Crime

Sex offenders have a lot of rules to follow. A St. Martin man broke one of them, police say.

A man convicted of rape 18 years ago has been accused of a sex offender violation after serving 30 days in jail for exposing himself to a woman and two children.

But his arrest may not be why you think.

State law has a long list of requirements for sex offenders once they get out of jail. For starters, they must provide all sorts of personal information, fingerprints, palm prints and a biological sample, and must re-register every 90 days.

The requirement that appears to have Gregory Paxton Payton Sr. at risk of going back to prison is this: Sex offenders must report any contact with police within three days or within three days of getting out of jail.

Indecent exposure is a misdemeanor. A sex offender registry violation is a felony.

The 53-year-old Ocean Springs man got of jail April 22 after serving 30 days on two convictions of indecent exposure. He had shown his private parts to two children and to a woman in separate incidents March 18. Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell said it happened at The Reserve At Gulf Hills apartments in St. Martin. Payton pleaded no contest, meaning he didn't admit guilt but accepted a jail sentence.

When Payton hadn't reported the incidents within five days of getting out of jail, deputies arrested him April 27 on a charge of violating the state's sex offender registry law, Ezell said.

Misdemeanor convictions, such as indecent exposure, aren't enough to send a sex offender back to prison. Payton has a history of indecent exposure arrests since 2001, when he got out of prison on his rape conviction, Ezell said. Payton had been convicted of rape in Harrison County in 1990.

He was convicted on two counts of indecent exposure the year he got out of prison, Ezell said.

Payton served jail time on two counts after Biloxi police arrested him in 2012, the Harrison County jail docket shows.

D'Iberville police arrested him Feb. 9 on one count. Payton was released from jail Feb. 23, about a month before the incidents in St. Martin.

Payton is free on a $5,000 bond on the sex offender registry charge.

The maximum penalties for violating a sex offender law in Mississippi are five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Other requirements

There's several ways convicted sex offenders can violate registration laws. Here's some of the requirements:

  • After getting out of prison or moving to Mississippi, must report to their sheriff's office in three business days and appear at a driver's license station within 10 days.

  • Must re-register at a driver's license station every 90 days, pay a $5 fee and get a new photo ID card.

  • Must not live within 1,500 feet of a school, a child care center, a children's group home, playground, ball park or any other recreational facility used by persons younger than 18.

  • Must file a change of address at a driver's license station not less than 10 days before a move.

  • Report a job change in person at a driver's license station within three business days.

  • Must provide any online identity, screen name and user name.

  • Must report any change in employment, school enrollment or vocation within three business days of the change.

  • Must report information on every vehicle used, including its make, model, color and license tag number.

The Secretary of State's Office has a full list of all requirements, including what a sex offender must do if moving to a different state.

Mississippi has more than 7,000 registered sex offenders, with nearly 200 non-compliant.

A total of 1,224 sex offenders are registered in South Mississippi. That includes Harrison, Jackson, Hancock, Pearl River, Stone and George and Greene counties, according to reports available on the state Department of Public Safety website. Of those, a total of 28 are listed as non-compliant.

Hinds County has the state's highest number of registered sex offenders — 692, with 98 non-compliant, a report shows.

Here's the number of registered sex offenders, by county, in South Mississippi, with the number of non-compliant offenders in parentheses:

Harrison County: 386 (11)

Jackson County: 290 (5)

Pearl River County: 148 (1)

Greene County: 125 (1)

Hancock County: 127 (7)

George County: 81 (3)

Stone County: 67 (0)

The Mississippi Sex Offender Registry allows the public to search online for offenders by name, distance from a certain address or by zip code. You can also search your neighborhood on a map.

Robin Fitzgerald, 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews
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