In the news of late there have been prominant news stories featuring Curtis Dean Anderson, who recently died in a Bakersfield hospital and Michael Dodele, who was recently killed in Lakeport, CA by a neighbor. What do these two men have in common? Besides their current health status, they both are registered sex offenders and presumably on California’s Megan’s Law website. I indicate “presumably” on the Megan’s Law website. Like most Realtors, I have been advised not to enter into the sex offender portion of the California’s Megan’s Law website. Should I access the sex offender locator part of the site, I could be held legally liable in a real estate transaction for the information contained on the website, whether the information is complete or even correct.
Megan’s Law is named after seven-year-old Megan Kanka, a New Jersey girl who was raped and killed by a known child molester who had moved across the street from the family without their knowledge. Megan’s Law makes information about registered sex offenders public, and as a result, it is accessible via the web. According to the California (each state has their own version of Megan’s Law) Megan’s Law website:
“As a result of a new law, this site will provide you with access to information on more than 63,000 persons required to register in California as sex offenders. Specific home addresses are displayed on more than 33,500 offenders in the California communities; as to these persons, the site displays the last registered address reported by the offender. An additional 30,500 offenders are included on the site with listing by ZIP Code, city, and county. Information on approximately 22,000 other offenders is not included on this site, but is known to law enforcement personnel. “
There are approximately 85,000 registered sex offenders in California. I bet we’re number one in the nation. We’re number one!, we’re number one!…Sick! One interesting fact is the data might not be up to date and/or even correct. Apparently, “many registrants are currently in violation of their registration requirements.” California’s Attorney General asks that if we should see any “violators,” we should report them. Hum, let’s see…. I’m walking with the family at Cuesta Park and see an older gentleman by the sandbox with the Nambla Rules! t-shirt. I go up to him and ask him if he has registered. If he hasn’t, I remind him that he may get up to six months in jail or a fine of up to $1,000. or both if he doesn’t register. Sure, I’ll get right on that!
When you access the home page, the sidebar has some good information:
I knew that most sex offenders were male. But I had no idea that 90% of the child victims knew their offenders and 50% of all sex offenders are family members. Its sad, but with a family like that who needs enemies.
Prior to entering the sex offender locator site, a disclaimer comes up indicating that the information contained within the website is for informational purposes only and that it is not to be used to commit a crime or harass anyone. If someone does, he/she is subject to criminal prosecution. Apparently, Ivan Oliver, the alleged killer of Michael Dodele, didn’t read the disclaimer too closely. The disclaimer also warns other registered sex offenders not to access the site or they may be fined or sent to jail. Interesting enough, the longest paragraph is dedicated to the fact that the information contained might not be correct or complete.
This is all the information I have about Megan’s law… Remember, I can’t enter the sex offender locator site but every parent should. Maybe I’ll have my wife do it. A point to ponder. When you enter the sex offender locator site and there is information about someone who may live in your neighborhood, what will you do with that information? A tough question!