Troops Convicted of Child Molestation or Rape Able to Avoid Registering as Sex Offenders

The Department of Defense provides little oversight of sex offenders after they've been discharged from military prisons. (Photo: Nick Moron, WXIA-TV, Atlanta)
The Department of Defense provides little oversight of sex offenders after they’ve been discharged from military prisons. (Photo: Nick Moron, WXIA-TV, Atlanta)

A loophole in military law allows troops convicted of crimes such as rape or child molestation to avoid states’ sex-offender registries.

When a sex offender is released from a military prison, the Department of Defense asks where the former soldier, sailor, Marine or airman plans to go, then sends that community a letter. After that, department officials provide little oversight to make sure those plans happen.

Basil Kingsberry, a former Army specialist convicted of rape and forcible sodomy while serving oversees, told the military he was headed to Mississippi but ended up in Georgia instead. When we began reporting this story, he was not listed on the Georgia Sex Offender Registry.

“This is a sex offender who has fallen between the cracks,” said Director Vernon Keenan of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the agency responsible for maintaining the statewide registry.

Bureau officials said the military’s paperwork was confusing and led their investigators to believe that Kingsberry’s conviction had been set aside or overturned.

“Two occasions we asked the military to provide us with further documentation regarding his offense and conviction,” Keenan said. “We did not receive any additional paperwork.”

As a result, the agency told Kingsberry, 43, that he did not need to register.

The problem occurs nationwide. In August, a Department of Defense Inspector General report said the military is following the law but noted its present policy enables sex offenders to evade registration.

According to the military’s own data, about 40% of its inmates are required to register as sex offenders. But in a U.S. Marshals Service review in 2013, as many as 35 of 193 people had failed to do so.

“(I want) to require everyone before they’re released from military prison to be fingerprinted, to have their DNA taken and to be identified as a sexual predator,” said Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif.

Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., has asked Speier to be a co-sponsor of any bill she submits for consideration.

“We are producing victims, often children. I think we must have some clear cut guidelines to protect the public from sexual predators,” he said.

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SOURCE: Rebecca Lindstrom, WXIA-TV, Atlanta

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