4/18/2014

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Sex offender uses crowdfunding to raise money for gender reassignment surgery

Sex offender uses crowdfunding to raise money for gender reassignment surgery

Crowdfunding is popular in Portland, where people go on line to ask the public for money.  Now, one of the people asking for your donations is Lisa Summers, who wants your help for gender reassignment surgery, what some call a sex-change operation.  However, her web site does not explain what some of her would-be donors feel is crucial information: that she has a criminal past as a child molester.

"It feels like they're trying to hide something.  I feel somewhat deceived, like they're trying to lead me in the wrong direction," said Dominic Rivera, who saw the site for the first time on Wednesday. 

Lisa Summers was born a man, with the name Sydney Sezer. Sezer was convicted in 1996 of repeatedly molesting a 13-year-old girl for almost a year. He was sentenced to more than eight years in prison, and after he got out, he legally changed his name to Lisa Summers.

Some members of the public say it is wrong to leave that part of the story off of the site that is asking for $18,000 for surgery for Summers to complete the physical transition from man to woman.

"That means they're lying to get money," said Sueanna Post in North Portland. "I have no tolerance for liars."

For some parents in the Portland area, this issue is about more than money.  Some are concerned that a registered sex offender could use a name and gender change to hide their past.

We took their concerns to Officer Bridget Sickon with the Portland Police Bureau's Sex Offender Registration Detail.

Sickon said she has seen a number of sex offenders who change their genders, and she does not believe they are doing it to hide.

"I have found that most people going down this route are very forthcoming about the process and want to know what to do," said Sickon. "All of the people I have dealt with have been very honest about that."

Sickon said police are able to track sex offenders even after they change their names and/or genders. But, she added, the average citizen does not have that same ability, so if a sex offender changes his or her identity, that could make it harder for the public to find out his or her past history. 

That is a concern, she said, because she sees many parents who allowed a sex offender access to their children because they did not know about the offender's past convictions for child molestation and/or other sex crimes.

Sickon said she tried to help change the laws so that more sex offender information would appear on the state of Oregon's sex offender registry web site. Currently, she said, only about 1,000  out of total 18,000 sex offenders appear on the site, because the state only shows the offenders considered to be the highest risk. 

She said the law is changing, but the changes will add only about 4,000 new sex offenders.  In her view, that's not enough.

"That is tough for citizens," said Sickon, "I think the citizens have a right to know. When you talk about safety and keeping our children safe, information is what parents need."

KATU tried to reach Summers for comment. She sent an e-mail saying she was afraid to show her face on television in connection with her past and transgender status, and then refused to say anything more in e-mail.

Some of the people she is trying to appeal to for money said they sympathize with her desire for surgery.  Some said they would have considered helping, if Summers had told the full story of her past.

"Personally, I wouldn't mind donating had that been disclosed when I read that on the web site," said Rivera.  He recommended that Summers put the information on her site.

Others said that Summers' request for money from the public is wrong, under the circumstances.

"They did something extremely wrong.  They shouldn't get money to help them now.  They didn't help that child," said Brammer. "Once you do something like that, it sticks with you.  The child has to deal with it for the rest of their life."

 

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