Saturday, May 9, 2009

VT Sex Offender Sues City over Residency Ban (Vermont) : ACLU-Vermont challenges Barre sex offender residency restrictions.

The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Vermont has filed a lawsuit against the city of Barre on behalf of a man who has been told that he cannot live with his wife and children in the city solely because of his criminal record.

The suit was filed in Washington Superior Court on behalf of Chris Hagan, a Vermonter who moved to Barre with his family this spring. The lawsuit challenges the legality of a city ordinance passed last summer that bars individuals convicted of certain sex offenses from living in exclusion zones that encompass much of the city.
The ordinance does not distinguish between individuals who re-offend or bother their neighbors, and those who do not, the ACLU said in a news release issued this afternoon.

In 2001, Hagan was accused of sexual assault as a result of sexual contact with a 15-year-old. Hagan, 18 at the time of the alleged offense, pled guilty to a lesser crime in exchange for a reduced sentence. He served time in prison, during which he completed sex offender treatment. Hagan is not on parole or probation, and is classified “low risk” to re-offend.

After his release, Hagan attended community college, started a contracting business, and met and married his wife, Amy. He, his wife, and their two children moved to Barre this spring, not knowing of the residency restrictions. The family does not live in public housing, but in a privately owned apartment that they rent.

Even though Hagan has been a law-abiding citizen in Barre, the city notified him on April 23 that he had to move out of the apartment or face daily fines beginning next week. The ACLU’s lawsuit against the city includes a request for a preliminary injunction to prevent the city from fining Hagan. (which has now been granted for 60 days)