MADISON

Rep. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit, proposed legislation Monday he said would close a loophole in state statutes that puts children at risk of exposure to sex offenders, according to a news release.

The bill, co-authored by Sen. Janis Ringhand, D-Evansville, and Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton, would change the definition of a serious child sex offender if passed, according to the release.

The proposed new definition would apply to all who commit sexually violent crimes against children under age 16 and include those who plead guilty to a lesser crime, according to the release.

Under current law, someone is considered a serious child sex offender if they commit a sexually violent crime against someone under the age of 13, according to the bill’s co-sponsorship memo.

Sex offenders might be granted supervised release after a criminal conviction, according to the release. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services creates a plan for the release, including finding a the offender a place to live.

A serious child sex offender cannot be placed into a residence next to the primary residence of a child, according to the memo.

Loopholes in the law allowed a sex offender from La Crosse to be placed in a home in Beloit next to a child, according to memo.

The memo states that the placement was possible for two reasons:

  • The offender was charged with second-degree sexual assault, not second-degree sexual assault of a child.
  • The offender accepted a plea agreement to dismiss the second-degree sexual assault charge and plead guilty to a lesser charge of third-degree sexual assault.

The offender’s victims were children, according to the memo.

The bill will not cause anyone to be labeled a sex offender who is not already, according to the memo.

The bill is awaiting resolution between the state Senate and Assembly, according to the memo.

“The safety of our community is my No. 1 priority in the Legislature,” Spreitzer said in a news release. “Current law is too limited in what child sex crimes lead to a sexually violent offender being restricted from living next to children. This bill will help protect our children from potential threats and ensure safety in our communities.”

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