Wagoner Woman Says Law Protects Juvenile Sex Offenders At Cost To Victims

Friday, August 23rd 2013, 5:57 pm
By: News On 6

Parents want to know their children are safe at school, whether from storms, strangers, or from sickness. Certainly, parents would want to know if there's a sex offender in their child's school.

But current law says parents are not allowed to know, and neither are school leaders or police.

A Wagoner woman said a young girl close to her was molested by a teenage boy. She said that boy went to court and was ordered to go to counseling, but now he's back in school in the same school system as the victim. He even rides her school bus.

Jennifer said it's outrageous the 15-year-old sex offender is attending public school around other kids and no one is allowed to know that because juvenile records are sealed.

"It's very frustrating. Schools can't tell parents, they can't say, 'Hey, this kid has stipulated to lewd molestation of a 6-year-old. And he can still play football, still be in any class he wants and get on the bus she rides," Jennifer said.

No one is notified about juvenile sex offenders--not schools, not parents of students, not even the police are allowed to know who they are, where they are or what they're doing.

"Whether they're living next door to a school or going to a school, we have no idea," said Tulsa Police Sgt. John Adams.

Sgt. Adams is in charge of tracking adult sex offenders in Tulsa, but he said the Office of Juvenile Affairs has the responsibility of tracking them under the age of 18, and all the records are private, even from principals and superintendents.

"Even the school doesn't know they have a sex offender in their classes, because they're not told. Their job is to protect children, we trust them to protect children, but they can't if they're not aware," Adams said.

Jennifer said someone drives the girl to school, so she's not on the bus with the boy who molested her and someone is with her at after school functions, so she doesn't run into him alone, but the person who committed the crime, gets to live freely.

She said she doesn't want to see any other victims and wonders just how many sex offenders are attending Oklahoma public schools.

"We know about this one, how many others are in the school systems, around our kids everyday?" Jennifer said.

She said she would like the law changed, so parents and schools are notified when a juvenile sex offender is in attendance. Or, she said the offender should be home schooled or sent to an alternative location for their education.

She said, while the law protects juvenile offenders, it puts a lot of other kids at risk and there has to be a better balance.

We called the Office of Juvenile Affairs to ask how many juvenile sex offenders there are and how many are enrolled in public schools, but the people who handle media questions were at a retreat and didn't get back to us. We'll keep checking.