Sex Offenders Registration Act Litigation

Media Announcement

Statewide Class Action Challenging Missouri's Sex Offender Registration Act (Missouri's Megan's Law).

A class of persons whom Missouri considers to be "sex offenders" today filed a class action in the Missouri state courts in Jackson County, Missouri, challenging the lawfulness of Missouri's Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) under provisions of the Missouri State Constitution. There are no challenges in this lawsuit raising questions of federal law and, thus, the constitutionality of Missouri's SORA will be decided under Missouri law by the Missouri Supreme Court, not by a federal court.

Who should have to register in Missouri and have his or her name publicly listed for the knowledge of neighbors, employers and others: a) an armed robber who pistol-whipped a store clerk into partial blindness and then served twelve years in prison for three felonies: robbery, armed criminal action, and battery or b) a thirty-five year old woman, mother of five children who, at age twenty had sex with a fifteen-year old boy believing he was eighteen and did not receive a criminal conviction of any kind for her mistake? Under Missouri's SORA, the vicious armed robber does not have to register. The woman with five children must appear at her county sheriff's office every four months for the rest of her life to register as a sex offender. Her neighbors, her potential employers, and any member of the public know only that she is a registered sex offender but the vicious armed robber is not on the list.

Missouri's SORA was enacted long after most of the acts that now require registration. The woman in the example, Jane Doe I in the lawsuit, is required now to register under a recent version of SORA for something that happened nearly twenty years earlier. That violates the prohibition in Missouri's constitution on the retrospective application of Missouri statutes. SORA also fails to serve a compelling state interest in its differentiation between violent offenders (most not required to register) and non-violent, non-dangerous sex offenders (who are required to register), thus violating Missouri's equal protection clause. SORA assumes that all the persons it requires to register are in some way dangerous but does not allow persons an opportunity to prove that they are not dangerous, thus violating Missouri's due process clause.

The Jane Doe and John Doe plaintiffs in this new litigation have filed suit to have Missouri's SORA declared unconstitutional under Missouri's state constitution. They ask other Missourians interested in assisting in the lawsuit - or even joining it - to contact FIGHT SORA FUND, P. O. Box 119007, Kansas City, MO 64171.

For additional information:

Arthur Benson, counsel for plaintiffs, 816-531-6565 ext 100 or abenson@bensonlaw.com