries (not on
the Internet) and if they do who is included on the private lists
Which ones require juveniles to register or not
And with all of these differences, what states have
been certified as AWA/SORNA compliant by the SMART Office
a few pieces of missing data (it notes undetermined) that I'm still looking for
and hope to fill in soon.
What a great piece (see below), unfortunately
inspired by the Manassas
case where charges are still pending against the 17 year old male.
Mr. Balko was one of the many speakers at theCenter for
Prosecutorial Integrity’s Summitthat
I attended in Washington,D.C. last month. As did two Virginia
Commonwealth Attorney’s and a Virginia Attorney General contact that I chatted
with. Too bad C.A. Paul Ebert didn’t attend the Summit.
As the 2009 article (above link) reminds us. Delegate Albo said, taking the discretion away from the
state's 120 elected prosecutors could result in a teen being punished for a
stupid mistake while allowing a serious predator to receive a mere slap on the
wrist. Mr. Albo called possible legislation a total minefield. We are
dancing on very, very scary territory here if you're talking about changing the
law, he said.
I beg to differ.
The current situation of a 17 year old male in Manassas who
is being charged and facing a lifetime on the Virginia Registry for
reciprocating with a sexual image when a 15 year old female initiated the
sexting and she is not facing any charges, plus the despicable warrant (that will
now be allowed to expire) that would have forced the 17 year to become sexually erected and then
submit to photographs. THAT is “scary territory”.
damage is already occurring in the Commonwealth because there are prosecutors
who are over zealous and lack common sense in these cases. It’s time
to separate “Teen Sexting” from Child Pornography and that includes production,
dissemination and possession AND it should include 18 and 19 year olds who are
in age appropriate relationships and “sext” without force, threat or
intimidation. They pose no threat to society and to prosecute, imprison and
stigmatize them as Sex Offenders is no benefit to the Commonwealth and it
destroys any chances of a positive and productive future for the youth.
is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer"
We Must Destroy the Children in Order
to Save Them
My colleague Tom Jackman’s story about the efforts of
officials in Northern Virginia to forcibly
induce an erection in a teenage boy in order to pursue “sexting” charges
against him has deservedly provoked national outrage. As Jackman points out, Manassas police have
since backed down and now say that they won’t execute the warrant. Of
course, there remains the problem of why the warrant was issued in the first
place. No one in the Manassas Police Department, the office of
Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert or the judge who signed off on the warrant
was able to see what the rest of the country saw, here: an outrageous abuse of
power and an unfathomable violation of this kid’s privacy. The Commonwealth of Virginia was prepared to create
child porn in order to prosecute a 17-year-old kid for sending videos of
himself to his then-girlfriend, who was 15 years old.
lot going on in this case. We can start with Paul Ebert, a dinosaur of the Virginia criminal
justice system. I wrote a bit about Ebert’s history in a
previous post here at The Watch about prosecutorial misconduct. The general
takeaway is that Ebert, who has been in office for more than 40 years, has
a long and sordid history of poor judgment yet has never been sanctioned or
disciplined for his conduct. In 2011, his office was the subject of a blistering opinion
by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. As Andrew Cohen points
out in the linked article,it wasn’t the first time that has happened.
A revised version of Jackman’s article was posted later on Wednesday
deleting some areas and adding new ones.
I’ve inserted the additional paragraphs and noted what was removed
When I posted the original article about this unbelievable case
4, I expected to see numerous
media outlets pick up the case.I knew
it was a holiday weekend but news stories don’t stop just because of a holiday.
But for 5 days, not one additional article, until today (see below).
This Washington Post article expands a bit on what has
occurred so far in this case.
Below we learn that on July 1st,Foster said Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Claiborne Richardson
told her that her client must either plead guilty or police would obtain
another search warrant “for pictures of his erect penis,” for comparison to the
evidence from the teen’s cell phone. Foster asked how that would be
accomplished and was told that “we just take him down to the hospital, give him
a shot and then take the pictures that we need.”
That’s right, plead guilty to child pornography instead of going
to trial or the State will force a minor to get an erection and then take
photos of it!
This is an abuse of power!
This is unequal
justice under the law by only charging and threatening sexual abuse and
humiliation of the 17 year old male when the 15 year old female initiated by
sending the first nude image!
And ……..its State sponsored sexual abuse and humiliation of a
last year, Los Angeles
set aside a sliver of land in its Harbor Gateway neighborhood for the city’s
newest and smallest park: two jungle gyms on a fifth of an acre.
was more than just an effort to increase the city’s green space. City Council
members made clear that one of the park’s principal reasons for existence
was to force 33 people on the California
sex offender registry who were living in a nearby apartment building to move
out. State law bars those on its registry from living within 2,000 feet of a
park or school.
“We came together, working with the police
department, to problem-solve, to send a message that Harbor Gateway cannot be
dumped upon with a high number of registered sex offenders,” councilman Joe
at the park’s opening.
California hasn’t been alone in its tough
approach to ensuring that formerly incarcerated sex offenders pose no danger
after they are released. As part of a wave of new sex offender laws starting in
the mid-1990s, about 30 states and thousands of cities and towns passed such
residency restrictions—prompting in turn a pushback from civil liberties
advocates, state legislators and registrants themselves who argued the
restrictions were not only unduly harsh but counterproductive.
court decision in Colorado
last year could mark a shift in momentum.
April 18th I asked you all to look over the Top 7 Goals I have been asking
the Virginia Legislators to sponsor over the last 6 General Assembly sessions
and pick one or two that you believe in and to then ask your District’s Delegate
and Senator to sponsor for the 2015 Virginia General Assembly (begins January 14th)
because most Legislators decide on all their bills by September in a
non-election year like 2014. In an election year they usually wait till late
November or even mid-December to make their final decisions/selections on bills
for the upcoming January.
I made more than 25 separate requests for 2015 sponsors, now I wait for
am asking all of you once again (if you have not already done so) to contact
your one Delegate and one Senator before the end of July.
This way they
hear their constituents asking for these reasonable changes and asking them to step
up and patron/sponsor one “good” bill for the next session.
April action item post, two Delegates and one Senator have retired/resigned in
June and then on July 1st another
Senator retired/resigned. This mean there will be one or two Special Elections for 4 District’s in the Commonwealth to fill these vacated seats.
live in one of these districts then you need to wait until the
Special Elections occur to know who is representing
your district. Then you can contact the newly elected Legislator, introduce
your self and make a request for
candidates for the upcoming Special Elections in these 4 Districts’ are not finalized
(as of today). Once they are I will post
about the candidates.
odd year) will be a short-session this means the Virginia Delegates are limited
to a maximum of 15 bills,
that’s it! Whereas, Virginia Senators do not have a bill limit in a short
Governor and the Attorney General have their own Legislative Agendas each
session, known as “Administration Bills”. So they too are looking for Delegates and
Senators to patron/sponsor their bills leaving fewer opportunities for
constituents and advocates during a short session.
one additional goal from the full list, for this post. #8 in this post is in
response to the Manassas, Virginia case of the 17 year old boy who
“sexted” with his girlfriend and was forced by the state to submit to official
photos of his genitalia. Goal #8 is not specific to him being forced to be
photographed but to separate Teen Sexting from Child Pornography.
8 goals below, please select one or two that speaks to you the most and
ask your representatives to sponsor a bill proposing the change. You can ask
them in a phone call, in an email or in an in-person appointment at their
district office (near you).
though this 17 year old and his aunt voluntarily participated in this NBC interview/article
he is a minor so I have made the decision to remove his name from this post to
limit any future damage a Google search could do to his reputation, re-entry
and future endeavors 2, 5 or 10 years from now.
the 4th case in 2014 that I have come across in the news since a
bill HB1260proposed at the 2014 Virginia
General Assembly session to fix the issue of treating Teen Sexting the same a
Child Pornography was killed by the House Criminal Sub-Committee. Virginia juveniles, who
create, distribute and/or possess sexual images under no threat, force or intimidation need to be treated
differently than adults who produce sexual abuse images of children. Felony
charges, prison time and a lifetime public label as a Violent Sex Offender is
not only excessive and unnecessary but cruel and unusual. Such a fate is not
productive for the state or for the juvenile and neither is the looming threat
of prosecution while the Commonwealth Attorney take their time gathering
evidence and violating the Manassas 17 year old. In the meantime the family
spends tens of thousands of dollars for legal representation while the
possibility of being publicly labeled a predator, pedophile and pervert looms
overhead for him. Most teens and adults can not deal with this pressure, for
example Christian Adamek of Alabama
gave up and committed suicide in October 2013 because a future as a Registered
Sex Offender was too much to bear and his family later learned the prosecutor
wasn’t going to go forward with his “streaking” case. Too little too late.
in 7 months I wonder how many more cases that haven’t been in the local news are
churning through the Virginia
It’s time for Virginia to separate Teen Sexting from Child
Va. Teen Could be
Jailed for "Sexting" Girlfriend, July 3, 2014
A Virginia teen is facing
two felony charges after he was caught sexting with his girlfriend.
convicted, he could be forced to register as a sex offender and spend time in
_________, 17, was charged with manufacturing and distributing child pornography in
January, while exchanging texts with his then-girlfriend, who was 15 at the
time. His iPhone and iPad were seized by police, and he was taken into custody.