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The Lonely Guy

Meet David Owen, a convicted sex offender who freely roams the halls of the Kansas State Capitol.

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Standing on the lawn of the Kansas State Capitol, David Owen makes an odd declaration: He loves Phill Kline.

His adoration for the state attorney general is tempered, though. "He really puts the fear of God into me," Owen says.

That's because Owen is a registered sex offender. But he's a devotee despite Kline's crusade to hunt down sex offenders, lock 'em up and toss the key into the Kansas River.

"I love what he's doing," he tells the Pitch. "I really do."

In fact, Owen lives in the midst of a sex-offender madness gripping the 2006 legislative session.

During her January State of the State address, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius earned a standing ovation when she asked the Legislature to "double sentences for sex offenders who prey upon children" and to mandate electronic monitoring of repeat offenders. (Owen was there; he stood up and applauded, too.)

Legislators have suggested lifetime electronic monitoring, longer prison sentences, and safety zones around schools and day-care centers.

Some have talked about castration. "It doesn't work, because if they are a sociopath with sadistic tendencies, it doesn't matter whether they've got their cojones or not," Sen. Phil Journey, a Republican from Haysville, tells the Pitch. "They're still sick people that will abuse others. Didn't you see the movie Sin City?"

Journey wrote a bill that would have required sex offenders to put pink license plates on their cars, though he never intended to file it. "I wanted to make my colleagues think about what we were really going to do and to make sure that I had the best opportunity to make sure we came up with good policy and not postcards for campaigns," he says.

In February, Mark Lunsford of Florida encouraged lawmakers in Topeka to pass Jessica's Law. The proposed law (versions of which have passed in three states) tightens the leash on sex offenders with mandatory 25-year prison sentences and lifetime monitoring. It's named for Lunsford's 9-year-old daughter, who was murdered by a sex offender in February 2005. Lunsford was joined at the Capitol by Kline and Rep. Patricia Kilpatrick, a Republican from Overland Park who is the primary sponsor of the House bill on Jessica's Law.

Owen watched Lunsford testify before the House Judiciary Committee. Afterward, he slipped a note to Phill Kline to give to Lunsford.

"I felt bad for him," Owen says. "I was afraid if I talked to him directly, he would become very upset because I'm a sex offender."

Owen has heard all of the proposals coming out of the Legislature this session. He agrees with most of them.

"Ankle bracelets scare the hell out of me because that only works if the guy is honest," Owen says. "If the guy's not honest, he's going to do it anyway, and he's going to have a lot more reason to re-offend, because that ankle bracelet is just going to piss them off."

Owen started looking at pornography on the Internet because, he says, "that's something you do when you don't have a girlfriend." He'd been looking at pornography on and off since he graduated from high school in 1987. "But the bad stuff I didn't get into until '95, '96," Owen says. "If you really want to find something on the Internet, you'll find it."

In August 1998, an exterminator spraying Owen's apartment in Wichita found pornographic pictures of children under Owen's bed and called police. Owen confessed to downloading images at the Wichita State University library and taking them home. Among the photos that authorities found were a couple of photos of 10-year-olds engaged in sexual intercourse. He says he spent 60 days in jail and served the rest of his 31-month sentence at his parents' home in Cimarron, a small farming town in western Kansas. State officials added his name to the sex-offender registry in June 1999.

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