Jim Porter: 16 registered sex offenders live in Truckee/Tahoe
July 1, 2010
Californiaand#8217;s Meganand#8217;s Law was enacted in 1996 after 7-year old Megan Kanka of New Jersey was raped and killed by a known child molester who had moved across the street from her family.
The Sex Offender Tracking Program at the California Department of Justice maintains the registered sex offender database, which notifies the public about sex offender registrants and assists local law enforcement agencies.
Individuals convicted of certain sex crimes must register as sex offenders with local sheriff and police departments. Registrants must notify the agency when they move. Certain sex offenders are excluded from public disclosure, generally less serious offenses. The site includes color photographs of most offenders.
The database can be accessed at http://www.meganslaw.ca.gov. You can check by name, address, city, zip code, county, park or school.
According to the site, there are 16 registered sex offenders in our area, including nine in Truckee, five in Kings Beach and two in Tahoe City.
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Frankly, thatand#8217;s more than I would have expected in our community. Somewhat disconcerting.
Crimes of local registrants include: lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 years, indecent exposure, rape with force and threat, sexual penetration with a foreign object (victim under 18 years), annoy/molest children, and assault with intent to commit rape.
I am not quite sure how sex offenders got selected for registration and public disclosure when other crimes like premeditated murder, intentional fraud, robbery by force, kidnapping and terrorist acts did not. Apparently there is a high recidivism rate for sex offenders. That may be a partial answer, but certainly politics and public sentiment shape Meganand#8217;s Law.
California has more than 86,000 registered sex offenders and#8212; 73,000 are classified as and#8220;high-riskand#8221; offenders. There are another 30,500 offenders listed by zip code, city and county, and approximately 13,000 other offenders are not included in the site, but are known to local law enforcement personnel.
Misuse of site
It is a crime to use the Meganand#8217;s Law listing to commit a misdemeanor or felony. The information is not to be used for purposes relating to insurance, loans, employment, housing accommodations or employment benefits. As one court noted, the required registration and public dissemination will generate a class of and#8220;itinerant sex offenders,and#8221; mobile registered sex offenders who are harassed wherever they reside.
In one case a landlord served a registered sex offender a 30-day notice to vacate, believing he could be sued if a crime was committed. The court had to reconcile the conflict between Meganand#8217;s Law limiting use of the information and the landlordand#8217;s obligation to takes steps to prevent crimes committed on the rental property.
California law requires written leases, rental agreements and contracts for the sale of residential property (1-4 dwelling units) to include a notice regarding the availability of the Meganand#8217;s Law site and Sex Offender Identification Line and#8212; a and#8220;900and#8221; telephone service.
The Meganand#8217;s Law web page has some links worth reviewing, besides the obvious and#8220;whoand#8217;s in my neighborhood?and#8221;, such as Frequently Asked Questions, as well as Facts About Sex Offenders, including the guilt victimand#8217;s feel and the reasons they often do not report sexual assaults and#8212; adults and children.
Most sexual abusers know their victims well. With children, half of the offenders are family members. Of sexual assaults against those 12 and over, about 80 percent of the victims know the offender.
The web page has a worthwhile section How to Protect Yourself and Your Family. While I am sensitive to arguably perpetuating The Scarlet Letter branding by writing this column, the information to be learned from the Meganand#8217;s Law web site serves the community.
Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon, with offices in Truckee, South Lake Tahoe, Incline Village and Reno and a licensed California Real Estate Broker. He was the Governor’s appointee to the Bipartisan McPherson Commission on political ethics and the California Fair Political Practices Commission. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at the firmand#8217;s website http://www.portersimon.com.