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Judge To Seek Longer Prison Term For Released Sex Offender

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HARNETT COUNTY, N.C. — A sex offender in Harnett County was recently set free after serving only half of his sentence.

There's plenty of finger pointing about who's to blame, but now the focus is on reversing the mistake.

The paperwork wasn't clear when it reached the Department of Correction, so Devan Black, 27, was released in October before his sentence was up.

The problem now is he no longer lives in North Carolina. He's in Vermont, but the judge says he's not there for long.

The Harnett County Judge on the case is determined to put him back behind bars.

"I have the inherent authority to make what I said match what is done,' said Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Frank Lanier. "What I say controls, not what's on a piece of paper."

Lanier accepted a plea deal that would give Black a total of six months behind bars-- three months for each of the children he's accused of molesting.

The Department of Corrections says the paperwork didn't clearly indicate the split sentence and released him after just three months.

"Everybody's going to have an opinion on what happened in this particular case," said Dunn Police Chief Tim Benware.

But Benware feels the larger tragedy is that Black's sentence wasn't that long to begin with. His department investigated this case.

Police reports show Black met his victims through a church youth group called the Royal Rangers. Because the children didn't want to testify, the plea deal was the state's the only guarantee that time would be served at all.

"It's why these individuals have multiple victims because the family just wants to move on," said Benware. They don't want to be dragged through living through these things especially with their kids. That's the main reason why the judge wants to fix the mix-up."

Judge Lanier says he wants a hearing on Black's case set for the end of January.

"I'm upset about it, we're going to get it right," Lanier said.

Black is living with his mother who is a pastor in Windsor, Vt.

He did not return calls from WRAL. The state of Vermont wouldn't say if he'd registered as a sex offender there because they don't release that information unless they feel there is an emergency concern.

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