The Sex Offenders in Your Neighborhood: Not always online

The Sex Offenders in Your Neighborhood: Not always online
The online search only returns records for a fraction of the people registered as sex offenders in Oregon

EUGENE, Ore. - The state's registry of sex offenders has undergone changes.

But will those changes help keep predators off the streets - or shield a growing problem?

The latest 2012 survey by the National Centers for Missing and Exploited Children showed Oregon has the second highest rate of registered sex offenders per capita.

According to Oregon State Police, in 10 years Oregon's registry of sex offenders doubled from 10,000 to more than 20,000.

Why? Lane County District Attorney Alex Gardner points to state laws.

"For example, contributing to the sexual deliquency of a minor wasn't a registerable offense 15 years ago," Gardner said.

What about the age of consent? Oregon's is 18 - versus 16 in other states.

"That doesn't explain the rapid increase in Oregon's numbers, no, because that hasn't changed depreciably in the last 10 years... and there really aren't many of those cases, by the way," Gardner added.

Among Eugene's crime rates for 2012,physical molestation topped the list of sex offenses reported.

"In many cases, it's going to be a 40, 50, 60 or something man who's touching a girl under the age of 10. Now that's criminal in any state," Gardner said.

But don't expect to see those offenders on the public registry website. Only those considered "predators," or the most dangerous, are posted online.

But that doesn't mean those that don't appear on the website are not a threat to the community, Gardner said.

Less than 5 percent of convicted sex offenders living in Oregon are posted online. Your neighbor could be a sex offender and you might not even know it, if you use that website.

The other 95 percent get to live mostly private lives.