Sunday, October 28, 2012

Trick-or-Treating at a Sex Offender's House

On Halloween night last year, we made a horrifying discovery after we came home and put the boys to bed. We went trick-or-treating at a sex offender's house.

I know. I was horrified too.

While we were walking up and down the blocks near our house, I vaguely remembered that a few years prior I had been on the Megan's Law website and saw that a sex offender lived in our neighborhood (a block over), but could not remember where exactly.  I told my husband, "I'm sure his lights will be off. After all, it's illegal for them to hand out candy on Halloween."


After we put the boys to bed, I looked up the Megan's Law website.  I typed in the zip code and saw the red dot dangerously close to our house.  The photo came up of the man, and I called my husband in the room. We looked at each other with wide eyes - it was him.

There was a certain house we went to, and I walked our older son up to the door. The man seemed nice, but I had a creepy feeling. He looked at my son, smiled, and gave him some candy, and we left.  But it was him.

For awhile I really freaked out. I felt like a horrible parent.  I had trouble getting to sleep, knowing that I had just put my son in the worst situation possible - the presence of a registered sex offender; one who had committed "lewd and laviscious acts with a child under age 14."

I had to really pray that night for peace.

The next morning I called a friend and told her how I was feeling, and she reassured me.  "We are around people like that all the time and we don't even know it."  It's true.  We don't know the strangers who live in our neighborhoods, who we come into contact with on the streets, in grocery stores, at gas stations.  It's a scary world we live in.

I called the police and spoke to a detective in the sex crimes division. "Unless he is on probation or parole," she said, "there is nothing we can do. He is allowed to hand out candy." She looked him up for me.  "He is not on probation or parole, so he is really no different from any other neighbor out there.  Except that people who have committed crimes like this often do repeat them, so it is wise to be aware and check out the website regularly. Even your kid's friends houses - if they want to go play, look the address up.  You can also write your local congressman and ask for the laws to be changed.  I'm sorry there is nothing we can do."

I felt helpless. Seriously, nothing they can do?  We don't know how long ago his crime was. Statistics vary on how often sex offenders repeat - but most studies show it is a rate between 50-90%.

Does that mean that we should lock our doors and keep our kids inside at all times?  That's not our plan. We are very vigilant about watching our kids and being careful who they are around.  When they are outside playing, we keep a very close on on them at all times (thankfully they are not in view of this convicted sex offender and he does not know where we live).  Yet no matter how hard we try to protect our kids, there will always be bad people in the world.

What is the solution?  We do our best to protect our children, and we trust God with their lives. We educate ourselves, and we do our research.  It is just a shame that the law doesn't protect people more from people with this horrible behavior.

This time, we know better.

I would highly encourage you to check the Megan's Law website before you go out trick-or-treating.  Be aware of who your neighbors are, and learn from our mistake.  And always go trick-or-treating with your kids.

This is one mistake we hope to never make again!


  1. I don't mean to diminish some of the awful things some of these people have done, but even peeing in a public place ("near" a child) can get someone listed as a sex offender. They also could have been an 18 yo dating a 16 yo, and the younger dater's parents called for legal action. You never know the situation and should not worry until you know all the facts.

    1. I do agree with that, although not knowing their offense is not a good enough reason to me to go to these houses; if it was something way worse, and the chances are so high of a re-offense, it's best to just stay away.

  2. We had a regsitered sex offender on my old street in North Tustin, CA. His kids went to school with my kids and my neighbors daughter was best friends with his daughter. When the news came out about his past there was a big hoopla at the our school and I remember the mom next door felt so violated after she had let her kid spend the night and have a hundred play dates.
    The guy was never accused again and in his case the crime was sex with an older teen when he was in his early twenties. Poor judgement perhaps, but maybe not lock up your children and run.
    When we tried to sell our house it affected buyers. We had multiple homes fall out of escrow once they found out. No one wants to live on the same street.
    Did you find out the details of his crime? That might make it more or less scary. Can you get this kind of information from public record or the police?

    1. The police couldn't say specifically, but it does say "Lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14". I don't know if there's any way around that one. However, we do have another one that lives by my pastor, and his was the same situation as the one you mentioned; 18 and dating a 16 year old. So it's not always clear, but I feel like running from the "lewd & lascivious acts on a child under 14 one" for sure.