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Missouri's sex-offender registry and teenage offenses, part 1

People convicted of sex offenses in Missouri have long struggled with sex-offender registration requirements that many people believe are too broadly drawn.

As we discussed in our August 26 post last year, Missouri has had a back-and-forth debate about loosening those requirements and being more selective about the names placed on the state's sex-offender registry.

In this two-part post, we will discuss a specific case that is a reminder of why so many people believe Missouri's sex-offender registration requirements should be streamlined.

The case concerns a boy who, as a 14-year-old-adolescent, downloaded sexually-candid pictures of girls his own age. At the time he did this, the boy did not know that such images are considered to be child pornography.

A few months after the boy turned 18, authorities arrived at the door of the house the boy shared with his parents. They confiscated his computer and called him in for interrogation without a lawyer present.

His mother wrote in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that her son went without a lawyer because he believed he had not committed any crime.

But two years later, authorities were back with an arrest warrant. By the time the criminal justice process had run its course, a young man found himself sentenced to a 40-year term on community supervision. He was also required to register for life as a sex offender.

The sentence also included mandatory sex therapy courses that, according to his mother's account, tried to force him to admit to sexual stimulation from watching child pornography. He was pressured to make such admissions because taking the class was a condition of not having to go to prison.

In part two of this post, we will discuss how lifetime placement on the sex-offender registry added to the young man's heavy burden.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Mom tells of teen's life on the MO. sex-offender registry," Pamela Dorsey, Jan. 29, 2014

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