Local News

Raleigh Sex Offender Speaks Out About State Sex Registry

Posted October 7, 1998

— If a sex offender lived in your neighborhood would you want to know?The North Carolina Sex Offender Registrypublishes an online list of more than 3,000 offenders for the public to access.

One Raleigh neighborhood passed out fliers Thursday about one particular offender living in their subdivision. Thursday night, the man on the fliers told WRAL-TV that he is being treated unfairly.

James McCrowre served his time, but he says the sex offender registry has put him back in a different kind of prison. "This is like a person going back to trial all over again," McCrowre said. "It's like today I've been accused all over again."

Although he maintains his innocence, McCrowre admits he was twice convicted in rape cases, and that he spent 14 years in prison. Now, he says he is engaged, working and trying to rebuild his life.

However, McCrowre claims those goals were crushed when someone took his picture and record from the internet and circulated it to every one of his neighbors.

Residents like Chris Smith found a piece of the registry on their doorsteps Thursday morning.

Smith says he was surprised by the flyer, which says sex offender James McCrowre lives in his neighborhood.

"If someone in the neighborhood found out about it and they were concerned and wanted to share it with their neighbors, I don't have a problem with them sharing the information," Smith says. "I should have just died in prison and stayed in prison for the rest of my life," McCrowre said. "If I've got to come out in society and live like this, I'm still in prison."

Police say the only legal thing residents can do to protect themselves is to avoid the man.

McCrowre thought he had served his debt to society and left his ugly past behind bars. Now, he feels he is serving a life sentence. "Everywhere I go - stores, shopping centers, anywhere - I'm going to be labeled probably until the day I die," McCrowre said.

The registry has become very popular in North Carolina. "Since April 1, we've had more than 500,000 hits on the Internet, which is a high number. It shows that the public is using this information," SBI Training Director Nancy Kiesenhofer says.

Some people question how the public is using the information.

"It's a recipe for having things get out of control," Deborah Ross says. The Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union says North Carolina should teach people how to handle the information responsibly, so that it does not lead to vigilantism.

"Everybody has the right to know about the sex offender, but what they do might produce a worse result," Ross says.

People who live in Smith's neighborhood say they'll take their chances with the registry. Resident Alton Farmer says, "I think this is something good for the public, that everyone should be aware of."

McCrowre believes that his situation may convince other convicted sex offenders to avoid the registry and skip town.

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