Cracking Down on Fugitive Sex Offenders
by: Laurie Johnson, April 2, 2007 5:04:00 am
All sex offenders are required to register their place of residence with the state sex offender registry and with local law enforcement offices. Harris County has hundreds of registered sex offenders. But hundreds more don't register on the list and attempt to hide their identities. Katherine Cabaniss is the Executive Director of Crime Stoppers of Houston. She says they're offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of any juvenile sex offenders who are fugitives.
"Any person who has been charged with a felony against a child should be behind bars. They shouldn't be walking around in our neighborhoods, they shouldn't have access to our children. The Children's Assessment Center and Crime Stoppers want you the citizens to be our eyes and ears out in the community. Help law enforcement locate these offenders. Help law enforcement find them and arrest them."
Pictures of and information about nearly 100 juvenile sex offenders are available on the Crime Stoppers website and the organization will be highlighting one offender every day for the month of April. Elaine Stolte with the Children's Assessment Center says they're hoping this push to arrest child predators will also encourage residents to turn in people they know who have committed sex crimes.
"Family members, by being anonymous, can call and turn in other family members that the open warrants are out there. They may be living with someone they know, so go ahead and call."
Stolte says child predators who violate the terms of their probation or who fail to register are doing so because they think they can get away with their crimes and continue victimizing children. And she adds, reminding people to be on the lookout for juvenile sex offenders can also remind them to protect their own children and prevent abuse.
"Ninety-five percent of the children who are sexually abused are abused by not a stranger, but by someone they know -- a family member, someone they know and trust. So by the media being here and listening to this we can get the message out to children that if someone does approach you, even if it is 'Uncle Benny' or it's your cousin -- your older cousin -- go talk to your parents about and let them know that he didn't make you feel right or something was creepy about that situation."
The Houston Police Department has 122 open warrants for juvenile sex offenders who have failed to comply with registration requirements. Their numbers for adult sex offenders were unavailable. Harris County and other law enforcement agencies also maintain lists of offenders who are in violation. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.