Wednesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

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More Harm Than Good: Exempt Youth Sex Offenders from Registration Laws, Human Rights Watch

Harsh public registration laws often punish youth sex offenders for life and do little to protect public safety, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. A web of federal and state laws apply to people under 18 who have committed any of a wide range of sex offenses, from the very serious, like rape, to the relatively innocuous, such as public nudity.

The 111-page report, “Raised on the Registry: The Irreparable Harm of Placing Children on Sex Offender Registries in the US,” details the harm public registration laws cause for youth sex offenders. The laws, which can apply for decades or even a lifetime and are layered on top of time in prison or juvenile detention, require placing offenders’ personal information on online registries, often making them targets for harassment, humiliation, and even violence. The laws also severely restrict where, and with whom, youth sex offenders may live, work, attend school, or even spend time . . .

Available research indicates that youth sex offenders are among the least likely to reoffend.

For more information, see the YouTube video.

Kentucky Boy, 5, Accidentally Shoots to Death 2 Year old Sister, LA Times

A 2-year-old Kentucky girl was accidentally killed by her 5-year-old brother who fired a rifle he had been given as a gift, officials said Wednesday.

Cumberland County Coroner Gary L. White said an autopsy of Caroline Starks showed the toddler had died from a single shot from the .22-caliber rifle. The death has been ruled accidental and no charges will be filed . . .

The rifle used in the accident is a Crickett designed for children and sold under the slogan “My First Rifle,” according to the company’s website. It is a smaller weapon designed for children and comes with a shoulder stock in child-like colors including pink and swirls . . .

It is legal in Kentucky to give a child a rifle as a gift, White said. Nor is it unusual for children to have rifles, often passed down from their parents, he said.

Earlier this month, Brandon Holt, 6, was accidentally shot to death by a 4-year-old playmate in New Jersey.

Compton Jurors Hear Widely Disparate Views of Accused Killer, 16, LA Times

Compton jury heard conflicting portraits Tuesday of a 16-year-old girl charged with murdering her mother and stepfather, whose bodies were found more than a year ago buried in separate shallow graves.

Cynthia Alvarez sat quietly wearing a pale-blue cardigan, her hair tied back in a ponytail, as a prosecutor told jurors that the teen had confessed to the October 2011 killings and carried them out with her boyfriend, Giovanni Gallardo.  Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Kristin Trutanich said . . . “They planned and executed the murders,” . . . Both Alvarez and Gallardo are charged as adults.

Deputy Public Defender Carole Telfer described the teen as a longtime victim of sexual, physical and emotional abuse at the hands of those she is accused of killing.  As a little girl, she was molested by her stepfather, Jose Lara, who moved in with her and her mother about a year after her father was deported to Honduras, Telfer said. . . .

Her mother, Gloria Villalta, forced Alvarez to maintain the house, cook and give her insulin, Telfer told jurors . . . “Mrs. Villalta essentially kept Cynthia as a slave for her personal use,” Telfer told jurors. Child welfare authorities investigated a report that Villalta lit a piece of paper and held it to her daughter’s nose, but no action was taken, the lawyer said.

In 2008, the lawyer said, Lara sodomized his stepdaughter in their kitchen while the rest of the family was away . . . Alvarez tried unsuccessfully to get help and at times attempted suicide using pills and cutting herself, the attorney said. She also tried to run away and on one occasion was tied up with electrical cords by her mother and stepfather, Telfer said.

About a year before the killings, Alvarez met her boyfriend at Dominguez High School. Gallardo was domineering and ultimately abusive to Alvarez, who suffered from a language processing disorder, Telfer said.  Gallardo, then 16, suggested that they kill her parents, but Alvarez, then 15, would not agree, her lawyer told the jury. On the day of the killings, Gallardo showed up at her home after she had an argument with her mother, Telfer said.

During the violence, Alvarez stayed in the home’s living room and was “basically paralyzed,” her attorney told the jury. Gallardo told her to use a baseball bat on her stepfather and she did so out of fear of her boyfriend, Telfer said . . .

Alvarez and Gallardo, who is now 17, face sentences of life in prison if convicted of murder. Gallardo is expected to face trial in the next few weeks. 

When will we start teaching not to rape, rather than how to not get raped?

It seems like every week, if not every day, there is a new report about another girl who has been raped. Sometimes that story ends with a conviction of the rapist, but most times it does not end that way. The young girl is badgered on social media and sadly, sometimes it results in her death. When is it going to be enough? When will we start to teach everyone to stop raping rather than how not to get raped? When will girls and women everywhere be able to walk outside at night or have a drink on a date without the fear that the night will end in rape? When will our culture of rape tolerance cease?

A few months ago, a college in Colorado even published a list of helpful hints for women on how to prevent rape. Conveniently, it did not publish a list teaching men how to stop raping women. For years, a girl’s sexual history, clothing, and personality have been taken into account when people decide if she “had it coming” or not. This is flat out disgusting. Why is the girl put on trial when she is the victim? Why aren’t we teaching boys and men to not rape? Why not cut off the crime before it even begins? We need to start teaching boys and men to respect women and to understand that YES means YES.

In the last two months there were two stories of young victims of rape who killed themselves after badgering on social media and at school was too much. Jane Doe in Ohio had to watch the media favor the rapists in her rape trial. Our culture needs to wake up and realize it enables rapists. We put upon girls the responsibility of not getting raped and then if they are raped we blame them again. There is a law against rape for a reason; it is the rapist’s fault it happened. Society needs to start taking responsibility and choosing to blame the rapist. We need to start teaching everyone to not rape. We need to teach that what a girl wears to school or if she chooses to consume alcohol does NOT give anyone the right to rape her. Rape is wrong and it is about time we start teaching that. When will these stories be enough? When will we vindicate the victims? When will the time come when girls do not have to be scared of what could happen to them? I hope that society learns something from these girls’ stories and we can start to protect our children again.

Monday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Judge Finds Ohio High School Football Players Guilty of Raping Girl, Chicago Tribune

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio (Reuters) – Two high school football players from Ohio were found guilty on Sunday of raping a 16-year-old girl at a party last summer while she was in a drunken stupor in a case that gained national exposure through social media.

Ohio authorities also promised on Sunday to continue the investigation to determine if other crimes had been committed…

Lawyer Seeks Juvenile Court for Boy, 11, Accused in Woman’s Death,

Attorneys for a boy accused of killing his father’s pregnant girlfriend have asked a Pennsylvania court to overturn a lower court’s decision to try him as an adult.

Lourdes Rosado appealed the decision Tuesday on behalf of Jordan Brown, who is suspected in the death of Kenzie Marie Houk. Brown faces life in prison without parole.

Houk was eight months pregnant, and the child was also killed. Brown was 11 at at the time of the deaths.

His attorney has said Brown should be tried in juvenile court, pressing the Superior Court to review an earlier ruling that labeled his client a poor candidate for rehabilitation, which allows him to be tried as an adult…

Fifth-Grade Boys’ Plot to Kill a Classmate Thwarted,

Two fifth-grade boys armed with a stolen semi-automatic gun, ammunition clip and knife plotted to kill a classmate in Washington state but were thwarted when another student informed a school employee, authorities said Thursday.

The two boys, who told police they considered the girl rude and annoying, won’t be tried as adults and will be in court next Wednesday for a capacity hearing, said Tim Rasmussen, the Stevens County prosecuting attorney.

The two boys, ages 10 and 11, told authorities that they were also going to kill, or “get,” six more students at Fort Colville Elementary School in Colville, Washington, and even identified them from a class list provided by school employees, according to court documents…