Appeals court upholds sex offender ban

Plainfield has won the latest round in the long-running lawsuit filed by a convicted sex offender who was banned from the town’s parks.

The Indiana Court of Appeals today released a 20-page ruling that upholds the town’s 2002 ordinance prohibiting persons on the state registry of sex offenders from going into Plainfield parks and recreation facilities.

While the ban on sex offenders in the parks does have a punitive aspect, the court said it is not unconstitutional, as the plaintiff, identified only as John Doe, tried to claim in his suit.

The appeals court said Plainfield did not violate the portion of the Indiana Constitution that guarantees rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to everyone.

Plainfield Town Manager Rich Carlucci said today that the purpose of the ban on registered sex offenders in the parks is to keep them away from children playing in the park.

The appeals court decision upholds a ruling in March this year by Hendricks Superior Court Judge Robert W. Freese, who had granted summary judgment for Plainfield and upheld the town’s ordinance.

Doe, a Marion County resident, was represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana in filing the suit challenging Plainfield’s ban on sex offenders in the parks.

According to the Court of Appeals, Doe was a convicted sex offender. He also has acquired joint legal custody of his minor son, according to the court.

Doe and his son visited Plainfield parks and recreation areas in 2004 and 2005, according to the court.

In June 2005, a Plainfield policeman recognized Doe in the Recreation Center and Splash Island. He told Doe of the town ordinance banning anyone on the state’s online registry of convicted sex offenders from being in the parks.

Doe sued Plainfield in November 2005, which began nearly three years of twists and turns in the legal case.

In one key step, Doe won a controversial court ruling to keep his identity secret in the legal proceeding even though he is listed publicly on the state registry of sex offenders.

“25% of all sex offenders re-offend within 15 years”
………Sarah Tofte

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