Pennsylvania residents Jean Rickerd and Charles Ward want to know more about Robert Gallant, 26, a “sexually violent predator” who lives a few doors away, says the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The couple knows from police fliers that he was convicted in Massachusetts of indecent assault and battery eight years ago. They wonder whether he jumped out of the bushes and sexually assault a woman? Or did he gain the trust of a young boy and molest him? What did he do? What about the 10 other sex offenders who live in their ZIP code but whose street addresses authorities won’t reveal? “They don’t tell you what you need to know,” Rickerd said.
When it comes to providing information about sex offenders that people might use to protect themselves or their families, Pennsylvania falls far short of many other states. Under the federal “Megan’s Law,” states were given leeway on how much information to release about sex offenders. In Pennsylvania, it’s the bare minimum. Street addresses are provided only for “sexually violent predators,” 104 statewide–only a small fraction of the 7,800 sex offenders registered in the state. Many of the sex offenders for whom addresses are not provided were convicted of crimes that appear as heinous as those of the designated predators. Last year, Pennsylvania’s notification system was the subject of a scathing auditor-general’s report, and it received an “F” from the national Megan’s Law watchdog group.