Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sex Offenders Checking Into Hotels and Motels

With few other options, convicted sex offenders sometimes settle into motels and hotels. And Florida's Web site (http://offender.fdle.state.fl.us/offender/homepage.do) will show you whether a predator is checked into the room next door.

Reader Cameron Cahill was "stunned" to see that a sex offender lives in an extended-visit hotel in Melbourne where relatives often stay.

"They have never been told when they checked in that there was a sex offender staying just a few doors away," Cahill told me by e-mail. "I asked the hotel what their policy was, and they said that they 'respect the privacy of their patrons, and don't ask.' Perhaps they should be respecting the safety of the patrons as well."

Turns out, the hotel is within its rights.

"There is not a requirement to notify guests," said Kristen Perezluha, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which monitors offenders and maintains the registry.

I won't name the establishments -- you can check for yourself -- but I ran the addresses for a dozen Brevard County hotels, and found offenders living at three of them, including the one Cahill mentioned and two independent motels that let guests rent by the week or month.

Florida's database -- online at offender.fdle.state.fl.us -- includes background details on the type of crime the offender committed and how long it has been since the offense.

Neighboring states have similar databases.

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