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Some Sex Offenders Defy Registration Law

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DURHAM — Three months ago, North Carolina joined just a handful of states posting its sex offenders online. The site has become a popular one, with roughly 500,000 hits since it opened, but now at least one local law enforcement agency is having trouble keeping its sex offender information up to date.

The Durham County Sheriff's Department says it has had trouble getting some sex offenders in the county to re-register in the sex offender database. But with the new law in effect, officials can now track the offenders down and force them to register.

Authorities have photographs of three such offenders on display. All are convicted sex offenders who have refused to verify their addresses, or submit an address change, for the state registry. A new law that went into effect April 1 requires them to do so once each year for 10 years.

While that law is on the books and is being enforced, there is a question about whether the state's online database has sex offenders trying to avoid being on it.

"I couldn't say," said Sgt. Norman Gordon of the Durham County Sheriff's Department. "Most of the people that you are dealing with as registered sex offenders, they have other criminal records as well. It's not like the sex offense was the only crime they've ever committed. So, I couldn't tell you if [the registry] pushes them further underground or not."

The department also says there are two other people who had not re-registered, but authorities were able to track them down. They have been arrested for failure to re-register and are currently in the Durham County jail.

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Len Besthoff, Reporter
Mark Copeland, Photographer
MJ Ainsley, Web Editor

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