Tighter trespassing law urged

Anne Arundel count against registered sex offender is dropped

November 22, 2005|By ANDREA F. SIEGEL | ANDREA F. SIEGEL,SUN REPORTER

Anne Arundel County's top prosecutor urged changes yesterday in the trespassing law after finding it did not apply in the case against a registered sex offender accused of being outside Glen Burnie elementary school illegally.

The trespassing charge against 21-year-old Joshua Ryan Keller was dropped last week as a result, and county State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee said he wants the law tightened.

A Glendale Elementary School secretary recognized Keller, of Glen Burnie, from a sex-offender Web site, and the principal confronted him, Weathersbee said. He told them he was picking up a 7-year-old girl for her mother, Weathersbee said.

School officials checked, and that was not so, Weathersbee said.

"Nobody told him to leave - not in advance of him being there," as the trespass law requires, Weathersbee said.

A registered sex offender should not be at school, he said: "It's not a question of telling him to leave, it's a question of him not being there in the first place."

Keller's lawyer, Eugene M. Whissel II, said his client did not ask for the girl, but was cutting through a school parking lot after buying cigarettes. He said Keller spoke to the principal, but what was said is in dispute.

"He was not there to pick up anybody," Whissel said.

Locked up for two months despite having done nothing wrong, Keller was assaulted in jail, Whissel said.

Weathersbee said his office also will ask judges to ban from school property anyone ordered to register as a sex offender.

"How do you say you can't go there for any reason? It's public property," Whissel said.

Annapolis criminal defense lawyer Gill Cochran said barring all registered sex offenders from schools might be unworkable, in part because some may have good reason to be at a school.

Accused of having consensual sex with 13-year-old girls, Keller pleaded guilty in 2004 to two counts of a third-degree sex offense, court records show. He received a suspended jail term. Among conditions of his probation were to have no unsupervised contact with minors and to register as a sex offender.

He faces a January hearing on an allegation that he violated probation with the trespass charge and by failing to enroll in a treatment program.

andrea.siegel@baltsun.com

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