Monday, August 29, 2011

If it is all about Justice... Then where is the Justice???

Doctor jailed 3 years wants perjury charges for sex-assault accuser

Dr. Labeed Nouri is building a new life. But he still has some unfinished business from his old one.

Nouri, 40, served more than three years behind bars, convicted of sexually assaulting a young woman who worked in his medical office.

He got out of prison after prosecutors learned in April that the woman and her boyfriend lied repeatedly on the witness stand when they said she was a virgin, a central issue in the case.

Nouri, who maintains his innocence, is now reunited with his wife and four children. He's back practicing as an orthopedic surgeon.

And he's on a mission: Nouri is trying to get his accuser charged with perjury.

"She took three years from me," he said. "I can never get them back. My youngest daughter was a baby when I went away. I never saw her first step, heard her say her first word. It's my turn for justice."

The woman, through her attorney, declined an interview. The Free Press is not naming her because she has not been charged with a crime.

Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper, who dropped felony charges against Nouri and sought his release from prison when she learned of the perjury, said she is awaiting police reports before deciding whether to file any charges against the woman.

"We moved heaven and earth to get him out immediately when we learned of this," Cooper said.

Now free, doctor learns letter in sex assault case was forged

When Labeed Nouri was sentenced to prison in April 2010, the judge read a letter signed by his accuser's priest.

"A young girl has had her youth stolen," the letter read. "I have told her to forgive Labeed Nouri. She has forgiven him, but she needs closure on this terrible ordeal. ... It is time to grant her wish of getting her justice and put Labeed Nouri in jail where he deserves to be."

Oakland County Judge Mark Goldsmith did just that, sentencing Nouri to 10 to 20 years in prison for sexual assault convictions involving a woman who was 19 when she worked in his medical office in 2007. By then, Nouri already had spent 700 days in the Oakland County Jail awaiting trial and later trying to get his conviction overturned.

Free since April 2011, after prosecutors learned the woman had lied on the stand, Nouri said he only recently learned about another lie. The letter purported to be from the Rev. Zuhair Kejbou of St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church in Troy wasn't written by him.

"I have never written any letter," Kejbou told the Free Press. "Anybody can forge a signature."
Kejbou said he hasn't seen the woman, who is a member of his congregation, since he learned of the forged letter and has not questioned her or her family about it.

The woman, whom the Free Press is not naming because she has not been charged with a crime, declined an interview request through her attorney.

Nouri and his attorney Mark Kriger are calling for an investigation into the forged letter. They say that letter and others written on the accuser's behalf persuaded the judge to give Nouri a long prison sentence.

"It is a fraud and an obstruction of justice," Kriger said. "The judge relied on those letters to decide on my client's sentence, and he sentenced him to prison for 10 years. It's a travesty."

After-hours assault alleged

Nouri, a Chaldean who emigrated from Iraq in 2003, had a thriving medical practice in Hazel Park and Sterling Heights, often treating other Chaldeans in the tight-knit community. The married father was vice president of the church council at St. Toma Syriac Catholic Church in Farmington Hills.

In late May 2007, one of Nouri's Chaldean patients asked whether Nouri would hire his 19-year-old daughter, who was working at a video store. Nouri and his wife, Rouwaida Nouri, who managed his medical practice, agreed to hire her for two days a week to help with filing in their Hazel Park office.

On June 22, 2007, her sixth day of work, the woman alleged Nouri assaulted her in an exam room after hours, violating her with his fingers and touching her breasts and buttocks. The woman said the attack occurred between 7:15 and 7:23 p.m. -- saying she noticed the times on clocks in the office and in her car when she left. At 7:33 p.m., she called her boyfriend in a parking lot 2 miles from the office, telling him she had been assaulted.

Records eventually obtained by the defense show Nouri was in his office from 7:06 to 7:27 p.m., continuously dictating over the phone to a medical dictation firm.

The woman's parents took her to police and to a hospital. She refused to allow a rape exam, saying she was a virgin and such an exam would "un-virginize me," records show. A later external exam at a clinic run by Haven, a nonprofit that offers support to sexual assault victims, showed a tiny tear measuring less than half a centimeter.

Nouri was charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct for the alleged touching.

Virginity plays central role

From the beginning, defense attorneys contended the woman, who lived in Sterling Heights with her parents, fabricated the story because she had been sexually active and needed to explain why she was no longer a virgin.

Virginity is highly valued in the conservative Chaldean Catholic Church. During Nouri's trial, defense attorneys presented a gynecologist who said he was frequently asked by Chaldean families to examine daughters on the eve of their weddings to verify their virginity. Sometimes, weddings were called off if a woman was found to not be a virgin.

Nouri's accuser was asked on the witness stand about her virginity.

"In those reports at the hospital and to the police and at Haven, you went to great lengths, just as you have in this courtroom this morning, to tell everyone that on June 22, 2007, you were a virgin, is that correct?" defense attorney David Griem asked.

"Yes," she answered.

"You went out of your way to tell everyone that you were a virgin. What was your purpose for doing that?" Griem asked.

She responded, "That would be why, when I had the trauma down there -- it was due to what he did."

When asked why being a virgin was important to Chaldean women, she said, "If she is not a virgin, once she does get married, the community thinks of her as being promiscuous. They will not accept her into a man's family. They expect her to be pure."

Her boyfriend was called as a prosecution witness, and he also insisted they had never had sex.

The trial lasted five days. Nouri didn't take the stand in his own defense, and his attorneys later admitted they didn't fully explain he had the right to do so -- a point brought up in his post-conviction appeals.

Initially, the jury was hung, with jurors twice asking to review the accuser's testimony. On July 2, 2008, they found Nouri guilty.

"It was a shocking case, and a shocking conviction," said Deanna Kelley, one of his defense attorneys.

Kelley said she asked jurors after the verdict how they thought Nouri could have been dictating over the phone at the same time his accuser claimed he had been assaulting her. She said jurors told her that since they couldn't reconcile the time line, they chose to disregard it. "They said they then just decided to go by their gut," she said.

From the time the allegations were made, it would be three and a half years before Nouri and his attorneys learned the accuser and her boyfriend had lied repeatedly.

During that time, as his attorneys fought to overturn his conviction, Nouri remained incarcerated.
He was repeatedly assaulted by fellow prisoners -- his nose broken and his teeth cracked. He was hospitalized for three days and received stitches to his face, according to a federal lawsuit filed against Oakland County.

Oakland County corporation counsel Keith Lerminiaux acknowledged that Nouri had been assaulted in the jail but said he had lied about the circumstances and was the aggressor in one of the attacks. He said jail personnel obtained necessary medical treatment.

"It is our position that the county is not responsible for the assaults and therefore is not liable for them," Lerminiaux said in a written statement. He also said Nouri has not cooperated with the county in answering questions and is now seeking to dismiss the lawsuit.

Admission of lies caught on tape

In late 2010, Kriger -- Nouri's appellate attorney -- was filing motions to get the conviction overturned. One day, he heard a shocking rumor.

The accuser's boyfriend had spotted Nouri's wife and four children in the community and was suddenly overcome with guilt for lying about his sexual history with the woman.

When Kriger contacted the man, he learned he and the accuser had been sexually active for months leading up to the allegation and had since broken up. Kriger asked the man to secretly record conversations with the woman. The man met with her in March, and while recording their conversation, he told her he was worried private investigators were looking into the perjury.

The accuser, according to Kriger and prosecutors who have heard the recording, admits she lied on the stand but instructs the man to keep denying it if he's questioned.

She tells him that if authorities discover credit card receipts showing she was at local motels, she will say she lent the card to a friend. She also discusses feigning a mental breakdown so she would be hospitalized, a tactic she says she hopes would discourage a continued investigation.

Kriger took the recording to prosecutors in April. Prosecutors, noting Nouri had been convicted, offered a deal: If he pleaded no contest to a low-level misdemeanor assault -- with no probation-reporting requirements and no restrictions on obtaining his medical license -- he could be free within hours and get it expunged after five years.

It took Nouri, who was sitting in a prison cell at the Kinross Correctional Facility in the Upper Peninsula, two days to agree.

"I'm thinking, 'No, I didn't do anything,' " he recalled in a recent interview, as his wife wiped away tears. "But then I think, 'I take this and I can see my kids in a day or two.' I hadn't seen them in three years. I took it."

Meanwhile, his accuser has become a licensed practical nurse.

Her attorney, Edward Bajoka, declined to discuss the accusations of perjury and said he was unaware of the forged letter. He said his client insists she was attacked by Nouri.

"She does maintain that she was sexually assaulted," he said.

Contact L.L. Brasier: 248-858-2262 or


The New Map is Here...

So how many Registered sex offenders are there in the United States???  Remember there are many that are still incarcerated that are not listed in this count because they haven't been released into the community.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Why Sex Offender Laws Do More Harm Than Good

By Deborah Jacobs

There are few crimes more heinous than child molestation. Whether violently attacked by a stranger or preyed upon by a trusted adult in the home, school or place of worship, children who survive such assaults are often left to walk a lifelong path of sorrow and pain.

Unfortunately, our government has failed to take steps that will make a meaningful difference in preventing sex offenses. Megan's Law, civil commitment, and the newest trend in anti-sex offender legislation, banishment zones, which restrict sex offenders from living within certain geographic areas, all play to the fears of the public. But when it comes to stopping sex assaults, these measures do more harm than good.

To understand why, one must look at the realities of sex crimes in America today. The vast majority of sex offenses are committed by trusted adults-family members, friends, clergy-and go unreported because of manipulation of the victims, unconscionable decisions by other adults, or both. We saw this most vividly when lawsuits uncovered that the Catholic Church hierarchy had hidden and ignored countless cases of child sexual abuse for decades, choosing to protect its reputation over the children under its care. Unfortunately, this happens in family hierarchies even more frequently.

Because the most common type of sex crime so often goes unreported, most sex offenders never become part of the criminal justice system and therefore are not affected by Megan's Law or banishment zone laws. As a result, these laws give the public a false sense of security, letting us believe that sex offenders have been exiled from their neighborhood, or that if a sex offender does live nearby, we will receive notification of his presence. If we believe that, we are fooling ourselves and, worse, doing our children a disservice. Sex offenders live in every American community, and children need supervision no matter what.

Laws like banishment zone ordinances actually make us less safe, as they impede offender rehabilitation and thereby increase the likelihood of reoffense. People who transition from prison into society face countless challenges, and most have very limited resources, financial or otherwise. People who want to lead law-abiding lives after serving a prison sentence need to establish stability in their homes, jobs and families. Those are difficult things to achieve, but add to this the consequences of Megan's Law and limits to where offenders can live, and few have hope of succeeding. Indeed, the fear of the stigma of Megan's Law can force offenders underground, out of the watchful eye of police and parole officers.

Banishment zone laws may very likely force sexual offenders to move from environments in which they have support networks into other communities in which they have no support, putting residents in their new communities at risk. Further, people who are labeled as sex offenders lose jobs, get evicted, are threatened with death, and harassed by neighbors. Some have had their homes burned down or been beaten in acts of vigilantism. Coping with this kind of stress is almost impossible, and without exceptionally strong support systems, most are doomed to fail.

If you doubt whether we should care about the stress and suffering of someone who committed a sex crime, consider the consequences for society when the ex-offender fails. When nothing works out - job, home, family-individuals are more likely to give up and reoffend.

Rather than banishing sex offenders and asking them to succeed in a hostile environment, we should focus resources on programs and policies that will actually reduce the likelihood of sex offenses occurring in the first place. We need to develop and fund public education programs that teach about the effects of sex abuse and the importance of reporting abuse so that it can be stopped.

We need to improve our systems for handling reports of abuse, looking to models like Wynona's House in Essex County, which brings different agencies together to ease the burden on victims reporting abuse. And we need to provide mental health treatment for victims and offenders, in prison and out.

There is no simple fix to the devastating problem of sex abuse. Instead of politically popular measures that make no difference or in fact make us less safe, we need to turn our attention and resources to ways of addressing the epidemic of sex abuse that, while perhaps not as politically popular, will actually work so that more potential victims can be spared.

The issue is not whether our children should be protected from sex offenders, but how to accomplish that in an effective and meaningful way. Our children deserve nothing less.

Deborah Jacobs is the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sex Offenders: The Last Pariahs

STARTING in the 1970s, lawmakers across the United States enacted punitive “lock ’em up” policies. The prison population more than quadrupled, and the United States became first in the world in both the total number of prisoners (about 2.3 million) and the rate of imprisonment (1 of every 100 adults is behind bars).
Now, budget pressures, court orders and a recognition of the social costs of incarceration have prompted America to reconsider some of these draconian laws. Incarceration rates may be topping out.

But most criminal justice advocates have been reluctant to talk about sex offender laws, much less reform them. The reluctance has deep roots. Sex crimes are seen as uniquely horrific. During the Colonial, antebellum and Jim Crow eras, white Americans were preoccupied with tales of sexual dangers to white women and children. McCarthy-era paranoia, stories of Satanic ritual abuse and other sex panics stirred pervasive anxieties about lurking strangers. Sexual predators play a lead role in the production of a modern culture of fear.

In fact, the crimes that most spur public outrage — the abduction, rape and murder of children — are exceedingly rare. Statistically, a child’s risk of being killed by a sexual predator who is a stranger is comparable to the chance of being struck by lightning. The reported incidence of most forms of child abduction, including the most serious, has declined since the 1980s.

The most intense dread, fueled by shows like “America’s Most Wanted” and “To Catch a Predator,” is directed at the lurking stranger, the anonymous repeat offender. But most perpetrators of sexual abuse are family members, close relatives, or friends or acquaintances of the victim’s family. In 70 to 80 percent of child deaths resulting from abuse or neglect, a parent is held responsible.

No one can doubt that child sexual abuse is traumatic and devastating. The question is not whether the state has an interest in preventing such harm, but whether current laws are effective in doing so.

A 1994 federal law named for Jacob Wetterling, an 11-year-old Minnesota boy who was abducted, requires convicted sex offenders to register with authorities. Under an amendment to that act, all states adopted statutes collectively known as Megan’s Law — named for a 7-year-old girl who was raped and murdered in New Jersey in 1994 — that require local law enforcement authorities to notify neighbors about a sex offender’s presence in their community. And although registration and notification requirements vary, all states now post searchable online lists of at least some categories of registered sex offenders.

Advocates for laws to register, publicize and monitor sex offenders after their release from custody typically assert that those convicted of sex crimes pose a high risk of sex crime recidivism. But studies by the Justice Department and other organizations show that recidivism rates are significantly lower for convicted sex offenders than for burglars, robbers, thieves, drug offenders and other convicts.

Only a tiny proportion of sex crimes are committed by repeat offenders, which suggests that current laws are misdirected and ineffective. Indeed, a federally financed study of New Jersey’s registration and notification procedures found that sex offense rates were already falling before the implementation of Megan’s Law. The study also found no discernible impact on recidivism and concluded that the growing costs of the program might not be justifiable.

Contrary to the common belief that burgeoning registries provide lists of child molesters, the victim need not have been a child and the perpetrator need not have been an adult. Child abusers may be minors themselves. Statutory rapists — a loose category that includes some offenses involving neither coercion nor violence — are covered in some states. Some states require exhibitionists and “peeping Toms” to register; Louisiana compelled some prostitutes to do so. Two-thirds of the North Carolina registrants sampled in a 2007 study by Human Rights Watch had been convicted of the nonviolent crime of “indecent liberties with a minor,” which does not necessarily involve physical contact.
Culpability and harm vary greatly in these offenses. Some would not be classified as criminal under European laws, which set lower ages of consent than do American laws. And because sex crimes are broadly defined and closely monitored, the number of people listed in public sex offender registries is growing rapidly: 740,000 at latest count, more than the population of Boston or Seattle. The registration and notification rules — the result of efforts by victims’ rights advocates, crusading journalists and tough-on-crime politicians — violate basic legal principles and amount to an excessive and enduring form of punishment.

Newer laws go even further. At last count, 44 states have passed or are considering laws that would require some sex offenders to be monitored for life with electronic bracelets and global positioning devices. A 2006 federal law, the Adam Walsh Act, named for a Florida boy who was abducted and killed, allows prosecutors to apply tougher registration rules retroactively. New civil commitment procedures allow for the indefinite detention of sex offenders after the completion of their sentences. Such procedures suggest a catch-22: the accused is deemed mentally fit for trial and sentencing, but mentally unfit for release.

Laws in more than 20 states and hundreds of municipalities restrict where a sex offender can live, work or walk. California’s Proposition 83 prohibits all registered sex offenders (felony and misdemeanor alike) from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park, effectively evicting them from the state’s cities and scattering them to isolated rural areas.

Digital scarlet letters, electronic tethering and practices of banishment have relegated a growing number of people to the logic of “social death,” a term introduced by the sociologist Orlando Patterson, in the context of slavery, to describe permanent dishonor and exclusion from the wider moral community. The creation of a pariah class of unemployable, uprooted criminal outcasts has drawn attention from human rights activists; even The Economist has decried our sex offender laws as harsh and ineffective.

This should worry us, in part because the techniques used for marking, shaming and controlling sex offenders have come to serve as models for laws and practices in other domains. Several states currently publish online listings of methamphetamine offenders, and other states are considering public registries for assorted crimes. Mimicking Megan’s Law, Florida maintains a Web site that gives the personal details (including photo, name, age, address, offenses and periods of incarceration) of all prisoners released from custody. Some other states post similar public listings of paroled or recently released ex-convicts. It goes without saying that such procedures cut against rehabilitation and reintegration.

Our sex offender laws are expansive, costly and ineffective — guided by panic, not reason. It is time to change the conversation: to promote child welfare based on sound data rather than statistically anomalous horror stories, and in some cases to revisit outdated laws that do little to protect children. Little will have been gained if we trade a bloated prison system for sprawling forms of electronic surveillance that offload the costs of imprisonment onto offenders, their families and their communities.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

An effort to combat predators comes up empty...

The false hope of sex offender registries

At age 14, J.L. impregnated his girlfriend in a consensual encounter. This was bad news on several grounds, the worst being that she was 15 months younger. Convicted of rape for having sex with a 12-year-old, he will have to register as a sex offender — for the rest of his life.

Last month, the South Dakota Supreme Court upheld the verdict, while admitting that it made little sense. "Application of the first-degree rape statute to the present facts does not create an unintended absurdity," the justices concluded. The absurdity must have been deliberate.

J.L. isn't the only person to be ensnared by ridiculous interpretations of laws affecting sex offenders. A Michigan man convicted in 1984 of rape was supposed to report his home address to police after getting out of prison in 2002. Being homeless, he tried to comply by providing the address of a homeless shelter where he got his meals.

Not good enough, said the Michigan Supreme Court a few weeks ago. It said he can be sent back to jail for failing to file the address of whatever spot he laid his head each night.

Sex offender registries once sounded like an urgent necessity. They came in reaction to publicized crimes in which children died at the hands of convicted sex offenders. One of the most shocking involved a 7-year-old New Jersey girl, Megan Kanka, who in 1994 was raped and strangled by a paroled child molester living across the street from her home.

New Jersey enacted "Megan's Law," subjecting sex offenders to registration and community notification, so police and citizens would be aware of known risks. Today, all 50 states maintain registries and make at least some of the information available to the public.

But this was a reasonable notion that has been damaged by indiscriminate expansion. It's one thing to notify neighbors when a serial rapist moves in. Many states, however, lump frisky teens in with violent adults. Others, reports Jacob Sullum in Reason magazine, include mopes who were caught trolling for prostitutes or urinating in public.

Some states also put broad curbs on where convicted sex offenders may live. In Miami, many of them have taken up residence under a causeway for lack of an alternative. This outcome may not warrant sympathy, but it makes it harder for police and citizens to keep tabs on them.

Such flaws would be of minimal consequence if the laws served to prevent crime. The surprising revelation is they don't.

A 2008 report funded by the U.S. Justice Department found the original Megan's Law in New Jersey to be a nonevent. The policy, researchers documented, "showed no demonstrable effect in reducing sexual re-offenses" and "has no effect on reducing the number of victims involved in sexual offenses." The zero effect had a cost above zero — nearly $4 million annually for the 15 counties included in the study.

A more comprehensive study was undertaken by Amanda Agan, a doctoral candidate in economics at the University of Chicago, and published recently in the Journal of Law and Economics. Analyzing data from across the country, she detected no tangible gains from this approach.

"Rates of sex offense do not decline after the introduction of a registry or public access to a registry via the Internet, nor do sex offenders appear to recidivate less when released into states with registries," she writes. Evidence from Washington, D.C., shows no connection between the number of sex offenders on a block and the rate of sex crimes.

That doesn't mean you and I are crazy to prefer knowing about the pedophile next door. But it suggests that the information offers no actual benefit.

After all, most convicted sex offenders do not go on to be arrested for new sex offenses, and more than 90 percent of child victims are assaulted not by strangers but by relatives or other people they know.

Sex offender registries may cause parents to focus on the remote peril while ignoring the more pertinent one. And, as in the examples cited earlier, they can inflict harsh punishment that departs from common sense and does nothing for public safety.

Shielding citizens from vicious predators is unquestionably one of the central functions of any sound government. Megan's Laws were enacted in the sensible pursuit of that goal. What they offer in practice, though, is counterfeit comfort.

Steve Chapman is a member of the Tribune's editorial board and blogs at
Twitter @SteveChapman13

Monday, August 15, 2011

Now This Gives a Whole New Meaning of "DRIVE BY"...

Cops Use Device to Find Child Porn on Wireless Networks

Police are using a "one-button interface" device to detect child porn on wireless networks. The AirCheck gadget helps law enforcement locate and track down suspected child predators or suspects engaging in other "illegal Internet activity."

By Ms. Smith on Mon, 08/15/11 - 11:40am.

It's not exactly rocket science to detect Wi-Fi networks, but a new device is helping law enforcement detect wireless networks and locate individuals who are suspected of downloading child pornography. At the Crimes Against Children Conference, Fluke Networks announced that police are using a "one-button interface" on AirCheck Wi-Fi Tester to:

  • drive by a suspected location and identify all the wireless networks in use;
  • utilize the product's directional antenna to determine if a wireless network inside a suspect's location is secured or unsecured;
  • more confidently enter the suspect's location, if they determine a wireless network is secured, knowing that illegal Internet content is being downloaded from within that residence;
  • track the suspected client (laptop, smartphone, etc.) location if a wireless network is determined to be unsecured, since there is a chance a non-resident is piggybacking onto the resident's wireless network from a nearby location and downloading child pornography. 
According to the AirCheck Wi-fi Tester Datasheet for Law Enforcement [PDF], the AirCheck WiFi Tester identifies security settings and "pinpoints" how much bandwidth each Access Point (AP) channel is consuming, flags unauthorized APs and helps "hunt them down with the LOCATE function or find them even faster with the optional directional antenna." Police are encouraged to "press one key" to record "all collected details for configuration, APs, probing clients, channel usage and connection details for documentation to be shared or archived."

If the wireless network is secured, then Fluke says the police can "confidently enter the suspect residence" since the "offender is the person downloading illegal content from the secured wireless network." If, however, the wireless network is open, then law enforcement is advised to consider the person inside the residence may be stealing Wi-Fi from an unsecured network. "Your department may be required to pay for any damage caused when entering the residence is the offender is not inside."

Law enforcement is advised to "know before you go" and bust into a residence of a potentially innocent person with an open wireless signal. If the signal is open, then Fluke says to conduct a stakeout in which the police use the AirCheck WiFi Tester to track down the open wireless network used by "misbehaving clients," to lock onto the suspect's device which is "most likely" a laptop, and to graph the device in order to locate it.

If the "misbehaving clients" are piggybacking or stealing access from an open wireless network, then the AirCheck Law Enforcement Evaluation Guide [PDF] explains how to use the directional antenna to locate and graph the signal strength. It suggests that the easiest way to locate the device is while the suspect is downloading large images or videos.

Sergeant Dave Mathers, head of the Electronic Crimes Unit of the City of Martinez CA Police Department has been using the AirCheck WiFi Tester. Sgt. Mathers said, "It provides us and additional layer of certainty that the person we are targeting is, in fact, the suspect that we are looking for. We don't have to go in blindly anymore."

Besides hunting down child predators, Fluke Networks says law enforcement can also use the device to help combat other cybercrimes and track "a suspect for illegal Internet activity." AirCheck has successfully been used in investigations involving Internet stalking, identity theft and phishing scams.