Who should be feared in Cottage Grove, Wisconsin?

In the small town of Cottage Grove, Wisconsin, a level 3 sex offender’s prospective home was set ablaze on two separate occasions. Law enforcement reacted after the first incident by placing cameras nearby in an attempt to capture on film who might be responsible should it happen again. It did. Upon the second act of arson, area resident Russell Speigle was found taking matters into his own hands to prevent a previously sentenced, 40 year old man from residing in the future home. When Mrs. Speigle was questioned by local police, she was either confused about her other half’s visible signs of physical wounds, or she was willing to support her husband’s actions with her own complicity. She reported to law enforcement that her husband’s facial injuries were caused by an “employment related skin reaction” instead of the confirmed second-degree burns Mr. Speigle sustained while committing an act of arson.

The town’s response? To execute a ban on any level 3 sex offender from moving into the town in order to “promote public safety.” No mention of anything other than the likely motive that Mr. Speigle vandalized the dwelling to prevent the new resident from moving in has been reported. The home suffered considerable damage after the first arson attack, and it will not undergo restoration as the second strike rendered it a total loss. It seems the residents of Cottage Grove, like the many fearful and misinformed citizens across the United States, rather than hoping for and supporting rehabilitation and reintegration of those convicted of crimes after they have served their punishment, prefer instead to banish them.

A simple Internet search, “ban on sex offenders,” will reveal that just about every state in the Union employs some form of banning registered citizens from something somewhere, be it parks, fairs, condo associations, homeless shelters, school events, social networking, churches, nursing homes, libraries, government housing, entire towns, and the list goes on. Our nation feels more like it is under a prelude to dictatorship rather than being the home of the free, and this particular incident harks back to the days of crosses burning in front yards.

Mr. Speigle’s action is clearly an act of vigilantism. This proposed ordinance that aspires to ban the victim of the crime, should it pass, is nothing more than government-sponsored vigilantism. We must ask ourselves what it is we hope to protect our society from? Thousands of people with a sexual offense conviction in their pasts live among us. For that matter, 20 million Americans have a felony criminal conviction–and just think of all those people who were never caught. It is inevitable that you will encounter one of them whether known to you or not. Banning people from basic liberties does not prevent crime, and building more correctional facilities seems not to have much positive affect on crime rates either. Ironically, one thing that studies consistently show does help keep former offenders on the straight and narrow and lessen recidivism is a support system which places stable housing high on the list.

Contrary to the very low re-offense rate for sexual offenders, years of crime trend studies indicate that arsonists are a category of offender highly likely to re-offend and resist rehabilitation. Perhaps Mr. Speigle should be institutionalized for a very long time or placed on a public registry for a lifetime so he can be monitored and prevented from setting fire to another home. After all, the public sex offender registry has been proven to be merely a civil regulatory scheme and not punishment. Would that not be a beneficial public safety policy for the residents of Cottage Grove or the neighbors of wherever Mr. Speigle chooses to reside, to know he is a convicted arsonist?

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    • #11524 Reply
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      James Townsend

      I wonder what we all did before public sex registry’s. It seems sex is a hot topic and once someone finds out about this neighbor or that neighbor than they go on a witch hunt to destroy that person. It seems there is no love for the sex offender but for the murderer or that drunk driver people can live with it. Oh, wait a minute they are not on a public registry nor is any other type of sex offender such as the gay or the lesbian. Think about it.
      Its discrimination at its best and yes vigilantism has been around for quite a while. There is nothing wrong with a sex offender trying to get along in life but people today don’t show any love or compassion for others today. People need to get back into the word of the Lord and learn to think of others better than themselves.
      People make mistakes and they deserve a second chance to move ahead in life. It just goes to show you how cruel this world is to other human beings. Those people that do all this are more perverse than the sex offender and the public registry just compounds this even more

    • #11525 Reply
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      Nadine

      I am the mother of 4 grown kids and I have to be honest with you…..I am more afraid of the drug addict on a high coming through my bedroom window than the fact that a sex offender might move next door. Where is the registry for felons who have beat the crap out of the elderly? What happens if they move next door to my 80 year old mother? I think this sex offender registry and ridiculous sentences have gone way too far!!!

    • #11526 Reply
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      Michael Kuehl

      In Michigan, former tutor Abigail Simon was just sentenced to 8-25 years in prison for having sex with 15-year old student, a 6′,2″ 220 lb. football star, who initially confessed to being the aggressor in their sexual union and forcing himself on Abigail Simon. The judge who imposed this draconian sentence admitted that she was not a “predator” who was likely to reoffend and that her “victim” was partly responsible.

      8-25 years in prison for a first-offender convicted of a nonviolent and victimless and malum prohibitum “crime,” a crime that is a legal act in dozens of other nations, including European countries; including years of punitive “sex-offender treatment; 8-25 years in prison in a country in which, during the 1990s, the average time-served for murder was less than 6-years and the average time-served for all violent crimes (aggravated assault, robbery, violent rape, homicide) was approximately 4-years. And it’s likely that such averages are even lower today.

      And even if she’s released from prison after “only” 8-years, she’ll be subjected to years of quasi-totalitarian post-incarceration supervision, restrictions on her freedom and intrusions into her private life that not even dystopian novelists like Orwell and Kafka could have imaged and prophesized decades ago, most of which don’t apply to violent criminals on probation who’ve never been convicted of a sexual offense, and registration for life as a uniquely vile and execrable and dangerous criminal, unlike myriads of brutes and savages who’ve committed many violent and other mala in se felonies but who’ve never been convicted of a sexual offense albeit most of them have rape and gang-raped men in prisons and jails and/or women and girls in the free world. All this for a woman who has never committed a violent crime in her life and never will and is not a “threat to society” or to anyone.

    • #11527 Reply
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      MIchael Kuehl

      Speaking of Wisconsin: In Milwaukee, on April 7, 1997, Cassandra Sorenson-Grohall (a former teacher at an “alternative high school”) was sentenced to 4-years in prison for “second-degree sexual assault of a child.” In reality as opposed to law and CSA theory, she foolishly assented to coitus with a criminal and biological man of 15 who constantly harassed and molested her at school and ultimately raped her when she visited him at his home on school business. At sentencing, her lawyer repeatedly called the assault “rape” and noted that her “victim” might have “waived into adult court” had she reported the crime to police. She didn’t report the rape lest her tormentor “would go to prison and become more of a delinquent” and she didn’t end the intrigue that followed because she didn’t know “how to stop it without hurting him.” In a letter she wrote me from prison, she described her “crime” as “a mistake made out of overcaring and naivete.” Two psychologists concluded that she was not a “sexual predator” nor a “threat to society and children” and that the intrigue was not a “sexually-motivated crime but one manipulated by the victim.”

      Nevertheless, the judge sentenced her to 4-years in prison and, unlike myriads of violent recidivists, she was denied “discretionary parole,” release from prison after serving 1/4 of her sentence, and was thus enslaved for almost 3-years in a country in which, during the 1990s, the average-time served for murder was less than 6-years and the average time-served for all violent crimes was approximately 4-years.

      Mandatorily released from prison after 32-months, she was subjected to years of “active community supervision. Because she acquiesced to sex with a criminal and biological man under age 18 who harassed and molested and ultimately raped her, she was judged a dire threat to every child in Milwaukee, the surrounding suburbs, and the state of Wisconsin and all of the U.S. and the entire world, Thus she couldn’t go shopping, see a doctor, visit friends, travel to other cities and states, etc. without the permission of her probation agent.

      And everyone convicted of second-degree sexual assault,” irrespective of the facts and circumstances, must register for life as a uniquely despicable, dangerous, and degenerate criminal, unlike murderers and violent recidivist who’ve never been convicted of a sexual offense. And because she is classified as a level-3 offender, theoretically as dangerous as violent rapists who terrorize and brutalize and kidnap and murder their victims and men who rape and/or serially molest. prepubescent girls and boys, her name, mug-shot, and address will be on the internet, accessible to everyone, until she passes from this world in her 80s or 90s or 100s. So even her victim,” assuming he’s not dead or buried in prison, can go online, see her address, and possibly visit her some warm summer night.

      To call all of this insane would be an understatement, It’s beyond insanity.

    • #11528 Reply
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      michael Kuehl

      Cassandra Sorenson-Grohall: a life-sentence with no chance for surcease because of “overcaring and naivete” and bad judgement and misguided compassion for a biological man and criminal who harassed and molested and ultimately raped her. But even to condemn her for bad judgement is overly harsh and possibly dubious. Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that she reported the rape to police. If so, her assailant would have claimed that she was the initiator or a willing participant. And if they and the D.A. believed him rather than her, she would have been charged with sexual assault for initiating or consenting to a single act of intercourse with a “child.” And if she rejected a plea bargain, like Abigail Simon, and had a trial, she probably would have been convicted, like Abigail Simon, and sentenced to far more time in prison than she received under a plea bargain as well as all the other draconian and iniquitous and Orwellian penalties.

    • #11529 Reply
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      TC Young

      You make an excellent point. There was a report just yesterday of an local incident of two men attacking the police who were questioning them. Both officers are okay, but it was necessary for them to go to the hospital. It was reported that one of the perpetrators had 88 arrests and the other 60. Of course, despite such a lengthy list of offenses, the public in general had no knowledge of the danger these two presented.

      Until society can design a register that is meaningful and include only those that actually do present a danger to society, then it is just a smoke screen to allow discrimination against individuals based on unsubstantiated myths.

    • #11530 Reply
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      William Wilson

      Well written Michael! It is the honest truth. Justice was not served in Michigan in this cvase, Justice was abused in Michigan in this case!.

      Regards
      William Wilson JD, PLLC
      therrealist

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