FOX 29 Investigates: Pa. Sex Offender Allegedly Strikes Again - My9 New Jersey

FOX 29 Investigates: Pa. Sex Offender Allegedly Strikes Again

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A convicted child predator is accused of stealing an identity and striking again! FOX 29 Investigates how he pulled off an escape from Pennsylvania and where he is now.

A man convicted of a heinous child sex crime almost a quarter century ago in Pennsylvania allegedly strikes again nearly a thousand miles away.

Authorities say he was on the lam for years, living under his best friend's stolen identity, FOX 29 Investigates' Jeff Cole reports.

Meet Brian Gallagher. He's an identity theft victim.

The guy who stole his identity, his real name is Chester Bowers – a convicted pedophile.

These two know each other.

"I trusted him. I should have known," Gallagher said. "There's no excuse."

Gallagher says he met Bowers while working at a motel nearly 30 years ago and they became best friends – something he now regrets.

The saga begins in 1990 when Bowers was doing time in central Pennsylvania. According to court documents, he was questioned about the sexual assault of a 4-year-old boy. He fled a prison work crew the very next day.

Nine years later, he was arrested and pleaded guilty to escape and sex assault, landing him on Megan's List.

"I overlooked it, the sex charges, because of what the person that was accusing him of it, said it was false," Gallagher said.

The pair were such good friends that Gallagher got Bowers work, a place to live, even let his kids hang out with him.

But that friendship was betrayed when, according to Gallagher, Bowers lifted important papers from his lockbox and stole his identity.

And what did he do with that new identity? According to a criminal affidavit produced by the office of the U.S. Marshal, he fled to Wisconsin, where this convicted child predator allegedly struck again.

So, how did Bowers slip out of Pennsylvania while on Megan's List? According to court documents, for nearly four years Bowers did register as a sex offender as required.

Then, in 2010, the FBI raided Bowers' home and seized his computer, which they say contained 11,000 images of child pornography. Two months later, a warrant was issued. The FBI and state police went looking for Bowers and found he was gone.

Two-and-a-half years later, acting on a tip, U.S. Marshals found him in Wisconsin living under the name Brian Gallagher.

"It just made my skin crawl knowing that he was out there and what he's doing," Gallagher said. "And now that I know he's underneath my name, it just makes me irate."

Bowers is now behind bars, accused of child sex assault in Wisconsin.

A woman who did not want her face shown is the child's mother, and she's angry: "I guess I don't understand why nobody was looking for him for such a long time. It could have maybe prevented this."

Did Pennsylvania drop the ball? State corrections officials tell us Bowers served his entire sentence for the sex assault, so he was not on parole or supervised when he was released.

State police say they do spot check registered sex offenders. But the law does not require it.

And remember, authorities only found Bowers was on the run after the child pornography raid.

Shea Rhodes, a former prosecutor who has put sex offenders behind bars, said, "If they have served their entire sentence and there's no additional supervision other than reporting to the state police to let them know where they're living, there is no oversight. You can't predict future criminal behavior."

But the Wisconsin mom believes Pennsylvania failed her son and did not keep tight enough tabs on Bowers.

"There has to be some better way to supervise these people, so it doesn't happen to other families," she said.

Bowers sits in a Wisconsin jail, waiting to face prosecution for child sex assault. Calls and e-mails to his attorney were not returned. He has pleaded guilty to federal charges of distributing pornography.

Bowers' attorney in that case says his client has taken full responsibility for his actions, Cole reported.

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