Joint Legislative Committee on Youthful Sex Offenders


Minutes of the Meeting

Thursday, October 26, 2006

4:00 p.m., Senate Hearing Room 109



Members Present:

Senator Karen Johnson, CoChairman

Representative Rick Murphy, CoChairman

Senator Linda Gray

Representative Cheryl Chase

Mark Faull

Jason Grygla

Barbara LaWall represented by

Peter Hochuli

Jim Haas

Melony Opheim

Barbara Hernandez

Matthew Smith

Dana Paul Hlavac represented by D’Arcy Downs-Vollbracht

Kathy Waters


Members Absent:

Senator Jorge Garcia

Representative Steve Gallardo



Jennifer Eugster, Senate Judiciary Committee Analyst

Amber O’Dell, Senate Judiciary Committee Assistant Analyst

Katy Proctor, House Judiciary Committee Analyst

Ralene Whitmer, House Judiciary Committee Assistant Analyst


Chairman Johnson called the meeting to order at 4:14 p.m. and the attendance was noted.


Opening Remarks


Senator Johnson asked Jennifer Eugster, Senate Judiciary Committee Analyst, to announce the dates for the next two Committee meetings.  Ms. Eugster stated the meetings will take place on Thursday, November 2, 2006 and either Tuesday, November 28, 2006 or Wednesday, November 29, 2006            at 4:00 p.m.


Next, Senator Johnson asked for those Members who did not attend the previous meeting to introduce themselves.




Presentation on Corrections Process for Adult and Juvenile Sex Offenders


Barbara Hernandez, Supervisor, Sex Offender Unit, Maricopa County Juvenile Probation, spoke first regarding the different types of testing for juvenile sex offenders that are performed at the juvenile level, referring to a handout (Attachment A).

Ms. Hernandez stated the ERASOR (Estimate of Risk of Adolescent Sexual Offense Recidivism) test is used most often. 


Ms. Hernandez added it is important to understand what differentiates juvenile testing from adult testing.  The adult sex offender specific testing is actuarial based whereas juvenile testing is based or determined through clinical judgment.

Actuarial assessments are being examined to test juvenile sex offenders, however, there is no such instrument at this time.  A comprehensive battery of clinical interviewing, testing, and information gathering are needed to determine recommendations for juvenile sex offenders.


Ms. Hernandez next described the steps that juveniles go through when they enter the juvenile court. 


First, the police send a referral to the County Attorney’s Office.  The County Attorney will then grade the referral and if they believe there is reason for prosecution, the complaint is referred to court and set for an advisory hearing.  The child then will appear in court with an investigative probation officer that is sex offender specific.


The investigative officer is trained to interview the family, collect psychosocial information, present that to the judge and make a recommendation at the advisory hearing as to whether that child should remain in custody, can be released home, or can be released into an alternate bedding situation.


Senator Johnson asked who ultimately makes the decision as to where the child should go.  Ms. Hernandez stated the decision is always made by the judge and the investigative probation officer makes the recommendation.  Ms. Hernandez added the parents and the child do have an opportunity to state their case.


Ms. Hernandez, continued, if the juvenile does have a trial and is adjudicated delinquent for a sexual offense a psychosexual evaluation through a court contracted psychologist occurs after the child has been determined guilty of a sexual offense.  The evaluation takes roughly three to four hours and encompasses an intelligence test, projective drawings tests, the ERASOR, and sometimes the Juvenile Sex Offender Assessment Protocol (JSOAP).  Sex history of the family, lifestyle choices, past delinquent behaviors, mental health diagnoses are also evaluated. The psychologist will then make a recommendation for a level of care.  They review it with the probation officer and then the probation officer utilizes that information and presents it to the judge.


Senator Johnson asked if the juveniles are ever given a penile plethysmograph.  Ms. Hernandez stated the juveniles are not given this test because it states in the juvenile sex offender addendum that penile plethysmograph must not be used for juveniles because studies have shown it is inaccurate in measuring juvenile arousal.  Ms. Hernandez added polygraph tests are generally not given right away because it is used to support treatment not make judicial decisions as far as level of care. 


Ms. Hernandez stated once all of the information is presented to the judge and the investigative officer has recommended the level of treatment, the following can occur:  The juvenile can remain in the community and attend an outpatient sex offender specific program a minimum of two days a week or a maximum of four days a week.  If a moderate level of care is recommended, the juvenile will be placed in intensive day and evening support seven days a week from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.  If the juvenile is recommended to be placed in a high level of care, he or she will be placed in a residential treatment facility in which he or she lives, goes to school, attends sex offender groups, individual counseling, family counseling, and victim counseling if the victim can tolerate it.


Senator Johnson asked if group therapy is included in all of the levels of care and if it involves the juveniles expressing their fantasies.  Ms. Hernandez stated the tenants of sex offender specific treatment would encompass group therapy, family care therapy, possibly victim clarification therapy, and individual therapy.  There are assignments within the context of sex offender specific treatment that might encompass writing a healthy sexually responsible script.  This is a very small piece of a very large comprehensive therapeutic process.


Senator Johnson stated she is concerned that hearing different deviant fantasies might give other youths within the group ideas that they had not thought of.              


Ms. Hernandez said the idea is to introduce a healthy and responsible fantasy and recondition their thought patterns to elicit healthy responsible behavior, something the youths might not have thought about because they are stuck in deviant thinking.


Senator Johnson asked if the youths are sharing any kind of deviant sexual fantasies in their groups.  Ms. Hernandez stated the youths do need to review what transpired in their offense in order to make a link to their offense cycle and change their thoughts in order to modify behavior.


Senator Johnson stated if a youthful sex offender has done something deviant, and he or she expresses it in the group, perhaps somebody else, who might not have thought of it, might implant it in their mind.  Ms. Hernandez said she has not seen this happen because the groups are specific to age so therapists screen the kids coming into the groups to determine social sophistication level.                 Ms. Hernandez added she has never met a child so unsophisticated or naive that they would have things introduced that they were not aware of.  If there was a child similar to what Senator Johnson described they would be placed in individual therapy.


Mr. Grygla asked what the typical age cut offs are, knowing that youthful sex offenders often have poor emotional development.  Ms. Hernandez stated tests and interviews are used in order to determine if a youthful offender should be placed in a group with children who are more socially sophisticated.                 Ms. Hernandez added safety is non-negotiable and there is concern when a child has been placed with a family member or friend who only supervises that child to the level they see fit.  If the state feels that safety has been compromised or that person will not provide appropriate supervision, the best interest of the community needs to be addressed and the child placed elsewhere.


Ms. Hernandez stated the process is very comprehensive.  Each child needs to be looked at as mutually exclusive and not pigeon holed and this is why so much testing is done.  Tests occur more often because children are constantly changing.  The data from the tests are constantly reviewed and decisions are made from a collaborative standpoint in order to figure out the child’s needs.  The ultimate goal is restoration for the community, rehabilitation of the children, and reunification of the family.


Mr. Faull asked what steps are available to address a situation where the family or the care taker is either in denial of the events that have occurred or disagree with the treatment methodology.  Ms. Hernandez stated in these types of situations the Unit utilizes a process provided by the Behavioral Health Networks called the Child and Family Team in order to bring people together to reach decisions and balance out the family’s wants and needs as well as community safety.  In the event that a balance that ensures community safety is not reached, the probation officer will request a guardian to act in the best interest of the victim and offender.  At this point the offender may be removed from the home and placed in an alternate shelter.


Senator Johnson stated in some of the cases that have come to her attention some of the young people have been on the street and she asked Ms. Hernandez why this would happen.  Ms. Hernandez stated juveniles under        18 years of age would not be on the streets because Child Protective Services (CPS) would place them in a shelter or group home.  If juveniles are on the streets they are not within the confines of a justice system and would not have any resources available to them.


Mr. Grygla asked who is responsible for overseeing the tests and assessments. Ms. Hernandez stated the Arizona Office of the Courts holds contracts with certain expectations that the therapists must meet.  One of the expectations given across the board is the therapist must belong to the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ASTER), a professional organization that establishes best practice guidelines for sex offender treatment and supervision.  Therapists must also meet certain clinical and educational milestones.  Also, clinicians do not work with the sex offender specific kids unless they are sex offender specific clinicians because of the different methodology of treatment versus that for general mental health.  The Arizona Office of the Courts, probation department, the judges, and the county attorneys make sure those who work with the juveniles are adequate and appropriate.


Mr. Grygla asked if enough appropriate applications for contractors are received.  Ms. Hernandez said she believes good treatment providers are applying but the disparity is that there are very few therapeutic group homes that are sex offender specific.  As a result, often times the kids end up in basic CPS group homes with staff that are not trained to manage that kind of population and with the high staff turnover rate it is hard to mandate training.

Mr. Grygla stated he is more concerned with pre-adjudication because that determines the outcome and that is where the problems are.


Ms. Hernandez stated the Unit does not do pre-adjudication assessments because that information would need to be redacted and would incriminate the juveniles.


Barbara Broderick, Chief Adult Probation Office, Maricopa County, presented a PowerPoint presentation entitled “The Supervision of Transferred Youth Sexual Offenders in Maricopa County” (Attachment B) and answered questions posed by the Committee members.  Ms. Broderick also distributed two handouts to the Committee, one entitled “Success of Sex Offender Supervision in Maricopa County:  Results from a  Research Study” (Attachment C) and the other entitled “Juveniles Who Have Sexually Offended:  A Review of the Professional Literature” (Attachment D).


Senator Johnson asked Ms. Broderick to further explain the demographics of sex offenders in Maricopa County.  Ms. Broderick stated 196 of the youthful sex offenders committed their crime prior to their 18th birthday and wound up on probation after their 18th birthday.  Most of them committed their crimes at 17 and a half and by the time they were sentenced through a plea negotiation and/or trial they were 18 years old.  Ms. Broderick added this is where the quandary is because most of the juvenile contracts and juvenile providers stop providing services at age 18.


Senator Johnson stated in hearing some of the problems that families have reported, it appears many of the youthful sex offenders may have committed     non-forceful offenses when they were under 18 but are charged as adult offenders and this is a concern to her.


Mr. Faull stated in Maricopa County, if someone is on adult probation for an offense committed as a juvenile their time of registration is only for the time of probation and it can terminate.  The requirement under statute that they register as a sex offender for a crime committed as a juvenile would terminate when their adult probation is terminated.


Ms. Waters asked if, per the statute, it is automatic that a person convicted of a dangerous crime against a child receive lifetime probation.  Ms. Broderick stated it is not automatic because there are other reasons a person can receive lifetime probation.


Mr. Smith asked if it is true that the minimum probation for most adult sex offenses is five years for dangerous crimes against children.  Ms. Broderick stated that is correct.


Mr. Smith asked if many of the cases, especially those involving youths that have been transferred that are 15, 16, or 17 years of age, receive five years of supervised probation.  Ms. Broderick said that is correct.


Mr. Smith asked Ms. Broderick if sex offender requirement terminates at age 25 for juveniles.  Ms. Broderick stated that is also correct.


Senator Johnson asked if the termination of that requirement is automatic.      Ms. Downs-Vollbracht said it is not automatic because it depends on what the judge orders at the disposition of the case.  If a juvenile is convicted under the age of 18 and the judge orders the child to register up until the age of 25 then it automatically would cease to be a requirement but if a judge does not order it, then someone would need to petition the court on behalf of the now 25 year old adult to get that requirement dropped.


Senator Johnson stated if that had to be done then the family would need to hire an attorney which can be costly.


Senator Johnson asked how often youthful sex offenders are ordered to register until the age of 25.  Ms. Broderick stated she did not know but can obtain that information and provide it to the Committee.


Mr. Faull asked if it is rare for someone who is on lifetime probation to petition the court.   Ms. Broderick said it is not rare.


Mr. Faull asked if a person is eligible for public defender assistance in order to petition the court.  Mr. Haas stated a person is not eligible for assistance if they are petitioning the court to be removed from the sex offender notification list.


Ms. Hernandez stated in the juvenile system, sex offender registration is deferred until comprehensive testing is done and until cooperation and participation in therapy is completed.  The same is not done in the adult system but could possibly be a way to solve this issue.


Senator Johnson asked Ms. Hernandez to draft this information for her.           Ms. Hernandez stated that she would do so.


Mr. Faull stated, in regards to the discussion about hiring an attorney, a defendant or a person on probation can represent themselves and petition on their own.  Mr.  Faull added this is not uncommon.


Senator Johnson asked if Mr. Faull had any statistics on how successful those kinds of cases are.  Mr. Faull stated he did not but would find that information and provide it to the Committee.


Ms. Broderick stated a more concise way would make it an affirmative responsibility of Adult Probation to notify the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) when a person has successfully completed adult probation and has reached 25 years of age.  This would be a much fairer process so the responsibility does not lie with a young man or woman and their parents.


Senator Johnson asked if Adult Probation would also petition the court.           Ms. Broderick stated the law could read upon completion of adult probation and the reaching of their 25th birthday, Adult Probation would file and ask for their name to be removed off the registry or require the court to sign off.


Presentation on Sexual Activity Among Arizona’s School Age Children and its Legal Consequences


Ken Bond, representing self, presented a PowerPoint presentation entitled “Data You Need to Know, But May Not Want to See.  Sexual Activity Among Arizona’s School Age Children and its Legal Consequences” (Attachment E).


Mr. Smith asked Mr. Bond if his statement in his presentation, that most offenses would not be considered heinous, is based on empirical, anecdotal evidence or statistics that indicate the cases that are prosecuted and what kind of sexual activity occurred.  Mr. Bond said that statement is based on his observations since he has been an adult and while he was in school.


Mr. Faull asked Mr. Bond if there is any sexual activity between people under the age of 18 that he would consider criminal.  Mr. Bond stated he believes if there are younger children involved with older adults it probably is criminal.


Mr. Faull asked if it is possible that sexual assault can occur between a 17 year old and a 15 year old where there is non-consensual activity, as what used to be  called a rape and under the code called a sexual assault, or maybe a child molestation if a 17 year old is having sexual activity with an 8 year old.  Mr. Bond said he believes consensual type activities are not heinous and are a right of passage today, but sex between an older child and a much younger child or if there is forced used, it is a crime.


Mr. Hochuli asked Mr. Bond what he considers the cut off line in terms of age.  Mr. Bond said he does not know whether or not you can consider a clear cut off line.  Younger people are maturing sexually and physically at a much younger age.


Mr. Hochuli asked Mr. Bond who he believes should make that determination.  Mr. Bond said he believes each case should be looked at on its own merit and the court should be responsible for looking at them.


Presentation on Rethinking Arizona’s Sex Offender Laws


Bob Weber, private attorney, spoke regarding mandatory sentencing and what he has observed in his office in regards to what is happening to some of the youthful offenders.  Mr. Weber also distributed a handout entitled “Juvenile Sex Offenses in Arizona” (Attachment F).


Mr. Weber stated he has been practicing law for 36 years full time in the criminal justice system.  15 years in both the federal and county public defender offices, 21 years after that in private practice, 16 of those years as a Pro Tem Superior Court Judge on both the criminal and civil benches.


When he began practicing law, judges had the ultimate call in almost all cases when a person was convicted.  With mandatory sentences, a defendant is put in the position of having to decide, even if they feel they are not guilty, if it is worth the risk of the substantial prison terms facing people charged with sex offenses.


Mr. Weber cited, as an example of a youth being placed on adult probation, a case where a boy, 14 or 15 years old, committed a  non-violent sexual offense against his three year old niece.  It was reported to the police when the boy turned 15.  The victim’s mother told the police that she wanted to see the boy get help and receive counseling.  The police told the mother the boy would be placed in the juvenile system, receive counseling, and that would probably be the end of it.  Between the time the offense occurred and was reported the boy and his family moved to Alaska but moved back to Arizona after the boy’s mother determined there was inadequate treatment there.  In Arizona the boy went through counseling and treatment but the police did nothing.  However, the police waited until after the teenager turned 18 and he was charged as an adult and imprisoned.


Senator Johnson asked if there was ever an explanation as to why the police department held onto this case for two and half or three years before they filed charges.  Mr. Weber stated the county attorney told him they did not receive the case until the teenager turned 18 years of age.


Mr. Weber stated the prosecuting attorney advised him that before any assessment could be made and give the boy a plea offer, they needed a risk assessment from a psychologist and a polygraph test.  The boy provided those things to the prosecutor and the prosecutor came back with a plea offer to plead guilty to attempted child molestation, a class 3 felony, lifetime probation, lifetime sex offender registration, and nine months in the Maricopa County Jail.


Ms. Hernandez stated in actuality the family never went through the juvenile system because if they had he would not have been charged as an adult.        Mr. Weber stated the boy was deprived of that.


Ms. Hernandez asked if the family notified the police they had moved to Alaska.  Mr. Weber said the victim’s mother, the boy’s sister, knew where he was and he later came back to the same neighborhood.


Ms. Hernandez said the police would have had to been notified that they moved, otherwise, there could have been the inference that he absconded.


Ms. Downs-Vollbracht asked Mr. Weber to provide the Committee with the police report and referral documents because she believes something is missing in this story.  Mr. Weber said that he would provide those documents.


Mr. Weber stated he prepared a document requesting a deviation from their plea, reiterating that the offender evaluation showed that the boy was not a risk and the polygraph results indicating that this only happened on one occasion. He received an improved plea offer to plead guilty to class four child abuse, no mandatory lifetime probation, a minimum of ten years probation, which could be terminated early, no sex offender registration, sex offender terms of probation, and release from jail at the time of the plea.


Mr. Weber stated he believes if children are only 14 or 15 years old when they commit offenses, they should be referred to the juvenile court and be further referred to the adult court if needed.  To allow a police agency or prosecuting agency to hold a case until a person turns 18 years old and deprive them the opportunity of juvenile treatment is wrong and is a problem with the current system.


Senator Johnson asked Mr. Faull if there is any way the statute can be changed to give a certain amount of time that a case can be looked at because if a crime is committed by a juvenile that is when it needs to be heard.  Mr. Faull stated he would discuss this with his colleagues and try to come up with some answers.  Mr. Faull added society has said certain cases do not have a statute of limitations and this includes certain types of sex offenses because so many of them are not discovered or reported for many years.


Senator Johnson asked if there is a way to require the police to file the report with the county attorney within a certain period of time when a juvenile commits an offense and is reported to the police.  Mr. Faull stated the scenarios of when a case gets filed are numerous and he will discuss this issue with his colleagues.


Senator Gray stated if a person committed the offense as a youth that needs to be taken into consideration. 


Representative Murphy said there needs to be a way to require good faith efforts to forward allegations.  This way no one can accuse someone of having held onto the case for the sole purpose of avoiding the juvenile system.


Senator Johnson stated this is something to think about and come up with possible solutions.


Mr. Grygla asked if mandatory sentencing is put into place when a person is adjudicated, therefore, having nothing to do with when the crime was committed.  Mr. Weber stated if a person is not brought into the system until they are an adult the only thing that will apply is the adult punishment.


Ms. Hernandez remarked, what an offender initially reports prior to treatment and the behaviors that they have engaged in are generally not congruent with what they report post-treatment.  Many times the heinousness of the offenses are raised quite greatly and more details are revealed after the offender understands some of the things in which they have done.


Mr. Grygla stated he believes Ms. Hernandez’s comments are generally true but his concern with the tip of the iceberg mentality in law that places the 5% to 10% of youth that are upfront, honest, have really strong families and are put through the ringer because of their honesty and none of that is taken into account for prosecution purposes.


Mr. Faull stated, in regards, to Mr. Grygla stating “none of these things are taken into account by a prosecution” and the factual recitation by the witness, the fact he is remaining silent is out of respect for the individuals rather than getting into a factual dispute.   If he were acting as an advocate or a prosecutor he would have great disagreements with some of the statements that have been made about how prosecution works, what kind of information is taken into account, how it is taken into account, and what is done with it.


Senator Johnson said it would be wise to have it be a case by case basis instead of it being automatic what is done to someone.


Mr. Weber stated the victim in his case was taken to a counselor by her mother immediately after the offense, was seen one time and was told she does not need counseling.


Mr. Weber added at the time the plea was taken, the prosecutor informed the judge that it was fine for the defendant to be released on his own recognizance and live in the family home.  Mr. Weber stated he assumed the prosecutor believed that he was not a danger or she would not agreed to have him live in the family home because there are younger siblings that live there.




Senator Johnson asked those who signed up to speak to be careful to not mention specific names when speaking about their cases.  Senator Johnson added Mr. Faull had asked to be notified about these cases ahead of time but some of the families had concerns about giving specific information for fear of retribution.


Mr. Faull stated he understands the families concerns but there are two sides to every story and if there is no access to the other side of the story, the testimony needs to be given the weight of an unrebuttable, unverifiable commentary by a family.  Mr. Faull added during his time in the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office he has not seen a case of retribution from testimony.


Sheila Denney, representing self, testified regarding her son’s case.


Ms. Denney stated her son, at the age of 14 years, 6 months, was charged with attempted child molestation as an adult.  He was forced by the probation office to live at Central Arizona Shelter Services (CASS) for six months.  For the first couple of weeks he could not leave and if he did leave it would be considered a violation of his probation.  He became ill because CASS at that time did not have food service and he needed to eat from a vending machine.  Currently, he is at Lewis Prison and diagnosed with possibly having Hepatitis C. 


Ms. Denney added her youngest son wanted to see his brother but visitation was stopped.  When he was 18 he wanted to see him but that was stopped as well.  They were able to see each other for the first time after eight years last year because the prison worked with the family to let that happen.  They are very close and able to communicate with each other. 


Ms. Denney stated it was recommended that she give her oldest son up to the State when he was 16 because it would be the best thing for him in terms of receiving help.  He was placed in one of the facilities for treatment and he was there until after he turned 18 years old but could not move on to an apartment.  She was told by a counselor that they had nowhere to place him and he cannot go out on the street, as a result they were going to violate him.  This goes on his record as violation of probation even though he graduated from the Youth Development Institute (YDI) and received counseling and treatment.


Elizabeth McDonald, representing self, testified regarding her son’s case and answered questions posed by the Committee members.


Ms. McDonald stated during the summer of 2001 she was alerted to the fact that her son, who was 13 years old at the time, had inappropriately touched his younger cousin and the families attempted to deal with the situation themselves.  However, they were unaware of Arizona laws regarding juvenile sex offenders. 


In order to obtain counseling, the mother of the victim needed to tell the police department what had happened and obtained a written statement.  A few weeks later she received a letter from the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office stating that her son was charged with criminal molestation of a child and was to be prosecuted as an adult even though the offense happened when he was           13 years old.  Her son was honest and told the truth to the police about the offense but did not know this would be a confession that would condemn him as an adult sex offender for the rest of his life. 


This was her son’s first and only offense, he was doing well in school, active in sports, and well liked by his peers.  The family had sought out counseling on their own.  He had been evaluated by a psychological and behavioral specialist that had been recognized by the court and identified him as a low risk to re-offend.  However, this did not matter and when the judge asked the prosecutor if there was anything he could do, and the prosecutor said there was nothing he could do.  It was then, they realized the judge was not judging and the prosecutor was in charge.  Her son was charged with two counts of child molestation, lifetime probation, and six months in the county jail or 18 months of rehabilitation at a residential treatment center. 


Her son graduated from the treatment program and went back home where he graduated from high school.  He followed the rules and was doing well at home but when he turned 18 the probation department required him to live at the East Valley Men’s Center.  The probation department did not give a reasonable explanation as to why he was removed from his home and she believes they have made a concerted effort to remove and isolate him from his family. 

After six months at the Center he was charged with violation of his probation and incarcerated without the possibility of bail pending a sentencing hearing.  The family was not notified and found out after contacting his employer.  He is currently at the Alhambra Motel. 


The family went through the Chaperon Program, put locks and alarms on his door but he has not been able to return home since last January.


Mr. Hochuli asked if there was a hearing before a judge relative to transferring their son to the adult jurisdiction.  Ms. McDonald said there was not and the only person they talked to before receiving notification that he was being charged as an adult was a Detective at the Mesa Police Department.


Mr. Smith stated according to the law, with children as old as her son was, it is not an automatic decision by the county attorney’s office to prosecute a juvenile as an adult but there needs to be a transfer hearing where a judge makes that decision.  Ms. McDonald stated that they were not aware of this and hired an attorney after they were notified that her son was to be charged as an adult.


Ms. McDonald asked if they have legal recourse.  Mr. Smith said they should talk to Mr. Faull so the facts of the case can be looked into and their questions can be answered.


Senator Johnson recommended that Ms. McDonald talk to Mr. Faull after the meeting to give him details of the case so he can help her.


Representative Chase asked how notification is delivered to families.  Mr. Faull stated there are a number of options such as a summons or documents sent to an attorney.


Senator Johnson asked Mr. Faull to provide a report to the Committee as to what happened in the McDonald’s case.  Mr. Faull said he would be happy to provide the public record that would be available regarding the case in as much detail as the Committee requests.


Mr. Hochuli stated Pima County probation officers attempt to get a hold of the family to let them know about hearings that are taking place and the court generally requires a parent to be present at every hearing in the Juvenile Division.


Laura Jo Richins, representing self, testified regarding her son’s case and answered questions posed by the Committee members.


Ms. Richins stated when her son was 13 years old he began engaging in sexual behavior with his sister, who is two years younger, and continued for four years.  According to the psychiatrist who conducted the psychiatric evaluation it began as a simple desire to hug her when he has feeling sad or lonely and over the years this sexualized behavior became compulsive in nature and the desire to sexually touch her would emerge whenever he would feel sad or lonely. 

At 15 years of age he began to feel this was morally wrong and at 17 he talked to his Bishop.  Her son then talked to herself and his father.  After talking with his grandparents they agreed to take him into their home and he lived there for 23 months. 


In order to get the proper counseling he needed they realized this incident needed to be reported to the police.  From June 2002 to June 2003 they did not hear anything from the police.  They were told by the police that in the wide spectrum of sex offenders their son was on the low end of the scale and his report kept getting pushed to the bottom of the pile.  During this time her son graduated from high school, enrolled at Arizona State University (ASU), and went to counseling.  Also during this time he had chaperoned visits to their home and her daughter never felt uncomfortable or threatened during any of his visits. 


The police report was finally filed at the end of June 2003, 14 months after the initial report.  In January 2004, he pled to two counts, both class 3 felonies, lifetime probation, and no less than six months in jail.  During the mitigation hearing in March 2004, information that was presented to the judge included a letter from the psychiatrist that had done an evaluation on her son. It stated he did not have symptoms or behavior consistent with any paraphilia and does not have sexual fantasies about anyone other than young adult females.  It also stated, in the psychiatrist’s  opinion, her son has a good prognosis and if he receives proper treatment he would become a low risk for reoffending.  The letter went on to state it was his own inner shame and discomfort with his behavior that led him to go to his Bishop and this internal owning of and taking responsibility for his behavior is most often the desired end point of treatment for sexual predators.  The evaluation added that incarceration would be harmful because of his law abiding nature.  His individual counselor stated actuarial risk devices suggest a low risk to reoffend and believes he is a fundamentally sound individual  whose prognosis is excellent.  His group therapist recommended that jail time be deferred and he is a low risk to reoffend. 


The judge deferred jail time based on his behavior over the previous two years.  He was to appear before the judge every six weeks to report on how he was doing and at that point the judge would decide whether to continue to defer the six months of jail time. 


His first probation and surveillance officers said they wanted to be part of his family’s team but ended up doing everything they could to dismantle that team.  It was recommended that he move out of his grandparent’s home and because he could not financially live on his own the officers told them that he should move to the East Valley Men’s Center.  He was not allowed to leave the center for anything other than work or school.  He was required to spend his time with the residents there and attend Alcoholics Anonymous and other chemical dependency meetings even though he has never had a drink or done drugs.  His probation and surveillance officers continued to threaten him with jail time and told him that he should be in jail for what he had done. 


A year and a half ago he was assigned new officers and they treat him with respect.  He currently lives on his own, has a job, and is set to graduate from  ASU in May 2008.  He also continues to attend weekly counseling and is continually surrounded by a negative environment. 


Ms. Richins stated something is not right with the system that puts all sex offenses in the same category because all sex offenders are not the same.  Before children are moved to adult courts, even at the age of 17, their cases should be reviewed by a judge who makes that decision with the psychiatric evaluation provided.  The probation department should implement goals to work towards.  Ms. Richins added if laws are not changed some type of state program needs to be implemented where parents and children are educated on things that will lump them into the category as sex offender because right now people do not know about it.


Mr. Smith asked if there was a reason given as to why he was not allowed to stay at his grandparents’ house.  Ms. Richins stated the probation officer said because of notification it would cover people that they both knew and he needed to be removed to benefit the victim.  Also, this limited the grandchildren from going to the home to visit their grandparents.


Mr. Smith asked if their son ended up doing any jail time.  Ms. Richins stated he did because of lies given to the judge by the probation and surveillance officers. 


Mr. Smith asked how much jail time he ended up doing.  Ms. Richins said the judge was great and sentenced him to a month in between semesters at ASU in tent city so he was able to go to work and counseling.  Due to the fact that he needed to be at group therapy in the evening the jail asked that when he left for therapy that he not return for the three hours between counseling and when he needed to go to work.  He talked to his surveillance officer about going back to his trailer for that time.  According to a report written by the surveillance officer he misled her.  The Friday before he was to be let out he was informed he was going to be moved to the Towers Jail where he served the remainder of his required six months from the plea agreement. 


Jan Kruska, representing self, testified regarding the effects of lifetime sex offender registration.


Ms. Kruska stated she has been on the sex offender registry for 15 years.  She pled guilty to one misdemeanor count of sexual conduct with a minor.  She did not go to jail and was placed on probation for three years.  She was released after one year because it was felt that her supervision was no longer warranted.  She is not subject to community notification and has not had a risk assessment. 


At the time she did not have a problem being placed on the sex offender registry because she was told by the judge that it was only used for law enforcement purposes and she knew she made a bad mistake. 


She did not go through a sex offender treatment program because nothing like that, as far as she knows, existed back then but she was ordered to go through victim counseling because she had been a victim for most of her life up until then. 


Ms. Kruska stated we live in a sex saturated society and children are exposed to this and will experiment and make mistakes.  She cannot imagine a child being held to adult standards when it comes to a sex crime. 


Ms. Kruska added it seems to her like the State picks and chooses who it prosecutes for consensual crimes.  For example, her stepdaughter became pregnant when she was 16 years old by a 23 year old relative and the police refused to take a report.  Her husband contacted the county attorney’s office and was told if she was not willing to testify against him they will not prosecute.      Ms. Kruska stated he is not on the registry but she is for life. 


Ms. Kruska said the sex offender registry is about humiliation and vindictiveness.  It has nothing to do with public safety and does not help the victims or families to heal.  Ms. Kruska added she does not speak with her neighbors because she is waiting for when the State is going to require her to be subject to community notification because they feel like it. 


Ms. Kruska stated she was on a news story in Las Vegas about violent sexual offenders in which Sheriff Joe Arpaio was demonstrating a facial recognition system that will be used at schools.  In the story the station used her face which they obtained from the DMV.                  


Ms. Kruska asked the members to think about things like this before they pass their next law.


Senator Johnson stated next meeting will be at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 2, 2006 and plans to allow one hour for presentations and one hour for the families to testify.


There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 6:59 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,




Bill Ritz

Committee Secretary



(Audio recordings and attachments on file in the Secretary of Senate’s Office/Resource Center, Room 115).





















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Joint Legislative Committee on Youthful Sex Offenders

October 26, 2006

Page 16



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