Young Pittsfield Township man struggles with sex offender label
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
Matthew Freeman is struggling to move on with his life, six years after being convicted of having sex with a high school girlfriend who was one year below the legal age of consent.
Freeman, who is required to register as a sex offender, is facing a new criminal charge that accuses him of illegally living within 1,000 feet of a school.
His latest trouble started as Freeman was shooting hoops in his Pittsfield Township driveway Aug. 3.
According to a police report, a state trooper pulled up to Freeman's house across the street from Ann Arbor's Carpenter Elementary School, where children were on the playground at 7:30 p.m.
Freeman told the trooper Pittsfield Township police told him “it shouldn’t be a problem” to live near the school. He had registered with Pittsfield police 27 days earlier using his family's Dalton Avenue address.
Freeman told the trooper he was on the Michigan Sex Offender Registry because he had “sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend when he was 17.” He also said his girlfriend’s mother got “upset with him and pressed charges.”
The trooper aimed a laser gun at the school building and determined Freeman was living 326 feet away, the report said, breaking the law.
Freeman, 23, is charged with a school safety zone residency violation, a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. He was arraigned Dec. 4 and is scheduled to return to court Friday.
“I’m outside sweating hard, playing basketball, working on my drills,” he said. “I ain’t looking at no kids. I can’t even go outside and play basketball on my own hoop?”
Washtenaw County Chief Deputy Assistant Prosecutor Steve Hiller said he couldn't comment on Freeman’s case because it's pending. But prosecutors take into account the facts and circumstances surrounding each case, Hiller said.
“We view these as public safety issues,” Hiller said. “That’s the paramount concern we have when dealing with sex offender registry cases. This particular law is in place to protect children, so that’s obviously a very serious matter.”
Freeman's attorney, county Assistant Public Defender Ronald Brown, declined to comment.
Freeman has registered at the address of a family friend while the case is pending.
A criminal conviction
Freeman pleaded guilty to fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct involving force or coercion and was sentenced to probation in September 2003, court records show. By pleading guilty to the misdemeanor charge, he admitted to having sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend, who was two years younger. In Michigan, the legal age of consent is 16.
Freeman violated his probation by going near his girlfriend and stealing some video games from a store, records show. As a result, he was sentenced to 90 days in jail in January 2004. The two are no longer dating.
Freeman will remain on the registry until Aug. 17, 2028, according to the registry’s Web site. Had he successfully completed his probation, he could have petitioned the court to be removed from the registry after 10 years and also wouldn't have been subject to the school safety zone violation.
His mother, Yolanda Freeman, moved the family - Matthew and his five younger siblings - to the four-bedroom house near Carpenter Elementary in June because they needed more space.
She also said the house is convenient to the school, which her 6-year-old daughter attends. She fears the latest charge may set her son back.
“Matthew is just uptight all the time,” she said. “He don’t trust nobody. He’s upset all the time because he has this over his head. How many 17-year-olds have had a relationship with a girl a couple years younger than them? Come on.”
Prior to moving, Yolanda Freeman told the trooper she checked with Pittsfield police.
Gordy Schick, Pittsfield Township’s deputy director of police services, said it’s Matthew Freeman’s responsibility to abide by the law.
“The fact that he’s a convicted sex offender, there are conditions and stipulations that he has to follow,” Schick said. “If he’s living in close proximity to the school, he’s in violation.”
A high school relationship
Freeman met his ex-girlfriend when they were freshmen at Huron High School. He was 16, and she was 14. They were introduced by a mutual friend and immediately hit it off, talking for hours that night on the phone, he said.
Freeman was focused on basketball and was looking for a steady girlfriend, a 2003 Pittsfield police report shows. Their relationship became more serious after a month, and he got her name tattooed on his arm.
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
The two began having sex in March 2003 - about five months after they started dating. Her mother, Evelyn Scott, said she found out and told Freeman he could no longer see her daughter.
“I didn’t think they could make adult decisions,” Scott said.
But Freeman didn’t listen. Twelve days after his 17th birthday, Scott filed a complaint with Pittsfield police, records show, requesting Freeman be criminally charged. As a single, working mother, she said, it was the only way she could think of to end the relationship.
Freeman, who had no criminal record, pleaded guilty to the fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct with force or coercion charge on the advice of his public defender, he said.
While he broke the law by having sex with an underage girl, the police report says the victim was “not forced to commit any act” nor “did she ask him not to commit any act.”
“My daughter was a willing participant,” Scott said.
Freeman never returned to high school after going to jail.
He’s been employed for about six years at Burger King and is studying at Washtenaw Community College to obtain his G.E.D., records show. Freeman is on a recreational basketball team and has been dating a woman for three years.
He said he enjoys making rap music and playing video games, but often keeps to himself because of his status as a sex offender. While he only earns about $130 a week, he chips in to help his mother pay rent.
Freeman admits he’s not perfect. Four years ago, he was convicted of a misdemeanor charge of malicious destruction of a building, state police records show.Â
But he isn’t a child molester, he said, and shouldn’t be treated like one.
“I’m getting labeled as a rapist and a pedophile,” he said. “I’m not a pedophile. That stuff is sickening. After all this, I don’t know if I can have kids. They may wanna take them away, you know what I’m saying?”
Freeman must register quarterly, notify police when he travels and constantly fears he’s “being watched,” he said. He’s been rejected from jobs and housing. And people give him strange looks, he said.
"I just have to deal with it,” he said.
Scott, his ex-girlfriend’s mother, has written a letter on Freeman’s behalf asking that he be removed from the registry.
“He’s a young man,” she said. “He made his mistake. He paid for it. This should be squashed. This should be expunged from his record. He’s not given a chance to live and become an upstanding citizen.”
The sex offender label
The state trooper visited Freeman’s home that August night after being forwarded an anonymous tip, submitted through the Michigan State Police Public Sex Offender Registry Web site.
The tipster was a mother who lived in the neighborhood. She wrote that a sex offender of a “child under the age of 13” was living in front of the school.
“I can’t let my children play at this school anymore because he is always outside playing basketball, watching the kids that are playing,” she wrote. “How creepy, how disgusting please help us get rid of him.”
Freeman said the accusation he sexually assaulted a child under age 13, “just kills me.”
The registry lists the charge for which someone was convicted, but doesn’t give background on a case. It’s up to the public to pull court records to find out more.
Sex offenders face a particularly tough time becoming productive members of society, said Miriam Aukerman, re-entry law project coordinator for Legal Aid of Western Michigan.
Aukerman provides legal assistance to low-income people with criminal records, helping them find employment and housing. The group has worked with hundreds of sex offenders.
“When people see sex offender, they think rapist, they think pedophile and there are certainly dangerous people on the registry who are those things,” she said. “But there are also lots of people on the registry who are not.”
Aukerman recently successfully argued before the Michigan Court of Appeals to have a Muskegon man’s name removed from the registry. He had sex with his nearly 15-year-old girlfriend when he was 18. He ultimately married her, but remained on the registry.
“If you have individuals who are involved in teenage relationships, those are not the people who belong on the registry,” Aukerman said. “Hopefully, the legislature will see that.”
When AnnArbor.com told five of Freeman’s neighbors a sex offender was living on the street and showed his information from the registry, all expressed concerns for young children or the possibility he molested them.
Their worry lessened when given details about his case.
Resident Monet Tiedemann said it was a little shocking to learn a sex offender was living in the neighborhood, “especially when I have two small kids.” Given specifics about Freeman’s conviction, Tiedemann said he was “still a child.”
“The biggest concern for me personally is if it were somebody coming after small children,” she said.
Gavril Miajela mentioned her friend’s young child when shown Freeman’s information from the registry. When provided details, she felt sorry for Freeman.
“I think his conviction should be overturned,” she said. “It’s just ridiculous. “This is going to follow him everywhere, just because he fell in love with a girl.”
Update Dec. 18:Â Court adjourns case of young man struggling with sex offender label until January
Lee Higgins covers crime and courts for AnnArbor.com. You can reach him at (734) 623-2527 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thu, Sep 9, 2010 : 9:02 p.m.
i am a sex offender. i have already been punished for nine years now. my story is the same. join me in the fight to have these laws abolished overturned. email@example.com. help me sue the federal govt. so we can get laws changed for good. we dont need any more overpunishment for minor offenses. i'm going to collect $50.00 from every sex offender un til i raise the $10,000 i need to hire lawyer to file the federal lawsuit. $450.00 filing fee for class action lawsuit. violation of 14th amendment rights.daniel j. goichman
Wed, Dec 30, 2009 : 10:24 p.m.
As the owner of Citizens for Change, America www.cfcamerica.org, we are dedicated to changing the laws which create this sort of situation. This is just ONE YOUNG LIFE. One Child's Life ruined. When ever you hear a Politician saying," We want to pass this law, get tough on sex offenders, IF IT PROTECTS JUST ONE CHILD..." Know this, these politicians are climbing the ladder of succes off the backs of OUR CHILDREN. These horrific laws will never change as long as the American People sit idly by and allow these degradations. America watched and too joined in when the Negroes were enslaved. America watched and too joined in when Women were made Less than men. The Germans watched and too joined in when Hitler and his Gestapo's enslaved, tortured, raped and ultimately murdered the Jews... and now America, Land of the free...truth, justice and the American way is building an army of Bigger Government and More Laws to Enslave not only our Young People, but Also others. www.cfcamerica.org www.cfcamerica.wordpress.com
Tue, Dec 29, 2009 : 8:51 p.m.
America has certainly gone in the wrong direction. Megan's Law was meant to target CHILD PREDATORS! It has been turned upside down and now everything dealing with sex is illegal. Please..why aren't the legislators rational in creating laws. There is a BIG DIFFERENCE between men going after young children and YOUNG men having consensual sex with teenage girls. Lock up men who are child predators and be fair to those having consensual relations. Another fact is that there are teenage girls who look for young men and lie about their age, yet they have no consequence under these laws. You see this on the internet all the time. They say they are 18 and get on ADULT websites looking for guys over 18. Yet if a relationship develops, the young man's life is ruined forever. Not able to work, find a place to live, and harassed forever. Why? There are more young men in jail or on the register due to these asinine laws. Where is the justice? There have been thousands of couples who started dating and having relations when the girl was under 17 and the young man was over 20; who went on to happily marry. This has been the case for ages. Yet NOW it is ILLEGAL??? My own grandparents started dating when he was over 22 and out of the service and my grandmother had just turned 15. That is a 7 year difference. Get it? And they were married over 50 years! That is life. Now our stupid laws would label my grandfather a pervert, a child predator, or endangering a child? Please. Where is the justice in all this? These laws are ruining countless lives and the taxpayer has to pick up the tab with the registering and welfare. It just makes me so angry that our legislators are just so STUPID. (Actually, I know they just push the laws to get elected. They know that the general public doesn't know the havoc it is causing with people's lives.) And the people who believe in these laws just have no idea what is really going on. Punish child predators, not young lovers.
Sat, Dec 26, 2009 : 7:08 p.m.
It's interesting to see all of the people on here who think that sex between teenagers is some sort of good normal thing. Sex between a 15 and 17 year-old? You guys think that's just great right? Do you have kids and give them permission? The fact is that if you're OK with 15 year-olds having sex then you're OK with 15 year-olds having sex. The real issue here is that teenagers shouldn't be having sex with anyone. If the "reality" is that SOME do, then the reality needs to be discouraged not endorsed! With that said, I'm not sure this guy really deserves to be on the same public list with people who rape little 5 year-olds and such. Anonymous Due to Bigotry ============= You seem to be a confused individual. Your not sure he should be on the same list as a 5 yr old rapist?? How can you not be sure? The differences are clear and it's almost laughable you would not be sure. What we should all be saying is the 5 yr old rapist ought to be in prison and never let out. Then these stupid laws and labels would be immaterial. Why should consensual sex be discouraged? Once a person hits puberty, sex is a NATURAL curiosity and then part of life. Why do people like you insist on treating sex like it is a bad thing? It is a natural human function. People like you are exactlly why the USA has the highest prison population in the world. We love to persecute and prosecute for victimless crimes! In addition, it is costing this country billions of dollars. The sex offender registration laws are an absolute joke. Please name one crime that has been prevented due to the laws. Name one crime that has been solved because of the laws. I cant name any. Even if you can name one I can name hundreds of thousands of kids whose lives have been destroyed because of the laws. And not just the kid but the whole family suffers with these unconstiutional, unjust, and unamerican laws.
Thu, Dec 24, 2009 : 6:14 a.m.
Please read the cover story of the Aug. 6, 2009 edition of The Economist (America's Unjust Sex Laws) and the "Briefing" section in the same edition (Unjust and Ineffective). These stories give a good overview of the situation in regard to sex offender laws. The accompanying graphics also speak volumes.
Anonymous Due to Bigotry
Tue, Dec 22, 2009 : 3:28 a.m.
It's interesting to see all of the people on here who think that sex between teenagers is some sort of good normal thing. Sex between a 15 and 17 year-old? You guys think that's just great right? Do you have kids and give them permission? So at what age difference does this become a problem? And if you think 15 year-olds are mature enough to be having sex all the time, do you even have a problem with the other person being 30 or 40? I mean if you think 15 year-olds drinking alcohol is also no big deal, do you think that it's OK if they get alcohol from a 21 year old but if they get alcohol from a 40 year-old then oh gee that's terrible? The fact is that if you're OK with 15 year-olds having sex then you're OK with 15 year-olds having sex. The real issue here is that teenagers shouldn't be having sex with anyone. If the "reality" is that SOME do, then the reality needs to be discouraged not endorsed! With that said, I'm not sure this guy really deserves to be on the same public list with people who rape little 5 year-olds and such.
Mon, Dec 21, 2009 : 7:17 p.m.
sounds like this guy had plenty of chances and blew everyone of them.
Sat, Dec 19, 2009 : 1:30 p.m.
Freeman will be meeting with a private attorney next week. Here's the latest story: http://www.annarbor.com/news/young-man-struggling-with-sex-offender-label-to-meet-with-private-attorney/
Sat, Dec 19, 2009 : 12:12 p.m.
MN: He's having problems because every step of the way he knew the rules and chose to not live by them. Every kid in high school (especially those in a sexual relationship) knows the age of consent, but he didn't seem to care. AND, NEITHER DID SHE! It took two, to do this tango! Both of them should bare the same Burden of accountability! OK?
Sat, Dec 19, 2009 : 11:42 a.m.
My apologies to Michigan - brain had a misfire there. And Kudos to AnnArbor.com and Lee Higgins for having the courage to present this story.
Sat, Dec 19, 2009 : 11:37 a.m.
This story is one of the many across the nation that exposes the flaws of the sex offender registry. The 'age of consent' is defined by your state legislature so what is legal in one state may put you on the registry in another. Electronic communication is punishable if there is no intent to contact or solicit sex from a minor (and the age of consent to electronic communication can be higher in the state than the age of consent to actually engage in intercourse). One comment says he knew the laws- I doubt that seriously. Do you have any idea of how many felony laws there are in Michigan? Texas has almost 2,400. Can you imagine knowing all of them? What the Adam Walsh Act and individual state registries have done is to give the public a false sense of security. You think that you know who is dangerous in your community when you pull up that registry. But the majority of these people have committed a non-violent, technical offense and are less dangerous than the people your child comes in contact with every day - famiy, teachers, preachers and the like. The best protection from sex abuse of children is for the parents to be constantly vigilant. Public registries create a danger to those on it from uniformed neighbors and stamp a stigma on the heads of many fine young people whose lives were ruined because of 'doing what comes naturally' which this society has promoted for the last 30 years.
Sat, Dec 19, 2009 : 11:33 a.m.
It is mentioned in this article, "While he (pertaining to Matthew Freeman) broke the law by having sex with an underage girl, the police report says the victim was not forced to commit any act nor did she ask him not to commit any act. Mrs. Scott said. My daughter was a "willing participant". Mrs. Scott by your own admittances,in your own openly stated opinion, is that your daughter, purposely and knowingly, broke the LAW! That makes her a "SEX OFFENDER" for engaging in an illegal underage, sexual act, a criminal act, in which she freely participated in! The law, civil regulations,strict requirements, and harsh restrictions, as well as the conviction, should legally, apply to HER, also! It is "THE LAW"! No one, is above the Law, right? Mr. Steve Hiller, Washtenaw County Chief Deputy Assistant Prosecutor, has the DUTY to uphold the law and bring criminal to face justice! It is, Mr. Gordy Schick, Pittsfield Townships deputy director of police services, to arrest those who violate the LAW. Gender discrimination is against the LAW!
Sat, Dec 19, 2009 : 10:07 a.m.
@ Argoc let me explain something to you, my son does not want anyone to feel sorry for him, I don't want anyone to feel sorry for him the both of us just want this story out so people can see how this affects his life. I don't know if you understand what I a trying to say but it really does not matter every one has the right to their own opinion. My son stole some videos game and took the blame for a broken a window if that sounds like a out of control criminal tell me were the real bad ones are at so I can look out for them, you say move on how? how can Matthew move on when he did try to get a place of his own and they do background checks, how can he advance in any employment and they do background checks.One thing I have to disagree with is people don't want to hear his story so don't tell me to just explain what happen they don't care what and how it happend they just see Sex Offender and run with that.
Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 8:26 p.m.
So he or his mom checked informally with the authorities about living near a school and were told "it shouldn't be a problem"? The authority person definitely screwed up with big consequences for the family. At the same time, the Freemans were a little naive for trusting that informal opinion, if they already knew about all the restrictions that apply to Matthew's case. I'd hope they are at least aware of those restrictions. If the Freemans had done their homework and gotten a formal, in-writing exemption from that part of the law, this wouldn't have happened. If they had not been able to get a formal, on-the-record exemption, they should've gone with the common sense choice, which would be "Matthew's not allowed to live this close to the school, so we're not going to move to that house." What went wrong with this simple process? Get things in writing! I really don't care at all about the age-related sex offense. Neither should prospective employers or landlords, once they've been told the full details of the case. Have the Freemans been explaining the exact circumstances of the "crime" to the prospective employers/landlords? From the comments here (and the comments of the interviewed neighbors) it looks like most people really don't hold a grudge about a 17 year old and a 15 year old. Why, then, is Matthew having trouble getting a job or a place to live? Is the sex offender label really the reason? Or is it because he also has a history of stealing and damaging others' property? If I were a potential employer, I'd be paying a LOT of attention to those parts of the story. That would be why I wouldn't want to hire him. Not his race. Not his sex history. To Yolanda Freeman and others who call stealing and malicious destruction "mistakes" --- there are a lot of people who make it through the teenage years without doing those things at all, not even once. Landlords and employers have plenty of people to choose from. Do you really blame them for deciding to fill the job/apartment with somebody with a clear history instead of Matthew? Matthew's going to have to stop feeling sorry for himself and start moving forward with what he has to work with. Sounds like he's doing that to some extent, but it's also possible to do it without years of having a chip on his shoulder. Get over it, be an admirable person, try to be around people who have some sense, and don't let a few ignorant idiots give you an attitude. Good luck.
Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 9:24 a.m.
EyeHeartA2: Then help me to understand "coercion" from the legal perspective. When I think of coercion in the romantic sense, I'm thinking that the young man "sweet talked" his girlfriend or convinced her that he cared enough about her to seek sexual engagement and she cared enough to submit willingly to sexual engagement. So, there was complete willingness on both the parties to engage in the act. What would be the legal definition of coercion be that would convert this into a criminal activity. I'm assuming it has something to do with being against her will.
Thu, Dec 17, 2009 : 11:25 p.m.
Commenters who think that our criminal justice system is race-blind are quite wrong. Many studies show that when arrested for the exact same crime, African Americans are far more likely to go to prison than whites, and Latinos somewhat more likely. This has a lot to do with the quality of legal representation, as someone above noted. It also has to do with prosecutorial discretion, with the fact that black and Latino kids are a lot more likely to get juvenile records for small-scale things that white kids do also but get away with, and that white middle-class kids are a lot more likely to be diverted to treatment for drug-related offenses. The most stunning stat is that black youth are 48 times as likely to go to jail than white youth when arrested for a first-time drug offense. From http://www.drugpolicy.org/library/booksnotbars0801.cfm which is summarizing reports by Human Rights Watch Although White youth sell and use drugs at the same or higher rates as youth of color,(1) Black and Latino youth are arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned at dramatically higher rates for drug crimes. In 1980, 14.5% of all juvenile drug arrests were Black youth; by 1990, Black youth constituted 48.8% of juvenile drug arrests.(2) A Black youth with a drug case is more than twice as likely to be held in police custody for a drug offense than a White youth.(3) While half of all drug arrests involving White youth result in formal processing, 75% of drug arrests involving Black youth are prosecuted.(4) Among young people incarcerated in juvenile facilities for the first time on a drug charge, the rate of commitment among Black youth is 48 times that of Whites, while the rate for Latino youth is 13 times that of Whites.(5) Black youth are three times more likely than White youth to be admitted to an adult prison for a drug conviction.(6) While the rate of young Whites being sent to prison for drug offenses from 1986-1996 doubled, the comparable Black rate increased six-fold.(7)
Woman in Ypsilanti
Thu, Dec 17, 2009 : 5:54 p.m.
FWIW, I think that teaching children that sex is bad is more harmful than allowing them to have sex whenever they feel they are ready. There is *nothing* wrong with a 17 year old having sex with a 15 year old as long as both consent and both understand how to use birth control effectively. Oh and I certainly prefer it when teenagers refrain from public displays of affection. I am always kind of amazed at how weird people are about sex. In this case, a boy's life has been ruined because people think underage sex is a crime? That is seriously messed up.
Thu, Dec 17, 2009 : 5:48 p.m.
According to the article..."Freeman, who had no legal record, pleaded guilty to fourth degree criminal sexual conduct with force or coercion charge on the advice of his public defender, he said"... "While he broke the law by having sex with an underage girl, the police report says the victim was "not forced to commit any act", nor "did she ask him to commit any act." Whoy! And his public defender advised him to plead guilty to a forced act?!; was there any other plea he could have taken that would have avoided putting him in the predicament he is in?; Could he have taken a chance in the presence of a jury that would have found him not guilty of any type of forced behavior thus avoiding such a harsh outcome? It seems that this young man got some bad advice from his attorney and I know part of the defense of public defenders is that they are overworked but this is just plain pathetic legal representation. This needs to be looked into.
Thu, Dec 17, 2009 : 9:12 a.m.
This sex offender law is so convoluted it makes absolutely no sense that this young man's life is ruined. I read someone wrote every high school student knows the age of consent! Where are you living? Most don't. Most of us never concerned ourselves with thoughts of this nature. I'm many years past high school and yet suffer the same fear-mongering societal issues which has been put upon those making wrong decisions and not given a second chance. Especially in cases where no one has been hurt, touched or demeaned, what is the purpose of all this? One day I hope to awaken and hope this nightmare would be past. It's now why I spend my days passionately working to provide hope and encouragement to addicts and sex offender's family and loved ones. www.roymartinministries.com
Thu, Dec 17, 2009 : 7:29 a.m.
Mr. Freeman and family be strong and know that there are a growing number of very concerned Americans who are petitioning and lobbying to change our countries unfair sex offender laws and unconstitutional registry system. Readers and commenters - first, at 17 he was a kid himself not an adult - second, the trend in our nation to prosecute consensual sexual relationships between consenting kids and teens under statutory rape laws is insane, unjust and unconstitutional. No offense intended to the victims and families of violent and sexually dangerous persons, but there is a rapidly growing tragedy in our nation as increasingly reported in local and national articles such as this one, where otherwise innocent kids/teens/young adults end up with a life of ruin in the aftermath as a registered sex offender for consensual peer sex and sexual activity (see Economist Aug 6 2009 - Americas Unjust Sex Laws). I am not condoning sexual promiscuity, and I agree that we want our children; and teens and adults for that matter, to be protected from violent and sexually dangerous persons. But current and pending sex offender legislation and laws must be changed so that only violent and sexually dangerous persons can be prosecuted; not consensual underage and young adult sexual activity. You may find this difficult to believe, I did at first, but there are kids as young as 8 on the sex offender registry for playing doctor; no violence involved, kids as young as 12 for pinching another kid on the butt just joking around, a long and rapidly growing list of teens and young adults for consensual sexual activity with a boyfriend/girlfriend, and men for public urination on the golf course. What was once sexual exploration between consenting teens left to parenting is now grounds for potential incarceration followed by life time registration as a sex offender as young as 14; both boys and girls. And Government sanctioned Sex Offender "Treatment" Programs, including treatment for juveniles as young as 12; and including cases of consensual sexual activity among peers, are barbaric and abusive!! These programs include the use of: Plethysmographs - a metalized ring is strapped around a male juveniles genitals (there is no such devise for females) and they are forced to listen to/watch pornography including deviant sexual activity such as violent rape! This barbaric and abusive device and recordings are designed to measure any signs of arousal and the juvenile is then forced to try and masturbate afterwards. Masturbatory Satiation juvenile males as young as 12 are forced to masturbate over and over and over while listening to/viewing pornographic images/recordings, including deviant sexual activity such as violent rape. Arousal Reconditioning Originally developed in the early to mid-1900s to convert homosexuals to heterosexuals. Attempts to eliminate sexual feelings by pairing them with boredom, pain, or unpleasantness. In effect, assumes that sexuality can be changed through punishment such as electric shock therapy. This reminiscent witch hunt insanity must be stopped before an entire generation of kids/teens/young adults are prosecuted and registered as sex offenders the rest of their lives! The current legislation, although very well intended, has seriously failed the true victims of violent sexual assault crimes and their families! And, it has resulted in what unintended consequences for potentially >95% of all youth and young adults who statistically could be prosecuted and convicted as sex offenders. Please, join in the growing effort to immediately bring an end to this insanity before an entire generation is lost and registered as sex offenders. Readers, please petition your elected officials and government for the provisions regarding juveniles to be amended and taken out. Legislators, please begin immediate changes to sex offender legislation to stop this insanity!
Thu, Dec 17, 2009 : 2:25 a.m.
Mrs Freeman, sorry to hear about the situation you are going through. Just to let you know, if all legal avenues fail, and any process will most likely be slow and tedious, if Matthew were to move to certain another states, the laws there might allow him to petition the court to remove him from the registry due to the circumstances of his "crime." There are certain states that do this (you'd have to check out the specific laws for each) and others which may force him to register with the police, but because of the minor nature of his offense would consider him low risk and would not subject him to residency restrictions or publish his photo and address online. Just wanted to let you know about this so that Matthew does not have to let his 20s waste away like this. I first heard about these draconian measures when I read an article in the Economist magazine a few months ago. They are a total abomination in what is supposed to be a free country, and I cant believe we go on criticizing other countries about human rights when we have these kinds of situations playing out in our own country. And as for HappySenior, you said that the neighbors were coerced into feeling sorry for him. No they were not! They were told the truth about why he was on the registry and were appalled. They dont believe that someone should be punished so viciously under the law for for consensual sex between teenagers. This is not a much older man taking advantage of a young naive girl. If you feel that the state should punish sex outside of marriage, why dont you move to Saudi Arabia or join the Taliban and participate in the stoning of "fornicators" and "adulterers"?
Thu, Dec 17, 2009 : 1:01 a.m.
@djm12652 - well, as a one-time teenage girl and as a current mother of both a teenage boy and girl, I do know this - the average 14 year old girl is MUCH more mature, both physically and emotionally, than a 16 year old boy. And black girls of 12 are about as mature as the average 14 year old white girl. I am not a cultural or moral relativist - but this I know simply from experience. But then again, as a Southern teenage gal I probably would have gotten into as much trouble in the Ann Arbor as did this young fellow. (And to be clear, I am not excusing his actual offenses - but unless things have really changed that much since the 1970s, his sexual behaviour is what used to be considered 'normal'. If there were any predations involved it cannot be assumed that the boy was the predator.
Thu, Dec 17, 2009 : 12:58 a.m.
@djm12652.. "I still believe that underage consensual sex should be a crime". Do you realize that about 20% of 15 year olds would fall under your definition of a criminal?
Thu, Dec 17, 2009 : 12:02 a.m.
@martha...you do realize Mr. Freeman committed his "offenses" in Washtenaw County, went to Ann Arbor schools? This region is far from being a "Puritan" state. I don't agree that he should be on the RSO listing. However, he's not a one time offender here, and he was a freshman in high school at 16 when he met the girl who was 14. Even by liberal Ann Arbor standards, the majority of A2 parents would frown upon sexual activity at that early an age. I feel for his parents. They must also feel the brunt of his actions. I still believe that underage consensual sex should be a crime, even when the age difference is minimal. For those circumstances there should be a large monetary fine paid rather than being put on the RSO listing. If parents were aware that not keeping an eye on their kids and being involved in their lives was going to cost them money, they'd be ever watchful and more diligent in educating the children on the dangers of sex ie, std's, unwanted pregnancies, thus interrupting their continued education and forming a bleak future.
Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 11:28 p.m.
Is the Scarlet Letter no longer required reading in Junior High? It used to be a noncontroversial, common consensus that lifetime branding for youthful sexual experience was an obvious wrong - a wrong that was used as a teaching lesson, alongside witch hangings, of how far we had evolved as a society. If a 17 year old having sex with a 15 year old is wrong then I reckon my parents are criminals and I should never have been born - along with many other people my age from the deep South. This kids real problem is that he is the progeny of a libertine Southern culture ( I assume, since he is Black) being judged by the mores of a puritan Yankee state.
Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 11:10 p.m.
I think it's criminal the way the mother of the daughter used the law regarding age of consent to break up her daughter's relationship with the boy. I think what she did was cruel. Waiting until after the boy turned 17, so he could also be punished as an adult or perhaps to keep her daughter from being convicted as well, then having a 'stab of guilt' and asking the courts to remove his name from the registry after the fact? She used the law for her own nefarious purposes. Did she not realize the life long impact that pressing such charges would have for the boy? To write a letter asking that his name be removed from the registry after the fact is too little, too late. He will still have to admit to his conviction on all job applications for at least 7 years; he will be restricted and even legally barred from renting in certain locations; near schools and some apartment buildings; he will always be snubbed by those who only see the words "convicted sex offender" on his record, because they don't know and don't care about the story behind his conviction. Will he also be denied the right to spend holidays and special occasions with his family because there are children present? While I agree that children should not be having sex, there are many other ways the mother could have handled this, instead of ruining that boy's life. In this day and age where FEW people wait until marriage to engage in sex, it would be interesting to know how OLD she was the first time SHE had sex! Is the pot calling the kettle black? I would also like to point out to all those who keep spouting about morals, saying that neither the boy nor his girlfriend would have engaged in a sexual relationship if they were brought up with good morals at home - that is NOT true. There are literally thousands of kids out there, who have awesome and incredible family lives; who have strong moral and/or religious upbringings who STILL engage in teen sex. It doesn't matter how many talks you have with your child about being responsible, when it comes right down to it, they will do what they want to do when the opportunity presents itself. It's time to be realistic and fair. To Yolanda Freeman, Matthew Freeman and family. I wish you all good luck, a very Merry Christmas, a wonderful New Year, and a much brighter future.
Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 8:46 p.m.
Why not adjust the law so that a judge can determine whether an offender needs to register? It seems that if a prosecutor is unwilling to use their discretion on the charge, at least a judge could sort out the lovestruck teenagers verus the child stalkers. When we have such mandatatory sentencing, we might as well replace judges with computers, why waste time electing people to apply common sense?
Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 6:46 p.m.
I have to agree with those who said that the "sex offender" has to be revamped. These young men & women who are going thru hormones then don't understand are not "preying" on children. Boy if I could go back 40+ years, I wouldn't have had the child I had because of foolish "sexual" experimentation. The mother who was mad and reported this and is now trying to get this young man's charges reduced should have thought about reporting it in the first place. She could have sat down with her daughter and talked about "did she agree...?" or was she truly raped. Give this young man a break and get PD to stand up for these young men, too.
Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 5:20 p.m.
Mr. Veilmetti: Thank you so much for the link to the crime data that you reference in your blog. I hope that everyone who is concerned about race and justice would review these statistics. They clearly point out that whites are the largest numerical number in the general population, in most cases, commit not only numerically more crime but proportionally as well. However, Blacks are convicted and incarcerated at a much higher rate for a variety of reasons including the inability to afford good legal representation, and class as well as racial discrimination. That is why you see see such a disproportional number of blacks included in official crime statistics. How this applies to the young man in question is the fact that he appeared to have had poor legal representation from the very beginning and even now. I would like to thank both Matthew and his mother for having the courage to share this story with the larger community because it shed light on a very critical issue in our community and can serve as a teachable moment for all of us. If every parent (mother) of their teenage female daughter(s),would report the sexual activity of their daughter(s), a good 50% if no more of the young men in our community would be assigned to the sex offense registry. I hope the prosecutor's office show some mercy on this young man and I am going to try and contact his family to offer whatever support I can. This young man's life and many others can be salvage if enough caring adult males take an interest in their lives.
Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 4:31 p.m.
@woman in ypsilanti, perhaps *normal* in your neighborhood, but not in my family, that's for sure. If it was my daughter at 15 having sex, she would have less to worry about from the judicial system than me. And if I had a 17 year old son engaging in that with a minor, he'd pray to be hauled off to jail before I could get to him. So I guess one person's normal is not everyone's. This is not to say the young man is ba person, just made the wrong choices. He chose his actions, all of them. However, if having sex at such a young age, explains why there are so many out of wedlock and on welfare young mothers.
Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 3:23 p.m.
So, based on this law, I should be in jail for having sex with my girlfreind when she was 15 and I was 17 also?. Someone had it in for this kid. Apprantly the law doesnt apply to everyone.
Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 3:01 p.m.
We men have a couple of organs, one with which to think and reason, and the other to.....with. Unfortunately the body doesn't have enough blood to run them both at the same time
Woman in Ypsilanti
Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 2:21 p.m.
I am not sure I believe that the reason 57% of Michigan's prison population is non-white (compared to 20% of the general population) is because white people commit that many fewer crimes. Unfortunately, it isnt especially easy to find statistics for people who commit crimes and then arent arrested or prosecuted for those crimes.
Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 2:16 p.m.
My mistake, what I meant to say was "when comparing the number of crimes commited--compared to the total population of the race" Statistically--from Questia.com and the references cited, African-Americans comprise 12% of the total U.S.population, and commit 55% of the crimes.
Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 12:54 p.m.
Woman in Ypsi. Statistically, white men are arrested and convicted of crimes less often than black men because statistically, white men commit fewer crimes. You are the one who brought up your opinion that "race may be a factor".
Woman in Ypsilanti
Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 12:34 p.m.
EyeHeartA2 - And yet statistically white men are much less likely to be arrested or go to jail for sex crimes. I also want to point out that the term "playing the race card" is generally used in order to shame people out of discussing race at all, usually by white people who want to believe that there really is an even playing field when once one looks at things on a macro level, is clearly not the case. If you want to disagree with me that race is a factor in things like this, that is one thing but frankly, whenever I see anyone use the term "play the race card" I think they are playing the "play the race card" card which is far more harmful, imho. Sure, on an individual level, you cant be sure how much race is a factor in a particular case. Some white people do get raw deals. Many more black people do. We have a systemic problem in our criminal justice system and pretending that we don't just means more unfairness.
Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 12:32 p.m.
I must agree this program needs a real good look. The comments here promted me to look at stats and they are murky at best.I found repeat offender stats from 3%-90% This shows someone is doing creative math.It seems that every story involves repeat offenders, but are they really? And before you use youth as an excuse, I found a US dept of Justice report that indicates 40% of offenders with a victim under 11 yrs old were themselves a minor. Kinda odd since we all think of offenders as "crepy old men" not juviniles. Congrats on a thought provoking story- Now how about a follow up with some stats
Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 12:04 p.m.
The laws need to be changed on the 'Registry' not everyone is a sex offender. Pee'ing on the side of the road? allegedly touching someone? how do you prove or disprove touching without witnesses? Oh and I just remembered years ago someone touched me now I want to prosecute them so I can feel good. Just saw a lady on TV news lately, she had been an alcoholic for years due to an Uncle allegedly touching her 30 years ago so she had him prosecuted. The old man took a plea because he was on social security and could only get a public defender and now the man is on the registry. The woman gets on TV and says she feels vendicated for the many years she was suffering from alcoholism. Where does personal responsibility come into play, oh, I forgot.. we don't have to do that anymore. This kid got a raw deal. The mother of the girl now realizes that now but its too late for regrets. Plus his stupid behavior for breaking probation rules by stealing. There are many people out there like this kid that should not be on a registry of any kind. What about habitual DUI offenders that have been caught numerous times, had wrecks, hurt people, and/or killed them. What about your next door neighbor that robbed a convenience store, sold drugs to kids and got them hooked, robbed some old lady in the parking lot at walmart or a mall... served a little time now on the streets again. Are these habitual offenders on a registry. Hell, you're better off robbing someone or even killing them than being accused of a sex crime. Being on the registry is hell, because no matter where you go or what you do there is someone watching your every move and when they call and report you it has to be investigated. That should be called terrorism in a different form. Getting a public defender is like being your own lawyer, a fool. There are not many good PD's out there, they have a case load a mile high, they don't care about their clients, they are just another case to get off their desk and into the case closed file room. If everyone that got arrested no matter what the charge, they should ask for a jury trial. This would bog the judicial system down like you wouldn't believe. And the reason this doesn't happen is because people start talking as soon as they are arrested and soon the police are telling them if they talk they will get a better deal and they will help them. That's all BS, that is nazi tactics. The police and public defenders play on the ignorance of the public and the laws of defense in the judicial system. The registry should either be abolished or have everyone who is a felon listed on it, no matter what the crime. Why are we discriminating in this area. Did you know someone on the registry and on probation cannot go to church without permission, go to a movie, go to the mall, go near a park, live in the house with children even if you're related to them. Why not just sit in a box until your probation is up. I know of one case where a guy had porn on his personal computer and he had pictures of children in his family on there, just ordinary pictures which had nothing to do with the porn pictures. He got a new computer and gave it away without cleaning the hard drive off, well some zealot turned the computer over to the police and he got arrested for having pornographic pictures of females over 18 (separate files) and in another file which had nothing to do with the other, pictures of family and friends children. The guy had to hire an attorney, spent thousands of dollars to defend himself, eventually lost his house, his job, had to file bankruptsy and now his family is falling apart over this. Now you tell me if this is justice? Where does it stop... better not give that old computer away. Take the hard drive out and take an ax to it or use it for target practice. So if you are sitting on your high horse and feeling smug and superior, better watch your back because you could be on the 'registry' next week. You can rob, kill, sell or take drugs, get several DUI's, lose your drivers license and be told not to drive but still get into a car and drive drunk, commit any crime in the world except a sex crime and you won't ever have to be on a 'registry' that your neighbors can see. As a word of advice to everyone reading this, if you get arrested for anything, I mean anything, ask for a jury trial, a lawyer, and DO NOT talk to anyone but your lawyer or a court appointed lawyer. The police will tell you they will get you a good deal if you confess or talk, do not talk to anyone... if you talk, you just wrote your ticket to prison. I am sorry this young man is having to pay such a steep price for something he was ignorant of the law, and the mother of the daughter now has regrets and her daughter is running free with no accountability for her actions. God bless both these families for the grief and burden this is causing this young man. I am not condoning the stealing, but at least he won't go on a registry for that. Good luck to all. I pray these registry laws are abolished, they serve no purpose. But people are afraid to tread these waters to change it because it might cause a political ripple in their career. This is where we need change and its being ignored. Let's do something, make some noise, and get this registry rule changed and abolished. I am a white, red bloodied American and believe there is justice for all. Now get up and do something to make the right changes in America.
Woman in Ypsilanti
Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 10:42 a.m.
To djm12652: It is *normal* for 17 year old boys to date 15 year old girls and it is normal for them to have sex. Among my peers, it was abnormal for girls to wait to have sex until they were 16. Sure it is still "sex with a minor" if one party is under 16 but there is a big difference between a 17 year old having sex with a 15 year old and say...a 40 year old having sex with a 15 year old. Among my peer group of upper middle class white kids, stealing was common, especially among boys. They did it for the thrill of it. Mostly they didnt get caught but when they were, they got a slap on the wrist at most from the justice system. All of them eventually grew out of that phase. It is normal for teenagers to have bad judgment. There is a difference between bad judgment and having a "criminal mind" This kid has gotten a raw deal. Seriously. It is wrong. The law is wrong.
Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 10:31 a.m.
My point is he never commited another sex crime, which in my opinion, one had a girlfriend, not forced on a stranger. his girlfriend, 2yr age gap. ok the law! He paid the price and some. He has no choice but to complete his sentence. What happen to us as a village raise are kids and teach our kids? no! we built a place call prison and thats called job security. no way are we together when it comes to helping and teaching our kids. Let them grow up in prison. wow what a way to rid yourself of the community responsiblty. COMMON-UNITY only when we stand up as a commonunity can we start to see changes in our kids choices. until then keep waiting for someone else to fix your problems.
Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 7:49 a.m.
I'm not surprised the anonymous tipster called the police, made the "creepy" comments, etc. It's been experience that people in general are just plain nuts, and parents even more so. Here's an example of what I mean: A friend of mine is a middle school teacher. He tucked in his shirt while he was lecturing to his class. An absent-minded process we've all done at one time or another. One of his students went home and told her mother that he "put his hand down his pants." Not true, but the mother completely flipped out. There was an investigation, no other students in the class could corroborate the story, and that should have been the end of it. Nope! The insane mother pulled her daughter from the class, showed up at every board meeting, called other parents in the class, and pretty much never gave up for the rest of the school year. The fact that the girlfriend's mother and the anonymous tipster both overreacted is no surprise at all. I don't know what it is about motherhood that makes the "proportional response" gene turn off.
Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 3:15 a.m.
Ms Freeman-Thanks for your post and good luck with both you and Matthew. As a father of two girls (middle and high school)they each attended Carpenter Elementary during the years stated in the story. I've never met Matthew, or can say I ever seen him. Reading through these posts I didn't see anyone mention anything about the person who called this in to the State police? Apparently, (assumingly) the neighbor and the State police were, in the very least, in constant communication or how else could the State police just happen to be at the school when Matthew was playing basetball? This same court I've played basketball with my girls and ran the family dog in the vast field and played soccer and I've only noticed Pittsfield police. Still, what made the neighbor think he was "creepy" and needed help to get rid of him? This I find more appalling than anything. Did the trooper observe before approaching? Though the neighbor has a right to call police, her language to "...get rid of him... " and that he was watching the kids I find more troubling than what Matthew was convicted of. Simply put, these laws need to be changed. It traps people for such a long period of their lives and as young as people Matthew's age, very productive period of their lives. When I lost my virginity I had no clue what the age of consent was, and can't really remember if it was covered in Sex-Ed when it was taught in the 6th grade. So to all those who've said that he should have known what the age of consent was I'd have to give a past to him. However, as a parent I would not had allowed my son to date a girl who was 14 while he was 16. For Happy Senior, the world has changed quite a bit during your time. Teenagers live in a world that changes at a much quicker pace than her time or mine, and it is, at times, a struggle to constantly keep kids on a path that is riddle with so many varibles and choices that typically goes against one's better values. This is not an excuse to stop being a parent, but as one, I understand the struggle. Reach kids early and often and constantly drive the message into them what is acceptable behavior and what isn't, not just when it comes to sex, but life itself. Fortunately my daughters have gotten this message (so far), but mistakes do happen and there is more time for them to screw up (as teenagers will). Still, to be branished as a sex offended in the capacity that Matthew is going through, I can only wish him some very good luck.
Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 1:29 a.m.
@ Tonnie, Yes I am very proud of my son because he wants his story heard. I understand that people will judge me because I stand behind my son 100%. Like I had expressed in my earlier post maybe some of the bloggers did not understand what I said, but I will say it again(Matthew did get in trouble when he was a TEENAGER, A TEENAGER) I am not praising him for the trouble that he had got into, I should not have to explain my household to anyone but for your information my son do have a job, I have a daughter that is in Eastern and three other children that are doing very well in school and Matthew has not been studying his GED for six years. So before you judge know the facts please!!! But to the individuals that are so postive about this THANK YOU SO MUCH
Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 1:24 a.m.
@ Tonnie, Yes I am very proud of my son because he wants his story heard. I understand that people will judge me because I stand behind my son 100%. Like I had expressed in my earlier post maybe some of the bloggers did not understand what I said, but I will say it again(Matthew did get in trouble when he was a TEENAGER, A TEENAGER) I am not praising him for the trouble that he had got into, I should not have to explain my household to anyone but for your information my son do have a job, I have a daughter that is in Eastern and three other children that are doing very well in school and Matthew has not been studying his GED for six years. So before you judge know the facts please!!! But to the individuals that are so postive about this THANK YOU SO MUCH
Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 12:37 a.m.
This is ridiculous. Is this "justice and liberty for all", America? A two year difference during teenage years is enough to shun a person for the rest of his life? If everyone in this situation was penalized, half of our country would be "registered sex offenders". If this is what we are after, we should have the police storm Myspace, Facebook and every high school in America to hunt down these "disgusting pedophilic monsters". There is a vast difference between a 17 and 15 year old having sex and a 26 taking advantage of a 14 year old. Anyone who cannot see a difference ought to be registered as "socially and intellectually stunted" and not allowed near children lest they infect them with idiocy. The court that made this decision should feel ashamed. I don't care that the girl was one year below the age of the consent- The boy was only 2 years older than her. Just 2. This is not something to ruin a young man's life over. Absolutely disgusting.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 9:46 p.m.
to Mrs. Freeman, as a mother myself, I can only tell you that as parents we can only give our children values and a good moral compass when they are young. What our children end up doing with those lessons as they go into adulthood is their choice. What I find ironic with people using the "race card" is that a black man accused of forcible rape was allowed to plead down and not have to be a RSO club member. And @woman in ypsilanti...I don't understand your remark regarding stealing and having sex with a minor as "normal", it's not normal unless you have a criminal mentality. And to the Grinch, as one of the "self-righteous" people that has broken the law by speeding and got caught, I actually corrected the officer and admitted to going 3 miles an hour more than his radar gun showed. Taking responsibility for one's actions can go a lot further than sitting around and whining about how everyone is trying to hold you down...
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 9:32 p.m.
SteveK, I agree with both your posts. Unbelievable. Regarding the post from Yolanda, the proud parent, perhaps one of the reasons he's been "unable to find a job" has more to do with his dropping out of school than being unjustly labeled by the legal system. Going to college to study for his GED? For six years? Really? Great to hear there are five more siblings behind him, taking all of this in. Keep it classy.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 9:23 p.m.
Hmmm - I'm missing something - - - what race was the girlfriend that a "race card" is being called? And I'd like to know if there is list somewhere of girls who are underage, promiscuous, jail-bate and to be avoided? I would certainly want my son to have access to that list. What is punishment for the boy involved should also be punishment for the girl involved. Blame the guy because your daughter willingly participated in a sexual act? I think not. If the boy has to suffer then so should his partner. Being put on a sex-offender list for a situation like this is ludicrous. Did he rape her? NO
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 7:36 p.m.
People like Bryant123 should actually read the story before commenting. If the kid didn't violate probation he would still be on the sex registration list. More importantly, you should ask yourself what the sex list is really supposed to do: namely keep track of dangerous sex predators. A sixteen year old kid having sex with a 15 year old kid is hardly somebody I am worried about. Further, running the naked mile, or urinating in public can put you on the list. The government has overreached and this kid got a bad deal.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 7:17 p.m.
The problem is much bigger than this kid. The real problem is the legislation that is passed based on a knee jerk reaction to a crime. I think we need to look at what laws are being created. Most people just do not care unless it effects them. This is the plain and simple truth. But with the sex offender registry as a start, what is next? Well, all murderers of course, then in the interest of our own safety, how about people convicted of fraud? We need to know who we have to watch out for. Where does this end? The PUBLIC registry had good intentions, but does more harm than good. The real answer is to either do away with it, or make the entire thing private. The implication of having it be public ruins the lives of everyone on it, which is a life of punishment. If a person murders someone they get a lessor punishment. Is this right?
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 6:22 p.m.
So, a kid that has sex with his girlfriend is on the sex offender registry? Is he going to be treated as a pervert?
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 6:15 p.m.
I have a neighbor who also in on the Sex Offender list for the identical crime. I feel sorry for her because its clear she is ashamed of it. Yes, she is a young white girl from a well off family who got involved with an underage male. I don't think its doing anyone any good to continue this criminalisation of young people. I don't believe it's a racial construct, but rather a Religious Right foundation. Its not helping this young man out of the hole he's dug himself into. And, its not at all related to any other crimes. Why can't a judge review his sexual conduct record and direct that his listing be terminated? Same for my neighbor... Look at all the other things going on that people get probation for.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 6:01 p.m.
Was that the first time M actually stole or the first time he got caught? I don't think I would have plead guilty to any charge if I feel I wasn't guilty, or was this a plea to a lesser charge bargain? A jury probably would have been sympathetic. I too have been in trouble before and had a long probation period and loss of my license. Looking back I am grateful for that judge sending me to jail, although I couldn't see it at the time. This charge has not hampered him from employment. I say just move in with a friend and grow up and deal with life on life's terms!
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 4:57 p.m.
blake_138: Thank-you for making my point for me while undermining your own. Apparently, as I suggested, there are laws that can be broken (e.g., speeding) without consequences and those that cannot be(e.g., a 17 year old having sex with a 15-year old). And quite funny that you take the kid to task for not knowing the law when you yourself don't know the age of consent. ROFL.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 4:39 p.m.
To the people that are commenting, Yes Matthew did get in trouble as a TEENAGER. I his mother is not excusing that at all and not making light of any of the things that he did. But my son is not a trouble maker, he is not a thug, he goes to work everyday and he is also in school. But when he is trying to move on with his life this gets blown right back in his face as if it just happened. He is 23 years old now this happen back in 2003 this is 2009 why should this crime be held over his head, there are real sex offenders that are still out there and that need to be caught. I am glad that there are people that really do understand that people make mistakes in life. But to the ones that are so closed minded about this about this ask yourself what if it was you or one of your family members that was in this situation
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 4:28 p.m.
The only good thing to come out of religion is fellowship, as long as it doesn't involve backstabbing.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 3:59 p.m.
Most of the main religions are based on moral code, although it has been perverted and twisted over the years to include intolerance and hate. Yes alot of wars have been waged in the name of religion. But there have also been alot of charities, and good done in the name of religion. It's a bit of a double edged sword.
Woman in Ypsilanti
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 3:51 p.m.
I keep waiting for Atticus F to give us a speech about how the justice system is supposed to be fair. Something along the lines of... "The one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color of the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box. " *toe tapping* Well?
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 3:43 p.m.
What in the high holy heck does Christianity have to do with morality? Where in history is religion proven to be of any value, except in war-mongering and self-righteous behavior? Morals come from strong parenting and strong character.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 3:31 p.m.
salinemary, alot of teenagers lack common sense. That doesn't mean they should be punished for the rest of their lives. Most Christian values are based on the belief that we are imperfect, and that people change, and we can be forgiven for our mistakes. This is particulary true in our teenage years.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 3:10 p.m.
In the meantime, real rapists plead down repeatedly and are released to society. Even if they're on the offender list, they're still out there free to re-offend. What is wrong here?
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 2:58 p.m.
Someone once said "Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done." Matthew Freeman did not use common sense, the ex-girlfriend's mother didn't use common sense, and on and on. Think before you act.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 2:42 p.m.
Thanks for the article Mr. Higgins, and the pointer to Coalition for a Useful Registry Kathleen. I remember being a teenager, remember thinking with my hormones. Perhaps those who criticize Mr. Freeman were hormone deficient during their teenage years; sexuality is a broad spectrum which includes lack of interest.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 2:26 p.m.
Ms. Frreman thank you for sharing with those who have an open mind to listen. I have 2 teenage daughters and a teenage son. We preach abstinence to them, but we do understand what we were like as teens. I have gone over the law of consent with all 3, so that none of them can proclaim ignorance. I also use this law when meeting the prospective dates. Though if my daughters or son were to have consensual sex I wouldn't punish the boy/girl through this outdated system of ours. There are ways to punish them without it negatively affecting the lives of teens for 25 years for something that most people did or know people who did the same thing when we were teens. Why couldn't the mother have gotten a restraining order? Why not sit down with Ms. Freeman and express your feelings instead of going to the cops? My wife and I have done this with young mens' parents who we heard unflattering things about. It has worked for us and our daughters. Thank you a2.com for bringing to light this topic. It is one that needs to be modified and updated
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 2:16 p.m.
If you're at all interested in changing the law in Michigan, the Coalition for a Useful Registry (firstname.lastname@example.org) has been working to distinguish between sexual predators and youthful offenders who were charged with having sex with their girlfriends. The Learning Disabilities Association of Michigan has signed on in support of changes to the Sexual Offenders Registry since young people with learning disabilities are over-represented in this, and many other categories of juvenile offenses. There is also action on the national level to change the laws affecting juvenile offenders. Locally, Judge O'Brien recently made an historic ruling on the Sexual Offenders registry, to the effect that it was cruel and unusual punishment (again, in the context of a youthful offender.) I look forward to his ruling being affirmed if carried to appeal. "Sensible fixes to youth crime and delinquency policies" Monday, December 14, 2009 (Editorial in Washington Post) THE SENATE Judiciary Committee should embrace a bill scheduled for debate on Thursday that institutes needed reforms in how the nation deals with youth who run afoul of the law. The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act does not impose federal strictures on state and local entities, but it provides funds for those that choose to comply with the legislation's guidelines. In this way, the Justice Department, which administers the act, can provide incentives to states to comply with what it considers best practices. I wish Mr. Freeman well, and applaud his efforts to obtain his GED. He is not alone, and his family may wish to take advantage of the support available to him through the Coalition for a Useful Registry. Kathleen Kosobud Immediate Past President Learning Disabilities Association of Michigan
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 1:56 p.m.
Our legal system still has a bit of puritanism in it. You know, puritanism: the haunting feeling that somebody, somewhere, is having more fun than you are. The sex crimes list absolutely needs to differentiate between cases like these and offenders who prey on strangers or children who really, really haven't given consent. Personally, I think Ms. Scott should shoulder considerable blame here. Going to police over a situation that most parents realize is their own failing. The police had no choice but to act - they don't set the rules. However, Freeman is not a shining example of an honorable, decent young man. Stealing and destroying property is not normal teen behavior. It's anti-social, harmful, anything but "boys will be boys" behavior. He allowed this bad break, which wasn't all that horrible, to change his life. He blames his dropping out of school on this? That's the talk of someone who isn't exhibiting high moral character. He still has a chance to pull his stuff together, get the GED, go to college or vocational school. If he stops feeling sorry for himself and becomes a man. He doesn't sound like a lost cause by any means. Just a typical, whiny, blame-everyone-but-myself American (I hope that doesn't violate the guidelines - surely four or five other posts here who name-call those who disagree with them should have been removed). I would definitely support a law change that allowed his name to be removed from the sex offender list, though. As for the claims that the system is biased toward rich white offenders? I'd just remove the "white" from that statement. Good lawyers are expensive, and willing to take a lot of that expensive time to negotiate a better settlement with the courts.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 1:54 p.m.
I'm in agreement with foobar417. A one size fits all doesn't seem applicable in this issue. It not only dillutes the value of having the list of sex offenders available but seems like cruel and unusual punishment for someone who is not a sexual predator to be "officially" labeled as one. I also don't understand the original conviction carrying a "with force or coercion" clause when both the teenage girl and her mother testified there was no force or coercion involved and that the sex was consentual. That doesn't sound like justice, that sounds like a fraudulent conviction.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 1:30 p.m.
Ten years ago, my son (a Mexican-American, if it means anything) was convicted of a misdemeanor when he had sex at age 18 and one week, with a girlfriend he thought was his own age. Both she and a mutual friend told him she was a senior in high school. Turns out they were lying, the mom found out, and my son was convicted of a misdemeanor sex offense that has him still on the online sex offender list. He is the sweetest guy, now age 28, who has had his life turned upside down similarly to Matthew. Every job he applies for, he has to explain his situation. Every apartment application is turned down. Most galling is that through the whole ordeal, my husband and I never met the accusing mother of the girlfriend...she didn't show up in court. We have been forced to continue to aid in supporting him at age 28 because of the one-night mistake he made a week after his eighteenth birthday. He is now attending college and should be able to get off the internet list next year by petitioning, but the whole situation is ridiculous because one upset mother changed my son's life forever, while hundreds of his friends in the same situation had nothing happen to them. He was convicted in 1999 and therefore the Romeo and Juliet law does not apply...but I'm glad that it was passed. There should be only violent offenders on the list, or it means nothing except a lifetime of suffering for normal teenage kids.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 1:26 p.m.
Thanks for the comments. In Michigan, the legal age of consent is 16. BikeProf, Thanks for the post. However, I'm not sure the "Romeo and Juliet" decision would come into play here anyway because Freeman did not successfully complete his probation under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 1:13 p.m.
@blake_138: The legal age for consent is 17 years of age. As an adult it was his responsibility to know that and to communicate with his intended partner prior to engaging in sex How exactly was he an adult at age 17? I don't see how bringing race into this is wrong. Did race come into the picture during sentencing? Who knows. Crime is definitely treated _a lot_ more severely in Ypsi than it was when I was growing up. Even today, in Dexter or Chelsea or Saline, I doubt anyone would have bothered to prosecute him. Is his race affecting the tone of comments here? Would there be so many negative comments left if this kid were white? If he were white, I bet people here would be more able to see a son, brother, friend or themselves in him, rather than some black city kid in a backwards hat a baggy shirt. I know a lot of upstanding adults who did stupid crap in their teens and early 20's. And I knew a lot of guys who were 2 years older than a girlfriend in high school. Boy that age aren't exactly known for maturing at the same rate as girls after all.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 12:58 p.m.
The entire SOR just shows what happens when politicians pander to the "be tough on crime" crowd. They think of nothing more that being reelected rather than standing up and saying this is a crazy bill. Most legislators don't stop to think about the unintended result of the laws they do pass. The SOR is one of the classics. Dont know how this bell can be unrung but at least the legislature did change the law back in 2004. Personally I would rather there be a drunk driver registration list if there are going to be lists. I am more concerned about repeat drunk drivers killing me or my family than I am about sex offenders. Nobody wants to live next to a rapist or child molester but this law even with the changes made is still not effective. Where are the statistics that show anyone is safer after this law than before? This law was probably just passed because of some high profile case.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 12:57 p.m.
blake_138 the age of consent in MI is 16 so I think it is amusing that you are so quick to blame him for not knowing our laws. Personally I think this is ridiculous. Go into any local high school and I am sure you could find countless cases of seniors dating sophomores and so on. It has always happened and always will. Once mother not knowing how to deal with her daughter has had horrible consequences for this boy regardless of his character or other offenses and the state needs to recognize that there is a huge difference between this and child molestation or rape. There is no need for cases like this to show up on the same sex offender registry together.
Woman in Ypsilanti
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 12:50 p.m.
Really?!? I am sorry but I dont think bringing up the fact that our criminal justice system is not fair and probably is very racist is "playing the race card."
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 12:40 p.m.
This is a good article about an obvious injustice. But I think the article should have mentioned that the state legislature changed the so-called 'Romeo and Juliet' law soon after this conviction. So Mr. Freeman is on the list for doing something that would no longer get him on the list today--this is simply wrong. It was wrong for the mother to file a criminal complaint, even worse for the prosecutor to prosecute (and yes I think race had a lot to do with it), and extremely absurd for the neighbors to anonymously get the cops out to hassle someone who is not a threat to their kids. And it was nonsensical for the state courts to allow this double standard to continue in the case cited below. According to the Michigan ACLU website: Youthful Offenders on the Sex Offender Registry In Michigan, like most states, teen lovers who engage in forms of consensual sex can be convicted as sex offenders if one or both of the teens are not yet 16 years old. However, in Michigan, unlike most states, convicted Romeo and Juliet teens are also placed on the Internet-based sex offender registry for 25 years -- thus destroying many of their job, housing and educational opportunities. In order to address this great injustice, the Michigan legislature amended the registry so that Romeo and Juliet offenders do not have to register if they were convicted after October 1, 2004. However, there are dozens of youths who were convicted before that date who are suffering. The ACLU filed a brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals arguing that it violates the equal protection and due process rights of these youths to treat them differently than those convicted after 2004. In July 2007, the appeals court held that while the treatment of these young people was unfair, it did not violate the Constitution. (Doe v. Sturdivant; Cooperating attorneys Miriam Aukerman and Susanna Peters)
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 12:37 p.m.
another case of trying to make a law that fits all circumstances and someone always ends up "..falling thru the cracks".....cider house rules apply here IMO..."liberty and justice for all who can afford it" welcome to the USA
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 12:34 p.m.
I trust that all you who have zero sympathy and who believe "It is our responsibility as citizens to know the laws of our state" will gladly pay your speeding fines when caught in a speed trap. Naaaaaah. I'm bettin' that's different, because we all know that the speed limits are too low.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 12:28 p.m.
Yolanda: thanks for the post. You are right--they are angry, ignorant, small people. These sex offender laws make the same mistake that the "mandatory-minimums" do for drug violations in that they fail to allow judges (they are, after all, called "judges" for a reason) to draw distinctions between, in this case, a child molester and two teens with normal hormones at work. Did this young man make a mistake and break the law? Absolutley. Should he be treated like a pariah for it for the rest of his life? Not in my opinion. But I do wonder how many of the "hang him high" posters on this site profess to be Christians. If you do, time to dust of the New Testament, folks.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 12:11 p.m.
So, if they were both 15 they would both be victims and perpertrator's? The law should be changed once again to reflect modern society, while 16 could still be the age of consent there could be a 3 year window to allow for the type of relationships that exist today in our schools, e.g 17 & 14 or 18 & 15. It should also be remebered that these statutory rape laws were originally enacted to protect the father's interest in his daughter's chastity, making her more desirable for marraiage. They date back to when people were allowed to be considered property and need to be adjusted to conform with modern society. I also agree with the other commenters that the offender registry is a joke. I want to know about pedophiles and forceful rapists, not someone with an indecent exposure charge or who got intimate with their highschool sweetheart.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 12:09 p.m.
Mathew Freeman is a victim of our broad interpretation of the law. Criminals should be punished based on the intimate details of the offense. Instead time constraints have to keep the system moving leaving people like Freeman to suffer. He should have never been on any offender list, probation maybe a year, to keep the two appart, now this boys life may be ruined.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 11:56 a.m.
Woman in Ypsilanti----it is absolutely amazing that every crime by an african-american can be minimilized by throwing out the race card. I don't agree that he should be on the "list", but he doesn't have a stellar past, and not everybody's idea of a "mistake" is stealing or destruction of property. I don't want to hear that he is a product of his environment either.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 11:54 a.m.
jbens, Thanks for the comment. As a reporter, it's my job to find out what people think.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 11:45 a.m.
If this was written in defense of Freeman, what in the world was a2.com thinking when they "told five of Freeman's neighbors a sex offender was living on the street?" That's only spreads the label in his neighborhood, just as bad the police and prosecutors. Disgraceful, Higgins, that you would compromise his future just to see people's reactions.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 11:34 a.m.
A comment has been removed from this thread for violating our guidelines.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 11:31 a.m.
I have two boys this age..one 18 and the other 17. The 17 year old has a 15 year old girlfriend and I keep trying to tell him that when he breaks up with her...her mom could possibly do this to him because he "broke her baby's heart." He says she'll never do something like that..I say...talk to Matthew Freeman. Those that are judging this kid and his family need to look in a mirror. Your kids are probably doing worse, trust me. I know my two boys are no angels and won't ever pretend that they are...I live in the real world. Do you?
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 11:16 a.m.
Woman in Ypsilanti do you remember the duke lacrose team? But go ahead and throw the race card out if makes you feel better.
Woman in Ypsilanti
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 11:09 a.m.
Re: This case. I have to wonder how much race might have been a factor in this. All I know is that I can't even imagine a white upper middle class kid having these same problems. And I know dozens who were having sex with underage girlfriends when they were teenagers. Even when caught by the police having sex in public places, no one was ever even arrested. This kid just did normal kid things. That includes the stealing. I have friends who got caught stealing red-handed at 17 y/o who, while arrested, never were punished or even convicted because their fancy lawyers got them off. Our system really isnt fair and this case illustrates that perfectly. Re: The sex offender list. It is already useless. There are lots and lots of people who should be on the list but who arent because they havent been caught. Often their crimes havent even been reported to the authorities. I cant even begin to tell you how many men I know are sex offenders (because I am close to their victims) who will never be on that list. I often worry that the list gives people a false sense of security.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 10:54 a.m.
It never ceases to amaze me at the number of "holier than thou" folks that leave ignorant comments about other peoples mistakes. Our criminal justice system is far from perfect. I know first hand because I've been a member of it for over 30 years. This young man committed a dumb teenage mistake. You remember how your hormones were when you were a teen? He made two other dumb mistakes after that. Should he be punished for three decades for those non-violent misdeamenor crimes. Would you feel the same if this were your child or relative. Each case should be judged on it's own merit, (or lack of) and this incident, in my opinion is another miscarriage of justice.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 10:46 a.m.
Oh so that's how they use the registry, I thought it was to keep track of pedophiles not punish probationary violations. Can't they figure out the right charge to suit the crime? oh wait this is Michigan :P
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 10:28 a.m.
I cannot believe that even one person agrees that this situation is okay. This man is not a sex offender! For those of you that feel he deserves this because he had a chance to be removed after TEN years of probation, give me a break! If you want to call him a thief, fine. But, he is not a sex offender. I am so sick of hearing about these cases and the tax dollars that are wasted to clog the court system.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 10:23 a.m.
foobar417 nailed it exactly. The list is useless because it's been diluted by NON sex-offenders. I look at the list and wonder how many of them are real criminals. Which ones do I have to pay attention to and which ones can I ignore? A drunk college student peeing in an alley behind a bar is on the same list as a man who abducts a six year old girl and rapes her? Really? Same list? Who's idea was that?!!? The fact that the guy in the story is kind of a doofus and the architect of his own problems is not really the issue that deserves attention here. Yeah, maybe they could have found a better model citizen to highlight the problems of the system, but that in no way diminishes the problems of the system. The point that Matthew Freeman, specifically, doesn't really deserve any sympathy (except maybe because he doesn't appear especially bright) is irrelevant. The other thing that nobody has touched on is how selfish his ex-girlfriend was. She knew she was underage as much as he did. She knew her mother didn't want them having sex as much as he did. If he was dating her, then she was dating him, too. She knew the consequences of her actions would affect HIM, not her, but she continued the relationship anyway. Even though she knew her mother would press charges, even though she knew he'd be a sex offender for 20 years, she continued the relationship anyway. He's the victim of a selfish, self-centered girl who cared about nothing beyond herself. I don't see how anyone could possibly defend her actions.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 10:21 a.m.
To JustMe - thank you for reminding us all about what's important and what these lists are meant for.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 10:07 a.m.
I think there's something that should stand out.... that the woman who pressed the charges is now trying to write letters to get him removed from the list. It isn't that easy to fix. When you press these sorts of charges you have to realize it can be something that affects them for the rest of their lives, and yours as well. You will always be the one who put them on the list. And "Oops, I was angry when I said that" doesn't get them off the list. She did irreparable damage to this young man by taking the absolute most extreme step possible to break up a relationship, she used a law put in place to protect the innocent in a corrupt manner to punish someone. We need to ALWAYS think once, twice, and a third time before involving the law like this. You just can't take it back once you've done this. You ruin a persons life this way, and we need to always remember that. There are always circumstances that DO require this sort of action, but there are also circumstances that don't. Protecting a child from a predator is one thing, getting rid of a boyfriend/girlfriend you don't approve of is quite another. I hope and pray this young man can go on with a life without letting this force him to ever "give up" on something. And I commend his bravery for letting the community know his story, both the good and bad things.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 9:59 a.m.
I am the mother of Matthew Freeman and to all of the individuals that are making these negative comments, you act as if you weren't teenagers at one point in your life. Why should this young man have to live with this for the rest of his life because of who he dated at the age of 16? We are not talking about the stealing, or the petty things that he have done. There is not a teenager out there that is perfect. I'm not excusing those crimes, but we are talking about him being accused as a sex offender. If any of you have children, you will understand what I'm talking about. It would be different if he went out looking for an underage child, but they dated for a year before the police was called. Before any of you start to judge what happened, you need to know the facts. There so many teenagers out there that are dating underage and parents don't know. Every parent doesn't know what their child is doing. Not only my son have to live with this, but I have to live with this too. Because of people like you, he is being judged of what he did as a teen. I'm not asking anyone to feel sorry for him, but before you start throwing these ridiculous comments like "he should have known the law at 16", ask yourself did you know the law at that age. I bet there are some of you who are commenting who had a bigger age gap between you and the one that you were dating than 2 years when you were teenagers. If you are so into the law, do you feel that you should have been punished the same way my son was punished? Would you like it if you couldn't find a job, or be able to live in a certain area because of the label that the law put on you?
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 9:52 a.m.
Perhaps the mother who filed the charges to begin with was addressing the problem from the wrong side. She was blaming the other kid for the consensual relationship instead of her own daughter. After all it was her daughter that presumably she had some control and/or influence over.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 9:49 a.m.
It's a shame that the girl's mom felt the law was the only way to handle what should have been a family matter. It seems like the prosecutor should have done a better job explaining the ramifications it would have on this young man's life.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 9:44 a.m.
While I have a lot of sympathy for the story's subject, based on the facts presented, I would put the point a different way. Putting people like this on the list does a disservice to me, Joe Law-Abiding-Citizen. I want to know if I live next to any rapists (i.e. sexual violence against an unwilling adult woman) or child molestors (i.e. sexual violence against children). Actually, I want to know if there's anyone living near me who's been willing to do physical violence to another human being. For example, if a man is willing to beat up his wife, I want to be able to avoid him. Filling those lists with drunk frat boys who piss on a wall in public and high school boys who sleep with their nearly-same-age girlfriends actually significantly lowers the value of the lists I do want kept. I live in a "nice safe area" of Washtenaw County (sarcasm intended), yet there are several "sex offenders" on the list that live near me. How many of them are threats and how many of them don't belong there like this guy? If the list is to be valuable, save it for the real threats.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 9:40 a.m.
This is just another incident of how the justice system is unfair. Why is it that the man is always the criminal. I have 2 son's ages 16 and 18. I tell them the laws and not to date younger girls for this very reason. But if it ever happened I believe it is a family matter between the parents not the government. What I don't understand if I have a tight reign on my boys and where was the mother of the girl when all of this was happening. I can tell you this If I had a 14-15 yr old Daughter she would not be able to be alone with a boy. My youngest had a younger girlfriend before and the parent and I would not allow them to be alone. The mother of this girl is as much to blame as anyone. We are the adults and it is our job to supervise and keep our children in check. It seems as if the government once again is trying to raise our children and taking the word of a upset parent to get back at a young man just because she couldn't control her daughter. The girl is just as much at fault as the boy. Most boys are less mature then girls. But they are always the ones at fault. Teenagers do get in trouble and at times need the guidance to get back on track. I don't think anyone can say they were saints as a teen. But yet so many can point a finger and judge this young man. It isn't fair or right what the system is doing to him. As for the mom of the girl now wanting to make things right. Well she should have put some thought into it before she pressed charges. She should be charged with neglect when it comes to supervising her daughter. We all need to take a close look at ourselves and think about if this happened to your child... This just angers me how we are handling our children today.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 9:35 a.m.
There are two separate and distinct threads to the comments: 1) The guy (no longer a kid) isn't exactly the cream of the crop. That's true. Unfortunately, it muddies the waters for: 2) The sex offender rules are onerous. It doesn't matter the quality of this person. The facts, as stated in the story are that he had consensual sex with his girlfriend who was 15 at the time; even the mother of the girlfriend has written a letter saying he shouldn't be labeled a sex offender; he has to register as a sex offender for 25 years and if he does everything right (which he didn't) he can PETITION to be removed from the list after only 10 years. Must of us don't care why someone got labeled a sex offender. We simply don't want them living in our neighborhood. This could just as easily be a white kid from a wealthy family with perfect grammar and good grades. He'd still be on the sex offender list until he was 42 with ability to petition for removal when he was 'only' 27.
I'm Ron Burgandy
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 9:33 a.m.
I'm with HappySenior and the others on this one. While I agree that the law should be revisted, can't anyone find a better poster boy than a guy who has continued to break the law? There are plenty of people to feel sorry for in this world. This guy isn't one of them...
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 9:28 a.m.
All you right wing nut jobs who think he has had chances and broke the rules. Nobody respects th rules when they are stupid. I had sex with a 15 year old when I was 16. It was consensual. I guess you idiots think I am a sex offender. In the name of protecting "children" you have lost all sense of reality. If a 15 year old killed somebody you would be saying,t hey are an adult and should spend time in an adult prison, but they are not old enough to make informed decisions about their own bodies. The most asinine of the laws is that he can not live within 1000 feet of a school. If he were a predator do you really think 1001 feet would make your kids safe? The funny part is, predators do not go after kids where the predator lies. Thats where police would look first. But go ahead and think sex registries and stay away zones protect the children. You are fools if you think they work.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 9:13 a.m.
"Teenagers are suppose to know the age of consent"? Really, how many of you commenting would be on the list for messing around when you were his age? I'm not excusing his actions if there was force involved or true coercion, but for Pete's sake, make sure the punishment fits the crime. Where not talking about a 30 year old or even 18.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 9:04 a.m.
I am CERTAIN that the more times we bend the enforcement of the rules to accomodate this gentleman, the more respect for the law he wil have...
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 8:56 a.m.
Sounds like a fine, outstanding young man. I am sure he just made a mistake---just like the stealing and destruction of property. I think we should give him another 10-12 chances.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 8:49 a.m.
This man is full of excuses rather than a sense of responsibility. He has been on the wrong side of the law for years. He has been given mild sentences when he has proven he is a repeat offender. This man has shown a consistent disregard for the law and the rights of other people. He believes he isn't required to follow the rules related to where sex offenders can live. He believes he deserves pity because, "I cant even go outside and play basketball on my own hoop? He says his girlfriend's mother got "upset" with him. He doesn't admit he was guilty of anything or that he refused to listen to the girl's mother to stop seeing the girl. He says he pleaded guilty on the advice of his public defender attorney. From the beginning, he didn't face his responsibilities. He used the conviction as an excuse to drop out of school. Six years later, he still has not completed a GED. He has had chances already. The under age girl's mother told him to stop seeing the girl and only sought legal protection when he refused to comply. He was given probation in 2003 instead of incarceration. He violated probation by going near the underage girl. He violated probation by stealing and spent 90 days in jail. He was convicted of malicious destruction of a building four years ago. If society is at fault in this, it is the members of society who do not uphold laws, values, and morals. The man's mother thinks it's acceptable for teenagers to have sex even if they are under age. Neighbors are being taught, or coached, or pressured into seeing the situation from the eyes of the perpetrator, not the victim or any potential future victims. The neighbors quoted seem to believe that under age sex outside of marriage is just fine. We are supposed to feel bad because "Sex offenders face a particularly tough time becoming productive members of society, said Miriam Aukerman, re-entry law project coordinator for Legal Aid of Western Michigan." Well, no one forced them to become sex offenders. This sounds like a case of three times and you are out.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 8:47 a.m.
He is not alone. Too many young men are on the list for having sex with their girl friends. It is a terrible situation. You read about the tough situations these young men are in, and you cannot help to feel for them. They are trapped in limbo for years. In Michigan thousands of men (may be tens of thousands) did this same "crime" when they were 17, 18, 19 etc. but were never reported, arrested, tried, convicted, and registered! There should be a way of sorting these crimes from CRIMINAL SEX OFFENDER crimes!
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 8:26 a.m.
MW, To me, it doesn't sound like the original punishment was evil or insane. We should absolutely have some statute establishing an age of consent and boundaries. The mother felt the relationship was a threat to her daughter at the time, so she pressed charges. If he were unable to be expunged from the registry, I would agree with you. But, because he is able to get consent from the mother to remove his name from the list, I believe the system has provided equal justice in this case.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 8:18 a.m.
Yeah, I kind of agree with everyone so far (oddly). We all know that he broke, maybe even a few, laws. It appears to me that the registry should be less "one punishment fits all", marking everyone a "SEX OFFENDER" (which to me and likely others pretty much means 'for safety of your kids: assume pedophile') and maybe have brackets, tiers, and varying rules. Does our government really think this guy can't live near elementary school kids? I'm not saying either way, necessarily, and I'm not an expert on the topic... I just wonder if that was thought out. Maybe he should just not be allowed near anyone who is two years younger than him. Like, maybe right now his 21 year old girlfriend is in danger of consensual sex, and should be rescued by SWAT.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 8:07 a.m.
Great Job LEE HIGGINS... getting this story out and all. This is an issue that needs to be addressed. He can live next door to me and my family anytime. You would think with the details and the letter written from the mother it would be enough to clear his name. Shame on anyone using this system and shaming someones life. Anytime someone cries rape or child molestation for a gain of money or situation, is insulting those who actually have been. Now this poor boy lives in fear cause of teenage love? Whos to say he ever would of commited a crime had he not seen the Justice system and so many people disappoint him. ERRRR!
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 7:49 a.m.
It looks like most of his problems were pretty normal for teenage boys. Many teenage boys steal sometimes. He should have been made to give the videos back or compensate the merchant, and told not to do it anymore. It is simply a flat fact that prosecuting a teenager for such a crime will do way more harm than good. Also, many teenage boys engage in petty vandalism at times. It's obnoxious, but if caught a person should be made to compensate the victim, and that's it. This story is more evidence, as if any were needed, that police and prosecutors don't care. In the real world they are allowed to use their intelligence/discretion when enforcing the law; but when absurd things like this are brought up, they pretend they have no discretion. It also shows that police don't feel they need to answer people's questions, but what else is new.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 7:29 a.m.
Since when do we expect teenagers to think and act like adults? How many of us made poor decisions when we were 16,17,18 years of age? Probably all of us except for those with selective memories. The system is trying hard to create a monster here, luckily the young man is fighting back, trying to get his GED and a college education. I hope this gets expunged asap so he can can have a fair chance to become a contributing member of society.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 7:26 a.m.
"Washtenaw County Chief Deputy Assistant Prosecutor Steve Hiller said he couldn't comment on Freemans case because it's pending. But prosecutors take into account the facts and circumstances surrounding each case, Hiller said." It occurs to me that we either don't have the whole story or Mr Hiller is struggling to interrupt the facts and circumstances in a reasonable fashion.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 7:26 a.m.
Agree with Bryant's comments. This guy had the opportunity to serve out his sentence,and get his record expunged. He chose to violate the terms of his sentence. Why are we now supposed to buy his "sob story"?
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 6:59 a.m.
He's having problems because every step of the way he knew the rules and chose to not live by them. Every kid in high school (especially those in a sexual relationship) knows the age of consent, but he didn't seem to care. He knew he was on probation and surely knew the consequences of a probation violation, but he chose to steal video games. He knew he couldn't live within 1000 feet of a school, and then moved there anyway. On top of that, four years ago he gets convicted of something sounding like vandalism. It's hard feeling sorry for someone who seems to just bring trouble on themself because they can't live by the rules which have been clearly set. I think it's significant that the criminal sexual conduct in itself would have allowed him to get off the registry in ten years. Apparently getting some video games was more important than getting off the registry. And they were more important than being able to live wherever he wanted.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 6:58 a.m.
He seems like an alright kid, and probably shouldn't be on the registry. However, the only reason he is on it is because he couldn't resist the urge to steal video games from a store while on probation. But the reason he got on it in the first place is that we have evil, repressive, insane laws that can impose a lifetime of future-destroying punishment on teenagers for the 'crime' of having consensual sex with their girlfriends or boyfriends. What kind of life, what kind of career can this kid have if he spends the next 20 years (until he's pushing 40) on the sex offenders list?
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 6:53 a.m.
Hi voiceofreason, Thanks for the comment. Freeman's original conviction put him on the sex offender registry for 25 years. As the story said, "Had he successfully completed his probation, he could have petitioned the court to be removed from the registry after 10 years."
Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 6:28 a.m.
He seems like an alright kid, and probably shouldn't be on the registry. However, the only reason he is on it is because he couldn't resist the urge to steal video games from a store while on probation. If he would have kept his nose clean, this is a non-issue. Still though, I believe that if the mother who pressed the original charges is willing to write a letter on his behalf, this should be enough to have his name expunged from the list.