Cop Watch: Nightmare as Innocent Woman Discovers She’s Named on Registered Sex Offender List
Stigma. According to Webster’s Dictionary, it’s “…[a]ny mark of infamy or disgrace; sign of moral blemish; stain or reproach caused by dishonorable conduct; reproachful characterization.”
Right now, no one knows the meaning of being stigmatized better than Rachel Marquez, a Dallas single mother of two, 20 years old, working on her college degree.
What happened to Rachel Marquez?
Rachel Marquez was listed as a registered sex offender in the Texas Department of Public Safety’s database. You know the one, the one that anyone with a computer and Internet access can go review anytime they want. The one that employers routinely search, along with all sorts of nosy nellies.
And apartment managers. It was only when Rachel Marquez was denied a lease for a new apartment that she discovered that her name was on the Registered Sex Offender list.
Imagine How You’d Feel. What A Nightmare.
Needless to say, Rachel Marquez is NOT a sex offender, and she has no idea what harm may have been done to her because she has been stigmatized in this way.
Well, she does know she lost out on an apartment — and had all those apartment people thinking she did bad things to kids. And, she believes that she may have lost out on a job.
How Did This Happen?
The first clue came from the list itself. A long ago juvenile arrest for trespassing, which happened when Rachel was 13 and living in Collin County, had to have been involved because the photo taken for that file made its way into the DPS system as part of her sex offender listing.
At first, no one knew how that old Collin County juvie record was connected to the Sex Offender Registry. DPS was “investigating.” The Collin County officials pointed fingers at DPS; DPS pointed fingers right back at Collin County.
Last week, DPS issued a public apology to Rachel Marquez and explained that a data entry clerk checked the wrong box and voila! Rachel was labelled a sex offender.
All Because A DPS Data Entry Clerk Checked the Wrong Box on A Form
No one is sure how long Rachel’s name was on the list – DPS mentioned five years, and Rachel is thinking it may be as long as seven years.
Meanwhile, everyone is so upset about the sex offender foul up that no one has begun to discuss how a juvie record has made its way into public exposure. Juvie records aren’t supposed to be for public consumption, either.
Kids are protected, theoretically, in ways that adults are not, regarding record revelations. We shouldn’t know about Rachel’s trespassing charge when she was 13.
The Real Damage to Rachel Marquez Is Still Unknown
Rachel Marquez has been labelled as a sex offender for who knows how long, and been harmed not only in the practicalities of finding an apartment and getting a job, but also in all that gossip that you know has been happening behind her back.
And now, in order to correct that, we all get to know that back when she was a young teenager, she did some trespassing — something we don’t need to know about, and should have remained private.
Sure, there’s more of a stigma to be listed on the DPS Sex Offender list than to be revealed as having a juvie record, but there’s somewhat of a public stigma attached to both.
Rachel Marquez has a right to be outraged. We should all be angry about this.
And, maybe we should all check the DPS list, too. Make sure OUR names aren’t listed on there.
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