WASHINGTON — A watchdog report Wednesday faulted the Justice Department for its handling of sex offenders enrolled in the national witness protection program, saying there were insufficient safeguards to protect the public.

The department’s inspector general noted 10 participants had been convicted of a sex crime, such as rape or a sexual assault, before being admitted into the program. Of those, four were granted waivers to registration requirements ordinarily in place for sex offenders. All 10 have since left the program, according to the Justice Department.

“We believe that a waiver of the registration requirement with no alternative procedures in place to monitor these individuals does not strike a balance between the safety of witness and the risk to the public, but instead elevates the security of the witness over the risk to the public,” the report states.

The Justice Department said no one who was granted a registration waiver was convicted of a new sex crime while with the program.

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