Sympathy for the Devils: Should Sex Offenders Have More Rights or None at All?
Illustration by Brian Stauffer

On a blue, sun-soaked Saturday in December 2007, Valerie Parkhurst's white Suburban took the asphalt at a purposeful creep past the blocks of modest ranch homes between Griffin Road and 595. The city of Davie was still blue-collar at the core, but the edges were going. Here, you'd see an unruly lawn; there, a jaundiced house front crying out for a new coat of paint. Back when Parkhurst was a single mom in the '70s and '80s, it was all good ol' boys, pickups filling every driveway. Everyone knew everyone — or at least thought they did. That was before the sex offender registry revealed the boogeymen down the street.

The same cheap real estate that lured young families had also brought the "freaks," "the sick fucks," and "the worthless examples of human DNA," as Parkhurst would call them. Rapists. Child molesters. Kiddie porn fiends.

Parkhurst had anointed herself a one-woman line of defense for the 33314 ZIP code. "I didn't choose this fight," she was fond of saying. "It chose me."

After Gail Colletta's son was busted for child porn, she began crusading for more lenient laws.
Monica McGivern
After Gail Colletta's son was busted for child porn, she began crusading for more lenient laws.
Damian Garcia's family might lose their home due to a Lake Worth ordinance restricting where sex offenders can live.
Kyle Swenson
Damian Garcia's family might lose their home due to a Lake Worth ordinance restricting where sex offenders can live.
Valerie Parkhurst  — AKA "The Valigator" — harasses sex offenders in hopes of driving them out of Davie.
Monica McGivern
Valerie Parkhurst — AKA "The Valigator" — harasses sex offenders in hopes of driving them out of Davie.

It didn't have exactly the same adrenaline kick as her usual sport, knocking through the Everglades harpooning gators. But every morning, she scrolled through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's sex offender database to see whether any criminals had been released into her neighborhood. She checked news stories about offenders striking again. In her mind, every name was a possible time bomb ticking down to the next boom. Her job was to publicize where these scumbags lived so good people could steer clear.

She pulled into the parking lot of a yellow two-story apartment complex and killed the engine. Dressed in cotton drawstring capri pants and a white T-shirt, Parkhurst, then 52, moved from car to car, slipping fliers underneath windshield wipers. They warned neighbors that Dale Weeks had been convicted of sexual battery and imprisonment in 1995 — the latest entry in a criminal career including battery and grand theft. He was such a sicko that he requested the police evidence photos of his victim's genitals.

A chunky Hispanic woman approached Parkhurst and asked what she was doing. Parkhurst spotted a husky guy with graying hair pop out from one of the apartments — Weeks. Parkhurst sensed the two were an item. "I'm just telling you," she said in her tough-gal voice, "that we want him out."

Two hours later, Parkhurst was hunting a Davie side street for another bad guy. In her rearview mirror, she noticed a Chevy Lumina riding her bumper. Weeks was riding shotgun; his girlfriend was behind the wheel.

Oh, Valerie thought, they wanna play.

The street dead-ended. The Lumina behind her, Parkhurst was trapped. She tossed the Suburban into park and hopped out.

"Are you following me?" she shouted. "Move your fucking car! You're a convicted sex offender. You'll go to jail for this shit."

"You no good fucking bitch," Weeks growled and moved from the car, Parkhurst remembers.

Her 9mm Glock was tucked on the floor, as always. She ripped it from the Velcro holster, squared up in a two-handed range stance, a trigger pull away from standing her ground.

Weeks' woman was pulling at his side. When the two retreated back to their car and inched it back, Parkhurst did the same. But the Lumina halted. The passenger door shot back open.

Oh fuck me, Parkhurst thought.

This time, she emerged from her car with a 20-gauge Remington automatic shotgun. "I've got no problem killing you," she announced.

By the time officers arrived to cuff Parkhurst for aggravated assault with a firearm and carrying a concealed gun without a license, both parties had cooled and were sitting in their vehicles.

This high-noon suburban standoff caused a minor rumble in the local media. But to a small but intense niche scattered across the country, it gave Parkhurst hero status. In online forums where they religiously gathered, vigilantes and sex offender watch groups cheered Parkhurst by her online handle, "the Valigator." She'd faced down the bad guy without blinking. "I should have put a bullet through his head," she'd say later.

But for every one of these hardliners, there was an equal and opposite force. Another group was emerging — people who dared to stand up for sex offenders, arguing that they'd done their time and paid their price to society. Yet the sex offender registry — an indignity faced by no other type of criminal — left them ostracized, sometimes unfairly and often for life. It eliminated any hope of rehabilitation or reintegration into society. The registry needed to be reformed, they argued.

Both the hardliners and the reformers say the current system of sex offender management is flawed — but they have radically different ideas about what should be changed. These opposing groups are embroiled in an intense, ugly face-off about whether the lowest of society's low should have more rights — or almost none at all.

Only 40 miles to the north of the Valigator, another suburban mom was quickly becoming a flag bearer for the opposite team.


Gail Colletta, a blond marketing executive, hadn't even had time to change out of the oversized T-shirt she wore to bed when the knock came at the door of her Boynton Beach villa in July 2009. Her husband, Julius, was in the shower. After a tense run of sleepless nights, Alex, her 21-year-old son, was finally passed out in bed. She saw a caravan of police cars. One of the neighbors must need help, she thought.

Half a dozen cops in black protective vests streamed into the house. One spat lingo at her, words like "search warrant," "IP address," "guns or ammunition." One phrase stuck out.

"'Child pornography'?" Gail repeated. "Are you kidding me?"

From his bedroom just off the front hallway, Alex shouted: "It's on my computer!"

As his parents anxiously sat at the kitchen table, Alex was locked away with detectives in the spare bedroom. The student admitted that for the past four months, he'd been using Limewire to download music onto his Dell laptop. Over three days in late May, he'd used search terms like "4yo" to hunt out child pornography. After a few clicks, the program piled the files into his default download folder. With titles like "MafiaSex.Ru_Children_Kids_Hards_000293_ChildPorn_Collection_1_Pussy_Illegal_Preteen_Underage_Lolita_Kiddy_Child_Incest_XXX_Porno_Gay_Fuck_YOUng_Naked_Nude_Little_Girl(1).jpg," the items were already logged in the Internet Crimes Against Children database. Palm Beach County law enforcement easily tracked the content to the family's IP address. Alex was booked on 49 counts of possessing photographs of sexual performances by a child.

For the Collettas, the arrest was the latest terrible flare-up of the mental health issues Alex had been wrestling for a decade. An adoptive child growing up in Boca Raton, their boy had been a slightly geeky teacher's pet. But when Alex was 16, Gail and Julius divorced. During a six-week stretch in 2004, Alex tried to kill himself three times. The doctors diagnosed him with bipolar disorder, and Alex was handed a pharmacy shelf of medications.

The pills didn't work. Eventually, the family transferred Alex from Boca Raton High School to a tough-love-style military school in Utah. He graduated, but the manic-depressive seesawing continued.

In September 2008, Gail and Julius reunited, bought the house, and brought Alex home to live while he took biotech classes. That helped — his moons of depression had been coming less and less.

Following the arrest in July 2009, news crews were at the gate asking for interviews. Alex's mug shot — showing a handsome kid with a shaved dome and jutting ears — was plastered in the newspapers. Family members slept on his floor at night, scared he'd make good on a fourth suicide attempt.

Alex claimed the download was a one-time, sleep-deprived whim. Gail knew he was just a troubled young man, not a predator. So when the prosecution offered a deal — five years of prison, five years of probation — the family balked. They figured the judge would show mercy — maybe give him house arrest and treatment.

She hated the idea of a son stuck on the registry. The person disappeared behind the label. It was a lesson she personally learned. Between 8 and 14, Gail had been sexually abused by members of her family. She coped by refusing to let one piece of her experience — her victimization — define her. And here her son was facing a punishment that could strip him clean of everything except the fallout of a single mistake.

It seemed like a safe enough bet. A risk assessment concluded: "Available information indicates that Mr. Colletta will present minimal risk to the community." But in the end, it was naive thinking.

"We have all this evidence that there's no risk here, that this isn't a guy who's going to go out and rape a child," Gail says. "I thought they were going to send him home for a year of house arrest and send him to counseling."

On October 29, 2010, in a Palm Beach County courtroom, Alex pleaded guilty, hoping for leniency. Judge Amy Smith handed Alex ten years in prison followed by 15 years of probation — still less than the 16 to 150 years he might have faced at a jury trial. As with anyone convicted of a sex crime, the sentence came with an automatic lifetime on the sex offender registry. When the words hit Gail, she lunged at the victorious prosecutor. Julius had to hold her back. Gail fainted in the courthouse hallway.

She took to bed for the next five months. When she finally found the strength to get up, Gail began making phone calls trying to find a way to get justice for her son — who'd made a mistake, yes, but received the same punishment as a violent offender. She discovered the Florida Action Committee, a support system for families of sex offenders. Members mostly laid low; activism could cost them jobs or put them in the crosshairs of vigilantes.

But Colletta didn't have much to lose. Her family name had already been splashed across the nightly news. In July 2011, she became the group's president and began knocking on the doors of legislators.

Specifically, Colletta wanted to see more latitude in the punishment of sex offenders. Based on individual risk assessments, judges should be able to exempt low-risk offenders from the registry, she argued. Also, there needed to be more education — computer users needed more warning that a one-time download of child porn could ruin a person's life. And anyone who felt a sexual attraction to children ought to have access to therapy.

But in a tough-on-crime land like Florida, Gail's pitch was a tough sell.


"She's a sex offender diva," Parkhurst says of Colletta. "She's got her son who went down for child porn, and then now all of a sudden, she's an expert on sex offender crime? What school did she go to other than the raid on her house?"

Parkhurst dismisses anyone pushing for reform of the sex offender registry — the "pro-offender divas" or "registry abolitionist" crowd. She says the only sympathizers are convicted criminals and their girlfriends.

"It's a motley crew of slithering sex offenders and the girls who are banging them," Parkhurst says. "They're self-serving for doing it. They don't like the punishment. As far as I'm concerned, the registry is a fricking Christmas gift to these guys. They could be sitting in a five-by-seven cell."

Sex offender registries began with the 1994 Jacob Wetterling Act, a federal law that directed each state to keep a list of sex offenders for law enforcement. 1996 saw the passage of Megan's Law, which mandated states share these lists with the public. Florida was the first state to put the information online, in 1997.

Under Florida's law, people convicted of sex crimes are split into two group, predators and offenders. "Predators" include repeat offenders, or those convicted of violent first-degree crimes like kidnapping, false imprisonment, sexual battery, lewd/lascivious offenses on someone under 16, or selling or buying minors for child pornography.

All other sex crimes — for example luring or enticing a child, unlawful sexual activity with certain minors, procuring a person under 18 for prostitution, and child pornography — are classified as "offenders."

As of April 2011, of 55,847 sex offenders on the state registry, 16 percent were classified as predators and 84 percent as offenders. Under the Jimmy Ryce Sexually Violent Predators Act, some predators that the Department of Children and Families deems a continuing threat to society may be civilly committed to a treatment center even after finishing their sentences. (This portion of offenders was the focus of a Sun-Sentinel series this week.)

Once released from prison, offenders must update their information — add current photos, update their workplaces — on the registries two times a year, predators four. Both groups are required to register for life. Getting removed from the list is almost impossible, except in some instances in which sex offenders hit with certain charges go 25 years without reoffending.

Many local governments in turn passed ordinances that prevent sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of a school, park, or bus stop. As of 2011, there were 140 local ordinances in 44 Florida counties.

"There's really no set way that all the ordinances are written," says FDLE's Adam Moses. "Some are written based on the victim; some cover all offenders regardless of the age of the victim." Although sex offenders may be monitored by probation officers, it falls to local police departments to enforce these city and town residency restrictions.

In South Florida, there's hardly any developed land that isn't near a school or park, so sex offenders who've served their sentences have almost nowhere they are legally allowed to live. In Miami-Dade, there was a notorious case of released offenders living under the Julia Tuttle Causeway. In Broward County, 97 percent of developed land is covered by restrictions.

The setup is met by the mainstream mostly with relief. But some have begun to question its effectiveness.

Critics argue that a person who actually groped a kid is far more dangerous than a person who clicked on a picture of child pornography, so it's unfair to classify offenders into only two berths based on their crimes without considering the individual's situation. Advocates like Gail Colletta say some might deserve heavy-duty monitoring, while others can be rehabbed.

Dr. Jill Levenson, a professor at Lynn University who has studied sex offenders, echoes the idea. "For the low-risk offenders, we want to avoid creating such obstacles in their life that they're never going to succeed. That is not a good formula."

In 2006, Congress passed the Adam Walsh Act. It required states to implement an offense-based approach to who's put on the registry. With a few easy tweaks, Florida was able to come into compliance. But it's one of only 14 states to do so. Minnesota and Washington have pulled away from the offense-based approach. They assess individuals and put only the riskiest ones on the state registry. This comes with a penalty. Noncompliance with the Walsh Act costs them 10 percent of their Department of Justice grant money.

Hardliners see reform only as a dismantling of the already-flimsy defenses people have. The Valigator says there are two main problems with the registry: Not enough people use it, and police fail to enforce it.

"The difference between me and the pro-divas is they want to minimize the dangers, whereas I want to maximize the dangers," Parkhurst says. "When I get bombarded with those kinds of alerts every day, I realized what a bunch of sick freaks there are actually walking around out there. You have to go with the premise that they're all dangerous."


Parkhurst's light-bulb moment came in the early '80s, when she was raising her only son, Justin, in Davie. She'd heard about sex offenders nearby, so the concerned mom mailed away to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for a list of offenders in her ZIP code. A whopping 64 names came back.

Already a right-leaning Republican with a soft spot for capital punishment, she began relentlessly tracking offenders in her neighborhood and broadcasting their crimes and whereabouts. The online registry made the work easier, and with a Davie ordinance creating a 2,500-foot residency restriction, she could often report violators to police and push for them to be booted from the neighborhood.

When the cops were ineffective, Parkhurst resorted to shaming landlords.

When a convicted rapist named Ricardo Eire moved into a rental unit in violation of the city ordinance, Parkhurst fired off anonymous letters to property owner Paul Roseman and to all the addresses surrounding Roseman's own house in a gated community. "It is intolerable that Persons as yourself feel you can rent to the lowest of the low in a vulnerable neighborhood while disassociating yourself in a more affluent one," the letter read.

Roseman says now, "I understand, the person is a sex offender — you can't take a chance. We don't want these kind of people. The man should have been removed, and he was removed. But the nasty, threatening way it was put to me — I would have liked to have seen a signature on it."

Ingo Lang received a similar letter in early 2012 after renting to an individual who was arrested after allegedly attempting to abduct a Boca Raton 3-year-old using ice cream and candy.

"As a landlord, you need to understand that Davie does not appreciate 'our area' homeowners who 'rent' on the warm body theory," the letter read. "It is incumbent on you to be responsible as to who inhabits your property."

"I had nothing to do with him," Lang says, adding that the letter "made me look bad. They just assumed I'm the guy with the money and I live the good life and I dumped the trash in their neighborhood. And that's not the case."

Even after Parkhurst moved into a Fort Lauderdale gated community and kept the Davie house as a rental, she kept at it. After her 2007 arrest for aiming a gun at Dale Weeks, Parkhurst stopped fliering and moved much of her activity online. Going by "Valigator," she patrolled the comments section of practically any article about sex offenders. She started a blog (http://sexoffenderissues-valigator.blogspot.com/), where she bashes "pro divas" like Colletta and champions the "anti" cause.

Parkhurst has company. Fellow vigilantes include David Rowe, an Orange Park man behind No Peace for Predators, an aggressive activist group with the stated goal of having sex predators "Exposed, Exiled and, ultimately, Extinct." Rowe has pushed for tougher sentences on sex offenders and successfully pressured a Jacksonville-area offender to sell his ice cream truck in 2011. Barbara Ferris, an Orlando housewife behind the group Bee Aware, posted videos of her confrontations with offenders who put up holiday decorations on their apartments — to lure children, she worried. Web pages such as "Evil Unveiled" and "Absolute Zero United" publish the personal details of reformers — home addresses, phone numbers, emails, and screen names.

"Nationally, there are about 20 of us," Parkhurst explains, describing her online cohorts. "What we do is try to make as much noise about this issue as possible."

Derek Logue has felt their wrath. At 24, the Alabama native served three years in prison for the sexual assault of an 11-year-old girl. As a registered sex offender now based in Ohio, he's become one of the loudest online advocates for reform. "Over the years, I've had [someone] describe my apartment building, tell me I'd never see him coming, told me he'd cut my head off and fuck me in the ass. Fine outstanding pillars of the community here," he says sarcastically.

But the scurrilous banter flows both ways. Counter sites like "Evil Exposed" and "Absolute Zero Unites" call out the bullies who harass offenders who have already done their time. Parkhurst is the target of at least two web pages devoted to personally trashing her, including digs about alleged alcoholism and paranoia. They say she's from "Crazie Davie," even stooping to say she's lesbian.

"The reason they throw so many stones at me," she says, "is I am a force to be reckoned with."

Or a force that doesn't pull punches. "It's about time we start finding the bodies of sex offenders on the side of the road," she says and repeats often online. "And not the bodies of kids."


For the second time in as many minutes, a low-flying jet screaming away from Miami International Airport completely blows out all other sound in the River Park Trailer Park off SW 27th Avenue. Here, accommodations look like they were handed out by an NGO in a war-torn country. Stationary trailers hammered together from construction-site leftovers are subdivided into cramped units that rent for $500 a month. Drugs are openly sold. A prostitute seems to sleepwalk among men squatting in tree shade.

About 90 sex offenders live in the trailer park — or did live there. On August 2, they were all swept out in a mass eviction.

Since Miami-Dade passed a law requiring a 2,500-foot buffer in 2007, River Park was one of the few places offenders could live. But in late July, the residents were blindsided: Somehow officials suddenly realized there was a small school in the zone, the Miami Bridge North School, a seventh- through 11th-grade school. Probation officers began telling their guys to move. (Calls to federal and county probation offices for this article were not returned.)

Evian L. White, an attorney with Legal Services of Greater Miami, tried to help the residents but couldn't find a legal recourse. "The government agencies tell you you have to live here because basically you're a pariah and can't live anywhere else," she says. "And now you have to go."

Antonio (who asked that his real name not be used) had called this blasted piece of Miami home after serving five years on a federal child porn charge. He claims he was caught looking at pictures of "teens, 16, 17, 18 — not the 7-year-olds. But they don't care. They throw me in the same boat with someone who probably raped a 9-year-old."

Residency restrictions are a joke, Gail Colletta says. They "don't prevent anything. They're about where a sex offender sleeps, where he is between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. So what's the difference if my address is across the street from a school or 2,500 feet away from a school? If I am hell-bent on kidnapping a child, do you really think it matters to me where I live?"

As often as possible, Colletta makes the 500-mile trek up the Panhandle to the Calhoun Correctional Institute, where her six hours allotted per weekend with Alex are spent at a plastic table in a frigid visiting room.

Back on the other side of the barbed wire, Colletta rolled that heartache into her work, the phone calls to legislators, the sitdowns with sex offenders. "I can't stop," she says. She brushes off nasty comments from the Valigator as needless fearmongering and instead tries to persuade people with research, facts, and compassion.

Since taking over the presidency of the Florida Action Committee, she has made herself a fixture in Tallahassee, hauling carloads of sex offenders to meetings with representatives. She's published op-eds. Colletta has even forked over her own money to create a public service announcement about how a curious click of child porn can land a person in serious legal trouble.

From her home in Boynton Beach, Colletta worked the phones, trying to bring attention to the River Park evictees. She blasted out four news releases, but hardly anyone covered it. "Apparently, the South Florida news community had 'bigger fires' to report on," the last release snarled.

Ninety minutes up I-95 from River Park in Lake Worth, Damian Garcia puffs on an electronic cigarette while his 3-year-old son wobbles about the lawn. He outlines big plans for the backyard — a pergola, a movie projector. As his pretty wife, Angelica, comes out to the porch with dinner, Garcia beams. "I really don't feel like I live the life of a typical sex offender."

But Garcia could be booted in two weeks. When he was 18, Garcia had what he claims was consensual sex with a girl he met at the beach. She said she was 17 but was actually 15. He was charged with lewd or lascivious battery. Eventually, Garcia accepted a withhold of adjudication, a legal option that meant he would not be found guilty of a felony but did include three years of probation. Tagged on was the registry.

"If I was any other criminal, my sentence would be done," Garcia says. "Say you're a prospective employer and you're looking at my background — this doesn't come up at all on a background check. But if you do a Google search of my name, you'll see me on the registry."

It got worse. A 2007 Florida law allowed "Romeos" in statutory rape cases (sometimes called "Romeo and Juliet cases") like Garcia's to petition off the registry. Garcia met all the criteria, except that, to save money, he got his psychosexual evaluation from a therapist other than the one chosen by the court. A judge denied his petition. The law allows Romeos just one shot to get off the list — and his was blown.

Despite his label, Garcia has been able to make a good living working small-time finance jobs. But after filing this new address with the registry, the phone call came from local police: His new home was 1,500 feet from a school bus stop, a violation of Lake Worth's ordinance. Move or face arrest.

"I don't even know where the bus stop is," he says. He couldn't even contest the case until school began for the fall because administrators were unavailable to confirm bus routes.

Stories like these are why some experts like Levenson feel residency restrictions and the sex offender registry fail to prevent sex offenders from committing more crimes. Rather, the tough, one-size-fits-all stance makes life so shitty for low-risk offenders that it raises their chances of acting criminally again. And wasting resources on low-risk offenders stretches the system too thin to closely monitor the highest-risk criminals, they argue.

Last November, Lynn University's Levenson and a team of researchers looked at the recidivism rates of sex offenders. Nationally, they reoffended an average of 5.1 percent after five years and 10.3 percent after ten years. If Florida's tough approach were working, you'd expect those digits to be lower than the average, but actually the state's rates are 5.2 and 13.7 percent, respectively.

The study also found no correlation between residency restrictions and a lower rate of recidivism. The restrictions seem to push more offenders to homelessness.

In fact, 60 of the 90 offenders who were bulldozed out of River Park are now living near the rail tracks on 71st Street and 37th Avenue.


Detective Adam Granit, a stocky sex crimes officer from the Davie Police Department, stands at the front of the room. The audience is mostly concerned moms. As if they were handing them out at the door, the same tight frown is etched on each face. For tonight's monthly neighborhood crime meeting, the topic is sex offenders.

"Listen, let me start off by saying I might not agree with the rules, but those are the rules I have to go by," the cop says.

One mom asks which offenders are allowed into public parks.

"You're not going to like this answer," the cop says, but offenders with adult victims are "all allowed to go to parks." State law prevents sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a park if their victim was a child, and Davie's local ordinance makes that buffer zone larger: 2,500 feet. State law also forbids offenders with child victims from going within 300 feet of places where children congregate.

The conversation hovers on familiar neighborhood characters. William Sears was convicted of sexual battery in 1996. According to police records, he forced anal sex on an adult woman in the back seat of a parked car. Today, neighbors say he throws trash on adjoining properties and lets his angry pit bulls run without a leash. But because his victim was an adult, he's free to hang out in the park.

"I understand nobody wants any of these people in the neighborhood," the police officers sighs calmly. "Especially him."

"Especially him," Valerie Parkhurst echoes forcefully from the back row. Still wearing medical scrubs from her day job as a dental assistant, she sits with her legs crossed, fingers wrapped around a piece of junk mail on which she's scribbled notes.

"It's just such a disconnect that there are some guys you can hold accountable and keep away from parks and schools because their victim was a child and then there's other guys who are the worst of the worst — rapists, batterers, maybe they've killed — but their victims were not listed as a child [and] they get free rein," she says, nods breaking out in the audience. "It's almost insane."

Luis Andino was another neighbor who had the room's attention. In 2005, the then-54-year-old Puerto Rico native pleaded guilty to lewd or lascivious molestation. Andino rubbed his crotch against the behind of a 10-year-old girl he'd lured into an empty apartment at the complex where he worked as a maintenance man.

He lives near a park. Detective Granit explains he's allowed to live there because of an old exemption in the law for sex offenders who owned their homes: Even if the home happened to be near a school or park, they could live in it if they owned it prior to committing their crime. A statute sutured up the loophole in 2009, but the timing of the ordinance creates a gray area in Andino's case.

The fact that each city and county has different restrictions creates a Balkanized landscape where both offenders and residents are confused. But even common-sense measures are a tough sell in Tallahassee if there's a sense they're lenient for sex offenders.

"I had a bill that was ready to pass when I was in the Legislature about five years ago that would have made sex offender registry restrictions more standardized," says Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg. At the last minute, a group of Miami-Dade and Broward legislators killed the bill by accusing Aronberg of being soft on crime. "In reality, it was tougher," he argues, because with less confusing restrictions, fewer offenders would register as homeless, which makes it hard to keep track of them at all.

Colletta says she's now a familiar face with legislators in Tallahassee — but so far, none of them wants to be publicly tied to her cause. "I won't give you any names right now," she says, "but there's one legislator we have who may help us present some legislation."

After the meeting, Parkhurst drags on a cigarette and offers clarification. "I can overlook some things. Why turn a guy's world upside down when he seems to be walking the straight and narrow?" she asks. Parkhurst supports allowing low-risk Romeos off the registry. "Then there are other things I cannot overlook. Sears is one of them, but my hands are kind of tied with him."

(Sears, reached by phone, says, "I completely understand people being concerned about me in their community," but he adds, "I have no intention of doing anything like that again.")

Like a gun moll in a film noir, she shoots smoke from her mouth into the rainy night. "Andino? I'm not overlooking Andino. I'm getting his ass out."

Parkhurst boasts that she's pressured hundreds of sex offenders out of the neighborhood over the years. Today, the offenders database lists only 11 offenders in the 33314 ZIP code. (For comparison, nearby 33317 has 37.) Davie Police did not return calls about Parkhurst's rogue approach, nor did the department offer data about the number of sex offenders found violating its residency restrictions.

About a week later, Parkhurst's white Suburban again tools through the quiet side streets of Davie, checking up on offenders.

"Do I hate them?" she muses."I wouldn't invite them to Thanksgiving dinner. When I can look up the criminal history of William Sears and see that this guy should be sitting in a five-by-seven and not breathing the same air as me, then yeah, I hate him. And that drives my passion. It makes it easier for me to pull out all the guns — pardon the pun."

Following her 2007 showdown with Dale Weeks, Parkhurst began having second thoughts about waging her fight. But months after the incident, Weeks was arrested for armed robbery. (He's currently in prison.) Charges against Parkhurst were dropped. Claiming she had only been acting in self-defense, she filed a civil suit for wrongful arrest. The parties settled before the case was set to go to trial in 2012. Parkhurst declines to say how much she was awarded.

The Suburban jams to a halt near the cracked asphalt of a single-hoop basketball court. "This is a little-known park that I use," Parkhurst explains. "It's very strategic for these scumbags over here."

She pulls out one of her hand-scribbled envelopes, then points to a name: Hammoudeh Safi, a Guatemalan native with a 2003 conviction for gross sexual imposition of someone under 13. "He was just put on the registry yesterday. He is [at] 3672 SW 60th Terrace." She pilots the truck around the corner to a crumbling unit in a single-story row of apartments. It looks to be within the 2,500-foot distance from the park.

Parkhurst's lips hitch up into a wide smile. "So tell me, is my sex crimes officer doing his job?"

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bama.nutzgaming
bama.nutzgaming

Ok, murderers, drug dealers, meth makers, drug users, duis, home invasions, fraud, gang violence. all these horrible people are treated soooo much better than any sex offender for any reason from the littlest crime up to what they should be put to death for. I do agree with val that the ones that raped children over and over should be put to death for in prison, general population (where someone will put them to do) for life. statutory rape would be the only crime that should not be registered for life nor should it have an outcome for life for the individual. in my state, statutory rape carries a min to max sentence of 1 to 2 years. registry for life is not forced for it. registry for the term of probation is. I know someone here with that charge that now is trying to steer those with a sexual problem to late teens away from this life. He meets with officials to find these individuals and get them into therapy before its too late. He is no longer on the registry as of December 30 2013. Should he die too? Should he be shunned for a mistake he made at the age of 20 with a girl that was 3 years younger? No. some homicides and even murderers go on to do small prison time between 4 and 20 years, do 5 years of parole after release and is longer looked after by the probation or parole or community. How is this ok for you? Drug dealers have taken the lives of millions and millions of kids and adults, but you let them go free before a sex offender. Reoffending people will always be there but not only sex offenders and not a lot of them. Drugs and dui offenders are more likely to reoffend than sex offenders. Oh yea and that guy that I have told you about. its me. I really wish you would try and come up here to my state of Tennessee and tell me where I can and cannot live. I really wish you would pull a weapon out on me in my front yard. I messed up once. Now I am trying to change things here before anyone else makes that same mistake. I really wish you would travel with your little group of advocates and find me and threaten. I wish you would. For these other commenters, let it be, lets see if shes all that she says she is. lets see if she has the balls to come up to my property and start some bs. I am not the typical ex sex offender. I fight for the would be victims now, while going to school to better my life and work on some hobbies like new culinary masterpieces in the bbq section. I help my elderly parents out. I help my father out, a bronze star recipient from the United States of America. I support my marine brother and cherish the niece that was born 5 days ago. I love my country and now im a law abiding citizen. As a matter of fact of reoffending, you reoffend quite a lot. Hypocrite much? aggravated assault in Tennessee is a felony. oh yea and im muslim on top of it but my religious beliefs do not sway my community beliefs. Stop judging people that have already been judged. Stop judging criminals since you yourself are one. You should know better. I bet you try to tell me that your crime was for the good of society but that's not right, no crime is good for society. Learn to live with all people. I wish you would be what you say you are and say something to me.

blastout
blastout

Yeah whateveryousay... How did U learn to be so crazy... ?? I hear Ur getting ready for that big dirt nap... What happened..?



whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

I'm sick and tired of sex offenders saying that they have "served their sentence" or "done their time." If your sentence includes being on the registry, then your sentence isn't complete until you are taking the big dirt nap. Enjoy!  Remember why you are on it.

val03
val03

In as much as I was pleased with the article I doubt more could have been accomplished than reading the comments under the article. They give a very real insight to the mindsets of offenders that most people would not be privy too. Oncefallen aka Derek Logue and Gail Colletta are very close and piggyback off each others statements and opinions. They communicate daily along with other "minutemen" to bombard any articles that profile more stringent laws or actions against sex offenders. Yet they wont bother to "log-in" on an article that shows the pure depths of evil these diviants will engage in. Their single minded goal is to abolish the registry and make sex crimes a mental illness not a criminal felony. These groups umbrella any offender with any crime under their belt to Stand as A United Front to alleviate any repercussions for these crimes.  Valerie Parkhurst

darthjohnny48
darthjohnny48

This "Valerie person" is a gun toting nut and the spokesperson of a closet fascist constituency. She speaks for cowards, who are little better than closet perverts themselves - hiding behind the idea of a "silent majority". She should stand her ground with the alligators, while her followers should be ostracized and forced to live and fester under the bridges of other offenders - their kin.

hlain9152
hlain9152

So apparently you have an obsession with this Valerie person. You're the hate-obsessed freak. Idiot perv.

DrCroland
DrCroland

Thank you for putting a human face on those people whom all of society has turned their back on, sometimes for reasons that would make little sense in most other countries. In the case of Damian Garcia, for instance, had he been 1 year younger at the time, the consensual relationship he had would not have been technically between an "adult" and a "child". But "sexual offenders" have become the target of a modern-day Salem witch hunt, and our society has become so ridiculously paranoid that even an iconic image like the Coppertone girl's tushy can longer be shown. Yet all kinds of illicit images are floating about in cyberspace that could destroy a person's life if they were to click on them, even by accident... I accept the fact that Big Brother is watching and privacy is dead, but can't someone do more to educate people? Btw Valerie Parkhurst is a vicious and dirty lowlife who gets her kicks out of bullying people who have already paid their debt. It's too bad that, back when she used to shoot alligators, one of them didn't take its revenge on her. At least they have a place in the natural food chain and are useless, sadistic parasites.

LawCheck
LawCheck

@whateveryousay  

Then why should murderers receive sentences that are often more mild? You're using the criminal justice system for nefarious purposes and it's starting to burden law abiding, morally upstanding citizens because we can tell the difference between the truly dangerous offenders and the ones who aren't. 

LawCheck
LawCheck

@val03  

I don't think you can lump them all together like that. It's counter-productive. 

val03
val03

. They use false(low) reoffend rates and vigilanti articles to highlight their efforts. What they wont tell you is 97% of vigilanti actions towards sex offenders are committed by family or aquaintances of the family after the offender has targeted a victim within that circle. Sex offenders and their advocates use the "18 year old having consentual sex with their underage girlfriend" as their mantra for reform. In the registries heyday any person looking at any registry would have been hardpressed to find that conviction. It has never been as common as these Pro-offender groups infer it is. The truth is, offenders do not want the Romeos removed due to the nature of "their" convictions and that they wont qualify for removal. Thus the push to abolish the registry all together. Ask any offender what his crime was and he will hide "behind the Romeo scenario" . Offenders Lie, they all LIE. Never take an offenders word for the circumstances of their conviction. Court transcripts are the only reliable source. ..Valerie Parkhurst.

whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

@darthjohnny48 God bless her.  Sexual predators are nothing but human waste.  From the eyes of the victim motive doesn't mean a thing. 

The registry should be far more comprehensive and include current photos, residences and work places if any.  

val03
val03

DarthJohnny is a Dade county sex offender who has some very real issues that his Twitter account screams loud and clear. Seems Mr. McLeod likes the sexual stimulation that "feathers" give him hense the name "Featherdude" and of course Child Porn. He rates the best FREE Wi-fi places that  he can get to on his bicycle (really like Dunkin Donuts)  and enjoys hanging out at the West Dade, Concorde and Kendall Libraries. Complains his meds arent balanced and his boat is always broken. Mom and sister take him to breakfast and dinner at least 5 times a week and touts himself as a maintence man who doesnt seem to work much. Cant seem to stay too far from the States oversight due to a couple of VOP's and couldnt walk the straight and narrow if an arrow was painted on the ground for him.

centaurea
centaurea

@darthjohnny48 Dude, my only regret is that the alligators didn't have her for lunch when she was taking her cowardly pot-shots at them. At least they have a rightful place in the natural world, which is more than can be said for her.

centaurea
centaurea

@hlain9152Pssst...  "hlain9152" and Valerie Prickhurst are one and the same. Pass it on

whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

It's not a witch hunt when there are actual victims.

whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

@DrCroland The witches were innocent.  Convicted sex offenders are not.  Some would argue quite successfully that sexual predators are sadistic parasites.

val03
val03

My you boys have been busy..I like Damian Garcia. He is a good guy and should be able to petition off the registry. My opinion is he doesnt pose a threat to anyone. You happy now?

hlain9152
hlain9152

@DrCroland A convicted sex offender calling someone else a sadistic parasite. What a fucking joke!

centaurea
centaurea

@DrCroland I think you actually meant to say that unlike Parkhurst, the alligators are NOT useless, sadistic parasites.   :-)

whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

@LawCheck  If you make an assumption that makes your point of view weak. Do you assume I support milder sentences for murderers?  I do not.  I think they should be more harsh than that of sex offenders.  I do not support weakening sexual offender sentences, I support making the punishment for murders harsher. I am not using the criminal justice system for nefarious purposes.  The sex offender registries have been found to be constitutional.  I support the registry and am happy it keeps it's boot on the necks of sexual offenders.  Judging the danger level of sexual offenders is subjective and I side with caution.  Sexual offenders deserve the registry and will where it around their necks for all to see. They should feel lucky to be free in society at all.

bama.nutzgaming
bama.nutzgaming

@val03 no they don't, I don't see anyone saying anything about tupac when he went upstate of sexual abuse, tis a sex crime, he was a sex offender. but you say nothing. I did a crime that included someone 3 years younger than me hence statutory rape, mitigated. I am free of all obligation, I have a beautiful job making 2 grand a week, more than non offenders. hell I might make more than or close to what you make. imagine that. a person with a sexual conviction still in school, still trying to make his life better than what it was after the conviction. that person not giving up on what his life had been but instead trying to make his life better than it ever was. I didn't lie about mine, I plead guilty, I been doin what I am supposed to do. I don't look over my shoulder or live in fear. why did you pull a gun out on someone that you started harassing? are you gonna use the he is a sex offender and I am an outstanding citizen scenario?

whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

@val03 Keep up the great work!  Pedos and predators need to be in the public's eye all of the time.

barefootmama0709
barefootmama0709

@val03 If you're going to be a "vigilanti", learn how to spell it. Christ. And if you haven't learned yet that people's words often get twisted in court cases, you probably never will.

bama.nutzgaming
bama.nutzgaming

@whateveryousay@darthjohnny48 I agree, it should include all of that, but it should include little dick riders like yourself lol, youre pathetic my dude, straight pathetic, I wish you and val would come to dinner soon with my city, please start traveling that would entertain me. you use fear towards the general public to get your voices heard, lol its soooooo cute. I use facts and logic. watch what I can do.

val03
val03

Centaurea is another  angry sex offender who has a real problem with the "truth" kinda like he had in front of the judge that convicted him.

centaurea
centaurea

@val03 No Valerie I am not yet happy... although this surprising statement by you may be a small step in the right direction, it is only words not backed by deeds. Also, you still are lumping all "offenders" together whether they actually have hurt someone or not. It is extremely cruel and unconscionable that you would want a person like Alex Colletta to be locked up for ten years together with real rapists and pedophiles, when all he did was download some pictures that were made by someone else. He needs psychiatric help but not to be locked up with hardened criminals. Incidentally, YOU are a criminal yourself and it is my fervent hope that you soon get a taste of your own medicine.

centaurea
centaurea

@terriers2 @DrCroland You two idiots are sicker than the sex offenders. Why don't you both take good look at that butt-ugly Valerie bitch and turn to stone?

centaurea
centaurea

@hlain9152 @DrCroland Oh there you are again, you clearly are a disgusting hater who enjoys torturing people, even after they have already been punished, just like that Meduda hag herself. Why don't you two get married? You sicken me.

LawCheck
LawCheck

@whateveryousay

"The sex offender registries have been found to be constitutional."

Only if it's not punishment, as the court EXPLICITLY wrote. 

In Smith v. Doe, the majority wrote, "Because the Alaska Sex Offender Registration Act is nonpunitive, its retroactive application does not violate the Ex Post Facto Clause." Pp. 4-18. http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=538&invol=84

 

They explicitly said that sex-offender registration was NONPUNITIVE/not considered punishment, and they have never considered the requirements for NON-VIOLENT offenders. If sex-offender registration is to be approached from the perspective of punishment, the perspective you suggest it is the correct one, then the court may very well strike it down.It has never faced an 8th Amendment challenge as far as I know, when the case has concerned a non-violent offender, or any offender. Most of the challenges have concerned ex post facto or due process challenges. 

Furthermore, three judges on the court, Stevens, Breyer, and Ginsburg, known for being the most honest, all dissented so the ruling doesn't have a lot of credibility. 

There needs to be a middle ground. I think Donatello's David(the bronze one) is offensively pornographic, but nobody else seems to agree. Still, I wouldn't throw somebody on the sex-offender registry for showing it. Anybody who is truly dangerous enough to be subject to these types of registration restrictions is too dangerous to let out of prison. 

Society is experiencing tremendous social and economic damage as a result of these vague and selective sex-offender restrictions. Roughly 10-20% of the population over 40 has gone streaking at some point, which is a sex crime. Are you seriously telling me that 10% of the population should be subject to a life-sentence of de facto imprisonment via sex-offender registration? About 25-30% of the population has had sex with someone under the age of 16 while being between the ages of 16-19, which is a sex-crime in most states. Are you telling me that 25% of our population should receive life sentences via sex-offender registration?

Should Thomas Jefferson still be on our money and honored with a memorial even though he had a sexual relationship with a 16 year old girl, while he was in his fifties? 

The difference between you and me is simple: you seek to maximize safety generally even if it comes at the expense of others' liberty, and I seek to maximize liberty for everybody, even if it results in slight loss of safety. The only purpose the sex-offender registry should serve is to protect the public from violent offenders with a VERY HIGH likelihood of re-offending and committing a VIOLENT crime. This rehabilitation-focused penal system is the only way to reduce poverty, generate jobs, and protect children. If you look at how Josh Graven was abused as a child by proxy because of these laws, it's clear that they're failing to protect children.

bama.nutzgaming
bama.nutzgaming

@whateveryousay@val03 while we are at it, since this country is supposed to be built on the phrase all men are created equally, equal opportunity. lets put in the eye, all released convicted murderers, drug dealers, drug users, thieves, alcoholics, no more aa, frauds, extortionists, vandalists, dirty cops, slanderers, since slandering is a crime, bullies, since bullying is a crime. you cannot put in the public eye of the united one group and leave the rest out then that would become a hate crime. lets put the racists out there also, all of them. you sir, are pathetic and you will meet your make far before I will.

bama.nutzgaming
bama.nutzgaming

@darthjohnny48@val03 well it looks like a case of slander against her, doesn't it. shes an aggravated assaultist that still owns weapons. I agree with your statements, and I promise you I will piss tthose two off to the point that they will search for me, hopefully shes a wee bit better than idle threats on the internet.

bama.nutzgaming
bama.nutzgaming

@val03 its hilarious, it really is. the ones that don't agree with you, you slander them saying they are sex offenders. has it occurred to you that maybe youre just a nut job that has no sense of common sense. MAYBE, just maybe, youre a sex offender in hiding, pretending to hate other predators so no one will look into your hard drive? maybe you don't want them to know you secretly like little girls, since your preference is lesbian. maybe you just want to get rid of the other competition to keep the kids to yourself? do you see what speculation gives someone? it gives them power?

centaurea
centaurea

@val03 I am not a sex offender you stupid bitch and never was one. I am just an ordinary citizen who is extremely concerned about the effect that crazed, maniacal vigilantes like you are having on what was once a democracy where people are innocent until proven guilty and if found guilty, are supposed to be free from further torment by freaks like you after they have served their punishment.

whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

If he's viewing child porn he is a hardened criminal

whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

@centaurea Even if someone just watches child porn they are guilty.  Some poor kid was abused to make that for the entertainment of the predator.

whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

@centaurea They haven't served out their debt of their debt includes being on the sex-offendor registry.  Remember, a healthy alternative to the sex-offendor registry is an automatic 25 years to life sentence.  The registry is a gift rapists, pedophiles and child porn pushers.

centaurea
centaurea

@hlain9152 @centaurea @DrCroland Valerie... you're an even bigger loser than the people you harass and torture. You have a hate-infested mentality and have forgotten that they are human beings who have already served out their debt, but that's not enough for you... what do you want now, their blood? This is what I meant btw when I said the word parasite.

whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

I'll take... what a registered sex offender might say for a $1000...

whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

So, is a family member on the registry?

centaurea
centaurea

@whateveryousay @centaurea Listen buddy, I will repeat myself in case you were too dense to hear me before. When society starts locking people up just for downloading something onto their computer, we move dangerously close to becoming an Orwellian society (if we are not one already). What if someone downloads such a picture by accident? And even if it was deliberate, he did not actually harm anyone and may just need some psychiatric help. Incarceration does not provide him with any such help.

whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

So you admit sex offenders are losers?

whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

@centaurea @whateveryousay I'm going to go out on limb here and guess that you, or maybe your family member, has to register because of a sexual crime.  Saying that nobody harmed anybody by just watching it is akin to saying I didn't make the crack I just have it.  

I'm sorry that you can't fathom the reality that consuming child pornography directly contributes to the abuse of the child.  
Incarceration is the best way to protect society from pedophiles.  Psychiatric help for them is far from the immediate priority in dealing with a sex offender.

Saying, "he did not actually harm anyone" by consuming child porn is terrible logic and points to rationalizing a terrible act.  Did your precious little Johnny do something naughty?  Did you do something bad and get caught?  

No harm? Tell that to the poor kid in the video or picture.


whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

@centaurea And I hope you never rape or molest anyone or any living creature.

If you rape or molest you should be locked up for 25 to life.  Raping and molesting is sadistic.  Punishing those who rape and molest is justice. 

centaurea
centaurea

@whateveryousay Yes, yes, of course they are losers. But, why won't our society try to HELP them, instead of making them into pariahs who will never be allowed to live like human beings and thus be forced to behave like animals?

 
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