MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - She was paid to teach Arlington High School students. Instead she had sex with them. Stacy Hopkins pleaded guilty to statutory rape. The victims were two male students. She was sentenced to four years in prison and will have to register as a sex offender.
A new study reports a growing number of sex offenders are flying under the radar by tweaking their identities.
Utica College’s Center for Identity Management and Information Protection released the study. When sex offenders alter their identities they can hide in plain sight. They can hide their past from neighbors, apply for jobs, and they can even prey on new victims.
“Because people are at home and on computers they do have that level of privacy and like anybody else involved in criminal activity, being at home does provide them cover so to speak from the police seeing what they're doing,” said Lt. Wilton Cleveland with the Memphis Police Sex Crimes Unit
He says he's not surprised sex offenders are tweaking their identities. “There are some studies that say sex offenders have an 80 percent recidivism rate,” Cleveland said.
While he isn't aware of any instances of that happening locally, more than 25 percent of registered sex offenders in Tennessee use altered identities.
“It's distressing that people are allowed to get away with that and not punished the way they need to be,” said Carol Smith.
Lt. Cleveland says cops and deputies still have tools to keep offenders in check.
“Besides the standard physical verification where we go up and knock on the door and say, ‘Hey is this where you said you were living? Yes or no,’ kind of thing we can also address the emails they put out there,” Cleveland said.
Even with those provisions, sex offenders are still slipping through the cracks.
As for the latest addition to the sex offender registry, Stacy Hopkins will be required to stay on the list for at least 10 years.