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Tracking of a sex offender

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(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@svnmail.com)
David A. Martinson, 43, a convicted child sex offender, has been living at 1420 W. Fourth St., right next to the Lincoln Elementary School playground in Dixon, for 3 years. Martinson was arrested Sept. 28 and charged with two counts of child pornography after police say he may have been sexually abusing a 10-year-old boy whom he baby-sat, and that he had Polaroids of young naked boys dating back more than 10 years. Martinson is in Lee County Jail on $500,000 bond. He has not yet entered a plea. Police are trying to find the boys, now young men, in the photos, and say more charges may be pending.

DIXON – The discovery last month that a Dixon man may have been sexually abusing a 10-year-old boy whom he baby-sat, and that he had a collection of Polaroids of young naked boys dating back more than 10 years, was disturbing enough.

Perhaps even more shocking, though, is the fact that David A. Martinson, 43, a convicted child sex offender, has been living right next to the Lincoln Elementary School playground for 3 years.

Martinson, of 1420 W. Fourth St., was arrested Sept. 28 and charged with two counts of child pornography. He has been appointed a public defender, but has not yet entered a plea. He is in Lee County Jail on $500,000 bond.

Acting on a tip, police searched Martinson’s home and found the pictures of nude boys, ranging in age from 7 to 11, locked in a safe, they said. Police are trying to identify and track down the boys in the photos, and more charges may be pending.

Martinson was 19 when he was convicted in April 1986 in Ogle County of sexually abusing a 4-year-old girl. He was given 4 years probation and 1 year of periodic imprisonment.

Illinois’ sex offender registry, which provides public information on convicted sex offenders and their addresses, was established more than 10 years later, in August of 1996. Offenders must register for anywhere from 10 years to the rest of their lives.

“The only way we could have known about him – and there are people just like him in the community,” Dixon Police Chief Danny Langloss said, “is to run the criminal history of every person in this community, which isn’t very feasible and really isn’t permitted under the laws that govern our legal system.”

When the law took effect, sex offenders convicted up to 10 years prior were required to register with their local police departments.

Martinson missed the requirement to register by about 4 months.

That doesn’t mean, though, that the sex offender laws did not apply to him, Langloss said.

“People get confused on the registry, because it just has to do with registering and being on the website,” Langloss said. “... all the laws applying and pertaining to child sex offender apply to him.”

What lead to this arrest?

According to police, while riding a local bus, Martinson was overheard saying that he watched a 10-year-old boy occasionally and that the boy likes him to wash his hair and to stay in the room while he is bathing.

Police were tipped off, and the boy later told a forensic interviewer at Shining Star Child Advocacy Center that Martinson touched him inappropriately.

This was not the first time police had contact with Martinson – according to Lee County court documents, police investigated him twice before.

In 1995, a concerned citizen called to report that Martinson was advertising as an in-home day care provider.

In 2007, police received a report that Martinson, then of 840 Sproul St., was following children home from Washington Elementary School. With permission from the court, police secretly put a GPS system in his car and tracked him from May 2007 to February 2008, Langloss said.

Nothing suspicious was found and no charges were filed, Langloss said.

Under Illinois criminal code, anyone convicted of a sex crime against a child is banned for life from living within 500 feet of a school.

That law took effect in 1998 and applies to any child sex offender convicted before and after the measure was enacted, Dixon Police Lt. Brad Sibley said.

There is an exception to that law, however: Any sex offender who owned their home before the law took effect did not have to move.

Martinson has lived at the West Fourth Street house only 3 years, Sibley said.

Since Martinson’s arrest, police have been working with school officials. Now the forms visitors fill out ask whether they have been convicted of sex crimes against children, not just whether they are registered sex offenders, Sibley said.

The state’s sex offender registration act evolves constantly, Langloss said, so several officers are tasked with staying on top of those changes, making local sex offenders aware of their requirements and conducting frequent checks to make sure everyone is compliant.

The Martinson case is a good example of why it’s important for law enforcement to get on the front side of prevention, Langloss said.

“This case really illustrates this because you’re just not going to know everybody that’s a threat, and you can’t tell by looking at them.”

Sex offender registry online

Go to www.isp.state.il.us/sor/ to access the Illinois State Police Sex Offender Registry.

With tips

Anyone with information that pertains to the Martinson investigation is asked to call Dixon Police Detective Nick Albert at 815-288-4411, or Ogle-Lee County Crime Stoppers, the anonymous reward hotline, at 888-228-4488.

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