WAKE FOREST, N.C. — A registered sex offender banned from all public parks in Wake Forest says he's done nothing wrong and that he was trying to be helpful when he asked a mother if he could push her young daughter on a park swing.
"I'm not a violent person. I'm not a violent person at all," Carlton Wood said Friday.
Instead, Wood, who was convicted of taking indecent liberties with a minor in Mecklenburg County in 1986, says police are harassing him.
"I was wrong. I did my time for it. I shouldn't be harassed," he said. He would not elaborate on his conviction,
Wake Forest Mayor Vivian Jones, however, says the town is legally able to ban Wood from the town's nine parks and recreation facilities because authorities deemed his activity at the park on Sunday unsuitable.
"Any time that someone behaves inappropriately in our jurisdiction, we can ask them to leave," Jones said.
Two towns in North Carolina have already banned registered sex offenders from parks. Woodfin, a town near Asheville, was the first to do so three years ago. Wade, in Cumberland County, enacted a similar ordinance earlier this year.
According to court records, Wood spent 18 months in prison. He said he later moved to Tennessee, where he was required to register as a violent sex offender.
When he moved to Wake Forest last year, he tried to register as a sex offender, but says he was told he did not have to. He maintains he has done everything he's supposed to do.
"I mean, I've been keeping my nose clean. I must be doing something right," he said.
Under North Carolina law, sex offenders convicted prior to 1996, when the state sex-offender registry was created, are not required to register.
That has parents who live in his neighborhood and frequent the park talking.
"A little bit more information might have been available to the parents, which would have caused a bit more caution," parent Jim Whittington said.
Jones and parents like Whittington and like Rebekah Jenks say lawmakers need to look at making sex-offender registration cover those convicted before 1996.
"I would like to know that they are all registered," Jenks said.
Jennifer Canada, a spokeswoman with the North Carolina Attorney General's Office, says the office is following developments on the federal level about making registries retroactive.
State Rep. Marilyn Avila, R-Wake, whose district covers Wake Forest, says lawmakers should look at the case closely and discuss making the sex-offender registry retroactive.