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Many break law again after first offender sex crime plea

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Of the 84 people given first offender status for sex crimes in the past 11 years in Richmond County, one-third committed new crimes before their probation expired, an Augusta Chron­icle database shows. Some of those new offenses were sex crimes: rape, public indecency and child molestation.

Georgia law doesn’t allow first offender status for some sex crimes, including sodomy, incest and child molestation, but records show defendants are allowed to plead to lesser offenses that do qualify for it, such as misdemeanor sexual battery.

First offender status allows a person to walk away without the stain of a felony conviction if he or she completes probation or a prison sentence without any violations.

District Attorney Ashley Wright said that generally plea bargains are allowed for lesser sex crimes when the evidence isn’t strong or the witnesses are small children who prosecutors are reluctant to place on the witness stand.

Louis Hameed, for instance, was charged with aggravated child molestation because a 13-year-old girl gave him oral sex when he was 17. Because they were close in age, Hameed was allowed to plead to a lesser charge. He successfully completed probation and is not a registered sex offender.

In another case, William Mark Rich­ard­son was charged with aggravated sexual battery but pleaded guilty to misdemeanor false imprisonment. He was one of four defendants accused of inserting a toilet plunger handle into the rectum of a fellow inmate at Augusta’s Youth Detention Cen­ter. The victim later gave conflicting statements as to whether penetration occurred, so the prosecutor settled on an agreement with the defense.

“They exercised good judgment, and I’m OK with it,” Wright said of her staff.

However, some cases come back to haunt prosecutors and open questions about why they were granted first offender status.

Gerald Wayne Smith was arrested in 2003 on charges of assaulting three women. An indictment accused him of choking a woman and ordering her to take her clothes off; forcing another woman to give him oral sex; and abducting a third woman who was threatened with murder and forced to perform oral sex.

Smith pleaded guilty midway through his trial to two lesser offenses of false imprisonment. He had a prior arrest as a peeping Tom, but that charge was dropped, so he qualified for first offender status. He was given 10 years of probation.

Five years later, in 2008, Smith and Tommy Middleton were accused of raping a woman. Smith pleaded guilty to rape and received a six-year sentence, with four years of probation. Middleton received one year in prison and seven years of probation for his Alford plea, which acknowledges a guilty verdict is likely and is treated as a guilty plea by the courts.

Forty-five percent of the 84 first offenders listed in the Chronicle database received more than one probation revocation during their sentence. This could be the result of committing a new crime, not complying with court-ordered counseling, not notifying a probation officer of a new address or not paying fines.

The rest succesfully completed probation, and most are not on the sex offender registry.

One such case is that of Eldrige Bronson, who was indicted on a statutory rape charge at age 18 in 2004 for having sex with a female younger than 16. A year later, he pleaded guilty and received 10 years of probation as a first offender. That probation was terminated early in 2007, and he is not on the registry.

COMING MONDAY

Sheriff’s Investigator David Rush, who keeps tabs on Columbia County’s sex offenders, talks about the confusion surrounding Georgia’s sex offender laws.

Comments (16) Add comment
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Willow Bailey
20603
Points
Willow Bailey 02/11/12 - 11:25 pm
1
0
Under the prosecution of

Under the prosecution of District Attorney, Ashley Wright, (the same DA who prosecuted Scott Dean) Gerald Wayne Smith who already had a prior conviction as a Peeping Tom, sexually assaults , chokes, kidnaps, and imprisons, not one, but three different women who stuck with their stories and he gets to plead in the middle of the trial as a first time offender to a lesser charge of in which he is sentenced to 10 years probation! Not even ONE day in jail for his crimes against these women.

And then..." Five years later, in 2008, Smith and Tommy Middleton were accused of raping a woman. Smith pleaded guilty to rape and received a six-year sentence, with four years of probation. Middleton received one year in prison and seven years of probation for his Alford plea, which acknowledges a guilty verdict is likely and is treated as a guilty plea by the courts."

Where was their incentive not to commit the same bad acts? Smith never received any penalty for the previous ones! And Ashley Wright trusts "their" judgment. Well, I certainly don't.

Are you kidding me?!? Why so much disparity? Who has a legitimate answer for this question? How about it Ms. Wright? This is an outrage.

Asitisinaug
3
Points
Asitisinaug 02/11/12 - 09:38 pm
1
0
I like our DA and certainly

I like our DA and certainly understand they have many challenges and tasks to acomplish with limited time and resources within the law.

However, it is time to END all Plea Bargins for sex crimes and violent offenders. The repeat violent offenders and sex criminals are a menace to our society and these plea bargins allow them to continue their crime spreas against law abiding citizens and children.

Enough already!!

Willow Bailey
20603
Points
Willow Bailey 02/11/12 - 11:02 pm
0
0
Talk about disparity, Scott

Talk about disparity, Scott Dean gets a 20 year prison sentence and 20 years probation with a waffling witness and a prior chargeless event of teenage sex with the same age complainants who made no report at the time. I am not defending him, but, just wondering, you think there could have been a little politics and name making at play here?

saltine
281
Points
saltine 02/12/12 - 09:10 am
1
0
time in jail,probation,and

time in jail,probation,and money
DOES NOT FIX A SEXUAL ABUSER
Put them AWAY
It is proven,they will
Re-offend!!!!

TruthJusticeFaithHope
222
Points
TruthJusticeFaithHope 02/12/12 - 04:45 pm
0
0
The DA gets what she can...

The DA gets what she can... and I think it must have been Danny Craig who was DA when the first Smith trial happened. Sadly, we only get to read about... discuss and debate the ones which go to court... truth be know... thousands of cases... right here in our judicial circuit don't have enough evidence to go to court... but a crime was committed. You want to read some amazing crap ? Go the the other Article that Kyle Smith wrote today... "Man Caught Between Two Sex Offender Laws."... or it's entitled something like that... the comment section is a SUPPORT GROUP FOR SEX OFFENDERS... We will never have a safe community, or a society free from sex offenders until all responsible adults stand up, pay attention... assert themselves and demand it.

TruthJusticeFaithHope
222
Points
TruthJusticeFaithHope 02/12/12 - 07:50 pm
0
0
Shana, I don't know if I read

Shana, I don't know if I read your comment previously, but several comments also disappeared which were posted by someone who has a "handle": "SOI" which evidently stands for Sex Offender Issues, with a blue icon... was agressively presenting that Sex Offenders are victims once they serve their time, and the general conception that sex offenders re-offend at high rates... is wrong. Now, I copied four of the web pages that he posted, but I haven't visited them yet. Shana, were you posting evidence of High recidivism, or exagerated recidivism of sex offenders? Anyway, it would be interesting to know why posts are removed... when they have been. I did not agree with the SOI posts, but I always like to know every aspect of an issue.

freeradical
1097
Points
freeradical 02/13/12 - 11:34 am
0
0
Human nature is evolving all

Human nature is evolving all the time.

And we are getting better and better all the time.

Just look around you.

There is less sex crime today than ever before in human history.

Bruno
780
Points
Bruno 02/13/12 - 12:06 pm
1
0
Given the propensity for

Given the propensity for sexual offenders to repeat their behavior I do not understand why we allow them out before their full time is served and that they are given relatively short sentences. Also, if they are so heinous that they must be put on an offenders' list following their time in prison then they are heinous enough to serve longer sentences. Personally I would like to see zero parole and zero time off for sexual offenders. If you get 20 years, you should serve 20 years.

WillB
0
Points
WillB 02/13/12 - 02:01 pm
0
0
Most people want to refer to

Most people want to refer to the Department of Justice study done on the 1994 released prisoners everybody from both sides of the argument points to this one and the fact that 3.5% of RSOs Are Reconvicted of a new sex crime Note that that is only for 15 states And during the three year follow-up period there were 339 new convictions for RSOs and that averages out to 113 per year How many people are on the registry for those 15 states And what happens if we put the number of 113 per year into the equation Arizona 14512 Maryland, 7269 North Carolina, 13554 California, 106216 Michigan, 47329 Ohio, 19448 Delaware, 4488 Minnesota, 16111 Oregon, 23698 Florida, 55999 New Jersey, 14013 Texas, 66587 Illinois, 21297 New York, 32257 Virginia 18131 total 460,909
460,909/113 = 00.0245% = 2/100 of 1 percent So of the total number of people on the registry In those 15 states 2/100 of one percent Were reconvicted in a new sex crime
A number of Ohio studies were looked at to find out exactly how many people on the registry in the state of Ohio were reconvicted for additional sex crimes and it was found that in any given year of the ten-year study that the highest percentage of people on the registry that were involved in new sex crime was around 3/10 of 1% and got down to as low as 4/100 of one percent.
from the Nebraska state patrol data it was found that in the last 30 years that the highest re-offense rates for having a new sex crime for people on the Nebraska registry was less than 1% per year --99+% do not reoffend in a new sex crime
Where is the high recidivism rate that everyone talks about, there is no empirical data to justify any ordinance or law against a group of people.

Bruno
780
Points
Bruno 02/13/12 - 02:40 pm
0
0
A 2002 study by the United

A 2002 study by the United States Department of Justice indicated that recidivism rates among sex offenders was 5.3%; that is, about 1 in 19 of released sex offenders were later arrested for another sex crime.
Personally I don't think that anyone convicted of sexual abuse of a child should ever be allowed out of prison.

WillB
0
Points
WillB 02/13/12 - 03:22 pm
0
0
If you're going to use the

If you're going to use the DOJ study please look at all the information provided The study involved 272,111 inmates .In this study, there were 27 times more non-sex offender ex-convicts than there were released sex-offenders. The ex-convicts who were not sex offenders actually committed six times more new sex crimes than did the released sex offenders. This study showed that 87% of new sex crimes in this study were committed by ex-convicts, not by registered sex offenders (USDOJ 2003-2003.)
This study looked at only individuals who have a prior criminal record. When one considers that most sex offenses are committed by those who have no prior criminal record, it is easy to see that the vast majority of new sex crimes are committed by someone other than a registered sex offender. (USDOJ 1994)
The June 2002: Department of Justice: Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994 (DOJ-2002) mentioned something most folks have overlooked, and we quote: The fraction of all crimes that released prisoners accounted for: 1994 to 1997, 234,358 released prisoners accounted for 140,534 arrests (table 5).During the period in the 13 states, 2,994,868 adults were arrested for the 7 serious crimes according to the FBI. Therefore, REARRESTS of the released prisoners were 4.7% of all arrests for serious crime from 1994-1997." (DOJ-2002 page 5) Let us try to understand what this is saying, 95.3% of all serious crime was committed by who? New Criminals, not recidivists!
Finally, remember that 04.7% above, well what percentage of those folks are actually RECONVICTED sex offenders? 2,326 + 339 = 2,665 or .08898%. Therefore, RECONVICTION of the released sex offender prisoners was .08898% of all arrests for serious crime and 00.0001% for a new sex crime from 1994-1997. By the Department of Justice: Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994(DOJ-2002)REPORT.
From the data so far another way to look at it is if a child is molested the chance that is done by a previous convicted sex offender is around one-ten thousandths (1/10,000) of 1% and the possible that it is done a friend, family member, or a person in a trust position (teacher, principle, coach, police, therapists, etc.) or a person that has not been caught and is not on the registry is 99.9998%

shelomith_stow
0
Points
shelomith_stow 02/13/12 - 05:51 pm
0
0
Truth, I have had articles

Truth, I have had articles either not print or be removed in which I was giving evidence that registrants do not have high recidivism. I wish everyone felt as you do and were willing to hear both sides of an issue. I don't know if this will see the light of day or not, but if it does, thank you for your attitude.

Bruno
780
Points
Bruno 02/13/12 - 07:03 pm
0
0
WillB, you stated "...the

WillB, you stated "...the fact that 3.5% of RSOs Are Reconvicted of a new sex crime..." I simply provided data that showed that your "fact" is not in fact, fact.

I really don't care if there is a 1 in 1,000,000 chance of a pedophile molesting another child. I believe that one child being molested is one child too many. That is why I believe that pedophiles should be given life sentences with no parole.

Now I must question your defense of convicted pedophiles.

Mugatu
16
Points
Mugatu 02/14/12 - 11:13 am
0
0
Please see this article for

Please see this article for detail on the resolution of Gerald Wayne Smith's case:

http://chronicle.augusta.com/stories/2005/06/25/met_456923.shtml

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