WJTV News Channel 12 - Social networking ban for NC sex offenders remains in effect

Social networking ban for NC sex offenders remains in effect

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The "Protect Children From Sexual Predators Act" makes it unlawful for a registered sex offender to access a website where the person knows minors are permitted to become members or have personal Web pages. The "Protect Children From Sexual Predators Act" makes it unlawful for a registered sex offender to access a website where the person knows minors are permitted to become members or have personal Web pages.
RALEIGH, N.C. -

The North Carolina Supreme Court has granted a stay to keep a state law that bans sex offenders from using social networking websites in effect.

Attorney General Roy Cooper requested the stay after a Court of Appeals ruling last week ruled the law unconstitutional because it is vague and violates free speech.

The stay granted Tuesday will remain in place while the Attorney General's Office files a petition within the next few weeks to have the state supreme court hear the case.

"We plan to ask the Supreme Court to review the case and uphold this tool that law enforcement and prosecutors can use to protect children," Cooper said in a written release.

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Cooper pushed for the social networking ban for convicted sex offenders as part of a comprehensive legislative package in 2008 that included stricter sentences for child predators and pornographers who use the Internet to find their victims.

Since 1996, convicted sex offenders have had to register with the sheriff in the county they reside. Many of them stay on the list at least 30 years, although they can seek a lesser period after 10 years. Such offenders are barred from living close to a school or daycare, working with minors or visiting certain locations where children are likely to be.

Citizens can search an online database to see where registered sex offenders live.

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