The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

To Catch a Predator, Again

I can’t remember when I became aware of the reality that there are adults who prey on children sexually. I think the first glimmer I got was one summer at camp, when an adult staff member was “asked to leave” after complaints of “inappropriate touching.” I don’t remember if anything happened to him, but I do recall no one ever speaking of it again. And, given the amount of space available in my burgeoning adolescent gay brain to process the whole thing, I’m sure I filed it away and forgot about it since I needed those brain cells for lusting after and daydreaming about my favorite camp counselor.

Later, as an adult gay man, I was aware that in some people’s minds being a gay man made me a suspect, but since I wasn’t a child predator, I didn’t give the subject much thought. Until I became a parent. Actually, from the moment I starting thinking about parenthood. Then, subject seemed to be everywhere. Now I find myself pausing to read every local news article about pedophiles and child predators, even the ones that weren’t exactly in my back yard, like the series of indecent exposures at a park in Virginia.

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Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.comSeven incidents on the pathways of Cub Run Park have been reported since May. In each incident, a man covered his face with his shirt and exposed his lower body, authorities said.

The culprit is described as a white man in his 30s standing about 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing 200 to 220 pounds. Authorities said that in one incident, the man’s shirt fell from his face and the victim was able to see him. Police have created a composite sketch based on that incident.

I filed it away with the other articles until I came across a follow up report. If you’ve watched Dateline’s “To Catch a Predator” series, you might remember this guy.

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Yup, the “Naked Guy” (or one of them, at least) from the “To Catch a Predator” series; the one who was busted twice in two days.

When a guy walks into this house naked, I mean, nobody ever taught me in journalism school that you had to put a towel or a blanket nearby to hand to a naked man so he could cover up, so you could interview him.

But when that same guy, John Kennelly, surfaces in a chat room the very next day, and agrees to meet another young boy at a fast food restaurant, and we confront him again, it was hard for me to assemble to words to approach him.

You can read the transcript of his chat with what he thought was a 14-year-old boy here, his first Dateline encounter here, his second Dateline encounter here. and his subsequent conviction here.

And, it turns out, you can read about his latest run-in with the law right here.

Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.comPolice said a man exposed himself to two 15-year-old girls on a path in Cub Run Park in the Chantilly area. A man standing in front of them yelled to get their attention. One of the girls told police she saw he had pulled his shirt over his head and had his pants down.

The girls ran away, but when they looked back, they saw him running toward them, police said. He then ran into the woods and out of sight.

…The suspect, 45-year-old John Kennelly, previously was arrested after being featured on Dateline NBC’s “To Catch a Predator” series, News4’s Darcy Spencer reported. Kennelly showed up naked at a Herndon house after arranging online to have sex with a 14-year-old boy on reporter Chris Hansen’s series.

And there there was the rabbi from Silver Spring, who got caught in the same episode.

Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.comA Maryland rabbi caught in a television sting operation was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison yesterday for trying to solicit sex from a 13-year-old boy over the Internet.

David A. Kaye, 56, told the judge that he traveled to Herndon for what he thought would be sex with a boy “as a cry out for help to fight my personal demons.” Sobbing as he acknowledged his father, who sat in the courtroom in a wheelchair, Kaye said his conviction had made him face “the reality of who I am. . . . I know I need help. I pray that God allows me to get that help.”

Kaye’s attorney, Peter D. Greenspun, said the rabbi, who was featured last year on the “To Catch a Predator” series on “Dateline NBC,” kept his sexuality secret and spent thousands of hours chatting online in search of liaisons.

Kaye thought that he was chatting online with a young adult, Greenspun said. He said Kaye, who is divorced, is in therapy, and he urged a sentence on the low end of federal guidelines, which recommended a term of 63 to 78 months in prison.

“There is a very decent core to this man,” Greenspun said.

But U.S. District Judge James C. Cacheris in Alexandria settled on 78 months and said Kaye would then face 10 years of supervised release. The judge said that during that time, Kaye will be forbidden to accept any job involving children, and he ordered him to never be around children younger than 18 without an adult present.

You can read his chat log here, and his Dateline encounter here.

But it’s not just these guys. I remember hearing in January of 2002 — Parker was born in November of that year — about a teenage girl who’s internet encounter led to an abduction.

FBI agents Friday afternoon freed a 13-year-old Crafton Heights girl who was bound to a bed in a suburban Washington, D.C., duplex after vanishing from her home on New Year’s Day in what investigators suspect was a cyber-spawned abduction.

Capping an investigation that depended on high-tech, online sleuthing skills, agents found Alicia Kozakiewicz at the home of Scott Tyree, 38, of Herndon, Va., around 3:30 p.m. and arrested him shortly afterward at or near his office at Computer Associates, where he is a systems program analyst, authorities said.

… FBI agents in Washington, D.C., “found Alicia alive and restrained within the residence,” said Jack Shea, special agent in charge of the FBI office in Pittsburgh. “The fact that she was being restrained indicates she was being held against her will.”

Herndon police Sgt. Don Amos said Alicia had been bound to the bed.

“My understanding is that it was an upstairs bedroom. She was somehow secured to the bed,” said Amos, who was with the FBI at the scene last night as investigators processed the evidence.

… The big break in the case came at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, when an Internet acquaintance of Tyree’s contacted FBI agents in Tampa, Fla.

“Scott related to him he had gone to Pittsburgh and had brought a girl back to Virginia,” Shea said. “Scott showed him pictures by means of a Web cam of the young girl.”

Back in 2005, I learned that I’d lived in the same neighborhood as a guy who sold and collected child pornography.

Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.comSchiffer, 34, worked as a waiter at a popular Northwest restaurant. But at his home, he used a computer to traffic in child pornography, authorities said. According to court documents, Schiffer spread the vilest sort of child pornography on the Internet. Police found 11,000 images of child pornography, including pornographic pictures of young boys, toddlers and even infants.

According to the papers filed in court, Schiffer corresponded with sex offenders in prison and expressed his desire to rape children.

And there are other local cases, like the guy who raped a 7-year-old girl or another who repeatedly abused a teenage girl, and the (female) teacher charged with having sex with a teenage boy.

Now, I’m not in favor of the death penalty for pedophiles (or anyone else for that matter) but there’s also the reality that they don’t benefit from therapy, for the most part; which means many of them are likely to re-offend

Like Kennelly did. And this time he ran toward the girls before veering off into the woods. Initially I read that as “ran after” rather than “ran toward.” In truth he may have been running in their general direction, but putting myself in the victim’s shoes for a second, I can see where I might be inclined to think he was running after me. And, given that this guy’s been busted twice and has now apparently graduated from exposing himself online to exposing himself in a park. Is it beyond imagining that he might graduate to actually attacking someone?

Of course, Dateline has faced criticism regarding its adherence to ethical standards of journalism, or lack thereof. Some of it from a former producer who was canned when she complained.

In a scathing broadside at NBC’s popular “To Catch a Predator” series, a former producer charges that she was canned last year after complaining that the show violated “numerous journalistic ethical standards” and many of the network’s own “policies and guidelines.” In a breach of contract lawsuit, Marsha Bartel, 49, alleges that her 21-year career at NBC ended months after her August 2006 appointment as “sole producer” of “To Catch a Predator,” which conducts sting operations targeting men seeking illicit liaisons with children they’ve met online. According to her complaint, which was filed last week in U.S. District Court in Chicago, Bartel charges that many of the program’s ethical lapses stem from its relationship with Perverted Justice, a shadowy vigilante group that the show uses to “troll for and lure targets into its sting.”

… The identities of the group’s 50-plus volunteers were kept secret from her, Bartel says, adding that Perverted Justice does not provide “complete transcripts from its trolling operations,” so network officials “cannot independently verify the accuracy” of the group’s transcripts. In some instances, Bartel claims, sting targets are “led into additional acts of humiliation (such as being encouraged to remove their clothes) in order to enhance the comedic effect of the public exposure of these persons.” She also charges that NBC has unethically covered up the fact that law enforcement officials have acted improperly while working in conjunction with the “To Catch a Predator” crew, such as “goofing off by waving rubber chickens in the faces of sting targets while forcing them to the ground and handcuffing them.” Bartel says that when she “raised concerns” about controversial comments made by Perverted Justice’s founder, David Corvo, executive producer of the newsmagazine “Dateline,” responded, “We all know they’re nuts.” Bartel, who signed a four-year contract in March 2006, contends that soon after reporting her concerns about “To Catch a Predator” to NBC management, she was terminated effective December 24, 2006.

To tell the truth, I’m as uncomfortable with Dateline’s alleged tactics as I am with the idea of people like Kennelly lurking online, in public parks, etc. I’ve had friends who were sexually abused as children, and I’ve seen the problems — some lifelong — that are the result of that abuse. I don’t want anyone to have to experience that. Certainly not my own child, as I’m increasingly aware that I can’t protect him at all times.

So, since people like Kennelly aren’t likely to be helped or respond to therapy, and if the tactics of Perverted Justice and Dateline are unacceptable, how do we prevent the harm that these people almost invariably cause, so that no one has to live with the inevitable damage?

4 Comments

  1. Terrance, like you said it is almost impossible to police the internet for these child predators, and although I think law enforcement needs to constantly be after these people, I don’t think we should rely on them to keep our kids safe. I also agree with what you said about it being impossible to change some of these people who are obviously disturbed and hoping people will learn from punishment. Again this would be hoping someone else does something to ensure the safety of our kids. I believe the key to keeping our children safer is by teaching them the dangers of the internet so they understand not everyone typing to them online is their friend. The slogan “Don’t talk to strangers” seemed to do a pretty good job for the older generations, and I think the same should apply now… online. If parents are able to teach their kids how dangerous giving out personal information is online, it would greatly reduce the chances these predators have in contacting them. I also think parents should do their part in monitoring kids. I know there are great sites out there like NetSmarz411.org which help give parents ideas for monitoring their children online to keep them safer. Parents can actually email that site questions and real people will respond with personalized answers. In the end, I feel that education is the key to keeping children safer online. I have confidence that if more children were aware of the dangers of giving out personal information, they would be less likely to do it.

  2. Agreed. I think we owe it to our children, yours flesh and blood and just a glimmer, to teach them a whole range of media savvy skills that should apply to the internet, tv, and anything else a child might consume. I don’t ever want to hear video games or movies or the internet blamed for crimes again, because time and again it turns out this is just a cheap scapegoat. Of course, i don’t have a kid right now, so I can’t be sure of anything, but I think until I know my kid is smart enough to regard everybody online with the proper suspicion commenting such as I’m doing right now will have to be verboten in my household.

    Since most children are molested by a relative or friend of the family, though, a rule like that can only go so far.

  3. There are several things about the media coverage of child sexual offenders that bother me. My first concern is that they always use the term “Sexual offender” as if it only applies to pedophiles. I think this minimizes the significance of sexual assaults, which are directed overwhlemingly at adult women. In other words, it seems like rapists get a free pass in the media as long as they are not pedophiles.

    Second problem, the vast majority of child sexual abuse comes not from strangers on the internet or in parks, but from people are close friends or relatives of the children. (The same is true for rape or adult women–most rapists are acquaintances.) Media outlets are totally unwilling to acknowledge this reality. It’s just not as comforting to people as catching stranger pedophiles.

    The gender issue also bothers me. If you watch TV, you would think young boys and girls are equally likely to be the victims of child sexual abuse, but all the evidence we have indicates that they are not. Girls are much more likely to be targeted. I think there is an underlying homophobia that encourages them to focus so much of male victims because the whole goal of these shows is to create “moral panic” and moral outrage. And little girls being victimized doesn’t create the same kind of outrage.

  4. I want to direct you to one issue on my blog, but I also encourage you to read more of my blog.

    http://sexoffenderissues.blogspot.com/2007/04/my-thoughts-sex-offender-law-issues.html

    LINKS:
    * http://sexoffenderissues.blogspot.com/ (Educational Sex Offender Blog)
    * http://www.badcopnews.com (Why aren’t these in the media?)

    MISCELLANEOUS:
    http://www.nacdl.org/public.nsf/2cdd02b415ea3a64852566d6000daa79/Rules&Reg_attachments/$FILE/SORNA.pdf

    The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (“NACDL”) is a nationwide, non-profit, voluntary association of criminal defense lawyers founded in 1958 to improve the quality of representation of the accused and to advocate for the preservation of constitutional rights in criminal cases. The NACDL has a membership of more than 12,800 attorneys and 92 state, local and international affiliate organizations with another 35,000 members including private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, active U.S. military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness within America’s criminal justice system. In these comments NACDL urges the Attorney General to repeal 28 CFR Part 72 because the regulation, as promulgated, violates the ex post facto clause of the Constitution, and will cause widespread confusion and instability in the efforts of many convicted sex offenders to comply with the law and maintain a non-offending lifestyle.

    INFO:
    * I do not believe in registries period, but if the sex offender laws are kept, why discriminate? I DEMAND WE HAVE A CRIMINAL HISTORY REGISTRY, SO I KNOW IF YOU ARE A MURDERER, GANG MEMBER, DRUG DEALER/USER, DRUNK, THIEF! IT’S MY RIGHT! Why won’t this fly? Because then the senator, mayor, governor, president, celebrities or you may be on a publicly accessible registry to face the shame. But why not? Why discriminate? So the rich can implement their “master plan?”

    * When will people ever realize no matter how tough on crime, all the zero tolerance, all the registries in the world will not prevent a murderer from murdering, a thief from stealing, a dealer from dealing, a user from using, a rapist from raping….accusations on any sex crime, child abuse, or domestic violence will literally nail your butt to the wall! No DNA has to be present, No violence has to be present….. HEARSAY ALONE IS LITERALLY NAILING THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE TO THE WALL BECAUSE THESE LAWS ARE BIASED.

    * Living is already almost impossible for “sex offenders”, and the more and more laws that are passed daily, eventually they are going to explode, and it won’t be a pretty sight. You must be realistic when making laws, these draconian laws make it impossible for anyone to live ANY type of life. Everyone is for treatment and punishing those violent offenders who are making other sex offenders lives hell, but like I said, we must be realistic.

    * For all the people being charged with Child pornography, is the law checking the computers to make sure they are not infected with a virus? Many people are ignorant when it comes to computers, and if they click on some attachment in an email, their machine can become infected with a virus, trojan, spyware, adaware program which stores child porn on their machine. Are these so called “experts” checking this? Or ignoring this possibility?

    * The issue with sex offenders Internet email addresses, IM names, etc being collected, this is another “feel good” law that will not stop crime. If someone wanted to commit a new crime, they’d create a new email address and commit the crime. This is stupid and won’t work. It is just another waste of the taxpayers money.

    * Think!! Come up with solutions, not “feel good” laws, which make it harder and harder for sex offenders to get on with their lives.

    * “Buffer Zones” are a false sense of security!

    * “Buffer Zones” are banishing people from their town, state, and possibly the country!

    * “Buffer Zones” create homelessness, which costs society lost productivity, individual dignity, and creates additional problems for enforcing any accurate registry!

    * “Buffer Zones” do nothing, except banish! It could be 50 miles and if someone wanted to re-offend, they’d just get in a car and drive!

    * It should be MANDATORY that anyone in prison get therapy, and out of prison, if needed. Therapy does work. If you just lock them up without therapy, when they get out, they will be worse off. Therapy teaches people how to not act out and help, regardless of what the general public thinks. Just ask a therapist.

    * We need to STOP this hysteria and get sex offenders the help they need.

    * You can pass all the laws you want but without therapy this “mob” mentality will not solve anything!

    * I am sick of politicians using children to get their laws passed! Who would want to vote against anything that is “for the children”?

    * “Stranger Danger” is a smoke screen & hype! Most child sexual offenses occur by someone the child knows, like a family member or close friend!

    * These laws are being passed by politicians using sex offenders as scape goats, for votes!

    * Registries do NOT protect anyone or prevent crimes!

    * Registries are punishing sex offenders as well as their families and children, and opening them up to vigilantism. DON’T THE FAMILIES AND CHILDREN OF sex OFFENDERS COUNT? They are suppose to be “for the children”, right?

    * Registries are NOT being updated in a timely fashion, so the public is getting false information! How is this helping the public or protecting them when they cannot rely on them?

    * Registries are putting families and children of sex offenders in a public position to be socially outcast and discriminated against with regard to employment, housing, schooling, etc!

    * About 90% of the people on the registry are NOT violent offenders that these laws were meant for in the first place!

    * These laws cost millions, if not billions to enforce, and they cause prison over-population, which is already a problem, especially in California, and taxpayers pay for all this.

    * GPS does not prevent sexual crimes! Another false sense of security which cost tons of money! Plus the offenders are supposed to pay for this, which will make them eventually go homeless. MAKE THE TAX PAYERS WHO WANT THESE LAWS PAY FOR THEM!

    * These laws cause sex offenders to go underground and into hiding, due to the strict nature of the laws! How is this protecting anyone?

    * These laws are all about money for law enforcement and votes for politicians. Prison is a business! Politicians are salaried and want to get elected/re-elected! Law enforcement get paid for people in jails, prisons or on the registry!

    * These laws blatantly disregard the United States constitutional rights of all citizens! (i.e. ex-post facto, due process & others)

    * These laws are cruel and unusual punishment! A sex offender cannot go to a fast food restaurant which has a playground! Why? They have just as much of a right as you to get a burger! Plus they cannot go anywhere kids congregate. (i.e. Amusement parks, Movie theaters, the list is endless)

    * Sex offenders can go to church, but must leave immediately afterwards. If a sex offender owns a business and someone decides to put a church or school next door, they have to now sell their business and move. This is not right, move the church or school, the sex offender was there first!

    * These laws continue to punish people even after a sentence has been served, and they are trying to get on with their lives! (i.e. ex-post facto)

    * These laws are driven by fear-mongering, opportunistic politicians and will do nothing to actually protect children!

    * There are over one million women and children whose lives are inter-twined with a sex offender in the United States. They should matter too!

    * Follow the money trail, these laws are conveyor-belt laws to benefit law enforcement! They get paid for the number of people in jail, prison or on the registry!

    * They are currently a one-size-fits all for sex offenders! Not all sex offenders are violent offenders that these laws are supposed to be for anyway!

    * They are modern day witch hunts and a scarlett letter!

    * If sex Offenders are re-offending, why do the registries grow each day? Because new people are being added daily for stuff like “public urination”, “mooning”, “consensual sex”, “young children playing ‘Doctor'” and various other minor offenses that we need not worry about. We need to worry about violent offenders!

    * Now they are trying to make it a law that a sex offender, if they have kids, cannot “take a picture” of anyone under 18. This is totally stupid! Can’t even take Christmas pictures, birthday pictures, etc!

    * Also, because a sex offender owns a business in town, many people are trying to get the business shut down! The sex offender had the business for awhile. If you don’t like it, MOVE!!!!

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