Indiana official wants to ban sex offenders from Web sites

By Sue Loughlin, The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE— Vigo County resident Jackie Kellar has three teenage daughters who use Facebook and other Internet sites.

Similar to parents nationwide, she worries about some of the dangers out there in cyberspace, including sexual predators.

Kellar was glad to hear that Indiana"s attorney general, Steve Carter, and some state legislators are trying to pass a law to protect young people from some of those dangers.

Carter, who visited Terre Haute on Thursday, is pushing legislation to ban convicted sex offenders from using online social networking sites, chat rooms or instant messaging programs that allow minors to participate.

"We don"t have any restriction in Indiana that prevents sex offenders from being on those same social networking sites that our children are on," Carter said. "It"s time for us to pass a law in Indiana that restricts sex offenders" access to our kids via these social networks."

House Bill 1134, authored by Rep. Shelli VanDenburgh, D-Crown Point, incorporates the proposal.
The bill could receive a hearing next week before the judiciary committee, said Staci Schneider, Carter"s press secretary.

A survey by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children indicates that one in seven young people between the ages of 10 and 17 has received unwanted sexual solicitations online that tried to contact the youth in person, over the telephone or via mail. [Ed: Am I not mistaken but was it not this same
Center for Missing & Exploited Children that quoted figures of thousands of children abducted by strangers every year in the '80's? Why does anyone believe anything these people say? Perhaps it's because they WANT to. Hmm...]

The survey also indicated that one in three children has experienced unwanted exposure to sexual material on the Internet.

"The growth of the Internet and the ability to hide an identity is a challenge to parents and law enforcement alike," Carter said. A state law addressing the problem is a step in the right direction.
The proposed legislation would make it a class-D felony (punishable by six months to three years in prison) for a convicted sex offender to use a social networking Web site or instant messaging or chat room program frequented by minors.

The penalty would be increased to a class-C felony (punishable by two to eight years in prison) if the offender uses the program to contact a child or has a prior conviction under the law.
Four states have passed laws regulating a convicted sex offender"s use of and activities on social networking sites, Carter said.

Mark Miller, principal at Sarah Scott Middle School, is aware of some of the problems and dangers that can arise on the social networking sites. "It"s a potentially real dangerous problem," he said.

Miller supports legislation to ban convicted sex offenders from those sites.

Each year, convicted sex offenders in Indiana must register on a sex offender registry list. If the new legislation passed, Carter also would like to collect their e-mail addresses and user names when they register. That information would then be available to law enforcement.

While the new law, if passed, might be difficult to enforce, it still sends a message and tells predators they risk committing a felony if they access those sites, Carter said. [Ed: Oh, here we go, let's "send a message!" just to let everyone know how righteous we are. This is every bit the same as those who pray ostentatiously so that everyone can witness their sanctimony. And I'm convinced that that's what this is all about.]

State Sen. John Waterman, R-Shelburn, who attended Carter"s news conference, said the legislation is needed and that he would support it. [Ed: Ask yourselves, where is this going to end? What's next? Are we to continue giving these dreadful busybodies the benefit of the doubt as to their emotional stability? Why aren't more people questioning the motivation of these obsessive and irrational crusaders? Is it not obvious that it is THEY who suffer from dark and sadistic impulses? Why are so few questioning their priorities which are vastly out of proportion to any real threats?] Full Story