"I am shocked. I am shocked to hear it," said homeowner Sunita Sherma as she learned she had just allowed a registered sex offender into her home. Robert Alonzo pleaded guilty in 1993 to the aggravated sexual assault of a 5-year-old. He is a registered sex offender who, at the time, was working for Terminix. Alonzo visited Sherma's home to provide pest control services.
Sherma has three small children and baby-sits other kids, too. A parent dropped off her child while Alonzo was at Sherma’s home. "He might be going upstairs where my kids are usually watching cartoons and stuff," Sherma said.
Alonzo didn't have anything to say to reporter Becky Oliver when she questioned him while leaving Sherma's home. "Does your employer know you are going into homes?" Oliver asked. "Does Terminix know?" Alonzo did not respond and drove away.
Terminix told FOX 4 the company was "unaware" of Alonzo's record and the "incident was not revealed" when the company conducted its regular pre-hire background check. But FOX 4 had no problem finding Alonzo's record at the Dallas County Courthouse and on the Texas Department of Public Safety's website. Apparently, Alonzo's criminal past also slipped by the state licensing agency. On Alonzo's 1998 state pest control license application, when asked if he had ever been arrested, Alonzo marked “no.” And every year afterward on his renewal he also marked “no,” even though he was on probation for the sex assault through 2003.
FOX 4 learned the state was only running criminal background checks on applicants who admitted they had been arrested. The Texas Department of Agriculture says that policy has changed and now all applicants will undergo background checks no matter what information they provide on their application. Terminix also terminated Alonzo after learning of his criminal past.
Our investigation also found Stephen White working as an air conditioning and heating technician. Records show White was serving probation for indecency with a 7-year-old girl when he pleaded guilty to an aggravated sexual assault. In 1991, a judge sentenced him to prison for 40 years. White is now out on parole and going in and out of homes while on the job. White told FOX 4 his employer knows he is working in people's homes.
"What about the homeowners?" Oliver asked White. "I don't know," White said. "Do you think homeowners have a right to know when you are going into their homes?" Oliver continued. "I don't know. It is not my opinion. I think it is a need to know basis. As long as I am not committing a new crime why should it be of a concern?" White responded.
Stephen White spent 15 years of his 40-year sentence behind bars. He is on parole until 2030. White told FOX4 he works as an A/C technician under his boss's license, which is legal. The state does not run background checks on technicians, but that could change. A new law will require air conditioning technicians to be registered with the state and starting next June, techs will undergo the same background check as licensed air conditioning and heating contractors. White's boss at North Dallas Air Conditioning and Heating would not talk to FOX 4 about his employing White.
James Bruno is listed on the Department of Public Safety's website as a “high risk” sex offender. His professional profile at photographers.com says he specializes in “fashion” and “erotica” photography. Bruno would not talk on camera, but over the phone he told FOX 4 he does photograph kids as his website shows, but he says he is never alone with them.
The state's registered sex offender database shows sex offenders working in all kinds of jobs that bring them close to you and your family. The records show offenders employed as handymen, remodelers, plumbers, movers and pizza delivery drivers. FOX 4 also found them working at places you might go every day such as grocery stores, restaurants and retail shopping stores.
Robert Udashen, President of the Dallas Criminal Defense Lawyers Associations opposes the Attorney General’s ruling. "I think it is a bad idea," said Udashen. He says it will become more difficult for registered sex offenders to find work if employers know their company name will be shown in public sex offender registration records.
"If you don't allow people to work, then you are forcing them back into a life of crime because they don't have any way to support themselves and that is really counterproductive," Udashen said.
But Shea Alexander, director of the Rape Crisis Center of Collin County, welcomes the information. "We live in a society where we cannot even trust our teachers, coaches," she said. Alexander advises the public to trust no one, whether they are a registered sex offender or not, especially if they are coming into your home. "Predators are not choosy. It is any child who is vulnerable and accessible to them," she said.
Residents at a Fort Worth apartment complex were angry to learn their carpet cleaner was a registered sex offender. Anthony Moreno served ten years probation for sexually assaulting a fourteen year old girl in 1995. He works for Colors out of Arlington. The company did not respond to FOX 4’s request for an interview, but Becky Oliver spoke with Moreno at the Fort Worth apartment complex. "The probation has been over for the longest time," Moreno told Oliver. "Just let me do my job," he said.
Residents at the complex say they want to know who is coming into their homes. "They should let people know," one resident said. "They don't have to post it but they should warn people that this is a sex offender so watch your kids or whatever if they are coming in and out of your house,” the resident added.
Officials with the Texas Department of Public Safety say employment information for all registered sex offenders will be available on its website by January 2008. ..more.. by Becky Oliver, FOX 4 News Station Investigation
Finding where registered sex offenders live has never been easier, but information about where they work has been off limits to the public until now. The Texas Attorney General has ruled that a registered sex offenders employment information is also public information. FOX 4 shows you could have a brush with a rapist or child molester where you least expect it. FOX Video showing how they got offenders fired:
To know why we call this "vigilantism - media" see our definitions. Further, in case folks didn't notice, the media used the registry in a manner it was not intended to be used. Given that registries are there for the public, anyone can use them to find out if a person that comes to their door is a RSO, or they can ignore using the registry, it is their individual choice! If the media wanted to do this for reasons other than sensationalism, the consequences of which got RSOs fired, the media should have taken the issue to a state legislator. They did not involve a single one. eAdvocate
Note: Obviously the one RSO should not have checked "NO" on that form, clearly that is wrong and will now go on to haunt him on future employment applications.