Top court passes; teen sex offender must notify dates' parents

Top court passes; teen sex offender must notify dates' parents
9/18/2006  (AP)   

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A convicted teen sex offender must warn the parents of anyone he dates about his crime until he is 18 after the New Jersey Supreme Court declined to hear arguments in the case.

The New Jersey Office of the Public Defender had asked the high court to overturn a May appellate court ruling upholding the notification, but it declined to consider the case stemming from Sussex County.

It's unclear whether similar court orders have stood in other states, but constitutional and youth law experts have said they couldn't recall a similar case.

"We're disappointed," said Tom Rosenthal, spokesman for the state public defender.

Rosenthal said the office fears the decision could allow other courts to impose the notification requirement on other juvenile sex offenders and argued it dodges Megan's Law rules that base sex offender notifications on a convict's risk of re-offending and where they live.

"This completely throws out and circumvents the very deliberative and well-oiled process of Megan's Law notification," he said.

Sussex County Assistant Prosecutor Jerome Neidhardt said he was set to argue in favor of the notification requirement imposed on the teenager, who pleaded guilty in 2004 to committing a sex act against his 6-year-old half-sister when he was 14.

"I think it was an appropriate decision," Neidhardt said. "I understand the reasons why the family court judge imposed the conditions."

The youth was sentenced to three years of probation, required to register as a sex offender and ordered to have no contact with his half-sister or any unsupervised contact with children 10 years or younger. The judge also ordered the boy to notify the parents of anyone he dates about his conviction until he turns 18.

He is 17 and will turn 18 toward the end of the year, Rosenthal said. His name, birth date and hometown have not been made public.

Rosenthal said the decision could also interfere with the teen's rehabilitation since the parents of anyone he dates won't be restricted from discussing his case.

In its ruling, the appellate court acknowledged the requirement to notify parents of anyone the defendant dated exceeded Megan's Law requirements, but said the special condition was "consistent with the public safety, accountability, rehabilitative and limited disclosure provisions of the Juvenile Code and does not circumvent Megan's Law."

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