20 year old faces vicious cycle – no housing, no school

Original post date: 02.08.2008

My 20-year-old son sat in jail for six months with 39 charges pending initially, then dropped almost immediately to 16 and stayed posted online, with his picture, for the entire six months, enough time for the entire community to see it and for some ignorant people to speculate about what a “horrible sex offender” he must be.

Of course, his circumstances were ridiculous, and passing polygraphs — more than one — and providing all sorts of irrefutible evidence supporting his innocence was of little or no help aside from the fact that his 39/16 charges ended up as 2 C felonies (because these were two friends who thought this was “fun,” and that they “make a good team.” ) They offered absolutely no evidence except for the allegation. They could not get times, dates, circumstances or anything right — the police reports and discovery were a mess on their side, so much so that when I read all 300+ pages of discovery, I was excited, because anyone with half a brain could see right through what this was.

But, the attorney, probably rightly so, advised my son to take the offered five-year probationary plea in order to avoid our state’s HORRIBLE mandatory sentencing should something have gone awry at trial. He’s now a felon who has to register, no end in sight. He’s attempting to transfer probation to another county so he can go to school. Though he’s registered at school (they haven’t asked about criminal history but the PO will likely visit the dean), we’re struggling with finding housing. He must have housing in place and either a job or be enrolled in school BEFORE the PO here will begin the transfer process, which takes 45 days, hardly enough time before school starts the third week in September. He must get out of this small town. His PO just recently set an 8:00 p.m. curfew and told him the two friends he was hanging out with are now off limits because they associate with girls not yet 18.  Seems like they’re trying their best to trap him.

So many harsh conditions for a fine young man

Original post date: 19.07.2008

My son is now released during the week, but has to go to jail from Friday’s at 6:00 p.m. to Monday’s at 6:00 a.m. He was put on high risk because of not living with a girl for two years or longer and his age. He had just turned 23.  He was also charged with two counts, because of being honest and telling every where he touched her and every aspect of their encounter. He cannot be around any family members or anyone else’s children under the age of 18. He is having to sell his home, that he worked so hard for because it is too close to a school. He did not get any time taken off his sentence for the 100 days he spent in jail and I have never heard of that, but I was told that (our) county does not take time served off before trial date. Some of the young men are being held for six months in (this) County before they are even being charged. They have six months to charge them and these politicians are taking advantage of that! He has to do one year of weekends and he pays $574.00 in fines and fees not including any polygraph test or alcohol or drug test on him, which he must also pay for. He also has three to five meetings a week he is required to attend…..

Disfigured Youth Persecuted

Original post date: 14.07.2008

I want my son to have hope. He is still incarcerated at (our) County Prison. He is serving an 12 month less 1 day sentence for consensual sex with a minor. He was 19 at the time,she was 14.

My son suffered from hemifacial paralysis when he was 18 months old. After 14 facial surgeries to reconstruct his eye, mouth and cheek, he suffered most of his childhood from low self esteem and never thought any girl would find him attractive. The surgeries improved his appearance and restored symmetry to his face. I thought he was very handsome, but he never saw anything but the scars. He and this girl found each other attractive and they had consensual sex.

He felt so guilty, he turned himself in to police. The girl and her mother did not want to press charges, but the state did. Now he faces the public humiliation on the registry. He did take a plea bargain that sentenced him to less than one year in prison, with a year of parole afterward. We are still very green and do not have all of the information we need. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to finally express my son’s story.

Adult student fails class, blames prof. as rso

Original post date: 11.07.2008

Although the statute I was convicted under (Wisconsin, convicted in 1995) will read as though I forcibly assaulted a child, in reality, I had sex with a 15 year old who told me she was 19. That’s all I did. Now, I have to register every four months in Kansas (in person, at the police station, where I am frisked), and every year for the rest of my life in Wisconsin. I had hopes of getting through this, completing my PhD and becoming a professor. But last semester, A girl who failed the class I was teaching complained about me because she saw my name printed in the local newspaper, and stated that she was afraid to come talk to me. Can you believe that?

I appreciate what you[RSOL] are trying to do, because my life is for the most part ruined because of the unnecessary stigma that has been assigned.

Plea to save life, loses it!

Original post date: 03.07.2008
Former editor’s note: This entry sent from a registered sex offender, is an important warning: Beware of so-called plea bargains, often put forth by defense lawyers, not understanding the long impact and humiliation of the sex offender registries – which are often retroactive, affecting people who pled years ago, thinking it was over. IT’S NOT OVER in America, folks. Again, BEWARE OF PLEA BARGAINS!

Almost a decade ago, I took a plea deal in a corrupt town.

I took a plea deal to save my life, but now I find I am losing it. I recently lost both my jobs, my house and am in debt. I cannot live in my old house; still available to me but the law prevents me from living there. I am homeless in a few days with no money, no food, no job, few friends who cannot provide me a place to sleep because of the laws. Parole (agents) cannot help me. All because I took a plea deal nearly a decade ago to save my life.

TEEN ATHLETE FACES HUMILIATION AND WORSE FOR CELL PHONE VIDEO TO FRIEND

Original post date: 03.07.2008

Two teen atheletes shared 10 second videos on cellphones – For that, one now faces having to leave home, go to jail, and be placed on the internet sex offender registry for at least 10 years….

My son is in the backyard right now, sitting around a campfire with some friends. The thought of him being restricted from our house sickens me….

My son has been charged with “Telephonic Dissemination of Obscene Material to a Minor”. He was an 18 year old high school senior when the charges were filed. The charges stem from a ten second cell phone video that was sent to another male high school senior who was 17 at the time (he sent the video on to others). Unfortunately, this type of behavior among high school students has become too common. My son was a well known athlete in town, and law enforcement has decided to make an example out of him in an attempt to curb such behavior. The local media coverage, propagated by local law enforcement, was incredible. The story was the lead story on all three local television stations, morning, noon, and night, for two days straight. It was devastating, and we literally put my son on a suicide watch.

Now, the county attorney has proposed a deal where my son pleads guilty to the aforementioned charge, and receives a deferred judgment. My son has never had as much as a speeding ticket, and has been a good citizen. In discussions with our attorney and the judge, the county attorney has indicated that my son is not really a sex offender and the judge has indicated that he would be inclined to go along with a deferred judgment.

Here’s where the Iowa sex offender laws come into play. Although my son would have no criminal record, he would be forced to register as a sex offender for the next ten years. The county attorney thought that my son would come off of the sex offender list once he had completed the terms of the deferred judgment. He is wrong.

This is a boy who has grown up in a day care (which my wife runs), who umpires youth baseball and softball, and who is very well liked in our very small hometown. He will be forced to move out of our house, and will not be allowed to visit. His college plans will be in serious jeopardy, and he will be branded and lumped in with truly dangerous criminals. Basically, his life will be destroyed, although no one in law enforcement believes that he is a threat at all.

I do not believe that the intent of this law was to punish high school kids that exchange inappropriate cell phone material, but rather to protect young children from adult criminals. However, the Iowa sex offender laws are such that there is zero flexibility or room for common sense.

My son’s court date is coming up. Given the extreme impact that the plea would have on his life, we have decided to try and fight the case in court.

Until my son’s ordeal, I too was naive to the injustices being caused by these ridiculous and wide ranging laws. They do not necessarily target the truly repulsive and dangerous criminals, and will result in many good people’s lives being ruined.

I have two younger children, one girl and one boy. Hence, protecting children from dangerous people is a concern that I share with all parents. However, these laws are being used for entirely different reasons, with devastating consequences.

Abused woman forced to register

Original post date: 10.06.2008

Two days ago, my dearest friend in the world was forced to register as a sex offender.

She is a single mother struggling to overcome a violently abusive relationship. Last year, she found comfort in the friendship of a young woman who helped her understand her abuse and begin the process of reaching out for professional help. One evening during the course of their brief friendship, they had sex. The encounter was entirely consensual; just two women sharing their feelings for each other in a
very loving manner.

Tragically, both this young woman and my friend were completely unaware of the fact that the state of Florida considered this sex act a criminal one. My friend was 35 years old and the young woman just a few months shy of her 18th birthday. Both believed the age of consent to be 16 and neither realized their age gap changed everything in the eyes of the law.

In a fit of jealousy and rage, her abuser reported the relationship and my friend was promptly arrested. In the months since her arrest, my friend has been supported by the young woman and her parents; they wrote letters to the prosecution insisting they did not wish to pursue the case and did not feel my friend deserved any punishment whatsoever. The state persisted.

The state prosecutor ordered my friend to submit herself to a psychosexual evaluation by a professional evaluator of the state’s choosing. The results of that evaluation stated the evaluator felt my friend was sexually and psychologically healthy, had no sexual deviancies or tendencies toward children, did not pose a risk to society and did not need any sort of therapy or intervention.

My friend had never had even so much as a speeding ticket, much less been in any sort of serious trouble with the law. She has no history of abuse in her own childhood, no mental health issues and no criminal record whatsoever. Immediately liked by everyone she meets, she has always been a good daughter, a loving friend, a principled employee and a highly regarded member of society. She has succeeded in her profession and has always spent her leisure time doing what she felt was most important; volunteering as a child abuse advocate, rescuing animals and spending time with her child. She is an adoring and compassionate mother with an amazing little boy.

Despite all of this, the state of Florida forced her to register as a sex offender. It seems everything good she has ever done in her life is now undone. And the worst part is that, in addition to the obvious, sex offender designation is potentially going to destroy my friend’s life in another, far more sinister way. She will never be able to safely avoid her abuser; a horrendous person who has, for too many years, assaulted, beaten, threatened and abused her and her child in ways I find too horrible to convey.

My friend had just started the process of abuse recovery with the help of several battered women’s shelter services. She enlisted in a program to help women and children hide from their abuser and had started the process of obtaining therapy for her and her child to heal from years of cruel abuse. Just a few weeks ago, she successfully obtained an injunction for protection from domestic violence for herself and her child. Her abuser’s response to the restraining order? “You can’t hide. You’ll be on the sex offender list, I will always find you.” And the state’s response to that threat? Nothing.

So, where there were none, the state of Florida created two victims. A battered woman and her little kid; forever at the mercy of their abuser because registered sex offenders are not afforded the privacy and protection necessary to shield them from imminent danger. They can
always be found – by anyone – for any reason.

What’s worse, we have recently been informed that registered sex offenders are not allowed in battered women’s shelters and are not
eligible for the services offered by domestic violence organizations meant to protect women & children. Since she was designated a sex
offender, the same people who, just days ago, were warning us that my friend and her child’s life were in danger are now turning their backs. The very same people who offered her safety and shelter are now telling her she is on her own.

Tonight and perhaps forever, she and her child are in danger because their abuser can (and I am certain will) find them through the registry.

No one who can help us seems to care.

It doesn’t make sense!

Original post date: 24.05.2008

In late 1997 I was convicted of second degree sexual assault of a child. I was 19 years old when the consensual “offense” occured. I served 6 months jail and 3 1/2 years probation for the crime. Now 10 years later I find myself back on probation for something completely unrelated (domestic disorderly for arguing with girlfriend) and I am forced to comply with sex offender probation rules and restrictions once again because I was formerly on sex offender probation. It just doesn’t make sense. I have worn this scarlet letter for ten years already. When I was sentenced I was only required to register for 15 years then they changed it to lifetime registrant. How can they legally keep changing these rules and restrictions? Why should this affect me and my family 10 years after I’ve been sentenced and served my time?

Most recently I was notified that I am to immediatly evacuate my residence because I live to close to a “park”. If by park they mean a section of grass with a sidewalk running through it and a couple benches then I guess I do. I guess they don’t take into consideration that I live just as close to the police station next to the park.

I have lived here for a month and have signed a one year lease.My probation officer suggested that I try to work it out with my landlord. Yeah I’m sure my landlord is going to be real understanding that the nice guy with a family that he rents to is a registered sex offender and might have to bail on the lease.

I have also had to take antidepressants since shortly after the asault conviction. I still to this day have a constant fear being in public and wondering “who knows?”. At least a convicted murderer gets the luxury of knowing when their sentence will end.

Teenager Ponzanelli in Texas

Original post date: 18.05.2008

Editor’s note: This entry is sent in about the teenager in Texas, Jean Ponzanelli, who is mentioned in a media item on rsol this week, too. The mother of a young woman who is Jean’s highschool friend sends futher information about this typically terrible tale.

Jean himself had lived almost all his life in Texas and didn’t really understand that he was not a ‘citizen,’  just a ‘legal alien.’ His lawyer didn’t know that either when he suggested the ‘plea bargain.’  Now, Jean is trying to withdraw the plea, because no matter how it goes otherwise, he will be deported.

This battle seems hopeless at times and I’ve only been in the fight for 3 months. I believe getting these stories out there and opening the eyes of the public is the only way to bring about a change in these laws. Jean Ponzanelli is so creative. He draws, plays guitar, drums, he writes music, he is extremely gifted. He is also an avid skateboarder. Skateboarding was at one time the most important thing to him. He recently told me that for the first time in his life he cares for something more than skateboarding. He cares for his life that is at stake.

He is in Williamson County jail for now. He is being treated for depression and insomnia. I can not imagine what these boys (mostly) go through.

Thanks again,
Round Rock, Texas

 

Update:

Original post date: 17.06.2008

Jean Ponzanelli was in court yesterday. His attorney asked the judge to reset his hearing on the writ. The attorney is asking the court to allow Jean to withrdraw his plea based on the immigration issue. The judge said he would reset the hearing for 7/2/08 as he doesn’t see the writ happening. The judge also scheduled the revocation hearing for the same day.

So, looks like the judge will recommend the appellate court to deny the writ and will revoke Jean’s probation and sentence him to prison on 7/2/08. Jean is looking at a 10 year prison term.

I just want someone to tell me this is really not happening in this great country of ours. The bottom line is that we are sending a kid to prison for having sex with another kid. The court will argue that he is being sent to prison for violating probation. I would argue the kid should not have been on probation in the first place since the kid should never have been arrested. Jean’s probation was like purgatory. Now they are sending him to hell.

My heart truly breaks.

RSOs Can’t flip hamburgers in Ga

Original post date: 17.05.2008
the laws need to be changed! In Georgia, people are condemned to a life of nothing. you cant even get a job flipping a hambureger for gods sakes. what do you do, your life is condemned anyway? my husband’s case is not what the laws say. a judge in our county made sure of that. there were 8 cases in that county in that year and everyone of them were guilty even if they didnt do it.  some of them were guilty of the crime, (some not guilty) and they got not what they deserved but what the judge said they did. you cant judge; you cant fight what he says, not even to the supreme court, and justice is supposed to work for everyone.

you tell me – what about the people that are small and cant afford to fight. thank you for the address of the Georgia chapter. i will never give up. god help me!