1989 case shaped the landscape of sex offender laws

On Behalf of | Nov 19, 2014 | Sex Crimes

Last week, we took a look at a complicated sex crime that involved a teacher who was once sexually abused by a teacher when he was a student. He then repeated his teacher’s mistake entering a sexual relationship with one of his students. Obviously, it’s a more complex sex crime than what you would think.

This is the reality of sexually-based crimes. Often, the case is much more complicated than it may seem on the surface. There are certainly brutal and horrifying sex crimes that break your heart and make you wonder “why?” But far more cases are not as clear cut as this. This is important for a number of reasons, not least of which is that many of our current sex offender registry laws were constructed at least in part because of a truly terrible sex crime from 1989.


An 11-year-old boy was riding his bike with his brother and a friend during that year. A masked gunman approached them and asked the boys how old they were. Once he knew their ages, the gunman told the boy’s brother and his friend to flee and to not look back. As the boys fled, the 11-year-old was abducted by this gunman and by the time the boys did look back, the gunman and the 11-year-old were gone.

The gunman was never caught, and the 11-year-old hasn’t been heard from since.

There’s no doubt this is a tragic and terrible crime — but all sex offenders are punished based on the laws that were written in response to this crime. That’s the problem here. Sex offender laws exist for a reason: but if they punish based on an extreme case that is often not repeated, then it could be argued that we’re excessively punishing many people whose case falls into a more complicated context.

Source: Slate, “Sex Offender Laws Have Gone Too Far,” Matt Mellema, Chanakya Sethi and Jane Shim, Aug. 11, 2014

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Charles Waechter | Lawyer.com Premium
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