Report: Third of Child Sex Offenders Live Near Schools, Day Cares
Posted April 24, 2007 5:58 p.m. EDT
Updated April 25, 2007 1:40 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — Twenty-nine percent of registered child sex offenders in Wake County live within close proximity to children, according to a report released Tuesday by Interact of Wake County.
The non-profit organization, which supports victims of sexual assault, discovered that 112 of the county's 388 registered child sex offenders are listed at a residence within 1,000 feet of day cares or schools.
A state law that took effect Dec. 1 forbids that, but the law, which covers offenders of both child and adult sex crimes, applies only to those who registered after Dec. 1 and is not retroactive.
Interact said that although it did not look at how many of the sex offenders are actually violating the law (it does not know how many were living in the areas prior to Dec. 1), it believes sex offenders might be choosing to live near places that children frequent.
Of 110 registered offenders who committed sex crimes against adults, 20 — or 18 percent — lived close to schools and day cares as of April 15. Tasha Sullivan, the study's author, said that she does not believe it is a coincidence how many child sex offenders live near schools.
"I think it's safe to draw the conclusion that child sex offenders are putting themselves in a position possibly close to day cares and schools," she said.
The Wake County Sheriff's Office is responsible for making sure sex offenders comply with the state law, but Sheriff Donnie Harrison said that if a sex offender moved to the area before December, there is nothing deputies can do. What they can do is make sure that every time a sex offender registers or moves now, they are following the law.
"You're still looking at 500-plus people that we've got to check on," Harrison said. "We're doing it as best we can."
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, who this week unveiled changes to the state's sex-offender-registry Web site, said Interact's study highlights how important the sex offender registry is and how critical that the 1,000-foot law is enforced.
"It's important for our local law enforcement officers to make sure they enforce this law, because if it's not enforced, then people will ignore it," Cooper said.
There are actually 654 registered sex offenders in Wake County, but 156 are incarcerated or registered at a shelter or their whereabouts are unknown.