New Hampshire Representative Seeks Looser Laws for Sex Offenders

Monday, August 24, 2009

Charged with two felonies, the 20 year old son of New Hampshire state Representative Jennifer Brown, plead his crimes down to misdemeanors and registered as a sex offender. His attempts to lure a 14 year old girl to a meeting place to have sex were recorded by undercover police officers.

Brown connected with the girl in an Internet chat room. When she agreed to meet him, he drove to the designated spot, waited for a few minutes and left. He was arrested on felony charges, attempted 2nd degree assault and the misdemeanor offense of attempted sexual assault.

He received suspended sentence and was required to register as a sex offender for the next 10 years.

His state representative mother has now introduced a bill that would remove her son's name from the list of registered sex offenders.

"He didn't meet anyone," Brown said. "He got there, turned around and left so fast. . . . He went to the meeting, then said, 'I'm just leaving,' and that's what our state calls a criminal. What happens when you're young derails your career," Brown went on, "You have none. Being on the list is an onerous responsibility."

Brown's proposed change would exempt Tier 1 sex offenders, which includes only those convicted of misdemeanors, from the public list. Those who were exempted would still need to register on a private list with the police department. A Tier 1 sex offender can currently petition to come off the public list five years after he or she completes his or her sentence.

The New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union has given their support to the bill. "To put all individuals who have committed an offense in a very broad category in the same pot is absurd," said Claire Ebel, executive director of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union.

But state law enforcement are in stiff opposition. Federal funding could be jeopardized if the bill passes. Also, the law enforcement community is adamant that the Tier 1 offenders are more dangerous than the bill allows. Offenses listed under Tier 1 offenders include:

  • Sexual contact with a person age 13 to 18 under aggravating circumstances, which could include using physical force, touching a victim who is physically unable to resist, or coercion by a person in authority.
  • Sexual contact with a person aged 13 to 15, with an age difference of five years or more.
  • Sexual penetration with a person who is incarcerated, on probation or parole by a person in a position of authority.
  • Violation of privacy, including sending out photographs or recordings of private body parts.
  • A second or subsequent incident of indecent exposure.
  • Sexual penetration or contact in the presence of a child.

Tom Reid, deputy county attorney said, "A defendant who could be any age overcomes a victim through application of physical force or violence, holds a person down and grabs their sexual parts . . . that's a Tier 1 sex offender who the bill would exempt." Reid said. "You could have a 60-year-old man who fondles a 13-year-old child for sexual gratification. This bill would exempt that person."



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