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By Kevin Schwaller
SPRINGFIELD - Proposals in Jefferson City could let select sex offenders take their names off of Missouri's sex offender registry.
Rep. Don Phillips, R-Kimberling City, Mo., says if his bill passes, more than 1,100 people on the registry would be eligible to take their names off of the list. He says some people simply don't belong on those records.
Phillips gave an example of someone who may be charged after relieving themselves on the side of the road.
We also spoke with the mother of a sex abuse victim. KOLR10 News concealed her identity to protect that victim. She is referred to for the purposes of this story as "Janette".
"We started our journey in 2011," says Janette.
That journey in court is one no mother wants to travel.
"He was five years old when it happened."
Janette says her brother-in-law sexually abused her little boy. It took her son years of growing to admit what happened.
"The ten years that he had kept in silence and what had happened to him, you know, no amount of jail time would have made that up," Janette says.
Now, Janette wants to be sure the man who pleaded guilty to the misconduct won't get a chance to leave the sex offender registry.
"We are in desperate need of reforming our sex offender registry. We have hundreds and hundreds of people that don't belong on there," Phillips says.
Rep. Phillips is sponsoring a bill in the Missouri House. It would create a tiered system for gauging offenses. Some offenders won't have to register. Others will have to wait ten or 25 years to try to petition for removal from the registry. The worst offenders generally stay on for life.
Let's go back to Janette. She says the time in court wore on the family. They settled with a plea deal: two counts of misdemeanor sexual misconduct. She says the original charges were statutory sodomy and molestation.
The perpetrator got two consecutive nine month sentences. Now, Janette believes this bill could eventually let him off of the registry.
"The main reason we wanted to do this is so there couldn't be another hidden monster in a family, all you would have to do is Google his name and see that he was a registered sex offender," says Janette. "And that's what we wanted to make sure, is that it didn't happen to another family."
If this law passes -- based solely on the charges -- Janette's brother-in-law could petition to be taken off the registry in ten years.
Janette says she also wouldn't want victims to have to relive the experiences by having to appear again when someone is trying to be removed from the registry.
Phillips says victims would not have to come forward again in his bill.
The house has considered several similar proposals in the past and there are more this year.
The bill we examined (HB 462) has cleared one committee and still must make it through the Missouri House rules committee before going to the house floor.
- HB-462 (PDF): Changes the requirements for the state sex offender registry
- HB-589 (PDF): Changes the laws regarding sexual offender registration and classification
- HB-624 (PDF): Changes the laws regarding sexual offender registration