‘Justice for Danyelle’ bill would bar sex offenders from living near their victims

Danyelle Dyer's case has moved lawmakers in at least three states to consider amending sex offender laws.

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Danyelle Dyer’s case made national news after her attacker moved next door to her family home in Bristow last year. DYLAN GOFORTH/ The Frontier
After a child sex offender moved next door to his victim last year, the case drew national scrutiny and grabbed the attention of state legislators.

Proposed legislation in Oklahoma would aim to stop a similar incident from happening again, and at least two other states are considering amending their sex offender laws.

House Bill 1124, named the “Justice for Danyelle Act of 2018,” would amend Oklahoma sex offender statutes to prohibit perpetrators from living or loitering near their victims’ homes.

The bill was approved by the Senate on Tuesday.

The bill is named after Danyelle Dyer, a woman from Bristow whose attacker moved next door to her last year. Dyer’s uncle, Harold Dwayne English, had repeatedly molested her when she was 7 years old.

Danyelle Dyer at a protest near a road in front of her grandmother’s house last year. Courtesy

English was released from an Oklahoma prison last year after serving time for lewd and indecent proposals against Dyer. He then moved next door to Dyer’s family in Bristow shortly afterward. He was living with his mother — Dyer’s grandmother — about 100 yards away from her.

“He has been asked to leave,” Dyer wrote in a Facebook post last year. “but in Oklahoma he can legally reside there. Surely Oklahoma can do better than this.”

Dyer held a rally near her family home to draw attention to her case last year. She drew support from across the world.

Dyer was able to use a little-known state law to get a five-year protective order against English from living within 1,000 feet of her. He was ordered to move.

Not In My Backyard: A sexual assault victim fights back when her attacker moves next door

Oklahoma law already bars sex offenders from living or loitering near schools, day cares and parks, ordering them to live at least 2,000 feet away. The law does not apply to a child sex offender living near his adult victim.

The proposed bill would make that act illegal.

State Rep. Kyle Hilbert

State Rep. Kyle Hilbert, R-Depew, learned of Dyer’s case as she was trying to get her uncle to move away from her family last year. He had told The Frontier  he planned to modify sex offender statutes this legislative session.

HB 1124, which Hilbert authored, would prohibit a convicted perpetrator from loitering within 1,000 feet of the victim’s home or living within 2,000 feet of him or her.

Dyer’s case is not an isolated incident, Hilbert said. Two lawyers from Creek County have told him their clients have been in the same situation.

“This is an issue that happens quite frequently, unfortunately,” Hilbert said.

Adding victims’ homes to the list of locations a sex offender cannot live near is a no-brainer, Hilbert said.

Dyer’s case has moved lawmakers across the country to try to amend sex offender laws. In Arizona, a similar bill has been proposed.

Sen. John Kavanagh, a Republican, proposed legislation that would bar offenders who commit certain crimes against children from living within 1,000 feet of them or their immediate family. The law would also apply to adult victims.

Kavanagh said he heard about Dyer’s case in a newspaper and was appalled.

“It seemed absolutely ridiculous something like that could happen and it was legal,”  he said. “And it cried for correction.”

The bill is awaiting the governor’s approval.

Richard Barajas, executive director of the National Organization for Victim Assistance, told The Frontier last year the organization would try to make state legislatures aware of the issue.

Barajas told The Frontier in an email on Monday that NOVA is working with Texas on possible legislation. However, the state will not be in session until January 2019.

As National Crime Victims’ Week started on Sunday, Hilbert said he had hoped the bill would pass the full Senate this week.

“I have said this through the whole process,” Hilbert said. “I’m just so incredibly proud of Danyelle because she didn’t have to speak up. But she did.”

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Kassie McClung

Staff writer

Kassie McClung reports on health, criminal justice and other state issues. Contact: Kassie@readfrontier.com or 918-935-1044.
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