Sex offenders try to erase laws marking them for life

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Martin is tired of the dead-end jobs and unrelenting stigma that comes with being a registered sex offender. Although he has a master's degree in liberal arts and wants to be a teacher, employers have been unable to see beyond his presence on the state's sex offender registry, which he is required to be on for the rest of his life. It's true that a decade ago, he was convicted of sexually abusing a 16-year-old girl who was half his age. But the registry doesn't divulge that his victim was his girlfriend who now is his common-law wife, with whom he has three children. [...]

"We're getting letters from ladies in their 20s who say, 'I was never a victim and I didn't know my offender was on the registry,'" said Mary Sue, the mother of a jailed sex offender who helped establish the organization earlier this year. [...]

Martin's common-law wife, Avea, now 27, says she's ready to tell lawmakers that her husband is a decent man whose dream of being a high school teacher is forever dashed because of a decade-old offense that, barring changes in the registry law, will follow him the rest of his life. "Even murderers can get out of prison and lead a normal life," she said. [...]

She [Jan Fewell] had just phoned a now 23-year-old mother of two. Combing through court records, Fewell learned the woman, at age 13, had had sex with Fisher, a man five years her senior. Fewell knew the woman had refused to help prosecutors and now, a decade later, Fewell wanted to know if she considered herself a victim, and if not, if she would be willing to help her group. The call from a stranger to a sex abuse victim could have easily ended badly, but the woman indeed had remained close to the man who's serving eight years in prison in connection with sexually assaulting her. Later, in an interview, the woman explained she regularly visits the man in prison, is raising the two children he fathered with her, and counting the days until his release. Yes, she would be receptive to helping the group.

source: Article 'Sex offenders try to erase laws marking them for life' by Lisa Sandberg;; mySA news; 7 December 2008