Do I really know my neighbor?

A 65-year-old Warner Robins man was sentenced today to 35 years in prison for molesting two neighborhood children and for producing a video of himself in sexual acts with his dog, a Houston County prosecutor said.

John Charles Huff, who lived in the 100 block of Victor Street, will likely serve 30 years before being eligible for parole, District Attorney Kelly Burke said.

Huff, a retired hardware salesman, probably will die in prison, Burke said, although the parole board does sometimes release inmates who are near death to die at home with family members.

Regardless, Huff will never be in a position where he can victimize children again, the prosecutor said.

Huff pleaded guilty today in Houston County Superior Court to four counts of child molestation, two counts of sexual exploitation of a child and one count of bestiality.

Senior Judge L.A. “Buster” McConnell Jr. sentenced Huff immediately after the plea was entered, the prosecutor said.

According to Burke, children in the neighborhood often gathered at Huff’s home to use several computers he had set up for that purpose.

In February, two of the children, girls age 8 and 10, reported they had been molested by Huff, the prosecutor said.

Huff, a Missouri native, pleaded guilty to touching the children and masturbating in front of them, Burke said.

Huff had a video surveillance system in his home that he used to tape the acts, and he also taped himself performing sexual acts with his dog, the prosecutor said.

Burke said. “It is what every parent fears. Do I really know my neighbor?”

Becky Purse

Published in: on October 27, 2007 at 2:06 am  Comments (1)  

Trial Set For Teacher Accused Of Molesting Students

Shenendehowa elementary teacher Christopher Culver, accused of sexually abusing eight of his first grade male students, is headed to trial on the charges in Saratoga County Court on Nov. 26.

Prosecutors say the accused child molester touched the genitals of six young boys in his classroom earlier this year, two of them under their clothing. Culver has been indicted on 41 felony counts including 29 counts of first degree sex abuse and 12 counts of second degree sexual contact against a child. He has also been charged with eight counts of endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor.

All eight of his accusers are expected to testify against him at trial.

In September, Saratoga County Court Judge Jerry Scarano ruled that statements Culver made at the time of his arrest can be used against him at trial.

Culver, 32, of Clifton Park, a native of Chestertown and a teacher at the Okte Elementary School, part of the Shenendehowa School District, remains free on $50,000 bail and is on paid suspension from his teaching duties. He faces up to 20 years in state prison if convicted.

He is being represented by Terrence Kindlon of Albany who had argued for the suppression of Culver’s statements made to police, saying that they were not voluntary and had been made outside the presence of legal counsel.

Culver and his wife are separated and he is living in Chestertown with his parents.

Culver was first arrested in February after a parent called a victims’ hot line, saying that in talking with her son, the boy had made admissions concerning an alleged incident in the classroom occurring on Feb. 5 in which Culver allegedly touched the boy’s “private parts”.

At least three lawsuits have been filed against the school district and Culver by parents of students who have accused Culver of sexually molesting their sons during the past school year.

Culver, the father of a young child, was a popular teacher and had been employed by the district for eight years. After his arrest on Feb. 11, other alleged victims among the 6 and 7 year old students in his 21-student class levied additional allegations against him.

northcountrygazette
Published in: on October 26, 2007 at 2:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

Trial Set For Teacher Accused Of Molesting Students

Shenendehowa elementary teacher Christopher Culver, accused of sexually abusing eight of his first grade male students, is headed to trial on the charges in Saratoga County Court on Nov. 26.

Prosecutors say the accused child molester touched the genitals of six young boys in his classroom earlier this year, two of them under their clothing. Culver has been indicted on 41 felony counts including 29 counts of first degree sex abuse and 12 counts of second degree sexual contact against a child. He has also been charged with eight counts of endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor.

All eight of his accusers are expected to testify against him at trial.

In September, Saratoga County Court Judge Jerry Scarano ruled that statements Culver made at the time of his arrest can be used against him at trial.

Culver, 32, of Clifton Park, a native of Chestertown and a teacher at the Okte Elementary School, part of the Shenendehowa School District, remains free on $50,000 bail and is on paid suspension from his teaching duties. He faces up to 20 years in state prison if convicted.

He is being represented by Terrence Kindlon of Albany who had argued for the suppression of Culver’s statements made to police, saying that they were not voluntary and had been made outside the presence of legal counsel.

Culver and his wife are separated and he is living in Chestertown with his parents.

Culver was first arrested in February after a parent called a victims’ hot line, saying that in talking with her son, the boy had made admissions concerning an alleged incident in the classroom occurring on Feb. 5 in which Culver allegedly touched the boy’s “private parts”.

At least three lawsuits have been filed against the school district and Culver by parents of students who have accused Culver of sexually molesting their sons during the past school year.

Culver, the father of a young child, was a popular teacher and had been employed by the district for eight years. After his arrest on Feb. 11, other alleged victims among the 6 and 7 year old students in his 21-student class levied additional allegations against him.

northcountrygazette
Published in: on October 26, 2007 at 2:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

Trial Set For Teacher Accused Of Molesting Students

Shenendehowa elementary teacher Christopher Culver, accused of sexually abusing eight of his first grade male students, is headed to trial on the charges in Saratoga County Court on Nov. 26.

Prosecutors say the accused child molester touched the genitals of six young boys in his classroom earlier this year, two of them under their clothing. Culver has been indicted on 41 felony counts including 29 counts of first degree sex abuse and 12 counts of second degree sexual contact against a child. He has also been charged with eight counts of endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor.

All eight of his accusers are expected to testify against him at trial.

In September, Saratoga County Court Judge Jerry Scarano ruled that statements Culver made at the time of his arrest can be used against him at trial.

Culver, 32, of Clifton Park, a native of Chestertown and a teacher at the Okte Elementary School, part of the Shenendehowa School District, remains free on $50,000 bail and is on paid suspension from his teaching duties. He faces up to 20 years in state prison if convicted.

He is being represented by Terrence Kindlon of Albany who had argued for the suppression of Culver’s statements made to police, saying that they were not voluntary and had been made outside the presence of legal counsel.

Culver and his wife are separated and he is living in Chestertown with his parents.

Culver was first arrested in February after a parent called a victims’ hot line, saying that in talking with her son, the boy had made admissions concerning an alleged incident in the classroom occurring on Feb. 5 in which Culver allegedly touched the boy’s “private parts”.

At least three lawsuits have been filed against the school district and Culver by parents of students who have accused Culver of sexually molesting their sons during the past school year.

Culver, the father of a young child, was a popular teacher and had been employed by the district for eight years. After his arrest on Feb. 11, other alleged victims among the 6 and 7 year old students in his 21-student class levied additional allegations against him.

northcountrygazette
Published in: on October 26, 2007 at 2:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

I tickle students, and I am trying to stop


The trial of a former first-grade teacher accused of molesting four female students got under way late Tuesday afternoon, and the defense team made one thing clear: The jury is going to be there awhile.

“This man’s freedom is enough to inconvenience you. You will be here into next week,” defense attorney Reagan Wynn promised the panel of six men and six women.

Jose “Joe” David Soliz, 29, who taught at Worth Heights Elementary School, is on trial in state District Judge Scott Wisch’s court. He is accused of two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child, punishable by up to life in prison, and three counts of indecency-fondling, each punishable by up to 20 years.

During her opening statement, prosecutor Rebecca McIntire, who is teaming with Bill Vassar to try Soliz, told jurors that she was “not going to sugarcoat it.”

“This is a very important case,” she said. “It has to do with our children — and our children being victims.”

McIntire said four girls who came from “simple, unsophisticated” families would testify that they were “tickled” by Soliz. They were so young that they didn’t realize his actions were sexual and criminal, she said.

“This case is not about tickling,” McIntire said. “This case is about child molestation.”

McIntire said that the allegations surfaced April 3, 2006, when a girl was taken to Cook Children’s Medical Center after telling her mother that it hurt to use the restroom. The child, a first-grader, later said that Soliz touched her “in between” while tickling her.

The second accuser, also a first-grader, surfaced a few days later when investigators questioned Soliz’s class. The girl told officials that Soliz tickled her under her shirt on the breast in the classroom.

On April 8, 2006, McIntire said, the Star-Telegram ran an article about Soliz’s arrest, prompting a third accuser to come forward. The girl, a fifth-grader who was in an after-school program, also said Soliz tickled her under her shirt in the classroom.

The fourth accuser made allegations against Soliz in July when she learned that prosecutors, preparing for trial, wanted to talk to her about her former teacher. That child also said that Soliz tickled her on her breast in the classroom, McIntire said.

McIntire told jurors that the only thing the girls had in common was their teacher and that they had no motive to lie.

Wynn, who is teaming with Jeff Kearney to represent Soliz, had a different view.

“An innocent man is sitting right over there,” Wynn said during his opening statement after McIntire took her seat. “And I don’t mean presumed innocent. I mean he did not do these things.”

Wynn told the jury that Soliz was a devoted educator who chose to teach struggling kids at a “bad school in a bad neighborhood.”

He said that the first accuser, whom Soliz made repeat first grade, “flat-out lied” and that hysteria over a “child molester” in the school soon followed. He said investigators interviewed the children in such a way that they would eventually tell them what they wanted to hear.

Furthermore, Wynn said, the girl who came forward after the article ran had at the time recently been taken out of a psychiatric hospital and had a “psychotic aversion” to going to school and would do anything not to go back. The fourth girl, Wynn said, had been questioned 16 months earlier but never said anything.

After opening statements, Bobby Whiteside, assistant director of special investigations for the Fort Worth school district, testified that when he first confronted Soliz with accusations in April 2006, Soliz seemed remorseful and acknowledged that he tickled students but denied that it was sexual.

“He said, ‘I tickle students, and I am trying to stop. I have never tickled them maliciously,'” Whiteside said.

MELODY McDONALD

Published in: on October 25, 2007 at 6:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

I tickle students, and I am trying to stop


The trial of a former first-grade teacher accused of molesting four female students got under way late Tuesday afternoon, and the defense team made one thing clear: The jury is going to be there awhile.

“This man’s freedom is enough to inconvenience you. You will be here into next week,” defense attorney Reagan Wynn promised the panel of six men and six women.

Jose “Joe” David Soliz, 29, who taught at Worth Heights Elementary School, is on trial in state District Judge Scott Wisch’s court. He is accused of two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child, punishable by up to life in prison, and three counts of indecency-fondling, each punishable by up to 20 years.

During her opening statement, prosecutor Rebecca McIntire, who is teaming with Bill Vassar to try Soliz, told jurors that she was “not going to sugarcoat it.”

“This is a very important case,” she said. “It has to do with our children — and our children being victims.”

McIntire said four girls who came from “simple, unsophisticated” families would testify that they were “tickled” by Soliz. They were so young that they didn’t realize his actions were sexual and criminal, she said.

“This case is not about tickling,” McIntire said. “This case is about child molestation.”

McIntire said that the allegations surfaced April 3, 2006, when a girl was taken to Cook Children’s Medical Center after telling her mother that it hurt to use the restroom. The child, a first-grader, later said that Soliz touched her “in between” while tickling her.

The second accuser, also a first-grader, surfaced a few days later when investigators questioned Soliz’s class. The girl told officials that Soliz tickled her under her shirt on the breast in the classroom.

On April 8, 2006, McIntire said, the Star-Telegram ran an article about Soliz’s arrest, prompting a third accuser to come forward. The girl, a fifth-grader who was in an after-school program, also said Soliz tickled her under her shirt in the classroom.

The fourth accuser made allegations against Soliz in July when she learned that prosecutors, preparing for trial, wanted to talk to her about her former teacher. That child also said that Soliz tickled her on her breast in the classroom, McIntire said.

McIntire told jurors that the only thing the girls had in common was their teacher and that they had no motive to lie.

Wynn, who is teaming with Jeff Kearney to represent Soliz, had a different view.

“An innocent man is sitting right over there,” Wynn said during his opening statement after McIntire took her seat. “And I don’t mean presumed innocent. I mean he did not do these things.”

Wynn told the jury that Soliz was a devoted educator who chose to teach struggling kids at a “bad school in a bad neighborhood.”

He said that the first accuser, whom Soliz made repeat first grade, “flat-out lied” and that hysteria over a “child molester” in the school soon followed. He said investigators interviewed the children in such a way that they would eventually tell them what they wanted to hear.

Furthermore, Wynn said, the girl who came forward after the article ran had at the time recently been taken out of a psychiatric hospital and had a “psychotic aversion” to going to school and would do anything not to go back. The fourth girl, Wynn said, had been questioned 16 months earlier but never said anything.

After opening statements, Bobby Whiteside, assistant director of special investigations for the Fort Worth school district, testified that when he first confronted Soliz with accusations in April 2006, Soliz seemed remorseful and acknowledged that he tickled students but denied that it was sexual.

“He said, ‘I tickle students, and I am trying to stop. I have never tickled them maliciously,'” Whiteside said.

MELODY McDONALD

Published in: on October 25, 2007 at 6:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

I tickle students, and I am trying to stop


The trial of a former first-grade teacher accused of molesting four female students got under way late Tuesday afternoon, and the defense team made one thing clear: The jury is going to be there awhile.

“This man’s freedom is enough to inconvenience you. You will be here into next week,” defense attorney Reagan Wynn promised the panel of six men and six women.

Jose “Joe” David Soliz, 29, who taught at Worth Heights Elementary School, is on trial in state District Judge Scott Wisch’s court. He is accused of two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child, punishable by up to life in prison, and three counts of indecency-fondling, each punishable by up to 20 years.

During her opening statement, prosecutor Rebecca McIntire, who is teaming with Bill Vassar to try Soliz, told jurors that she was “not going to sugarcoat it.”

“This is a very important case,” she said. “It has to do with our children — and our children being victims.”

McIntire said four girls who came from “simple, unsophisticated” families would testify that they were “tickled” by Soliz. They were so young that they didn’t realize his actions were sexual and criminal, she said.

“This case is not about tickling,” McIntire said. “This case is about child molestation.”

McIntire said that the allegations surfaced April 3, 2006, when a girl was taken to Cook Children’s Medical Center after telling her mother that it hurt to use the restroom. The child, a first-grader, later said that Soliz touched her “in between” while tickling her.

The second accuser, also a first-grader, surfaced a few days later when investigators questioned Soliz’s class. The girl told officials that Soliz tickled her under her shirt on the breast in the classroom.

On April 8, 2006, McIntire said, the Star-Telegram ran an article about Soliz’s arrest, prompting a third accuser to come forward. The girl, a fifth-grader who was in an after-school program, also said Soliz tickled her under her shirt in the classroom.

The fourth accuser made allegations against Soliz in July when she learned that prosecutors, preparing for trial, wanted to talk to her about her former teacher. That child also said that Soliz tickled her on her breast in the classroom, McIntire said.

McIntire told jurors that the only thing the girls had in common was their teacher and that they had no motive to lie.

Wynn, who is teaming with Jeff Kearney to represent Soliz, had a different view.

“An innocent man is sitting right over there,” Wynn said during his opening statement after McIntire took her seat. “And I don’t mean presumed innocent. I mean he did not do these things.”

Wynn told the jury that Soliz was a devoted educator who chose to teach struggling kids at a “bad school in a bad neighborhood.”

He said that the first accuser, whom Soliz made repeat first grade, “flat-out lied” and that hysteria over a “child molester” in the school soon followed. He said investigators interviewed the children in such a way that they would eventually tell them what they wanted to hear.

Furthermore, Wynn said, the girl who came forward after the article ran had at the time recently been taken out of a psychiatric hospital and had a “psychotic aversion” to going to school and would do anything not to go back. The fourth girl, Wynn said, had been questioned 16 months earlier but never said anything.

After opening statements, Bobby Whiteside, assistant director of special investigations for the Fort Worth school district, testified that when he first confronted Soliz with accusations in April 2006, Soliz seemed remorseful and acknowledged that he tickled students but denied that it was sexual.

“He said, ‘I tickle students, and I am trying to stop. I have never tickled them maliciously,'” Whiteside said.

MELODY McDONALD

Published in: on October 25, 2007 at 6:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

Pedophile gets 25 years under ‘Jessica’s Law’

A 62-year-old Sterling Heights man will serve at least 25 years in prison after he lost his argument against a new law that requires such a sentence for molesting a 7-year-old girl. Donald E. Fitzpatrick received a 25- to 40-year prison sentence Wednesday under “Jessica’s Law,” a law that took effect in September 2006 to more harshly punish pedophiles.

He is the first defendant in Macomb County and may be the first in the state to be sentenced under the law, part of which requires a 25-year mandatory penalty to an adult who sexually assaults a child under 13.

If the new law was not in effect, sentencing guidelines would have showed a range of nine to 15 years in prison, although circuit Judge Matthew Switalski could have exceeded guidelines if he found “substantial and compelling reasons.”

One of Fitzpatrick’s attorneys, John Royal, argued that the law is unconstitutional, but Switalski of Macomb County Circuit Court disagreed. He compared the mandatory minimum sentence to habitual offender status and third-time drunken driving cases that elevate to felonies, in which a jury sorts out the facts and the judge determines the sentence.

Switalski said little to Fitzpatrick before sentencing him.

“Things speak for themselves,” Switalski said.

A jury in August found Fitzpatrick guilty of first-degree criminal sexual conduct for digitally penetrating the girl about Sept. 30, 2006, in the living room of his Takoma Drive home. The girl is the granddaughter of a longtime female companion. Two other girls and three adults testified of sexual abuse at Fitzpatrick’s hands as “prior acts” evidence.

The jury acquitted him on a second count of the same charge.

Assistant Macomb prosecutor Rebecca Oster called Fitzpatrick’s actions a “prime example of predatory behavior.” Fitzpatrick gained the trust of victims by ingratiating himself in his girlfriend’s family by buying little girls expensive gifts, including a horse for one of them, she said.

“He has special interest in children aged 7 to 10,” Oster told the judge. “He acts out when he thinks he can get away with it. He used his position of trust as a trusting grandfather figure.”

The victim’s mother said no one in the family suspected the abuse until the first girl revealed it, followed by the others.

“If I would’ve known (about the abuse), he would not be here today,” the woman said. “He was accepted by the entire family as a grandfather.”

She said Fitzpatrick was at the hospital for the birth of her children, including the victim.

“He held them the day they were born,” she said.

The victim’s mother said Fitzpatrick’s assault has negatively affected her daughter, now 8, who is receiving counseling.

“She cries all the time and doesn’t want to be a little kid,” she said. “We’re told she suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome.”

A letter by the victim, now 8, was read in court.

“I don’t want him to do this to anyone else,” her letter said. “I want him to stay in jail until he dies.”

During arguments prior to the judge issuing the sentence, defense attorney Royal also argued that it was not established “on the record” that Fitzpatrick is older than age 17, a requirement under Jessica’s Law.

Judge Switalski asked Fitzpatrick his age, at which point Royal told him not to reply. Oster intervened and noted that Fitzpatrick was born Oct. 20, 1944.

Published in: on October 25, 2007 at 5:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Abuse did not merit Leniency

A judge sentenced a Ridgefield businessman on Tuesday to eight years, two months in prison for molesting two family members.

Don W. Winton, 53, has been in the Clark County Jail since pleading guilty July 5 to two counts of first-degree child molestation and one count of third-degree child molestation.

He will be transferred to prison Nov. 23.

Defense attorney Tom Phelan argued that Winton should be sentenced to a year in the Clark County Jail and then outpatient therapy for sexual deviants under the state’s Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative.

“Mr. Winton is an ideal SSOSA candidate,” Phelan said, citing three psychologists who said Winton has done well so far in therapy and is considered a low risk to reoffend.

Superior Court Judge Robert Harris said that while Winton may qualify for SSOSA, the abuse he subjected two young girls to did not merit leniency. Harris sided with Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Kim Farr, who said a SSOSA sentence would be “a pat on the wrist” for the multiple times Winton abused the girls and the emotional scars he has left.

The abuse came to light a year ago, when one girl wrote about it in a notebook discovered by a teacher.

One victim told Harris that Winton used to take her on overnight trips for his import antiques business and abuse her in hotel rooms.

Both victims said they were in elementary school when the abuse began.

One victim, now 21, wrote in her statement, which was read Tuesday in court by a family friend, that she remembers as a young girl watching her mother leave for night classes, hoping she would turn around so she wouldn’t be left with Winton.

The victim wrote that she wanted Winton to be humiliated and live in fear in prison so he can begin to understand how she felt all those nights when he came into her bedroom.

The sentence is a minimum term; once that term is complete, Winton could still be ordered to spend the rest of his life in prison by the state’s Indeterminate Sentence Review Board.

Before his arrest, Winton was known as a vocal critic of former Ridgefield School Superintendent Mary Vagner. Winton helped defeat a $56 million bond measure in 2005 by arguing that Vagner’s administration did not put students’ needs first.

Stephanie Rice
Published in: on October 25, 2007 at 11:50 am  Leave a Comment  

Gary Glitter misses out on amnesty

VIETNAMESE President Nguyen Minh Triet has given amnesty to more than 8000 prisoners but British pop singer Gary Glitter, jailed for child molestation, was not on the list, officials said today.

A total of 8018 prisoners will be freed from prison including 13 foreigners and 48 others will not be placed behind bars in honour of the communist country’s National Day.

Vice minister for public security Le The Tiem said 11 of those freed had been convicted for violating national security – a charge usually filed against political dissidents.

But an amnesty request by Glitter – the disgraced 1970s pop star who was sentenced to three years in jail in March 2006 for committing obscene acts with two girls, then aged 11 and 12, in southern Vietnam – was denied as expected.

In February, Glitter received a three-month term reduction to mark the traditional Tet lunar new year, moving his official release date forward to August 2008.

news.com.au

Published in: on October 25, 2007 at 5:34 am  Leave a Comment