- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A sheriff’s department in Louisiana yesterday declared an emergency order to force the American Red Cross to turn over information on thousands of evacuees and volunteers in its shelters to locate registered sex offenders within its parish.

Charity officials have refused for several weeks to release the names of those they are sheltering, said Joe Davis, chief deputy in Ouachita Parish.

On Tuesday, a grand jury indicted a Red Cross volunteer in Monroe, La., on indecency charges. The man, a convicted armed robber, is accused of asking a 13-year-old girl to perform a sexual act and fondling a 15-year-old girl, Deputy Davis said.

“There are hundreds of children in those shelters and we don’t want some pedophile out there with all these children,” Deputy Davis said.

“We’re not trying to make waves for anybody. We just want to find out if there are any sex offenders in the population so we can keep an eye on them,” Deputy Davis said.

Nearly 7,000 sex offenders are registered with the Louisiana State Police. A spokesman there said he has not heard of any other parish using emergency orders to re-register offenders.

The emergency proclamation order issued by Ouachita Parish Sheriff Richard Fewell requires all shelters to register the names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth and last known addresses of all evacuees and volunteers, and to deliver daily copies to the sheriff’s department.

“I don’t want to arrest people if they have warrants. We have jails full of people. We are just trying to protect the children in shelters and surrounding suburbs,” Deputy Davis said.

Ouachita Parish deputies arrested Kevin White, 48, who was working with evacuees at the Monroe Civic Center shelter, and charged him with two counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile and one count of simple battery.

White was charged with second-degree murder in July 1983, but pleaded guilty to manslaughter and attempted armed robbery. He has been on parole since 1999.

Red Cross spokeswoman Ann Patton did not return calls for comment, but a spokesman told the Monroe News-Star that the sheriff’s order violates the organization’s privacy policy.

The spokesman also said White was not an official Red Cross volunteer and that the organization runs background checks on official volunteers.

The Monroe Civic Center is housing 1,100 evacuees and is one of several shelters in the area. Another 1,200 people who evacuated from the approaching Hurricane Rita were expected to arrive in the city yesterday.

Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco declared a state of emergency before Hurricane Katrina hit the state Aug. 29, giving the sheriff authority to enforce emergency orders.

The sheriff’s emergency proclamation says the influx of evacuees “creates unique security risks and concerns.”

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