NH Sex Offenders Seek Refuge in Maine

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

Concord, NH (CNSNews.com) - A loophole in the State of Maine's sexual offender registration requirement may be attracting offenders from nearby New Hampshire. The Maine law does not require registration by offenders convicted before September, 1999. The New Hampshire law, passed a little over a year ago, is patterned after "Megan's Law," named for a seven-year old New Jersey child, who was brutally raped and then murdered by a neighbor, who was also a sexual offender. At the time of the killing, neighbors of Megan Kanka had no idea a convicted sexual offender was living in their midst.

The New Hampshire law requires convicted sexual offenders to register with local police departments, upon moving into a community. Congress approved a federal version of Megan's Law in 1997. However, states are still free to enact their own versions of the law.

New Hampshire law enforcement officials contend they are aware of several sex offenders, who once lived in the Granite State, who have moved across the border. "We first noticed it in the fall," said New Hampshire State Trooper Jill Rocky, who manages the state's registry of convicted sexual offenders. "There has been quite a few leaving Portsmouth, Manchester and Rochester and moving to Maine." Portsmouth and Rochester are communities on the state's seacoast, which border Maine.

A Manchester police detective said he was told by several convicted offenders that in the last year, as many as a half-dozen local offenders had moved to Maine, which does not require out-of-state offenders, convicted before last September, 1999, to register with law enforcement. "One person came in and said he was moving to Kittery, Maine and wanted his file closed. He said he understood that since his conviction was before September, 1999, he wasn't going to have to register there and he was right."

"Pedophiles are good at moving around. That's their method of operation, to keep changing addresses. These guys know each other. They communicate with each other and they know what states are good to live in. That's why a lot of them are moving to Maine," said State Trooper Rocky.

Grace Matter, executive director of the Concord, NH-based New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, echoed Rocky. "These are highly manipulative people, so it is not surprising they would figure out how to manipulate the system."

In Maine, state law enforcement officials admit their law has a loophole, but insist they have not yet seen an influx of offenders from New Hampshire. Still, there is a concern. "Our law doesn't affect out-of-state people who were sentenced before September, 1999," said Maine Assistant Attorney General Charles Ledbetter. "And that's a huge number of people.