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Vulnerable offenders to register

Published (3/11/2010)
By Mike Cook
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A couple of years ago, a nurse’s assistant in a licensed group home did what most people would consider a sickening act.

“The victim in that case was a 52-year-old woman with an adjustment disorder, depression and had what was described as borderline intellectual functioning,” said Tara Patet, a senior prosecutor with the St. Paul City Attorney’s Office. “During his employment at the facility, the perpetrator became acquainted with her, and it was discovered that, on several occasions during his shifts, he would go into her room and engage in oral sex with the victim.”

The worker was found guilty for his actions, but was not required to register as a predatory sex offender.

Sponsored by Rep. Debra Hilstrom (DFL-Brooklyn Center), HF3276 would add criminal abuse of a vulnerable adult to the list of registerable offenses under the state’s predatory offender registration law. It has no Senate companion.

“We should require them to register because they fit in the category of the other people we already have register,” Hilstrom said.

Approved March 4 by the House Public Safety Policy and Oversight Committee, it was sent to the House Finance Committee with a recommended re-referral to the House Public Safety Finance Division.

Under current law, a therapist who has sex with a client, a member of the clergy or a correctional facility employee having sex with an inmate would be required to register as an offender.

“We feel this would simply fill a gap that currently exists in the registration law that is inconsistent with its intent and overall spirit of protecting the public, and in particular vulnerable adults from predatory offenders,” Patet said. She said the change would recognize the “vulnerability of persons in care facilities and is a flat-out bar to sexual contact by people who work in those facilities.”

A companion, SF3194, sponsored by Sen. Leo Foley (DFL-Coon Rapids), awaits action by the Senate Judiciary Committee

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