Case load may have delayed abduction suspect's arrest - abc27 WHTM

Case load may have delayed abduction suspect's arrest

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Harold Leroy Herr Harold Leroy Herr

The Lancaster County man charged this week in the abduction and sexual assault of a 5-year-old girl was jailed for a Megan's Law violation a day after the kidnapping because the convicted sex offender hadn't complied with registration rules since May.

Harold Leroy Herr wasn't arrested sooner because, due to a relatively new federal law, the case load has ballooned and may have caused delays.

The Adam Walsh Act created a three-tier system of sex offenders and increased the number of criminals who must register. Among them are juveniles, who must now periodically verify their addresses with police if they have been convicted of rape or involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.

Riya Shah, the staff attorney for Pennsylvania's Juvenile Justice Center, said the inclusion of minors has clogged the system and distracted law enforcement from high-risk offenders. Herr was among more than 700 registered sex offenders listed as non-compliant when he failed to verify his address with police.

"What you are doing is combining juveniles who may not be pedophiles and including them with repeat offenders like Jerry Sandusky," Shah said. "What you have now are all these kids who are not at risk of reoffending."

Pennsylvania State Police is responsible for maintaining the state's Megan's Law website and making sure that sex offenders verify their addresses as required. Trooper Adam Reed, a state police spokesman, said the department is trying to work out the kinks and streamline the system.

Herr, 73, of Conestoga Township, was arraigned Wednesday on 11 criminal counts stemming from the abduction and rape of the 5-year-old girl, who was taken as she played in the yard of a Lancaster Township home.

He has been jailed without bail on felony counts of sexual assault, kidnapping, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, unlawful contact with a minor, and corruption of minors.

According to charging documents, Herr approached the girl and told her: 'You are pretty. I think I'm going to keep you," then grabbed her by the neck and forced her into his car.

He later ordered the child to remove her clothing and threatened to kill her if she refused, documents state.

Herr was a registered as a sex offender due to a 1990 rape conviction. Authorities said he had served the maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for abducting and raping another young girl.

Police were not able to confirm if they checked on Herr in May, nor could they say if they were notified of his non-compliance by state police.


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