Local Woman Leads Fight Against Sex Offenders

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You won't find much opposition to Proposition 103, but Rim country resident Pepper Porter isn't taking any chances.

She is out campaigning for the ballot measure, which would prohibit bail for persons accused of sexual assault or child molestation, because her youngest daughter was victimized by just such a person.

"Just say that I have a problem with sex offenders," Porter said. "My youngest daughter was brutally beaten by a convicted sex offender in 1998 when she was 2 years old."

While Porter was engaged to the man who assaulted her daughter, she didn't know he had been convicted in California of sexual conduct with a child under the age of 13, nor that he had served more than two years in prison for the offense. Although California requires such people to register if they move, he failed to do so.

"He lost his temper with her and it just went from there," Porter said.

Her ex-fiance is now serving a five-year sentence in an Arizona prison. He is scheduled to be released in 2004.

"He denied doing it and he tried to go to trial," Porter said. "It took us about two years to get him to finally take a plea for a class 3 felony."

Porter, who also has a 9-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old son, believes that Prop. 103 is the door that must be opened to get stricter registration and notification laws.

State Senator Dean Martin, sponsor of Prop. 103, says it will allow judges to set other bail conditions in addition to money.

"Judges will be able to set any conditions of release to protect the community, the victim, or their family, or protect against the intimidation of a witness," Martin said.

Porter fears the day her ex-fiance will be released and is fighting to have him registered before before that happens.

"He hasn't made any direct threats," she said, "but he's angry because I was supposed to stand by him and all this other stuff and I didn't."

Porter is also working toward the establishment of a national database of sex offenders so other parents won't have to go through what she did.

"Right now, there are 13 states that don't have sex offender registries on the Internet," she said.

Besides utilizing newspaper ads, e-mails and word-of-mouth in support of Prop. 103, Porter has founded an organization called Prevent Future Abuse.

"If we want to protect our children, it's up to us parents to get involved," she said.

"We need to form a unified organization and say, 'Hey, we don't accept what these people are doing, and we want something done.'

"If enough parents complain, enough parents say something, it's going to get done."

For more information, call Porter at 468-1771. The organization's website address is www.preventfutureabuse.org.

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