Woman Fights for Rights Of Sex Offenders & Families

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Shana Rowan doesn't live in the north country, but she shares a connection and wanted to talk with 7 News reporter John Friot.

Why?

Shana saw our report last week on what registered sex offender Kelly Keenan and his live-in girlfriend in Massena are going through.

The neighbors put up a sign warning that a Level 3 registered sex offender lives in the apartment house.

"That is asking for them to be targeted," said Shana.

A domestic violence survivor, the Oneida County woman finds herself constantly looking over her shoulder.

She says she's forced to live in fear, not because of her past at the hands of a former husband, but because of what people think about her and her fiancé - a registered sex offender.

That's why she is campaigning for changes, including elimination of the state's Sex Offender Registry.
 
"Families and children of registrants are essentially treated as if they've committed sex crimes in the way that they don't have privacy. They don't have safety or stability in their own homes," said Shana.
 
Shana Rowan sees education and awareness as the key.

That's why she's embarked on a campaign to reform the sex offender registry and related legislation.
 
The Oneida Castle woman is speaking out for family members and children of sex offenders.

She is a state organizer for a New York chapter of Reform Sex Offender Laws.

Her fiancé, Geoff, served four years in prison after being convicted of sodomizing and inappropriately touching his six year old step-sister while he was a teenager.

His name is now listed as a Level 2 offender on the state registry.

Shana feels the registry and sex offender laws are invasive and damaging to those trying to rebuild their lives.
 
"It infiltrates every aspect of your life," said Shana.
 
Geoff agreed to speak to us on camera if we protected his identity, which means withholding his last name.

Geoff told us it's an unjustified portrayal and pointed out that not all offenders, himself included, are predators.

"If there's going to be a registry, it's got to be accurate. It can't just be everybody is all in one huge bowl and all you get is one of three numbers to determine how horrible a person people are going to judge you as," said Geoff.
 
There are 778 registered sex offenders now living in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.

St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin Wells says the Sex Offender Registry is vital for the public.
 
"It's not just important to law enforcement, it's important to the peace of mind for our community," said Wells.
 
Shana Rowan says she will fight on for families of sex offenders facing torment and humiliation, while standing by her fiancé and his daily struggle to regain his life. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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