By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- An Oklahoma teenager is swept up in laws aimed at protecting kids from child predators. He must register as a sex offender for life, as the worst level offender, after having a sex with his girlfriend, who said she was his age, 16. Sex between teenagers is no longer just a moral issue, it's a legal one.
Ricky grew up dreaming of joining the Navy and becoming a police officer. He was 16 and living in Iowa when he met a girl at a club for kids 16 to 20 years old. He says she told him she was nearly 16. They began dating and had sex. Soon after, police questioned him.
"The cop asked me, did you have sex with her? And, I said twice. He said sign this statement and I signed it. Soon as I got done signing it, he said, sorry to let you know, she's only 13," said Ricky.
Ricky's mother, who has recently gone blind, met with the girl's parents.
"They said, look, we know she lied, we don't want to press charges, we just want Ricky to say away from her and I said okay," said Ricky's mom, Mary.
But, the district attorney charged Ricky as an adult for two counts of felony sex abuse of a child. He was facing 25 years in prison, so he pleaded guilty and got a deferred sentence, which means it would expunged off his record.
Ricky and his mother moved back to Oklahoma and learned he must register as a sex offender for life in Oklahoma as an aggravated offender, the highest level.
That means he'll have to forget his dreams or even getting a job.
"I read one application that said if you answer yes to sex offender, this does not make us not hire you, but, it does. If you say you're a sex offender, automatically, you're not getting a job," said Ricky.
Ricky's record was expunged last month, but Oklahoma won't take him off the registry.
"With the expungement, there is no plea now. It's gone, no record anymore, so no plea, why is he on this registry?" said Ricky's mother, Mary.
Ricky now educates teenagers as his mother works to get the law reformed.
Police officers told The News On 6 the law started good, but as it's been added to, it's become a "screwed up mess."
They also believe the laws must be reformed to protect children from dangerous sex offenders and also, teenagers like Ricky.