Sex offenders from decades ago added to registry
The new year has brought a major expansion of the state’s offender registry with thousands of names from offenses committed decades ago added to the list.
The names, collected and posted under a law passed by the General Assembly early last year, cover convictions for certain sex offenses from on or after Jan. 1, 1980, until July 1, 1994, when the sex offender registry was first established.
State police describe the additional 5,604 names as a “supplement” to the sex offender registry, the same term included in the title of the legislation that ordered the posting of the names online.
The supplemental list of names first appeared online on Jan. 1 and differs in several ways from the names of those who were convicted on or after July 1, 1994. The names of those with earlier offenses appear with no photographs, and the defendants are not required to register with the state police unless required to do so elsewhere in the law.
Corrine Geller, public relations manager with the state police, said assembling the names was a painstaking effort that involved six months of research and verifying names and other personal information.
Geller said authorities did not notify any of those whose names appear in the supplement that their information was about to be added to the list of those with more recent offenses.
“There was no way for us to reach those individuals without extensive research, and that would have taken a great deal of time and personnel resources,” Geller said, adding that the state law contains no provision for notifying anyone on the supplemental list.
The supplement lists the offender’s last and first name and middle initial, year of birth, age at the time of conviction, crime committed, and court where the conviction was recorded. No information on the offender’s current whereabouts is listed, and Geller said some of those in the supplement may have died since their conviction.
Supporters in the General Assembly informally called the law under which the supplement was created “Robby’s Rule.” The name comes from an adult man who was molested as a child and sought to have the perpetrator prosecuted years later. The accused man had been convicted of one or two sex offenses before July 1, 1994, and, as a result of the timing, his name did not appear on the sex offender registry.
Del. David Ramaden, who sponsored Robby’s Rule, said the absence of evidence linking the accused man to any previous sex offense stymied the initial investigation, although the case was later reopened, and the suspect was convicted. His name now appears on the sex offender registry.
Ramadan, R-South Riding, said the defendant had remained at large throughout the years after he molested Robby.
“They found he was still living, still coaching kids and driving around with a license plate that says ‘I love kids,'” Ramadan said of the defendant.
Ramadan said the purpose of the law is to allow citizens and law enforcement officials to dig further into the past of those who have committed sex offenses. Ramadan said all of the information on the supplemental list of sex offender is a public record, but until a few days ago, it has remained in courthouses spread throughout the state.
“Citizens didn’t have a place to find these convictions in an easy way,” Ramadan said. “So we created this supplement, which is a collection of data that exists publicly but in different places.”
The supplement can be found at the state police website http://tinyurl.com/znw8yul.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org