New ways to protect your family against convicted sex offenders; including e-mail and telephone alertsCorey

The following provisions of the N.C. General Assembly's session laws 2008-117, 2008-118 and 2008-220 took effect Dec. 1.

- Every sex offender required to register must report to his or her local sheriff's office in person within three days after moving to a new home, receiving a verification form from the State Bureau of Investigation and to provide written notification of address changes, changes to academic status or employment status at colleges and universities and intent to move out of state.
- Registered offenders cannot access commercial social networking Web sites that permit minors to become members or maintain personal Web pages.
- Registered offenders can no longer have their names legally changed.
- Offenders whose victims were younger than 16 are prohibited from being on the premises of any place intended primarily for the use, care or supervision of minors, including, but not limited to, schools, children's museums, child care centers, nurseries and playgrounds. They also are prohibited from being within 300 feet of any such place located on other premises not intended primarily for minors, such as those located in malls, shopping centers or other places open to the general public.

New rules restricting where sex offenders can go and what Web sites they can visit will likely mean more work for Gaston County Sheriff's deputies.

Cpl. Shane Farmer doesn't mind the additional duties. He applauds the N.C. General Assembly's changes to state sex offender registration laws that took effect Dec. 1.

"I think it was definitely a big step forward in the legislation that was provided to us," he said. "I think it's fantastic."

One of two deputies assigned to keep tabs on Gaston's 340 registered sex offenders, Farmer said he expects more reports of offenders out of compliance now that requirements for registration are more stringent.

Churches closed to some
A law prohibiting sex offenders whose victims were under 16 from being within 300 feet of child care centers and playgrounds has already drawn reports of violators.

"We've fielded several complaints of that nature already," Farmer said. "Once the general public is more aware of the new law changes, that's going to increase."
Gaston County deputies asked the state Attorney General's office if the 300-foot law applied to churches, which often provide nurseries for children while their families attend worship services. The Justice Department said churches are not exempt.

"There is no exception within North Carolina law that would allow them to attend church if that church is within 300 feet of a nursery," Farmer said.

Sex offenders are now required to register with their local sheriff's office within three business days of moving to a new home. They receive two address verification letters per year from the State Bureau of Investigation and must present them to deputies in person within three business days.

Formerly, offenders had 10 days to verify their addresses and to notify the sheriff's office of a move.

"It puts more restrictions on the actual offenders and makes them held more accountable," Farmer said. "It does help our records. What I forsee happening is it making us a lot busier."

About half of the county's registered sex offenders have failed to notify the sheriff's office when they changed their addresses, Farmer said. When offenders don't show up within the three-day window and can't be located at their homes, deputies obtain warrants for their arrest.

No more MySpace
Two new laws restrict sex offenders' activity online. It's now illegal for registered offenders to access social networking Web sites such as MySpace and Facebook that allow minors to sign up.

Farmer said offenders who created personal profiles on such Web sites before the law took effect and those who did so in other states can no longer visit the sites.

Effective May 9, registered offenders must provide their local sheriff's office with all e-mail addresses, instant messenger screen names and other online identifiers. Those who get new identifiers will be required to notify the sheriff's office in person within 10 days.

Finally, registered offenders are now forbidden from having their names legally changed.

"They were figuring out if they changed their name and changed their appearance a little bit, they could kind of escape their past, so to speak," Farmer said.

Of North Carolina's 100 counties, Farmer estimated that Gaston ranks in the top 10 in sex offender population. The county is also unique in its approach to keeping track of offenders. Sheriff's deputies visit each registered offender's home four times per year.

"Sheriff (Alan) Cloninger takes a very proactive appraoch to that, and I think it's a good thing," Farmer said. "We actually go above the statute."

Deputies divide the list of resident offenders by ZIP code and make "knock and talk" visits to every one within a three-month period. Farmer said the offenders are usually cooperative.

"They know what we're there for," he said. "They'll come out on the porch or they'll even invite us in briefly. Generally, unless they're in violation and they know they're in violation, they won't avoid us at all."

Farmer said the home visits provide a deterrent to those who may commit repeat offenses. Offenders are more likely to follow the law if they know deputies will be checking up on them regularly, he said.

The tougher sex offender laws may result in fewer offenders moving to the Tar Heel State.

"I've had people calling to get clarification on some of the laws, and if they were easier, they would move here," Farmer said. "I think some of the new laws might slow that down, and that's a good thing for North Carolina and Gaston County."

Patty Wetterling Questions Residency Limits on Sex Offenders

Peg Langhammer, left, executive director of Day One, Patty Wetterling, keynote speaker, and A.T. Wall, director of the Department of Corrections, at the conference.

PROVIDENCE — Patty Wetterling has spent 19 years trying to find out what happened to her son, Jacob, abducted at age 11 while riding his bike near the family’s Minnesota home.

But although she is well aware that statistics show sexual assault is the prime motivation in child kidnappings, Wetterling doesn’t back tough residency restrictions for convicted sex offenders.

“It’s such a complicated issue,” she said yesterday, after her keynote address to a statewide conference on managing convicted sex offenders left her listeners in tears. “People want simple answers, and there aren’t any.”

Instead, Wetterling said, people have to be willing to realize that the ways to make sure convicted sex offenders who are released from prison will not repeat their crimes have to be as varied as the offenders and their methodology. And, she said, communities will have to deal with the ugly truth that most child molesters know their victims very well.

“Everybody wanted to help us find Jacob,” Wetterling said in addressing more than 225 law enforcement officials, victims’ advocates, counselors and probation officers gathered at the Marriott for the day-long conference. “But nobody really wants to have to look too closely at people in their church community or members of their family.”

Yesterday’s conference was organized by the Rhode Island Sex Offender Management Task Force and financed by a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, with much of the planning done by Day One, a statewide support and advocacy agency for victims of sexual assault and other violent crimes.

The conference, and Wetterling’s visit, come just a few months after Rhode Island passed its first residency restriction for sex offenders, making it a felony for them to live within 300 feet of a school. The law has drawn sharp criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union, and some Rhode Island police chiefs have also raised questions about it.

Peg Langhammer, Day One’s executive director, said yesterday that she does not support such laws, because not only do they fail to address the complexity of dealing with sex offenders, they could also have unintended effects, such as causing some to try to dodge the registration process and hide from authorities.

Langhammer said that it’s difficult to find a balance between making the public feel safe and helping convicted sex offenders get their lives back on track. She said it’s particularly complicated since the phrase “sex offender” covers criminals from rapists to child molesters.

One thing that is clear, A.T. Wall, director of the state Department of Corrections, said yesterday, is that with a state as small as Rhode Island, there is “no such thing as not in my backyard” when it comes with having to deal with sex offenders. Noting that a registered sex offender lives nine houses from his Providence home, he said there are about 400 sex offenders in prison in Rhode Island and more than 1,500 who are free on probation or parole.

For Wetterling, her husband and their three other children, life changed irrevocably on Oct. 22, 1989. Jacob was riding his bike home from a nearby convenience store in St. Joseph, Minn., when he and his friends were accosted by a masked man with a gun. The others were let go, but the man took Jacob, a kind-hearted youngster who his mother says loved peanut butter, playing sports with his brother and fishing with his dad.

As one of the conference’s keynote speakers, Wetterling, a former math teacher who now serves as director of sexual violence prevention for the Minnesota Department of Health, said she came to Rhode Island to “talk about hope.”

“The topic of sex offenders is one that promotes fear, and I know that fear because I lived it,” she said. “I lived it and I didn’t like it so I have moved [toward] hope. I have hope that I will find out what happened to my son.

“And we must have hope that sex offenders will succeed in their rehabilitation, because that is the ultimate safety for our children.”

Teesside mum fears she has been mistakenly linked to a paedophile

Dec 1 2008 Evening Gazette

A Stockton mum-of-three fears her window was smashed because she shares the same surname as a sex offender on her street.

But Colleen Waterhouse says she is no relation to Andrew Peter Waterhouse, who is facing jail this week for spying on teenage girls as they undressed at a swimming pool.

The mum was just getting ready to go to work when a missile was thrown through her living room window at around 4.30pm on Friday, November 21.

“I just heard a big crack,” she said. “I opened the blinds and the front pane had gone. It was a bit of a shock.

“My children were in the room. My little girl was very upset and my youngest son was shaken up. But when I went outside I couldn’t see anybody.”

Colleen, who works at the University Hospital of North Tees, lives with her three children, James, 11, Matthew, nine, and Elizabeth, three, on Etherley Walk, Hardwick, Stockton.

She said when police came to investigate the incident they told her she may have been mistakenly targeted for having the same surname as Andrew Peter Waterhouse.

“They thought that was the reason for this. I’d never had any problems before his court case,” she said.

As reported, Andrew Waterhouse, who also lives in Etherley Walk, admitted voyeurism when he appeared at Teesside Magistrates’ Court last month and is awaiting sentencing on Wednesday.

The court heard the 42-year-old used a shaving mirror to spy on a group of girls aged 13 and 14 as they undressed at Splash swimming baths, in Stockton, on November 3.

Laws tighten on paedophile travel

Tighter controls on the movements of paedophiles have been announced by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

Measures include increasing the length of time child sex offenders can be banned from travelling abroad from six months to up to five years.

Ms Smith said the changes would bolster the UK's already "rigorous system" for managing sex offenders, which is "among the toughest in the world".

It comes as paedophile and ex-pop star Gary Glitter left a Vietnamese jail.

He was released on Tuesday after serving 27 months in prison for child molestation.

Restrict travel

The 64-year-old, whose real name is Paul Francis Gadd, was convicted in 2006 for molesting two Vietnamese girls aged 11 and 12.

The home secretary announced that the length of Foreign Travel Orders (FTO) for paedophiles would be increased from six months to up to five years.

FTOs are civil orders developed to restrict travel by UK-registered sex offenders.

And she said the requirement on police seeking sexual offences prevention orders to provide evidence from the last six months will also be removed.

Under the changes, those subject to blanket travel bans will also have their passports automatically confiscated.

And there will be a consultation on further restrictions on paedophiles' passports.

'Not enough'

It also emerged that FTOs may also be available where children under 18, rather than under 16 at present, are in danger.

The home secretary said: "I want to see anyone who poses a threat to our children dealt with as firmly as possible.

"I've spoken to child protection experts and the police and they have told me that these changes will further restrict the ability of child sex offenders to harm children both here and overseas."

Only five foreign travel bans for sex offenders have been issued under the current system, compared with 3,000 for football hooligans.

Asked on BBC Breakfast if enough foreign travel orders were being issued, Ms Smith said: "I don't think there are enough issued at the moment - I think there is more that we can do to prevent people from travelling abroad.

"What police and others say to me is that one of the reasons that they don't apply for them is because they only last for six months. I think we can extend that time period."

The Home Office revealed that legislation will shortly be brought forward to introduce new powers where necessary.

'Crucial step'

Meanwhile, children's campaigners have welcomed the measures.

NSPCC policy advisor Zoe Hilton said these measures "are a crucial step forward and should help clamp down on sex tourism".

She said: "We have been consistently saying that when there is clear evidence a sex offender poses a risk, the authorities must have effective powers to stop them from going abroad.

The announcement comes just days after children's charity Ecpat UK published a report calling for an overhaul of the way Britain deals with nationals convicted of sex offences abroad.

Upstate man arrested in sex offender's fatal stabbing

JOHNSTOWN, N.Y. (AP) - An upstate man is charged with second-degree murder in the fatal stabbing of another man in Gloversville.

Registered sex offender Raymond Pike was found dead on a bridge on the Rail Trail on August 15th. He'd been stabbed multiple times.

Randy Green was arrested later. On Monday, he was indicted on six counts.

Police say Green, Pike and another man were walking on the trail when Green pulled out a hunting knife and stabbed Pike. The two had been arguing throughout the day and police say Green claims the argument was over a stash of child pornography Pike allegedly had. Investigators found no evidence of child porn in Pike's home.

After the stabbing, authorities say Green went to a camp on Great Sacandaga Lake and tried to burn his clothing and the hunting knife.