Posted: November 21, 2018
Category: NATIONAL HEADLINES
Oregon is home to the most sex offenders per capita in the U.S. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says there are currently 679 sex offenders per every 100,000 people in the state. The group says the national average is 274 per 100,000.
Due to complex legal requirements Oregon’s public sex offender website currently only lists about 2.4 percent of the state’s nearly 30,000 registered sex offenders.
KATU also discovered the website does not list more than 1,000 sex offenders the state has classified as predators.
And it wasn’t easy to find that out.
Oregon State Police (OSP), which oversees the state’s sex offender registry, initially tried to charge a KATU reporter $200 for much of the information in this story. But through multiple emails the reporter appealed and OSP gave it to him for free as the agency has in the past.
“If I can tell my story and help only one person, that’s great,” explained Trisha, who said she also hoped to hold the state accountable. The alleged rape survivor asked KATU not to reveal her last name.
Trisha said in February 2016 she met Alberto Baez Jr., 47, in Eugene. The single mother of two girls told KATU she moved in with him in Salem soon after.
“I liked him,” Trisha explained. “He was charming. He was nice. He was funny.”
But then Trisha said something strange happened.
“I kept getting phone calls and messages from people I knew, people I barely knew saying, ‘You know he’s a sex offender, right?’ And I didn’t want to believe it,” she explained, saying one of those people was Baez’s ex-wife.
She said she checked Oregon’s public sex offender website anyway and Baez wasn’t on it.
“So I was like, ‘These are people just trying to, you know, stir the pot,’” she said.
What Trisha didn’t know is Baez, a registered sex offender the state’s parole board labeled a predator, was convicted of two counts of third-degree rape in 2008 and three counts of second-degree sex abuse in 1994.
OSP told KATU Baez was put on the public website in 2010 but taken off the next year after a community corrections officer lowered his supervision.
“We had a very violent relationship,” she said. “He did some awful things to me. … I looked at it as probably torture.”
In April, Baez, who’s now in prison, was convicted of three counts of second-degree assault as well as unlawful use of a weapon and witness tampering related to attacks on Trisha in 2016 and 2017.
“He used to burn me with meth pipes,” Trisha said. “He took a lighter and put it to my back, so I had a burn there. … At one point he hit me over the head with a cutting board. … Just to protect my head and my face I threw my hands over my head. … He broke my fingers and plenty of other things.”
Baez is also currently charged with kidnapping and menacing Trisha as well as raping her repeatedly and he faces counts of sex abuse and possessing child pornography.
“Why he wasn’t on (the website) prior to that, I can’t answer,” Dylan Arthur, executive director of Oregon’s Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision, told a KATU reporter in October.
Oregon’s public listing of around 2 percent of the state’s sex offenders is extremely low compared to neighboring states. Idaho publicly lists 100 percent of its registered offenders, Nevada lists 90 percent, California lists 83 percent and Washington lists 33 percent.
When Oregon’s reclassification project is eventually done Arthur said it will likely only result in 5 to 10 percent of the state’s offenders being listed publicly.
He said the seven assessment specialists working on the re-classification effort are making progress, though not enough to make the current deadline.
As of October, Arthur told KATU only 4,029 of the state’s nearly 30,000 sex offenders had been reclassified into the three-level system.
“Right now, they’re averaging about 144 assessments a month compared to a year ago at this time where we were averaging 100,” he said. “It’s up to the Legislature to determine who goes on the website and who doesn’t.”