House bill would require DOD to publish names of military sex offenders

Posted at 9:23 PM, Feb 12, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-13 18:16:27-05

A bipartisan bill introduced in the house Thursday would require the Department of Defense to create its own sex offender registry along with a Website to make the information available to the public.

The Military Track, Register and Alert Communities Act also would require the DOD to fall in line with the practices of civilian courts and register sex offenders before they are released from prison. Currently, sex offenders convicted in the military justice system are required to self-report when they’re released.

At a joint press conference, co-sponsors Rep. Jackie Speier, D-California, and Rep. Mike Coffman,  R-Colorado, stood before oversized pictures of military sex offenders who avoided registration after rejoining civilian society.

The offenders were identified in a Scripps News investigation last November after a review of 1,321 cases found that nearly 250 military offenders convicted of crimes such as rape and child molestation did not appear on a single public registry.

“This is not just a legal loophole,” Speier said. “This is a travesty. It poses a serious threat to the safety of our families and our communities.”

One of the offenders profiled at the press event, Matt Carr, posed as a gynecologist while in the Air Force. He was convicted of indecent assault for conducting exams on seven women and was sentenced to seven years in prison. He never registered as a sex offender after his release, and found a new civilian victim in Wisconsin. The victim’s mother had searched sex offender registries for Carr’s name, but found nothing.

Coffman said he signed on to the legislation with the “safety of our citizens” in mind.

“We must do all we can to ensure that the predators are monitored similar to the way sex offenders are dealt with by civilian authorities to prevent them from offending again,” he said.

Coffman is one of two Republicans in the House co-sponsoring the legislation, along with Rep. Pat Meehan, R-Pennsylvania.  

Colonel (Ret.) Don Christensen, a former military sex crimes prosecutor who is now president of the advocacy group Protect Our Defenders, said the legislation is long overdue.

“Inexplicably, the United States military lacks the authority to require service members who have been convicted of rape or sexual assault to register as sex offenders,”  he said.  Christensen said the legislation would “make our communities safer and our military stronger.”

Last week, Sen. Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, and Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, also cited the Scripps report as they introduced legislation that would require the Department of Defense to place the names of convicted military sex offenders on an FBI database called the National Sex Offender Registry, which is only available to law enforcement agencies. The Senate bill includes no requirement for DOD to notify the general public about the release of a military sex offender and would not establish a public website.  

Sen. Marco Rubio, R- Florida, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D- California, added their names as cosponsors to the Senate legislation hours before the House bill was introduced.

“Sex offenders in our military should be treated the same as any other sex offender,” Sen. Feinstein said in a statement. “Families around the country deserve to be notified of the presence of sex offenders in their communities, whether or not that offender served in the military.”

If you have a tip or an update about a military sex offender, email You can also follow updates to this story on Twitter@greenblattmark