A construction contractor who’s been living and working on St. Thomas since May has failed to update his sex offender registration for over a year, according to court testimony Wednesday.
Dustin Bue Messerly, 41, was taken into custody by special agents with the V.I. Justice Department’s Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act unit after he was detained by Customs and Border Protection Officers at King Airport on Tuesday.
Messerly was convicted in Utah on a felony charge of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor-attempted and a misdemeanor charge of voyeurism by electronic equipment concealed or disguised in 2012, according to the V.I. Justice Department.
Unable to post $5,500 bail, he was jailed overnight and appeared in court Wednesday.
Messerly was required to register as a sex offender within three business days of arriving at a new location, and Territorial Public Defender Mary Ann Matney argued that there’s no evidence he’s been in the territory for longer than three days.
Messerly’s pregnant fiance later testified that they’ve been living on St. Thomas since May, and Messerly is working as a subcontractor on the hotel construction project at Frenchman’s Reef.
Assistant V.I. Attorney General Brenda Scales said Messerly was born in Utah and “he’s had three incidents with the criminal justice system,” which resulted in felony convictions.
Matney said Messerly cannot afford the current bail because he has a child on the way, and asked that it be reduced to $1,000 so he can continue working while he awaits trial.
Magistrate Judge Carolyn Hermon-Percell said his last registration date was on Sept. 23, 2020, in Arizona, “so what happened in between there?”
“His tie to the jurisdiction is pretty scant,” and “taking all that into account, I’m concerned whether he will return for further proceedings,” she said.
Hermon-Percell set bail at $5,000, and said Messerly may post cash or property to secure his release. If he does post bail, Messerly must surrender all travel documents and live with his fiance, who agreed to serve as a third-party custodian.
Arraignment is scheduled for Oct. 22.
If convicted of failing to register, or not keeping registration information current, sex offenders can face a fine of $3,000 to $5,000 and imprisonment for three months to two years.
The law also provides that it is an offense to assist a sex offender in evading registration requirements.
The sex offender registry is available for public view at usvi.nsopw.gov.