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Indiana sex offender parole conditions at issue

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Indiana appellate judges are grappling with sensitive questions about whether the state’s automatic and uniform parole conditions for sex offenders are constitutional.

At issue in David Bleeke v. State of Indiana, 02A05-1201-PL-25, is whether the state’s Sex Offender Management and Monitoring program stipulations that restrict contact with children, including one’s own, should be applied to David Bleeke, who has no history of crimes against children.

An Allen Superior Court jury in 2005 convicted Bleeke of Class B felony attempted criminal deviate conduct with a woman who was older than 21. Bleeke also was convicted of residential entry in the case dating to 2002.
 

offenders02-15col.jpgPatrick Proctor argues to the Indiana Court of Appeals that the Sex Offender Management and Monitoring program’s conditions placed on his client David Bleeke are unconstitutional. (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Bleeke, who now lives in Ohio with his longtime wife and family, maintains his innocence. His attorney argued before the Court of Appeals on Nov. 13 that doing so in the SOMM program cost him his liberty, at least temporarily. A treatment requirement for Bleeke was that he “accept responsibility” for the acts for which he was convicted.

Bleeke “went to jail over a weekend,” Fort Wayne attorney Patrick Proctor told the court, because he refused to accept responsibility and therefore was deemed in violation of stipulations of parole. “Compelling somebody to say something is a violation of the First Amendment,” Proctor said. “He can’t take responsibility for something that he says or believes that he did not do, and they don’t like that answer.”

Proctor argued that the SOMM program administered by Liberty Behavioral Health Corp. uniformly places parole conditions on offenders and fails to make individualized determinations of whether they pose a risk to children. Bleeke’s appellate brief states, “This program amounts to thought control and compelled speech and it requires parolees to incriminate themselves in violation of the First and Fifth Amendments” to the U.S. Constitution.

Bleeke, in 2010, won a preliminary injunction in a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Bleeke et al v. Buss, 1:09-CV-228. Chief Judge Philip Simon ruled that failing to make an individualized determination on Bleeke’s risk to children violated due process.


offenders04-15col.jpgDeputy Attorney General David Arthur argues that the state has an interest in preventing crimes by a class of offenders with a higher risk of recidivism. (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Deputy Attorney General David Arthur asked the court to lift a similar injunction granted by an Allen Superior Court that prevented the state from enforcing the provisions of Bleeke’s appeal that separated him from his wife, children and stepchildren. Arthur argued the state had an interest in preventing sex offenses, and that sex offenders as a class are likelier than others to reoffend and potentially “cross over” to crimes against children.

“The question is, what kind of percentage do we need before we can protect kids?”

Senior Judge Carr Darden and Judge Elaine Brown seemed skeptical. “We’re all subject to go out and rob a bank someday – maybe,” Darden said.

“Should not the (parole) conditions fit the person and his behavior?” Darden asked. Brown followed up by noting that Bleeke’s conviction involved digital penetration of an adult female.

“Nobody is saying he is a child molester,” Arthur said, at which point Brown interrupted. “Effectively you are, aren’t you?” she said, “by imposing the exact same conditions upon his release from prison as you do upon a child molester?”

“Sex offenders violate when they have opportunity,” Arthur replied.


offenders06-15col.jpgCourt of Appeals Judge Elaine Brown listens to Patrick Proctor’s argument. (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

“I can see the state needing some protection for children and so forth,” Darden said, “but I think it should be related to the individual” rather than “one size fits all.”

Registry caselaw evolves

A separate panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals earlier this month decided a case that could clarify whether sex offenders, whose crimes occurred in other states before the Indiana Sex Offender Registry existed, are required to register.

The court on Nov. 8 reversed a trial court in Jermone Michael Burton v. State of Indiana, 45A03-1201-CR-6, finding that a charge against him of failing to register as a sex offender must be dismissed.

Burton had been convicted in 1987 of aggravated criminal sexual assault in Illinois, and the court held that requiring him to register in Indiana, where the sex offender registry didn’t exist until years later, was an ex post facto violation.
 

registry06-15col.jpg Cara Schaefer Wieneke argues before the COA that her client should not be required to register as a sex offender for a Massachusetts conviction prior to creation of the registry. (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

“My case and another case regarding a defendant from Massachusetts both dealt with people who had moved to Indiana from other states and weren’t required to register at the time of their offenses,” said Crown Point attorney Kristin Mulholland, who represented Burton.

Plainfield attorney Cara Schaefer Wieneke represents the former Massachusetts offender in Thomas Andrews v. State of Indiana, 29A02-1112-MI-1166. Wieneke argued the case earlier this year before the Court of Appeals. While a decision was pending at IL deadline, Wieneke said she’s encouraged by the outcome of the Burton case.

“I thought there were a lot of parallels,” she said. In Andrews’ case, he was convicted of sex crimes in Massachusetts in 1984 and moved to Indiana years later. He voluntarily registered when Hamilton County authorities contacted him in 2006.

Wieneke said the cases are in the line of Wallace v. State, 905 N.E.2d 371 (Ind. 2009), which held that requiring someone to register for a crime prior to the creation of the registry is an ex post facto violation. “They’re all people who, if they had done this in Indiana, this would be a no-brainer,” Wieneke said.

She said whether Burton or Andrews might still be required to register under the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act of 2006 remains an open question.

Meanwhile, there are few developments in a separate case regarding Indiana’s online sex offender database – www.icrimewatch.net/indiana.php.

In August, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a ruling of the District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, finding that Indiana denied due process by failing to provide a means to correct listings on the registry that are in error.

The federal court in that case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, David Schepers, et al., v. Commissioner, Indiana Department of Correction, 11-3834, urged the DOC to establish a review process in which erroneous listings could be corrected.

DOC spokesman Doug Garrison said the department is still in the process of reviewing the decision and has not yet determined what its response will be.•

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  1. Ah yes... Echoes of 1963 as a ghostly George Wallace makes his stand at the Schoolhouse door. We now know about the stand of personal belief over service to all constituents at the Carter County Clerk door. The results are the same, bigotry unable to follow the directions of the courts and the courts win. Interesting to watch the personal belief take a back seat rather than resign from a perception of local power to make the statement.

  2. An oath of office, does it override the conscience? That is the defense of overall soldier who violates higher laws, isnt it? "I was just following orders" and "I swore an oath of loyalty to der Fuhrer" etc. So this is an interesting case of swearing a false oath and then knowing that it was wrong and doing the right thing. Maybe they should chop her head off too like the "king's good servant-- but God's first" like St Thomas More. ...... We wont hold our breath waiting for the aclu or other "civil liberterians" to come to her defense since they are all arrayed on the gay side, to a man or should I say to a man and womyn?

  3. Perhaps we should also convene a panel of independent anthropological experts to study the issues surrounding this little-known branch of human sacrifice?

  4. I'm going to court the beginning of Oct. 2015 to establish visitation and request my daughters visits while she is in jail. I raised my grandchild for the first two and half years. She was born out of wedlock and the father and his adopted mother wantwd her aborted, they went as far as sueing my daughter for abortion money back 5mo. After my grandchild was born. Now because of depression and drug abuse my daughter lost custody 2 and a half years ago. Everyting went wrong in court when i went for custody my lawyer was thrown out and a replacment could only stay 45 min. The judge would not allow a postponement. So the father won. Now he is aleinating me and my daughter. No matter the amount of time spent getting help for my daughter and her doing better he runs her in the ground to the point of suicide because he wants her to be in a relationship with him. It is a sick game of using my grandchild as a pawn to make my daughter suffer for not wanting to be with him. I became the intervener in the case when my daughter first got into trouble. Because of this they gave me her visitation. Im hoping to get it again there is questions of abuse on his part and I want to make sure my grandchild is doing alright. I really dont understand how the parents have rights to walk in and do whatever they want when the refuse to stand up and raise the child at first . Why should it take two and a half years to decide you want to raise your child.The father used me so he could finish college get a job and stop paying support by getting custody. Support he was paying my daughter that I never saw.

  5. Pence said when he ordered the investigation that Indiana residents should be troubled by the allegations after the video went viral. Planned Parenthood has asked the government s top health scientists at the National Institutes of Health to convene a panel of independent experts to study the issues surrounding the little-known branch of medicine.

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