Sex offender list available online

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The Routt County Sheriff's Office unveiled its new online sex offender registry Wednesday.

The Web site provides residents with a list of all registered sex offenders who call Routt County home. Juvenile offenders are not listed on the site.

In addition to the names of convicted sex offenders, the Web site provides links to photographs of the offenders, a physical description, the crime for which they were convicted and their most recent home address.

The site also provides links to regional, state and national sex offender registries, including the Steamboat Springs Police Department's online registry, which lists one convicted sex offender.

"Having the registry online is easier for the community to have access to the information," said Elise Bennett, records custodian for the Sheriff's Office. "Instead of having to come into our office, people can now access the list from their homes."

Many residents don't have time to stop by the Sheriff's Office to check its registry. Now they won't have to, Bennett said.

"Everyday life is busy," she said. "As a parent, you never seem to find the time to check, even if you have been meaning to. Now, you can just get on the computer and look at it. That's the awesome part."

Before users can access the online registry, they must agree to a disclaimer stipulating they won't use the information on the registry to seek retaliation against one of the convicted offenders.

Information about Routt County sex offenders younger than 18 still is available at the Sheriff's Office.

Bennett said she has not contacted any of the county's registered sex offenders to tell them about the Web site. She said they are expected to know the laws regarding sex offender registration, which include the possibility of having their information published online.

"Having the online registry is just another part of the sex offender registration. (Sex offenders) have to learn to live around that," she said.

David Benevidez is a registered sex offender living in Routt County. He is one of the convicted offenders listed on the Sheriff's Office Web site.

Benevidez said he was un--aware that the Sheriff's Office was planning to put his registration information online.

Benevidez, who said he was wrongly convicted of sex assault on a child in April 1999, said he understands the public's right to know who their neighbors are, but he also is concerned that having the information so accessible could deter potential employers from hiring him.

"I know there are lots of jobs I couldn't get if employers knew about me," he said Wednesday.

"I understand it's fair for people in a neighborhood to know who lives next to them. I agree with that. I understand people want to know the truth," he said.

As part of his sentencing, Benevidez was required to register as a sex offender for the next 10 years. Benevidez said he pleaded guilty to a crime he didn't commit "because he had to."

"I am a registered sex offender. I am not a sex offender. I think having the information on the Internet is fair for people who do molest people, but not for those who are wrongly convicted," he said.

-- To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234

or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

The Routt County Sheriff's Office's sex offender list is at www.co.routt.co.u...

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