SANTA FE, N.M. — Legislators will consider changes to the state’s sex offender registration policies in response to revelations that deceased financier and New Mexico ranch owner Jeffrey Epstein was allowed to avoid registering locally as a sex offender following a guilty plea a decade ago in Florida
Epstein was accused of abusing young women at his desert ranch outside the community of Stanley before his death last year behind bars.
Democratic New Mexico state Rep. Matthew McQueen of Galisteo said Thursday that he has filed a bill that would automatically require people who are registered as sex offenders in another state or U.S. territory to also register in New Mexico if they spend 20 cumulative days in the state during any calendar year. A stay of 10 consecutive days also would trigger the requirement.
Current New Mexico law requires registration only for out-of-state offense that are equivalent to New Mexico sex offenses.
McQueen said that Epstein’s Zorro Ranch outside the town of Stanley remains a haunting reminder of Epstein’s behavior and his ability to skirt the law.
McQueen said the exact circumstances are unclear on how Espstein was not required to register in New Mexico. He fears that the state could become a safe haven for sex offenders without reforms.
“They look around the country: ‘Where is it I don’t have to register?’ ” said McQueen, whose district includes the ranch. “Oh look, New Mexico has some slightly different laws, I can fly under the radar.”
New Mexico’s Democratic-led Legislature convenes Jan. 21 for a 30-day session.