Doll urges online monitoring of sex offenders

Posted: Monday, February 18, 2008

Last month, Juneau resident Richard Bailey pleaded guilty to trying to seduce what he thought was a 13-year-old girl online.

Police said Bailey, who had already been convicted for sexually abusing a minor, used the screen name of "alaskaman58" as he trolled Internet chat rooms.

At one point Bailey asked the presumed 13-year-old "If we were together would you mind getting naked with and lay together?" and sent her graphic pictures of himself, police said. The 13-year-old turned out to be an adult working in a sheriff's office in Arkansas who tipped off the local cops to Bailey's actions.

Now a local lawmaker said she wants police to be better equipped to keep tighter tabs on sex offenders and their online identities.

Rep. Andrea Doll, D-Juneau, is a sponsor of a bill that would require convicted sex offenders and child kidnappers add their e-mail addresses and other Internet electronic names to the list of required information they register with law enforcement agencies.

"The greatest crime now is Internet crime," Doll said. "It's one of those invisible things."

Doll said she wasn't motivated by any particular case involving sex offenders. But she said she was concerned that Juneau is a relatively closed community with a large prison that is continually releasing prisoners.

"It's just simply time to respond to this danger," Doll said.

There are about 196 registered sex offenders or child kidnappers living in Juneau listed on a state database. Of those, about 12 are listed as not being compliant.

Sgt. Dave Campbell of the Juneau Police Department said it would be tough to monitor the Internet identities and e-mail addresses of local convicted sex offenders.

"Seems like sex offenders have a difficult time keeping their residence current, let alone their e-mail address," Campbell said.

Still, he said it would be useful for law enforcement agencies to have that information.

Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, is sponsoring the Senate's version of Doll's bill. He said he knows it is easy to obtain new Internet identities, but forcing sex offenders to register them would add another "layer" of tools law enforcement agencies would have to stop sex crimes against children.

State officials told lawmakers at a recent hearing on Wielechowski's bill that e-mail addresses should be kept in a searchable database and not publicly listed on the Internet like sex offenders' addresses and other information. They said it could lead to harassment of convicted sex offenders, as well as make it easier for like-minded sex offenders to keep in contact with each other - an idea some lawmakers appeared to agreed with.

"We don't need Internet bathhouses," said Sen. Con Bunde, R-Anchorage.

Last week lawmakers invited the lead agent of the Wyoming Internet crimes against children task force to discuss state policy surrounding child sex crimes on the Internet.

Flint offered stomach-turning testimony of some of the sex crimes he had investigated and told stories of how he'd seen mothers offer their young children to pedophiles, and described some of the most shocking videos available on the Internet.

"They are not 15-year-old girls that look 20, they are 2-, 3-, 4-year-old children," Special Agent Flint Waters said. "The age of the victim is getting younger, the level of violence is increasing."

Waters said the focus of some of the people he'd arrested was remarkable.

"They get out of jail, on their way home they stop at a computer store, rent a computer and they're back online by the end of the day, and they're downloading this material again," Waters said. "It's extreme needs-driven behavior."

But Doll said she said thinks there's room for rehabilitation for some sex offenders and said she'd like to see the state step up its treatment efforts. She said there was no treatment available for sex offenders in Alaska's prisons.

Doll said treatment along with robust law enforcement efforts, that included Internet surveillance, was the best way to keep children safe.

"I don't give up on people," Doll said.

• Contact reporter Alan Suderman at 523-2268 or e-mail

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