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By BETH ZUMWALT
Since the beginning of the year, the Pike County Sheriff’s Department has arrested seven individuals on various violations concerning a sex offender act. Last week in Pike County Circuit Court, Clayton Watts, 23, Pittsfield, was sentenced to 10 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections after a jury in July, found him guilty of criminal sexual assault and aggravated sexual abuse. Watts had been accused of sexually assaulting three victims that were of age and one that was not.
Also, last week, three Nebo men, Anthony Westemeyer, Bobby J. Warner and Michael Wallace, were indicted by a federal grand jury, after being accused of “causing a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct,” which included the filming of a 13-year-old victim engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
More details about these arrests and sentencings are on the court page.
“I don’t know that sex-related crimes are on the rise,” David Greenwood, Pike County Sheriff, said. “We are constantly checking the sex offender data base and making sure it is updated and that all offenders are in compliance.”
Greenwood said the most common infractions of those on the sex offender list are a change of address without notifying authorities or having a social media account, which in most cases is prohibited for sex offenders.
While Greenwood said he didn’t think there was an uptick in sex crimes, he did agree that there are probably more sex offenders registered in the county now than at any other time.
He said reports of adult victims usually are reported by the victims themselves, while offenses against children, may come from parents, teachers, medical professionals or called in directly to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).
“Then DCFS contacts us to do an investigation which includes an interview with the Children’s Advocacy Center and then the reports are sent to the state’s attorney’s office,” Greenwood said.
According to the Illinois State Police website, there are more than 30 registered sex offenders living in Pike County.