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Supreme Court Decides Sex Offender Status Level Should be Reduced


On May 2, 1975, at around 4 am, a 21-year-old man along with three other men burglarized a New Rochelle home. The home was that of a man who was said to be a drug dealer. The dealer lived in the home with his wife and three daughters who were ages two, five, and seven at the time. The children were sleeping when the men broke into the home. The two younger girls were sleeping with their mother. The armed intruders wore masks and demanded money.

When the purported drug dealer said that he had no money, the intruders said that they were going to kill the children. When the purported drug dealer stated that he had no money, the intruders said that they were going to kill the children if he didn’t tell them where the money was. He still contended that he had no money. The men decided at that point that they would kidnap the two-year-old girl and hold her for ransom. The men took the mother into the bathroom and held a gun to her head and threatened to kill her if she did not tell them where the money was. She stated that she did not have any money and the men bound and gagged her. They locked her into a closet and kidnapped the two-year-old. The woman managed to get free and discovered that her baby had been taken.

She located a telephone that the intruders had not disabled and called the police. As the police were responding to the scene, they noticed a blue Datsun that was being driven by the 21-year-old man that had as passengers, another man, and a small child looking out the rear window. When they tried to stop the car, it attempted to elude the officers. The chase ended when the Datsun had a car accident. The men then jumped out of the car and a foot chase ensued. The 21-year-old man was captured and the infant was returned unharmed to her mother.

The 21-year-old man was tried in a non-jury bench trial and convicted on December 9, 1975, of kidnapping, robbery, criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, and burglary in the first degree. He was sentenced to prison for not less than 20 years to life imprisonment on January 15, 1976.

The subject was released from prison on November 27, 1995, and was classified as a level three sex offender under the Sex Offender Registration Act. The defendant requested that a reevaluation be done because his crimes were not sexually motivated. On February 26, 2009, a hearing was held to review the defendant’s request to be removed from the Sex Offender Registry. It was denied and he was classified as a Level Three sex offender. He objected stating that he did not commit a sexual offense. The Court of Appeals had recently determined that compelling a defendant to register as a sex offender even though the crime that he committed was not a sexual act or done with a sexual motive does not violate his constitutional rights.

The Supreme Court in reviewing the case determined that the facts and circumstances warranted a decrease in the subject’s status to a Level One offender. The court recognized the irony in assessing him as a sex offender when no sexual act was committed during the crime. They also recognized that he has lived without committing any crimes for over 15 years since his release. The Court views that under this information they must grant his request to downgrade his status to a Level One sex offender.

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