Murdered teen's dad pushes for new sex offender laws

February 14, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
A group of bills to help better protect kids from sex offenders has been introduced in the state Legislature. The father of a murdered teenager joined with a state lawmaker to make their case. The San Diego-area father successfully got sex offender laws passed through the Legislature last year, and now he's back for more and says he won't stop until he's satisfied.

Just after the two-year anniversary of the disappearance of his murdered daughter, Amber, Moe Dubois comes to the state capitol with a mission -- to protect other children from sex offenders. Amber went missing in February of 2009 and wasn't found for more than a year. John Gardner, a convicted sex offender, led authorities to the 14-year-old's remains after his arrest for the kidnapping and rape of another San Diego-area teen, Chelsea King.

"My only child had to suffer the worst possible thing that a child should have to face. I don't want anyone else's family to go through this," said Dubois.

Dubois is pushing for tougher laws against sex offenders and giving victims more rights by putting a special, yet-to-be-determined mark on their driver's licenses, giving written notice to neighbors of a sex offender moving in within a 1,000 feet, forcing out-of-state sex offenders to register in California once they re-locate here, and keeping courts from releasing victim statements until after the hearing.

Assm. Paul Cook, R-Yucca Valley, will be championing the bills through the Legislature this year.

"This is something that is extremely important to me. Somebody who's a father; somebody who has six grandkids," said Cook.

The special mark on the driver's licenses is the most controversial and could potentially be expensive to alter the card, given the state's budget problems. That's just one of the problems criminal defense attorneys have.

"It's a very weak package, and it costs a lot of money, very little in return, and it really does a disservice I think to the public. The public should know that there are a lot of laws in place right now that do protect them from registered sex offenders," said Ignacio Hernandez from the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice.

However, existing laws are not enough for a grieving father.

"Our system of protecting our children lacks in many, many ways," said Dubois. "The only answer I see is what can we do to make it not happen again?"

Other states put marks on driver's licenses. Louisiana, for instance, put the words "sex offender" in orange on the card, but Dubois would settle for something less conspicuous that the cops can only see under ultraviolet light.

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