A registered sex offender wants the state to ban sex offenders from even more places. Two weeks ago Joe Panaia, the man who was arrested at MyTea Tykes Day Care in Tea.
Panaia was there to pick up his children when another parent recognized him as a registered sex offender. Panaia was charged with loitering in a public safety zone, a charge that was dropped this week.
Joe Panaia was convicted of indecent exposure in 2003 and is now on South Dakota's sex offender registry.
But this most recent charge was dropped when a Lincoln County grand jury decided Panaia was at the day care for a purpose, which makes a difference according to the law.
Lincoln County Deputy States Attorney Rachel Rasmussen says, "We learned that people who are registered sex offenders can legitimately be in what was classified as a community safety zone, they just can not be loitering in such zones."
Following this experience, Panaia says laws concerning sex offenders need to be reexamined.
There are several things Joe Panaia learned after he was arrested at MyTea Tykes day care.
Registered sex offender Joe Panaia says, "The sex offender registry is there for a good reason but this is a perfectly good example of how it fails."
Panaia was arrested for loitering in a place where sex offenders are banned, because pre-school classes are offered at the day care. But if MyTea Tykes didn't offer classes, Panaia wouldn't have gotten in trouble. That's because day cares are not on the list of places South Dakota sex offenders are banned.
Panaia says, "I'll go on record saying day cares should be a public safety zone, which they're not."
Even though he is a registered sex offender, Panaia says he is trying to contact lawmakers to get day cares on the list of community safety zones.
Panaia says, "I'm not trying to change them to make myself look good, I'm trying to change them to protect my kids and others."
Panaia also believes the registry should be changed so that there are different levels of sex offenders, with indecent exposure offenders, which he is convicted of, at the bottom of the list and child molesters on the top.
E-mail Joe Panaia about the changes he'd like to see to the sex offender registry at email@example.com