Memphis rape victim shocked to find ‘flaw’ in sex offender registry protocol

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A rape victim from Memphis is trying to spread awareness after finding what she believes is a major flaw in the sex offender registry.

The woman, who wants to remain anonymous, was raped when she was 13-years-old in her own home.

“It hurts," she said. "I mean, not to be too in depth on the situation, but I lost my virginity to a rapist. You know, I didn’t get a chance to give that away. It was taken from me.”

She says Marlo Pride was dating her mother back in 2002.

“He was at our house one night, and I was in my bedroom asleep. I had gone to the restroom and returned back to my room, and I just remember waking up to being raped," she said.

She says her mom intervened and called the police. The memory still haunts her 15 years later.

“I have nightmares," she said. "I’m unable to sleep in my own bedroom with the door unlocked, because I just feel I’m revisiting that situation again. It’s devastating.”

Pride was sentenced to one year probation after pleading guilty to statutory rape, six years after her rape took place.

He has several aliases and three different birth years tied to his criminal record. It’s a long rap sheet from burglary, to drug possession and aggravated assault.

“He doesn’t deserve to be out on the streets. He deserves to be in jail. And for them to give him a second chance-well, not even a second chance, a 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th chance of being a free man is unfair. It’s a shame. It’s just ridiculous.”

She says the only comfort was knowing he was on the sex offender registry. That is, until she looked at it last year after having a nightmare about him.

“I could not pull his name up, so I sent TBI an email letting them know I was trying to search for a registered sex offender and I was having problems.”

She says the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation told her he was no longer required to register, with no further details.

“For my safety, I would like to know why. I was told they could not discuss that information with me.”

She knows offenders can get cleared from the list after 10 years of not committing any sex crimes.

TBI told us the law changed in 2006 and if an offender is less than 10 years older than the victim, they are allowed to request to be off the registry earlier.

Pride’s nine years older than the then 13-year-old victim.

She wonders why she wasn’t notified he was applying to get off the list and why she can’t have access to that information.

“I didn’t even get a phone call, an email, anything, my mom either, letting us know that he was out or that he no longer had to register or ask us how we felt about it. I think at minimum, we deserve that.”

A TBI spokesperson said there’s currently nothing in the law that says victims need to be notified when someone is taken off the registry.

The agency also released the following statement:

"While we are sensitive to this issue, TBI serves as the central repository for the sex offender registry in addition to complying with the other requirements as required by the sex offender laws. We are only staffed appropriately to meet the statutory requirements imposed on TBI with regards to the sex offender registry. In addition to maintaining the registry, TBI places a high priority on locating offenders in the absconder status. In every scenario, TBI strives to utilize all of its resources as effectively and efficiently as possible, but as with any other consideration to take on additional responsibilities, the main concern becomes having the appropriate resources (i.e. staffing) to adequately perform the new duties."

Attorney Jeff Lee says that’s one of the many flaws he sees in the system, especially since it’s a lengthy procedure to get off the list.

“I would expect they’d be notified from the minute somebody’s asking to be removed, and I’d expect if there was a hearing or a decision to be set on it, they’d be notified of that too," said Lee.

Lee says offenders file to be removed and then six months later they get a 'yes or' a 'no' without any real information, unless they take it to court.

“What I really think would be helpful is if TBI were more transparent about the process," said Lee. "They completely control all the records, I can’t even tell you from their side what that procedure is, so if they’re making mistakes they’re not accountable to anybody.”

The victim we spoke with wants to bring awareness to the problem and warn other victims their attackers could also be off the list. She hopes one day victims will be notified.

TBI also said statutory rape is no longer a registerable offense.