Public can now I.D. sex offenders |

Public can now I.D. sex offenders

Rob Bhatt

When 7-year-old Megan Kanka was killed in 1994, there was no way her parents could have known that the three men living across the street were convicted sex offenders.

Three years later, law enforcement agencies across the nation are required by “Megan’s Law” to make information about convicted sexual offenders available to the public.

The South Lake Tahoe Police Department is one of numerous California agencies that last week put its notification system on line.

Residents 18 or older who are not registered sexual offenders can use computer records available at the police department to check on others.

The California Department of Justice developed a compact disc that lists 64,000 individuals registered due to prior convictions. The information is scheduled to be updated quarterly.

The database allows people to check on a specific person or enter identifying factors about a potential registrant.

A listing of sexual offenders in a neighborhood can also be called up by entering a zip code into the system.

Police Cmdr. George Brown called access to the disc a tool that residents can use to protect themselves and loved ones.

There are between 30 and 40 registered sex offenders living in South Lake Tahoe, Brown said.

“(Interested residents) can alert their children to be cautious or even stay away from these (registered) individuals,” Brown said. “And they can alert other people to this.”

People cannot use information obtained through the computer records to commit a crime or unlawful harassment against those listed on the discs, according to the state law. Anyone convicted of such activity can face enhanced punishments.

The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department also has the information available for viewing in Placerville. However, people living in unincorporated portions of the county at Lake Tahoe are encouraged to use the police department’s software.

The compact disc lists every registered sex offender in the state considered to be a serious or high risk to the public.

Other states have different policies for sex offenders to register following parole or probation. For this reason, those convicted in other states may not be listed on the California software.

And just because a person is not a registered sex offender does not mean they do not have potential to commit such a crime.

The Megan’s Law notification program only lets people know about those who have committed such acts in the past.

Studies indicate sex offenders have a 10 to 40 percent recidivism rate, said Randy Rossi, assistant chief for the state Department of Justice.

Jesse Timmendeques on June 20 was sentenced to death for killing Megan Kanka three years ago.

During the trial, prosecutors said he promised to let the girl see a puppy to lure her into his home in New Jersey’s Hamilton Township. Timmendeques lived across the street from the victim’s family.

Inside the home, he sexually assaulted the girl and then strangled her with a belt. The next day, he led police to the victim’s remains in a nearby park.

The victim’s family and neighbors learned only after the killing that Timmendeques and his two roommates were convicted sex offenders who met in prison.

The South Lake Tahoe Police Department will make the software available for public viewing between 3 and 4 p.m. on every weekday except Thursdays at the police station, 1352 Johnson Blvd. The information is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Those interested in scanning the records are required to bring photo identification.

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