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Richard Piatt Reporting“A number of states are considering tougher stances on registered sex offenders."
But will tougher laws make it safer for kids? A convicted child molester was arrested on the eve of a holiday where children ask for candy from their neighbors. The case involves a man who cultivated trust among a mom and her four boys.
The frightening fact is most child molesters know their victims. Tonight, when trick-or-treaters are walking up and down the street, the Attorney General has a warning for convicted offenders who may want to use Halloween to make new contacts with kids.
The holiday is inviting for youngsters, complete with candy. But tonight when thousands of Utah children prowl the streets for treats, the Attorney General has a reminder for convicted sex offenders.
Mark Shurtleff, Utah Attorney General: "You better not answer your door and you better not give any candy to children, because if you do, that's considered a violation of your parole.”
Reporter: “That's considered contact with children?”
Mark Shurtleff: “Absolutely."
Convicted offenders know that no contact with children is a condition of parole. Several other states are going even further to warn sex offenders about personal contact with children on Halloween; New Jersey is even ordering them to keep their porch lights off.
But in a Capitol Hill neighborhood, there is a reminder of a greater reality in sex offender cases: the threat is sometimes greater among people families know. Case in point, 42-year old Ronald Howard, a registered sex offender who did not keep a current address listed on the state's website. Last weekend he was re-arrested, charged with aggravated sexual abuse.
Dewayne Baird, Salt Lake City Police: "He was grooming this family over the last several months. And finally, two of the boys came forward and said, ‘hey this is what's been going on.’"
Howard is also charged with failing to register as a sex offender.
According to the Attorney General, it's yet another case where a sex offender tries to elude the system and ends up re-offending at the same time. At the Legislature several lawmakers are considering bills to tighten registry laws and to enhance monitoring of known sex offenders.