- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Victims of some of Pennsylvania’s most horrific sexual crimes are getting better information about offenders’ status under a new partnership between the state police and the Office of Victim Advocate.

Officials described Tuesday how the advocate’s office has taken over from the state police the process of updating victims of sexually violent predators whenever the convict’s status changes. That can mean a change of job or address, or a release from behind bars.

Jennifer Storm, the state’s victim advocate, said her agency already has identified hundreds of victims of sexually violent predators that had not been on the state police’s radar.

“These are some of the worst of the worst offenses you can imagine, and there are certainly cases where the victims have a heightened level of fear and safety concerns,” Storm said. “It’s paramount that they know where their offender is at all times so they can plan accordingly.”

The program is being funded this year with $143,000 in federal money administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

Before taking on the additional notifications a few months ago, the Office of Victim Advocate was already making more than 20,000 notifications annually for other types of crimes. Officials said adding victims of sexually violent predators may increase that workload by more than 5,000 notifications.

The notices take the form of letters, emails and phone calls.

Sexually violent predators are those who a judge determines have a mental abnormality or personality disorder that makes them likely to engage in predatory sexually violent offenses. The state’s 1,400 sexually violent predators must register for life under Pennsylvania’s version of Megan’s Law.

A 2011 state law gave responsibility for notifications regarding sexually violent predators to state police, but they only had a list of some 500 victims. Under the new memorandum of understanding, the Office of Victim Advocate has added 798 people to the notification list.

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Online:

Victim registration: https://bit.ly/1IH184D

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