President Bill Clinton signs off on Megan’s Law — May 17, 1996
On May 17, 1996, President Bill Clinton signed Megan’s Law, which required community notification when a sex offender moved into to a neighborhood. It also standardized the sex offender list requirement that had varied from state to state and made it available to the public instead of just to law enforcement.
The law was named for Hamilton’s (Mercer County) Megan Kanka, who was raped and brutally murdered by a scumbag named Jesse Timmendequas, a twice-convicted sex offender who lived across the street from the Kankas. The crimes happened in 1994 and shocked New Jersey and the nation; I remember the unfortunate circumstances very vividly as we took phone calls from outraged citizens for weeks. People were angry and shocked that such a despicable person could live among us without anyone knowing. They were also outraged that Timmendequas was roaming freely after the two sex crimes convictions and that he had served his time at a diagnostic facility in Avenel instead of a traditional prison.
Timmendequas had lured the little girl into his house by promising her that she could see his puppy. Jeff and I campaigned on air for the passage of the state version of “Megan’s Law,” which passed in 1994 — the Kansas came on the air with us to urge its passage. It became the model for the national version. Everyone’s heart went out to the Kankas, who had no idea about the evil that lurked on their street. Richard and Maureen Kanka, Megan’s parents, long maintained that they never would have let their daughter ride her bike around the neighborhood if they had known there was a convicted pedophile living across the street.
Timmendequas was tried and convicted of the rape and murder (among other charges) and sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted to life when New Jersey abolished the death penalty in 2007. If ever there was a case that demanded the death penalty, it is this one. That he should be allowed to breathe while Megan can’t is criminal in and of itself. The house where Timmendequas lived (which he shared with two other sex offenders) and where he raped and killed 7-year-old Megan has since been razed and a memorial park for Megan replaced it.
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