Pardoning a Sex Offender: No notification required - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Pardoning a Sex Offender: No notification required

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

We are learning about a shocking loophole in the Georgia legal system that could allow a convicted sex offender to never have to register with authorities again, and it's possible you would never know it happened.

When an inmate is considered for parole, notifications are sent out allowing the victims and the district attorney's office to have a voice about whether an inmate stays behind bars or not. 

However, that's not the case for a pardon, and now we are dealing with a seemingly unprecedented case in the State of Georgia where a child sex offender has been pardoned and no one knew to stop it.

Nnow, no one seems to know how to deal with it.

Clara Gunter has spent most of her time trying to keep her son's memory alive.

"You don't ever really move on. You just exist from day to day," said Gunter. "It's been very, very hard on both my husband and myself. "

Her son, Tommy Gunter, was murdered back in 1987. The killer, Ronald Crozier, was convicted and sentenced for the crime. Despite the conviction, Gunter spends her time looking out for a notification that Crozier is up for parole.

"I thought that it was over. Then all of a sudden here it goes. And I've had several times I've had to keep him there," said Gunter.

That notification is her only hope of stopping the Board of Pardons and Paroles from letting her son's convicted killer out of prison.

"He'd be walking the streets today if it hadn't been for that. He was going to ease right out their front door."

But what happens when the Board of Pardons and Paroles takes action and no one has to know?

In 1995, former Chatham County resident Barry Davis pleaded guilty to a child sex crime against his own six-year-old daughter. He was sentenced to 10 years with two years to serve and rest on parole.

About two years ago, Davis petitioned to be pardoned for the crime, a legal foregiveness by the state.

"This is a child molester. A convicted child molester, who orally sodemized a six-year-old little girl. We would have fought that vigorously," said District Attorney Meg Heap. "But we didn't know, and we didn't have a say. Nor did the victim's family."

According to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, there is no statutory notification requirements for pardons, meaning no one knew or had to know Davis was even up for a pardon.

In order to be considered for a pardon, the applicant must have completed his or her sentence, and be crime free for five years. The Board says it also conducts a background check and criminal history on these applicants.

According to the Board, Davis met all those requirements and was pardoned back in February of 2013.

The crime doesn't come off the person's criminal records, but the Board of Pardons and Paroles maintains Barry Davis never has to register again. The DA's office fundamentally disagrees and indicted Davis earlier this year for failing to update his address on the sex offender registry.

"I think this is very serious because the person who was pardoned was a child molester. And the victim's family was never notified and we were not notified and he was pardoned"

Davis is currently out on bond.

According to the DA's office, this is the first case in Georgia to address this issue, if a pardoned sex offender is required to continue to register.

The next court date for Davis' case will be June 26

Heap said she has been meeting with other district attorneys across the state, hoping to draft legislation to change the law making it a requirement to notified them of all pardons.

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