Hiding in the Open: Lubbock County Juvenile Sex Offenders - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/15/07

Hiding in the Open: Lubbock County Juvenile Sex Offenders

Lubbock's youngest sex offenders range from 10 to 17 years old, but you may never know if they are in your child's class because the law doesn't require schools to tell you.

If you want to find out if a sex offender is living in your neighborhood, it is easy.  Just watch Channel 2, Lubbock's public television or go to the Internet.  There, you can see what a sex offender looks like, their crime, and where they live.  But there's a hidden population of sex offenders in Lubbock county that most of us will never know about.

"I really haven't considered an underage kid being an offender," said one parent.

But Assistant Juvenile Probation Supervisor Carey Dayton says they are out there.  He says the average age of a juvenile sex offender in this area is 14-years-old.  Dayton says they are committing crimes like aggravated sexual assault and indecency with other children.

"We have a lot of cases that come through each year, between 20-30 cases, kids that are referred for sex offenses," said Dayton.

NewsChannel 11 found out 33 juveniles are on probation and some are enrolled in sex offender counseling in Lubbock.  Because these kids are of school age, they have to be going to school somewhere.  We tried to track them down for you, but it wasn't easy.

We contacted all Lubbock school districts.  We know of at least one juvenile sex offender attending a Frenship school and another one attending a school somewhere in LISD.  Lubbock Cooper told us they have zero.   We were unable to locate the other 31 juvenile sex offenders who are roaming free in our neighborhoods and quite possibly our schools.  Even if we were able to locate them, we'd probably never find out who they are. Neither will parents.

"What do you think about this information the fact you'll never know?" NewsChannel 11 told another parent.  "I think that's one of the most frightening things I've ever heard of," he said.

"I believe there's not a law that regulates that happens. The law states you notify the schools, then from there the school has that information," said Dayton.

Even if you ask your school principal, they won't release that offenders name to you. That's because federal and state laws provide two layers of protection for juveniles. Texas Family Code 58.007 says "Criminal history records of juvenile offenders are confidential by law."  Also federal law, The Family Educational Right and Privacy Act, says schools generally are not permitted to disclose sensitive information about students without parental consent.

So if you can't find a juvenile sex offender through the school, how can you find them?   Well, don't count on the Internet either.  Dayton says only a judge can determine if a juvenile sex offender registry is non-public,  public, or if they have to register at all.  But he says most of the time a judge defers it which means you or I can't find out who that sex offender is.

"Do you think you have a right to know?" asked NewsChannel 11. 

"I do. But at the same time I don't want to ruin their opportunity to overcome that. Teenagers typically make poor decisions and they have the right to be able to correct it," said one parent.

We also found 11 more cases pending in Lubbock County where a juvenile is accused of committing a sexual crime. 

Right now, state lawmakers are working to protect your children. Two bills have been filed requiring juvenile sex offenders be placed in an alternative school. We know of no effort mandating names of all juvenile sex offenders be public information.

Dayton says the last time a juvenile's sex offender registry was made public in Lubbock was five to six years ago. 

We have also tracked down the number of juvenile sex offenders living in your area.  Dawson County has one juvenile sex offender, Hale County has two pending cases where a child allegedly committed a sex crime, Lamb county has three reported juvenile sex offenders living in that area, and Lynn County has one juvenile sex offender on parole, and two have completed probation.

get more- Web Enhanced
Lubbock PD Registered Sex Offenders
Look up Registered Sex Offenders by ZIP code.

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