Posts Tagged ‘ Melbourne ’
See Holland’s arrest reports below article
A Melbourne man dodged a bullet back in November 2010. The nine sex charges against him could have sent him away for many years. He would have been registered as a sex offender for life. But Brevard prosecutors agreed to drop the sex charges in return for his “guilty” plea on a felony battery charge.
On January 10, 2012, Ryan Holland was arrested again for soliciting sex from a minor on the internet. One of fifty people hooked up in Operation Cardea, an F.D.L.E. internet sting based in Seminole County, Holland allegedly violated his probation and scored new charges for solicitation of a child and resisting arrest. Holland thought he was having a sex chat with a fourteen year-old girl. But he was talking to a cop – a member of a multi-agency team posing as children on the net, in order to draw out predators living in our neighborhoods.
Brevard County Sheriffs arrested Holland in September 2010 on four counts of Lewd Battery and five counts of Lewd Molestation. He admitted to having intercourse with a thirteen year-old girl who consented to the activity. Holland was age eighteen at the time.
According to the complaint, the sex took place in Holland’s bedroom, in the presence of another thirteen year-old girl and a seventeen year-old boy. “He had been involved with a group of teens that he knew from school.” says Assistant State Attorney Julia Lynch, “His relationship with the victim stemmed directly from that group of friends.”
Holland’s youth and his lack of a criminal record factored heavily in the decision to drop the 2010 sex charges. The victim reportedly referred to Holland as her “boyfriend”.
Lynch defended the decision in a statement to The Guardian January 24th: “Due to the issues of consent, alcohol consumption, and admitted lies told to parents, the case was resolved with a felony disposition.”
Lynch is Chief of the Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Division in Brevard County. “The decision was made with the concurrence of the case agent and the victim’s parent,” she said. Holland was sentenced to serve three years on probation and to pay a $1,000 dollar fine.
He is being held without bond in the Brevard County Jail on one count of Computer Solicitation of a Child, and Violation of State Probation. Police collared him at his Melbourne home without incident, after FDLE agents identified Holland through his IP address. Since he was in violation of his probation, it was not necessary to have him travel to Seminole County in order to make an arrest.
According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Holland asked the imaginary teen to answer the door in the nude. The arrest report says he asked the decoy to perform oral sex and have intercourse with him. The communications took place in a chat room called “Teen-Chat.org”
Holland’s 2010 Arrest Report Holl_2010
Holland’s 2012 Arrest Report Holland Affidavit (2)
Two Citrus County Sheriffs stood in the living room of a mobile home on South Snowbird Terrace, in Homosassa, talking to the occupants who rented the place by the month. A child was missing had they seen anything? Dorothy Marie Dixon shook her head. She said she lived there with her fiancé, her niece and grandson. She lied, neglecting to mention her brother, John Evander Couey.
Down the hall, in a back bedroom, a nine year-old girl crouched in a closet, ordered by her abductor not to make a sound. She didn’t.
The next day; February 27, 2005, Jessica Marie Lunsford would be dead.
In the days that followed, a picture of the man who kidnapped and murdered the child would unfold. He was a wanted man, with a warrant for his arrest, but with no police agency searching for him. Couey was a registered sex offender who had walked away: “absconded” from his registered address.
The outrage began a revolution in the way sex offenders are tracked and monitored. State legislators passed the “Jessica Lunsford Act”: a law which not only increased the penalties for sex crimes committed against children, but set out new protocols for law enforcers in the way they manage offenders in their jurisdictions.
Cities were given options to pass ordinances pushing offenders away from schools and playgrounds, and to develop their own tracking programs. The law was like a promise made to the children of Florida, and some municipalities, like the City of Melbourne, have kept that promise.
Gathering All The Marbles
There were two absconders in the City of Melbourne when Officer Valerie Claycomb became the Sex Offender Tracking Officer. Now, one year later, there are none. Jose Cruz had been missing for five years when an investigation by Claycomb and Agent Mike Schmidt, her counterpart at the Sheriff’s Office, located him in Puerto Rico. Federal Marshalls hauled him back in March and installed him in a “Frequent Flyer” cell.
Vigorous interface with the family of Mathew Biggs, brought an end to his seven-month run. Biggs was persuaded to return from Georgia and surrender to Melbourne Police in May.
No one knows when John Couey began to drift. Sometime after August 27th 2004, the last time police verified his address, Couey began to roll like a marble around the tiny town of Homossassa. He would take a job as a mason’s helper, where he would work for a time at local elementary school. It would take nearly six months before he would close the four-mile distance between his last, registered address and his victim’s home.
“We check each of the offenders at least once every ninety days…” Says Claycomb, who monitors Melbourne’s 103 sex criminals with the help of a part-time clerical worker. “ … if we have complaints, we check more often”
By law, sex offenders in Florida must report to the sheriff twice, per year. Those designated as Sexual Predators must report four times. If they live in Melbourne they can add two: Claycomb schedules two additional appearances in her Melbourne office.
“We update everything when they come in…phone numbers, emails, next of kin, known associates, workplace.” says Claycomb, “ We even take swabs for DNA.”
Melbourne’s Sex Offender Tracking unit compiles a complete criminal history on all their charges, including details on their sex crimes. Facts about their ‘Method of Operation” (how they did what they did), are loaded into a database, so that if a child is abducted or a sex crime is committed, details on the crime can be matched with information on local sex offenders. The search for a likely suspect can begin within hours rather than days or weeks.
If law enforcement had this tool in 2005, the deputies who stood in the trailer that day, might have known they were talking to the sister of a missing child-molester. Dorothy Dixon was literally the only person in the world who would open the door and let John Couey in. His own mother, who lived near Gainesville, severed all ties with Couey in 1978, when he was caught attempting to rape his five year-old stepsister. Karen Goshe, his drug-addicted wife, had been estranged from him for nearly fifteen years.
Seamless Passage – Unified Response
The forty-six year-old drifter had been on probation for several years when he abducted Lunsford. Indeed, probation officers were the first to notice him missing from his stated residence after he failed to report to them. Three months before Jessica’s death, they asked a judge to issue a warrant for violating his probation. The warrant was promptly signed, dated and filed along with thousands of others – virtually ignored by police.
“We usually know about warrants before they are issued.” Says Claycomb. She maintains regular contact with probation officers who supervise about half of Melbourne’s sex criminals. When their sentence is complete and the iron hand of the probation officer is lifted, they pass seamlessly into the attentions of officer Claycomb.
John Couey’s probation officers had another handicap back in 2005. Though they were aware that he was placed on probation for driving drunk and possessing marijuana, they had no knowledge of his prior criminal record. In fact, he had been arrested 26 times over three decades. His criminal history included two sex offenses perpetrated upon young girls. Probation officers were not even aware that he was a registered sex offender.
Officer Claycomb is a member of the Central Florida Sex Offender Task Force, a group of law enforcement professionals who manage and supervise offenders. They meet bi-monthly to trade information on individual offenders and the train with the newest techniques for keeping registrants on a short string.
“We have representation from sheriff’s departments, municipal police, the Department of Corrections and the Department of Law Enforcement,” says Detective Robert Tyrrell.
A Specialist In Action
Tyrrell, a member of the Osceola County Sheriff’s Department, is the current Director of the Task Force. He is a strong advocate for maintaining special officers like Claycomb:
“Most departments have regular patrol officers verifying addresses in addition to their regular duties. Sex offender management works best when you have a specialized, dedicated officer assigned to the task. Patrol officers have to deal with drugs, homicides, domestic violence…and policing sex offenders is simply piled on top of these other duties.”
By the third time Citrus Sheriffs returned to Dorothy Dixon’s trailer, John Evander Couey was their person of interest. This time, investigators headed straight for the back room and saw bloodstains on Couey’s bed sheets. As they bounded down the wooden stairs, on their way to Savannah Georgia where Couey had fled, they passed within yards of the soft spot in the sand where Jessie Lunsford’s body was buried.
At that moment Couey’s registered address was still listed as Grover Cleveland Boulevard – the location he walked away from, almost six months earlier. No one informed the F.D.L.E. – the agency tasked with maintaining the state registry.
Compliance Officer Claycomb flips through her notes sitting in her tiny office at the Melbourne Police Department. “ We are averaging nearly two arrests per month.” she says. “In Melbourne, sex offenders have more contact with law enforcement than anywhere else in the county…”
Claycomb says she fields a constant flow of phone calls and emails from residents, who have questions about their sex offender neighbors. “We get tips and information from the community, which is always helpful in tracking these folks.”
The job of tracking sex offenders has come a long way since 2005, when our registry relied upon offenders themselves to provide information on their whereabouts, and open warrants were tucked away in files waiting for another arrest to awaken them. We were promised an end to a passive system where loose bolts like John Couey were left to rattle around the machinery, and competing state agencies treated information like private property.
Melbourne’s sex offender specialist leans back in her chair, just missing the boxes stacked against the wall. A modest smile breaks her crisp, professional demeanor, as she tells me about the Halloween Task Force, in which volunteer officers fan out across the City of Melbourne. While costumed children roam the streets in search of candy, they pay a face-to-face visit to each of the city’s 103 sex offenders.
The trick is in deploying specialists to police sex offenders, and the treat lies in keeping a promise to the children of Melbourne.
Read more about Melbourne Police Sex Offender Tracking Unit: http://www.melbourneflorida.org/police/melbpred.htm
Despite claims that he has found religion in jail, as well as expert testimony suggesting he is unlikely to reoffend, Gilbert Viruet (50) was sentenced to serve thirty-five years in prison followed by five years of probation.
Judge David Dugan made the ruling January 28, in Viera, brushing aside Viruet’s attempt to reduce the prosecution’s sentencing recommendation, that resulted from his plea agreement last August.
Charged originally with 110, felony sex crimes, Viruet could have received a life sentence for each charge. All but six counts were dropped according to the terms of the plea bargain.
The victim, now sixteen, said she was sexually assaulted “…two or three times per week”, beginning at the age of seven and continuing through age thirteen. She read a statement describing how Viruet would chase her around the house and drag her into the bedroom.
Standing at the podium, flanked by a victim advocate, the child said she suffers from sleep disorders and a compulsion to cut herself. She told the court that on several occasions, she pressed Viruet’s own handgun to her head and considered suicide.
Viruet’s attorney, Stephan Mays, told the court that his client had a law enforcement background and a clean criminal record. He said Viruet is a former police officer who once worked for the security firm: Blackwater. Mays asked the court to depart from the terms of the plea agreement and sentence his client to probation.
Viruet testified that he is “…not same man who was arrested in 2008.” He said he has found a new relationship with God and wanted to help others who sexually abuse children.
Psychologist, Dr. Ted Shaw also took the stand for the defense. A specialist in sexual disorders, he said Viruet suffers from pedophilia. Shaw told the court that according to his evaluation, he considered Viruet to be in a class of offenders who are least likely to reoffend. The court designated Viruet as a Sexual Predator – the class of sex offender deemed most likely to reoffend.
Judge Dugan deducted nearly three years from the prison sentence, crediting Viruet for the time he has spent in jail, since his arrest in March 2008.
Court Monitors from Protect Our Children were in attendance for the hearing.