Agencies focus on sex offenders, crime victims

April 25, 2010 at 7:03 pm

*published Apr 25, 2010
Counseling available; police track offenders

Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Scott Miller performs a compliance check on a registered sex offender at a home in Moss Bluff. BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

According to a national survey, about one out of every eight women in Louisiana have been raped.

The total state rape count, compiled by the 2004 National Violence Against Women Survey, of 225,000 is considered to be conservative because it does not include women who have been victims of an attempted rape or alcohol or drug facilitated sexual assault.

In Calcasieu Parish, in which about 70,000 women live, more than 9,100 women are rape victims.

Help for victims
In Southwest Louisiana, Rape Crisis Outreach offers community outreach and education, counseling and trained advocates to help rape victims cope.

“We have advocates available 24 hours a day to meet victims at the hospital or accompany them when talking to law enforcement and courtroom procedures,” said Nina Delome, program director.

Delome stressed that the agency offers services to past victims of sexual assault and the families of victims.

“We’ve had people come in 30 years after the incident,” Delome said. “It was such a taboo subject back then (the time of the assault).”

Delome said there is a ripple effect that comes with sexual assault — there is trauma not only for the victims, but also the people around them.

Delome believes media attention and better training for law enforcers has encouraged more victims to report sexual assaults and to seek help.

Delome offered tips for parents to keep their children safe.

“Do not be afraid to hover. Parents have to be constantly aware,” Delome said. “There are other people watching children, and they don’t have their best interests at heart.”

Delome said some parents develop a false of sense of security when they check the online sex offender registry to see how many live nearby.

“I always tell them, ‘You don’t know where the ones who haven’t been caught are,’” Delome said.

She also encouraged parents to be aware of the environments their children are in.

“Do you know (your) children’s friends’ parents share your values?” Delome asked. “When they go to that house, you are sending your child into an environment that you have no control over. It’s important that other parents understand what you consider acceptable and unacceptable for a child.”

Tracking sex offenders
As of April 22, there were 417 registered sex offenders in Calcasieu Parish. The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office monitors them with the Compliance and Awareness Program, or CAP, Unit.

A convicted sex offender is required to register with local law enforcement in their city of residence and employment.

“If a person works in Beauregard Parish, but lives in Calcasieu Parish, they would have to register with both of us,” said Sgt. Scott Miller.

Miller said registered sex offenders have to list their current address, place of employment, vehicles’ descriptions and any e-mail addresses they have. They are also required to have a special driver’s license that lists them as registered sex offenders with them at all times.

Some restrictions can include not being allowed around children, access to social networking web sites or to live within a certain distance of schools.

The main task for Miller and other deputies in the CAP Unit is to make sure all of the information stays current by physically verifying the residences of offenders.

The American Press rode along with Sgt. Miller one morning as he verified addresses of sex offenders in the Moss Bluff area.

“Address verification is done by the tier a registered sex offender has been placed in according to their crime,” Miller said.

The tier system is based on the severity of the sex crime and was established by the federal Adam Walsh Act. A tier one crime is carnal knowledge or indecent behavior; tier two is molestation; and tier three is aggravated rape, incest and forcible rape.

Tiers two and three are checked once a month, and tier one offenders are checked every three months.

Each check is logged in the offender’s file in CPSO’s WatchSystems database.

At each home, they confirm the person’s residency, vehicle type and that they have a sex offender identification card.

For those who are not home, Miller leaves a card with contact information.

“When they register, they’re told (that) when we leave a card, you need to call back,” Miller said. “If they don’t comply, they learn pretty quick.”



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