Pa. Probes MySpace For Sex Offenders

Bob Preston
PITTSBURGH — The Pennsylvania Attorney General said that the government is reviewing the records of approximately 200 registered sex offenders who also have accounts on MySpace.

State Attorney General Tom Corbett explained that the probe is intended to determine whether any of the offenders has violated terms of their release by using MySpace.

State and local probation and parole officers will receive information about the offenders to help with the probe.

"Social networking sites like MySpace are supposed to be safe places for teens and young adults to connect with friends, share their thoughts and meet new people," Corbett said. "Convicted sex offenders have no business in that kind of an environment."

Pennsylvania isn't the first state to look at social networking websites as possible havens for sex offenders. Indiana lawmakers have passed legislation that bans sex offenders convicted of crimes involving children from using social networking websites like Facebook and MySpace.

Free Speech Coalition Chairman Jeffrey Douglas told XBIZ the Indiana law presents some potential problems.

"I understand how no sane person could be sympathetic with a certain kind of sex offender, but there are a wide range of sex offenders," he said.

Douglas, who represented Paul F. Little, aka Max Hardcore, in his recent obscenity trial, explained that legally, "children" usually means anyone under 18, which radically enlarges the pool of sex offenders.

For example, Douglas described a case in California where an 18-year-old man drove by his old high school and clicked his teeth to flirt at some passing students. That was enough to land that man, who had just turned 18, on a sex offender list.

But besides those concerns, Douglas said that monitoring legal activity won't deter an offender who is bent on committing a crime.

"No sex offender who intends to break the law will obey this law," he said.