Sex offender denied entry to Rutherford County school, thanks to computer program

Sex offender program
Photo: WKRN

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) — A Rutherford County elementary school was put to the test two weeks ago when a registered sex offender attempted to get inside Brown’s Chapel Elementary School during lunch.

The man never made it past the front office on Sept. 11, thanks to a computer software system designed to keep sex offenders out.

The incident occurred on Grandparents Day at the school.

“An elderly person not really the standard that you would think you have to be concerned about,” said Principal Kellye Goostree.

But when Gilbert Johnson, 74, handed over his license hoping to have lunch with his step-grandson, an alert appeared on the Raptor Visitor Management System.

Sex offender program
Photo: WKRN

“It does access that data base and anyone on the sex offender’s registry is known to us, and without the Raptor system that wouldn’t be so,” Goostree said.

Johnson is a registered sex offender who lives in Florida. He was convicted on child abuse charges in the state of Maryland in 1999, according to the Florida Sexual Offenders and Predators’ website.

“How amazing that we were able to prevent a convicted sex offender from having lunch with people’s children,” Goostree said.

Johnson was detained and interviewed by the school’s SRO officer, but he wasn’t arrested and was able to leave the school with his wife, the child’s grandmother.

It turns out Johnson didn’t tell Polk County, Florida that he was traveling out-of-state, which is required as a registered sex offender.

News 2 spoke with Polk County Sheriff’s officials who will be looking into the matter to determine if Johnson violated the conditions of the sex offenders’ registry.

Raptor has now been installed in all elementary and middle schools in Rutherford County, and some high schools.

So far, Raptor has been a proven success.

“We’ve had four hits in the seven years,” Goostree said.  “It’s a huge safety feature for our students.”

As soon as there is a hit, Raptor will alert the principal, assistant principal, SRO and central office with a text message.

It can also be personalized in case of a custody battle with a student, or a restraining order.

Parent Connie Jones has two children at the school, but each time she comes she has to check in like everyone else, no exception.

“It insures that my kids are safe while here at school, and there are not going to be an intruder to come in,” Jones said.

So, she wasn’t surprised to hear that the registered sex offender never made it past the front office.

“That’s a scary thing which it makes me feel a lot safer that they caught that, that he wasn’t able to get in here with my kids, because there is no telling that could have happened,” Jones said.

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