The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil,
but because of those who look on and do nothing.

~~~ Albert Einstein

Monday, May 26, 2008

Gaps in Offender Registry

Here's a new one for you.

Legislators make laws, then look confused when huge gapping loopholes in them cause problems.

Maryland law requires sex offenders convicted of offenses that occurred after September 1995 to register with the state. Also, offenders convicted of earlier crimes are required to register - if they were in prison or on probation in October 2001.

Toohey is among a small number of sex offenders who fit neither of those two descriptions. The manager of the state's sex offender registry said his case is troubling.

"Eventually the problem won't exist, as you move further and further away" from the 1995 cutoff date, said Elizabeth Bartholomew, the registry's manager. "But right now it does exist, and it's not a good loophole to have, and we would like to see it corrected. Individuals like Mr. Toohey have hurt a child and have been convicted, but, because of this loophole, get out of that particular part of his obligation. Even one person who gets out of it is probably too many."

While the amount of effected sex offenders that will be able to slide through this loophole is low, and continues to be lower as time passes, the problems it creates aren't getting smaller. Take for example the case of Jerome F. Toohey Jr.

A former Roman Catholic priest who was convicted in 2006 of sexually abusing a student at Calvert Hall College High School 20 years earlier will not be required to register as a child sex offender due to a loophole in state law, which legislators unsuccessfully sought to address this year.

Jerome F. Toohey Jr., who was permanently removed from the ministry this week, completed an 18-month jail sentence last year for abuse that had occurred in the late 1980s. He is not required to register because of the time lag between his offense and his conviction.
Toohey worked as a chaplain for nearly twenty years- from the 70's to the 90's.

He was stripped of his authority to function as a pastor in 1993 by the Baltimore Archdiocese after a former John Carroll student, Michael Goles, accused the priest of sexually abusing him in the 1980s after he had sought counseling. A lawsuit Goles filed in 1994 against Toohey was dismissed because state law requires that civil suits be filed within three years of an alleged incident.

Toohey pleaded guilty in Baltimore County Circuit Court in November 2005 to abusing Thomas Roberts when the victim was attending Calvert Hall and went to the chaplain for counseling about his parents' divorce. Roberts went on to become an anchor at CNN Headline News.
Now, free with no restrictions that would have came with along with a requirement to register- he'll easily slip back into society, and likely into the vicinity of his next victim.

He's not the only repeat offender who will be prospering by this loophole. There is also Israel Shapiro:

A former teacher of bar mitzvah lessons who was active in Baltimore's Orthodox Jewish community could also be affected by the proposed change in law. Israel Shapiro, 58, received a suspended five-year prison term and five years of probation in March after having been accused of abusing two boys on separate occasions in September 1988 and June 1994.
Former students of Robert Merle Haines Jr came forward to report his abuse of them, and he was charged in 2005 with second-degree rape and four counts of third-degree sex offense and pled guilty in 2006 to one count of child sex abuse. Another victim had came forward prior to that indicating that he's also abused her during the 1983-1984 school year while he taught social studies at Boonsboro Middle School.

Baltimore Circuit Judge John P. Miller ordered Shapiro to undergo sex offender screening and treatment but said he would not have to register as a sex offender because the registry did not exist when the incidents occurred.
Personally, I'm still going back to the sentence which says that law makers attempted to fill the loophole with legislation but that it stalled on the finial day of the session. They could have fixed this... but didn't? Nice. Probably wasn't a big election year or something.