News 8 Investigation: Big flaw in Megan's Law - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

News 8 Investigation: Big flaw in Megan's Law

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SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CBS 8) - News 8 investigations this week have exposed a glaring lack of resources when it comes to tracking sex offenders, but what about mothers and fathers trying to gather simple information to protect their families through the Megan's Law web site?

Scott Wellborne is putting in an eight-hour day for Chelsea King.

"I'm so angry and I'm livid and I can't comprehend for the life of me why there are not more people standing out here right now," he said.

Wellborne stands alone because the more you learn about John Gardner and the Megan's Law web site with the thousands of faces on it, the more confused you'll become.

Former district attorney Paul Pfingst says look at the sex offender web site and you'll see blue dots on top of blue dots - thousands of them that all seem to blend together.

"The number one thing that would help protect our children in this county is if the police could direct their attention like a laser beam on the highest risk offenders and not spend their time working on the medium- and lower-risk offenders. That would be more productive, but everybody is afraid that if a low-risk offender reoffends they will be criticized for not focusing on them," Pfingst said.

Pfingst believes John Gardner should have been classified as a high-risk offender. If you look on the Megan's Law website, it simply says Gardner committed a lewd act against a child, but there are hundreds of cases that say the same thing and nothing more.

With so many lewd and lascivious offenses on the web site, how is a person supposed to distinguish between one sex offender's case and another? News 8 went to the courthouse for that.

Any citizen can do a records search, but would you? With a clerk's help, we scroll through thousands of pages of documents archived on microfilm. We're searching for a man who was convicted of the same crime Gardner was. It turns out the search was a waste of time. After going through microfiche, all the documents showed was that he committed a lewd act.

In the year 2000, Gardner picked up a 13-year-old girl from a bus stop, violently beat and molested her. Yet on the Megan's Law web site, he simply gets a blue dot like another man we decided to look up.

To pull his file, we're told to go to the third floor, but after signing in and waiting for our turn we're told to go down to the first floor. So down the escalator we go to a different department where we sign in again and wait some more before finally getting our hands on the case.

After all of that, the paperwork in the case simply states the defendant committed a lewd act. We don't know if his victim was a stranger and we don't know if it was a violent attack.

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