Sex offenders have sued a Georgia sheriff's office for placing 'no trick-or-treat' signs in their yards

A group of registered sex offenders has sued a Georgia sheriff over signs planted in their yards to warn trick-or-treaters not to visit their doorsteps on Halloween.

Posted: Oct 24, 2019 2:18 PM

(CNN) -- A group of registered sex offenders has sued a Georgia sheriff over signs planted in their yards to warn trick-or-treaters not to visit their doorsteps on Halloween.

The federal suit claims Butts County Sheriff's Office employees trespassed onto the registered offenders' private property and "had no legal authority" to place the signs last October, causing them anxiety and humiliation.

Georgia displays all registered sex offenders' names, photos and addresses in a public online directory. But, the suit argues, the offenders had "no legal obligation" to display the warning signs without compensation.

Georgia is not among states that have instituted "no-candy laws" that prohibit sex offenders on parole and probation from handing out candy on the holiday and require them to display signs revealing their status in their yards. In Missouri, registered sex offenders must remain inside their home between 5 and 10:30 p.m., unless they have to be somewhere, like their jobs, or for medical emergencies.

With Halloween coming around again next week, the Butts County Sheriff's office plans to continue placing "no trick-or-treat" signs in sex offenders' yards unless a judge rules it can't, Sheriff's Assistant Amanda Bone told CNN on Thursday.

Sheriff Gary Long was in court in Macon on Thursday morning for a hearing in the case, CNN affiliate WGXA reported.

"Regardless of the Judge's ruling on Thursday, I WILL do everything within the letter of the Law to protect the children of this Community," Long wrote Monday on Facebook.

His post includes a photo of a warning sign that states, "No trick-or-treat at this address!!" It does not make a reference to a sex offender, as the suit argues last year's signs did.

Trick-or-treating event's cancellation prompted signs
Registered sex offenders Christopher Reed, Reginald Holden and Corey McClendon sued last month on behalf of all registered sex offenders in Butts County. Defendants include Long, a deputy and three unnamed sheriff's office employees who helped stake the signs, the complaint states.

Sheriff's employees placed the signs in the yards of the named plaintiffs, including two who live at homes owned by at least one of their parents, court documents show. The workers told them the signs had to stay in place until after October 31.

Holden, a plaintiff, said the deputy told him he'd be arrested if he moved the sign, according to the suit.

"While there is not a single party to this suit who is not extremely concerned about the safety of the children in this and every other community," sheriff's employees violated their authority to place the signs on private property, plaintiff's attorney Mark Yurachek told CNN in a statement.

"The Registry Statute affords the Sheriff many legal avenues by which he may publicize the name, address and even photograph of every registered sex offender in Butts County, but unless and until the Legislature authorizes it, coming onto their property to force them to display signs is simply not one of them," he said.

The sheriff's office planted the signs in 2018 after the county's chamber of commerce canceled an annual trick-or-treating event, Long said in his social media post. Deputies suspected the cancellation would spur more children to go door-to-door for candy.

Georgia authorities round up sex offenders on Halloween
Some states, including New York and California, stop short of "no-candy laws" but require sex offenders to remain in their homes without interaction on Halloween and leave monitoring up to state departments of corrections.

Georgia doesn't have a law that specifically forbids registered sex offenders from participating in trick-or-treating. Instead, offenders are subject to the general Georgia Department of Community Supervision's conditions.

The department forbids registered sex offenders from having contact with children under 18 years old. If incidental contact occurs, offenders may be courteous but must immediately remove themselves from the situation.

The conditions also require sex offenders to follow any curfew community supervision officers impose.

The Newton County, Georgia, Sheriff's Office this year plans to corral sex offenders for its 13th annual Halloween shut-in in Covington. Offenders will hear from speakers from the sheriff's office, courts and Department of Community Supervision.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Terre Haute
Clear
48° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 48°
Robinson
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 46°
Indianapolis
Few Clouds
49° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 45°
Rockville
Clear
44° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 44°
Casey
Clear
51° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 51°
Brazil
Clear
48° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 48°
Marshall
Clear
48° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 48°
Showers Today!
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 290373

Reported Deaths: 8845
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook1436345210
DuPage17471561
Lake16892487
Will13984378
Kane13092326
St. Clair6607190
Winnebago5959149
Madison5698136
Champaign470320
McHenry4581118
Peoria349450
McLean327923
Rock Island299576
Kankakee274177
Unassigned2537244
Sangamon241145
Kendall200925
Tazewell177425
LaSalle171257
DeKalb157938
Macon154444
Coles146430
Williamson140145
Jackson126124
Clinton116920
Boone112523
Adams112310
Randolph93911
Effingham8702
Vermilion7704
Whiteside74320
Ogle7106
Monroe67416
Knox6703
Grundy6695
Henry6665
Morgan66123
Bureau64111
Jefferson61138
Marion5540
Macoupin5447
Christian53911
Franklin5393
Stephenson5236
Union51524
McDonough48015
Logan4641
Crawford4503
Woodford4246
Fayette4183
Cass39811
Livingston3956
Jersey39215
Shelby3904
Montgomery37213
Lee3711
Iroquois36519
Perry35015
Saline3404
Warren3322
Bond3285
Douglas3127
Wayne2805
Jo Daviess2632
Lawrence2562
Carroll2305
Greene22711
Cumberland2175
Hancock2173
Moultrie2143
Jasper2119
Washington2111
Richland2095
Pulaski1801
Fulton1760
Clark1732
White1680
Johnson1560
Clay1540
Wabash1543
Mason1471
Piatt1400
Mercer1395
Pike1281
Menard1251
De Witt1221
Edgar1138
Massac1122
Ford1065
Marshall1040
Alexander811
Scott780
Gallatin732
Hamilton682
Henderson660
Edwards630
Brown610
Calhoun600
Putnam570
Stark552
Schuyler500
Hardin400
Pope291
Out of IL20

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 117450

Reported Deaths: 3580
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion21403766
Lake10618323
Elkhart6667111
St. Joseph6576110
Allen6292203
Hamilton4909109
Vanderburgh371931
Hendricks2747123
Monroe262736
Tippecanoe252313
Johnson2338124
Clark223657
Porter217647
Delaware198562
Cass19549
Vigo184327
Madison168975
LaPorte147441
Floyd138963
Warrick134440
Howard131863
Kosciusko124817
Bartholomew117957
Marshall101224
Dubois99119
Boone98646
Grant93334
Hancock93243
Noble92532
Henry80926
Jackson7689
Wayne76814
Morgan72938
Daviess67728
Shelby67729
Dearborn66528
LaGrange63911
Clinton60914
Harrison58724
Putnam58112
Gibson5305
Knox5259
Lawrence51529
Montgomery51121
DeKalb48711
White48614
Decatur45839
Miami4383
Greene42735
Fayette42313
Jasper3992
Steuben3877
Scott38111
Posey3400
Sullivan33812
Jennings31612
Franklin31125
Ripley3038
Clay3025
Orange28824
Whitley2796
Carroll27713
Adams2743
Wabash2718
Washington2691
Starke2677
Wells2654
Spencer2593
Jefferson2483
Huntington2453
Fulton2412
Tipton22822
Perry22113
Randolph2207
Jay1880
Newton17311
Owen1711
Martin1680
Pike1621
Rush1574
Vermillion1300
Fountain1282
Blackford1203
Pulaski1131
Crawford1080
Brown1043
Parke1032
Benton870
Ohio797
Union790
Switzerland690
Warren401
Unassigned0226