George Perez – Repeat Sex Offender – attacked child at school

Most of us feel safer knowing registered sex offenders cannot work or live near schools or day care facilities. But what if that registered sex offender is also a parent?

On Jan. 29, 2007, a ten-year-old girl was walking to East Side Elementary in Rogers when she noticed a man getting out of a grey minivan.

“The suspect grabbed her took her behind a shed. That’s when he groped her,” said Steve Helms of the Rogers Police Department.

That man was 30-year-old George Perez, a registered sex offender. He was also a parent of an East Side student.

“George Perez actually had been kind of lingering in the school,” said Beverly Engle of the Children’s Advocacy Center. Engle said Perez had been in the halls, observing children and driving around the school prior to the attack.

“I think there were some concerns that him victimizing that child may have been due to the fact that he had accessibility to that school at different times,” Engle said.

But at the time, there were no laws on the books keeping Perez — or other sex offenders — from being on school grounds.

“I know that offenders are going to schools because their children go there,” said Det. Leonard Graves of the Sex Offender Task Force.

“Tthey have families, they have children, which puts them in a church environment or a school environment around other children,” Engle said.

“Some of the schools know that parents have been charged in certain sex crimes of that nature, which could cause a problem,” Graves said.

But in the wake of the Perez attack, teachers, child advocates and lawmakers in Northwest Arkansas created House Bill 2336, which limits when a level 3 or 4 registered sex offender is allowed at school.

“I’m real concerned that even all schools are aware,” Engle said.

The law states that a convicted sex offender can only visit a school campus to drop off medicine or food as long as it’s delivered directly to the school office. If a sex offender is meeting for a parent teacher conference, he or she has to be escorted at all times.

But a convicted sex offender can’t be denied entrance to any school event where you have to buy a ticket, such as a football game. Graves says it would be discrimination to ban sex offenders from those types of events. But he added the added legislation is creating safer schools.

“An informed community is a safe community,” Graves said.

He said new laws in the future may help even more, “In 2009 there will probably be some more legislation that will streamline these laws a little more.”

Those potential laws may help prevent something like the Perez attack from happening again, but there are no laws on the books that prohibit those accused of sex crimes from being on school property, only those who’ve been found guilty.

“25% of all sex offenders re-offend within 15 years”
………Sarah Tofte

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