There it was in the morning mail, a bulletin from the Birmingham, Alabama, Police Department informing me that a sex criminal had moved into my neighborhood.
What a way to meet the day! This Sex Offender Notification spotlighted one James Melvin Herring Jr., convicted in 2001 of first degree sexual abuse. He has taken up residence at 8313 on Vassar Avenue in East Lake. He is described as age 56, sex male, African-American, height five-feet nine inches tall, weighing 165 pounds, hair black, eyes brown, and scar on left cheek. Now you know as much about him as I do.
Immediately I began looking up and down Vassar Avenue to ascertain if this potential threat to childhood was moving about in public. Needless to say I failed to spot him. Sex offenders are notoriously difficult to pinpoint by looks alone. I watched his house for a while but it was wasted effort. No one seemed to be coming or going.
Just how vicious a criminal was now living within eyeshot of my house? Quick research revealed the law’s definition:
A person commits the crime of sexual abuse in the first degree if:
- a. He subjects another person to sexual contact by forcible compulsion; or
- b. He subjects another person to sexual contact who is incapable of consent by reason of being physically helpless or mentally incapacitated; or
- c. He, being 16 years old or older, subjects another person to sexual contact who is less than 12 years old.
Sexual abuse in the first degree is a Class C felony.