CHAMBERS COUNTY, Ala. (WRBL) – An internal investigation inside the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office involving a sex offender notification problem is complete.
Sheriff Sid Lockhart tells News 3 corrective actions have been taken to ensure the problem doesn’t happen again.
On September 6th News 3 did a story on Corderell St. George, who was arrested by Valley police for allegedly trying to rape his neighbor.
News 3 learned nearby residents were not notified by the Chambers Co. Sheriff’s Office regarding St. George, a convicted sex offender, moving into their neighborhood weeks before the alleged attack.
On September 2nd, Valley police say 29-year-old Corderell St. George broke into his neighbors home along 27th Street, awakened her by hitting her in the head with a hammer and tried to rape her.
News 3 discovered a few weeks before the alleged attack, St. George moved to the Valley area from Lee County and registered as a sex offender with the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office. St. George was required to register as a sex offender after he was convicted in 2015 of Aggravated Assault with Intent to Rape and False Imprisonment in Muscogee County, George. He was sentenced to a twenty-year split, including time served. St. George served 14-months of the 20-year sentence – before his release in August of 2016.
According to Alabama Law’s Community Notification Act, the Sheriff’s Office is required to notify nearby residents a sex offender has moved into their community.
Chambers County Sheriff Sid Lockhart told News 3 the required notifications regarding the address of a sex offender were not distributed in a timely manner. Lockhart began an internal investigation to determine the cause and the extent of the breakdown of procedures.
Wednesday, after the investigation was completed, Sheriff Lockhart sent out the following statement:
“The internal investigation into the issue of the Sex Offender notifications has concluded and the inquiry revealed that after our agency received updates from OffenderWatch, some of the computer equipment used no longer worked properly with the program. After a short delay, the problem was resolved, and the program was back in use. The investigation also revealed there was one isolated incident regarding the notification of a registered sex offender not being sent out in a timely manner. The Chambers County Sheriff’s Office takes the responsibility of Sex Offender Notifications seriously and has taken corrective action to ensure that notifications are handled appropriately and in a timely manner,” said Lockhart.
Meanwhile, Valley investigators say the victim, in this case, was aware St. George was a sex offender, without the notification.
Law enforcement agencies across the nation, including Chambers County contract with OffenderWatch to help them make the notifications. The State of Alabama contracts with the company based out of Louisiana.
OffenderWatch President Mike Cormaci emailed a statement to News 3 when asked if the company had any issues with their software regarding the Chambers County notification.
“With the recent case in Chambers County, OffenderWatch operated accurately and in accordance with state law, automatically updating the state sex offender registry database and submitting information to the FBI. We value our partnerships with law enforcement and take our commitment to uphold and improve public safety seriously,” said Cormaci.
Sheriff Lockhart tells News 3 the issue is fixed and it appears all other notifications were correctly handled.