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Predatory registration expansion proffered for certain crimes

Tammy Barnes and Joan Burns shared stories Tuesday with the House Public Safety and Security Policy and Finance Committee they wish no one would have to live through.

Each of their sons was among four boys secretly videotaped by a teacher/basketball coach as they left a locker room showering area.

“We feel that part of our son’s childhood and innocence were taken,” Burns said.

The perpetrator, who estimated he’d performed similar acts 40-50 times and used the videos to gratify himself, was charged with eight felony counts of stalking or interference of privacy. A plea bargain resulted in him pleading guilty to four counts. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail — served just 60 — and 10 years on probation.

He does not have to register as a predatory offender.

Sponsored by Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Vernon Center), HF184 would require such registration for someone convicted of “stalking a minor with sexual or aggressive intent” and for certain felonies under the interference with privacy statute that involves minor victims.

It would also increase the maximum sentence from 10 to 15 years for aggravated stalking offenses when a victim is under age 18 and the perpetrator is more than 36 months older, and increase from two to five years the maximum sentence for repeat violations of the interference with privacy statute when a first-time violation involves a person under age 18.

The bill was held over to fine-tune language before possible omnibus bill inclusion. A companion, SF636, sponsored by Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Vernon Center), awaits action by the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee.

Faribault County Attorney Troy Timmerman said there aren’t any “ideal statutes” for the offense that is the bill’s impetus. … “It’s not child pornography.”

Timmerman said the case looks like “a gateway sex offense” that might ultimately lead someone to commit more serious crimes. “Those are the sort of individuals, I think, that we might want to have register as predatory offenders. … What we have here is a crime whose repercussions are far more serious than penalties provided for in statute.”

Although the perpetrator had his teaching license revoked, Barnes said it’s “reasonable to believe” he could easily gain access to victims in other ways because he doesn’t have to register as a predatory offender.

Sarah Davis, associate director at the Legal Rights Center in Minneapolis, spoke against the bill.

Among her arguments are the change could create statutory challenges along with increased law enforcement costs for tracking and compliance. She also said it would “significantly expand” the number of people who would need to register as a predatory offender, such as teenagers who playfully look into a classmate’s bedroom window without any intent of sexual gratification.

“Once registration is attached to statute there is no discretion in our law that would allow a judge to say, ‘Well, in this case it was sexualized intent for that interference of privacy so we’re going to require registration, but in this case there was no sexualized intent so we won’t,’” she said.

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