RICHMOND, Va. -- The National Sex Offender Public Registry was developed to be a tool to help people like you know if a sex offender is living in your neighborhood. But there’s a loophole that may allow some criminals to slip through the system. Faces. Names. Birthdates -- and most importantly, where they live. These people have been convicted of a sex crime, and state and federal law requires their personal information be publicly listed on the Virginia Sex Offender Registry. But something is missing.
Authorities are required to register civilian sex offenders serving time, and before they get out of prison. But CBS 6 has learned it’s different for members of the U.S. Military who are convicted of sex crimes. The military instructs them to self-register -- after they are released. They fill out a form saying where they’ll be living once they are discharged. The military then notifies law enforcement in that area, but the military does not have the authority to follow up.
"If they never showed up here -- went from Kansas and said I’m going to Greensboro, but ended up in Ohio somewhere and I’m the only one who got notice of it-- I don’t know where to find this person," Corporal Brian Henderson said. “So if they don`t self-register, yeah, there’s a hole in the system."
A hole in the system that the Inspector General found in an evaluation released last year. The U.S. Department of Defense has no legislative authority to register sex offenders. The Inspector General said this “inability to register sex offenders before release from military confinement enables offenders to evade registration.” In the report, a review of cases during one-quarter of 2013 found that 20 percent of the 197 offenders did not self-register.
“I think if somebody is a threat to children the public should be aware,” said Brenna Farley. “Cause I’m not going to know about it.”