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MA: Sex offenders have access to kids on Halloween

[bostonherald.com – 10/7/18]

Sex offenders are forbidden under state law from driving an ice cream truck, but they can hand out all the candy they want on Halloween in what one child advocate is calling a risky oversight.

“Halloween is like Christmas for sex offenders,” said attorney Wendy Murphy.

“They know they’ll have lots of access to kids and that they can’t get in trouble even though they’re required to stay away from children.”

Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas all have “no candy” laws that ban sex offenders from handing out treats on Halloween.

In Florida, sex offenders out on parole cannot hand out candy or wear costumes on Halloween night.

Both California and New York have similar laws that allow police to perform unannounced visits to sex offenders’ homes on Halloween night, Oct. 31.

Read more

 

Related links:

MA: Fearmongering Article Falsely Claims ‘Halloween Is Christmas for Sex Offenders’ [reason.com – 10/9/18]

 

Join the discussion

  1. Gralphr

    Um…do murderers have access to kids on Halloween? Can murderers drive ice cream trucks, go to the park, library, or their child school? So if I understand correctly, murderers are ok, sex offenders are the worst of the worst. What about an adult who killed a child out of hate? Can they give out candy, go to schools, etc.?

  2. Facts should matter

    The real “monsters” are the lawmakers. THEY are the ones that manufacture outrage and fabricate unwarranted fear. Too bad they don’t have “access” to common sense.

  3. Joe123

    I’m going to try to get in touch with the moron who wrote the article and the idiot attorney attorney Wendy Murphy.

  4. alienated

    If this is true maybe the Accusers should cite some real data. This all BS used to feed the media frenzy. Really , Sex offenders are what going to lure kids in their home with Candy? If the public is so worried then chaperone your children. Gotta Love Fake News!

  5. AnotherAnon

    Because it was a little difficult to follow in the General Comments threads, I’m going to post the links relating to a possible defamation suit against Wendy Murphy and the newspaper. Note that the subtitle to the article is “No Mass. law to stop monsters with candy.”

    Defamation of Groups or Individual Members
    Can I defame a group or class of people?
    https://www.minclaw.com/legal-resource-center/what-is-defamation/defamation-groups-members/

    Publishing Information that Harms Another’s Reputation
    http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/publishing-information-harms-anothers-reputation

    Can i get in trouble for posting sex offenders addresses on public forum
    https://www.avvo.com/legal-answers/can-i-get-in-trouble-for-posting-sex-offenders-add-1938220.html

    Answer:

    “If you are re-posting this information from the government’s sex offender web site, you will be in the clear as that is public information.

    “However, if you editorialize in such a manner that crosses the line to defamation or harassment, you could be creating liability for yourself.”

    Can An Opinion Be Defamatory?

    Labeling a statement an opinion does not automatically make it an opinion or make it safe from the possibility of it being defamatory. If a reader or listener could reasonably understand that the communication as stating a fact that could be verified, the communication will not be considered an opinion, especially if it is sufficiently derogatory to hurt the subject’s reputation. Also, a communication that is presented in the form of an opinion may be considered defamatory if it implies that the opinion is based on defamatory facts that have not been disclosed.

    In other words, the fact that a statement is one’s opinion does not necessarily make one immune from a defamation lawsuit.

    Expressions of Opinion

    An expression of opinion may be “simple” or “mixed.” A “simple” expression of opinion is made after the facts on which the opinion is based are presented. A “mixed” expression of opinion is not accompanied by the facts. They may be implied by the speaker or assumed by those receiving the communication.

    This distinction is significant in light of a Supreme Court decision that holds that an expression of opinion cannot be the basis of a defamation action. Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., (1974) 418 U.S. 323, 339. If an expression of opinion is based on disclosed, non-defamatory facts, an action is not supported no matter how unreasonable or derogatory the opinion is. However, if the expression of opinion is based on undisclosed or implied facts, support of an action depends on the understanding of the recipient of the statement, since the meaning of a communication is that which the recipient reasonably understands it to be, even if he/she is mistaken in that understanding. So if the recipient reasonably believes the truth of an undisclosed or implied defamatory fact about the subject of a statement, the speaker is liable.
    https://www.minclaw.com/legal-resource-center/what-is-defamation/can-opinion-defamatory/

    Meaning of the Communication

    The meaning of a communication is what the recipient understands the meaning to be. The recipient may be incorrect in that understanding, but if the incorrect interpretation is reasonable, the recipient’s understanding of the communication is taken to be the meaning of that communication. Generally, words are construed according to the meaning a recipient typically gives them. Southard v. Forbes Inc., 588 F.2d 140 (5 Cir. 1979).

    Likewise, the recipient’s understanding of the communication determines to whom the communication refers. A defamatory communication must refer to the plaintiff in order for the plaintiff to have a claim, but the reference is determined by the understanding of the recipient, not the intention of the defamer.

    The full context of any communication is considered when identifying the meaning of a communication and determining whether it is defamatory. Therefore, two statements could be identical, but if the context is different, one could be defamatory and other not. Hoffman v. Washington Post Co., 433 F.Supp. 600 (D.D.C. 1977). For example, the headline of a newspaper presents a different context than the newspaper article itself, because many people read only the headlines.

    The circumstances during which a person is presented the communication may also affect the meaning of the communication and how the person understands it. An otherwise obviously defamatory statement made as a joke to a person or group of people may have been made in circumstances in which no reasonable person would have taken it seriously. In such a case, the statement would not be defamatory.

    Elements of Group/Class Defamation

    An individual member of a group may be defamed by a statement if:

    The group or class is small enough that a reader or listener can reasonably understand that the statement refers to the plaintiff; and
    The reader or listener can reasonably infer that the statement refers to the plaintiff based on the circumstances of the publication.

    Although the size of the group is not defined by common law, generally plaintiffs have recovered damages when groups have included 25 or fewer people. The circumstances surrounding how the statement is presented has a significant influence on the success of such a claim. A defamatory statement alleging that “most members” of a group of 25 are guilty of bad behavior may defame the members of that group, but the same statement alleging “one member” of the group is guilty of the behavior would probably not be considered defamatory. Neiman-Marcus v. Lait, 13 F.R.D. 311 (S.D.N.Y. 1952)

    Source:

    Defamation of Groups or Individual Members
    Can I defame a group or class of people?
    https://www.minclaw.com/legal-resource-center/what-is-defamation/defamation-groups-members/

    Fearmongering Article Falsely Claims ‘Halloween Is Christmas for Sex Offenders’
    “Pushing for new laws aimed at keeping kids ‘safe’ from ‘sex offenders’ on Halloween is nonsense.”
    Lenore Skenazy|Oct. 9, 2018 2:10 pm
    https://reason.com/blog/2018/10/09/halloween-sex-offenders-boston-safe

    The History and Theory of the Law of Defamation (pointing out that defamation laws were passed in large part to prevent duels and violence, also forms of speech).
    https://www.jstor.org/stable/1109121?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents (at least read the last line, lol).

    I argue that not taking defamation action when possible is too passive, especially when confronted with the lies and fake news of the press. A little comment to an article is like slapping it with the little finger. One article like the one above is enough to wipe out and render helpless a million words of our resident activist, David Kennerly, a free speech lover. While I would agree that commenting can be helpful and is worth the time, that does not foreclose the use of heavy artillery where possible.

    That is not to say and defamation action would succeed. That is yet to be seen. I only suggest further research is needed because it would be a powerful weapon, and like all weapons, it must be understood.

  6. td777

    “like Christmas for sex offenders?” You’ve got to be kidding me! Wendy Murphy is obviously campaigning for more clients or to become the DA or something along those lines, and Joe Dwinell must be her campaign manager. What a bunch of garbage! And shame on you Boston Herald for publishing this!

    • Dustin

      Wendy Murphy is an insignificant anti-SO Nazi who had a little bit of spotlight when the Duke Lacrosse team was falsely accused of sexual assault. She sided with the accuser and repeatedly claims there is no such thing as a false accusation. You’ll have better luck convincing her she’s a 9-legged, cross-bred alien hippo than you will that her opinions regarding sex offenses and registrants are misguided.

      Pretty sure nearly anyone with a little knowledge would shred her in an honest debate. Equally sure she would never agree to participate in such a debate.

    • Hostage in Texas

      Wendy Murphy???? Give me a break. I cant believe they are talking to that irrelevent, no talent hack. She needs to go crawl back unde her rock and spare us her ignorrance.

  7. Will Allen

    I added some comments at the source article. Please do the same.

    What would that article look like if there were 100 comments following it that condemned it?

    How about 500? 1,000? There are easily enough of us. Easily. It should be an avalanche.

  8. Mike G

    Just wondering, how many thousands of children have been sexually assaulted on Halloween by a Registered Person?

    Or hundreds?

    Or dozens?

    Or count with fingers on one hand?

    Someone must have this extremely significant figure to justify this article. Right?

  9. Joe123

    I will be emailing a long, brass, letter to the editor, the Boston Herald, and all of the groups such as NARSOL, A4CSOL, WAR, FAC and possibly a MA state senator. Everyone will be CCed. I’m not going to let this Bullshit slide. I’m getting really fed up with the endless harassment of people and their families. These bastards propogating the myths and scare mongering need to face jail time.

  10. Eric

    As far as I know, and this was backed up by an attorney I know, there has never been a child sexually assaulted by a person on the registry giving out candy on Halloween. Definitely not ever in California. So Wendy Murphy like all the fear and hate mongers is a little of with her demagoguery stats.

    • Tired of this

      And while Ms. Murphy is out there crusading against this imagined threat, I see news stories year after year of numerous kids getting hurt and killed while out trick-or-treating by drunk drivers and other motorists who didn’t see them. For someone supposedly championing the cause of child safety, she’s awfully silent on these real, actual, well-documented dangers to kids out on Halloween.

      I’m guessing she has political aspirations.

  11. kat

    In TN not only is it CANDY that the authorities think will lure kids to the home of registrants, they also have a
    ban on outside and inside Fall Decorations!
    Has any kid ever been so taken with a decorative fall wreath and mums on the porch that they just couldn’t resist?
    These laws keep getting squirrelier and squirrelier! When will it end?????????

    • Will Allen

      “Squirrelier” is too nice of a word, LOL. Better words are: idiotic, illegal, immoral, anti-American.

      I added some comments at the source article. Please do the same.

      What would that article look like if there were 100 comments following it that condemned it?

      How about 500? 1,000? There are easily enough of us. Easily. It should be an avalanche.

  12. AnotherAnon

    The problem is that 5 times more people read the headline than read the body of the article. So what do most people see in big bold type?

    Sex offenders have access to kids on Halloween
    No Mass. law to stop monsters with candy

    And that is all they will see and remember.

    If anyone actually reads the body all the way through (and most will not) they likely do not read the comments. Even if they read the comments, they likely don’t read all of them.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been commenting where I thought it counted for almost 15 years. It’s like spitting into the wind and tugging on superman’s cape. I made enemies, but that’s ok. Success is measured by the number of new laws based on evidence-based solutions. Failure is new laws based on fear-mongering. I lost, over and over, but at least the debate isn’t as one-sided as it was years ago. Anyway, there are few other options. I think nothing-personal comments with evidence-based facts are most effective.

  13. nylevel1

    WRONG
    Both California and New York have similar laws that allow police to perform unannounced visits to sex offenders’ homes on Halloween night, Oct. 31.

    NEW YORK HAS THIS FOR PAROLEES AND CERTAIN PROBATIONERS ONLY

    • Will Allen

      Interesting. But why do they even need a law? I expect that probably in any state that LE can make unannounced visits any time that they like. And I know they do all over the place. That is precisely why every Registered Person should have their homes inaccessible to LE always. Don’t allow them to get close to you. Anywhere.

      • AJ

        @nylevel1:
        @Will Allen is exactly right. Neither NY nor CA, nor any other State, needs a law “allowing” it. See KY v. King (https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/563/452/):
        *****
        When law enforcement officers who are not armed with a warrant knock on a door, they do no more than any private citizen might do. And whether the person who knocks on the door and requests the opportunity to speak is a police officer or a private citizen, the occupant has no obligation to open the door or to speak. [] When the police knock on a door but the occupants choose not to respond or to speak, “the investigation will have reached a conspicuously low point,” and the occupants “will have the kind of warning that even the most elaborate security system cannot provide.” [] And even if an occupant chooses to open the door and speak with the officers, the occupant need not allow the officers to enter the premises and may refuse to answer any questions at any time. (Citations removed.)
        *****
        This concept was reaffirmed in FL v. Jardines (https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/569/1/),
        which cited KY v. King and even included the useful example of trick-or-treaters:
        *****
        This implicit license typically permits the visitor to approach the home by the front path, knock promptly, wait briefly to be received, and then (absent invitation to linger longer) leave. Complying with the terms of that traditional invitation does not require fine-grained legal knowledge; it is generally managed without incident by the Nation’s Girl Scouts and trick-or-treaters. Thus, a police officer not armed with a warrant may approach a home and knock, precisely because that is “no more than any private citizen might do.” (Citations removed.)

        • TS

          @AJ

          I have wondered recently about the knock and talk you describe here in relation to using a locked screendoor vs an apartment frontdoor where no screendoor is possible. Using a locked screendoor should allow one to talk but does maintain the inability for LE to enter.

          However, what about the other with no screendoor?

        • Will Allen

          TS (October 12, 2018):

          You can open your door to talk to LE and that does not mean at all that you are giving them permission to enter your home. However, if they see, smell, hear, or whatever, anything that is illegal or a problem, they can bust in. And they might just say they smelled or saw something, just to bust in. Best to avoid the possibility completely.

          The worse case is that a person has a front door that cannot be blocked for whatever reason. For those people, I think they should simply tell LE that they won’t be answering the door if they happen to stop by. And then don’t answer the door. Anyone that can block access to their doors/home, should.

          If people want “compliance checks” to stop, then they must act. If you don’t act, you’ll just have to accept them.

          Personally, I don’t think that “compliance checks” are really a big deal. And if I were a member of LE, I would try to verify addresses. BUT … I do think that Registered People (RP) should NEVER allow them. It is a simple matter of principle. RPs should never do anything that is not forced that gives any hint or indication that the Registries might be acceptable. Doesn’t matter how tiny of a thing it is, it should not be done. It is that simple to me.

          Additionally, I think LE and the anti-Americans who support the Registries, cry so much about having to “verify” information and they lie so much about how they are “monitoring” people that I think it just sends the perfect message if EVERYONE knew that in reality that LE couldn’t get near anyone’s homes. That is the perfect message. Their “monitoring” is pure lies.

        • TS

          @Will Allen

          Thank you. Talking to them through a chained door then is ok (which is not technically open and must be busted open to further any LE advance into the house) when a screen door is not possible.

        • AJ

          @TS:
          Once again, @Will Allen is spot on and I wholly agree. Aside from their seeing/smelling/hearing something that creates an exigent circumstance (whether or not something was truly seen/smelled/heard being debatable and suspect), they’re like vampires: they can’t enter (i.e. break the plane of the threshold) in any way unless invited (further comparison to being life- and blood-sucking inhumans is left for others).

          Personally, I would not given them any opportunity to let them see into my residence. You could perhaps speak to them through a slightly open window, but that then allows them to look through the window into the house. I suppose you could also ask them for a cell phone number and call them on the other side of the door. You could also simply shout back and forth through a closed door, but that may be a problem if trying to maintain a certain amount of discretion and privacy.

          Personally, I will never answer the door for any Thin Blue Liar, regardless their reason for being there. Likewise, I will not roll down my car window any further than necessary to give what limited answers I must (which are quite few…or even none) and to pass documents back and forth. Remember, too, that even if your door is open, you’re 100% within your rights to stop the conversation and close the door in their face at any time you choose. From FL v. Royer, citing Terry v. OH:
          *****
          “The person approached, however, need not answer any question put to him; indeed, he may decline to listen to the questions at all, and may go on his way.”
          *****
          Here, “approached” = their being at your door, and “go on his way” = closing the door.

          To answer your question: Personally I find “talking to them” at *all* is not okay. But yes, a screen door is fine. A chain-locked door is fine. A wide-open door is fine. But all of these introduce risk. The safest door is one that remains closed, even if unlocked. If a door is opened in any way, I’d be sure to have my foot or some other doorstop propped against it. I’d also probably have audio and/or video recording being made, just in case.

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