Jacquelyn Ford Law, P.C.

Oklahoma sex offenders

Oklahoma sex offenders defense attorney

Russell Scott Walden, a former teacher and basketball coach at Butner High School in Cromwell, Oklahoma, turned himself in to authorities in mid-December 2012 on felony child sex and sexual battery charges. Walden, 36, is accused of maintaining a six-month relationship with a 16-year-old student.

Prosecutors claim Walden kissed, touched and rubbed up against the underage girl. Some of the incidents allegedly took place in the home Walden and his wife share on the high school’s grounds when the wife was not around. Prosecutors also claim Walden exchanged explicit text messages and pictures with the girl during the course of their relationship. Walden pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released on $100,000 bail.

Sex offender registration as the modern-day “Scarlet Letter”

Depending on the outcome of his case, Oklahoma’s Sex Offenders Registration Act could require Walden to register. The Act requires those convicted of certain sex offenses to provide their name, date of birth, photo, DNA, fingerprints, address, vehicle registration, place of employment, criminal history and more to the State Department of Corrections and local law enforcement. Much of this information is made public, including the age of the registrant’s victim and the level of the offender’s assignment.

As of November 2010, registered sex offenders in Oklahoma may not live – even temporarily – within 2,000 feet of any school, childcare center, playground, public park or other property used by an organization that works with children. Offenders convicted of crimes involving victims aged 13 and younger may not loiter within 500 feet of a school or day care. However, there is currently a push in the Oklahoma legislature to increase the victim age to 18 to include more registered offenders.

The Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration suggested the legislation. Its main proponent, State Sen. John Ford of Bartlesville, claims he has received no negative feedback about the idea, saying, “The only thing [I’ve heard was] from a couple [saying] ‘Goodness! Why wasn’t it 18 earlier?'” Clearly, the people Sen. Ford spoke to would not be personally affected by this drastic change in the law.

Such a change based on victim age would negatively affect those who had consensual sexual relationships with victims they may have believed were of age. In addition, it prohibits many more people from being in the area of schools and day cares, which causes additional difficulties. For example, should a school or childcare facility be near a commercial area, this change to the law would prohibit a number of registrants from seeking employment within that area. Though the idea is well meant, the actual consequences would be overly burdensome and could give parents a false sense of security.

Get a real sense of security

Being accused of a sex crime can be one of the most alienating experiences imaginable. When you hire a qualified criminal defense attorney, you will have the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have an advocate who will stand with you and protect your rights.