Friday, April 12, 2019

Constitutional right or harassment? Was this a rhetorical question?

James Forte Sr (left) and Jr (right), vigilante scumbags harassing a registered person. 
Honestly, if the victim was anyone but a registered person, would this even be a question? #LockThemUp #abolishtheregistry #RepealTheSOR

BTW, The PA state registry site lacks a disclaimer warning anyone that misuse of registry info is a crime.

Constitutional right or crime? Case of alleged harassment of sex offender’s family heads to court
Updated Apr 9, 2019; Posted Apr 9, 2019

By Sarah Cassi | For

A father and son from Freemansburg accused of harassing the family of a sex offender are headed to Northampton County Court on their respective criminal charges.

James Forte Sr. and James Forte Jr., who both live in 200 block of Juniata Street in the borough, had their preliminary hearings Tuesday in front of District Judge Nicholas Englesson.

Following testimony from the victim and a borough police officer, Englesson sent all the charges to county court, where the pair now face possible trial.

Father and son accused of harassing family of sex offender

The father allegedly printed out copies of a news article about the man, and then placed them on vehicles in the neighborhood, police said.

Defense attorney Anthony Rybak, who represented Forte Sr., said his client had been willing to plead guilty to a summary count of harassment, in exchange for the stalking charge to be dropped. After the hearing, Rybak said the father’s case will be going to trial.

Forte Jr.'s attorney, Robert Eyer, declined to comment.

Borough police said Forte Sr. printed news articles about George Hess and placed them on vehicles and in mailboxes around the neighborhood. Hess, a former Freemansburg fire chief, pleaded guilty in 1999 to indecent assault, and was sentenced to county prison.

Freemansburg Officer Martin Ramirez testified Forte was in the borough police station to deal with a citation over dog poop, when he “boasted” he had researched leaving the articles. When an officer told Forte Sr. it would create more problems, Forte Sr. yelled there was nothing the police could do and he was going to keep doing it, Ramirez said.

In a separate incident, Forte Sr. is accused of yelling at Hess’ daughter that her father was a “kiddie toucher."

Rybak argued distributing the articles was expression of free speech.

“He looked up public information of a crime,” a sexual crime against children where someone pleaded guilty, Rybak argued. “This is still the United States of America ... He has a right to let his neighbors know who lives there – someone who is a danger to children."

As for the yelling, what Forte Sr. yelled was true and he was also exercising freedom of speech, the attorney said.

“It’s rude, it can be obnoxious” but the incidents don’t rise to stalking, Rybak said.

Police said the day Forte Sr. was arrested, officers were called to the neighborhood for Forte Jr. yelling obscenities and harassing the woman and her family.

Nicole Klein testified on Tuesday that she was in her house and the windows were open when Forte Jr. yelled “You (expletive) with the wrong family," “Watch your back” and “I will (expletive) you up.”

A neighbor also provided police with a written statement that the incidents with Forte Jr. had occurred for the previous 10 days.

Eyer argued the statements were made in “transient anger” after the arrest of Forte Jr.'s father, but did not rise to a terroristic threat.

There was also no evidence that Forte Jr. knew Klein was in her house at the time, Eyer said.

The pair each remain free on bail in their cases.