The state's sex offender registry is being eyed for changes, some of which may come as a result of a new federal law.
But who ends up on the registry or who doesn't and the duration offenders should remain on the registry have many people with an interest in the list at odds over how it should change.
There are examples of people not on the list, but who some think should be because of the sexual component of their crimes.
Springville fertility specialist Larry Andrew was found guilty of sexually touching his female patients and was sentenced last month on eight misdemeanor counts of sexual battery to less than a year in jail and two years of probation.
Andrew is not on the registry.
Sean Winget could not deal normally with feelings of sexual arousal, killed a 10-year-old female neighbor when he was 15 and served 13 years in prison. He was thought to be mentally ill and was charged with manslaughter, which is not a sex crime.
Winget is not on the registry.
But there are people who want Winget, now out of prison, to be listed on Utah's sex offender registry.
Dar Belnap, 76, the grandfather of the girl Winget killed, believes that Winget cannot be reformed, that he's mentally ill and that he should have been put away for life. At the very least, he wants Winget on a sex offender registry for life.
"He's got to be watched 24 hours a day, for his own good and for the good of others," Belnap said.
Winget and his father turned down requests for an interview for this story.
Belnap still refers to Winget, now in his 20s, as a kid, someone without remorse for what he did. Belnap says about himself that he is still bitter and sheds tears over the slaying when he drives past the area in Roy where Winget left the body of his granddaughter.
Off the grid
There are others like Winget or Andrew, whose criminal cases were found to have sexual components to them, but they are or will also be off the grid, not monitored via the state's sex offender registry.
And still more criminals in Utah have had attorneys, as in Andrew's case, who successfully plea-bargained their crimes down to a conviction of sexual battery, a misdemeanor, which is not an offense that requires them to register.
Plea bargains, however, don't always mean there will be no registry listing for people found guilty of sex crimes.
Angela Ray Andrews, 37, recently was convicted of murdering her 10-year-old stepdaughter. Her additional charge of first-degree felony aggravated sexual abuse of a child was reduced to a second-degree felony. The charge could have been dismissed in exchange for her guilty plea, but because it wasn't, she will be on the sex offender registry.
Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings said he accomplished two things in prosecuting Andrews' case: the possibility that she may never get out of prison and that she may be on the registry for the rest of her life, starting within the next 60 days as she begins her long stay in lockup.
Who should be on the registry?
"We need to err on the side of public safety," Rawlings said. "We need to use good judgment."
And that, he added, may depend on the type of crime committed.
In the meantime, state lawmakers will be deciding how to interpret the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act that the U.S. Congress passed last year. States have three years to come into compliance with the minimum requirements of the new federal law, which creates a national system for registering sex offenders.
Mike Haddon, Utah Department of Corrections deputy director over administration, helps lead a committee currently looking into overhauling the state's registry, using the Adam Walsh Act as a "backdrop."
Haddon figured that to implement everything outlined in the law could cost about $1 million, mostly in staffing and overtime costs. For the state to opt out of some areas of the act would cost Utah about $200,000 in federal funding.
The federal law would require states to hire more staff to handle the requirement for offenders to register more frequently and to verify that the information being given is accurate. As it is, Haddon said, Utah doesn't have the staff to check up on everyone on the registry.
Haddon said he hopes his committee will come up with draft legislation that will improve the current registry process.
People like Roy Police Chief Greg Whinham and Ogden Police Chief Jon Greiner, a state legislator, are keeping a close eye on just how strict or loose Utah will be with its interpretation of the act. One of the changes the law may inspire in some states is how they handle who qualifies for their sex offender registries.
If it was up to Whinham and Greiner, Winget and those like him would be put on Utah's registry.
"Communities should know they're there," Whinham said.
It would be similar, he added, to knowing where a potentially dangerous dog lives in the neighborhood. "Wherever Sean is and people like him, communities should know they're there."
Greiner said Winget should "absolutely" be monitored in some way. "The basis of the crime was due to a deviant sexual desire," he said.
A community's concern
In 1993, at 16, Sean Winget was sentenced to 15 years in prison for strangling 10-year-old Tara Stark. At the time, he was considered mentally ill due to a problem during infancy. Evidence during his trial revealed that he thought an evil spirit was controlling him when he became sexually aroused. Evidence also showed that Winget felt that killing Stark was the only way to make the feeling of arousal go away.
Then-deputy Weber County Attorney Gary Heward said about the young Winget, "He's dangerous, and he'll always be dangerous."
Winget was paroled after 13 years and then took part in regular visits with law enforcement. During parole, he underwent a psycho-sexual evaluation, according to Whinham. He said Winget got a job and driver's license after prison.
"He's functional he could use that for good or bad," Whinham said.
But when Winget moved back into the Roy community and his old neighborhood, people reacted. Whinham said some people sold their homes Belnap puts the count at four and moved out of the area. That was without even a blip of Winget's case or name appearing on any registry people simply never forgot his crime.
Greiner and Whinham want a registry to list the Wingets of the world, but current Utah law is very specific about who is placed on the list and how long they remain there, according to Utah Department of Corrections spokesman Jack Ford.
Those convicted of a sex crime are on the Utah registry crimes with only a sexual component don't make the list. And the perceived disparities of the list continue.
Ford noted that there are people who make the list who were found guilty of urinating on the side of the road. Or the 18-year-old who was sexually active with a 17-year-old minor.
"Do they deserve to be on the registry?" Ford asked in a phone interview. Rawlings said people like that probably shouldn't be on the list.
Registries differ from state to state, and who is put on the lists and for how long depends on the type of crime committed. Some offenders may end up on a registry, but one that isn't readily available to the public via the Internet. California, which has the longest-running registry, has a lifetime sex offender registration requirement and the largest online registry.
In Utah, most convicted sex offenders are on the state registry while in jail or prison, a listing some say is more symbolic than of practical use for the public. After they have completed their sentence, they're normally on the list for 10 years, required to update their information once a year or when they move. Ford noted not all on the registry are pedophiles and that many on the list are adults who committed sex crimes, such as rape, against other adults.
Today there are about 6,400 adults in Utah who are on the state's sex offender registry about half are in jail or prison or on parole and monitored routinely.
During sentencing recently for Andrew, one of his victims told 4th District Judge Samuel McVey that she wants every one of Andrew's future patients to know what he did. But because of Andrew's plea, his name is not on a state sex offender registry.Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing Board of Osteopathic Licensure members are discussing Andrew's case and may allow him to continue practicing as a fertility specialist after his two years of probation are completed.
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