Protecting the children of sex offenders

By: Matt McGovern Email
By: Matt McGovern Email
They are convicted of crimes against children, but many child predators also have children of their own.

You would think their parental rights would be revoked once they go to prison, that the children are protected, but that's not always the case.

SAN ANTONIO, TX (WOAI) - They are convicted of crimes against children, but many child predators also have children of their own.

You would think their parental rights would be revoked once they go to prison, that the children are protected, but that's not always the case. There's a loophole in Texas law that sex offenders may be able to take advantage of. On a sunny, spring morning at Brackenridge Park a woman we're calling Mary revealed her family's dark secret.

Her stepfather was later convicted of raping the teenager and went to prison. Mary asked us to hide her identity, both to protect his victim and his biological child who is Mary's half-sister.

Now that the father is out of prison, he wants unsupervised visits with his little girl. Among a stack of court documents is a police report that explains why Mary doesn't want her sister alone with him.

There are laws that keep registered sex offenders away from school zones and city parks. But when it comes to keeping them away from their own children, it's up to the justice system to decide what's best for each child.

The Trouble Shooters of San Antonio arranged a meeting so Mary's family could share their story with a state lawmaker, and he said he wanted to help by fixing a law that's already on the books. "The first thing I did was, I took out our Texas family code," State Senator Carlos Uresti said. He showed us a law that does keep parents convicted of crimes against children from having unsupervised visits. "The concern that I have: it's not very specific," State Senator Uresti said. He says the way the law is written, it could only apply to parents who abused their own children.

"Senator, how do you plan to close that loophole?" News 4 Trouble Shooter Emily Baucum asked. "Well, first thing we would do, tighten up the language," State Senator Uresti replied. "I think it should be applicable if the perpetrator sexually abused any child."

He promised to draft a bill to do just that and take it one step further to protect the children of separated parents.

"So this would help people who have already been divorced go back to a judge and get something done?" Baucum asked. "Correct," State Senator Uresti replied.

For example, if a mother starts dating someone convicted of abusing children, the father could go to court and ask that the boyfriend never be alone with the child. "I'm confident the community and the state would support tidying up this statute and this loophole, if you will, to be sure that no kid falls through the cracks," State Senator Uresti said.

The fight's not over for Mary's family but she's relieved their struggle might spark change. "We're trying to do this for other kids in Texas that have parents that are sex offenders, and to make sure that they're safe as well," Mary said.

State Senator Uresti says he can pre-file his proposed changes to the law in November so it's on the table the minute the legislature meets next January.

The Trouble Shooters will stay on top of this issue for you and for Mary's family.

Read More at: http://news4sanantonio.com//news/features/featured/stories/investigation-protecting-children-sex-offenders-4070.shtml


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