Sex offenders who strike again

TRI-CITIES, Wash. - People were outraged again this week after hearing a sex offender had moved near a school in Richland.

You may remember Jerry Sharp. He was the sex offender who moved across the street from Sacajawea Elementary School, legally.

His conviction came before the laws changed. They now limit sex offenders from being within 880 feet of a school. Bikers showed up to escort kids to school safely.

I talked to Sharp as he loaded his car and prepared to move out.

He said, "The laws in my favor, it's just a thing that isn't acceptable. I'm moving out today, I got to leave."

After hearing about another sex offender moving near Sacajawea, I followed up on Jerry Sharp. I learned he's back in jail. After leaving the home near the school, Sharp couldn't find a new place to go.

He began sleeping in the public restrooms at Columbia Point. But this was against the law. Sharp wasn't allowed in any city parks.
By chance a neighbor found him severely beaten in the restroom.

After Sharp was found bloodied in this bathroom, he returned not once but 2 more times making him a constant threat to this park.

When he recovered he was charged with three counts of criminal trespass against children. This rapist, kidnapper and level three sex offender is now safely away from the community again.

To the public at large most people don't understand why we can't lock sex offenders up and throw away the key.

Franklin County prosecutor Shawn Sant said, "Outside of some kind of extended circumstances or aggravated circumstances, we have to follow guidelines."

Those guidelines carve out the kind of time someone can serve for a crime. Sant hopes to test the upper end of those guidelines with a case in his jurisdiction.

Terry Hoefler was just convicted of attempted child rape. It's his second sexual offense. The state is looking to lock him up for good.
But his case is extremely rare.

KEPR said, "We report on these things so much, so many people outcry, why can't we keep them in jail?

Sant said, "That question comes back to legislature. I don't think there's really any way that they would be able to come up and say, any first time sex offense absolutely, they're going to jail, throw away the key, they're never coming out."

Sant's suggestion better monitoring guidelines. Once offenders serve their time and are released, he'd like to see them tracked.

Making it easier to find those hiding in the shadows.

Jerry Sharp is set to be tried on his current offenses next month.

Terry Hoefler should be sentenced next week. He could face life in prison without parole.