Jim Porter: Many registered sex offenders live at Truckee-Tahoe | SierraSun.com
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Jim Porter: Many registered sex offenders live at Truckee-Tahoe

Jim Porter
Special to the Sun

Editor’s note

A search in Nevada indicated there are three registered sex offenders living in Incline Village, four in Stateline, on the South Shore, and one in Zephyr Cove.

California’s Megan’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.

“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 database can be accessed at http://www.meganslaw.ca.gov. You can check by name, address, city, zip code, county, park or school.

Seven Local Offenders

According to the site, there are seven registered sex offenders in our area, including four in Truckee, one in Kings Beach, one in Tahoe City, and one in Homewood. South Lake Tahoe has 23 registered sex offenders. Most of the registrants in our area are not required to list their addresses.

Frankly, that’s more than I would have expected. 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 do not.

Apparently there is a high recidivism rate for sex offenders. That may be a partial answer, but certainly politics and public sentiment shape Megan’s Law.

Statistics

California has 82,950 registered sex offenders — 41,040 are classified as “high risk” offenders. There are another 11,380 offenders listed by zip code, city and county, and approximately 30,530 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 Megan’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 “itinerant sex offenders,” mobile registered sex offenders who are harassed wherever they reside.

Residential Lease/Sale Disclosures

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 Megan’s Law site and Sex Offender Identification Line — a “900” telephone service.

More Information/Data

The Megan’s Law web page has some links worth reviewing, besides the obvious “who’s in my neighborhood?” — such as Frequently Asked Questions as well as Facts About Sex Offenders, including the guilt victim’s feel and the reasons they often do not report sexual assaults on 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.

While I am sensitive to arguably perpetuating The Scarlet Letter branding by writing this column, the information to be learned from the Megan’s Law website serves the community.

Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon licensed in California and Nevada, with offices in Truckee, Tahoe City and Reno. Jim’s practice areas include: real estate, development, construction, business, HOA’s, contracts, personal injury, mediation and other transactional matters. He may be reached at porter@portersimon.com or http://www.portersimon.com.


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