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Monday, September 1, 2014

Registered Sex Offenders in Virginia Can Legally Pick-up and Drop-off Children From School, IF They………..

 
Back on July 27, 2014 there was a post titled How Can a Virginia Sex Offender Attend Their Child’s School Sponsored Activities? which included the process to obtain permission to be on school property to pick-up and drop-off your children as an RSO in Virginia. 

I usually do not post articles about Virginia RSO’s messing up and facing new charges for their error or blatantly ignoring the laws but one very important point that I made back on July 27 (link above) was that the court order an RSO has obtained to be on school property does NOT follow you when your child changes/advances to a different school. 

So that is the reason I’ve decided to post the below article today so readers learn from this Chesterfield father’s mistake. I do my very best to help all of you maneuver through the minefield of legal restrictions and regulations that change every year here in Virginia because the Commonwealth makes no effort to advise Virginia’s RSO of their legal obligations, a goal I will continue to work on.

Mary Devoy

 

Mix-up nearly costs sex offender 5 years in prison, August 27, 2014
By Ben Orcutt

Although it may have seemed innocent enough, picking up his 13-year old stepson from Salem Church Middle School on May 14 almost cost a county man five years in prison. 

Joseph Patrick Runyon Sr.’s wife had just started a new job and when school officials called her to pick up her son from school early, she asked Runyon if he would pick the boy up. 

Runyon agreed, and in the process of checking in with office personnel at Salem Church Middle School, they discovered he was on the State Police Sex Offender Registry.
 


School officials then checked with Trooper Michael King, who coordinates the sex offender registry in Chesterfield. King confirmed that Runyon was a sex offender, but that he also had permission to go on property where his son attends school. King couldn’t recall which school, but instructed Salem Church Middle School officials to allow Runyon to take his stepson home. 

On further investigation, however, it was determined that Runyon had permission to enter Bellwood Elementary School, not Salem Church Middle. Runyon was then arrested by Chesterfield Police on a felony charge of a sex offender being on school property. 

Runyon, 37, of 2000 block of Willis Road, was scheduled to be tried on the charge last week in Chesterfield Circuit Court before Judge Frederick G. Rockwell III. 

Moments before the trial was to begin, Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Larry S. Hogan and defense attorney Denis C. Englisby came to terms on a plea agreement. 

When Hogan recounted the facts in the case to the court, Judge Rockwell said there was a “substantive basis” for him to accept the plea agreement. Runyon agreed to an Alford plea, meaning that while he was not admitting guilt, he does acknowledge that if the case had gone to trial, county prosecutors would have had sufficient evidence to obtain a conviction. 

The plea agreement called for Runyon to be sentenced to five years in prison, with all time suspended. 

Englisby told the court that the reason Runyon was on the sex offender registry was because he had consensual sex with a 15-year old girl in 1996 at the age of 19. Runyon pleaded guilty to carnal knowledge and was placed on the sex offender registry. 

“We’re not suggesting he’s not guilty,” Englisby said of the charge against Runyon. However, based on the facts in the case, the plea agreement was appropriate, Englisby said. 

Runyon remains in custody on pending drug charges. 

A spokesman for Chesterfield County Public Schools said the school system preferred not to weigh in on Runyon’s case.

“The school division declines to comment on this court case,” Shawn Smith, assistant director for community relations for county schools, said in an email. 

Corinne N. Geller, public relations director for the Virginia State Police, said the agency is diligent in its effort to keep a watchful eye on sex offenders. 

“The Virginia State Police Sex Offender Investigative Unit is committed to fulfilling its role in monitoring convicted sex offenders living in the Commonwealth,” Geller said in an email. “The troopers work closely with such individuals to ensure they are in constant compliance with all registry requirements and state law. State police also works with local schools to field any questions or concerns administrators may have, especially when it comes to the safety and security of students and staff.”