Predator Privilege: Judge Overturns Law Meant To Keep Kids Safe
He threw out a state law, ruling it takes away the rights of convicted offenders. What about the rights of the children?Photo: Video by kmtv.com
Omaha, NE -- A federal judge recently made a decision that will change the way police track sex offenders and protect your children. He threw out a state law, ruling it takes away the rights of convicted offenders. What about the rights of the children?
Defense attorney's wasted no time blocking part of the 2009 law that Nebraska Lawmakers passed, essentially preventing deputies who are tasked with registering sex offenders from complying with it. Convicted sex offenders would have been required to sign a consent form, allowing cops to search all their computers and electronic devices - like phones. It also would have let them install a tracking device on any those devices, so investigators could watch them on line. Senior U.S. District Court Judge Richard Kopf ruled Nebraska's law that had been designed to ban registered sex offenders from using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter violates Freedom of Speech and is "unconstitutional".
La Vista Police Chief Bob Lausten admitted, "It's a delicate balance between constitutional rights of our sex offenders and protecting our children."
Chief Lausten gives credit to Judge Kopf for protecting the civil liberties of criminals, but said the internet gives easy access to anyone wanting to prey on the vulnerable. "A lot of times a sex offender or an offender will get into a chat room, and strike up a conversation. It usually becomes as simple as "what's your age sex and location," explained Chief Lausten.
William Rowland is a level three registered sex offender, meaning the state thinks there's a high risk he could commit another sex crime. When KMTV told Rowland about the ruling his first response was, "About freakin' time."
Rowland explained how he came to be on sex offender's list for 15-years. "I was 19. I was hanging out with people, and there was a girl who was hanging out with us, and one thing led to another and turns out she was too young," Rowland said.
Rowland believes the 2009 law violated his rights and kept him from connecting with loved ones on-line. He explained, "It almost seems like it opens it up to where I can talk to my family."
KMTV asked Rowland, "Some law enforcement officers say that a lot of sex offenders who have targeted children, It starts with an on line message?"
Rowland took a while to respond before stating, "I honestly can not deny that one. But, I almost think it starts with the parenting thing."
Rowland is a father now and he's already thinking about the internet threat, even though his son isn't even a year old. He said parents must be involved in kids activities.
How will this ruling impact how we protect our children from sex offenders? Chief Lausten replied, "You know that's a difficult question to answer because I'd like to see some data prior to the 2009 law -what happened while we had that law and did the law really help us or not."
Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine tells KMTV Action 3 News, historically predators use the internet to attract kids. He will work with other county attorneys and lawmakers to rewrite the law so sex offenders can't find your children on the internet.
Reported By: Liz Dorland, firstname.lastname@example.org