Oklahoma lawmakers working on bill to fix loophole, protect sex abuse victims

BRISTOW, Okla. – It’s a case that sparked outrage in an Oklahoma community, and caused state leaders to take action against a little known loophole in the law.

“He’s like right there, practically in my backyard and that kind of makes me nervous and not want to go home ever,”  21-year-old Danyelle Dyer told NewsChannel 4.

Danyelle says her uncle, Harold English, was just released from prison after he was convicted of molesting her when she was a child.

While she hoped to moved on after his conviction, her family says no one expected what would happen after English was released.

Instead of being out of her life, English moved in with his mother, who lives just over the fence.

“Not only is my daughter feeling her past come back to haunt her, but a lot of years of rage and anger that I’ve kept under my collar is sitting right outside my door,” said Greg Dyer.

 

After learning about the situation, the community came out to support Danyelle and urge Oklahoma officials to change the law.

Now, it seems that change is in the works.

Last week, Judge Richard Woolery issued a 1,000 feet protective order for the Dyer family, meaning that English has 10 days to vacate the premises.

Current law prohibits sex offenders from living within a 2,000 feet radius of schools, daycare centers and parks, but it does not stop a sex offender from living within a certain proximity of the victim.

“Supposedly, he paid his debt to society and as long as he’s not near a church or a daycare or where children gather, he’s free to do as he wishes,” said Greg Dyer.

Now, a pair of lawmakers say they are working on a bill to close the law’s loophole.

Under House Bill 1124, the residency of the victim would be included in the “zone of safety.” Rep. Kyle Hilbert and Sen. James Leewright say the zone around a victim’s home will be 1,000 feet if the bill passes.

“You should feel absolutely safe in your own home,” said Hilbert.  “A town can have multiple schools, parks and daycares, but normally, the offender’s victim only has one home. It is not too much to expect an offender to stay 1,000 feet away from one location.”

The legislation is set to be heard next session, which begins in February.