Informed Opinions on Today’s Topics : Escaping an Old Identity
The Palmdale man who was convicted of molesting his 10-year-old goddaughter, Desiray Bartak, was released from prison Wednesday. The man changed his name while in prison from Richard Streate to Kyle Hochstraser and has returned to the city in which he committed his crime. Desiray, who is now 14 and has moved to Northern California, fought against Hochstraser’s early release and previously sued him for $2 million.
Should convicted criminals be allowed to change their names?
Rep. Howard (Buck) McKeon (R-Santa Clarita)
“I don’t think they should be able to escape their record and get away from the reputation they’ve established. Communities need to be aware of which members of its neighborhoods (are convicted criminals). That is the basic fabric that makes up a community. In the crime bill that we debated last week, Republicans wanted a clause that would have mandated the names be released to the community. . . . It was taken out of the crime bill. They are trying to protect the criminal and not giving the community the right to know. We think people need to be held accountable.”
The Rev. Henry Hearns, Lancaster city councilman
“Absolutely not, as far as I’m concerned. I would say that if they want to change their names, I think the community should know who they were. . . . If they get the option of changing their name, that name should also be identified in the community that this person lives around. I think that name should be disclosed so people know that Henry is equal to John--the same person. The same rapist or killer.”
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Capt. Tony F. Welch, commander of the Antelope Valley Sheriff’s Station
“I don’t think they should be able to. It’s just a method to deceive possible victims. On the other hand, as far as law enforcement is concerned, we’ll know who that person is. The unsuspecting public would not possibly know about the name change. I believe that the fact that the media is on top of this to let them know helps. I’m not sure what the parole agents’ rules and regulations are, but I have heard that some lawmakers want to prohibit them (criminals) from changing their names in jail. That would be the way to do it.”
Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Pamela Rogers
“I specialize in child molestation, physical child abuse and rape cases involving adult victims. In my opinion, the convicted felon, especially in cases like these that are repetitious, should not be allowed to change their names and that is not in violation of the constitutional principles or practice. A court can give as an order that the felon use no name other than their own. . . . It is extremely difficult to track these kinds of offenders.
“Within the last few years in Los Angeles County, we have used tracking codes so that when we have a case presented we have some ability if they have been reported as having been involved in these kinds of crimes. Before, if they were too young to qualify, I may have to reject that case. Now I have the ability to track the rejects, so to speak, in our computer files. . . . We’ve had this happen in five cases. We dig into the cases and we find that this is not the first victim and there are others who may now be mature enough to testify. . . . Anything as simple as not changing names that assists law enforcement and child protective services to adequately know seems to me to be a public benefit with hardly any intrusion.”