This is an archived article that was published on in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A bill to be proposed in the upcoming Legislative session could allow certain sex offenders to halve their time on the Sex Offender Registry.

HB13, sponsored by Rep. Jack Draxler, R-North Logan, would allow offenders convicted of unlawful sexual conduct with a 16 or 17 year old, unlawful sexual activity with a 14 or 15 year-old minor or voyeurism to petition a judge for removal from the registry. They must have completed all required counseling and broken no other laws since their sexual offense.

Instead of remaining on the registry for 10 years, they could petition a judge to be removed after five.

"This isn't about being soft on sex offenders," Draxler said. "It's a bill about reformation and redemption."

Draxler said he drafted the bill after several constituents contacted him about their situations. The one that stands out most: a man who was 19 and had sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend. He served jail time, paid his fine, and the two married after he was released. They now have four children together, but having to be on the registry has prevented him from taking his children to the park and limited where he can live, Draxler said.

"He's nearing his 10 years, so this won't affect him, but he should have at least had the opportunity to go to a judge and say 'I'd like to be removed after 5 years,' and if the judge agrees he's not a threat in any way, he can grant that," Draxler said.

He says he's talked with scores of his fellow legislators, and all of them have told him stories similar to the ones he's heard.

According to the Utah Department of Corrections, there are about 6,900 sex offenders on Utah's list. Of those, 167 are registered for unlawful sexual conduct with a 16 or 17 year old, 747 for unlawful sexual activity with a minor and 18 for voyeurism.

Draxler drafted the bill to require a judge to approve the removal because he wanted to make sure victims still had a voice in the offender's punishment.

"We've been very careful to protect the interests of victims," he said, adding that prosecutors must involve the victim, or the victim's parents, in the petition hearing.

Holly Mullen, interim executive director of the Rape Recovery Center, said she understands why Draxler would want to create such a bill.

"People who deal with sex offenses on all parts of the spectrum believe in people's ability to reform and for restitution," Mullen said. "I also believe that there are some cases where there are some teenage and dating relationships where kids make errors in judgments, and those kinds of situations should be looked at and we should consider his bill."

However, she adds that only a tiny minority of victims who she and other rape crisis centers treat fall into such categories.

"The vast majority of cases are really clear cases of a much older adult and a much younger victim or are happening under completely inappropriate circumstances," Mullen said. "Most are absolute predators, people who know better, and it would be very difficult to allow them to be part of this legislation."

Draxler says he picked the three "least egregious" crimes because those convicted of them are usually not sexual predators.

"Even then, they only have an opportunity, not a guarantee, to get off the registry," Draxler said. "There are bound to be some folks who are going to be uncomfortable with this, but I hope they see we tried to look out for the interest of victims while giving a chance for redemption for those who have made a dumb mistake when they were young and never repeated that mistake."

Twitter: @sheena5427 —

Crimes the bill would affect

Unlawful sexual conduct with a 16- or 17-year-old requires the offender to be at least 10 years older than the teenager.

Sexual conduct with a minor, who is 14 or 15, is a third-degree felony unless the offender is less than four years older than the victim. In that case, it is a class B misdemeanor.

In either offense, force cannot have been used.

Voyeurism means someone secretly recorded a person without their consent.

Source: Utah State Code