N.C. offender arrested for attending church

“In December, North Carolina state legislators barred sex offenders from coming within 300 feet of any place intended primarily for the use, care or supervision of minors. Three months later, Nichols was arrested at his home after attending Sunday services. He said he was ‘floored’ to learn that he had been picked up because Moncure Baptist Church has a child-care center for families attending services.” [AP/Google] More on sex offender laws: The Economist (“Unjust and ineffective”); Lenore Skenazy (predicate is often teen misconduct with other teens); Radley Balko, Reason (several Georgia offenders told to camp in woods, then told not to); earlier. Related: Oklahoma Citizens for Change.


  • Church would be an excellent place to troll for young, compliant, trusting, well-scrubbed kids. Silly grown-ups probably think that’s the one place the kids are safe.

  • Has anyone stopped to consider the factual basis for these laws or their effects?

    (1) According to US Department of Justice statistics, only 5% of sex offenders released in 1994 were returned to prison for a new sex crime.

    (2) Additional research has indicated that most sex crimes are committed by persons known to the victim, NOT BY STRANGERS.

    (3) Research also indicates that most sex offenses are committed by FIRST TIME OFFENDERS and not by repeat offenders…a fact reinforced by the 5% recidivism rate.

    (4) States already have registries, and now the federal government is imposing its legislation on a state matter, threatening to remove 10% of federal funds from non-compliant states. This is more about money than public safety.

    (5) Do you consider your federal government MORE efficient and responsive to the public interest than the states?

    (6) Do you support a national ID card system? There are more than 650,000 people registered as sex offenders today with an annual growth rate of 7%.

    (7) Most are not aware of the increasing number of persons considered to be “sex offenders” or the crimes they have committed, including persons who have simply urinated on the side of the road without knowing a minor was present.

    (8) The largest group of registered sex offenders are 14-year-olds who will more than likely never commit a new crime.

  • That is an absurdly low recidivism rate for sex offenders. A cursory examination of relevant literature show that it is much higher and they are likely to commit other crimes. That, however, begs the question of who should be on the sex offenders list. We really only want those who are likely to reoffend. Is it correct to believe that someone who committed a crime against an adult is not safe around children?

  • “…within 300 feet of any place intended primarily for the use, care or supervision of minors.”

    It pretty much seems the ‘intended primarily’ phrase would precisely exempt his actions. The place is intended primarily for religious worship and related activities. That there is a place for families to dump their kids is in no way a primary function.

  • Doug, you are incorrect due to the lowered standards for today’s “sex offenders.” A 17-year-old who has sex with a consenting 13- or 14-year-old is a sex offender. An 18-year-old having sex with a consenting 15-year-old is a sex offender. In some states, a 21-year-old having sex with a consenting 17-year-old is a sex offender. A mentally ill flasher who touches no one is a sex offender. A day care worker who changes the poopy underpants of and cleans up a 3-year-old with diarrhea is a sex offender in they eyes of some parents and prosecutors. The recidivism rates of these types of “sex offender” are close to zero, and they now make up the bulk of sex offenders. Men who rape adults comprise the next largest group. Men who rape children comprise a small group of sex offenders. And, thankfully, men who rape children they don’t know comprise the smallest group of sex offenders. Our kids are at low risk from strangers.

  • I’d rather see a registry of convicted burglars. It would probably protect society more.

  • To add to the list: A 6 year old who accepts a hug from a teacher and comments on how soft her breasts are (after she presses his face into them) is a sex offender (but not the teacher).

  • No brainer defense on this one: Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion NOR PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF.

    No one – not Congress, not a legislature can’t prohibit a person from attending a church of their choice.

    The pastor and or the congregation may not want them there – and it’s there choice to invite the person to move along. But it’s not the decision for anyone in government to make.

  • Two 17 year olds make a video of them having sex. The file sits on a computer for several years. In the mean time several years pass and the couple marries. They take their computer to a shop to have a virus removed. The technician finds the video and calls the Police. The man now 22 is charged with posessing kiddie porn. No charges are made against his wife. He’s fighting it, b ecause if he loses he is on the sex offender registry. He’s in college to be a teacher.

  • nevis

    you wrote: “The place is intended primarily for religious worship and related activities.”

    i am sure the interpretation they are pushing is that the church and the daycare are two different “places” in that sense of the word and thus while the church is not automatically verboten, a church within 300 feet of a daycare is.

    Personally i don’t have alot of sympathy for these guys, and yes, the recidivism rates are much higher.

    And note there is some selectivity in the numbers Caldwell gave. for instance, rates of conviction is not the same as how often they committ crimes. further, the claim that victims are usually attacked by people they know can be very misleading. People take this kind of statement to mean you have to worry about friends and family more than anyone else. but actually it is much looser than that. for instance, in the context of murder, if one gang leader guns down another, it is not considered stranger crime in FBI statistics.

    That all said, I would favor a limited exception here. a man should, within reason, be allowed to practice his religion. (i say “within reason,” or else soon you would hear people claim their crimes are their religious duty). Some Catholics, for instance, believe that they must gain weekly absolution via. communion. But bluntly i favor a prosecutorial discretion approach–i.e. we don’t make it a rule that you are allowed to go to church, we just don’t go after you for doing it. that way the perv knows to be on his best behavior.

    Of course, that begs the question, is that what is happening here? When the police seem to be overreaching this way–i.e. busting an 18 year old guy for statutory rape of a 17 year old girl–you have to wonder if there is more to the story than we are being told. I suspect if we talked to the prosecutors and got the whole story, we would realize this guy needed to be locked up.

  • Are there maps showing the prohibited areas? I can imagine many ways this law could be abused by police and prosecutors. How about being on one side of a river with a daycare center on the opposite side and no bridges for a mile? Although I am no friend of sex offenders, I believe there have been as many abuses of the rules as there have been benefits.

  • Bill

    Now i think about it, i would be willing to bet that there is a requirement of knowing or something like that.

  • This seems like another case of bureaucratic rigidity trumping common sense.

    300 feet? I can think of a lot of ridiculous results from such a policy. The mall near my home when I grew up had (has?) a play area for children in the middle of it. I wonder if it’s forbidden for registered offenders to shop there.

  • I can only conclude that some good Christian — you know, the sort who talks about forgivenness of sins — called the cops on finding this guy in Church.


  • No Name Guy- are you sure about that? You’d probably strike out with that defense.

  • Todd

    I realize you’re asking for the sake of clarification….

    It begs the question of what part of plain English do the courts, or our Congress or Legislatures fail to understand? If I want to go to church, there is nothing that Congress can do to stop me – period. It doesn’t matter how wicked, or evil I may be – the inherent human right to practice their religion in this context is inviolatable. The man simply went to church – he didn’t kill, rape, rob or do anything to anyone while there. Simply going to church in this context can not be a crime.

    But you bring up precisely what is wrong with the country today – simple concepts (such as free speech & religion, that when the constitution says “people”, the meaning is consistent throughout, that one man is not entitled to live off the sweat of anothers work at the point of a gun, etc) are incomprehensible to too many people.

  • My name is Rick and I was convicted of a sex offence in 1983, at trial
    I plead not guilty,and was given a Life sentence plus 3 years,I pulled 26 years of my life for a crime I did not commit, in prison,prior to this conviction I had an outstanding reputation in my community and worked and gave to chairatable organizations and never had any record with the law.In prison I kept maintaining my innocence,
    and no one would believe me,I was only 28 when I was convicted,
    In 1985 the person that put me in prison signed statements saying they lied on me, now I have WFMY News 2 and the Center on Actual Innocence on it and investigating it,because I took a polygraph Test
    to prove that I am telling the truth about my innocence and it came back stating that I am innocent,but what really gets to me is that
    I am forbidden to attend church where we don’t even have a nursery
    and don’t even have but maybe a dozen of children that attend there,
    I wouldn’t even think about harming a hair on their heads, this rule
    has been blown way out of portion,I understand the need for protection of children and awareness,but to arrest someone for going to church just because they are a sex offender, come on get real america! Do they arrest the drunkered,the wife beater,the murderer,
    the thief, the drug addict for going to church that may be getting your child hooked on drugs while singing” when the saints go marching in”
    so they can go out into the streets and commit rapes,robberys,murders
    and etc. Don’t kick us out, but lend a helping hand on the poor sinful man because that person may want to change,and as for us that has been framed up,it can happen to you ,some one that don’t like you
    can plant drugs on your car and make an annoymous phone call
    and how are you going to explain to the police they wasn’t yours?
    American Citizens if you even have a Bible read Matthew 7:1-7