Posts Tagged ‘ sex offender ’
A Merritt Island man has appealed to the First Lady for help in his fight to keep foreign sex offenders out of the United States. Furious that the Feds are granting visas to foreign nationals who have been registered as sex offenders in their homelands, Neil Marsh is asking Michelle Obama to mobilize a potent national resource – the mothers of America.
“You have the ear of American mothers,” he writes, “Please let them know just how dangerous this situation is.” His letter, mailed to the White House September 24, cites Pete Townshend’s current U.S. tour as an example of how people placed on overseas sex registries have free reign to travel about this country.
Marsh says he is compelled to speak out because he regrets his silence after he was assaulted at the age of thirteen. His abuser was Mark Dean Schwab, who went on to rape a boy in Merritt Island and murder eleven year-old Junny Rios-Martinez of Cocoa.”I know what can happen when predators are allowed to shed their criminal history and move invisibly.”
Protect Our Children joined other child advocacy groups protesting Townshend’s 2010 performance at the SuperBowl in Miami. Townshend was placed on the British registry in 2003, for a period of five years, after accessing a Texas website that offered child pornography. Records showed the legendary leader of the WHO used his credit card to enter the “Landslide” site, which had been taken over by the FBI. Townshend is scheduled to perform at Orlando’s Amway Center, November 3rd.
In 2012, Protect Our Children objected to the planned visit of British punk rocker Jimmy Pursey, frontman for the group “Sham69″. He received a “Caution” in 2002, from police in Weybridge, U.K., for committing an Indecent Assault on a teenage girl. The terms of the caution call for enrollment on the British registry.
Pursey cancelled his U.S. tour three weeks prior to his first venue in Brooklyn N.Y., in May 2012. Months before, Protect Our Children publicized his sex offender background on their website and filed complaints with immigration officials. The Florida activists also notified law enforcement agencies in New York and Nevada - locations where he was due to perform. Pursey cited his father’s failing health as the reason for scrapping his US tour.
While U.S. Immigration laws address criminal convictions in screening visa applicants, they do not recognize sex offender registration as a reason to deny a visa. This creates a blind spot in cases where British citizens have received a “Caution”, a procedure in which the offender can be placed on the national list without being sentenced in a criminal court.
“We only know about these two people because they are celebrities and their deeds have been covered in the media…” says child advocate Shelly Coyne, “…You have to wonder how many people are among us who have sex offenses in their past and visas in their pockets.”
The problem is compounded by significant differences in the way the two countries treat the information. In the United Kingdom, the names of those listed are not made available to the public as they are in the United States. Typically, registration for Americans is for life, while registration in the U.K. is for a specific period of time.
Coyne is a volunteer with Protect Our Children’s Court Monitor Program. She says the Brevard County group asked U.S. legislators to provide information about foreign visitors who have been listed as sex offenders. Letters were sent to Representative Elton Gallegly and Senator Chuck Schumer in May 2012, but neither lawmaker has responded.
“Their lack of response speaks volumes.” says Coyne, “When it comes to visiting sex offenders, there is no tracking of their movements and no accounting of their numbers.”
Gallegly and Schumer chair the Immigration Subcommittees in the House and Senate.
Driven by memories of his own abuse, Neil Marsh is not about to be put off: “The day I heard Mark Dean Schwab’s name on the five o’clock news, my life took a turn. They were looking for this man, and a little boy was missing. Something terrible had happened and I felt my silence made me complicit…”
Released early from jail, Schwab was able to gain the trust of the Rios-Martinez family by posing as a reporter with a surfing magazine. He claimed to be organizing a world surfing tour and was considering their son Junny for the team. With no registration laws on the books at the time, the family was unaware of Schwab’s record. As a result, he was able to get the child alone and take his life. Schwab was put to death in 2008 – seventeen years after the murder.
“Anyone who has been on a registry in another country should be denied entry to the U.S.” says Marsh “We have the Jessica Lunsford Law in Florida. It’s named after a little girl who was murdered by a child molester who slipped out from under the registry. Now, the police are required to track them and inform local residents of their presence. It turns a passive list into an active program of protection. None of these state laws can be enforced when immigration authorities apply different rules to offenders from other lands… granting visas and waivers, and thwarting our efforts to protect our citizens.”
“Here in Brevard County…” says Coyne, “… a sex offender can’t live within 1,200 feet of a school. A person with a visa who has committed the same offense in the U.K. can coach soccer at that school!”
Lunsford was abducted and murdered in 2005, by John Couey, a man who had been listed on the state registry for an assault on a Kissimmee teen. Eventually, he absconded from the residence where he told police he was living, and drifted to the rural town of Homosassa. There, Couey was able to blend in with locals who were unaware of his background. Jessie Lunsford was nine years old when she was buried alive, only yards from her home.
Frustrated by the inaction of federal authorities, Neil Marsh is enlisting the support of American moms in his fight to close what he views as a loophole in U.S. immigration law. Marsh sums it up in his letter to Mrs Obama. “To me…” he writes, “…the current visa process is like having an unlocked door in the house where our children live.”
It has been one month since he mailed his letter. He still awaits a response.
BACKSTORY - TOWNSHEND
BACKSTORY - PURSEY
“Punker’s Planned Performance Prompts Protest” Guardian-Brevard, March 2012
On a steamy, Saturday morning in early September, a group of people rendezvous in a parking lot on the edge of a small, residential neighborhood.
They shake hands and hug. Standing between two cars they pass white plastic bundles from one vehicle to another. Each bundle contains 100 copies of the Guardian newspaper, rolled and banded and ready to toss on lawns.
A white-haired man touches the hand of a woman in a pink tee shirt: “Are you nervous?”
“A little…” she answers, giving his hand a quick squeeze, and setting back to the work with the bundles.
Soon, two cars head into the little community, a cul-de-sac rectangle with a mix of mobile homes and wood frame houses. They turn down a street located near the middle of the enclave, and park in front of a neat, plainly-appointed unit.
“…This is it.” The lady gets out from behind the wheel and someone hands her a Guardian. “Just cock it back behind your ear like a catcher throwing to second. I’ll get the shot O.K.”
She rears back, launches the paper and it cartwheels through the wet air, coming to rest just short of the front steps.
“Cool, that’s it…let’s do the toss.”
The woman turns slowly, her body moving before her eyes break their gaze upon the front door. She looks at the others standing silently behind her. Tears inch their way down her cheeks.
“I feel like I’m finishing something…” she says.
Twenty-nine years ago she started something. She was twelve when she told police her stepfather had been sexually abusing her and her sister, for nearly five years. He admitted to the crimes and received a lengthy probation sentence. A few years later, he went to jail for abusing yet another young girl.
The woman in the pink shirt sighs as she slides behind the wheel of the aging S.U.V. Her husband is in the passenger’s seat, her teenaged son sits in back. One of the white packages is broken open beside him, and rolled papers are spilling out onto the seat.
Volunteers from Protect Our Children watch them move away. Black and white tubes fly from the rear window, landing on lawns cluttered with bicycles. The papers skid along driveways, over which battered basketball hoops preside. Two little girls stare wide-eyed, pressing their hands against the screen of an aluminum porch.
The three will work the streets to the south, volunteers will toss the homes to the north. In all, about 250 residents will be notified. They need to know, since their sex-offender neighbor is not on the state registry. Due to the age of his convictions, he is exempt from the requirement to report his address, and the police are not compelled to warn parents nearby. His home is located less than 300 yards from an elementary school.
Three days later, Protect Our Children received an anonymous letter in the mail. It was from the offender - the subject of our community alert. In angry tones, the hand-written note called down God Almighty on the little band of volunteers. He never mentions his victim who, by tossing a special newspaper on to his front lawn, began the finish of a mighty work.
See the note below:
Runaway sex offender Timothy Angel (49), was arraigned in Titusville today after being caught hiding in El Salvador. Judge Jack Griesbaum ordered him held without bond on nine felony counts of failing to register with police. Court records show he has not registered since 2006.
U.S. Marshalls apprehended Angel March 8th. He had been living in Chalchuapa, a mountain village in central El Salvador. Agents with the Sheriff’s Sex Offender Registration and Tracking Unit alerted the Marshall’s service in early March after receiving an anonymous tip concerning his location. Investigators believe Angel was living in Mexico prior to making his way south to El Salvador. Authorities have not determined the exact date when Angel fled the U.S.
Brevard Sheriffs issued a warrant for Angel’s arrest in 2009, when he failed to register his address as required of all convicted sex offenders in Florida.
The former construction worker has a history of noncompliance. He was sentenced to serve ten years in prison in 1994, for sexual assaults on a girl under the age of twelve. However, the court agreed to suspend the sentence and allowed Angel to serve ten years on probation. Two years later, he was back before the judge for violating the court’s restrictions and was sent to prison. He was released from custody in 2002 according to Department of Corrections records.
Judge Griesbaum scheduled a docket hearing for April 26th. Court monitors from Protect Our Children were on hand for today’s arraignment.
A sex offender is on the move and police are revising policies after an uproar at a Titusville condominium complex.
Residents at the Village Square Condominiums on Harrison Street, called Protect Our Children February 8th, asking for information about Stephen Ervin: a registered sex offender living in the West Titusville community.
That evening, a volunteer with the advocacy group appeared at the Village Square clubhouse prior to the monthly meeting of the resident’s association. Attendees were handed packets containing copies of Ervin’s criminal record, including details of two sexual assaults he committed against young girls.
A small group formed on the sidewalk, flipping wide-eyed through the papers. Residents said Ervin (53) had been working as a handy-man, doing minor repairs and painting. They said children live at the complex, which has more than one hundred units.
Ervin was released from prison in March 2010. He was convicted of raping a nine year-old girl in 1987 and assaulting a thirteen year-old in 1997. Court records show he has been arrested five times for violating his probation. He served the balance of his most recent sentence in prison, and is not under supervision.
State law requires Ervin to register as a sex offender and abide by local laws restricting his residency. Homeowners noted that a day-care facility was located on nearby Barna Avenue.
Brevard County sex offender ordinances prohibit offenders from living within one-thousand feet of such a business. An investigator with Protect Our Children verified the comment, and found Kindercare, a commercial facility for children under twelve, appeared to be too close to Ervin’s residence, to comply with county law. Police were notified by telephone.
Agents with the Sheriff’s Sex Offender Registration and Tracking unit used a computer mapping system to guage the distance between Ervin’s residence and Kindercare. They said the distance was just over seven hundred feet…about three hundred feet short of being legal.
The revelation caused a flurry of activity later that week between Brevard Sheriffs and the Titusville Police. Titusville has no ordinance of its own regarding sex offenders, relying on the Sheriff’s Office to cover most of the duties involving registration and tracking. Officers in the North Brevard city verify the addresses listed by offenders when they register. They use a special “One-On-One” deployment, in which a single officer is assigned to each offender in the city.
The Village Square affair exposed a deficiency in the system: ” One hour after we got a call from Lieutenant Todd Goodyear, we had a new policy.” said Titusville P.D. Assistant Chief, John Lau. “We realize that our people need to check the vicinity around the offender for places where children congregate.”
Goodyear heads up Sheriff Parker’s S.O.R.T. team – a group of sex crimes specialists assigned exclusively to policing sex criminals. He worked with Titusville Police to close the gap in their monitoring procedures.
Brevard County law prohibits registered offenders from living within one thousand feet of schools, day-care facilities, parks and playgrounds.
Lau said the new policy will go in to effect immediately. He said the procedure requires officers to use mapping software as well as the city’s own business permit records, to assure compliance. Police will also canvass the area around the offender’s home in order to check for child-oriented locations.
Ervin is relocating to an residence on Mt Vernon Drive, in Titusville. His registered address is due to change on February 17th.