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SPECIAL REPORT: Sex Offenders Unregistered

There are nearly 25,000 registered sex offenders in Illinois, and there are an unknown number of convicted sex offenders from other states that may be living right next door. But you wouldn't find them on Illinois' sex offender registry.

In a special investigation, we discovered that a gap in the state's law makes it perfectly legal for these offenders to fly under the radar--even though other states consider their crimes so serious they list them as lifetime offenders.
Joe Dean Partridge is a convicted sex offender, for crimes against a child, teens, and adult women. Until recently, he was the site manager at the Deerwood Mobile Home Park in Springfield. It's a community with lots of families and single mothers.

Partridge has lived there for more than five years, and it appears his past was unknown until two weeks ago, when the rumors began.

We showed some residents Partridge's criminal sexual history. But you won't see it on Illinois' sex offender registry. Residents here checked, and so did we. Nothing.

Frustrated, they contacted us. After some digging, we turned up Partridge's record in Texas. According to that state's sex offender website and confirmed by the state's department of corrections, Partridge was sentenced to 15 years in prison for sexual offenses like exposure and fondling of young girls and sexual assault and rape of adult women. He did seven years before being paroled with mandatory supervision for five years.

In Texas, he is listed as a lifetime offender. But Illinois doesn't automatically recognize other states' lifetime sex offenders. When Partridge moved to Springfield in 2002, he fell under Illinois' 10-year registration rule. That 10-year clock starts ticking as soon as someone is released from prison, no matter what state they did time in.

Partridge moved to Illinois three months after that 10-year clock expired. That means he was informed he no longer has to register in the state of Illinois.

And that's why he can't be found on Illinois' registry.

There are some in the park who defend Partridge, saying live and let live.

Others are concerned about his possible access to tenants' trailers as park manager, as well as his overall influence over tenants.

The real question is--how did he get in?

ABC Newschannel's Vince DeMentri spoke with the owner of Deerwood Estates--Pete B. Peterson--and his lawyers by phone. They would not allow Vince to record the conversation, but Peterson told him he does background checks on new applicants and if they're convicted sex offenders, they're not allowed to buy a home in the park.

So why didn't Partridge come up on Peterson's check?

For one, Partridge already owned a home in the park when Peterson bought the complex. Secondly, Peterson said, he periodically checks Illinois' registry to see if anyone in the park shows up. As we said earlier, Partridge wasn't on the registry because he didn't have to register.

Peterson said when a resident notified him about Partridge's past, he searched the National Sex Offender Registry under the name he's always known Partridge by--Dean Partridge. Partridge even uses that name on his Facebook page.

Here's a flaw we discovered in the federal registry: Dean is his middle name. Joe is his first. The site requires both a first and last name to search, so when you run Dean Partridge in the national registry--nothing.

But when you enter Joe Partridge, his record appears.

Is Partridge using just his middle name so he won't show up in sex offender registries anywhere in the country? We tracked him down to ask that and other questions, but he refused to talk to us.

The owner of the trailer park said that once he confirmed Partridge was a convicted sex offender, he fired him as manager of the mobile home park. The owner also said he's asked Partridge to move out of the park. If he doesn't, the park owner said he will go to court to get Partridge out.