Sex Offenders Arrested at North Carolina Fair When Recognized at Gate

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AP/Matt Houston

Several registered sex offenders were taken into custody at the recent North Carolina Mountain State Fair when authorities recognized them at the gates.

Major John Ledford of the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) said the four men arrested are on the state’s sex offender registry. He also noted the arrests took place in the early stages of the event, WLOS reported Friday.

Ledford explained, “There’s no indication initially they were there for nefarious purposes, but we don’t know their intent on coming. Just the fact they’re merely on site is enough to violate the statute.”

According to the fair’s website, the event ran from September 9th until the 18th.

Thirty-one-year-old Claude William Thomason, 41-year-old Dustin Scott Bullman, 45-year-old Charles Andrew Graves, and 53-year-old Jason Wilson Rowland were charged for violating the state’s general statute.

In regard to the registry, the suspects had to confirm and initial they understood they were not allowed to be on the premises during the fair, per Ledford, who added it was noted in the statute the event was off-limits for them.

Officers recognized each of the men when they walked through the gates.

In July, a North Carolina law was set to help catch sex offenders by increasing the state’s DNA database, according to CBS 17.

“North Carolina House Bill 674 expands the list of crimes that require a DNA sample if someone is convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity,” a reporter for the outlet said:

Per a WLOS article, Ledford said multiple law enforcement agencies joined forces to watch for criminal activity.

He noted, “Our detective units [were] on scene, our drug units [were] on scene, our sex offender unit [was] on scene. They’re operating behind the scenes to make sure that everybody is kept safe while they enjoy the fair.”

The four sex offenders later bonded out of jail, according to the outlet, which added none of them had previous statute violations until the recent incident.

The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) said sex offender registries usually include the person’s address, what they look like, and a description of their criminal history.

“All fifty states require individuals convicted of certain sex crimes to register. Those convicted of more violent crimes are typically required to remain registered for a longer period and to update their address more frequently,” the organization explained.

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