Local News

Social networking a felony for convicted sex offenders

Posted November 5, 2010 1:31 p.m. EDT
Updated November 10, 2010 12:24 p.m. EST

— North Carolina law enforcement agencies are cracking down on sex offenders who use social networking sites, following a two-year-old state law.

The 2008 law makes it a felony for convicted sex offenders to create profiles on social networking websites, such as Facebook and MySpace, where children can be members.

"We need to protect our children, and this is one of the ways that we do it," North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said.

As law enforcement agencies get training on how to find sex offenders online, investigators are becoming increasingly active in enforcing the laws, he said.

"It's an important law. Sometimes it takes a year or so for new laws to get out there and for people to realize that they are there," Cooper said.

In July, the Durham Police Department and Durham County Sheriff's Office served 11 search warrants on MySpace and Faceboo arrested eight sex offenders in a sting operation to enforce the law.

  • Jalee Beverly, 28, of Rosetta Drive; 2002 convictions for two counts of statutory rape of a child under 6, first-degree kidnapping
  • Emil Brunner, 23, of Glenn Road; 2009 conviction for indecent liberties with a child
  • Ahrmad Griffin, 34, of Holloway Street; 2003 convictions for two counts of indecent liberties with a child
  • Christian Johnson, 34, of Shiva Court; 2008 convictions for two counts of indecent liberties with a child
  • Lester Packingham Jr., 29, of Pike Street; 2002 conviction for indecent liberties with a child
  • Cenntell Thomas, 26, of North Roxboro Street; 2007 convictions for two counts of indecent liberties with a child
  • Raquim Watson, 23, of South Alston Avenue; 2008 convictions for two counts of indecent liberties with a child
  •  Brandon Whitehurst, 22, of Campus Walk Avenue; 2005 conviction for incest

The Harnett County Sheriff's Office also arrested a registered sex offender, Stephen Michael Broadie, 23, of 2218 Old U.S. 421 in Lillington, on charges of setting up a Facebook profile. Broadie was convicted of indecent liberties with a child in 2006, according to state Department of Correction records.

The attorney general said that sentencing will vary, depending on the suspect's prior criminal history.

"It sends a strong message that we're not going to tolerate sex offenders who troll the Internet, trying to send inappropriate material to our children," Cooper said.