Maine man faces charge in child porn

Posted March 18, 2010, at 7:57 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — A 66-year-old man charged this week with having child porn on his computer is believed to be the first person to face such allegations after being removed from Maine’s sex offender registry, law enforcement officials said Thursday.

Larry Smart is one of 304 people who have successfully petitioned to be removed from the sex offender registry since a new law went into effect in September allowing some offenders to be taken off the list, said Matthew Ruel, director of the state bureau of identification.

“This is the first case that we know of in which someone has allegedly re-offended,” Ruel said.

Smart, from the western Maine town of Mexico, was charged Tuesday night with possession of sexually explicit material showing a child under age 12, said Sgt. Glenn Lang of the Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit.

Smart, who remained at the Oxford County Jail in Paris on Thursday, was convicted of gross sexual misconduct with a teenage girl in 1985. He was removed from the sex offender registry last October.

Maine’s sex offender registry drew national attention in 2006 when a 20-year-old Canadian man killed two men at random after selecting their names from the state’s online registry.

Last year, lawmakers allowed some registered sex offenders to be removed from the registry upon their request, provided they complete their sentences, commit no additional crimes and meet other standards.

Since then, 709 sex offenders who committed crimes between 1982 and 1992 have petitioned to be removed from the list. Only 304 of them have met the necessary requirements, Ruel said.

Once removed from the list, offenders’ names no longer appear on the registry, and they no longer have to meet other requirements such as registering with local police.

If Smart is convicted, he’ll be put back on the sex offender registry. Smart, who could not be reached at the jail, has petitioned for a public defender.

Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, sponsored the legislation allowing certain offenders to petition to be removed from the list. Those with multiple offenses, or egregious offenses, are kept on the registry, along with those who went on to commit other felonies, whether or not they were sex offenses.

“We still feel we’re being aggressive and holding people accountable,” he said Thursday.

The Legislature faces a March 31 deadline to further tweak the sex offender registry law in response to a December state Supreme Judicial Court ruling that said the original 1999 law requiring some offenders to be placed on a sex offender registry for life cannot be applied retroactively.

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