Wednesday, March 6 2013 3:39 PM EST2013-03-06 20:39:42 GMT
Indiana lawmakers are responding to a 13 Investigates report. They're looking at who the state calls a predator. This time next year, a sex crime dating back to 1977 that automatically labels offendersMore >>
This time next year, a sex crime dating back to 1977 that automatically labels offenders "violent predators" could be off the books.More >>
Thursday, December 13 2012 6:38 PM EST2012-12-13 23:38:49 GMT
13 Investigates a former Purdue student's criminal case that may lead to a change in Indiana's predator law. Indiana's sex offender registry is supposed to help communities keep track of predators. ButMore >>
13 Investigates a former Purdue student's criminal case that may lead to a change in Indiana's predator law.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 2:30 PM EDT2013-05-24 18:30:56 GMT
The City of Indianapolis has fired two employees facing a federal indictment over the Indy Land Bank scandal. In a press release Friday, the city said it terminated Reggie Walton and John Hawkins. ReggieMore >>
In a press release Friday, the city said it terminated Reggie Walton and John Hawkins.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 2:14 PM EDT2013-05-24 18:14:00 GMT
Simon Pagenaud turned the fastest lap on Carb Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Friday at 225.8 mph. There was no time to waste when the track opened at 11:00 am. All 33 drivers were out Friday. RyanMore >>
Ryan Briscoe's car briefly caught on fire during Friday's practice. The safety crew put it out and Briscoe got out safely. He should still be okay to race on Sunday.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 1:50 PM EDT2013-05-24 17:50:26 GMT
A recent increase in dog attacks on Indiana letter carriers has prompted the U.S. Postal Service to urge the state's dog owners to do a better job of keeping their canines under control. The Postal ServiceMore >>
A recent increase in dog attacks on Indiana letter carriers has prompted the U.S. Postal Service to urge the state's dog owners to do a better job of keeping their canines under control.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 12:59 PM EDT2013-05-24 16:59:34 GMT
A new Indiana law that will create standards of care and open opportunities for midwives is winning praise from supporters of home births. The Journal & Courier reports the law will require new regulationsMore >>
A new Indiana law that will create standards of care and open opportunities for midwives is winning praise from supporters of home births.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 12:55 PM EDT2013-05-24 16:55:02 GMT
Plenty of race fans will travel to Indianapolis this holiday weekend. But nationwide, the American Automobile Association predicts travel will be down slightly compared to last year. In fact, air travelMore >>
Plenty of race fans will travel to Indianapolis this holiday weekend. But nationwide, the American Automobile Association predicts travel will be down slightly compared to last year. In fact, air travel is expected drop off all summer.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 12:31 PM EDT2013-05-24 16:31:18 GMT
The 500 Festival Memorial Service gets underway at noon in downtown Indianapolis. The solemn ceremony honors the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice fighting for the United States. Notable guestMore >>
The 500 Festival Memorial Service gets underway at noon in downtown Indianapolis. The solemn ceremony honors the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice fighting for the United States.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 11:47 AM EDT2013-05-24 15:47:34 GMT
The American Legion says it's allocating $1 million to veterans affected by the Oklahoma tornado. The Indianapolis-based veterans organization announced this week the money will be used to cover relocationMore >>
The American Legion says it's allocating $1 million to veterans affected by the Oklahoma tornado.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 11:46 AM EDT2013-05-24 15:46:25 GMT
A woman faces sentencing Friday for her part in the shooting death of a female basketball star. The shooting happened last July at Ben Davis Park on the city's west side. Witnesses say Vincennes UniversityMore >>
A woman faces sentencing Friday for her part in the shooting death of a female basketball star.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 11:29 AM EDT2013-05-24 15:29:00 GMT
Authorities say a cat might have started a central Indiana house fire by knocking over a lamp. The fire happened Thursday in the town of Chesterfield just east of Anderson. Chesterfield deputy fire chiefMore >>
Authorities say a cat might have started a central Indiana house fire by knocking over a lamp.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 11:22 AM EDT2013-05-24 15:22:46 GMT
It will likely be months before a judge rules on whether a new trial should be granted to a man convicted of killing an Indiana University student who disappeared during a 2000 bike ride. A Morgan CountyMore >>
It will likely be months before a judge rules on whether a new trial should be granted to a man convicted of killing an Indiana University student who disappeared during a 2000 bike ride.More >>
WEST LAFAYETTE -
Once a scholar, a former Indiana college student is fighting for his future.
A mix of alcohol and bad behavior resulted in a crime and now a lifetime label that even his victim says doesn't fit.
13 Investigates uncovers the extremes of Indiana's predator law on two highly-charged cases.
In August 2007, Purdue University was in crisis mode. Two students were under arrest a day after Purdue Police put out an emergency campus-wide alert that three women have been sexually groped and attacked.
13 Investigates obtained the surveillance video of one of the recorded statements to police. A young woman came forward after her roommate saw the alerts.
"He was like this," said the young woman in the video, showing the police officer how the suspect wrapped his arms around her chest.
"Behind you?" questioned the Officer.
"Yeah. He starts groping like this. I was, like, 'No thank you'," she said politely.
The Purdue freshman says she was attacked. Police put out a composite sketch which led them to George Odongo.
"They jumped to the conclusion before they investigated it. People were panicking, 'There's a monster on the streets..there's a monster on the streets'," Odongo said, describing the feeling on campus.
Odongo, an incoming freshman from Indianapolis and a native Kenyan, was on full academic scholarship, according to his family. He had been on campus just six days.
"What were you doing?," asked 13 Investigates.
"It's college. People just go have fun," Odongo responded, talking about the Saturday night he and two new friends went out on campus.
Odongo's Path to Predator Status
"If I had known better, I wouldn't have been drinking that night," he admits.
Odongo's night of drinking shots and trolling for parties and girls turned into criminal allegations of fondling. He was charged with sex crimes.
"It's kind of like a nightmare," he said, sitting in an orange, jail-issued jumpsuit.
Two of the three cases against him were tossed out, but not the third.
Odongo was convicted of sexual battery and criminal deviate conduct. He's now in federal immigration custody in Kenosha, Wisconsin, off the shores of Lake Michigan. To this day, he insists the encounter with this woman was consensual. She told police a different story in a recorded statement captured by surveillance cameras.
Officer: Did he threaten you in any way? Victim: "No, he was just telling me he was going to give it to me rough." Officer: "Were you afraid of him?" Victim: "Yeah..(laughs unintelligible) I didn't know who he was..Yeah."
Odongo served four years of an eight-year prison sentence. In May, he was handed over to federal authorities for deportation because of his felony convictions and his new status.
The State of Indiana now classified him as a predator.
Indiana's Definition of A Sexually Violent Predator
A Sexually Violent Predator is defined by Indiana law as someone who "suffers from a mental or personality disorder, making it likely they will repeat their crime." They are considered the worst of the worst. Lawmakers want predators living away from children and registering their every move with police.
Former Hamilton County Prosecutor Sonia Leerkamp was on the statewide attorney's council that first reviewed the state law.
"Most of these serious consequences where you have sexually violent predators and the sexual offender registry were really designed with the pedophile type of person in mind. Or the sexual predator in mind," explained Leerkamp.
Child predators and rapists, but what about George Odongo? We asked Purdue Police Chief John Cox.
"First of all, I wouldn't call him a predator," said Purdue Police Chief John Cox, who spoke with 13 Investigates about the case.
Cox was not in charge of the department during the Odongo investigation, but defends his department's handling of the case.
Yet state law says Odongo is a predator and not because of some disorder. In Indiana, anyone convicted of criminal deviate conduct is automatically labeled a sexually violent predator, whether the label fits or not.
"Are you a sexually violent predator?," 13 Investigates Odongo.
"Nope," said the now-25-year old, matter of factly.
Odongo's Victim Says the State Got it Wrong
Not even the woman Odongo is convicted of assaulting is convinced the state got it right. She spoke with 13 Investigates on her law school campus. We agreed not to show her face or share her real name.
"I'm kind of torn. I understand why they would consider him a predator, but I don't think, as a person, he is," said the young woman.
At Odongo's sentencing for criminal deviate conduct and status as a sexually violent predator, Judge Donald Daniel told him, "My heart breaks for you and all of your family."
"We would have preferred not to have certain convictions bound so tightly to certain consequences," added Leerkamp, who says it severely limits prosecutors who want to be both just and fair.
Often they're left with choices that are too harsh or too lenient.
Carmel Bus Assault Case Cited as an Example
13 Investigates broke the case of the criminal investigation in February 2010 of four Carmel High School basketball players on a team bus.
"It was more than hazing," said Leerkamp as she announced the grand jury's decision to file misdemeanor charges.
Communities were equally outraged at the misdemeanor battery sentences received by the four 19-year olds who were accused of holding down and assaulting younger teens on a bus and in the locker room. (As part of a plea deal, the four admitted to the locker room incidents)
Leerkamp, the prosecutor at the time, says she instructed the grand jury on the Carmel case to think about the potential consequences, if they charged the teens with criminal deviate conduct.
"If certain types of offenses didn't carry with it the requirement of sex offender registry and the label of sexually violent predator, certainly there may have been additional options that would have been more seriously considered," revealed Leerkamp.
It is the first time she candidly talks about the specific concerns she had with handing down charges in the Carmel assault case.
Odongo's Victim Wants Him Set Free
"It's hard for me to think of him as a violent predator," admitted the woman Odongo was convicted of attacking.
She now wants him freed from both federal custody and the stigma as a predator.
"There needs to be a lot of education and flexibility in the laws, so that you can make them fit the offender and the situation," said Leerkamp. She says it's not the first time she's heard of victim's wanting fair outcomes for their assailants.
It was the Tippecanoe County Prosecutor's Office that handled Odongo's case. With a series of outtakes from the victim's interview, we went to see Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Pat Harrington.
"I don't agree with the label personally," the victim said as part of the recording.
We wanted to ask the prosecutor about the predator law. But after we played the victim's interview for prosecutor, Harrington refused to do an interview, citing ethics rules and a pending court hearing to challenge Odongo's conviction.
Leerkamp says no doubt under the current law, there will be another George Odongo; an offender convicted of a lower level crime yet facing the same punishment as a violent rapist.
Lawmakers Could Allow for More Prosecutorial Discretion
"About the only thing that could happen would be for the law to be changed so that the prosecutor could decide when those kinds of labels needed to be attached to a conviction," summed up Leerkamp, who said she believes prosecutors statewide would embrace such a change.
Talk of changing the law is too late for Odongo. He could be forced to leave his family in the U.S. and deported to Kenya any day.
"If there is some way that he would be able to stay, you know I would support that," the victim said without hesitation.
She says she's gotten justice and forgiven Odongo, but can't turn her back on fairness. At the same time, she dismissed naysayers who might question her stance.
"I didn't think it was criminal behavior. I mean, I still kind of look at it as, he was a freshman, too. He went out, he went crazy and unfortunately his drunken mistakes were a little more severe," said the woman.
A hearing for post conviction relief for George Odongo is pending.
Tippecanoe County Statistics for Criminal Deviate Conduct Charges
To give you an idea of how the predator status may be impacting charging decisions, consider the following statistics:
During the period in question, Purdue referred six cases of alleged criminal deviate conduct for prosecution. Only one case, George Odongo's, was fully prosecuted. One case resulted in a plea to a lesser crime, the others were never charged.
James Bumanglag, who was with Odongo the night of the incidents, pled guilty to a confinement charge for holding a dorm elevator open in one of the cases the court tossed out against Odongo. Bumanglag was later successful in getting that charge reduced down to a misdemeanor.
Between 2011 and 2012, not one criminal deviate conduct case has been referred for prosecution. The Tippecanoe County Prosecutor's Office declined to discuss what went into any of the charging decisions.
So what do Indiana lawmakers think? We'll bring you their reaction in coming days.
Friday, May 24 2013 6:12 AM EDT2013-05-24 10:12:19 GMT
A pedestrian was seriously hurt after being struck by a police officer on the east side of Indianapolis. The accident happened around 9:30 p.m. Thursday near the intersection of 42nd Street and EmersonMore >>
A pedestrian was struck and killed by an IMPD officer in his police car on the east side of Indianapolis Thursday night.More >>
Thursday, May 23 2013 10:55 PM EDT2013-05-24 02:55:15 GMT
An act of credit card fraud has been traced back to a downtown Indianapolis restaurant. Some workers upstairs love walking downstairs for a bite at Ike and Jonesy's downtown. But they say the bite isMore >>
The owner of Ike & Jonesy's downtown says he is working to find out how the credit and debit cards of several customers and employees could have been compromised.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 3:04 AM EDT2013-05-24 07:04:34 GMT
Police say there are cars in the water where an interstate bridge collapsed north of Seattle Thursday night. Washington State Patrol told affiliate KING-TV the Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit RiverMore >>
Police say there are no fatalities after cars fell into a Washington river after an interstate bridge collapsed north of Seattle Thursday night.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 4:15 AM EDT2013-05-24 08:15:20 GMT
Indianapolis has slipped one spot among the nation's most populous cities to No. 13. The U.S. Census Bureau says new census estimates show the Circle City slipped from No. 12 during the year that endedMore >>
Indianapolis has slipped one spot among the nation's most populous cities to No. 13.More >>
Thursday, May 23 2013 9:34 PM EDT2013-05-24 01:34:10 GMT
Indiana State Police want the public's help in looking out for items outdoors possibly linked to the slaying of an 85-year-old retired farmer in rural western Indiana nearly six months ago. DetectivesMore >>
Indiana State Police want the public's help in looking out for items outdoors possibly linked to the slaying of an 85-year-old retired farmer in rural western Indiana nearly six months ago.More >>
Thursday, May 23 2013 8:54 PM EDT2013-05-24 00:54:25 GMT
A woman suffered only minor injuries after getting stuck under a semi while driving on Interstate 70 Thursday evening. State police say the woman was driving west on I-70 when she lost control for unknownMore >>
A woman suffered a laceration on her arm and other injuries after getting stuck under a semi while driving on Interstate 70 Thursday evening.More >>
Thursday, May 23 2013 4:20 PM EDT2013-05-23 20:20:10 GMT
One of Indiana's largest health systems says it's cutting an undisclosed number of jobs by June 30 because of increasing economic and competitive pressure on the health care industry. Indianapolis-basedMore >>
One of Indiana's largest health systems says it's cutting an undisclosed number of jobs by June 30 because of increasing economic and competitive pressure on the health care industry.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 3:30 AM EDT2013-05-24 07:30:19 GMT
Shoppers in the U.S. will soon have more information about where their meat comes from after new federal labeling rules went into effect Thursday. The rules require labels on steaks, ribs and other cutsMore >>
Shoppers in the U.S. will soon have more information about where their meat comes from after new federal labeling rules went into effect Thursday.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 11:17 AM EDT2013-05-24 15:17:03 GMT
The 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 is set for Sunday. But today could be called the official kickoff of race weekend. "Carb Day" at the Motor Speedway signals the final practice for the drivers whoMore >>
Today could be called the official kickoff of race weekend. "Carb Day" at the Motor Speedway signals the final practice for the drivers who will line up for Sunday's Indy 500.More >>