SPOKANE – Attorney General Rob McKenna joined Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker in a community briefing on sex offender legislation McKenna requested in the 2006 legislative session.
The briefing at CenterPlace at Mirabeau Point Park in Spokane Valley spotlighted the centerpiece of McKenna’s legislative package which provides employees at facilities where children congregate more tools to protect children in their care against sex predators.
Last summer, McKenna learned from the Bellevue parks director his employees had no power to stop known sex offenders from loitering around children in the shower room at the community pool or in the rec room at the community center.
“Sex predators are called predators for a reason,” McKenna said. “They find new prey by hanging out in areas where children congregate, like swimming pools, parks and community centers.”
McKenna worked with prosecutors, law enforcement and victims’ advocates and came up with a proposal– unique in the nation– to give employees at facilities where children congregate authority to order certain predatory sex offenders to stay away their facilities.
If the predator refuses to leave or returns at a later date, he or she is guilty of a new felony crime called “Criminal trespass against children,” punishable by up to one year in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine.
Tucker provided a demonstration of the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office’s Sex Offender Web site and showed how those who work with children can learn about registered sex offenders residing near their facilities. McKenna then discussed how this new law could help them keep predatory offenders away from the children in their care.
“Spokane does not have the concentration of sex predators that other areas have, but it only takes one Joseph Duncan to remind us how vulnerable our children can be,” Tucker said. “These new laws give the attorneys in my office, our local law enforcement and other members of our community who work with children better tools to keep kids safe.”
McKenna also shared other sex offender legislation signed by the Governor:
· Increased penalties for sexually motivated crimes, possession of child pornography, and second degree assault of a child with sexual motivation.
· Stronger sex offender registration statutes.
· Continuing the law restricting sex offenders from living within 880 feet of public or private schools statewide.
· Extending the statute of limitations in DNA cases.
· Requiring sex offenders to admit guilt before becoming eligible for special sentencing alternatives
– 30 –
Contact: Janelle Guthrie, AG Media Relations Director, (360) 586-0725