Brooke’s Law passed in Vermont

Vermont’s new sex crime law is getting positive reviews from some citizens who worked hard to make it a reality.

The new omnibus sex crime law dedicated to Brooke Bennett is a compromise that does not include everything everyone wanted, but even critics agree it improves protection for children and prosecution of predators.

“I’m proud to say this bill will make Vermont an even safer place,” said Gov. Jim Douglas, R-Vermont.

The governor and many others agree the sex crime bill signed this week will make Vermont safer for children and tougher on child molesters like Michael Jacques.

Provisions include:

  • Expanded educational prevention programs in schools and communities
  • Expanded treatment of child and adult offenders
  • Expanded background checks for employees who work with children, the disabled and elderly
  • Improved supervision of convicted sex offenders
  • More than $1.5 million to create additional special sex crime investigation units around the state
  • An expanded DNA registry that will take samples from anyone charged with a felony

Vt. Law School Professor Cheryl Hanna says creating the new sex crime units are the most important part of the law.

“Which will investigate these cases which will provide expertise. The expansion and funding of those units is really important. I think Vermonters are going to see a tremendous difference there,” Hanna said.

Not included:

  • Civil confinement units to hold convicted sex offenders beyond their prison term if they are psychiatrically diagnosed as a public threat
  • Allowing juries to learn about prior sex convictions of sex offenders on trial for new charges

“That didn’t end up getting worked into the bill because of concerns from lawyers about that,” Hanna said.

Also not included is a Jessica’s law to create a 25-year mandatory minimum jail term for aggravated sexual assault on a child. But there was a compromise and the bill does include a 25-year mandatory minimum at prosecutor’s discretion.

“I would give this probably a B-plus,” said Paul Beaudry, a radio talk show host who led a petition drive demanding a mandatory Jessica’s law.

He says leaving the decision to prosecutors isn’t what he wanted, but it’s acceptable.

“The mandatory minimum part I can live with like any other bill, but for the most part, after this three-year fight, I’m so happy that it’s finally, we’re going to get something,” Beaudry said.

Also not included is a ban on pretrial depositions of child sex crime victims, which are banned in most states. In Vermont, judges will determine when children can be deposed.

Also not included is an outright ban on deferred sentences for sex crimes. They will be permitted at the discretion of prosecutors and judges. But the records of deferred sex crime convictions will no longer be automatically destroyed. Instead those records will be maintained with state authorities for limited use if the offender commits another sex crime.

Hanna says the bill does not guarantee prevention of future Brooke Bennett tragedies but it will help.

“It’s extremely hard to ultimately stop this kind of behavior,” Hanna said. “The trick is to stop it early and hold offenders accountable early because murder, the kind of murder we saw in the Brooke Bennett case, usually comes after many, many years of offending.”

One other item that is not in the bill is the expansion of the sex offender registry to make it more visible and user-friendly for the public. That is an area lawmakers hope to address in another bill later this session.

“25% of all sex offenders re-offend within 15 years”

……..Sarah Tofte

James Huskey – "the world’s worst child pornographer" – Sentenced to 70 years

A former tennis coach from North Georgia, charged with creating and distributing a long-running online child pornography series, was sentenced today to serve 70 years in a federal prison.

Jams ”Bart” Huskey from LaFayette, Ga. entered a guilty plea in November. Huskey admitted raping a young girl over many years, videotaping the rapes and distributing the videos world wide on the Internet.

On the web posting the girl was given the pseudonym “Tara.” Prosecutors said the investigation began when the girl was five years old . She is now nine.

Huskey was called by some investigators “the world’s worst child pornographer.” The hunt for Huskey actually started in Brisbane, Australia made it’s way all the way to the Northeast United States to Maine, and then ended last summer Huskey’s home town of Lafayette, Georgia.

At the time we were told that without the investigators in Maine this case would have never been cracked.

The Maine Computer Crimes Unit’s website says they assist law enforcement officers and prosecutors in Maine with the prosecution of computer crimes. But this week the Crimes Unit helped crack a worldwide search for James Bart Huskey – allegedly one of the top 50 child pornographers in the world.

The Maine Team started analyzing 1,800 pictures and videos for clues.

Maine Forensic Examiner Dawn Ego eventually honed in the evidence in pictures and videos like ‘bed linens, a bow made from ribbon seen hanging on a wall, and the interior of a vehicle that turned out to be a Pontiac Aztek.

“The clues led to the Jameson Inn in Carrollton, Ga, where a hotel employee recalled a man who paid cash for a room on the date the video was take, July 21, 2007.”

Maine State Police Sgt. Glenn Lang described ‘a sense of euphoria when Ego cracked the case by tracking down a motel where some of the abuse took place.’

When he was arrested Lang said, “It’s probably the best feeling in the world.”

The Maine State Computer Crimes Unit started in 1999 and since has worked on more than 600 forensic computer investigations, including Huskey’s.

James Huskey was involved in Jim Freeman’s pedophile ring.

“My thanks to you and all the others that together make this the greatest group of pedos to ever gather in one place,” Freeman wrote in response to one posting