Judge approves place for Mel Reynolds to stay while on bond

1 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Ex-Congressman Mel Reynolds In Need Of Housing.

The indictment does not provide specifics on how much income Reynolds earned in each year, but federal prosecutors allege his gross income was high enough to be required to file a tax return each year.He resigned from his 2nd Congressional District seat in 1995 after being convicted of statutory rape for having sex with an underage campaign worker and was found guilty in state court. While behind bars for the sex charges, he was also convicted in federal court on financial and campaign fraud charges, but President Bill Clinton pardoned Reynolds in 2001, and he was released from prison. Mel Reynolds, facing federal tax charges, scrambled Thursday to find a place to stay to meet bond conditions after prosecutors told a judge that restrictions on sex offenders apply to the Chicago Democrat because of a decades-old statutory rape conviction.

He ran for Congress again in 2012, in the special election to replace Jesse Jackson Jr., who resigned amid a federal investigation that eventually led to Jackson pleading guilty to misusing $750,000 in campaign funds. Reynolds claims the majority of the money the government claims he didn’t pay taxes on was expense money given him by Chicago businessman Elzie Higginbottom to find business opportunities in Africa. District Court in Chicago after Reynolds entered a not guilty plea to failing to file income tax returns from 2009 to 2012 and as both sides raised the question of bond.

He later accused authorities of trumping up the charges against him to discredit him, after he gathered embarrassing information about the Zimbabwe government. He had a nonviolent, ongoing sexual relationship with a woman old enough to have been married (with parental consent) in 46 states; a woman a year older than Aaliyah was when she married R. But prosecutors said they would agree to Reynolds remaining free pending trial on an unsecured bond – which requires no money down – only if he lived under standard sex-registry restrictions.

He was not a “pedophile” — the term for an adult who is sexually attracted to prepubescent children — but an “ephebophile” — the term for an adult who is sexually attracted to late adolescents. Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez promptly responded, “Not appropriate.” After Valdez said she would give Reynolds several hours to find alternatives, he was seen in a courthouse lobby using a cellphone. There’s no evidence that Reynolds has even posed a particular or enhanced danger to elementary school students or kids at a playlot or toddlers in day care — not even 23 years ago when he was behaving so otherwise inappropriately. The laws that punish adults for having sexual contact with minors have a number of gradations based on the age of the victim and offender, gradations based on some common-sense understandings. But the restrictions on all who have fallen under the rubric of “child sex offender” make no such distinctions. (There is an auxiliary issue here worth noting: Try as they might, researchers have been unable to establish any connection between where released sex offenders live and the rate at which they reoffend.

Kling described Reynolds’ financial situation as dire, explaining that qualifying for a federal defender requires that someone has “no money or limited money.” Kling also said he hoped a judge would allow Reynolds to keep his passport. The story all over the news recently about the Minnesota dentist who shot and killed Cecil, a beloved lion who lived in an African game preserve, brought back yet again the old debate about hunting. Yes, granted, in many cases hunters perform a necessary function of controlling certain animal populations and they help to fund wildlife preservation efforts. But here’s the question: My dictionary says a “sadist” is one who gains “pleasure from causing physical or mental pain to people or animals.” So is the fear, pain and death of animals part of the fun for hunters, or simply a distasteful, regrettable yet unavoidable element of their avocation — the equivalent of numb toes to the skier?

I put that question to a lifelong hunter back in 2002, and he and I engaged in a lengthy, spirited written debate that I’ve reposted at chicagotribune.com/zorn. Rather than recommend another podcast this week, I’m recommending an email newsletter that (like most podcasts) you can have delivered straight to your computer or mobile device. It’s Morning MediaWire from the Poynter Institute, a distillation of the top recent stories about print, electronic and online media curated by Chicagoan James Warren, former Tribune media columnist and editor. In honor of that anniversary last Thursday, the local writer who goes by the pen name Michael Flynn and tweets as @Home_Halfway posted what turned out to be this week’s winning tweet in our reader poll: Flynn, recently the subject of an interview for this column, is the featured guest this week on Chicago comedian Jamie Campbell’s “Hard in America” podcast.

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