Week of August 13th

State budget impasse takes a toll on victim services

“Area health care providers, social services agencies and community colleges are coping so far with the state budget stalemate — but if it continues much longer, things may start falling apart,” reported Tim Morgan from the Modesto Bee.

The state budget impasse is taking a toll on a variety of social services programs. Sexual assault and domestic violence shelters that depend on state funding are preparing to tap into reserves and take out credit lines.

"We've got payroll to meet; we've got bills to pay," said Belinda Rolicheck, executive director of Haven Women's Center. "I sometimes wonder if they're cognizant of how difficult it is, not just for us, but for anyone who gets a state paycheck."

Rolicheck said two grants, one from the state's Department of Health Services and another from the Office of Emergency Services, account for $600,000 of the shelter's $1.5 million annual budget.

Haven is reimbursed for those programs as it helps its clients. Rolicheck said the budget impasse has her waiting for payments from work since July 1.

Unlike Haven, A Woman's Place in Merced does not have reserves to tap. Diana Almanza, its executive director, said state grants account for 75 percent of her $1.7 million budget. She said the shelter has not received checks for work in July, and it's not expecting payment soon for its August services. Almanza said she'd like to see the Legislature pass Republican state Sen. Jeff Denham's proposal to fund nonprofit and health organizations while the budget talks continue. Denham, R-Merced, has refused to vote for the budget with a group of 13 other Republicans.

"It's a very, very difficult position we've been put in," Almanza said. "The bottom line is, it's victim services that are being impacted."

Rape crisis center goes bilingual

By Kristin Bender
, STAFF WRITER from InsideBayArea.com
Bay Area Women Against Rape has become the first rape crisis center in Northern California to certify a large group of Spanish-speaking sexual assault counselors.

Last weekend, the Oakland-based agency certified 32 volunteers who will staff the rape crisis hotline, counsel individuals and groups, help hospital staff and police with rape investigations, and assist with immigration paperwork for undocumented sexual assault victims.

"Our main target is to go out there and promote our services in the community. We also want to let (rape victims) know they aren't going to be alone and that they are going to receive culturally sensitive counseling in their language," said KristinaMolina, the agency's Latina outreach coordinator.

The crisis hotline now will be covered 24 hours a day, seven days a week by Spanish-speaking volunteers as well as English-speaking volunteers, Molina said.

Bay Area Women Against Rape now has 92 volunteers, including nearly three dozen who can speak Spanish, Molina said. That's up from just four Spanish speaking volunteers before the recent training, she said.

There are 37 rape crisis centers in Northern California and their organization is the first to certify a sizable group of Spanish-speaking volunteers, Molina said.

This is important because Latinos make up nearly 22 percent — roughly 87,000 people — of Oakland's population, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. The roup also serves other Alameda County cities that U.S. Census data show have a high number of Latinos, including Hayward, Livermore and San Leandro.

Even before the new crew of Spanish-speaking volunteers was trained, about 20 percent of first-time clients were from the Latina community, according to data from 2006-07 fiscal year. During that time, the agency served 774 first-time clients, including 152 from the Latina community, according to internal data.

Marcia Blackstock, the executive director, said the agency started a Latina outreach program nearly a decade ago.

"That is when we realized that we had a lot more people in the community who only spoke Spanish or limited English who were being assaulted here or came to us with old assaults," Blackstock said.

Getting the program up and running has taken time, she said. "It's been slow to develop the relationship between BAWAR and the community because of cultural issues and language issues. Now the time was right. We had to make our presence known enough to get people to trust us and know that we want to get involved."

New volunteers underwent 55 hours of training over the last nine weeks and have agreed to put in at least 36 hours a month for nine months. Organizations such as La Clinica de la Raza and Mujeres Unidas y Activas helped recruit volunteers who were trained in "dismantling all the myths about rape," Molina said.

In the Latina community, there are some distinctive issues around sexual assault, she said.
"Usually the perpetrator is telling (the victim) that if you report this (immigration) is going to take you back to Mexico or your home country.

"Also, many are Catholic and they feel a lot of guilt, especially younger girls. They are brought up to believe they have to be a virgin until they get married, so when they get assaulted they feel it's their responsibility to protect their virginity. We let them know that virginity is not something that is taken away, it's something that is given away with their full consent."

Founded in 1971 after a young girl at Berkeley High School received poor treatment from police and hospital staff following a rape, the agency responds to 4,000 calls for service from rape survivors and their family members.

The agency also educates roughly 11,000 people annually and runs the Victims/Offenders Reconciliation Program at California State Prison Solano, bringing together prisoners and crime victims to be partners in healing. The group also has a program called Brother's Keeper, which trains prisoners to spot potential suicide tendencies among San Quentin inmates and step in before they kill themselves.

In addition to helping establish rape crisis centers in Northern California, the agency staff has trained rape crisis professionals from Japan, India, Bosnia, Croatia and Hungary.

2,100 California Sex Offenders Ordered To Move

The Associated Press reported last week that beginning on Friday August 17, 2007, parole agents “will begin notifying as many as 2,100 recently paroled sex offenders that they have to move because they live too close to schools and parks in violation of an initiative approved by California voters last November.”

"We're moving very aggressively. We've got boots on the ground starting tomorrow," Tilton said in a telephone interview. "It's a very complex law and we had to make sure all the instructions were in place."

"The 45-day time clock for the offenders to find new housing begins ticking as soon as they are served, meaning the first offenders notified will have until early October to find a new home. Scott Johnson, president of the Parole Agents Association, said state officials have been moving too slowly to implement the restrictions."

"The law doesn't give them 45 days—they're making it up," he said. "It ends up being about seven weeks, we think, before we get the first body moved. Jessica's Law is the law. They should have started on this No
8, not, what, Aug. 16."

State Sen. George Runner, R-Lancaster, said it was essential for CDCR to have policies and procedures in place to notify offenders and to ensure agents are enforcing the law. Runner said, "We're frustrated that we are now almost, what, nine months after the vote finally getting to the point where there's an implementation process."

Officials said emergency regulation policies, outlining residency restrictions for parolee’s, was not in place until late June. Those who violate their parole will face the possibility of being sent back to prison.

Critics of Jessica's Law warned that offenders may be pushed into rural areas and thrown out of their own towns and “could go underground rather than register their whereabouts because of the initiative's residency restrictions.” In addition, sending parole violators back to prison would add to an already over crowded prison system. Therefore, federal judges are “considering capping the inmate population or releasing some prisoners before they have served their full sentences.”

Blogger arrested near child care center

Jack McClellan, the Pedophile Blogger, was arrested early Monday afternoon, near the UCLA child care center.

"McClellan was arrested Monday after he allegedly was spotted with a camera near the Infant Development Program at the University of California, Los Angeles.

He was arrested and booked on suspicion of violating a statewide restraining order prohibiting him from coming within 30 feet of any child in California.

He was released six hours later and warned not to return to the UCLA campus but was arrested a second time that night after someone spotted him giving an interview to a television station in a campus parking lot, authorities said.

McClellan maintained a web site in Washington where he posted “photos of children he had taken in public places. He also discussed how he liked to stake out parks, public libraries, fast-food restaurants and other areas where little girls, or "LGs," congregate.”

McClellan maintains he has not done anything illegal and launched the site as a form of therapy.

Violent sex offender posed as priest

In a rural Irish town a sex offender has been posing as a priest, reported the Telegraph. John Cronin received a life sentence for sexual abusing a Conservative Party worker.

"Cronin, 36, was made welcome by local people, who were unaware of his past as a convicted sex criminal, before he fled the area, allegedly with a stolen checkbook. Suspicions were aroused when a checkbook went missing at the guesthouse where he was staying, and when the fake priest began telling blue jokes."

"One man said: 'For every dirty joke we would tell, this so-called priest would tell an even dirtier one. This made me suspicious."  In fact, Cronin is a highly dangerous conman who has a history of posing as a priest and was jailed for life in 1992 after an attack on a Tory party worker known only as Judy X. Dressed as a priest, he made his way into her home before attacking her with a poker and sexually assaulting her.'"

He was released on appeal after six years and has been returned to jail since, most recently in August 2004 for using false checks. After his visit to Tuam last month, one businesswoman said: "It is hard to comprehend that this man who seemed so plausible could be so evil."

Recently Cronin has been seen at a religious retreat on the west coast of Ireland.

NBC sex predator cases

Dateline NBC’s “To Catch a Predator” series is receiving serious criticism. The network has been named in various lawsuits, one in which program is blamed for an Assistant District Attorney’s suicide and another has a former “Dateline producer accusing the network of firing her because she questioned the show's ethics.”The program “lured would-be child-sex predators to a public shaming, delivered by a handsome host. Ratings, awards and even praise from members of Congress followed.”

But has the show made it easier to catch sexual offender or harder? Esquire magazine released an account of the program on August 14th and that describes a chain of events that eventually led to Dateline airing video recorded from outside a man’s house while he shot himself in the head. The article suggests that Dateline is guilty of overstepping the boundaries of reporting and questions whether or not the program achieves the stated intention of getting predators off of the Internet.

This spring, Esquire magazine sent a reporter to Murphy for a three-month investigation into Mr. Conradt's death. The resulting article accuses Dateline of manipulating the Murphy police. The magazine also accuses Murphy police of rushing search and arrests warrants to accommodate Dateline and includes criticism of the Terrell police for entering the prosecutor's home. Prosecutors have since said they could not prove they had jurisdiction over many of the cases – that either the Perverted Justice decoy or the suspect was in Collin County when the crime was committed.

And according to Esquire, prosecutors believed the arrests may even have been illegal. In each case, police had done little or no investigation prior to the men showing up at the house. Instead, Esquire said, they simply arrested the men who emerged after receiving a signal from the Dateline crew inside.

According to Esquire, Mr. Roach said: "The Murphy Police Department was merely a player in the show and had no real law enforcement position. Other people are doing the work, and the police are just there like potted plants, to make the scenery."

NBC officials declined to comment on the lawsuits, other than to say they have no merit and the network intends to vigorously defend itself. NBC is very proud of the show, Mr. Corvo said. "So if we have to tolerate some inaccurate accusations now and then, we'll do it."