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February 06, 2005

Paedophiles must face jail sentences, police chiefs urge

February 6, 2005 [The Scotsman News] By John Innes

SCOTLAND’S leading police officers believe child sex offenders should face mandatory jail sentences, it emerged yesterday.

The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS) is concerned that a number of paedophiles have been dealt with too leniently by the courts.

Bob Ovens, ACPOS spokesman on child protection, said it was time for a tougher approach to be adopted.

Mr Ovens, who is Deputy Chief Constable of Dumfries and Galloway Police, said in an interview with Scotland on Sunday: "Our position on this is quite clear.

"Where any individual is undertaking paedophile activity, and we include downloading child porn, grooming children on the internet or by any other means, right up to the sexual abuse of children, that is a serious offence.

"We have a duty to protect the most vulnerable people in society and send a clear message to those who ruin children’s lives and destroy their innocence that they will be punished severely," he added.

"It seems clear that the only sentence that achieves the dual purpose is a custodial sentence, combined with registration as a sex offender and some programme of rehabilitation."

Tina Woolnough, of the pressure group Parents in Partnership, said a radical overhaul of the current method of dealing with paedophiles was required.

"The system needs to be a lot more robust, and simply ordering community service for crimes such as these is unacceptable," she insisted.

However the SNP’s justice spokesman, Kenny MacAskill, gave a cautious reaction to the idea. "I would be very wary of mandatory sentencing," he said.

"It should always be left to the judiciary to impose a firm prison sentence where necessary, but alternatives where appropriate."

The Scottish Executive said the Protection of Children and Prevention of Sexual Offences (Scotland) Bill was currently going through parliament but declined to comment in detail on Mr Ovens’ remarks.

An Executive spokeswoman said: "Protection of children is a priority.

"The bill provides an extra tool for dealing with those who take advantage of children.

"We believe the bill forms the right package and strikes the correct balance for the justice committee to take forward and debate."

Posted by Nancy at 06:33 PM | Comments (0)

Scotland seeks tougher child sex laws

February 6, 2005 [United Press International]

[World News]: GLASGOW, Scotland - Police in Scotland want sex offenders to get automatic jail sentences, warning that putting pedophiles behind bars is the only way to stop them.

The Association of Chief Police Officers Scotland said police, prosecutors, judges and politicians must do more to recognize the damage pedophiles do, all too often because such offenders are not jailed, the Scotsman.com reported Sunday.

The law enforcement officers are demanding mandatory jail time for anyone who downloads child pornography or grooms a youngster over the Internet, including first-time offenders.

"Every image on a computer screen represents a real child suffering real abuse," said Bob Ovens, an association spokesman. "Everyone who searches for that material ensures that more children will suffer more sexual abuse, so they have to take responsibility."

Posted by Nancy at 06:20 PM | Comments (0)

Teacher indicted on new sex abuse charges

February 6, 2005 [Associated Press]

SANTA FE (AP) - A former elementary school teacher already charged with molesting two students has been indicted on additional charges involving two more boys.

A Santa Fe grand jury indicted 31-year-old Ernest Dominguez of Tucumcari on 22 counts of child molestation and related charges Thursday.

The new indictment alleges that Dominguez abused two children under the age of 13 between August 2001 and August 2002.

Dominguez is under house arrest in Tucumcari while he awaits trial.

The initial indictment contained 30 counts of criminal contact of a minor stemming from alleged abuse of two other boys under the age of 13 between May 2002 and November 2002.

Deputy District Attorney Barbara Romo said all four were in Dominguez’s class at the same time. Dominguez taught fifth grade during his first year at Salazar Elementary School in Santa Fe and then moved to the sixth grade.

Posted by Nancy at 06:17 PM | Comments (0)

Illness holds up Jackson's trial

Jury selection in the Michael Jackson child abuse trial has been halted after a member of the star's legal team was hit by family illness.

February 6, 2005 [BBC News}

Selection will be postponed until at least Thursday due to the grave illness of his lead lawyer's sister.

The case had been due to resume on Monday, with detailed questioning of 250 would-be jurors.

Mr Jackson denies plying a boy with alcohol and molesting him. The trial could last up to six months.

Legal motions

A spokesman for the Santa Maria courthouse said the serious nature of Thomas Mesereau's sister's illness has delayed the jury selection process until at least Thursday.

He did not rule out the possibility that the process of selecting the final 12 jurors and eight stand-by jurors could be postponed into next week.

Though Mr Mesereau and Mr Jackson, 46, will be absent from court on Monday, Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville is expected to briefly take the bench to consider legal motions by several news organisations.

Prospective jurors were also ordered to report to the courthouse for processing, but will then go home until Thursday morning at the earliest.

Last week Judge Melville cut short the first phase of jury selection after quickly finding 250 people who said they were willing and able to sit on a long jury trial.

Mr Jackson is facing four charges of lewd acts involving a minor, one count involving an attempted lewd act upon a child and four counts of administering alcohol.

Posted by Nancy at 05:07 PM | Comments (0)

Home developer contends sex offender stopped sales

February 6, 2005 [Associated Press]

SPRINGDALE, Ark. · A developer who says sales in a subdivision stopped after a sex offender and his wife bought a home has sued the couple and the real estate company that arranged the purchase.

NGI Rental filed the $2 million lawsuit Friday against Randall Dee Collins and his wife, as well as the real estate company that arranged their new home purchase.

Randall Collins, 39, was convicted of molesting young girls and is listed on the Arkansas Crime Information Center Web site.

According to the lawsuit, his wife hired a real estate company to sell her old home, saying she had married a sex offender and that her home was too close to a school.

A day after the couple bought a home in a new subdivision, the police department distributed fliers detailing Collins' case.

The lawsuit claims residents indicated they would move if Collins did not leave the neighborhood, and that sales came to a standstill because the developer was required to tell potential buyers about Collins.

The lawsuit also alleged Collins called the developer and offered to move for $250,000, "or he would stay there and kill their subdivision."

A message left on a phone listed to a Randall Collins was not immediately returned Saturday.

Springdale is about 180 miles northwest of Little Rock.

Posted by Nancy at 04:35 AM | Comments (0)