Monday, June 13, 2016

The rights of convicted sex offenders against harassment by community members trying to protect their children

Even though information about sex offenders is publicly available on government websites (sex registries) in America - the information can not be used to harass the convicted offenders. This is in fact stated in the sex registry itself. What constitutes harassment is a judgment call - but offenders clearly have rights which apparently contradict the need for the community to protect its children.

Area woman convicted for harassing sex offender

All she wanted to do, Delores Ann Harris told a jury Friday, was to protect herself and her granddaughter from a man who had been convicted 21 years ago of aggravated sexual battery, a man who has been on the state’s sex offender registry since 1997.

But the convicted sex offender in the courtroom was the victim in the jury trial. And Harris, 61, was the defendant, charged with misusing information from the sex offender registry.

It took the jury only 23 minutes to find Harris guilty and even less time to impose a $1,500 fine on her for actions that the prosecution described as a campaign of harassment against Scott Costello, 43.
“The commonwealth realizes that Mr. Costello is not a sympathetic victim,”Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Fleming told the six-member jury during closing arguments.

But, Fleming said, the state law is clear: The state sex offender registry, including details about Costello, can be easily viewed on a website but the information displayed must not be used “for purposes of intimidating or harassing” another person. Violations are categorized as class one misdemeanors carrying penalties of up to one year in jail and a maximum penalty of $2,500. [...]

City Council agreed last week to pay $50,000 for discriminating against a registered sex offender.

City Council agreed last week to pay $50,000 toward the settlement of a lawsuit which was filed against the city for discriminating against a registered sex offender. [...]

Three years ago, Conway and his son Patrick were removed from a residence they shared on Brooklyn St. because it was located across the street from White Bridge Playground and near the Carbondale Area elementary and high school campus.

Their eviction was prompted by Mayor Justin Taylor's discovery that Patrick had been convicted in 2009 of unlawful contact or communication with a minor, and his subsequent listing on the Megan’s Law Registry.

Under a city ordinance which was in effect at that time, registered sex offenders were prohibited from living within 2,500 feet of any facility or area where children might gather, such as a school, park or playground.

In August of 2013, Conway and his son attended a meeting of City Council, where Conway accused the mayor of targeting his son and forcing them both out of the city.

Having served as a magistrate judge in Wyoming County for 25 years before moving to Carbondale, Conway said his family name had been “defamed.”

“We were very happy here,” he recounted. “But then the mayor told me, ‘Pat has to go!’ That was it.”

Conway acknowledged that his son “did wrong,” but insisted “he wouldn’t hurt anybody.” He threatened legal action against the city, arguing that a 2011 state Supreme Court ruling had rendered the city’s ordinance unconstitutional.

A month later, in an attempt to avoid litigation, council introduced and later adopted a revised ordinance relaxing the housing restrictions on registered sex offenders like Patrick Conway who are classified as “non-violent.”< Nevertheless, Conway did file a lawsuit against the city just about a year ago, which claimed that Mayor Taylor and the city acted in a “capricious, unreasonable and discriminatory manner” in enforcing the previous ordinance. In the suit, Conway argued that his son was among 15 sex offenders who were registered under Megan’s Law and living in the city at the time of the eviction, but Patrick was the only one who was forced to move in order to comply with that ordinance.

1 comment :

  1. I don't get it, so what's the point of the registry and it being public?!?


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