Advocates working to close loophole that allows child predators to have record wiped clean

When it comes to most sex crimes, courts aren’t allowed to offer offenders a “diversion.” Which is when first offenders get a chance to walk away with no criminal convictions on their record. But a loophole in the law means when it comes to one very disturbing sex crime, judges are able to let offenders off free.

The loophole is for offenders who solicit sex from minors.

As it stands now, if judges so chose, when someone appears before them and it’s their first charge like this, the judge can give them the chance to end up with a clean record.

“We find out the hard way, when there’s still gaps that we need to address,” said Rachel Hagga, Executive Director at Restore Corps, a human trafficking advocacy group. This issue falls into that category.

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“There is one particular case out of Knox County, where a church staff, someone showed and paid for sex with what he thought was a 14-year-old girl. He was offered probation and diversion. So, once he serves his probationary time, he can get that arrest wiped from his record.”

The judge was completely within his right to agree to this sentence, but Hagga said, the public is then put at risk.

“He could then go get employed at another church and be around a vulnerable population again,” she explained.

She said her office and others across the State of Tennessee are actively working to get the loophole closed through the legislative process, but that could take years.

“In the meantime, do you think we as communities should hold these judges more accountable?” FOX13 asked.

“Trafficking clearly should have been on the list of non-divertible offenses,” she answered, “Until that list can be amended, we would pretty much beg the DA’s office and our judges to look at the intent of the law and sentence accordingly.”

If you’d like to see the solicitation of minors become a non-divertible offense, contact your local representatives, or even your local judges.