Capturing a Child Sex Offender/Halloween Sex Offender Follow-up

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– Audio Begins –

Len Sipes: Hi, and welcome from our studios in Downtown Washington D.C., it’s D.C. Public Safety, I’m your host, Len Sipes. We’re here today, talking with Matt Kiely, Matt is a supervisory community supervision officer in the sex offender unit. We’re here to talk to Matt about a couple things: number one, about a child sex offender and what it takes to convict a child sex offender in terms of a case that happened recently in Washington D.C., and also we’re going to be doing some follow-up in terms of our activities on Halloween, the activities between my agency, the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, and the Metropolitan Police Department regarding Halloween Activities, and to Matt Kiely, welcome to D.C. Public Safety.

Len Sipes: Morning, Len. How are you doing?

Len Sipes: I’m doing fine, and I want to remind everybody that we are averaging now 120,000 requests a month for the program. Again, we appreciate everybody’s comments, we respond individually to everybody’s comments. You can reach us at D.C. Public Safety, or simply through your internet search engine, D.C. Public Safety, or you can reach us through media – M-E-D-I-A – .csosa – C-S-O-S-A – .gov and leave your comments. And with that introduction, what I’m going to do is to read from a press release written by the United States Attorney’s Office, and the press release goes as such: A 21 year old District of Columbia man has been sentenced to 121 months for possession of material involving child pornography. U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey A. Taylor announced today, so previously in 2006, the defendant was convicted within the Superior Court of the District of Columbia of attempted child sexual abuse. While on probation for this offense, he submitted to a polygraph test which was administered by us at Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, and the polygraph provided inconclusive results, we questioned this individual about child pornography, and he admitted that he viewed child pornography on a computer from his mother’s home, so what we did is to go in and find that computer, and the analysis revealed that he had deleted over 3,000 files from the computer, some of which had contained child pornography. Some of the images of child pornography that he possessed involved pubescent minors or minors who had not attained the age of 12, and some of the images and videos that he possessed portrayed sadistic or masochistic conduct or other depictions of violence, and I’m just going to sum up here and simply say that the press release recognized Court Services and – sorry, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency supervisory community supervision officer Matt Kiely, and also community supervision officer Penny Spivey as to the individuals who had initiated this, and that’s one of the reasons we have Matt by our microphones. Matt, tell me, you and Penny Spivey, you did a great job, you were recognized by the United States Attorney’s Office in terms of this individual. Give me some of the basics of the case: he was on probation for attempted child sex abuse?

Matt Kiely: He was, Len, there are two minor victims that he was convicted of attempting to abuse, friends of the family, so when he originally came to probation, lucky for us, we had a slew of special conditions, but one that was overlooked at the time was a special search condition, and we subsequently wrote the judge requesting for this after previous interviews, the offender admitted to looking at pornography, so when we found out he was looking at pornography at home, we thought we needed a search condition to further monitor his behavior in the community. Eventually got, went back to court, the judge approved that request, and had it not been for that request, I doubt we’d have been able to search his computer and know what the offender was really doing out in the community.

Len Sipes: Okay, let’s go back a little bit in terms of sex offenders in general, and specifically child sex offenders. So this individual was convicted of trying to have sexual contact with a minor?

Matt Kiely: More or less, it was definitely pled down, the incident offense was actually the sexual abuse of a minor.

Len Sipes: Okay, so it was a plea bargain.

Matt Kiely: We believe there was abuse of two children, like I said, who were known by the offender, family friends, and the abuse did occur, through the courts as you know, the plea bargaining process basically, he took a plea to attempted sexual abuse of a child.

Len Sipes: Okay, so there’s no doubt that this individual had a history of illegal sexual contact with minors.

Matt Kiely: Absolutely.

Len Sipes: So what happens in terms of any child offender on our case load? We have, I think from our Halloween activities, if memory serves me correctly, approximately 200 child sex offenders, approximately 600 offenders overall, sex offenders overall, as part of our 15,000 offenders who we supervise on any given day. The child sex offenders generally come with a slew of special conditions, and those special conditions are really interesting. Did he have one for therapy?

Matt Kiely: He did, and as you stated, every offender that is assigned to CSOSA sex offender unit undergoes a psychosexual risk assessment that is completed by one of our contractors. They determine the need for sex offender treatment as well as the duration of treatment.

Len Sipes: Okay. So every, all of the 600 are under some sort of treatment program?

Matt Kiely: The, we currently have about 400 active offenders, some are in the early stages of treatment, some have completed the treatment and remain in an after-care phase.

Len Sipes: But in essence, treatment is part of the continuum for sex offenders.

Matt Kiely: Absolutely. Both parole and probation.

Len Sipes: Okay, and we’ve been able to discover that through the treatment process, they do better, they recidivate less, we have fewer victims on the street.

Matt Kiely: Absolutely.

Len Sipes: Okay, so the treatment component is a big part of it, but also there are enforcement objectives, such as going in and looking at his computer, and in fact, we can look at his computer remotely.

Matt Kiely: Right. We do have monitoring software that’s now available, wasn’t available some years ago, but we currently have one offender right now that we’re reviewing his, any and all activity of his home computer, so if his wife gets on that computer, children get on that computer, we have it monitored, and they’re aware of this.

Len Sipes: Okay, and we can monitor their cell phones as well.

Matt Kiely: Absolutely.

Len Sipes: But in this case, what this individual did was to go to his mother’s house to download child pornography, correct?

Matt Kiely: Right, what’s important to realize with this case is, even though we had a special search condition that authorized the searching of his computer, this computer was actually his mother’s, so the gray area was the offender was accessing his mother’s computer, so while we had a special condition to search his computer, we had to gain the mother’s consent to search her computer.

Len Sipes: And we got that consent.

Matt Kiely: We absolutely did.

Len Sipes: Okay, the other things we use are polygraph tests, which are lie detector tests, which are also part of the treatment process, where we sit down with the individual, and a lot of times, you know, throughout my criminal justice career, I found that a lot of people will deny, deny, deny, deny, once they’re hooked up to that polygraph machine, they will, in many cases, simply tell what’s been going on, and that’s been your experience as well, correct?

Matt Kiely: Absolutely, but by far, this is probably, bar none, the best tool we have. As you said, and studies suggest, that basically the rate of offenders admitting to their crimes increases greatly once they’re subjected to polygraphs.

Len Sipes: Right. We also have global positioning system devices that we use on sex offenders, and lots of other offenders. We have 800 people of our 15,000 on GPS supervision on any given day, so that’s an important tool, it is an overwhelming tool in terms of all the information that it brings to us, but the nifty thing about it is that you can overlay maps of the city, and you can even bring down Google Earth, so you can overlay a map, and you’re wondering why is that person hanging out in that particular area, the map doesn’t give us that information, but Google Earth suddenly pulls up a playground.

Matt Kiely: Right, and what’s great is this has increased our cooperation and collaboration with other law enforcement agencies outside of DC. GPS just does not define the district, they can go into Maryland, Virginia, commit crimes over there, I’ve been in contact with law enforcement in both Maryland and Virginia, when crimes are committed, the first thing they want to check out is any D.C. offenders that are on GPS who were in that jurisdiction at that time.

Len Sipes: And we’re doing a couple articles now as we speak on GPS where I interviewed a person in charge of the major crimes unit for the Metropolitan Police Department here at Washington D.C. who said that it may not specifically provide us as an investigative unit with, you know, a direct connection to the offender, but if that offender was there, what was he doing there? Was he out for a smoke, was he walking his dog, or was he holding, was he the driver for the crime? Did he observe anything in the area? Did he hold the gun? So there’s all sorts of connections that could possibly be made, and GPS is a fairly powerful tool, so I won’t get onto all the other stuff, but there’s a lot of technology that we bring to the table in terms of convicting sex offenders, and that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to talk to you today and to you and Penny Spivey who were directly involved in terms of this particular case, that it was through that forensic analysis, through that process of being sure that we have access to the computers that they use, and in some cases, they’ll go to the library and use computers, again, which is one of the wonderful reasons why we have GPS, and the final thing, which I didn’t mention is we also do our own surveillance, if necessary. The GPS is just a tool. Once you figure out why is that, once you’re suspicious as to why a person is at the library, you’ve got to go and figure out, you know, observe, in many cases, why he’s at the library, correct?

Matt Kiely: Right, we’ve also parlayed that in with other law enforcement agencies. Recently we assisted the Metropolitan Police Department’s assistance during Halloween to conduct surveillance on one of our high risk offenders that we thought was in violation.

Len Sipes: And I wanted to bring that up, and that’s a perfect segue, and then I’ll get back to this case in a second. On Halloween, one of the things that we did was, ladies and gentlemen, was to send out 13 teams of individuals from the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, Sex Offender Unit, as well as individuals from the Metropolitan Police Department who went into, we basically told all the 200 child sex offenders that they had to be home, and they could not participate in Halloween, so what we did, was, unannounced, these 13 teams fanned out throughout the city and went to check to see if these individuals were indeed engaged, first of all, were they home, and second, were they engaged in activities that would entice a child into that home on Halloween. Matt, one of the things that I do want to talk about with the Halloween wrap-up is we have about 20 individuals that were not at home at the time, and what happens to those people?

Matt Kiely: And in some instances, we had offenders not at home, in a few instances, we actually had offenders actually leave the residence after the visit was completed –

Len Sipes: A-ha!

Matt Kiely: So thankful for those offenders, we had them on GPS, we had GPS staff assisting us on this initiative, so when they left the residence, they still contacted staff in the community, advise them the offenders left, and we followed up with those offenders in reference to, about those 20 that were home –

Len Sipes: Well, we contacted them and told them to go home.

Matt Kiely: Absolutely, and 6 of those 20 seems like a large number, 6 of those were at a shelter, which unfortunately, we didn’t have the assistance of shelter staff to verify whether they were there or not. So you know, this number could have been quite smaller had we been able to verify the offender was at the shelter.

Len Sipes: Right. But all of them were told in writing, and they signed the letter when they met with their community supervision officers, to be at home. The other thing, a very interesting case, which is somewhat similar to the case we were talking about, and we cannot use names, and we have to be, well we didn’t use names the first time around, but we cannot be too specific regarding this case, is that you and the Metropolitan Police Department staked out a home of a person who we suspected to be continuing to engage in child sexual abuse, and we did the, what we call an accountability tour, one of these 13 teams went out to the home and contacted him directly, but then again, we went back to see if he was still there, and we were doing surveillance between the Metropolitan Police Department and ourselves, correct?

Matt Kiely: Right. We had, about a few weeks earlier, received information, this offender was in violation, more specifically, possibly engaged in –

Len Sipes: Don’t be specific, because he hasn’t been convicted.

Matt Kiely: Right, possibly engaged in previous criminal behavior –

Len Sipes: There we go.

Matt Kiely: – he was placed on parole for. In addition to that, we had information that he was masking or circumventing GPS procedures with his GPS device, so based on that, we contacted MPD’s assistance, and they provided surveillance up to about midnight when we decided to, again, a special search condition of the residence to see if we could determine if there was any evidence of those violations.

Len Sipes: And again, because it’s an ongoing case, we cannot be very specific about it, but he is now in jail on a parole violation.

Matt Kiely: Correct. We did find evidence that he was –

Len Sipes: Continuing his involvement.

Matt Kiely: Well, no, he was circumventing his GPS. Clear and convincing evidence that he was doing that. Based on that, we requested a warrant, the parole commission acted quickly, U.S. Marshals assisted us in executing the warrant a day after we wrote the report.

Len Sipes: Okay, that’s one day turnaround.

Matt Kiely: That’s pretty good.

Len Sipes: Yeah, that’s magical, in fact, in terms of the overall criminal justice system! So in essence, we say this in terms of child sex offenders, that the treatment process, we do believe in. The process does work to lower recidivism, that means fewer children are violated. We have very intense contact standards in terms of child sex offenders, we have an amazing array of technology. You know, when I came from another state system to this agency 5 years ago, we had none of that, and to my knowledge, they still have none of it, so the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, which is a federal agency, we really do have an amazing array of electronics and technologies and lower case loads, and we really do keep a really good eye on not just child sex offenders, but sex offenders across the board, correct?

Matt Kiely: Absolutely, as you indicated, due to our federal status as an agency, we receive federal funds, to we are probably one of the best funded agencies that deal with a local case load.

Len Sipes: And I totally, totally, totally agree with that. Getting back to the original press release written by the United States Attorney’s Office, so what we have here is we did the analysis of the computer, and so we ended up with thousands and thousands of images on that computer, and some of the individuals there were under the age of 12, and some of them portrayed acts of violence. Now I understand there may be some controversy in terms of what constitutes, you know, a violation of your community supervision, what violates community standards, what violates the law, but here is a clear cut case of thousands, under the age of 12, depicting acts of sexual violence. Now this is just ridiculously wrong. Not only just illegal, but ridiculously wrong! Which certainly indicates that this person, even beyond the treatment process, and even though we say the treatment process is successful and useful in terms of protecting public safety, obviously in this case, and in other cases, we have child sex offenders who don’t get with the program.

Matt Kiely: Right, and I was in court last week when this offender was sentenced, and as the U.S. Attorney said, these are more than just mere images of naked minors, these were sadistic portrayed young minor boys being sadistically raped, hog tied, truly sadistic, so the sentence does certainly fit the crime in this case.

Len Sipes: And in this case, the guy, he was on probation, interestingly enough, and now he is going back to prison. 121 months for possession of material involving child pornography. That’s a long term, and a justifiable term considering his history, and justifiable term considering the fact that we’re talking about thousands of images. Now what is this, people oftentimes ask, Matt, and it’s probably the most difficult of all criminalogically. So the child sex offenders, and sex offenders across the board, and there’s a huge difference between an individual who is a predatory rapist who stalks individuals and attacks them, attacks his victims as strangers and rapes them vs. an individual who has prior knowledge of the victim, and if you look at U.S. Department of Justice statistics, the majority of rapes occur in a residential setting, not outside, in a majority of rapes, the victim and the perpetrator know each other, so there’s that consideration, then you go all the way to the child sex offender part of it, where obviously innocent individuals, not to say that the others are not innocent, but you know, because of the very status of a child, is a particularly troublesome crime, so you’ve got have strategies for the various types of sex offenders that we supervise, correct?

Matt Kiely: Absolutely. They differ greatly, whereas the rapist, as you indicated, is about power and control, generally most sex offenses, the victim is known, so the old adage that they teach in schools, the “stranger danger” doesn’t really apply, doesn’t happen absolutely, but the vast majority of sexual crimes, the victim and the offender know each other.

Len Sipes: And that’s one of the reasons why I bring this up, because we have this stereotype, and I wrote articles on this years ago, of the woman walking down the street walking down the alley, and she’s pulled behind bushes and raped. As disgusting as that is, it is misleading, and as I tell my daughters, I said, look, rapes occur not on the street, but they occur at somebody’s home. Either his home, or your home, and you know this individual, so it’s not so much stranger danger as you just said, but it’s who we let inside our own homes and whose homes we go into that become of paramount importance to young women, and in some cases men, in terms of those decisions that they make.

Matt Kiely: Absolutely, and that’s one of the case management practices we utilize in the sex offender unit that, in knowing this, we make it a point that staff contact the offenders, collateral contact, starting with their family: mom, dad, sister, brother. And then outreaching beyond that, we’re talking aunts, cousins, employers; further: neighbors, everyone the offender knows, we want to make sure that they’re aware of the offender’s history, because again,, they’re more likely to victimize someone they know.

Len Sipes: Right, and that becomes the key issue here. Plus with the collateral contacts, we can’t be, with GPS, we can be, but generally speaking, we can’t be with that offender 24 hours a day 365 days a year, but they are.

Matt Kiely: Unfortunately, yeah. We can’t.

Len Sipes: And they are, in some cases, are our best sources of information in terms of inappropriate behavior or illegal behavior on the part of this individual.

Matt Kiely: Absolutely. Generally the initial source generally comes from the family, friends, loved ones, so forth, where the offender is in the stage of violation, maybe drinking again, and it’s that first stage that we want to catch the offender at.

Len Sipes: You know, I find it interesting that, in a couple cities, we have this sense of “stop snitching.” You don’t cooperate with law enforcement authorities, and I understand that we’re part law enforcement and part treatment, and I understand that and totally agree with it, but the concept here is more of the fact that people are willing to be sure that this individual does what he’s supposed to do.

Matt Kiely: Absolutely.

Len Sipes: And that’s a very powerful tool in terms of what it is that we do.

Matt Kiely: You’re right. Family members, the vast majority of them, realize the offender did wrong and want to do everything to make sure the offender complies with his conditions, and ultimately stays out in the community, so that’s important to them, so we do often, we’ll get the first phone calls, signs of problems that we as a supervision agency need to immediately address.

Len Sipes: And I think once again that, in terms of Halloween activities, in terms of special activities with the Metropolitan Police Department, it’s interesting because people did say to me, when we did the Halloween activities, they said, “What was so particularly special about Halloween? Give me one instance of a child sex offender violating somebody on Halloween.” And my first reaction was, we do this throughout the course of the year, we and the Metropolitan Police Department make announced and unannounced visits to the home of 8,000 offenders every year, so we did nothing more than what we do on Halloween, we did nothing more than what we ordinarily do throughout the course of the year, I think that’s the first consideration, and secondly, to one editor of a newspaper here in the District of Columbia, I said, well, if a child, if the individual has a sexual predisposition towards children, does that stop during Halloween, and does Halloween present a special set of circumstances? We have individuals who have said, “I have a sexual predisposition towards children, I in the past have had sex with children, and I look in the past for opportunities to violate children sexually,” so why wouldn’t it stand to reason that Halloween provides a special case as to why we have to be extra vigilant?

Matt Kiely: It does, it’s the only day out of the year where you have mass numbers of children knocking on strangers’ doors.

Len Sipes: And in some cases, unescorted by parents, because people would say to me, well, no, when I went trick or treating, I was escorted by parents, and my response was, that’s not 100%. I’m not even quite sure it’s 50% in a lot of communities. A lot of these kids are out there on their own!

Matt Kiely: Right, and they should be escorted. That’s another story in itself, but like I said, it’s the only day out of the year that you have children knocking on strangers’ doors, and you know, things could happen, and would hate to be that first jurisdiction that something did happen, and we had not set up some type of initiative to proactively combat this issue.

Len Sipes: I understand the questions that people did ask, and I understand the questions reporters did ask, but by and large, I’ve never quite understood that a sexual predisposition regarding children, I just don’t think that goes away magically on Halloween, and I thought it presented a special opportunity where we had to be vigilant, and we were. So we’re going to wrap up, Matt. We have 3 teams of sex – we have 3 sex offender teams here at CSOSA, now we have 400 offenders who are active, and a couple hundred who are not?

Matt Kiely: Right. Those hundred who are not are generally in the institutions either pending release or could be pending a revocation hearing, some others have completed the active component of supervision successfully and are now on inactive supervision, which basically indicates they’ve done so well over the years that as long as they don’t get re-arrested, they will continue as they will until their full term date reaches.

Len Sipes: And I do want to leave the audience, again, this’ll be the third time I have mentioned this. We do have offenders through the treatment process who thoroughly understand their set of circumstances, and really do seem to be doing very well, but for those offenders who don’t, or those offenders who are on the edge, our enforcement actions, probably, I’m going to guess, I don’t know this, but I’m going to guess, from my time in the criminal justice system, that it’s certainly, if not the best in the country, one of the best in the country.

Matt Kiely: I agree.

Len Sipes: Okay, we’ve been talking with Matt Kiely, Matt is a supervisory community supervision officer with the sex offender unit at the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. He and Penny Spivey, who could not be here today due to a family emergency, did result in an apprehension of a child sex offender, and they were cited through a press release issued by the United States Attorney’s Office here in Washington, D.C. Ladies and gentlemen, this is D.C. Public Safety, I’m your host, Len Sipes. Once again, we respond to all of your inquiries, your questions, your suggestions, your comments, we individually respond to all of them. Feel free to make suggestions in terms of what we can do here at D.C. Public Safety, I’m your host, Len Sipes, please have yourselves a very, very pleasant day.

– Audio Ends –

Meta terms: crime, criminals, criminal justice, parole, probation, prison, drug treatment, reentry, sex offenders, domestic violence, anger management, corrections, high-risk offenders, GPS, women offenders, DWI.

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