A Horrifying Reality for Too Many Parents
It’s almost inevitable that your ex-spouse will date someone else one day. Perhaps you will know him, most likely you will not. You may be envious or delighted, maybe angry or hurt. No doubt it will stir some emotions, especially if you have children. I bet though; you won’t expect it to be a registered sex offender.
The thought of your child or children interacting with another man is not an easy one to wrap your head around. However, it is important for everyone’s sake that you try. That’s what my friend was doing. Until he learned something, he never imagined possible.
What started as a curious search on Facebook, led to an incredibly stressful time in his and his new wife’s lives. Below is a bit of that story.
The following story is true, but names have been changed to protect the children involved.
The Search and Discover
They sat at the kitchen table, her perusing Facebook on her laptop, him looking at emails on his phone. She asks the name of Ann’s (his ex-wife) new boyfriend and inquires if he’s looked him up yet. He says the name out loud (we’ll call him Bill) but admits he hasn’t searched him at all.
He met Bill very briefly a couple of weekends ago while meeting up with Ann in a parking lot to drop off his son. Frankly, he wasn’t interested in learning anything about Bill.
She first tries a search on Facebook but there are just too many with the same name, and she gives up on that attempt. Next, she turns to Google after asking him a few more questions such as do you have any idea where Bill lives or how old he is or anything about him. He responds with a couple of potential cities Bill may live in due to the proximity of where they met and his possible age.
She continues the search. Finally, she gets a return with a link that looks like a high possibility to be Bill. She clicks on the link, and her heart nearly stops. She’s looking into a smiling mug shot of an individual on her state’s sex offender registry. It takes her a bit to process the information on the screen, and she thinks this can’t be Bill. Or could it?
He notices her face has gone white and ask her if she’s found something. Since she’s not sure it is Bill, she tries to keep her voice calm and states that she may have found him. She then asks if he recalls Bill’s hair color, or if he could estimate his height or weight. He throws out some guesses but getting a bit frustrated with the questions he gets out of his seat and comes to look at her computer.
My friend instantly thinks the photo is Bill but cannot believe what he’s reading on the screen. He starts to doubt it’s him. They debate the possibility. She does some more investigating. After another hour or so they conclude it is very likely Bill. This is certainly not what she expected to find.
Who, What, Where and Why
A registered sex offender is an individual convicted of committing a sex crime, whom after serving their penal punishment must register as such.
With the passing of the Adam Walsh Protection Act (AWA) in 2007, a national baseline for sex offender registration and notification programs was set for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the principal U.S. territories, and federally recognized Indian tribes.
The national minimum standard, Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), lays out a 3-tier’d classification system. As the severity of the crime increases, or if the repeating of offenses occurs, the tier level increases. It ranges from Tier I to Tier III. The length of the sex offender’s requirement for registration also distinguishes each tier.
SORNA Tier System
Tier I: misdemeanor registration offenses, child pornography possession, and any other sex offenses that do not support a higher classification. The Tier I offenders must register for 15 years with annual in-person verification.
Tier II: felonious sexual abuse or sexual exploitation crimes involving victims who are minors, including distributing and producing child pornography. These Tier II offenders must register for 25 years with in-person verification every six months.
Tier III: forcible sexual assaults regardless of the victim’s age, sexual contact offenses against children younger than age 13, and nonparental kidnapping of minors. All Tier III offenders must register for life with in-person verification every three months.
Source: SMART Watch
The law’s goal is to inform the public and law enforcement officials more efficiently. It requires certain information about the registered sex offender to be included in the national registry. The law also stipulates the specific information that must be made available to the public, while also prohibiting certain information from being made accessible to the public.
The Statistics are Horrifying
Records on acts of sexually-oriented crimes ballooned in recent years, but unfortunately, most crimes go unreported. Studies estimate more than 900,000 children each year are victims. The statistics below were sourced in April 2017.
|Total number of registered sex offenders nationwide in the U.S.||747,408|
|Total number of sex offenders under supervision of a corrections agencies||265,000|
|Percent of sex offenders that will commit another sex crime after being released from jail||2.7 %|
|Percent of sex offenders that will commit a crime (non-sexual) after release from jail||70 %|
|Percent of sexually molested boys who are molested by someone they knew||93 %|
|Percent of sexually molested girls who are molested by someone they knew||80 %|
|Percent of second offenses that occur while living in a supervised community||60 %|
|Average re-conviction rate for a child molester||20 %|
|Average re-conviction rate for rapists||19%|
|Percent of children who are sexually abused that will become sexually abusive later in life||30%|
|Average annual cost to incarcerate a sex offender||$22,000|
|Percent of sexual assaults that occur between 6:00 pm and 12:00 am||43%|
|The average number of years a sex offender serves of an 8-year sentence||3.5 years|
Details and Initial Decisions
My friend’s Internet searches revealed Bill as a Tier III registered sex offender. Released from prison, after serving almost five years, he recently completed his two-year probation. Details of the actual case were not available online, however.
Thoughts whirling in the minds of my friends ran the gamut. Did his ex-wife Ann know? Were his son and her in danger? If she knew, why would she date this man and allow him around their child? What was the story?
My friend called Ann, and the conversation only led to more questions. She did, in fact, know Bill was a registered sex offender but her explanation and any further information from her were vague and misleading.
After consultation with an attorney and continued investigating, my friend obtained the original court documents from Bill’s case. Due to the unsettling nature of the details, my friend attempted to communicate with his ex.
As it became more apparent that he and Ann would continue to disagree on the safety of their minor son, my friend secured the services of an attorney. Through legal proceedings, he obtained a ‘No Contact Order’ between Bill and his son. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of the story.
More Time and More Decisions
Just over one year later Ann took my friend back to court, asking the Judge to lift the order so that she could marry Bill. After a court-ordered psych evaluation and numerous consults with both sides attorneys, the Judge sided with Ann this time.
Due to Bill’s prior crimes involving a young female and not a male, she did not believe my friend’s son was in any real danger. While the Judge found Ann’s choice irresponsible and ill-advised, she did not feel compelled to stand in her way of moving on with her life.
What the Judge did do however is change the custody arrangement so that my friend had more parental time with his son, thereby reducing the amount of time Bill would be near him.
While the story did not ultimately end in my friend’s favor, he was fortunate to ensure the protection of his son for over a year. He gained more custodial time with his son and became more aware of what to watch out for. He also learned how to educate his son without scaring him.
Whether you discover your ex is dating a registered sex offender or just an unsavory character you are unnerved by, there are better ways than others to handle the delicate matters. It’s of the utmost importance that you healthily manage your emotions and ask for help when needed.
What To Do If Your Ex Is Dating a Registered Sex Offender
- Speak with your ex-spouse to understand her awareness knowledge of the facts.
- Learn all that you can about the individual’s case and registration status.
- Should you have a legitimate concern for your child/children’s’ safety, communicate with your ex-spouse to address your concerns to try and protect your child/children.
- If communication with your ex-spouse spouse does not provide the outcome you desire, speak with a lawyer to understand your legal rights and pursue any necessary court actions.
- Respect and follow the law; do not put yourself into a situation that could ultimately hurt your children by you breaking any laws and undergoing resulting punishment.
- Don’t let it consume you, seek therapy or counseling for yourself as needed and practice self-care; this may be a very trying time in your life, stay healthy mentally and physically to get through it for your children and family.
- Do not involve the children in this matter under any circumstances.
- No matter the outcome, work with your ex-spouse to keep your kids as safe and secure as possible.
- Educate your children and yourself. Here are two great resources:
All sexual crimes are not the same. Individuals may be wrongly accused and convicted, for those I am sorry. However, many are thankful the national sex offender registry exists. I hope you will not hesitate to use it and legally fight to keep your children protected if you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of your ex-spouse dating a registered sex offender.
Other Sources and Recommended Resources:
You can check the national registry here: National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW)