Gaps In DC, Md., And Va. Sex Registries

8:17 PM, Jan 21, 2011   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- There's a big hole in the sex offender registries in DC, Maryland and Virginia -- and it could cost the jurisdictions a fortune.

Our three -- and many other states -- are failing to pass juveniles who commit serious sex crimes on to the adult sex offender registry. That could cost the jurisdictions millions of dollars in federal law enforcement grants.

After a registered sex offender allegedly abducted and killed 11- year-old girl on the Eastern Shore, Maryland launched a major initiative to tighten it's laws.

Part of the governor's plan was to ensure that juveniles who committed serious and repeated sex offenses automatically ended up on sex offender registry when they became adults. But that clause was dropped from the final bill.

Michele Hunter's two boys were abused repeatedly by their teenage babysitter in Bethesda, and she's spent years trying to convince legislators to make sure some record follows the worst juvenile offenders after they turn 21. "Everything gets removed," she says. "Everything stops. His record is sealed. And the next day, he can be your Sunday school teacher, or even your school teacher. It will not come up on a background check."

Maryland now stands to lose half a million dollars in federal grants because of its failure to comply with the Adam Walsh Act.  Aides say the governor's office is working on a fix, but so far there's no legislation.

Advocates say juveniles deserve rehabilitation and a second chance. Michele Hunter agrees -- up to a point. "A juvenile who does it over and over again, you think they need to be on the list?" "I do."

Legislators did change the law so Michele Hunter could petition a court to put the teen who abused her sons on the registry. The judge agreed the offender's threat to the community outweighed his right to privacy. But in five years, that order will expire and there will be no public record of what he's done.

Just four states comply with the federal rules so far. Even after the Attorney General issued guidance that the offenders did not have to turn up on the public sex offender registry. He said a it was enough to have the record turn up during a background check.

Written by Bruce Leshan
9News Now & wusa9.com

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