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British Court Backs a ‘Megan’s Law’

March 18, 1998

LONDON (AP) _ British police have a legal right to publicize the whereabouts of convicted child molesters, an appeals court ruled Wednesday.

But the Court of Appeal said authorities should do more to find appropriate housing for people released from prison after convictions for child sex offenses.

The court rejected an appeal by Peter Thorpe, 46, and his wife Christine, 42, who were evicted from a trailer park after police notified the owner of their criminal history.

Both were released from prison in July 1996 after serving more than seven years of 11-year sentences after a series of indecent assaults on children and the rape of a 16-year-old girl.

They had been driven out of several places after their past became known. They have ceased to cooperate with authorities and their present whereabouts are unknown.

Lord Woolf, speaking for the three-judge panel, said the police and probation service had acted lawfully, but in future cases ``disclosure should only be made when there is a pressing need for that disclosure.″

He said determining right action to take to protect children from risk ``will still remain an immensely difficult problem, but if previous sexual offenders know that help with safe accommodation will be available they are less likely to go″ underground.

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