Saturday, January 12, 2008

Steven C. Manning- Repeat Sex Offender, using Public Library to prey on girls

An Amboy man who publicly has pleaded with officials not to enact an ordinance that would ban sex offenders like him from the public library was arrested Wednesday - at the library - for allegedly using the computers there to violate the terms of his probation.

Police made the arrest under a new provision in the state's sex offender registration act, which requires sex offenders to list all Web sites, blogs and e-mail addresses they maintain.

The Internet provision took effect in August and affects nearly 300 registered sex offenders living in the Sauk Valley, including 61 in Lee County, 64 in Ogle County and 111 in Whiteside County.

Upon conviction, a violation of the law is a felony subject to two to five years in prison. It carries a mandatory minimum $500 fine, a minimum period of seven days confinement in a local county jail and a 10-year extension of the registration period.

According to investigators, Steven C. Manning, 38, 628 E. Main St., has a Web page at, a social network site aimed at the youth market, which he did not report to authorities.

Manning, a registered sexual predator, raped a 14-year-old girl in LaSalle County about a year ago.

Lee County State's Attorney Paul Whitcombe said Manning has been under investigation by the Lee County Sheriff's Department and the Amboy Police Department for the last several months, after he allegedly "started causing problems" at the library.

"I don't know whether or not he knew about the statute," Whitcombe said. "Even if he wasn't aware, ignorance of the law is no excuse."

Manning is in Lee County Jail on $50,000 bond, charged with one count of violating the sex offender registry law, punishable by two to five years. A preliminary hearing is Wednesday.

At his video arraignment Thursday, he appeared confused as Judge Ron Jacobson read the charges and possible penalties.

"I don't understand much because I'm mentally ill," he told the judge.

Manning shocked the Amboy City Council in December when he pleaded with members to reconsider a proposed ban that would keep him from the Pankhurst Memorial Library, which he said he uses every day.

Deanne Hoy, chairwoman of the Amboy library board and a member of the Amboy City Council, said she knew of Manning's arrest and indicated that the board has discussed the sex offender ban but has yet to issue a stern opinion on the policy.

"The National Library Board doesn't really like it because it's considered an infringement on civil rights, but we're still looking at it," Hoy said. "It's not necessarily outright support, but we don't reject it."

Libraries already have the right to ban patrons who display inappropriate behavior.

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