It’s fairly easy for people in Virginia to change their name, but when it comes to sex offenders, one state lawmaker thinks it should be more difficult.
Like most people in Albemarle County, Delegate Rob Bell had heard of Jeffrey Kitze – also known as the graduation day rapist. In 1989, he came to Charlottesville for his sister’s commencement. The following day, when relatives had gone home, he attacked his sister’s roommate. Since then, Kitze’s had other legal problems, and this year he petitioned the circuit court from prison to change his name to Miller. He remains on the state’s registry of sex offenders.
“Once you’ve changed your name, the law requires you to go and register under your new name, but no one will find you, and I think the whole point of the registry is so say for the specific victim she can find where he is right now, and then for the general public they can say in this area, in this neighborhood, who is a registered sex offender?”
So Bell has introduced a bill that would require a hearing before sex offenders could change their name.
“And then also you give notice to the Commonwealth’s Attorney, because the Commonwealth’s Attorney might not care, or he might say, ‘Absolutely not. This was a very important case, and it’s very important for people to be able to locate this person by his given name.”
Bell knows this will make it more difficult for convicted criminals hoping to start over again, but in this case he thinks the public need to know should outweigh an individual’s wishes.