CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled Friday that a sex offender who failed to report the creation of a MySpace account can be prosecuted.
The court unanimously reversed a trial judge’s order dismissing the felony indictment against 40-year-old Thomas White of Manchester. The trial court ruled that because White created the MySpace account using his real name and an email address already on file, he had satisfied the state’s sex offender reporting requirements.
But the Supreme Court ruled that creation of the social media account falls squarely within the statute’s requirement that convicted sex offenders must report any online identifiers and user profile information.
“Requiring a registered sex offender to report the creation of a MySpace profile or online profile promotes the investigatory purpose of the statute by providing law enforcement with the means to monitor and track the offender’s online activities,” Justice Gary Hicks wrote. “Such a requirement also serves to discourage the use of social networking for predatory purposes because the offender knows he or she is under the watchful eye of law enforcement.”
White was convicted in 1994 of aggravated felonious sex assault on a child and related felonies. He was convicted in 2005 of indecent exposure and lewdness.
White’s attorney, public defender Christopher Johnson, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Assistant Attorney General Nicholas Cort, who argued the appeal for the state, said it’s the intent of the law and critical to law enforcement that sex offenders report the creation of social networking websites.
“The Internet is being used more and more to attract and eventually molest children,” Cort said. “Any way sex offenders use it has to be carefully watched and prevented to the extent it’s constitutionally permissible.”
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