Cover Story - Sex Offender Website Registry

By: Scott Saxton
By: Scott Saxton

Names, pictures and addresses of sex offenders are right at your fingertips. It’s all on the internet now. We know where some of the registered sex offenders are in our neighborhoods but not all of them.

Right now the State Police have a backlog of 150 people who have registered but don't have their information on the Internet for you to use.

One family's struggle with getting this information out to the public has been very frustrating. Tonda McLaughlin. She knows a convicted sex offender who abused her son and is out of jail and back in the community.

But others don't because of what she considers a loophole in our system.

He was in a position of trust. But a few years ago Kim Skaggs shattered that trust pleading guilty to abusing a student during his time as band instructor at Hurricane High School.

Tonda McClaughlin "I know he's a sex offender and a predator but everyone else should be able to know that too. That's important now more than ever because Skaggs got out of prison in May.”

As the mother of the victim she was notified. But when she logged on to the state's sex offender registry Skaggs wasn't there.

Tonda "We're told daily to check these sites, and we check them, and they're not there, we assume it's safe."

Lt. Michael Corsaro with the State Police says these things take time, "the Internet site should not be relied on."

This summer politicians strengthened the state's sex offender law! Police say it will speed up the process but it's still not going to be instantaneous. Sex offenders get three days to register and decide where they'll live once they are free. It’s built in lag time. Corsaro says this registry, even with all its benefits, should still only be one tool for people.

Corsaro "the offenders that are registered are typically not the ones the public has to be as concerned about. It's the ones operating in secrecy and hasn’t been caught yet. Those are the real dangers to society."

Lt. Corsaro says “Also, remember that the registry is a snap shot of where that offender is living. They're required to check in once a year but it doesn't mean those offenders are in that house for 365 days. They are free to go places.”

Mcclaughlin's son is turning his pain into a mission. He plans to go into some aspect of law enforcement. Right now he speaks with children at an abuse shelter about his experience.

Kim Skaggs picture went on the sex offender website this month, two months after he was released from prison.


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