Two sex offenders are suing the California Department of Justice for failing to update information on the Megan’s Law online sex offender registry.
“People want to know, is this a conviction from 1979? Or is this a conviction from last year?”
Criminal defense attorney Alin Cintean has represented several sex offenders. He says he often sees missing or inaccurate information on the website.
“It was due for a lawsuit, if this lawsuit wouldn’t have happened, I don’t know what would have fixed it,” Cintean said.
The lawsuit was filed by registered sex offenders Ray Matagora of Shasta County and Frank Lindsay of San Luis Obispo, as well as the non-profit organization California Reform Sex Offender Laws. It alleges 92 percent of the sex offender profiles on MegansLaw.ca.gov lack the year of conviction and/or release, or may have inaccurate charges. It also claims that this missing information can prompt vigilante attacks against sex offenders.
Both Lindsay and Matagora were attacked by people who viewed their sex offender profiles online.
“Life hasn’t been easy you know, but I tell everybody that I have to register as a sex offender. I don’t hide anything,” Matagora said.
In September, Matagora was shot by a man who viewed his profile, which lists 4 sex crimes with a minor under 18 including forcible rape.
“A knock on the door came next thing I knew a gun was pointed at me. And the gunshots…shots were fired. I was hit in the arm and in the leg,” Matagora said.
Matagora said he was convicted of the sex crimes over 15 years ago, but the Megan’s Law website did not list his conviction or release date.
“In the absence of knowledge, people assume the worst,” Cintean said.
Cintean says the Department of Justice was ordered by law in 2006 to make updates to the Megan’s Law website by 2010, but has still not completed the task. He says fixing the website will take years of work and millions of dollars.
“But ultimately the public decided this was worth it because they want to know this information,” Cintean said.