Sex offender’s porn shops show law gapFor sex crimes committed in the 1980s, Scott E. Ziegler is compelled to report to police where he is living for the rest of his life.
By: By DARRYL ENRIQUEZ/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The Daily Telegram
For sex crimes committed in the 1980s, Scott E. Ziegler is compelled to report to police where he is living for the rest of his life.
But nothing about his status as enrollee for life on the state’s sex offender registry prevented Ziegler from opening a pornography and drug paraphernalia store — called Twisted — that became a magnet for teenagers in downtown Waukesha. Authorities filed 14 felony charges against Ziegler, accusing him of luring the teenagers into a life of sexual abuse and drug use.
The state legislator who wrote Wisconsin’s sex offender disclosure laws said Ziegler’s case points to a gap in the law that she would address with the state attorney general.
“If sex offenders are setting themselves up in a sleaze-trade business, it’s a loophole that we should check into,” said state Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills. “The question is: Is it unconstitutional to require a criminal who has served their time to report their profession?”
Ziegler, 37, who was charged with the crimes Thursday, remained in jail as of 9:15 p.m. Sunday in lieu of posting $100,000 bail. He was due back in court today for another bail hearing.
Police Capt. Mark Stigler said the large marijuana leaf painted on the picture window of the now-shut downtown Waukesha store baited gullible teenagers into Twisted and later to his Waukesha home, where, a criminal complaint alleges, teenagers engaged in sex and drugs with Ziegler.
When police confronted Ziegler in the parking lot of his home, they found with him a 14-year-old girl wearing a dog collar and leash. The girl told police she was allowed to stay at the apartment and given alcohol and drugs in exchange for sex, according to court records.
Darling said state law should be changed to require registered sexual offenders who earn their livings in areas such as pornography or drug paraphernalia sales to report to police their places of employment.
That requirement would provide the public with further information about convicted sex offenders who must now register only their home addresses with police.
A blanket policy that requires all sex offenders to register their workplaces is probably unworkable, but the same should not hold true with sex-trade merchants, she said.
Since the registry was enacted, numerous and easily accessible Web sites have been created to inform the public of where sex offenders reside.
This instant information has been used by many communities to pass restrictions on where sex offenders can live. A similar work registry could result in local regulations on where sex offenders can work, if they are involved in questionable but legal commerce, Darling said.
She doubted that a sex offender who has cleared probation and is no longer under the supervision of the state Department of Corrections can be stopped by the state from operating a shop such as Twisted.
But public pressure can be brought to bear locally, she said.
“Information is a powerful thing,” she said.
Break in the case
Some of the girls met Ziegler at his store, which operated for about a year before closing in November, the complaint says. Ziegler operates another Twisted store in West Allis.
Ziegler had successfully completed his post-prison supervision in August 2006, according to state corrections records.
Stigler said police had staked out Ziegler for about a year, looking for evidence of lewd and lascivious behavior. Investigators were getting direction from the Waukesha city attorney and Waukesha County district attorney on how to build a case against Ziegler and his Twisted store, he said.
“What we were more concerned about was felony and misdemeanor behavior there,” said City Attorney Curt Meitz. “I didn’t have jurisdiction over that.”
District Attorney Brad Schimel said “law enforcement watched that place like a hawk, interviewing kids who left the store.”
Many of the teens were uncooperative, which slowed the case, he said.
Police got a break in the case on Jan. 18, when the mother of the 14-year-old girl complained that her daughter had run away from home, leading police to arrest Ziegler 10 days later, a search warrant says.
— Copyright © 2008, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/Distributed by McClatchy- Tribune Information Services