LA PUENTE (CBSLA) —Does the Megan’s Law website actually hurt some homeowners or renters?
A La Puente woman says it does and that she has become the target of vandals. CBS2’s Randy Paige investigated and discovered a loophole in the law that could put future homeowners and renters at risk.
It was a clear case of vandalism, green paint splattered on the garage door, shards of broken glass on the driveway from the windows shattered on the van parked in the driveway. An attack on the home Irene Zendano inherited from her grandmother. The home she grew up in.
“When I first saw the garage, I was scared; I couldn’t believe what happened,” Zendano said. “I spent at least 20 years in this room, a lot of memories. A lot of memories in here.”
Zendano says she dreamed of one day bringing her husband and daughter here to create another generation of childhood dreams.
“I started crying because I was looking forward to having my daughter create new memories and pick up pretty much where I left off and it was heartbreaking. It was heartbreaking that I can’t have her in here,” Zendano said.
Zendano, who is a flight attendant, says after her grandmother died, she rented the home to a cousin until she could make the arrangements to move her family here from New York.
Then, she says she learned her cousin’s husband, Corrie Archer, is a convicted sex offender. And she discovered her home was listed on the Megan’s Law website as the residence of a sex offender.
She says she demanded they leave and as Archer was preparing to move out, her home and Archer’s van were vandalized.
“I was scared because even though he’s been evicted now, I’m a target for my family, anything could happen. They could still come and vandalize the house and my daughter could come home from school and something could happen to her.”
It took two weeks for Archer’s address to be changed on the website. CBS2 news has learned it can take up to a year when an offender moves out, because sex offenders are required to check in to verify their address every year on their birthday.
And even when they don’t check in, they are shown as being “in violation” but it still lists their last reported address on the sex-offender registry website.
“This is outrageous; it’s like putting a scarlet letter on a home or an apartment building,” Zendano said.
Jamie Court is president of the nonpartisan, nonprofit Consumer Watchdog in Santa Monica.
“If your home is seen as a sex offender’s home, you’re much more likely to be vandalized, you’re much more likely to be socially ostracized,” Court said. “And believe me, the people who will discriminate against you because they think you’re a sex offender will never tell you. They’ll either show up in the middle of the night and break the windows of your car or they won’t let you into the college or the club that you should get into.”
The state-run website isn’t the only place your home can be identified as the residence of a sex offender.
A website called Homefacts continues to show Irene Zendano’s address as Corrie Archer’s home, even using the same photograph, weeks after Megan’s Law updated his address to a Motel 6 in Hacienda Heights.
“The companies that are profiting by scraping a Megan’s list websit, and then marking a property forever as the home of a sex offender so it can’t be sold, it can’t be rented, and it makes the neighborhood less desirable, are guilty, too,” Court said.
Zendano is now trying to sell her home, knowing it is still being identified on the internet as the home of a sex offender. She has this message for the California Department of Justice, which runs the Megan’s Law website:
“You have to stay on top of it. You have to make changes; you have to do something, because this is horrible. This has changed my life, making me a victim and a target.”