Just after he turned 17, LaShun G. was charged with second-degree sexual assault having sex with another teenager. He was tried and convicted as an adult, which means he was added to the sex offender registry in the state where he lives. He never committed another offense. He is now married and has three children.
He and his wife own and operate a small moving company. His wife is a nurse. Their 5-year-old son has medical issues that require constant monitoring and medical care, including breathing machines. He has limited mobility and is wheelchair-bound.
In June he moved to Franklin, a wealthy suburb of Milwaukee. Part of the reason they moved to the area was to buy a wheelchair-accessible house. They were also looking for more space and better schools.
They sound like a typical American family. They aren’t being treated like one.
In July, the local police told him he was violating the city’s sex offender ordinance by living in the home they bought. They ordered him to move out.
The ordinance prohibits sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools, daycare centers, parks, parkways, group homes, movie theaters, libraries and golf courses, among a variety of public and private facilities. This restriction effectively excludes sex offenders from over 95 percent of the residential areas in the city, including the home they own.
A second provision prohibits any sex offender from living in Franklin unless that person lived in Franklin at the time of their most recent offense. Since LaShun did not, this so-called “original domicile” restriction effectively bans him from living in Franklin at all.
When the police notified him of the ordinances, he immediately complied and moved into a hotel. Unable to bear that expense for long, he later moved into his truck, which he has parked outside city limits.
LaShun and his wife are terrified that their young son will become ill when he is out at night. The couple has always shared care-giving duties because it is simply impossible for one person to carry out all of the required daily tasks, much less to respond to a life-threatening emergency.
He has filed suit against Franklin, claiming that its sex offender ordinance represents an illegal ex post facto punishment put into place long after the original conviction. Furthermore, he claims that the original domicile restriction violates his right to equal protection under the law, as it pointlessly discriminates between sex offenders who lived in the city at one time and those who did not.
He is seeking a declaratory judgment that the ordinance is unconstitutional, along with compensatory damages and an injunction against the ordinance’s operation.