By Charlotte Huffman
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A CBS3 investigation is sparking calls for state legislative change.
Thursday, in an exclusive Eyewitness News report investigative reporter Charlotte Huffman exposed how some Delaware sex offenders who register as “homeless” are skirting the law and living in homes within the community without neighbors’ knowledge (see related story).
Huffman took the information to Delaware State Police but Delaware law prohibits police from making a homeless offenders’ specific location public.
Maureen Kanka, mother of slain New Jersey child, Megan Kanka responded to the I-Team’s investigation.
“Does it take another Megan in order for the Delaware legislature to fix the flaws in their law or can one of Delaware’s representatives step up to take a look at the apparent flaws that have developed over the years?”
Nearly 20 years ago, Megan Kanka was killed by a sex offender, Jesse Timmendequas who had recently been released and was living near Kanka’s home.
Following Kanka’s death, states nationwide including Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey adopted so-called Megan’s laws. The law requires convicted sex offenders to register their addresses and other identification information online so that the public can find out where offenders live.
On Friday Democratic Rep. Larry Mitchell credited CBS3 for uncovering the issue.
“We’re not doing a good enough job of notify(ing) the public,” said Rep. Mitchell.
The democratic lawmaker is a former cop; chairman of the state’s Public Safety Committee and co-sponsored the Adam Walsh Act which the General Assembly passed in 2007 and amended in 2008.
In part, the Adam Walsh Act requires convicted sex offenders in Delaware who register as homeless to provide police with specific information about where they are temporarily sleeping. However, the statute says such information shall not be included in any public notification.
Friday Rep. Mitchell agreed with Kanka that the specific whereabouts and “entire address” of homeless offenders should be provided to the public.
In Pennsylvania, homeless offenders must tell police specific areas where they sleep. Information so specific that Pennsylvania’s Megan’s Law website lists location details like ‘under the bridge in Coatesville at the intersection of 13th Street and Lincoln Highway.’
The New Jersey State Parole Board says the sex offender management unit assigns each homeless offender to a specific shelter and randomly checks in to ensure the offender has not moved.
Rep. Mitchell says it is time to change Delaware’s law and eliminate the loophole brought to light by the I-Team’s investigation.
“Personally me being a dad and a grandfather I want to ensure that children are safe. We’re going (sic) re-look at this and resolve what’s been brought to our attention,” he said.
There are 3,538 publicly registered sex offenders in Delaware, about 100 are registered homeless.
For more information, visit the links below.
I-Team’s Full Investigation:
The Adam Walsh Act: