Gaps on offender registry could lead to tragedy

Sexual predators are an obvious danger to society and should be tracked as closely as possible. Most cities and states, such as Portland, Oregon track sexual predators who live in the area. However, not all states are vigilant in maintaining the list or have the same guidelines regarding who must be included on the list. When these discrepancies happen, it can lead to a tragic result. A mother in Douglas County is living this nightmare and wants something to be done to prevent it from happening to another family.

In 2011, a 2-year-old boy was violently assaulted by his mother's companion. The boy died from his injures days later. Unbeknownst to the mother, her boyfriend had been designated a sexual predator; he had been convicted of sex crimes against children previously. The mother had been aware that the man had spent time in jail for a sex-related crime, but believe the man when he stated it revolved around consensual sex with an underage female.

However, the mother's friend had doubts and searched for the man on Oregon's sexual offender website. He was not listed. Although the man had prior charges against him, he did not meet the criteria used to place him on the website. Oregon requires a person to meet three criteria; this man only met one. The man's parole officer submitted the request for him to be placed on the list, but he was never added.

The family of the toddler filed a wrongful death suit against the state of Oregon. It alleges that if the state police had updated their website to include the man or the Department of Corrections had followed through, the friend would have seen the man's photo on the website, and the child's mother would have ended the relationship. The suit seeks $1.6 million from the state.

This is a tragic situation and no amount of money will bring the child back to his mother. However, the civil litigation will send a message to the state of Oregon and other states that might not be as vigilant as they could be in alerting their residents of the dangers. Anyone who has suffered a loss due to the negligence of another can seek restitution. Speaking with an experienced legal professional can help people determine what rights to compensation might be available to them.

Source: The Oregonian, "Oregon toddler might still be alive if predatory sex offender had been on public website: lawsuit" Maxine Bernstein, Mar. 07, 2014

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