NEW JERSEY: MEGAN’S LIVING LEGACY (Sex-offender laws spreading – but not without challenges)
There used to be a home across the street from Richard and Maureen Kanka's house but now there is a small park with flowers, benches and a goldfish pond fed by a small waterfall. That home is where, seven years ago, Jesse Timmendequas, a convicted sex offender, raped, beat and strangled their 7 year old daughter Megan. He has since been sentenced to death. Since then, laws bearing Megan's name have sprung up all over the country, requiring convicted sex offenders to register with authorities. New Jersey expanded its version last month. There is also a federal law. State and federal courts, citing the right to confidentiality, have sharply restricted public postings about sex offenders. The US Supreme Court hasn't weighed in yet, but critics say the case has already changed the way civil liberties are handled in court. Almost since the day Megan died, the Kanka's have pushed to allow communities easier access to information about sex offenders. Had they known Timmendequas was living across the street with two other convicted sex offenders, they say, Megan would be alive today.
(Hamilton, New Jersey)