Eric Haskett was merely taking a nap in a car when he roused suspicion in a rural Frederick County neighborhood. A neighbor traced Haskett's license plate to an address once used by a registered sex offender.
Then his girlfriend's parents told him to scram; law enforcement officials, including three FBI agents, began investigating; and Haskett began fearing that the suspicions could cost him his job at a gag shop that sells such kid-friendly items as whoopie cushions.
If this sort of misunderstanding and overeaction keeps happening, public sex offender registries will become worse than useless. This case demonstrates that insufficient knowledge is a dangerous thing. If paranoia becomes rampant, it may come to the point where sex offender registries have to be removed from public view or we will need specific laws to protect those mistaken as sex offenders.
While people are panicking over the wrong people, trusted and unconvicted sex offenders will continue to have access to victims who may or may not be believed if they speak up.