Site locates sex offenders

By Libby John

Community members in DeKalb now can locate sex offenders more easily.

The DeKalb County State’s Attorney’s office now has a link on its Web site where addresses of sex offenders are highlighted in relation to nearby schools. The information is generated from the state police, State’s Attorney Ron Matekaitis said.

There are several maps for the bigger cities such as DeKalb and Sycamore and one map for smaller towns.

The Web site lists the addresses of the sex offenders and highlights them in blue. Local elementary, middle and high schools are pointed out with a red line around the school, which shows the boundary of where sex offenders cannot live. Names of the sex offenders are not listed online.

According to state law, a person who has had a sex conviction cannot live within 500 feet of a school. Exceptions are if a person lived on or owned the property before July 2000, when the law was put into effect, or if the victim was over the age of 18.

For example, in the Kingston B map, there is a sex offender who lives within the 500-foot boundary, but is not prohibited under law for living there because the victim was over the age of 18.

Another exception is the age difference between the two people. For example, if one person was 16 and the other was 17, and it was consensual, they can live wherever they want.

The information on the site is available because of the Megan Law, which was signed in 1996. The law states that individuals convicted of sex crimes against children have to register with the state and their information should be available to the community.

“Nobody really knew about the rule, so we wanted to create awareness,” Matekaitis said. “The reason the law is there is because sex offenders are most likely to have repeat offenses.”

The information was uploaded so parents can be aware of where their children are walking when going to school, selling Girl Scout cookies or doing anything that involves them being out in the neighborhood, Matekaitis said.

The site also is there for law enforcement to use as a reference when community members have concerns.

Kristen Ross, principal of Clinton-Rosette Middle School, said parents have not bought up any concerns of there being a sex offender living close to the school’s 500-foot boundary.

“If there are neighbors bothering the kids, then we check it out,” she said. “If someone paid their price to the community and are trying to turn their life around, and are doing nothing to harm the children, it’s not an issue.”

Penny Meier, senior secretary at the DeKalb Police Department, said the department doesn’t receive any complaints or concerns about where the sex offenders live.

“Sometimes we might miss it and have to tell the person to move,” she said.

Matekaitis said the Web site is updated no less than once a month. He said about 1,400 people have visited the site so far.

He also said he hopes to soon display the sites of daycare centers and their relation to where sex offenders live.