A state bill filed to close a loophole is praised by the Rogers County District Attorney and state legislators alike.
A release from the Oklahoma House of Representatives said legislation has been filed that seeks to close a loophole in state statutes that allow sex offenders to live next door to their victim.
"I am completely in favor of this," said Rogers County District Attorney Matt Ballard. "This is victim-centered legislation that fills a definite need."
Ballard said the legislation would help victims all across the state.
"While I haven't heard of any instances of this in Rogers County, with loopholes like this we understand it could happen at any time," he said.
Ballard said he can't imagine what it would be like for a victim to know their offender lived nearby.
"It would be extremely traumatic; first to be a victim then to know your offender lives close by. I can't imagine the distress that would cause," Ballard said.
Yet that's the situation an Oklahoma woman faced, according to the release.
They said, "This particular loophole was discovered when convicted sex offender Harold English moved next door to his victim Danyelle Dyer. Since that time, Dyer advocated for the law to be changed. It has now been discovered that 45 of the 50 states have this same loophole."
“Danyelle’s courage and commitment will make sure that another Oklahoman doesn’t have to experience what she has had to during this ordeal,” Sen James Leewright said. “Not only has Danyelle made Oklahomans safer, but as word spreads, we expect the remaining states to follow suit and make all Americans safer.”
Sen. Micheal Bergstrom said he is grateful for the efforts of Sen. Leewright and Reprentative Kyle Hilbert who authored the bill.
"They are working to protect the victims from further harm and I'm glad to see it," Bergstrom said. "Existing statutes are intended to protect potential victims from
sexual predators. This bill’s intent
is to protect those who have
already been victimized, who have been molested, been harmed and suffered at the hands of one of these creeps.”
Bergstrom explained that as written, the bill requires that a registered offender remain "at least 1,000 feet from the victim."
"I hope that buffer zone is extended further as the bill moves forward," Bergstrom said. "For some of these people it would be nice if the buffer could be 1,000 miles and not just a few minutes walk."
The bill's authors said the legislation is to be heard next session.
"Like all legislation, it will begin in committee and work its way through the legislative process. However, optimism is high that bipartisan support will see this bill pass quickly," they said.