RALEIGH, N.C. — Four men on the list went before a Wake County judge Friday asking for their names to be removed.
One man, Michael Gathings, was successful even though he has admitted to having sex with a 7-year-old girl.
Gathings went to a Texas prison 15 years ago for having sex with the young girl he was babysitting.
Since moving to North Carolina, his picture has been listed on the sex offender registry for 10 years.
Last year, the North Carolina General Assembly made the law tougher last year. Instead of automatically allowing sex offenders off the registry after a minimum of 10 years, they must now prove to the court that they're deserving.
Gathings' attorney said his client went through therapy, got married, had a daughter of his own and won consistent promotions in his job.
After sorting through confusion over the status of a Texas conviction on North Carolina's law, Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner agreed to take Gathings off the registry.
“If it's somebody who has gone that extra potential mile and has led a life that shows that they're re-acclimated to society and reformed … maybe that person is deserving of the benefit of the doubt,” said Wake County Assistant District Attorney Adam Moyers. “But, they're going to have to come in and show it.”
Other offenders were not as successful.
“I just don't want my past to keep haunting me, haunting me. I don't want to go through this anymore,” said Shimel Draughon, a convicted sex offender.
Draughon, Lemuel Banks and Purvis Dunn all petitioned to get off the registry. But later charges such as assault on a female, drugs and failure to register led the judge to reject them.
Win or lose, the one thing petitioning the court didn't guarantee the men was anonymity.
“There is a certain degree of irony in that a person who's on the registry is seeking anonymity. And then, in order to get off they must face the media and the public,” said Brad Sahl, Gathings’ attorney.
Before the law changed, there was a window of time in 2006 when offenders were automatically taken off the list after 10 years. So far, at least three men have won their court petitions to be removed from the site.
Under the law, violent sex offenses warrant lifetime registration.
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