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



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!

Son to Governor Crist: Please Let My Father Out Of Jail!

Christopher William P.

Original post date: 20.02.2008
A letter sent by the 15 year old son of a registered sex offender to the Governor of Florida:

Dear Governor Crist:

I’d like to tell you a story; a story of a family composed of two sons, 9 and 5, and a mother, with a potentially fatal heart condition. For three long years, on every Saturday, this family visited Bill Pratt, a sex offender, in jail for an hour. It was a long trek to the jail, and almost every time we went, we were harassed by the guards. “Your not allowed to wear chachi pants,” or “Stamp with your left hand not your right!” said the guards, as we were shoved in the the small, tight, and loud maximum security room, with armed guards at every few meters.

Every week we would drive an hour there and an hour back in the cold New Jersey night, and if we were minutes late, then too bad, the guards didn’t care; they didn’t care that we were two innocent kids and a single mom, working two jobs who had more then enough stress for five people combined. But they didn’t care, and treated us so.

Finally, after those long, strenuous years of legalized harassment and hours of crying in dark corners, his day had come, my dad was being let free. By that time, we had already moved to Florida. He jumped into his car, and drove down to Florida. Now it’s expected that we lived happily every after as a good happy family, right? Well it has kind of turned out a bit differently then expected.

Over the years after my fatherB4s emancipation, I as an individual, as well as my mother, and especially my brother, because everyone knows kids can be real bastards, have faced ridicule, outcast, and have been denied friends and opportunities because my dad’s a sex offender. Our entire family, me included, has had multiple mental breakdowns, where we have had serious problems such as overeating, heart related chest pains, and failing every subject in school along with being late every day. Along with that, my mother’s stress is still through the roof, what with having to still work two jobs and overtime just to keep us out of debt, and the fact that my dad can’t keep a job for more then a few months. All he can find work at is construction companies paying little above the minimum wage because he is a sex offender. Keep in mind that this man has a masters degree in business, and was one of the top managers at Lockeed Martin at the time.

I am now 15, enduring worsening hardship with each passing year. I thought by now, as with all other ex-felon families, that all of this would be behind us and I could enjoy life as a normal teenager. But, my father was arrested while going to work because the police thought that he had not registered a temporary address. He was in fact registered at our home, but the police wouldn’t listen. So to keep him out of jail for even more undeserved years in that overcrowded hellhole, my mother had to use the families last $2000 to bail him out of jail and we are still paying for the attorney, to keep him out of prison.

And now, when things were starting to look up, what happens? 5 days before Christmas, he is arrested again while going to work, because of a suspiciously deliberate administrative screw up by the state of New Jersey and they are threatening to extradite him back to New Jersey, when they new all along my father was legally registered as a resident of Florida (for the past 3-1/2 years).

This means many things for my family. My mother will – almost guaranteed – die because of her heart condition, my brother will fail 6th grade, and we will probably never see my father again. He will miss my mother B4s passing away, my brothers B4 and my first girlfriends, our highschool graduation, our college graduation, and maybe even our marriages.

I’m sure the father’s of our Constitution (yes, I am an honor student, learning about this not-so great country) could not have envisioned the laws of today. Yet, please, uphold what they set forth, and understand that my mother, brother and I have lost our civil rights to privacy, because of the out of control sex offender laws.

Governor, please do not allow my brother, mother and I to continue as collateral victims to a crime of my father’s that was long ago and which he already paid for. We want and need him back in our life.

Please, we have suffered so much already and you are the only one who can help us!!

Please let my father out of jail- he didn’t do anything, but go to work. We can’t bear being without him again. He is all we have- we have no other family (no grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) and have passed too many holidays alone.

Thank you for your time and I hope, clemency, for my father. We need him back!!

Christopher William P. (for privacy sake- if there is such a thing in my life?)