Sex offender site adds crime, vehicle details

Published July 26, 2006

TALLAHASSEE - A state Internet site that allows parents to track local sex offenders has been expanded to include details on the seriousness of their past crimes and their vehicle information, including tag numbers, officials said Tuesday.

The crime history data should help those who have committed minor offenses avoid being unfairly labeled as pedophiles and sexual predators.

"You can't lump every sex offender in the same pile - some are dangerous, some are not," said Don Ryce, whose 9-year-old son, Jimmy, was raped and murdered in Miami-Dade County. "Why stigmatize them?"

Ryce and his wife, Claudine, established the Jimmy Ryce Center for Victims of Predatory Abductions in Vero Beach after their son's murder in 1995.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Web site, http://www.fdle.state.fl.us, was expanded without fanfare to add crime details. It lists the adjudication and its date of each crime, the jurisdiction and case number. It also provides the text of each law violated and links to court clerk sites in Florida.

Agency officials and Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, meanwhile, announced the new vehicle information during a news conference in his office.

"This enhancement will empower Floridians with greater information about the people that live in their neighborhoods so that our children, our seniors and our loved ones can feel informed and protected," Gallagher said.

The Web site provides the make, year, model, color and tag number of each vehicle owned by a sex offender and similar information for boats.

Public Defender Bob Dillinger of Clearwater said the crime data will help distinguish predators from "Romeos and Juliets," young men convicted of sex crimes for consensual relations with underage teens only slightly younger.