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LETTER TO AKC re: SEX OFFENDERS
Children’s cases specialist threatened with suspension for notifying of known sexual predator on dog show grounds, his letter to AKC goes UNANSWERED.
July 2014 | TheDogPress Club News
John Priest, Police Officer, U.S.M.C. Veteran
(editor's note, Priest's extensive professional credentials, teaching certifications and awards were furnished to TheDogPress.com AND to AKC. )
The back story on this is that when I brought this to the attention of the show chair, they refused to even notify the site security stating there was no AKC policy. When I began notifying my acquaintances and the highway patrol, the show chair threatened to have me suspended for disrupting the show.
These individual's present a serious threat to our children and inaction is not an option for the AKC.
I sent this letter to the AKC legal department in November 2013 after speaking to them on the phone. They have not responded. Last month this letter was sent to the board members, still no response. Known sexual predators at dog shows need to be addressed, hopefully your story will stimulate action.
COPY OF LETTER SENT TO AKC:
My name is John Priest, I am a police officer who has specialized in exploited children's cases for approximately a decade. It has come to my attention that the AKC does not provide any guidance to the member clubs and show superintendents as to the handling of registered sex offenders who are exhibiters, handlers or otherwise identified as such while on the grounds of an AKC event.
During the recent AKC show in Columbus, Ohio, an individual who handles dogs was identified as a registered sex offender from the New York area. When it was brought to the attention of the superintendent, they indicated that the AKC had no policy on registered sex offenders participating or observing AKC events.
The individual in question was a required lifetime registrant out of Broome County, New York with a threat risk level of 3 (high risk of repeat offense and a threat to public safety exists). I have seen this individual at a number of dog shows, but until an exhibitor pointed him out to me, I did not realize that he was a registered sex offender. Upon learning his status I researched him, verified his status and reached out to the county where he is required to register. They informed me that he had used force to victimize a 13 year old child and was convicted of a lesser charge as part of a plea bargain. After verifying his status, I informed the State Highway Patrol of his presence and was surprised that they had not been informed by the officials at the dog show.
Other organizations have had to deal with a similar situation. The YMCAs across the country have had to balance the safety and comfort of the majority of the YMCA's users over the desires of registered sex offenders to participate in activities and enter their properties. The YMCA's decision has been to ban a registered sex offender from utilizing any of the facilities or from participating in their programs. "Important to this effort is our ability to provide a safe and threat-free environment. For this reason the YMCA monitors the sexual offender registry. Persons on the list will not be eligible for YMCA membership, program participation, volunteer, or employment opportunities with the YMCA of Greater St. Louis."
The American Kennel Club has similar values and has a strong emphasis on the development of the youth involved in the sport. During this particular event the registered sex offender was seen interacting and in the area of a number of minors. There are a number of studies on sex offenders that indicate that there is a very high possibility of recidivism. A study funded by the National Institute of Justice (Prentky, Knight, & Lee, 1997). While the 25-year recidivism rate of 115 predatory child molesters in that study was cited as 52%. For this reason we must come to a policy that helps to protect our children and provide a safe environment for our spectators and exhibitors.
The best policy to address individuals that abuse and molest children is a zero tolerance policy. We are quick to suspend individuals convicted of offenses against animals, but have over looked the individuals who have committed violent acts against society and especially children. The best policy would be to suspend individuals convicted of certain crimes from all AKC activities. These individuals are not an asset to organization and will never bring the clubs into a positive light. I understand that this is a very difficult decision, but I believe that it is important to keep our children safe and maintaining a family friendly environment at AKC events. I understand that sometimes organizations do not want to take an aggressive stance but would rather have a policy to deal with individuals convicted of these crimes that still allows them to have access to the events or facilities. I would minimally suggest the AKC initiate the following policies.
These steps at minimum will help assure the safety of the children at the show and will provide some peace of mind to individuals that attend the show. We do not want to ever jeopardize our children and unnecessarily expose them to potentially dangerous individuals. These policies will provide guidance to show officials and member clubs to avoid an individual who was deemed "a threat to public safety" from going unchecked upon the site of any AKC event.
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