Sex offender registry would drop molester's name if not convicted again

Posted: Friday, February 08, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Until his plea, Kenneth Rarick was among 2,800 convicted sex offenders who are about to be dropped from Alaska's sex offender registry.

Rarick was convicted of sexual abuse of a minor in 1982. In December he was accused of molesting several North Pole children.

On Tuesday, he pleaded no-contest to four child molestation counts.

Without the new conviction, Rarick's name would have been among those dropped from the state's list of 4,300 offenders in response to a federal court ruling. Under the Jan. 18 order by U.S. District Senior Judge Russel Holland, the state is now prohibited from posting names of sex offenders convicted of crimes committed before Aug. 10, 1994.

As a result, public access has been temporarily blocked from a Web site version of the list while state Public Safety Department workers weed out names. Greg Wilkinson, a spokesman for Alaska State Troopers said the revised, shorter list is expected to be back online by mid February.

Alaska's sex-offender law was modeled after New Jersey's pioneering ''Megan's Law,'' which required that state to devise ways to allow the public to easily lets the public track known sex offenders. Now all states have some version of a sex offenders law.

Alaska's law was made retroactive 10 years when it was passed in 1994. That prompted convicted sex offenders to file nearly a half dozen lawsuits in state and federal courts, challenging the law as unconstitutional.

In April, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled in a case involving two convicted sex offenders who sued Alaska. The appeals court said the burden of registering retroactively was too harsh.

The panel then sent the case back to the lower court, whose January ruling was in response to a class-action lawsuit that argues the same issue.

Rarick's first offense in 1982 occurred before original law's the 10-year effective date. But three years later, he was ordered to serve 15 months of suspended time after being found in violation of his five-year probation by living with two underage boys, according to Chief Assistant Attorney General Dean Guaneli.

After his release from that sentence, he pleaded guilty again in December 1998 failing to register as a sex offender. He was sentenced to one year of probation, according to court records. By that time, the alleged abuse that led to some of the new charges had already occurred.

Without the latest conviction, the federal court order would have made him eligible to be removed from the registry.

The state has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the April ruling by the appellate court, Guaneli said. Sex offender files are being retained, should the high court side with the state, he said.

State officials say the recent court action doesn't change the way the state now handles sex offense cases. And it doesn't stop schools and other institutions that work with children from investigating the criminal histories of prospective employees.

''The Web site was just very quick, easy and free access by any member of the public,'' Guaneli said. ''There's still the old-fashioned way -- doing background checks.''

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