Why wasn’t suspect on the sex offender registry?

A Princeton man and former reporter for the Clarion Newspaper makes his first court appearance on public indecency charges. The charge is a misdemeanor, but for Herman Lopez it’s a felony because he’s been convicted of this crime many times before.

You won’t see his name on the Indiana sex and violent offender registry though, so 14 News went to the Sheriff’s Office Friday to find out why.

Thursday, Herman Lopez was charged with indecent exposure. He allegedly had gone into the Marshall’s near Eastland Mall a week ago and exposed himself in one of the aisles with other customers nearby.

The whole incident was captured on store security cameras. For Lopez, this has been a pattern of behavior, but so far he’s managed to avoid being part of the sex offender registry. That may soon change.

The incident at Marshall’s is only the latest bit of trouble for Herman Lopez. There’s a case pending in Bloomington, Indiana and three convictions of lewdness in New Jersey. In 2004, he pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of public indecency for exposing himself at the west side Goodwill.

In 2000, Sheriff’s Deputies say the east side Kohl’s had surveillance video of Lopez fondling himself through his clothes and placing pornographic material throughout the store. The case was turned over to the prosecutor’s office, but he was never charged due to insufficient evidence.

Despite all of that, you won’t see Herman Lopez’s face when you log onto the Indiana sex and violent offender registry.

Detective Corporal Tom Wedding, Vanderburgh Co. Sheriff’s Office, says, “Indecent exposure or public indecency is not a crime if you’re convicted of that you would have to register as a sex offender.”

Sheriff Eric Williams is among many who thinks those offenses definitely have their place alongside rape, criminal deviate conduct and child molesting.

Sheriff Eric Williams, Vanderburgh County, says, “Peeping toms, voyeurism all those kinds of things are probably precursors to becoming more serious offenders and if not, I still want to know if that guy’s living in my neighborhood.”

The Sheriff hopes legislators will review and modify the list periodically or change the law so it would be up to a judge to determine if someone should be on the registry. As for Lopez, he may soon make the registry after all. His charge in Bloomington is vicarious sexual gratification.

Corporal Wedding says, “If he is convicted of that particular charge, he will be ordered to register as a sex offender either for ten years or for life, depending on the age of his victim.”

Corporal Wedding says the public should remember that the sex offender registry does not prevent someone from committing a crime. It is only a tool for the public to use to know who lives, works and studies in their community.

Published in: on November 19, 2007 at 7:14 am  Leave a Comment  

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