By Rob PerezWednesday, May 16, 2001
Sime Tang served nearly seven years in state prison for sexually assaulting a Honolulu girl. He was paroled in 1997.
Paroled sex offender
skips tracking office,
As a convicted sex felon, Tang is required to be on the state's list of registered sex offenders. He isn't.
He is required to let the state know his current home address, what kind of car he drives and where he works. The state has no such information.
His picture should be posted on a state Web site of sex offenders. It isn't.
Hawaii enacted a law in 1997 requiring sex offenders to register for life, even if they move elsewhere. The law was intended to let the public know the whereabouts of people convicted locally of sex crimes, especially against minors.
Tang fit the bill to a T. His victim, whom he molested over a period of several years in the late 1980s and 1990, was less than 14 at the time of the assaults, according to court records.
Although Tang was released from state prison in May 1997, just weeks before the new registration law took effect, he still falls under its requirements.
Indeed, the Tang case underscores a major shortcoming in the way the state deals with sex offenders who are about to be released from prison.
The state leaves it up to the convict to register as a sex offender. It's basically an honor system for lawbreakers of the worst kind. The rapist or sexual predator is told he has three days upon release to register with the police.
Not surprisingly, some fail to register, even though they face imprisonment of up to five years if they intentionally do so.
"These offenders are not going to come in voluntarily," says Liane Moriyama, administrator for the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center, which administers the sex offender list.
Moriyama says the center is working with prison officials to set up a system in which sex offenders are routinely registered as part of their release from prison.
"It's a matter of getting everyone together" to work out the arrangements, Moriyama says.
Asked why Tang wasn't registered even though he was paroled four years ago, Moriyama says the state didn't have a good address to contact him.
Yet from his 1997 release until just last July, Tang was held in a federal detention center on the mainland by the Immigration and Naturalization Service -- the very agency that took custody of Tang when he was paroled.
Because Tang was a foreign national convicted of a felony sex crime, a U.S. immigration judge in 1992 had ordered Tang deported back to Vietnam upon his release from prison.
The U.S. government, however, has had difficulty getting Vietnam to agree to deportations, and in July a federal judge in Nevada ordered the agency to release Tang, according to Wayne Wills, the INS' deputy district director in Hawaii. He didn't know the reason the judge ordered Tang's release.
Tang apparently has since moved to Southern California, and police there told Steve Lane, a Honolulu paralegal who has assisted the victim, that arrangements are being made to register Tang under California law. Attempts yesterday to reach the detective handling the case were unsuccessful. Tang also could not be reached for comment.
Tang's victim, who now lives on the mainland, only recently learned that Tang was free and on the mainland. She still is terrified of him, Lane said.
Her family canceled a reunion on the mainland recently after discovering that Tang might be living in the same area.
Based on what he learned from the Tang case, Lane wonders how many other sex offenders have been released from Hawaii prisons and gone unregistered, with little follow-up by the state.
"That's what's so scary," Lane says.
Star-Bulletin columnist Rob Perez writes on issues
and events affecting Hawaii. Fax 529-4750, or write to
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu 96813. He can also be reached
by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.