Sex offenders sue California, claiming Megan’s Law website puts them at risk



Screenshot of Megan’s Law website operated by the California Department of Justice on November 11, 2015.

Two registered sex offenders are suing California for alleged lax management of an online sex offender database, saying a lack of timely information has prompted vigilantes to attack them for past crimes.

A measure commonly known as Megan’s Law was aimed at making people aware of the presence of sex offenders by asking the state to release publicly available information about their offenses and their whereabouts. A website maintained by the California Department of Justice includes a tool to search for sex offenders by name or location.

While the site cautions against self-defense, stating that “anyone who uses this information to commit a crime or to harass an offender or his family is subject to criminal prosecution and liability,” the plaintiffs in the lawsuit say. being targeted due to state negligence in updating the website to include their sentencing and release dates as required since 2010 by a law of 2006.

This lack of information has exposed the registered offenders to “physical harm, job loss, underemployment, lack of adequate housing and other deprivation of rights,” a lawsuit filed by the California Reform Sex Offender Laws organization in Los Angeles Superior Court. The complaint alleges that 92 percent of the profiles on the Megan’s Law site lack sentencing or release dates.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff Roy Matagora was shot dead in September by someone who had viewed his profile. Matagora’s online profile lists three offenses involving a minor under the age of 18 and a rape offense, but does not include information on when he was convicted or released.

An assailant broke into the home of the other plaintiff, Frank Lindsay, in 2010 and attempted to kill him with a hammer after finding his information online, according to the lawsuit. Lindsay’s profile mentions “obscene or lascivious acts with a child under 14” and records that he was convicted and released in 1979, but trial alleges information about his conviction and release was not available than in 2012.

Lindsay was also denied a lease for her business over issues with the website, according to the lawsuit. The complaint lists four other registered sex offenders who were killed in what the complaint describes as retaliatory killings.

To remedy the alleged shortfall, the lawsuit is asking the court to force the Department of Justice to update the website.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This story was originally published November 11, 2015 11:17 a.m.


Nancy I. Romero

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