In 1998, soon after police went door to door through a Linden, N.J., neighborhood handing out fliers listing the address of a sex offender, someone fired five bullets into his house, says the Newark Star-Ledger. The shooter was arrested and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Harassment of that sex offender, who still lives in the same house, did not stop, says a lawsuit that seeks to shut down the state’s Internet sex offender registry. It says that since his picture went on the Internet two years ago, his car windshield and house windows have been smashed with rocks and his life has been threatened, making him afraid to pick up his mail or take out his garbage during the day.
The suit filed by the state Public Defender on behalf of more than 3,500 sex offenders listed on the Internet registry blames it for subjecting them to increased reprisals by an angry public. It cites more than 100 cases of sex offenders or their relatives who have been beaten, threatened, harassed, fired, evicted or ostracized. Several, it claims, have attempted suicide and one succeeded. A hearing is scheduled for today. The case is the latest challenge to Megan’s Law, which requires the public be notified about sex offenders in their neighborhood. Megan’s Law was enacted 10 years ago this month.