Sexual predators

Calling it a victory for Oklahoma children in rural communities, State Sen. AJ Griffin said she was pleased that Gov. Mary Fallin had signed legislation into law to better protect kids throughout the state from sexual predators.

Griffin, R-Guthrie, is the principal author of Senate Bill 167, co-authored by Rep. Dennis Casey, R-Morrison, in the House.  Griffin said the legislation closes a legal loophole regarding “zones of safety” limiting how close registered sex offenders can live or even pass by areas where children tend to be, such as parks, daycare centers and schools.

“These zones of safety were supposed to apply to towns and cities regardless of population or location, but a judge in Pawnee County ruled the law only applied to larger communities because it said ‘cities’ but didn’t include the word ‘towns’.  That ruling meant a convicted child molester was allowed to move into a home right across from a park,” Griffin said.  “This was clearly not the intention of the legislature.  With SB 167, we’ve clarified that law, ensuring all children will be covered by these zones of safety.”

Griffin said she authored the legislation at the request of former representative Rex Duncan, who now serves as the District Attorney for Pawnee County.

Duncan said,  “I am certain that at some point in time, this will prevent an Oklahoma child from becoming the victim of a sexual predator.”

The new law would take effect on November 1.