The Morehead News

January 9, 2009

Sex offender gets shock probation

By Tonia Noe-Rose - Staff Writer

Circuit Judge Beth Maze granted shock probation Dec. 23 to convicted child predator Paul Terry and now the court and the commonwealth will wait for the defendant to undergo a sex offender’s evaluation to see if he could potentially re-offend.

Maze said she granted shock probation so that Terry, of Jackson, would have to follow strict conditions including completing sex offender treatment.

Terry pleaded guilty in August to the charges of using electronic means to induce a minor to engage in sex (felony) and distribution obscene material to a minor over the Internet (misdemeanor), and was sentenced Sept. 5 to four years in prison.

Commonwealth Attorney Keen Johnson said he agrees with the judge’s decision, but when he discovered shock probation was granted to Terry, Johnson researched the statute based on the defendant’s misdemeanor charge.

While doing so, Johnson discovered Terry should have been ordered a sex offender’s evaluation prior to his sentencing.

“Terry wasn’t required an evaluation for the felony charge, but he was for the misdemeanor,” Johnson said Wednesday. “Not seeing this before he was sentenced was just something none of us saw at the time.”

Maze said the class D felony is not an offense, which would require Terry to register as a sex offender. She said her reason for granting shock probation was due to the recent early release of prisoners across the state by the Kentucky Parole Board.

“The way the parole board is now, they would have let him out anyway to go back on the streets without any treatment,” Maze said. “This is a heinous crime, and I did not want him released. But if I parole him, then I have the ability to order him into sex offender’s treatment. That’s something he would not receive in prison.”

Maze said the court feared that the parole board would release Terry – any day with no supervision – and it would be “far better” for the public for Terry to receive probation with strict conditions.

The conditions include that Terry be on supervised probation with a probation officer for five years. He must attend and complete a sex offender treatment program, not be allowed around minors while unsupervised, remain drug and alcohol free, allow the probation officer to visit his home at any time, answer reasonable inquiries of his probation officer and to commit no new offenses.

Keen said the people in charge of the sex offender evaluations are “extremely professional” and can “easily” determine if a person is prone to committing another sex crime.

Terry will remain on shock probation throughout the evaluation and will be ordered back to court Feb. 6 to allow Judge Maze to review the evaluation report.

Terry is presently employed at a computer repair store in his hometown.

Keen said he has contacted the Jackson Police to make certain Terry isn’t violating the terms connected to his shock probation. “He is not allowed around anyone under the age of 18,” Johnson said. “I called the authorities there and they said the store isn’t a place where children hang out. But, I will be keeping an eye on him and the authorities there said they will, as well.”

Terry was arrested in July following a four-week conversation over the Internet with undercover Morehead Police Lt. David Sexton. Sexton pretended to be a 13-year-old female during the course of the chats. Sexton then obtained a warrant and traveled to Jackson along with Kentucky State Police and made the arrest.

Shock probation provides defendants with an opportunity to receive probation after spending a short period of time in jail. The theory is that immersing a defendant in the penal system for a short period of time can “shock” him or her into a non-criminal lifestyle.

Recently, a Rowan County defendant, who received a 96-year prison sentence for many home burglaries, was released by the parole board after only serving six years.