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Bill barring sex offenders against children from school boards passes Senate committee

Published: Thursday, Feb. 14 2013 7:35 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Felons convicted of sex crimes against children soon may barred from running for a state and local school board.

HB64, sponsored by Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Salt Lake City, received a favorable recommendation Thursday from the Senate Law Enforcement Committee.

Moss said she was contacted by people in her district concerned about Richard Wagner Jones running for a seat on the Granite School Board last year. Jones lost the election after his status as a registered sex offender who pleaded guilty in 1990 to sex abuse of a child became public.

The bill would apply only to registered sex offenders "who have been convicted of an grievous sexual offense," Moss said, "including rape, rape of a child, object rape, object rape of a child, forcible sodomy and aggressive abuse of a child."

Jones testified at the meeting, saying he ran for the seat because "there was a need for a fiscally conservative alternative to the incumbent."

He provided lawmakers with documentation showing the recovery rates of sex offenders and said myths about recovery had been "pushed by media bias."

"Three out of five molesters never re-offend in their lifetimes," Jones said. "As a rehabilitated offender, my commitment to preventing more crimes and more victims is strong."

"I do believe people can change, and that's the purpose of the corrections system," said Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, one of two committee members who voted against the bill.

Sen. Pat Jones, D-Holladay, said she supported the bill because she received numerous messages from constituents concerned about the issue.

"It does seem odd that a person with that kind of background would run for this specific office," she said.

E-mail: mmellor@deseretnews.com

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