Sex offender bill has new foes

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ATLANTA --- The Georgia Legislature's second attempt to create state restrictions on registered sex offenders after last year's judicial ruling against the first try has drawn some unlikely opposition.

A band of organizations aimed at ending sexual assaults against women and children has joined the opposition to the restrictions. Senate Bill 1, which awaits Gov. Sonny Perdue's signature, would prohibit registered sex offenders from living, working or volunteering 1,000 feet from schools, churches, child-care facilities and other places children congregate.

Legislative supporters point out the state will have no restrictions in place if the bill does not become law.

The Georgia Supreme Court declared the state's previous restrictions unconstitutional because they denied the property rights of sex offenders who already lived within 1,000 feet from a school when the law took effect. Senate Bill 1 would remedy that provision.

But the groups say the restrictions, though well-intentioned, will only create the illusion of safety and put women and children at even greater risk.

"We can scare people into believing that we are doing something, and that does nothing in my mind but endanger people by luring them into a false sense of security," said Shawn Paul, the president and CEO of the Georgia Network to End Sexual Assault, a coalition of sexual assault centers.

Given that 94 percent of sexually abused children were victimized by their parents or other relatives, Mr. Paul said the revised restrictions will offer no real assurance that children are safe from potential sexual abusers.

Moreover, sexual assaults against children overwhelmingly take place in the victim's home, according to 2006 statistics published by the Division of Family and Child Services.

SB 1 began as a way to prohibit registered sex offenders from photographing children for indecent purposes without the parent's consent, a reaction to an incident in the district of bill sponsor Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson, R-Savannah. The House added the residency and employment restrictions to Mr. Johnson's bill after the House version of the restrictions' bill failed in the Senate.

Mr. Johnson argues it is difficult to predict who will sexually abuse children, so it makes sense to restrict offenders' proximity to children after the crime.

"I don't think you can prevent all child abuse, but (we) can certainly do everything in our power to protect children from known abusers, and that is what this is about," he said.

Mr. Perdue, who has supported tougher laws on sex offenders, has not weighed in on SB 1, spokesman Marshall Guest said.

If he does sign it, critics say the bill's failure to address renters' rights -- and failure to treat differently closely aged teens engaging in consensual sex -- will put it on the fast track for a court challenge.

Wendy Whitaker, a 28-year-old Harlem woman who has registered as a sex offender since 1999 after pleading guilty to having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old boy when she was 17, said the lack of differentiation makes the restriction unfair and a burden for people like her.

"There are people who have killed people and suffered less than I have," she said.

BY THE NUMBERS


Registered sex offenders in Georgia:

AGE MEN WOMEN
17 and under 6 0
18-25 1,177 36
26-35 4,161 121
36-45 4,102 140
46-55 3,406 85
56-65 1,382 20
66 and older 655 2
Totals 14,889 404

Source: Georgia Bureau of Investigation, as of March 24

Comments (22) Add comment
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egan
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egan 04/27/08 - 04:54 am
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Another piece of feel good

Another piece of feel good leislation that will do absolutely nothing to prevent sexual abuse of children.

patriciathomas
44
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patriciathomas 04/27/08 - 07:13 am
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This bill again treats the

This bill again treats the reaction to the crime, not the crime itself. The individual responsible for the act needs to be punished. Not some group of people that have a charge with certain buzz words in it. The congress needs to stop acting like politicians and start acting like concerned adults on this subject.

christian134
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christian134 04/27/08 - 07:57 am
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Child abuse is not going to

Child abuse is not going to go away but will continue to grow beyond all imagination....Listening to the children, watching their behavioral changes as well as not being afraid of families retailiating with law suits then and only then will we see children begin to experience a sense of safety in their surroundings. Our system is set up in such a way that these sick horrific crimes against our babies has been allowed to grow to such porportation that it is going to be virtually impossible to help them at all. Keeping them away from certain areas is great but then comes the problem of hiring more police to keep closer watches on just these areas...Also what happens to the communities that are suddenly swamped with these individuals....It will not stop them...Congress needs to start listening to all of the adults who have been abused, stop playing politics and start making changes that will help instead of hindering the abused who only want help and justice....

im2kraz
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im2kraz 04/27/08 - 08:25 am
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The legal term "sex offender"

The legal term "sex offender" is not only about child molestation. It would serve everyone well to look at the legal definition. If you are going to make sex offenders register, then you eventually will need to require all felons to register. There may be a convicted murderer living in my neighborhood and I would never know. But if the old man down the street had to pee and was arrested for public indecency, he is a "sex offender" and will have to register everywhere he goes for the rest of his life. We all need to be careful of painting this picture with a broad brush. You may be next because you are too fat, you smoke, you were convicted of DUI or whatever else. I fought to preserve individual rights. Now the government wants to control us all. Heaven help us. I say "NO" to SB1 not because its intention is bad it just is too generic to make any sense.

getalife
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getalife 04/27/08 - 08:31 am
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Restricting where these

Restricting where these sexual predators can live does little to the safety of women and children. I think they need to give longer sentences to these people and in some cases give them the death penalty or life sentences. I am also not sure the registering of these people really helps, maybe put some type of monitoring device on them. I also think things like statutory rape and consenting partners should not be grouped in with these people that have molested and raped children.

TrukinRanger
1804
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TrukinRanger 04/27/08 - 08:55 am
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If they are already breaking
Unpublished

If they are already breaking the law by having sex (whether it's with children or if it's a rapist...) do you think they really care about either registering or where they live? For the children... the best thing that can be done by parents to protect their children is to know where your children are at!!! Keep tabs on anyone babysitting... even if it's family. Drop by and pick them up at different times and talk to your children. Let them know what things are appropriate and which are not... but be leary of what they say-- children are known to stretch the truth without realizing what consequences will come of those they falsly accuse!

driventofight
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driventofight 04/27/08 - 09:29 am
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This is a true predator with

This is a true predator with numerous victims...his mother teachers kindergarten at Westmont Elem...wonder where he is?
http://services.sled.sc.gov/sor/view.aspx?SRS=16916

me001968
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me001968 04/27/08 - 11:01 am
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Ha driventofight, you dont

Ha driventofight, you dont say! To bad you can't IM/write me and let me know the teachers name so I can be on the lookout. If you want my email w/b and I'll gladly give it!! My child is a student there! I have already turned in a predator that lives in a neighborhood across the street from the school who my son claims walks by the school periodically (this was last year) A letter went out to parents I believe, hopefully u got one. I even had an invesigator talk to me on the phone and she assured me they (the sherrifs office was keeping an eye on him because of other complaints, yup other complaints) but from as far as I see I have seen him enter and exit the same communtity and driving around town in a white truck with NO WINDOWS!!! (the community across the street from the school, i believe hickory dr ??????) Let me catch him walking by the school "checking things out" I can promise it will be the last thing his sorry eyes will see. Oh and he was changed with sexual battery of his stepdaughter so I feel NO PITY for whatever happens to him !!!!!!....this isn't a threat, its just the truth and how it will be!

me001968
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me001968 04/27/08 - 11:03 am
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ahhh nevermind i followed

ahhh nevermind i followed your link and know his last name now. thanks driven :")

gnx
8
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gnx 04/27/08 - 11:10 am
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im2kraz - good post. People

im2kraz - good post. People need to stop their knee-jerk reactions and take a serious look at the bill and its implications. The definitions are still too broad and the bill will create a sense of false security that is not needed in these days and times. Quite frankly I'm all for public identification and the archaic practice of facial branding when it comes to true sex offenders. Teens engaging in sex and a drunk relieving himself in the bushes should not be included in this group.

me001968
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me001968 04/27/08 - 11:28 am
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gnx do u know who is included

gnx do u know who is included in this group? SEXUAL OFFENDERS AGAINST CHILDEN!!! I'm shocked that doesn't bother you. Peeing in the yard, etc...thats why there are bathrooms. I use mine, why can't an they find one to use themselves? Theres no excuse for drunken teens peeing in the bushes (or underage drinking for that matter) for all to see and offend or underage sex with a minor. Period and if you condone that behavor in your mind, your just as warped as they are! Let some guy get his hands on my underage teen daugter, she is a virgin and has been taugher different and raised in a CHURCH! MY family was raised with MORALS (absent these days obviously). If your standard aren't that high, thats your choice. You reap what you sow. Period.

mable8
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mable8 04/27/08 - 12:44 pm
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Registering sexual offenders

Registering sexual offenders does nothing except alert the neighborhood that someone nearby has commited an offense that is sex related. It does not deter, it does not keep anyone safe, and it does not signal who the PREDATORS are. In the article, the individual was 17 and had consensual sex with a 15 year old; these were kids, what was the offense? And why should this person have to register for anything? That is the stupidity of the old, and now hoped for new, laws. Teaching the young good moral character is key to deterring inappropriate behaviors; while it may be the family preference to attend church, it is not a necessary requisite to teaching sound moral obligations. Registration of sexual offenders should be reserved for those who exploit and/or molest children and the serious predators. It certainly should not include teens who have been experimenting or 'playing around' and parents who discover their child's infractions in explicit sexual behavior should be forbidden from making the charge of statutory rape agains the other teen. Statutory rape should be removed from the law books, period.

Honden
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Honden 04/27/08 - 12:45 pm
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why should two teens engaging

why should two teens engaging in consensual acts be lumped in with sex offenders? I can see no justification for it. While I understand it is "wrong". I just do not see the reason for elevating a consensual act between two underaged teens to that of rape on either side.

FallingLeaves
31
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FallingLeaves 04/27/08 - 05:21 pm
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I don't know Honden, why

I don't know Honden, why don't you ask that if it happens to your child or children? Maybe because sex between people of ANY age who are not married to EACH OTHER is ILLEGAL? And if they are underage, they are too young to be consenting adults, anyway. (Yes, I realize people do it all the time and try to rationalize it in a 1000 ways). And that we have to figure out how to protect children from engaging in activities they are not prepared to be responsible for the emotional, physical, financial and legal consequences of. I do agree with you that this is not the best way to go about it, though. The system is flawed.

Honden
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Honden 04/27/08 - 05:57 pm
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Baroness, I am in no way

Baroness, I am in no way suggesting that consensual acts between two teens is in any way acceptable. While indeed wrong for so many reasons, They just do not rise to the level of depravity represented by acts committed by adults against children or even other adults without the willing consent of those adults. Make sense?

workingmom
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workingmom 04/27/08 - 08:28 pm
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1
I agree with you Honden. Two

I agree with you Honden. Two young teens having consensual sex is in no way the same as and older person preying on a young child. The law needs to be revised. Maybe the age of 18 or 21 should be used in some way. Also, if both parties are willing participants, how can one be charged and not the other. It just makes no sense. There are many young men out there who do this, get the girl pregnant and then do not or cannot afford to be responsible for the child they both created. The girl is the one who ends up caring for the child in most cases, often without the financial or emotional help she needs.

Honden
2
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Honden 04/27/08 - 09:18 pm
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The "consensual" teen sex

The "consensual" teen sex issue is in most cases a "parenting issue" in that alot of these girls tend to be seeking attention. Either they will get the proper attention needed at home or they will get some improper attention with some teen boy elsewhere. Too many parents do not actually "LISTEN" to their kids. Oh sure they have conversations...but the parents are usually too busy to actively listen to what the child is actually trying to communicate. The child comes away thinking that mom or dad either do not care or worse even agree.

workingmom
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workingmom 04/27/08 - 09:53 pm
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I think it has more to do

I think it has more to do with peer pressure than improper parenting in some cases. There are so many kids out there who have been raised properly who do things because of peer pressure. Combine that with the force of raging hormones and it can be overwhelming to young people.

UncleBill
6
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UncleBill 04/28/08 - 12:28 am
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Baroness, is fornication

Baroness, is fornication still illegal in Ga? That would be consensual sex between two persons of legal age. My goodness, if it is, there must be many thousands of law breakers out there.

UncleBill
6
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UncleBill 04/28/08 - 12:41 am
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Regardng teens having sex,

Regardng teens having sex, many girls begin around age 15. The statistics have driven this up a little bit nationally. Around 15 or 16 is about when the urge hits, and it is not going to go away. Failing to provide the youth (boys and girls) with appropriate information to avoid pregnancy equals unwanted babies. The statistics are somewhat easier to track on girls as they tend to seek services more so than the boys. I.e. boys don't get pregnant.

Honden
2
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Honden 04/28/08 - 06:36 am
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Baroness..Should people

Baroness..Should people guilty of fornication be labeled as sex offenders? Neither should teens.

christian134
2
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christian134 04/28/08 - 07:59 am
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One point of interest is

One point of interest is needed to be interjected into this conversation.. Should the teenage boys be charged if the sex act is seemingly consensual?.....Many times these young girls can be intimidated to engage in the act either by peer pressure or from the young men...Girls are more easily manipulated and therefore is the need for such a law as statutory rape.....What might be considered love by the girl is often considered as "just sex" for the guys.......Two different outlooks and two different meanings....Boys are given thumbs up for their act while the girls are labeled for life.....

FallingLeaves
31
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FallingLeaves 04/28/08 - 01:54 pm
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Honden (& workingmom), reread

Honden (& workingmom), reread my Apr 27 5:21pm post. pay particular attention to this part: "....we have to figure out how to protect children from engaging in activities they are not prepared to be responsible for the emotional, physical, financial and legal consequences of. I do agree with you that this is not the best way to go about it, though. The system is flawed." So why are you being contentious and making it seem as if we are in disagreement? For example: your 6:36am post: "Baroness..Should people guilty of fornication be labeled as sex offenders? Neither should teens." If you comprehended my post, you wouldn't have to ask that question and would understand that I am in agreement with your post, yet you insinuate the opposite. Christian also has a good point. We are a long way from a proper solution. By the way, despite what you insinuated in a long ago post, I am not your ex-wife. I have several children, not one, and live in Richmond County, not Columbia County. Nothing else you described fits me, either, so set your mind at ease regarding that.

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