1. Is it true? That is, how can we verify that we have a sex offender living in our community? and
2. If it is true, now what?
The very fact that an Association becomes aware of a sex offender’s presence in the community in the first place is likely the result of Pennsylvania’s “Megan’s Law”, which requires registration and community notification of convicted sex offenders.
The first “Megan’s Law” was passed by New Jersey in 1994 after the tragic circumstances involving seven-year-old Megan Kanka. Other states, including Pennsylvania, followed suit shortly thereafter, passing their own versions of Megan’s Law. The centerpiece of Pennsylvania's Megan's Law is the requirement that the Pennsylvania State Police create and maintain a registry of persons who have either been convicted of, entered a plea of guilty to, or have been adjudicated delinquent of, certain sexual offenses either in Pennsylvania or in another jurisdiction and reside, work and/or attend school in Pennsylvania. The registry of such persons is found on the Megan’s Law portion of the Pennsylvania State Police website, the web address of which is http://www.pameganslaw.state.pa.us. This website contains a useful search tool, as well as, details pertaining to individual offenders.
With the above website in mind, Associations now have the tool to verify whether a registered person is living in their community. We now turn to the issue of what, if anything, should the Association do. From a purely legal perspective, a registered sex offender has served his or her court-mandated sentence and has been released from custody. In fact, any visitor to the Pennsylvania State Police Megan’s Law website noted above is presented with a warning stating that any person who uses the information found on the website to threaten, intimidate or harass a reporting person, or his or her family, or who otherwise misuses this information, may be subject to criminal prosecution or civil liability. While our advice to Associations depends on the specific facts of each situation, generally speaking, the mere presence of a registered sex offender living in a community with no other negative interaction does not require any action from the Association’s Board of Directors. Again, the facts of each matter and the Board’s specific concerns must be evaluated on a case by case basis.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the above, please do not hesitate to contact our office as we would be happy to review your matter and advise you accordingly.