"Generally the victims do not want them removed from the registry," said Rita Peters, chief of the sex crimes division of the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office.Florida's age of consent is 18, though the law contains a provision allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to consent to having sex with someone age 16 to 23.So far about 250 people — all but six of them men — have successfully petitioned a judge to remove their name, mug shot, address and other personal information from an online state sex offender and predator database, according to the Florida Senate.Nearly a quarter of the people removed from the database committed their crimes in Pinellas and Pasco counties, the study found, the highest concentration in the state. "I can't tell you why that number is like that," said Beverly Andringa, the Pinellas-Pasco prosecutor who reviews the requests.
Spokesmen for the Hillsborough and Pasco sheriff's offices said their sexual offender units do not actively suggest the option.
The circuit court in Hillsborough County has approved just five requests.
The girl's mother pressed charges, and Gorby ended up guilty of lewd and lascivious battery on a minor. Nicknamed the "Romeo and Juliet" law, it allows judges the discretion to weigh crimes like Gorby's with the lifelong punishment that comes with being labeled a sex offender.
A 2007 law passed by the Florida Legislature is offering people like Gorby a second chance.
They keep a paper trail for each one's original offense, which makes it easy to spot someone who may be eligible for removal from the state database.
"If we know somebody is eligible to be helped out by a law, well, it's also our duty to notify them so they can take advantage of it," said Detective Scott Summers.