A federal judge cited a flaw in a 2006 federal law when he released a sex offender who failed to notify officials of his move to Kansas City, says the Kansas City Star. Terry Rich, who has seven convictions for sexually abusing, molesting, and kidnapping children and young women, had been charged with violating the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act. Judge Howard Sachs said, “Whether or not there was a legislative blunder, the wording should be enforced as written, until it is changed by Congress,” Sachs said.
Rich, 59, moved to Kansas City about 20 months ago after serving a short prison stint in Iowa for failing to register there. Rich's case boiled down to a question of verb tense. The law covers a sex offender who “travels” between states, rather than one who “traveled” between states. Rich may have moved to Kansas City before the law took effect. A federal prosecutor said Congress intended it to cover all sex offenders, particularly those who were convicted or who traveled before the law took effect. “It would be an aberration if Congress had carved out the largest category of offenders, who could otherwise constitutionally be regulated  to place them outside the statute's scope,” he argued.