Turning Teens who Have Sex into “Sex Offenders” — The Story Continues

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The front page of today’s New York Times features the case against Zach Anderson, a case you read about here three weeks ago. Zach is the 19 year old who met a young woman, 17, on “Hot or Not,” had sex with her once and now sits in jail. When he gets out next week he will spend the rest of his life on the Sex Offender Registry, and the next five years forbidden to go online.

Because, it turns out, the girl lied and was actually 14. But really because our Sex Offender laws fail to distinguish between the child rapists it was created to slam, and anybody else who has sex before a certain age.

I wrote up Zach’s case because it is a great way to highlight how overboard the sex laws and registry are. As Julie Bosman of the Times reports:

As an Indiana resident, Mr. Anderson will most likely be listed on a sex offender registry for life, a sanction that requires him to be in regular contact with the authorities, to allow searches of his home every 90 days and to live far from schools, parks and other public places. His probation will also require him to stay off the Internet, though he needs it to study computer science.

Some advocates and legal authorities are holding up Mr. Anderson’s case as the latest example of the overreach of sex offender registries, which gained favor in the 1990s as a tool for monitoring pedophiles and other people who committed sexual crimes. In the decades since, the registries have grown in number and scope; the nearly 800,000 people on registries in the United States go beyond adults who have sexually assaulted other adults or minors. Also listed are people found guilty of lesser offenses that run the gamut from urinating publicly to swapping lewd texts.

The Times goes on to interview Brenda V. Jones, executive director of Reform Sex Offender Laws, who points out that even in cases when judges wish to grant leniency (the vindictive Dennis Wiley did not), the mandates of the registry are draconian. Worst of all could be the fact that the registry is public, ostensibly to alert us to the “fiends” in our midst.

But Zach is not a fiend. And one fourth of the people on the registry got on as minors…because minors have sex with other minors. That doesn’t make them predators. It makes them like most of us, people who have sex with people in our age bracket. And yet, we’re talking 200,000 young lives decimated — 200,000 dots on sex offender maps, scaring parents from ever sending their kids outside again. (That’s how I originally got interested in this issue. It’s hard to go Free-Range when we’re told our kids are in constant danger from the dots in the neighborhood.)

I would add that even the people who have committed heinous acts do not deserve to be on a public registry once they have served their time. Contrary to popular belief, sex offenders have the lowest recidivism rate of any criminals except for murderers. And yet we don’t have a public Drug Dealer Registry. A public Arsonist Registry. A public Assault Registry….

That’s because the public Sex Offender Registry is not about public safety. It’s about public shame. It’s about our obsession with predators and politicians pandering to it, with laws that studies show do not make kids any safer.

Zach is just one fish caught up in this net woven of fear, grandstanding, a media devoted to scaring us, and good old American ambivalence when it comes to sex: We love it as much as everyone else, but only allow ourselves to talk about it in terms of  danger and dysfunction. Movies, TV shows, talk shows, news shows and thrillers about predators allow us to contemplate sex non-stop by giving us the perfect excuse: We’re outraged!

That’s not enough justification for ruining so many lives. – L

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This young man cannot live near a school, church or day care center for the rest of his life, as he had sex, once, as a teen, with another teen he thought was his age and therefore constitutes a threat to children.

Zach Anderson, 19, cannot live near a school, park or day care center for the rest of his life, as he had sex, once, with  another teen he thought was his age, and therefore he constitutes a threat to children.

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156 Responses to Turning Teens who Have Sex into “Sex Offenders” — The Story Continues

  1. theresa hall July 5, 2015 at 4:53 pm #

    I don’t think anyone who got lied to about age while their hormones were yelling should be punished. teens have been know to be stupid when come to sex. do we really think saying you are an adult now and don’t be stupid when come to sex works?

  2. caiti July 5, 2015 at 5:20 pm #

    There is absolutely no rationale that I can come up with to explain how anyone could believe that locking someone up under these or similar circumstances is the right thing to do. Other than lobbying- ahem bribery- from the prison and “rehabilitation” industry.

  3. Shannon July 5, 2015 at 5:34 pm #

    The sex offender registry has turned into a farce. How does urinating in public make you a danger to society?

  4. Papilio July 5, 2015 at 5:42 pm #

    What would happen if he tried to emigrate to a sane country and study computer science there?

  5. James Pollock July 5, 2015 at 5:52 pm #

    IF you believe in the fundamental justification for statutory rape as a crime (a person below the specified age cannot, as a matter of law, be capable of deciding for him- or herself if they want to have a sexual relationship, therefore any of them who do, must have been under undue influence.), THEN it makes perfect sense to be wary of anyone convicted of such a crime… after all, we know they’ll try to have sex with underaged individuals because they did, in fact, have sex with an underaged individual.

    Median age for first sex for women is about 16, and has been for at least 100 years. (This means that about half of women have had sex at 16, and about half have not.) So, if age of consent is set at 16, half of all women disagree with the law (having found themselves capable of making this decision before reaching 16) and if it’s higher, the ratio gets worse.

    It’s a law that has a good intention, but is at least somewhat divorced from reality, is rarely and highly selectively enforced, and serves almost no one’s interests. An arbitrary age of consent which doesn’t match the actual capabilities of people is much, much easier to enforced in court (proving that a person was or was not 16 (or 18) is straightforward, proving that a person was or was not fully capable of consent is a sticky ball of mess that is hard to prove definitively either way.

  6. Puzzled July 5, 2015 at 6:19 pm #

    If you believe the fundamental basis for statutory rape laws, you cannot believe in trying teenagers who commit horrific crimes as adults.

  7. catherine July 5, 2015 at 7:19 pm #

    I agree that sex offender registries are heinous and their purpose is shaming rather than protecting. Get rid of them.

    However, I don’t feel much sympathy for anyone who commits statutory rape and is prosecuted for it. Sure, there are extenuating circumstances that should be taken into account, and judges should have the discretion to tailor the sentence to those circumstances.

    But there *should* be some legal risk to having sex with someone who you don’t know well enough to even know their age. I’ve taught in an alternative middle/high school with students that included girls who had been in relationships with older men. Some of them might have lied about their age and others didn’t, but they all were facing the emotional and physical consequences of being in relationships they weren’t ready for. When you’ve listened to a handful of 15 year old girls comparing and contrasting their miscarriages… and those girls who had been pregnant at age 13 and 14 did not have 13 and 14 year old boyfriends. The men were all older teens or young adults, and I didn’t seem them suffering the same consequences as the girls.

    Sex registries are a terrible idea. Abolish them by all means. But statutory rape laws serve a purpose.

  8. catherine July 5, 2015 at 7:20 pm #

    sorry, “they” were not suffering the same consequences. (I suffered just listening to those girls.)

  9. James Pollock July 5, 2015 at 7:21 pm #

    “If you believe the fundamental basis for statutory rape laws, you cannot believe in trying teenagers who commit horrific crimes as adults.”

    This does not follow.
    child cannot decide to have sex -> adult talks him or her into it -> child is victim, adult is criminal
    child cannot decide to commit crimes -> adult talks him or her into it -> child is victim, victim is victim.adult is criminal. (The Fagin case).
    child cannot decide to commit crimes -> child does commit crime -> guess child can be criminal, after all.

    See also
    Child cannot form contract -> Child needs to buy food -> merchant will not sell food to minor -> exception to “child cannot form contract” rule.

    Now, where it gets particularly sticky is when you decide to charge a minor, for production and distribution of child porn, for making a video of him or herself. There’s a logic to that one, too.

  10. Travis July 5, 2015 at 7:35 pm #

    The laws do seem overreaching, mostly because cases of this type are not analyzed according to the situation, apparently, just dumped in into the same category with no regard for what really happened.

    The problem in the particular situation Lenore mentions is the lie. The boy did not know that the girl was fourteen, so why should he be punished for a lie the girl made up? And lets be honest, with the makeup little girls use today, a twelve-year-old can easily pass for sixteen.

    So there’s no line between what is acceptable and what isn’t, all of it is just a crime.

  11. Bella Englebach July 5, 2015 at 7:39 pm #

    We have a young friend who is suffering through a similar situation. He was charged with statutory rape for having sex he believed was consensual with a young woman who was underage. This was someone he thought was his first “girlfriend.” (This young woman went on to accuse another young man — our friend met him in prison.) Now released from prison, he can’t get a job because almost all the jobs available require interacting with minors, which is now not permitted.

  12. BL July 5, 2015 at 7:54 pm #

    “child cannot decide to have sex
    child cannot decide to commit crimes”

    I don’t think that’s the theory. The theory is that children cannot decide these things with understanding.

  13. Anna July 5, 2015 at 8:02 pm #

    What I don’t understand is why a prosecutor would choose to throw the book at a kid like this. Maybe we need statutory rape laws (although personally I think they should be written with a built-in buffer age difference – e.g. it’s statutory rape for someone over age X + 3 to have sex with someone age X or under), but aren’t borderline cases exactly where the prosecutor and/or judge should use their discretion to avoid miscarriages of justice like this one?

  14. James Pollock July 5, 2015 at 8:30 pm #

    “What I don’t understand is why a prosecutor would choose to throw the book at a kid like this.”

    Because prosecutors are judged primarily by conviction rate, and the evidence was there to get a conviction.

    Because prosecutors who don’t charge aggressively are “soft on crime” or worse, “soft on sex crime” or even “let a rapist walk free.”

    Because this particular prosecutor wanted to make an example of someone, and this was the first case that landed on the desk after that decision was made. (guess)

    Because “think of the children!!!”.

    Because there’s been a rash of recent cases of older men having sex with younger girls, causing pregnancies, which leads to welfare expense for the state, and so a memo went out to “do something” (guess)

  15. Anna July 5, 2015 at 9:37 pm #

    James Pollock: Yes, I agree most of those are correct. To me, they mostly boil down to, “because prosecutor and judge are elected offices in this country.” As a Canadian, it strikes me as a bizarre system, guaranteed to result in this kind of injustice.

  16. James Pollock July 5, 2015 at 10:12 pm #

    ““because prosecutor and judge are elected offices in this country.”

    Neither is generally true in this country. Most prosecutors are employees of the bureaucracy. We have Assistant District Attorneys and Assistant United States Attorneys who are civil service employees. The United States Attorneys are political appointees. Only the various District Attorneys are typically elected (although of course, they are elected to lead their offices, and the ADAs work for them.)

    At the federal level, judges are appointed for life. At the state level, they are often in theory elected, but in practice, not. A judge will retire in the middle of a term, a replacement will be appointed… and then the judge will often run unopposed for the bench until retiring.

  17. Anna July 5, 2015 at 10:56 pm #

    Yes, but the DA is the prosecutor’s boss, right? All I can say is, to an outsider, it sure looks like most of this “tough on crime” posturing is electoral pandering.

  18. James Pollock July 5, 2015 at 11:04 pm #

    “Yes, but the DA is the prosecutor’s boss, right?”

    Yes, but you can swap in the head of the bureaucracy and the bureaucracy is still the bureaucracy. Most states, I think, also have an elected attorney general, but literally everybody else in the building still has a job after the election, whichever way it comes out, and there’s a good chance they’re union, too.

    The political element is there, but it’s mostly “please don’t do something that pisses off the voters”, not “listen, I have to get elected again, so here’s exactly what I want you to do between now and the election…”

  19. anonymous mom July 5, 2015 at 11:44 pm #

    @James: “THEN it makes perfect sense to be wary of anyone convicted of such a crime… after all, we know they’ll try to have sex with underaged individuals because they did, in fact, have sex with an underaged individual.”

    Even if you agree with the first part, I’m not sure there’s any reason to agree with the second. Attraction to post-pubescent teens is part of normal human sexuality, not pathological. Especially for younger men, there is no reason why a guy who, at 19, would sleep with a 14 year old would continue to try to have sex with 14 year olds, especially after an arrest. People learn, and especially people mature. I had plenty of friends in high school who dated guys in their 20s when they were underage. As far as I know, not a single one of those guys has continued to date underage girls. As they aged, so did their choice of girlfriends, and all now seem to be married to women around their own age and doing just fine.

    An arrest would certainly be a deterrent for most men from making that choice again, especially in cases where the adult was not actively seeking out a minor partner (wasn’t hanging around at middle schools or One Direction chat rooms hoping to find a young teen) but was in fact seeking out an of-age partner and was approached by a teen. Yes, a man who was compulsively seeking out sexual encounters with teens may in fact be unlikely to change. But, that’s not the case in the vast majority of statutory cases; what we’re dealing with are guys who just want to have sex and don’t care that the person who will have sex with them is underage (as opposed to wanting or preferring their partner be underage). They will start to care pretty damn quickly after an arrest, though. I’m guessing this guy would be safer around somebody’s teenage daughter than a random 19 year old, since he’s already been bitten on the ass about this and isn’t going to do it again.

  20. anonymous mom July 5, 2015 at 11:54 pm #

    @Catherine, while I agree with you that adult men should not be sleeping with 13 year olds (although I’d add that 13 and 14 year olds should not be having sex–I was not having sex at that age, and most girls that age are not having sex, even when it’s on offer, because it’s not like they are incapable of saying no), I disagree that legal deterrents are either morally right or very practical. If the idea is that statutory laws will keep adult men from sleeping with teens, that might be the case for guys in their 30s or 40s, but for the guys most likely to actually be sleeping with teens–guys in their late teens or twenties–I think most think that even if it’s technically illegal it’s not really a big deal (since they know plenty of guys doing it and getting away with it) and it’s simply not a good deterrent. We’ve had statutory rape laws for forever, and they don’t seem to stop a significant number of relationships between teen girls and young adult men from happening. And if the idea is that there’s only some terrible subset of men who would sleep with an underage girl, and if we can identify them all and lock them up we’ll be safe, then I think we’re being naive. I think a 19 or 20 year old guy who’d have sex if a 14 or 15 year old girl were actively and persistently pursuing them is not the exception but the norm; I think the guy who’d resist temptation might in fact be the exception.

    I think the old deterrent worked better: You knock up a 13 year old, her dad and brothers and uncles will track you down and make sure you marry her. You are now responsible for taking care of her and that child for the rest of your life. That’s why we have statutory laws in the first place: they were another hand for a family to play to force a marriage, because marrying the girl you slept with was generally a way to avoid the family pressing charges (and historically the state would not have pressed charges if the family didn’t seek it). That’s been the penalty for statutory rape for most of human history: you get her pregnant, you marry her. That seems to have worked a whole lot better at deterring a culture of casual sex with people you don’t even know well enough to know their real age than our current system of draconian laws. I’m not sure we can have a culture of anything-goes casual hook-ups AND also expect that guys in their late teens and twenties will be super-discriminating about age, even with the threat of the hammer of the law coming down on them. That’s just not how we make decisions, especially not about sex.

    Or, don’t hate the player, hate the game. Yes, these young men should make better choices. So should these teen girls. But both are caught up in a culture that promotes unbridled sexual freedom with the generally-unspoken caveat that if you transgress the boundaries your life as you know it is over. I think we need widespread culture change, if we want to see a real difference, not wishful thinking that somehow we can stop 19 year olds from sleeping with 15 year olds through legislation.

  21. anonymous mom July 6, 2015 at 12:14 am #

    @James, I guess the concern I have with your “if…then” is that it seems to assume that people don’t learn. I smoked pot in my teens and early 20s. Does that mean that I will try to smoke pot now, since I’ve done it in the past? Of course not. I haven’t done it in almost 15 years and have absolutely no interest.

    When I was 17, I slept with a 21 year old. Does that mean that I, as an almost-40 year old woman, am trying to have sex with 21 year olds? I did it once, so I must want to do it all the time? But, again, that’s not how it works.

    In college, I once stayed up for like 48 hours playing Final Fantasy VII, in order to breed a Golden Chocobo. One might assume that I must now want to play video games all the time. And yet, I don’t.

    Just because we did something once–or twice, or a dozen times–does not mean that we will try to do that thing for the rest of our lives.

  22. James Pollock July 6, 2015 at 12:17 am #

    “Just because we did something once–or twice, or a dozen times–does not mean that we will try to do that thing for the rest of our lives.”

    “Wary” and “eternally vigilant” are not the same thing.

  23. tz July 6, 2015 at 12:36 am #

    http://cnsnews.com/news/article/kathleen-brown/seattle-6th-graders-cant-get-coke-school-can-get-iud

    We really need to not worry about STDs or pregnancy/abortion. Justmlet “free range kids” rut like stupid animals.

    But ought I treat them as something rational or as dumb animals?

  24. James Pollock July 6, 2015 at 1:16 am #

    ” Justmlet “free range kids” rut like stupid animals.
    But ought I treat them as something rational or as dumb animals?”

    So, I assume you SUPPORT giving them honest and accurate information about sex and related matters.

  25. Nadine July 6, 2015 at 1:43 am #

    If a registry is to exist it should not be part of sentencing but should be deffered to experts who can make a educated guess, statistcal honest prediction about the chance someone will perpetruade again.

  26. James Pollock July 6, 2015 at 1:54 am #

    “If a registry is to exist it should not be part of sentencing but should be deffered to experts who can make a educated guess, statistcal honest prediction about the chance someone will perpetruade again.”

    Let me predict how that will work out.
    Expert #1: OK, how about this guy… think he’s dangerous?
    Expert #2: Maybe. Probably not.
    Expert #1: Well, if we guess wrong, say he’s not dangerous, and it turns out he is, they’ll be calling for our heads.
    Expert #2: But if we say he’s dangerous, and he’s not, he’s the only one that’ll be pissed at us.
    Expert #1: Dangerous it is, then.
    Expert #2: Agreed.

  27. Peter Brülls July 6, 2015 at 4:58 am #

    The problem is that nearly no one gains from cleaning out these rules.

    There is some monetary incentive in keeping and extending them. Jobs in the judicial system, local bureaucracy, etc.

    And tightening and increasing them is a nearly self-sustaining effect, like superheroes getting more and more powerful over time. They do their stuff, become boring and commonplace, they introduce a new villain which is more powerful and who has to be overcome. So the superhero has to become more powerful and stays on that level until this new state become normal. And so one. Every decade or so there will be a vast reboot, the playing field gets levelled.

    The same principle works with sex offender laws. Even when they do not have the desired effect – protection of children from unwanted sex – since their success is not based ob actual effect but on how good they look to voters and tv viewers.

  28. James Pollock July 6, 2015 at 5:16 am #

    “There is some monetary incentive in keeping and extending them. Jobs in the judicial system, local bureaucracy, etc.”
    Jobs in the judicial system are amazingly safe; everyone who works in criminal justice is worked pretty hard. Statutory rape is rarely prosecuted, for the very good reason that the prosecutor doesn’t know and can’t find out how often the law is violated. (Well, there was a prosecutor in, I think, Idaho who made some waves by trolling through the ranks of welfare recipients to find underage moms and getting a court order to name the fathers) The modern day equivalent to “you’re going to marry the mother” is “you’re going to pay child support”.

  29. anonymous mom July 6, 2015 at 8:12 am #

    @James: “Let me predict how that will work out.
    Expert #1: OK, how about this guy… think he’s dangerous?
    Expert #2: Maybe. Probably not.
    Expert #1: Well, if we guess wrong, say he’s not dangerous, and it turns out he is, they’ll be calling for our heads.
    Expert #2: But if we say he’s dangerous, and he’s not, he’s the only one that’ll be pissed at us.
    Expert #1: Dangerous it is, then.
    Expert #2: Agreed.”

    Again, you are wrong. In states with risk-based registries, or at least registries that take individual risk assessment into consideration as part of the process, there are FAR fewer people on the registry than in states with offense-only-based registries.

    We do not see an epidemic of people being deemed high-risk just to cover their butts. Instead, knowing that registries are ineffective and often outright counterproductive, we see people who committed lower-level crimes–non-forcible statutory offenses, victimless crimes, etc.–being kept off of public registries.

    While risk-based registries are not ideal–no registry can be ideal–they are far, far superior to offense-based registries in terms of the number of people on the public registry.

  30. anonymous mom July 6, 2015 at 8:20 am #

    @Peter, but there’s two caveats to that. One is that once you start registering enough people–once you have middle-class white parents afraid their teenage son might end up on a registry–then you can end up creating a backlash. I think we’re starting to see that happen. Sure, most people don’t want the registry totally abolished, but we’re increasingly seeing people objecting to having single-time non-violent offenders included on it.

    Also, while in a time of high unemployment there’s no reason to NOT have almost a million Americans–mostly young, able-bodied men–almost entirely unemployable, when unemployment drops and we start needing people to fill jobs, it begins to matter. When we need the labor of these men, we’re going to see a push from businesses–who will often be barred because of insurance rules from hiring sex offenders–to limit these registries. We’ve already seen states where businesses stepped up to stop work addresses of sex offenders from being published online. Once businesses start wanting and needing the labor of ex-offenders–which is going to happen, as we see both more and more jobs that need to be filled AND more and more young men with a criminal record due to our system of mass arrests, supervision, and incarcerations–we’ll see these laws change. It’s already happening.

    One of the most infuriating things about the article, actually, as the quote from Rick Jones about the jobs this young man can do: “Truck driving, welding.” Mr. Jones is either outright lying or knows nothing about the consequences of the registry that he is largely responsible for shaping in MI. Sex offenders cannot get work as truck drivers because of insurance rules. Period. That job path is completely closed off to this young man as long as he’s on the registry.

    I don’t think many people have considered the long-term consequences of this, of what it means to say that hundreds of thousands of young, able-bodied men–often men with families–are unable to obtain gainful employment even years or decades after completing a legal sentence.

  31. The other Mandy July 6, 2015 at 8:41 am #

    How is being kept on a registry for decades after the sentence is served, being forced into unemployment, and offen homelessness, not considered “cruel and unusual punishment”?

  32. Tim July 6, 2015 at 9:17 am #

    The NY Times article is a must read.

    Dennis M. Wiley of Berrien County District Court in Michigan could have granted Anderson a special status intended for young offenders but chose not to. Instead, he chose to berate him for using the Internet to meet women, then ranted about people meeting online and having sex in general.

    The prosecutor, Jerry Vigansky, also ranted about people going online to find somebody and then to quickly hook up.

    Their twisted moralizing disgusts me. They are destroying a young mans life because of it.

    Rick Jones, the state senator in Michigan and one of the authors of the state’s sex offender registry laws continues the moralizing: “In my opinion, society, over several decades, has become looser. People are meeting online, and that creates all sorts of problems.” He thinks it’s fine that Anderson can’t have access to a computer for five years.

    “There are lots of jobs that don’t involve computers,” he said. “There are all sorts of trades. Truck drivers, welding. There are other opportunities.” What he doesn’t understand is that welders and truck drivers do use the Internet for training, communication and record keeping.

    That three people are openly destroying a young man’s life for being part of a culture where people meet each other on line is despicable. I’m so glad this is getting a lot of attention. I hope the best for this young man and his family.

  33. Tim July 6, 2015 at 9:30 am #

    “What would happen if he tried to emigrate to a sane country and study computer science there?”

    I thought about that too. It’s a great idea. Get as far away from here as possible. Hopefully his probation would not prevent him from studying abroad.

  34. Warren July 6, 2015 at 9:45 am #

    If these judges and prosecutors are applying the law based on their personal beliefs and morals, they are too old, been doing the job too long and need to be replaced immediately.

    People facing judgement should be judged under the law not the out of date personal morals of anyone.

    And James do not bother repeating what I said and then commenting. You input is not wanted nor valued.

  35. AnotherAnon July 6, 2015 at 10:17 am #

    A number of years ago, the Chicago Reader ran an article about a guy who had been involved in a gang shooting when he was young (maybe 18 or 19), and the guy he shot and killed was underage (16 or 17). Because he was an adult that killed a child, due to Illinois law, he was on a sex offender registry, despite the fact that the crime he committed was in no way sexual in nature.

    This led to him, after serving his time and being released from prison in his 40s, being in the bizarre position of admitting to being a murderer but attempting to clear his name of the allegations that he was a child molester.

  36. anonymous mom July 6, 2015 at 10:33 am #

    Re: emigrating. If he wanted to move to Canada, he’d have to wait until five years after his probation is over. (I’m assuming his crime would be considered a relatively minor crime in Canada–you have to wait 5 years after your sentence is completed for crimes that are considered less serious felonies there, and 10 years for more serious felonies.) Then he could apply to be considered “rehabilitated” (which I assume he would be), and at that point he could freely enter Canada. He’d need a job to be able to officially move and become a resident, though.

    The U.S. keeps trying to pass laws that would make it harder for sex offenders to leave the country, even for very low-level offenders and even when a person wants to go to a country where the offense they committed isn’t even a crime. We want to destroy any chance a person has at a future AND make it impossible for them to start over somewhere else. It’s really despicable.

    Again, if people don’t think young adult men should sleep with underage teens, fine. I agree. But, the consequence should NOT be a total loss of all future opportunities for a decent life. This guy could have murdered a teenager and, in 20 years or so, would be out and able to begin his life anew without being on a registry. But he sleeps with a willing teen who lied about her age, and he will be registered for the rest of his life.

  37. Jenny Islander July 6, 2015 at 10:48 am #

    It’s beginning to sound as though “Let’s punish this adolescent for having had sex we don’t approve of by branding him as some kind of sicko and plunging him into poverty forever” is the new male version of “Let’s punish this adolescent for having had sex we don’t approve of by forcing her to have a baby while we apply cut after cut to the social programs that we perceive as supporting sex we don’t like, thereby plunging both mother and baby into poverty forever.”

  38. Shaun July 6, 2015 at 10:57 am #

    I am on the list because of lies. There are so many others with the same unfortunate problem. I try to live a good, clean life, but the laws and the list destroy my confidence and privacy. I am depressed, anxious and constantly looking over my shoulder. We live in a civilized country…why must we live with this “different” kind of fear?

  39. AmyO July 6, 2015 at 11:09 am #

    Your comment about the other registries hit it right on the nose. I can understand the need for a registry, but this is going too far. And I can’t believe this holds up in court, and isn’t considered cruel and unusual, since it’s only for one type of crime and not others. This seems like an issue that wins elections, not about justice.

  40. JKP July 6, 2015 at 11:18 am #

    And why do underage girls lie about their age and date older boys? Because a teen girl’s brain develops 2 YEARS ahead of a boy’s brain. Boys their exact same age are 2 years less mature than they are. Even with all the science showing the 2 year maturity difference between boys and girls, when it comes to statutory rape, no one is talking about this important point.

    If statutory rape means that a 16 year old girl is too immature to make decisions about sex and give consent, then the same is true of the 18 year old boy who is at the same exact maturity and brain development as her.

  41. JKP July 6, 2015 at 11:28 am #

    Also, these prosecutors and judges railing against meeting people online are definitely behind the times:
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/larrymagid/2013/06/03/a-third-of-recently-married-couples-met-online-and-theyre-more-satisfied-and-less-likely-to-split-up/
    “A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that 35% of couples married between 2005 and 2012 met online and that these couples were slightly more likely to stay together and “associated with slightly higher marital satisfaction among those respondents who remained married.”

    There’s nothing inherently wrong with meeting people online. Just like meeting people anywhere else (a bar, a social club, etc), some of those meetings lead to dating and long term relationships and some lead to hookups.

    If these prosecutors and judges are biased against meeting people online, then they need to retire, because Internet dating isn’t going anywhere.

  42. James Pollock July 6, 2015 at 11:43 am #

    “While risk-based registries are not ideal–no registry can be ideal–they are far, far superior to offense-based registries in terms of the number of people on the public registry.”

    Do you see the logical flaw in comparing two things as if they are the only two options?

  43. James Pollock July 6, 2015 at 11:47 am #

    “And James do not bother repeating what I said and then commenting. You input is not wanted nor valued.”

    Call for a Waaambulance.

  44. James Pollock July 6, 2015 at 11:51 am #

    “If statutory rape means that a 16 year old girl is too immature to make decisions about sex and give consent, then the same is true of the 18 year old boy who is at the same exact maturity and brain development as her.”

    Most states offer a defense of being within 3 years of age. That is to say, if a person who is 16 who has sex with an 18-year-old it’s not statutory rape.

  45. BL July 6, 2015 at 12:04 pm #

    “Do you see the logical flaw in comparing two things as if they are the only two options?”

    I see three in the referenced post: no-registry, risk-based-registry and offense-based registry.

  46. James Pollock July 6, 2015 at 12:07 pm #

    “I see three in the referenced post: no-registry, risk-based-registry and offense-based registry.”
    I only count two actually appearing in the comment I replied to.

  47. JKP July 6, 2015 at 12:12 pm #

    James Pollock – “Most states offer a defense of being within 3 years of age. That is to say, if a person who is 16 who has sex with an 18-year-old it’s not statutory rape.”

    Are you sure that it’s “most states”? A simple google search and I found quite a few states that don’t have such an exclusion. I couldn’t find any compiled list that showed which states did and didn’t. Since you like such detailed anal research, maybe you can compile a definitive list. And maybe it ends up not being “most states” but rather just “some states.”

    Also, some states that do have a “Romeo & Juliet” exclusion still consider such relationships as statutory rape, but the exclusion just means that the offender gets a lesser sentence, or the charge is a misdemeanor instead of a felony. But they’re still charged with statutory rape and possibly added to a sex offender registry.

  48. anonymous mom July 6, 2015 at 12:26 pm #

    In most states, 16 is the age of consent.

    The most bizarre part of the way we design statutory laws is that they mean that a girl is, a week after her sixteenth birthday, legally considered able to freely consent to sex with a 55 year old man she has never met before, but a week before her sixteenth birthday, she is legally considered unable to freely consent to sex with her 20 year old boyfriend.

    A lot must happen overnight on your 16th birthday.

    (And yes, I realize that all laws involving age have that at some level. But, that’s why the stakes cannot be so high. If we were to say that having sex with somebody the week before they turn 16 is a crime on par with “contributing to the delinquency of a minor” but then week after it’s legal, okay. But that’s not what we say. We say that sex with them the week before they turn 16 is RAPE–the second most serious felony you can commit, and increasingly many people seem to think it’s the most serious–but the week after it’s completely and totally fine. And that seems wildly irrational to me, akin to saying that driving down the street at 35 miles an hour is fine, but if you go 40, you are going to lose your license forever.)

  49. BL July 6, 2015 at 12:42 pm #

    @anonymous mom
    “Re: emigrating. If he wanted to move to Canada, he’d have to wait until five years after his probation is over”

    Considering how many people enter the US (and stay) illegally, I suppose they can leave illegally too.

  50. anonymous mom July 6, 2015 at 12:48 pm #

    @BL, violating the terms of his probation and/or the registry would be considered a felony sex offense in and of itself. Probably not a risk he’d want to take.

  51. fedupwith it July 6, 2015 at 12:49 pm #

    Why is it that the girls that lie about their age never get in trouble for it? There was a girl a few years ago in California who seemed to make a career of this. She lied to 7 or 8 marines about her age then turned them in for having sex with her. Doesn’t she hold any responsibility for her actions? She knew what she was doing and seemed to get a kick out of ruining these men’s lives.

  52. James Pollock July 6, 2015 at 12:53 pm #

    “Are you sure that it’s “most states”?”
    No. If you care, you can look here:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ages_of_consent_in_North_America
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ages_of_consent_in_Asia
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ages_of_consent_in_Europe

    “Since you like such detailed anal research”
    You seem to have me confused with someone else.

  53. anonymous mom July 6, 2015 at 12:53 pm #

    @fedupwithit, women in general–but teen girls in particular–are innocent flowers who would never, ever seek out sex with a man, and even if they do, they really just did it because either that particular guy or patriarchy in general made them. They are never at fault.

    The thing I find most interesting, actually, is the idea that, at 14 or 15 or even 13, a girl is old enough to make decisions about her reproductive health without any guidance or permission from a parent or guardian. She can decide whether she wants birth control and what kind, and she can make the decision to have an abortion. On all other matters of health, a person needs parental permission until 18, but we’ve decided that, starting around 12 or 13, teens–especially girls–are capable of giving informed consent for medications and procedures involving their reproductive and sexual lives.

    However, those same girls are also entirely incapable of actually consenting to sex.

  54. Sandy Rozek July 6, 2015 at 12:54 pm #

    Like, like, like! Actually, love, love, love. This line says it all: “That’s because the public Sex Offender Registry is not about public safety. It’s about public shame.” And it is not just shame for those on the registry; it is shame for their children, their spouses, their parents, all their relatives and friends–if they have any friends that have stuck by them. Thank you, Lenore, for an excellent, excellent article.

  55. Donna July 6, 2015 at 12:59 pm #

    “I think, also have an elected attorney general, but literally everybody else in the building still has a job after the election, whichever way it comes out, and there’s a good chance they’re union, too.”

    I’ve certainly never heard of a DA union … or any union involving attorneys. In fact, it is extremely common for a new DA to clean house, run everyone off or do a combination of both pretty quickly after being reelected.

    DAs offices change in tenor greatly with each new DA. The DA has a HUGE impact on how cases are handled, including having standards as to what is an approved disposition of a case and what is not. They also control who their assistants are and tend to hire people who will do their bidding. A DA who hates teenage sex is not going to hire a bunch of ADAs who don’t want to zealously prosecute stat rape cases.

  56. James Pollock July 6, 2015 at 1:01 pm #

    “Why is it that the girls that lie about their age never get in trouble for it?”

    What are you going to charge them with?

  57. James Pollock July 6, 2015 at 1:04 pm #

    “I’ve certainly never heard of a DA union … or any union involving attorneys.”
    Now you have.
    http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2011/10/bigger_pay_raises_for_managers.html

  58. Donna July 6, 2015 at 1:11 pm #

    “Also, some states that do have a “Romeo & Juliet” exclusion still consider such relationships as statutory rape, but the exclusion just means that the offender gets a lesser sentence, or the charge is a misdemeanor instead of a felony. But they’re still charged with statutory rape and possibly added to a sex offender registry.”

    Not only that, registration laws are controlled by the state you LIVE in, not the state where the crime was committed. My state has a Romeo and Juliet law AND doesn’t require those who are convicted of misdemeanors to register. If my client is convicted for misdemeanor stat rape at 18 and moves to a state where misdemeanors have to register at any point in his adult life, he could be suddenly forced to register as a sex offender in his new state.

    Registration laws also change all the time and can be made retroactive (SCOTUS has said that they are not criminal so ex post facto doesn’t apply). It is quite possible that my state could change its registry law to require people convicted of misdemeanors to have to register and could back date it.

    Not to mention, it is difficult to get a job with the words “stat rape” on your criminal history, even if no registration requirement is in effect.

  59. Donna July 6, 2015 at 1:15 pm #

    “Now you have.”

    Those weren’t DAs.

  60. Eric S July 6, 2015 at 1:17 pm #

    I’m teaching mine to check for ID first when he’s old enough to be having sex. If the rest of the world is becoming more and more stupid, it’s more important now to be teaching kids to be smarter.

    And if the girl LIED about her real age, but consented, this means the parents of the girl is the one that pressed charges on the boy. And I guarantee, it wasn’t about any law, it was saving face for themselves first and their beliefs, then to satiate the anger they feel, last is for their daughter. But since their daughter had no objections to having sex with an older boy, that is a moot point. Perhaps they should have set their eyes on their daughter. Teenage boys are walking hormones. That doesn’t make them “predators” and “sexual offenders”.

    I remember, when my parents first found out I was having sex at 17 (my then 16 year old girlfriend’s parents told them), all that ever happened was we got a talking to by both sets of parents. Nothing more. After that, it was already a given that we would continue to have sex. Our parents just felt they needed to do their due diligence to “educate” us about teen sex. These people now, really need to think before acting. They ruin many lives when it wasn’t warranted. All because of anger and fear. No reason whatsoever.

  61. anonymous mom July 6, 2015 at 1:21 pm #

    @Donna, not really directly on topic, but when the registry came before SCOTUS in 2003, what was at issue was whether it was okay to put a person’s address and other identifying information online. The case itself involved a guy required to send in a postcard once a year. And even then, the decision was 5-4.

    If/when the registry comes before SCOTUS again, I think we’ll see a different outcome. A lot has changed in the last 12 years. We’ve seen an explosion of restrictions (where they can live, where they can go, whether or not they can be out on Halloween, etc.) placed upon sex offenders that were not there or at issue in 2003. We have seen requirements for registrants upped and upped, so that many are now required to report in person (and pay a fee) four times a year to local police stations for decades or life, and face felony charges if they do not. And we now have a growing body of research showing that public registries at best have no impact on public safety and at worst negatively impact it, so any argument for compelling government interest would be hard to make.

    I think it would be almost legally impossible for SORNA in particular and the registry as it has developed in the last 12 years to be upheld. I know there’s a number of lawyers at work trying to get it before the court, and I hope it happens sooner rather than later.

  62. anonymous mom July 6, 2015 at 1:22 pm #

    @Eric: “And if the girl LIED about her real age, but consented, this means the parents of the girl is the one that pressed charges on the boy.”

    Not in this case. The mother has spoken out and said she doesn’t think the boy did anything wrong and did not want charges pressed; neither did the girl.

    The girl was missing, and her mother called the police to look for her. That investigation is what led to the charges. They were filed against the will of the victim and the victim’s mother.

  63. Jean July 6, 2015 at 1:27 pm #

    Personal experience with young family member who while legal age dated and had sex with a 17 year old. Life turned upside down. Family could not visit with children or not allowed home with kids. Watched show called Gracepoint where a young man had similar situation and when discovered by his community ended up committing suicide to stop the treatment he got once they knew.

  64. Hancock July 6, 2015 at 1:35 pm #

    There is a stupid young man who let his sex drive get the better of him. He doesn’t deserve to be punished the rest of his life because he’s an idiot. He may just grow up.

    However, there is a girl who did something almost as bad as rape (and the sex offender registry laws may in fact make it worse than rape). She LIED about her age to get sex from an idiot. If she were my daughter, I might never trust her again, and would do all I could to lovingly encourage her to get a job when she’s of age and move out. It would take a long time for me to forgive her what she did to that man, even if the law never came down on him.

    I understand that teenagers have sex, even though I would rather they not. But telling the truth is supposed to be drummed in to a child’s head from the cradle. Society operates under the assumption that most people are honest, as did the young clown that teenager scammed her way in to his bed. If you lie, no one will trust you, few will ever forgive. When you lie and have sex under false pretenses, it’s never forgotten.

  65. Sandy Rozek July 6, 2015 at 1:35 pm #

    James, et al, here ya go: http://www.ageofconsent.us/

  66. James Pollock July 6, 2015 at 1:36 pm #

    “Those weren’t DAs.”
    No, they weren’t. But you got expansive, throwing in “any union involving attorneys.”

  67. Andre L. July 6, 2015 at 1:42 pm #

    So many wrong things with the whole case…. I recommend you to read the whole piece on the New York Times.

    Apparently, there were lesser options both prosecutor and judge could have used (link: )

    Excerpts:

    ———————————
    THE JUDGE
    “During a sentencing hearing in April, Judge Wiley criticized online dating in general and berated Mr. Anderson for using the Internet to meet women.

    “You went online, to use a fisherman’s expression, trolling for women, to meet and have sex with,” he said. “That seems to be part of our culture now. Meet, hook up, have sex, sayonara. Totally inappropriate behavior. There is no excuse for this whatsoever.”

    THE PROSECUTOR:

    The prosecutor, Jerry Vigansky, did not oppose a Holmes Act sentence, but noted that it had not been applied to two similar cases in recent months.

    For some reason, Mr. Vigansky told the judge in court, this generation seems to think it is “O.K. to go online to find somebody and then to quickly hook up for sexual gratification.”

    “That’s not a good message to send into the community,” he said.
    ——————————–

    On top of that, the parents of the girl, who had called the police to help them find her as she was missing for couple hours, also said on an affidavit they don’t want the guy to be punished with such draconian measures. Yet, prosecutor and judge refused to use alternatives.

    From what they said, it is clearly they disapprove both casual sex and online dating and couldn’t wait to punish the man for what they consider moral aberrations. It is really not much different than, 100 years ago, how the criminal justice system often treated outspoken or “too independent” women in rural areas, or other people non-conforming to a certain definition of proper behavior, even if legal. Since they can’t shut down “online dating”, they punish a guy for using it and sending “a message to the community”.

    The probation is particularly draconian because it mandates the young man not to use computers for 5 years, which means he effectively cannot get any higher education, and can’t work anything that is not the most low-level menial job.

    This case shows the danger of having laws in the books that can be used at discretion of prosecutors. You never know what agenda they have, thus I personally believe all these “just in case…” criminal laws need to be curtailed. If something appears extreme but “prosecutors will use discretion”, then it shouldn’t be on the books to begin with.

  68. Reziac July 6, 2015 at 1:44 pm #

    Papilio asks,

    What would happen if he tried to emigrate to a sane country and study computer science there?

    Generally speaking, he would not be allowed to immigrate to any other first-world country. The U.S. is the only country that effectively takes criminals (by any definition) as immigrants. Other countries restrict entry by persons with a ‘criminal record’.

  69. Donna July 6, 2015 at 1:45 pm #

    “‘Why is it that the girls that lie about their age never get in trouble for it?’

    What are you going to charge them with?”

    I have to agree with James here. What is it that you want to charge these teens with? False statements/false information only applies to statements made to people in authority. Perjury only applies to sworn testimony. Are we going to create a new statute about lying to a sexual partner? Does it only apply to teens or would I also be in trouble if I told a sexual partner that I was 39 instead of 45? And is it only sexual partners? Can I tell everyone I am 39 as long as a fess up to those I sleep with beforehand?

    I don’t think we need to go down that rabbit hole. But in every other crime, lies told to the defendant that negate his mens rea provide a full defense. For example, you can’t be convicted of theft if I lie to you and tell you it is my bike and you can have it. You didn’t intend to deprive someone of his property – you intended to take advantage of a free bike – so you can’t be convicted of depriving someone of his property. This should carry over here too.

  70. bmommyx2 July 6, 2015 at 1:46 pm #

    This is just so wrong. I was 16 (almost 17) & my boyfriend (now husband) was 22 when we got together. Funny thing is his Dad was paranoid about being sued for such a thing & wouldn’t let me in when I came to pick him up & let me stand outside at the door or in the car to wait. These laws are nuts & hurt people who are not criminals while the criminals go free.

  71. Donna July 6, 2015 at 1:48 pm #

    “Those weren’t DAs.”
    No, they weren’t. But you got expansive, throwing in “any union involving attorneys.”

    I should have been more specific and said a union dedicated to attorneys. There are certainly attorneys who are members of any number of different unions, but I had never heard of any unions dedicated to attorneys. Still don’t know if I have since I didn’t read it close enough to see if it is some kind of legal union or just the attorneys in the state being part of a general state employees union.

  72. James Pollock July 6, 2015 at 2:00 pm #

    ” Still don’t know if I have since I didn’t read it close enough to see if it is some kind of legal union or just the attorneys in the state being part of a general state employees union.”

    The HEADLINE refers to the “lawyers’ union”. The name of the union is “Oregon Association of Justice Attorneys”.

  73. James Pollock July 6, 2015 at 2:06 pm #

    “Generally speaking, he would not be allowed to immigrate to any other first-world country. The U.S. is the only country that effectively takes criminals (by any definition) as immigrants. Other countries restrict entry by persons with a ‘criminal record’”

    Without checking, I don’t think this applies if the would-be new country doesn’t consider the actions of the immigrant a crime in the first place.

  74. J.T. Wenting July 6, 2015 at 3:03 pm #

    “What would happen if he tried to emigrate to a sane country and study computer science there?”

    The terms of his probation most likely include a clause that he’s prohibited from leaving the country, maybe even the state.

    It’s a normal clause in probation rules.

    This young man will receive a life sentence, a life of poverty and harassment, a life of constantly being bombarded with demands he be turned out of his house, a life of finding it impossible to get a job as any prospective employer will do a quick internet search and find he’s “on the register” and will know full well that employing him will lead to boycot campaigns against his business.

    Effectively then he’s being sentenced to a life on the dole, and will most likely end up on the street, addicted to drugs and an early death.

    His life sentence thus is to all effects and purposes an especially cruel and gruesome death sentence!

  75. MichaelF July 6, 2015 at 3:56 pm #

    We also don’t have a public “John’s” registry to shame those found guilty of soliciting prostitutes. In some ways our laws tend to blame the victim more than the perpetrator.

    This is one of those cases that should be appealed to limit who gets put on the registry, wonder if any law firm would be willing to take it on and argue it up to the Supreme Court.

  76. Sandy Rozek July 6, 2015 at 3:56 pm #

    Donna, don’t know if it is considered a union, but have you considered the NACDL–National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers? And most states have similar organizations.

  77. James Pollock July 6, 2015 at 4:05 pm #

    “We also don’t have a public “John’s” registry to shame those found guilty of soliciting prostitutes”

    I’m pretty sure that some places do.

  78. James Pollock July 6, 2015 at 4:12 pm #

    “wonder if any law firm would be willing to take it on and argue it up to the Supreme Court.”
    Tricky. Many variables.
    For example, many plea deals include a voluntary waiver of appeal (you can’t complain you didn’t get a fair trial if you plead guilty before you even have one.) I don’t remember if this is a plea deal or if the charges were contested.
    Then there’s the fact that the Supreme Court (whether state or federal) declines to take most of the cases who ask for an appeal.
    The proper argument to make if a sentence is accurate (that is, it’s within the sentencing guildelines and was levied upon a person who has committed the crime) but not just, is executive clemency. Commutation of sentence or even pardon are the proper remedy for such a case.

  79. Raphael July 6, 2015 at 4:37 pm #

    I’ve often thought that if those registries were intended to keep people safe, we’d have a registry of DUIs.

  80. Donald July 6, 2015 at 4:37 pm #

    I don’t often agree with James but I sure do on this one.

    “Because prosecutors who don’t charge aggressively are “soft on crime” or worse, “soft on sex crime” or even “let a rapist walk free.”

    This makes a great newspaper headline. This attracts viewers to a news channel like moths to a flame. A News channel that has a juicy headline is like the pied piper.

    In order to sell the idea that we should go to war with Iraq, we heard lots of stories about how barbaric they are. However when pass laws like this, we’re not much better. On top of this, the very public sex offender list is similar to a public stoning! I was even taken to a list without even searching for one. I looked up Johnson City Tennessee. I was taken to a list of sex offenders along side of weather, employment opportunities, tourist information, and the state bird of Tennessee.

  81. E July 6, 2015 at 4:43 pm #

    There was a boy in our HS that got caught getting a blow job in a seldom used stairwell by a freshman girl. He was not accused of forcing her, they were both HS students, but due to their ages (I don’t think he was even a Sr in HS yet, but she was a young freshman) he was charged with a felony.

    That just seems amazingly crazy. I don’t believe he ended up on a sex offender list (but I guess I’m not sure, I don’t look at them). It’s not the kind of thing you ask a neighbor about their kid unless you are close with them.

  82. Puzzled July 6, 2015 at 5:04 pm #

    The problem with executive clemency (in addition to it being really hard to get) is that it doesn’t help anyone else. If you can get a higher court to say these laws are written ineffectively, you’ve achieved more. But yes, it seems rather hopeless to try to get that to happen. (Of course, in 1972, when the Libertarian Party was founded with a platform plank calling for marriage equality, homosexuality was in the DSM and we would have said it’s near impossible to get a case about it to the SC.)

  83. Gina July 6, 2015 at 5:09 pm #

    Can he father and raise his own kids?

  84. En Passant July 6, 2015 at 5:19 pm #

    Donna July 6, 2015 at 1:45 pm:

    But in every other crime, lies told to the defendant that negate his mens rea provide a full defense. For example, you can’t be convicted of theft if I lie to you and tell you it is my bike and you can have it. You didn’t intend to deprive someone of his property – you intended to take advantage of a free bike – so you can’t be convicted of depriving someone of his property. This should carry over here too.

    You’ve hit the nail squarely. These laws are usually written as strict liability, requiring no mens rea.

    One reason may be that legislators use the faulty reasoning “anybody with half a brain would know she was lying”. Or maybe they find the offense so outrageous that they think nothing else matters. So they have to crack a few eggs to legislate the omelette of a perfect world. Neither of those reasons, nor any other excuse I’ve ever heard, reflects well on either the IQs, the moral reasoning, or even the good intentions of legislators.

    I think the ALI has released a Model Penal Code which requires mens rea as an element of the crime.

  85. Laura July 6, 2015 at 5:24 pm #

    @Puzzled: Amen!!!

  86. anonymous mom July 6, 2015 at 5:24 pm #

    @Gina, yes, he can father and raise his own children. While many states have passed laws limiting where sex offenders can live and go, they cannot (or at least have not tried yet) to keep the 800K people on the sex offender registry from being able to be around children, period. As long as a person is off of state supervision (completed parole or probation), they can be around their own children (as well as other people’s children–the restrictions are about where they can go/live, not who they can be around). The exception would be if CPS got involved–common if the victim was their own child but not for most cases, especially not victimless or non-forcible statutory offenses–and parental rights were terminated or restricted.

    The rub comes in in custody battles. Many states have passed laws saying that a sex offender (or a parent who is dating/married to a sex offender) can be denied custody in the case of a dispute simply for being a sex offender. Whereas otherwise the burden would be to prove the parent is an unfit parent before custody is denied, the sex offender, in many states, would either have no recourse to gain custody if the other parent wants to deny it to them or would have to prove that they are NOT an unfit parent.

    So, basically, if the guy in this story were to have a kid 5 years from now, and then get divorced 10 years later, in many states his ex would be able to keep him from ever seeing the kids simply because of his presence on the registry, even if he does not commit any other crimes and is by all accounts a loving and good father.

  87. anonymous mom July 6, 2015 at 5:32 pm #

    I’m sure many lawyers would love to take the registry to the Supreme Court. One issue is that many of the restrictions and policies involving the registry are so patently unconstitutional that they are thrown out long before they reach the Supreme Court. But, even getting that to happen means that you need a person to 1) not comply with the registry and 2) have enough resources to pursue appeals. To hit the Supreme Court you’d need to not only have those criteria met but also county and state judges who don’t rule the restriction unconstitutional so you have a reason to keep appealing. (AFAIK, every time residency restrictions have been appealed, they have been deemed unconstitutional.)

    I’ve wondered if a large class action suit of some sort on behalf of all on the registry–and, perhaps, their family members–could be done, but that seems less likely to be successful.

  88. James Pollock July 6, 2015 at 5:37 pm #

    “One reason may be that legislators use the faulty reasoning “anybody with half a brain would know she was lying”. Or maybe they find the offense so outrageous that they think nothing else matters. So they have to crack a few eggs to legislate the omelette of a perfect world. Neither of those reasons, nor any other excuse I’ve ever heard, reflects well on either the IQs, the moral reasoning, or even the good intentions of legislators.”

    The reason is both simple and straightforward.
    What we’re concerned with is adults taking advantage of kids who aren’t yet prepared to defend themselves fully from the real world. You COULD solve that by making it a crime to have sex with someone who can be said to be incapable of adult reasoning and self-responsibility. In fact, we DO say that, it’s rape to have sex with someone who cannot give meaningful consent, no matter how old they are. However, this creates an extremely messy fact question for the jury to sort out… was this particular person, in this particular circumstance, capable of meaningful consent? How do you PROVE that, one way or the other? (Sometimes it’s easy… if you have an orderly having sex with hospital patients under general anesthesia, and you can prove it by video surveillance or DNA evidence, that’s a provable case. But when it’s a young person who insists “I knew what I was doing… like, totally!”, the facts are harder to determine.)
    So, rather than go through the trouble of figuring out if that young girl was fully capable of consenting to that sexual encounter under those circumstances, we make a presumption… if this person is under that age, they can’t consent, no matter what they told you.
    The first fix is a small one. Change the presumption from an irrebuttable one (this person is underage, and that is the end of the discussion.) to a rebuttable one (basically, allow the defense to show that, while most people of this age are incapable of consent, this particular individual is not, as shown by the following evidence…) That small change, by itself, makes a lot of the problems with statutory rape statutes go away.

  89. Anna July 6, 2015 at 5:43 pm #

    Puzzled: It may be that way in the contemporary legal scene, but does it have to be? Granted, I’m more familiar with the philosophical and historical side of things than modern jurisprudence, but in much of human history, executive clemency was considered essential to a healthy legal system. E.g., Locke, whose principles ground the American constitutional system, explains in detail why executive privilege is not just acceptable, but absolutely necessary.

    If you acknowledge that the law is a tool toward achieving justice (and other civic goods) not an end in itself, why is it so crazy to think that a human being should sometimes be able to override it, or at least decline to pursue it to its full extent, when that is desirable in the interests of justice or some other compelling social good?

    If you don’t give discretion to individual human beings to do this, it seems to me that when you attempt to make the laws severe enough to appropriately punish certain extremely evil actions, you’re guaranteed to make it draconion and. . . well, wickedly cruel, in many other cases.

    E.g., we may need statutory rape laws to appropriately punish the 40-year-old hockey coach who seduces a 9th-grade hockey player, but why does that mean we have to apply them to the Zach Anderson’s of the world? The whole point of involving human beings like prosecutors and judges in the legal system should be to stop such stupidity from happening. Otherwise, we might as well just have a computer program administer justice for us.

  90. James Pollock July 6, 2015 at 5:44 pm #

    One thing I’ve always wondered is why churches get special treatment with regard to limitations in sex offender status.

    What I mean is, it makes a certain amount of sense to keep pedophiles away from playgrounds and schools. But why churches?

  91. Liz July 6, 2015 at 5:54 pm #

    When I was a teen I knew the statutory rape laws of my state by heart: Age of consent is (was?) 16, with a two-year spread allowed for teens, meaning a 15-year-old can have sex with a 16- or 17-year-old without fear of prosecution. Even this knowledge wouldn’t have kept me safe if the person I was interested in was lying about their age. He wasn’t looking to have sex with a 14-year-old, and isn’t the intent the true crime?
    By the way Lenore, the Chappelle’s Show skit “The Love Contract” is here on YouTube:
    https://youtu.be/Jo4568PIRnk

  92. Donna July 6, 2015 at 5:55 pm #

    “Donna, don’t know if it is considered a union, but have you considered the NACDL–National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers? And most states have similar organizations.”

    That is definitely not a union. It is simply a voluntary organization of lawyers that support one another through legal updates, training seminars, etc. They don’t have any bargaining power to negotiate rules of employment, salaries, etc. That is what James was talking about.

  93. Donna July 6, 2015 at 6:00 pm #

    “What I mean is, it makes a certain amount of sense to keep pedophiles away from playgrounds and schools. But why churches?”

    Most churches have a high kid presence … and much of it without parents. Sunday school, choir, youth group, preschools/Mom’s morning out programs that the general public may not be aware of. When I was a teen, some of my friends spent half their lives in church at some activity or another.

  94. JP Merzetti July 6, 2015 at 6:25 pm #

    If a public registry has any real competent usefulness at all, the fact that 25% of its occupancy is a sham and a farce, makes a joke out of what it was intended for in the first place.
    And in this way, does the nation fall over and grovel at the feet of those other nations that would be shamed (by our core value systems.)
    The ones who encourage truly horrific punishments, that we actually abhor.

    Sex is a multi-trillion dollar business on a planetary basis. We can’t actually figure out how to even retract it, it is that interwoven into human affairs.
    And the whole idea of punishing young people for being young (and obviously hormonal) [how dare they?!?]
    is just too hypocritical to live.
    But of course, the registry makes money for someone somewhere. And in that manner too, the nature devours its young.
    At least grizzly bears are more upfront about their intentions.

    I mean, geeze. We couldn’t even figure out how to punish a president for hormonal stupidity.
    Perhaps it all boils down to this: The idea of a fundamentalist terminal wetdream…..the ultimate moral persuasion. Death by sex. One mapped dot at a time.
    I liked it better back in the days when we were just threatened with blindness.

  95. Donna July 6, 2015 at 6:31 pm #

    “However, this creates an extremely messy fact question for the jury to sort out… was this particular person, in this particular circumstance, capable of meaningful consent? How do you PROVE that, one way or the other? (Sometimes it’s easy… if you have an orderly having sex with hospital patients under general anesthesia, and you can prove it by video surveillance or DNA evidence, that’s a provable case. But when it’s a young person who insists “I knew what I was doing… like, totally!”, the facts are harder to determine.)”

    It would be messy. So what? Much of criminal law is factually messy. As an actual trial attorney, these cases would be far less messy than a self-defense murder trial. At least both the participants are available to speak and the jury can consider both of their credibility.

    In fact, these case wouldn’t really be factually messy at all. You should be able to fairly easily prove meaningful consent. Is there an actual power issue that might negate consent (the older was actually in a position of power as a teacher, coach, boss, etc)? Does she believe that she was coerced into doing something she didn’t want to do because he was older and she was afraid to say no? Did she understand fully what sex is? Did she understand that she was engaging in sex at the time? These are not difficult questions to answer.

    Our criminal justice system was founded on the principle of “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer,” not on the principle of “we should make it as easy and unmessy to convict someone of a crime as possible.”

    But the fact is that these laws weren’t put in place for ease of conviction. They were put in place because society KNOWS that teenage girls are willingly consenting to sex and it doesn’t approve. 99.9% of the stat rape cases I have handled would be nonexistent if the actual standard was that the DA had to prove that the girl was coerced into sex or didn’t fully understand that she was consenting to sex. Those girls all knew exactly what they were doing and jumped in with both feet. A couple may have disliked the consequences – pregnancy, STD – but the same can be said for millions of of-age women who have sex.

  96. Donna July 6, 2015 at 6:54 pm #

    “But there *should* be some legal risk to having sex with someone who you don’t know well enough to even know their age.”

    Why because you don’t like it?

    “but they all were facing the emotional and physical consequences of being in relationships they weren’t ready for.”

    So? They chose to enter those relationships. Many people – teens and adults – enter relationships that they are not ready for or are ill-advised in other ways. Many people suffer the emotional and physical consequences of those choices. Yes, sex has consequences. Consequences you should fully understand before you enter into it (although I would argue that it is completely impossible to understand the emotional consequences of sex prior to having sex). However, so do a myriad of other things. Things far more involved than having sex and consequences far greater than getting pregnant. We don’t excuse teens from making those decisions, but instead expect them to readily except those consequences. Society even revels in doling them out sometimes.

    I deal with teenage girls all the time. And most of mine are in alternative school too. I bet you didn’t hear many, if any, of those girls say that they didn’t want to have sex or that they didn’t understand that they were having sex or that they were pressured into having sex or that they did anything at all other than willingly jump into bed with whomever the baby-daddy was. Most probably didn’t even regret getting pregnant. It is a very different culture than most of us live in.

    I have a real problem with this idea that another person should go to prison because a teenager wanted to engage in sex that she didn’t think through so well and, as a result, there were shockingly some consequences that she now has to face. Yes, she likely has to face them without the help of the baby-daddy. That is part of the culture and, sadly, part of being a women of any age.

  97. Donna July 6, 2015 at 7:13 pm #

    I have had children as young as 7 charged with crimes in juvenile court and teens as young as 14 charged as adults in criminal court (They actually get charged younger; I’ve just never had one). In fact, I’ve had MINORS charged with rape and child molestation. Apparently they can consent to rape someone else, but not to have consensual sex themselves. It boggles the mind.

    I currently have a 16 year old charged as an adult with murder as the alleged driver in a drive-by. The alleged shooter is older, early 20s I think. According to society, my client was able to properly think through this stupid action (if he did it) and has to suffer the consequences of that act in full, despite being a minor. We don’t excuse him because the other party is older and maybe a bad influence. He is so responsible for this behavior that we need to send him to prison for anywhere from 30 years to the entirety of his life. But somehow sex is above his thinking abilities in many states? That he needs to be protected from the consequences of, but he can consent to murder? I can guarantee you that my client would much rather be pregnant and have every STD in existence than facing the consequences that he is currently facing.

  98. anonymous mom July 6, 2015 at 7:25 pm #

    @James, first, whether or not sex offenders can or cannot be within a certain distance of certain locations (schools, parks, etc.) depends on the state, county, or city. In some places, there are no restrictions; in others, there are lots. As far as I know, every time those restrictions (as applied not to a person under state supervision–on probation or parole–but an off-paper registered citizen who completed their legal sentence) have hit the courts, they have been ruled unconstitutional. You cannot say that a registry is purely civil and non-punitive and then tell people who have completed a legal sentence that they will be arrested if they are within 1000 feet of a school.

    Second, you cannot add churches to that list because Americans–including sex offenders–are afforded freedom of religion. Again, if a person is on probation, then they can be told whether or not they can go to church. And, a church could decide–as some do–to refuse membership or even attendance to sex offenders, although I’d be inclined to say that such churches have ceased to act as churches at that point. But if the state told a person who finished their probation 15 years ago that they cannot attend church, that would be a clear constitutional violation.

    There was a sheriff somewhere recently who sent out a letter telling sex offenders in his county that they could not attend church and that, if they wanted to worship, they could attend services at the local jail. It was less than 24 hours before he had to backtrack, most likely on the advice of government attorneys. Telling American citizens who are not under state supervision that they must worship at one specific place or not worship at all is a clear and massive violation of civil rights.

  99. anonymous mom July 6, 2015 at 7:34 pm #

    @JP: “If a public registry has any real competent usefulness at all, the fact that 25% of its occupancy is a sham and a farce, makes a joke out of what it was intended for in the first place.”

    My estimate is that it is FAR more than 25% farce. I don’t have any hard data, but I once was reading an article about Florida’s two-tiered registry, and I ran the numbers for various counties. Florida has so many sex offenders that they divided them into two groups: regular “sex offenders” and “sexual predators.” “Sexual predators” are those who have either (they only have to meet one of the following criteria): 1) committed an offense of any kind against a person 13 or younger; 2) committed a forcible or violent offense against a person of any age, or 3) committed more than one offense of any type (including more than one non-forcible or victimless offense). In every single country, “sexual predators” made up less than 15% of all those on the registry. That means that over 85% of registered sex offenders in FL are on the registry for a one-time offense that was either a victimless offense or a non-forcible statutory offense or otherwise a non-violent, non-forcible, single-time offense against a post-pubescent teen or adult.

    If the registry was designed to identify those likely to violently assail a child, we have clearly done a poor job of limiting the list to those who would fit that profile. And, certainly having so many people on the registry who do not pose a serious risk to public safety means that resources that could go to monitoring actually-dangerous people are diverted to dealing with paperwork for tens of thousands of people in many states who simply do not pose an ongoing risk.

    Personally, I see the registry as it currently stands being abolished, and instead sentencing those guilty of many sex crimes (probably excluding non-forcible statutory cases, especially when the age difference isn’t very large) to lifetime probation. That way nobody can complain that any restrictions are unconstitutional, because you can do almost anything you want to a person under state supervision.

  100. Puzzled July 6, 2015 at 8:22 pm #

    Donna says:

    >But the fact is that these laws weren’t put in place for ease of conviction. They were put in place because society >KNOWS that teenage girls are willingly consenting to sex and it doesn’t approve.

    I add – this is exactly what we are not allowed to say, because once we say it, the entire sham falls apart.

    Anna – I have nothing against executive clemency. Locke, though, wasn’t picturing a legal system as large as our states – or even our cities, for that matter. It is unworkable to rely on pardons as the solution to a law – to cast a large net and let the Governor pick and choose. There are too many applications flowing in, a system too overwhelmed. You’d sit in jail for quite some time (or out of it) waiting for that pardon, if it ever comes. And woe to you if we elect some tough on crime Governor. The use I see for pardons is for forgiveness, for carefully crafted laws that still end up doing something unjust, and the like. I cannot approve of the idea of knowingly writing a law too broadly.

    Also, for certain licenses, you must disclose even pardoned offenses, I believe.

    Once upon a time, elected DAs played something of this role, declining to prosecute in the interest of justice. But we, the scared population, now pressure them not to do so.

  101. Anna July 6, 2015 at 8:37 pm #

    “The use I see for pardons is for forgiveness, for carefully crafted laws that still end up doing something unjust, and the like. I cannot approve of the idea of knowingly writing a law too broadly.” I agree. I just don’t think it’s possible to write laws that perfectly, and I think we should generally recognize that there’s nothing wrong with prosecutors choosing not to prosecute in the interests of justice, even if they could, within the letter of the law. I guess I don’t think laws can be that perfect, however much you try. Was it in one of the Hornblower books that somebody says, “We can’t put the law on a ship in a book, we have to put it on a ship in a man”? Anyway, I think there’s a lot of truth to that.

  102. anonymous mom July 6, 2015 at 8:40 pm #

    I’m not even sure statutory laws were intended to be so much about societal disapproval of teen girls having sex with older guys–although that’s certainly what they are now–but about the place of the daughter within the family. You wouldn’t want some guy deflowering your virgin daughter and leaving her “unmarriageable” without any legal recourse. Statutory laws were originally about protecting the virginity of unmarried women–who were the property of their parents and thus any loss to their value as a marriage partner was a loss to the family.

  103. Puzzled July 6, 2015 at 8:48 pm #

    Perfectly? Of course not. But I think we can do better than casting an arbitrary net and relying on clemency. Think of it this way – if the laws caught less people unjustly, there would be less applications to wade through, and clemency might actually work. However, I do think there’s a big argument for the application of judgment before prosecution. I don’t blame prosecutors for this – it’s another instance, in my view, of people demanding intrusive government, then getting upset when they get it. We force them to act this way, craft their incentives to act this way, then act shocked when they want to prosecute as much as they can.

  104. Donna July 6, 2015 at 9:01 pm #

    “I’m not even sure statutory laws were intended to be so much about societal disapproval of teen girls having sex with older guys”

    I don’t think it has anything to do with older guys at all. Society doesn’t particularly want females desiring and enjoying sex at all. We just can’t codify our displeasure concerning the adult females anymore.

    There used to be all kinds of laws against sex. Fornication is still against the law in my state. It is not enforced, but it is still on the books. I am not doing the research, but I would be willing to bet that back when this law was enforced, it was almost exclusively against women.

    The reasons may be that families didn’t want their girls deflowered and thus unable to be married. My guess is that pregnancy also played a part – the girl’s family has always bore the full financial burden of a bastard child. But the end result is a great societal displeasure of women having sex for pleasure. It now takes the form of punishing kids and slut-shaming adults.

  105. anonymous mom July 6, 2015 at 9:16 pm #

    @Donna: “In fact, these case wouldn’t really be factually messy at all. You should be able to fairly easily prove meaningful consent. Is there an actual power issue that might negate consent (the older was actually in a position of power as a teacher, coach, boss, etc)? Does she believe that she was coerced into doing something she didn’t want to do because he was older and she was afraid to say no? Did she understand fully what sex is? Did she understand that she was engaging in sex at the time? These are not difficult questions to answer.”

    As you note, though, if these questions–which are good questions that would establish consent–were asked, the vast majority of statutory cases would be thrown out.

    I do think many would say that those don’t go far enough, that a person must be totally aware of and able to deal with all of the consequences of sex before their consent is meaningful. But that is a ridiculous high standard, which would leave many adults incapable of consenting to sex.

    In her book Satan’s Silence, Debbie Nathan has a very prescient section where she wonders if the hysteria about teen pregnancy would reach the point where, in an attempt to get the pregnant mother off the hook, we positioned her as a victim and her partner as a sex abuser: “…given the near-universality of law-and-order perspectives when it comes to child sex abusers, we can imagine a scenario in which venues like Ms. magazine and The Nation were to propose hard time for unmarried men in their twenties who make babies with girlfriends in their teens.” That such a scenario had to be imagined just twenty years ago shows how much things have changed.

    Obviously we’ve always had statutory rape laws, but they were generally designed to force men to take responsibility for either knocking up or “ruining the virtue” of virgins they slept with by marrying them (since the age of marriage was nearly always younger than the age of consent). A family could hold these laws over a young man’s head in order to force him to marry their daughter. But these men weren’t seen as dangerous sexual predators or as pedophiles or child molesters. That is a new, dangerous view, one that both infantilizes young women who are in most cases as capable of consenting to sex as they are to enter into an employment contract or give informed consent to have an IUD inserted (something the same people insisting these teen girls cannot consent to sex are insisting equally vehemently that they can do) and that treats what is normal male sexuality (a guy in his late teens or twenties being interested in sex with a willing, eager post-pubescent teen) as if it were perverted and pathological.

    But, there are slam-dunk convictions for prosecutors, and low-hanging fruit for law enforcement, so it does not surprise me we see them proceeding even when the “victim” and family are asking them not to.

  106. Donna July 6, 2015 at 9:31 pm #

    “I do think many would say that those don’t go far enough, that a person must be totally aware of and able to deal with all of the consequences of sex before their consent is meaningful. But that is a ridiculous high standard, which would leave many adults incapable of consenting to sex.”

    I agree, although I think that it is most adults at one time or another … probably all who engage in sex outside of marriage. I can certainly come up with times that I jumped in without thinking and wasn’t necessarily fully prepared. And they are not all as far back in my past as my age would indicate they should be.

  107. Donald July 6, 2015 at 10:03 pm #

    Stories like this is what drives me to write my blog.

    Bureaucracy has become so mindless that it resembles the movie ‘Terminator’. In the movie, the machines have taken over the world. However people like Zach Anderson has shown us that we have been taken over by mindless laws that have the empathy of a mousetrap!

    Laws such as this are tainted with emotion and hell bent on revenge. (so of like Sharia Law)

    Christian Adamek was another example. This 15 year old boy ran naked at a football game. Shortly after this prank he hung himself when he was threatened with severe legal consequences

    http://www.freerangekids.com/from-streaking-to-possible-sex-offender-to-tragedy/

    These two pages describe bureaucracy

    http://www.onmysoapboxx.com/

    http://www.onmysoapboxx.com/robot

  108. Aliza Burton July 6, 2015 at 10:11 pm #

    What about the girl, who lied about her age? How is she not penalized for fraud of some kind?

  109. Travis July 6, 2015 at 11:25 pm #

    @Aliza–She is not penalized because she did not lie under oath or on an official document or the like. So she’s “fine”, according to the state. The problem is to judge the boy so harshly considering the circumstances. And this happened mostly because of the moral opinions of the judge and others involved, who are also against online dating in the first place.

    So people are being judged not according to the law, but to old-fashioned judges that would rather see the world humiliated into submission than obeying the law.

  110. Warren July 7, 2015 at 1:40 am #

    I tell you one thing. If that was my daughter she would be up the creek without a paddle. She would be working full time to get him cleared. Babysitting, odd jobs and whatever. Every cent she brings in would go to his defense, and that would include any money given to her for birthdays or Christmas. She would be talking to the media, the lawyers, judges, Governors, Senators and everyone possible to correct this situation. There is no way she would walk away after ruining someone’s life.

    Again, James keep your yap shut.

  111. Donald July 7, 2015 at 2:27 am #

    “But in every other crime, lies told to the defendant that negate his mens rea provide a full defense. For example, you can’t be convicted of theft if I lie to you and tell you it is my bike and you can have it. You didn’t intend to deprive someone of his property – you intended to take advantage of a free bike – so you can’t be convicted of depriving someone of his property. This should carry over here too.”

    This law was born from political grandstanding. Laws are so complicated that people vote for them by their headline. I imagine this was sold as another way of tightening up sex crimes. People voted it in without realizing that it conflicts with other laws. I would think this law is unconstitutional. I got all my law training from TV. My opinion may by true or BS. It’s probably BS because this law hasn’t been challenged on the grounds it’s unconstitutional.

  112. James Pollock July 7, 2015 at 2:28 am #

    “Again, James keep your yap shut.”

    Still harboring the delusion that you can tell me what to do, I see. Does you bullying scare ANYBODY?

    (Guess those last couple of beating you imagined giving me didn’t do the trick. Imagine another one, maybe two, and see if that changes anything.)

  113. sexhysteria July 7, 2015 at 2:38 am #

    These two kids should have been openly encouraged to enjoy sex with each other, rather than forcing them to sneek around and then punish the boy (!) as a criminal. Our society is very sick for treating kids like this.

  114. James Pollock July 7, 2015 at 2:39 am #

    “I would think this law is unconstitutional.”
    Why would you think that? What part of the Constitution do you think it violates? (People have tried challenging it under the first amendment “free exercise of religion”, without success.)

    “I got all my law training from TV.”
    Oh, there’s the problem. TV writers don’t actually understand anything complicated; they just make stuff up and hope you don’t know how it works, either, and, usually, enough people don’t. This is almost universally true… any complicated area of human knowledge, they get it laughably wrong on TV. For example, CSI Cyber is a comedy to anyone who understand information security… it’s patently obvious that nobody involved knows much of anything. But since people don’t know any better, they got enough people to watch to get the show renewed.
    If law students got $1 for every time someone says “it’s not like (legal-themed TV show)”, they’d graduate debt-free. Mostly the complaining was about Law & Order, although my Criminal Procedure used lots of examples from various cop shows to illustrate cops doing something that would get evidence excluded.

    Alas, it’s not the Constitution that will get us out of the mess that is sex-offender registries. It’ll keep building up in all its uselessness until somebody notices that, with all the people on it who aren’t in the least dangerous, it’s no longer possible to tell where the actual dangerous people are. OK, that happened, and nothing changed. Well, eventually, ENOUGH somebodies will notice this fact and we might get some sanity. I don’t think it’ll happen in my remaining lifespan.

  115. Diana Green July 7, 2015 at 4:24 am #

    Sex Offender Laws Backfire. Destroy The Very Ones They Were Supposed to Protect, Children and Teenagers. Is there a way the states can take down these laws and yet not suffer the penalties of loss of Federal Funds for Prisons, Prisons, and More Prisons?

  116. anonymous mom July 7, 2015 at 6:24 am #

    @James, it will ABSOLUTELY be the Constitution that leads to the registry being struck down. Of course it will. Smith v. Doe only upheld the registry because the court decided, 6-3, that it was non-punitive. However, that was ONLY the case because, at the time, the ONLY thing at issue was putting information that was already publicly available (as criminal records are) on a website. And, even with the ONLY provision of the registry being the dissemination of public information, 3 justices considered it to be punitive and debilitating and therefore not acceptable.

    You cannot continue to punish a person who has completed their legal sentence, and you cannot retroactively punish a person who has completed their legal sentence. And that’s exactly what any of the restrictions imposed upon those on the registry do. Even requiring a person to show up at a police station to register would likely be considered unconstitutional (in Smith v. Doe, registrants were simply required to mail in a postcard once a year). This isn’t some weird Constitutional loophole or esoteric interpretation but very simple, which is why whenever restrictions hit the courts, they are struck down.

  117. Donna July 7, 2015 at 8:02 am #

    “I’m sure many lawyers would love to take the registry to the Supreme Court. One issue is that many of the restrictions and policies involving the registry are so patently unconstitutional that they are thrown out long before they reach the Supreme Court. But, even getting that to happen means that you need a person to 1) not comply with the registry ”

    There are thousands of these case every year across the country. Back when I was a PD, I personally handled a 6-12 a year and I was just one of 5 attorneys in our office. This is one county in one state.

    “2) have enough resources to pursue appeals.”

    The bulk of cases the Supreme Court addresses each year are criminal matters and very few of them are brought by people with resources. They are brought by Innocence Projects, organizations like the Southern Center for Human Rights, pro bono attorneys and regular old public defenders. There are many organizations out there do this type of work for free.

    The fact is that there is just not a push to address the sex offender registry on a federal level by attorneys. I don’t do high level appellate work so I can’t say whether this is because the Supreme Court is denying cert, or because the timing is just not right or because there are simply no issues there. I do know that my state Supreme Court has consistently upheld the overall constitutionality of the sex registry laws. They have put certain limitations on various provisions, but have only knocked down one provision in its entirety (prohibition of living near bus stops). They’ve done things like say you need to find a way for homeless to register or you can’t find them in violation of the law and you can’t take away a financial interest in property when a school moves in next door, but you can prevent people from buying next to a school that already exists.

  118. Craig Bennett Hallenstein July 7, 2015 at 8:30 am #

    We read about stoning women to death for dishonoring their husbands, severing men’s hands for stealing, and setting people on fire in cages for refusing to fight for the “right side” in a war, and we’re appalled. How do you think others around the world view us for handing young people life sentences for enjoying a moment of consensual bliss?

  119. Dhewco July 7, 2015 at 8:45 am #

    Off-topic: Am I the only one who wonders if James and Warren have true brotherly love for each other and not-so-secretly love the back and forth?

  120. James Pollock July 7, 2015 at 9:13 am #

    “Off-topic: Am I the only one who wonders if James and Warren have true brotherly love for each other and not-so-secretly love the back and forth?”

    I offered a mutual non-aggression pact.
    http://www.freerangekids.com/is-it-rape-to-hold-someones-hand-without-explicit-consent/#comment-374481

    He couldn’t manage to go a day without insulting me.

    Life is what you make of it.

  121. martha July 7, 2015 at 9:14 am #

    In 1990, a 16 year old foreign exchange student we were hosting accused my 18 year old son of raping her 15 times in our house. It cost us $40,000 to get rid of that false accusation, but not before he was arrested, handcuffed, flunked out of his freshman year of college and put on the national register as a child abuser. We had to have the record expunged so he is no longer on there, BUT, they put him on there WITHOUT even talking to him. That seems unconstitutional to me.

  122. E July 7, 2015 at 9:16 am #

    @Donna — just wanted to mention that your post comparing/contrasting the 16 yo driver/murder suspect to a minor consenting to sex…very powerful and spells out the ridiculous nature of this issue in 1 paragraph.

    Thanks for your contributions.

  123. Jeff July 7, 2015 at 10:31 am #

    The Diane Rehm Show has a good discussion on this going on today. Anyone who wants to hear it can find it on the site or any podcast source either now or soon.

  124. Sadly July 7, 2015 at 3:05 pm #

    What most of the public doesn’t realize is that his life is now over. yes, Over. Why? Because the Department of Homeland Security is now sending notifications to foreign countries informing them that anytime someone on the registry travels, they are traveling to commit a sex crime. I kid you not. And then the traveler is being excluded from entering that country, sent back before stepping out of the airport. And guess what else? he will never be able to get a small business loan because he is on the registry. He will not be able to be on Facebook and communicate with his friends and family. He will be ostracized his entire life because as she points out, the registry was designed to SLAM people. Since its inception, thousands of regulations connected to the people on the registry have made it a lifetime sentence of punishment. He would have been better off killing her. Murderers don’t even face as much lifetime scrutiny.

  125. James Pollock July 7, 2015 at 3:14 pm #

    “What most of the public doesn’t realize is that his life is now over. yes, Over. Why? […] He will not be able to be on Facebook…”

  126. Puzzled July 7, 2015 at 3:25 pm #

    Hmm, seems to me some other things were mentioned, like not getting small-business loans and not being able to travel internationally, which forecloses a number of higher-paying jobs.

    By the way, while employers scan Facebook to find reasons not to hire people, they also are suspicious of people with no Facebook profiles. It’s absurd (and, I suspect, temporary, until everyone has embarrassing pictures on Facebook) but it is a problem.

  127. Vicky July 7, 2015 at 3:47 pm #

    Teenagers sexting naked pictures of themselves to each other, albeit morally wrong and well deserving of strict parental punishment, are now sex offenders for life. A grandmother was put on the registry for having an innocent photo of her freshly bathed grandbaby on her cell phone. There’s also been young men who were caught urinating behind a dumpster or other outside area who are now registered sex offenders for life. Ever gotten drunk in your youth, or just been traveling and relieved yourself outside, in the woods or behind a tree? Young men who become addicted to porn eventually end up on free porn sites that include child porn. If these young men view it, or download it onto their computer somewhere along with other porn, they are now considered a Sex Offender by the law. Studies find that children as young as ten years old are becoming internet porn addicts. None of these legal senerios include a ‘victim’ being victimized or funding of a victim being victimized by the person being charged with the crime. Imho the vast majority of the hundreds of thousands of sex offenders are non-violent offenders or have no victim at all. That is of course unless you are a college football player, an actor, a politician or any other of the rich or powerful. These people rape, molest and committ other crimes consistently with only a short stint on the Sex Offender list, or never get placed on it at all. The list is a scam with a small number of actually dangerous criminals on it. Use google and check the governments own statistics…it can be your friend.

  128. Anon July 7, 2015 at 4:15 pm #

    The lesson that I have learned is: if I find out that my son had sex with a girl under the age of 18, I have to kill her, her parents, any siblings she might have, and burn the bodies. I will actually get into less trouble wiping out an entire family than my son will for some teen age hanky-panky. It will also, probably, be easier to get away with too.

  129. E July 7, 2015 at 4:21 pm #

    @Puzzled, do you have any explanation or info about not having a FB profile being “suspicious”. What would be suspicious about it? I can’t imagine what not having a FB account would indicate about anyone.

    I’m 50, and I had a FB profile for a few years when my youngest wanted to join FB. Once he displayed common sense in its use and I realized that having a FB acct did not do a single thing for me, I deleted it. My husband has never had a FB account.

  130. Ron July 7, 2015 at 4:23 pm #

    “What would happen if he tried to emigrate to a sane country and study computer science there?”

    The U.S. has for more than a year now been notifying other countries when a sex offender is traveling to their country. The other country is not told the details of the conviction, just that a dangerous sex offender is arriving into their country. So when that person arrives in that country, often with family, they get sent home on the next plane. And loose their ticket money or more also. So now, almost all countries deny sex offenders from entering. But it’s NOT the U.S. that’s denying their travel, so it’s not considered unconstitutional.

  131. Papilio July 7, 2015 at 5:13 pm #

    All who answered my emigration question: thanks. And wow, that is so disheartening, that there is practically no hope for them to ever start over again and lead a normal life. How can a country do that to its young people and still claim to be a civilized nation?

    @Dhewco: Probably. But I confess I have amused myself in the past with the idea that Warren was actually Lenore on a bad day after way too much coffee…

  132. Papilio July 7, 2015 at 5:37 pm #

    “When you’ve listened to a handful of 15 year old girls comparing and contrasting their miscarriages… and those girls who had been pregnant at age 13 and 14”

    This I’ll never understand – this talking about pregnant teen girls as if pregnancy is the normal, expected result of having sex. As much as I liked the film Juno, this was the part that bugged me.
    We live in the 21st century. Between sex and pregnancy there’s condoms, birth control pills, IUDs, Nuvarings, those three-month shots, morning-after pills and/or, last resort, abortion in the way (and this is not a complete list), and I just read in another comment that girls at this age do have access to (at least some of) these means. What’s keeping them from using these? Why not do something about *that*, instead of pretending it’s still the 1950s (or not even that) and/or criminalizing perfectly normal teen sexual behavior.

  133. JKP July 7, 2015 at 6:21 pm #

    Papilio – “Between sex and pregnancy there’s condoms, birth control pills, IUDs, Nuvarings, those three-month shots, morning-after pills and/or, last resort, abortion in the way (and this is not a complete list). What’s keeping them from using these?”

    Abstinence only education.

    Too many parents in the US want to delude themselves into thinking their kids won’t have sex until they’re married and only need to be taught abstinence.

  134. BL July 7, 2015 at 6:25 pm #

    “What would be suspicious about it? I can’t imagine what not having a FB account would indicate about anyone. ”

    Supposedly it indicates technophobia?

    What’s funny is how many software professionals avoid it like the plague. They understand what a security risk it is, as well as being an unproductive time sink.

  135. James Pollock July 7, 2015 at 6:25 pm #

    You’re also both assuming that the girls didn’t want to become pregnant.

  136. BL July 7, 2015 at 6:26 pm #

    ” I just read in another comment that girls at this age do have access to (at least some of) these means. What’s keeping them from using these?”

    But baaa-byyyyys are sooo cuuuuute!!!!

  137. Donald July 7, 2015 at 6:59 pm #

    “What most of the public doesn’t realize is that his life is now over.”

    I disagree. I would agree if I thought that the law wouldn’t change. He would be shamed for life. Perhaps I’m a hopeless optimist. However I think things are changing. These changes affect more than the sex registry, they affect all children. (the next story on this blog) Overall this will save many thousands of lives.

    Please keep this in mind when the next catastrophe happens like a kidnapping. Many people will blame Lenore for this. Always remember that she’s helping to save thousands of lives.

  138. Sue Cook July 7, 2015 at 7:12 pm #

    These laws are completely unfair! 1 out of 4, teenagers labeled for life as a Sexual Predator. These are our children and we live in America, and we are Americans letting this happen? Statutory Sexual Assault is Consider a Felony if you are 4 years older or more, along with several other charges thrown in there! The court system is considering this a Sexual crime equal to rape,when there was no force. So these young people will never be able to enjoy their life! We just want to throw them away just like they were garbage! No wonder we have so many people in prison and living on the streets. They are innocent and we are the ones that are guilty for labeling them as such! Kids make mistakes all the time! Should they have to suffer the rest of their lives? Young people having sex has been going on forever. It is sad but true! Some young people start very early. It is a know fact that children are now developing at an earlier age as well. Girls as young as 7 developing breast this is becoming the new normal! So why does someone lie to get away with something or to make themselves look better! Everyone lies about something! It has also always been that girls like the boys older they are usually more mature, but not always!

  139. Donna July 7, 2015 at 8:13 pm #

    “Between sex and pregnancy there’s condoms, birth control pills, IUDs, Nuvarings, those three-month shots, morning-after pills and/or, last resort, abortion in the way (and this is not a complete list). What’s keeping them from using these?”

    Because they don’t care if they get pregnant.

  140. Barry Lederman July 7, 2015 at 8:21 pm #

    I think your photo caption “Zach Anderson, 19, cannot live near a school, park or day care center for the rest of his life, as he had sex, once, with another teen he thought was his age, and therefore he constitutes a threat to children,” sums it all up. Both the tragedy and absurdity of the situation!

  141. Notdedyet July 7, 2015 at 8:36 pm #

    Has anyone taken the time to consider the girl put herself out there …she was using that app. It implies consent she knew what she was doing.
    Why the judge had to be on his moral high horse about Zach is unprofessional and ridiculous. He should be impeached or whatever it’s called when you’re fired by the public

  142. James Pollock July 7, 2015 at 8:47 pm #

    Well, whatever you do, don’t suggest impeachment by woodchipper.

  143. Donald July 7, 2015 at 10:48 pm #

    “Because they don’t care if they get pregnant.”

    You’re right there. Some don’t care if they get pregnant. Some actually want to but not because they want to be a parent. Some are the reasons like, punishing mom and dad, or enjoying the short term celebrity status at school.

    As a phone councilor I have talked to a few that were shell shocked because their plan to punish mom and dad backfired. They knew that raising a child is a lifelong commitment. However they had a better understanding of it when the baby was 6 months old.

    When my kid was 19, I made him a bet. “I want to bet you who becomes the better father. This is a bet that I hope that I lose. You can beat me as I have made many mistakes. However if resort to family planning in the back seat of a car and have a child that you don’t want, you’ll have your work cut out for you to win this bet.”

  144. Hannah Grace July 8, 2015 at 12:45 am #

    In response to all those who think international travel is allowed for sex offenders, I am telling you it is not. The airlines turn their manifests for each flight over to a government agency (not sure exactly which one) and that agency then notifies customs of the country to which the registered citizen is travelling to. Upon arriving in that country, it is more than likely that the registered citizen will not be allowed entrance into the foreign country. The federal agency usually sends a letter stating “Citizen X” is a registered sex offender and is trying to enter the country to commit another sex crime. That country then demands that the registered citizen “buy a ticket” on the first flight back to the United States and immediately deports them. Unless Citizen X is aware of the issues regarding international travel and a registered citizen, this situation can result in a loss of money, time and worst of all human dignity. This young man caught in this situation is just another pawn in the game. There are very few who concern themselves with the true ramifications of being a registered citizen. As far as I’m concerned, the registry should be abolished nationwide. No one can predict the future actions of an individual. The powers that be who control the registry are more concerned about the financial gains resulting from an individual who is convicted of a sex crime. Think about it. Very seldom does the prison industry and associates lose in this type of game. No politician wants to commit political suicide by supporting the abolishment of the national sex offender registry. I believe it should be a case-by-case decision and that if registration is ordered should be for law enforcement eyes only.

  145. Warren July 8, 2015 at 1:57 am #

    Hannah,

    Please find the agency you are talking about, and why is it only sex offenders, why are they not informing other countries of criminal records period?
    And why only airlines, and not the bus lines and railways?

  146. James Pollock July 8, 2015 at 2:25 am #

    It sounds like a treaty requirement.

  147. Puzzled July 8, 2015 at 7:28 am #

    I am not an employer, and during the short time that I was, I didn’t care about Facebook pages. So I can only speculate. My speculation is that some think it displays an anti-social, or asocial, attitude, and they want to promote a “fun, friendly! hug!” workplace – through their hiring practices, of course, not through anything substantive. Others probably assume if you don’t have one that, actually, you do, and they can’t find it – and assume you have such a high privacy setting because you have things on there you don’t want them to see (kind of like making all transactions over 10k reportable, then making it a crime to withdraw 8k twice because you’re avoiding the 10k transaction.)

  148. E July 8, 2015 at 8:01 am #

    @BL I’ve been an IT professional for almost 30 years, so I guess my lack of a FB acct isn’t hurting.

    @puzzled, I’ve never worked for a place that presented itself with a culture like that. Perhaps my experience in fortune 500s and tech startups are not the environments that worry about what having/not having a FB account.

  149. Puzzled July 8, 2015 at 9:13 am #

    E – I guess not. I’ve never worked in a tech startup or a Fortune 500.

  150. E July 8, 2015 at 2:18 pm #

    @Puzzled — I hope I didn’t sound harsh. I just found the idea that having or not having a FB acct so random. It would be like asking people if they liked Margaritas or friday happy hours or something and then drawing some sort of hiring conclusion.

  151. Puzzled July 8, 2015 at 9:28 pm #

    Not at all, I just agree that different workplaces differ. Academic workplaces in particular value the hug thing. Now that you mention it, I’ve been asked at interviews what my favorite drink was, what my favorite beer was, and whether or not I play fantasy football.

    In some places, this is called the “lunch tax.” A person will not be hired if their department doesn’t want to eat lunch with them.

    You are probably right that this kind of behavior doesn’t appear in tech startups or Fortune 500 companies. It happens in academic circles a lot, though. I had a friend who was let go from a job as business manager of a theater at a major university because he “acted too much like a business man, we’re an artistic workplace.” He was the business manager!

  152. James Pollock July 8, 2015 at 10:26 pm #

    “You are probably right that this kind of behavior doesn’t appear in tech startups or Fortune 500 companies. It happens in academic circles a lot, though.”

    News to me, and I’ve been in academia for half my adult life.

  153. Elysia Schubert July 9, 2015 at 12:56 am #

    I am Zach’s soon-to-be sister-in-law, engaged to his older brother. I have to say that all possible support is needed right now. The Anderson family has been through so much and it is very sad that Zach can’t go home once he is released. More details and ways to help can be found on the Facebook support page along with a way to donate and a petition to sign for justice. If you haven’t already please go like and share the page as well as the petition. Thanks everyone.

    Page: https://www.facebook.com/zig19

    Petition: https://www.change.org/p/judge-dennis-wiley-michael-sepic-jerry-vigansky-amp-mdoc-drop-all-charges-against-zachery-anderson-or-grant-him-hyta?recruiter=329453112&utm_campaign=petition_creator_email&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition

  154. Donna July 9, 2015 at 7:20 am #

    That kind of stuff happens all the time, even at Fortune 500 companies and start ups. People who are denying it are clearly not part of the interview process.

    I’ve interviewed many times in my life, including at some of the most prestigious law firms in the country. I’ve also been involved in the interview process as employer at different levels of business. Interviews are never predominately about work ability. Interviews are largely about gauging fit within the office culture.

    The fact is that people want to work with people they like not insufferable bores that everybody tries to avoid at the Christmas party. Facebook is as reasonable of a place to look for fit as anything else. If everyone there has a Facebook page and you come off as thinking you are too good for Facebook, you aren’t going to get the job. Not saying everyone cares about Facebook, or even many places, but I can see where it could come into play.

  155. Papilio July 9, 2015 at 11:57 am #

    “Because they don’t care if they get pregnant.”

    What – none of them? We’re talking huge numbers here?!

  156. Aliza Burton July 9, 2015 at 9:14 pm #

    Let me just understand something (and, yes, I am being flippant here) – he has sex with her and he’s branded for life, but if he’d killed her, he’d do his time and that would be that?