Local/State

Sex offender social media change worries parents

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

It's a scary day for parents across the state as sex offenders realize there is now no law to prevent them from going on websites frequented by children.

The law was struck down Tuesday by the state appeals court. Now, sex offenders and parents alike are taking note of the change.

The Wake County District Attorney's office tells us that sex offenders are calling their probation officers to make sure it is now legal for them to go on websites frequented by children. The answer to that question is yes.

There is no law to prevent registered sex offenders from getting on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, or any other social media site.

The old law, which was found to be so vague it violated the right to free speech, banned those offenders from any site that allowed children as members.

Wednesday, at least one parent who spoke to ABC11 expressed serious concerns about the possibility of opening the floodgates to a pent up desire to stalk children.

"I just picture some guy sitting in his recliner with a bowl of cheese puffs and a tank top just going after my kids," said Renee Duke. "Just sitting there trying his best to get to manipulate and get my kids."

Many parents say it has always been important for parents to closely monitor their children's internet activity, but now it's more important than ever.

A prosecutor here who handles these types of crimes is also urging parents to be diligent and he hopes that a new law can be written that will withstand a legal challenge.

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper wanted the law but admits it may have to be rewritten, but he will try to appeal the North Carolina Supreme Court.

Cooper notes that there are still laws on the books that investigators can use to charge suspects with soliciting children online. However, he believes we need a law to try to prevent child sex crimes before they happen.

If Cooper's attempt at an appeal fails, he says he will go back to the legislature to see if they can craft a new sex offender social media law that will withstand a legal challenge.

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