A Tampa man who spent 12 years in prison for molesting two young girls at a community pool does not have to register as a sexual offender until he pays a $10,000 fine, two Florida courts have ruled.
A judge in the Hillsborough Circuit Court and a panel of three judges in Florida’s 2nd District Court of Appeal in April said ___ has not been released from the sanctions imposed in 2004, and he does not fit the definition of a sexual offender until the fine is paid, according to court records. ___ was released from prison in 2016 and is listed as a transient in Tampa, records show, but he has not paid the $10,000 fine.
___ , who represents himself in court, said prosecutors have misused “or” and “a” and “the” when interpreting sexual-offender laws. ___ ’ victories in two courtrooms could force lawmakers to rewrite a state statute to fix what Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren called a “massive loophole” in Florida law.
“This would shake up laws across Florida,” Warren said. “It’s a very rigid interpretation of the statute.”
Last week, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody asked the 16 judges on Florida’s 2nd District Court of Appeal to rehear the case. The April ruling “raises a question of great public importance” for victims of sexual assault, Moody said in a motion for a hearing. The outcome could “have significant practical implications for thousands — and perhaps tens of thousands — of sexual offenders” in Florida, Moody wrote.