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Wanted sex offender arrested in SLO after being spotted at coffee shop

Richard Eugene Parson.jpg
Posted at 5:54 PM, Dec 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-19 21:42:59-05

A sex offender in San Luis Obispo County was arrested, released and arrested again within a week and some people are wondering why.

Richard Eugene Parson, convicted in 2002 of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14, was arrested by Grover Beach police last week for peeping into homes. Less than a week later, San Luis Obispo police arrested him again for failing to update his sex offender registry.

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office says they weren't able to check the status of Parson's registry until after he was released from jail last week, which is why they issued a felony warrant for his arrest after he was released from custody.

Parson, 43, was arrested Wednesday night after an alert citizen saw him at a Starbucks in San Luis Obispo, recognized him from a Most Wanted Wednesday segment on the news and reported the sighting to police.

Ilan Funke-Bilu, a local defense attorney who is not representing Parson, says it's typical for two law enforcement agencies to arrest a person independently for the same facts, but he usually doesn't see back-to-back arrests like in Parson's case.

"You would think that they would, that the arresting officer would be conscientious enough to look at something obvious, especially when the person gets arrested for a sex offense like peeping or something like that, you would think," said Funke-Bilu. "People make mistakes."

In California, sex offenders must register annually within five days of his or her birthday or upon moving residences.

Deputies say Parson did not do that.

However, registry laws in California are changing and starting in 2021, sex offenders can petition the courts to get their name removed, depending on their offense.

Signed by former Governor Jerry Brown in 2017, the upcoming law will mostly impact sex offenders in Tier 1 (minimum of 10 years registry) or Tier 2 (minimum 20 years registry).

Sex offenders convicted of Tier 3 crimes such as rape, child pornography distribution and pimping or pandering of a minor, will still have to register for life, even under the new law.

"The registration is so harsh for many people that even with the new mitigated registration laws that will take effect in 2021, that's still no guarantee," said Funke-Bilu. "The judge will have the discretion whether to terminate or not."

According to the California Department of Justice, California was the first state to create a sex offender registration law that requires convicted offenders with certain offenses to register with their local law enforcement. Currently, there are more than 120,000 registered sex offenders registered in the state.

Parson is being held at the San Luis Obispo County Jail with bail set at $50,000.