SALT LAKE CITY – Investigators and prosecutors say it’s one of the biggest coordinated sex-offender investigations they’ve ever conducted in Utah. Police went all over the state to see if registered sex offenders are complying with the rules, and while most were, many weren’t.
It was called “Operation Reboot,” and over the span of almost two weeks, investigators from 11 different law enforcement agencies went door-to-door, looking to speak with people on the state’s sex offender registry to see if they were obeying the rules.
“We estimate that between 18 and 20 percent of those offenders were non-compliant,” according to U.S. Marshal for Utah Matt Harris.
While this number may appear alarming, Harris believes there is a silver lining to this proverbial dark cloud. He says their operation shows the vast majority of registered offenders are doing what they’re told. Plus, out of all the violations they found, many of them were minor, so the offender didn’t need to be taken back to court.
Despite that, Harris says 33 offenders are being screened for charges, many of which failed to properly register with the state.
Harris says, “Examples of those sex offender who fail to register included offenders who committed rape against small children, parole fugitives and offenders that were living in homes with small children that were not supposed to.”
Along with those 33 people, Harris says they arrested eight fugitives wanted for sex crimes during Operation Reboot. They include a Salt Lake City man wanted for unlawful sexual activity of a minor, and a West Jordan man wanted for three counts of rape of a child.
Utah reportedly has 8,000 people on the registry, and federal prosecutors say most are trying to live a normal life away from crime. However, U.S. Attorney for Utah John Huber says many are hoping to escape the careful watch of law enforcement and get “off the grid” completely.
“Not everyone goes back to the crime for which we’re most concerned. Way too many of them do for us to sit idly by,” Huber says.
During his tenure as U.S. Attorney, Huber says he has prosecuted over 30 people for sex offender registry violations. Many of the violators he prosecuted came to Utah from another state.
Huber says, “They left the state where, perhaps, they were convicted and lived for a long period of time and came to Utah to hide.”
Although Operation Reboot is officially over, investigators say they’re still looking for people on the registry to ensure their compliance. The goal was to speak with 1,000 of Utah’s 8,000 offenders.
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