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September 2, 2014, 3:07 am

Corbett closes predator loophole

Pa. sex offenders with out-of-state convictions must now register

 

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams had high praise for a new measure enacted this week by Governor Tom Corbett which closes loopholes in Megan’s Law that made it easier for transient or out of state sex-offenders to avoid registering with local law enforcement agencies.

Williams, who is chair of the legislative committee of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, said that closing the loopholes was the primary legislative priority of the Association. 

“If you are a sex offender, you must register, and failing to do so is a felony,” Williams said in a press release. “And know this; we will prosecute you if you break the law again.”

Corbett signed the measure into law on Wednesday. The proposal, known as Senate Bill 1183, known as the “Adam Walsh” bill, expands and strengthens the Commonwealth’s current Megan’s Law. Under the previous inception of the law, loopholes existed that allowed out of state or transient sex offenders to ignore registering their residencies, school or work addresses with law enforcement.

“Megan’s Law is named for Megan Kanka, a New Jersey child murdered by a sexual predator. The Adam Walsh Law, as most everyone knows, is named for a Florida boy who was kidnapped at a department store and then murdered,” Corbett said in a press release. “Megan’s and Adam’s families advocated for the bills named for their children.

“Children are irreplaceable. But we can hope that by making our laws tougher, we can spare others the pain and grief that has visited too many families in the many years since we named laws in memory of these lost youngsters.’’  

The new legislation also makes it a felony for a teacher, coach, or school employee to engage in sexual relations with any student with whom they have direct contact. It also brings Pennsylvania into compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Act requirements. The new measure comes on the heels of child sexual abuse allegations against former Penn State University assistant coach Jerry Sandusky and new accusations against longtime Philadelphia Daily News sports columnist Bill Conlin.

“It is critical that our laws are tough on sex offenders, and do not permit them to evade registration requirements,” Williams said. “The registration of a convicted sex offender is not only an important tool for law enforcement agencies, it’s also a necessary key for a community’s sense of well being, and I am pleased the General Assembly and Governor worked so hard to enact this legislation.”