Monday, May 25, 2020

Warning: Beware of Child Sexual Abuse Material Being Displayed During Zoom Meetings

FBI Warns of Child Sexual Abuse Material Being Displayed During Zoom Meetings
During the last few months, the FBI has received more than 195 reports of incidents throughout the United States and in other countries in which a Zoom participant was able to broadcast a video depicting child sexual abuse material (CSAM)...The FBI is committed to apprehending any individual who produces or distributes child sexual abuse material and is seeking the public’s assistance to identify the person or persons responsible for these egregious crimes.
• If you are the administrator or host of a Zoom meeting in which CSAM was broadcast, please contact the FBI; do not delete or destroy any of your computer logs without further direction.
• If you recorded a Zoom meeting in which child sexual abuse material was broadcast, please contact the FBI for assistance in removing the CSAM from your device.
• If you believe you are a victim of a child sexual abuse material broadcast during a Zoom event, as defined above, please contact the FBI to learn about your victim rights and possible victim assistance.
• If you know who is committing these most recent egregious crimes, please contact the FBI.
• Do not make meetings or classrooms public. In Zoom, there are two options to make a meeting private: Require a meeting password; Use the waiting room feature and control the admittance of guests.
• Do not share a link to a teleconference or classroom on an unrestricted, publicly available social media post. Provide the link directly to specific attendees.
• Manage screensharing options. In Zoom, change screensharing to “Host Only.”
For more information, click here.

Monday, May 18, 2020

New York’s Highest Court denies appeal in Schuyler sex abuse case.

The New York State Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, has rejected a Schuyler County man’s latest attempt to appeal a finding that he had sexually abused his four-year-old daughter and neglected his three minor children.

On Thursday (April 30, 2020) the Court denied the man’s motion for leave to appeal an October 2019 decision of the New York State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division.  That prior decision, Matter of Lawson O.,” unanimously affirmed a Schuyler County Family Court order made  by Judge Dennis Morris in 2017.

The Schuyler County Department of Social Services (DSS) had charged the man in Family Court with abuse and neglect  of his children following receipt of a child protective services hotline report in January 2016. According to testimony before the Family Court, the man’s daughter had been discovered acting out sexually and then disclosed to a family member that her father had been having oral sexual contact with her.

Following a hearing in 2017, Morris determined that the girl’s out-of-court statements regarding the alleged sexual abuse were sufficiently corroborated and that the father had abused his daughter, derivatively abused her two siblings and neglected all three of his children. Therefore, he entered an order of protection, directing the father have no contact with the children, other than supervised visitation and communications reviewed and approved in advance by DSS, and directing him to enter sex offender treatment.

The father, through attorney Dana Salazar, appealed to the Appellate Division, alleging that the Family Court’s finding of abuse was not adequately established by the evidence.

Schuyler County Attorney
Steven Getman
The DSS was represented on appeal by Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman. Getman asked the appellate court to uphold the Family Court findings. Getman argued that that the girl had demonstrated an “age-inappropriate knowledge of sexual activity” through her behaviors prior to the disclosure, supporting her description of abuse. He also cited evidence of prior sexual abuse allegations against the father involving other family members, and the father’s admissions that he spent approximately eight months in jail stemming from an earlier sexual abuse charge related to a niece. Getman also pointed out the father had admitted on the stand to lying to law enforcement officials, thereby showing a propensity for dishonesty.

The Appellate Division agreed with DSS, finding “a sound and substantial basis exist[ed] in the record to support Family Court’s finding that respondent abused the daughter.” Therefore, it upheld the Family Court order in all respects.

The father, again through Salazar, thereafter moved for leave to appeal to the New York State Court of Appeals.      The DSS, through Getman, opposed the motion, arguing that the Appellate Division’s decision was consistent with longstanding precedent.

In Thursday’s decision of the Court of Appeals rejected the father’s motion without comment, holding simply “Motion for leave to appeal denied.”

According to Getman, this decision effectively ends the father’s ability to challenge the Family Court’s abuse and neglect findings.

Neither the Court of Appeals nor the Appellate Division decision names the father or the children, using pseudonyms to protect the children’s privacy.

The Schuyler County DSS is the lead civil investigative agency for cases of alleged child abuse and neglect. The Schuyler County Attorney is the prosecuting attorney for all county agencies involving civil cases, including Family Court matters involving abuse and neglect.

Both agencies were assisted in the investigation of the case by members of the Schuyler County Sheriff’s department.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

New York State Court System to Begin Return to In-Person Courthouse Operations

The New York State Court System will begin a return to in-person courthouse operations this Monday (May 18).

The initial phase of the plan for the 6th Judicial District, which includes Schuyler County and Tompkins County, is available below:

NYS 6th Judicial District R... by Steven Getman on Scribd

Monday, May 11, 2020

Summary of Changes to Bail Reform Law

On April 3, 2020, changes were made to the bail laws in New York State, as part of the state budget.

There are substantial changes to conditions of release and an expansion of qualifying offenses for which a person may be detained on bail, effective in 90 days (July 3, 2020). Some of the changes are briefly summarized here and include:
• stay away orders expanded allowing court discretion and the ability to order individuals to stay away from and not associate with witnesses and co-defendants;  •  additional restrictions on travel and the ability of the court to order relinquishment of passport; 
• placement into pretrial services for mandatory programming, including counseling, treatment, and intimate partner violence intervention programs; 

• a court can remove a person under Mental Hygiene Law section 9.43;
• court can require “diligent efforts” to maintain employment, housing, enrollment in school or educational programs;
• expand conditions on stay away orders with consideration for “safety of victim” and may add specific conditions at the request of the complaining witness; and
•  the expansion of electronic monitoring, allowing municipalities to contract with private companies for monitoring equipment and other items.
The list of qualifying offenses has now been expanded to include certain misdemeanors, and non-violent and violent offenses.  Also included was a provision that a person forfeits their right to get court notification if they refuse to provide contact information.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Schuyler County Businesses: Paycheck Protection Program Funds Still Available

The U.S. Small Business Administration has announced that "billions of dollars in potentially forgivable Payroll Protection Program (PPP) capital remains available to small businesses and nonprofits to help provide eight weeks of payroll and certain overhead to keep workers employed." For more information, click here.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Second Amendment Legal Update: May, 2020

A monthly update, prepared for the Schuyler County Chapter of S.C.O.P.E. NY, a statewide 501(c)4 organization dedicated to preserving the 2nd amendment rights for the residents of New York State.

Schuyler County S.C.O.P.E. ... by Steven Getman on Scribd