Articles Posted in Child Molestation and Abuse

A recent sex offender registry study conducted by a University of Michigan law professor casts doubt on the effectiveness of the public notification aspect of some sex offender registry laws. The study concluded that while requiring convicted sex offenders to register with police may reduce the chances an individual will commit another sex crime, when sex offender laws require public notification – such as in Michigan – the chance of repeat offenses actually goes up.

Michigan law requires all individuals convicted of a crime of a sexual nature or certain sex related offense to register as a sex offender. This includes such offenses as criminal sexual conduct, sexual assault, child molestation and abuse and internet sex crimes. The Michigan Sex Offender Registry Act (SORA) also requires individuals to have their identities, including current addresses and other identifying information, published on the Michigan Public Sex Offenders Registry (PSOR). This information is open to the general pubic and is searchable via the Internet.

If you’ve been charged with a Michigan sex offense, it is imperative you contact an experienced Michigan sex crime defense attorney to prepare a vigorous defense and fight to keep your name off the sex crimes registry.

According to the latest study – these public notification requirements actually increase the chances an individual will commit a subsequent sex crime. The authors found that while registering as a sex offender with the police may help recidivism by allowing police to monitor behavior, making this information public may weaken public safety. Research showed that in jurisdictions where offenders’ identities were known, the deterrent benefit of registering was “more than offset by released offenders’ tendency to commit new crimes when subjected to notification requirements.” Further, jurisdictions with notification laws had higher overall rates of sex crimes. The authors explained “notification requirements actually seem to encourage [repeat offenses] because the associated psychological, social, or financial costs (of notification requirements) make a crime-free life relatively less desirable.”

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A thought-provoking article recently published by the Crime Report, examines the difficulties facing those unjustly accused of child abuse.

Referencing the Tonya Renee Craft case in which the former Kindergarten teacher faced 22 counts of child abuse and molestation, the article states that when Michigan psychologist Demosthenes Lorandos first met her he told her “she was a dead woman,” and “[t]hat things were over for her, that she was going to lose.”

One of the reasons for Lorandos’ conclusion was the sense that “the presumption of innocence goes out the window the moment a person is accused of sexual misconduct.”

For example, in the Craft case, over-zealous police and social workers sided with the children accusing her of abuse – despite the lack of physical evidence. Additionally, in many child abuse cases the allegations span several years. Often adults cannot recall dates and circumstances with sufficient certainty to provide an adequate defense to these claims. Further, the way adults and law enforcement officers interview children may lead to false accusations of improper conduct. In Craft’s case, police officers asked leading questions and when the answers didn’t conform to what they wanted, children’s responses were ignored or misconstrued.

How many teachers and parents are in jail now based on false accusations is unknown – often innocent adults will plead guilty as a way to avoid life in prison.

Sadly in Craft’s case, as in many other falsely accused, a not guilty verdict does not end the fight. Often, the falsely accused’s life and reputation has been significantly and often irreparably damaged by the media storm following the accusations.

In the words of Tonya Renee Craft, “Not guilty is the beginning of the fight.”

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Tonya Craft, a former Georgia kindergarten teacher who’s child molestation trial captured the nation’s attention, was acquitted Tuesday on charges of molesting three girls, ages 5 and 6. She was found not guilty on all counts including child molestation, sexual battery and aggravated child molestation. Had she been found guilty, she would have faced up to 400 years in jail.

Craft notes though that despite her acquittal, it doesn’t feel like a victory. She stated on the Today Show, “[t]here’s nobody that wins in this situation. My whole heart has been taken, and I got half of it back.”

Since her arrest nearly two years ago she has lost much:

Her two children were taken away from her. One of her daughters testified against her. Ms. Craft now has to fight to regain custody.
Craft lost her home and had to move.
Craft lost her job and was ostracized by her community. She has received death threats.

Craft wants to share her experience and make people aware “that this can happen anywhere, anytime, to anyone.”

Sadly, false arrests are all too common. Sexual misconduct allegations can be made by anyone regardless of whether any physical evidence exists and are often pursued by overzealous prosecutors. In Craft’s case, one of the alleged victims admitting lying and another said she was promised a toy.

In cases involving children, the accusations can be particularly devastating and life altering. Often, the accusations are the result of contentious custody battle or vindictive ex-spouses seeking revenge.

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