Review: Dozens of sex predators registered as living in Oahu parks
OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii's sex offender registry is meant to keep people safe by requiring convicted sex criminals to submit their address to an online database.
On the site, the public can check to see if a sex offender lives nearby.
But a Hawaii News Now investigation has revealed some alarming gaps in the system, including vague addresses and dozens of convicted sex predators living places where you hope children can be safest.
According to the state's sex offender registry, Ala Moana Beach Park is listed as home to three convicted sex offenders. It's tied for the most of any park on the island. The dubious distinction is shared with Aala Park in Kalihi and Moiliili's Old Stadium Park.
HNN found those cases without the help of the state Attorney General's office, which manages the sex offender registry. When asked how many homeless sex offenders are living on Oahu, the agency said it doesn't track that — or have any breakdown on which neighborhoods they choose.
A search of the online database found 28 registered sex offenders who are listed as living in parks and beaches across the island. Their convictions range from sex assault to kidnapping.
In 2005, Patrick Walker was found guilty of multiple counts of child rape and child molestation in Washington state. His address? He put down two: Sandy Beach and Ala Moana Beach Park.
Places Sylvia McQuinn takes her 2-year-old son to play.
"It's just kind of scary. Scary to think about. There's these guys out here," said McQuinn. "Which park is safe?"
Tim Streitz, chairman of the McCully/Moiliili Neighborhood Board, said letting sex offenders use parks as their registered address doesn't make sense.
"To have kids around so close to where they're living and potentially providing some sort of stimulus to do something again," he said.
Hawaii is one of 20 states that doesn't restrict where a sex offender can live. There are also no laws that prevent them from going near schools, child care or parks.
Hawaii's public defender, Jack Tonaki, says stricter mandates would make it make it nearly impossible for sex offenders to find housing.
"If there were clear cut restrictions, such as 1,000 yards from a school, it would be very difficult just because Hawaii, in terms of land area, is such a small place," he said.
Under the law, if a person doesn't have a street address they are required to provide a description of where they live.
Paul Lopez is convicted of kidnapping and second-degree rape. His registered address is "Under Bridge Kaneohe." John Cuarisma Jr. was found guilty of incest and second-degree sex assault. He describes his home to be "Island Wide Bus/Ala Moana."
"It's no fault of the offender if that's actually where they're living," Tonaki said. "But it makes it hard for authorities to locate that person or for anyone to know exactly where that person is."
Investigators with the state Attorney General's Office are required by law to visit the address each offender provides to do random checks.
The office declined HNN's request for an interview, including to explain how unannounced visits are carried out when an offender is homeless. The office has also not responded to an email for further clarification.
Some parkgoers believe with all the homeless enforcement, unsheltered offenders aren't likely staying in the same place for more than a few days.
"Cops come. They sweep through this area," said McQuinn. "How do we really know where they are. For us to be safe and my son's safety. How are we to know?"
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