Archive for Friday, July 19, 2013

Kansas plans to appeal sex offender registry ruling

July 19, 2013


Kansas will appeal a state district court judge’s decision that orders a child molester’s name to be removed from its offender registry after finding the registration laws violate the U.S. Constitution, the state’s top prosecutor said Thursday.

At issue is Tuesday’s decision in which Shawnee County Judge Larry Hendricks found that Kansas law ostracizes offenders and requires them to remain registered longer than necessary. But his ruling applied only to the 50-year-old Lenexa man who sued the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and Johnson County sheriff’s office seeking to end his registration requirement.

“After carefully reviewing the district court’s ruling, we do not think it is legally correct,” Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said Thursday in a written statement.

Kirk Ridgway, the attorney representing the Johnson County sheriff’s office, said one of their concerns when considering whether to appeal was that any Kansas Supreme Court ruling would apply to others currently on the registry.

Schmidt said the state would fight for the integrity of the Kansas Offender Registration Act, as well as for continued compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Act, which is designed to protect the public, particularly children, from sex offenders.

“Having complete and accurate information about registered sex offenders available to the public through the online registry is a central public safety purpose of the federal law, which Kansas has implemented, and the district court’s ruling runs counter to that purpose,” Schmidt said.

The Kansas offender registry law requires sex, drug and violent offenders to register with law enforcement. It applies retroactively and offenders must register for 15 years to life, depending on the severity of the crime.

Nearly 11,600 persons are on the registry, according to the KBI — 7,417 for sex crimes, 2,283 for drug offenses and 1,899 for violent crimes. The KBI’s registry shows 94 convicted sex offenders living in Douglas County.

Kansas will also appeal the lower court’s decision that allowed the plaintiff to proceed anonymously in the case. The plaintiff’s attorney, Chris Joseph, has said his client is fearful of retribution if he is identified.

“The public has a right to know when a convicted sex offender challenges the very law that is designed to protect the public,” Schmidt said. “This cloak of anonymity does not serve the public interest or advance public safety.”

The plaintiff pleaded guilty in 2003 to having taken indecent liberties with a child/touching in Johnson County. At the time, he was required to remain on the registry for 10 years. But in 2011, the Legislature amended the law, extending the length of time offenders must be registered to 25 years.

The state told the plaintiff it applied retroactively and that he had to remain registered until 2028.

His lawsuit argued the law is unconstitutional because it was applied retroactively, violating the “ex post facto” clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Joseph, who represented the plaintiff, argued several state supreme courts have found provisions in registry laws as excessive in relation to public safety objectives. He cited registry provisions struck down by state supreme courts in Alaska, Indiana and Ohio.

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected in 2003 a similar retroactive challenge to Alaska’s registration law, finding at the time it was constitutional as a civil regulatory scheme. But the nation’s highest court also said that if a retroactive law is punitive, then it would be unconstitutional.

Hendricks said the 2011 Kansas law was effectively punitive, noting its requirements have become increasingly severe and social media creates a virtual forum for “shaming.”


elliottaw 4 years, 10 months ago

There is no cure for pedofiles, they should have to register for life.

Shelly Stow 4 years, 10 months ago

How do you know he is a pedophile--note the correct spelling--; have you seen his medical records?

Many thousands of former offenders have lived in the community ten or more years after an offense with no new offenses. They live law-abiding lives, contributing to society, supporting their families, good parents, good neighbors, good employees or employers, good church members. And since research shows that after so many years without a re-offense, the risk for re-offending is the same as yours or mine, I believe that "no cure" is a misnomer.

elliottaw 4 years, 10 months ago

First sentence says he is a child molester, having worked in a prison around them and having listened to them talk freely about how they feel and their urges I know they don't lose the feelings. Just because they don't get caught doing it doesn't mean they they are not getting their kicks in other ways or that they are even following the laws. I am not saying they should be locked up for life but they should have to register if for no other reason then to keep other children safe. How many examples of Boyscout leaders, church folks, and Sandusky's have we seen that would lead you to believe that what they show on the outside is the same as what they do behind closed doors.

Shelly Stow 4 years, 10 months ago

But not all who molest children are pedophiles. And some who are pedophiles have never touched a child inappropriately and never will. Your last sentence is very significant and very true. Very few who abuse children are repeat offenders. Almost all sexual crime against children is committed by those who have never previously been charged with a sexual crime and are not on the registry. That is the main reason that the public registry is so ineffective at making a difference. It does't keep other children safe.

elliottaw 4 years, 10 months ago

I see rates listed between 52-83% repeat thier offenses, I would say that is pretty high. This was just a quick review of the stats, which can always be skewed either way.

rachelind 4 years, 10 months ago

The court decided he was a sex offender, a child molester. The child will live with what happened to them for the rest of their life, why shouldn't the perpetrator?

Dusty Murphy 4 years, 10 months ago

I agree. I actually think the penalty ought to be capital punishment, but as the laws are now I believe if there is a list they should never be removed.

tomatogrower 4 years, 10 months ago

The trouble is some people on this registry are not child molesters. My best friend's son is on the list. He always hung out with younger people in general and was dating a girl, just 2 months shy of the legal age, when she and he had sex. Even though her parents let this girl run wild with no curfew, they decided to press charges when they found out. He is now married to another woman and is a father, but he can't get a job, because of the stupid registry. He has to be a house husband, which isn't bad, but they would have more money, if he could work. He is not a child molester and the only conditions he has is to stay away from the girl, now a grown woman. He doesn't have to stay away from children or not live near a school. He is not a predator. I have no problem with real predators being on there, but not guys like this. All these cases need to be reviewed and only real predators on there.

Topple 4 years, 10 months ago

Agreed. It's unfortunate some ignorant parents feel it necessary to ruin a person's life because they can't accept that their child is growing up.

Phoghorn 4 years, 10 months ago

Agreed. If we are going to have sexual offender registries, they need to be reserved for true sexual predators. For example, they should not be used for the high school senior who had sex with a high school freshman. While I don't condone such behavior, we need to be careful about creating a permanent underclass of people who are not a threat. An 18 y/o who has sex with a 14 y/o should not be lumped into the same category as a 42 y/o who has sex with a 9 y/o, even though they are both listed as Statutory Rape. These should be considered entirely different crimes, because they are typically committed with entirely different intent. The 18 y/o is a horny teenager, the 42 y/o is a perv.

Additionally, IMHO, the registries should not be used for those convicted of public urination. Yes, this is a crime because it involves indecent exposure, but I don't think that it should qualify as a sex crime requiring registration - at least not for a 1st offense.

Here is the crux of my argument - if everybody is a sex offender, than nobody is a sex offender. Remember the boy who cried wolf. The sex offender registry should actually mean something, not just be a catch-all for a variety of violations that just happen to involve Morgan the Organ.

mdrndgtl 4 years, 10 months ago

Is the line between real predators and accused predators drawn with chalk according to your relationship with the accused. Here's an idea: 2 months shy of the legal age puts you on the untrustworthy for life list and 1 hour past the legal age puts you on the good to go list. Sound fair?

rachelind 4 years, 10 months ago

After working with children who were the victims of sexual abuse for many years I've seen too much damage to have any sympathy for child molesters. Instead of a registry, I think a scarlet letter P for pedophile is more appropriate.

Liberty275 4 years, 10 months ago

I think registries should be limited to the amount of time spent in prison, after leaving prison, and if you don't go to prison, you don't go into any registry.

The concept of scarlet letters is disgusting. It's a borderline cruel punishment that should be invoked with utter trepidation.

It isn't like a cop can't sit in his car now and know every crime you have been convicted of. The registry serves no purpose but to punish people after they pay their debt to society and make them targets for vigilantes.

jafs 4 years, 10 months ago

Well, that is an unfortunate, but unintended consequence, I think.

The purpose is to help people make sure their kids are safe, and won't be molested.

Liberty275 4 years, 10 months ago

I won't argue against such registries, but I think the time criminals should be required to register should be a product of their crime and not an arbitrary amount of time like the rest of their lives. I think an amount of time equal to the prison sentence is fair.

jafs 4 years, 10 months ago

Why do you think that an equal amount of time to prison sentences is "fair", and not "arbitrary"?

I think that basing registry time on time served isn't any more fair or reasonable than other ideas, and I don't know what you're basing the idea on.

If the idea of the registries is to help people protect their kids, then a better basis for registry time would be as long as the convicted folks are still a danger, maybe.

bad_dog 4 years, 10 months ago

The purpose of the registry is to promote public safety and assist in the identification of those who studies have shown to have an excessively high rate of recidivism.

As far as punishing people "after they've paid their debt..." I'd argue the registry is part of the debt incurrred when committing a heinous crime. As far as whether the registry makes them targets for vigilantes, take that up with the vigilantes. I want to identify offenders to avoid and manage risk; not to target.

bad_dog 4 years, 10 months ago

And by the way, what purpose does a registry containing only the names of those currently imprisoned accomplish in the way of public safety or prevention?

Liberty275 4 years, 10 months ago

You misunderstood. The criminal should have to register for the same period as his sentence after he is released from prison. And I don't mean time served because (s)he got out early for good behavior, I mean the length of the sentence imposed.

As a condition of early release, I think it's fair that the state demand the criminal register for life, but that is by choice and so the arbitrary nature of the registry isn't being imposed on a person after serving their time. They are agreeing to it by choice.

Shelly Stow 4 years, 10 months ago

But a public registry does not promote public safety. Read the research. And law enforcement already knows which registrants have a high risk of re-offense. And the registry was not established to be part of the debt incurred. And not all offenses that put one on the registry are heinous crimes; actually, few are; they just get so much publicity that they seem like the norm.

Charlie Bannister 4 years, 10 months ago

I agree with elliottaw and tomatogrower. There are several men who have to register as sex offenders who have had sex with girls in their late teens who know exactly what they are getting into, and to make those men be on a sex offender registry is asinine. Having said that, I have a close relative who was abused on a consistent basis by a local pharmacist in another town many years ago. This man was a "pillar" of the community, and got his jollies with little boys. He ruined several lives, including my close relative's. Back then he was run out of town but never prosecuted. If it had been my child he would have been run out of town and never heard from again, to hell with the consequences. Those types of people NEVER get well and are quite literally human debris. They should never see the light of day, and should always be on a sex offender registry.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 10 months ago

This happened decades ago - there was a man in a far away state that abused both very young girls and very young boys. But there was a big problem - none of the kids ever told anyone for many years. They did not think anyone would believe them. But after he died, they all told everything. Or at least, many of them did.

One young woman believes that she is a lesbian because of what he did to her. I do not know how the other victims feel about how they were violated.

A friend and I stood at his grave one time and we talked about what he had done to those kids. If there is a G-d, that man hears every word everyone has to say about him.

gatekeeper 4 years, 10 months ago

I think if you did anything sexual to a child or are convicted of something like rape of anyone, then you should be on the registry for life. When I say rape, I mean forced rape, not statutory (well, within limits, they're close in age). I agree that a 18 year old having sex with a 15 year old shouldn't put you on the registry for life, but just about anything else should.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.