Wanted child sex assault suspect is a registered sex offender who doesn't appear in online registry

Juveniles who committed sex crimes are exempt

FEDERAL HEIGHTS, Colo. - A man wanted on suspicion of sexually assaulting a nine-year-old girl is a registered sex offender who does not appear on Colorado's online sex offender registry.

Thornton Police suspect 35-year-old Steve Allen Pierce sexually assaulted a nine-year-old in a parking lot near 91st Avenue and Huron Street on Sunday, May 26.

Police were not alerted until three days later after the girl was taken to North Suburban Medical Center. Police said she was taken to the medical center and then transferred to Children's Hospital because of injuries suffered during the sexual assault.

7NEWS checked Pierce's criminal history, which includes 2004 and 2005 charges for failure to register as a sex offender. Yet, his Colorado criminal history did not indicate a sex offense on his record.

We discovered he was convicted of first-degree molestation in Washington State in the nineties, when he was either 12 or 15 years old, according to court records.

Since, he was convicted when he was a juvenile, he is not required to appear on the state's online sex offender registry. The other exemption is if the crime was misdemeanor sexual assault. Pierce was convicted of a felony as a juvenile.

7NEWS discovered Pierce does appear on a hard copy registered sex offender list obtained from the Federal Heights Police Department.

Each police department and sheriff's office compiles a list of all registered sex offenders in their jurisdiction. The list can be picked up in person and includes sex offenders whose crimes were committed as juveniles or whose crimes were misdemeanors.

Of the 45 registered sex offenders that 7NEWS discovered on the printed list provided by Federal Heights police, 19 do not show up on the online registry.

"Everybody has a chance to reform, even a sex offender," said former state Senator Norma Anderson, who helped craft Colorado's online sex offender registry.

"Are we protecting sex offenders because I can't search them online?" asked 7NEWS reporter Marshall Zelinger.

"No, you went and found every one of them. You went to the police station and found all the sex offenders," said Anderson.

"We're in 2013, is that OK?" asked Zelinger.

"It depends on what the crime is. Violent crime should all be on the Web," said Anderson.

Anderson admitted that if she was creating the online database parameters today, she would require juveniles who commit violent sex crimes to appear online.

There is no requirement for a juvenile's sex offense to show up on the online database once they turn 18 years old.

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