August 12, 2005
Jefferson City, Mo. — Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon and state Rep. Jeff Harris, of Columbia, today called for tougher state laws to eliminate appeal bonds for child molesters and other predators who are convicted of committing violent acts against children.
The proposal follows Nixon's filing today of his second motion in as many weeks to the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, to revoke the appeal bond of St. Louis-area convicted child molester Richard Sheridan. Nixon alleges Sheridan violated the terms of his bond by moving from a supervised living environment to a motel in St. Charles County. Nixon's first motion was denied as moot after Sheridan told the court he had subsequently moved to a court-approved location and was wearing an electronic monitor.
"This case is an example of why Missouri laws governing child molesters and other violent predators need to be strengthened," Nixon said. "A convicted child molester should not be living in a motel in an unsupervised environment while he is appealing his conviction."
Harris said he will begin working with Nixon's office immediately to draft new legislation.
"This is an appropriate step to take once a conviction is obtained," Harris said. "The risk of putting a convicted child molester back on the street while waiting on appeal is too great."
Sheridan was convicted of three counts of child molestation in the first degree and seven counts of assault in the third degree on July 23, 2004, and was sentenced to a total of 15 years in prison. He was released pending appeal, based on his representation that he would reside in a senior citizen community where his exposure to young children would be limited and where he would remain under house arrest with electronic monitoring by St. Charles Community Service.
Sheridan lived in the senior center until Aug. 1 when he was physically evicted. Employees at the center had noted significant interaction between Sheridan and dining room employees under the age of 18, and had expressed concerns that the great-grandmother of one of the victims lived in the nursing home.
Nixon filed a motion to revoke the appeal bond on Aug. 2 after learning that Sheridan was living unsupervised in a motel in Wentzville. In his second claim, Nixon said the propriety of Sheridan remaining free on appeal bond was not moot and that, even with electronic monitoring, Sheridan represents an unjustifiable danger to the community.
Nixon has long been a critic of appeal bonds for violent crimes and was successful in getting Missouri's law changed to prevent appeal bonds for those convicted of second-degree murder.