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July 12, 2008

The broad reach of sex offender residency restrictions

This article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, headlined "Law would evict female 'offender' for teen sex," spotlights the broad reach of sex offender residency restrictions:

Wendy Whitaker's name may be on Georgia's sex offender registry, but her offense suggests she is no predator.  At age 17, while a high school sophomore, Whitaker had oral sex with a 15-year-old male classmate. In 1997, she pleaded guilty to sodomy and got five years' probation.

Whitaker, 28, has already moved twice because of the sex offender law's strict residency restrictions that say an offender cannot live within 1,000 feet of places where children congregate.  But Whitaker was recently told by her sheriff she has to move again because her home is within 1,000 feet of a church....

Whitaker and her husband, Michael, purchased their home in Harlem in January 2006, but her name was not put on the deed until 2007.... This week, Columbia County Sheriff Clay Whittle, after finding Whitaker's name was placed on the deed in 2007, ordered her to move within 48 hours. Whitaker said Friday she has had ownership rights to the home, even if her name was not on the deed. "We've been married eight years, and everything we have we have together," she said....

Whitaker's lawyer, Sarah Geraghty, said the state should let the matter rest until the federal suit is over. "Wendy Whitaker is not now and has never been a threat to anyone," she said. "The state of Georgia has better things to do than to evict a woman from her lawfully purchased home because she had sex as a teenager."

Augusta lawyer David Hudson, who represents Whittle, said the sheriff wants direction from the courts. If Cooper denies Whitaker's request, the sheriff "will enforce the law." As for Whitaker's case, Hudson added, "My personal opinion is it seems to be costing the state of Georgia a lot of time and effort because of a law that reaches out to place these onerous burdens on offenders who are not predators."

July 12, 2008 at 09:44 AM | Permalink


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What a waste of resources. Apart from the embarassment this poor woman (and her family) must suffer, it seems abjectly cruel to allow this 11 year old crime to follow her around like this. Perhaps, a sympathetic prosecutor could simply accept a vacation of her plea and let the juvenile conviction go away. I am staunchly in favor of sex offender residency laws, but for a defined subset of people, namely predators--and I admit a good bit of unease about the post hoc nature of them, and I certainly don't think that a lifetime of this registry is appropriate for the crime committed here. The more resources wasted on silliness like the present case, the less we have to deal with sick twisted and evil predators. To be honest, I would rather see Georgia have no restrictions, than silly restrictions like this one.

I also might mention, by the by, that what this woman is going through is by far a greater injustice than executing a murderer. Somehow, though, I doubt that there will be as much outrage there seems to be from abolitionists every time some murderer is executed.

Posted by: federalist | Jul 12, 2008 12:33:36 PM

I agree federalist it seems that the state would have more important issues than this to be worried about. Would a pardon take her off the sex registry list?

Posted by: Gary H | Jul 12, 2008 2:03:55 PM

I don't think the gov can do pardons in Ga.

Posted by: federalist | Jul 12, 2008 2:11:36 PM

As often happens, I agree with federalist.

Just leave her be. Consensual sex between a 17 year-old girl and a 15 year-old boy does not constitute a danger in any normal sense of that word, and even if it did, it all happened more than ten years ago.

If she came to me as a prosecutor, I would join her motion for expungement and move on.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 12, 2008 2:23:16 PM

I disagree. I dont think these people can be rehabilitated. Once a predator, always a predator. She better not turn up in my neighborhood!

Posted by: DAG | Jul 12, 2008 5:58:14 PM

"Would a pardon take her off the sex registry list?"

Pardons affect criminal sanctions. Registration is still deemed merely civil regulation. Usually, a pardon removes the responsibility to register, but does not remove the person's name and information from the registry itself. In other states, restrictions are written as "a person convicted of..." rather than "a person required to register." Thus folks no longer required to register are still subject to ancillary restrictions.

Posted by: Ilah | Jul 12, 2008 6:00:08 PM

DAG, get off you BMW high horse. Fact is, the rest of the world should build a fence around the U.S. of A. or nuke us predators.

Study: Half of All Teens Have Had Oral Sex

Slightly more than half of American teenagers ages 15 to 19 have engaged in oral sex, with females and males reporting similar levels of experience, according to the most comprehensive national survey of sexual behaviors ever released by the federal government.

The report released yesterday by the National Center for Health Statistics shows that the proportion increases with age to about 70 percent of all 18- and 19-year-olds. That figure is considerably higher for those who also have engaged in intercourse.

And we predators claim to be the world's moral authority.

Anti-Gay Alabama Attorney General Caught Being Gay

Anything in common?

Posted by: | Jul 12, 2008 6:41:12 PM

"I disagree. I dont think these people can be rehabilitated. Once a predator, always a predator. She better not turn up in my neighborhood!"

Why? You just might...wink wink - nudge nudge.

I thought a two age difference was OK in Ga.

Posted by: incredible | Jul 16, 2008 12:22:00 PM

if you look at what you are typeing before you open your mouth, the word predator means one that preys, destroys, or devours, i dont see this girl, married, going after a 15yr old, lot of people that are so call sex offender, isnt, and have been missed justice, so people can make a name for them self, before you start calling a predator, look up the meaning. the law is not to helping the kids, if you like to read a good missed justiced, read all of www.delawaremissedjustice.com, and the once that says, they are not a sex offender, you can very ease be, dont let the state gov. take away your rights. which they are doing now, and because you say it cant happen to you. it can and it may will happen.

Posted by: trucken | Jul 21, 2008 9:59:18 PM

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