Child molester found guilty of failing to register as sex offender

Former DuPage correctional officer is first person in Illinois to be convicted under Adam Walsh Act

Daniel Rappe, a former correctional officer in the DuPage County Sheriff’s Department who was twice convicted on child molestation charges, had ducked registering as a sex offender for seven years by creating a “tangled web” of false identities, prosecutors say.

Because of a new federal law, however, federal authorities joined the investigation, traced Rappe to a Willowbrook apartment and arrested him in March 2007.

On Tuesday, a federal jury convicted Rappe, making him the first person in Illinois to be convicted under the Adam Walsh Act for failing to register as a sex offender.

“It sends a message to sex offenders that may have previously been able to run and hide under local jurisdictions,” said Assistant U.S. Atty. Rachel Cannon, a prosecutor in the case. “That’s no longer the case.”
Rappe, 47, was convicted in DuPage County of criminal sexual assault in 1986 and aggravated criminal sex abuse in 1989. Victims in both cases were children, Cannon said.

When Rappe was released from prison in 1992, he was required to register as a sex offender with state authorities. But after registering his address in Will County in 1997 and DuPage County in 1999, he notified authorities that he had moved to Wisconsin, said Assistant U.S. Atty. Christopher McFadden, another prosecutor in the case.

Instead, Rappe spent the next seven years flying “under the radar” while remaining in Willowbrook, McFadden said, obtaining driver’s licenses in Indiana, giving false addresses and Social Security numbers to employers and changing his name.

Cannon said Rappe’s experience in law enforcement gave him the knowledge to exploit inconsistencies in the registration laws of various states.

“I think the fact that he had been a sheriff’s officer and had some knowledge of the law, plus the fact he was taking active steps to research the laws and look for loopholes, contributed to his ability to evade authorities for seven years,” Cannon said.

The Adam Walsh Act, named for the son of “America’s Most Wanted” host John Walsh, was signed into law by President Bush in July 2006. Adam Walsh, 6, was abducted from a Florida mall and slain in 1981, a crime that has never been solved.

One result of the act was to standardize the laws for sex-offender registration across different states, preventing offenders from moving to more lenient areas to avoid registration. The act also authorized federal authorities to help local law-enforcement agencies track offenders such as Rappe, McFadden said.

Agents from the U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spent a month tracking Rappe in an investigation that Cannon said would have been difficult for local agencies to complete.

After two hours of deliberations, the jury found Rappe guilty of one count of failure to register as a sex offender and three counts of obstruction of justice.

The obstruction charges stemmed from when Rappe phoned his girlfriend from the DuPage County Jail after his March 2007 arrest and told her to erase the hard drives of three computers in their home.

Rappe faces up to 10 years in prison for failing to register, prosecutors said. He is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 2 by U.S. District Judge Blanche Manning.