Sex offenders who fail to register face felony charges, but you have to find them first

Troy James Allison

 

Recently, a Texas 10 Most Wanted Sex Offender, Demus Lee Westmoreland, 52, was arrested in Beaumont after failing to register as a sex offender in Galveston. Now, police are looking for another Top 10 sex offender, 64-year-old Troy James Allison, who has been on the lam since 2004 after failing to register in Lufkin and who once called Beaumont home.

Beaumont Police Department Detective Tamora Hamilton is responsible for registering all 592 sex offenders who are currently required to register in Beaumont, including the average 150 or so offenders who live in the Beaumont Center halfway house. She says most of her charges comply with registration requirements, but she cannot account for how many sex offenders from other jurisdictions who fail to register may be living right down the road.

“That’s the problem,” Hamilton said. “We don’t know. If you have a sex offender, and the family is not reporting that they are at that address, we have no way of knowing. We can’t go to every house in Beaumont and check to see if a sex offender is there.”

Hamilton said when sex offenders fail to register, they often go somewhere other than where they are required to register to try to avoid identification and capture.

“People come from Louisiana all the time,” asserted the detective. “I had a case earlier this year where a guy was working at Kroger and he was from Louisiana (where he was supposed to register as a sex offender). He didn’t tell me he was here. We didn’t know he was here until he got assaulted at Kroger and was a victim in a case. A detective upstairs ran his name and saw he was a sex offender and called me up. I had no idea he was here. Louisiana had no idea he was here.”

There is just no way to know how many sex offenders who fail to register are hiding in Southeast Texas, Hamilton lamented. She said it is often up to a sex offender’s family members to let authorities know where that person is, as that is who many of them end up living with when they are on the run. But often family members simply will not turn in their loved ones.

That needs to change, said Hamilton.

“We can only know if someone speaks up,” she said.

And don’t forget some important statistics, warns Hamilton. Not all registered sex offenders target children, but according to the National Sex Offender Public Website under the administration of the Department of Justice, an estimated 30 percent of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are family members and 60 percent of perpetrators of sexual abuse are known to the child but are not family members. Only about 10 percent of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are strangers to the child.

“Their victims are rarely strangers,” making it even riskier for relatives, especially those with children in the house, to harbor the wanted criminals.

Hamilton says, while sex offenders who fail to register in the jurisdiction required of them could be anywhere, like Westmoreland, they face serious penalties for not complying with the law. Offenders with a single conviction face third-degree felony charges for failing to register while those with more than one conviction face second-degree felony punishment – up to 20 years in prison. She estimates that she files maybe two cases a month against Beaumont sex offenders for failing to register or failing to report a new address. Sex offenders have seven days upon moving to report their new address to registering authorities.

Sex offenders with a single conviction are required to register annually, said Hamilton, whereas those with multiple convictions are required to register quarterly. Homeless people, or offenders with no permanent address, must register monthly. Sex offenders who study at a university must alert campus administration of their registry status, and sex offenders visiting school campuses must likewise alert the campus of their presence.

Hamilton said sex offenders have numerous rules they must follow, but many community members erroneously assume one of those rules is that sex offenders cannot live with children. They can.

“People think there is a law that sex offenders can’t be around kids, but as long as they are not on probation or parole, they can be in a house with 20 kids,” Hamilton shared.

So be careful, she says. Do your homework.

Hamilton said she knew a woman who met a seemingly nice man at a church singles group. She started seeing him and even chaperoned game nights for kids with him at her home. One night, she arrived home early from work and was surprised by a knock at the door about 9 p.m. When she opened the door, it was him. He was holding several comic books he told her he had “come across” and wanted to give to her 9-year-old son. The man knew she was supposed to be at work, the mother told Hamilton, and red flags immediately raised. Gifting is a tactic used by sex offenders to gain children’s trust, explained Hamilton.

“So she Googled him, and she immediately pulled up his sex offender registration from DPS. It was the first thing that showed up.”

Besides Google and the DPS website, Hamilton said DPS also offers a very useful free app.

“DPS has an app that lets you look up sex offenders nearby,” she offered. “You can search your neighborhood, or even your current location wherever you are, and see a map of sex offenders with addresses nearby. You can also search by zip code or city.

“When we enter information into the registry, it’s on the DPS site within 15 minutes. DPS is the most accurate site with the most current information.”

As for Allison, he was convicted of aggravated sexual assault in 1978, according to the Texas Sex Offender Registry.

Allison was arrested after he attacked a 22-year-old female at a Houston apartment complex in 1977, struck her in the head with a revolver and abducted her to another location where he raped her at gunpoint, according to DPS. He was sentenced to 75 years, but was paroled in 2003 and has been wanted since 2004.

Allison was also convicted of assault in 1973 and indecency with a child in 1976.

He was last seen in the Lufkin area and has family in the Houston and Conroe areas. Allison is currently wanted by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles for violating parole and by the Lufkin Police Department for failing to register as a sex offender.

Allison has been employed as a pipe fitter, welder and meat cutter, in addition to serving in the U.S. Marine Corps.

The letters “USMC” and “ZAN” are tattooed on the outside of his upper right arm.

He should be considered armed and dangerous.

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