Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Awareness Center's Policies on Removing Alleged and Convicted Sex Offenders From Their Site

The Awareness Center, Inc. has done some extremely important work over the last few years in getting Jewish communities to talk about sex crimes.

The Awareness Center has also been instrumental in helping survivors find the right information and resources that were needed.

Let's not forget The Awareness Center's dynamic speakers bureau and also their newly created certification program for rabbis, cantors and others in leadership roles.

As we all know that when an organization demand changes there will always be a few individuals who will protest against changing the way things have been done.

There have been a small group of people who have been providing misinformation regarding the policies regarding alleged and convicted sex offenders and how The Awareness Center picks and chooses which alleged and convicted offenders goes up on their site. Because of this I've had many communications with The Awareness Center's director, Vicki Polin.

Vicki explained that The Awareness Center has a few hundred more cases to put up on their site, yet due to time demands and the shortage of volunteers, they have not been able to get them up.

We all know that The Awareness Center needs funding to hire staff to make things run more smoothly. I for one make anonymous donations as often as I can. I strongly suggest that everyone who reads this does the same thing. Perhaps if The Awareness Center had adequate funding to hire consultants the issue would be resolved.

Vicki explained to me that this section of their site is dedicated to protecting our communities from alleged and convicted offenders, is a sort of card catalog, listing information that is mostly already public. The Awareness Center takes newspaper and magazine articles, legal documentation, and at times information from reliable individuals and or blogs relating to various cases and posts them on their web page.

In the past our community leader's tradition in handling cases involving sex crimes often has handled very quietly and often did NOT leave a paper trail.

Considering these facts, The Awareness Center once in a while may create a page if they feels there is ample information available from reliable sources. This is only after consulting with board members and one of their halachic advisors. The goal is to hopefully prevent another child or unsuspecting adult from becoming the next victim of a sex crime.

The Awareness Center also has a policy in place in removing an alleged or convicted sex offender from their web page.

The Awareness Center adopted the following policy.

If an alleged or convicted offender complies with all the following, our board of directors will meet to discuss removing the name from our page:

  1. After the offender or alleged offender can demonstrate that he/she has apologized directly to the victim(s), and the survivors feel that the apology was sincere.

  2. After the offender has made a public statement acknowledging his/her relevant behavior.

  3. After the offender has entered treatment with a licensed psychotherapist who meets our criteria of someone specializing in sex offender treatment, and can present a certified letter from this therapist stating that "the individual is no longer a threat to those he or she preyed upon.

  4. After the offender has paid restitution to the survivor(s) for the pain and suffering they have endured and also pays for counseling for his/her victim(s).

  5. The offender agrees to sign a written statement stating they will not work (paid or volunteer) for any agency, organization or institution that has any connections with children, or what ever population the offender has victimize.
Vicki also continued by saying that there have been a few cases removed at the request of the survivor, yet this was only after the survivor met with a board member or a mental health professional who determine there was no coercion with the request.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

However, what about a case where the authorities have deemed the allegations to be without substance and in fact point out that the accusers themselves may have falsified the claims? For example, a domestic dispute or a disgruntled employee or student looking to take revenge on a employer or teacher?
Such things happen. Why doesn't TAC address this?
"Where there is smoke there is fire" is not a Jewish concept.

August 17, 2006 11:18 AM  
Anonymous sam said...

I have a question. If TAC quotes a "reliable blog" or some other such source, and the source retracts, or the blogger is found to not be credible, what mechanism is there for TAC to appologize and make reparations?

There have been posters who have claimed that TAC once had the picture of the wrong guy who had the same name. I do not know the details, but I certainly didn't hear about TAC making a public apology or paying restitution.

If you want credibility, your standards have to go both ways.

August 17, 2006 12:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why are police reports not mentioned as being acceptable?

Why are reports from Child Welfare Services not mentioned as being acceptable?

The policies of TAC serve to make it incredibly difficult for someone who is falsely accused to prove it to the satisfaction of TAC.

I'm sorry, but they do not address the issue.

August 17, 2006 1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is also on TAC's site

If an individual listed on The Awareness Center's web page believes they have been falsely accused and wishes to be removed from The Awareness Center's web page:

1. The alleged offender will need to be evaluated by a licensed mental health provider (at their own expense) who meets our criteria of someone who specializing in sex offender treatment.

2. The alleged offender will need to sign a release of information form so that the licensed mental health professional can discuss the case with us.

3. The licensed mental health professional will need to send us a certified letter stating "the individual does not fit the criteria of someone who is a sex offender or fits the criteria of an individual with a sex addiction".

August 17, 2006 2:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Awareness Center posts police reports and reports from child welfare services. Just look at the case of yaakov weiner case

August 17, 2006 2:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You really think it's that difficult for someone who feels they were falsely accused to go for an evaluation?

So they go to an office and talk to someone, maybe get some psych-testing done too. What's so difficult about that?

anonymous said:
"The policies of TAC serve to make it incredibly difficult for someone who is falsely accused to prove it to the satisfaction of TAC."

August 17, 2006 2:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

regarding: "reliable blog's".

Don't worry I don't think TAC will ever use yy or LY's blogs for as a reliable source.

August 17, 2006 2:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the blogger who wrote:
You really think it's that difficult for someone who feels they were falsely accused to go for an evaluation?

So they go to an office and talk to someone, maybe get some psych-testing done too. What's so difficult about that?

Your ignorance is astounding.
Firstly, Vicki Polin HERSELF has been quoted as saying "where there is smoke there is fire" in 98% of cases of alleged abuse/molestation.

Secondly, the professional who does the evaluation must be approved by TAC.

There are many zealots in this world. It is well known that if one looks hard enough or interprets something looking for a desired result, ANYTHING can be misinterpreted, misconstrued, or even DISTORTED to give you the desired result.

Vicki Polin, Exec. Director of TAC expects to find something. She has admitted that in her comments to many people with her "smoke and fire" statements.

Do you think that TAC would approve of someone who might give an objective evaluation?

If that is the case, why, as was pointed out earlier, are police reports, findings and evaluations NOT listed as being sufficient documentation to have a case removed from the website?

The answer is likely "police always miss things". Perhaps and perhaps not. If they do wouldn't it be because they are objective and not looking to prove someone guilty?

No...TAC's policies are insufficient. They hold the final word as to what criteria are required.

August 17, 2006 4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Friend of sex offenders,

Did you notice that TAC has taken cases off their web page. It appears that their system does work.

Also are you aware that they have not put many cases up on their site. I've been trying for 2 years to get them to put my offender up and they still haven't.

August 17, 2006 4:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um??? Are you really a comedian?

Why wouldn't TAC have the final word? Isn't it their organization and their own web page?

You think they should turn the list of alleged and convicted offenders over to you to decide?

My bet is you would immediately remove Hershy Worch, Mordechai Gafni and both of the Tendler brothers. :-)

August 17, 2006 5:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guess wrong. But you do reveal yourself to be a closed minded prejudiced individual and you cost survivors and others the credibility they deserve. You should be ashamed of your comments.

TAC lacks credibility because of people like you who make comments such as the one you made.

As I said, "where there is smoke there is fire" is not a Jewish concept. This site is for Jewish survivors and those of us that support them.

While those who commit crimes must be caught and punished in a just fashion, those who are unjustly accused and those who hurl baseless allegations for their own satisfaction (as rare as that may be) deserve justice and help as well.

August 17, 2006 5:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You really do have a great sense of humor. Your comments make me laugh so hard.

I'm so glad you know so much about offenders and also so much about survivors.

I'm so glad that I have never gone to you for help. If I did, I would have ended up in the looney bin.

You definately seem to have the "blame the victim" mentality".

August 17, 2006 6:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about the people on the TAC site who have not been convicted of abuse but are listed anyway?

August 17, 2006 8:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this article will answer your question

The worst predator
The horrifying, true story of the man police believe is the worst sexual predator of our time — and how he kept getting away
By John Larson
NBC News

Updated: 8:18 p.m. ET Aug 12, 2006
This report aired Dateline Friday, Aug. 11

For generations parents have warned their children about “the stranger”: Don’t take candy, accept a ride, or even talk to somebody you don’t know.

But what if that somebody is a family friend? Somebody parents know and trust?

Dean Arthur Schwartzmiller, a suspected child molester, made a point of befriending parents to gain access to their children. When he was arrested last year in San Jose, Calif. last year, police found ledgers and diaries detailing thousands of sexual assaults against children.

But if so many crimes had taken place, how did Schwartzmiller, through the years, avoid arrest and prosecution?

John Larson has reconstructed the trail of the man who could be the worst child molester ever to be taken into custody.

It reads like a script to a horror movie, and it begins in Alaska and switches to Idaho, California, Oregon, and Washington.

But it is no movie. It is the horrifying, true story of a man police believe is the worst sexual predator of our time.

The full story of Dean Arthur Schwartzmiller was mostly unknown for 30 years, fragmented as Schwartzmiller jumped from one jurisdiction to another. But Dateline pieced together legal files warehoused in a half dozen different states. We gathered thousands of pages of court documents, search warrants, and police reports—interviewing more than 60 victims, investigators and prosecutors.

What we found was a disturbing story of a sexual predator who kept getting away with it, year after year by manipulating the legal system.

The man used a brilliant intellect to befriend families, and then prey on their children. When discovered, he’d run, when caught, he’d jump bail. When taken to court, he would attack his victims. But along the way, no one knew he was keeping record of victims that could number into the thousands.

Early '70s: Juneau, Alaska
His story began back in 1970, in Juneau, Alaska. Back then, this gold rush capitol city was booming. The Alaska Oil pipeline was being built, Nixon was in his first term as president, and a young Juneau detective was on duty one night, when a man walked into the station house.
Det. Jess Bulkley: He said, “My son has been sexually molested by Dean Schwartzmiller.” And he says, “I’m gonna kill him unless you can get him off the street.”

Dean Schwartzmiller moved to Alaska shortly after graduating from high school. He became a successful building contractor and was one of Juneau’s young, upcoming citizens. Detective Bulkley knew him well.
Det. Bulkley: I called Dean Schwartzmiller, had him down at the station in a few minutes. Asked him if there any truth to it, and he says “yes.”John Larson, Dateline correspondent: He said, “I had sex with an underage boy?”Det. Bulkley: Right.

Schwartzmiller pled guilty to a simple misdemeanor: contributing to the delinquency of a child. With no previous record, he was given probation and ordered to undergo counseling. The charges were eventually dismissed.

But two and-a-half years later, in 1972, Schwartzmiller was arrested again for molesting yet another boy from Juneau and again he confessed to Detective Bulkley.
Larson: Was he sorry about this?Det. Bulkley: Oh yes. Dean was—every so often he would have to sob. He couldn’t talk. He’d have to sob for a while. Then he’d get control again, and then start answering questions again.

The case against him was solid. There was a confession and a young victim willing to testify. But he never went to trial.
Det. Bulkley: Before they could indict him, he had skipped town. Larson: Gone?Bulkley: Right.

Mountain Home, Idaho
Schwartzmiller fled from Juneau to Mountain Home, Idaho, a remote rural community, southeast of Boise, telling everyone his name was Tim Lewis. It was late 1972.

He coached football, befriended parents, and hired adolescent boys to work for his construction company.
Ken Madison: I thought I was gonna get some work.

Ken Madison was 13 years old when he says Schwartzmiller hired him, befriended him and raped him.
Larson: Did you feel like you could stop it? Madison: I just let the creep have his way. I don’t wanna talk about that part of it anymore.

Schwartzmiller befriended other lost boys arranging sleepovers, giving the boy’s beer and pot, and then targeting one child at a time.

Madison’s mom found out about the assaults and reported them to the police. Schwartzmiller was arrested and charged with lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor. Despite the public shame, Madison was willing to admit in court that he had been raped by Dean Schwartzmiller. And police had found something else — a “checklist” of sex acts. Police believed Schwartzmiller was keeping record and believe there were many other boys who had been assaulted.

But before any of this could be introduced at trial, Schwartzmiller skipped bail for a second time. He escaped to Brazil for a year and a half, but authorities eventually tracked him down, and brought him back to Idaho.

During the trial, Schwartzmiller showed he was willing to use a new tactic: “attack the victim.”
Larson: [He was] Saying that you had come on to him. That you had begged him for sex.Madison: Yes.Larson: You were 15 years old by the time of this trial. And he’s blaming you for this?Madison: Uh-huh (affirms). He was nothing but a big, ugly bad—real bad man to me then. Yeah, I was scared of him.

Ken Madison says he has never fully recovered. He can’t hold a job and now lives at a mission in downtown Boise.
Madison: All, I know is, I tried to get high and stoned after that. Just so I would feel good.

Schwartzmiller was convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison. It looked like the law finally caught up with him. But that’s when Schwartzmiller adapted and changed again. He became an accomplished jailhouse lawyer, and began filing legal appeals.

He pointed out inconsistencies in Madsion’s testimony— for instance Madison said he had been tied up when he was first assaulted when he later admitted he had not. The Idaho Supreme Court accepted Schwartzmiller’s legal arguments and overturned his conviction after serving just two years of his sentence.

Even though he had been arrested three times in two states for molesting boys, Schwartzmiller was back on the streets the latest conviction erased from his records.

Boise, Idaho
Six months later, Schwartzmiller rented a house in a Boise neighborhood. Once again, he befriended a parent, dating a single mother with an immature 13-year-old son. The boy, according to court testimony, spent most of 1978 as Schwartzmiller’s sex slave.

That same year, Schwartzmiller raped another boy. This time, the family reported it to the police. Schwartzmiller was once again arrested for lewd and lascivious behavior with a minor. He been out of prison for less than a year. Schwartzmiller skipped bail for a third time—and hit the road.

Suspected of molesting 7 boys over an 8-year period, wanted in two states for sex crimes against children, Schwartzmiller would soon be the target of an FBI manhunt for suspicion of kidnapping and worse.

Suspected of molesting several boys over an 8-year period, wanted in Alaska and Idaho for skipping bail Schwartzmiller was on the run.

He headed south to San Francisco, hunting for prey in nearby Fremont.

San Francisco, Calif.
Once again, Schwartzmiller changed his name— Rob Stevens this time— and befriended a single mother of an adolescent boy.

To this day, she still grieves when she recalls how Schwartzmiller talked his way into living in the house she shared with her 14 year old son.
Carol Stewart, mother: What breaks my heart is I sent that little boy out the door with him. I should have kept him with me. I would have kept him with me. John Larson, Dateline correspondent: You had no way of knowing then.Stewart: No, I misread it all.

She had no idea, she tells us, that Schwartzmiller was a predator until the day she got a sickening telephone call from her 11-year-old daughter, telling her that her son was missing. When she got there she found her son, a friend of his and Schwartzmiller, were missing. Schwartzmiller took the two boys north to the Seattle area and Schwartzmiller’s home town of Everett, Washington.

Robert Pichler, of Everett, Washington, is an old high school buddy of Schwartzmiller and let him sleep on his couch whenever he was passing through town. This time Schwartzmiller had two boys in tow.

Everett, Washington
Bob Pichler: He was a friend of mine. I trusted him. Larson: And what did he say about these kids? How did he explain it?Pichler: That one of them was the son of the girl that he was gonna marry in California and the other one was a friend of his.

Retired FBI agent Max Noel was called in on what was now a federal kidnapping case.
Max Noel, retired FBI agent: He liked boys entering just entering puberty. Dean Schwartzmiller was very intelligent and very articulate.

A few weeks later, the FBI got a tip, rescued the boys and arrested Schwartzmiller outside of Portland, Oregon.

It looked like they finally had him. During his investigation, Noel had found a boy who was willing to testify that Schwartzmiller brought him out to California to be part of a prostitution ring—serious charges that could make for a very strong case.
Larson: So how much federal prison time did Schwartzmiller serve for transporting a minor across state lines for prostitution?Noel: None.Larson: None?Noel: None.Larson: And what about the two boys he kidnapped and took out of California?Noel: No charges were ever filed on that.

What happened?

Remember, Schwartzmiller was also wanted in Idaho and Alaska, as well. Since it was agreed Idaho had the strongest case -- 2 victims willing to testify -- both the U.S. attorney in California and the district attorney in Alaska made what they thought were practical decisions: they dropped all their charges against Schwartzmiller and handed him over to Idaho for prosecution.

At first, it looked like the strategy worked. Schwartzmiller was convicted in Idaho on 3 counts of lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor and given a 25 year prison sentence. But Schwartzmiller once again went on offense, employing his “appeals” technique. He filed a stream of legal motions. Eventually a federal circuit court overturned his conviction. Once again he was set free.

Agent Max Noel’s five-state manhunt, in the end, was just wasted time.
Larson: From looking at the record, you guys did everything right.Noel: Oh, I believe so.Larson: You had agents in Arkansas. Oregon. California. Idaho. You had him cornered. When he went across state lines, the FBI followed him. And yet he still somehow managed to get away with it.Noel: He managed to do what he has done in the past—manipulate the criminal justice system, to his benefit.

So at this point, 18 years after his first arrest, picked-up five different times on suspicion of raping boys in seven different states—Dean Schwartzmiller did not have one felony conviction on his record.

Portland, Oregon
In 1989, Schwartzmiller moved to Portland, Oregon and once again, opened his home up to neighborhood boys. Befriending a parent and her 13-year-old son, who was attracted by Schwartzmiller’s newly-purchased race car.
Debbie Griffin: They were able to go down to the Woodburn drag strip and watch races.

Once he gained the trust of parents, Schwartzmiller would take the boys on field trips to raceways around the North west, eventually those trips involved overnight stays in motels.
Larson: Did you worry about those trips?Griffin: We looked for signs. Anything suspicious. Anything wrong. And even to go to the house and look at the other boys. And does everything feel comfortable and right? It didn’t show any signs from anyone.

Finally after four years, one of the mother’s became suspicious and reported Schwartzmiller to police. Portland authorities moved quickly, interviewing all of Schwartzmiller’s young friends.
Jim Hayden, prosecutor: We ended up with 60 or more counts of Class A felonies. And that’s only because that’s all the boys could remember.

The closer prosecutor Jim Hayden came to trial, though, the more reluctant the victims were to testify.
Hayden: They were embarrassed to tell people what had happened to them.Larson: In the end, what did you wind up with?Hayden: He pled no contest to three counts.

Three counts of sodomy involving just two of the boys.
Larson: And how much prison time did he get?Hayden: 46 months.

It was the best Hayden could do. Because Schwartzmiller’s criminal history, everything that had happened from Alaska to Idaho with the FBI couldn’t be introduced as evidence.
Hayden: It’s called “prior bad acts.” And you can’t use prior bad acts to prove what happened in this case.

In 1996, after serving three and-a-half years of his sentence, Schwartzmiller was released from prison. And went straight to his hometown of Everett, Washington and his old friend Bob Pichler.

Betraying a friend
Larson: You knew he had been in jail?Bob Pichler: I knew he had been in jail.Larson: For a sex offense?Pichler: Right.Larson: And you still let him back in your house?Pichler: He’s still a friend.Larson: I mean, that just sounds crazy.Pichler: Maybe I’m gullible. I don’t know. But I thought because of our friendship that he would never do anything to my kids.

Within a month, Schwartzmiller stood accused of molesting Pichler’s grandchildren -- 2 boys, ages 10 and 13.
Larson: What was your reaction when you found out your own grandsons said they had been molested?Pichler: If I could have got a hold of him, I would have killed him.

The case went before a jury. This time Schwartzmiller attacked not just his accusers, but the entire family— claiming they were out to blackmail him.
Clay Hess, juror: They almost seemed like a completely broken home.

Two jurors said they had a hard time believing the charges against Schwartzmiller.
Hess: He spent his whole time crying and asking for Kleenex. He seemed like the steady piece that was helping finance the entire family. From clothing to covering the rent. Larson: When the case finally went to the jury, how long did you deliberate?Hess: I would say no more than a couple hours at most.

The verdict? Not guilty. Once again, the jury was not allowed to hear about Schwartzmiller’s 30 years of molestation arrests.
Larson: He came out of prison in Oregon. And the Oregon parole board said this is a sexual predator with a high chance of re-offending.Hess: We never—Robert Mercer, juror: Wish we’d have heard something like that.Hess: --yeah.Mercer: It would have been a different jury I assure you.

28 years—seven arrests, 4 convictions — 2 overturned on appeal — and now an outright acquittal: Dean Schwartzmiller was free, once again. He moved to San Jose, California, rented a house and hired adolescent boys for odd jobs.

A chronicle of crime
In May of 2005, Schwartzmiller was again arrested, but this time investigators found something new: spiral bound notebooks with what appear to be coded entries.

Police believe during the 35 years Schwartzmiller was manipulating the criminal justice system he was keeping a precise record of every child he molested, or raped. Damning evidence, if police can break the code and find the victims.

When Schwartzmiller goes to trial, we don’t know whether the jury will get to hear the full story about the broken families from at least seven states and about the scores of victims like Ken Madison, who came forward years ago and are still struggling to survive.
Ken Madison, victim: It scares me that with his intelligence he’s gonna get out again. After all this, no. He should never get out again. He should never got out the first time.

This time, though, jurors may get to see these notebooks filled with the names of thousands of children who may have been too afraid or ashamed to ever tell their stories to police—stories just as horrific as Ken Madison’s.
Madison: I felt really ugly, dirty—I had a lot of shame from it. People have no idea what it can do to a person.

Testimony is scheduled to begin in Schwartzmiller's trial at the end of the month. If he's convicted of all charges, he faces a maximum sentence of 150 years in prison.

August 17, 2006 10:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So according to the Awareness Center a person who is listed has to apologize for something he did even if he didn't do it. Guilty until proven innocent. How does the Awareness Center know that the allegations are true or even reasonable or even partly true before it posts a person's name? Do they investigate? Do they research? Do they make calls? Who do they speak to? Who decides what gets posted and what doesn't? I'm not talking about those cases that are in court. I'm asking about those cases where there is rumor and innuendo? Is every alleged Jewish Survivor of Sexual Violence automatically believed?

August 17, 2006 10:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You definately didn't read what's on The Awareness Center's web page on their policies.

I think you need to stop, take a deep breath, exhale slowly, and then go back and read their site.

August 18, 2006 11:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about they just sue your asses for libel.

You people are a disgrace, and should be ashamed of yourselves. For Shame on TAC and on this site. You will burn in hell alongside the real child molestors.

August 18, 2006 12:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The question isn't REMOVING an alleged offender, it's about the standards for INCLUDING him in the first place.

August 18, 2006 12:48 PM  
Anonymous John Lennon said...

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

August 18, 2006 2:51 PM  

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