Madison Co. man arrested on sex abuse charges - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Madison Co. man arrested on sex abuse charges

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MADISON COUNTY, AL (WAFF) -

Madison Police arrested 55-year-old Ronnie Steven Pearson, of Hazel Green, on sexual abuse charges.

Detectives went to his home on February 1 to serve a warrant, but Pearson had fled to Tennessee. He was taken into custody in Tennessee on unrelated charges, and extradited to Madison County Jail.

Pearson was charged with two counts of first degree sodomy, two counts of sexual abuse of a child under 12, and two counts of first degree attempted rape.

Documents show Pearson was convicted of the same crime two decades ago, but he is not a registered sex offender because his conviction came before Megan's Law went into effect (in 1996).

There was no sex offender database for him to register with or for the public to check, so Pearson was not required to follow any rules once he served his sentence.

The Alabama sex offender registry lists thousands of criminals convicted of sex crimes, but it could be a false sense of security for parents trying to protect their kids.

"We can look on there and see individuals who have had to register and say, 'We are never going trick-or-treating at this address or this address,' but the reality is those are just a small percentage of the overall concern," said Chris Newlin with the National Children's Advocacy Center.

That's because there are many sex offenders living below the radar.

"Other than them going to every courthouse in every community and looking through every public record and searching online, it's a challenging situation," Newlin said.

It's a chilling thought for parents who thought they knew their neighbors, but the fact of the matter is there are countless predators who aren't required to check-in or, worse, who go unreported.

"We can't prevent every single thing from happening, so what we have to do is talk about child sexual abuse and to tell our kids if something does happen, to tell right away," said Newlin.

But if Pearson is found guilty, he won't be able to keep his name out of the sex offender database this time.

"Anybody who victimizes a child is a danger not just to that child, but to others as well. Now that he is off the streets, I feel we can breathe a little easier now," said Lt. Terrell Cook with Madison Police.

Pearson faces several felonies and serious jail time, and other charges are possible.

In fact, police say at least one victim was involved, but there could be more.

Pearson is currently being held in the Madison County Jail on a $240,000 bond.

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