Debate builds over suggestion by child rape victim's mother to create sex crimes arrest list

Should there be a public list for sex crime arrests similar to the state's convicted sex offender registry?

ST. TAMMANY -  Should there be a public list for sex crimes arrests similar to the state's convicted sex offender registry?

The mother of an alleged child rape victim is making that suggestion after learning her child's accused attacker had been free on bond for almost eight years, awaiting trial for child pornography charges.

"I'd love to open up a dialogue because there's no reason that what happened to my daughter should happen to anybody else's daughter," she said, "That way we can look at these people and say, hey, this person's been arrested for a sex crime. They might not be convicted, but I need to keep an eye on this person."

MORE: Mother of alleged child rape victim reacts to suspect's 7-year-old pending child porn case

Victims' advocate Latoyia Porter, who runs the Walk With Me Community Development Center in St. Tammany, says she'd support it 100 percent.

"I don't think it's a major violation of ethics or civil rights or anything like that because it's just like your arrest record," she said, "If you get arrested for something like that, it's going to be on your arrest report.  Your employers will be able to see it, it's public record so it would essentially be the same."

But local attorneys warn against more harm than good due to faults in the justice system regarding false accusations and discrepancies between criminal records and the current state registry that leave details about offenders too vague.

"Is this guy a child predator? Is this guy a peeping tom? Or is this guy a 20-year-old at a fraternity party who may have had an incident with an under-aged girl who showed up? So I don't think that your average lay person is going to get much benefit out of it," said Covington attorney Michael Bradley, "My biggest concern is that what's going to happen, is what's happened with the felony registration, is that you're just going to create more problems for people who aren't dangerous."

Story continues after the video

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Area lawmakers are cautious about the idea.

"It's one thing to post arrest records on the courthouse doors, so to speak, but once you get into identifying specific crimes, associated with specific actions, I don't know," said State Rep. Reid Falconer, R-Mandeville, "I would just be a little concerned that would pass beyond just a mere posting of information and might get us into the area of violating someone's presumption of innocence."

Falconer is willing to look at the pros and cons and possibly let the legislature mull it over.

"My heart breaks for them and I would love to help them any way that I could," he said, "I'm not saying no. I'm just saying we need to temper it with a good discussion of the facts."

Part of that discussion will include logistics and responsibilities of creating, maintaining and monitoring a list like that.
 

© 2017 WWL-TV


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