Questions on Aiken County sex offender law

By: Gene Petriello Email
By: Gene Petriello Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock, Sept. 10, 2007

Aiken CTY--We're one day closer to a potential sex offender law in Aiken County. We've heard both sides of the story and now we hear from a sex offender and a county councilman.

More questions are emerging as Aiken County moves closer to a sex offender law. Enforceability, unclear wording and who to punish are three of the concerns.

It's been 13 years since this sex offender broke up with his 15 year old girlfriend. He was 17 and was convicted of touching her inappropriately. He spent 3 months in prison, 3 years on probation and finished a 12 step rehabilitation program. He lives in Aiken County right down the street from a park. And soon, he might have to move.

"It really needs to be highly stressed the nature of the crime committed," he says.

He's talking about Aiken County's proposed sex offender ordinance. The bottom line: no offender can live within a thousand feet of a school, church, park or child care facility. Later this month, it could become law. But one councilman thinks it's too broad.

"We want to protect the children and others from sexual predators but not all folks are on the sex offender list I would classify as such," says Councilman Scott Singer.

And that's exactly where this man finds himself.

"All of my friends have kids. Once I tell them my story, they are like 'Oh, you don't really belong on that.'"

"'What do you want to see added to this draft?' First, to put on there the type of crime and the nature of the crime. The public needs to know that, he's a high risk assessment. He's a 3. People need to watch him when he comes around."

His wife adds, "let the child molesters the repeat offenders be on a public registry. And let the people who are at a risk assessment zero be on a private registry."

Another issue: if the law would apply to those who live in Aiken County now, or who move here because of Georgia's new law. And Singer says the council does not want to pass a law which makes sex offenders hide.

"They'll just not register at all and I don't think that makes our communities any safer."

The council will meet on September 18th at Aiken Technical College to discuss and possibly approve this ordinance. The meeting will begin at 7pm.


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