January 19, 2012

Citing miscalculation, patrol removes 59 from sex offender registry

1-19-2012 Nebraska:

In December, Keith Moore got a letter at his Lincoln apartment that he hopes will change his life.

Moore, 41, is no longer required to be listed on the Nebraska Sex Offender Registry.

"The first thing that popped in my head was I can get a job now," said Moore, who was convicted of a sex offense in Minnesota in 1989.

Then he wondered why he got the letter, dated Dec. 23, from the Nebraska State Patrol. He called a phone number on it and spoke with a patrol attorney, who told him he should have been removed from the registry in January 2010, and that 58 other offenders recently had received similar news.

Patrol spokeswoman Deb Collins said she could not talk about Moore or any other specific individual, but confirmed 59 people were listed on the Nebraska Sex Offender Registry longer than they should have been. Their mugshots, addresses and convictions have been removed.

"The patrol discovered we had misapplied a state law when it came to applying periods of time that registrants were non-compliant," Collins said. "Once we discovered it had been misapplied, we took steps to correct it, and we corrected it."

The Legislature passed the Nebraska Sex Offender Registration Act in 1996. It requires people convicted of various sex-related crimes to register their whereabouts with local law enforcement agencies after being released from prison. It also sets penalties for those sex offenders who do not comply with the notification requirement.

Under the original law, offenders had to register for 10 years or life. The law was amended in 2010 and now requires offenders to register for 15 years, 25 years or life.

State law says the patrol's sex offender registration and community notification division is required to recalculate the amount of time an offender must remain on the registry after the offender has failed to comply with registration requirements.

Collins said the patrol first looked into the matter after a registered sex offender requested an administrative hearing in January 2011 in an effort to be removed from the registry.

She said the patrol's legal division determined there had been a miscalculation, and the offender no longer belonged on the registry. A subsequent review of all 3,811 sex offenders on the registry at the time found 59 should be removed, Collins said.

"It's been so much of a part of my life," Moore said. "Everyone views me as a sex offender. Others view me as a child molester, because they don't know the difference."

In 1989, he said, he was 19 and living in an apartment in Minnesota with his cousin and another friend. One weekend, they met three girls who came to their place to party, he said.

"All three of them said they were 17," he said. "We believed them. They looked it."

Moore had sex that weekend and later learned the girls were underage runaways. He was arrested and convicted of criminal sexual misconduct and spent 180 days in jail and was placed on 15 years probation. He violated the probation in the mid-'90s and spent a year in a Minnesota prison, he said. He was released in 1995 and moved to Lincoln in 1997.

He has had run-ins with Lincoln police since moving here, but none due to alleged sex offenses.

In September, an officer who responded to an argument Moore was having with an ex-girlfriend asked him where he worked. The information he gave the officer was different than what was on file with the Nebraska Sex Offender Registry, and Moore was arrested on suspicion of failing to register as a sex offender, a felony.

He pleaded no contest in October to attempted failure to register as a sex offender, a misdemeanor, and was fined $500.

To prospective employers, Moore said, that still counts as a sex offense and has disqualified him from all but menial jobs.

Moore said he has hired an attorney and is trying to vacate that conviction, because he should not have had to register in September.

"I paid my debt to society," Moore said. "I did my time." ..Source.. by Cory Matteson

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