Bipartisan senators introduce legislation to close military sex offender reporting loophole

Scripps report cited as revealing problem

WASHINGTON D.C. - Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, introduced bipartisan legislation Friday intended to close a legal loophole that enables military sex offenders to evade registering with civilian law enforcement.

Currently, sex offenders convicted in the military justice system must self-report after release, whereas other sex offenders must register prior to release. The Military Sex Offender Reporting Act would require the Department of Defense to register offenders directly with the FBI National Crime Information Center prior to release from a Military Corrections Facility or upon conviction if incarceration was not required.

In a press release announcing the introduction of the Senate bill, Burr credited the reporting of Scripps News for revealing how “this loophole has enabled hundreds of convicted sex offenders to evade registering and allowed some to commit horrendous crimes again.”

Scripps first exposed the problem in an investigative report last November.  Since then, the Pentagon has announced it will release a new policy in early spring that would involve a partnership with the U.S. Marshals Service. Officials would not give details about the new policy. 

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However Congressional action is needed to allow the DOD to place the names of convicted military sex offenders in the FBI database, which is available to law enforcement nationwide.

“The bill I introduced today closes a horrendous gap that currently exists in identifying and tracking known sex offenders – a gap that should have been closed a long time ago,” said Senator Burr. “Congress should act swiftly to send this legislation to the President’s desk before another predator exploits this loophole and strikes again.”

Senator Claire McCaskill (D- MO), a former sex crimes prosecutor who sits on the Armed Service Committee, is co-sponsoring the legislation. 

“We’ve got to close this egregious loophole that’s allowed convicted sex offenders to evade detection when they re-enter society,” said McCaskill, a former sex crimes prosecutor. “Tracking these folks should be a top public safety priority and this legislation provides the tools for law enforcement to properly monitor and identify these criminals.”

If you have a tip or an update about a military sex offender, email mark.greenblatt@scripps.com. You can also follow updates to this story on Twitter @greenblattmark

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