Why is Illinois convicted sex offender exempt from public regist - KMOV.com

Why is Illinois convicted sex offender exempt from public registry?

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By Afton Spriggs By Afton Spriggs
Michael Church By Afton Spriggs Michael Church By Afton Spriggs
(KMOV) -- The arrest of a convicted sex offender is raising questions about the integrity of the Illinois sex offender registry.

Michael Church, 22, is in jail. He's charged with trying to lure two young girls back to his East Alton Home. Parents want to know why the convicted sex offender is not on the state's registry.

News 4 is looking out for you and Maggie Crane is getting answers to your questions.

Church has lived and worked in this community, yet no one knew about his dangerous past. Now, that has even police encouraging everyone from Michael Church's boss to the victims' parents to work together to change a state law.

"My daughters said they had a funny feeling in their tummy" and knew something wasn't right. Marie and Eric's 6 and 8-year-old daughters were playing in their front yard when Michael Church allegedly walked down from his house with his dog.

"He had asked them at one point if they wanted to go to his secret hiding place," Marie says. "He told them where he lived and said 'you can come see me and my dog anytime.'"

Marie and Eric frequently check the sex offender registry but have never seen Michael Church. Convicted of a sex offense while underage, Church's juvenile past is only visible to police -- not the public.

"As a professional in law enforcement, do you think that that law should change?" News-4 reporter Maggie Crane asks East Alton Police Detective Sgt. Brian Archer.

"I think it definitely needs to be reviewed and changed so that we have better access for the public because they're kind of our eyes and ears out there," Sgt. Archer says.

We found out that Church was recently hired with a local lawn care company after being placed through the state program Putting Illinois to Work.

"We did a background check, but the background didn't pop anything up to be of concern because his previous offense happened as a juvenile," Church's boss says.

"How does that make you feel?" Crane asks.

"Pretty bad that we brought someone like that in our neighborhood. We work here and live here. I grew up here and I have a 10-year-old daughter that this guy has been around."

"Do you feel duped?"

"Yes, couldn't put it any better than that."

Police say there are 31 registered sex offenders in East Alton but that many more juveniles just like Church fly under the public radar.

Maggie Crane is a reporter at News 4.  To contact her, email mcrane@kmov.com

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