Are Colorado's laws making it too easy for Internet child predators to reoffend?

DENVER - Investigator Mike Harris with the First Judicial District Attorney's Office has arrested more than 700 sex offenders since 1996, but admits he can't catch them all. However, Harris has had the opportunity to arrest the same person on more than one occasion.

"Shortly after he got off probation in 2011 he again was back online. He was talking to other kids," said Harris. "Then he was re-arrested by our same team."

According to the First Judicial District DA Peter Weir, Colorado state statutes allow for probation in many Internet sex crime cases, which means predators are back in the community shortly following their arrest.

Part of the difficulty, prosecutor Chris Gallo with the 18th Judicial DA's office says, is that many of these Internet-based crimes did not exist until the late 1990s. While the federal system mandates prison time, Gallo says Colorado's system hasn't caught up yet.

District Attorney for the Eighteenth Judicial District George Brauchler told CALL 7 investigator Theresa Marchetta, "I have no faith that this current legislature would find a way to take these crimes and turn them into something that results in mandatory incarceration."

"You tell them there are people out there that try to lure kids into sexual scenarios and they don't go to prison, they wouldn't believe you," said Brauchler. "They'd be shocked."

Joel Duane Baker was arrested in 2007 and charged with Internet luring of a child and exploitation of a child. Initial charges were dismissed by the DA, but Baker pled guilty to attempted sexual assault on a child. He was placed on three years of probation and required to register with the state's sex offender registry.

In 2011, for the second time, Harris arrested Baker. Baker was charged with enticement of a child, sex assault on a child and Internet luring of a child. He was found guilty of attempted sexual assault on a child and sentenced to 18-months in a Colorado Department of Corrections facility.

Robert Teague and Arthur Stafford both former law enforcement officers, were sentenced to probation. Teague was convicted of attempted Internet sexual exploitation. Stafford was convicted of attempted sexual assault on a child.

Gordon Robbins, who was arrested Tuesday in Arapahoe County after he allegedly asked two undercover officers purporting to be under the age of 15 for sex in just two days, is being held on two counts each of Internet sexual exploitation of a child and Internet luring of a child.

CHILD PREDATORS FROM OTHER STATES COME TO COLORADO

Last week, a convicted child molester from Georgia traveled to Colorado and was caught in an undercover operation by officers who had posed as a teenage girl. Instead of finding a teenage girl when he reached Jefferson County, James Pierce found a DA's investigator with a pair of handcuffs.

Pierce, 51, faces three counts of Internet sexual exploitation of a child and attempted sexual assault of a child.

"We've had several cases where people have traveled from out of state to come to Colorado for a liaison with a young girl," said DA Peter Weir.

State laws vary regarding a sex offender's ability to travel out of state. Pierce followed Georgia law when he left on a Greyhound bus for Colorado. He requested a three day travel pass from the local county sheriff's office, which they could not refuse.

In New Mexico, permission to travel out of state is determined by the county sheriff managing the sex offender list for individuals who are no longer on parole or probation.

Convicted sex offenders from Utah traveling to another state for a total of 10 days during a 12 month period must sign up with the visiting state's sex offender registry.

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