The Right to Know -

The Right to Know

Timothy Wade seemed like a nice guy.

He was standing just outside his garage as we approached him at his home in St. Charles.

Wade, 50, looked and acted like the kind of neighbor you'd invite over to share a pizza while you watch a game on tv. He was disarming and acted sincere. He told me he was just "trying to live a normal life."

Of course, that will be impossible, both for Wade and the woman he raped.

In 1990, two weeks before Christmas, Wade broke into a woman's home as she was sleeping alone. He wore a mask and rubber gloves, sprayed bug spray in her face, tied up her hands and raped her.

"I didn't do it," Wade claimed at the time. However, "I am pleading guilty," he told Judge William Lohmar, "because the evidence is overwhelming against me."

Wade was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Wade's victim described the attack as "an ambush in my own home. It is the worst possible crime that he could have done to me short of killing me. He sodomized me and he raped me."

She moved out of her home for two months, sold her bed and was afraid to sleep alone. "This fear will stay with me for the rest of my life," she told the judge. "I hope and pray that this man will never have the opportunity to put anyone else through what he put me through."

Wade insisted he reveals his criminal past to anyone who asks about. But why would you ask someone like him if he's a sex offender. After all, he seems so nice.

Wade used to be listed on the Missouri Sex Offender Registry, but two years ago the state Supreme Court ruled that he, and four-thousand other offenders, didn't have to register because they were convicted before the registry was created in 1995.

After serving 15 years in prison, Wade got paroled last summer and moved back to St. Charles. He lives on a quiet cul-de-sac and is required to wear a monitoring device so his Parole Officer can follow his movements.

But that's not enough for Phil Groenweghe, the St. Charles County Assistant Prosecutor who convicted him.

"This guy is the poster boy for why we need sex offenders to register," Groenweghe told me. "We need to keep track of someone like this."

No one is keeping track of Franklin Hiestand, a convicted child molester living in a rundown rental home on a short dead end street in Wellston.

Hiestand pleaded guilty to Sodomy for repeatedly molesting a three-year old girl, who told police that Hiestand "did a bad thing. He didn't listen, he just kept doing it. He did it everyday."

Unlike Wade, Hiestand was defensive and angry, insisting that he paid his debt to society and that no one had a right to know anything about him, even families with young children.

"I have a right to my privacy," Hiestand insisted as he stood in the doorway of his house. "That happened 15 to 20 years ago, I think I should have my privacy."

"The neighbors know," the niece told me. "We didn't keep it a secret."

But several neighbors didn't know.

Hiestand's niece yelled at us to leave him alone. Her husband cursed me and stuck his middle finger toward me to eliminate any confusion about his feelings.

The niece eventually called the Wellston Police to try to force us out of his neighborhood. Of course, we had a right to be there and the police left us alone.

The root of this story is about individual rights. The right of thousands of convicted sex offenders verses the rights of unsuspecting families who live near them.

The Missouri Senate passed a bill that would allow voters to decide if they want to change the state constitution to put the names of the de-listed offenders back in the Sex Offender Registry. The Missouri House has not approved the bill.

Clearly, not all "sex offenders" are created equal. Some of the people taken off the registry were convicted of statutory crimes with willing partners.

Then, there are people like Hiestand, a convicted child molester who isn't required to register and is no longer supervised by a Parole Officer.

We compiled a list of 53 convicted sex offenders who are in the same situtation as Hiestand: No registration and no supervision. I obtained the information through the Missouri Department of Corrections by requesting the names of all inmates who were de-listed from the registry while they under the supervision of the DOC.

"I got 15 more years to go" on parole, Wade told me.

He insisted that he didn't want to be a part of our story out of concern for "my victim."

"If the victim sees me on tv It'll just stir up emotions in her and I just don't want her to have to go through that again."

We talked for a few minutes, then Wade calmly and politely walked away.

The man who prosecuted Wade called him "the poster boy for why we need sex offenders to register."

But as I watched him walk inside his home, I suddenly felt sorry for him.

Then, I remembered why I was there and what he had done.

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