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Convicted massage therapist's photo appears on Illinois Sex Offender Registry, months after it should have

Convicted massage therapist's photo appears on Illinois Sex Offender Registry, months late
Convicted massage therapist's photo appears on Illinois Sex Offender Registry, months late 02:38

CHICAGO (CBS) -- It took the State of Illinois months to post a photo of a registered sex offender who had worked as a massage therapist in the western suburbs.

As CBS 2's Tara Molina reported, the state knew we planned to report this story Thursday evening. Earlier Thursday, a photo of James "Rob" Garrett appeared on the sex offender registry after the photo had been absent for months.

The photo appeared a week after we started asking questions. But that is not the only idea on which we pressed the state this past week.

According to the state's rules, a photo is supposed to be included in the online registry at the time a sex offender registers. On Thursday, two photos of Garrett appeared in the registry – even marked with Thursday's date.

But until Thursday, there had not been a photo for Garrett at all for months.

We reported last week on Garrett - and the woman suing Massage Envy after she was sexually abused by Garrett during a massage at their Geneva location in 2020.

Christine Schirtzinger was sexually abused by Garrett the Massage Envy at Geneva Commons in 2020. It took almost two years - and court hearing after court hearing - to see her criminal complaint against Garrett through.

Garrett ultimately pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of attempted criminal sexual abuse in March of this year – registering as a sex offender and agreeing to no longer work as a massage therapist.

But the State of Illinois didn't officially revoke his license until November - more than seven months later.

We have also been asking the state why the office responsible for licensing massage therapists is pointing at Illinois State Police - the same body we'd been asking about the missing picture on the sex offender registry.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation said ISP didn't notify them of Garrett's offense until October - a month before they ultimately revoked Garrett's license:

"As the agency responsible for the oversight of 1.2 million professional licensees, IDFPR is primarily a complaint-driven agency with complaints of potential violations by licensees coming from various sources and entities leading to investigations. No complaint was filed against Mr. Garrett until July 22, 2022. Upon receiving that complaint, IDFPR immediately started its internal and statutory procedures for reviewing complaints. Since massage therapy is a profession that requires fingerprints from applicants for licensure, IDFPR receives notifications of any convictions after a license is issued from Illinois State Police.  IDFPR received notice from ISP in early October of the conviction of an offense requiring registration as a sex offender, which triggered the aforementioned statutory process that led to the revocation of Mr. Garrett's license on November 7.  That included a 30-day opportunity for Mr. Garrett to request a hearing to contest the basis of the action, which did not occur."

Why? Our state agencies aren't always communicating with each other.

Molina asked CBS 2 Legal Analyst Irv Miller if there is anything the State of Illinois could do to prevent such failures from happening in the future.

"To require state agencies to notify each other - and frankly, the Illinois State Police should be the keeper of all these records, and they should know that they should be notifying a licensing agency - which is also a state agency - of a criminal act," Miller said. "It's important a license like this gets revoked."

Of course, we brought all this to Illinois State Police, notifying them of the missing photo and sending a list of questions a week ago.

On Thursday night, they said a systems glitch was behind the delay in their reporting Garrett's sex offender status to the state's licensing agency. State police said they are still investigating the glitch, but they believe no other records are affected:

"Our preliminary assessment is that in March, an update was completed to the Criminal History Record Information (CHRI) system moving from an old mainframe to a new server.  During the transfer, an issue in the programming resulted in a partial reading of this individual's criminal history by CHRI, including the counts dismissed, but not the conviction.  However, during a subsequent check of the individual's criminal history, CHRI programming functioned correctly and included the conviction, which resulted in an automatic notification to IDFPR. ISP is conducting a standard quality issue review to confirm this preliminary finding and we have no indications other records were affected at this time."

How do they know? And when will their investigation be complete? We asked - and were waiting on answers Thursday night.

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