The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on December 2, 1997 · Page 6
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 6

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Tuesday, December 2, 1997
Page 6
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6 A THE PALM BEACH POST TUESDAY, DECEMBER 2. 1997 CRIME WITHOUT PUNISHMENT 7 don't want to see a kid who's been abused have to take the witness stand, but I certainly don't want to see these guys just walking free' PAT GALUGAN, Riviera Beach police detective Deals made to keep children out of court Who's taking advantage of lax sentencing? i in NAME: Maurice Bronner CHARGE: Lewd assault on a child SENTENCE: The Palm Beach businessman negotiated probation A gallery of criminals NAME: Jose Antonib Rivera CHARGE: Sexual activity with a child SENTENCE: Rivera was placed on probation after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting a teenage boy. Guidelines NAME: Mark Feschuk CHARGE: Lewd assault on a child SENTENCE: Feschuk pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting children over two years. Despite a history of About this series Sunday: Palm Beach County judges treat criminals eligible for prison more leniently than judges anywhere else in the state. Within the county, punishment for the same crime varies widely by judge. Monday: Criminals in the Glades almost never go to prison. Prosectors and judges agree that's not likely to change unless the state resumes holding jury trials in Belle Glade. Today: Prosecutors prefer to make plea bargains rather than put children who have been molested through the trauma of trials. That means most molestors don't go to prison, even if they've v. j -J " after assaulting a 9-year-old girl. State attorney Barry Krischer's office let Bronner travel around the country and to Europe and let him mail in his probation reports. Hi M 1 aDusing children, he was placed on probation but then skipped town. Last year, he turned up in Michigan after assaulting a boy. He was convicted of sexual assault called for 10 years in prison. Last year, he violated probation after . trying to lure a 15-year-old boy to his home and is awaiting a violation of Z' tt-t.i r liny ty i"( Prosecutors and Judge Edward Garrison terminated the 79-year-old man's probation early. NAME: John Edward Rudy CHARGE: Lewd assault on a child SENTENCE: Two years community control after -4- C with intent to penetrate and is serving a 2-to 15-year prison sentence. NAME: Craig Antonio Jackson CHARGE: Lewd assault on a child SENTENCE: Jackson negotiated a 10-month jail sentence, compared hearing. He is a registered sexual predator and his probation officer called him "a clear and present danger." NAME: Thanh Lai Huynh CHARGE: Lewd assault on a child SENTENCE: Community control, after a plea bargain reduced his .".'"J- Stormes said he understands both'' sides. "As a detective, I say put the kid bh the stand and go to trial," he said. "But.'as;'!; admitting he fondled an 8-year-old boy at least 50 times over two years, according to police reports. Rudy faced 4 to 6 years in state prison before negotiating a a icuiivi, wuuiu i wain mjf ftiua iu &y,r thrnnoh this whnlp nrnrpss? Nn wav " "' ' '"" through this whole process? No way." to the 5-year prison term called for in state sentencing guidelines. A woman witnessed one assault, and Jackson told a pastor that he sexually assaulted a 7- n V Half violate probation in; J i mil charge from capital sexual battery, a life felony. Lai repeatedly molested a 7-year-old boy and told police he loved the child "like a son, which makes it acceptable." Lai I -v There is one way to put molesters in": prison without going to trial, prosecutors'" SENTENCES From 1A more apt to cut deals than their colleagues in other judicial districts. Statewide, child molesters are three times more likely to go to prison than they are locally. Prosecutors are making deals even though defendants confessed 60 percent of the time, court records show. ; And the lenience has little to do with the judges, who take pleas directly in only about 1 percent of the cases. While judges can and do reject pleas, they usually approve them. Rather, a well-intentioned state attorney's office is often incapable of or unwilling to put molesters behind bars, lawyers, police and judges said. Prosecutors are sometimes too protective of the victims, they said, willing to accept shorter sentences and probation rather than subject children to a potentially grueling trial. Police and judges almost universally praised State Attorney Barry Krischer and Scott Cupp, the division chief for crimes against children. But they also expressed frustration that prosecutors aren't taking the final step and putting molesters in prison. That's crucial because child molesters can't be cured and are likely to molest again, most experts agree. "Scott Cupp is doing a great job, but I don't see any reason to plea-bargain as often as they do," said Riviera Beach police Detective Pat Galligan. "I don't want to see a kid who's been abused have to take the witness stand, but I certainly don't want to see these guys just walking free." Long probation sought Cupp and his staff make no apologies for a philosophy aimed at keeping child victims off the witness stand and child molesters on probation for as long as possible. i In interviews, several senior prosecutors described good cases turning sour, relatives turning on young victims and emotionally scarred children being torn apart by ruthless defense lawyers. They also ripped "second-guessing" and criticism about their statistics and their tactics. "Sure, 92 percent sounds awful, but I can look at every single case and tell you why I plea bargained," Assistant State Attorney Chuck Burton said. "Maybe it sounds better to say, 'Yeah, we're going to put that son of a bitch in prison,' but what about the victim? Do we force some 8-year-old girl to testify just so our numbers will look better? That's not how it works, at least not here." Assistant State Attorney Andrew Slater said cases can blow up on prosecutors who push too hard. Better to offer probation than risk having a molester walk free, he said. "A lot of these cases look great when you start off, but then things happen," Slater said. "I have a case right now where an 11 -year-old got pregnant by the mom's boyfriend. But now the mother's protecting the boyfriend, and the daughter got an abortion. "Now, the daughter's saying it never happened, and we have no evidence," Slater said. "That's what we're dealing with every day real people, not just numbers." Other state attorney's offices face the same difficult, sometimes nauseating, cases. But in Palm Beach County, some prosecutors act as if they are the sole protectors of children and are unwilling to' accept criticism, several local judges and defense lawyers said. plea. NAME: Andrew Phillip Poole CHARGE: Lewd assault on a child year-old girl and another child, according to police reports. NAME: Jimmie Kemp CHARGE: Lewd assault on a child SENTENCE: Kemp received probation after pleading to a said. v' "Once they're on probation, I'm look-;i ing to violate them any way we can," Cupp said. "That doesn't mean we trump some-' thing up, but when probation and parole;! brings something in, we're going to doi everything we can to revoke the proba-'1-tion and put them in prison. It's that! simple." Actually, it isn't. Half of the people cfaT;i violated probation by being alone with other children. Judge Roger Colton extended his community control. SENTENCE: Probation and a year in county jail, dodging a potential 6-year prison term. Poole admitted assaulting a girl and gave police a taped confession. ' 1 f "T reduced charge. In 1996, Kemp molested a 4-year-od and then threatened a witness with a knife, according to police reports. In September, he was arrested for violating on probation for lewd and lascivious as-h sault of a child since 1994 violated it. Only 45 of 86 were ordered to prison, courts records show. ilu v "It's tough for us to ask a judge to throw someone in jail on a technical-' violation, when the prosecutors have Jl ready said the person is safe to be on thff. street by giving him probation in the first place," a senior probation officer said. "That's the situation you put judges in.S I Circuit Judges Walter Colbath, Mary Lupo and Virginia Broome receive the top marks from prosecutors and probation-"' officers, putting violators in prison "in nearly every case. Ironically, on moeM other matters, Lupo is considered theiji most lenient judge. At the other end of the spectrum, isu! probation and is awaiting a hearing. Circuit Judge Marvin Mounts. zz A Mounts said he rarely puts defendants s'l in prison on technical violations, suchs missing probation appointments or not.-j paying fines. He is far more likely to giw,,), them time served while waiting in jail for, , their probation hearing, court recor$s(J 1 he prosecutors are sometimes try- jj ing to save a weak case by plea bargaining Two weeks ago, Slater offered probation to an Atlantic High School teacher who admitted molesting seveial students. When two victims objected, Circuit Judge Howard Berman rejected the plea and scheduled Prakash Pathmanathan for trial. Slater said he never told the students directly about the plea deal but related it through their court-appointed guardian. "My thinking was that I wanted to get him out of the school system, give him a felony and make him deportable," Slater said. "I think that's in the best public interest. If I had known the girls had strong feelings about him going to jail, I wouldn't have offered the deal." The office also could take better advantage of strong physical evidence and confessions that at least 60 percent of the cases offer, some lawyers said. Defense lawyers said Cupp's division is so quick to settle that their clients have little reason to fear going to prison or trial. "Scott is a true zealot and has as much ask that myself sometimes. But that's a problem with the law, not the prosecutors." Overall, Stormes and judges gave high praise to Cupp's staff, which Krischer said is home to most of his top prosecutors. And court records show that in aggravated child abuse cases which usually have more physical evidence and rely less on the victim's testimony the division wins longer sentences. Since 1995, prosecutors have convicted six high-profile child killers, including John and Pauline Zile, Jessica Schwarz and Clover Boykin. In all, the crimes-against-children division went to trial 25 times last year, winning 22 convictions, Cupp said. That's why it is unfair to focus on just "a snapshot" of child molesting cases, he said. Still, the debate about what's best for the children continues. "It's a copout to say it's too traumatic for kids," said McBride of the Center for Missing and Exploited Children. integrity as any lawyer I know, but come on, of course they could be getting better deals," said a senior lawyer at the public defender's office. "Confessions alone aren't enough, but they give prosecutors a lot more leverage than they are using. Remember, in most of these cases, you're talking very serious time if someone's convicted, so that gives them even more leverage." Cupp said the rules of evidence make it difficult, and often impossible, to use a confession without putting the victim on the witness stand. And jurors almost never convict without hearing directly from the victim, he said. Local detectives, who often have the most contact with victims, said the families get frustrated. "Families are always asking why, when we have a full, videotaped confession, their son or daughter still has to go through depositions and testify," Palm Beach County sheriffs Sgt. Jim Stormes said. "That's a reasonable question, and I and hoping the person will violate,-. ; Mounts said. "I did that myself whenlj,; j was prosecuting. " j . "But these long sentences are based, , a correct and fair form of sentencing? ,'; Mounts said. "I don't think they are, and'l"' think the average citizen may believe they " are too , draconian. It depends on hqw"!ij strongly you feel about punishment." i Cupp, Slater and Burton said every plea bargain is approved, and usually requested, by victims. Counselors, guardians and victim support groups dispute that, and a recent case suggests Contact John Holland at Dill. uu(I iij . TTT.T,flr.rllT. B,, .- : : :l Study may change Holocaust restitution I. v m v . 4 x 'Ma s v. t - A n-1" A ' J e gold, and what did it do with it? . Part of that answer is already known. In 1946, the United States, Britain and France formed the Tripartite Gold Commission, which gathered some 335 tons of Nazi gold from Germany and those parts of Europe that Hitler had conquered. Most of that gold has been returned to European central banks even though it included gold stolen from Holocaust victims, other individuals and businesses, according to recently declassified documents in the U.S. National Archives. But some 5.5 tons of that gold worth around $55 million at today's prices still languishes in the vaults of the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank of England. British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook announced Friday in Warsaw he wanted the gold to provide the basis for the new fund for Holocaust survivors. i and traded as bullion from the German central bank, it did not quantify the amount, U.S. officials said. Eizenstat told reporters in London on Monday that the Swiss disclosure "goes beyond what was in our report" and showed the seriousness of recent Swiss efforts to confront a wartime past that was long; hidden behind a national myth of hostility to Nazi Germany. The 41-nation London conference, which starts today, represents a milestone in almost two years of efforts by Jewish groups and the Clinton administration to trace Nazi gold so that restitution finally can be paid to the hundreds of thousands of Holocaust survivors particularly in Eastern Europe who so far have received no financial acknowledgment of their suffering. At the gathering, a new fund based on gold still held by the United States, Franco and Britain is expected to be announced, in addition to a $190 million fund for GOLD From 1A mission of historians appointed last year under international pressure to study the entire range of Switzerland's relationships with Nazi Germany. The disclosures are certain to strengthen assertions by American Jewish groups and Holocaust suryivors that efforts during the last year to provide restitution have produced far smaller sums than Hitler's victims lost. The new figures also are likely to revive criticism that Swiss bankers showed no scruples in dealing with Nazi Germany in gold known to have been stolen. Similar assertions concerning so-called victim gold were made in May in a U.S. study overseen by Stuart Eizenstat, the leading State Department official involved in hunting down the looted gold and using it to benefit Holocaust survivors, i . , But while the Eizlnstat report spoke of victim gold melted down Holocaust survivors set up by Switzerland this year. The Swiss National Bank acknowledged more than a decade ago that its officers must have known they were dealing in gold looted by the Nazis from central banks, but Swiss officials have bridled at suggestions that Switzerland knowingly dealt in gold, including dental fillings, stolen from Jews sent to death camps. The Swiss commission was created after years of stinging criticism, particularly from the World Jewish Congress in New York, that Switzerland should acknowledge its wartime financial practices that some American specialists believe helped prolonged the war. The conference is a result of U.S. and British pressure on other countries to provide their own accounting of their wartime behavior by declassifying archives and answering some questions evoked by the Swiss report: Where and how did Nazi Germany obtain its THE ASSOCIATED PRE!& f Jit LONDON Britain Foreign Secretary Robin Cook and Edgar : Bronfman of the World Jewish Congress at the gold conference. the'' London ronfprpnrp oA hv efforts to trace the ran ere of assets' Eizenstat, the undersecretary of like art work and insurance pofi'"1 state for economic, business and cies stolen by the Nazis and never aericultnrp affairs wnn'HiP nath. rptnrnpH to their owners. Eizei-r! The American delegation to ering to mark a broadening of stat said. '

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