Victim leads protest for lifetime sex offender registry
OKLAHOMA CITY – An Oklahoma woman who was molested as a child by her own father led a protest to keep sex offenders like him on the sex offender registry Tuesday.
Our state supreme court is considering the case of her father and hundreds of others who were convicted before the state’s lifetime registry was enacted.
The question the court is set to answer is whether the state can require these offenders to remain on the registry even if their sentencing came before the lifetime registry law was created.
There was a small crowd hoping to send a powerful message to the court.
Liz Reece led the protest.
“It’s really a great sadness,” she said. “Kids get their innocence stripped away and we need to do what we can to protect them.”
Reece is a victim of sexual assault.She was molested by her own father when she was 8 years old.
Part of his conviction required him to be on the sex offender list for 10 years; however, since then our state legislature has passed a law requiring some offenders to remain on the registry for life.
Attorney David Slane defends Liz’s father and a few hundred other offenders.
Slane said, “They believe they are unfairly being singled out.”
Reece said, “This is not a revenge. I want to protect kids. I went through that. It damages your life. I don’t want to see another kid go through that.”
These first cases will set a precedent for hundreds of others involving sex offenders who don’t want to register for life.
Reece and others are hoping the court will rule in their favor, keeping the sex offenders on a lifetime registry.
However, the Oklahoma ACLU said the lifetime registry could actually put more kids at risk.
Okla. ACLU legal director Brady Henderson said, “Many of the registry requirements we rely on don’t make people safer. If anything, they replace children and families in harm’s way.”
Slane said, “It’s become so restrictive many sex offenders have been driven underground. They’re living in cars, in parks.”
Reece said, “The law is a protection, not a punishment. We think it is unsafe to allow thousands of sex offenders to get off the list.”
The Oklahoma Supreme Court is expected to make a ruling on this case in the next 30 days.
The court’s decision in this case will set the precedent for hundreds of other similar cases that have already been filed with the court.