- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 9, 2005

From the “you’ve gotta be kidding” files of those idiotic incidences that make you wonder what people use for brains come these stories:

• A Montgomery County woman allows her two boys, ages 4 and 5, to go into a public bathroom in a mall in the evening alone.

• In Virginia, at least 250 violent sex offenders presumably are roaming malls, parks and highways totally unaccounted for, the Associated Press reports.

• To put icing on the criminal’s cake, Virginia corrections officials discovered that they paid for sexual offenders to receive Viagra through limping Medicaid funds for the poor. Maryland, by the way, is still checking to see whether it provided the same in-kind services.

Free erectile dysfunction drugs for sexual predators, rapists and child molesters? You’ve gotta be kidding. If this fiasco weren’t such an outrage, you’d be laughing yourself silly because you’d know this tale was just one of those mindless, mischievous urban myths making the rounds on the Internet.

How about exercising a little common sense, people? First of all, common sense would dictate that you don’t put your own children in harm’s way. Some parents need to be held legally accountable more often for being so careless with youngsters, in an attempt to prevent more predators from violating children.

You’ve got to wonder, for instance, whether the mother who waited for her young sons outside the public restroom near the food court at Westfield Shoppingtown Montgomery (formerly Montgomery Mall) on May 27 now knows that she doesn’t live in a Bethesda bubble.

What easy pickings for preying pedophiles.

Police reports say the mother finally entered the men’s bathroom after she became “concerned” that her boys were taking too long. To her horror, she discovered her youngest being touched inappropriately by a man described only as a “white male, 45 to 50 years old, 5 feet 6 inches tall, 180 pounds, with gray, curly hair.” OK, how many men do you know who fit that Harry Homemaker description? Lots. That’s why registries for convicted sex offenders, particularly pedophiles, are of paramount importance.

We can only imagine that at least one of the 250 sex offenders recently discovered missing from the Virginia Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry, some of whom also may have received free sexual dysfunction drugs through Medicaid funding, is a carbon copy of the suspected Bethesda bathroom buzzard.

It’s scary to note that not only were names, addresses, employment and photographs of at least 250 sex offenders — of more than 13,000 — missing, state authorities could locate only 258 of 643 registered molesters and rapists who listed jail addresses as of May 20, when authorities went looking for them. Of the 4,534 registered sex offenders with a Department of Corrections prison address, 128 could not be found in the prison population.

And what bureaucratic brainiac allowed at least 52 Virginia sex offenders to receive Viagra and similar drugs before the same insanity was caught in New York, sending other state authorities checking?

It really was no stretch for Gov. Mark Warner to halt this abomination immediately as he ordered with emergency legislation in late May, just about the same time as a state panel discovered the missing men on the sex offender registry. We can only guess where these men are and what they are doing.

In April, Virginia legislators set up a task force under the Virginia State Crime Commission to determine the scope of the problem with the registry and to make improvements in loopholes. This after a number of recent high-profile cases nationwide involving released sex offenders who abducted children and, in at least two cases, killed them.

Bear in mind that professionals in the field have long contended that pedophilia is an illness that cannot be cured.

“We need to improve tracking and enforcement,” Virginia state Delegate Brian Moran, Alexandria Democrat, said yesterday on “Fox Morning News.” He noted that the registry is a “self-reporting system” that needs “review after 11 years.” No joke. He acknowledged that the state received only a passing grade of C by one nongovernmental agency that monitors sex-offender registries nationwide.

Mr. Moran said the task force is “examining” how registries in 48 other states are administered and hopes to adopt some of those innovations, such as keeping an updated Web site map on the whereabouts of paroled sex offenders so communities are better informed.

Again, you’ve got to be kidding. What another no-brainer. First of all, the system should be mandatory. Here’s another no-brainer: Don’t waste precious time examining anything. The mounting facts are already evident. The molestation experiences are ever-increasing, too.

Just grant state troopers the resources to go after offenders who have not registered, which they should do before they are released back into communities where they can roam the malls with some absent-minded or careless parents who ought to know by now just how vulnerable their children are in today’s world.

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