Archived Q&A and Reviews
- Just learned there are registered sex offenders living very close to us Jan 2005
- Have you been successful obtaining Megan's Law info? June 2002
- related page: Advice about Child Abuse
I went to the Megan's Law website a couple of days ago and found out that there are two registered sex offenders living very close to us - one lives right across the street and one lives somewhere next to us (exact address was not given but the location on the map was right next to us - even after zooming in) Suddenly everything feels very different about living on our street. I am a single mom with an eight year old daughter. We had actually become friends with the man across the street. He and his girlfriend bought the house about 18 months ago and they have been the nicest neighbors. We had gotten to the point where we take care of each other's cats when we are out of town. We talk almost every weekend when out in the yard and my daughter sometimes walks over to them to visit the cat or bring them a cookie. I am so shocked to find out that he is a registered sex offender (and the crime involves a child under 14) I dont' know who the other offender is, but the fact that he lives within just a few houses and is in some kind of ''violation'' scares me.
I need some kind of perspective here. What do I do? Do I move as quickly as possible? Am I putting my child in too big of danger by staying here? Do I try to collect additional information and then do some form of risk assessment? And where would I get additional information? Or am I totally blowing it out of proportion and I have to come to terms with the fact that sex offenders live everywhere. (it is scary to see how many blue boxes (locations of sex offenders) appear in the East Bay) I am teaching my daughter the general precautions about predators but is this enough with two offenders so close to us? Any advice would be so appreciated. Anonymous.
[editor] Megan's Law website: http://caag.state.ca.us/megan/
I think that my viewpoint may be unpopular, but even people with sex offense crimes in their history need to live somewhere and be given the chance to make a good and useful life for themselves. Being ostracized and harrassed (not saying that this is your intent) does not help them grow and progress. They are human beings with a very big problem to struggle with. There are plenty of sex offenders and child abusers who never get caught, never have to answer for their crimes, never get help for their problem, and never show up on Megan's list.
That said, yes I would get additional information (sorry but I don't know where you'd go to do that, maybe the probation board), and having done so would sit down with your neighbor and his girlfriend and honestly talk about your concerns. Give him a chance to speak for himself, and weigh his responses, Maybe make a date to talk with him again after you've both had some time to consider further. Be completely honest and decide what you need to do. Good luck, anon
How scary!! I can't believe they let these guys out, much less let them live near children. I just looked and saw that there are at least 4 registered sex offenders living in our otherwise nice neighborhood in Berkeley. I am planning on calling the Berkeley Police and asking to speak to our beat officer. Hopefully he/she can tell us what is being done to keep on eye on these scum. -frightened
You might it helpful to try to learn more about the offender's crimes. All opinions are available for free at http://www.lexisnexis.com/clients/CACourts/. If he didn't appeal, you're of luck, but it might be worth a shot. Speaking as someone who has worked with a lot of these cases, there are offenders and then there are offenders. Have you thought of asking your neighbor? He is likely to be aware of the fact that he is on the website and might welcome having a chance to talk.
As a dad and criminal defense attorney, I am conflicted about Megan's Law. I think it is bad policy and would vote against it, but I have also visited the website to see if there are registered sex offenders in our neighborhood. My reaction to your question is that you should understand that one of the most persistent criticisms of Megan's Law is that it is overbroad - many, many people have to register as sex offenders for committing crimes that would not otherwise conjure up an image of ''child molester'' in your mind. For example, a 16 year old boy who has a sexual relationship with a 13 year old girl. Not a good thing, sure, but much different than a 55 year old man who molests an 8 year old girl. So the first thing I would do is go to the courthouse where your neighbor was convicted and ask to see his court jacket, which is public information. Find out what exactly he was convicted of - that will make it much easier to decide what to do next (nothing, move, confront him, etc). Anon
Well, after reading your comments. I decided to go on the site myself. I had the same results. I found that because I entered my address, it only showed my address on the map. What you have to do to properly get the results you are looking for is to type in your zip code only. Then it will display the names, pictures, info about the crime, if they are in violation again, AND their address. Try again. BTB
Living in constant fear can tear you apart, and cause a lot of stress. The fact is that sex offenders do indeed live just about everywhere, and the database only has those who've been caught for it.
The truth about sex offenders is psychology has not been able to cure them. What previously was thought of as ''curing'', turned out to be repression that would last, on average, 10 years before offenders started violating/predating again. The recidivism rate is extremely high, and many of them do not believe it is wrong (the less-brutal offenders think it's love, or they think children have the capability to give permission). Smart offenders learn how to say the right things to the authorities/psychologists to be considered safe again. I feel sorry for them, because they just do not seem to be able to rid themselves of this curse (and thus, are a ongoing risk to others).
With this in mind, I wouldn't treat your neighbors as evil weirdos. They are probably ''great guys'', who have a sickness. Try to view their sickness as neutrally as possible, and know that you must be responsible and cautious with access (however you do not have to be in fear). Your daughter should never be alone with these men, but you don't have to make a big deal about it - you don't even have to let on that you know of their tendencies, unless you want everything out in the open. Just turn down any babysitting offers, and never complain about lack of babysitters in their presence.
One other piece of advice - women involved with men like this, even though they may not know CONSCIOUSLY, are also poor choices for babysitters. They can unwittingly become enablers to their boyfriend's behavior. Many women involved with abusers have tendencies to turn a blind eye. Predators know who they are safe with, both as adult partners as well as children who will remain silent. They have an intuition which allows many of them to fulfill upon their urges and not get caught.
This is a nice eye-opener, because you truly never know who has the urges. I'm sure there will be other men [don't mean to have a gender-bias, but sexual violation is primarily perpetrated by males] in your daughter's life here and there who will have the urges, but have never acted on them or been caught. So this is the time to map out a plan for how you will deal with access to your daughter - particularly access to her alone without others around. To phrase it in ways that are age-appropriate, you might create a rule for your daughter that she is not allowed to be alone with any adult male, or whatever other rule seems appropriate without giving her fear programming. Good luck.
As someone who was molested by a neighbor as a young girl, I would say that you should confront this person with the information you found. Then tell him that you do not feel comfortable socializing with him anymore, and that you don't want him interacting with your daughter in ANY way in the future. DO NOT accept any explanation he has for you about being framed, being innocent, etc. Remember that 12 jurors found him guilty. I would not necessarily move. Right now you have the advantage of KNOWING he is a sex offender. You could move into the unknown - more sex offenders that just haven't been caught. This is a good reminder that you can't trust anybody around your kids. I know I will be overprotective of my kids - but the stigma attached is worth it to me. My kids are worth it to me. Back to confronting your neighbor - remember, he gave up the right to be treated like a decent person when he did small kids. He's a sicko and should be treated like it. Child Advocate
I am no expert on this, but a couple of responses: 1) You mentioned your don't know the identity and exact address of the second offender. My checking of the website for our neighborhood showed that if you click on the blue locator dot shown on the map, a box with name, mugshot, exact address, the crime, etc. pops up (and yes, there are a few past offenders in our area as well.) 2) I don't know if you own or rent and how you feel otherwise about living there, whether this could tip the balance for you to move, but being a homeowner in a neighborhood we like and can afford, I would personally choose to be vigilant, minimizing my daughter's contact with the man accross the street, not leaving her alone, etc., without uprooting myself. I mean, the man is likely to be reformed, and besides, nowhere is completely without risk. But one has to watch over one's child... Life is complicated, isn't it?
You're not alone. We just made the same unhappy discovery--there are three just a block or so (in each direction) away and one around the corner. My husband and I had already decided to relocate to New England for better schools anyway, but since our child is only 19 months old we thought we had some time. Now we are planning a hasty retreat because of this and other crime in our area. Our view is that things will not improve here and there's no reason to stay. Other places (outside of CA) are more affordable, have better schools and over-all quality of life. Linda
Consider the following:
First, acknowledge that such information is scary, but do not freak out. Second: If you don't know the exact nature of the crime, then do not let your imagination run.... just yet. Third, if you feel you have a good enough relationship with him and his girlfriend, sit down with them in an non-confrontational way and let them know you saw the site. Surely, he knows this information is publicly available and should expect neighbors to question it. His own explanation may calm your nerves and if not, then you will at least be on better footing to make a decision. Fourth, be mindful that a conviction doesn't always mean that the person committed the crime (and anyone who thinks it does is probably not a person of color); be open to the fact that he may not have done it. Fifth, both people did their time.
If none of this is helpful and you've decided to high-tail it out of your neighborhood, consider the following: 1. Are you prepared to move each time a sex offender enters your new neighborhood? 2. Are you going to let your choice of neighborhoods, schools, playgrounds, churches, synagogues, and other locations be governed by this website? Because in truth, if you are afraid of the unthinkable, couldn't it happen anywhere? 3. Does moving give you a guarantee that the person you're next door to isn't a sex offender who hasn't been caught?
Regardless of your decision, now is the time to educate (not scare) your children, if you have not done so already. If you have, then perhaps a refresher course. Role playing, perhaps. Make up special ''codes'' for friends and tell your daughter not to trust anyone who doesn't say the code. Make up rhymes that she can remember (''if my mom's not home, call the police on the phone,'' or ''if I'm grabbed in the night, scream and put up a fight.'' I know those are bad, but my mom wasn't a poet.). Make a list of ''nevers'' and stick to it: never enter an elevator alone if there is someone else in it -- say you're waiting for a friend and let it go. Never walk alone when it's dark, always ask a friend for a ride or escort. Never leave home without a ''mommy-dollar:'' dollar in change to make a phone call, etc.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that we all have to do whatever we can to protect our children, but we cannot run away from the problems of this century. Sex offenders are required to register, but think about the types of former criminals who have no such requirement. Trust your gut. Educate yourself and your children. Be cautious. React, but don't be reactionary. Good luck. -- Tsan
Hi; Do you know when the crime was commited? He could have been 18 dating a 14 year old and convicted of statutory rape.Or into boys only. I would call your local police department and see what they can tell you about him. If it came down to it I would go up to him and tell him flat out that you saw his name on the megans law site and ask him about it/tell him you are conserned about your daughters safety. At least that way he knows your guard is up. One way or another it sounds like you need to talk to your daughter and make her be careful not to be around him without you. I'm sure there are nice teenage girls in your neighborhood for your cat-sitting neccessities. Sorry for your scare, mara
I am in a similar situation. I read your message, went to the web site and discovered that my next door neighbor is a registered sex offender. After completley freaking out, my husband and I decided that the way to handle this was to first talk to our neighbor with whom we have a very friendly relationship. He was very forthcoming, told us that it happened nearly 30 years ago, he didn't do it but he was tried based on the testimony of the woman, his first trial ended in a hung jury, his second trial ended in a mistrial, and the 3rd time he could no longer afford an attorney and was convicted. He served 3 years in prison. I still want to check his story out but I thought he was a good person the day before I found this out and I would like to think he still is a good person. If his story is true then it breaks my heart that he has gone through this. I am alarmed at the number of offenders in my neighborhood and short of moving I just don't know what to do. But my advice would be to talk to your neighbor and find out the whole story. another concerned mom
I wouldn't worry /too/ much about having sex offenders in your street or neighborhood (and there are 36 of them within a mile of my house, including on my street). You can move to a neighborhood with a lower concentration of them, but you can't guarantee that it won't be full of child molesters that hadn't been caught yet. Most of the child molesters in my neighborhood, and I think in general, were not convicted of child rape so it seems unlikely that they pose that type of danger to your child.
The real danger is that they befriend your child with the purpose to molest her. I think that's what you really need to worry about vis a vis the neighbor you know. I would have a talk with my child about the danger he presents and not let her go to his house unsupervised. Personally, I would break all contact with him - perhaps after informing him why - but you can also try asking him about it. Of course, a man who seduced a child is likely to be a good liar. anon
Hi- I found out that I have one registered sex offender on my street (and three others within a two mile radius). The nearest offender had apparently had forced sex with a minor under 14 as well. The others were similar sexual violations including a rape and a penetration with a foreign object. Definitely not the neighborly thing one wants to see, I know.
I told my husband and of course was in panic mode, ready to hit the road and move. He was more level headed and we decided to drive by the homes to see where they were and then we also printed the pictures of the offenders for our own use, just in case one of them approached our child or a neighbors. We live about 10-houses down from a junior high school as well, and I thought it was illegal/wrong for such violators to be smack dab next to children like that.
I am not going to draw attention to these guys or stake out their homes, but I am being a bit more cautious and I can say for certainty that we won't trick or treat there.
So, I say be cautious, but not alarmist. Keep in mind too, that recently in Citrus Heights (near Sacramento) a concerned neighbor printed the info s/he found on-line about her registered sex offender neighbor and passed it to every neighbor within a two block area. Police were not amused by the tactic and are now looking for that person, saying that s/he had violated the civil rights of the offender. So, remember that these folks have rights as well, even if they are registered sexual violators. concerned, but not manic
I don't know what town you live in but in Alameda we have at least one full time police officer assigned to track/deal with all the Megan's law registered offenders. I would start by having a conversation with that person (the police officer) and go from there. Good luck
Wow....Thanks for posting your question. Because of your post (and the moderator's addition of the web page) I checked my neighborhood and found that a renter across the street from us is a registered sex offender. So here is what I plan to do. I will tell my partner and my immediate neighbors who have children. I will be as cordial as always (say ''hello'' on the rare occaisions when I see him). As we never go to that house I will do as always and continue to not go, and will never invite him here. I will tell babysitters and friends who may watch my children for me here or nearby. And, I will be interested in reading what others have to say. I am glad that photos are provided with most of the offender's profiles. I am glad that this web page exists. Thanks again for your posting. - watchful mother
This is a very serious issue and you could not possibly be over-reacting. I was sexually assaulted by a neighbor when I was five. Everyone thought he was the nicest man. Anyway, my advice is that you and your child should take the Kidpower International class. You will never be able to make sure that you or your children are no where near any predatory people. However, you can make sure that you and your children know how to protect themselves and prevent harm being done to them. Kidpower is a fabulous organization that teaches kids, teens, adult and seniors how to avoid becoming victims and how to fight back should avoidance fail. Also, I advise being somewhat (but not totally) truthful with your children. It would be fine to say to your daughter, ''You can never be alone with Mr. Whateverhisnameis and are not allowed in his house.'' If you do it without communicating fear or anger in your voice/body to your daughter she will not be unecessarily afraid. If she asks why just tell her it's because it's not safe. Also, you can practice by pretending to be the neightbor, ask your daughter to come inside the house. Then have her practice saying, ''No, I can't without my Mom/Dad.'' That by itself, would make your daughter a lot safer. Children do what they practice not what they are told. Anyway, look into kidpower at www.kidpower.org Safety Mom
As a survivor of childhood molestation, I went to the Megan's Law website immediately to see whether one of my molestors was listed. No such luck. In my case, molestation began with my grandfather, continued with a nanny, an aunt, a male family friend and also a male neighbor. I often thought something was wrong with me, why was I preyed upon so much?
I'm sharing this with you because I believe that most of the time, a child is hurt by someone they know and the best protection can be open, honest lines of communication with your child. There are ways to approach this and I'm sure someone can direct you to books that deal with this topic.
Please keep in mind that although the website lists known, convicted sex offenders, there could be others out there who have stayed under the radar screen.
As much as I have been hurt, I never lost my trust in people (only my self-confidence, unfortunately) and think that I kept my sanity because of it.
I looked at the site for my own area and I didn't find any near me, maybe one or two a few blocks away - I probably wouldn't recognize them if I saw them on the street and I personally wouldn't want to look for them. I do plan to speak again with my son (8) about inappropriate touching, etc.
I'm glad you mentioned this. It's always good to remember to talk to your children about life's hazards... anon
Sometime ago, I read Gavin de Becker's ''Protecting the Gift,'' when he was making the rounds and his book was garnering a lot of attention. ''Protecting the Gift'' is essentially a treatise on childrearing in the age of the internet, molestators, Amber Alerts, and the like. The essence of this book, or at least what I recall from its many pages in their most distilled form, is, as a parent, ''TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS.'' You are in a tough situation, and do not mention what other options are available to you in the way of living situations and/or moving, but knowing what you know, I would put all other considerations as secondary to the health and safety of my daughter and my own peace of mind. We need to handle so many risks as a parent, why tolerate something so very dangerous in your own front yard? Best of luck with your decision and best wishes for your safety and that of your daughter. thanks for sharing your situation
Given how much contact you currently have with your neighbor, I would call the local police asap, if you haven't already and talk with them about the person's crime such as when the crime happened and any other important information/details. Ask the police - are we in danger given what you know about this individual? You have a legal right to know more - and more information is public just not on the web site. If the police won't help you much over the phone (which I would find surprising), it may take a trip to the courts to look at records, which are public. And then you might have to deal with the information you learn, such as talking to your neighbor or severing the relationship. Tough stuff.
As for the neighbor who is ''in violation,'' it's unclear to me what that means. They are supposed to register every year. Maybe the person did something wrong. But the fact that you only have a zip code and not a street address means that the state believes his crimes were less serious or he's less a threat.
I feel your pain. Like many who live in the more ''affordable'' areas of Oakland/Berkeley, we too discovered we have a lot of sex offenders in our neighborhood, more than the two we knew about on our street. Move? Not an option for us. From looking at the maps and what I know of real estate, I think it would take at least 700K to buy a house in a neighborhood in the Oakland/Berkeley area that doesn't have a hefty concentration of sex offenders.
Besides, the group Parents For Megan's Law remind people that kids are most likely to be abused by trusted adults, not stranger abductions. And for many of the people listed, the list itself may act as a deterrent - they know you now know (although I'm unaware of any studies on this).
We decided to be more aware, more cautious and raise our kids with skills for steering clear of bad situations. good luck! anon
I looked up Meghans Law online as well. I discovered a registered sex offender living down the road from a friend (as well as an elementary and high school). I immediately notified my friend who was fully aware of the situation and the story. Turns out he had a relationship with his step daughter over 20 years ago (he is now long time married but a very suppotive wife, never offended since). Not ideal but also not the pedeophile I immediately assumed. You could try asking your neighbor his story. Ask first.
Your email kind of freaked me out! Thanks for posting the Megan's Law website so I could take a look at my East Bay community.
If I was in your situation I would gauge my response by what you have a sense of - has your male neighbor taken an unusual interest in your child, long stares, comments made etc. Then I would NOT have this person feed my cats/be in my home when you are not there. I would make mention of the situation in an age appropriate way with your child, and give her the ''talk'' (no one should ever touch you, your private parts are yours, etc.).
Do you feel comfortable raising the subject with his wife? With him - letting him know that you know? You could say, ''a friend pointed out the web-site and your home address/area on it... and it looks like you are a registered sex offender.'' Then wait for him to reply. Be straightford, and clear about your intent (you know, and you have clear expectations).
Your daughter's well-being could be at stake, and you never know what could happen if you DIDN'T say anything. I wish you all the luck in figuring this situation out. Anon
The sex offender thing sounds very scary, and it is a good thing to know. Don't get too afraid, though. The one has been a neighbor and it sounds like one you have liked. Guess what, sex offenders are people too. How do I know? I was married to one. Loved him dearly - still do. If this is a registered offender, you can feel safer than if it was just your neighbor, or your husband, that you knew nothing about! It means that offender is in the system, has been charged with a crime, has been in counseling, is still under the scrutiny of authorities and conscious of his inappropriate actions. I would think it might be a good idea to be open with these neighbors about what you know. Maintain a friendly relationship. Ask about it. If you have anger about any of your own past experiences, express it. I know that in the case of my ex that he is trustable. One of his greatest supports in healing and overcoming his unfortunate attraction to children has been a loving community of support. Believe me, this guy didn't choose the attraction. He did choose the action, however, and must be made accountable. This does not make him a monster, however, as long as he is available to be honest and clear. There is a huge range of offenders. None of these offenses are good. Nonetheless, there is possibility for healing and correction. I believe, after my own experience, that it is necessary to acknowledge the individual as a whole - the bad and the good. Think about how you could have actually liked someone who could be guilty of such a thing. Realize that there is likability and goodness and worthiness there. Do not be blind or ignorant, just open. I hope this is helpful. anonymous also
In response to one of the many responses (parents of 19 month old moving to New England): Moving to New England (or anywhere else for that matter) does not mean you are moving away from sex offenders, or potential sex offenders. California's law merely makes us more aware of SOME of them - and I feel that is a good thing. So move if you'd like, but don't kid yourself. (And I won't even get into a discussion about your comments on the relative quality of schools and life - as you can read that discussion in other entires on this list serve). Sign me - Watchful mom who likes our schools and quality of life just fine
Ever since moving to North Berkeley I have intended to check police files on known sex offenders in the area. I did get around to telephoning the police department, but I was put off by the process, which seemed a bit bureaucratic. Now, with all the awful stories of child abduction and abuse in the news, I'm feeling like I should do my due diligence. I'm wondering if someone who has sought to obtain information about known sex offenders through ''Megan's Law'' provisions could tell me: is the process for obtaining information tedious? Is the information you got useful and informative? Is it just names and addresses? What did you do with the information you received? Thanks.
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There's been some info on the news perhaps 6 months ago concerning Megan's Law, which allows one to go down to your local police station to find out the location of sex offenders in your area. On the local TV news, they announced that this system was now in place. However, my police station didn't have the info yet available (Orinda) and told me to obtain the info at the county level in Martinez. In a separate newspaper article, the listings could be found [I think] through the Justice Department -- which seemed a little difficult to procure. The Orinda police said that they thought the Berkeley had their system up and running. There's some controversy about the rights of privacy for these offending individuals, but with this Law perhaps you can obtain some peace of mind... If anyone else knows or has been successful in obtaining info through Megans' Law, I'm sure everyone at this site would be interested in hearing about it! eleanor
To the parent who was looking for Megan's law information: California has a Megan's law homepage: http://caag.state.ca.us/megan/ Hope that helps! anon
After 6 months of putting it off I finally went and reviewed the Megan's Law database for Alameda County last week (it's a pretty distasteful experience..) I am an Albany resident, the Albany Police Dept. referred me to the Alameda County Sherrif's Office in San Leandro. I called the Alameda Sherrif's number listed in the blue pages, asked about Megan's Law and they put me through to the right person who gave me directions and information about hours. I was interested to learn if there were any offenders living near me, as it turns out the system is more useful if there is a specific person you are concerned about (and you know their name.) The most specific I could get about my neighborhood was by zip code -- I learned that there are 7 offenders in my zip code, their names, offenses, and what they looked like (color pictures -- very creepy) but not where they lived. The woman who usually supervises the system was out to lunch, had she been there she may have been able to give me more tips about how to get more specific information, but I was told that they do not give out addresses. At Alameda, be prepared for a frustrating wait, but the women who finally helped me were very nice. I didn't exactly get the information I was looking for, but am glad I did it. Plan to do something fun afterwards, it's a pretty depressing exercise.
Regarding Megan's Law, I was able to access the database at, of all places, the State Fair in Sacramento. The Attorney General's office had a booth in one of the exhibition buildings where, after filling out some paperwork, their staff would help you look up offenders in your zip code. So I found out there were two in my part of Berkeley; one name I recognized as belonging to a family at the end of my street! I was able to find out from the BPD that his offenses were far in the past, which made me feel much better. It's definitely useful information. Richard
I'm a catching up on some back issues of the UCB Parents newsletter and wanted to add to the discussion of Megan's Law (keeping in mind that these are my *opinions* and that many may disagree with them). Megan's Law may reflect well on the legislators who enacted it but I have to wonder if these kinds of laws give the public a false sense of security. The fact is, something like 75%-90% of child sexual abuse is committed by relatives or friends, not by the big-bad strangers that would be listed in a registry of known sex offenders. Besides, a sexual predator can easily -- and probably will -- prey on children outside of their zip code or notification zone. From what I understand, it is the sexual offenders of the very worst kind -- the ones deemed by experts as most likely to commit crimes again in the future -- who must be listed in the registry. One has to wonder why such individuals are being released into the public in the first place! Shouldn't our legislators re-evaluate sentencing laws rather than merely listing felons in a registry? Then there is the issue of cooperation by convicted sex offenders. Although they are required to do so, not all sex offenders register. Or if they do, what's to stop the felon from listing a fake address?
All of which is to say that the best way to protect our children is to teach them safety rules in a non-frightening way, to supervise them apppropriately and to make our children feel that they can be open with us about their feelings and experiences. Of course, these are very difficult (impossible?) things to do and may be why something like Megan's Law which seems so fact-based -- so black-and-white -- offers the community comfort (false though it is). Margaret