Tulsa Police are worried now that a convicted child molester has won a legal victory against the Tulsa County District Attorney's office.
Stephen Barnes was convicted in 1999 of rape and lewd acts involving a minor. According to Department of Corrections records, he was released in 2012. He's a registered sex offender, but now that he's out of prison, he wants to live with his mother in east Tulsa.
A 2003 Oklahoma law prevents sex offenders from living near schools and daycare centers. In January 2015, Barnes asked the courts for an injunction against the Tulsa County District Attorney's office, Tulsa Police and the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office, arguing that since the law was passed after he committed his crimes, it didn't apply to him.
Earlier this month the judge ruled in his favor, saying he can live wherever he wants.
Tulsa police fear this will lead to a similar situation for many more convicted child molesters.
"The whole premise of the sex offender registry is to protect our children. Safe zones were created for families to at least feel comfortable knowing there were no sex offenders living nearby. The ruling will open the door for sex offenders to file similar lawsuits and be granted the freedom to reside next to an elementary school, if they so choose," said Tulsa Police Sgt. John Adams.