Ricky was 17 when he had sex with a 13-year-old girlfriend in Iowa. He was put on probation and moved to Oklahoma, where his picture was posted on the Internet as a sex offender. Minnesota Public Radio says his mother is angry that he is he painted with the same brush as a violent predatory rapist. There are likely hundreds of faces like Ricky’s mixed in with the dangerous sex offenders on public registries.
Patty Wetterling says it’s an example of sex offender laws that go too far. Wetterling has been a vocal advocate for laws to protect children since her son Jacob was abducted 18 years ago. He’s never been found. “Everybody wants to out-tough the next legislator. ‘I’m tough on crime,’ ‘No, I’m even more tough.’ It’s all about ego and boastfulness,” says Wetterling. Jill Levenson of Lynn University in Florida says, “Overall, we don’t have very much evidence to support the idea that knowing where sex offenders live actually protects children, or reduces the number of sex crimes in our communities.” She wrote “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” an examination of sex offender policy.