One dozen Greenville County schools have sex offenders living within 1, feet, according to familywatchdog. Forty-five schools have registered sex offenders living within one-half mile. But the vast majority — 85 to 90 percent — of sexual assaults are committed by somebody known to the victim, said Benjamin Saunders, a professor and director of the family and child program at the National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.
Federal Wetterling Act requires states to register sex offenders or lose federal funds. Prior to this law, only five states had registries. Today, all 50 states do. California became the first state to allow chemical castration of sex offenders. Today, eight states allow castration, either chemical or surgical. Florida passed the Jessica Lunsford Act that provides mandatory minimum sentences of 25 years for the worst molesters, lifetime electronic monitoring and the death penalty for sexual predators who kill.
Similar bills are pending in other states, including South Carolina. Those states are expected to join soon. The closest lived feet from his back door. So Roddel decided to map the addresses of the more than 8, sex offenders in Indiana.
The entire state turned red, he said. He has now mapped 45 states, including South Carolina. Mark Olsen, who runs the Utah-based mapsexoffenders. Both get their information from state sex offender registries. Registered In South Carolina, there are 7, registered sex offenders. To get on the list, they must be convicted of a sex-related crime ranging from criminal sexual conduct to lewd act with a minor to voyeurism.
The most common offense among those on the registry is committing a lewd act upon a child. Most are men, although there are some women on the registry. The youngest is a pre-teen. The oldest in his 90s. People on the list are put in one of two categories: To be classified as a predator, a court hearing must be held at which a psychiatrist must testify he or she believes the subject is a sexual predator.
Predators must report more often. Thirteen are believed to be living in another state or in jail, Hildebrand said. The rest are missing. None of the missing are classified as sexual predators.
And, she said, the sex offender registry is used as a plea-bargaining tool by defense attorneys. Beattie Ashmore, a defense attorney, said he personally believes a sex offender registry is well intentioned and sound in logic. The year-old man had taken a picture of his year-old ex-girlfriend and superimposed it on a pornographic picture.
He shared the picture with his friends over the Internet and ended up on the registry. Some of the most popular laws passed by states, including South Carolina, were laws that allowed Global Positioning System GPS monitoring devices to track certain offenders.
There was a combination of reasons, said Jessica Lyons, a researcher for the conference. One was the national attention given to the case of Jessica Lunsford, the 9-year-old Florida girl killed by a registered sex offender who lived nearby. A similar bill is pending in South Carolina this year. And increasing the mandatory minimums could prompt more defendants to take their chances in court.
Saunders said it is difficult to win sexual assault cases, especially when the victims are children. In only 15 percent is there physical evidence, he said. Spartanburg County Solicitor Trey Gowdy agrees, saying it is significantly more difficult to get a conviction at trial than 10 years ago when he started as a prosecutor.