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Some Oppose Sealing Juvenile Records School Officials Say It’s Better To Know About Troubled Children In Their Supervision

Parents and some school officials contend sealing the records of juveniles who have committed violent acts like rape helps no one.

A 13-year-old Boise-area girl pleaded with her classmate to stop. The boy, also 13, wouldn’t listen and raped her.

Eric confessed to the crime and later served about a month in detention.

“My daughter gets raped, then the system does it to her again,” said Ken, who agreed to speak if his last name and his daughter’s name were not used.

Eric was charged with felony lewd and lascivious conduct. Less than two months after the Sept. 8 rape, he was out on probation. He served about 30 days in the Ada County Juvenile Detention Center.

“They let this predator loose on the streets, on an unsuspecting public,” Ken said.

When Ken asked to see the court records, the judge turned him down.

Meridian High School principal Terry Kluever said sealing juvenile criminal records is not helping anyone.

“I think they’re setting these kids up for failure when they send them back to school with these problems and nobody knows it,” Kluever said.

In 1993 and 1994, Kluever lobbied to get juvenile records released to principals.

“It’s now hung up in the courts,” she said. “I am not in favor of just throwing these records open. But, I have to think of the child in my high school who deserves not to go to school with someone who might harm them.”

“Can we not better serve them if we know what the problems are?”

If Eric - now 14 - had been 14 at the time of the crime, he could have faced a rape charge in adult court.

Instead, he was arrested and charged with felony lewd and lascivious conduct. That can carry a life sentence for an adult. For a juvenile, the maximum is three years’ probation and 180 days in detention.

“We do a lot of plea bargaining around here, because there’s only so much you can do to a kid,” said Ada County Juvenile Prosecutor Larry Moore, who prosecuted Eric. “At times, it is difficult to sit in court and see kids walk away.”

Ken said 4th District Magistrate John Vehlow sentenced the boy to 32 days in detention, three years on probation, and 60 days on an electronic monitor. He also ordered random urine analysis, $1,458 in restitution, and no contact with young females.

Despite its imperfections, Moore said, Idaho’s juvenile system is in the forefront.

In Idaho, if juveniles 14 years or older are charged with murder, arson or rape, they are automatically moved into adult court. For younger offenders, a judge makes that decision at a waiver hearing.

“The way the laws are set up, the judge has - in any case - the choice to do nothing or to do the maximum,” Moore said. “The Legislature has raised maximums, but they haven’t closed the lower end. As long as we don’t close that bottom end, you’re going to have judges that take advantage of that.”

After Ken’s daughter was raped, both she and Eric transferred out of the Meridian middle school they attended.

Eric’s new principal, teachers, classmates and their parents do not know about his criminal history.

But Ken does.

“I don’t know what the parents at (his) middle school would do if they knew their daughters were attending school with a convicted, confessed rapist,” Ken said.

“I’m going to picket that school if he’s still there when school starts.”