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Man charged with sexual assault not on registry

A recent arrest illustrates the dangers of relying too heavily on sex crime registration laws such as New Jersey's Megan's Law. A 24-year-old man was charged with the sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl on March 20, and was held in the Mercer County Jail on $100,000 full cash bond. He also faces charges of criminal sexual contact, luring and enticing a child and endangering the welfare of a child.

His name could not be found in New Jersey's database of registered sex offenders. This could mean several things: he may have been previously convicted of a sex crime, but not one that requires registration. Or, he may have never been charged with or convicted for any sex crime before his arrest on March 20. Or he may have been listed under another name, or been convicted in another state with different registration requirements. The list of possible reasons for not being on the sex offender registry could be long.

Police are not saying much about the case. However, it is known that they executed a search warrant at the man's home, that he was not arrested during the assault, that the sex was not consensual, and that the offense was not connected with the schools. A police spokesperson said that they are hoping that additional victims will come forward to strengthen the case against him.

State sex offender registration laws have been around in some form since the late 1940s. However, notifying people about the presence of sex offenders in their communities is a relatively new phenomenon. Several of the state laws, notably those in California and Massachusetts, have been struck down as unconstitutional.

Source: NJ.com, "Hamilton man charged with sexual assault, enticing a child," Mar. 22, 2012.

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