June 4, 2017

Starting over: Task force examining sex offender laws

6-4-17 Illinois:

BLOOMINGTON — At the end of June, Brian Liska will mark the 20th anniversary of two life-changing milestones: the year he was convicted at 21 of sexually abusing a teenage girl, and two decades without an arrest for another sex offense.

Liska spent 60 days in jail and served two years' probation for aggravated criminal sexual abuse in 1997. His identity also was included on a statewide sex offender registry for 10 years. Removal from the registry made it easier for Liska to start over in the community.

But in November 2011, Liska's attendance at his son's Boy Scout meeting at a District 87 school landed him back in the criminal justice system and onto the state registry — this time for life.

"It was my understanding that since school was not in session at the time that I could be there," said Liska.

The mistake brought a charge of violation of sex offender registration rules and another two years' probation. The registration requirement "felt like a slap in the face over something positive I was trying to do with my son," said Liska.

He and his wife, Synamin, live in an apartment on the city's east side and have been able to make ends meet since he started a job unloading trucks for a local retailer after a five-month job search.

Families struggle, too, with sex offender rules, said Liska's wife.

"I knew about his past, but it's never once bothered me. He helped me in ways no one else could after my father's death," she said.

Brian Liska has completed several programs, including Jobs Partnership, and is a mentor for a domestic violence class at Collaborative Solutions.

He is one of 800,000 registered sex offenders currently residing in the U.S. and one of 213 living in McLean County for offenses ranging from child molestation to predatory criminal sexual assault. Bloomington is home to 145 offenders; Normal 23, with another 40 living in rural areas. The whereabouts of five are unknown, according to the recent sex offender records posted on the state website. In 2016, three offenders in Normal and 13 in Bloomington registered as homeless. ..Continued.. by Edith Brady-Lunny

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