Court Orders Lifelong Sex Offender Registration in NJ “Horseplay” Case


A New Jersey appeals court says roughhousing with a sexual connotation by two 14-year-old boys was a crime that requires them to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives, reports the Newark Star-Ledger. The three-judge panel acknowledged the severity of its decision, but said it was bound to uphold the law. One of the boys said he had sat on the faces of a pair of 12-year-old schoolmates with his bare buttocks “cause I thought it was funny and I was trying to get my friends to laugh”

An act is considered criminal sexual contact if it is done for sexual gratification or to degrade or humiliate the victim, and punishable by lifetime registration — even for juveniles — under Megan's Law, which requires a person convicted of a sex crime against a child to notify police of changes of address or employment. Attorneys for the teenagers argued that their behavior amounted to horseplay. Ronald Chen, the state's former public advocate now vice dean at Rutgers-Newark Law School, said that although the boys' convictions for criminal sexual contact met the law's requirements, “I don't think lifelong registration is a proportionate response.''

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