Loophole Allows Indiana Sex Offenders To Use Social Media

By Corinne Rose

January 31, 2013 Updated Jan 31, 2013 at 6:33 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) -- Indiana legislators are scrambling to re-write a law banning sex offenders from social media sites, after a federal appeals court ruled the current law is too broad.

Because of this legal ruling, registered Allen County sex offenders are being told they can use social media sites like Facebook, My Space and Twitter, but they still have to provide police with every email address, user name and chat room name they use.

If detectives find an account the offender didn't tell them about, that could mean new felony charges.

If the state legislature passes a revised or new law this session, sex offenders could again be prohibited from sites like Facebook.

In the meantime, if you or your children get creepy emails or messages from someone, you can go to the Allen County Sheriff's website to search that user name, email or phone number.

"If it comes back to a registered offender, they won't be notified who that offender is, but they'll be prompted to call their local law enforcement authorities so we can look into it and see if there are any criminal charges that we could file against this person," says Detective Jeff Shimkus, who oversees the sex offender registry for Allen County.

Shimkus says 99% of the time, offenders on probation or parole are banned from using websites so they can concentrate on their counseling and rehabilitation process.

But he says there will always be people trolling the Internet for their next victim, whether they've already been caught or not.

"I don't want the public to think oh my gosh, since this law has been repealed, now there's going to be a ton of sex offenders on Facebook and My Space. They're already there. They've been there, whether this law was on the books or not. They're there. You never know who you're talking to online," Shimkus adds.

To search for offenders living or working near you or their user names, click here.

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